Misc

Everyone loves geeky gaming goodies, right?!  The only issue is, items can sometimes be very expensive, and/or, the quality isn’t always up to scratch.  When the kind folk over at PDP (Performance Designed Products) offered to send me over a few of their Pixel Pals to take a look at, I couldn’t refuse.

The ones that landed on my doorstep a few days later are Mario, Luigi, and last but by no means least, Link (from Zelda, if you needed to know.)  First impressions??  AMAZEBALLS!!  These little guys are all just a pleasure to look at.  But it doesn’t stop there.

 

 

Each Pixel Pal stands at around 5 inches tall and around an inch wide, which helps to keep them upright without having to use alternative methods.  The magic really starts when you pop off the battery compartment on the back (each of which has a character themed sticker on the back) and stick in 2 x AAA batteries (not included.)  Then simply flip the switch into the On position.  These little guys then glow in all their illuminated goodness.  Now don’t get me wrong, they all look pretty impressive before the are switched on, but once they are all lit up, they look even better!  I like the fact that they are battery powered, as there are no pesky wires in the way.

 

 

Pixel Pals are priced at around £14.99, but I have only found them available at either GAME or Amazon.  You can see some of the range on the PDP website here.  I am hoping more of the range will come to the UK, mainly so I can complete the collection.

These 8-bit, eye catching figures would make ideal gifts for the gamer in your life, and being priced relatively low, they aren’t going to break the bank.  In my opinion, they are well worth every penny.

With more and more gadgets coming out to help you track your daily activity progress, having something handy and easy to use is definitely welcomed by some people.  I was provided with one of the latest offerings from Kit: – the Milestone Altitude Activity Tracker – to review.  Now due to bad health, I am not the most active of people, but I was very intrigued to see how well my activity and sleep would be tracked.

First things first – packaging.  I have always been impressed with how well products from Kit: have been packaged.  It is always kept nice and minimal, whilst providing detailed information at the same time.  The box that the Activity Tracker arrived in was no different.  The front of the box gives a clear view of the Tracker itself, especially when you open the cardboard flap on the right side.  On the outside of the flap, you have the Milestone text, while on the inside, you are told that progress can be tracked via the free to download smartphone app.  On the bottom left corner of the packaging, you are shown that the Tracker has a vibrating alarm, is sweat resistant, and tracks your activity.  Lastly, the rear of the box has a brief description of the item, as well as a list of features, specifications, box contents, and smartphone compatibility.

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Removing the Tracker from the box, you have the item itself, a Micro USB to USB 2.0 cable, and a 3.5mm to Micro USB cable.  The Micro to 2.0 cable is used to charge the Tracker, while the 3.5 to USB 2.0 cable can be used to synchronise the data from the Tracker to the smartphone.  The tracker itself sports a nice rubber material wristband that houses the small unit.  In order to charge the unit, you simply pop it out from the wristband so that you can hook it up to a charging source using the provided cable.  It only took a few hours to charge fully, but I was unable to use it until I had done that initial charge as there was no power at all in the unit.  Once charged, inserting the unit back into the strap was as easy as it was to take it out.  It mentions on the box that a single charge should last 5-7 days – I’ve had the Tracker on since I first charged it and have yet to have to recharge it yet (around 2.5 weeks). On the side of the unit is a small button which is used to cycle through the menu – just line this up with the groove on the strap so that you get it back in the correct way round.

Once charged, I will admit that I was a little worried about how simple it was going to be to get things up and running.  There was no need for any worrying as the instruction booklet took me through the process step by step, from getting started to using the smartphone app and understanding the different functions included.  All I needed to do with the app was enter my personal details and what I would like my daily goal to be.  It finishes up with you syncing the Altitude to the smartphone app for the first time.  Now I know that the Tracker comes complete with the 3.5mm to USB 2.0 cable to help with syncing information between the phone and device, but I honestly found connecting and syncing up via Bluetooth not only quicker, but also very straightforward.

