Category Archives: Windows

Windows 10 Anniversary Update on Aug 2nd, but what about Mobile? – Steve is upset again 

“Windows 10 Anniversary Update on Aug 2nd, but what about Mobile?

Microsoft has announced the official date of the production rollout of the ‘final’ binaries for Windows 10 on the desktop, to be supplied as an Over The Air upgrade. But what about ‘Mobile’? Some quotes and musings below.”

Steve Litchfield is unhappy with Microsoft and its big Windows 10 announcement. Where is the Windows 10 mobile love? I can understand Steve’s frustration here. I do wonder if mobile will be forgotten in its current guise and will re launch with the Microsoft Surface Phone that will actually run the full desktop Windows software, whereby it will solve many app shortages and more on the spot.

More at All About Windows Phone

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Tech Addicts Podcast – Next Episode is Live

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Tech Addicts Podcast is back again with new episode starring Gareth Myles, Jay Garrett, Sam Pullen and I. Tech Addicts is released every 2 weeks.

To listen to the latest episode subscribe by searching “Tech Addicts” within your favourite podcast app, iTunes or use the URL “mobiletechaddicts.libsyn.com/rss” to add directly. ALternatively, you can also add it to Google Play Music, Click HERE.

Have fun listening!

HTC 10, Xiaomi Mi Max, LG G5, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, MS Lumia 950 and more – check out the latest on these phones

There have been many review recently published and many more coming soon. Below is a highlight of the reviews of all the smartphones recently published.

Apple iPhone 6S Plus – review

HTC 10 review

LG G5 – And All The Modules – review

LG V10 review

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL Review

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – The Experience

Xiaomi Mi Max review

Xiaomi Mi Max with MIUI v8

Phone Accessory Reviews

Samsung Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic review

Samsung Lens Cover – Closer Look at the Telephoto Lens

Samsung Lens Cover for S7 and S7 Edge review

Audio Reviews

iBasso DX80 with Chord Mojo – review

Pioneer XDP-100R – review

Chord Mojo – Review

Dragonfly Red – review

Fiio Q1 review

Oppo PM-3 Headphones – review

Security

Miguard A105 Security System

Netatmo Welcome – review

Piper NV HD Security System

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL – Review – How does it stand up to the competition?

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL - The end of an era

Welcome to my review of the Microsoft Lumia 950 XL. Thanks to Steve Litchfield from @AA_WP for the loan.

The first thing I noticed reading the specs sheet is that the hardware is well specified. However, more and more phones also comes stacked to the gills with specs, so does the 950 XL stay ahead of the came. Well first, you will notice my 950 XL has the optional Mozo red leather back cover, which I have to say looks smart. Without the leather cover, the standard plastic finish looks and feels cheap and not as premium as other phones. Anyway, maybe the specifications are ahead of the competition? So lets look at the full specifications –

