Turtle Beach Stealth 600 Xbox Gaming Headset Review

What’s up TR fans and welcome back for another headset review with Technology Reviews! When I started this blog a year ago, I started it with a review of my Scullcandy headphones, but since then, I didn’t publish any more headphone reviews. That changes today with this review of the Turtle Beach Stealth 600 Xbox Gaming Headset! This is going to be one of the last reviews I’m going to publish for a while because I’m going to be bringing you a few other technology stories based on stuff that’s been announced recently and ones that might help us deal with circumstances of this year (I know, 2020 sucks), and I’m very excited to bring this all to you! However, this will be one of the only ones getting a video on YouTube, which I will get round to updating again soon!

So now, let’s get into this review!

The Turtle Beach Stealth 600 is a wireless gaming headset for Xbox, which I’ve been using each time I’ve been gaming on Xbox this year. Rated “One of the best wireless headsets you can use on Xbox One,” by WIRED, it has full surround sound and superhuman hearing, which really impresses me as far as Audio goes. The one I have is for Xbox since that’s my preferred console platform from the accessibility point and compatible with PC, but there’s also ones you can get for the PlayStation and Nintendo Switch.

Xbox Wireless provides you with a best-in-class wireless gaming audio experience on Xbox One, by letting you connect your STEALTH 600 gaming headset directly to your console without an adapter, the same way you’d connect your xbox wireless controller. Xbox Wireless automatically configures the headset’s connection, so you just have to turn it on and start playing!

Glasses friendly with an all-day 15 hour battery, as someone who uses glasses depending on how much text is in a game and depending on where I’m playing, you won’t feel like they get in the way.

It also has a microphone.

When we get into the box, you’ll see your literature, and the headset itself will be in the green packaging. I like how the packaging, itself, shows off the Xbox colours, and the Turtle Beach engraving, but other than that, they also seemed easy to get out.

So what do I think about the Turtle Beach Stealth 600 overall? The audio on it is good, and the battery lets you enjoy hours of wireless audio fun. Most of my gaming at the minute is single player _ so I can’t comment much on how well the microphone works _ but I might be able to comment more on it in future if I get more into multiplayer. The only thing I’d like to say from the Accessibility view point _ like I said in my Skullcandy review _ is about the idea of voice activated headphones / headsets. There’s been times when I’ve turned the headset on that the volume is completely down, and voice activation would just allow me _ as someone who can only use her head _ to turn them up without having to ask someone to turn the volume up for me. But other than that, I love them.

Problems with Marvel Avengers Game: Accessible Game Review.1

Problems with Marvel Avengers: Accessible Game Review Part 1, now on YouTube. If you enjoy this video and would like to see more, please subscribe to Phoebs Does Technology Reviews!

I’ve been looking forward to the new Marvel Avengers game for a few months, ever since I began getting into the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies this Summer, and found I absolutely loved them. The game is available on Playstation and Xbox, and after my preorder of the game failed because I ran out of money ordering other things, I ordered an Xbox version of it shortly after it’s release date last week, along with the steelbook.

I didn’t get a chance to play it when it first arrived _ having had a lot of previous engagements _ but because I wanted to do some research for a blog that will be out on here tomorrow, I put it in and installed the game last night after work. I remained excited about it while it loaded _ having seen a few clips and photos of it in previous days _ and as is often the case when a game first loads _ found I was able to use the main controls. However, the problem then arose when I got to the laser tag bit, when I found that I was able to Aim in with Lt on my Xbox Adaptive Controller, but that I would have to hold it down while turning round, and then shoot with Rt.

I find it difficult to hold a button down for a long time while doing something else, which is why Toggle Options are so important to me. In most shooter games, new ones have included Accessibility Options like Toggle Aim _ meaning someone like myself could just hit Lt (or whatever button that game has for Aim) once to let us aim on an object, then move round, and to just shoot when we’re ready.

After discovering the problem, I paused the game, and started looking through Settings. Most of the settings the game had were for subtitles, volume, and ones that would help with colour blindness and regular blindness, but when I went over to controller, there was nothing other than showing the controller layout, but even when I went to Gameplay Options, there was nothing. Seeing this, I then decided to try and see what the Latchbox would be like with it, and set it up to work with Lt. When everything was set up, I placed the switch by my head, and hit it to see if it would work. Basically, the light to indicate it was toggled on came on, but hitting it did nothing.

The reason I include Accessible Game Review.1 in the title of this blog is because I still want to play this game, and I would hate to give it a bad rap overall, based only on accessibility options, cuz if the right Toggle Options were added as soon as possible, I could give the game the proper game review it deserves. Having options like subtitles, text size, and options for blindness and colour blindness is brill, but if you can’t invite everyone to play together with the options that are better for them, then do you really want your game to be widely played?

I truly hope Crystal Dynamics and SquareEnix _ the companies that developed Marvel Avengers _ can introduce Toggle Options to the game soon, because otherwise it shows ableism towards one part of the disabled community!

Experiments with Adaptive Gaming: How Much Easier Does a Manfrotto Arm Make it to Press More Than One Button at the One Time?

Thanks to everyone who’s been viewing and enjoying all my recent blogs, vlogs and podcasts, even the unexpected blog and vlog from last night. More will be following on all three platforms this weekend and next, then for a few weekends then I will be focusing on getting more out on the blog and podcasts, at least until I can get a few more reviews out there and so I can bring forward some other stuff.

But in this blog _ which is actually planned _ I’m bringing you the last of my Experiments with Adaptive Gaming blogs, for now. If there’s any other bits of equipment you think I should think about trying out, please reach out to me over social media. Someone told me last week how they don’t like seeing the social media places I have on the top of the blog, but if you’d like to follow them, they’re in a couple of my previous blogs, and I mention them in my YouTube videos and podcasts, so if you’d like to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Soundcloud, or follow Technology Reviews on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to the Phoebs Does Technology Reviews YouTube Channel, all the information will be there.

