We review the Mi Band 3 Activity Tracker by Xiaomi

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The Mi Band 3 by Xiaomi

The Mi Band has been among first class performer since the day the gen 1 was released back in 2014. It was basic for a sleep- and fitness tracker but with a very long battery life and low price. Since then Xiaomi has added f an OLED screen, heart-rate scanner, app notifications and much more.

The latest reincarnation the Mi Band 3 is by far the best yet, adding an improved display, waterproofing and a large-capacity battery, as well as being able to read messages onscreen and track certain activities.

It’s still very well priced, currently available from Smartechnologies.co.uk for around £36.99, but even at this price nothing in our analysis comes close in terms of value for money.

So what does it do?

The Mi Band 3 is a fitness band with the ability to track exercise for example steps taken, distance moved, calories burned. It also monitors your sleeping patterns (deep, light and total sleep) along with heart rate (automatic or manual), over a 24 hour period, week or month. You can track fitness data in its dedicated Fitness app and the Mi Band 3 can also use Google Fit.

One of its biggest pluses apart from the price; is incredibly battery life. Though your exact mileage will vary dependent on how many notifications you receive from the110mAh battery inside. But never the less it’s a great improvement on the original 70mAh afforded the version 2, The new battery can easily last 20 days before needing a recharge. And when it does need to recharge, you can get it back up to 100 percent in just a little over an hour.

Navigation is straight forward, requiring simple swipes up, down, left and right to enter and browse the menus. A single large button can be used to return you to the main screen or select an option, such as the heart-rate scan. Whereas before it was able to count only your steps, the Mi Band 3 can now accurately differentiate between walking or running outdoors as opposed to using a treadmill or cycling, and during these activities you can configure the band to vibrate if your heart rate goes over a specified level, or if you start to run slower than you’d like.

For activities that don’t fall into these groups, such as jump rope or sit-ups, you can ‘tag’ the behaviour so that when you are later tracking progress you can understand what you were doing at that time

One popular activity not counted for here is swimming, and that’s something we hope will be resolved in a later generation. Though the Mi Band 3 won’t track your strokes, it can be worn in the swimming pool, bath or shower. Where its predecessor met IP67 waterproofing specifications, the third-gen Xiaomi fitness band builds on this with 5 ATM.

The new Mi Band also has some smart-watch-type functionality, and it’s now much easier to activate the screen by lifting your wrist than with the awkward twisting action required by past generations.

The Mi Band 3 shows you at a glance the time and date, the weather forecast, incoming messages, emails, phone calls and other notifications. The larger 0.78in OLED screen; up from the previous models 0.42in allows you to read the full message, or if it’s an email the sender and subject line.

It’s always been easy to locate the Mi Band via the app on your phone, but new in this version is the ability to find your phone via the band. Select the option on your wrist and an alarm will sound on the phone, even in silent mode.

You can set target notifications, idle alerts, alarms and event reminders, and the Mi Band 3 can offer smart analysis on your sleep cycles. There’s also a Do Not Disturb mode.

So how does it really stack up?

It’s incredible what’s on offer for such a great price, so it feels a little wrong to pick faults with it. But here we go;

The Mi Band’s has a silicon band, making it easily adjustable to the size of your wrist anywhere between 155 and 216mm. The new band adopts the same design as the hypoallergenic wristband we’ve seen on the previous versions, which means we have the same issues. While it holds the tracker snugly when new, over time we expect the band to deteriorate the same way the earlier versions did. You must take the tracker out of the band to charge it which is fine. But each time you remove it to charge, you loosen the band’s grip on the tracker.

It is possible to buy replacement bands for the Mi Band 3, and these will be available in black, orange or blue.

The tracker itself is bigger than before, which admittedly means you’re more likely to notice if it falls out its band, but it also causes it to feel more bulky on your wrist. Don’t get us wrong, this is still a much slimmer and lighter alternative to a full smartwatch, and it still weighs an incredibly light 20g – 9g of which is the tracker itself and 11g the band.