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL - The end of an era

Key Specifications

– OS – Windows 10
– Size & weight -Height: 151.9 mm,Width: 78.4 mm,Thickness: 8.1 mm,Weight: 165 g
– Display size: 5.7 inch, WQHD (2560 x 1440),TrueColor (24-bit/16M),AMOLED, ClearBlack,518 ppi
-Display features: Easy to clean, Orientation sensor, Wide viewing angle, Lumia Color profile, High brightness mode, Corning Gorilla Glass 4, Automatic brightness control, Sunlight readability enhancements
– Memory 32 GB,RAM: 3 GB,Maximum memory card size: 200 GB micro sd,
– User data storage: In device, OneDrive cloud storage, App and data storage on memory card
– Replaceable battery: Yes, 3340 mAh, Fast charging, Built-in Qi wireless charging
– Design details: Exchangeable back cover
– Other user interface features: Glance screen, Voice Commands, Tactile feedback, Voice dictation in edit fields
– Sensors: Barometer, Gyroscope, SensorCore, Magnetometer, Accelerometer, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor
– CPU name: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810
– SIM card type: Nano SIM
– AV connectors: DisplayPort over USB-C, 3.5 mm stereo headset connector
– Charging connectors: USB-C
– System connectors: USB-C
– USB: USB 3.1, USB Dual Role Port (Gen1)
– Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.1
– Bluetooth profiles: Hands-free profile (HFP) 1.6, Object Push profile (OPP) 1.1, Generic Attribute Profile (GATT), HID over GATT profile (HOGP) 1.0, Message Access Profile (MAP) 1.1, Human Interface Device Profile (HID), Phone Book Access Profile (PBAP) 1.1, Personal Area Network Profile (PAN) 1.0, Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) 1.2, Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP) 1.3
– NFC: Pairing, Sharing, Tagging, Secure NFC for payment
– Wi-Fi: MIMO, Wi-Fi call, WLAN IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
– Wi-Fi hotspot: Up to 8 Wi-Fi-enabled devices
– Other wireless connectivity: Screen projection
– Local sharing Peer-to-peer sharing: Nearby Discovery
-Cellular connectivity, GSM network: 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 1900 MHz, WCDMA network: Band 5 (850 MHz), Band 8 (900 MHz), Band 1 (2100 MHz), Band 2 (1900 MHz), Band 4 (1700/2100 MHz), LTE FDD network: Band 5 (850MHz), Band 8 (900MHz), Band 17 (700MHz), Band 20 (800MHz), Band 1 (2100 MHz), Band 12 (700 MHz), Band 2 (1900 MHz), Band 28 (700 MHz), Band 3 (1800 MHz), Band 7 (2600 MHz), Band 4 (1700/2100 MHz), TD-LTE network: Band 38 (2570-2620 MHz), Band 40 (2300-2400 MHz)
– GPS and navigation – A-GPS, A-BeiDou, A-GLONASS, Barometer, Gyroscope, Sensor enhanced positioning, Cellular and Wi-Fi network positioning
– Main camera -Main camera: 20.0 MP f/1.9 OIS Camera Focus Type: Auto focus with two-stage capture key
– Camera digital zoom: Yes,Camera optics: 6-lens optics,Oversampling, Sensor size: 1/2.4 inch
– Camera Flash Type: Natural flash
– Camera features: PureView, Fast Focus, True 16:9 sensor, High resolution zoom, Backside-illuminated image sensor
– Camera minimum focus range: 10 cm
– Front camera: Full HD 5 MP wide angle, f/2.4,Front camera video resolution: 1080p (Full HD, 1920 x 1080)
– Main camera video resolution: 4K (Ultra HD, 3840 x 2160)
– Camera video frame rate: 30 fps
– Video recording features: Video zoom, Video light, Continuous autofocus, Optical image stabilization, – Lumia Rich Recording with four microphones
– Video recording formats: MP4/H.264
– Audio recording codecs: AAC LC, AMR-NB, GSM FR
– Audio recording features: Lumia Rich Recording with four microphones
– Audio playback features: Graphical equalizer, Virtualized loudspeaker listening
– Radio features: FM radio
-Video playback frame rate: 30 fps
– Video playback codecs: VC-1, H.263, MPEG-4, H.264/AVC, H.265/HEVC, Windows video
– Video streaming: Progressive video download, YouTube browsing and video streaming, Streaming from video services and internet

Phone Basics

From a hardware point of view, the Microsoft Lumia 950 XL rocks and in many areas is ahead of the competition especially when you consider when it was first released. Just have a look again at the specification above. Qi Wireless charging. Quick charging. Excellent 20mp camera. Great audio and so on. Where the 950 XL suffers is software. Windows 10 is still being improved so there is the odd bug present.

The Windows Store for apps and games is dismal at best, but we all know that by now. So if the official app is not available you will be hunting for a decent third party option or not bother with an app, and use the web browser instead. You may be lucky and a universal app arrives though. Universal apps may be what helps keep Windows 10 going. However, some of the included software like the Creative Studio are absolutely brilliant. I have covered more of the software situation in my video embedded near the end of the review.

The screen is fantastic. Amazing visibility in sunlight, bright and good viewing angles. Cellular and wireless connectivity was top notch too. Callers had no difficulties hearing me. Battery lasted a day and was recharged over night.

