Thinkware X500 dash cam review

Front and rear recording with a wide range of features

Thinkware_X500_Dash_Cam (2)Car cameras or dash cams as they are otherwise known are not a particularly new type of product, but they are one of the faster growing technology products thanks to the increasing availability, falling prices and improved features, in part driven by demand as drivers are becoming aware of the benefits of owning one (explained here).

Many different cameras exist with different price points and in this review we are looking at one of the more premium solutions from Thinkware, the X500.

Personally I have little experience of car cameras so this review is based on my personal thoughts and opinions and will not be making direct comparison with other models on the market.

The X500 from South Korean firm Thinkware comes in 2 options. The first being a camera for the front windscreen powered from the supplied cars power adapter and the second being the front camera complete with a camera for the rear windscreen and cables for a hard wire or permanent installation.

I am testing the latter and more premium solution.

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Sony Xperia E4g – pre-orders live at £125

xperia-e4g-black-front-landscapeJust a couple of weeks ago we let you all know that Sony Xperia E4 pre-orders were live at just £99.

Well to add to that we can also confirm that Sony’s E4g, complete with LTE connectivity, is now expected to be with us in early April at just £125! Pre orders are now live on the Clove site.

Pre order Sony Xperia E4g from Clove

Although both coming under the E4 branding, there are some slight differences between the two models which we’ll outline here.

The E4g screen is slightly smaller at 4.7″, compared to the cheaper E4’s 5″, although the processor speed jumps up to 1.5 GHz from 1.3 GHz. You’ll also find that the E4g version is slightly smaller and lighter, plus the E2003 model number Clove will be stocking has NFC as well.

With the Moto E 2nd generation now released and shipping from today, the LTE capable entry level scene could well be getting quite crowded soon. This E4g from Sony offers a larger screen and a better camera performance than the new Moto E though, plus an LED flash, so it’s certainly worth considering and definitely justifies the extra few notes.

Sony Xperia E4g at a glance

  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat – guaranteed update to 5.0 Lollipop
  • 4.7″ qHD 540 x 960 IPS LCD screen
  • 1.5 GHz quad core processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 GB storage / micro SD support
  • 5 MP camera with autofocus and LED flash
  • LTE coverage (Bands 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20)

Motorola Moto E (2nd Generation) available for £110

Motorola Moto E 2nd Generation (Clove)Motorola are making quite a name for themselves with cost effective handsets.  We have had the E, G and G 4G as well as the 2nd generation Moto G.

The Moto E range has long been everything an entry-level phone should be. Reliable, long-lasting and above all, affordable.

This newest edition for 2015 brings 4G / LTE support for those that would like it at a low price. Other improvements include a 4.5″ screen, quad core processor, 8 GB of internal storage and 5MP camera.

Just £110 for a SIM free Moto E from Clove.

With a 2,390 mAh battery, the all-new Moto E (2nd Generation) is designed to last a full day. Dash to school or work in the morning. Meet up with family or friends. Then head out for the evening. All without worrying about stopping to recharge.

The 4.5″ touchscreen with Corning Gorilla Glass is your window into a digital world.  Browse the web, stream media or complete work documents on the go.

The addition of the very latest Android software, known as Lollipop, provides a modernised clean interface, modelled on what Google refer to as Material Design.

This new style will be prevalent on all Google’s services to provide a synchronised experience. Notifications have also been overhauled; they are now less intrusive and allow you (if you choose) to respond directly from the lockscreen or not interrupt your viewing when playing full screen games or movies.

To find out more, click here.

ASUS smartphones in 2015

asus-zenfone-2-close-up-sidA name that has long been a staple in the home PC and notebook world, ASUS also have an active smartphone and mobile division which has been releasing products for a few years now.

The ‘Zen’ brand has already spawned a fair number of ZenFone models over the past 12 months, alongside a very well designed and received smartwatch in the ZenWatch.

ASUS are also no stranger to producing innovative, niche products; their PadFone range beautifully executed a (literally) combined smartphone and tablet experience and survived more than one iteration on the line.

It’s good to see then that the Taiwanese manufacturer is continuing along these lines with two stunning looking devices in 2015: the ZenFone 2 and ZenFone Zoom. Both have a lot to shout about, so it’s almost a shame anyone choosing ASUS this year will have to pick just one!

Right now both of these handsets are set for email registration only. Once we know more about their release dates and prices, we’ll be sure to open pre-order for both.

asus-zenfone-2-camera-apertZenFone 2

On paper the ASUS ZenFone 2 looks like a pretty standard set of high end specifications. We can probably expect many of 2015’s flagship handsets to have a similar reading table of features.

A few key things pop out from the list – first off a configuration with 4GB RAM, the highest yet seen on a mainstream smartphone. We’ll need apps and software to make use of the extra memory of course, however with an Intel processor under the hood, this could be an interesting productivity booster.

Also ASUS may be no Samsung when it comes to mobile, however seeing another name go against using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips this year is an interesting development.

