Lyonsden Blog

Category - Gadgets

C64 LCD Cassette Slideshow

C64 LCD Cassette Slideshow

I saw this “C64 LCD Cassette Slideshow” whilst browsing through my twitter feed one night a few weeks ago. The moment it caught my eye I knew I had to have one for my man cave. Today it finally arrived and I’m over the moon with it so thought I’d share some photos and info about it.

 

C64 LCD Cassette Slideshow

Slideshow in action – note the timings are greatly sped up in this GIF.

 

It’s made from a real cassette tape box and has a 4″ LCD panel mounted inside, framed by a Commodore styled inlay. I’m not entirely sure what is driving the screen (and I’m not going to risk breaking it by opening it up) but I suspect it’s probably a Raspberry Pi. The slideshow comes ready to go with ‘over 2500 images of nostalgic games’ according to its’ creator. Each image is on display for around 5 seconds before moving onto the next automatically (my animated GIF has sped up the timings greatly).

 

C64 LCD Cassette Slideshow

Side view

 

It’s mounted on a stylish Commodore themed perspex base that features the iconic Commodore blue and white stripes and the words ‘Commodore 64 1982-1994’. Around the back there is a decent length USB cable which provides power for the device. The cable is permanently attached and incorporates an inline power switch so it can be turned on and off without unplugging the cable which is a useful feature.

 

C64 LCD Cassette Slideshow

Rear view – note the inline power switch on the USB cable

 

The C64 LCD Cassette Slideshow is completely hand crafted to order but has been completed to a high standard. It would have been nice to have access to some sort of timer facility to have it automatically turn on and off at preset times but that probably would have added to the complexity and cost. At £80 for the 4″ version including postage it’s not a cheap item but I think it’s a very fair price for what I received. There is a 3.5″ version that is £5 cheaper but don’t know why anyone would choose that over the larger screen for the sake of saving a measly £5.

 

C64 LCD Cassette Slideshow

A closer look at the back of the device

 

The seller makes these for other systems too, not just the Commodore 64. If you are curious and would like to know where to get hold of your own slideshow then you can visit the PlayRetroDesigns Etsy shop here.

 

Finally here’s a few more photos of some cassette covers…

 

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Replacing the Drive Belt in an AIWA HS-PC202 Mk 3 Cassette Player

AIWA HS-PC202

Introduction

I recently bought a ‘New Old Stock’ AIWA HS-PC202 Mk 3 Personal Stereo off eBay as I just couldn’t resist the idea of unboxing a ‘new’ walkman in 2018. Now I’m fully aware that you can buy brand new ones off Amazon but these are pretty cheap and nasty affairs designed to cash in on nostalgia rather than offer a quality audio experience. This Aiwa model is a quality bit of kit with the ability to play Chrome tapes, Dolby B & C noise reduction, auto-reverse and a super slim, attractive design.

However it had been sat in storage for about 25 years so when I popped in some batteries and tried to play a tape – nothing happened! I could see the power LED light and hear a hiss from the headphones but the spindles didn’t turn. Thankfully I could hear the motor run momentarily if I held the unit to my ear whilst pressing ‘play’. This was a sure sign that the belt had failed in some way which is very common on vintage cassette decks.

This post will provide instructions on how to open up the AIWA HS-PC202 Mk 3 cassette player, and replace the belt. The only tools you need are some small watch-makers screwdrivers and a pair of tweezers. It’s quite a straightforward job as the player has been designed with the foresight that one day someone would need to change that belt!

Getting Started

The first thing you need to do is unclip the battery compartment as one of the screws you need to remove is hiding behind this. Now you need to remove the backplate from the player to expose the belt. It is held in place by 3 tiny screws and a clip that fits inside the case near the play button.

Take your philips screwdriver and remove the first screw shown in the picture below. Place it in safe place, preferably in a small container as the screw is incredibly small and easy to lose. This is a slightly different size to the next two so it should be easy to identify when you are putting things back together.

AIWA HS-PC202

Remove this screw first

Now spin the player around so you are looking at the side where the lid hinges and remove the two screws indicated in the photos below.

