Category Archives: Windows

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. 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. 


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. 


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.


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.


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

Microsoft announces the Lumia 650 for Businesses – Its a sorry affair!

Microsoft has official announced the Microsoft Lumia 650, which at £159 is clearly aimed at the business market as a low cost phone supporting Windows 10.

Key specs –

– Physical: 6.9mm thick, 122g
– Display: 5” 720 x 1280 pixels AMOLED with ClearBlack Display
– Memory: 16GB (expandable up to 128GB)
– RAM: 1GB
– OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Mobile
– Chipset: Snapdragon 212, Quad-core, up to 1.3GHz
– Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 with A2DP, Micro USB, GPS, full spread of 3G and LTE bands
– Main camera: 8MP, 1/4″ sensor, f/2.2, 720p capture
– Front camera: 5MP, f/2.2
– Battery: Li-Ion 2000mAh battery, replaceable

Sorry to say but this looks like a dismal specified phone even at a price of £159. Plus there is no Continuum support.

Is Windows Phone in Trouble – Head of Windows Phone uses an iPhone

The face of Windows Phone, Joe Belfiore tweeted the above photo whilst on holiday. If you check the tweet data, it was tweeted from Twitter for iPhone.

Subsequently, to tweeting this photo and getting loads of media attention, Joe Belfiore even took the trouble to respond to the reason why he was using an iPhone. His reasoning was that in order to create great products across all platforms, he had to use the respective devices. He also explained he was on a 7 month sabbatical so taking a break from work and using work devices.

Whilst all the above is a valid statement to make, I don’t buy it. What it highlights is that key employees of Microsoft would rather use an iPhone when on holiday. How much longer before Microsoft is all about services and apps for iOS and android only!

Finally the Nokia Lumia 1020 is de-throned as the best camera on a smartphone – details on the new champion – Updated

I have fond memories of my Nokia Lumia 1020. It had a camera that was in a class of its own. And it has held on to this crown despite being obsolete in smartphone terms. 

By today’s standards the Nokia Lumia 1020 is a compromise. It’s runs Windows Phone which despite being one of my favourite operating system lacks the same level of apps in terms of content and quality versus android and iOS, and is extremely slow from shot to shot. 

So what phone has de-throned the Nokia Lumia 1020. 

Well it’s the LG V10. 

I can hear loyal Nokia fans screaming in disbelief. Well facts are facts. Steve Litchfield and I went out armed with our respective phones, Steve with his Lumia 1020 and 950 and myself with my iPhone 6S Plus and LG V10. 

Steve went to his favourite church to demonstrate the quality of the 1020 low light shots. The subject matter was a sign/plaque high up on the church wall. So Steve went first and took a great shot of the sign in low light and showed me the level of detail. It was impressive. So I took a shot on the iPhone 6S Plus which was ok and good enough but not as the same level of the 1020. So next I used the LG V10. Well the LG V10 produced a shot significantly better than the 1020. And this was all auto. Surely a one off, so another shot was taken. Same stunning shot and way better than the 1020. 

And the story continued with a few other low light shots. However, I do expect the new flagships from LG and Samsung to improve further in the camera department.

One small point, both of Steve’s Lumias (1020,950) both crashed in a space of 30 minutes several times. 

PS Steve had a Mozo leather back on his Lumia 950 which looked much better than the default plastic back. But sadly the standard 950 even with a leather back felt cheap and nasty. Shame. 

Below is shot from LG V10. It was actually fairly dark inside the church so the V10 did a stellar job. The plaque writing when zoomed in is really visible. 


Update – Steve has emailed me his 1020 shot which was taken using xenon flash. Note that’PureView zoom’ was done at capture time, for best quality. Not ‘afterwards’. In my opinion it is still a good shot as I said above but not as good as the LG V10. But do you agree? 


Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay and ABC Pay – Are mobile payments going to get messy? – Editorial

Apple Pay made the first big splash into mobile payment acceptance as a mainstream option. Apple Pay offers a quick and easy way to use your compatible iPhone to make a purchase. When everything works, it is as simple as ABC. And it generally works every time.

It fails to work when the cashier hasn’t pressed a button on the till or the amount due is over £30. Lifting the limit for mobile payments over £30 really needs to happen immediately as its the biggest stumbling block for faster adoption. I don’t know the answer, but if you knew you were going to buy £50 in groceries, is it not possible to split the food into 2 transactions of £25 each, thereby getting around the £30 limit? If this is possible, why bother having the £30 limit in the first place.

The UK does not have Android or Samsung Pay yet. It is due to arrive this year and I am predicting for Samsung it will link up with the launch of the new Samsung Galaxy S7. Samsung Pay is available in the USA, and in my opinion offers a better solution as the compatible Samsung phones can use both contactless and magnetic terminals, thereby being further accepted at more places instantly. Android Pay is also not available yet in the UK, but it is in the USA, and works similar to the concept used by Apple.

The world needs android pay to take off as most phones work with this operating system. This will push forward conversion across the industry regardless of platform.

So all seems rosy in the world of mobile payments? Not really. LG have thrown their hat in the ring saying they are going to launch their own payments system. Walmart too. Plus there are other large companies looking to provide mobile payment solutions. This is going to get messy as companies fight it out for market share and dominance. What we need is simplification. If its an iPhone you use only Apple Pay. If its an android phone then it should be just android pay and so on.

The problem at the moment is contactless payments like Apple Pay need transactions to include loyalty cards and vouchers. This is where it gets messy. Why should retailers share sensitive data with Apple or Google or Samsung? So what happens, retailers launch their own system so you could end up trying to remember which app you need in which store!

Another complication is that sometimes using for example Apple Pay is not the best solution. Take Wagamamas. MasterCard have an app that Wagamamas use that allows you to order food and drinks from your app. You can order more food during the meal too. And when finished eating, use the app to pay. It gets even better. Lets say you’re a party of 10. All 10 use the MasterCard app to pay for just the items ordered. The process of splitting the food/bill is a breeze. Of course the other benefit is the speed. No more waiting to order your food and drinks. And no more waiting for the bill to arrive. The benefit to the restaurant is a faster turnaround. The MasterCard app can be used by other places too. With its location settings on, it can alert you to a place nearby that accepts the app. There are other options too.

So at the moment, the options for mobile payments is just taking off and is looking like it is going to get messy before its gets refined!

What have been your experiences so far with contactless payments? Have you used another system or app that you would recommend?

Apple iPhone 6S – That naked feeling – To case or not?

From day one I got a case for my iPhone 6S Plus. I also bought a screen protector and a tempered glass screen protector. 

After applying both screen protectors one after another I decided I hated the way both screen protectors ruined the view from the front, so removed them. Touch wood, I have no scratches on my front screen. 

Now to the subject of using a case. As I said I fitted a case from day one. I bought the Apple silicone and leather case to start off with. The silicone case in my opinion made the phone look cheap and I didn’t like the feel and dust collecting abilities of the silicone case. There are some benefits of using a silicone case in that if you have an Apple Watch you can buy matching sports straps. So I settled with the Apple leather case with provides extra grip and slightly more protection should you drop the phone. 

Move forward to a few days and I received some clip on macro and fish eye lenses for the iPhone. To use these you have to remove your case. And then I stepped back, looked at the iPhone and thought “wow”. The iPhone 6S Plus looks damn gorgeous without a case. 

And now I’m left with a dilemma. I don’t want to put the Apple leather case back on BUT the consequences of not having a case and being unfortunate and dropping the iPhone could be a costly affair. The chances of dropping it are higher without a case as the aluminium finish is slippery. 

So I have this emotional feeling to decide to whether to use my iPhone naked or cased? 

What do you do with your phone?