We can expect the ZenFone 2 to launch with Android 5.0 out of the box, albeit with ASUS’ own ZenUI layered on top. This has proven to be a fairly lightweight skin in the past, so with some converging features between other Zen products expected, this could be a slick touch.

We don’t know how much the SIM Free ZenFone 2 will be when it launches, however it appears that ASUS are looking to release at a very disruptive price. This could be a huge selling-point, although we need to play the waiting game to see just how low ASUS are prepared to go.

Thankfully that wait might not be too long, we’ll hear more for sure at MWC in a few weeks, yet we’re expecting to see ZenFone 2s in the wild by late March / early April.

zenfone-zoom-camera-close-upZenFone Zoom

One to get photography fans buzzing, the ASUS ZenFone Zoom will feature a custom camera module with 3x optical zoom.

We’ve seen similar feats of smartphone engineering when Nokia developed their PureView technology and stuck a huge 41 MP shooter on the back of the Lumia 1020.

Whilst the design might take some cues from that particular phone, things are slightly different with the ASUS as we’ll be looking at a more traditional 13 MP sensor; more details regarding pixel size etc. are still to be announced. Handled correctly though, this has potential to take the crown of best Android camera phone.

The rest of the specification seems to line up pretty neatly with the ZenFone 2, although floated prices has a definite premium – whatever secrets that camera tech is hiding, they could be pricey. Just like the ZF2 we’ll learn more at Mobile World Congress.

40,000 subscribers & a giveaway

YouTube-icon-full_colorUnless you are new to Clove Technology then you will probably known that we actively create videos of products including unboxing and reviews of products.

The vast majority of these are uploaded and shared on YouTube with many then embedded here on the Clove blog.

We have today surpassed what we believe to be a bit of a milestone, 40,000 subscribers to our YouTube Channel.

We make videos to help you and show you the latest technology. We do not make them for the number of views and to gets lots of subscribers but it is great to achieve this.

If you are one of those 40K subscribers, then THANK YOU.

As a small gesture of our appreciation, we will be offering a currently unannounced smartphone to one of you. All you need do is visit our YouTube channel on or around the 10th March to find out more.

Doro – Which? give Doro handsets ‘Best Buy’ and ‘Great Value’

Doro Smartphones

It’s good to see those who may just want to keep things simple when it comes to a mobile, have such a great choice from Doro.

What makes them stand out from the crowd, are the amazing features that some of the big players in the mobile world could well do with sticking in their flagship devices.

I’m talking about the Assistance Button, the In Case of Emergency feature and also the charger. With the of these the end that goes in to your Doro phone has a raised profile so you’re not left trying to connect the charger the wrong way round.

We’re really impressed with all the features offered by Doro and over at Which? both the Doro PhoneEasy 612 and 622 have been given the ‘Best Buy’ stamp, with the Doro PhoneEasy 612 getting an extra ‘Great Value’ stamp. You can find out more on page 73 of their March 2015 issue or on their website if you’re a member.

Clove Technology won’t argue that they are both superb handsets that bring technology to everyone.

You may have even seen the competition that we have going strong. Simply buy a Doro handset from us by March 31st and we’ll put you in the draw to get your money back – so you could be getting your super easy phone at no cost. You can read more about that by clicking here and if you want to get your hands on a Doro phone, hit the blue button below.

Browse our range of Doro phones

CAT B15Q Pros & Cons

Cat_B15Q_Hands_On_ReviewgCat have been steadily making moves in the rugged phone space for well over a year now with both feature phones and their original B15 smartphone from 2013.

The B15Q built on this by refreshing the specification and keeping the unique styling that has served the brand well.  So what stacks up well and what doesn’t? Read on for a blow by blow or check out Jon’s 60 second review at the bottom of the page.

The not so great

The camera, whilst an improvement on the original, is still not that great. The 5 MP module is relatively outdated now, although seen on a number of  entry level and mid range phones. The camera can take passable images, for instance the standard will be high enough if used for taking shots on site to share with base, however the standard camera application included is quite sparse in terms of features and not the best for photography fans.

Released before 4G / LTE was becoming as widely available as it is now, the B15Q doesn’t have the capability to connect to 4G networks. This does keep costs down, however with newer entry level phones including the tech it does now have to be seen as a detraction.

More for the serious technophiles – there is no 5 GHz wireless support. If you’re not in the know, WiFi connections can now come in two frequency flavours, standard 2.4 GHz and more recently 5 GHz. The major benefit of 5 GHz connections is a lack of interference, not just from other WiFi users but also Bluetooth, microwaves and other wireless tech that tends to sit around the 2.4 GHz band. It’s far from a deal breaker but a neat feature to be able to utilise, especially if you’re entering a crowded enterprise environment.

With ruggedness comes an inevitable reduction in consumer design and desirability. You can argue the B15Q isn’t targeted at those who care too much what their smartphone looks like, although many users do want to meet in the middle for function and design. The Cat range is known for a better look than other chunky rugged bricks, however there’s a long way to go before a rugged phone could contend against an HTC or Sony.