Bluetooth audio was good and the loudspeaker was reasonable.

The 950 XL has the benefit of the Display Dock, Continuum and Universal apps. So when you use the display dock, the phone becomes a mouse, and the apps go desktop quality on the connected display or TV. That’s the theory and its works sometimes. It does depend on the developer as to how well the Universal app is written.

Camera

The highlight of the phone so far is the camera quality. It is a real quality affair. Period. It does have some weaknesses mainly in the post processing whereby if you take a few shots and go to view them, you might see applying the finishing touches and have to wait until these are completed. Another aspect is using burst mode, or taking a large number of shots one after another. Eventually you might see a message on screen “saving” and will have to wait until this finishes before taking another photo. However, the image quality is so good, its worth the wait!

I have included a video review which covers the camera in more depth. In the meantime, lets look at some camera samples below.

The Tree at Yelverton Green #lumia950xl

The above photo is extremely accurate to the actual colours.

Yelverton Green #lumia950xl

Again, very well balanced shot.

The End of The Line #lumia950xl

Vivid true to life colours with the shot above.

One Way Out #lumia950xl

Difficult lighting but a great shot.

Wooden Living #lumia950xl

Unusual shot, but superb result.

Blossoming Flowers #lumia950xl

The white flowers are handled well and again overall a good shot.

High speed cornering by George #lumia950xl

I really like this one of George. He was runninig really quickly and sort of cornering at the same time.

George says "hello" #lumia950xl

The overall balance and colours of this photo are absolutely spot on.

George & Fury blasting off #lumia950xl

Another high speed shot and beautifully balanced with accurate colours.

Merrivale Stones, Dartmoor #lumia950xl

Merrivale stones captured in all its glory. Perfect true to life shot again.

Sunshine & Shade #clouds #Dartmoor #lumia950xl

The shade and sun along with the clouds are captured brilliantly.

Scenes around St Michael & All Angels Historic Church #lumia950xl

And finally a shot of my local church.

Video Review

As a compliment to my written review, I have created a video to cover off other aspects and demonstrates some of my points above.

Conclusion

The Microsoft Lumia 950 XL is a hardware powerhouse phone with its weakness being the lack and quality of applications / games in the Windows Store. The camera is fantastic, one of the best I have used, so if you can live without a number of apps, which many can, then the Lumia 950 XL is ideal.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL – Further Thoughts & Camera Shots

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL - The end of an era
So it’s been nearly a week with the Microsoft Lumia 950 XL and I am starting to form some opinions of this phone. I also have the dock to review and test. Thanks to Steve Litchfield from @AA_WP for the loan.

The hardware is reasonably well specified but so is most other hardware nowadays. I have a red leather back cover, which looks very smart, but without this extra cost, the 950 XL is just too plastic.

The Windows Store for apps and games is dismal at best, but we all know that by now. So if the official app is not available you will be hunting for a decent third party option or not bother with an app, and use the web browser instead. You may be lucky and a universal app arrives though.

The highlight of the phone so far is the camera quality. I have taken some more photos.

The Tree at Yelverton Green #lumia950xl

The above photo is extremely accurate to the actual colours.

Yelverton Green #lumia950xl

Again, very well balanced shot.

The End of The Line #lumia950xl

Vivid true to life colours with the shot above.

One Way Out #lumia950xl

Difficult lighting but a great shot.

Wooden Living #lumia950xl

Unusual shot, but superb result.

Blossoming Flowers #lumia950xl

The white flowers are handled well and again overall a good shot. Some of the above photos were also snapped with a Samsung Galaxy S7, so have a look at the other posts today.

Whilst the 950 XL takes marvellous photos, I am getting frustrated by the processing or saving messages while it either saves or post proceses the finishing touches. There should be an option to complete this task without slowing down the phone so you can’t take another photo until this has finished.

I am also experiencing the odd bug and this is again a nusiance.

Anyway, more soon.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL – First Impressions

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL - The end of an era

Despite the sad news coming out of the smartphone division of Microsoft, I now have a Microsoft Lumia 950 XL to evaluate along with the dock to connect to a screen via HDMI for the next few weeks, thanks to Steve Litchfield.

