Review: VicTsing Quad Core Android Smart TV Box

So here’s an interesting device. With the smart TV market heating up, there are more and more devices finding their way into consumers hands. Of course we’ve all heard of the big brands like the Amazon Fire TV, and the Apple TV, so what room does that leave for other, smaller, brands?

Well, apparently there is room! I personally use an Amazon TV box and I love it, so when I booted this device up I had some pretty high expectations. The first thing that struck me was the custom launcher installed on the device, something that I didn’t expect to find. I thought it would just ship with plain old Android, making it difficult to use as a TV box, but the custom launcher makes using this with a remote an absolute breeze.

The box comes pre-loaded with media streaming apps such as Netflix and there are plenty more available from the Google Play store (a bit of advice, when I first logged into the Play Store it didn’t work, however once I updated it, it worked perfectly).

Content looked great when streamed from Netflix, with sound and picture quality rivaling the big names, and having access to the Google Play Store gives users a huge range of content. Basically, if you can get something on your phone then you’ll find it on this device.

There are some issues with this device, but they are to be expected at such a low price. First thing, and it’s not a huge gripe, but the box itself is incredibly light, to the point that if you knock a cable it will go flying. The remote it comes packaged with needs clear line of sight, we really are talking direct line with no obstacles. I thought the remote had stopped working, but it was just not pointed direct at the box.

To be honest this is worth checking out. Granted, the user interface isn’t quite as nice as the big name TV boxes out there, but for the price you can’t go wrong. If all you’re after is streaming TV and Movies to your big screen then this is worth giving a go. The cons are relatively minimal, and there really are plenty of great points!

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Review: Star Wars The Force Awakens BB8 NO: 61 Funko Pop

Oh BB-8, you lovable little scamp. You’ve rolled into my collection and forced my hand, leading me to begin my descent to the dark side, and collect Star Wars Funko Pop. It’s a burden for sure, but someone has to do it! So that little random rant aside, I love the BB-8 Funko!

It’s a great model, and captures the droids character well. Now, there’s not much to it, it is after all basically a ball with a head, but nonetheless, it still looks good. The colors all look good, and unlike my R2-D2 model, the paintwork is all in the right places.

The one thing I really liked was how shiny the eye is! In certain lights it really does shine, adding a glass affect to the model that looks really impressive.

When I first saw the Star Wars Funko Pop’s, the thing that really put me off (apart from the fact I’d go bankrupt if I started collecting them) was that they were all on a base. It’s not the end of the world, but it felt a bit unnecessary. Thankfully, you can remove the base from your Pop’s, which is a nice little feature.

All in all, this is a good model, with good paint work despite its simplicity. If you’re a Star Wars fan, then you know what you need to do next…. Fulfill your destiny!

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New series, mailing list, and covers!

Good afternoon everyone! It’s been quite some time since I had any news about my writing, but today I’ve got a boatload.

Chrysalis Blooms

So, my new series, Chrysalis Blooms, is launching on October 30th and the pre order is live now, US link, UK link. This is the first episode in a 10 part season of my supernatural adventure and episodes will be launching every 2-4 weeks! It’s been great fun plotting and writing so I hope you all enjoy it when it lands at the end of the month. Check out the blurb for the first episode below:

When Lisa Joyce sneaks out, it isn’t a boy or her friends she goes to meet, but nightmares brought to life… 


In a world where monsters and demons roam the night, preying on the innocent, it is Lisa’s duty to fight the darkness. The responsibility was inherited, but even so, she can’t begin to comprehend the magnitude of the life that lies before her. 

As an outsider who never quite fits in, Lisa is different. She is stronger and faster than everyone else, and her heightened senses grant her unusual abilities. They are the perfect gifts for a monster hunter, but nothing but a curse for a girl trying to find her place in high school. 

When a fiend strikes Fisher Creek High, Lisa can’t help but take it personally. Things are changing, her battles evolving at an alarming rate. Something is coming, but in order to understand, Lisa needs to learn more about who and what she is… 

Mailing List

Also, my mailing list is now live, so if you want to stay up to date with my writing and latest news then feel free to subscribe: Subscribe

Cover Collection

Finally, I’ve been working on the covers for the first 10 episodes of Chrysalis Blooms, and you can find them all in the gallery. Let me know what you think!

