Guides

Cool Gadgets For Cheap: The Best Online Shopping Sites

We live in a world where technology is king. If you take a trip to your local electronics store, you might have come to believe that keeping up with the latest cool gadgets means spending a fortune. The good news is that sites like GearBest and GeekBuying are proving that you can get your hands on all the “must have” gadgets without having to save up for months to make it happen. If you’re not a slave to the big name brands that often seem to charge you more for the privilege of owning their gear, then these types of discount sites are where you should be headed.

There are sure to be some who will ask you why you would invest in a brand that not everyone knows about. The fact is that not everyone has the sort of disposable income that allows them to drop $600 on the latest cell phone. Plenty of people realize that the latest and greatest piece of tech on the market today will be rendered obsolete when the next version comes along in 12-18 months. When that happens, you might well be out another $600 in order to keep up.

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The Beelink Pocket P1 Features an Intel CPU and Windows 8

Cheap electronics does not necessarily mean poor quality. It may come as a surprise to learn that these lesser known brands use the same computer parts as their big time competitors. It’s just that they don’t ask the consumer to pay for having that name etched on the product. If you can get a comparable piece of equipment for a few hundred dollars less, why would you make the mistake of spending that extra money? This is especially true if you’re buying a device you know you really aren’t going to use that often.

The sky really is the limit here. You can find bargains in the new arrivals section just as easily as you can in the clearance section, which is certainly not something that can be said for the mass market electronics stores. Get online and browse at your convenience, and take the time to find the cheap electronic bargains that will keep you up to date with the latest technology whilst also leaving you with money in your pocket.

The Best Online Shopping Sites for Cool Gadgets

GearBest-LogoGearBest have a comprehensive range of gadgets including smart phones, smart watches, RC Quadcopters, LED flashlights and consumer electronics. They offer price matching on identical products within 48 hours.Visit GearBest
GeekBuying-LogoGeekBuying have been around for a long time and have a wide variety of gadgets covering everything from TV boxes to RC Quadcopters. They often get a number of exclusive products from vendors such as Tronsmart and have worked closely with manufacturers to get software updates for products.Visit GeekBuying
Amazon-LogoArguably America’s favorite online store, Amazon has a comprehensive variety of products at great prices, particularly when coupons and cashbacks are available. Prime members can also avail themselves of free two day shipping too.Visit Amazon
PandaWill-LogoEstablished in Shenzhen, China in 2009, PandaWill is one of the biggest online retailers in Asia. Named after the movie Kung Fu Panda, PandaWill have a diverse range of products covering mobile phones, tablets and TV boxes.Visit PandaWill
Coolicool-LogoCoolicool have a wide variety of products from leading Chinese manufacturers and warehouses all over Europe to ensure improved local service.Visit CooliCool
AliExpress-LogoAliExpress acts as a portal linking product suppliers to consumers. A spin-off from AliBaba, this online store has plenty of incredibly cool gadgets that you can’t find anywhere else. Just make sure you buy from sellers with a good reputation and if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.Visit AliExpress
EBay-LogoAlmost everyone will be familiar with eBay. Arguably one of the most iconic online shopping sites, eBay is an excellent place to find cool gadgets for cheap, particularly their auctions which can be a great opportunity to get devices well under retail.Visit eBay

 

 

Wearables Watch

How To Factory Reset Windows 8

I often get asked how to factory reset Windows 8 so I’ve put together this step-by-step guide. Windows 8’s new Factory Reset option allows you to easily reset Windows and get your PC running like new.

I completed this process on my Ainol Mini PC, however, it should be identical for any PC running Windows 8.

I’ve highlighted important areas in Red in the screenshots.

1. Navigate to “Update and recovery” under Settings

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2. Choose “Recovery” and “Get Started”

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3. Complete the Recovery Process

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Make sure you select “Just remove my files”! Otherwise, you’ll need to do a full re-installation of Windows 8 using your install media.How-To-Factory-Reset-Windows-8-04

Clicking “Reset” will start to factory reset Windows 8:How-To-Factory-Reset-Windows-8-05After a while (the process usually takes around 10-15 minutes for me), Windows will complete the factory reset process and reboot. When Windows 8 loads, it will guide you through the setup process.

Conclusion

So now you know how to factory reset Windows 8 and your PC should be running exactly as it did when you first got it.

If your Windows 9 Setup is no longer in English, please follow our guide on how to change Windows 8 language to English.

 

 

How To Change Windows 8 Language To English

With so many Windows Mini PCs coming from China, there is a chance that you’ll need to change Windows 8 language to English after a factory reset.

When I first reset my Ainol Mini PC, the Windows setup process was entirely Chinese. To save you all the pain and suffering I experienced, I decided to put together this step-by-step guide on how to change Windows 8 language to English.

This guide assumes that you know how to factory reset Windows 8 and are starting from the Windows 8 setup process.

I completed this process on my Ainol Mini PC.  However, the process should be identical for other Windows PCs.

