Category Archives: Tech News

iFi Audio xCan Portable Power Amp vs iFi Audio xDSD Portable DAC Amp – Review & All the Differences!

Welcome to my review and comparison between the iFi Audio xCAN and xDSD.

Intro – What are they?

xCAN is a dual-mono portable headphone amplifier with up to 1,000mW of power per channel plus it also includes bluetooth. It retails for £299.

xDSD is portable headphone amp DAC that can playback high-quality digital audio file formats. Hi-Res True Native playback for all music formats from MP3 to DSD512, PCM768 and 2xDXD. It retails for £399.

Connections

xCAN – digital SPDIF or via analogue 2.5/3.5mm jack connection. iFi’s S-Balanced technology means that you gain the advantages of a balanced connection even when using an unbalanced one.

xDSD only 3.5mm jack using iFi’s S-Balanced® circuit delivers maximum performance from single-ended and balanced headphones alike. You can connect to Apple devices using the CCK Lightning to USB adapter. The design of the xDSD allows for a secure fit. See video below for more info. The 3.5mm coaxial/TOSLINK combo SPDIF input allows connections to older DAPs and CD players.

Extra Features

xCAN 3D+® opens up your music to give you the spaciousness of a live-concert atmosphere. and XBass Ⅱ® analogue bass correction system corrects headphone/speaker bass response to deliver a more natural sound to the midrange frequencies.
xDSD has 3D+ and the original XBass+

xCAN uses the parent company AMR’s Global Master Timing® (GMT)/ Memory Buffer System. solves the problem of digital SPDIF jitter.

xCAN USB C to charge
xDSD micro USB to charge

Bluetooth

xCAN – ESS Sabre 44.1/48k 16-Bit (AAC, aptX, aptX LL and SBC)
xDSD – AAC & APT-X

Battery

xCAN – 18 hours, 12 hours with bluetooth
xDSD 10 hours

Power

xCAN upto 1,000mw in balanced at 32 ohms, 6 volts max too (3 volts in s balanced mode/ 600mw)
xDSD upto 500mw but at 16 ohms, 270mw at 50 ohms, remember xCAN was 1,000mw at 32 ohms so significantly more powerful. Max voltage 3.8 volts.

Weight

xCAN / xDSD both weigh 127g

Sound Quality

xCAN the extra oomph really make the xCan squeeze every last drop out of your headphones. From my Fiio FA7 and AKG and Sennheiser HD600, all sounded excellent. Excellent bass extension, seperations and more. Genres from dance, classical and jass , rock all handled with aplomb. Like everything, all depends on the quality of the source, but then there is bluetooth. This is a good sounding option, iFi have gone to a lot of trouble to get the best sonically. Not all Bluetooth is made equally. Highly convienant having bluetooth. Having the Xbass and 3D+ really is a godsend too. Some headphones like my AKG really benefit from a slight bass boost.

For an extra £100.

xDSD gives you a decent DAC with good amp but not as powerful as the xCAN. However, partnering both together will bring a big smile on your face.

Of course, if you want a great DAC but extreme power to drive any headphone, iFi Audio have you covered with the micro iDSD Black Label, with a max of 10 volts, 4,000mW of power at 16 ohms. This costs £599, is much bigger but still portable.

Video Review and Comparison

Conclusion

The iFi Audio xCAN is a fantastic portable headphone amplifier and highly recommended. If you need a decent DAC and amp then look no further than the xDSD.

Useful Links

For more information and specs, click on the respective links below.

xCAN on Amazon UK
xDSD on Amazon UK
Micro iDSD Black Label on Amazon UK

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Google Pixel 3a XL First Impressions + My 5 Key Findings

Welcome to my Pixel 3a XL First Impressions plus my 5 top findings, covering off the camera and 4 other key aspects of the phone.

Included are some beautiful photos from Dartmoor National Park as well.

If you have any questions please ask.

Photographing Wild Cats & Bears with the Huawei P30 Pro

The Huawei P30 Pro is a phone with such a versatile camera, and one that has a 5 x optical zoom, 10 x lossless zoom and up to 50 x digital zoom. With that in mind, I decided to put it through it paces at Dartmoor Zoo.

The film “We Bought a Zoo” featuring Matt Damon is a true story based on Dartmoor Zoo.

