Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

Honor 4X Review

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Honor 4X

A few weeks back, I met with Honor UK at the Three UK launch of the Honor 6+ (see here for more information on the Honor 6+). Whilst I was there, I was offered a loan of the Honor 4X, which is more of a budget phone than the Honor 6+, coming in at roughly £150 (at time of writing, £145 on Amazon direct from Honor). I wasn’t expecting a lot from the phone, given the fantastic spec of the Honor 6+ and the price of this device, but I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised by the phone.

First of all, if you are a “brand snob” and want a phone with a well known brand behind it, then whilst you are less likely to buy this phone, you are also likely to pay a lot more money for either the same spec, or, I suspect, actually a lower spec.

So, let’s get to those specs (click more to find out the specs and my overall opinion of the phone)…

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Honor 6+ launched exclusively on Three

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Honor 6+

I was lucky to be invited to the UK network launch of the Honor 6+, which will be exclusively available from Three on the high street (it’s also available from Amazon online, although they won’t ship for another week or two). The Honor 6+ is a very nice mid to high spec phone, whilst being well in the mid price category, being around £299 on Three PAYG (and likely to drop further when online sales really get going in a month or so).

Beyond the good screen size (5.5″, nearly too big for some), there are two key features I felt worth mentioning from my brief handson time during the launch; the camera and the battery.

The phone has twin cameras on the rear, and these are used to take two pictures at the same time. Then, if you find you did not get the exact area of the picture in focus, or parts of the picture are out of focus, you can refocus the image, allowing you to change both the primary object to be in focus, and the aperture that should have been used, allowing you to vary the depth of focus of the picture. This was demonstrated to me by taken a picture with both a close and far away object with the far away object perfectly in focus, but it was possibly to refocus the image such that the close object was in focus, whilst the far away object could be set to be out of focus (it was also possible to have both in focus!).#

This won’t be useful for the majority of pictures, but if you have taken a quick snap of something where there was a “moment” worth capturing, but afterwards you find the focus wasn’t quite right, then with this phone you can get it back into focus.

The other stand out feature of devices like this, and others (such as the OnePlus One) are the large battery that is fitted. Whilst the OnePlus One has a 3,100mAh battery, the Honor 6+ has a 3,600mAh battery, and Honor staff who already had devices confirmed that 2 days battery life was easily achievable; even for really heavy phone users, the phone should easily make it through a long busy hectic day without needing you to carry a charger.

Whilst some of the review phones were Android 4.4 (KitKat), Honor assure me that the devices shipping today should be running Android 5 (Lollipop) out of the box.

The device has two sim slots, although I think you will only get 3G from the second sim slot (it does not offer dual 4G sim slots), although some people will prefer to use that second slot to expand the memory of the device, as it will also take a microSD card. Having said the two stand out features are the camera and battery, many people will actually first notice the screen, which is a very vibrant bright screen that shows off the pictures from the camera very well. Even in bright sunlight, the demo device was clear and easy to use.

The Honor 6+ was available from Three UK stores from this morning, available on PAYG and contract (for unlimited handset data it will need a £36 per month 24 month contract).

Thanks to Three UK for the invite to the launch, and hopefully Honor will be able to supply me with a review unit soon to try it out for longer.


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Nexus 4 case review

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

rearth case for nexus 4

As well as the Qi Universal Charging Pad that Mobile Fun sent me (reviewed yesterday here), they were also kind enough to send me a case for my Nexus 4. One of the main reasons for this was to see whether or not the case would have any effect on the capabilities of the charging pad, and I’m pleased to say it performed without any issues with the case on. In fact, the Nexus 4 was never charged on the charging pad without the case.

The case provides a good all round protection to the phone. For the sides, it’s a little like a bumper case, but made of a stiffer material that feels nice and strong around the device, and the back of the phone (slightly prone to damage) is also protected with a clear cover allowing you to still see the rear of the phone.

One little thing that’s not mentioned on the Mobile Fun website is that you can customise the case. If you have a picture or design that is slightly smaller than the back of the case, the case comes with a sticky sheet that can be used to attach the picture inside the back of the case to be displayed.

I also like the way the front of the case is slightly proud of the phone’s screen offering protection against scratches when laid face down. Actually, there are also little lugs that ensure the back is equally protected when face up. The case has cutouts for the sockets (microphone, USB, headphones) at the top and bottom, small missing sections in the back for the speaker and the camera, whilst the power and volume buttons are protected, but the new buttons built into the bumper around the edge work just as well as the original buttons.