I’ve highlighted important parts of the screen in red in the screenshots below.

1. Select your Country and Language

First you’ll need to select your country and language. This is probably the hardest part.

Google Translate will be your friend here, as unless you read Chinese, you’ll be matching characters like I had to.

For your reference:

  • Australia is “澳大利亚”
  • English is “英语”
  • United States is”美国”

Windows-8-To-English-01Scroll through the Country list to find your country:Windows-8-To-English-02

When selecting your language, each English entry has a corresponding country. Look for the correct combination:

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2. Accept the Windows 8.1 with Bing Privacy Policy

Simply click the Next button:

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3. Set up your PC

When prompted, connect to your wifi. Then select your desired UI color scheme and enter a name for your PC in the provided textbox:

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Accept the Express setup option which will configure various options for Windows 8:

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You’ll then get to a screen where you’ll either need to log in to your Microsoft Account or you may see the screen below. If so, select “Create a Local Account” and enter your desired Account name:

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4. Change the Windows 8 Display Language to English

Go into Settings, then select Control Panel at the bottom:

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Windows-8-To-English-09Change the Control Panel’s display to Large icons and located the Languages icon:

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Here, you should see the language you selected in Step 1. Go into Options for that language:

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You should see a link with a Administrator prompt. Click on it to begin downloading and installing the English Language Pack:

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When the installation is complete, you’ll need to reboot. When Windows 8 reboots, you should notice the Windows 8 language will have switched to English. However, there are still some parts of the UI that will be in Chinese. We’re almost there but there are a couple more settings to change.

5. Copy your Windows 8 Language Settings to the Start Screen

Go back to the Languages control panel like before:

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Click on “Change date, time or number formats”:

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Click on “Copy settings…”:

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Select the two checkboxes at the bottom and click “OK. This will ensure that the language used on the Start and Login screens is also English:

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Accept the prompt to reboot and you should have successfully changed the Windows 8 language to English:Windows-8-To-English-20

 

 

Wearables Watch

How Wearables Will Influence Home Theatre

Wearables are the new buzzword, and many are claiming it’s the “next big thing” in Consumer electronics. These devices, effectively computers attached to your body (often wrist-based),  offer a whole raft of functionality – from notifications to health tracking. But it’s only recently that there has been an explosion of wearable devices vying for consumer cash. It’s undoubtedly a growing market, although everyone is remaining tight-lipped about just how big of a market it is. Current forecasts put it as approximately $6B in 2016, according to IMS Research – that’s a big pie and only expected to keep growing as both more players enter and the overall quality and utility of wearables continues to evolve.

On the eve of the heavily anticipated but theoretical launch of the Apple iWatch, and following a release of a number of wearable devices such as the Moto 360 and Galaxy Gear, it’s probably a good idea to investigate how these wearables could influence our home theatres and media consumption.

Wearables Foundations: The Smartphone

So let’s start with the smartphone, the near-ubiquitous device permanently glued to everyone’s hand, head or thigh. How has this device shaped our home theatres?

There are two key categories to really consider: interaction and media consumption.

Smartphones have changed how we interact with our home theatre systems dramatically, often becoming another gateway to our devices. It’s rare to see a home theatre component that doesn’t feature some form of smartphone connectivity, with many such as the WDTV or Samsung devices featuring app-based remote controls. Our favourite frontend Kodi (formerly XBMC) even offers support for remote control via iOS and Android applications.

Media consumption is another element – watching videos on the go or on the couch used to be reserved to laptops but now any smartphone can become a media center. A search on iTunes or Google Play for “Video Player” will return hundreds of applications that will play almost any video format out there, and from wherever you have it – whether it’s on Youtube, your SD card or your Network Attached Storage (NAS).

So how does this relate to wearables?

Well, just like the modern smartphone grew into the cornerstone device that it is now, wearables are still at this embryonic stage, with everyone trying to decide how they can best be used. So we’ve seen fitness tracking, notifications and alarms incorporated into their feature sets to see what resonates with consumers. The inevitable outcome of this: remote control applications for your home theatre components.

Imagine being able to tap your wearable to pause your movie as you grab a drink, or swipe it to skip that song that you hate. This is convenience at its finest, with no need to awkwardly get your phone out of your pocket get to the remote app. We are already starting to see this emerge, with Yatse, our favourite XBMC remote for Android, having integrated Android Wear support, allowing remote control and viewing “Now Playing” information. This is where I see wearables integrating into our living room.

There is also the possibility of using wearables for location tracking. This is something that Bluetooth devices have been used for for some time. As your wearable is always on you, it can be used to work out where you are. For example, your HTPC could automatically pause your movie when you leave the room. This sort of technology is already being implemented in Smartphones, with devices such as the Moto X disabling the lock screen if specific Bluetooth devices are within range.

Media playback is a definite possibility, and I’m sure there will be many attempts at doing so. However, wearables rarely last a few days of regular use so adding multimedia playback, a known battery-killer, is out of the question. Until battery life of wearables is improved dramatically, native media playback will continue to remain in proof-of-concept territory. Furthermore, this is so neglecting any ergonomic issues associate with staring at your wrist for hours.