So sit back and enjoy all the photos and videos of the wild cats and bears at Dartmoor Zoo.

BenQ treVolo S – Portable Electrostatic Bluetooth Speaker REVIEW – Redefining sound!

Welcome to my review of the BenQ treVolo S Portable Electrostatic Bluetooth Speaker. The BenQ treVolo S retails for £149 / $199.

It is the world’s smallest portable Bluetooth speaker featuring Electrostatic Speaker Technology. Electrostatic speakers deliver superb clarity and accuracy. The vertical dispersion of the entire thin-film diaphragm offers bi-directional sound projection for a more detailed audio performance and accurate delivery of natural, crisp and clear sounds. The dual amplifiers and dual woofers finish the sound off.

Key Features / Specs

– Unique electrostatic speaker technology
– Dual 12w woofers and dual amplifiers
– Lossless music playback via USB connection
– Several playback modes – duo mode (pair two treVolo S for stereo sound), standard and non distorted 3D sound
– NFC
– USB DAC/charging
– Batteries last up to 18 hours on a charge
– Bluetooth 4.2 with AAC codec support
– Input Types‎ – 3.5 mm stereo input / USB audio‎
– Key Definition‎s – Power, BT pairing, Volume +, Volume -,3D (mode), play/pause‎
– LED Indicator‎ Power key : Red LED x1; Green x1 ,BT Pairing Key : Blue LED x1‎
– Dimension‎s 96.3x 157.5 x 63.2mm (Closed)‎
– Weight 1kg‎

After removing the treVolo S from its packaging, I was pleasantly surprised at the solid construction. The electrostatic speakers open out from the sides of the speaker (watch video to fully appreciate the design, operation and sound)

There are a few ways to connect to the speaker. NFC for quick pairing, standard bluetooth or via USB for the highest quality sound. There is an android and iOS app available to assist with linking another speaker together and well as quickly toggling between standard and non distorted 3D sound.

As the treVolo S uses electrostatic speaker technology, (this is normally found in high-end speaker systems), this means it has a really low distortion rate that is only one-tenth of the rate of conventional speakers. There is also no cabinet resonance. One of the key sound characteristics of electrostatic speakers, is the natural and spacious sound. Listening to a variety of genres with the treVolo S and this sound quality is obvious from the get go and a joy to listen to.

Genres auditioned. Classical, jazz, blues, rock and pop. Listening to some of my favourite classical pieces, the treVolo S has an wonderful transparency and emotion. Clear vocals and mid range with just the right amount of bass. Female jazz singers sounded superb. With rock and pop, once gain great clarity with just the right amount of bass. These do not have a V shaped sound with over compensated bass. The treVolo S is designed to play high quality lossless music, yet even via bluetooth its reproduction is beautiful.

As a tip for placement, do not push these back against a wall. Electrostatic speakers emit sound from both sides, so leave some space behind and place speakers at ear level when listening.

Video Review

Conclusion

Gorgeous sound and design. Highly recommended. 9.5/10.

Useful Links

BenQ treVolo S on Amazon UK – Click HERE
BenQ treVolo S on Amazon US – Click HERE.
BenQ website

Huawei P30 Pro – Camera Review –

Welcome to my Huawei P30 Pro Camera Review. This is the first review of many to come covering the Huawei P30 Pro.

Key Features

– 40mp Wide Angle Lens f/1.6 with OIS
– 20mp Ultra Wide Angle Lens f/2.2
– 8MP Telephoto f/3.4 OIS
– ToF Sensor – Time of Flight

The Huawei P30 Pro features quite a significant camera upgrade over the P20 Pro with its new RYYB sensor in the main camera. The use of red yellow yellow blue photocells on the sensor surface rather than the traditional red green green blue Bayer array provides offer 40 percent higher light sensitivity over the P20 Pro, as yellow lets in more light than green.

With a 5 x fixed optical zoom lens, installed periscope style, the P30 Pro can manage 10 x lossless and up to 50 x digital zoom. If macro is your thing, the super macro mode can get as close as 2.5cm away from the subject. This is done using the ultra wide lens.

Other key features is being able to use an ISO up to 409,600. And no that isn’t a typo. So what I have done, is create a video below to give you an idea of what the P30 Pro can deliver with out of the box firmware. Future firmwares will improve the phone and add more functionality.

