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Aiptek i70 Pico projector review: A surprising device I didn’t know I wanted

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The Aiptek i70 is a tiny projector that connects to your Android or iPhone with consummate ease. It’s not going to replace your TV set anytime soon, and nor is it really supposed to, but it did get me considering a future without a TV, and obviously, they’re useful in a business setting too.

Admittedly, projectors aren’t something that pop up on my radar all too frequently, but this one piqued my interest for a few reasons.

Aiptek i70 review: Hardware and Design

The i70’s key appeal to me is its size. It’s a tiny flat rectangle of a device that you could easily pop in your pocket, should you wish to take it out and about with you – and that’s really the point of a projector this small, whether that’s for work (presentations, collaborating with colleagues, etc.) or leisure. Where it struggles is exactly where you think it might, and where all projectors live or die: how bright the projection is/how dark the room needs to be for it to be used effectively. On paper, that’s 70 lumens for the i70.

Taking the unit’s diminutive size into consideration, it does surprisingly well – you certainly don’t need a pitch black room to use it in, but you’re also not going to get a very good experience if trying to use it for a large projection in daylight. The smaller the image you’re projecting, the brighter it appears – there’s no keystone adjustment options for the offset, meaning you’ll end up balancing it on something if you need to angle it upwards, rather than flat. It’s the same for zoom – meaning there is none, and you just need to place it as near or far away as you need for your desired projection size.

For the maximum image size of 80-inches, you’ll want it about two metres away from your screen/surface.

What this might amount to so far is a fairly negative-seeming review, but that’s really not the case. Projectors, Pico or not, aren’t for everyone (at least right now) and how useful they are to you will depend on your use case.

Sure, if I had hoped that the Aiptek i70 would replace my TV, thereby freeing up the space taken up by the huge black box, then I’d be disappointed, but that was never the intention. And remember, it measures just 8.5 x 8.5 x 1.7 cm and weighs 136g, which is about 30 grams lighter than the average baseball.

 

Aiptek i70 review: My experience

What I have used it for, however, has been to stream TV and movies onto my bedroom wall and ceiling; to show some large-scale, low-resolution photos to family in my lounge, and occasionally to project an episode of a TV show onto the wall while I cook dinner. And in these tasks, it’s been excellent. Mostly.

I did have one problem: the first time I used the unit, the integrated speaker (which is, in almost all situations, not what you want to be listening to content through) worked just fine. It never worked again after that though. This wasn’t really a problem for me specifically, as my house is scattered with Bluetooth speakers, which is what I was using the rest of the time. Assuming it may be faulty, had this been a regular unit, I’d have returned it for an exchange (this is a review unit that has since been returned to the company).

You can use it off its internal battery for around an hour, though the stated life is 80 minutes, otherwise you’ll be using it while plugged in via microUSB.

It’s real appeal, however, is the convenience offered by the overall package – it connected to both iOS and Android devices simply in my testing (though if you have an old model that doesn’t support iOS 10, you should return it for a newer model that does), and offered up an HDMI port for those times when I needed to plug it in.

For £250, it’s not a no-brainer purchase, and it’s not a perfect one either. While the image quality is actually pretty decent if you give it the dim conditions it craves, it’s not really bright enough to satisfy if used as your only entertainment device, but it’s a great, portable, and flexible option for anyone that does find the need for one now and again.

Aiptek i70
7.6 RATED
0 User rating (0 votes)
£250Price
Android & iOSOS
Summary
A surprising little DLP Pico projector that doesn't break the bank, but also doesn't get a perfect scorecard. Its diminutive size alone is a compelling reason to consider it though.
Design8
Functionality7.5
User Experience8.5
Resolution7
Brightness7
Black levels7.5
Value8
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I’m a tech journalist and editor with lots of opinions. 10second.tech is a place for me to put those. All views expressed are personal, and not those of any titles for which I write in other capacities. As well as running this site, I also write for WIRED, Engadget, Trusted Reviews, and a number of other leading technology titles. I also run SexTechGuide.com.

