Joyetech Ultimo Review

I haven’t had a Joyetech tank for a while. After serving my time with the eGo One Mega when I first started vaping, I wasn’t eager to go back. I’ve never heard anything all that good about their Cubis tank. That said, there were something about the new Ultimo that made me think it was worth taking a look.

It’s a bog standard sub ohm tank. It holds 4ml of liquid and comes with a 0.5 ohm clapton, and ceramic coil. You can also get an optional RBA base or notch coil. It’s available for £24.99 from Joyetech at the time of writing this review.

Really there’s nothing much to this tank. It actually reminds me of the Nautilus Mini I first started with. So what’s so interesting about it? It’s the coils.

The ceramic coil is quite simply perfect. It fires well at 40 watts, but it sings at 80 watts. The flavour is the best I’ve tasted from a pre-made coil. I did buy a Kangertech Protank 4 based solely on the fact that there were ceramic coils available for it. The flavour was good, but the Protank 4 really wasn’t a tank I was happy using in main rotation. Whereas, the Ultimo is a dinky little ceramic treat that goes well with so many mods.

One thing I haven’t encountered before was such a little thing making me hit the limit of a mod. The fact that it’s a 0.5ohm coil, and works up to 80 watts, means that you need many volts to get it going. My Lost Vape Therion with two 18650 batteries just wouldn’t do it. It’ll go all day at 75 watts on a low resistance coil, but the ceramic coil in the Ultimo proved just too much. You need something a little more powerful like the Reuleaux RX200 to bang the full 80 watts through it. That said, you don’t need to. It works great in the 40-60 watt area.

It’s worth it. I’m 24 hours in, and the Ultimo has made it into main tank rotation. I’m even thinking of ordering a second one. Like I said, it’s basic, but the flavour is spectacular.

I feel like I should pick out a problem of some kind. It’s difficult. If I could complain about anything, it would be that I find the Ultimo make a bit too much of a whistling sound when you use it. I think it’s down to the small air flow holes, simply what happens when you try to push air through a small hole. To avoid it you’d have to make the tank bigger, but that would defeat the point of having a smaller tank. At this point, I’m just being picky for the sake of it.

The Ultimo is worth the money and is a welcome addition to any tank collection.

iOS With a Keyboard

I’ve been an iOS user for a few years now, ever since the iPad 4, and this week I finally got a Bluetooth keyboard and connected it to my iPad. I’m using it now. It’s amazing. My mind is blown enough to want to write about it.

The keyboard itself is just a little thing I found on Amazon, made by that well known electronics manufacturer, Arteck. It’s not bad for £14.99. The keys are nice and clicky, and it’s backlit, with a choice of colours. It’s a bit flimsy, I bet if I were willing to spend more money, I’d end up with something a little more solid. Of course, you can get Bluetooth keyboards in all shapes and sizes.

The part that really has me excited has nothing to do with the keyboard. It’s all about what it adds to the experience of using an iPad.

In 2013 I became a laptop user. Since before I was old enough to go to school, I’ve been a desktop computer user. It was quite a departure for me, and I spent a lot of time worried about whether or not I could cram my desktop life into a portable machine. There were no problems, especially when I got into external hard drives and USB hubs.

But as portable as laptops are, there are still different levels of portable. The 15″ MacBook Pro isn’t exactly the smallest and lightest thing you’ve ever used. Adding a keyboard to an iPad is a game changer.

True, I can’t do absolutely everything with it that I can do with my MacBook, but it’s pretty close. iOS continues to improve, and my needs as a user don’t really change. I’m writing this article with the keyboard and the iPad isn’t having the slightest problem keeping up with me. If I didn’t have to upload podcasts to various hosting services, I could probably do all of my work on a tablet.

As good as the onscreen keyboard is, it just doesn’t compare to this physical experience. It also doesn’t give me the ability to use all the keyboard shortcuts I’m used to with macOS. Highlighting text, formatting, and moving a cursor, is the experience you want it to be. Sure there have been some great strides in iOS text editing, but you just can’t beat the interface you’ve been using for your entire life.

If you do any form of long text entry with your iPad, a keyboard is a bit of a no brainier. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to finally get one. Next I need one that folds up so I can carry it around with me and use it on my iPhone.

The Therion by Lost Vape

The Therion represents my first steps into the world of premium vape mods. The mods that Lost Vape make are the BMWs of mods. The MacBook Pro, Ray Ban sunglasses, Gucci handbag of vape mods. The Therion is their latest offering and I love it.

The experience begins with the box. It’s a beautifully crafted, black box, hinged at the top. You lift the lid to reveal the mod and snazzy retractable USB cable. The mod itself is a small, easily pocketable device, made of zinc, leather, and ebony. For at least the first day, the leather smells like leather should.