Finally the screen resolution is fairly low. At just 480 x 800 the result is quite noticeably rough even compared to qHD 540 x 960 screens the seen on many newer mid range devices. The screen covering is also fairly reflective. This may well be due to the material used, which admittedly is more resilient than others, however it does result in some difficulty reading in direct sunlight.

Cat_B15Q_Hands_On_Reviewd

What we like

At the time of release the base specification was a marked improvement on the original and continues to de decent value for money. With quad core processing power and increased RAM, the performance was clearly improved, plus the Android version was brought up to date and with it new system features.

The design might detract from the average consumer however it is the best in a world where rugged phones tend to be huge slabs of rubber with unresponsive screens. The B15Q is protected in all the key areas; the frame is metal with the corners reinforced, Corning Gorilla Glass 2 has been used on the screen and the speaker grilles were redesigned to improve the waterproofing. It’s chunky but still practical, looking like a worker’s phone without sacrificing practicality like many enterprise oriented handsets.

An LED flash was included in the B15Q, something sorely missing on the original. Not only can a flash dramatically improve image quality (and simply make low light shooting possible), this can also double as a flash light. It’s powerful too; much, much better than just trying to use your screen to illuminate your surroundings and saves you searching for a separate torch.

The IP67 rating allows for complete immersion in fresh water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1 metre. The military 810g rating has also been achieved, by being able to withstand repeated drops from 1.8 meters onto concrete and consistently perform in temperatures as low as minus 20°C.

Not one to make many lists – the loudspeaker performs very well. In consumer devices this might be reserved for playing some music or showing your friends a video, however it’s easy to see how you might want to make a call in a loud environment with the B15Q. Switching to loudspeaker if it’s not convenient to put the phone to your ear is made better by providing clear sound at a decent volume.

Finally, the battery life is quite long in comparison to other similar phones, plus the battery itself is removable. If deployed to a team, users can keep a spare cell handy should they be running low or working an extended shift.

Car camera features explained

Thinkware_X500_Dash_Cam (1)Car cameras or dash cams are an increasingly popular option for drivers of vehicles in the UK or internationally to install in a vehicle to record what happens as you drive and use when required as evidence in an incident should it be required.

Dash cameras come in an array or different sizes, features, capabilities and prices.

In this post we look as best as possible to list and explain all the different features and functions that you might get or come into contact with when deciding on a car camera.  In our post hereShould I buy a Car Camera‘  we look at the pros and cons as well so with all this information you can make an informed decision on which to go for and ultimately purchase the best one for you.

Single Channel Cameras

This is a solution with just one camera which is usually mounted in the front windscreen and is powered by the car power adapter or can be hardwired.

2 Channel Cameras

This is a solution comprising of 2 cameras, usually one for the front and one for the rear.

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Smartphones look similar for a reason

It is quite clear whether you have a passion for mobile technology or not that the market is awash with many different phones that all look very similar and do very similar things, with only marginal differences between them.

If you have ever thought choosing a new phone is more difficult than ever, then you would be right because it is.  The great advantage is that you and I have more choice than ever before but that could be argued as a negative.

However one topic surrounding the vast array of phones on the market today that keeps being raised is around design.

Many seem to complain about phones looking too similar, not being innovative enough and looking unattractive.

Yet when something very different and innovative comes along like the YotaPhone 2, it gets criticised  by many for being unnecessary or a gimmick when in fact as a smartphone it is not all that bad.

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Sony Xperia Z Ultra just £220

Sony_Xperia_Z_Ultra (1)Back in September 2013 the Sony Xperia Z Ultra hit the shelves costing in excess of £500.

By mid-late 2014 stocks were virtually depleted and we actually removed the Z Ultra from sale from the Clove website.

However, we have managed to gain access to a limited number of these SIM free phablets and are currently offering them for sale for just £220 including VAT.

Less than half the price at launch for £220 you are getting a sensational product, even if the product is technically 18 months old.

Brand new in the original box, the Z Ultra offers you:

  • Google Android operating system
  • 2.2GHz Qualcomm quad-core processor
  • 6.44″ touchscreen with scratch resistant glass
  • 6.5mm thick
  • 8 megapixel camera with Sony Exmor RS technology
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Front facing 2 megapixel camera
  • IP55/58 rated
  • NFC
  • MHL
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • WiFi
  • 4G/LTE
  • MicroSDXC memory card slot

When purchased from Clove the device will be provided SIM free meaning no contract or SIM card is included and they are unlocked for use on all networks.  You have a full 24 month warranty with Sony included too.

At 6.4″ it is not small and will be suitable for only some who have a particular need, but this would make for an ideal device to consume media on.

If you need more information please do contact us by email using the address sales@clove.co.uk or by telephoning +44 (0)1202 552936.

Buy SIM free Sony Xperia Z Ultra