So, I powered up the Lumia 950 XL, entered my Windows credentials and shortly was asked if I wanted to restore from an earlier Windows Phone backup from an old device I had used previously.

This time, I choose new setup. I left the phone for a few hours to update and download a few apps.

The 950 XL I am testing has a gold edge and red leather back cover which really feels great in the hand and looks somewhat premium too.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL - The end of an era

Live Tiles. Oh how I missed them. I don’t know what it is, but I really do like the live tiles interface. I also have had a little play with the camera and in my brief testing it does seem rather good. More over the weekend on the camera and other aspects next week.

The Next Tech Addicts Podcast is Live – with Gareth, Jay, Sam and I

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Tech Addicts Podcast is back again with new episode starring Gareth Myles, Jay Garrett, Sam Pullen and I. Tech Addicts is released every 2 weeks.

To listen to the latest episode subscribe by searching “Tech Addicts” within your favourite podcast app, iTunes or use the URL “mobiletechaddicts.libsyn.com/rss” to add directly.

Alternatively, just click listen via the embedded player below.

Have fun listening!

A Sad Day for Windows Smartphones – 1,850 jobs cut at Microsoft – Viewpoint

Via the Telegraph

Microsoft will cut as many as 1,850 jobs and take a new impairment charge as Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella pares back the company’s ambitions in smartphones.

The company will take a $950 million (£650 million) impairment and restructuring charge, including $200 million for severance payments, Microsoft said. About 1,350 jobs will be cut in Finland, the base of the handset business it acquired from Nokia in 2014.

Nadella has already written off most of the $9.5 billion Nokia deal led by his predecessor Steve Ballmer, shifting its Windows phone strategy toward business customers as it struggles to compete with Apple and the Android operating system.

Microsoft already indicated a few days ago that the Lumia 950 will be the last Lumia. And now it is decimating its smartphone division. Is this game over for Microsoft and its Windows Phone Mobile hardware? Maybe. Or it just needs time to get the Universal apps sorted and come back fighting with new mobile hardware that truly innovates and doesn’t need a new app store, as it has Universal apps.

Whatever happens in the future, it doesn’t help all the employees who are about to lose their jobs.

And today I will be receiving a Microsoft Lumia 950 for review. Thanks to Steve Litchfield for the loan.

Audioquest Dragonfly RED – The Latest & Greatest DAC the size of a USB stick – review

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Welcome to my review of the Audioquest Dragonfly Red. The Dragonfly Red is a USB DAC, Preamp and Headphone amplifier all squeezed into the size of a USB memory stick.

The Key Specification

– USB Stick-Sized Digital-to-Analog Converter
– Plays all music files: MP3 to high-res
– Compatible with Apple and Windows PCs, as well as iOS and Android mobile devices (requires Apple Camera Adapter or Made for Android/OTG adaptor)
– Drives headphones directly
– Fixed output feeds preamp or AV receiver
– Asynchronous transfer ensures digital timing integrity
– High output (2.1 volts) drives almost all headphones, including power-hungry models
– 32-bit ESS 9016 DAC with minimum-phase filter
– Bit-perfect digital volume control
– Firmware upgradeable

The Sound Quality and Experience

For the purposes of this review I tested the Dragonfly Red using my iPad, Samsung Galaxy S7 and Macbook. Headphone used were Oppo PM-3, Dunu Titan 5, Sony XBA-1, Sennheiser HD598se and Audio Technica M50x.

All three source components had no issues functioning with the Dragonfly Red. To use with the iPad I needed to use the Apple Camera adapter and with the Samsung Galaxy S7 an OTG adapter. Samsung include an OTG adapter in the box which is handy.

Also worth noting on the S7, to get the best experience you must use an app called USB Audio Player Pro. If you listen to the S7 using other music services/apps they don’t connect to the digital direct drive volume so at max levels the volume may not be high enough. With UAPP the volume is immense.