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Funko Pop Unboxing: Captain Malcolm Reynolds #135

Funko Pop Unboxing: Captain Malcolm Reynold #135

I love Firefly and I love Funko Pop, so of course I just had to get myself Captain Malcolm Reynolds!

This is a great sculpt, with only a few spots where the paint isn’t in the right place. The captain is wearing his iconic jacket and is ready for action. For some reason he seems to suit being a tiny little, giant headed Pop more than I expected. All in all a great little Pop.

 

 

Check out my video unboxing and the gallery below:

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First Impressions: Surface Pro 3

Well, I finally caved and picked up a Surface Pro 3. I’ve been toying with the idea for some time now, looking to replace my Nvidia Shield Tablet with something a little better for writing. I loved the idea of having something with a large screen and full desktop experience, but my previous use of a tablet running Windows had been less than ideal.

It’s been just less than a week of using the Surface Pro 3 and so far I love it. I’ve even come to the conclusion that it’s time to finally give up my Macbook Pro (maybe). With the Windows 10 update the Surface Pro 3 has gone from being a good device to being an amazing device.

Finally both tablet and laptop mode work well. Unlike my previous experiences with Windows 8.1, everything flows, there’s no horrid interruptions like users had to face before.

The device is fast and powerful, handling pretty much everything I do without batting an eyelid. Throw in good battery life and I’m onto a winner. When it comes to my writing this thing is awesome.

The Surface Pen is a welcome addition to my usage. Note taking feels natural and drawing works well.

Basically, the Surface Pro 3 has combined all of my devices into one. I’ll write as more in depth review after using it for a little longer, but so far, I’m more than glad I decided to give this device a chance!

Review: Snugg Surface Pro 3 Case

I picked this up after getting my Surface Pro 3 and I’m glad that I did. The case looks and feels great and offers enough room to fit the Surface with all of its accessories attached (keyboard and Surface Pen)

At first I was concerned that the case wouldn’t fit right considering it was advertised as having room for the Surface and its keyboard. However its a great fit, not overly large like some other cases I tired. This was made for the Surface, not just a generic case that fits everything ‘around’ that size.

There’s a second pouch on the back of the case for slotting papers or other slim devices in and on the front there’s a business/credit card sized slot.

The case is basic, but looks great and feels fantastic.

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Review: Surface Pro 3 Type Cover

So, this is one of those essential accessories that Microsoft Surface users will want with their shiny tablet/laptop hybrid. It’s advertised as being a must have, something that transforms your tablet from just being a tablet, into a fantastic portable laptop. The question is how well does it do that?

I’m in two minds about this keyboard. On the one hand, it is a must have, there’s no denying this, but it’s not a great keyboard and it’s definitely not good value for money. The form factor and design is spot on, and the ease in which it attaches and detaches from the Surface makes switching between tablet and laptop an absolute breeze.

The keyboard is thin and flimsy though, it flexes far too much which can make lengthy typing a pain. The key spacing is also a little odd, with there being no real gaps between keys which will lead to a fair few duplicate key presses.

I love the fact that you can either lay the keyboard flat, or, by using the magnet it can clip against the Surface’s lower screen so that it sits at a slight angle. This makes typing easier, but unfortunately the dreaded flexing kicks in.

It was also a nicer design choice to allow users to decide if they want to clip the Surface pen to the keyboard or not. In the box you’ll find a pen loop which has a peel off stick tab. You can then decide if, and where you want to attach the loop and store your pen. This is good if you don’t want to use the Surface pen as it means you won’t have a random loop attached to your keyboard. However the loop has dropped off a few times now.

One thing that is very hit and miss is the trackpad. Now you could forgive Microsoft, considering this is attached to a touchscreen device, but a good trackpad makes all the difference. Unfortunately this isn’t a good trackpad. It’s ok, but it seems intermittent. Sensitivity seems all over the place, responsiveness isn’t spot on, and within a few days the finish around the trackpad had started to wear down.