The LCD is not only larger but also brighter,  but we still found the super glossy surface made it difficult to read in direct sunlight. It also picked up fluff and dust from places we didn’t even know fluff and dust existed, so we were constantly wiping it clean.

For users in China, which is obviously the Mi Band 3’s home marketplace, the larger screen allows for more information on the display. Unfortunately for UK users much of this naturally comes in the form of Chinese characters.

Though you can work out what’s going on even without understanding the language thanks to the accompanying icons, there is no way to switch this off. It seems almost petty of us to criticise it just for this, but in our review targeting an English speaking audience we thought it worth mentioning.

One way in which the Mi Band 3 cannot compare to the likes of Fitbit is with regards to competitive analysis and sharing between friends

Xiaomi Mi Band 3: Specs

  • Pedometer and sleep tracker
  • 0.78in OLED touchscreen
  • 24.7cm wristband, wearable length 155-216mm
  • Waterproof to 5ATM
  • heart-rate scanner
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • 110mAh battery (20-day life)
  • 20g (11g band, 9g tracker)
  • compatible with Android 4.4+/iOS 9.0+

Smartech on Mice

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Wired or Wireless

Whether or not you should get a wireless mouse is really down to your own preference. With a wireless mouse, you won’t run the risk of getting tangled in your cord, but you do run the risk of running out of batteries at an inopportune time.

Some wireless mice come with charging docks so you don’t have worry about buying those AAA, although you do still need to remember to put the mouse in the dock or station. Other mice may come with an on/off switch to preserve power; as with the docking station, this is only useful if you remember to switch it off when you’re done using it.

When it comes to those wireless receivers, some come with receivers that sit flush with the USB port. Others come with larger wireless receivers that stick out a few inches from the port. As you can guess, you typically pay a higher price for the smaller neater receiver and easy to control mouse could be your best buy, if you’re a frequent traveller

With a wired mouse, you won’t have to worry about batteries or receivers because it will draw power from your USB port. The downside of that, however, is that you’re quite literally tethered to your computer. You can only move as far away as the cord is long.

Laser or Optical

Mice operate by tracking in “dots per inch”  DPI. An optical mouse can track between 400 and 800 DPI, while a laser mouse can generally track more than 2,000 DPI. Don’t let the higher DPI numbers fool you, however. Everyday use won’t require such precise tracking and will get by just fine with an optical mouse. (Some even find the extra accuracy annoying.) Gamers and graphic designers, however, often welcome the additional sensitivity.

Ergonomics

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of any computer peripheral is its ease of use, and when it comes to mice, comfort is king. Ergonomics in mice are important because they can help prevent repetitive stress injuries. However, ergonomics is not a one-size-fits-all feature, and just because a manufacturer claims its device is ergonomic doesn’t make it so.

Unfortunately, the only way to know whether a mouse is comfortable is to use it for an extended period of time, and most mice in the store are boxed up pretty tightly. As with all computer peripherals, research your device before purchasing it. If the mouse won’t be used for extended periods of time, you can let aesthetics weigh more heavily in your decision if you’d like. Graphic designers, PC gamers and other long-term users, however, should stick with what’s comfortable, not what’s pretty.

 

Full-Sized or Travel-Sized

This category is exactly what it sounds like. Although there is no universal sizing among manufacturers, many mice come in two different sizes: full or travel. Even if you never plan to remove your mouse from its home, travel mice can often be more comfortable for people with smaller hands. Likewise, a road warrior may want to stick with a full-sized device because ill-fitting mice can be uncomfortable.

 

Programmable Buttons

Everyone knows about the left- and right-click buttons, as well as the scroll wheel in the middle. But many mice also come with additional buttons that are typically located on the side of the device.

These can be programmed for specific functions, such as the “Back” button on your Internet browser. If you consistently work in the same programs, these can be extremely useful, and they’re typically easy to set up.

Whatever you choose; make sure the mouse you purchase is comfortable in the hand.

