Category Archives: Apple

Apple HomePod Review – An Audiophile Dream Speaker

Welcome to my review of the Apple HomePod. I must admit when I first read all about this new speaker from Apple I was skeptical.

First, lets take a look at the key specs.

Key Specifications

– Dimensions:172 mm high x 142 mm wide
– Weight 2.5 kg
– Colour Space Grey or White

Audio Technology

– High-excursion woofer with custom amplifier
– Array of seven horn-loaded tweeters, each with its own custom amplifier
– Six-microphone array for far-field Siri
– Internal low-frequency calibration microphone for automatic bass correction
– Direct and ambient audio beam forming
– Transparent studio-level dynamic processing

Audio Sources

– Apple Music
– iTunes music purchases
– iCloud Music Library with an Apple Music or iTunes Match subscription
– Beats 1
– Apple Podcasts
– AirPlay other content to HomePod from iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV and Mac

Audio Formats

– HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV and FLAC

Touch Surface

– Tap or hold + or – for volume up/down
– Touch and hold for Siri
– Tap to play/pause music or Siri
– Double-tap to skip
– Triple-tap to skip back

So as I mentioned, I was skeptical to say the least. So unboxing the HomePod is like any other Apple product. A wonderful experience including the setup. The other thing I noticed is how damn heavy the HomePod was for its size.

Apple make technology simple at times, and setting this up was a breeze. See video below. When the HomePod powers on, you hear a thud. That is the first time you realise this little speaker is capable of delivering some deep bass.

If you read the specification above, there are lots of fancy words used. However, what matters is how good does it sound and does Siri actually work. I am astonished at how good the sound is for such a small speaker. Even listening at low volumes, it is a treat. Jazz is delightful. The room is filled with wonderful vocals and instruments. In fact, I tried lots of different genres and all were great. Sometimes, the mids got lost, but honestly you cannot go wrong with this. Siri works well and pretty quickly too.

I don’t have an Apple Music subscription, but as a back up, I do have iTunes Match subscription on top of my Google Play Music. This means all my 10,000 songs can be accessed instantly. Using Airplay, I can listen to any other music source from my iPad. I can even ask Siri to move to the next track on my iPad.

Of course, the HomePod nows works with HomeKit. Now lets take a look at the video review.

Video Review


If you have an Apple TV, iPad or iPhone then this is for you! If you also have an Apple TV music or iTunes Match subscription then this is a no brainer. The HomePod is so much better than I ever thought. Amazing!

Useful Links

Apple HomePod on Apple UK Store


Sennheiser HD 579 Headphone Review vs Sennheiser HD 598

Welcome to my review of the Sennheiser HD 579 headphones with a comparison to the Sennheiser HD 598.

The HD 579 is part of the new HD 500 Series. The HD 579 is a headphone that provides premium performance and great value. They are powered by Sennheiser proprietary transducer technology and feature the ‘Ergonomic Acoustic Refinement’ design.

Using the HD 579 was a great experience. For a fraction of the price compared to high end audiophile headphones, The HD 579 was approaching high end audiophile sound reproduction. The open back, around ear headphone design delivers a lovely natural tonal balance with a wide soundstage and spatial performance. Comfort is one of the best with proper large ear cups fitted with plush velour ear cushions. Treble and mid range is detailed and not tiring. Speed and timing is excellent with a decent amount of bass.

As these are open back headphones, they let all the music leak from them and at the same time you can hear everything going on in the outside world. Sennheiser do have a range of closed back and noise cancelling headphones for those days when you need no disturbances! So for commuting, these are not the headphones to use. At home and in quiet environments they are ideal. They are also easy to drive. Tested with the Google Pixel 2 XL using the USB C dongle and also with the LG V30+. The pairing with the LG V30+ was exceptional.

So how do these compare with the older HD 598. They are pretty much identical. The HD 598 are marginally easier to drive and have a slightly wider frequency range. In real life its hard to tell them apart. I felt the bass on the HD 579 was marginally better.


The Sennheiser HD 579 headphones are highly recommended and represent great value for money.