Like the other Experiments with Adaptive Gaming blogs I’ve done, the Manfrotto arm _ and most of the other equipment you use with it _ was loaned to me by Special Effect, a UK charity helping to get disabled people of all ages back into gaming. The Xbox Elite Controller, the Xbox Adaptive Controller, and the yellow switch are the only bits of equipment I actually own.

As the gaming world gets bigger, and the controls in games get even more compiled, it becomes a lot harder for people with disabilities to play games. Many games require you to hold two or more buttons down at the one time, and although Toggle Options have been introduced to help with holding Lt down to act as Accelerate in Racing games, or to help with Aim in Shooters, there are still many games when you need to press one button for jumping, while you move forward with either the left or right stick (depending on what stick you’ve customised the sticks on your controller to act as your main).

This can obviously be difficult for people who can’t jump around their controller quick enough to do, and so this is another option for people to use.

The Arm I’ve been loaned is the Manfrotto Variable Friction Mounting arm _ which costs £114 _ and as well as this, you will need a small triangular plate _ costing £20 _ and a Super Clamp with Stud _ which costs £31. There are cheaper Manfrotto arms to consider on Amazon, and this blog will be updated in future if I find out they do the same thing.

You can stick any bit of gaming equipment to the Manfrotto arm that suits you, with velcro working with lighter bits of equipment like switches, and Dual Lock working with controllers or joysticks. You can then place the arm near any part of your body that you want to use it with, but for me, I found it easier placing it by my head, and using my eyebrow to click any time I wanted to use the switch.

As usual, I just put the switch I wanted to use into the 3mm jacks at the back of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, so your equipments attached, depending on what it is you can figure out where it goes on the controller.

So that I could just play around with it without feeling bad for dying, I tried it out with Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy _ a game I only tried once when I first got it with the Xbox One S for Christmas 2018 _ and hadn’t tried it again. But with the Manfrotto Variable Friction Mounting arm, I was able to play a lot easier. The clip below shows this.

Playing Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy with Your Head and Mouth Using the Xbox Elite Series 2, XAC and Manfrotto Arm with Switches.

Overall, I would say the Manfrotto Variable Friction Mounting arm is good, but it’s price gives it a disadvantage regarding class, because what percentage of disabled people come from high-earning households? I would like to order one so I can play other games with it, like Assassin’s Creed, but yeah, the price makes it the most expensive of the equipment I’ve tried _ without adding in the add-ons.

Experiments with Adaptive Gaming: How Much Easier Do Latchboxes Make it to Play Racing Games (Xbox)?

Experiments with Adaptive Gaming: How Much Easier do Latchboxes Make it to Play Racing Games (Xbox) now on YouTube! If you like it, make sure to subscribe to Phoebs Does Technology Reviews on YouTube, where you’ll get tech reviews, game reviews, top 10s, opinion pieces and more uploaded a couple of times a month!

Hi guys and welcome back to Technology Reviews, where today, I am posting another of my Experiments with Adaptive Gaming blogs, on how much easier latchboxes make it to play racing games. But first of all a massive apology for not posting this in the last few weeks like I was supposed to. I’ve recently started volunteer work as a Lead Reporter for Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Change Makers programme _ who I will be with until next year _ and the training we were doing this week meant I just couldn’t find the time. But also thanks to everyone who has been checking out my YouTube videos. Let’s see if we can keep this growing!

But as usual, before we get into this blog, here’s where you can follow me, Phoebs Lyle, on social media, and where you can also follow all the links I have for Technology Reviews! So if you like what you see here and you would like to see more about assistive and accessible technologies, as well as accessible game reviews, subscription platform reviews, opinion pieces and more _ you can do so by following this blog, technologyreviews.co.uk, and subscribing to the YouTube Channel, Phoebs Does Technology Reviews _ both of which are being updated most Sundays in a month! If you’d like to follow my personal Twitter, it is @Phoebslyle, and if you’d like to follow Technology Reviews on Twitter, it is @TechReviewsuk_. I’m also on Instagram, where you can follow at: therealphoebslyle, and Technology Reviews is also on there at: technologyreviewsuk! Lastly, I am also trying to set up a Podcast for Technology Reviews _ the Technology Reviews Accessible Technology Podcast _ which you can find by searching for Phoebs Lyle on Soundcloud _ and you can also like the Facebook page, Technology Reviews, where I am starting to share videos, photos and all these blogs _ well, at least through Instagram to Facebook.

But now, let’s get into this blog!

The Latchbox I’m talking about in this blog was another bit of the equipment loaned to me by the UK charity _ Special Effect _ which is a charity getting disabled people back into gaming. Although I’m using it on my Xbox One S to play racing games and others like Red Dead Redemption 2, there are other systems which can use it _ I think Playstation and Nintendo both support it _ and this particular one is by a website called OneSwitch. It costs £35 and you will have to email to check availability, also paying for your shipping.

When I originally asked to try the Latchbox out, my main intentions were to try it out with racing games, and not to try it with others that don’t have Latching options built in, although I’ve since tried it with Red Dead Redemption. (If anyone reading this doesn’t know what Latching options are, they are basically the ability to hold down a button once to carry out a particular action, instead of having to hold it down for a long time, which many disabled people _ including myself _ might find difficult. Many new games come with these options already built in, but there’s even been some released in the last few years and older games that don’t have these options _ so a Latchbox is one of the bits of equipment you would order for those games that don’t). When playing racing games, I have to play with switches behind my head for excelerate and break, while moving the right analog stick to steer (I’ve tried other options but they’re just too uncomfortable).

