Full Powertraveller Range of Portable Chargers Review

Portable Chargers Review


“Lemon Digital LTD was established with the sole aim of providing digital products at great prices. We stand out from the crowd because our customer service is second to none. Call today on 01225 763109.”
Overall, I would say that Powertraveller units are all good value for money, particularly the Powermonkey range. For £49.99 you can charge your gadgets without the need of being near any mains! I am going to be investing in the Explorer and the Powergorilla. I am going to be using the Powergorilla for work, where I can charge my laptop and phone at the same time. I am going to be using the explorer for general purposes including charging my phone and PSP when I am away from the house.
Full Powertraveller Range
The boys at Lemon Digital have again supplied us with some goods for us to review. I gave them a call last week and they told me about this Powertraveller Range. Apparently, the next must have thing! I may be looking at taking one or two of these for myself after I have reviewed each of them.
I have Listed the Range that I have been given to review:
Powermonkey Classic
Powermonkey Explorer
Powermonkey ExTreme
Powergorilla
Solargorilla
Minigorilla

There are a host of other products from Powertraveller that I have not been given to review, these include the:
Startmonkey
Motormonkey
Solarmonkey
Powerchimp
Maybe these are old units now? If I do manage to get hold of some of these I will include a review about them. If you do require a review for one of the listed, then feel free to contact me and Ill see what I can come up with!
Price for these systems range from £14.99 (Motormonkey) to £169.99 (Powergorilla).
Who are Powertraveller and What do they do?
Powertraveller manufacturers portable power chargers and solar chargers for mobile and cell phones, iPods, PDAs, Laptops, Netbooks and more devices. Not enough for you? How about the feature of actually starting your car with one?
Designed to military specification, Powertraveller portable chargers can stand up to the toughest conditions to deliver dependable and long-lasting power when you go off the grid. Named after various primates, the diverse Powertraveller range will meet all your wilderness power needs. Ranging from the Powermonkey Classic! to the Powergorilla! These really are worth taking a look at.
Powertraveller Powermonkey Review
Powertraveller Powermonkey Classic – “The next generation of charger”

Okay, so the first Powertraveller that I am going to review is the Powermonkey Classic! This is from what I can see, the entry level portable charger. designed for those who need a quick charge for their mobile phones, PSP’s and other smaller gadgets.
What’s in the Box
The box contains:-
Powermonkey Classic
1 x Universal Mains Charger including interchangeable heads for the UK, Europe, Australia and the States
1 x Travel Pouch to protect the unit
Tips Included: Nokia and Mini Nokia, Micro USB, Samsung G600, LG Chocolate, Sony Ericsson Wide Connector, Mini USB, Female USB Charging Tip, iPod/iPhone Tip, DC 4.0 for Sony PSP, USB retractable cable
So quite a lot considering the price ranges from £29.99 to £37.99. The device itself came in black, however, there are five different colours to choose from:-
Purple
White
Silver
Blue
Black
Thankfully, unlike most gadgets, sat nav’s, mobile phones etc… when you get them they need a long pre charge! This Powertraveller Classic actually comes 60% charged! I am not 100% sure why it has this amount of charge as oppose to a full charge… The powermonkey classic portable charger can be recharged either by the included universal mains charger or via the retractable USB cable in the kit.
Specifications
Capacity: 2200mAh
Input Interface: DC3.5 x 1.1
Input Voltage: 5v 500mAh
Output Interface: DC3.5 x 1.1
Output Voltage: 4.5~5.5v
Output Max Current: 1.2A
Weight 70g
Dimensions: 88 x 39 x 37 mm
Maximum Reserve Power:
All iPods – 40 hours
Mobile Phones – 96 hours
Digital Cameras – 1600 pictures
Two way Radios – 24 hours
Sony PSPs – 5 hours
MP3 / MP4s – 6 hours
PDAs – 48 hours
For the price, I think this is a very good deal. I personally wouldn’t consider buying one of these as I have my eye on one of the others. The Powertraveller Classic looks to be aimed at the younger generation who are constantly on their iPhones, Blackberry’s, PSP’s etc… So if your kid keeps complaining about running out of juice for their gadgets when your at the airport, on a trip… then invest in one of these! A full charge is capable of charging 3 mobile phones!
Powertraveller Powermonkey Explorer

Next up we have the Powermonkey Explorer! This is the same as the Powermonkey Classic apart from it comes with the Soalrmonkey as well and the unit itself has a screen indicating how much charge it has left. Again, this unit comes with the 60% pre charge, so you can use it straight out of the box! My trusted iPhone seemed a little low on the gas so I gave it a shot with the explorer:

It worked a treat and it’s very surprising how fast it actually charges! I didn’t have a chance to test out the Solarmonkey that came with it due to the poor weather here in England! I am sure it would work very well and I will try it next times there’s a little sun out.
What’s in the Box
The box contains:-
Powermonkey Explorer
Solarmonkey Portable Solar Charger
1 x Universal Mains Charger including interchangeable heads for over 150 countries!
Tips Included: Nokia and Mini Nokia, Micro USB, Samsung G600, LG Chocolate, Sony Ericsson Wide Connector, Mini USB, Female USB Charging Tip, iPod/iPhone Tip, DC 4.0 for Sony PSP, USB retractable cable
USB cable, Velcro strap and Pouch

There are 4 different colours to choose from this time:
Grey
Yellow
Blue (Id say this is the best looking colour for Powertraveller’s Powermonkey range)
Pink

