Having recently been invited to test and review 3 products from up and coming ‘Mpow’, how could I resist a play with three very different tech items, two of which I had never had the pleasure of tinkering with before. Rather than write entirely new reviews for the featured items, I have decided to collate the previously written ones here in one place…so without further adieu:
Mpow 2 in 1 Clip-On Lens – Professional Wide Angle / Macro 37mm Thread Lens for Phones & Camera’s
As a freelance photographer I am always on the lookout for interesting, related pieces of kit that would prove useful on my travels. Although aware of this sector and the rise in popularity of this type of product with the continued boom in mobile phone photography, it is a product that I have shied away from as I was more than happy with the Nokia Lumia 1020 with it’s 42mp camera that I tend to keep in my camera bag as a mobile shooter.
Upon arrival I was struck by how minimalist yet very appropriate the packaging was, the sturdy well designed box has a lift off lid that houses the lens, attachment bracket and soft carry bag in a strong foam inner that held the contents in place well. As I started to unpack the all of the component parts I was pleased by the overall build quality of all of the contained elements. The most important part of the set-up is obviously the lens, and I am pleased to say that it does not disappoint! It has a very real proportional weight to it with a wonderful build quality and I particularly liked how it is styled in the same way as a proper Digital SLR lens, so does not look out of place as part of a camera kit, furthermore, little touches like the included lens cap that sits perfectly over the wonderful glass lens. All in all the whole package highlights that the manufacturer has really thought about the market they are selling it to, and the standards that are expected from purchasers of this type of kit.
Much as I was impressed with the package so far, as ever the proof is in the pudding, and it is here I have a very slight niggle that may not be entirely appropriate to all users of this item. I would have liked the clip that the lens screws into to have been a little longer in arm length to allow a bit more flexibility between phone models, as it appears to have been designed more with iPhone in mind, or certainly phones that have the camera quite close to the edge of the case, a shame as they had obviously made efforts to have a large aperture to accommodate fluctuations in lens size of different models of phone. I personally tested this on three different phones, a Nokia Lumia 930, Nokia Lumia 1020 and a Motorola Razor…and it fitted none of these perfectly which was a real shame! in fact it would not fit the Lumia 1020 at all because it has a slight bulge where the 42mp shooter is housed, which is a real shame as this is my goto mobile for photography purposes. The other two phones where only slightly out, but cast a dark area to the right hand edge of taken images.
Although hindered by the limitations of ‘not quite fitting’ from above, I was still able to take enough test photo’s to glean enough of an opinion as to the quality of this lens. Once again I was very impressed at what the manufacturer has managed to achieve, providing a wonderful clarity to images and extending the range limitations of a phone camera. Just as with a real camera lens this item will not improve the image quality of your phone camera, but offers a wider flexibility to your mobile photography.
To sum up, this is a wonderful, well packaged and produced product, that is a perfect companion to increase the options you have with your mobile photography endeavours. The niggles I had with the product were in no way a reflection on the quality of the product, but more as a cautionary note as to the compatibly with all mobile phones….overall as a product, highly recommended.
Ultra Slim External USB 3.0 CD / DVD Burner
The optical drive arrived in a non-branded plain but perfectly functional cardboard box, which I personally thought was a missed trick for advertising purposes and must confess to initially being a little concerned as to what the quality of the item would be like considering how little care was taken with the packaging. Any concerns were quickly diminished as I removed the wonderfully slim drive that has an aluminium / brushed metal appearance, fitting well on any desk alongside most technology you may find in such a place. Included in the box is a small instruction leaflet that has extensive FAQ for any trouble shooting if needed.
Being a ‘Plug & Play’ item no set up is required aside from finding a spare USB 3.0 slot on your computer or laptop. I did find that Windows 10 took a little while to find the drive, but assume this was just down to installation of the correct drivers, but once found had no problems, managing to successfully install music and games to my laptop with ease. I had a few problems with being able to burn to this drive, but after a bit of playing it was attributed it to my burning software wanting to default to my laptop’s internal drive. After which I successfully managed to burn some test files using this drive in quiet and speedy fashion.
Just as a little side note, although stated as incompatible with tablets by the manufacturer, I thought I would test on my Microsoft Surface out of curiosity. The tablet recognised the drive quicker than Windows 10 managed to and I was able to play music and extract files from burned disks to the tablet, the only limitation being unable to use it to burn disks, but this comes down to app availability to do this this task rather than the drive itself, but was a welcome additional usefulness.
To sum up, this item is competitively priced and a very functional piece of kit that sits nicely with most tech that it will be working alongside, it’s slim and diminutive form factor makes it ideal to be used on the move, slipping easily into most laptop bags and as I have found my tablet also which has no optical drive at all. My only real criticism is of the lacklustre and very plain packaging, but at the end of the day that is no big issue when the item itself is of such good calibre.
Overall I would recommend this item to anyone looking for a fast, attractive and well priced external optical drive / burner.
Mpow Streambot Z – In Car Wireless Bluetooth Transmitter
Upon receiving this item for review I was unsure exactly what to expect for a number of reasons, mainly due to not really being aware of this type of device before (as not really needed) and how well it would work in a real world setting as many products don’t function as well as described by the manufacturer. The ‘Streambot Z’ arrived well packaged in the usual Mpow minimalist box and artwork, but is functional and entirely appropriate for the item it is housing.
On opening the package you are greeted with the Streambot in a secure plastic inner and a small but informative instruction leaflet which is a must if you have never used this type of product before. I was initially a little concerned over the size of the Streambot, thinking that I maybe obtrusive sticking out within the car’s centre console, though these fears were allayed once I had the device in situ within the car. After a short scan over the instructions I had this set up and working surprisingly quickly, and must confess to being amazed at just how well this works.
To sum up, this is a very impressive piece of kit that does exactly as it sets out to with absolute ease, although maybe not geared towards owners of newer cars with build in Bluetooth, but for anyone that wants to add Bluetooth functionality to an older car with the befits it brings, then I would not hesitate to recommend this product.
As you can see I had a lot of fun with this trio of items and would certainly be happy to point anyone in the direction of Mpow if in the market for a wide cross section of technological needs. Links to all the featured products can be found below, along with Mpow’s own website.