These are just a few use cases that I’ve hypothesised but, like everything technology-related, only time will tell how wearables can be used fully. With app stores being available for both Android Wear and Pebble, and the rumoured iWatch offering a similar app marketplace, I’m sure developers will create some fascinating use cases, leveraging wearables in ways that are currently unfathomable.

Conclusion

Wearables are a growing market that consumers are starting to take interest in. It won’t be long before wearables replace some of our smartphone functions, and the idea of a wrist-based media hub is definitely appealing for this author.

Where do you see the wearables market heading? What use cases can you think of? Let us know in the comments below. And don’t forget to like and share this article!

Photo Credit: Watch by SplitShire /Cropped from Original

HTPC Build

10 Signs You Need To Invest In A Home Theatre PC

Investing in a Home Theatre PC (HTPC) is always a wise choice if you are passionate about multimedia. The flexibility and capabilites of a solid HTPC, coupled with some great gadgets, are unrivalled by standalone media players. So here are are 10 signs that you need to invest in a HTPC.

1. You want to watch your multimedia on the big screen

Tired of watching Youtube on that tiny 20″ monitor? A HTPC will allow you to move away from your study and make your multimedia the focus of your living room. It’s one thing to be huddled around a desktop to watch the  latest viral video, but being able to sit on the couch with your feet up and show everyone is in a league of its own.

2. You have a lot of media

We live in a digital age and often this comes with a plethora of multimedia – video files, music, CDs, streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, etc.
Whilst being spoilt for choice is not a bad problem to have, making sure that you can readily watch (or listen) to what you want is important for a pleasurable experience. How often have you wasted precious minutes looking for that particular video hidden away?
A HTPC allows you to consolidate all of this media into one simple interface and ensure that you watch what you want, when you want.

3. You want to combine gaming and watching movies

Most of us love gaming on consoles. However, PC gaming is becoming a more potent player in our lounge room. With support from Valve through initiatives such as Steam Big Picture and In-Home Streaming, having a HTPC means that you can readily flick between watching a movie to playing a video game almost seamlessly.

4. You want a central entertainment hub

Often when we set up out our living room, we end up with multiple devices: a Blu-ray player, CD player, maybe a streaming box. This makes everything cluttered and is a pain if you want to move from one media source to another. Getting a HTPC means that you can combine most of these devices into one box, all controlled through an attractive interface.

5. You want flexibility in your setup

Don’t need a particular feature – simply don’t add it. Want to be able to stream and record live TV to watch later, fork out for a TV capture card. A HTPC gives you the flexibility to build a device that meets the needs of you and your family, and stop you paying for unnecessary components.

6. You want something that will play everything

One of the best parts of owning a HTPC is comparability. So many standalone players (Apple TV, I’m looking at you!) support limited formats and others have strict limits on the bitrate or standard of the files that they will play back. A HTPC overcomes this by being able to offload as much to hardware decoding as possible and, where a video file cannot be decoded in hardware, can leverage the CPU to process it. So whilst your WDTV will refuse to play those new H.265 video files, a HTPC will power through them.

7. You want something you can upgrade

There’s nothing worse than when something you have bought becomes defunct or is no longer supported by the manufacturer, such as that YouTube app on your streaming box that no longer works. Furthermore, with the ever-changing world of technology, you may need to buy a whole new box to access the latest entertainment. Or you may have simply outgrown the in-built storage on your DVR and can’t bring yourself to clear off those seasons you’ve worked so hard to record. A HTPC is upgradable – so you can add whatever new features you want. Eyeing off more storage, add a new Harddrive. Drooling over high speed wireless – remove the cables and add a Wireless AC card. The power is now in your hands.

8. You want something that you can customize

Customisability is key with a HTPC, with such a diverse range of Frontends and Skins available, you can make your box look and function exactly how you want – with cover art, metadata, watched flags – The whole enchilada.

9.You want powerful controls

There are two elements to this – parental controls and remote controls. A HTPC offers much more granular control of what you allow your kids to watch and most frontends even offer user profiles, so everyone can have access to different multimedia!

Secondly, whilst we’ve already covered the best remotes for your home theatre, a HTPC gives you even more was to control your viewing experience, with Web-based and App-based controls for your desktop and mobile devices. So you can play videos, queue up your favorite tracks and even share your videos on your TV, all from your phone or tablet.

10. You want a new gadget

This one is one we’re often guilty of. You’re a gadget lover and that smartphone is just not doing it for you anymore and you want a new project. A HTPC is a great long-term project that will give you hours of joy (and most likely a couple of frustration). There is nothing more satisfying then knowing the world’s entertainment can be accessed from your couch – all because of your new toy.

So there you are – 10 signs you need to invest in a HTPC. Time to get buying!

Photo Credit: Simon Wüllhorst via Compfight cc/Transformed from the Original