When using portable devices or your smartphone, the Dragonfly Red does drain the battery of your device faster than normal. This is to be expected as its needs power from somewhere. However, unlike other portable DAC/Headphone amps that have an built in battery, it never goes flat or needs recharging.

I listened to a number of different genres – dance, classical, jazz, rock and blues. I found the Dragonfly Red provided oodles more power and control than using the source components own headphone jack. Also the layering and delicacy of the music was lovely at times. This was more noticeable with classical and jazz genres. The soundstage improved too with the DAC. Overall the music was clearer, more defined, better layered and provided a decent lift in quality.

Conclusion

A remarkable piece of kit from Audioquest. Top notch sound quality bundled in such a small package. Recommended.

For more information and the latest deals on Amazon UK, click HERE.

Fancy a Free Phone when you buy 1? – You Can

Microsoft Canada has a genius plan to double handset sales. Buy a Microsoft Lumia 950 and get one free. This deal will likely drift overseas at some point, hopefully.

Whilst this might seem a measure of desperation, it actually it one way of getting the phone into more people hands.

I will be honest, even if one was free, I wouldn’t be interested. I am waiting for Microsoft to have a Eureka moment and re-invent the smartphone. Anything is possible in the world of tech in just 18 months.

How long before Microsoft closes its Windows Mobile Phone division?

Microsoft reported that it sold 2.3 million Lumia handsets last quarter, compared with 8.6 million sales during the same quarter a year ago. This equates a drop in sales by 73% year-over-year, and by 49% compared with last quarter’s 4.5 million sales.

Microsoft.com reported a few days ago its quarterly earnings. The Surface range showed revenues rising by 61% to $1.1 billion. But sales of its Lumia handsets are dire. The above figures mean according to Gartner that its market share has dropped to just 1.1%. It really begs the question, how long before Microsoft throws the towel in and stops selling the Lumia phones for good? It the slide continues, probably within a year.

The only saviour might come from the Surface Phone that won’t run Windows 10 mobile but a full version of the Windows 10 software. Maybe universal apps can take off? These are all big maybes and all the time iOs and android is flying ahead.

Microsoft to announce later today its new range of phones powered by Android

Probably of no surprises to anyone but later today Microsoft will be announcing a new range of phones powered by Android.

I wonder whether this will be based on Cyanogen.

The good news is that all the new range of phones will have access to all the latest apps.

As to pricing. More will be revealed later.

Update – This was an April Fools article.

Fiio Q1 Portable DAC and Headphone Amplifier – review

Welcome to my review of the Fiio Q1 Portable DAC and Headphone amplifier.

  
The Key Specifications

– Weight 100 g
– Dimensions 97mm x 56mm x 13.1mm
– Audio Input Micro USB/3.5 mm Jack
– Headphone output 3.5 mm stereo jack
– Volume Control TOCOS Potentiometer
– Bass Boost Switch
– Recommended Headphne Impedance 16~150 Ω (Recommended)
– Power Input DC5V 1A recommended
– Battery Capacity 1400 mph, Battery Life >30 h
– Output Power >190 mW (32 Ω/THD+N<1%),>75 mW (150 Ω/THD+N<1%) Charge Time ≤ 4 h
– THD+N <0.005% (1 kHz), Output Impedance < 0.3 Ω
– Frequency Response 20 Hz~20 kHz
– SNR ≥107 dB
– Input Sensitivity 4.3 V (GAIN=L),1.5 V (GAIN=H) Max Input Level >4 Vrms
– Crosstalk ≥75dB(1 kHz) Channel Imbalance 0.2 dB
– Gain AUX IN:-7dB/4.5dB
– USB IN:-3.5dB/8dB
– Bass Adjustment Range 0/5dB
– MAX output voltage 7.2 Vp-p, MAX Output Current >75 mA

  

The Hardware

The Fiio Q1 costs £59.99. And for £59.99 you get a beautifully constructed brushed aluminium AMP/DAC. Comparing this to the iBasso D-Zero MK2 that I reviewed recently, the fit and finish on the Q1 is streaks ahead. Inside the box you get a micro USB cable, a tiny right angle 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable, a silicone mat to stop the device scratching when stacked. The Q1 has a 1,400mAh battery that provides 15 hours of playback.

