SwitchBot Curtain Review – Combo pack with meter & button – Easy smart home automated curtains

The SwitchBot Bot, a smart button presser, has been a hugely successful smart home device that is incredibly innovative. It is one of those things I have always meant to buy but never go round to.

SwitchBot has kindly sent me their Curtain Combo pack to try out, including the newest SwitchBot Curtain, a hub, a remote and a temperature/humidity sensor.

I have been contemplating automating my bedroom curtains or turning them into automated blinds for a while now. I wake up very early, only use the bedroom for sleeping, and have a terrible habit of leaving the curtains shut, which can extend for days at a time. So this product looks great for me and is considerably more affordable than some of the alternatives I have been looking at.

SwitchBot Curtain vs other automated curtains & blinds such as Somfy

One of these issues I have with automating curtains or blinds is that it almost certainly would have required me replacing everything with only certain types of curtains and blinds that can be retrofitted.

There are various automated blind rollers, but in the rooms that I have blinds, they are Venetian so not compatible with automated solutions. Similarily all the older automated curtain solutions required the roller style curtain to manage opening and closing.

If you want proper automated blinds or electric curtain rails from the likes of Somfy you will have to pay quite a high price. Blinds are around £240, but the Somfy Irismo 45 curtain rail is £579.

The SwitchBot Curtain is the first solution I am aware of that allows for easy retrofitting on your existing curtains.

The concept is simple and effective. It is literally a little motor with a roller than sits in between the 1st and 2nd connectors of your curtain then rolls left or right to open/close.

The unit itself is quite big and ugly, but it sits behind your curtain, so there should be no visible sign of it.

SwitchBot Curtain Cobo Features and Specification

  • Compatible with rod, U rail and I rail
  • Curtain Rod type supports Grommet, Ring Top, Back Tab and Tab Top curtains.
  • App-controlled
  • Sunlight sensor
  • Up to 8 months battery
  • Optional solar panel to extend battery
  • Compatible with SwitchBot button for easy remote control.
  • Works with Alexa, Google, IFTTT and SmartThings

Read more

Airpulse A80 Active Speakers launched for £629, offering high res audio and Bluetooth

I have covered a few active speakers and passive speakers recently. Most of my coverage leans towards the affordable, but if you are looking for something more premium, Airpulse has some attractive options.

Airpulse is the premium audio solution from Edifier who I have covered extensively. The Airpulse A80 Active Speakers are technically the entry-level speakers but sit a notch up in price than any of the Edifier options.

AIRPULSE A80 Electric Blue
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 100W RMS (40w x 2+10W x 2)
  • Input : AUX, PC, USB, Optical, Bluetooth
  • Tweeter : Horn Loaded Ribbon Tweeter

Full Press Release

Airulse Airpulse has released the quintessential modern bookshelf speaker – the A80 – in a stunning electric blue. In addition to the original Walnut Finish, the recently released A80 matches in equal parts its technical superiority and stunning design. Created to be the perfect combination of conventional loudspeaker and digital XMOS system, the A80 offers a superb sound quality from a stylish unit.

The A80 is Airpulse’s entry level plug and play speaker that utilizes the brand’s signature horn-loaded aluminium ribbon tweeter and proprietary 4.5-inch magnet ferrite mid-woofer to drive the system. The thin aluminium ribbon diaphragm has high sensitivity, superb transient response, extended frequency range and well-defined resolution. This meticulously formulated horn shape produces directional and optimized high frequencies from the ribbon tweeter, so they are aimed at the listeners, minimizing unwanted inflections and producing a superior, three-dimensional sound with excellently defined details.

Read more

Connect And Activate Your Own Modem Router To Comcast Xfinity

Many managers, business owners, and regular people, frequently encounter the problem of limited Wi-Fi connectivity and errors. This is because the rapid development of technology and internet use comes with its challenges. On a given network, your computer, and a few other devices are usually able to share capacity with ease, while functioning efficiently. Nevertheless, many businesses often ignore the fact that Wi-Fi connection limits depend on a variety of factors. 

