Welcome to my review of the iFi ZEN Blue V2 which retails for £159.
The Key Features
The ZEN Blue V2 features easy Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity using the latest Qualcomm 5100 series Bluetooth. Codecs supported are SBC, AAC, LDAC, HWA, LHDC, apt X and apt X HD. That’s CD quality up to 24bits/192kHz from AAC and apt X HD.
Analogue outputs are either RCA or 4.4mm, digital is either coaxial or optical. Or even SPDIF.
So what’s new with V2. Upgraded jitter clock with over 20db performance, improved aerial with 80% more reach and lots more.
To learn more, watch the video covering all aspects of the ZEN Blue V2.
The ZEN Blue V2 is a simple to operate, yet highly effective high quality device. Highly recommended. 9.3/10
Welcome to my review of the iFi ZEN Stream that retails for £399. The ZEN Stream is a network audio transport, focused around maintaining audio quality.
In terms of connections this is done via WiFi or Ethernet. It has quite a number of options which are covered off in my video review.
The Key Features
The ZEN Stream allows you to add network streaming to your existing system. Outputs via USB 3.0 or SPDIF/Optical. Supports up to 384kHz PCM, DSD256 and MQA. Firmware upgradeable keeps it future proof. Likely extra functionality will be added. Supports a ton of services from Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz, YouTube Music, AirPlay, DLNA, Roon and many more.
There’s lots to talk about, so watch my video, which covers everything from what’s in the box, closer inspection of all the hardware and functionality, how to setup and ultimately the quality and verdict.
The iFi ZEN Stream is a fantastic product, worthy of its highly recommended award. 9.2/10.
Welcome to my review of the Bosch Freshup which retails for £249.99.
It is not very often that a product comes along that simply blows my mind. This is one of them. At first, I was somewhat skeptical that this magic handheld device could do exactly what it said on the tin.
Welcome to my review of the Huawei Watch 3 which retails for £349.
The Key Features / Specifications
Continuous Health Monitoring. The Huawei Watch 3 allows continuous blood oxygen, heart rate and skin temperature monitoring.
3 days battery life in smart mode and up to 14 days use in ultra-long battery life mode.
Stay connected 24/7 with eSIM mobile calls that allows the Huawei Watch 3 to function as a stand-alone communication device. Make calls, play music and download apps without being connected to your phone, still using your existing number.
100+ workout modes for indoor and outdoor sports and 85 custom modes with automatic exercise detection for the 6 most common types of workout. GPS Tracking.
High-response touch-sensitive screen, side button and fully rotatable crown, offset for easy access. Rotate the crown for easy scrolling through on-display features and volume settings.
Huawei Watch 3 comes with 30 pre-installed faces, including animated faces to really liven things up. Plus, you can add from over 1,000+ designs available on Huawei watch face store.
The Huawei Watch 3 running Harmony OS is a really competent and smooth wearable. With some unique features this is an easy recommendation from me. 9/10.
Welcome to my review of the Creative SXFI Gamer headphones that retail for £124.99.
Hybrid headphone with Bluetooth 5.0 and USB - You can choose to compete in an intense FPS game without discernible audio lag while connected via USB-C, or stream videos wirelessly with your phone while on-the-go for up to 11 hours. Plus, with a built-in Super X-Fi UltraDSP chip, you’ll be able to experience the hyper-realistic soundstage of Super X-Fi Headphone Holography anytime, anywhere, including streamed content from Spotify, Netflix, Disney Plus etc
Award winning SXFI tech included. Super X-Fi delivers surround sound audio as though there is a set of high-end multi-speaker system in your headphones. It also creates a custom sound profile for you based on your head and ear dynamics, so the sound you get is optimized for your ears only
GamerChat lets you enjoy game audio via USB while chatting in-game on your phone via Bluetooth at the same time, especially useful for platforms like Nintendo Switch that restricts in-game communications. It is also capable of high-quality 7.1 audio immersion for your calls without losing acoustic details, and comes with both the discreet NanoBoom mic for on-the-go use, and the pro-grade CommanderMic with inPerson Microphone Technology
SXFI BATTLE Mode – hear where your opponents are coming from and how far they are with accuracy.
Includes a high-speed Kevlar USB-C data cable that is capable of managing high bandwidth and driving the headset to its maximum audio potential
Super X-Fi’s spatialized audio helps to neutralize headphone fatigue with its expanded soundstage, and keeps you going. Plus, the SXFI AIR GAMER is also fitted with oversized perforated protein leather ear pads for better breathability, so it stays comfortable on your head even during extended use .
The Creative SXFI Air Gamer are ideal for game play using the SXFI technology. Lots of features and cool RGB colours that are adjustable. 8.1/10.
Welcome to my review of the Creative Outlier Air V2 that retail for £54.99.
V2 features upgraded touch controls – tap on the earbuds to pause, change tracks, answer a call or even activate smart assistants.
Ultra long battery life of 34 hours. 12-hour per charge with total playtime of up to 34 hours with case. USB C charging.
IPX5 water-resistant so it can handle sweat, accidental splashes, or even rain without issues
V2 has improved call quality. Featuring built-in microphone with Qualcomm cVc 8.0 technology, the Outlier Air V2 earbuds picks up your voice over the background for improved call quality and clearer voice communication. For added convenience, just tap to activate Siri or Google Assistant for a quick call or get your music started
Bluetooth 5.0, APTX and AAC. Outlier Air V2 is equipped with the latest Bluetooth 5.0 and aptX / AAC.
