Posts tagged usb
Docks are designed to allow you to sync and charge your phone while it is sat upright on your desk or bedside table. This one (showing off my very dusty iPhone!) is from Mobile Fun.
The dock is good for charging and syncing your phone with your computer, as well as plugging into the mains to charge quicker. It comes with a fairly short lighting to USB cable (also black – it’s long enough to go from the floor to my desk) which is useful, but not the USB mains adapter. The dock is small and actually looks great in glossy black – it has a non-slip base and has a good weight to it.
I’m impressed with how sturdy my phone is when sat in the dock. I worry about things like this being unstable or a bit precarious, and as a result breaking either the lightning connector or connection inside my phone. But this is very solid and my phone clips on very positively and doesn’t wobble around at all. Good.
I’ve now got this sat on my desk at work – my phone can charge and I can see the screen, there’s also no chance it’ll get accidentally swiped off my desk or lost under a pile of papers (not that I ever have massive piles of papers on my desk – if I can’t see the table there’s a good chance I’m stressed!). I can’t decide whether it’s most useful there or at the computer at home, I might need to buy another one. Thankfully they are a lower price than the official Apple ones at £21.95.
You can get a range of iPhone 5 docks from Mobile Fun.
One of the problems with upgrading to the iPhone 5 or the new iPad is that because Apple changed to their new lightning connection, using old accessories requires new cables or adapters (or new accessories entirely).
Whether you believe lightning is genuinely better (faster, smaller, etc) or that it’s just an exercise to make our old accessories defunct, the fact remains the same for all, and it makes upgrading to a new Apple product more expensive than simply the price on the ticket. Whether it’s a sound dock, a car charger, or the extra cable you bought so you had one at home and at work, it all adds up.
It’s taken a few months, but “fake” lightning cables and adapters are now available to us. Mobile Fun sent me one of their lightning to USB cables to try out. It retails at just over half the price of the Apple genuine one (£11.97 instead of £19.95) and so represents a significant saving, but I was very interested to see if the quality was there.
The cable itself is very slightly shorter than the genuine Apple one I got with my iPhone 5 – 104cm vs 106cm, so not enough to make a real difference (unless you really need that extra two cm!). The plastic coated cable is (again, very slightly) thicker, and the casing for the connections at either end is more bulky and feels cheaper. The lightning connection itself looks a bit different – it’s not as smooth or refined, again seems more cheaply made. The below photo shows the genuine Apple cable on the right, and the copy on the left.
But the proof is in the using… and I can confirm that it works. I used this cable with no problems to charge my phone from the computer and using the mains adapter, and synced my phone with iTunes too and it didn’t complain. I also checked it worked with LincsGeek’s iPad (my pad is an old iPad 2, and it does feel old I have to say!) and it’s fine there too. It is perfect to keep plugged into the computer for charging/syncing, leaving the one that came with my phone for in the office.
I admit I would generally rather by the real thing when it comes to my tech, but there is nothing wrong as far as I can tell with this cable and why spend £20 when you can spend £12 and still have the same functionality. For something like a cable and similar accessories then copies like this one make so much sense. I’ll let you know how it holds up compared to my Apple one after a year of use!
Update 27th January
Since writing this review I have realised that while this lightening cable does work for both charging and data exchange, most of the time it only works one way around. One of the good things about the new Apple lightening connector is that it is not supposed to matter which way in you put it – there is no right way. But this cable only seems to work if you get the cable in the “right way round”. I say most of the time as on occasion it does work both ways, it’s very strange. This could of course be this particular cable rather than a problem with all of them, but I thought I would put a note here to tell you. The cable is still very useful, and I am continuing to use it.
If you’re anything like me then your office desk is often covered in Post-It notes or little scraps of paper with “call this person later” or “do this tomorrow” or (most importantly) “don’t forget your shopping is in the fridge”. I wouldn’t function without my lists and notes, I just can’t seem to remember anything without writing it down.
Find Me A Gift asked if I would like to get rid of my scraps of paper and replace them with this erasable memo pad. I thought it was worth a try – I mean, I’m all for saving trees. It comes from American brand Quirky, which encourages designers to submit their product ideas, then asks its users to vote on which they think should be developed. Find Me A Gift are stocking some of the products that have been manufactured as a result, and this is one of them.