Some of you may realize that if you connect many devices such as laptops, desktops, and phones to one network, you may have a difficult time streaming a video when you are in another part of the house. You may also notice that the video quality may be reduced and the download and upload speeds of every device that is connected are significantly slower. This is because each connected device would only be able to access a lesser internet level because of the volume of devices. 

If you were to install another Xfinity router or a third-party device within your home network you would be able to distribute the network load more efficiently. This is because many more devices will be supported if you add more access points to the network. But this is not without its downsides, because adding more access points to the network will make it a bit more challenging to manage. 

You may also increase your subscription with your internet service provider so that your bandwidth will be available to each connected device simultaneously. This will better allow you to have one or more routers to support multiple devices. For instance, if your internet subscription is downloading at 1 Gbps to your network devices, and you have 50 devices connected at the same time, it means that each device consumes around 20 megabits of data per second. By increasing the bandwidth, you will be able to have a greater quality of internet on all the connected devices.

Many people believe that you need a technician to connect and activate your modem router to Comcast Xfinity, but the truth is that you can do this yourself. The first thing you need to do is download the Xfinity app to set up the Internet and get online. Remember to disconnect the already installed device in your home if this is a replacement. 

Read more

Realme 8 Pro Review – It’s the Relame 7 Pro but with a flagship-level 108MP camera

As I eagerly wait for Realme to launch a flagship device in the UK this year, they have whetted my appetite for what might come with the Realme 8 Pro.

The Realme 8 Pro is launching in the UK as the first sub-£300 phone to feature a 108MP camera.

Specification – Realme 8 Pro vs 7 Pro vs 6 Pro

Realme 8 Pro Mobile Phone, Sim Free Unlocked Smartphone with...
  • 108 MP ultra quad camera: Starry time-lapse video...
  • 50w superdart charge: Charge 50 Percent in 17...
  • 4500mAh massive battery: Super power saving mode
  • Infinite stars design: 176 g and 8.1 mm Slim and...
Realme 8 ProRealme 7 Pro Realme 6 Pro
Display6.4 inch AMOLED 2400×1080 
1000nits peak brightness
60Hz refresh rate
180Hz touch sampling
6.4 inch AMOLED 2400×1080  6.6 inch IPS 2400×1080 
 90Hz, 480 nits 
ChipsetSnapdragon 720GSnapdragon 720GSnapdragon 720G
RAM8GB8GB8GB
Storage128GB
MicroSD slot
128GB
MicroSD slot
128GB
MicroSD slot
Rear Camera108 MP Samsung HM2 1/1.52″
8 MP ultra-wide
2 MP macro
2 MP B&W Lens
64 MP Sony IMX682 1/1.73″ Wide
8 MP ultra-wide
2 MP macro
2 MP depth
64 MP Samsung 1/1.72
12MP 2x telephoto
8MP ultrawide
2MP macro
Front Camera16MP Sony IMX471 32 MP16 MP
Battery4500 mAh
50W charging (but 65W charger)
4500 mAh
65W charging
4300 mAh
30W
OtherDual sim + microSD
3.5mm headphone jack
Dual sim + microSD
3.5mm headphone jack
Dual sim + microSD
3.5mm headphone jack
Dimensions 160.6 x 73.9 x 8.1 mm
176g
160.9 x 74.3 x 8.7 mm
182g
163.8 x 75.8 x 8.9 mm
202 g
Price £2798GB/128GB launch price  £279
Current price £239
349.90 Euros (£305)

The excellent Realme 6 Pro was launched in March 2020, with the Realme 7 Pro landing in October and now the 8 Pro, so we are looking at a 6-month launch cycle. This inevitably means not much changes with each release.

The main difference going from the Realme 6 Pro to 7 Pro was that it ditched the IPS display in favour of an AMOLED which was quite unique at the time with most affordable phones using IPS.

The Realme 8 Pro then also only has one significant improvement. The primary sensor has been switched from the already good 64MP Sony IMX682 sensor to the brand new Samsung 108MP HM2 sensor.

