Archive for Gadget Centre

Gadget Review – Doorbot

doorbot1

 

As part of our house move, I wanted to avoid missing knocks on the door in future.  Be it travel or just being too far from the door.  Gab and Tim had purchased a Doorbot in the past, and were quite pleased, so I decided to make the jump.

First of all, the doorbot is shipped from the USA, so if you are in the UK, expect a Customs Charge if you are unlucky (I was).  The device is nicely presented and comes with all tools needed to fit an install on your door/wall.  Compared to a standard doorbell, it is chunky, but security bells are typically larger in my experience.

doorbot2

 

Installation is simple.  Everything you need to complete the installation (screws, hex screw, screwdriver etc) comes with the device.  The physical installation requires you to drill a mount plate for the doorbot.  You can connect “real” doorbell wires to this plate, which will be used then to interact with your internal doorbell (if you have one).  It also keeps the doorbot charged for you.  After you have the plate fitted, you hook the front piece (the camera and button/speaker) to the plate and secure using a hex screw which is supplied.

The software installation requires you to download the app (google play or App Store).  Download the app, then press the button on the device, it will create a wireless network and you join it to your real network via the interface.   You can invite multiple users to the device so  notifications are sent to whichever users you wish once the bell is rung.

Once installed and configured, once you ring the bell, your doorbell rings as normal.  Also your devices get notification.  From there you can choose to ignore the notification, see who it is or “push to talk” to the person.

IMG_1374

 

So… The Good

The device looks well, albeit big.   Personally I would like a more subtle, square design, but that is my taste.  Installation is easy and it feels secure and rugged.  The battery in the device will last for a year and you can recharge via usb, OR it will take charge from the bell wires if you have them connected.  Vision is good, audio is good.  Night vision is good.

The Bad.

The mobile apps need work.  Notifications are slow (about 7 seconds on average from doorbell ring) and then it takes more time for the screen to open so you can hold to talk or see the person ringing.  Newer versions are needed.  If bandwidth is an issue, the “hold to talk” button should work before video is there so I can at least speak to the person.  Additionally there should be desktop software for Mac and PC.

All in all, it is a good device but severely lacking on the software side.

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ASUS RT-N66U review

Ten years ago when I first got broadband (fixed IP and 1MB down and up dedicated line in 2003 baby yeah!) I bought a Linksys WRT54G router.  It was a wise choice.  It was solid, reliable and customisable.  I ended up buying linksys range expanders and wireless webcams in 2004/2005.  It all simply worked.

Then I had years of “free” routers with pre-flashed builds by ISPs.  I had enough.  Back to spending some money.

A few weeks ago I received my new ASUS.  It plugs into my cable modem.   I fed it my plusnet details and it created a wireless network and configured itself with basic settings in 60 seconds.  Done.

ASUSRouter

After the basics self-configure, you have access to customise via the web admin panel.  From here you can create new, separate wireless networks over the 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz network.  You can create guest networks (over either/both ranges).  Guest network access denies access to the remaining network machines.  There are also a rake of other features:

  • Full VPN server built in
  • USB ports for sharing drives
  • Printer sharing
  • Backup 3/4g capability
  • FTP server
  • USB share point (for SMB, FTP, torrent and more)
  • QoS

..and a lot more.  So far I cannot fault this device.  It is powerful and functional.  5Ghz network with my apple TV works just fine, although it is not as smart as the Airport extreme in this area (assigning the correct network depending on the device).  But there are also custom firmware builds available although so far it is doing everything I need.

In about 40 minutes I had a 5Ghz network, a standard WLAN for my devices, the extender attached to it, guest WLAN, VPN, FTP and more.  As I have fixed IP I have easy access to everything at home from anywhere.  It also supports DyDNS if you are dynamic IP.

So far, it has been mostly flawless.  There is a known (nasty) bug that Carl Tyler made me aware of, so keep that in mind before enabling the amule feature.  All in all I am very happy I went with it.

 

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Waiting for this

Since getting non-pathetic broadband recently its time for a non-pathetic router.  The ASUS RT-N66U comes heavily recommend.  There are many features on the way with this new toy for me to play with.  Arriving soon.  Many “free” broadband routers shall hopefully be going in the bin.

Update  Up and running in minutes.  So far very good.  More detail to follow.

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Gadget review – Sports Vue 360HD

sportsvue360

Carl Tyler has created a monster.  A few months back, I bought the Swann Freestyle HD cam for using on bike/car trips.  It works very well but I wanted something more sleek to connect to my helmet for longer hauls.  Devin Olson teased me with his SportsVue 360, so Carl was good enough to order one for me and ship it to Belfast (they don’t ship outside USA).