AIWA HS-PC202

Remove the left screw

AIWA HS-PC202

Remove the right screw

Removing the Backplate

Store these two screws safely with the other and put aside as you are ready to begin removing the backplate now. You need to be careful and not rush this next part as there are a few things that are held in place by the backplate and they will fall out and get lost if you’re not careful. The one thing seems to fall out no matter what you do is a small, circular, black plastic spacer that fits between the backplate and the DC power socket. Now you know about it, be prepared for this and catch it. Store it safely with the other screws.

The other things held in place by the backplate are the Dolby NR and Tape Bias selector slide switches. It’s simple to put them back if they fall out – but if you’re not expecting them to drop out they could easily fall on the floor un-noticed and get lost.

AIWA HS-PC202

This is the small plastic part that will fall out from around the DC power socket.

AIWA HS-PC202

These are the Bias and Dolby selector switches that may drop out when you remove the backplate.

The backplate needs to pivot away from the case from the battery end first. There is a lip at the opposite end by the volume wheel and switches so you need to picture it hinging from that position and focus your efforts on making it open that way. If you place the player vertically it’s easier to do this and it will prevent the switches from falling out.

AIWA HS-PC202

Gently prise the backplate off, starting at the battery end (the bottom in this photo)

As you can see in the above photo there is a small metal tab on the front edge of the backplate that fits into a plastic lug inside the case, above the play button. You will need to carefully slide a small flat bladed screwdriver in and gently lever the plastic around the play button outward, away from the backplate to release the tab. The backplate should now be free and you can pull it away from the body and slide it upward to remove it, leaving the switches on the top in place.

AIWA HS-PC202

The backplate – note screw holes and cut-outs for controls and DC input.

Inside the AIWA HS-PC202 Mk3

Now that the backplate if off you should see be able to see the circuit board with a cut-out for the belt and pulley wheels just like in the photo below. A belt in good condition should be taught and fit around all the pulleys tightly, something that mine was definitely not doing!

The smallest wheel is the motor pulley, the two large brass wheels drive the capstans and I think the smaller black wheel is there just to guide the belt around the others.

AIWA HS-PC202

Inside the player. See how the rubber belt is no longer taught and is just lying there looking lumpy and uneven

Replacing the Belt (Take 1)

It took quite a lot of investigative work to locate a new belt that was an exact match for the original. Avoid those cheap multi-packs you can pick up off Amazon and eBay from China – the quality of them is variable at best and the chances of getting one that actually fits correctly is next to zero.

The belt fitted to this walkman has a square cross-section, not round or flat like many other belts. It is also very thin – about 0.6mm thick. The length is 76mm. For belts most suppliers use the measurement of the diameter of the belt when laid out flat in a circle. So basically you need to find a 0.6mm x 76mm belt. I couldn’t find one this thin at first so I bought a 1mm x 76mm belt. It did fit and work but was quite a tight fit around the black wheel where it nearly touches the side of the case. It was also only a fraction of a mm away from touching itself (ooerr) where it passes beneath the nearby brass pulley (see the photo below to see how tight it was).

The company I bought the belt from (SignalsUK) was super helpful and based in the UK too. The belt arrived a couple of days after ordering. Although it was thicker than the original it did appear to work OK so I will include a direct link to it here. They supply hundreds of different belts and electronic spares so they’re a handy company to have bookmarked.

The belt is very easy to fit. Use your tweezers to place it around the motor spindle and around the other pulleys following the path in the photo below. There is a small plastic tab that protrudes out of the case towards the black plastic wheel. The gap it leaves is very small (you will find it at around the 8 o’clock position) so be careful not to snag or damage the belt here. There will be a a degree of tension in the belt and this is normal so you will need to stretch it a little over the final wheel.

AIWA HS-PC202

The 1mm thick belt – notice how it is practically rubbing against itself where it passes back beneath the left-hand brass pulley wheel.

Replacing the Belt (Take 2)

If a jobs worth doing, it’s worth doing properly – so I continued my search for a better fitting belt. Eventually I stumbled upon a place that custom manufactures belts for a variety of machines, including the AIWA HS-PC202 Mk3. The Mk3 is apparently mechanically identical inside to the Mk2 and so the belt they supply for the Mk2 also fits the Mk3. Here’s a link straight to the correct belt – here. The company, FixYourAudio, is based in Slovakia and is run by a very helpful guy who makes the spare parts purely as a hobby to help enthusiasts keep these old machines alive. A week or so after ordering my belt arrived in the UK so I have no qualms in recommending them. It is ever-so-slightly thinner than the original but is definitely a better fit than the 1mm thick one.