Video Review

Conclusion

The Huawei P30 Pro shows strong promise with incredible flexibility. The out of the box firmware does have some bugs, which should be eliminated with the next couple of firmwares.

Useful Links

Huawei P30 Pro pricing and more info plus cases on Amazon UK

Huawei P30 Pro – The new smartphone phone with 50 x zoom – First shots

The Huawei P30 Pro packs a range of cameras on the rear and front.

The rear cameras featuring a 40mp wide, 20mp ultra wide, 5 x optical zoom and a depth sensor. There is a 32mp front camera.

There’s a lot of special features available from 5 x optical zoom, 10 x lossless and upto 50 x zoom. ISO up to 409,000. That’s insane. That means in auto mode the camera can see in the dark. Then there’s the dedicated modes from night, aperture, light painting and so much more.

Above a normal shot and then the ultra wide.

And then there’s the 5 x optical zoom and followed by 10 x optical.

Using digital zoom you can go up to 50 x zoom, although the quality takes a big hit. At 50 x zoom I could see the birds nesting.

Then there’s the next trick from the Huawei P30 Pro. Super macro mode. Using the ultra wide lens you can get as close as 2.5cm away from the lens.

And above some further shots from the camera.

There is a new firmware incoming which improves the cameras and others aspects of the phone.

Watch out for lots more coverage on the Huawei P30 Pro both on my website here and on my YouTube Channel “gavingadgets”.

Roku Press Paws – a pet friendly remote

Today, 29th March, Roku is introducing a new product to its streaming portfolio.Roku Press Paws is a pet-friendly streaming remote designed specifically for pets to enhance their TV experience.

For full details and product video, please visit roku.com/en-gb/press-paws-uk.

· Animal-Themed Shortcut Buttons: Ergonomic shortcut buttons get your dog to their favourite shows faster, giving them direct access to pet-themed channels including Animal Planet, where they can catch the latest “Evan Goes Wild” episode, and The Pet Collective on The Roku Channel, where they can watch hours of clips, entertaining memes, and funniest animal videos

· Bark Assistant Technology: The Press Paws remote works seamlessly with your Roku player or Roku TV and features “Bark Assistant Technology.” Various commands are at your pet’s disposal, like bark-to-play, bark-to-pause (for emergency bio breaks) and bark-to-mute

· Built in Sub-WOOFer: We built a Sub-WOOFer into the Press Paws Remote that produces very high frequencies, so your hound’s sound is happy in the home

The Roku Press Paws Remote will be available for purchase in the UK for £19.99 via Roku.com starting 1st April 2019.

Happy Streaming! Grab yours on Amazon UK https://amzn.to/2OCWxGC

Nokia 9 Pureview – A Photographer’s First Impressions + Camera Samples

Welcome to my Nokia 9 Pureview, a Photographer’s First Impressions.

The Key Features

The Nokia 9 Pureview features 5 rear cameras with Zeiss optics. Each of the five cameras automatically adopt the optimal settings for various parts of the scene and then fused into a single HDR photo with texture and detail from both the shadows and the highlights. All 5 cameras shoot simultaneously.

The five cameras create an incredibly accurate depth map of your image. This gives you ultimate focal control when editing the photo long after the shot is taken. Up to 1,200 layers of depth are captured.

So now sit back and enjoy the first impressions which include –

– Full Camera UI
– System UI
– Audio Test
– Camera Samples
– Current Pro & Cons Demonstrated

Video Review

Useful Links

Latest pricing on Nokia 9 and cases on Amazon UK – click HERE.

Fiio BTR3 Review – Bluetooth Headphone Amp for converting wired into wireless headphones!

Welcome to my review of the Fiio BTR3 Bluetooth Headphone Amp adapter and USB DAC. The Fiio BTR3 retails for £61.99.

The Key Features

– integrated clip

– small size

– upgradeable firmware

– all available Bluetooth codecs supported

– good sound

– mic for calls

– voice assistant support

Video Review

Latest pricing on Amazon UK and more info click HERE.

iFi Audio micro iDSD Black Label DAC Review – A Power Beast

Welcome to my review of the iFi Audio micro iDSD Black Label DAC. The iFi Audio micro iDSD BL labels retails for £599.