Specifications
Capacity: 2200mAh
Input Interface: DC3.5 x 1.1
Input Voltage: 5v 600mAh
Output Interface: DC3.5 x 1.1
Output Voltage: 4.5~5.5v
Output Max Current: 700mA
Maximum Reserve Power:
All iPods – 40 hours
Mobile Phones – 96 hours
Digital Cameras – 1600 pictures
Two way Radios – 24 hours
Sony PSPs – 5 hours
MP3 / MP4s – 6 hours
PDAs – 48 hours
Not much of a summary for this device as it is obviously the same as the Powermonkey Classic, however, it does come with a Solarmonkey. The price varies from £52.99 to £74.99. I think this would be a good investment for those of you who go to events such as Glastonbury! The Solarmonkey would be the perfect addition to the Classic if you are going to these events in the Summer!
Powertraveller Powermonkey Extreme – “Taking it to the Extreme”

Finally in the Powermonkey range, and the latest edition to the family, we have the Powermonkey Extreme! Having used this and compared it to the other two devices, there really is no contest! This bad boy can charge your phone up to 12 times on a single charge without the Solar Panel even being plugged in! I also enjoyed the little touch pad to turn it on and off.
What’s in the Box
The box contains:-
High Performance Solar Panel
9000mAh Lithium Polymer Battery Unit
International Mains Charger for UK, USA, Europe and Australia
8 Mobile Device Tips
Travel Case
Velcro Strap
iPad DC Connector Cable
Tip Storage Pouch
USB Charging Cable

I particularly liked the case with this one, the others come with just a neoprene case with no protection at all… This extreme however, comes with a hard durable case to prevent scrapes, dinks and possibly ruining the look of the device.

Features
Shockproof and Waterproof Design
Standard USB and DC Port Outputs
One Touch Friction Swipe Pad
Auto Shut Off
Solar Technology
Low Static Wastage! 75% of charge retained after a year!
Advanced safety features
3 way charging options
Specifications
Capacity: 9000mAh
Solar Panel 3
Input: 5V 600mAh
Output USB Port: 5V 700mAh and DC Port 2.1A
When you start looking at the figures of what this can actually do with a single charge you will be shocked. For example, a single charge can power:
iPad/Media Player – 1-2 Times
iPhone/Smartphone – 4-6 Times
GPS – 4-6 Times
Mobile Phones – 8-12 Times!
Overall, to suit my needs I think that the Powermonkey Extreme wins hands down! Every single day I have to fully charge my iPhone and it always seems to run out of juice before I enter a meeting or really need to use it! With the Extreme I no longer need to worry! I have also started using the Extreme as the main charger for my sat nav, meaning there will be less stress on my car battery!
However, If I were a younger/more active person I don’t think I would spend £119.99 on one as I would probably only need it for my phone. If you do need one just to power your phone then I would recommend the Explorer.
Powertraveller Minigorilla – “Roam wild go mini”

Onto the Powermonkey’s more powerful cousin, the Gorilla. The Powertraveller Gorilla range is used primarily for the more powerful Gadgets, Including Laptops, Smartphones and Cameras. Whilst charging your laptop you can even charge a smartphone at the same time! Whilst writing this review I have been powering my Laptop with the Powergorilla and it seems to be doing the job just fine!
What’s in the Box
The box contains:-
The Minigorilla Unit
Neoprene Case
11 Laptop tips including:
L01D for ASUS/Compaq/HP
L51D for ASUS/Winbook
L52D for ASUS/Compaq/HP
L53D for ASUS/Compaq/HP/Gateway/IBM/Lenovo/Fujitsu/NEC/Olivetti/Toshiba
L54D for Fujitsu/Panasonic/Samsung/Sony
L55D for Toshiba
L61D for Dell (power only)
L72D for HP/LED monitor/Scanner
L73D for Samsung/Sony
L74D for HP/ GPS Navigator
L75D for ASUS/Lenovo/BenQ
9 Mobile and Handheld device tips including:
Mini USB
Micro USB
Retractable USB cable with DC3.5 x 1.1
Samsung G600
LG Chocolate
DC 2.0 (mini Nokia)
DC 4.0 for Sony PSP
Sony-Ericsson K750i
Nintendo DS Lite
DC extension cable (80cm)
Universal Mains Charger

Features
The Minigorilla will give up to 6 hours on a Sony Vaio P-Series netbook at 10.5 volt setting. Minigorilla will give up to 2 hours on other netbooks set at 19 volts.
Minigorilla features an LCD screen which indicates battery capacity status and level of charge left in the Minigorilla, and the blue backlight will automatically turn off after 5 seconds to save power.
The Minigorilla portable charger has the same finish as the brilliant Powermonkey Explorer charger for phones and handheld devices, with a laser etched rubber coating, meaning it`s tough and durable. Supplied with a universal AC travel charger that works in over 150 countries around the world, a neoprene carry case and a whole host of Monkey nuts to allow connectivity to the most popular of electronic products.
Specifications
Input: AC 140~240V, 50~60Hz
Output: USB (5V)
Output: 8.4V, 9.5V, 10.5v, 12V, 19V, 6000mAh Maximum Capacity
Average Netbook Power, 4,800mAh – 4hours Battery
Compatible with the New Range of Sony VAIO Netbooks
Dimensions: 150 x 83 x 14 mm
Weight 265g
All in all I would say that for £79.99 – £99.99 these are quite expensive and maybe not worth the money. I wouldn’t use them to power my laptop as much as I would use a powermonkey to power my phone. I don’t think the battery life on these are amazing. The Minigorilla will fully charge a Laptop from dead so they’re not all that bad. I am looking forward to reviewing its big brother, the Powergorilla. All the Minigorilla lacks is its power, but maybe that’s why its called the Minigorilla?
Powertraveller Powergorilla – “Roam wild – Stay wired to the world”