AIWA HS-PC202

New 0.5mm belt fitted

AIWA HS-PC202

Comparison between the old stretched and worn belt on the outside and the new one on the inside!

Putting it back together

Before you finish off – if you have any additional problems with your player such as unwanted ‘scratchy’ noises when turning the volume wheel or when the headphone jack is twisted in the socket then take advantage of the opportunity and squirt some DeoxIT on them whilst you’ve got the player open. Don’t forget to operate the volume wheel fully a dozen or so times to work the fluid into the pot and clean it up. Likewise for the headphone socket, squirt some in and then insert the plug and twist it around in circles a bunch of times to clean off the contacts.

Now you just need to put it all back together. If you knocked off the slider switches then pop them back on now. You will notice that one side of them is hollow and this will sit on top of the appropriate switch sticking out from the circuit board. The larger of the two fits on the Dolby NR slider whilst the other belongs on the Tape Bias switch. Don’t forget to place the little round spacer back over the DC input port. There is a little flat spot on one side of the circle and this should be positioned facing the outside of the case so that it fits flush against the flat edge of the backplate.

AIWA HS-PC202

View of the controls – note the small white Bias and Dolby switches. It is on these that the black ‘cross’ pieces will sit on if they have fallen off

You may need to press and squeeze gently in a few places, particularly around the play button to get the tab to engage in the lug correctly. However you should not have to force anything. If you feel any resistance stop and check, reposition the backplate, check the spacer and/or the position of the slide switches and try again. Once it has popped back into place and you are happy with the fit all around, replace the 3 screws and you should be good to go! Enjoy the new lease of life your personal stereo has been given!

AIWA HS-PC202

The small plastic spacer fits here. Flat edge towards the backplate.

If you found this guide useful then please leave a comment below, it would mean a lot to me. Likewise if you have any questions I’ll do my best to help.

Commodore 64 Video over HDMI – a Solution

Commodore 64 Video over HDMI

Having recently picked up a 2nd-hand Toshiba LCD screen to use with my Vampire equipped Amiga I found myself in the position of needing to connect my trusty 35 year old Commodore 64 video over HDMI to a modern display.

The problem, and why I needed to use HDMI

Obviously I had already exhausted all the other options before going down the HDMI route. I tried a direct composite connection, composite and S-video over SCART and of course good old RF. I even tried a custom cable off eBay with a 300ohm resistor built in that other people have had some success with. None of these options worked. The best I could achieve over RF was a vertically rolling black and white image. All the other methods resulted in nothing – just a black screen. The annoying thing is when I plugged the 64 into my brand new Panasonic 4K TV I got a perfect picture with all the cables so clearly this was just an issue with the older Toshiba panel. For reference, in case anyone is reading this who has the same issue, my Toshiba TV’s model number is ’22DV714B’.

Now I do have a Commodore 1084S but with my current set-up there is simply no room for 2 screens – I needed a single screen that could handle everything. Native Amiga 500 screen modes, 720p screen modes from the Vampire output and of course the output from my C64C. One day when I get my man cave sorted I can have each machine with their own screen but until then this is my solution…

The Commodore 64 Video over HDMI solution

Clearly whatever video signal my 64 was outputting simply wasn’t compatible with my Toshiba screen. Determined to get it working I figured it would be worth trying to convert the signal into something that would work. I had a look on Amazon and settled on the device pictured below. It claimed to do exactly what I needed and only cost £12 so it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if didn’t work.

Commodore 64 video over HDMI

Amanka RCA Composite CVBS AV to HDMI Video Audio Converter box with the mini USB power lead.

The box itself is very small, about the size of a book of matches and it came with just a short mini USB cable and some simple instructions in the box.

Commodore 64 video over HDMI

Amanka RCA Composite CVBS AV to HDMI Video Audio Converter – Composite and Left/Right Audio inputs

Commodore 64 video over HDMI

Amanka RCA Composite CVBS AV to HDMI Video Audio Converter – HDMI Out port

Commodore 64 video over HDMI

Amanka RCA Composite CVBS AV to HDMI Video Audio Converter – Mini USB socket for power and 720p/1080p output selector switch

Setting it all up

In addition to an HDMI cable and a USB charger (to plug the mini USB power cable into) you will also need a Commodore 64 Composite video cable like the one pictured below. If you don’t already have one they are readily available on Amazon for about £7 (link below).

