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Creative is known amongst the gaming community for their top quality gaming headsets.  Today, I’ll be taking a look at their Sound Blaster ‘Blaze’ gaming headset.  Now, this is a budget gaming headset, available for around £33 at the time of writing this review (on Amazon UK) – will it be worth the buy?

 

 

First up, as always, the packaging, and, what’s in the box.  The box is nicely designed, sporting both, the Creative & Sound Blaster logo’s.  The red and black design works really well, and there is also a transparent plastic window that gives a nice preview of the headset.  On the front and back of the box, is a great deal of information about the Blaze, and is also available in different languages.  When you slide the headset out, it sits nicely in a red plastic housing, secured with a couple of cable ties.

 

 

 

Upon removing the headset from the box and plastic insert, the first thing that I noticed was how light this headset is!  The colour theme works really well – the red SB logo sits nicely on the matt black earcups.  The material on the earcups is a nice velvet material, which is very soft; this material is also found on the underside of the headband, which makes the comfort levels soar.  The left earcup sports a 3.5mm port to plug in the detachable microphone, as well as the cable that runs from the headset to the source you wish to plug it into.  Also found on this cable are the in-line controls.  This allows you to control the volume levels, as well as muting and unmuting the microphone.  At the end of the cable, there are two 3.5mm connectors – green for sound and pink for the microphone.  I had a 3.5mm splitter cable so hooked it up, and I can now use the headset with my Xbox One & PS4 controllers, as well as connecting directly to the PC.  Lastly, the headband.  As mentioned above, the material and padding on the headband is extremely comfortable. On the outer side of the headband is the Creative logo in a silver/grey colour, which is a nice touch.

 

 

The Blaze headset contains precision tuned 40mm drivers, which provide crisp and clear sound.  In games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield, the game sounds are easily distinguishable, especially when it comes to listening out for enemies approaching, weapons reloading, and hearing which direction enemy fire is coming from.  In games such as Forza Horizon 3, the engine sounds really make you feel as if you are actually sitting in the car, the crowds cheering is as you would expect it to sound, almost like they truly cheering you on.  The microphone quality is also spot on.  People who were in party chat while I was using this headset commented on how clear my voice was, and it was coming through at a comfortable volume.

When it comes to other audio sources, such as movies and music, the Blaze does not disappoint.  I tried watching one of the many Transformers movies to see how well the headset handled the bass and volume levels, and I am extremely happy to say that, again, the headset provides quality audio.  The bass, while not as bassy as high-end headsets, there was enough in the bass levels to make the explosions sound as they should, which added to my viewing pleasure.  Listening to music was just the same – enough bass to enjoy the music, yet not too much to make the music sound distorted, even at max volume.

 

 

 

I feel that the Blaze headset is definitely worth the lower end price tag.  It has style, feels very nicely made, and the comfort level is outstanding.  I would happily recommend this headset to anyone who is on the lookout for a decent gaming headset.  It really has exceeded my expectations.

With most smartwatches costing an arm and a leg, it’s quite tempting to go for a cheaper option.  There are plenty of cheaper options available, but are they worth it?  After using the HAMSWAN U80 smartwatch for a little while, here are my thoughts.

First up; the packaging.  It is very minimal.  The box that the watch arrived in is relatively small, with an image of the watch on the front, as well as a brief look at a few of the features.  Below is a list of the watch features and specifications.

• Stopwatch and pedometer, sleep monitoring, anti-theft alarm supported
• Screen size and resolution: 1.44 inch, 128 x 128
• Battery type and capacity: lithium-ion polymer battery, 3.7V/230mAh
• Keys: POWER ON or back software feature
• Rest alarm: support, remind you to stand up, physical activity
• Drink alarm: support, is a reminder that you need to drink more water
• Phone call: support (Load Speaker and Receiver Mode)

Product Specification

• Type: MTK6260-ARM7 360MHz
• SRAM: MTK6260 (built-in)-32mb NOR
• Flash: MTK6260 (built-in)-32mb
• Camera: No
• Touch module: yes
• Speaker: 8/0.7W speaker x 1
• MIC: yes, G-sensor: yes, GPS: no, BT: yes
• Bluetooth: MTK6260 (Built-in)-BT3.0
• Operation system: MTK
• Phone book: 1000
• SMS: support (need APP)
• MMS: push icon (need APP)
• Set time/date: user-defined
• Alarm: support five set

Package List:
• 1 x Smart Watch
• 1 x Charging Cable
• 1 x User Manual

One side of the watch has a button that activates and dims the screen, and the other side has the speaker, microphone, and the charging port – which is covered by a rubber cover that clips into place when not in use, preventing any dust or anything getting into the port.