Here’s the one that we’ve all been waiting for. The Powertraveller Powergorilla! Since I started the review, I have had a Powergorilla powering my Laptop. So far it seems to be doing the job just fine, I can only imagine how useful its going to be when I go on holiday!
What’s in the Box
The box contains:-
Powergorilla
Neoprene Zip Case
Car Charger Socket
Worldwide A/C Adaptor with Interchangeable Heads
2 x Connector Packs
User Guide, Warranty Card and Compatibility Chart

I wrote earlier in the review that it would be better if all of the Powertraveller range had the hard durable case, however, after going through all of the products my opinion has changed. The slim neoprene case (more like a sleeve) does the job just fine. These units don’t really need protecting, they are already as robust as they can possibly be.

Features
Charges: Laptops, Netbooks, Sat Nav’s, Mobiles, PDAs, iPods/MP3/MP4, PSP/Handheld games consoles, e-readers.
Portable charger for laptops including MacBook’s.
Up to 6 hours of extra power.
Multi voltage functionality.
5v USB for charging smaller devices simultaneously.
Safety features protect you and your devices.
Specifications
High Density Lithium Polymer Rechargeable Battery.
Capacity: 6 x 3500mAh Polymer Batteries.
Aluminium casing with shock resistant rubber protection strips.
LCD screen indicates 8.4v, 9.5v, 12v, 16v, 19v and 24v options. 5v output from USB socket.
Can be charged and charge other devices simultaneously.
I have been using this Powergorilla since I started the review more than 4 hours ago, I have a fully charged Laptop and a fully charged phone. Not only has it fully charged both of these devices, but it has charged them both at the same time! Imagine going into an important meeting with a dead phone and a dead laptop. That should never be the case if you have a Powergorilla. I am definitely going to be keeping this for my own personal use.
The price for a Powertraveller Powergorilla seems to vary from £122.99 to £169.99! Amazon seems like a good place to pick one up, along with Lemon Digital.
Powertraveller Solargorilla – “Roam wild – Go solar” (Winner of the Outdoor Industry Award)

What’s in the Box
The box contains:-
Solargorilla Portable Charger
8 x Gorilla Male Straight Tips
L01D, L51D, L52D, L53D, L54D, L55D, L61D, L73D
8 x Mobile Devices Tips
DC2.0
Micro USB
Mini USB
Samsung G600
LG Chocolate
Sony Ericsson Wide Connector
DC4.0 for Sony PSP
Nintendo DS Lite
Other Accessories
DC Extension Cable
USB Extension Cable
Zipped Case
Velcro Strap

Finally, I have reviewed all but one of the Powertraveller range, the last being the Powertraveller Solargorilla. Looking at the Solargorilla I cant see myself using it as a stand alone charger as the weather here in the UK is far too unreliable. You can use this Solargorilla even if its raining due to the fact it just uses the light to power it. However, the sunnier it is, the more efficient the Solargorilla will perform.
You can however, use it to power the Minigorilla and the Powergorilla. A little bit like the little panels that come with the Powermonkey Explorer and the Extreme. I can imagine a lot of people will go with this option. If you have the Powergorilla and the Solargorilla working together, I can only assume that you wont ever need to plug your laptop, gadget into the mains ever again?

The Solar Panel itself is very big! maybe 4/5 times the size of the panel that is provided with the Explorer and the Extreme. I can imagine this can take a lot of power compared to the other two! The following image shows the Solarmonkey when open fully, taking up half of the desk!

Features
Charges Laptops, Netbooks, Sat Nav’s, Mobiles, PDAs, iPods/MP3/MP4, PSP/Hand-held games consoles, e-readers.
Award Winning Solarpanel for laptops including MacBooks
Mains Free Power.
Also use to recharge Powergorilla and Minigorilla.
Adaptors supplied for all major laptop and mobile brands
5v USB for Charging Smaller Devices.
Clam Shell design.
Rubberised casing and toughened glass panels.
Robust and water resistant.
The price for one of these Powertraveller Solargorillas range from £114.99 – £139.99. I think this would be a good buy if you were an eco friendly family, you already have a Powergorilla or Minigorilla or if you take a lot of vacations. In which case this would be perfect and should power all of your gadgets without the use of the mains!
Summary
After finally reviewing the full Powertraveller range, I can safely say which ones are my favourites and which ones are worth the money.
Overall, I would say that Powertraveller units are all good value for money, particularly the Powermonkey range. For £49.99 you can charge your gadgets without the need of being near any mains! I am going to be investing in the Explorer and the Powergorilla. I am going to be using the Powergorilla for work, where I can charge my laptop and phone at the same time. I am going to be using the explorer for general purposes including charging my phone and PSP when I am away from the house.
Rumour has it that Powertraveller will be releasing a new edition in Autumn 2011. The Powertraveller Discovery. I cannot wait to get my hands on one of these and inform you guys on how I feel about it and whether or not its a hit!
The best places to buy any of the Powertraveller range are the usual suspects:

Garmin ecoRoute HD Onboard Computer Review

The cheapest satellite navigation from TomTom, Garmin and every other brand, PDA system and digital picture frames

After using the Garmin ecoRoute HD for 2 weeks I found that overall I did save a few pennies and that I did manage to cut down my daily miles. I think that if I would have used the ecoRoute HD for a whole year then it would have had a far greater impact and I would have saved a decent amount. Not only have I cut down the miles on my vehicle but I have also lowered my carbon footprint.
After the highly anticipated release of the Garmin ecoRoute HD i was wondering what all of the fuss was about. So I contacted our good friends Lemon Digital to see whether or not they had these in stock, they had plenty and offered to give me one to review to see what I thought about it.
What Does the ecoRoute Do?
The Garmin ecoRoute HD Onboard Computer is used to help improve Garmin Nuvi users fuel consumption and help the users to reduce their negative impact on the environment. The ecoRoute also specialises in:
Engine Monitoring
Fuel Efficiency
Car Diagnostics
The ecoRoute also offers Sensor and Gauge Data to help you keep track on everything ranging from your RPM to your Coolant Temperature.

