The Techie's Wife

Tech reviews from a passenger seat perspective

Second-Hand Review of Tesco’s Hudl 2


Overall Rating ★★★⋆

Although the kids love playing on their new tablets (so much so that they frequently need to be peeled out of their grasp) the Hudl 2 hasn’t done enough to fully win me over. If you are on a budget then this is a great value-for-money tablet. The vast array of free and cheap games available to download from Google Play is impressive but for some apps (particularly those which require in-app purchases) the hudl 2 often gets stuck in a loop, rendering the game utterly unplayable. The Hudl 2 also takes a while to boot up which isn’t ideal for impatient little ones. In the words of the childrens’ Father, “We should have just got iPads!”


✔ Ample amount of storage space (16GB) for the price

✔ Impressive range of free to cheap games to download

✔ Great price for what you get

✔ Crisp HD images

✔ Solid Stylish design


✘ Apps with in-app purchases are sometimes unplayable

✘ Some apps that you can download are not compatible with this Android device

✘ Charging time

The Hudl 2 is an Android based 8.3-inch tablet produced by Tesco which proves that this budget supermarket has had a good crack at cutting it as a tech-giant too.


The screen resolution is an impressive 1920 x 1200 pixels with sharp, vibrant colours which makes this High Definition tablet very appealing to my two little ones. The size of the tablet is an ideal fit for their hands and laps.

I am also highly impressed with the  hardiness of the tablet. A major concern I had before buying the Hudl 2 was how it would fair against my clumsy three year old who doesn’t understand that objects have tolerance thresholds and if you exceed them they will break. Following multiple accidental drops as well as  hissy-fit drops, the Hudl 2 has more than proven its robustness over the past two months.

This stylish, robust and good value-for-money tablet would be perfect for the kids if it wasn’t for the fact that using the Hudl 2 can be extremely frustrating when multiple apps don’t work. In the Hudl 2’s defense,  this fault may be due to the operating System it runs on. Being married to an app developer I often hear how difficult it is to produce the same high quality app on various devices. There are over 8000 Android devices and often apps are not able to be tested on every single device before they are released. Additionally, there are a small number of other free apps which don’t work on the Hudl 2 due of in-app purchases.


Even though Tesco have recently stopped selling the Hudl 2 and there are “no plans at the moment” to develop the Hudl 3, our Hudl 2 tablets aren’t going away anytime soon because the kids would miss them terribly.

New Arrival – Flic (The Wireless Smart Button)

Flic’s Wireless Smart buttons were received in the post recently. These clickable buttons work with an Apple or Android device but the functions that they perform, when clicked, is programmed by the user. The video above provides some great examples for their use such as a panic button, a selfie button or to order pizza. If you are like me and always losing your Smartphone, then you can create a button to ring your Smartphone when you have misplaced it.

It can also be used with Google Nest to create a central control system for the home, able to control the lights, phones and heating system.  There are so many different things these Flic buttons can be used for, the question is where to start?

A challenge I would like to set my Developer Husband is to use these buttons to make me a cup of tea in the morning – when the dreaded alarm goes off I can press a Flic button so that my morning cup of tea will be waiting for me downstairs.


New Arrival – Ring Wireless Smart Doorbell


I am incredibly excited about this new arrival! Installation did not take long but I have experienced a couple of minor issues with the App. I’m going to give it some time to see if the teething issues subside before reviewing.

New Arrival – Puck

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This arrived in the post recently. It is small but sounds very cool! It turns your mobile into a remote control for anything in the house that uses an infra-red remote. Looking forward to reviewing this in a few weeks time. In the mean time, here is a picture of it in action:IMG_7796 (1)


New Arrival – AppleTV


Another delivery from the Postman – time to watch some television and test out the new offering from Apple.

Review of Google Cardboard VR


Overall Rating  ★★★

This is the perfect family buy if you want something that little kids will enjoy immensely for a short period of time before breaking! It’s still usable but the Velcro which secures the Smartphone in place comes off too easily.

That said, this product is enjoyable to use with Children. We had lots of fun exploring alien landscapes, going on dinosaur hunts, looking at artifacts in Museums, staring up at the Eiffel tower and much more.


✔ Aesthetics
Although bland in colour, the simple design is eye-catching and (dare I say it) cute. The VR headset has been cleverly designed to resemble a likable character, with eyes a nose and ears.

✔ The Concept
The idea that VR can be accessible to all, without the use of fancy high-tech materials.


✘ Durability
The Velcro fastenings which secure the Smartphone in place did not stay stuck to the cardboard for long, meaning that the phone is at risk of falling out while in use.

✘ Small SmartPhone Holder
The compartment to store the Smartphone is slightly on the small side, with a large phone case on a larger sized smartphone it can be a bit of a squeeze.

What is it?