This new 108MP camera isn't quite the same as you see on £750+ flagship phones from the likes of Xiaomi and Samsung, but it is not far off. The main difference is that the sensor is a touch smaller at 1/1.52″ vs 1/1.33″, reducing the pixel size to 0.7 μm from 0.8 μm.

Disappointingly, there hasn't been an improvement from the Snapdragon 720G, which itself wasn't much different from the Snapdragon 730G, which proceeded it, so the chipset is effectively 2 years old now.

In defence of Realme, Qualcomm has left its 7-series platform to go a little stale. The only realistic upgrade would have been the 5G Snapdragon 750G.

Read more

Xiaomi Black Shark 4 Pro ditches massive display and shoulder buttons vs Black Shark 3 Pro

I enjoyed both the Black Shark 3 and Black Shark 3 Pro. The first offered affordable flagship gaming (and being one of the first SD865 phones out). The later offered a gigantic 7.1 inch AMOLED display with physical pop up shoulder triggers, giving a truly gaming focussed phone. So it is a little disappointing to … Read more

Xiaomi finally confirms Mi 11 Pro, Mi 11 Ultra & Lite launching 29th of March but China only, for now

I had hoped Xiaomi would have launched the Mi 11 Pro and Mi 11 Ultra during their Global launch back in February with a plan to possibly buy one if the price was right. Not only didn’t they launch the new phones, but the UK launch was delayed and will only be available to buy … Read more

Mobile Pixels Trio Portable Monitor For Laptops Review – Make your laptop dual or triple display

With the prospect of being able to travel again this year I have been contemplating on how to improve my mobile working experience. Whenever I go on holiday or press events, I always set up a small workstation allowing me to get a couple of hours of work done each day (the cost of being self-employed). In recent years this has expanded from just a laptop to include both a proper keyboard and mouse, which massively improves my productivity. However, working from a single monitor is not ideal for me; when writing, I almost always have side by side content so I can research and reference things.

A portable monitor is a perfect solution for this. I recently reviewed the Acer PM1, which was flawed but still good, largely thanks to its great price. However, the Mobile Pixels Trio offers a slightly alternative solution that will be particularily appealing to people that work on the move.

Rather than having a completely sperate monitor, this monitor attaches to the back of your existing laptop, sliding out as and when needed. It gives you a much more convenient set up when working in tight spaces.

The Mobile Pixels Trio name is slightly misleading initially; the monitor you buy is a single monitor, but it is designed to allow two to be attached to your laptop to create that triple monitor setup.

Specification

Mobile Pixels Trio Portable Monitor for Laptops, 12.5'' Full...
  • ★Extend Your Vision by Ultra Wide Screen...
  • ★Plug and Play, One Cable Setup,Backward...
  • ★One Trio Max Display on Multiple...
  • ★Optimized Design for Home Office and Work...
  • Display Size: 12.5″ (Max model is 14″)
  • Resolution:  1920 x 1080
  • Refresh Rate: 60 Hertz
  • Power: 4.5W
  • Brightness: 300 nit
  • USB: 2x USB-C (one for power if the source device can't provide it)

Read more

Trust IRIS Video Conference solution launched for £719 turning any office space into a video conference room

It is quite likely most businesses will never go back to the old normal. Most businesses have realised the benefit of keeping office staff numbers down, reducing office costs and improving staff happiness. Similarly the thought of driving hours, or even flying, for an in person meeting seems archaic now. Video calls, and video conferencing … Read more

Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021 announced with Intel i7-1165G7 & Iris Xe graphics for £1599.99

Huawei may be suffering a bit with their phones lacking Google, but they are easily one of the best laptop brands around at the moment for any non-gaming laptop. Today they have announced the latest Huawei MateBook X Pro 2021, which is a 13.9 inches ultra-portable, weighing in at just 1.33 kg. As usual for … Read more

EZVIZ C8C Smart Pan/Tilt Outdoor Colour Night Vision Camera with AI launched for £109.99

Home surveillance tech is getting scarily advanced, Ezviz is one of the companies at the forefront of this technology. I am a huge fan of both colour night vision and AI object detection. Now, these have been combined with a PTZ camera to offer AI automatic tracking of anyone that enters your property. This model … Read more

Xiaomi POCO F3 vs POCO X3 Pro Compared – F3 aka Redmi K40 star of the show at £329 while X3 Pro is a bargain at £199

Today, Xiaomi affordable sub-brand launched their latest two phones, the POCO F3 and POCO X3 Pro.