 

 

Setting it up was really straightforward, I just needed to provide a 5v USB charger for the power lead and then hook up an HDMI cable and the composite video and audio connections from the C64 A/V port using the above type of cable.

Commodore 64 video over HDMI

Amanka RCA Composite CVBS AV to HDMI Video Audio Converter – With power, composite video, audio and HDMI cables all connected

The Amanka box can output at both 720p and 1080p. My LCD is only 720p so I selected that option and then powered everything on. I have to admit I wasn’t overly optimistic about my chances of this working given the failure of everything else I’d already tried. However I was ecstatic when I saw that familiar blue “Commodore 64 Basic V2” screen again! The C64 sound is also passed through HDMI so it would seem to be a complete solution for both video and audio!

Commodore 64 Video over HDMI

Success – Commodore 64 video over HDMI on my Toshiba 22DV714B LCD TV

So another success story – I would consider the Amanke device a permanent solution and am very pleased with both the cost and the end result.

There are are links to the exact box I bought in the article if you would like to make sure you get the same one that worked for me – I will get a few pennies to help pay for my hosting costs but you will pay the exact same price as you would if you went to Amazon to purchase one – win win! If you would like to know anything else about the above setup then just drop me a quick message and I’ll do my best to help you out.

 

Adding Bluetooth Audio to a Range Rover Sport Mk1

Ranger Rover Sport Bluetooth Audio

If, like me, you were disappointed to discover that your beautiful, highly specc’d Range Rover Sport Mk1 did not come equipped with Bluetooth Audio then I have a solution for you that will cost less than £20. Once you’ve got hold of the kit the whole job should only take you about 5 minutes.

 

range-rover-sport-mk1

Mk1 Range Rover Sport

 

 

What you need to buy…

The first thing you need to purchase is a USB car charger adaptor for your rear cigarette lighter socket. The more slimline the better, I used this one which works really well. In fact I’ve got one of these in my front power socket too!

Next you need purchase yourself this little gadget from Amazon which is a bluetooth audio receiver and will convert your bluetooth audio back into good old analogue for your Range Rover sound system to play.

UPDATE: You may want to check out a new, alternative Bluetooth option I recently discovered at the end of this article as it offer a few advantages, albeit at extra cost.

Once the above gizmos have arrived follow the super-easy instructions below to enjoy wireless music playing in your car.

 

Bluetooth Adaptor

Bluetooth Adaptor connected to Aux rear aux socket

 

 

Installation…

First off you need to plug the USB adaptor into the rear passengers power socket (it hides underneath a flap on the centre armrest). Now plug the Bluetooth receiver into that USB adaptor . Finally you need to plug one end of the (supplied) auxiliary audio cable into the socket on the end of the Bluetooth adaptor. Plug the other end into the aux socket on the back of the centre armrest, located just to the left of the power socket. That’s it for the hardware side of things, the next step is configuring your phone.

 

Android Bluetooth Screen

Screenshot showing Bluetooth adaptor paired.

 

The next stage of the install requires your backside in the drivers seat and turning on the ignition. Get your phone out and go to the ‘Add Bluetooth devices’ part of the phone settings. I have tested this with both an Android Marshmallow Galaxy S7 and an Android Nougat Huawei Mate 9 with no issues, although the settings on all phones will probably look a little different. (UPDATE: Have also tested with Android Oreo and Pie and on two more devices; a Huawei P20 Pro and a Huawei Mate 20 X). I see no reason why this wouldn’t work for an iPhone/iPod but I don’t have access to any Apple stuff so can’t guarantee it. I’d be very surprised if you had an issue though.

Once you have got to the ‘add Bluetooth devices’ screen, make sure your bluetooth is turned on and wait for the device ‘BTR003’ to appear. This is the bluetooth adaptor – add it as a paired device (there is no pairing code) for ‘Media Audio’ ONLY and you should be good to go. Turn on your Range Rover sound system and select AUX as the input and play some music on your phone and it should come through loud and clear! I find the AUX input a little on the quiet side compared to the CD and Radio but you can easily compensate by turning the volume up on your phone and/or the sound system itself.