But thinking primarily about a using a Latchbox as a way of overcoming the restriction of not being able to play racing games, I’d say it’s not the latchbox that is the actual problem, but instead it’s the way racing games are designed and how they need to look further into Accessibility as a whole _ and talk to more people _ so they can truly include other accessibility options that could make gaming truly inclusive. Something I would advise is if developers of racers could include an Accessibility option like: Lift Finger to Break, which for me would translate to lift head to break, and which would automatically go into the RT, R2 or Zr button on either Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo. This is something I’m thinking of talking about on another blog which I’m going to try writing soon, regarding accessibility options that would truly make gaming open to everyone, because although developers at Playground games behind the Forza series have become brilliant with their accessibility options in recent years _ both Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Motorsport being great examples _ they _ and other developers out there _ could do more to make their options more accessible!

But since this blog is about the need for a Latchbox and not to go on a rant about racing games _ although my title doesn’t mention them _ I’ll look at some games a Latchbox could be useful for.

A game I’ve mentioned already but haven’t been able to give my thoughts on yet, is Red Dead Redemption 2. Despite a slow start _ which would be my only bit of criticism because the amount I can hold the sticks down is still my only problem _ knowing I’ll be able to play it using a Latchbox as my option for aiming leaves me wanting to keep trying it until I get to that bit.

So overall, I would say a Latchbox is a good bit of equipment to have, but it’s the people behind making games that need to make them more accessible. If you can’t include latching in your game, please make sure you’re game has other options to make them more accessible! For the past few months, I’ve felt like it’s easier to try Latching in shooter games instead of racing _ even though I’m a fan of both!

Latchboxes can plug into the USB port on the Xbox Adaptive Controller, with your chosen switch plugged into the In option.

Experiments with Adaptive Gaming: How Much Easier Do Velcro Trays and Clamps Make It To Game?

Experiments with Adaptive Gaming: How Much Easier Do Velcro Trays and Clamps Make It To Game, now on YouTube! To view, search for Phoebs Does Technology Reviews, and make sure to like, comment and subscribe!

Thanks to everyone who’s viewed my last blog! When writing it, I honestly didn’t imagine it would get as many views as it has, so thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to read it and to share it!

As mentioned in the tweet I sent out after, I’m going to be spend much of the coming days blogging more about accessible gaming solutions, and as you can see in this title, this is something I’m continuing now.

At the minute, I’ve been loaned accessible gaming equipment by Special Effect _ which is a UK charity that helps people with disabilities get back into video games, and which I have massive respect for. Some of the equipment I’m trying is to help me hold the controller _ something that I, and a lot of other gamers, have difficulty with, especially if you can do everything in front of the controller but not at the back, and if you can’t physically hold it yourself.

But before I get started, here’s another reminder of where you can follow me on social media. You can follow my personal Twitter at: @Phoebslyle on Twitter, and you can also follow Technology Reviews at: @TechReviewsuk_. I am also on Instagram at: therealphoebslyle, and if you want to follow Technology Reviews, it’s: technologyreviewsuk. I’m also trying to set up a Podcast for Technology Reviews called the Accessible Technology Podcast where you can listen to previous episodes by searching for Phoebs Lyle and which I should be able to update soon. You can also subscribe to the YouTube Channel which has been updated to Phoebs Does Technology Reviews and which I will get round to updating soon (I had to double check I would be able to upload this today, and I was going to film the other week but then I had to take a week off all work last week because my Aunt sadly died). But as well as all the other places you can find me, you can also like the Facebook Page which is Technology Reviews, and which all these blog posts share to. In the next few weeks, I will hopefully have more of my other content sharing to the Facebook Page as well.

But now, let’s get into this accessible gaming solution blog.

So yes, I’ve been loaned this equipment I’m reviewing today by Special Effect, but it is actually sold by Inclusive Technology, and developed by a company called Maxess. Inclusive sell a range of accessible technology for all different abilities, including what we’re reviewing today, the Maxess Switch Tray and the Maxess Medium Switch Mount.

Developed in partnership with therapists and switch users, the Maxess Switch Tray enables switches to be securely positioned and moved around in any way that might be most efficient for the switch user. Cushioned for comfort, the switch tray holds switches and mounts securely in control, making it ideal for people facing many situations. There are 3 sizes of trays available _ the Maxess Switch Tray 540mm x 290mm, the 350mm x 350mm, and the 240mm x 350mm.

Many switch owners find it easier to hit a switch if a switch is at an angle, which is what the Maxess switch mounts make possible. Like the switch trays, they’re available in a small, medium and large size. Double sided with velcro, they give two alternative mounting positions of 55° and 85° _ depending on what side is easier for the user _ and stick to the tray. But you don’t just have to stick switches to the mount, because I use it to use my Xbox Elite Controller, with the tray holding my Adaptive Controller and any other switches. I really like the feel of the Elite when mounted because it doesn’t move around as much as it would when I would mount it against a box it _ where it would stay for a bit but then fall. But be aware that you might need to stick pieces of velcro to the handles of the controller if you have similar problems holding it and you’re using the tray and clamp for that, because the controller can still slip depending on how much pressure you’re using and how long you’ve been using it. You don’t want the controller to slip slowly away from you on those long gaming days.

The Maxess Switch tray can be bought for between £30-£40 depending on what size you get and the Switch mount can be bought for between £16-£21, again depending on the size. But overall, I’m happy with what you can use it for.

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2: How Accessible is It?

Make sure to view this video and like, comment and subscribe to Phoebs Does Technology Reviews on YouTube.

Welcome back guys to Technology Reviews, and today I will be reviewing the Xbox Elite Controller Series 2! This is the latest update of xbox controllers in Xbox’s Elite range, working on Xbox One and other consoles, including the upcoming Series X, and which was voted the best of E3 2019 by Hardware/Peripheral when it was released late last year! Although I needed help getting it set up to work with co-pilot which took a few months because as always I can’t be bothered using my brain (I’m being sarcastic guys _ disabled people do have a sense of humour) I got it set up a few months ago, and have had an easy enough time with it since. I won’t be talking about the set up in this review though, but if you want, I could do a separate blog on it in the future.

