Real Vs. Fake 4K Part 1 – Novatek NT96660

So many cams are based on the NT96660 processor, which results in fake 4K. The results are often less than stellar. The camera I used is the MGCool Explorer 1S (because it has pretty sharp video for Novatek). This is versus the ThiEYE T5e (real 4K). In order to get real 4K you need at least 8MP sensor, and many of these cams are advertised as 12, 14 or 16 but really have more like 4MP. This comparison shows a cam with a real 12 MP sensor. I’ll do another Novatek one with a 4MP cam later.

Links to buy the Thieye T5e:
USA Amazon Link
Cheaper International Gearbest Link

Link to buy MGCool Explorer 1S.


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.


Eken H8 Pro Unboxing

Eken has released a large (confusingly named) lineup of new real 4K cameras based on the Ambarella platform. The results look promising so far – the 4K isn’t as tack sharp as some IMX117 cams but it’s a hellofa lot better than the H8R was.

I got the H8 Pro but if you’re interested in this lineup of cameras I would probably recommend the H8 Plus for most users because I highly value stabilization and it has the better sensor. I have not tested that camera yet though.

Note: In the video I accidentally said that the IMX117 is higher resolution. This is not correct. I meant to say that it is a higher performance sensor.

Purchasing link for H8 Plus
Purchasing link for H8 Pro


What Van Scam Projector – Ikon IK900 Unboxing and Review

What do you actually get when you buy a projector out a random van in the parking lot of a Canadian Tire? Well, watch the video to find out!

What is the white van scam? Well, people in the back of a van drive up and say “we have a high quality product that we have got to get rid of. The list price is $$$$$! You can have it for only $$!” People get tricked into buying cheap no name products that (usually) work but don’t work all that well. Usually for the price you paid you can get a better quality product at a retail store.

This kind of projector is pretty garbage. I found it amusing how the deeper we got into the box, the lower the resolution the projector advertised. Some of the features were surprising though. It has Android built in with 1GB of storage, 386MB of Ram and an 854×480 resolution. The brightness is advertised as 7200 lumens but I believe it is closer to 1,000.

Want a projector? I use an Epson HC2040, but they have a decent cheap 720p one that I have seen for as low as $299 on sale (refurb):

Epson 720p: http://dreki.tech/740hd-amz
Epson 1080p: http://dreki.tech/hc2040-amz

Canada: http://dreki.tech/hc2040-ca


Firefly 7S Unboxing

 

I’m sure I called it the S7 several times in this video by accident. This cam looks very promising – I’m very fond of the user interface tweaks they’ve made. We’ll see how video quality holds up after more extensive testing. I only got to run it quick once last night before it was too dark out. Full review to come soon!

Link to buy here.


Drocon MJX Bugs 3 Review

Video Transcript

Pairing the controller is simple. Make sure the altitude adjustment is at its lowest point, turn on the drone then turn on the controller. The controller and the quadcopter stay paired after the initial power cycle so there’s no need to reset or reconnect. One of the first things I noticed when I turned on this quadcopter was that it is pretty quiet. There’s a little whine to the engines and the hiss of air but the brushless motors seem to have less engine noise.

As I mentioned earlier this drone is significantly easier to handle compared to my first one, but I’m somewhat glad I learned how to fly on the other one because this one is a lot faster. The handling is tight and turns are sharp. Flying this thing was the first time I actually felt fully in control of what the quadcopter was doing. I had the confidence to take it out in some fairly heavy wind to get a beautiful stormy sunset, and to take it out over water without worrying it was going to fall out of the sky. When it gets near the edge of its range the controller starts to beep. I never flew it out of range or shut off the controller mid flight as I didn’t want to crash it but I suspect that if it disconnects it might fall out of the sky. Hopefully in a controlled way…

Speaking of falling out of the sky, on the previous quadcopter when the battery was low it would just kind of lose altitude and in some cases it would come in pretty hard. If you watched that review you might remember I mentioned that I had no idea how to land the thing. Well, guess what- the instruction manual on the Bugs actually told me how to do it properly! And you know what the best part is? The Bugs also actually tells me when the battery is dying with a loud beep, which gives me a good minute to land it!

This thing can do flips and rolls and they look super cool because of how big it is. It looks almost rediculous, like it’s going to fall out of the sky, but then it manages to right itself somehow. It can even do it with the GoPro on it.

So there are a few small nitpicky points I noticed while flying: for example, the GoPro mount is fairly solid but there is some side-to-side rocking. The cameras stabilization mostly corrects it but if you look closely you’ll see a little bit of shaking. Also, life pro tip: don’t use your action cam Wi-Fi while using the quadcopter as they can interfere and that can cause crashes.

Look I’m not an expert in quadcopter reviewing like I consider myself for cameras, but I know when I’m having fun and this seems like an overall decent choice if you’re looking for a cheaper quadcopter to carry a camera. It’s got brushless motors which last longer than the other type, the build seems to be reasonable and the handling is pretty good.
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ThiEYE T5e Review


Summary: Despite a few little issues with the stabilization and a slight size difference with other action cams, the T5e is an excellent value, from a pure image quality perspective.


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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


FlexSolar 8.5W Solar Charger Review

My recommendation with a solar panel like this is to buy a battery bank and charge them together instead of directly charging a mobile phone or device. The reason for this is sunlight fluctuates, and phones are not as well equipped as battery banks to handle the drops and jumps in current. From my experience with this panel, in bright full sunlight, I got at best just under 1.3A of charging, with an average of around 1000mAh. Given the solar panels rating of 8.5W, this is expected. The panel is rated for a peak output of 1.7A and there will be some loss in circuitry, sunlight intensity, heat, etc. The one issue I noted with this panel is at lower outputs (in the shade particularly), the charge controller makes a quiet high pitched whine when there is not enough light. I also encountered a small voltage drop before the controller decided to stop trying to charge in low light but it wasn’t enough that it would damage my devices – just something I wanted to point out.

In non-technical terms, in direct sunlight it will take approx. 3 hours to charge a smartphone. This panel does not store energy on its own – it will only charge other devices in sunlight. Things like clouds blowing past, a window or intense heat can push charging time a little longer. Since it’s inconvenient to be connected to a solar panel for several hours in a row, I recommend buying an external battery bank with the panel, despite the fact that they take longer to charge. For example, a 10,000 mAh battery bank will take about 10 hours to charge with this panel in direct sunlight. However, charging a battery bank means your phone is not constantly tethered to the panel and you can move freely with it. It is also better for the phone, because this panel does not charge much in the shade, and phones need a consistent amount of power to charge properly. If you want to charge multiple devices at once, or charge better in mixed sun/shade you will need a higher wattage panel.

Conclusion

This is listed as an 8.5W solar panel online, but the specs say 10.6W. Little solar panels like this can be alright in direct sunlight but I’d advise, for most cases, to buy something a bit bigger otherwise you’ll just get 1A (standard speed charge) max. That’s not taking into account light fluctuations and whatnot that happen with the sun. This one also made an audible whine at lower current outputs. But otherwise it seems to work fine in direct sun. This power bank does not store power, so a separate USB battery bank would be required if you want to keep energy while .


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