Every time you get in your car and turn on the ignition your phone will automatically pair with the bluetooth adaptor so you should never have to mess with the settings again – it’ll just work. Your phone will still work for bluetooth handsfree calling through the car phone as that uses a separate ‘Call Audio’ bluetooth connection.

 

Aux Input

Range Rover Stereo Aux Input

 

Have fun and if you find a better way to do this or have any questions please contact me!

I know it’s not a perfect solution as the adaptor does stick out a few cm and if you have kids in the back it may not last long… but as it’s just me and the wife in our car I’ve not had a problem so far…

UPDATE: May 2019

OK so I wrote this article a few years ago now and the above solution has continued to work well for me. I’ve changed phones a few times since then (I currently have a Huawei Mate 20 x) and it worked with each and every one of them. However recently I had my hyperactive grandson in the back and he managed to kick the bluetooth adaptor and snap it off so I needed to buy a new one. Happily Amazon still sell the exact same device I bought originally… however I also spotted one that looked like it would be even better so I thought I would give it a try. It’s not as cheap as the Justop device but in the grand scheme it’s not very expensive either.

It’s called the ‘Firefly’ and it is claimed to be ‘The Worlds Smallest Bluetooth Receiver’. Not sure about that claim but what I do like about it is that the aux cable is actually built into the device. Not only does this make the whole thing look at lot neater when installed but it doesn’t protrude as far out making it  less likely to be knocked by passengers. It comes in a range of different colours too (Black, Red & Gold) but I chose black to match the interior of my car.

 

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When you first plug the Firefly Bluetooth Adaptor into the USB power adaptor in your car the tip will flash white signifying that it is in pairing mode. The setup process is exactly the same as described above for the Justop except you need to look out for ‘Tunai Firefly’ in your bluetooth devices. It should pair straight away once selected (no code is required) and the flashing white LED on the tip will become solid white to show that it has paired successfully.

 

Firefly Bluetooth Pairing

Here you can see the ‘Tunai Firefly’ paired with my Mate 20 X as a media audio device.

 

In use I have found the Firefly to perform superbly, just like the Justop. My phone pairs with it quickly and automatically every time I get in the car and it looks terrific too.

 

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As you can see from the above photos, the Firefly Bluetooth adaptor is definitely a neater, more compact solution. Only time will tell if it proves to avoid damage better than the Justop device though. I also noticed one unexpected improvement over the Justop – the audio is louder! I no longer have to crank the volume up louder than usual which is a nice bonus.

Overall I think the Firefly Bluetooth adaptor is worth the extra money as it looks neater and more professional. It also doesn’t protrude into the back of the car as much and it seems to output audio at a higher volume. The Justop is still a great solution and is hard to beat for the price – it’s also more ‘expendable’ if it does get kicked due to it’s cheaper price.

Whichever option you choose, rest assured that both devices will do the job. I just thought I’d update the article with my new findings in case it proves useful for someone.

Changing a Boogie Board Battery

Boogie Board LCD Slate/Tablet

Boogie Board LCD Slate/Tablet

A couple of years ago I bought a cool looking gadget called a Boogie Board from Firebox. Intention was to attach it to the fridge-freezer and use it as a paperless notepad for shopping lists, reminders and so on. It has performed that job flawlessly until a week ago when it suddenly refused to erase the contents of the screen. To cut a long story short, the battery was flat and without any power the e-ink display (similar to the original Kindle) couldn’t be erased. The device is sold with a NON-REPLACEABLE 3V battery and is supposed to last for 50,000 screen wipes before losing charge. I’ve had the thing for not much longer than 2 years and even if it had been used and wiped every single day that would be less than 800 wipes, a figure massively short of the touted 50K. I’ve probably erased it once or twice a week so probably erased it 250-300 times, tops!!! When you consider that is cost me £30 and they expect me to throw it in the bin and get another one you can imagine I was not too pleased!

So, being a tinkerer and having nothing to lose if things went wrong I decided to open it up and see if there was anything I could do to salvage it. Turns out it is fitted with a normal 3v Lithium CR2032 Button Cell with the only complication being that it is soldered onto the small PCB inside. The good news is these can be purchased off eBay for less than £2, complete with the solder tags – a much better prospect than throwing a perfectly good product in the bin and spending £30 to replace it! Incidentally, I did try my local Maplins but they don’t stock this type of battery..