But before I start this review here’s a reminder of where you can follow me on social media. You can follow me on Twitter at @Phoebslyle and you can follow this blog on Twitter at @TechReviewsUK_. You can also follow me on Instagram at: therealphoebslyle, where if you also want to follow Technology Reviews it is: technologyreviewsuk, and you can also follow me on Soundcloud at: Phoebs Lyle, where I’m trying to set up a podcast.

But now let’s get in to my review of the Xbox Elite Controller Series 2.

The first thing you see when you get the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 is the picture of the controller itself on the front, as well as the black handle on top of the box for opening it. As we head round the back, you see a couple more details, and at the back there’s two diagrams _ one for the limitless customisation you have on the front of the controller, and another diagram showing the durable components, along with more information, including some about the rechargeable long life battery that extends your gameplay. All this information is available on the xbox website, and in many different languages at the back.

When you open the box, the first thing you’ll see is the case _ which in itself is important because you can charge your controller in it _ then when you open that, you get your controller. (We’ll have a closer look at the controller later). Under the controller, you’ll see all the different thumbstick and d-pad options you have, and this is something I find very helpful because when I discovered I couldn’t use the circular d-pad already on your controller when it arrives, we were able to change it to the included magnetic original d-pad which I can use fine.

Different from the original Xbox Elite Controller, this one has 3 profiles you can use to customise your gameplay whatever way you like _ first introduced with the Xbox Adaptive Controller which is a controller hub for people with disabilities. Some other features you have are the rubberised grips going round the back and front, whereas before it was only around the back, an included key, which let’s you adjust the stiffness of the sticks, and most of all it has an internal battery and a long battery life. On the back, you still have your triggers and bumpers, and these triggers can be customised whether you want to be able to hold them down completely, hold them down half way, or just tap them. But as I game only using the front of the controller in co-pilot with the adaptive controller because I use my head and a chopstick in my mouth, I can’t really talk about the back controls in detail. Saying this, depending on if you can still use your hands and fingers and how much control you have, there is a chance you could still use this controller.

Also in the case _ as already hinted to _ is a charger brick… or clamp. If you set the charger clamp the right way and plug a usb into it before putting your controller on it, it charges like that, but you could also put the controller directly on the clamp, close the case and stretch a usb-c through the case to charge it. Alternatively if you want to still game while your controller is charging, you can plug it directly into your xbox console, or as I discovered a few weeks ago, if you’re sitting near a plug, still want to game and can’t move for any reason (say you’re a disabled gamer and it would be difficult to move), it still charges and works if you plug a USB into your controller and one into the nearest plug. Most days when I game at the minute I’m in one of the arm chairs at my house, so that’s easier for me.

Most of your customisations you do electronically in the Xbox Accessories app, e.g if you want to use the swap sticks function _ possible with the Elite Controller by swapping over your axis _ or if there’s any more button remapping you want to do. All your customisations will then show up in gameplay, which for me makes it easier because I play primarily using the right stick. The only bit of improvement I think Xbox could possibly add to their customisation options though is having an option for the stick clicks as that is something I find difficult.

So how accessible is the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2? For those with physical disabilities who are still able to press and hold, it might be accessible enough. Some of the buttons are slippery so they can be hard to hold on to, but like other accessories, it depends on what you can do. Although I can’t use the back buttons, I like how much you can edit them _ good for some people _ but my favourite features has to be how you can change your d-pad to whichever one’s easier, among others.

Selling for around £180, the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 can be bought at any Microsoft store, Amazon store, game store, or at other shops.

Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation Review

Hi everyone and welcome back to Technology Reviews! I hope you’re all doing well, and that you and everyone you know are coping alright amidst this current crisis!

Back when I did my Christmas blog last year about what I got for Christmas, I mentioned that among my presents was the Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation. I also mentioned that I would be writing reviews of everything I got, but since then, I’ve had to work on background work for some stuff I’m doing when not blogging, so apologies for this coming so late.

But before I get into this, let me remind you of everywhere you can follow me. If you want to follow my personal Twitter account, that is @Phoebslyle, and if you want to follow my personal Instagram, it is: @therealphoebslyle. You can also follow Technology Reviews, and if you want to do that, the Twitter is @TechReviewsuk_, the Instagram is @technologyreviewsuk, and you can also like the Facebook page, Technology Reviews. As well as that you can also subscribe to the YouTube Channel, Technology Reviews, and follow me at Phoebs Lyle on Soundcloud, where I now post a Podcast.

But now, let’s get straight into this review!

The Amazon Echo Dot 3rd generation is the latest among Amazon Smart Speakers, and one of the cheaper models on market at the minute. Now available with a fabric design and improved speaker, it has a richer and louder sound, letting you pair it with other compatible Echo devices around your home, and share music all around!

Ready to help, Alexa is ready to play songs, answers questions, read the news, check the weather, control compatible smart home devices, set alarms, and more!!! You can voice control your smart home by using her to turn on your smart lights, to adjust your thermostat, lock doors, etc, and even play games which you can do by searching through the thousands of skills on the Alexa app. This is something I find very helpful, because I’ve been able to set Alexa up to remind me about taking my medication each day, but I think the voice control has to be improved a wee bit as it is still difficult for Alexa to understand me at times with the sound of my ventilator, and I often have to try multiple times.

Now coming with the ability to let you connect with others, you can call almost hands free from UK mobile and residential numbers (although this feature is only available in the uk at the time of writing this). With the Announcement option now added, you can also tell the other people in your household that you need something without even leaving the room, or drop in on them if they’ve got any compatible device.

Designed to protect your privacy, the Echo Dot 3 is built with multiple layers of privacy protection and control, including a Microphone Off button that electronically disconnects the microphones. You can also do this in the settings in your Alexa app, but I won’t get in to the settings in this blog, but I might do it in a different one.

You can also use Alexa to play soundtracks and playlists on Amazon and Apple Music, Spotify, TuneIn, BBC Radio, Downtown etc.