 

 

 

The Smartech Guide to Understanding Earphone specification

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Buying Earphones in most people’s mind is a simple process. We choose based on the following:

  • How aesthetically pleasing are they.
  • The Brand
  • The Price

While these three factors are significant for most on deciding what to purchase, there are many other factors that we must take into consideration. Most consumers overlook the technical specifications marked on the packaging. It would do well for the manufacturers to educate us on the significance of these terms. Knowing what these aspects mean will make you a much more informed purchase. Don’t take this knowledge for granted either; most employees in music retailers themselves do not know what these specifications mean. Knowledge is power and it’s generally better when you’ve researched it yourself. Armed with the right knowledge, you are on a much better path toward buying what you really wanted and you will be able to accurately guess whether the pair you’re considering will deliver the kind of output you have come to respect and love.

  • Frequency: This information comes with every set of Earphones. You’ll see numbers like 16-21,500 Hz. But what does all of this mean? Well the sound is measured in hertz. The lower the hertz, the more bass the speaker will deliver; therefore, a speaker that promises you 15 Hz is going to have  much deeper bass than one that delivers at a starting range of say 60 Hz. The higher the hertz, the more treble. Usually, the kHz (kilohertz) doesn’t matter, because the specifications are thrown so far out of proportion, that there really isn’t any cause for argument. A human ear can only hear up to roughly 20 kHz, and even that number is enough to make someone deaf.  That said, we mustn’t just rate the quality of a pair of Earphones on its frequency alone.
  • Impedance: Your Earphones run on electricity, and they can certainly wear out over time if you don’t have a strong enough pair. That having been said, electricity itself carries a vibrational frequency. Vibrations emit sound. The type of sound electricity emits isn’t the most attractive; it lets out a hiss. In order to eliminate hiss, we need impedance. Impedance is measured in ohms, and my personal rule is: the higher the ohms, the lower the phones. In other words, high impedance means a much clearer sound definition. You want to buy a pair of headphones with the highest Impedance you can afford so that you hear pure sound.
  • Sensitivity:  Sensitivity is measured in decibels and sound pressure levels (dB Sound Pressure Level). Let’s not make this complicated. The lowest audible sound is at 0 decibels. This is as close to as silence as it can get while still giving us the ability to hear things. You don’t want to go higher than 85 decibels, because this can cause hearing loss. When buying a pair of Earphones, you’ll want something that can get loud, but you don’t need anything obnoxiously loud. That having been said, most people love their music loud, and the sounds may certainly exceed 85 decibels. Just make sure you keep exposure to such volumes at a minimum. The rule of thumb is that if somebody has to shout in order for you to hear him or her, your music is too loud. Loudness is fine, but retaining your hearing is even better
  • Nominal Power Handling Capacity: You need to know how much power your Earphones can take before they wear out. Wouldn’t it be nice if the packaging revealed such information? Well generally it does! Maximum power is simply the highest beating your Earphones can take before sounding like they have just exploded.  Operate your Earphones at lower power levels, and they will last much longer. In other words play your Earphones at a comfortable volume.
  • Drivers: Drivers are probably the BIGGEST reason why over-the-ear headphones sound significantly better than In Earphones that are sold for the exact same price. The fact is; over ear headphones are big enough for manufacturers to easily place the best drivers for the best possible sound. In order to get excellent sound in Earphones, we must place powerful drivers in them as well. The issue is,Earphones are so small that building appropriate drivers for them isn’t easy. Nonetheless, the stronger the driver, the better the overall sound. Drivers tend to really boost the bass, and they give an overall richer experience. They really thrust a lot of power into the Earphones. Over-the-ears normally have four drivers. Each driver is meant to target a different audio quality: bass, mid and treble. Some Earphones come with more than two drivers, making the Earphones larger. It also makes them more expensive when you add additional drivers. If you add power to these drivers, the Earphones will certainly go up in price. In hindsight, the £156 Beats headphones by say Dr re have a 40 mm driver set within them. The Ultimate Ear Pro 18’s, in direct comparison, can cost nearly £1350. The main reason they are priced to high is that each Earphones has six drivers.
  • Lows, Midrange, and Highs:Just to give you an example of how all of this information ties in together,