It comes with a little stylus that sits in the plastic case so you don’t lose it – all you do is write your note on the screen. The area is about the same size as a standard Post-It note, so you have space to write a quick reminder or task on it. The stylus is quite fat even though it doesn’t look it, so the line you get is also fat – a thinner one would mean you could write more (or do more detailed doodles) on the screen.
When you’ve completed the task simply slide the eraser bar across and you’re good to write another note. You need to slide that bar across slowly… if you do it quickly it only half erases (you can still see your note) and you have to go back and forth a few times. If you do it slowly it takes just one slide to wipe the impression.
Of course you can only write one note at a time on this – you can’t muti-task – so I bet I’ll still end up with Post-It notes on my desk in addition to this.
On the back of this etch-a-sketch-type note pad is a four port USB hub – which comes complete with the cable to plug it into your computer (the memo pad itself doesn’t need any power or batteries etc, so if you don’t want to use the USB ports you simply don’t plug it in). My PC sits underneath my desk, so having a USB hub on my desk into which I can plug my phone, USB drive and anything else I need is actually very useful. You can get much nicer looking USB hubs (a colleague has a fantastic looking robot one on which the eyes are a couple of blue LED lights – scary!) but with its dual purpose this is very useful.
This memo pad and USB hub is quite plastic looking and doesn’t really look that great on my desk, but it is useful for short notes whilst on the phone (it’s always to hand) and the fact that it includes the USB hub means it’s found a space on my desk at least for now.
Find out more about the Erasable Memo Pad and USB Hub on the Find Me A Gift website.
I love gadgets. Gadgets are brilliant. But sometimes my gadgets just don’t last long enough on their battery life.
Duracell has introduced a range of new personal power products, designed to help us go beyond the usual limits of our devices. The range includes portable chargers, battery chargers, rechargeable batteries and long life disposable batteries. I have been sent a selection of the new range to try out.
Duracell 5-Hour Portable Charger
The new portable charger range is designed for convenient mobile charging in a small enough product that you can keep in your bag. This 5-hour charger powers from a traditional plug socket. Once fully powered you can charge up to two devices whilst on the go – and the detachable plug means it is small and thin and light to carry around. It is for devices that charge via USB such as smartphones, MP3 players, e-readers, digital cameras and other similar items. The charger comes with a USB to mini-USB cable and micro USB tip, or you can use the cable that came with your gadget.
Duracell have tested this and found that it can give the iPhone4 an extra five hours talk time, hence the name.
I gave it a try (of course). My iPad was on 30% battery when I plugged it into my fully charged Portable Charger. After 30 mins (without using the iPad at the same time although it was connecting to wifi and I was receiving email and twitter notifications by the dozen) my battery was showing 41%, and there was still charge left in the charger – so an increase of 11%. I allowed it to charge for another half an hour, this time with my iPhone plugged into the other side too (again without using either device while they were plugged in), and the iPad went from 41% to 45% while the iPhone went from 81% to 87% – not quite as much but the juice was being used by both gadgets at once.
Added: On another occasion I plugged my iPhone with 39% battery left into the fully-charged Portable Charger, and it charged to 100% with a little juice (one bar) left in the charger. I was really impressed by that.
Once I’d used all the power in the charger I found it took a while to charge again, I plugged it in and ended up leaving it overnight.
Maybe you’re going away for one night, camping or something, and so won’t have access to “real electricity”… use this to charge your iPhone, Kindle, digital camera or even sat nav (if it charges via USB this will work). Obviously you can’t charge everything all at once, and the power within the device is limited, but it’s really useful for top ups. I can imagine myself carrying this as a “just in case” for long trips or days out when it would be a disaster if I ran out of power on one device or another.
Duracell Speedy Charger and Rechargeable Batteries
The new Speedy Charger is designed to charge AA and AAA rechargeable batteries really quickly. Like any other battery charger you simply put your batteries into the case and plug it in… two batteries charge in one hour, and four batteries charge in two hours.