Generally, I found it a very nice case, that did not seem to add a lot of bulk to the device, especially given how much protection it offers. At £14.95 I also think it’s a very good price. Of course, Mobile Fun have a whole range of cases for the Nexus 4 available here.

Just like the wireless charging pad, the Nexus 4 case has performed without any issues, and I thank Mobile Fun for offering the case alongside the charging pad for review.

Disclaimer: Although Mobile Fun provided the case, they had no editorial input into this article.


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Wireless Charger review

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Qi charging pad

Mobile Fun contacted me and asked me if was interested in looking at one of their wireless charging pads, the Qi wireless charging pad. This arrived the next day, and I put it into immediate service to see how well it worked. Using my Nexus 4, it has faultlessly charged on a regular basis without any issues.

The charging pad is clever enough to work out that the phone is charged, and will automatically shut off; this caused a small moment of concern when I first got it, as the Nexus 4 was already sufficiently charged that the pad appeared to do nothing. I find letting the Nexus 4 run down and then placing on the pad to be the best way (and sometimes turning the phone on, or at least using it just before is beneficial; without that, it seems to take the phone and pad a few seconds to spot each other, and that can means I would often stand there for a while until the charging light came on. By using the phone (or at least turning it on) just before always seem to start the charging faster.

My only other concern with the pad is something I’ve seen in the comments on the Mobile Fun website; the blue charging light doesn’t look too bad in the daytime, but at night is capable of lighting a room quite well, so this may not be to everyone’s liking. Personally, when charging has been necessary overnight, it’s actually not proved to be a problem, but it is something to be aware of.

The Qi Universal Charging Pad currently costs £29.99 from the Mobile Fun website (see here for a link to their devices), which is a good price for me. As the device is a Qi compatible charging device, it will work with a whole range of devices, including the Nokia Lumia devices with built in charging, or with charging backs fitted.

Thanks to Mobile Fun for providing the charging pad for review.

Disclaimer: Although Mobile Fun provided the charging pad, they had no editorial input into this article.


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Review: DODOcase from Mobile Fun

Friday, May 24th, 2013

A few weeks ago, Mobile Fun suggested that I try a different case for my Nexus 7, and they kindly offered a DODOcase for the review. Mobile Fun stock a whole range of Nexus 7 Cases, so at the higher end of the price range (£24.95), I was interested to see what this case offers.

I’ve been using the case now for a couple of weeks, and do you know what; it’s a very nice case. As with many cases (except, as I understand it, ironically the official Asus cases) all cases have a little magnet in them to allow the Nexus 7 to automatically turn on and off the screen as the case opens and closes, and this is no exception. The case also features an elastic strap to hold the case closed, which seems to work really well. My previous case wrapped around to the back and had a magnetic type clasp, but I’ve not had any issues with this new style.

My previous case also had a tri-fold front panel to give the ability to be folded up iPad-style to allow the device to be stood up (though at a very shallow angle); the DODOcase has a different approach, and one that I have found even better; a little plastic clasp on the elastic strap can be used to make the case stay open, and ensures it is at a good angle. So far, this has never failed to work, and seems a really neat way of allowing the Nexus 7 to stand up.

The Nexus 7 is held in the case with 3 adhesive strips, which although very strong, aren’t so strong the Nexus 7 can’t be removed (equally, the Nexus 7 has never fallen out of my case). It gives a much neater case than others I’ve seen, and still allows access to the 4 Pogo pins on the side, which many cases don’t in reality; I don’t have the official Nexus 7 Dock to be able to confirm whether or not you can use the stand with the case still on, but this issue affects most cases. The hard cover (front and back) is made (according to the information included) using the same techniques that bookbinders use, and the quality shows through.

This is a very functional, yet pretty case. My only concern with the case is that the speaker slot on the rear is facing into the case, but I’ve yet to have any major problems with that.

The case costs £24.95 from Mobile Fun, and they sell it in Black or Purple; in terms of combining aesthetics with protection, I think this case is one of the best value cases out there, but if you are not convinced, it’s still well worth looking at their range of Nexus 7 Cases to find something that does suit.

Disclaimer: Although Mobile Fun provided the case, they had no editorial input into this article.

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Smart Cover case for Nexus 7

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

I picked up a Google Nexus 7 Tablet a few weeks ago, and I knew straight away I wanted a case to protect it. I also wanted a case that featured a “Smart Cover” facility; ie the ability to auto wake / auto sleep as the cover opened and closed (although not advertised with this feature, it was discovered the Nexus 7 had the support built into the hardware, and ever since, many of the 3rd party case suppliers have been supporting the feature).