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The Altitude tracker has a range of features.  It not only tracks your daily steps taken, but also acts as a watch, tracks your sleep pattern, your distance travelled (km), the amount of calories burned during a 24 hour period, and lastly, what percentage of your daily goal was achieved.  Sleep mode monitors your sleep movement and can record when you are awake, in a light sleep, and in a deep sleep – I found this very handy, myself.  Please note that your sleep activity can only be monitored once you have synced information between the Altitude and your smartphone app.

The app itself (available on iOS 7.0 and above, and Android 4.3 and above) has as many functions as the wristband.  The History menu provides a daily chart of activity (steps, miles, and Kcal burned), as well as the amount of hours slept and how many of those hours were in a light or deep sleep state.  The Activity menu shows an overall percentage of your goals and sleep, as well as simple to understand view of your steps, Kcal, and distance.  Lastly, the Settings menu contains the section where you enter your personal information, workout goal, a reminder setting, and lastly, the alarm clock (with is a nice and steady vibration that comes through the Altitude).

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I found the tracking provided by the Altitude to be pretty precise, although, sometimes just sitting and moving my arm a bit swiftly would register as steps taken.  The sleep monitor is something that I found useful.  I did like being able to see how much of my sleep was light or deep, and from what I could tell, that was all registered as precise as possible.  Syncing was very straightforward both with the provided cable, and via Bluetooth – the latter of which is definitely preferred method of synchronising.

Overall, when you consider the functions provided by the Altitude when compared to other Activity Tracker devices, I don’t really see much difference – except the price!  You can get the Altitude from Amazon UK or Carphone Warehouse for around £39.99 (at time of posting).  It does what you would expect, is easy to operate (even for people who don’t have much experience with tech), and doesn’t cost a fortune.  I haven’t taken mine off since I first put it on a couple of weeks back – apart from when showering – and intend to use it on a very regular basis.  I highly recommend the Milestone Altitude Activity Tracker to both hardcore, and casual, fitness fanatics.

I’d like to thank the kind folk over at Kondor for providing me with the Milestone Altitude Activity Tracker for review.

I think it is safe to assume that people are relying on their mobile devices more and more nowadays.  Whether they be mobile phones, tablets, even MP3 players, they aren’t much use without any charge left in the battery.  Anything that helps keep your devices juiced and ready to use is always a plus to me, and hopefully the MSC MP-S6000 6000 mAh Solar Travel Charger will be up to the job!  A full list of features and specifications can be found at the end of this review.

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The Traveler itself comes in a packaging that is easy on the eye.  You have see-through plastic that enables you to get a good view of the black and orange coloured device, as well as information such as the high 6,000 mAh capacity, the dual USB output, and the smart LED indicator that tells you how much battery life is left.  It also states that the charger is suitable for use with tablets, smartphones, Mp3/MP4 players, and portable game systems such as the NDS and PSP.  Removing the unit from the packaging, I was greeted with the device itself, user manual, and the charger cable.  The good thing about this charger cable is that it is an elasticated rubber material, and it also comes with all of the adapters you could want or need (aside from the lightning adapter used on the newer Apple devices – you can purchase these separately though).  The front of the charger itself has a large solar panel, four power LED indicators to let you know how much charge is remaining, a power button, and two smaller LED solar indicators that give you a rough idea how much solar charge is remaining.  Lastly, along the bottom of the charger is a MicroUSB port that you can use to charge the unit via a wall socket of PC, etc, and also two USB output ports that you use to hook up the devices that you would like to charge.  The USB port on the left is suitable for the iPad, and the one on the right is suitable for the Samsung Galaxy tablet.  I had no issues with my HTC One or Nexus 7 tablet when using either of the ports.