You’re welcome to contact me via [email protected] if you have news or anything else to pass along, on twitter at @10sectech or @TheNextWoods

Tech startup founders that need media advice or PRs and brands that need content strategy advice should visit benwoodsish.com.

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Gadgets & Toys

Google Home review (UK): Great, but not essential

With Google Home now available in the UK at around £150, it was time to spend some time living with one. But is the smart assistant worth your cash?

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When Google Home was first announced, I was keen to try it out, but knew it’d be a US-only deal at launch. With Home now available in the UK at around £150, however, it was time to spend some time living with one. But is Google’s smart assistant for the home worth spending your hard earned cash on? Read on to find out.

Google Home, a quick intro

Google Home is a little like Siri for your house or apartment. You can ask it questions or issue commands and it’ll do its best to carry out your never-ending demands. A digital minion for your most tedious of tasks – particularly if you find switching on your heating or Spotify an modern day chore. I wouldn’t say I’m quite there yet, but the convenience of just shouting out ‘OK, Google, play x’ becomes second-nature pretty quickly. It’ll also connect to other Google-family products, like the Nest thermostat (but not the Protect smoke alarm), so you can switch your heating on or off with a simple command.

What won’t it do? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot, but more on that below.

Rather than just living inside your phone – although the AI part of the equation, Google Assistant, is available on Android devices too – Google’s launched a physical object to rival the Amazon Echo. And it did a good job of it, it’s far more fitting to easily blend into a home setting than the more functional looking Echo. That also brings another big benefit too – surprisingly good quality audio from the speaker. I wasn’t really expecting anything too impressive from the music playback side of things but I was pleasantly impressed.

There are a couple of ‘games’ built in – a quiz-style round that you can play with multiple people, and another that amounts to an audible Magic 8 Ball. You’ll maybe play the quiz once or twice for novelty with friends, but in reality it’s a little slow-moving to be of much enduring fun.

Google Home also has some recipe-focused updates incoming too, but not in time for this write-up, that should make it a smarter assistant in the kitchen.

Galaxy S8+ Google Home

Google Home next to a Galaxy S8+

Google Home, you big silly

With some really convenient features at your fingertips, I shouldn’t have a lot of problem with Google Home, but my issue is that if you buy one now, you’re buying it for its future features.

Want to set a timer? Simple. Want to know what your schedule for the day looks like? No problem. Want to find out how long it’ll take to get somewhere? Easy! Want to combine those two things? Err, not so much. At least not yet. It can’t even add calendar appointments.

And that’s the crux of the current problem for Google Home, it simply can’t do enough right now. I can see a point where I’ll want one in multiple rooms, perhaps, but unless you’re buying one for the ability to stream Spotify, there’s not a lot of point in doing that today.

As an added confusion for loyal Google users, if you have an Android handset that has Google Assistant, its abilities are different from those of the Google Assistant in Home. This. Makes. No. Sense. And serves to leave you confused as to what you can and can’t do.

I want a Google Home, really I do, but I’m not too bothered at having one right now – this review unit is being returned, and I won’t be rushing to replace it. Once more third-party devices and services are supported – just like when Android first launched, in a way – it’ll become as essential to your routine as your phone.

Google Home
7.5 RATED
0 User rating (0 votes)
Pros
  • Fun, as it's still a novelty right now
  • Convenience of voice control for Spotify and Nest
  • Pretty accurate voice recognition, mostly
Cons
  • It can't do a lot right now
  • UK updates lag behind those in the US, like for multi-account support.
Summary
If the cost of Google Home makes no difference to your life and you're already invested in Google's ecosystem, then you may as well go ahead and buy a Google Home now.

It's not essential, but it does a couple of things quite well. In the future, it'll be a whole lot more integral to your life.