Key Features

– Burr Brown chipset plays high resolution music files natively, including Octa-DSD512, PCM768, and Double DXD
– Up to 10V, 4000mW of power
– Built-in iEMatch for sensitive in-ear monitors and Bit Perfect sound
– Portable with up to 12 hours of playback
– 1.5A SmartPower USB to charge your smart device
– 3D+ and XBass+
– AMR Global Master Timing femto-precision clock system upgraded for ‘super low’ phase-noise and jitter
– MQA support

Video Review

Conclusion

The iFi Audio micro iDSD BL is one hell of a DAC and amp that is able to drive any headphone to decent levels. As a desktop device it works extremely well, yet it can be used as a portable device that lasts 12 hours on battery. Highly recommended.

For more info and the latest pricing on Amazon UK, click HERE.

UAG Plyo iPad Case Review – Ultimate Impact Protection for your iPad

Welcome to my review of the UAG Plyo iPad Case. This case is clever as it is compatible with all the following iPads –

– iPad Air 1
– iPad Air 2
– iPad Pro 9.7
– iPad 5th Gen
– iPad 6th Gen

It also has built in impact protection, auto wake/sleep and more.

Video Review

Conclusion

The UAG Plyo case for iPad provides strong impact protection, extra grip and more. Recommended. Discover the full range of UAG cases on Amazon UK.

Honor View 20 – 10 Part Review – Deep Dives with the Camera & Audio System & Much More

As a reviewer of smartphones and gadgets, I am privileged to use a significant number of phones across a number of different manufacturers.

The Honor View 20 is a phone that has surpassed all my expectations. Here’s why.

Main Review

Honor originally provided me with a Honor View 20 on loan for the purpose of this review. However, after the loan period, I had enjoyed the phone so much I bought my own View 20 in phantom blue. This is the 8gb ram 256gb storage option. Some of you would have been aware that I had had a Pixel 3 XL. I sold this and replaced it the Honor View 20. That’s how impressed I have been with this phone.

So below are the key aspects of the Honor View 20 that have stood out for me.

Battery – In real daily use the battery life whether on wifi or 4g is astonishing. Today, I am likely to end with around 9 hours screen on time from coming off charge at 6.00am this morning. I have watched a movie on it, streamed from Netflix, streamed Tidal MQA Master quality audio into a USB DAC ( iFi Audio xDSD ) , messaged, browsed, played games and so much more. The fact it comes with a super charger plug which gives 50% recharging in 30 mins is really the icing on the cake. Compared to my Pixel 3 XL, the Honor View 20 totally crushes it. The Pixel 3 XL would only manage 4 hours screen on time.

Signal strength – whether on wifi, cellular, GPS or bluetooth, the phone just has remarkable coverage. This is likely due to the 3 bands for wifi and the double GPS signal system. Bluetooth is the latest version 5, with LDAC Hi-Res Codec support. Wifi calling all works a treat.

Screen. It’s a big 6.4 inch IPS screen that nearly goes edge to edge. That’s is what is feel like when watching YouTube or movies that fill the entire screen with just a hole punch for the front camera. Face unlock works instantly as does the rear fingerprint sensor. It is worth noting that if you wear polarised sunglasses, the screen is visible in portrait but not landscape.

Cameras. These are amazing. The rear cameras consist of a 48mp and 3D Time of Flight Sensor. The front camera is 25mp. My dedicated camera review is below. I have been out several times and taken shots with my Pixel 3 XL and Honor View 20. I then did a blind viewing with several people and 75% of the time, the View 20 was the winner. I subsequently have done more tests and ended up preferring the Honor View 20 shots. Add to the fact the diversity of camera modes makes this one blockbuster of a phone for taking pictures. Even the video is good especially at 1080p with all the Video AI modes.

Audio. The Honor View 20 has a 3.5mm headphone jack and its really good. Here’s why and more on the audio aspects of the phone.

Other features – It is great for making actual phone calls. It has an infra red blaster, great for adjusting the volume on my TV.

Price. It costs £499 for the 128gb version and £579 for the 256gb version. Link at end to Amazon where you can currently order and get a free Honor Watch Magic smartwatch. The Honor Watch Magic is worth around £155. When you think that Apple charge £1,149 for their 256gb iPhone XS Max, that’s a huge difference.