It is also fitted with the latest driver technology that produces detailed highs, well-balanced mids, and immersive bass with the 5.6 mm graphene-coated driver diaphragm
SUPER X-FI ready. Super X-Fi technology recreates a professional, multi-speaker system experience in your headphones that is personalised to your ears. Outlier Air V2 is certified SUPER X-FI readyso you can enjoy a preview of Super X-Fi headphone holography via the SXFI App. It works on local music files downloaded onto your mobile, like an MP3 player; and does not support streaming content like Netflix, YouTube and Spotify.
The Creative Outlier Air V2 sounds great using the app to adjust the EQ, with the possibility of enhancing the bass and using the SXFI technology. At their price point, they make superb TWS earphones. 8.2/10.
The Nik Collection 4 has just been released. This is a substantial update over the previous version.
An industry leader in the field of creative photography, Nik Collection 4 by DxO now features Meta Presets, improved U Point™ technology, and more seamless interactions with Adobe® Photoshop® and Lightroom®.
Packed with a palette of over 250 professional-grade presets, the unparalleled power of U Point™ local adjustment technology, and sophisticated editing tools, Nik Collection 4 targets every aspect of creative photography. From colour photography to black-and-white images, HDR, and analogue film simulation, Nik Collection 4 redefines the limits of creative photography.
A new, user-friendly design for an even more thrilling experience
The easy-to-use design of the software plugins Nik Viveza, dedicated to tone and colour local adjustments, and Nik Silver Efex, the ultimate solution for black-and-white conversion, has been completely revamped to offer an optimal user experience. Both plugins now feature a modern interface that is more beautiful and functional than ever. They also allow users to directly access all available presets, filter for type and favourites more seamlessly, and identify tools more easily through its newly redesigned palettes. That means photographers can concentrate on the essentials—expressing their creativity.
Next-level U Point™ technology
U Point™ technology, the first system to allow users to apply local adjustments without masks, has revolutionized photo editing. Nik Collection 4 now makes it possible to incorporate Control Points into personalized presets.
That means photographers can apply a similar style to several images while still preserving a specific area. For example, users can choose to apply a colour effect as well as a blurred background to several portraits. U Point™ technology also
includes a new Colour Tolerance setting so photographers can regulate the saturation of a specific tone range. Users can not only select the colour they want to change, but also adjust the tolerance of similar colour hues. Lastly, Control Points have been made easier to use than ever. This feature now includes fewer sliders, making the applied effect easier to view, and can be renamed so users can craft an optimized workflow experience.
Combine the settings of several plugins with Meta Presets
A new type of filter has been added for Adobe Photoshop users: “Meta Presets.” Directly accessible from the Nik Selective Tool, the Nik Collection software launch tool for Adobe Photoshop, these presets are Adobe Photoshop actions that combine the filters and settings of several Nik Collection plugins into one. They make it possible to edit photos by applying a series of presets from several plugins in just one click. Nik Collection 4 comes with a series of 10 Meta Presets.
Improved workflow with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom
Nik Collection 4 is continuing to expand its selection of lightning-fast retouching features. The Last Edit function, which lets users re-apply the last preset they used in one of the Nik Collection plugins while using Adobe Photoshop, has been extended to include Adobe Lightroom Classic. In addition, the new Smart Copy & Paste feature lets users selectively re-apply the effect of a plugin to one or several images directly in Adobe Lightroom without having to launch the software suite’s interface.
Even more striking black-and-white photos
To help users create even more brilliant black-and-white images, Nik Silver Efex now includes revolutionary ClearView technology, which was first offered in DxO PhotoLab, the market’s leading image-development software. This technology removes haze and enhances local contrast. The results are spectacular: In just one click, users can eliminate haze, all while revealing more natural objects, edges, details, and transitions. Get ready to create even more dazzling black-and-white photos!
Ever more creative
To offer users an even better editing experience, Nik Viveza features 10 native presets designed by professional photographers. And for fans of analogue black-and-white photography, Nik Silver Efex comes with 39 new and incredibly realistic grains that are even better at accurately recreating the look of iconic films than before.
Photographers who already own Nik Collection 3 by DxO or a previous version can upgrade their software by signing into their customer accounts. A fully functional, one-month trial version of Nik Collection 4 is available on the DxO website: https://nikcollection.dxo.com/download/.
I have been using the Nik Collection 4 for a week now and have been extremely impressed with the new features and effects. If you follow me on twitter, you will have seen some pretty special images already!
Eric Clapton – Layla (Acoustic Live at MTV Unplugged)
Axel F – From Beverly Hills Cop
Natalie Merchant – Ophelia
CeeLo Green – Bright Lights Bigger City
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Tin Pan Alley
K.D. Lang – Constant Craving
Nigel Kennedy – The New Four Seasons
Hans Zimmer – Mountains
The video review includes some sound testing whereby you can listen to the speakers pump out the music.
An absolute fantastic pair of bluetooth speakers that sound great, have superb bass, treble and midrange and comes with a ton of versatility. If you had to choose between a pair of HomePod Mini’s or these, the Edifiers are the clear winner! Highly recommended 9.8/10.