Design8.5
Fun8
Price7
Features6.5

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Batwing HD review: A fun £80 drone with a novel design

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Christmas has come and gone, and with it a Batman drone by Propel turned up in the post unexpectedly. So naturally, the only thing to do was to put together a Batwing HD review for anyone else interested in the themed quadcopter.

At £80 with a 720p HD (2MP) camera, it’s not the cheapest option around, though it is also available without the camera for £30 less if footage isn’t important to you. If you want to jump to a specific section of the review, you can do that with the links below.

Design and hardware

In use

Rating

Design and hardware

As you might expect given the Batman-theming of this drone, it’s toy/hobby, grade. That doesn’t take away from the overall positive first impression that the plastic chassis delivers and the unmistakable enjoyment that’ll surge through you the first time you fly the Batwing directly overhead and look up to see the Batman logo overhead, but it still feels like a bit too plasticky for my liking.

Unlike a DJI or Parrot, the Batwing was conceived more for fun than capturing amazing footage from onboard cameras, so keep your video expectations realistic.

The front-facing 720p camera will record footage directly to an onboard microSD card (not included). Tapping the record button on the controller switches recording on and off. There’s no facility to view a live-feed from the camera as with an FPV drone.

As long as it’s a bright, still, sunny day you’ll get a respectable image out of the camera, but don’t go expecting miracles in any less favourable conditions.

On the bottom side of the drone, you get flashing red and white/blue lights to indicate back and front when airborne, but they’re too dull to see on any sort of bright day. They’ll come in handy if you’re flying indoors though.

Those are controller extensions, not bat ears.

While many drones put the propellers on the top, the Batwing has them on the bottom, meaning you’ll probably want to use the prop guard if you’re not happy launching from your hand. Again, you’ll probably want it on if you’re flying it indoors anyway.

It’s these propellers that are the main problem for the Batwing drone, as they’re transparent and have a tendency to pop off at the slightest crash landing.

It comes with a 2.4GHz controller that’s a little smaller than expected, but perfectly functional. Along the top of the controller, there are buttons for taking off/landing, changing the speed/control sensitivity, controlling camera recording and performing stunts.

In use

The Batwing HD drone is really simple to get ready for its first flight. You just need to push the props on (in the correct A and B positions), pop in the battery, pair the controller (with the traditional up-down of the left stick) and you’re ready to go.

There’s an auto-takeoff and land function on the controller, but you can override this by holding both control sticks diagonally inward towards each other until the lights flash on the drone. Once they have, pushing the left throttle stick forwards will allow you to takeoff manually.

As someone that’s flown a few different toy and hobby grade drones, but wouldn’t necessarily class myself as a proficient pilot, it was slightly disappointing to hit the auto takeoff button for the first time in my kitchen, only to have the drone launch directly up, scoot forwards and tangle itself up with the dishes.

One prop broken.

Put on new prop.

Same thing happens again.

Decide that testing it outside might be smarter until I’ve got the hang of it.

Fast-forward to Boxing Day and I was visiting a friend in the countryside with a paddock. A perfect opportunity to test the Batwing HD, or it would have been if it hadn’t been so windy. Nonetheless, testing apprehensively went ahead.

Within a few minutes, I’d got the hang of piloting the Batwing, though did find the 4 channel mode considerably easier than 3 channel, which is the reverse of what you’d expect.

As I was at a friend’s house, he also wanted a turn at flying. Within two minutes he was climbing to the top of the closest tree to retrieve the Batwing, which had crash-landed and lodged itself after 90 seconds of trouble-free flight.

If you look really closely, you can see my friend retrieving the Batwing from a tree.

I feared the worst, having broken two props in far less severe crashes in my kitchen, but to my surprise there was no damage whatsoever, and all the blades remained intact and in place.