Speaking of finish, I love the cyan! I also really like the feel of the keyboard, but the material does get dirty and worn down very quickly. I’m not convinced that this will last very long which is very disappointing.

So is the keyboard worth it? Well, yes and no. If you have a Surface Pro 3 then you will probably find yourself benefiting from this accessory. Just be aware, it’s not good value for money and it’s not really very good, with far too many flaws. Fingers crossed Microsoft will bring us a better keyboard dock style accessory later down the line. For now, this is what we are left with.

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Review: Kinps®20000mAh High Capacity Fast Portable Charger

This is an absolute beast of a portable charger, there’s no getting around that. The first thing that struck me was just how heavy this thing is, especially in comparison to other batteries I have reviewed that offer a similar or larger capacity.

Once I got over the weight, I was able to see all of the good points this battery offers. It is sleek, and not overly large considering the capacity. Three USB ports allow for charging of multiple gadgets on the go, and charge times are fast.

Charging the device up requires a micro USB charger (the cable is included in the box) Also included in the box is a little carrying bag which is soft and can be used for cleaning the device. It’s worth noting that this battery has a glossy finish and will attract finger prints, so using the case as a cleaning cloth is a must.

With such a large capacity I was able to keep both my phone and tablet charged on the go. I received multiple full charges and was more than impressed by how long this device lasted. It will definitely come in handy for those on the go and who won’t have access to a mains charger for lengthy times.

For the price you cannot go wrong with this portable charger. It’s heavier than others I’ve tested but it’s also cheaper. When it came to actual functionality this battery performed as well as other more expensive portable chargers, so I would definitely recommend this device.

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Review: Balios® Combo 7000mAh

Well here’s an interesting little portable battery. I’ve reviewed my fair share of these devices, but none of them have been quite as feature packed as the Balios Combo 7000mAh.

This is a portable battery that can recharge using its built in solar panels! It also packs a small torch and a selfie button which you can use as a remote shutter by pairing up over Bluetooth with your phone. Pretty neat right?

All of these features are great, especially if you’re away on a hiking holiday or something similar. There are two USB outs, which allow you to charge multiple devices at the same time. The capacity and charging speed is also good, which when combined with the ability to top up the devices charge via its solar panels, becomes a real winner.

Now I must stress the phrase ‘Topped Up’ because this thing takes in energy from the sun at a VERY slow rate. For me it took around four days for the thing to take in a full charge. Now this isn’t too bad if you are expecting it to just take in a little extra energy while walking (you can clip it to your belt or bag using the clip that comes with it) but if you’re looking for a solution that will help to save money at home, completely helping you to avoid plugging into the mains, then this will not help.

The extra features are nice, the remote shutter coming in handy, with the small torch acting to light me up in darker situations when trying to take a selfie. The thing is, they felt as little unnecessary, but I guess it’s better to have and not need right?

So is the portable battery worth it? The answer is maybe. If you’re going on holiday and won’t have access to the mains, then this could be extremely helpful, especially since it tops itself up. If you’re just after a portable battery, or something that will completely replace your mains charging at home due to its solar charging, then this isn’t the product for you.

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News: Resident Evil 2 Remake Announced

Well this is some very welcome news from the world of remakes. Capcom has announced that one of my favourite Resident Evil titles is getting the same treatment as the original game in the franchise. Resident Evil 2 will be getting a full HD remake, although it seems like this is in the very early stages and will be some time off yet.

Yoshiaki Hirabayashi will be heading up the project, the same person who brought us the remake of Resident Evil 1.

If I’m honest I can’t wait for this! Resident Evil 2 was my favourite in the franchise and I’m looking forward to diving back into Raccoon City and fighting some modern zombies. With how good the first remake was I’ve got high hopes for the second.

Check out the reveal trailer below:

Review: iPad Air 2 Case ESR Illustrators Series

Although the design of this case isn’t my style, I’ve got to admit it looks nice and my wife loves it. The pictures are subtle and well designed, and the colours are great. The overall quality is exceptionally high end and functionality wise you can’t go wrong. The case is also nice and compact, without being too thick or adding too much weight.