The users of this relatively cheap accessory should earn their money back within a year with the amount of fuel saved. This is a rough estimate based upon the amount I think that I saved throughout the two weeks of usage.
Compatible Garmin Units
After looking into the Garmin ecoRoute everyone was listing that it was only compatible with a select few Sat Navs. However, once I received the package it seemed to state otherwise. The package read that it was compatible with the following:
NuLink 1695
Nuvi 1210
Nuvi 1260
Nuvi 1310
Nuvi 1370
Nuvi 1390
Nuvi 1410
Nuvi 1490T
Nuvi 1490TV
Nuvi 1690
Nuvi 2310
Nuvi 2360
Nuvi 3760
Nuvi 3790
That is quite a lot more than what Garmin were originally saying on their official website. So i gave them a call and they confirmed that it is compatible with the list that i gave them and what was on the back of the package. In a nutshell, the ecoRoute HD is compatible with nearly all of the Garmin Nuvi units.
Whats in the Box
This is what you get in the box:
Garmin ecoRoute HD
Instructions Manual
4 Cable Ties
2 Self Adhesive Stickers
Here’s an Image of what i received:

The box that the ecoRoute comes in is classic Garmin. A solid cardboard box with all of the glossy images that you would expect, including the compatibility list on the back of the box.
Installation
Once I went through the box and read the Instructions manual i was still unclear on how to install the device to my vehicle. Unlike most other Garmin units this wasn’t as straight forward as I would have thought. I looked in my vehicle for the “OBD II Connector” only to realise I didn’t have a clue what it looked like nor did i know where to find it. The manual did give me a brief image of what it looked like and it told me to search the web for images of it.
I went onto the internet and then onto YouTube to find out exactly how to do it! Once I watched a video on YouTube it was Simple! The Connector was located right in my footwell below the steering column.
After I Installed the ecoRoute i asked myself whether or not it is compatible with all vehicles?
Vehicle Compatibility
I quickly surfed the web to see if anyone had experienced any problems with the ecoRoute HD and whether or not it is compatible with all cars. I couldn’t really find a lot of information about the ecoRoute, maybe this was because its a new product. There wasn’t a lot on the internet to answer my question. So once again, I phoned Garmin to ask them. They were very helpful and gave me a list of vehicles that it wont work with:-
1996 Dodge Intrepid
2000 Ford F350 7.3L Turbo Diesel
2003 Subaru Forester
Renault Vehicles
Renault were the surprising incompatible vehicles on the list. A market leader which will have a detrimental impact on the sales of these units.
Summary
After using the Garmin ecoRoute HD for 2 weeks I found that overall I did save a few pennies and that I did manage to cut down my daily miles. I think that if I would have used the ecoRoute HD for a whole year then it would have had a far greater impact and I would have saved a decent amount. Not only have I cut down the miles on my vehicle but I have also lowered my carbon footprint.
I was however, slightly bewildered as to why it is not compatible with Renault vehicles. I am guessing its because the OBD Connector II is situated in a non suitable spot, near the pedals maybe?

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Archos 101 Internet Media Tablet Review

The cheapest satellite navigation from TomTom, Garmin and every other brand, PDA systems and much much more!

Media Review

After finally getting my hands on the highly talked about “iPad Killer” I have came to the conclusion that if I were to buy an Internet Media Tablet then I would definitely go with the Archos 101. I have yet to review an iPad, However, I have used one and can honestly say there is no difference between the two, apart from the price tag! I Feel that the Archos player could have been made a bit more robust, as I feel that if i drop this system then there are going to be problems. Overall, the Archos 101 is a truly great device and could easily compete with the iPad. The price ranges from £254.99 to £329.99.

This review looks at the Archos Android Internet Media Tablet. This is the latest system released by Archos along with the smaller Archos 70. The Archos 101 comes with two different storage options. An 8GB and 16GB, the 8GB is aimed at people who will be using it for social networking and basically just keeping up to date with current affairs, whereas the 16GB is aimed at you Gamers/Video fans. The Archos 101 has a nice wood effect to it with a metallic frame. Very business like…

Archos are fairly small in the Consumer Electronics world but they are on a mission! I think that this latest system is a serious contender, maybe even better than the iPad itself? Once again given to me by Lemon Digital to review. If anyone else would like a product to be reviewed let me know.

Whats in the Box

Here is what you get in the Box:-

Archos 101 16GB (Also available in the 8GB Version)
Mains Charger with Adapters
USB Cable for File Sharing
Instructions Manual as well as a built in Electronic Manual

After opening the package i was shocked that it didn’t come standard with a case or a screen protector. I searched the web for these accessories and found that New MP3 Technology were the best place to buy a case. They sold a Genuine Leather case with the stand for £25.63 along with the Screen Protectors that were £8.33. Still, quite pricey considering the price of an Internet Media Tablet. In the long run i think that the best thing to do would be to buy a case and screen protector as well.