Xiaomi likes to capitalise POCO, but I can't cope with writing that in an entire article, so from now on, it is Poco.

Xiaomi Poco F3 vs Xiaomi Redmi K40

Poco F3

First up, and the stand out option from the two new devices is the, however, it has technically already been launched under the name Redmi K40.

The Redmi K40 was launched in February with an official release on the 4th of March. The base model launched for CNY 1999 or £221 (UK price is higher).

Poco F3 vs Poco X3 Pro – Kinda the same but not

Poco X3 Pro

The naming convention of these phones seems a little off because they feel like they should be under the same model series with one being Pro and the other standard.

Read more

Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 vs Snapdragon 860/855+, SD888 & SD865+ Specification Compared – Qualcomm re-release old chipsets for new affordable phones

Several phones are tipped to feature two new Qualcomm 800 series chipsets. Two of them should be launching very soon.

Qualcomm is effectively reusing old tech to allow companies to launch high-performance phones at a low price. It may seem like a strange decision, effectively diluting their flagship 800 series brand with old tech, but it is likely Qualcomm are doing this due to the increased competition they will face from MediaTek this year.

MediaTek have the Dimensity 1200 and Dimensity 1100 which should be used on phones launching in the UK soon.

So how do these two chipsets compare with each other, and what similarities do they have with their older siblings?

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+/860 Mobile Platform

Looking at the Snapdragon 860 first, Qualcomm has put no effort in and are just re-releasing the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+ under a new name. Even the product page states Qualcomm Snapdragon 855+/860 Mobile Platform.

So clearly, this is just a marketing gimmick. Last year, Realme launched the Realme X3 SuperZoom using the SD855+ and I thought it was a great idea to reuse older flagships for new affordable offerings.

Obviously, Qualcomm feels like advertising a new phone with a 2-year-old chipset is not as marketable as rebranding it as something new.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 vs Snapdragon 865+

Read more

Acer PM1 15.6 Inch FHD Portable Monitor Review – Cheap and cheerful but with compatibility issues due to USB-C DP Alt Mode – PM161Qbu

With the high bandwidth and power rating of USB-C there has been a growing number or portable monitors become available in recent years.

They are a great investment for anyone needing to set up a temporary monitor. Anyone working from home in the past year that doesn't have a permanent home office set up would likely appreciate the ease you can set these up and pack them away.

The Acer PM1 was launched last year with an RRP of £169.99, making it very affordable, being one of the cheapest options on the market. However, it is regularly available at a discount, and Amazon has had it for £109.99 on and off since January. It is only since March it has shot back up to £169.99. At £110, it is by far the cheapest option on the market.

Sale
Acer PM161Qbu 15.6 Inch Full HD Portable Monitor, Black (IPS...
  • PORTABLE MONITOR: Weighing less than a kilo and...
  • Full HD: The Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080)...
  • USB-C: With the USB-C connection all you need is a...
  • Smooth and blur free: With a 60 Hz refresh rate...

Specification

  • 1920 x 1080 Full HD
  • 800:1 contrast ratio
  • USB Type C with microUSB for optional power
  • 60Hz / 7ms Response Time
  • Panel Type: IPS
  • Portable
  • 970g in weight
  • 377 mm x 234.7 mm x 20 mm

Design and Build Quality

This is an affordable portable monitor, so the overall build quality is as expected. It is very plasticky and feels a little cheap. The plastic construction helps this be ultra-light though, at just 970g, this is ideal for travelling with, should you need a multi-monitor set up when working away.

The monitor comes with a foam type laptop sleeve, which will offer some protection, but if you plan to travel with it properly, you will likely need some sort of hardcover to protect the display itself.

