Monthly Archives: January 2014

Review – Anker 25W 5A 5-Port USB Wall Charger Desktop Charger

I saw this desktop USB charger the other day whilst procrastinating from revision and thought it was a neat idea. By our bed at home we had separate USB chargers plugged into a powerstrip. It was a bit of a mess, but it worked for charging our various gadgets. The Anker Desktop charger looked a bit of a blessing and it is!

anker
A little box just over 1 inch deep contains five USB ports for charging your various gadgets. Total overall output is 5 amps split between the 5 ports. Each port has a specific output and they are labelled individually. The iPad ports output 2.1amps each, the Samsung Tab port outputs 1.3A, and the iPhone and Android ports both output 1amp. Power input is 100-240V AC, so the device itself is also ready for international travel with the addition of a local plug for your exotic destination of choice.

Each of the ports should work fine for whatever device you want, but obviously an iPad or Android tablet plugged into the 1A ports will charge slowly. Conversely, your device will only take the maximum current that it safely can meaning you don’t need to worry about ‘over powering’ your phone, or whatever the gadget is that you are charging.

I noticed the device got warm when I was charging four things, not hot but just warm. However, it was not noticeably warmer than a standard USB charger. Some reviews on Amazon stated a problem with a high pitched whine or noise being emitted from the unit under load. This was apparently a problem with a bad batch, and the unit that I have purchased makes no such noise.

anker2

I have successfully tested the charger with the following gadgets:

  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Active (i9295)
  • Samsung Galaxy S3
  • Google Nexus 7
  • Anker Astro E4 external battery
  • Pebble Smart Watch
  • Nintendo 3DS (Using a USB charge lead)
  • Sony PS Vita (Only charges from the Android port)
  • Amazon Kindle e-reader

The only device that was a bit of a pain was the PS Vita, because Sony has done some proprietary crap to their USB charging solution. At least it works on at least one of the ports!

Charging the PS Vita with the Desktop Charger
Overall, this is a great little gadget for under £15! It has enabled me to stop using four separate USB chargers and the mass of cables that go with them. No more do I have to use a power strip to charge all my gadgets, and the bulk that that brings with it. It’s also much easier to put the chargers away now than it was before meaning I’m much more likely to unplug the charger when it’s not being used.

If you have to charge more than a few things via USB then this desktop USB charger is a great deal and one you should think about buying!

Buy one now!

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Pebble Steel

Pebble’s announced a new watch, well, not really a new watch but a stainless steel version of their smart watch and it looks amazing! Priced at US$250 Pebble looks like it grew up, finished university and got a job…

Pebble Steel Smart Watch

Now, there’s nothing wrong with the current Pebble by any means. I use my Kickstarter edition Pebble almost daily between university and my part time job. I charge it about once a week (and usually have a weekly panic that I can’t find the cable) and it has to be one of my favourite gadgets of the last few years.

However, the plastic finish scratches really easily during day to day life. I have a GadgetWrap and screen protector on mine, but that doesn’t really help Pebble’s image with people. “Your watch has a screen protector?!” I hear fairly regularly. The glass screen on the Pebble Steel goes a long way to helping the image. Additionally, it looks like a watch you could easily buy at your favourite department store which is a nice bonus. I don’t think that the extra $100 is excessive at all, perhaps some people should go watch shopping to compare prices? It’s nice that they haven’t messed with the internals of the new Steel watch meaning that developers of applications for the watch aren’t going to be split between ‘old’ and ‘new’. Oh yeah, Pebble is finally getting around the launching their promised App store this month! Yipee!

For people moaning about the price, go buy a Galaxy Gear (for between £200-£300 based on my quick google search) and look forward to charging it nightly, taking pervy photos with the tiny camera in the strap, and hoping that you have one of the few phones that it interacts with.

Pebble Steel Smart Watch

I’ll take my Pebble any day. I don’t need to answer calls on my watch. Most days I have my stereo bluetooth headset on for music anyway, and it can take calls (when I rarely receive one that isn’t about PPI). Nor do I need to take photos from my wrist (as much as my girlfriend disagrees with this point), or a colour screen to see the time or my notifications. Not being able to change the strap isn’t exactly a good thing, either.

For me, my pebble is a way of getting notifications from my pocket to my wrist when I can’t get my phone out for whatever reason. That, and I like gadgets so I never really needed a justification for backing the Kickstarter campaign in the first place back in 2012!

I still think Pebble has a long way to go but they are definitely on the right road. This should be an interesting and exciting product category to watch throughout 2014! What will Samsung do with the Gear? Are Apple about the release their revolutionary iWatch?

Installing Plex on the NowTV Box

Sky has released a cut down version of the Roku LT in the form of their NowTV box which is available for £9.99. It’s a really good deal, even if you don’t want to subscribe to NowTV (which honestly is worth thinking about, £8.99 a month for more recent movies than Netflix isn’t too sad!)

Now TV Box

Anyway, you wanted to install Plex on it didn’t you? It’s not in the store on the device presumably as Sky would rather you signed up to their service but fear not you can still install it with minimal fuss!
To get started, you need to enabled the hidden development mode. Grab the remote and press the following buttons:

Home, Home, Home, Up, Up, Right, Left, Right, Left, Right

Once this is done, you’ll need to write the IP address of your NowTV box. If you click through the screen without noting it down, go into the Settings menu and find it out in there. I’m using a modified version of Plex called RARflix, which you can find here. Simply download the lastest non test NOWTV sideload zip to your computer and go to the next step.

NowTV Dev Screen

Once again on your PC, open your favourite web browser and navigate to http://nowtvipaddresshere. Once here, click Choose file and navigate to the zip file you previously downloaded.
Click install, and the channel will upload to your NOWTV box. You should see something like the following on your TV screen if all is well.

Rarflix

It should now connect to your Plex server as normal.

Happy Plexing!

Twenty Fourteen

Bucket list update! So, if you look at my bucket list (available at the link above) you’ll see what I wanted to do before, well, now. This included:

Short Term (Before 2014)

  • Watch the Star wars movies (33% Complete! Don’t even ask…. +Laurence….)
  • Complete 12 games in 2013 (25% complete!)
    I want to finish the storylines in a few major series like Fallout, Elder Scrolls, some of the Zelda games before we’re hit with even more awesome releases…

    • Pokemon Black 2
    • Professor Layton and Pandora’s Box
    • Professor Layton and the Lost Future
    • Professor Layton and the Last Spectre
    • Lego LOTR
    • Super Mario Bros
    • Gratututious Space Battles
  • Read 12 books in 2013 (8.33% Complete!)
    • Replay – Ken Grimwood
  • Save as much money as I can! Stop buying useless crap… Attempt to get out of the student overdraft of doom…
  • Go mountain biking again (this time with a decent bike)
  • Play Artemis in a room with several people

From the bottom, Artemis didn’t happen. Nor did mountain biking. I’m working my way out of my overdraft so that’s a positive. I can’t remember anymore books I read although I did just get ‘We are Anonymous’ for christmas so I’ll give that a read after exams. Gaming-wise in addition to those games, I also completed Pokemon X and Thomas was Alone. That makes 9/12. I’ll take 75%. As for Starwars, we haven’t had a good chance to actually watch them. Maybe we will this year.

As for New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve not had any energy drinks since Christmas Day nor do I intend to drink them in the future. My wallet and teeth are both thankful.