 


After the initial first charge, I got to grips with the watch.  Connecting to my phone via bluetooth was a simple process, as it should be.  Now it is worth mentioning, to get the full use of the watch, you have to download a selection of apps from the app store.  (For text and other notifications.) If your smartphone has limited storage space, and/or you can’t utilise an SD Card, this is something that you should know from the off.  While the apps themselves aren’t huge in file size, having to have several different ones installed may be enough to put people off.  While on the subject of apps, there are no additional apps to download on the watch itself, so there isn’t anything extra to personalise the watch, just the pre-installed apps.

I wanted to give the pedometer function a proper run, so I did the initial setup (height, stride length*****,) strapped on the watch and ventured out to the local beach.  I had my Fitbit on to test the count number once I had finished walking the dogs.  Once finished, I opened the pedometer app on the watch, only to find that it had not registered a single step.  I restarted the watch and tried again .  This time around, it counted the steps, but there was a huge difference when I put the numbers alongside what was registered on the Fitbit – a massive 147 steps less!  This was off-putting, as well as a disappointment.

 

 

Another thing I found was, because of the silicone strap on the watch, it became quite irritating to wear due to sweat.  I know this is to be expected due to the material, but I thought it was worth a mention.

Next up, I tried a phonecall to my sister from the watch.  Now, while the volume of the watch speaker was loud enough to for me to hear in the middle of a busy supermarket, the quality of the call was disappointing.  The voice came through sounding like a robot- that’s the best way for me to describe it.  Initially, I didn’t even think it was my sister who answered the phone.  I then tried accessing my text messages.  Even though I had installed the apps that I needed, I was still unable to access my messages.

The responsiveness of the touchscreen was actually pretty good.  whether I was swiping from right to left, or selecting an app to go into and check stats, every click and swipe registered as it should.

 

 

The drink and rest alarms worked as they should, notifying me when I should have a drink of water, and also when I should get off my rear end and do some physical activity.  The bluetooth camera control seemed to work ok, but to use that feature, your phone needs to be unlocked and on the home screen.  A press of a button then triggered the phone to take a picture.  I guess this would come in handy if you are stood in front of the phone trying to get yourself into the picture.  The thing I noticed though, is that once I Had taken a picture, it was not anywhere to be found in my phones gallery.  I have no idea what happened to the random pictures that I took.

Is this watch worth the money?  Well, at the price of £15.99 on Amazon UK (at the time of writing this review) I would say yes, but only if you are after a very basic smartwatch.  The features don’t all work as they should, which I guess isn’t surprising when you see the price tag.  This is ultimately a gadget that doesn’t perform 100% as it should, the best bit being that it tells the time accurately, and that it has a good look about it.  I’d advise saving a bit of money and going for something with a higher price tag.

When it comes to choosing a new headset for your gaming needs, there is definitely a lot of choice about.  As well as having a large selection of headsets, there are also many different price ranges to choose from.  Do you buy something cheap and cheerful, something in the middle, or splash out on top of the range gadgets with 5.1 this and 7.1 that? Well, I’m hoping that the Afterglow Prismatic Wireless headset from PDP (Performance Designed Products) will show that you don’t have to spend huge amounts of cash to get decent, all-round quality.

As always, with any product, the first thing you notice is the packaging.  The box for the Prismatic headset is easy on the eye.  The front shows a view of the headset from the side, showing the different colours available for the illuminated earpieces.  It also gives you a list of devices that the headset is compatible with.  In this case, you can use the Prismatic headset with the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii & Wii U, PC, and mobile devices.  It’s worth noting that with the Xbox One chat adapter, you can also use this headset with the Xbox One console, and I’m assuming that it works in the same way for the PS4, although I am unable to try this as I do not own one.  The sides of the box has a feature comparison chart, as well as a run down of the custom audio profiles (see images).  Lastly, the back of the box shows a list of what the headset can do – from extraordinary sound, to the easy slide microphone.