It’s a dual 18650, 75W, temperature control mod, running on a DNA75 board. I’ve never used a DNA board before as they tend to come in the more expensive and complicated mods. They aren’t for beginners. Traditionally mod designers design and produce all the electronics that make your mod work. However, the DNA range of electronics are produced by a company called Evolv and then sold to mod makers. The DNA200 model is very popular in the high-end serious mods, and the DNA75 you find in the Therion is there for lower powered devices such as this.

The DNA75 really gets cooking when you connect it to your computer. Absolutely every aspect of your mod is customizable via a Windows app, and to get the most out of the Therion you’ll need to get to grips with the system. I’m used to having a mod that lets you switch between wattage and various temp control modes, but the Therion allows you to set all your own profiles for the specific tanks you own. So rather than altering settings on the mod, you do it ahead of time. For example, I have one setting for the Herakles Plus, and another for my RDA with Clapton coils.

Because the Therion is a 75W mod and has two batteries instead of the one you usually have room for, the battery life is amazing. Even running at full power you’ve got to work hard to run out of power in a day. If you do manage it, you can charge the device via USB.

As far as I can tell the temperature control is pretty good, but I’m saying that having used absolutely no equipment to actually test anything. The DNA board is clever enough to do accurate temperature control with pretty much any kind of wire. All you need to know is the TCR values for the wire you’re using, and you can get all the information you need from a website, linked to within the same app you use to set the profiles on the mod.

I really can’t find anything bad to say about the Therion. It’s simply one of the nicest, most luxurious consumer electronic devices I’ve ever used. It’s up the with the iPhone. Now I just need to get my hands on the Triade, which is the bigger DNA200 version.

The Therion retails around the £109 mark and comes in a choice of three colours of leather.

Now TV Smart Box Review

There’s a new box underneath my television and that means you get a review of it. As it goes, this one is quite a good one.

Now TV is one of the big three video subscription services in the UK, the other two being Netflix and Amazon. Now TV Provides you with the popular content from Sky and serves as an alternative to the full satellite package that we’re used to from Sky. Over the years I’ve considered giving up Sky, and now it finally happened. The ageing and noisy Sky HD box is gone, and the Now TV Smart Box is in its place.

If you’re interested in Now TV, you don’t need this box. The chances are if you’ve got a box that connects to your television, you’ve probably got something that already has a Now TV app. That might well do you, but the Smart Box has a little more to offer.

It’s actually a Freeview HD box, giving you access to a selection of free to air channels with just a television ariel. That was a feature that grabbed me. Our TV is new enough to have a Freeview tuner, but not new enough to have an HD Freeview tuner. Now I have one. Granted that the choice of HD channels is nothing compared to that of SkyHD, but for free, I can live with it.

As you turn on the box you’re presented with the last live channel you were watching, along with a selection of other featured Now TV content. What you see will depend on the package you subscribe to. There’s a choice of Entertainment, Movies, Kids, and Sports. So far the box seems to be doing a really good job of offering me content that I can watch, without constantly bombarding me with promotions of content that I’m not currently paying for. That’s a refreshing change.

The box is made in partnership with Roku, so it’s technically a Roku box, but not one you can buy as a standalone device. Consequently, there are apps, but the choice is limited. This is not the one box to rule them all. You can’t access Netflix or Amazon, even though there are Roku apps for those services. It was Sky’s choice to do that, and while it isn’t the end of the world, it does make the box a little worse than it could have been. Sky might argue that those services are competition for them, I would disagree.

You do get some applications pre-installed. There’s a catch-up TV section which includes content from BBC iPlayer, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5. You’ll also see the premium content from the Now TV packages you subscribe to. These apps are basically the same as the versions running on other platforms. You can even send YouTube videos to the big screen from your phone, just like a ChromeCast.

The Now TV Smart Box is £39.99 and provides you with live HD content, and all the good stuff from Sky, without a contract. When you do decide to pay, the cost is very low and reasonable. While I have absolutely no problem recommending this device, and really enjoy my own, you should think long and hard about how it’s going to fit into your life. Do you really need a separate box to play Now TV? If you’ve got a PS4, XBox, Apple TV, Chromecast, or Roku, attached to your TV, then you probably don’t. However, if you’ve got a TV in need of a Freeview HD upgrade, this is a no-brainer. At the price they’re charging, it’s hard to go wrong.

The end of the 100MB limit

I hope you’re old enough to remember this, not long ago there was no such thing as a smartphone. Phones were just phones. Some of them did email, kind of, and some had web browsers, kind of, but that was it. We certainly weren’t doing anything like what we do with our phones these days.

When the iPhone was released, everything changed. Suddenly we had a phone that could do some really interesting things with its data connection. Soon other handsets followed, and before we knew it, we were using our data plans faster than ever before.