First Impressions

Upon receiving the Archos 101 I was shocked by how big the package was, just 2 Inches thin but about 14 Inches wide. Covered in glossy images and footage of using the devices features such as:-

3D Games
Internet
E-Book and Comics
Webcam and Instant Messaging
Webcam/Camera Internet with HD Video Playback
The device itself is very classy looking. A lot like the iPad, however, instead of being square it has a 10.1 inch HD display. This display would be great if you were to watch videos or play a lot of games. Believe me, I downloaded Angry Birds and was stuck playing it for 4 hours straight! The unit is very thin and considerably light for what it actually is. The package comes with a standard USB cable, a Mains Charger with 3 Adapters and a Small Instructions Manual.

The Archos 101, just like the systems prior to it has a very flimsy stand built into the back. It wont break off but just looks too weak for my liking. I have been using this system for a few weeks now and it does the job but i feel as if it does need to be a bit more robust. This is pretty critical from me as it has done the job so far without any problems whatsoever.


Ease of Use

I first started off using the Archos 101 without using Wi-Fi, just to see what it was like without the Internet. I got bored very quickly until I came across the Games and Application store. I then got stuck into some games for a few hours including a racing car game and of course Angry Birds. After a few hours I decided to explore the rest of the system and its features.

To be honest I didn’t feel the need to even look at the instruction manual, might be worth keeping hold of in the long run mind. Everything was straight forward just like it is on any other Android device like my Samsung Galaxy. The Archos boasts simple to use applications and icons for everything that is possibly needed including E-Mails.

The Archos 101 seems to be a lot more responsive and have a higher refresh rate than its predecessor (Archos 5 and Archos 7). Especially online, each page only takes a matter of seconds to load.

Once you have configured your E-Mail, every time you receive a message your Archos unit will alert you with a message tone of your choice. I found this very useful as my line of business is based mainly around E-Mails and most of them need to be answered right away.

Features

Just as I expected the Archos 101 is packed with hundred of different features including:-

3D Games in High Definition
E-Mail
Instant Messenger
Maps
BBC iPlayer
iReader
Traffic
Video
Film
Camera
Picture Frame (Turns your Archos into a Digital Photo Frame)
Quick Office (Equivalent to Microsoft Office)
Plus a lot more but I could be here for a while just listing its features. One feature in particular that I caught my eye was BBC iPlayer. I put Match of the Day on to see what the picture quality was like. It was crystal clear. However, when i made it fit the whole screen it seemed a bit blurry. The normal size looked just as it would on television however. Being a Media Player I didn’t think the screen would go like that? I then tried YouTube and the picture quality on there seemed to be perfect even in full sized mode. Usually if you watch something on the computer and stretch the picture it does go fuzzy so I cant really fault Archos for that as its fine when watching the video in normal size.

The games were free to download from the Applications store, Its a toss of a coin whether or not you download a good game, but I do recommend all of the Racing games and Classics such as Pacman, Sonic etc…

Above is some footage of the free download Raging Thunder Light. I played this game for ages and its just like playing the Nintendo Wii but with Playstation graphics. The Archos player turns into a steering wheel, slightly more sensitive than your usual steering wheel.

The Archos 101 also turns into a Digital Photo Frame. Most Photo Frames cost around the 100 pound mark and don’t come as a 10 inch screen. If I gave this to my mum I’m sure she would use it only for the Photo Frame feature.

Battery Life

Most websites seem to suggest that the Archos 101 can be used for around about 8 hours non stop. The day I received the device i completed the initial charge up (took around 6 hours) and didn’t get off of it for about 6 hours. At this point it still had 41% battery life.

Once your battery level hits the 15% mark the Archos alerts you with an annoying sound. A bit like a crunch, perhaps if you turned the sound down it wouldn’t be as annoying.

Music Playback

After spending about 2 hours loading all of my music onto the system I found out that my little iPod shuffle will do the job just fine without having to carry a 10.1 inch device around with me. I wont be using this to listen to music in particular but I will be using it in the future for my E-Mails and Facebook. I will find this device a lot more efficient in sending and receiving E-Mails and socialising than a laptop as I find it quicker. A future investment may be a Keyboard or something as i don’t get on with touchscreens.

Summary

After finally getting my hands on the highly talked about “iPad Killer” I have came to the conclusion that if I were to buy an Internet Media Tablet then I would definitely go with the Archos 101. I have yet to review an iPad, However, I have used one and can honestly say there is no difference between the two, apart from the price tag! I Feel that the Archos player could have been made a bit more robust, as I feel that if i drop this system then there are going to be problems. Overall, the Archos 101 is a truly great device and could easily compete with the iPad. The price ranges from £254.99 to £329.99.

Amazon Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device Review

Overall I feel that the Kindle is just as good if not better than other E-Books such as the Sony E-Reader and iPhone E-Book Apps, as it doesn’t boast hundreds of different features but gets straight on with the job. With a whole month of battery life its an incredible unit, especially for those who like to have a daily read. Not only can you store up to 3500 books, but, they cost as little as 72pence each!
After reviewing the Archos 101, people were coming to me asking to review the Amazon Kindle! This product was an exclusive to the USA but has since been released to the UK. The more expensive model, which includes a free 3G connection to the Kindle store costs £139 and the Wi-Fi only model costs around £109.
What’s in the Box
The box contains:-
– Power Adapter
– USB 2.0 cable
– Rechargeable Battery
– Quick Start Guide

Physically, the device is a little slimmer than its predecessor. Amazon has achieved this by reducing the size and thickness of the bevel and removing the row of number keys from the keyboard. The keyboard itself is a rudimentary affair that is, thankfully, only used during setup and for book searches, other than that I don’t see the need for having it.