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Now for the box contents.  To state the obvious, there’s a headset in the box!  As well as the headset, there is a large collection of wires – 2.5mm to 2.5mm (chat cable for Xbox 360), 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable, RCA cable with a 3.5mm connector, mini USB cable, and the wireless USB dongle (which is connected by default to the RCA cable via the 3.5.. connector).  As you can see, there is a cable for every occasion!  It is recommended that you charge the headset before using it for the first time, something that I did not do.  I soon charged it once I noticed a low hum while wearing the headset.  To charge, simply hook up the included mini USB cable and watch the lights in the earpieces flash away until the charging is completed, in which case, the flashing stops.

The headset itself seems to be very well built and sturdy.  The earpieces are made of a polyurethane leather type material, which only adds to the comfort of the ‘around the ear’ design.  The earpieces themselves are a decent size, but could possibly be a little bigger for those people with bigger ears.  The headset has a nice amount of flexibility, and is adjustable, although the earpieces do not rotate. The headband is made of plastic and sports the Afterglow branding and when adjusted, you can see the thin metal reinforcement strip that foes through the headband to the earpieces.  Lastly, the inside of the headband has a very nice padding which adds to the comfort factor when in use.  The left ear cup is where all controls can be found.  On the outside of the earpiece itself, there is a transparent plastic design.  Being able to see through to the inside allows you to see the circuit boards, etc, which actually looks quite nice! On the outer side of the earpiece is where the volume wheel is, as well as the mixer slider for voice and game sounds, connections for the 2.5mm Xbox 360 cable input, line in, and the mini USB port.  The front of the left earpiece is where the microphone can be found and pulled out for use, next to which is the Mode button that allows you to choose which lets you select the audio profile that you wish to use.  Lastly, on the outer left earpiece is where you’ll find the power/mute button.

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Now for the fun stuff!  Hooking the headset up to the PC was as simple as it could have been.  Simply plug the USB dongle into a free USB port on the PC itself, and then connect the 3.5mm jack to the speaker/headphone port on the sound card.  Once the drivers have installed themselves, you are good to go!  To turn the headset on, simply press in the button on the left earpiece until it lights up blue and you’re good to go.  Unfortunately, because of the amount of devices I have hooked up to my PC, there is a bit of a hum – this is only present on the PC and with the sound turned down slightly, the hum is not always noticeable.  To set the colour to one that you prefer, simply hold in the Mode button for a few seconds until it starts cycling through the available colours.  When you get to your desired colour, stop pressing the Mode button in and it will stay on the selected colour until the headset is powered off and back on again, or until it is changed manually – if you would rather stay colourless, you can depress the Mode button when you come to the part of the cycle that doesn’t feature a colour. The Mode button also allows you to choose one of the three audio profiles – Pure Audio (blue), Bass Boost (red) and Immersive (purple).  It’s easy to keep track of which profile you have chosen as there is a light at the end of the microphone that changes colour as you cycle through the profiles.

Even though the Prismatic headset is primarily a previous gen headset, I was unable to try it with an Xbox 360 as I sold it literally the day before it arrived.  I did, however, hook up the 3.5mm audio cable to the headset and also to the chat adapter connected to my Xbox One controller and was able to use it for both game audio and chat.  I was informed by friends that my voice came across nice and clear, and it was the same for me whilst listening to them.  I’ve also connected it up to my phone to listen to music, and as previously mentioned, it has been used on the PC.  My partner even likes to take it upstairs at bedtime and hook it up to the TV so that he can watch without disturbing me.

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As far as sound quality goes, I have no gripes with the headset.  Game play was clear and I was able to decipher which location footsteps and gunshots were coming from whilst playing Call of Duty, and hearing the revs of engines in Forza 6 was just mind-blowing.  On the other hand, watching TV and listening to music were both impressive, even more-so with the bass boost audio profile in play – I like to think that the 50mm speakers played a nice role in this!  While on the subject of the bass boost audio profile, the bass levels are more than adequate when in pure audio and immersive profiles – having that bit of extra oomph never hurts though.