It’s recommended that you fully charge the Traveler prior to first using it, so that’s what I did.  However, when I got everything unpacked and ready to charge, the LED lights indicated that everything was fully charged and ready to go – bargain!  I used the charger to charge my devices constantly to see how long I could get out of it.  Because of the nice weather we have had over the past week, I have not encountered an empty device at all, and the 75% LED indicator is the one that is illuminated.  This is after using the charger for around 7 days with my phone and tablet while sitting both, inside and outside.  Without the lovely weather, you could get around 3 charges  before needing to recharge the unit – that is pretty good in my opinion.  You could quite easily go off on your travels and use this handy little device to keep your gadgets charged.  Once the charger has a full charge, it apparently holds that charge for months – obviously, something I have been unable to check myself as yet, but I’ll definitely give it a go and see.

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Considering the size of the MSC Traveler, I am impressed with how it has performed so far.  It is around the size of most smartphones nowadays, and if charging via USB cable, it fully charges in around the same time as a smartphone, which is handy.  You can get three, maybe four, full charges from it when not in direct sunlight, again, handy.  For the price you pay (around £35 GBP) I think it is well worth the money.  Not only does it provide on the go charging, it also provides peace of mind as far as not being caught with a flat battery, if and when it is really needed.  As far as I am concerned, this can stay in my personal collection and it will be with me when out and about for hours at a time.

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Technical specification

Solar energy transfer efficiency: 17% Solar panel 5v/90mA
Polymer Lithium-ion Battery
Capacity 6000mAh /22.2 wh
Input : Micro micro usb DC5v/1000mA
Output 2x USB 5V/2100mA
Working Temperature -10C to + 55C
Charging time about 5 hours via USB mains
Charging time from solar about 45 hours
Cycle Life >500 cycles
Weight 178g
Dimensions 130 x 76 x 16mm
Compatible with most popular mobile phones, iPhone, Blackberry™, Nokia™, iPad, Digital Cameras, PSP, ND, PDA, Mp3/Mp 4 player, GPS, Bluetooth etc

Product Features

High Capacity 6000mah Lithium-Polymer battery
Multi-charging capabilities: Mains, car charger, USB or Solar
Compatible with most popular mobile phones, iPhone, Blackberry™, Nokia™, iPad, Digital Cameras, PSP, ND, PDA, Mp3/Mp 4 player, GPS, Bluetooth headsets etc.
Robust and stylish rubberised case design
Single Reversable charge/discharge bungy lead.
10 detachable charging tips for the most popular devices
Simple one button operation
DC Input Port
Dual USB Output Ports
Remaining power leds
Solar charging led
Multiple protection charge/discharge and overcharge/undercharge

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Website: http://www.mobilesolarchargers.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mobilesolarchrg
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MobileSolarChargers

Let’s face it – walking around with a charging cable for your devices in your pocket is not ideal, and I doubt many people do it.  Having the option to carry something lightweight, small, and fully portable, however, is great and is now possible thanks to the affordable NOMAD ChargeKey.  NOMAD were kind enough to send me out one of their Micro USB to USB ChargeKey units that should work with all Micro USB devices.  Also available is a Lightning connector for use with the new iDevice models.

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The ChargeKey arrived in a very simple cardboard envelope packaging.  Simply open up the front and you are greeted with the Key itself.  That’s it!  Remove the Key from the sticky adhesive that holds it in place and you are good to go.  Size wise, the Key is no bigger than a standard house key, which makes it the ideal size to attach to your keys and carry it about with you.

The Key itself is made from a hard plastic at the two ends, one end with the Micro USB connector and the other with the main USB connector, and also has a rubber material in the middle that allows it some room to move about.  This could prove handy for a few reasons – less chance of it poking you while in your pocket, less chance of it being damaged and snapping while in your pocket, and lastly, it allows a bit of movement when hooking up your device.

When it came to using my phone with the Key, I had it connected to my laptop.  I didn’t want to risk using it with a wall adapter as it would mean leaving my phone hanging and to be honest, that would kind of defeat the object of the Key as if you are at home, you would use your wall adapter any way.  Having it hooked up to the laptop though, charging started as you would expect and I was also able to sync my phones photos and emails as well.  I also gave it a try using one of the PowerBanks that I have and am happy to say that that worked as it should.

