Huawi Mediapad T3 10 tablet: The perfect bedside companion

I’m a creature of habit when it comes to bed time, these days.

While my wife reads a book on her iPad for a while, I tend to open up the laptop, load up Netflix or Neon and watch an episode of my current TV show – or start watching a movie – until I inevitably fall asleep, waking a few minutes later, startled, the laptop still resting on my lap.

The Huawei Mediapad T3 meant I could still maintain my bedtime routine but it was much more pleasant and comfortable compared to a hefty laptop..

With a 9.6-inch IPS display (a resolution of 1080p x 800), the T3 feels comfortable in your hands but at its price – $499 – it’s a mid-priced tablet so it’s not competing against Apple’s top-end iPads.

Running Android 7.0  (Nougat) wrapped in Huawei’s EMUI 5.1 operating system, the tablet’s display might not look as sharp as Apple’s top-end iPads (and it doesn’t as it does appear noticeably dimmer compared to a full HD panel) but it’s perfect for consuming media, be that browsing the web or watching movies or your favourite streaming service.

Designwise, thanks to the one-piece anodised aluminum body, the T3 looks smart, and won’t look out-of-place on the bedside cabinet or kitchen bench top,  but a kick-stand at the back  would have been nice when you wanted to prop the device on a table or bedside cabinet to watch Netflix or a movie. The battery had really good life but on the other toss of the coin, the tablet look a while to charge: It seemed much slower to charge than previous tablets that I’ve used.

Huawei’s Mediapad T3 10 tablet is a funny beast: It’s not a top-end device but it’s not a low-end one, either. It’s middle of the road which will be perfect if you want a good tablet for a good price.

Thanks to Huawei for loaning me the Mediapad T3 for review

Samsung T5 SSD: Pint size storage

Think about this for a minute: Samsung’s T5 SSD is smaller than my work business card.

At 74mm x 57.3mm x 10.5mm, the T5 can fit in the palm of my hand. It can slip into a jean’s pocket without any problem.

It might be small but this pint-sized aluminum-clad SSD (solid state drive) packs a whallop when it comes to storage space. Available in three flavours – 500Gb, 1Tb and 2Tb – the portable drive is reported to have a transfer speed of up to 540Mb per second (through a USB 3.1 Gen 2 10Gbps connection), which is blazingly fast for a portable drive. The aluminum body means things are kept nice and cool and it’s sturdy, too, claimed to be able to withstand falls from up to 2m.

Look, there’s not much I can really say about an SSD: It’s not as if it’s like a phone and it has multiple applications. The drive does one thing: Let you store stuff and access stuff – and it does it extremely well. I used it to store work content and  a couple of (legally owned movies (John Wick and Star Wars The Force Awakens) that I watched during a two-day work trip, and it does what it says on the box. It’s Windows/Mac/Android compatible, meaning you can use it to transfer content from your Android smartphone to help free up space.

The T5 will set you back close to $400  (I found it ranged from #+$344 to $379 online in NZ), so it is on the pricey side, but the T5 is a great all round portable drive that will take care of all your storage needs for some time to come.

Just make sure you don’t forget where you put it: It might take a while to find it, considering it’s so small.

Edifier G4 gaming headset review: You can hear a pin drop

Sometimes, in the heat of battle, knowing where an opponent is can mean the difference between life and death. The difference between victory and defeat.

When you’re gaming and don’t want to upset your partner, a good set of gaming headphones can be worth their weight in loot crates/prize chests/gold/virtual currency, and give that extra advantage, letting you hearing approaching footprints from behind or that crucial moment when an enemy reloads a weapon. Let me introduce the Edifier G4 gaming headset.

The control box.

The retractable boom microphone.

The G4’s cable, at 2.5m in length and plugs in via USB (so, no, you can’t use these on your smartphone), was long enough to plug into my console in the entertainment unit and I could still sit on the couch and play Shadow of the Colossus & Monster Hunter World. The on-cable control box is a little bulky but doesn’t get in the way, which is good. The retractable boom mic cleverly disappears into the left ear cup, which means if you don’t need to use it, you don’t have to worry about smacking your face with it (it also has an illuminated LED at the tip, which is a small but nice touch).

The ear cups have plenty of foam to cushion your ears.

My review G4’s were bright green and black in colour, and the ear cups illuminated a brilliant green when they were turned on. The ear cups are big and roomy with a good amount of padding so should accommodate any size of ear and the exterior of the ear cup has a mesh grill, covering the 40mm neodymium driver. They look super smart.

While sleek, the black plastic is a bit of a fingerprint magnet.

Aimed at the budget gamer, The G4s are a mix of shiny and flat plastics and I noticed that the shiny plastic that made up the body of the headphones was something of a fingerprint magnet: Keep a soft cloth handy if smudges annoy you! The headset felt comfortable on my head and the ear cups cushioned my ears nicely.