When you get the SportsVue, it comes with a bag, two batteries, remote control and a list of mounts/attachments.  It does not come with the required SD card.   The device is self contained with the LCD on the side.  It also has a big record switch on the top, which is useful for motorbike gloves.  The camera lens is adjustable to take angles into consideration.  You want to position it flat?  Just twist the lens 90degrees.  From the LCD screen you can review and playback/edit video and pictures.   It advertises itself as waterproof and virtually indestructible.  Lifetime warranty is included.

So, in a brief period last weekend when it got over 5C (41F) I took my 796 out for a play.  Edited youtube recording (I am playing with iMovie) is below.  The device feels rugged.  Buttons are hard to press and the battery compartment is a bitch to close, but it is designed to work in just about any condition.  It does not have the functionality of the SwannCam or the venerable Hero HD devices but it does more than I need.  It secures nicely to the helmet and doesn’t look as “odd” as the other models.  I think it will be coming along with me on future rides.

I have sped up the boring parts in the video, but left some of the North East coast of Northern Ireland and the titanic quarter at normal.

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New Mu…

Mu

 

In a road warrior’s world, size matters.  The smaller the better.  A few months ago I noticed a Mu with one of the Portal Partnership staff.   A tiny, elegant little usb charger, it folds away to nothing and I coveted!   In the post a few days ago, after a fun project, one turned up at casa Mooney from them.  Very much appreciated.  Thank you.

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Plantronics Voyager Pro UC v2

Way back in July, I was introduced to this bluetooth headset in Las Vegas.  The device comes with charger, pouch, usb cable and a bluetooth usb plugin for a laptop (if you need it).  It has been on the road with me for many months.  So it’s about time to give a quick review, no?

The headset comes with a few sized earplugs, and it took me a bit of use to find the one most comfortable.  The buttons on the headset are easy to use, with volume on/off just a tap away.  But at first I was hating it on my Mac.  Pairing it over bluetooth was easy, but unless I manually paired and unpaired, I constantly got “A Bluetooth audio error occurred” followed by volume errors and eventually audio products (like Skype) bombing.

It took me a while to figure out the fix.  There are different sound preferences for Sound Effects, Output and Input on a Mac.  You can choose to have one device for input and something different for output etc.  The issue was Sound Effects.  The bluetooth device was enabled for Sound Effects and stayed that way even after turning off the headset.  My Mac beeps a lot.  If the device is not connected, the error occured.  Once I changed it so sound effects were always the Macbook speakers, the problem went away.  Below is the wrong setting.

Once I caught that, everything else worked a charm.  Bluetooth range is a few yards, and sound quality is good.  Battery life is pretty good too.  I have managed 3 hours talk time easily enough without recharge.  The pouch is very handy for throwing into my laptop bag and it is now a permanent part of my travel kit.

Recommended.

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New toy – Blackberry Torch

Currently languishing/activating in my “favoured device” cradle at the home office.  The BB Torch has landed as a replacement to my Bold.  So far, all I can say is it is a big change to the last device, so I will need time to get used to it.  Also, it feels bigger, and a bit slower (although it is still activating).

Let’s give it a week and see.

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New toy. Freedom i-connex Bluetooth keyboard


One of the reasons I find myself bring my Macbook and iPad on the road with me is the inability to type much on the iPad.  The on-screen keyboard is good, but not for anything longer then a few sentences.  Enter the Freedom i-connex. The folding keyboard runs over bluetooth but has hotkeys aimed at iPhone/iPad.  I shall report findings in a few weeks.

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Pro Clip – Perfect car mounts for your mobile devices

I have a lot of gadgets.  You may know that already.  I also like my car and hate cheap, crappy fixtures on cars (Some suction mounts for example).  Since I purchased Tom Tom for the iPhone, using it easily would require a fixture.  Enter pro-clip.  Sean recommended the site and although not cheap, the quality of their product is excellent.  You need to purchase two pieces, a mount and a device holder.  My car is not typical (Alfa Brera) so immediately I was expecting to be disappointed.  Not only do they have my car listed, but offer two different mounts for two different positions, depending on your preference with pictures displayed.

After that, you pick your holder.  The holders are custom built for your device and specific model.  For my iPhone, I chose the iPhone4 with bumper case.  Installation of the mount is simple, then you fit your holder to the mount.  If you change car, you just buy a new mount and keep your holders.  If you change device, you change your holder.

Recommended

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Microsoft planning tablet release

Microsoft will announce a version of its Windows computer operating system that runs on ARM technology for the first time, said two people familiar with Microsoft’s plans.

Who can blame them, after the blazing success of Zune and (until WinMo7) the Windows Mobile platform

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