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Overall, the NOMAD ChargeKey does what it says.  It is small, lightweight, portable, and comes in handy when you least expect it.  Always having it to hand is a major plus thanks to being able to have it attached to my keys and knowing that I don’t have to walk about with a charging cable in my pocket or bag is handy.  You never know when you’re going to be caught without power!  Priced at an affordable £20 over on Amazon UK, I think it is a must have addition, especially for those of you who like to be able to stay connected all of the time!

****Please check out the end of this review where there is a link to a giveaway, giving you the chance to win one of these!

Having access to your photos on mobile devices and laptops, etc, can often be the preferred method of viewing nowadays.  But what if you actually wanted to have select images available on display in and around your home?  Or what if you have a relative that isn’t over tech savvy?  The Kitvision 7″ Digital Photo Frame could be the solution for you!

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The photo frame itself comes packaged in an eye catching box packaging that contains a wealth of specifications, ranging from the slide show display mode, to the 7″ TFT Panel.  Inside the box you get the photo frame (the one I have for review is pink), the stand for the frame, UK 3-pin wall adapter and a user manual.

The frame feels very well made, as well as very sturdy.  Included is 8mb of internal storage – not enough to store all of your images, but plenty to store a few treasured images that you would like to keep to hand all of the time.  The frame boasts a bracket that you can rotate if you would like to, meaning that you can view your images in both landscape and portrait mode – you aren’t limited to having it set just one way or the other.  The spaces to attach the bracket can be found on the back of the frame.  The top of the frame houses the buttons used to control the functions of the frame.  These buttons are Play/Pause, Left, Right, Exit, and Setup.  The buttons are used to navigate the menus on the photo frame, which are straightforward to use.  Located down the right hand side of the frame is the USB Flash Drive port, the multicard reader, and the port to connect up the AC adapter.  The screen resolution is 480 x 234 pixels.  The supported image file format for the frame is JPEG – which is handy as this is what most images come as.

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Getting to grips with the frame is very straightforward.  To get the frame to display the images you want, simply insert a memory card that has your images on (either direct from a digital camera or smartphone or transfer the pictures to the card from a PC/laptop), or hook up a USB drive into the port on the side.  The built-in card reader enables you to simply plug in your card or USB stick and using the buttons on the top of the frame, navigate through the menus.  It is recommended that you store images in folders that contain up to 100 photos each.

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Once you have your memory card or USB drive inserted, ensure that you have plugged in the supplied plug adapter (5v), power on the frame, and you photos will start displaying to you as a slideshow.  The buttons on the back of the frame give you the options to pause the slideshow in order to make changes to the display, or even to keep that one particular image on display.  Also, the built-in menu is easy and straightforward to use, making the operation of the frame possible for anyone, no matter your technical knowledge.  From within the menu, you can also choose if you would like your images displayed as the original image, cropped, or stretched.

Another feature that I really like is the fact that you have a few transition effects to choose from, meaning that you can make changing from one image to the next, less plain and boring.  If you would rather not set it to one particular effect, you can set it to random so that it changes from image to image.  Another feature that I like is that you can change the speed of the slideshow – you can have the images change at a slow, medium or fast pace.  Again, something for everyone.

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Overall, I love this digital photo frame.  Kitvision have made it possible to have something to suit everyone, no matter of their age or preference.  If the 7″ frame is not for you, there is a large range of digital frames available in a variety of sizes and designs, so there should be something for everyone.  The price of the 7″ pink frame that I have here is £29.99 on Amazon UK (at time of posting) and would make an ideal gift, especially with Mother’s Day coming up *hint hint*.

Twitter: @KitvisionUK
Facebook: www.facebook.com/KitvisionUK
Instagram: www.instagram.com/kitvisionuk
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/kitvision
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/KitvisionUK

The guys over at Kitvision also launched this giveaway on their Twitter yesterday! https://twitter.com/KitvisionUK/status/442962839662125056