 

Extreme bottom below 32 Hz
Low bass, bottom octave 20 to 40 Hz
Mid bass 40 to 80 Hz
Upper bass 80 to 160 Hz
Lower midrange 160 to 320 Hz
Midrange 320 to 2,560 Hz
Upper midrange 2,560 to 5,120 Hz
Highs, lower highs 5,120 to 10,240 Hz
Extreme highs, top octave
10,240 to 20,000 Hz

 

As we mentioned earlier, 20 khz is way too high for our ears, so you do not have to really shop around for Earphones that indicate a high level of kilohertz. Ideally, you want a pair of Earphones that has a very low bass (Hz) and a very high treble (also in Hz; but towards the higher end of the spectrum you may see kilohertz instead). The greater the range, the more dynamic the Earphones will be. It is good to have all of the information as part of the bigger picture; however, your eyes should be focused more on the drivers themselves. If the drivers are excellent, then great Hz-kHz ratings will boost the end result. If the drivers are poor, then no amount of hertz or kilohertz will give you a good pair of Earphones

As we mentioned earlier 20khz is way too high for our ears, so you do not have to really shop around for Earphones that indicate a high level of kilohertz. Ideally, you want a pair of Earphones that has a very low bass (Hz) and a very high treble (also in Hz; but towards the higher end of the spectrum you may see kilohertz instead). The greater the range, the more dynamic the Earphones will be. It is good to have all of the information as part of the bigger picture; however, your eyes should be focused more on the drivers themselves. If the drivers are excellent, then great Hz-kHz ratings will boost the end result. If the drivers are poor, then no amount of hertz or kilohertz will give you a good pair of Earphones.

In conclusion, when shopping for Earphones, the most important thing to look for is the number of drivers a set has. After that, look at the decibel rating, because a high decibel rating guarantees greater sound levels. It is pleasing to look at the number of hertz, but realize that its only part of what makes a good sound. One of our low priced recommendations the Plex37M.

For the active sporty types who would prefer the wires were out of the way take a look at our Wire free offering here 

We at Smartechnologies  hope you found this guide useful. If you did please like our Facebook HERE

 

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The Smartech guide to buying and using a dash cam in your car.

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Dash cams are a good way to make sure that you always have a witness in a collision situation.

This brief guide is intended to help you decide which type of dash cam suits your needs.

Dash Cams; Your Smartech help guide

Dash cams “in-car cameras” are quickly becoming popular and for good reason. These handy little gadgets will record your car journey, providing some much-needed peace of mind on the road and they are ideal in case of a car accident, recording what actually happens as well as protecting you against insurance fraud. Dash Cams can also mean cheaper car insurance, always a plus!

How Do They Work?

Dash Cams sit on your windscreen behind or below your rear-view mirror, and record the road whilst you’re driving. They work by filming in stages. When the memory card’s full, the oldest segment is recorded over, so footage is looped and you never run out of memory. This is known as ‘loop recording’. If there’s something you want to keep, you’re able to save a segment at the push of a button, meaning it isn’t overwritten. Some are also capable of taking still photos. Once you have some footage or photos you require, you can simply download it to your computer or appropriate App.

Why GPS and G-sensors

G-sensors are available on many good Dash Cameras. When these sensors detect an impact they automatically save the footage, so you don’t have to worry about doing it yourself. Some more expensive cameras also include GPS which records location and speed to go along with your video, providing even more information in case you need to use this as evidence.

Video Quality and Night Vision

If you want to be able to identify cars in your footage, it’s really important that the video quality is high enough to be able to make out number plates. A high definition Dash Cam is a minimum and means you’ll have the best chance of getting clear footage. While some will say that six element lenses give a better quality picture we are not convinced this is entirely necessary. Good quality night vision however should be considered.