This turned out to be a bit of a problem for AT&T. In the space of a day they went from having zero smartphone users on their network, to having millions of smartphone users on their network. From an engineering standpoint, nobody was ready for what happened.

In an attempt to make life easier for AT&T, Apple enforced a 100MB download limit on its phones. In the years since, apps have been able to ignore that limit. Just think how useless Netflix, Amazon Video, YouTube, or Spotify would be if they had to abide by that limit. Sadly, that doesn’t mean it’s gone.

I’m currently running the iOS 10 Beta on my phone. The word beta means that anything could change between today and the final version. However, one thing I don’t expect to change is the 100MB download limit. It’s still there.

There are generally two occasions when you’ll encounter the limit. When you’re downloading or updating apps, and when you’re trying to stream video you’ve bought from Apple. The app problem can be shrugged off easily. I’ve never had a situation while out and about that could be fixed by updating an app. That doesn’t mean it never happens, it’s just extremely rare.

On the other hand, the streaming video block is very much a problem. If I have Netflix, I can stream it right to my phone over 4G and watch lovely 1080p videos. The same can be said of Amazon Video, Google Play, YouTube, and any other app that streams video. Any other app, except for the Apple Video app. That app is limited to a 100MB download. Rubbish.

Why is that a problem? Well, it means that any video you might want to watch on your phone has to be downloaded and put onto your phone ahead of time, or you need to go looking for a wifi connection. That’s just rubbish. I don’t want to be managing the media on my phone in this day and age. It’s far better for me if all my owned video lives in a cloud service and streams when I need it to. I can’t do that with iTunes videos.

The download limit is a crap solution to a ten year old problem, that isn’t even a problem. The phone networks of today are very much prepared for the kind of use we want to get out of them. Data plans are cheaper, and include much more data than they used to. If there are any problems I can cause my network by streaming movies, then those problems can be caused by streaming those movies from Amazon, every bit as much as by streaming them from Apple. Heck, the production companies probably sent exactly the same file to both Apple, Google, and Amazon.

All this adds up to the end of me buying video from Apple. It’s infuriating, but Apple are the only ones who can do anything about it, and if iOS 10 is anything to go by, they aren’t doing anything about it soon. I keep looking at how they’ve got all nine seasons of The Office for just £29.99 right now. That’s a steal, and I won’t buy it because I know I won’t be able to watch it when I want to. I can’t download, store, and manage, nine seasons of HD video. If I buy those episodes from Amazon, I don’t have to download and manage them, so I’m buying them from Amazon. It’s more expensive given that they don’t have a sale on, but at least I can watch an episode when I’m unexpectedly waiting in my car for some reason.

I’m even growing tired of Apple’s insistence on making all their media platform specific. If you want to watch iTunes on TV then you need an Apple TV. I don’t need any other single function of the Apple TV, making it the most expensive, lowest value for money box connected to my television. I’m sure that some people at Apple have done some very complicated maths and worked out that they make more money by people buying less media, but also buying an Apple TV to play it on, than they do by making it so you can play their media anywhere. I get it, it’s one approach of many. It’s just that now they’re the only people doing it, and it’s getting on my nerves. I also have my example of how that attitude has caused me to just stop buying video from iTunes. That was just one example, but I buy a lot of video, and I haven’t bought any from Apple for months. Remove that 100MB download limit and they’ll probably win me back.

A Correction

None of you will really care about this but if I don’t admit to it, I’ll never sleep again. I got something very very wrong.

A little while ago I was having trouble with my laptop when it came to running games. There was a problem with stuttering graphics, which I put down to my Mac using the onboard graphics chip, rather than the Nvidia graphics it has. I recommended using an external monitor, which I’d decided would force the computer to use the beefier graphics processor.

For starters that stuff about using an external monitor to force the computer to use the right graphics card is total rubbish. It turns out that when you’re running Windows under BootCamp the computer can’t use anything other than the big graphics card. It’s actually something that power users complain about because it means they get even less battery life running windows than they do when they’re running OS X.

I didn’t make it up, I was just very wrong.

I have discovered what the problem was. Even though I’d given up on Windows gaming, the stuttering computer problems began to show themselves on OS X. It’s one thing if I can’t play Fallout 4, but it’s much more serious if I can’t record podcasts. After uninstalling and reinstalling most of my computer, including the operating system, I discovered the problem. I have a laptop. I have a dog. I work with my laptop on the floor. You know that blue-green fluff you get in your tummy button? Well imagine you’ve got a handful of that, and instead of being blue-green it’s actually brown-black, and it’s kind of sticky, and instead of being in your tummy button it’s actually crammed into all the air inlets in the back of your laptop. That was my life.

The moral of this story is that you should make sure your laptop vent holes are holes rather than storage for whatever crap is otherwise stuck to the underside of our furry friends.