Welcome to my blog - Read and enjoy

Thank you for visiting my Scooby1970 blogspot. I update whenever I can and when I have something interesting to share. You will also find published work of mine at Gaming Illustrated. Gaming Illustrated is where most of my work now takes place, but I will transfer some of my more popular articles from there over to this blog, in extended format.

Feel free to email me at:
Google+: www.google.co.uk/+MarkAdams1970
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Facebook: www.facebook.com/scooby1970
Twitter: www.twitter.com/markyboyo

I've just started a new blog for my upcoming book releases: http://mark-adams-writes.blogspot.co.uk/

Also check out my 10 Quick Facts for more sites I run.

Enjoy the blogs, and relive my ups and downs in life, view some interesting reviews and just enjoy the site. If you are interested in learning something about some of my favourite music then click here it's the official Jan & Dean Site that has taken me and my friend from across the sea, June many years to keep updated.

:) Mark

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Xbox One S Review

It's been awhile since I had a console, the last one being a Sony Playstation 3 which I sold last year. It was time time for a new console and a change, so having gone through weeks of research and talking to people the decision was made… For the first time ever I was going to have a Microsoft console, and not the base model but the newest Xbox One S with 1TB of storage and to free games (Forza Horizon 3 and Gears Of War 4).

There were a few things I wanted in a console that led me to my choice.

  • The primary one was that it needed some sort of 4k support, and it does this with its 4k UHD Blu-ray player, streaming video and some games up-scaled.
  • Secondly I wanted a game catalogue different to what I was used to. The Xbox One succeeds two-fold with its Xbox Exclusives and the fact it has the ability to play a huge selection of Xbox 360 games.
  • Thirdly I wanted media and streaming of some sort. This has excelled my expectations with the ability to play many codecs of music and video, plus almost replace my new Chromecast as well as the ability to stream games to my laptop to play anywhere in the house!
  • Fourth and finally I wanted it to be a at piece of kit that just looks awesome, and I believe the Xbox One S is the greatest looking console since the Sega Dreamcast.

Technical Specs
The Xbox One S is a pimped up Xbox One in a 40% smaller body. It's tiny! Compared to my original PS3 it looks very small, with a stunning white finish with little dimples and sharp edges.

It has three USB 3 ports, two on the back and one on the front, HDMI out, HDMI in (for complete integration of the system with your TV), Ethernet connection and digital audio out.

Internally it has a 1TB hard drive and has been tweaked and sped up since the original Xbox One. In real terms this means games run better, and the console can output 4k and HDR with compatible to televisions. The extra grunt in the machine means games can run up to 7% faster (from 27fps to 36fps) while the majority will run around 3%-4% faster (source Digital Foundry).

The controller has also been tweaked, and now can run via Bluetooth so that it can be used with a PC (useful when streaming).

There is also a 4k UHD Blu-ray player as standard, meaning you can make the most of the new UHD Blu-ray discs and watch them in glorious 3840 x 2160. I've clicked through Independence Day 4k and it's quality far surpasses steamed 4k which is more akin to a 1080p picture. Normal DVDs and Blu-ray discs look spectacular when played through the Xbox One, which has amazing up-scaling when using either 1080p out 2160p. HDR is catered for also, and should make a difference to films and games.

The Games
Most games are cross platform these days, and side-by-side comparisons with the Playstation 4 show them to play identically. It's with the exclusive titles and backwards compatibility where the Xbox One shines.

Forza Horizon 3 is arguably the best looking and playing racing game on this generation of console. Gears Of War 4 is one of the best looking and playing third person shooters, while the console is home to the amazing Rare Replay collection, Halo Collection and more.

Unlike the previous generation, each game needs to be installed on the machine and take up huge amounts of space, what's more they can take ages as they can also download data. Gears Of War 4 took around 78gb to download, which to hours even on a fast connection (it was a digital download, but others games have also downloaded around 40gb as well as the disc!)

The console has another trick up its sleeve though backwards compatibility. Even more games I've missed out on such as Left 4 Dead series, the Banjo Kazooi series and so much more. There are hundreds of compatible games, and the list gets bigger monthly.

Graphically games look nothing short of stunning in full 1080p or upscaled 4k. If you have HDR, then this adds more depth of colour. There is little to no stutter or lag when playing even the most intensive of game.

Similarly audio is outstanding, and with a great subwoofer the games take on a whole new dimension.

Media Support & Streaming
As well as the already mentioned 4k Blu-ray player the Xbox One S excels in other areas. You can plug in USB sticks, USB hard drives or use good old CD, DVD or Blu-ray.