The rear mounted speakers are surprisingly effective, though. Page turn buttons are mounted on the left and right, with forward and back replicated on both sides so you can turn pages one handed. This proved to be quite useful, however, after using the iPad and Archos 101, the touchscreen seemed that little bit better, allowing me to slide the page across rather than press the button. The device itself cuts no corners and does exactly what you would expect. The latest Kindle looks almost identical as its predecessor minus the few cosmetic changes.
However, Amazon have tweaked the performance by increasing storage to over 3GB, improving the clarity of the display and increasing the refresh rate for a better experience. The Kindle uses the new E Ink Pearl panel, and it’s just as comfortable on the eyes as words on a page. The Kindle can even be used in direct sunlight without the need to move around for a better/clearer picture. Not that I have used it in direct sunlight as of yet, but I’m sure to be taking it on holiday with me this year!
Specifications
Display Size
6″ diagonal
Display Type
E Ink Pearl
Size
7.5″ x 4.8″ x 0.335″
Weight
8.7 ounces
Storage
3,500 books
Battery Life 1 month
The bottom edge of the device sports a volume control and 3.5mm headphone jack along with a micro USB connector for both charging and data transfer. The latest Kindle does not boast a touchscreen feature, nor do Amazon plan on adding this to future releases. I think the Kindle would benefit from touch screen as I find it easier to just flick the screen to change page.
Battery life is quoted at up to one month with wireless turned off. In the real world, however, Amazon encourages you to keep it switched on so you can store the furthest point reached in a book. However, with internal bookmarks I didn’t see the need for leaving the wireless on. A month of battery life is superb! Considering I charge my iPhone every day!
Amazon has clearly been working hard at improving the book buying process. Order a Kindle and, on delivery, you’ll find it’s been automatically linked to the Amazon account used to buy it. Its simple to buy books and there’s plenty of choice, too, with the UK Kindle store now boasting more than 400,000 titles.
At the time of writing, all of the top ten books were available in Kindle form, many of them at an impressive discount. Stephen Fry’s “The Fry Chronicles”, for example, costs £6.54 in its digital version compared with £9.35 in hardback and this despite the fact that eBooks are subject to VAT. The joy of a device like this is being able to download the entire works of Charles Dickens for 72p and hardly notice the difference in storage available. 72p for that many books will save the user a lot in the long run! The buying process is simple! Find the book, then click Buy! Then automatically the book is saved to the Kindle.
Summary
Overall I feel that the Kindle is just as good if not better than other E-Books such as the Sony E-Reader and iPhone E-Book Apps, as it doesn’t boast hundreds of different features but gets straight on with the job. With a whole month of battery life its an incredible unit, especially for those who like to have a daily read. Not only can you store up to 3500 books, but, they cost as little as 72pence each!

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Posted in 3G Wireless

3M MPro150 Pocket Projector Review

Overall this is a nice looking device that has a decent price tag for what it offers. It is small, portable and easy to use. It will never replace a full size projector but if you want to impress your friends at home, or fancy using this at the office, then it has potential.

The 3M MPro150 is the latest pocket projector to be released by 3M, building on the previous MPro 120.
The MPro 150 is essentially the same as the MPro120 but with 1Gb internal storage, improved file format support, a USB mini out port and a MicroSD card slot. The only downside is reduced battery life.
The full specifications page provides further information if you want to compare these two models further.
Box Contents
In the box you get the following:
MPro150 projector
2Gb MicroSD card
Battery
Wall charger with adapters (US, EU, UK)
USB to mini USB cable
Composite video cable (RCA)
3 x RCA Gender Converters
VGA computer cable
Tripod
Soft protective pouch
Quick start guide
First Impressions
Out of the box the MPro150 is surprisingly light, weighing only 160 grams. It is small enough to fit in a suit or jacket pocket. The MPro150 exterior looks well built and feels good to hold in your hand.

On the top of the device are controls for adjusting volume and for navigation around the menu systems, a zoom button and an on/off switch.
1Gb of memory is built into the device and a 2Gb MicroSD card is included should extra storage be needed. Personally we would have preferred a standard SD card, we find the MicroSD variety too small and fiddly for our liking.
The front of the device holds the projector screen and a dial focus control. The rear of the device holds a VGA/AV port and a mini USB port. Again we would have preferred a standard USB cable connector.

The MPro150 connects to a variety of devices such as digital cameras and MP3 players, but the box only includes an RCA cable with a variety of gender connectors.
That only provides half of the connectivity you need though. If you want to connect one of these to your iPod Touch or digital camera for example, then you’ll need to buy additional cables that connect to the provided RCA gender connectors. So it was a shame we couldn’t hook up these devices out of the box.
Performance
Setup is straightforward, simply connect the MPro150 to your laptop or PC and transfer the necessary files onto the internal memory.
The MPro150 supports a variety of file formats, including Microsoft Office (DOC, XLS, PPT), Adobe (PDF) as well as BMP and JPG image formats. MP3 audio and MP4 video formats are supported.
A small three legged tripod is provided to enable the projector to stand safely on a desk.

Once the projector is turned on a menu system is projected allowing a user to navigate and operate the projector. The menu system is not the most intuitive and could be made easier to use, but after playing with the system for 10 minutes we felt comfortable working our way around.