I thought I’d share my exploits in case it can help anyone else in a similar situation.

 

Prising the cover off

Prising the cover off with a screwdriver

First off, you need to remove the thick top strip (the bit that houses the erase button). There are no screws, it appears to just clip into place by means of four studs spaced across the width of the board. I was able to carefully prise this strip off using a very thin precision flat-head screwdriver, just be careful not to push the screwdriver in too far as you may damage the components inside.

 

Boogie Board with cover removed

Boogie Board with cover removed

Once it is off you will be able to see the old battery in the centre, soldered to the PCB by means of two ‘tags’. You will need to de-solder the old battery to make way for the new one. Be careful though, I was a little ham-fisted and accidentally pulled away some of the solder pad on one side – luckily enough remained to allow me to continue.

 

Old battery removed

Old battery removed

Here’s the PCB with the old battery removed.

 

 

 

Replacement 3V CR2032 Battery

Replacement 3V CR2032 Battery

Here’s the replacement battery, complete with tags. You need to make sure you observe the polarity of the tags when you solder it back onto the PCB otherwise it may not work.

 

New battery fitted

New battery fitted

Once the battery is soldered back on, check the erase function now works by depressing the little silver switch to the top left of the battery. You can then replace the cover strip by simply pressing it back into place and you’ll have a fully working Boogie Board once more!

 

My fixed Boogie Board

My fixed Boogie Board

Moga Pro Review – PS Vita killer?

Moga Pro Review

Today I finally received my Moga Pro pre-order from Game and I’m very happy to say it was worth the wait!

 

Moga Pro Review

Moga Pro Box

Just in case you’re not aware of what one is – it’s a bluetooth hardware gamepad that works with Android phones and tablets to give you a more ‘console like’ experience and overcome the problems of using touch screens to play.

Moga Pro Review

Moga Pro Box (flap open)

The devices retails for £40 and comes in a very attractive retail box with a fold out magnetic front flap that shows the device in action with phones, tablets and even a TV. Inside the box you get the pad itself, a plastic tablet stand, USB charging cable, instruction booklet, quick-start guide, QR code to download the driver for your device and a code to download a free copy of N.O.V.A. 3 from the Gameloft’s own store.

Moga Pro Review

Moga Pro Box (back)

 

First thing you need to do is charge the pad up as it is powered by an internal rechargeable battery. An LED flashes yellow to indicate the unit is charging and extinguishes when fully charged. While the pad is charging you can scan the QR code with your phone which will take you straight to the MOGA Pivot app which you need to install on your phone or tablet.

 

Moga Pro Review

Moga Pro Gamepad

Once the gamepad is fully charged you can move onto the next stage which just involves running the Pivot app and following the simple on-screen instructions to pair the pad with your phone. It will also give you an opportunity to get a free copy of Pacman*, redeem your Nova 3* game code and register for updates. I received an email a few minutes after registering with instruction on how to actually get the game. The whole process couldn’t be simpler and my pad paired and worked first time with no issues at all. As well as letting you setup your pad the Pivot app also acts as a central hub where you can see all of your installed Moga Pro compatible games and also browse and download new ones.

Moga Pro Review

Moga Pro Box Contents

*In order to install both of these games you have to allow installs from Unknown sources on your phone. The option can be found in Settings>Security>Unknown sources. This is because the apps are being downloaded from outside the Google Play store.

Moga Pro Review

Moga Pro with Galaxy Note 2

 

The build quality seems to be first-rate and the design has clearly been based on the XBox 360 pad as the dimensions, stick layouts, triggers and buttons are all virtually identical, even the XYAB letters on the buttons are same! This is fine by me – the 360 pad is by far the best I’ve ever used on any system and the Moga Pro is just as comfortable and precise to use. Where it differs from the 360 pad is that it incorporates a flip out spring-loaded arm which holds your phone in place securely while you game. The arm dimensions are extremely generous so don’t worry about your phone fitting – I have a Galaxy Note 2 and it fitted comfortably even with the phone in a Spigen case! It feels perfectly balanced once the phone is in place and very little effort is required to hold the whole thing steady. It could easily have been top-heavy and tiring to hold but it’s obvious a fair bit of thought gone in to the placement of the arm and it works well.