So, Amazon was a logical choice (mainly for ease of purchase and keen pricing), and I selected this particular case as above; it acts as a Smart Cover case, but also can fold up to create a small stand for the tablet (it uses landscape, which the stock launcher doesn’t support, so look at purchasing Ultimate Rotation Control from the Play Store too, and setting it on Force Auto).  The case provides protection around the back of the tablet (the tablet clicks into the back panel) and the cover works well. This particular Amazon seller provides this Nexus 7 Case with a screen protector (currently untested) and stylus (tested and functional, and very similar to the iPad cheap stylus you can pick up).

At £8 (price may vary) including shipping, I thought the Nexus 7 Case was good value; the case arrived within a couple of days, so I assume this is a UK seller too, and the choice of colours allows you to select one to match other devices or simply select black.


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Gadget Show Live suggestions

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

I headed to a special Preview Day today at the Gadget Show Live yesterday, and can report that’s it’s going to be a good show this year.  The first year it was run I felt there were a few too many small companies selling fairly useless gadgets, but whether it’s the economy or not I don’t know, but this year there were very few useless gadgets to be seen.  Equally, two years ago everyone was selling iPhone docks, and although there were still a variety of iPad accessories, it generally felt a much more balanced show.

If you only get an hour or two to attend, my suggestions for companies to visit include:

  • LG, if only to view their ultra slim OLED TVs, which look very impressive
  • Samsung, for having a wide variety of options from TVs, home appliances and the Galaxy Tab
  • 3View, for having a Freeview PVR with a range of additional functions, such as BBC iPlayer
  • Revo, for having a decent range of good looking and quality sounding DAB radios
  • Viewsonic, for promoting their risk free ViewPad trial (which we covered here)
  • Orbitsound, for their range of impressive speakers (both portable and for your TV) using their airSOUND technology

A couple of others companies caught my attention with new gadgets, and I’ll cover those later.  I will say that although Samsung had a massive banner running the length of one of the halls advertising all 3 Android Tablets (the Tab, the new 8.9″ and the new 10.1″ tablet), they only seemed to have the original Galaxy Tab on their stand.


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Humax HDR-Fox T2 Review

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

On 14th Feb 2011 TiVo announced to the UK that it would no-longer be providing Guide information to UK Series 1 TiVo owners, read the blog post in full here.

A replacement for beloved TiVo had to be found. After much searching of the net, it was decided that a Humax HDR-Fox T2 would be TiVo’s successor.  Available in both 500GB and 1TB models offering twin tuners for simultaneous recording and viewing or multiple recordings.

To found out how we got on after the delivery arrived please click to read the full article.

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Tasker for Android

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Just occasionally someone points out an application to you, and you go wow, that’s really useful; Tasker seems to be one of those such applications.  Designed along similar lines to Locale (which has so many plugins from different people now, and all charge for them, it’s difficult to see the good and bads ones anymore), it offers the ability to create rules and control a whole raft of different functions on your Android phone. It’s not free (it costs £3.99), but this seems well worth given the range of controls it has.

I particularly like the ability to make system changes when you run particular apps, so, for example, you can keep the GPS generally turned off (to preserve battery life), but then when you run Google Maps you can turn on the GPS, and turn it off again when you exit.  In fact, the range of triggers is fascinating; Application, Time, Day, Location, State or Event.

LifeHacker here has a tutorial on how to set up the auto GPS function, how to create an alarm in the morning (that also fires up your favourite apps), and to create a “Face Down” task which shuts off GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth, and makes the ringer quieter.

For even more options, this LifeHacker post goes further and discusses the following options: reading out SMS messages (for when you are driving), limited data usage overnight, pop up a menu of music apps when headphones plugged in, mark and find your parking place, and most importantly, it links to the Tasker Wiki, where a whole range of users have added information on their suggested profiles.

There’s also lots of information about the application, including a tour of some of the features on the Tasker website here, which is well worth a look too.

This is one very comprehensive application, which looks like it has the power to really customise the way you use your Android phone.


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3 MiFi – Final Looks

Monday, August 9th, 2010

I’ve already covered many of the key benefits to the new 3 MiFi unit (in my first looks), although I will restate that it’s a joy to use now it’s a single power button to set everything up, and the wireless encryption key being only numbers makes it easier to quote to people to share the connection.  For the full review, click on the full article below.

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