A fan kicks in when the projector is initially switched on but soon switches off again. We saw no signs of overheating or a noisy fan continually coming on.
Brightness or power is clearly not up to par with a dedicated full size projector, especially in brighter rooms, but if you can find a sufficiently dark room it is pretty good.
We tested out some Microsoft Word and Excel documents, these projected pretty well in small size rooms where we were sitting close to the projector. Sitting further away and the brightness was not really sufficient to read text clearly, the font sizes became too small, so this projector won’t really scale up for larger size meeting rooms or for complex business documents containing a lot of text or graphics.
The MPro150 is more suited to small meetings or for simple PowerPoint presentations with a few bullet points on each page.

We also tested projecting some JPG photos and these worked well. Picture quality was pretty good and if you move the projector sufficiently far away from a wall then you can enjoy photo slideshows occupying a whole wall.
Summary
Overall this is a nice looking device that has a decent price tag for what it offers. It is small, portable and easy to use. It will never replace a full size projector but if you want to impress your friends at home, or fancy using this at the office, then it has potential.
We’d like to see a more generous selection of cables inside the box, improved brightness and resolution. We give this a 4 out of 5 star rating.
Enter a competition for a chance to win
Fancy winning one of these pocket projectors?
To enter, visit the mobile u web site and simply tell in 50 words or less the most memorable, funny or embarrassing presentation you’ve delivered or seen. One winner will win £500 worth of iwantoneofthose vouchers and an MPro150 as well as a short viral video being made, which the winner can star in if they wish.

LG GW620 Android Phone Review


For the last few weeks we’ve been playing with the LG GW620, the first Android phone from LG. Here is our quick review on how we got on.
Summary
The LG GW620 is a decent entry into the Android phone market. The Google integration is excellent and there are a large selection of free applications you can install.
It needs a more responsive touch/slide interface, a larger screen, improved browser and an upgrade on the installed Android 1.5 firmware.
If LG can improve these areas this would become a very attractive phone.
First Impressions
Out of the box the phone looked good and of a decent build quality, nothing too flimsy and the phone looked like it would survive a few knocks and bumps quite easily.
The phone was a bit chunkier than we were expecting but nothing excessive, the phone easily fits in the palm of your hand. Considering the slide out keyboard the overall dimensions of the phone are pretty good.
The touch/slide interface at times is fiddly to use, and is not as responsive as the iPhone interface. You have to press the screen quite firmly before you can scroll the screen. This can make it difficult when navigating a list of options, you can end up selecting an item from a list when all you want to do is scroll down the list.
Our other minor niggle was the proprietary USB port on the phone. For a phone that is trying adopt open standards we would have liked a standard USB port like those used on other devices like digital cameras for example.
Other phone manufacturers are equally to blame in this area but it would be nice to see some standards between manufactures here. It certainly would save having different flavours of USB cable scattered around your home.
We were disappointed to find that under the covers the LG GW620 is only running Android 1.5 (Cupcake). We would have preferred an Android 2.0 phone. The 2.0 version is better, more robust and provides a greater selection of applications.

Since this is an Android phone the integration with Google services such as GMail and Google Maps is excellent.
GMail contacts can be synchronised with the phone. This can provide a very powerful contacts management system on the phone, especially if you hold information like a person’s address and web site within your GMail contacts list. You can select a contact on the phone, click on their address and Google Maps will automatically start up and show you their location on a map. Click on a person’s web site URL and the browser will display their web page.
There are a good number of applications available, both free and non-free, via Android Market, such as the BBC iPlayer. Android Market works pretty much the same way as the iTunes store does on an iPod, just search for an application and install it on your phone.

The LG GW620 provides good integration with social network sites like Facebook and Twitter. Twitter applications like twidroid can be downloaded from Android Market.
The built in browser worked well in our tests. Web pages don’t render as well as the iPhone and the LG screen size could do with being a bit larger, but it’s not a bad effort.
Text messaging works slightly different than some other phones. Text messages are displayed on screen as if you were having an instant message conversation with a person, which can make tracking conversations easier.
The keyboard on this phone is pretty decent overall, it is easy to use and keys were just about sufficiently far apart to avoid hitting the wrong keys.

Our only gripe was the delete key positioned directly above the enter key. We had a tendency to press the enter key by mistake on a number of occasions, this was most annoying when performing tasks like updating your Facebook status. The result being a half finished sentence posted to Facebook.
The LG GW620 sports a 5 megapixel camera with a good selection of options available to tweak items like exposure and metering mode. The quality of photos taken with this phone was very good too.
Summary
Overall this a decent phone from LG with some really nice features, but it needs to improve in several areas before we would consider buying one.
If LG can provide an Android 2.0 phone with a touch/slider interface to rival the iPhone then we’d seriously consider buying one.

Vexia Econav 380 Sat Nav Review


This review looks at the Vexia Econav 380 Sat Nav. Vexia is a name you might not immediately associate with the sat nav market, it is a Spanish brand developed in 2008 to encourage eco friendly GPS navigation.
The Vexia Econav works like any traditional GPS navigator, but with features built-in to encourage you to drive more economically and thereby save money on your fuel bills.
The eco market is an area several manufacturers have moved into over the last 18 months, both Garmin and TomTom have developed systems which allow a user to navigate using the most fuel efficient route.
Vexia take this a step further. Not only can it calculate the most fuel efficient route, but it also provides visual and voice instructions indicating when to change gear.
It does this by storing the vehicle profiles of over 11,000 models of car. You simply select your car model and make when first setting up the system.
In addition to giving instructions on when to change gear, it also provides visual warnings if you accelerate or brake too quickly, as well as displaying the safe stopping distance based on current speed.
We reviewed the Vexia Econav 380. There is also an Econav 480 if you prefer a widescreen version. Both the 380 and 480 ship with either UK and Ireland mapping, or for a higher price European mapping.