Parking Mode

If your cars parked out on the road, a camera with a parking mode can be a good idea. They turn on and record footage if there’s an impact whilst your car’s parked so you’ll never miss anything. Is it necessary? Your choice.

How do dash cams work?  

Most dash cams use Micro SD cards, and a card that is class 6 or better means that video quality doesn’t suffer, even on those at the top end. There’s no point buying an HD camera and then using a memory card that is substandard for the purpose.

Cards with more memory will of course hold more video, so it’s up to you to decide how much you want to spend. A 32GB card should be enough for most people, but a smaller one’s fine if you make sure that you wipe it clean regularly.

Where to Place Your Dash Cam:

For most vehicles we recommend positioning for your Dash Camera is just behind or below the rear-view mirror on your windscreen. This is the best location to capture a clear view of the road ahead along with ensuring that the driver’s view isn’t obscured.

Wi-Fi Capability:

Inbuilt Wi-Fi is available on some of the more expensive models. It’s debatable whether this is a necessary requirement as simply removing the SD card and copying the content to a computer is more than sufficient for most. Why purchase what you don’t need!

So what next?

There are many good Dash Cams in the market with prices that range into the hundreds. The choice is your’s. We hope you found this guide useful. If you did please like us on our face book page here.

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Smartech’s guide to comparing mobile phone tariffs

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Our Guide to helping you compare mobile phone tariffs

Trying to work out what is the best mobile phone tariff for yourself can be a challenge. That’s why our Smartech guide is here to help.

According to a recent Ofcom-accredited survey, seventy five percent of Britons on pay monthly deals are spending too much on their mobile phone contract. With the total overspend standing at a massive 3 billion plus each year.

More alarming is the fact this is happening despite a massive range of contracts to choose from and comparison sites that help you track down the best deals.

So we will try to answer your question: “what’s contract is best for me?” and help you avoid paying over the top for something you don’t really need.

Finding the right mobile phone tariff

If you’re getting a new mobile phone then there are two major things you need to consider: the handset and the tariff itself.

If you don’t know what mobile phone you’re after, we’re in a great position to help you. Take a look at some recent  mobile phone reviews . Here you’ll be able to filter deals by length of contract and cost. You’ll also be able to sort them by data, calls or texts allowance, so that picking a deal is easy no matter what your priority is. But before you even start to look here, you need to know what you are truly using in terms of Data, minutes and texts. Why? Because most people use far more or less than they actually need, resulting in the wrong contract being purchased. So to help, we are introducing you to a clever little site called bill monitor.  It determines your usage so that you do not buy what you don’t need.

Pay monthly or pay as you go, it’s your choice. Choose wisely.

Monthly contract mobile phone tariffs allow you to make monthly payments and usually include a set amount of minute’s data and texts. Exceed those minutes, data or texts and you could end up with a nasty shock and a large additional bill.

Pay as you go tariffs allow you to top-up your phone with credit in advance and then use your phone until that pre-paid credit runs out. People who like to have complete control over what they are spending prefer to use pay as you go.

What can be included in a phone tariff?

There are many elements to a mobile phone tariff, from inclusive calls and texts to emailing and data applications.

Inclusive minutes

Every mobile phone tariff should offer a deal on inclusive minutes, the amount is usually dependent on how much you pay each month.

Compare mobile phone and free calls deals through a comparison website. There’s many to choose from.

Inclusive texts

Much like inclusive minutes, most mobile phone tariffs will offer a set number of inclusive texts. This often includes a number of free texts that can be bumped up with an add-on bundle.

Data refers to content or information that you can access over the internet from your mobile, such web pages, music or video calls.

If you are someone who likes to make the most of the advanced technology available on your phone, you should make sure your mobile phone tariff includes a data bundle. But remember if you have broadband in your house it is usually far cheaper to have your mobile automatically switch to this if your there. This can be a huge saving.