As the technology world is becoming more interested in Virtual Reality (VR), various companies have started to develop their own answer to improving upon the iconic plastic 3D glasses by developing large and expensive headsets. 2016 is set to be a good year for VR with the following Virtual Reality headset being released toward the start of the year:

  1. Oculus Rift
  2. HTC Vive / Steam VR
  3. Playstation VR (formally Project Morpheus)
  4. Microsoft’s Project Neo
  5. Samsung Gear VR (currently available but according to Samsung CEO, there will be an update to the hardware “soon”)

The expected price tags for these run into hundreds of pounds. Some computers / game consoles / SmartPhones may not have the right specifications to run the software and so the price tag can run upto £1000+ if the user’s existing hardware is not compatible.

Google had the idea that VR headsets shouldn’t be so bulky and expensive as those currently being developed and so they produced Google Cardboard VR. Google Cardboard VR is a VR headset which is currently available to buy at a fraction of the cost and works with any Smartphone. Instead of bulky expensive materials, the headset is made from cardboard, Velcro and glass. There are many free apps available to download – including one which works with Google maps, allowing you to take a virtual tour of Street View.

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A newer version of Google Cardboard VR has been released which addresses some of my noted dislikes – they have more colour, a variety of materials (such as aluminium) and extra space for the Smartphone compartment.

It is worth noting that Microsoft are planning to release a competing inexpensive VR Headset to rival the Google Cardboard VR, possibly to be called Microsoft VR Kit. Not much is known about it at the moment but I am interested in finding out more when it becomes available.

Virtual Reality – How to Build a Holodeck

When someone says Virtual Reality (VR) I think of the Holodeck in StarTrek, where the user is completely immersed in a virtual 3D world to the point that their senses are fooled into believing that what they are seeing is real. Off-screen, the best VR experience that the everyday public had access to for five decades was the low-tech 3D glasses. They were so low-tech, that as a child I made a pair or two out of old sweet wrappers. Many advancements have been made within the last five years which have taken VR beyond the 3D glasses and 3D television stage and is warping it into a new field called “immersive media”. How do these advancements compare to the Holodeck?

First the scene needs to be set…

360 Degree Screens
In 2013 360-degree screens were announced for living rooms which had been set up to be the right distance from the screen and shaped to provide the most optimal experience. The screens project images in every corner, angle, wall, floor and ceiling so the scene is drawn around the viewer. Essentially meaning that they are immersed in a scene which they are unable to look away from.

This would tick the sight aspects of the Holodeck but this technology alone won’t fool anyone into believing that what they are seeing is real. In order to turn the scene into more of a reality, the viewer would need to interact with the scene by moving freely around it, rather than be limited to a seat.

VR Headsets with Multi-Directional Treadmills
Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Project Morpheus, Google Cardboard VR and Samsung Gear VR. These large headsets are the twenty-first century’s version of the 3D glasses which came out in the 1950’s. When the viewer turns 360 degrees or moves their head upwards and downwards, the viewer is able to observe the scene further. Pair these headsets with Multi-Directional Treadmills, and the viewer can physically walk around to explore their scene.

All this is well and good but as soon as the viewer reaches out to touch anything, the illusion is be shattered.

Holograms with Tactile feedback
Although at the moment they are only small, holograms that have a physical substance when you touch them have been developed by researchers across Japanese Universities.

The Holodeck combines all these aspects together, along with taking into consideration the sound and smell senses. Today, the ability to replicate the Holodeck in its full glory isn’t available but the technology to create a watered down version may be within our grasp.

It is well known that many technologies used in StarTrek, that were once considered to be science fiction, are now science fact. For example Mobile Phones (Communicators), Handheld computers and Universal Translators. With these recent advancements in immersive media, the bridge to turn the Holodeck from fiction to fact is getting shorter.

To Fear or Embrace Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has had some shade thrown at it in the media recently, should we fear it?

Currently the AI discipline is primitive and still in its infancy. No great mind such as Sir Issac Newton has come along to turn the subject on its head, allowing it to take the leap from infancy to adulthood (super intelligence), but this hasn’t stopped humans from imagining what super intelligence would mean to mankind. If you follow the media you are likely to believe that it spells out the demise of the human race.

The big question is, what is the future of AI and should we believe that it will trigger doomsday?

There is a long list of notorious and highly credible sources warning that it will:

Stephen Hawkins predicts that

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race”

Bill Gates says

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence ”

Elon Musk (owner of Tesla and Space X) says

“[AI is] our biggest existential threat”

Clive Sinclair (British Inventor)

“Once you start to make machines that are rivaling and surpassing humans with intelligence, it’s going to be very difficult for us to survive”

There is a shorter list with the belief that AI should be Embraced:

Eric Horvitz (Microsoft Research Chief)

“There have been concerns about the long-term prospect that we lose control of certain kinds of intelligences. I fundamentally don’t think that’s going to happen. I think that we will be very proactive in terms of how we field AI systems, and that in the end we’ll be able to get incredible benefits from machine intelligence in all realms of life, from science to education to economics to daily life.”