Useful Links

Sennheiser headphone info and deals on Amazon UK

Newquay Beach – Shot on the iPhone X

I have taken a several shots on the iPhone X, but these photos taken of Newquay beach really highlight just how great the camera performs.

In all 3 of the shots just look at the colour, depth and overall tonality. The seagulls were captured perfectly too.

The middle photo really emphasises just how much of a difference the zoom lens has become and how optical image stabilisation enhances 2 x zoom photos.

I must admit I was pretty blown away by these images. I have shot this scene on many phones and by far these from the iPhone X are simply the best and outstanding in my view.

iPhone X vs Pixel 2 – Camera Comparison Part 2

Over the weekend I published two posts. A low light camera comparisons between the iPhone X and Pixel 2, and some first shots from the iPhone X. 

Now I’m back with some more camera shots from both shots, from outdoor, indoor and some more low light shots. The differences are stark at times. All on auto. 

In all these shots it’s the iPhone X first, then the Pixel 2. So which is better in your eyes ?

So perfect sunny conditions with this shot. iPhone X is the first shot. Both look great but do you have a favourite. 

In this indoor shot the Pixel 2 on the bottom has more detail. Look at the drinks fridge bottom right. But do you agree?

Now into night shots where the differences between the phones becomes more obvious. Again Pixel 2 is the bottom shot, iPhone X on top. 

Again both phones using a different exposure with the Pixel 2 going for a higher ISO. The iPhone X used a 1/4 second shutter speed. But which is better. Pixel bottom. iPhone X on top. 

So who is your winner and why? 

Some other points to note. The Pixel 2 has Bluetooth LDAC, APT-X and APT-X audio codecs and therefore sound better with headphones. Both have stereo speakers. The iPhone X sounds better than the Pixel 2 but Pixel 2 XL sounds better than the iPhone X. Screens. Lol. iPhone X has a better screen than both Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. 

Apple iPhone X – First Impressions + Camera Samples

There has been a lot written and shown about the iPhone X, but what I will say, the only way you will understand and appreciate this phone is to spend time using it yourself. Why you ask? Well, I had some fears and concerns over certain aspects which have in some part turned out to be unnecessary. Photo above is using pano mode on iPhone X.

The biggest decision to make is silver or space grey finish for the iPhone X. I went space grey as it looks badass. I have since seen the silver first hand and still stand by my decision. The silver is more photogenic, but space grey looks meaner.

Just as a side note, all the photos you see embedded in this post are from the iPhone X. At the end, I have linked to the Flickr iPhone X Album, Google Pixel 2 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Flickr albums of mine. These albums give you an idea of the differences between the phones and their cameras. Plus those that like to pixel peek can!

Low light/darkness shots.

Starting up, I decided to not use my iPhone 7 Plus old backup, but restore as a new phone. This was a relatively simple job to do. Setting up FaceID was a breeze. Apple Pay and all the other aspects of the setup procedure was completed smoothly. Probably the easiest iPhone to setup.

Above, close up flower shots, one using the 2 x optical zoom.

And moving on to FaceID. It really does just work. Its brilliant actually. I really thought it would be a PITA. Its not. In real life usage, its actually faster than TouchID and effortless. Still waiting for some UK sunshine to test it in bright conditions.

Above, indoor lighting inside a shopping centre.

Above. City landscape. One using 2 x zoom.

That screen. Its stunning. No more on that one. Much better than anticipated. Apps on the whole seems to have adapted ok with the ears and new screen size. Some haven’t so I am hoping they will get updated soon. Google Maps needs an update for example.

Talking of maps, I tested the GPS and used Apple Maps for turn by turn navigation. It looks superb on the iPhone X screen, and also when did Apple Maps get so good. Seriously, for turn by turn directions, it provided great on screen instructions and clear spoken steps.

Gestures, not had too much trouble learning these as I had watched a few YouTube videos. I stumbled with Apple Pay and the double press, but nonetheless completed both transactions.

