SJCam SJ7 Star Unboxing and Review

Unboxing

Full Review

The SJ7 Star comes with a whole host of accessories, all of decent quality. Accessories between action cams are fairly standard so we’re going to fast forward through this section: note that the important basics are included, sticky mounts, handlebar mounts, and right-angle adapters.

This camera is available on both Amazon USA and Amazon Canada. If you are ok with importing for yourself, Gearbest has this cam cheaper. Check it out here.

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SJCam SJ360+ Review


Hardware and Unboxing

Video Samples

The SJCam SJ360+ has a decent design with a form factor that doesn’t require a mobile phone – but that’s about all it has going for it. Unfortunately SJCam chose internal hardware that is only capable of low quality 360 videos, and the result is an output that looks similar to a early 2000s cellphone. In anything but the best light, aggressive noise reduction kicks in and removes any detail. Still photos suffer similarly.

Overall the SJ360+ feels  rushed to market and unfinished. I highly recommend a minimum of 4K for 360-degree video, with 8K being the ideal. I have not tested it yet but video samples from other reviewers make the Mijia 3.5K Panorama Camera seem like a promising budget choice.


Hamswan F68 Action Cam Review – Fake 4K, Poor Value

Summary

The Hamswan F68 is the perfect example of “fake specification”. This camera is capable of a maximum 1080p @ 30FPS. It uses frame doubling to achieve 1080p @ 60FPS. There is not enough resolution on the sensor for 2.3K nor 4K. Due to the high price and poor video quality, we recommend avoiding this camera.

It is worth spending $5.00 more on the SooCoo C30, as this camera has real 1080p 60 FPS and image stabilization.


The 78¢ MP3 Player

I saw this on AliExpress as I was buying a mic adapter. And, well, yeah. It does actually turn on. But I can’t really get it to recharge unless it’s plugged into a computer. If anyone who knows circuit boards better than me can take a look at the circuit board pic (starting at 9:10) and has some feedback I’d appreciate a comment!

I’m trying a different approach to doing video audio, and it is working alright so far.

Looks like the price has gone up to $1.02.

At that price you can get one with a better clip if you look around.

Shop MP3 Players on AliExpress.

Support me next time you shop on Amazon USA or Amazon Canada.


KaiDeng K70C Sky Warrior Quadcopter Review

This is more of an informal, user experience based review rather than a technical review, as this is the first quadcopter I’ve ever used. The good news is that for the most part it flies fairly well, but there is a large learning curve for someone who has never flown before. Despite crashing the quadcopter hard a few times it still flies fine, but now the camera mount is broken beyond repair (and it is difficult to find replacement parts). Overall this has been a fun experiment, and I look forward to flying more of these in the future.


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.


Viofo A119S Review

The Viofo A119S is a low profile dash camera based on the A119 form factor however there are two main differences: the camera uses an updated lens with a narrorwer field of view, and it contains a Sony imaging sensor that is capable of a max resolution of 1080p at 60 FPS.
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Meike MK320 Review

The Meike MK-320 is a compact hot-shoe flash featuring TTL functions and tilt/spin capability. It runs off of two AA batteries. This flash is also known as the Neewer NW320.

When I first mounted the flash on my camera I thought it was broken because the TTL function was not exposing correctly, however I realized that the camera didn’t initially recognize the flash so I had to pull it off and put it back on. Once I did that the camera recognized it fine. When you first put it on at any shoot though, you’ll need to pay attention to make sure the camera is properly recognizing it as it seems 1 in 6 times the camera didn’t see that a flash was mounted so the flash was just firing at an incorrect brightness.

Comparing this flash to the built in one on my D750, they’re about the same power, but where the benefit of this is in its diffusion and ability to bounce the flash off of the ceiling or walls. Because the flash face is larger, the light is smoother, and there’s less harsh reflections on skin. Included in the case is an additional diffuser that helps even more. I’m also fond of the LEDs that it includes for video mode, however, they don’t really illuminate all that much to be useful beyond a few feet. Exposure with TTL is good, perhaps a little bit on the bright side at times. Manual mode is easy to adjust functions and slave mode works fine.

Build quality seems reasonable at this pricepoint. All the buttons have a nice click to them and the plastic feels solid. With the 2 AA batteries inserted (you’ll need to provide your own), the flash has a decent weight to it. Not as much as a big flash mind you, but this is the type of device for someone who wants something more compact, so that’s a win.