Camera Samples

The above shot was taken using the Aperture mode which allows post photo to adjust the focus point and blur from f/0.95 to f/16.

The above traffic trails light painting mode is so easy to use. For this a tripod is needed or a firm surface. This mode is built in to the default camera app.

The above is a hand held night mode. No tripod needed. Check out the main video review after one month which has over 40 additional camera samples.

Main Video Review

Additional Articles on the Honor View 20

The Barbican Historic Harbour Shot on the Honor View 20

Can your phone deliver this level of battery performance on 4G?

Portishead Quay Marine – Long Exposure Night Shots

Trip to London – Shots of Hyde Park

Honor View 20 – Secret Extra Night Mode discovered

Honor View 20 – Check out these battery stats

Conclusion

This phone sits at the top of my tree for recommendations. The sum of its parts creates a superb user experience.

Available from Amazon UK

The Barbican, Plymouth – Historic Harbour shot on the Honor View 20

The Barbican in Plymouth was one of the few parts of the city that survived the second World War blitz. Most of the historic building in the city of Plymouth got destroyed. Two or three streets still retain some of the architecture of an historic fishing port. The Barbican has the largest concentration of cobbled streets in Britain, and contains 100 listed buildings.

The first shot above is actually a long exposure of 7 seconds. This was achieved by using the Silky Water Mode in the camera app of the Honor View 20. It is actually my favourite shot.

Next up is a simple auto shot at 12mp with AI left on. Equally as beautiful.

Now there is an option to use the full 48mp on the Honor View 20. So for the last shot, this was using the 48mp AI Clarity mode. This allows for some serious levels of detail and zooming in if required.

Can your phone deliver this level of battery life? A Day with the Honor View 20 on 4G

7am yesterday morning I was standing at Exeter St David’s station in Devon waiting for a train to London Paddington.

My Honor View 20 was at 100% battery and picking up a 4G signal on Three UK. This was going to be a true test of it’s battery life and performance as I was only going to be using cellular signal and data and no WiFi. If you connect the Honor View 20 to WiFi , the battery performance improves by 25% approximately.

The train line to London from Exeter is not the best for obtaining a signal. Other phones I’ve have used on the same line, often struggle for signal. The Honor View 20 seemed to have a signal for the entire train journey of nearly 3 hours. Not only that my dad decided to video call me, and twice. Both times the video call was held perfectly.

Whilst on the train, I used Amazon Prime and watched the latest episode of the Grand Tour using my wireless headphones. I was also getting lots of messages and was replying on and off for the entire journey. After watching the Grand Tour I was listening to Tidal music at master quality using my Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones for the rest of the train ride.

So eventually, I arrived at London Paddington, and I needed to take the Circle Line to South Kensington. Unfortunately, this line was closed at London Paddington due to engineering works, so I fired up Google Maps, and used this to give me turn by turn directions to Fulham Road. This ended up using Google Maps for one hour.

Of course, walking across London, there was no way I couldn’t stop and take loads of photos. So I did. See my previous post for photos I took of London Paddington and at Hyde Park, London. As a side point, the View 20 is a blast to use and it takes great photos without any effort.

During my walk across London, I received several phone calls, and another video call. The video call was on loudspeaker and despite the strong cross wind, I could hear my dad and he could hear me too. Phone calls were also really clear.

When I arrived at my destination, I ended up having to message various people on and off for the next 4 hours.

I then had to walk back to London Paddington station, again using Google Maps and taking a few more photos.

More messaging and emails occurred throughout the day.

On the train back to Exeter St David’s , I watched a film on Netflix. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. 2 hours and 30 mins.

Remember all the time, I’m on 4G not WiFi.

Eventually, I got back home. A whole day out in London 6 hours screen on time. And still 15% left.

The Honor View 20 and its 4,000mAh battery is a true battery champ.

Portishead Quay Marina at Night – Stunning Long Exposure Photos taken on the Honor View 20

The Honor View 20 has a great auto mode, but it also has a wealth of other modes built into the camera app. One of which is Night mode. This allows for hand held 5 second exposures without a tripod. However, with a tripod, the phone detects it is securely clamped and allows for an even longer Night mode photo of up to 32 seconds.

The results are stunning.

The above shot is of the boats in the marina. And below is a photo of the restaurants.

Impressive!