The case itself will lock and unlock your iPad when closing and opening it which comes in very handy. It’s also a perfect fit for my iPad Air 2, clipping nicely into place and holding the device tightly in place.

One thing that I like most about this case is the ability to rotate the iPad so you can either stand it up landscape or portrait. After using the apple magnetic case this is definitely welcome, especially when typing documents.

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Review: The Witcher: Volume 1 – House Of Glass

As I opened up the book I realised I had no idea what I was going to get reading this. I’m a big fan of The Witcher and I thought that it would be a fun read, especially in the comic format.

The art style is unusual, but it works very well with the story telling and the world of The Witcher. The colours match up wonderfully with the gloomy world and really match up with the tone and atmosphere set in the games coming before this. Although some scenes seem to lack an immense amount of detail, I found it was the subtlety of the art that really helped to bring the pages to life. They didn’t need immaculately drawn characters with huge levels of detail, it just all seemed to work.

The writers have captured the character of Geralt amazingly well, spinning a new story out based around the main character. We get a glimpse into his personality and once again his cold, detached humour adds some fantastic moments. The secondary characters also add to the plot, continually adding to the readers curiosity throughout. Right up until the end I wanted to know more about these new characters and even once their stories were told I wanted more.

The story itself was good fun. Throughout it reminded me of quests you pick up while playing the game, spinning new tales, taking the reader on an adventure. I won’t go into detail as that would offer spoilers, but the story is well worth a read.

After finishing up I can safely say that this is an enjoyable read, especially if you’re a big fan of The Witcher franchise.

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Review: DiGiYes® 2-in-1 Portable Desktop Qi Wireless Charger

Now here is a product that really comes in handy, offering a great wireless charger and stand combination. At first I was worried by how light weight the product felt which led me to wonder how it would ever stay put, but I was soon pleasantly surprised. With the added weight of your phone the stand stays put and doesn’t move about.

There is a small rubberised shelf that your phone sits on, and the wireless charging pad has a rubber logo on it which helps to keep your device in place. This is great as it means your device won’t slide off or loose contact with the wireless charger!

Another added bonus is that the wireless charging pad is adjustable and can be removed from the stand. This is handy as it allows you to locate your devices optimum charging position and align the pad and your phone so your device charges perfectly. It also comes in handy for making this a more portable charging solution as you can pop the charging pad out and take it with you rather than carrying the stand and pad combined.

The charging pad will make a loud beep to tell you when you’ve lined your mobile and the pad up. This is handy for those occasions when you aren’t sure if your phone is charging or not. For those familiar with Qi chargers I’m sure you’ve all had a moment when you’ve placed your phone on the pad only to come back later and realise you never lined it up properly and the blasted thing was never charging. Well this product will make a lovely beep to tell you you’ve got it right!

There’s nothing here that I dislike, especially at this sort of price point. Granted it would be nice if it felt a little more durable, but it’s a fantastic product nonetheless. I would definitely recommend this for anyone who is looking for a wireless charger and stand for their phone!

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Let’s Play: Alien Isolation Oculus Rift

Well, after taking Alien Isolation out for a spin on the Oculus Rift, I know that I’d be absolutely no use to Ripley against the Xenomorphs! This is perhaps the most terrifying game I’ve played on the Oculus Rift and I’d even go as far to say it’s the best virtual reality experience I’ve had.

The game looks absolutely fantastic with a huge amount of attention to detail. Exploring the ship and taking a look at what’s on display can take forever because there is just so much to see. The effects look fantastic, with steam rising from vents and really adding to the atmosphere.

The dark corridors make it so much harder to see that pesky alien and with it’s random exploration things get really interesting. This isn’t a game thats just filled with jump scares and set pieces, this is a game where the alien is hunting you, listening out for any sounds you make. Now, combine that with the Oculus Rift and that makes Alien Isolation one hell of a game!