So what do I think about the Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation so far? I think the speaker is a lot better than the first generation, and even – although I didn’t have one – the 2nd – and I can hear it from long distances away, so I don’t think you would need to buy any other speakers unless that’s something you really think you want to do. The new fabric design is also very nice, and I find myself most of the time, if not playing music, listening to radio or enjoying any of the other features, just playing games. I really like the quizzes! But on a not so good note, I think the voice control still needs to be improved so it can recognise people who have a quieter voice or are talking with air in the background, as that would make it even more accessible. But other than that, I think it’s great!

Selling for £49.99 but on sale at the minute and at various other times of the year, the Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation is available in Charcoal Fabric (black), Heather Grey Fabric (Grey), Plum Fabric (Pink), and there is now a new Sandstone Fabric as well.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Belated Birthday Blog: Happy 22nd to Me / VR City Review

Hi guys and welcome back to Technology Reviews! First of all, thanks to everyone who’s read my post https://technologyreviews.co.uk/2020/01/31/technology-through-the-years-how-technology-has-changed-2009-2019-2020/. Before writing it, I never expected it to get as many views as it has, so I’d like to thank you a lot.

Since getting that post out, I’ve also managed to set up a few more social medias for this blog. You can still follow me on my personal Twitter account: @Phoebslyle, or on my personal Instagram account: therealphoebslyle. But if you want to follow my business Instagram for here, it is: technologyreviewsuk, and the Twitter is @TechReviewsUK_. You may have also seen I’ve been starting work on a new Podcast for Technology Reviews, which you can find by searching for Phoebs Lyle on Soundcloud.

So if you’ve been keeping an eye on my personal Twitter account, you’ll have seen that on 8th January, I celebrated my 22nd birthday. As well as the Turtle Beach headset _ which was featured in my Christmas blog but was actually meant to be for my birthday _ I got a lot of other stuff, as well as a new Blue Snowball ICE to replace the one I thought I lost but only ended having lost the cable _ which I will review as soon as I get through a whole lot of other ones.

I got up at half ten, and then got a lift up to VR City _ where I was booked in for 12 o, clock. I had a brilliant time, and after I finished, I got a Subway for lunch, before coming back home for 4. My full thoughts on my day at VR City are below.

VR City is a Virtual Reality arcade at Cityside, Northern Ireland _ offering Single and Multiplayer games, and doing experiences for ages 7+. You have a choice of 8 VR Stations _ 4 VR machines _ including a VR futuristic bike; Spacepods; a shotgun and a race car _ or 4 VR Booths _ and over 280 games! They have accessibility options available, and great wheelchair access, as well as sensory options. But I think there’s a good amount of accessibility they still need to improve on.

You get a lot of different types of games, but how accessible these are, at the minute, depends on your level of disability. I spent most of my time playing the Roller Coaster games, which you get access to by the Spacepods. They include small and big Roller Coasters, and even a Ghost Train one where various ghouls jump up at your face, but what I liked about them is how I was able to control them by moving my head. These made them feel more realistic and more creepier.

Later on, I got to try a Shooter one, but I didn’t enjoy it as much, as there was no way for me to control it using accessible controls. This is where I feel that Virtual Reality in general needs to try harder in including disabled people, which should be becoming easier with the rise in popularity of accessible controllers. First of all, you need to install a hoist so that wheelchair dependent people can get from their chairs to whichever VR Machine _ even if it’s not an overhead one, but one on wheels _ which I would prefer. But you also need to research into accessible controls for those who come in and need accessibility options, because not every wheelchair dependent person can play games in the same way as their able bodied peers. Such options could include voice control, head controls, or even accessible switches, but I am more than happy to give advice on what all is out there and what would be easier.

Nonetheless, I was able to play a large variety of games for when I was there, and the staff were very, very nice. But with just a few more adjustments, it could be even better.

Either way, I enjoyed my time, and overall, I will give VR CityX ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

Technology Through the Years: How Technology Has Changed 2009-2019/2020

Hi guys and welcome back to Technology Reviews! Before I get started, I’d like to explain some things going on with the updates, and what the future of this blog will be like. So before and after Christmas, I found I was worrying too much about meeting a Thursday and Friday deadline, and this meant I wasn’t able to brainstorm new ideas or fully research and take in everything which I was reviewing. And as well as this, I’ve had other commitments as far as writing goes. So for now, I’m just blogging when I feel I have something new _ but my usual reviews of accessible technology and top most accessible games and apps will still be coming. So after this blog, I will send out a out one reviewing what I did for my 22nd birthday on 8th January, but I don’t know when I will get anything out after.

But before anything else let’s get in to this blog.

It may not seem like it, but Technology has changed in a lot of ways over the years, and thanks to this, it is now an every day part of our lives. New inventions seem to be coming out every year, and with a lot of more smart technologies, they all seem to be becoming accessible. But as much as it’s interesting to look into the future, it is also interesting to look back on years past, and see how the technology of our past has shaped what we have now. So _ even though this New Year blog is a few weeks late _ I will look at technology we had in 2009, and what we had/have in 2019/20.

2009

Netbooks

These tiny, low-priced, lower power PCs were the tech product story of 2009, but also a mixed blessing for PC makers and consumers. While hardware manufacturers were thrilled to have a hit on their hands, the computers generally had razor-thin profit margins, and the consumers who bought these laptops got cheap, super light computers that frequently run old operating systems, lack optical drives, and are far slower than they’d otherwise expect on a desktop or full sized laptop.

Phones that Navigate

In 2009, GPS companies were becoming weary of the mobile phone. That year, the iPhone became capable of handling turn-by-turn auto navigation programs, and Google released free turn-by-turn navigation for Androids. This meant phones could easily update their maps and databases over the internet _ not great news for GPS companies. Now, in 2020, we can travel to places using GPS apps on our phones, and it is funny thinking of the arguments this brought up now.