This flash is small, so it is not a master of heat dissipation while repeating flash. Don’t fire too many in succession otherwise it will pause to cool down.

Overall it would make a better addition to a micro 4/3rds camera or a point and shoot than a standard full size DSLR. I wouldn’t personally use it in professional situations, but for the type of person who wants something to mess around with it’s cheap, compact and works decently once the camera recognizes it. My honest recommendation though: if you want to spend less and don’t mind a full size flash grab the Neewer VK750 II. It has more power, better TTL accuracy and a built-in zoom function (USA Link | Canada Link).


The Olala 10,500 battery bank is a 2 port portable charger that supports Quick Charge 3.0 output. I’ve owned many battery banks over the years and this stands out because of one killer feature: quick charge. It can make a significant difference in charging speed if your phone supports it. iPhones, might not notice the difference, Androids that support Qualcomm Quick Charge will see the biggest difference. The battery bank is wrapped in metal and has a fairly substantial weight to it. It requires a press of the power button to output charge, it will not automatically start charging with a USB cable plugged in. I used a voltage/amperage tester with this one to measure capacity, current, speed, etc. and the charger had a stable voltage while charging and an 83% efficiency (about average). One thing I wish it had though is quick charge for charging itself – seems silly that it recharges a lot slower than it charges other devices. Since it supports QC output it should support QC input too. It charges itself a little slower than some other battery banks I’ve used – expect about 7 – 10 hours for it to fully recharge itself. Overall, if you want a quick charge battery bank the build and style of this one is pretty nice and its charge speed is consistently quick.

Olala QC 3.0 Battery Review


Viofo A118C2 vs A119

This is a comparison of the Viofo A118C2 and the Viofo A119. These are two wedge shaped cameras and both mount to the windshield with a flat sticky plate.

A118C2 on Amazon | A118C2 Canada | A119 on Amazon | A119 Canada

Design & Build Quality

There’s only a few differences between their body so I’m going to go over the main ones quickly. There is a slight difference is side. The A118 is a little bit thinner and taller whereas the A119 is wider and flatter. On the A118 the USB port is located on the rear of the camera, instead of the side, meaning that if you are not using the A119 with the GPS mount you will need a 90-degree cable adapter to make the camera more streamlined. The GPS mount on the A118 is added by way of cable whereas with the A119 it is actually built into the plate that sticks to the car. The lens on the A118 only goes up/down while on the A119 it also goes side to side, and finally, the buttons on the A119 are more logically laid out, in my opinion.

Video Quality

Now video quality is one of the most important things. So let’s start with daylight video. And, well, if you haven’t already noticed a difference you’d have to be blind. Apart from the difference in video resolution, there is a noticable difference in the way the cameras process colour. The A118 is duller and everything is greyish, whereas the A119 is bright and lively. The A118 seems to favor its exposure towards illuminating the darker parts of its surroundings whereas the A119 has a more balanced exposure and quite frankly the difference is huge. This is the normal angle I have my cameras mounted at, so that you can see just a little bit of the cars interior, and it doesn’t work all that well for the A118C. I imagine this camera would struggle with dark coloured hoods being in the video. The A119, though, wow, god damn does it look good. The added resolution makes the video a bit sharper although it doesn’t really increase license plate readability due to the lenses wider angle. You can see that the A118C2 really struggled due to its angle once we go into an underground parking lot.

At night, video is more or less the same. The A118C2 has a little bit better colour but the A119 is just a little bit brighter. For practical purposes there’s hardly a difference. When trying to read license plates I get more or less the same results: both cameras tend to expose for the surroundings whereas license plates are white and reflective so it is near impossible to read them on either. In some situations, where I am stopped behind other drivers, both cameras rendered readable license plates but these situations are rare. At night the cameras are more for documenting actual driving than keeping a tab on who drives by.

Audio Quality

Audio on these cameras is significantly different. The A118C2 is just garbage compared to the A119. The A118 picks up a lot of road noise and makes everything muffled like the camera is underwater.

Conclusion

Overall, in my opinion, it is worth the extra money for the A119 until Viofo releases a firmware update to improve the exposure rendering of the A118C2 and even then the performance can only be improved so much. The video on the A119 is sharper and it has 1080p60, as well as 1440p.