International

Calls from mobiles when you’re abroad can be very expensive. However, if you plan to use your mobile abroad a lot, you can sign-up to a mobile phone tariff that gives you a good rate on international roaming. For example 3 has a Tariff that allows you to use your contract like you were in your home country. See here

Contract lengths

Phone contract lengths vary considerably. If you’re the kind of person who upgrades your phone regularly, it might be a good idea to choose a 12-month contract. But there are other options. Purchase you own handset Sim free. Then buy a Sim card from the network of your choice. Many bundles start as low as £5 per calendar month. You do the Maths.

The main advantage of longer term contracts is that the length of the contract can sometimes mean you’ll pay a lower monthly premium.

You are also likely to pay a reduced sum for the handset itself or even pay nothing. But remember there is no such thing as Free. The price will have the purchase of the phone factored into the bundle.

We hope you found this useful. If you did, please like us on Facebook Thank you!

 

Coming shortly SIM Free Phones to give you the edge.

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Tips on setting up your first Smartwatch or fitness tracker

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Wearable devices such as Cubot and IDENT107  Fitness trackers have been a popular gift this season along with Smart Watches. But, once you’ve  opened up the box, it can be hard to know what to look for outside of the basic set-up. So let us give you a few pointers.

For these tips, we’ve looked at some popular wearables although our suggestions suit most types of product. Here are three things to think about as you set up your new device.

WHICH WRIST 

This sounds pretty basic, but choosing the correct wrist can be important for fitness trackers because your dominant hand tends to move a lot more throughout the day than your non-dominant hand. That, in turn, can affect the way trackers actually log your movement.
For example, you can tell it if you’re wearing the device on your more active hand or not in the app that links with your new tracker.
On some trackers, during set-up you can tell it which wrist you want to wear it on (right or left) and which side you want the digital crown to face if it has one.
Hopefully that should take care of everyone’s preferences for watch orientation.

SHARE OR NOT TO SHARE? 

Some Smart watches and Fitness trackers have a lot of sharing functions – so you can share your fitness progress throughout the day, or compete with friends. For some people, this is partly the point of getting a wearable. But, for others, it may be a step too far.

So, it’s time to get in tune with your privacy settings. For some wearable products, you can find your privacy settings by heading to your web-based dashboard, and diving into the settings menu. From there, you can control who can see your daily step counts, photos, location and other things that are tracked.

By default, some things – sleep patterns, your age, your weight and photos can only be viewed by you, but some things are also viewable by everyone, such as your average daily step count. Adjust to suit your own needs.

On some wearables, you can also share your activity for the day, but that is not set up by default. Where privacy can get tricky for example; with an Apple Watch it is in displaying notifications on your wrist. If you don’t want anyone who glances at your wrist to be able to read the start of your text messages, there is a setting that will let you limit what is shown on the watch face.

If you have the options as on Apple watches head to the watch application on your phone and hit the “Notifications” menu. If you switch on “Notifications Privacy,” you’ll have to tap to see messages and other notification details. It can be a little less convenient, but it could also save you some embarrassment in a meeting.

NOTIFICATION MESSAGES 

One thing that can quickly kill the joy of a wearable device is getting too many notification messages. It’s great to see who is calling or texting but it can be pretty annoying to be expecting a message and then get a tap on the wrist to let you know that an article about a celebrity you don’t know is trending on Twitter.

For some watches, you can set the watch to mirror all your phone’s messages, but that can become a pain very quickly. A better approach is to head into the Watch applications and find your “Notifications” section. Scroll down through all the apps to choose what you want to see on your wrist and what you don’t. Keep in mind that you may have to head back there if you install new applications.

On Ident107 devices some notifications can be controlled through the Veryfit application the Cubot Fitness tracker uses its own software Cubot band. On many models, you can choose whether you want to be notified about calls, texts and calendar events.

And on some more advanced models, you can also link your email account, as well messaging programs such as WhatsApp. For all models, keep in mind that to receive notifications on your wrist, you might also have to turn them on from your phone.

For more information Visit our site at smartechnologies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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