Battle of the Smart Bands

This week I’ll be taking two Smart Bands out for a test drive in the hopes of finding out which one is better! The two bands that are battling it out are as follows, the Microsoft Band and the Sony Smartband Talk SWR30.

The Microsoft Band launched in the UK not so long ago and I’ve already really enjoyed using the device. I’ve been a user for about 4 weeks now and I’ve got to say I’m impressed by how accurate it seems to be with regards to its fitness tracking features.

The Sony Smartband Talk has a lot to live up to, but I like what I’ve seen from the Lifelog app. Combined with a nice looking e-ink display and talk functions for taking phone calls, I’m sure Sony is going to stand its ground in this weeks arena!

Stay tuned for my thoughts and feelings on both devices next Monday when I’ll have had a good length of time to really see what they are both capable of.

In the meantime feel free to check out my initial thoughts regarding the Microsoft Band in the video below.

My Virtual Experience

Its been a week now since I started playing with my Oculus Rift and I’ve got to say I’m more than a little impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Of course my feelings are mixed, but I can safely say that I cannot wait to see some finalised consumer products hitting the market.

 
The Oculus Rift Developer Kit 2 isn’t meant for consumers, but I wanted to give it a go anyway. So far my experience has been amazing, but VR sickness is a very real thing (as you can tell if you watch my gameplay videos)

 
Its been a while since any form of technology blew me away, but when you find yourself in a piece of software optimised and made to work in VR, you’re in for a real treat. Playing games that aren’t made for VR is intriguing, but it’s not a great experience. I tried to force games like Skyrim and GTA V to work in VR and even got them running, but things just didn’t look right and I couldn’t get that sense of presence everyone who uses VR talks about.

 
I moved on to try games and software made with VR in mind like Elite Dangerous and that’s when the fun began. Suddenly I was in a world I felt a part of. While sat in my spaceship I felt as though I could really reach out and touch the controls or interact with my ship. The feeling is just breathtaking.

 
It was this kind if gaming experience that made me believe that VR can be the next big step in gaming. On the flip side, using other demos available, I also came to the realisation that VR is going to be huge in other areas such as education and communication.

 
Walking around virtual museums, or taking a tour around locations around the world in the Rift is pretty impressive. Watching a huge virtual cinema screen is another big win. Unfortunately due to the low resolution of the developer kit these things aren’t perfect, but once the consumer version lands I can imagine myself using VR to replace things like TV’s and monitors.

 
The possibilities of VR are endless, and although the technology isn’t quite there yet, using the Rift has made me realise how close we are and what a massive potential the technology has.

 
I have to wonder, especially since my background stems from retail, what the impact of VR will be on online shopping. As these devices become mainstream I’ll be interested to see what companies get onboard and transform their online shopping experience.

 
Imagine being able to slip on your VR headset and walk around a virtual store and interact with the products. The sales staff, instead of being webchat advisors, would be real people using a VR headset themselves, interacting with you in your online session.

 
If this is done right it really could revolutionise how we shop online, but also help to bridge the gap between online shopping and high street retail. Most people might think this is a long way off, but I think it’s a lot closer than we believe.

 
So in conclusion VR is amazing! The time with my Rift has blown me away and left me a true believer in the technology. As I said, its been a long time since any form of technology really impressed me and now I can’t wait to see the final product.

Feel free to check out my two VR gaming videos!

 

Review: Soundpeats Qy7 Mini Lightweight Bluetooth Headphones

When I popped these headphones open the first thought that entered my mind was ‘How on earth will these stay in my ears?’ Well I’m not sure how, but they do stay in. They look stylish and are pretty lightweight. Normally I prefer to wear something that has a clip to go over my ear rather than headphones such as these which seem supported by nothing. However these are comfortable to wear and stay in my ears, they never slipped out and the cable attaching the two buds together never gets in the way.

On the headphones you’ll find a small micro usb port, volume up and down controls and also a power button. All of these ports and buttons are stylishly presented with nothing sticking out. At first they look like they will stick out of your ears, but to be fair they nestle in quite nicely (check out my attached picture)

Pairing these headphones is fast and easy. Once paired up with your device they will automatically connect once you turn the headphones on, making it fast and efficient.

The sound quality is fantastic for the price. The only time they skipped was during my more active periods such as running or cycling, but to be fair this was very rare. The headphones also cut out background noise and do a very good job of this. I’ve been using the EarPods that come with Apple devices and these headphones exceed the quality offered by Apples headphones by quite a margin, giving you a good indication to compare against.

If you’re after some lightweight and sporty headphones then these are definitely worth investing in, especially if you’re on a budget.

 

My Smartwatch Excitement

So wearable technology is finally beginning┬áto take off. We all expected it to but we’ve been left with sub par devices up until now. There are a number of manufactures bringing wearable technology to the market, and for the first time these devices are beginning to look like something people will actually want to use and wear.

LG G Watch R

Now this is a smart device that looks like a watch! I never thought that would be too much to ask for but apparently strapping some weird futuristic device to our wrists was acceptable in major manufactures eyes. Well LG decided against this, bringing a watch to the market that follows Motorola’s circular design. The device runs on Android which gives the user a fantastic range of features in this nice looking device. The thing that stands out the most in my eyes is the circular dial around the outside of the display, which mirrors traditional watches and helps the G Watch R to avoid standing out like a sore thumb.

Stylish, powerful and functional, this is a wearable that’s on my radar.

Motorola 360

After Motorola showed off their wearable I was a little shocked. It looked fantastic and its stand out feature was that it was circular. For some reason the desire for a circular smartwatch had never entered my mind until then, but now I had seen the 360 I couldn’t imagine ever owning a boring square device. I think it’s safe to say that Motorola really stole the show after Google announced Android Wear. All eyes were on the 360 and for good reason.

It has just landed on shelves in the UK and is selling out quickly, with positive reviews coming. I can’t wait to get my hands on one and take it for a test drive and see what Android Wear is really like.

Pebble

Now here’s a smartwatch that hit the market a little while ago but it is only just arriving in the UK, signing an exclusive deal with O2, a major UK telecoms network, for some of its products. Until recently the Pebble hadn’t really caught my attention, but after more research I’ve found myself genuinely intrigued by their smartwatch range.

After using a smartwatch for almost a year I’ve found my biggest pet peeve is that the battery life of these devices is awful. The Pebbles bragging rights are that their smartwatches will last between 5-7 days on a single charge. That’s pretty impressive given that the competition can hardly last a day. Now granted the Pebble does a little less but it still offers the essentials and gives customers a good variety of styles to select from.

All in all this is definitely a product launch to keep an eye on.

So those are the three devices that I’m looking forward to having a good play with this year. Of course next year we have the Apple Watch hitting the shelves and no doubt that will help to really drive this market. Until then however, we have a great selection to play with.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Android Wear

Well with the revelation of Android Wear things in the wearable department just got a whole lot meatier! It’s great to see that wearables will soon sport properly developed OS’s to work with our small devices rather than what we have at the moment.

What really caught my eye was Motorola’s new watch, the Moto 360. It looks smart, sleek, and above all like a watch. I can’t wait to see the flood of new wearables that will soon be hitting the market. There have been a fair few manufactures jumping onboard this announcement, proclaiming their intent to bring wearable tech to the market.

For a long time now we’ve been forced to wear clunky devices, that feel more like test products than anything else, if we have wanted to dive into the world of wearable tech. With Google’s latest announcement, a sort of Nexus platform for wearables, things look like they will soon be changing.