Moga Pro Review

Moga Pro phone holder arm

 

I tested the game with a copy of Gameloft’s Modern Warfare Combat 4: Zero Hour. This is a Moga Pro enhanced game which basically means it fully supports all the features of the Gamepad. The Modern Combat games have always looked and sounded the part but been seriously let down in the control department with the virtual sticks and touch screen controls being awkward at best and a downright hindrance at worst. Not to mention that you’ve got your thumbs obscuring a good chunk of the screen. The Moga Pro was a revelation – before I knew it an hour had passed and I was really enjoying myself. The sticks are really responsive, dead-zones almost non-existent and lining up head shots quickly became second nature. Familiar Call of Duty console button configurations also helped too, with bumpers launching grenades, X to reload, Y to switch weapons and so on.

I have a Playstation Vita which is a really great handheld system, the best I have ever owned in fact. However having experienced the Moga Pro coupled with my Galaxy Note 2 I’d have to say it’s a better gaming experience than the Vita. The screen is bigger, the whole thing is easier and much more comfortable to hold and the full-size pad and analogue sticks really are of console quality. The final kicker is that at just £4.99 the Gameloft COD clone is a darn sight cheaper than Black Ops DeClassified too!

Some more images…

Moga Pro Review

Moga Pro with Galaxy Note 2 – close-up of phone holding grip

 

Moga Pro Review

Moga Pivot app – viewing installed games

 

Moga Pro Review

Moga Pivot app – Congratulations!

 

Moga Pro Review

Moga Pro & XBox 360 Gamepad Comparison

 

Moga Pro Review

Moga Pivot app – browsing for new games

 

Moga Pro Review

Moga Pro – Modern Combat Control Layout

Sennheiser RS130 Wireless Headphones Review

Received a pair of these bad boys yesterday so thought I’d share my findings for the benefit of anyone else that might be interested.

 

Sennheiser RS130 Wireless Headphones

Sennheiser RS130’s

 

Included in the box with your headphones is the transmitter/charger base, two AAA rechargeable batteries, a 1/8”->1/4” stereo jack adaptor, small power brick (similar size to a mobile phone charger) and a small multi-lingual manual.

Setup was a breeze, just power up the transmitter/charging station and hook up to your audio source. It will automatically turn itself on when it detects an incoming audio signal and off shortly after it ceases. Then you just need to open up one side of the headphones and slot in the two AAA’s. You switch the headphones on using a small on/off switch on the rear of one of the ear cups. They automatically tune themselves into the FM signal from the base, although you can also select 3 different “channels” on the base and initiate an auto-tune from a small button on the ‘phones themselves if you need to. It recommends you charge the batteries for 16 hours before first use – you do this simply by hanging the ‘phones on the charging stand. There are two metal strips in the headband that pickup the charging current from the metal stand… when it detects that the battery is charged it automatically switches to trickle-charging so no need to worry about over-charging. Being impatient I threw in a couple of Duracell’s so I could play with them right away…

The headphones themselves are well designed and constructed, lightweight for their size and extremely comfortable. The headband is well padded and has the usual vertical adjustment, the ear cups also pivot horizontally as well as vertically so you are assured of a snug fit. They are also well padded and have been covered in a suede type of material rather than vinyl which makes them very soft and comfortable and also less likely to make you sweat whilst wearing them for long periods. I was able to walk around the entire ground floor of our house without any loss of signal so you shouldn’t have a problem whilst sat on the sofa in front of your TV.

Sound quality wise I couldn’t fault them – the volume is controlled by a small thumb-wheel on the right ear cup and goes up far enough for you to be deafened by explosions in COD3 if you really want! There is plenty of bass on offer and I experienced no distortion in the sound and all dialogue and effects were crystal clear. There is a slight hiss when the volume is cranked up high during periods of silence but this is never noticeable otherwise. A welcome addition is a surround sound option you can enable – just don’t expect 5.1 effects from it… it basically seems to widen the field of sound so that you feel like the sound is coming from all around rather than just from your left and right. They do leak a bit of sound so no good for watching movies in bed, but for playing games late at night in your living room they are perfect.

I would definitely recommend these Sennheiser RS130 Wireless Headphones for those of you who are annoying your partner/parents/neighbours/pets with noisy late-night gaming sessions!