There’s software that you can download to tweak sound settings but it seemed overly complicated, to be honest, so I didn’t rely on it much.

OK, so how did the G4s sound, though? It’s not bad. Not bad at all.

The G4’s have a built-in sound card virtual 7.1 channel audio and have really good high and mid range notes and even to my old man ears, the sound was great, with ambient noises and sounds popping thanks to the G4s.

Game soundtracks and ambient effects sounded clear and crisp, although I thought at times the G4 lacked a really deep, thumping bass but then, to confuse things, it depending on what game I was playing. In Shadow of the Colossus, for example, when a colossi was defeated and tumbled to the ground, the bass vibrated nicely as it hit the ground.

And the price? This is probably the really surprising thing about the G4s. You can pick them up in NZ for around $120 (I saw one site selling them for $109). That’s multiple dollars less than my much-loved Sol Republic bluetooth headphones that my children bought me for my birthday a couple of years ago, and my son reckons the G4’s delivered better sound, too. I think I agree with him.

For a budget priced gaming headset, I was impressed with Edifier’s G4s. They do the job, look the part, and, importantly if you’re budget conscious, they won’t break the bank.

Huawei nova 2i: A budget smartphone in a premium package

The fingerprint scanner on Huawei’s nova 2i smartphone, which retails for less than $500NZ, is blazingly fast.

It’s so fast that for the first few hours I had the phone I just locked it then unlocked it using the fingerprint scanner as many times as I could. BAM! Unlocked. SHAZAM! Unlocked. KAPOW! Unlocked.

Even my son, who has a Samsung Galaxy S8, was impressed with the speed of the nova 2i’s fingerprint scanner (he still screwed his nose up a little because it’s a “mid-range, budget” phone). It’s a small thing, but the speed of the fingerprint scanner is just one of many pleasing features on this budget handset, to be honest, and the quality belies the cost.

Sporting a 5.9-inch IPS screen (maximum resolution of 2160 x 1080), a Kirin Octa core CPU (1.7Ghz),  4Gb of RAM, 64Gb of on-board storage and Android 7.0, the nova 2i has impressed the pants off of me – but the biggest thing that has impressed me is the price: I still can’t believe that it’s only $NZ499.

Huawei says the nova 2i is its first smart phone with dual-lens front and rear cameras and it takes remarkably good images. I’ve posted a variety that I took. Colours seemed to be vibrant and the phone seemed to handle low-light conditions pretty well.

For a mid-price smart phone, the nova 2i has a build quality that is top-notch. It doesn’t feel like a budget smart phone, thanks to the metal and glass construction. Sure the display might not pop as vividly as those top-end phones like the iPhone X or Galaxy S8 but remember, the nova 2i isn’t a top-end phone: It’s a mid-range, budget model and one that I would gladly use every day.

I was impressed with the battery life, too: sporting a 3340mAh battery, the nova 2i handled a day or more of average use before needing a charge. It lasts a heck of a lot longer than my Samsung Galaxy S7, although granted it’s an older phone with a smaller capacity battery.

Look, the nova 2i isn’t going to knock the top-end Huawei, iPhone and Samsung models from their perch but that’s not its target market: It’s not aimed at the user who must have the latest smart phone bling. It’s the perfect candidate for someone who wants a quality value for money smart phone but doesn’t want to break the bank.

Thanks to Pead PR and Huawei in New Zealand for providing the Huawei nova 2i for review.

Nest launches security products in NZ

I’ve always wondered what our dog gets up to when we’re at work and he’s alone at home: Does he chill on the lawn? Does he dig holes? Does he run around flat out for a bit?

Well, it’s probably all of the above but the Nest line-up of camera and alarm systems could just be the ticket for me keeping tabs on my four-legged friend, especially the Nest Cam Outdoor.

Nest is the sister company of powerhouse Google and its range is now available in New Zealand. Products include:

  • Nest Protect (NZD$219): a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm which doesn’t just yell at you, but talks to you when there’s something important you need to know. A product like no other in New Zealand.
  • Nest Cam Indoor (NZD$359): the market leading camera which helps you not only monitor what’s happening in your home, but talk to it. Always on, think of it as your very own security guard.
  • Nest Cam Outdoor (NZD$359): sometimes we keep our valuables outside. The weatherproof Nest Cam Outdoor takes care of those too. The proven most effective deterrent for would-be burglars.
  • Nest Cam IQ Indoor (NZD$549): instead of just showing you what’s happening, Nest Cam IQ is smart enough to differentiate between a person and your cat, automatically zooming in on and tracking the person in the frame and alerting you accordingly.
  • Nest Aware (from NZD$16): advanced cloud algorithms that kick in to give your camera smarter alerts and video history. Think of it like putting an entire supercomputer into your Nest Cam.