Once retrieved and recharged, hitting the stunt button on the top right of the controller didn’t do anything in the strong wind but executed the expected flips during a later indoor flight. It claims to be able to take the flips at high-speed, so it would have been nice to test where there was enough room to put that claim to the test. The claimed 200ft flight range seems about right for the flight test and it didn’t inexplicably lose contact with the controller.

How the aforementioned bat ears attach

Changing between the different speed modes makes a big difference (as you’d expect) between the handling characteristics, but you’ll need to keep an eye on the Batwing if you go at full speed in fastest mode as it has a tendency to lose altitude very quickly due to the pitch of the nose. It’s a lot of fun though, and doesn’t take much learning.

Rating

Guess who crash landed it in wet grass repeatedly before taking photos?

Batwing HD drone
7.1 RATED
0 User rating (0 votes)
80Price
6 mins maxBattery life
91gWeight
Pros

  • Easy to fly
  • Unique design
  • Suitable for indoor or outdoor flights

Cons

  • Props are too brittle
  • Props pop off easily if you crash land
  • Battery life of just 6 mins max

Summary

The Batwing HD drone will obviously appeal to anyone that's a fan of Batman, but beyond that it's a fun drone in its own right - the only problem is that the props are too brittle and too loosely fitted to stay in tact during landings, due to the design of the drone. If you use the prop guards and are a really safe pilot, you'll probably be OK though.

The HD version with a camera offers acceptable recording but you're not going to be blown away by it. If video isn't very important to you, go for the model without a camera instead and save £30.

Design8
Hardware7
Fun7.5
Battery6.5
Price6.5

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Review: CHiP is fun, but a robot dog probably is just for Christmas

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WowWee, a company that makes robotic toys, essentially, has launched CHiP, a robot dog designed to entertain all ages. I’ve spent the last few weeks living with CHiP to see if he can measure up to the real thing.

As someone who desperately wants a real dog, but can’t have one for various reasons, I was keen to try CHiP out. That’s to say, I really wanted to be impressed by CHiP.

In a nutshell, CHiP is made of a durable plastic (it can take some knocks and tumbles – sorry, CHiP) and is a ‘smart’ and trainable robo-dog. Reward him for behaviours you like via the included wristband or simply have him follow you around.

chip2

He comes with some pre-set commands too, as you’d expect – like asking him to sit, lie down, dance or ‘do yoga’. You do need to be really precise with the commands though to get him to respond – you can’t just say ‘dance’, you have to say ‘let’s dance’, for example.

CHiP also arrived with a ‘smart ball’ that he can play with, if you so command, and there’s an iOS and Android app for controlling CHiP remotely and changing settings, like the volume of the sound effects, which is one advantage it has over a real dog – you can’t turn down the volume on a bark when you want some respite normally.

While CHiP was fun for a while, the required precision for voice commands to work and seeming lack of ability to do certain things (I never successfully got CHiP to follow me around) meant he ended up cast aside soon enough. It was only when two and four-year-old nephews came to visit that more of CHiP’s potential shone through – they absolutely loved it and immediately started acting towards it as they do real dogs.

The clunky voice commands were a bit too much for them to accurately pull off a lot of the time, but with some help they could fully enjoy CHiP and his energetic yoga poses. When it’s all a bit too much and CHiP needs to recharge, it automatically returns to the charger, which is a neat touch.

As a replacement dog for an adult, CHiP isn’t going to live up to any expectations you may have but for parents with a young family, he’ll certainly keep them entertained for a few hours.

WowWee CHiP
7.3 RATED
Pros
  • Fun for kids
  • Durable
  • Easy to use
  • You can remote control CHiP like a car via the app!
Cons
  • Voice commands need to be too specific
  • Unreliable wrist band controls and response to actions (like patting)
  • Would like more pre-set movements and responses.
Summary
CHiP is great fun for kids, but the appeal wears off too quickly for adults to consider the £200 retail price particularly good value, but then, CHiP's not really aimed at adults anyway.
Design8
Fun7
Price6
Features8

Buy WowWee CHiP on Amazon UK

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