I used this with the Duracell AA 1700mAh Rechargeable Batteries that I was also sent. These are designed to be used and charged repeatedly, up to 400 times in fact, which saves a lot of money long term. I got excellent use from these batteries, it’s difficult to quantify it but I’d say they lasted slightly longer than the disposable batteries I normally use before I needed to charge them. When I did charge them I did all four at the same time and they took just over two hours, it’s a real bonus that they charge so quickly.
The charger itself is small and compact. It “unfolds” to reveal where the batteries go for charging, meaning it takes up very little space when you need to store it.
There are two other sorts of rechargeable battery available in the range, the Supreme are 2450mAh and the LSD Staycharfed are 2000mAh. The latter are capable of retaining their charge for up to a year when not in use, which is quite impressive.
Duracell AA Plus Power Disposable Batteries
Batteries are batteries right? The Plus Power range (available in AAA, AA, C and D sizes) is said to offer long lasting and reliable power for your everyday needs. You should choose the right battery depending on what you are wanting to charge – for Duracell it goes Simply Duracell, Plus Power, Ultra Power and Ultra Lithium. For these ones think remote controls, CD players, battery powered toys, torches, toothbrushes and so on. In fact mine are doing a great job in the battery powered light we have in the loft.
You can see the full new Duracell range on their website.
If you follow Dragon’s Den you will have seen or heard of Motor Mouse. Patti & David Bailey presented Motormouse to the Dragons in the final episode of the 2009 series, which saw James Caan invest in the idea.
The product idea is a wireless computer mouse in the shape of a model/replica car. Motor Mouse recently sent me this Mini Cooper wireless mouse to test out.
It comes in a presentation box with front flap – it has been designed as a gift. Inside the box you get the mouse itself along with batteries, USB receiver, mini mouse mat and soft carry pouch. It immediately strikes you as a very nice gift for someone with a love of the Mini Coopers or just quirky office tech – it’s really nicely presented.
This mouse (and the whole Motor Mouse range) is compatible with both Mac and Windows computers, and has the “world’s smallest 2.4G wireless receiver” and so is discrete when plugged in. The batteries go in the opening boot (nice touch!), the receiver goes in one of your computer’s USB port, and you’re away.
The quality of this product is definitely there. It’s a really good copy of the modern Mini Cooper (a classic Mini is also available, as well as a London Taxi, and a generic sports car), and seems to be manufactured in good quality plastic which has a high gloss finish. The tyres are even actual rubber. The bonnet is split down the middle for your left and right mouse buttons, and there is a “spare wheel” scroller in the centre of the bonnet which doesn’t look out of place (although I don’t see it catching on in the design of the next version of the Mini!).
Here you can see the Motor Mouse alongside my normal mouse – you can see the size is about the same and the proportions are just right. It’s not too big or cumbersome to use, but the shape means it’s not as ergonomic as a normal mouse for precision work (I have found this is not useful for photo editing, for example). Having used it for normal computer tasks (including blogging, of course) I have got used to the more angular shape than you’d normally expect from a mouse.
As a mouse to keep with your laptop or netbook this is perfect because it’s wireless and has that handy carry pouch which will prevent it from getting damaged (or losing that tiny receiver if you choose to take it out when not in use!) – and that little mouse mat really does come in handy when you’re sat on the sofa… but I reckon it would also look ok next to your desktop computer at home or at work. It certainly is a quirky cheerful techy accessory! There is even a decal sheet that you can purchase to go with this so you can have the iconic union jack or chequerboard roof – or create your own number plate – although I think they should include this with the presentation box as standard.
I have to say, though, that my husband (self-confessed techy geek and car-lover) really doesn’t like this mouse. He thinks it’s silly and a bit childish. So it’s not suitable for just anyone – be careful who you buy one for! Maybe he’d prefer the Marmite one?! (Yes really!)
This particular Motor Mouse costs £28.08 +VAT (they quote ex-VAT prices online – it adds it at the checkout along with delivery charge once you have selected your country). Take a look at the Motor Mouse website for the full range.
I was lucky enough to recently win a Powermat thanks to a competition run on Twitter by Powermat in the UK. I’ve been using it for a little while now and I thought it was about time I brought my thoughts to the readers of Splodz Blogz.