The products will be available online, in-store and through Meridian Energy from now.


Ultimate Ears Wonderboom: Pint-sized powerhouse

UE Wonderboom

For a pint-sized portable speaker, Ultimate Ears’ Wonderboom pumps out remarkable sound.

I’ve long been a fan of UE’s Boom Bluetooth portable speaker: We bought one a few years ago to take away on holiday and it proved a hit with the family (although arguments did ensue over what music playlist had to be played next) so I was excited to see how the company had upped the ante with this compact cousin. It’s upped the ante big time.

Like the UE Boom before it, the Wonderboom gives 360 degree sound, meaning you’ll hear the music no matter where you put it – and believe me, we heard it when it was being used: My teenage son loves his music while he showers so the Wonderboom was a constant companion at shower time (good job it’s waterproof, too, although he didn’t put the unit in the shower, it’s nice to know it’ll survive a dunking). Sometimes, we’d sit in the lounge during a weekend afternoon, just listening to music out of the Wonderboom and smile at how good things sound from such a small speaker.

The sound is so good on the Wonderboom that I could hear the music easily from a few rooms away. Like the UE Boom before it, this pint-sized unit features large volume up and down buttons and a charge port secured by a sturdy waterproof flap. No water’s going to get into this beast. It has a range of around 30m and pairing is quick and easy. The only niggle I have is the loop that you can pick it up with: It’s too small to slip a finger through.

Ultimate Ears reckons the battery life is around 10 hours, and it’s not far off that, when put through its paces at reasonable volume. Soundwise, the Wonderboom is excellent, offering toe-tapping bass, and nice mid-tones and high notes. Your music will feel right at home with the Wonderboom.

For a waterproof, portable speaker that offers fantastic sound and great portability, you’d be hard pressed to find anything better than the UE Wonderboom. Seriously, this is a wonderful Bluetooth speaker that will fill your home with the sound of music.


Jaybird X3 earbuds: Bluetooth sports buddies

Jaybird’s X3s are probably the first set of earbuds that didn’t feel uncomfortable in my ears.

The beauty of the X3 earbuds is that you can wear them either over the ear (with the cable running behind your ear) or under the ear, just like normal ear buds. I tended to wear them under the ear, using a fin, mainly because that’s how I’m used to wearing earbuds. I can see the over ear method ideal for sports like mountain bike or running.

Unlike many other ear buds that I’ve tried, the X3s managed to fit snugly into my ears without falling out. The ear buds come with a variety of ear tips and ear fins (as well as cord clips so things don’t get tangled up) so you can get the perfect fit. That said, I did manage to “misplace” one of the silicon ear fins while I was out riding my bike. I have no idea how that happened.

Like all modern pieces of tech these days, there is also a smartphone app for the X3s which lets you set custom sound scapes and the like, and they connected first time, every time when I turned them on, unlike some other Bluetooth headphones I’ve tried in the past. A female voice tells you how much battery life you have left, which is a nice touch. The control module is about 3cm from the right earbud, and it was the perfect spot for me to access.

The X3s worked flawlessly at the gym: I’d put my phone in one of the cubicles in the gym area and the connection would be sweet. The music dropped out occasionally but generally, it was as solid as a rock. On the bike, though, things weren’t so simple. For some reason, whenever I used the X3s on my bike, the music would cut in and out, often for multiple seconds at a time, even though my phone was in my cycling jersey’s back pocket that was 2 feet away, at most. I couldn’t fathom it: Often the first couple of minutes were punctuated by songs cutting in an out.

My son, who bought a pair of X3s a few months earlier, wondered whether it could be to do with the Bluetooth version on my phone, and I suppose he could be right. Any technophiles smarter than me think he might be right? The X3s use Bluetooth 4.1 while my Samsung Galaxy S7 apparently uses Bluetooth 4.2.

The sound from the X3s seemed great to my ears, delivering consistent tones whether it was the Smashing Pumpkins and Jeff Buckley or The Prodigy or Disturbed. Of course, I tested the sound purely unscientifically.

Jaybird’s X3 earbuds will set you back anything between $197 to $229 in New Zealand, depending on the retailer, but given how well they perform, especially when used at the gym, I don’t think that’s too bad. These are my earbuds of choice right now – and will be for a while, I reckon. There’s no way I’ll go back to those budget ones I used to use.

Logitech G Pro gaming mouse: FPS weapon

Logitech G Pro gaming mouse ($70)

I’m mesmerised by the light show that displays on the Logitech G Pro gaming mouse.

Seriously, I am: The mouse has LEDs around its mid-point and in its big G log that change colour from green, to light blue, to dark blue to yellow to green to pink to violet.

Light show aside, there’s more to the G Pro gaming mouse than in impressive light show: It’s a bloody good mouse for fans of low-profile and lightweight mouses (mice?).

