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 πŸ™‚

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.

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 PlugΒ 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

Amazon Echo – Audible Books – First Impressions

Today, I signed up for my three month trial membership to Audible to see (or rather hear) if it was suitable for me.

Although it can be listened through Amazon Echo, you can also listen to your books on PC/Mac, Tablet or Phone.

My impressions are based on purchasing two books – Alien and X-Files, I had to cancel Alien in order to get my monthly 1 credit back to then purchase X-Files.

Maybe it’s just me not having read books for a number of years and then mostly the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, I didn’t really get into them beyond the first few minutes.

I really like the idea, X-Files being narrated by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson – helped back up the experience from the TV Series.

I can see lots of possibilities for this and I will try again.

I guess I have just gotten a little lazy by watching TV and Movies.

I remember my youth in being totally captivated with a book and using my own imagination to create the magic in my mind.

As I have three months, I will try again, maybe with a book recommendation.

Really like the fact that it like being in a book shop, where you read the first few pages to see if you like it (not sure if that’s frowned upon by Book Shop Owners).

Brian Collins

Amazon Echo – First Impressions

This week, I took advantage of my Amazon Prime Membership and bought two items I had been thinking about picking up for some time.

After setting up my Amazon Echo (Β£70 discount on Prime Members Day) – which was fairly easy once I got it talking to my BT wi-fi hub and I’m loving it.

I find myself wondering how I managed without it.

The first and most obvious thing is linking it with my Amazon account to play music, with over 1 million songs available, I found myself enjoying tracks I hadn’t listened to for years.

The single speaker pedestal Β is great for what it is with good high, medium and low end and can easily be linked to a Bluetooth stereo, headphones or speaker system.

Today, I used the lists function to compile a shopping list for a visual reminder of what I needed to order from my online supermarket for delivery, loaded the list in one tab and the online supermarket in another tab.

I was able to check off each item as I ordered it and you can also print your list or send to OneNote or to disk for email forwarding or further processing.

Using reminders and alarms is a breeze too.

I am looking forward to listening to an Audible book next and really look forward to using Smart Home Automation when I’ve decided which system to use.

What I like best is the pure simplicity of talking to Alexa from anywhere in the room and the fact that I am understood after slight frustrations with other voice systems such as Siri and Cortana, Amazon seem to have got it right with Alexa being cloud based.

I also picked up an Amazon Fire TV Stick for a discount which I will talk about in another post.

Brian Collins

The Night Manager (Season 1)

I started to watch this box set one evening and after the first episode found I just could not stop.

I spent the rest of the night watching the remainder of the series, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Tom Hiddleston was excellent and Hugh Laurie was very good (although he is better with a slightly more comedic role).

I don’t know about the timing but having watched this, I can understand why Tom might be considered for the role of James Bond.

I watched this as part of my Amazon Prime membership and would recommend it.

Brian Collins