Should you wish to stream content to the Xbox One from your phone or PC, click on the Chromecast button and select “Xbox One”. If you already have a Chromecast, you'll have the option to stream to either! This feature alone is amazing, meaning you can stream films and music from apps and play them on your TV through the Xbox. What's more, internet connection seems much faster on the Xbox than a Chromecast.

Possibly the greatest streaming feature though is the “Stream” to Windows 10 option. Simply download the Xbox app on your laptop or PC, connect to your Xbox and hit the Stream button. It's amazing to see games with these graphics playing on a laptop, with little to no lag depending on your connection (on my 42mb connection the Xbox picks it up as 33mb and 95% of the time there's no lag, but you do get the odd hiccup). Just remember to use a Xbox controller on your laptop.

I took a gamble when buying the Xbox One S. Everyone I know have Playstation 4's. Everyone I asked said get a PS4. There were games I wanted to continue playing in the series such as Uncharted, Killzone and more, but making a list of pros and cons only made me realise more it was time for a change.

The Xbox One S is aesthetically pleasing console, with a quiet fan, great feature-set and a promising future. It runs on a version of Windows 10, meaning you also get Edge browser and a ton of other Windows goodies. The console is so much more than I dreamt it would be, with some killer features and most importantly, does everything and more that I wanted it to do.  

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Mark G Adams Photography

Photography Facebook Page

I have created a new Facebook page highlighting my photography skills. It contains photographs taken at various events, street photography and plenty of landscape photography.

Please make sure and visit www.facebook.com/markgadamsphotography While you are there please make sure to LIKE and SHARE the page. Doing this will entitle you to one free photograph of your choice which you may enlarge and use as a print or a canvas.

Please feel free to browse the page and enjoy!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Huawei P9 Review

Every two years I have the arduous task of choosing a new mobile phone. Last time I had the choice of two phones, the Samsung S5 or Samsung Galaxy Note 3. I wanted a bigger screen and awesome specs, so went with the Note. The phone served me well, but this time I wanted something a little bit different, I wanted the best phone on the market for taking photos, with high specs and a market leading flagship. Oh, one more thing, I didn't want a Samsung

The logic behind my decision is twofold. Firstly having a Samsung every upgrade three of the last four upgrades (the other was a HTC) meant I didn't feel like I was having anything different, just a little upgrade each time and no excitement. Secondly,  I'd used my wife's Huawei Honor 7 and immediately fell in love with everything about it. It was different, it was quality and it ticked all the right boxes!

The Huawei P9 General Hardware Specs
Released on Three on Friday May 6th 2016, the phone comes on an unlimited calls and text plan with 2GB data for just £28 a month. My data usage used to be higher, however over recent months it has dropped dramatically.

The P9 has a 5.2 inch 1080p screen, and the dimensions are 152.3 x 75.3 x 6.8 mm (6.00 x 2.96 x 0.28 in). It is only 6.8mm thick, meaning it's thinner than a Samsung S7, but still manages to hold a 3000ma battery.

Powered by Huawei’s in-house Kiran 955 processor with 3GB of memory, it's a powerful handset which scores higher than 810 processors of other phones, but is slower than 820 processors in single core mode, and faster in multicore mode. Benchmarks are pointless as they never give true performance results. The phone is very fast, and an example of this is how quick it installs new software! Instantly in most cases.

Around the left of the phone there are no buttons, only a pinhole for the SIM card(s) and SD card slot. On the top of the phone is just a microphone for noise cancellation. On the right hand side of the phone is the volume rocker and a textured power button, while the bottom of the phone houses a USB C connection, headphone jack and mono speaker.

On the front of the phone there is a earpiece speaker, where there is a notification light built into which changes various colours depending on what the phone is telling you that you have missed.

The back of the phone houses two 12MP camera modules and Leica branding, a two tone flash and a fingerprint scanner.

The Screen
With a 1080p resolution screen, the Huawei P9 does not match the 4k screens of some other flagships. However, it's hard enough to spot differences on a 50” TV of 1080p vs 4k, so on a 5.2inch screen it's almost impossible. Side by side with a Samsung S7, it's impossible to see the pixel difference when in normal use.

The screen is very bright, and can easily be seen in bright sunlight. Unlike other makes, Huawei use LCD screen technology, which produces deep blacks, and more realistic colours. So many phones these days have over saturated colours, the Huawei has bold colours without local unnatural.