Overall, I am very impressed with the Prismatic headset.  The sound quality is great, the build quality is sturdy & makes the headset feel like it can withstand every day uses with ease, and the fact that it can be used across multiple platform makes the whole package worthwhile.  Althought the lights are a cool feature, I can’t see myself sitting here each time I use the headset and scrolling through all of the colours to choose the one I want.  A great headset that won’t break the bank as much as other gaming headsets.  You can currently grab this headset for around £70 on Amazon UK (at time of posting).

Be sure to head over to the PDP website, visit their Facebook, Twitter & Instagram pages!

Everyone likes to have something that represents them in one or another, whether it be a snazzy new phone case or a custom designed controller for your favourite gaming console.  So when I asked the fine folk over at NiftyModz if it would be possible to review one of their controllers and they agreed, I began looking forward to it.

I spoke with Ben from NiftyModz via email to let him know what I would like on the controller.  I mentioned that I would like my favourite colour in there somewhere (green), my gamertag (TootieTazzy), and the logo for the site that I am Community Manager for (XBLGamerhub).  Armed with these few details, he went to work.

When I first saw my controller, I was instantly impressed.  The marble green that he had used as the main shell colour was gorgeous, and coupled with the all pink inserts and buttons, the colours just matched each other so well.  He had included the XBLGamerhub logo on the left side of the controller and my gamertag, in a really nice font, on the right side.  The paint job itself is very high quality with no drip marks or roughness.  Just a very smooth and glossy finish, which is what you would expect.

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Flipping the controller over, there was even more goodness.  He had included the paddles on the back and had assigned them to the buttons that I chose – in this case, X and Y.  The paddles fit nicely in with the way you hold the controller and are not intrusive in any way.

When I used the controller for the first time, I went through and checked that all of the buttons, triggers, thumbsticks, and paddles worked as they should – which they did.  I found the paddles a nice addition and will also find it hard to play without them now that I have gotten used to them.

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Overall, I am really liking the controller.  The finished product is much better than I ever thought it would be.  If you would like to see more designs from NiftyModz, check out their YouTube channel and give them a follow on Twitter!

Big thanks to NiftyModz for sending this controller out for review.

When you pay for something as extravagant as a laptop, you want to be able to ensure that you have something that will protect it in every way possible. Today, I will be taking a look to see if the Dicota Base Notebook Bag can live up to the challenge.

When I first received the bag I could tell by looking at it that the quality was high. I removed it from the plastic packaging that it arrived in and took a closer look. The bag that I was sent was the 15-15.6″ inch bag (38.1-39.6cm).

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Looking at the front of the bag, there is a velcro sealed large pocket that can be used for a whole variety of things that you would like to keep close at hand, without having to store them actually in the bag. On the bottom right corner of the flap there is a nicely placed leather Dicota branded badge. If you flip the bag over, you will find a slip pocket that comes in very handy for paperwork and/or documents.

Using either of the two zips, when you open the bag up, you are greeted with a very well padded section for your laptop to sit in whilst being carried around. The removable shoulder strap included is very well made and attaches to the rings on the side of the bag. The velcro strap that is inside the bag does its job really well when it comes to holding your laptop in place.  Once my laptop was in the bag and strapped in, there was no movement whatsoever. Surrounding the laptop section is also a wired metal frame that adds even more protection to your laptop, which provides extra peace of mind when carrying the bag around. Any little knocks and bumps that may happen along the way should have no ill effect on your laptop, thanks to this. Lastly, but by no means least, you are also provided with pockets that allow you to carry around extra accessories whilst keeping them in order and not loose in the bag.

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Overall quality of the bag itself is very good. The stitching looks very well done and also looks as if it will withstand a lot of use, which of course is important when it comes to protecting your gadgets.

This laptop bag does its job very well, and for the small price of £10.95GBP (on Amazon UK), it really is a small price to pay to protect your laptop.

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