Siri. Its not as good as Google Assistant. But in some ways Siri is fantastic. I am in the car, stuck in traffic, iPhone X is clipped into my screen mount, I call up Siri and end up sending 10 iMessages to my wife back and forth with little effort.

Camera. As you can see I have taken a range of shots. If you watch my video below, you will see some portrait lighting samples as well. This proved great fun. Talking fun, Animoji is crazy fun, and super cool to use.

It’s early days and I have some thoughts on my overall score but I will compare the X to the Pixel 2 and Note 8. These 3 phones couldn’t be more different. One thing is certain, the X is just an iPhone running iOS 11.

Video Review

Useful Links

Buy something on Amazon UK & Help Support Gavin’s Gadgets at no extra cost!
Gavin’s iPhone X Flickr Album
Gavin’s Google Pixel 2 Flickr Album
Gavin’s Samsung Note 8 Flickr Album

Apple iPhone X vs Google Pixel 2 – Low Light Camera Comparison

Last night I was at the historic Duke of Cornwall Hotel in Plymouth. This made for a quick camera comparison in low light using the iPhone X and Google Pixel 2. All shot handheld and in auto.

Above is the shot from the iPhone X. This is uploaded at full size, as is all the other shots.

Immediately, you can see the difference above with the Google Pixel 2. So much more clarity and quality. The Pixel 2 shot shows more of the hotel windows.

Back to the iPhone X above. Not a bad looking shot.

And now above the Pixel 2 once again showing off its chops in low light.

So as you can see the end result is pretty clear that the Pixel 2 took the better shots and by quite a margin. Do you agree?

In addition, I used the Pixel 2 to snap some incredible portrait shots, which for privacy reasons I cannot share. However, the Portrait mode on the iPhone X created some fun looking black and white portraits which seemed to go down a treat.

More soon!

LightwaveRF new Apple HomeKit Range – Dimmers, Smart Plugs & More – First Impressions

The leading smart home provider LightwaveRF has released its new range of products that are compatible with Apple HomeKit. The new certified Generation 2 range consist of a new Smart Link Plus, Smart Dimmers, Sockets and heating accessories. Combining HomeKit means LightwaveRF devices can be controlled with IOS apps and Siri voice commands, as well as Google and Alexa.

I have received the starter kit, shown above, which consists of the hub, dimmer and 2 way switch.

The new LightwaveRF range has been part of a two-year research and development program with new features including a built-in energy monitoring, colour changing LEDs to indicate status and wire-free two-way switching.

Initial setup involves connecting the Link Plus to the Wi-Fi router. Then you are able to control lighting, heating, power and security through voice control using Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant. You can also use Apple Home and the LightwaveRF apps.

The dimmer and smart plug looks really smart. I can’t wait to test this out fully.

More soon.

Sennheiser HD 4.30G Around-Ear Closed back Headphones review – Dynamite Sound for under £100

Welcome to my review of the new Sennheiser HD 4.30G Around-Ear Closed back Headphones.

Key Features

– Closed-back design and ergonomic earpads reduce background noise and provide immersive detail
– Integrated 3-button smart remote with in-line microphone for controlling calls and music
– Handy single-sided tangle free cable
– Soft, comfortable ear pads for enhanced comfort- you will forget that you are wearing them!
– Robust foldable headbands for easy storage on the go
– Frequency Response – 18 – 22,000 kHz
– Sound Pressure Level 120db
– Impedance – 18 ohms

Sennheiser sell two versions of these headphones. The HD 4.30G and HD 4.30i. One is for Android/Samsung and the other for iOS devices.

The Sennheiser HD 4.30 are comfortable and are specifically designed to be driven from a phone. In fact at 18 ohms and 120db, these are a perfect match for most smartphones. With my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 these are a fantastic pairing. Dynamic, punchy bass which is slightly emphasised, good mid and treble, reasonable separation, passive noise cancellation in an over the ear style, what more could you want.

Video Review


Extremely recommended for phones and other portable devices. Dynamic sounding, punchy and worth every penny. I love them!

More information and the latest pricing from Amazon UK – Click HERE.

