Apple iPhone SE 128GB – First Impressions

As it was high time to upgrade my old iPhone 4S (great phone – lasted me for years), I came to the conclusion that the SE model was the best match for me.

The main reason for the upgrade was the upcoming release of IOS 11, which has the Augmented Reality feature.

Other reasons include 4G, bigger memory and 4K video recording.

The packaging, as usual, was a dream, except I almost missed the SIM opening tool.

Spending most of yesterday setting up all of the apps I use and configuring WiFi at home and mobile connections, was able to do everything I wanted to do.

Note: make sure you take the front & rear plastic covers off before putting this in a phone cover 🙂

There is no doubt that Apple produce an expensive phone but the quality is really, really top notch and if my 4S is anything to go by, will last for years to come.

Brian Collins

P.S. A quick shout out to Carphone Warehouse who were able to offer the best deal I could find on O2.

Windows 10 Upgrade On Microsoft 640 Phone

I strongly advise that your phone is plugged into the power and if necessary, forwarded to another number while the upgrade is happening.

This upgrade took some time on my phone once I found out that it could be done.

I may have missed something but I waited a long time for this, the only reason I found it was due to the current lack of new windows phones on the market.

Start here:

Go to the windows app store on your phone and search for Upgrade Advisor download and install.

There are a couple of things to do once updated, on checking my storage after the upgrade, it was 4.44 GB used out of 7.28 GB main memory and small amount used on my SD card.

Things look pretty much the same, all in all, good upgrade.

Brian Collins

Random Thoughts – Smart Home – TP-Link HS100 Wi-Fi Smart Plug

Based on the reaction from visitors, my favourite use for the TP-Link HS100 Wi-Fi Smart Plug so far is to ask it to put the kettle on.

Of course you need to make sure the kettle has water in it and the switch on the kettle is in the on position.

Love it 🙂

Brian Collins

Voice Control Personal Assistants

As time goes on, I realise that I for one, depend on Voice Control for a number of the devices that I have and use on a daily basis.

From mobile phones to computers and entertainment devices.

Specifically, Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant and Alexa.

I perform a number of tasks with these assistants from dialling a phone number to controlling my smart home and listening to and watching my entertainment choices.

Comparing one to another is not really fair, as each have their strengths and weaknesses.

When deciding which assistant I would like to help me, I invariably choose the one that is easiest to use (and get to understand me).

A secondary consideration is the task most suited to the assistant.

Although life would be simpler if one assistant was capable of doing everything, I quite like the idea of being surrounded by a number of assistants – I spent a lot of my professional life as a manager, so am used to heading a team to work together to complete tasks.

Where possible, information such as contacts, calendars, reminders and messages are shared between the various devices.

Sometimes this can be technically challenging but is very useful.

Brian Collins

Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)

I picked up a contract on this phone for upfront cost of £20 and monthly £10.99 for 24 months from Carphone Warehouse, I normally buy Pay-As-You-Go phones and get a monthly bundle for £10 but this was only £0.99 a month more.

I’ve seen this on Amazon for around £120 SIM Free.

Now, this cooking on gas when it comes to a traditional Android device.

Thankfully I’ve been able to install the apps that I need (and subscriptions that I pay for).

Although the build quality is not what I would hope for, the price tag is much less than many others.

I have previously owned a Samsung mobile (Non-Smartphone) and it lasted extremely well through a lot of cold weather abroad and not too friendly treatment by yours truly.

Brian Collins

Amazon Echo – Smart Home – Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Generation)

Although I am able to talk to my Amazon Echo from anywhere, I liked the idea of not having to raise my voice and placed this on my bedside table.

Like her big sister, works faultlessly, the only difference is the much smaller speaker.

This would be ideal if you match it with a Bluetooth speaker or stereo system.

Brian Collins

All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa, 8″ HD Display, 32 GB

I couldn’t put off getting used to Android style devices any longer – so I got this to try out.

As I do with all my devices, I started by trying to install my McAfee on this tablet, to no avail along with a few other apps I normally use.

I understand Amazon’s need to provide their own app store but really guys, you need to have a word with the major software manufacturers to add to your app store.

I solved this particular problem by installing another Anti-Virus which is in the Amazon app store.

The good news is that I was able to connect with my Microsoft OneDrive and OneNote.

Of course anything Amazon is well covered along with integration to my Google account.

Excellent battery life, good HD screen and easy setup.

Liking it more every day for entertainment.

Brian Collins

Amazon Echo – Smart Home – TP-Link LB110 Smart LED Wi-Fi Light Bulb

The major difference with this bulb and the LB120 is you are able to dim it and it does not have a Circadian function.

Like it’s big brother, it was easy to setup and now proudly lights my hallway (which has no windows).

Brian Collins

Amazon Echo – Smart Home – TP-Link LB120 Smart LED Wi-Fi Light Bulb

Reasons I chose this bulb are it is made by the same company as the Smart Plug and it has the facility to change the white balance from around 2500 k to 6500 k which allows me to create lighting for indoor photography.

Setup was easy and mostly the same as the Smart Plug.

Although there are a number of manual settings from the Kasa App, I have initially set this bulb to it’s Circadian function which follows the time of day in your location to automatically adjust the brightness.

Unlike the Smart Plug, I have left this switched on since installation, no problems so far.

I still have a number of functions and modes to explore and will do this in time.

Positives are easy setup, nice and bright and of course cost effective.

Brian Collins

Amazon Echo – Smart Home – TP-Link HS100 Wi-Fi Smart Plug

After a couple of weeks, I have finally decided which of the (confusing) number of Smart Home systems to try out.

For my first foray into Amazon Echo Smart Home compatible devices, I have ordered the TP-Link HS100 Wi-Fi Smart Plug and the TP-Link LB120 Smart LED Wi-Fi Light Bulb.

I’ve received the Smart Plug and set it up to run the right side of my living room which has a number of devices (7) connected to 2 power extensions.

I deliberately chose this socket as it was one that I would normally switch off before going to bed and does not have any devices that need to be left on when I am not using them.

Setup was straightforward with the first three steps being printed on the box, download the app (Kasa) which is free, plug the smart Wi-Fi plug into a socket, switch it on and configure it through the app.

Once you have a connection to your Wi-Fi (there are lights to guide you), you can then enable the appropriate skill in your Amazon Echo, there is a page pointed to on the TP-Link website that covers this.

Although there a number of steps you need to work through, I found them all to work first time.

There were two Smart Plugs to choose from, the only difference I could see is the other one monitored how much electricity was used through it, as I have a Smart Meter, I am able to do this anyway.

Until I have more confidence, I still switch off at the socket before going to bed.

No overheating or problems so far.

The main reasons I went for the TP-Link system is that each device connects directly to your Wi-Fi rather though another hub.

Another reason is coming from a successful PC networking manufacturer.

Looking forward to trying out the light bulb next week.

Brian Collins