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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.

With so much selection as far as gaming peripherals go, it can be hard to choose between them all. Today I have the PDP (Performance Designed Products) Afterglow Prismatic Controller for the Xbox One to review, and this is one product that I am looking forward to getting to grips with. Alongside the controller review, I also have the Afterglow LVL 5+ Wired Headset review included.

The first thing you see is the eye-catching, high quality packaging. The front of said packaging shows a holographic type image of the controller that changes colour as you move the box around. The back of the packaging has information about the “Signature Prismatic LED Lighting” which informs you that you can change the colour and brightness of the LED lights. Also included is a brief description of the Dual Multi-Function Wheels, as well as the 3.5mm Audio Jack and controls.

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Upon removing the controller from the box, I was instantly impressed with the build quality. Made from a transparent plastic, you are able to see the circuit board and the internal parts of the analogue sticks, rumble packs, etc. The actual controller itself feels very close in quality to the official Microsoft Xbox One controller, as do the A, B, X, Y buttons and the bumpers and triggers. Also included in the box is the user manual, and a 10 foot USB cable.

Now, I will admit, I was expecting my first time using the controller and setting the LED colour, programming the rear wheels, and generally getting to grips with things, to be a bit of a daunting task. How wrong was I?! From the moment I had the controller powered on, I found it very easy to assign the wheels to buttons, as well as changing the LED colour to one that suited me, and lastly, putting the controller into Prismatic mode (I will admit that I found this by accident and it took me a few button presses to figure out what it was that I pressed initially).

There is a small button on the back of the controller, located in the middle between the two wheels that is basically your gateway to fully customising the controller to your needs and preferences. Simply click the button once so that the LED on the front of the controller changes to blue. You can then use the left analogue stick to control the brightness of the LED and the right stick to cycle through the colours. Once you have chosen your preferred colour, press the button on the back to store your colour choice. If you would like to use Prismatic mode, press the button on the back to get the blue LED on the front and click Up on the D-Pad. To set the rear wheels to your preferred buttons, press the same button on the back of the controller twice so that the LED shows as green and then press the wheel of your choice (the LED should then flash green) at the same time as the button you wish to map it to, then simply release the rear wheel. The wheels on the back each have three different functions – scroll up and down, and also press the wheel inwards – so six in total! Lastly, if you would like to turn off the rumble packs inside the controller, press the rear function button three times so you see a yellow LED on the front and click Down on the D-Pad. To turn them back on, press the function button three times and click Up on the D-Pad. If the rumble is on, when you get to the yellow LED light, you will see red LED’s on either side of the controller – if they are off, no red LED lights are visible.  Lastly, to mute the mic when you have a headset connected, press the button that is located beside the right analogue stick, and press again to unmute.

As previously mentioned, the controller quality is pretty amazing. I love the feel of the analogue sticks, maybe more than I like the sticks on the official Xbox controller. They seem to have more grip to them than the original controller sticks, meaning that the usual add-ons that I use for gaming are no longer needed! The controller itself is very light to hold, but it is still very comfortable to have in your hands. I feel that for my size hands, which I would probably say are medium-ish, the buttons on the back of the controller are in the perfect position. The only drawback that I have with this controller is the fact that it is wired. Now this may not be an issue for many people, but for some, maybe with young children or pets, a wired controller may not be the suitable choice.

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Now to move on and cover the Afterglow LVL 5+ Wired Headset.

I’m a stickler for headsets and always enjoy my game more when I have loud game play coming through a headset rather than a TV. To be able to do that, I need a headset that isn’t going to disappoint.

The LVL 5+ headset packaging, much like the Prismatic Controller, is very informative. The front of the box sports a nice side profile image of the headset. The rear of the box gives ample information on the back of the packaging, which includes additional bass impact drivers, easy accessible volume controls, and also the fact that it is compatible with the newer 3.5mm Xbox One controllers.

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In the box you simply get the headset, 2 x AAA batteries, and a user guide, though you really don’t expect to find more than that. The LVL 5+ headset has a long cable that comes down from the left ear cup with a 3.5mm jack on the end. It also has impressive 40mm Neodymium drivers. The volume controls are also located on the left ear cup, and so is the fully adjustable and flexible microphone. The Afterglow branded headband feels nice and comfortable due to the soft material used – this material is also on the ear cups, which only adds to the comfort. Lastly, the bottom half of the ear cups contains the LED lighting that we have become used to seeing on PDP products.

Getting started is really simple. While the provided batteries are not required, using them allows you to use the headset to its full potential. Simply slot in the batteries provided, plug-in the 3.5mm jack (please note; you will need either the Xbox One chat adapter, or a newer Xbox One controller with the 3.5mm port), and you’re good to go. Once the batteries are inserted, the LED lights come to life (green for Xbox One, blue for PS4). You also have the option to enable the Quad Boost function.