PS Next up is a 3 way comparison with the Bose QC35 II and new Beats 3 Wireless headphones. Can these £90 pair of headphones take on £300 wireless flagships?

Beats Studio 3 Wireless Headphones Review – With the new Apple W1 Chip and Pure ANC

Welcome to my review of the new Beats 3 Studio Wireless Headphones. These feature the new Apple W1 chip and Pure ANC.

Key Features –

– Pure Adaptive Noise Cancelling (Pure ANC) actively blocks external noise.
– Real-time audio calibration preserves a premium listening experience.
– Up to 22 hours of battery life enables fully-featured all-day wireless playback.
– Apple W1 chip for Class 1 Wireless Bluetooth® connectivity and battery efficiency.
– With Fast Fuel, a 10-minute charge gives 3 hours of play when battery is low.
– Pure ANC-off for low power mode provides up to 40 hours of battery life.
– Take calls, control music and activate Siri with multifunction on-ear controls.
– Soft over-ear cushions for extended comfort and added noise isolation.
– In the box – Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones,Carrying case,3.5mm RemoteTalk cable, Universal USB charging cable (USB-A to USB Micro-B),Quick Start Guide ,Warranty Card
– Over Ear Design
– Weight 260 g
The Beats 3 Wireless are the upgraded version of the original Beats over the ear headphones. In the update, Beats have improved the headphones by including the Apple W1 chip and upgrading the active noise cancellation. I like the fact you can turn the ANC off whilst connected to your device. I tested the headphones with my Apple iPad Pro 10.5 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Excellent results and superb range from both devices. I could walk around my entire house without the connection breaking. The noise cancellation is good, not as good as the Bose QC35, but these do sound better with music. They do not have lip sync issues with YouTube videos. Calls were clear too. Battery life is excellent too.

Pairing to an iPhone or iPad is a breeze, see video below, but it is as simple as turning them on. Then a pop up appears on screen with a pic of the headphones. Hit the connect button and that is it. They are now paired to all your Apple devices using iCloud.

The Beats 3 Wireless do have a slight bass focus, but nowhere as near as previous versions. Mid and treble is reasonable too. Overall the balance between music and noise cancellation is good.

Now lets take a look at the video review.

Video Review


Highly recommended especially for anyone using Apple devices due to the extended range and easy pairing.

More info and the latest pricing – Click HERE.

PS. Coming up soon, a 3 way comparison between the new Beats Quietcomfort 35 II and new Sennheiser headphones.

Apple iPhone 8 Plus – First Impressions 

Apple iPhone 8 Plus. First Impressions and initial thoughts. 

Judging by the lack of queues at all the main Apple stores it seems many people are clearly waiting for the newer iPhone X. 

But from my initial use of the new iPhone 8 Plus I have come away with a different view. The expression a wolf in sheep’s clothing is quite appropriate. It’s actually its more like a bland lion in sheep’s clothing. 

The A11 Bionic processor is a beast. What it does for the whole phone experience is badass. 

First my views on the 3 finishes. I didn’t like space grey. The gold is ok. But I loved the white and silver finish. 

Screen. The true tone screen looks too good to be true at times. It’s the ultimate in IPS technology. But it’s not light years ahead of the 7 Plus. But it’s still better. 

Operation. The A11 processor must contribute to the overall smoothness of the phone. Really felt like gliding through menus and apps. 

Camera. There’s no HDR option. It’s on by default. The camera felt fast to take shots and there was low noise in the indoor photos. Portrait lightning was fun to use but I did notice some errors on the edges. It is in beta though. The standout feature of the camera was the video. 4K at 60fps is freaking unbelievably amazing. So life like and real to view footage back on the screen. Stabilisation looked good too. 

Speakers. Louder than before. That’s a good thing. Wireless charging worked as expected. 

I started by saying it’s a bland lion in sheep’s clothing. And that is how I feel. It looks like every other iPhone for the last 4 or so years. Except it performs like the King of the Jungle. 

I can see this being quite popular on contract upgrade plans and for people that still want the convenience of Touch ID. It is however not a design I want to see in my hand. I’m more interested in the upcoming iPhone X!