3D Cinema

Though digital 3D movies had been around for a couple of years at the time, its widespread adoption had been knocked back by a stalemate: Studios were reluctant to invest in big-budget 3D movies that would only play on a number of screens, and without a balanced stream of 3D movies, cinema-owners were reluctant to install such screens.

App Store

Although the App Store was originally released in 2008, by 2009 it had a hundred-thousand apps available for download. Taking inspiration from Apple’s success, Android _ as well as BlackBerry and Palm _ took to developing their own app stores, which would all get up over the following months and years.

Android in Everything

The Android phone first came out in 2008, and it spent 2009 as a niche platform tied to a single phone and carrier. Then, at some other point in 2009, it exploded across manufacturers and carriers, and soon began popping in to non-phone devices, such as the Barnes & Noble Nook e-book reader, and a tablet made by Archos.

2010

iPad and Other Members of Tablet Revolution

It may not seem like it’s now 10 years ago, but the 2010 tech scene started with the then-new, iPad. For web browsing, ebook reading, games and office work, the iPad automatically had manufacturers trying to prove they could beat it with their own prototypes _ in a way that it isn’t surprising now that the iPad has so many models.

iPhone 4

The iPhone may only have been 3 years old in 2010, but it was already the smartphone trendsetter that everyone wanted to beat. When the fourth model arrived, the big features were the Selfie camera and Retina Screen, but it was still very small. It stayed big until the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6 _ which were available in optional colours _ but it’s still good to look back on.

Phone Wars

Yes, the iPhone, in most cases, was running ahead, but it was competing against Android phones like the Droid II, the Droid X, and the Samsung Galaxy S _ to name but a few _ while the BlackBerry was also trying to get on the touchscreen stage. The iPhone and Samsung also had to compete against the Windows phone _ launched by Microsoft _ and there’s now many other phones who have joined the stage _ so everything’s getting tighter.

3D and Smart TVs

With the rise in popularity of 3D movies, it was obvious the next step would be to add it into TVs. But not only was 3D added to TVs. This was also when television developers looked to adding in the web and other streaming services into their products. In 2007, Apple released the Apple TV, but it mostly languished until it was rebooted with a major price out. In addition with Netflix, it already let people buy tv shows for cheap, and Google began promoting a similar system, with work starting on the Google TV.

The Streaming Revolution is Born

In 2010, people were just being introduced to services like Netflix, but the usual home was still getting used to the idea of new Blue-Ray DVDs, or other DVDs they had hiding around. But as the idea of subscribing for a mix of movies got bigger _ instead of having to go out and buy or rent a DVD _ we slowly got to where we are now, when very few people use DVDs anymore.

Xbox Kinect and PS MOVE

With the launch of the popular Nintendo Wii in 2006 _ using motion sensor controllers instead of a handheld one _ Microsoft and Sony were left to come up with their own alternatives. Although I never had one _ due to the controller not being accessible _ the Kinect was a camera add on for the Xbox that saw a player’s movements and converted their gestures and running-in-place movements into the game. The PS Move, meanwhile, consisted of two motion control wands and an accompanying motion sensor camera.

Social Media on Smartphone

Scrolling through your Facebook feed or tweeting a selfie used to be incredibly difficult in 2010. Those social platforms were still largely experiences designed for your PC. With the iPhone and Android universes still comparatively small, the mobile experience for Facebook and Twitter was barebones, fisted or both. This is probably why _ while Facebook had a mobile app out in 2008 _ it took years for it to get to a reasonable state on usability.

2011

Group Texting Grows in Popularity

2011 began with a handful of group texting applications becoming more mainstream _ including Beluga, which became Facebook Messenger _ and GroupMe _ which was acquired by Skype, and became Skype Messenger. Later on, WhatsApp joined the group messaging stage _ launching with a free texting element _ which stuck with its users.

Social Networks Continued to Explode

Google launched Google Plus, which grew quickly, Facebook revamped their profiles and features, and launched their iPad app, while Twitter evolved their own activities, and Instagram exploded, with millions using it to post million of photos each day. This meant people could post photos and videos on the go, instead of having to always log in on computers.

Gadgets that make social networking easier

A slew of new gadgets that made social networking and social media more easy to access from anywhere started taking place. Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Sony Tablet S and Amazon Kindle products entered the market, blurring the line between e-readers and their tablets. Beyond tablets, Apple _ in the aftermath of the loss of its founder, Steve Jobs _ saw success with the iPad Air, as well as showing hands free ways of socialising with Siri, and with the release of the iPhone 4S.

iCloud Created

2012

Pinterest becomes new social graph

By 2012, Social Media had really taken ground. People were passed the early social media giants, MySpace and Bebo, and the only early social networking site that stayed popular was video-sharing, YouTube.

Then, in the same year, Pinterest became a major traffic generator. The site quickly overtook Yahoo, Twitter and Bing, and was just behind Google and Facebook. Its format _ where you can view colourful photos of unique gift items and crafts, and share pictures with each other _ made it possible with many businesses, who could use Pinterest boards to help their sales.

Touch Screen Computers

Many companies promised touch computers would take over small businesses, influenced by the tablet revolution that had grown massively within a couple of years. Most things were done through touch technology, so it was clear the craze was becoming real. Later in 2012 we saw the Windows 8 released, along with Acer touch computers and Lenovo. I’ve never tried one, but my concern about touchscreen laptops is how you have to be able to reach your arm out, which doesn’t make them accessible for paralysed people like myself, or have other physical disabilities. However, while many businesses jumped on the touchscreen computer cart, others, like Apple, are still to do this _ and I think Apple keeping their MacBooks like this is a better plan _ though my hope for 2020 on is they start trying to get Face ID into their laptops.

Screen resolution goes through the roof

The iPad 4 with Retina display had a slim and sleek design, and was powered by a 1.4 GHz Apple A6X processor. After it was launched in 2012, it was sold to adapt to your needs with maximum performance. But the extended battery life wasn’t too much to compare it with if you used it every day, and like other screen technology of the day, the new screen size would be laughable if you compared it with today’s screens _ even the 11″ iPad Pro I have! The Google Nexus 10 tablet also used 2000 pixels, and had a bigger screen than its earlier models. That meant every image, every line of text, and every website looked more distinct, and over the next few years, they all kept getting better.