If you’re interested in seeing how terrified a grown man can get then check out my gameplay videos below:

 

Review: Soundpeats Q2 Mini Lightweight Wireless Headphones

Good
  • Light weight
  • Well presented
  • Carrying case included with three ear bud sizes
  • Good fit and secure
  • Great price
Bad
  • Slightly muffled sound
  • Audio range average
TheSoundpeats Q2 wireless headphones struck me as being a lot more premium than the price suggested when I first opened them up. They come in a tidy little box, safely tucked away in a nice carrying case.

I popped the case open and found the headphones tucked away inside, already charged and waiting their first use. My first observation was that these headphones looked and felt good, withwell defined buttons and clear print and symbols.

At this price range I’m used to a flimsy wire and headphones that have a habit of popping out of my ears every few minutes. This set has a hard plastic loop with a soft matte finish that sits over yourearlobes, securing the headphones in place. The connection between the two earpieces sits along the top of your neck and is a fairly durable and thick wire with padding.

So design and build quality are right up there. In fact it was so impressive that I had todouble check the price to make sure I was reviewing these headphones against other devices in the price bracket!

Moving on to the audio side, probably the reason you’re looking at picking these up right? Well here’s where things aren’t as good.

The sound quality is OK, but they perform like a cheap headset. For the price bracketits what I’d expect, but they do seem just a little muffled with sub par audio range.

While listening to music the vocals were clear but instruments, especially bass, were drowned out. Things got a little better at louder volume, but that isn’t ideal and gets uncomfortable. Certain tracks were almost unidentifiable, just a singer and someone bashing a bass drum with everything else an inaudible blur. These headphones can’t cope with much more than a singer strumming an acoustic guitar.

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Second Chance Available Today

Morning all! Well today is the launch day for my short story Second Chance. It was originally a nanowrimo project that I’ve worked on and takes a different path to my normal writing, focusing on a supernatural romance genre. The blurb is below and if you like the sound of it then give it a read.

After her near death experience, Hannah’s life will never be the same. She is the only one who can see James, the man who saved her from certain death with his own life. 

Unsure if she is losing her mind, Hannah sets out with James to discover the truth, seeking to understand why he hasn’t moved on. However, something is coming for him, or so they think. 

In what soon becomes a race against time, Hannah finds herself desperately searching for a way to help James, reluctantly falling for him with each passing day, even though she knows it can never be… 

Grab it at:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MX7O3L0

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00MX7O3L0

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Rebirth – Where to buy

So my first novel has been out for a little while and it is beginning to hit new store shelves, both virtual and physical so I thought it would be a good idea to put together a list of where you can pick up my book!

eBook Format

Amazon USUK
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords
Apple iBooks
Google Play

Paperback

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Today is launch day!

Well it’s been a long time coming but it is finally here! My first book, A Thousand Hearts – Rebirth is available to purchase today! You can find it available on Amazon Kindle and in physical copy to order. The book will soon be available on most other eBook platforms too.

Here are the Amazon links:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00JOPR68G?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JOPR68G

Thank you to everyone for your patience and putting up with my constant ranting about my book. It’s been a while and I really hope you all enjoy the start of this journey and stick with me to see it through to the end.

Some special mentions, in true cheesy style:

Cynthia Shepp, thanks for being such a fantastic editor with the patience of a saint.

Rene Folsom, thank you for the cover art, it looks amazing!

Rosie Munroe, thanks for sticking around and bringing my characters to life, they are looking better than ever.

Katie Amzid, thanks for tackling my book in its rawest form and giving me the feedback I needed to evolve it.

Maureen Cutajar, thanks for the formatting, the final thing looks amazing.

Sarah Dowdall, last, and by no means least, thanks for putting up with my late night writing, my random silent periods of staring at my laptop screen. Thanks for being there through this process.

Now everyone, stop reading this and go out there and read A Thousand Hearts! Thanks everyone! Enjoy!

Charity Challenge

So I’ve been set the challenge to raise money for Cancer Research, amazing how things can escalate from just a simple comment. It’s all for a great cause so spread the word and donate where you can. Thanks everyone.

 

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

New Website

Well I’ve finally migrated me website over and have full control over it. However control comes at a cost, me behind the wheel and to be honest I’m confused. If the website looks a bit messy, be patient, I’m still learning.