The rear of the monitor has a little plastic pull-down stand allowing it to stand up on its own without having to attach anything. The two ports are then located on the left-hand side of the monitor. The microUSB port is for power only.

Read more

Devolo Mesh WiFi 2 Review – Mesh WiFi with a powerline backhaul to compete vs the TP-Link Deco P9

Before Mesh WiFi was a thing, powerline was by far the best solution for home users wanting to extend their home network without having to physically wire the house up with Ethernet.

Since the launch of mesh, powerline has fallen out of favour somewhat, and only a handful of company produces hardware feature this technology. However, I know a lot of gamers who still swear by this technology.

Devolo has long been the most reputable company in the business, with TP-Link being the major competitor.

While most companies are now launching WiFi 6 mesh systems, Devolo has only just launched its first WiFi 5 mesh system.

Devolo Mesh WiFi 2 vs Devolo Magic 2 WiFi – Not the same

Devolo doesn't make it very easy to work out what is what and this is made worse by searching on places like Amazon.

I was very confused by the product name devolo Mesh WiFi 2 but most places selling Devolo Magic 2 WiFi.

A quick glance at their product pages proved to be equally confusing, with the Magic 2 WiFi not listed under mesh yet still claiming mesh functionality on the product page. They also offer the same WiFi speeds and powerline technology.

However, they are not the same. The 2-device Magic 2 WiFi uses two different units, the MAGIC 2 LAN Adapter and the MAGIC 2 WiFi next Adapter. The Lan adaptor offers no WiFi. This is instead used to connect your router to the powerline network. So the two pack system won't actually offer mesh WiFi; you would then need to pair it up with another MAGIC 2 WiFi to get mesh functionality.

The MESH WIFI 2, on the other hand, has all its adopters providing WiFI. With the whole point of this being that you switch the WiFi off on your router, then the Devolo does all the WiFi offering seamless roaming as you move around the home.

Read more

Gigabyte AORUS 15G YC RTX 3080 Gaming Laptop Review – The best solution for PC gaming in 2021 (or until the GPU market improves)

The Gigabyte AORUS 15″ is the gaming focussed range from the laptop brand, offering an FHD 240Hz display with a variety of GPU and Intel CPU options.

With the launch of the RTX 3000 series GPUs, there are options ranging from £1600 with the RTX 3060 up to £2700 for the 17-inch model of the laptop I am reviewing today, with a GeForce RTX 3080.

Gaming laptops have never offered the best value for money for PC gamers. However, at the time of writing this review, the only consumer desktop GPUs available to buy on Scan are the GeForce GT 1030, GT 730,  GT 710, GT210, none of which are much use for gaming.

So anyone looking for new hardware to game on right at this minute has no option but to buy a laptop (or get screwed by scalpers on eBay).

Specification

  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Max Q
  • 10th Gen Intel® Core i7-10870H
  • 15.6″ 1920×1080  Full HD 240Hz Wide Viewing Angle IPS-level Display with NTSC 72%
  • 64GB (2x32GB) RAM
  • 1TB NVMe + 1 spare M.2 PCIE slot.
  • 3mm Ultra-thin Bezel Design
  • Up to 8 Hours of Battery Life
  • 3 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
  • 1 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C
  • HDMI 2.0, Mini Display Port, Gigabit RJ45, SD/SDHC/SDXC Card Reader

GeForce RTX 3080 Max-Q vs RTX 3080

Nvidia and the brands using the GPUs are a little sneaky with the RTX 3080 GPU term. A laptop GPU is generally not the same as a desktop GPU; while it uses the same technology, the GeForce RTX 3080 Max-Q you find in this laptop has a boost clock of 1245 MHz with a  maximum graphics power of 105W.

The full-fat desktop RTX 3080 variety has a base clock of 1440MHz, boosting to 1740MHz with a TDP of 320W.

While this may be obvious to keen PC gamers/PC enthusiasts, it is probably less so to someone just getting into gaming or a parent buying a child a laptop.

Read more