BlackBerry Died

BlackBerry had had problem for many years, and while it hoped to still have a chance to get a place in the next stage of smartphones, others like the iPhone and Samsung were still beating it. It was known as being easily breakable, with multiple bending into curves, and I don’t recall people who had it saying the hardware lasted ages. So with this, the BlackBerry slowly headed into the Abyss, and died.

2013

Second Screen Resolution

In 2013, more than 80% of smartphone and tablet owners said they used their devices while watching tv, 51% posted on social media while watching tv to connect with others who might be watching the same thing, and 24% of Facebook users posted the movies they were watching. The figures are bound to be up now, but at the time, people said this showed the second-screen had arrived but it wasn’t yet a revolution _ though, I’d say we’re nearly there now. Following a 2013 review, media companies and marketers got more aggressive and inventive in how they dealt with the second-screen, with one reporting that engagement is stronger with second-screen marketing programs than traditional online advertising.

Death of Desktop Computers

With the launch of Windows 8 came the dumping of old desktop computers. When Windows 10 came out, it had a mirror-like setup of 200 or so Surface tablets, and highlighted the lack of traditional computers running Windows 10. You could get laptops and tablets and All-in-One PCs, but although these tried to kill Desktop computers off completely, a lot of businesses, schools and some households still have them.

3D Printing

It had in fact been round a lot longer _ but with it being used in various films like Iron Man 2 _ 3D printing was becoming more mainstream. It was still young, but businesses could already create prototypes, changing how different design processes worked. With more durable materials and improved hardware and software, it became possible to manufacture products with 3D printers. This had the potential to change entire supply chains and distribution, and in a way, they have.

Flexible Devices

TVs; computers; tablets; and phones all get thinner with each release, and in 2013, we were already thinking of more flexible and foldable devices. But warnings came up everywhere of people saying companies should make sure by folding a device, it doesn’t break, and as a result, there were a lot of failed experiments. This saw the foldable devices being put on hold, and so, the first foldable devices were only out in 2018/19. But still, some companies are still in the research and developing stage, with Apple planning to release its foldable phone either this year or next year.

But to date, we already have the Galaxy Folds, as well as the more expensive foldable computers.

Embedded Technology (or technology with smarts built in)

Embedded technology may not have made it into the iPhone 5 (2013’s new Apple Phone), but traditional objects with smarts inside them was still a talking point… and happening. Back then, Geeks had to sell the idea of door handles opening by themselves, blinds closing without you having to do anything, and thermostats learning what makes you comfortable to people outside technology, yet, in 2019 and 2020, we’re now able to set these up.

Another point worth mentioning is that robots were starting to become more popular in 2013, and now we have our household machines acting like robots themselves. But as technology grew in 2013, so came problems with Data. At one point it seemed like technology was going to know everything about you, and that held way for what all happened in 2014.

2014

Wearable tech

Smart watches like Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and the Pebble Smart Watch continued to be more useful ass developers created more apps for the device. Health-tracking devices like Nike’s Fuel Brand, Jawbone Up and Fitbit Force continue to drive health technology into the mainstream _ and it’s because of this, we’ve seen a growth in a population wanting to track their heart rates. But still, Apple didn’t end up moving like this until it released the Apple Watch in 2015.

Machines in the Sky

Yes! 2014 was the year of the Drone. Although they’d started gaining attention in 2013, it took 2014 for things to get a bit more exciting. Jeff Bezos _ Amazon’s CEO _ planned to use drones to deliver packages from Amazon in 30 minutes, and in 2013, Drones were said to be able to deliver beer and pizza to your home if you live in the UK. But such good ideas did come with their problems: with customers becoming worried that their amazon order might get dropped on their head, and when a drone interrupted flights at Belfast airports.

Smarter TVs

Smart TVs grew in popularity, with more homes having the option to browse the internet, launch apps and have social interactions _ all through their TVs. Plans began for TVs in future to be controlled by Smart Home devices, which is now possible with the release of smart speakers. Thanks to the releases of these devices in 2017, we’re now able to control our TVs with voice, and we can also control them with apps on our phones.

A fight for privacy

After a year when Data could be breached in lots of ways and there was almost no way to decide what you wanted to be kept private, it was no wonder that by 2014, there was a fight for privacy. This led to the privacy settings we have when surfing the web today, which made technology a whole lot _ though not completely _ safer.

2015

Cloud/Client Computing

Saving to the cloud started in 2011, and by 2015, the convergence of cloud and mobile computing continued to promote the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device. This made working on stuff through different apps and on multiple devices easier, as a team or by yourself.

2016

3D Printing Grows

Advances in 3D printing had already enabled 3D printers to use a wide range of materials, and with the growth came more demand. Now, in 2020, jobs in 3D printing and 3D printers themselves are continuing to grow, but we’re still a long way from them being affordable enough for loads of people to be able to get them for their homes.

Advanced Machine Learning

This one I think we can agree is not one of the best technologies, but it’s worth mentioning anyhow. Machine learning is meant to be the technological way of making decisions, though it often doesn’t make the right ones. Since its release, there have been numerous attempts to fix these problems, but as things stand, it isn’t too close to get things right.

2017

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now all around us, yet if we were told about what all we have in 2009, we wouldn’t have believed it. Near enough everything around us can be automated, including apps; drones; autonomous vehicles and smart appliances, which are rumoured to help the environment. Our TVs can now get turned on with AI, and we can now have full conversations with our technology.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Virtual and Augmented Reality are 2 digital platforms _ one which makes you feel like you’re in a video game _ and the other which lets you put digital elements into a real life world, often using a phone camera. These capabilities aimed on forming a more seamless system of devices capable of orchestrating a flow of information that comes from the user.