The Audio Quality and Sound Experience

The Q1 uses a Texas Instruments PCM5102 DAC chip and a Maxim MAX 97220 for amp section. This means 24/95k decoding is possible from most codecs delivering around 190mW load into 32ohms. OTG support as a DAC is not officially supported but does work using apps like Onkyo and USB Player Pro. Using the usb camera connection adapter from Apple, I was able to use the Q1 with my iPhone 6S Plus. Another benefit for me is that because it uses micro USB, I can use my special red coloured Lavri Lightning Camera Connection Cable (shown in photos under official Apple CCK). The sound produced by the Q1 is fairly neutral with some warmth. Treble is slightly bright but not too bright. The Q1 also has a bass boost button which is ideal for some bass lacking headphones. Even if your headphones have decent bass, sometimes the bass boost can provide a slightly lift that adds some drama to the music. Fiio recommend headphones up to 150 ohms. I would say that is fairly accurate but again if you use 100 ohm or lower headphones you will gain some more benefit from this little baby.

Comparing the Q1 to the iBasso d-zero MK2 that I reviewed last week, the Q1 is better built and looks classier but when it comes to the music in my opinion the iBasso is another league. This becomes more apparent the longer you listen to the iBasso. However bear in mind the cost difference. The Fiio Q1 costs £59 and the iBasso D-zero MK2 is £99. 

Conclusion

Say again, just £60 for this little amp/dac from Fiio. The Fiio Q1 pound for pound offers amazing value. Sure its not as refined as some £100-£500 devices but for most people this will be good enough to get them enjoying their music that little bit better than before.

More info and deals on FiiO Q1 DAC and Headphone Amplifier

More info and deals at Amazon US

iBasso D-Zero MK2 – Portable DAC & Headphone Amplifier – Review

Welcome to my review of the iBasso D-Zero MK2 Portable DAC and Headphone Amplifier.

  

The Key Specifications

– Power Source:Built-in 4.2V Li-polymer battery
– Frequency Response: 17Hz~20 KHz +/- 1.0dB (DAC) 17Hz~100 KHz +/- 1.0dB (AMP)
– Signal to Noise Ratio:108dB (DAC line out), 102dB (Amp)
– Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.002%@1kHz/0dB (DAC line out), 0.003%@1kHz/-10dBV (AMP)
– Output Power:Up to 120mW+120mW into 16Ω
– Output Impedance: <0.5ohm
– Gain: +3dB/ +9dB (AMP)
– Battery Life: 120 Hours (AMP) 10 hours (DAC/AMP)
– Battery Charge Time: 5 Hours
– External Power supply: 5V DC
– Recommended Headphone Impedance: 8~300Ω
– Case dimension: 2.17W x 3.98L x 0.44H (inch)
– 55W x 101L x 11H (mm)
– Weight: 95g or 3.35oz
– Certificates: FCC, CE, RoHS

  

The Hardware

The iBasso D-Zero MK2 is made from an anodised aluminium housing. The front of the device features a headphone jack, aux jack, power switch with white LED and a volume controller. On the back there’s a USB output for charging the D-Zero and for connecting it to a computer, a gain switch and a USB charge switch. There’s also two LEDs a red one to indicate charging which also blinks to let you know when to charge it and an orange one to indicate USB connection. The unit features a built in battery that provides up to 120 hours play time when working as an AMP and 10 hours when used as a DAC. The D-Zero can be used with Windows PCs MAC computers OTG audio signal from an Android 4.1 or above device and the digital signal from iPhone/iPad with camera kit. The VIA Vinyl Envy USB 2.0 audio controller takes a digital signal up to 24Bit/96kHz. The DAC chipset used in the D-Zero is a Dual setup of Wolfson WM8740 DAC Chips. The OPAMP+BUF design ensures high current output allowing you to use the D-Zero with high impedence headphones.