With six buttons (left click, right click, a clickable scroll wheel, two thumb buttons on the left side and a DPI (dots per inch sensitivity) button behind the scroll wheel) and weighing in at 85 grams, the G Pro gaming mouse isn’t cluttered with options but the buttons all feel responsive, with a nice feel to them. This is one of the nicest gaming  mice I’ve used in a long, long time.

It really does feel nice in the hand and the braided mouse cable just gives it a classy look. Testing the mouse on Bethesda’s Wolfenstein: The New Order (which I only started playing over the weekend after finding it for sale on Steam) and early access game Astroneer, the mouse didn’t miss a beat. It really is a solid, gaming performer. I like it. A lot.

The DPI button lets you switch between 200 and 12,000 DPI and if you download and install Logitech’s Gaming Software, you can customise the lighting and button configurations as well as using default configurations for a variety of games. The software will search your system for installed games and assign a set up, if appropriate. That’s just amazing.

In terms of colours, Logitech says there is something like 16.8 million colour combinations but I’ll take its word for it: I’m not selecting them all to find out.

While aimed at the e-sports gaming market, Logitech’s G Pro gaming mouse is a robust, high-performing mouse that will perform superbly no matter what game you throw at it. I’m impressed.


Logitech M331 silent mouse plus: Silence is golden

Logitech’s M331 silent mouse. The one I have is racing red.

Logitech M331 Silent Mouse Plus ($40)

Logitech’s silent-clicking M331 mouse is just the ticket for the busy office environment.

It doesn’t make much noise at all.

Hardly any noise when clicking, hardly any noise when sliding, hardly noise when scrolling. It’s pretty much  silent – and I like that about it. Logitech says it has eliminated 90% of the mouse’s click noise, and I believe it: It’s barely perceptible when it comes to clicking, scrolling and sliding.

Small and portable, the M331 comes with its wireless USB receiver tucked in its insides, fits into a laptop bag easily  and I found it really comfortable to hold for extended periods of time. The mouse worked well on a variety of surfaces: The glass top of my home desk, the laminate top of my work desk and even my leather couch.

Sure, the M331 is lacking programmable buttons of higher-end, more pricey mice (mouses?) but this peripheral isn’t designed for fast-twitch gaming (that’s what Logitech’s G Pro gaming mouse is for. A review is coming for that one). Logitech says the supplied AA battery will power the M331 for 24-months: I’ll have to take its word for that, at this stage, as I haven’t had it anywhere near that long.

Look, this review is going to be short and sweet because, well, there’s only so much you can say about a mouse. There’s one caveat: The M331 won’t work for left-handed people. It’s right handies only, sorry.

For my money, the M331 ticks all the right boxes when it comes to a portable mouse for laptop use.

Huawei P10 review: Chinese smart phone goodness

Huawei P10 (around $1000)

Huawei’s P10 smart phone.

After a month using Huawei’s P10 smart phone, I’m starting to wonder whether the other phone giants should be looking over their shoulders.

Since arriving in the New Zealand market in 20XX, Chinese manufacturer Huawei has been starting to make inroads in the smart phone market dominated by Apple and Samsung. The P10 is one of the company’s flagship models (the other is the P10 Plus), aiming itself at Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S range.

I put my own Galaxy S7 and the P10 side by side & they’re roughly the same thickness. The P10 doesn’t have a physical home button on the front of the phone’s chassis and the only physical buttons are the volume rocker and a stylish red-coloured power button. The P10’s finger print scanner  is blazingly fast. Amazingly fast, actually.

Often with the fingerprint scanner on my S7, it’ll take two or three times before it’ll unlock my phone. With the P10, it was unlocked instantly and first time. Powered by a Kirin960 Octacore CPU and packed with 4Gb RAM, Huawei’s phone has a 5.1-inch full HD panel, a 3200 mAh battery, 64Gb of storage and is running Android 7.0.

I used the P10 every day for pretty much a month and was impressed with it. I used it for a mix of social media, web browsing and general day-to-day stuff and the battery life seemed about standard with a modern smartphone these days (about a day). Call quality was good and the camera excellent.

With dual Leica lenses (20MP on the back and 12 MP on the front), the P10’s camera is damn good. I was impressed with the resultant images, taken in a variety of light conditions (although I only have shots of the lake near my house here). I’m still undecided whether the camera is good as that of my Galaxy S7, though, which is my benchmark for smart phone cameras, though.

If there was one thing I wasn’t that keen on with the P10 it was the EMUI user interface: I just didn’t like the look of the interface as much as that on my Galaxy S7 or stock Android. That’s just my personal preference, though, and isn’t a deal breaker as the rest of the phone is so damn good.

I really enjoyed testing out the Huawei P10 and I’d definitely consider buying one if my Samsung Galaxy S7 suddenly died tomorrow.