Sound quality on this headset is actually pretty good, especially for the price that you pay. I was told that the sound of my voice when using the microphone was clear, though the volume was a little on the low side unless I had the mic close to my mouth. The sound of the game play, however, was really good. I was able to notice the direction of explosions and gunfire, yet was able to sit back and take in the sounds during more relaxed game play. It is worth mentioning that the headset volume control does not work without the batteries. Whereas other headsets draw power from the controller itself, this one does not.

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I feel that with the Prismatic controller, PDP have covered all bases. While some features may take a bit of getting used to, or may even be seen as a bit of a gimmick, the controller is a pleasure to use and in some ways, I actually prefer it over the Microsoft controller. When coupled with the LVL 5+ headset, you really are good to go! The easy access volume controls, on-the-fly button re-mapping, and the impressive LED lighting on both products definitely sets them apart from competitors.  Both products compliment each other really well, and for the price you pay, I would highly recommend both the headset and the controller.

You can pre-order the Prismatic Controller from Amazon UK due for release on November 27th (£49.99).  You can pre-order the LVL 5+ Headset from Amazon UK due for release on November 20th (£37.99).  Both prices correct at time of posting.

Thanks to PDP for supplying both products for review.  Be sure to head over to their website, visit their Facebook, Twitter & Instagram pages!

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

Everybody knows that when it comes to gaming, there is nothing more important than having equipment that does what is required.  Whether it be a headset that picks up footsteps and noises that would otherwise go unnoticed, or keyboards that give you the edge as far as macros go.  Just as important is the mouse.  You want something comfortable to use, something that works seamlessly, and something that delivers in pretty much all aspects of the game.  Does the newly released Logitech G502 Proteus Core Tunable Gaming Mouse live up to expectations?  Let’s find out!  Check out the unboxing video below.

Packaging is always something that catches my eye, and probably the eye of others, too.  The G502 packaging does not disappoint.  With its blue and black colour scheme, and a nice image of the mouse on the front of the box, it’s easy enough to see what you are getting.  The sides and back of the box provides information not only relating to the mouse itself, but also specifications.  Opening the flap on the front of the box, you are greeted with a nice view of the mouse through the clear plastic window.  Removing the mouse from the box is where the real magic starts.

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The G502 itself is actually really easy on the eye.  It is a black mouse all over, apart from the Logitech Gaming logo which illuminates a nice blue colour, and a slight light blue strip on the left side and also on the base.  This blue strip is where you can remove the enclosure on the base of the mouse and access the space where you can add up to five 3.6g weights (included), to add a bit of weight to the mouse if it is too light for you.  Altogether there are 11 programmable mouse buttons, perfect for macro customisation within the downloadable software, and the solid metal scroll wheel has something different about it.  It has two modes – a Free Roll mode and a Restricted mode.  The Free Roll mode is perfect for web browsing as it provides endless, fast scrolling, while the Restricted mode presents the standard scrolling that we are all used to, and what I think gamers would be more inclined to use.  It is also easy to swap between to the two modes – just click the button directly behind the scroll wheel.

After downloading the software and getting the G502 set up and ready to go, it was time to put it to the test.  The software gives you the ability to change the button layout, set macros for in-game use if you wish, and also allows you to fine tune the mouse for use on the surface of your choice.  This is achieved by going into the Surface Tuning section of the software and calibrating the mouse.  There are defaults already present, but you can add your own.  Simple click the Add New Surface button, name the profile with the surface you are using and you are taken through a setup wizard which requires you to move the mouse in a figure 8 pattern while pressing on the Left mouse button until the wizard is complete.  Upon completion, the difference is instantly noticeable when using the mouse on your surface of choice.  You can also make changes to the DPI (Dots Per Inch) within the software.  The range is from 200 to 12,000 (wow!).  Having the ability to customise the DPI this much means that there most definitely should be a setting to suit everyone, and any game of choice.  Lastly, there is an option to enable G-Shift.  This means that when you press the designated G-Shift button the mouse, you can use the assigned mouse buttons to perform tasks such as switching between browser tabs and changing the Zoom on the page.

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g50203Comfort wise, I am yet to suffer any discomfort while using the G502.  My hands are reasonably small and it’s almost as if the mouse was made to fit.  The buttons are all placed within reach so there is no need to reach for them and the slightly grooved space for the thumb provides somewhere for the thumb to sit, rather than balancing it on the edge of the mouse or on the desk.  The rubber grip that is placed on both sides of the mouse adds extra grip for both the thumb, and the outer fingers, something else that I like very much.

Overall, the G502 mouse is actually a really nice bit of kit.  The design and responsiveness is something that I think every gamer will love and the little added extras like the option to add weights, and the ability to change from Free Roll to Resctricted modes on the scroll wheel is a nice touch.  With a price tag of £69.99, I think that the Logitech G502 Proteus Core is a mouse that gamers should definitely pay attention to.