There are a myriad of options for changing the colour of the screen tones etc, to suit your personal needs. The screen also has auto brightness, which works better than on any phone I've ever used before.

The Camera
This is where the phone really shines. The P9 contains two 12MP Leica branded lenses. The Leica name is synonymous with high quality photography, so the P9 has a lot to live up to. Thankfully in use the P9 is simply awesome. Photographs look realistic, with grade contrast and colour. The P9 does not push to produce unreal popping colour photos similar to the Samsung S7, instead it focuses images that look exactly like they are seen with your eyes.

The two camera’s mean that the black and white sensor can be used to gather more light, and thus add more detail to photographs, it also can calculate depth of field, meaning you can take photos with the blur effect found on professional cameras. Thanks to some clever software, if you are not happy with the blur after you have taken the photo, then you can adjust the photos to your hearts content.

The black and white sensor can also be used to take balck and white images. This sensor alone is worth the price of the phone, and produces spectacular monochrome images, in a way only a camera can produce (as opposed to turning colour photos black and white).

The camera has loads of different options such as the mentioned black and white and normal camera, plus HDR, Beauty, Panorama, Night Shot, Light Painting,Time-Lapse, Slow-Mo, Watermark and more.

For fans of taking selfies, the P9 comes equipped with a 8MP front facing camera which knocks the spots off any of its competitors. Photos taken with this camera are bright and colourful, and full of detail. It even takes photos in Beauty Mode as standard, so you'll always look your best.

Where the phone loses to it’s contemporaries is its video mode, where its highest recording resolution is 1080p and 60 frames per second. There is software image stabilising which works well when filming.

The Software
Running Emotion UI 4.1, the Huawei P9 has a heavily modified Android skin that many people take a dislike to without even trying to get to know it.

HTC use Sense and Samsung UAE Touchwiz, EMUI is unlike either, and unlike stock Android in most respects. It has no app-drawer and takes a few of the best features of both Android and iOS. Usually I use Nova Launcher and tweak it to be a supes-up almost stock Android experience, but I find EMUI to be very respectable in what it does.

The UI is fast and responsive, and is really simple to use. It also looks really nice and has customisation features such as changing the home screen size and themes. It's all done in Huawei style, and when it works it fantastic.

The Sound
Housing a small speaker at the bottom right of the handset, the sound quality although mono is quite loud and has a fairly rich tone to it, with even a little bass to be heard.

When using headphones things are much better. Not mentioned in most reviews, the Huawei P9 uses DTS when headphone listening. Bass is nice and deep, mids and treble are rich, and the soundstage is really wide. Using the bundled headphones gives a nice sound even if the fitting is a little off for my ears, while using a pair of Sony over-the-head ZX-600’s gives amazing sound quality when listening to most music types.

The Fingerprint Scanner
A review of a Huawei phone cannot be complete without a review of the fingerprint scanner. Huawei are World leaders when it comes to this technology, the fingerprint scanner is a Class 4 scanner, meaning it can read even more information about your fingerprints than any other scanner.

Placed at the back, it's positioned exactly where your pointing finger lays, and it makes so much sense! Other companies place their scanner on the front, but that doesn’t make much sense, and it’s really inconvenient, something you’ll notice once you’ve used a back-situated fingerprint scanner!

It is instantaneous in use, and is accurate 100% of the time. It can be used for more than just unlocking your phone though, as you can pull down your notifications menu and scroll through the gallery with it. Really interactive, and something once used, you will miss when you go elsewhere.

Battery Life And Call Quality
With such a large battery it's easy to get a day's use out of the phone. With a combination of social media use, YouTube, some light game playing, a few minutes of calls and plenty of texts, along with using the camera and looking at photos I usually have around 30% left at the end of the day for night time browsing etc.

Making calls is easy with the dialling software included, and call quality is loud and rich. No calls have been lost as the P9 boasts a special three-way antenna system to improve calls.

The Huawei P9 won't appeal to many people for a couple of stupid reasons. The first reason is because many have not heard of Huawei (who happen to be the third largest mobile phone manufacturer), while the second reason is the phone isn't a Samsung!

Fear not though, the P9 is an extraordinary mobile device with a wealth of features. It has powerful battery saving features, is customisable out of the box, has stunning performance of its cameras, has great sound and video playback and is a lot cheaper than the closest spec'd Samsung or HTC.

Once you've used a Huawei device, it's hard to think about going back to what you were used to as the whole experience just grows on you quickly, and before you know it you're in love with the best phone of this generation.