It is a common human trait to fear the unknown and to allow our imaginations to run wild. It isn’t too hard to see why, with films such as Short circuit, 2001 a Space Odyssey, D.A.R.Y.L, Terminator, The Matrix, iRobot, Wall-E, Her, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ex Machina and countless many more, shaping our cultural beliefs and programming us to be wary.

We can’t predict the future so everyone who you talk to will have a different opinion. Even among undergraduates studying AI there is no universal agreement.

Personally I’m behind Horvitz. Yes there is a high possibility that AI and robots will destroy millions of jobs by replacing them with robots but I don’t believe that they will turn rogue and destroy millions of humans too. The media warnings should ensure that due care and caution is taken to steer it away from this path.

Another view is that we should base our views of the future on what we have seen so far, only magnified. AI learns from improving on what is has done in the past. I am excited rather than fearful about it because the positive applications of AI have been momentous so far.

However AI does sometimes get it wrong and if you talk to my husband about the subject and he will say that the Terminator and Ultron could one day happen. Who is to say that one rogue country won’t produce a system intent on dominating and controlling another country? AI is essentially software and software is buggy, one little bug in the software algorithm could have dire consequences for the human race.

If you are reluctant to pick sides then there is a third possibility. This Skeptic article sums it up nicely. No matter how much we debate about whether to fear or embrace Super Intelligence, it might not even be achievable.

SmartHome Tech – Doorbells

It is fair to say that we are fond of a bit of tech in our house but now we can have tech on our house too!

SkyBell, Ring and iBell are popular Wi-Fi enabled doorbells that connect to your SmartPhone  and come with camera and intercom capabilities.

If the doorbell is pressed then it sends a live video stream of who is at the door, in addition to the usual Ding-Dong inside your house. The camera (in some products) can act as a motion detector, sending a video stream to your SmartPhone when someone is lurking outside your door – even if they haven’t pressed the doorbell.

The intercom allows you to talk to the person who rang the doorbell while you are out, at work or on holiday. It can also be helpful for disabled or elderly people who are at home looking for security before they open the door.

Each of the three products mentioned above have different features. For example some have better video feeds whereas others can store video feeds to the cloud, allowing them to be accessed at a later time.

It is rare for me to be more excited about a piece of tech than Chris but this is unquestionably one of those occasions – I will definitely look into getting one of these installed one day.

Second-hand Review of the Apple Watch

Overall Rating – 
If it wasn’t for how the Apple Watch makes my husband feel, I would have rated the Apple Watch substantially lower.

Apple Watch

My husband has never been a watch man. He wore one for a couple of years but didn’t replace the battery when it died so I was surprised when he came home one day and started talking about the Apple watch with great interest.
As soon as the rumors started that Apple were making a watch, Chris would often talk about it at home, he even stayed in work late to watch Apple make the official announcement.

After a few months of the Apple Watch being released Chris decided that he needed one and the two have been inseparable ever since. Initially he was very against getting the watch but after trying one on, at the request of his boss, his opinion changed.

Dislikes (in order of annoyance)
1) Notifications
These are quite annoying!! Chris if you are reading this, make them stop! The Apple Watch makes a ping every time he gets a notification – every single time! I liken them to non-funny digital flatulence. They go off randomly throughout the day, disrupting anything I’m doing. As non users, the kids and I have to ignore the constant pings from his watch and pretend we didn’t hear them.
Additionally, his phone is usually always on his person. I get that it takes slightly less muscles to check your Watch than it does to take the iPhone out of your pocket and check it directly, but really?!

2) Price Tag
With most Apple products, you pay extra for the brand name, the Apple Watch is no exception. There are many cheaper alternative iPhone compatible and Watches available to buy at a fraction of the price. but in Chris’ eyes (who has reviewed the alternatives), non are as comparable or offer the same functionality as the Apple Watch.

3) StrapFullSizeRender
Chris had to buy a new strap for his Apple Watch because he became allergic to the various materials used to make the strap. According to the Daily Mail, although this is rare, Chris is not alone.



1) Husbands Opinion
Chris enjoys owning his watch. He uses it every day and is proud to own and wear it. He is looking forward to seeing what improved apps come out, what apps he can make with it and what the future iterations of the Watch will hold.

What is it?
The Apple Watch synchronises to his iPhone so that it notifies him with a ping when he gets an email, a text message, a phone call or an alarm goes off. It also monitors his heart rate, allows him to run his personally developed Project Management app, pay for purchases under £20 contactless as well as the traditional watch functions. The full specifications can be found on Apple’s website.

Please note that this isn’t an in-depth review of the tech, but a wife’s opinion based on her husbands usage

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