The build quality is not as precision made as I would have expected. If you look at the mini USB socket it doesn’t quite line up exactly with the hole cut out in the aluminium body. Also why mini USB? Surely micro USB should have been used. Next the power switch looks like a  flimsy toggle. Overall, it just feels as if the component was finished by hand. That aside I do actually like the industrial look. It’s also a great compact size with flat sides for each mounting to a phone to DAP. iBasso do supply a large range of accessories with the D-Zero MK2 as shown in the photos. 

The Audio Quality and Sound Experience

Thankfully, the iBasso D-Zero MK2 sounds rather good. The Woolfson WM8740 DAC Chips have a lovely warmth to them. The D-Zero MK2 adds more bass punch to the music, with warm mids and a clearer treble. This DAC/AMP combo is musical and provides a more dynamic feel to the music. I tried several headphones and even though iBasso say this will power 300 ohm headphones, I would stick to around a max of 150 ohms to get the most out of this little black box of tricks. My Audio Technica ATH-M50x in particular paired really well with this AMP/DAC. Listening to some classical music the iBasso scaled up as the drama escalated and thumped out some very deep bass only when it was present and very quickly. What I have also found is that the iBasso sounds better after its had a 10-15 minute warm up. As a comparison I have the Fiio Q1 as well. The iBasso sounds much better than the Q1 but then it costs nearly twice as much. 

Conclusion

Priced at just under £100, the iBasso D-Zero MK2 is a great little performer with a tendency to add some warmth and impact to the music. The extra power from the amp also helps the headphones deliver a more dynamic performance. I just wish it used a micro USB connector instead of mini USB. 

More info and deals on the iBasso D-Zero Mk2 Headphone AMP and USB DAC

Netatmo Welcome Indoor Camera for iOS & android – review – Updated 4 months later

Welcome to my review of the Netatmo Welcome Indoor Camera.

  
The Netatmo Welcome Indoor camera unique selling point is its ability to recognise faces and then send you notifications to your phone.

See video from Netatmo below showing this in action.

The Key Specifications

– Dimensions – 45x45x155mm
– In the Box – 1 x Welcome camera, 1 x USB cable, 1 x power adapter, 1 x 8GB micro SD card
– Build – Single piece of durable aluminium shell, Matte black plastic piece infrared transparent.
– Hardware Requirements – High-speed Internet connection needed, Public hotspots not supported.
– Connectivity Specifications – Ethernet RJ-45 port: 10/100 Mbits, Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4G)
– Camera – Video sensor: 4MP, Resolution: Up to 1920×1080
– Minimum iOS 8 for iPhone / iPad, Android 4.3 minimum
– Browser Support – Webapp available for the two latest versions of: Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer
– Monthly Costs – Nil, Free to Use, App available on the App Store / Google Play.Free access to your camera online.
– Data Storage – MicroSD card up to 32GB (8GB class 10 MicroSD card included)
– Faces – Max 16 faces

The Hardware

  

The Netatmo Welcome camera is a lovely piece of hardware and doesn’t look like a typical camera. This means it gets blended into your environment without people gets paranoid they are being “watched”. In fact, you forget its actually there. On the rear there is an ethernet port, micro SD card slot and micro USB port. The front is minimalistic.

Background Notes for Review

Notes – I originally reviewed this after 3 weeks. Further down is my update after 4 months following a significant firmware update that added lots of new features which are documented along with a tip if you have dogs.

I have been using the Netatmo Welcome for 3 weeks now and overall have been pleased with its operation and results and intend to keep this indefinitely as my home connected security indoor camera. I also have several IP Cameras which were a total nightmare to setup and configure as remote access involved changing my home router configuration. I have now retired these. In terms of other connected devices, I have a Netatmo Urban Weather station which is coming up to 2 years old and a range of lights that are controlled from my iPhone and or Apple Watch. Due to protecting my own privacy, screen shots of the app in operation have been edited to remove views of my home.

The Initial Setup

Netatmo have made the first setup as simply as possible. I setup my Netatmo Welcome camera using my iPhone 6S Plus. I downloaded the Netatmo Welcome app from the Apple App Store and then followed the on screen setup instructions provided by the app. The app asks permissions to share Wi-Fi setup from your iPhone to the Welcome camera and literally within 5 minutes the camera is connected. Points to note. The Welcome camera only operates at 2.4G . Over the next 24 hours a new firmware arrived and got installed on the camera and the app showed me faces and asked me to identify who the respective people were. For each member of your house, a face profile gets created.