I was sent the Complete System for iPhone4, which included a small Powermat, an iPhone4 case, and the necessary other bits to make it work. It arrived very quickly – the next working day in fact, I was impressed. The model I got retails at £49.99 from the Powermat UK website.
Powermat is a wireless charging device for phones and other devices that works using magnetic alignment between the Powermat and a receiver, which in my case was inside the iPhone4 case provided. This product only works for the iPhone4, but Powermat also do mats for Blackberry, Nintendo DS, iPhone 3GS and also mats to charge multiple devices.
It’s a great idea. I see it as working rather like my electric toothbrush charges – it just sits on the charger (which itself is plugged into the wall) with no wires or metal bits showing. I imagined having the mat part sat on my desk at work, and just laying my iPhone on it when I’m there, topping up the charge without having to worry about having a charger in the office or carrying one around with me.
When in the case (I’ll come to that shortly), the iPhone4 sits on the mat really nicely. This version of the mat has raised corners so there is no chance the iPhone can slip off the mat, and the whole thing looks really great sat on my desk – quite stylish. My iPhone charged in a similar length of time as when plugged into the mains using the official Apple charger (much faster than when charging using the USB cable in my computer) – it went from 28% to 100% in just over an hour and a half.
When you place the iPhone on the mat a white light turns on and a short “I’m connected” audio cue sounds. This satisfies the inner geek in me – I know it’s working. There is also an opposite audio cue when you take the iPhone off the mat – an “I’m not connected anymore, is that ok?” kind of thing. The only problem is everyone else in the office also knows when I’ve just put my iPhone on the mat… and when I’ve picked it up to read a text message… and when I’ve put it back on the mat again… and so on. A little annoying for my colleagues – and me. It says on the Powermat website that the volume of the audio cue can be changed but I couldn’t see any mention of this in the instruction manual and a Google search came up with nothing. I have tweeted Powermat and will update this when I’ve had a reply.
Like I say, the whole system looks really great – design has been considered carefully. My main gripe, though, is with the case. I find it is just too big and clumsy – it’s slippery and awkward to hold.
It’s easy to put the iPhone into the case – it is hinged near the top which enables you to push the phone into the case and onto the docking connection at the bottom, before clipping the top of the case shut. But as a case for a beautifully designed mobile phone goes, it really doesn’t do it justice. The main reason is the the size – does the Powermat receiver built into the case really have to make it so bulky?
You can see the case alongside my preferred case above (a smoke-coloured Incase snap case), and just how much bigger it is. You can also see the angled edges and the high-shine plastic finish which makes it really slippery and therefore not feeling particularly safe and secure in my hands. I so want it to look and feel better.
Also, while the case has cutouts for the camera and volume controls, the lack of a docking connector at the bottom means I can’t use it in my Bose Soundock without taking it out of the case. Powermat have put a useful micro USB connection in the bottom of the case (a micro USB to USB cable supplied with the kit) so I can connect it to my computer for updates, but this doesn’t help me play my music in my kitchen.
If I’m honest this is a case that I would rather not have on my iPhone at all. It’s something I will keep in the office to use when I’m there alongside the Powermat itself (I can’t use the Powermat without it). This is a shame as ideally I would like to keep the same case on my iPhone all the time.
My favourite bit of design, which probably makes me a bit of a nerd, is the power adapter (yes that is what I said). A lot of thought has obviously gone into it to allow the cable to coil nicely around the adapter, and then fix together using the little hook at the end of the cable so it doesn’t come unravelled. While this makes the power adapter a little larger than is perhaps completely necessary, I often find that on electrical items that need a power cable that is not always plugged in it is the cable (or rather the point at which the cable meets the plug) that wears out first. This design means that the cable is kept in pristine condition, free from breaks. I would happily sacrifice a little space in my bag or drawer for this really neat way of looking after the cable. ALL chargers should be designed like this!
I do like my Powermat and have been using it at work and home and will continue to do so, but I feel that more thought needs to be put into the case for the iPhone4 which could serve the product much better with a few modifications. As a concept I love it, but in practice it isn’t working in the way I’d hoped. Perhaps Apple can be persuaded to put receivers inside the iPhone5 and then all we’ll need is the mat itself? Now that would be efficient charging.