MGCool Explorer 1S Review

The Explorer 1S is your standard run-of-the-mill Novatek action cam without many improvements done to the default firmware. The video quality is decent in most situations but the gyro doesn’t seem to work. The cam has the potential to live up to other cameras that are a bit more expensive but that would require firmware updates on MGCool’s part (which I don’t currently expect).

Links to buy:

MGCool 1S:
USA: http://dreki.tech/1s-amazon
International: http://dreki.tech/1s-gearbest

SooCoo C30:
USA: http://dreki.tech/c30-amazon
International: http://dreki.tech/c30-gearbest

ThiEYE T5e (real 4K):
USA: http://dreki.tech/t5e-amazon
International: http://dreki.tech/t5e-gearbest


Lightdow LD-4K First Look and Initial Impressions

This is yet another fake 4K camera based on the Novatek NT96660 processor and a Sony sensor. It does 1440p @ 30 FPS or a weird almost unusable 2880×2160 @ 24 FPS. Despite my critical comments in the video this cam does have some good things about it: I noted that this camera has a wider dynamic range than a few other Sony/NT96660 cams I’ve tested before meaning that bright and dark areas retain details better instead of getting too dark or too bright, but in many cases the video is almost hazy/greyish and colourless especially in direct light. Also the gyro and 60fps modes don’t exactly work. I’m going to play around with some firmware and see if I can find something better and/or hack together something workable then get back to you with a full review.

But is it worth $30? Yes, because at this price it is practically disposable. It’s remarkable that this hardware can be priced so low from a domestic seller. But at its regular price of $50, my advice is to spend a little bit more on something better such as the SooCoo C30.

LD-4K on Amazon.com
SooCoo C30 on Amazon.com


BBen MN9 Intel PC Stick Review

Specifications (as reviewed): Intel X5-Z8350 / 64 GB Rom / 4 GB Ram

Hey, Dreki here and today I’m reviewing the Bben MN9 stick pc. I’ve seen these things floating around on Amazon and Ali Express for a while now and always wondered whether or not they were any good. Well, it really depends what you want to use it for. I just wanted something that could play Netflix in 1080p, browse the web and occasionally run Photoshop when I needed to edit a single image, and for that it works great, but it’s worth noting right away that the processor in this thing is not capable of doing much heavy multitasking or running programs that take up a lot of processor power, especially games.

Design and Packaging

The package this stick comes in is rather flimsy, and I’m surprised it survived international shipping. The box only includes 3 components: the computer itself, a power cable and an HDMI extension lead. Looking at the stick itself, there’s the HDMI out port, the power port on one side and the micro SD and USB ports on the other. The top has the power button and the bottom has grilles for heat dissipation. The case is covered in some soft touch rubber that scratches rather easily. Nothing about this screams quality but it’s not terrible either.

Performance and Setup

Setting it up was super easy – plug it in to HDMI and power, plug in the receiver for my wireless keyboard mouse combo and then turn it on. Startup is quick, faster than my projector can turn on, so I hardly even noticed it. The stick immediately found my Wi-Fi network, I connected my Bluetooth stereo, and then I started installing apps. For day to day operations everything is just a little bit on the slow side especially when it comes to multitasking, but it’s not unbearable. I’m coming from a midrange gaming PC where everything is fast and snappy but if you’re used to fairly low end computers from the last few years things like browsing the web, installing programs and loading documents will not be much different. Where I noticed the slowness the most was on content rich pages: for example the thumbnails on Netflix took their sweet time. I wouldn’t expect this computer to be able to handle 4K video, but it did fine for 4K playback when the file was on the computer itself but I can’t say the same about 4K streaming. Sites like Youtube, Facebook and Twitter all run fine too. Even Photoshop CS5 ran alright for quick photo editing. For the most part the computer is alright – I’d call it fine but not fast. If you run any benchmarks though the results are really, really low.

Gaming

Now, the one thing that this computer doesn’t do at all is gaming. And I mean like, at all. I installed steam just to humour myself but uh. Yeah. Yeah… It wasn’t worth the storage space it took up. Basic flash games in browser run fine most of the time and so does solitaire but anything more than that and the stick just bogs down. I even tried to emulate Playstation 1, which even cheap Andriod boxes can usually do, and while it worked it did skip frames and jitter a little too much for my tastes. If you want to play games, this is not the device to buy.

Other Notes

The one biggest concern I have with this computer is about the heat it makes. One of the reasons I bought this stick over the others on the market is it advertised having a built in fan, but that’s only half true. The fan is kind of like a case fan more than an actual processor heat sink, meaning it does suck some hot air out of the case but it doesn’t do much more than that. The computer idled at 65 Celsius and I was able to push it to 85 when running benchmarks and difficult tasks. This processor is able to handle up to 90. I never got it to shut off due to thermal overload, but I do suspect that if I had it in the sun on my desk it wouldn’t do so well. After running it for a few hours watching TV, the case is noticeably warm, but not uncomfortably hot. Because the heat dissipation is fairly poor, the device is quick to throttle itself down under stress, which I think has the biggest effect on performance. For example the Playstation games ran fine for the first minute or two, but once the temperature started going up due to processor stress, the game started skipping.

Conclusion

Once the novelty of having a full windows pc in a stick wears off, you’re left with an overall slow but serviceable pc. It’s more or less what I’d expect from hardware at this price point so I can’t exactly fault it. The thing does run Netflix and Youtube at 1080p fine after all, and that’s primarily what I bought it for. In my case I didn’t want to have my giant gaming PC with its noisy fans running whenever I just wanted to stream some TV so I decided to buy something cheap to smarten up my dumb projector. I couldn’t stand the Android TV boxes so this was the next best thing. It’s otherwise hard to think of a specific case where I’d recommend a PC in this form factor over something like a tablet or a full size desktop because it’s stuck somewhere in the middle ground where it doesn’t really do either fantastically. It’s not so slow that I find myself annoyed with it, but there is a noticeable speed difference between this and something a little bit higher end.


Archeer A109 Bluetooth Speaker Review


The Archeer A109 is fully waterproof, but due to its small size the sound it produces isn’t a huge improvement over many modern smartphone speakers. If all you care about is adding more volume to your listening experience this speaker will be fine but my advice is to invest in something a bit bigger – especially if you want real bass.

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Gearbest F23 Action Cam Review

Summary:  For those interested in a basic 1080p 30 FPS action camera without too many bells and whistles, the F23 action cam takes decent video and has an acceptable build quality. Its best uses would be as a cheap bike DVR for road riders or for someone who will occasionally use their camera and does not want to throw down a lot of cash. While it’s limited by its hardware, it has set my personal standard for video quality in a sub-$60 camera.


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Amaz-Play HDP-100 Pico Projector Review


This Amaz-Play HDP-100 projector is a compact projector with acceptable brightness and a sharp picture, but the picture is too blue and the fan is quite loud. It works fine for movies and multimedia but for applications that require accurate colour I would recommend looking at the WH-80B or something with 100+ lumens instead. 


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Aedon 20,000 mAh Solar Battery Bank Review


Summary: While it’s nice to have the solar panel as a last-resort type backup, it does not do much, so consider this product as its value as a regular charger before purchasing. When left on my window sill for days in direct sunlight, I was only able to get this charger up to about 25%. This is better than nothing, but solar will not be your primary charging source with this battery.


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