Navigation
We tested the Vexia on the same routes we use when reviewing other GPS systems. On the whole it performed pretty well, selecting appropriate routes.
Route recalculation when taking a wrong turn worked well most of the time, although on one occasion it got completely messed up, first telling us to turn right onto a dirt track, and when we ignored that instruction it told us to turn left into a caravan park.
The Vexia displays the speed limit of the road you’re driving on and in our tests it did an excellent job. The correct speed was displayed on all the routes we selected.


Issues Found
There were a number of issues we did run into whilst testing, none of these were major, but they are areas we’d like to see improved:
There is no visual or audible warning if you take a wrong turn, the system will silently recalculate the route for you. If you’re quick and glance down at the screen you will see a progress bar as it recalculates the route, but it is very easy to miss that. We’d like some kind of warning when taking a wrong turn.

  • We couldn’t enter a destination until a satellite signal was established. This can be particularly annoying if you want to check or program a route indoors before a journey. Other manufacturers provide an “offline” mode where you can calculate a route without a satellite signal.
  • We found the screen too small. The information bar displayed at the bottom of the screen showing details like time of arrival and current speed was too small to read. It’s possible things are slightly better on the Econav 480 which has a wider screen, but we feel the display needs redesigning to improve readability.
  • The left hand side of the econav screen tries to convey too much information in our opinion making the screen look cluttered and unreadable. The right hand side of the screen looks much better.
  • We also found ourselves looking at the screen more often than a traditional GPS navigator to read this information, which could prove a distraction when driving. Sometimes less is more, and we’d like to see less information on this screen.

At slower speeds, such as driving in urban areas, you may find the Econav is continually asking you to change up and down gear. In our tests we were driving at 30mph in a built-up area, and it kept asking us to change up to 4th and then back down to 3rd, since our speed was drifting a couple of mph either side of what it felt was time to change gear. This got a bit annoying after a while.
Econav
We tested the Econav 380 on a 2007 Honda Civic 1.8 Sport, which itself includes a series of lights on the dashboard that indicate efficient driving, so it provided a good comparison with the Econav 380.
Overall it did a decent job of telling us when to change gear. Of course the Vexia has to use satellites to compute your speed, so you may find a 1-2 second delay before it realises you need to change gear.
There are times when the gear change instructions don’t make sense, for example when driving up or down a hill it makes sense to stay in a lower gear, so on these occasions it is best to ignore what the Vexia suggests.
The Econav 380 provides a nice series of reports where you can view how efficiently you’ve driven for a particular day, week, etc.

Safety Cameras
Safety camera warnings are pre-installed and in our tests it worked fine with fixed cameras. We did not get an opportunity to test whether it will detect mobile or red light cameras. Safety camera updates are available from Vexia.

Points of Interest (POI)
The points of interest (POI) was surprisingly good, offering a good selection of categories and providing accurate listings for our local area.
Summary
The Vexia Econav is an innovative looking device with some nice features to encourage more eco friendly driving.
As a navigational device we’d still recommend either Garmin or TomTom, both perform better overall, although the Vexia is not far behind. Some people could also argue that driving sensibly is common sense, most people already know that if you don’t accelerate or brake too hard you can save fuel, you don’t need really need a GPS device to tell you that. So we’re not totally convinced this device will catch on.
There is a move to making GPS devices more eco friendly though, and this device offers some potential and advantages over the likes of Garmin and TomTom in this department. If Vexia continue to be creative and innovative in this marketplace this could be a device to watch.

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Posted in Sat Nav Review

Most Popular Reviews 2009

As we wrap up another year, here is a look at the top 10 most popular reviews on Technical Itch. This list is compiled based on the number of people who have read each review.
Garmin Nuvi 250W Sat Nav
Sony NV-U53 Sat Nav
Garmin Nuvi 255WT Sat Nav
Navman S50 Sat Nav
3 Mobile Broadband
Sony NV-U73 Sat Nav
Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet
Garmin Nuvi 770 Sat Nav
Sansa Fuze MP3 Player
Apple iPod AV Connection Kit
We hope you’ve found these reviews useful and we’re looking forward to publishing more reviews in 2010.

Best Sat Nav Systems 2009

The following list shows the best selling sat nav systems purchased by our readers this year on Amazon.
Garmin dominate this year with Navman the only other manufacturer to make the list. 7 of the top 10 are priced at £105 or less which shows the budget systems are proving as popular as ever.

How to Increase Blog Subscriber Numbers

Two months ago I tweaked my blog layout to encourage visitors to subscribe by email. Since then my email subscriptions have tripled.

Many blogs already offer an email subscription facility, normally a text box or link in the sidebar, where a user enters their email address. But I believe you can target more readers by offering the same facility at the end of each blog article.

I already provide a link at the end of each blog article encouraging readers to subscribe to my RSS feed. I simply extended this to include an email subscription link.

Here is an example of what is shown at the end of each blog article.

A large proportion of my readers find this site via Google whilst looking for gadget reviews. Many of these readers may not know what a blog is, let alone RSS, but email is something everyone understands. Providing an email subscription service at the end of each blog article can tap in to this reader base.
Why not try this out on your blog and let me know how successful it is.