2018

Internet of Things becomes more intelligent

It had been around and was being talked about for a few years at this point, but the Internet of Things is the place where all the every day smart devices we have live, like Smart Lights etc. More things have been added to it since smart speakers like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomePod were created, which adds to it becoming even more intelligent.

Xbox Adaptive Controller

I’ve talked about the Xbox Adaptive Controller on here before, and it is basically an Xbox controller aimed towards people with physical disabilities. Microsoft announced it around Easter 2018, before releasing it just before Christmas that year, leading to it being widely used in 2019.

2019

Internet of Things will deliver new opportunities

A number of smart devices that can connect to the internet came out in the last year, making the Internet of Things get even bigger. We can now control a number of our every-day home devices by connecting them to the internet, and more will be added through this year and beyond.

AR is Expected to overcome VR

Thanks to games like Pokemon Go and Minecraft Earth, the AR craze has quickly blown up. Augmented Reality is when you add digital elements to the real world using your phone or tablet camera, while Virtual Reality is when you put a headset over your eyes, making you feel like you’re in a game. But if AR is going to beat VR, there’s just one thing I think developers should be aware of. For me, it’s hard to play an AR game while out in my wheelchair, and while Minecraft Earth is a lot more accessible that Pokemon Go, developers still need to think how they can open AR games up to the disabled and elderly community, while also keeping us safe.

2020

While it’s still too early to tell completely what 2020’s technology stage will be like, there are a few early predictions. For starters; we’re due to see a breakout moment of AI; practical deployment of the Internet of Things; increased demand for edge computing processing; and evolution of Aerospace technologies, as well as a new era of the internet; of healthcare; of agriculture; and an evolution of autonomous driving technology. But overall, I would say my top technology moment from just over the last decade was when the Adaptive Controller was announced, as part of other adaptive devices, and to open devices up to disabled children, young adults and adults, as well as the elderly. I just hope that we can move quicker towards making everything accessible, than it took us to get to this point.

Technology Reviews Christmas Unboxing 2019

Hi guys and welcome back to Technology Reviews. I’d like to start this blog by wishing all of you a merry Christmas and happy new year, and hope you’ve all had as good a time with your families as I’ve had with mine. But in this, I am going to unbox most of the stuff I got for Christmas, which there will be reviews of in the next few weeks. But if you like what you’re seeing here, don’t forget to like, comment, and share with your family and friends, and if you haven’t done already, follow this blog.

TURTLE BEACH STEALTH 600

Turtle Beach Stealth 600 is a wireless gaming headset for Xbox, and can also connect to compatible Windows computers from Windows 10+. Officially licensed for Xbox One, it is the first headset to connect directly to the console, and delivers powerfully immersive Windows Sonic Surround Sound, increased comfort and more. You can connect your Stealth 600 gaming headset directly to your Xbox One without using a cable, in the same way your wireless controller connects to the console. Xbox Wireless automatically configures the headset’s connection, so just turn on the headset and start playing.

SEAGATE HARD DRIVE FOR XBOX ONE

The Seagate Hard Drive lets you save many of the games you got through an Xbox Live Gold membership or Game Pass to the hard drive, which plugs directly into your console. This is something I found I needed more so in the last few months as with the more games I got, I had to delete other ones when I ran out of space.

Xbox Elite Series 2

The Xbox Elite Controller is one of the newest controllers released by Xbox _ being released on November 4th 2019 _ and has now brought round a whole new type of Elite controllers. Like it’s earlier editions, the Elite Controller Series 2 is also customisable, and has interchangeable d-pads, interchangeable thumbsticks, paddles and a thumbstick adjustment tool. I promised I wasn’t going to go in to a review-styled voice, but I think it’s worth mentioning that I think the design is brilliant because _ as I said in my review of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, the d-pad on the Adaptive Controller is hard for me to press _ so if the circular d-pad turns out to be unaccessible, then I can change it to the other one. But also _ although I haven’t gamed with it yet _ I have tried using the buttons and sticks, and the sticks especially are A LOT nicer than the ones on the proper Xbox controller.

ADJUSTABLE STAND FOR ECHO DOT 3RD GENERATION

This adjustable stand is specifically designed for the Echo Dot 3rd Generation, lets music get rid of the limitation of place and makes your living room or bedroom full of wonderful music.

It fits perfectly all new Echo Dot 3rd generations, frees up counter space and eliminates long cable trouble, the hook clips are designed to lock your Echo Dot securely while not blocking any sound or even the blue light ring, and makes it easy to move around your home.

ECHO DOT 3RD GENERATION HEATHER GREY FABRIC

Amazon’s most popular smart speaker, the new Amazon Echo Dot is the newest Echo Dot in that range of smart Alexa speakers, and is now available in 3 different fabric designs. It also has an improved and louder speaker.

You can now voice control your music, and stream songs from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, TuneIn, BBC Radio and more! You can also listen to Audiobooks from Audible and play Podcasts.

Compared to the 1st and 2nd Echo Dots, the speaker on the 3rd gen is a lot better, and you can pair it with other Echo devices for shared audio across different rooms.

You can ask Alexa to do everything, from asking her to play music, answer questions, read the news, tell you the whether, setting alarms, and more. Alexa also lets you connect with others, call almost anyone hands free, including UK mobile and residential numbers (UK only), send announcements to other Echo devices in your home, and use the Alexa app and call on Skype. With dozens of skills, she is only getting smarter, and she can also control your smart home accessories.

I got a lot of other presents other than the 4 in this blog, including an Oral B electric toothbrush, a smart plug, a kindle, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniels calendar, a super drive, a cook book, 2 video games, theatre tickets, art pens and my favourite of all of them _ a smart backpack! But like I said at the start, all of my technology presents will be getting reviewed in the next few weeks, so again, I hope you’ve all had a lovely Christmas, and have a nice new year!