The Operation

The concept of the Netatmo Welcome camera is simple. It learns all the faces of people who live in your home/flat and then notifies you when somebody comes home and tells you who they are and also if somebody arrives who is not recognised. When movement is detected, it records a clip onto the micro SD card which can be streamed back on to your phone and or downloaded remotely to your phone as well. When at home you can also play back the recorded video clips.

  
  
Other options include a range of privacy and advanced security options. For example if your Netatmo password gets changed, or someone logs into your account you can receive an email. Netatmo will also block your account if there are too many failed attempts occur. In terms of learning faces, you can go into the app settings and speed up the learning process. You can also tell the system when the house is empty and adjust other settings as shown below.

  
Using the app on your phone is really easy. It shows a live view snapshot when you open the app. You can then hit the play icon to stream live video. Turning your phone landscape provides full screen playback and streaming. Scrolling the screen reveals details of who is at home and or when they were last seen. Scrolling the screen the other way reveals a list of when movement was detected. Tap on one notifications and you can watch or download the recorded movement. Now if your home is broken into and someone steals your camera, you will get a notification that Welcome was switched off. The person cannot access your data and videos without your Netatmo account details. However, this also means if the camera is never recovered, you cannot view the videos stored on the camera either. However, if you sign into My Netatmo on the web you will be able to see a screen shot of each video before it started the recording of the motion.

The video quality is excellent and the camera switches to night mode which provides clear images and video as well.

As I have mentioned I have had the Netatmo Welcome indoor camera for 3 weeks now. In that time, the camera has come offline about 4 times for no apparent reasons and then reconnected a few hours later. I don’t know if its my broadband dropping although that wouldn’t surprise me as the connection does vanish occasionally. I have only had to pull the power cord out and replug back in to restart the camera just once when it became unresponsive. In terms of recognising faces this is now 90% accurate. I have relocated the camera several times to get a better position. To be honest, positioning is crucial. If the camera is recording motion to the micro SD card, it is not possible to see a live view until this has finished.

UPDATE – 4 months later, Netatmo released a major firmware update. This improved its performance and reliability but also added Dropbox support and tags. With Dropbox you can now upload video clips to the cloud instead of using the micro SD card.

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Tags are waterproof sensors for doors and windows. Photo above is one of my tags. The Netatmo tags are superb as they detect the motion before the intrusion occurs. That is because they detect vibrations. The Tags’ have an integrated open/closed state sensor, so you can choose to be alerted if you have accidentally left a window or the garage door open. And then you can check directly on your smartphone if all windows are closed.

Tips – I have 3 labradors and the Welcome camera was recognising my dogs faces. So instead of telling the Welcome camera they were not faces, I did the opposite. So now it recognises my 3 labradors and that means I don’t get any false notifications about an unknown face.

The Special Stuff

The Netatmo Welcome camera supports third apps and that extends to IFTTT. This opens up a whole world of different sequences that can be achieved. See screen shot below.

  
You can also add Welcome tags to the system, sensors for doors and windows. The other aspect I like about the Netatmo Welcome Indoor camera is once bought, there are no other costs. Its free and it has no monthly charges either.

As I mentioned already, Netatmo allow you to sign into to your camera via a web browser which uses their web app. Using a web browser, if you have other Netatmo products, you can access all the different connected devices in one go.

Conclusion

The Netatmo Welcome Indoor camera recommended retail price is £199, although if you click the link below it is available for a lot less. It provides piece of mind with its face recognition and notifications with zero ongoing costs once purchased. Add to the fact it supports third party app integration and it becomes a decent investment. It also doesn’t look like a typical camera so blends into the home environment.

And now after using it for over 4 months the added new features of tags and Dropbox integration really add to its value.

Highly Recommended.

Info and Deals on the Netatmo Welcome Home Camera with Face Recognition