Thursday, 17 March 2016

Zorloo Aero Review

Zorloo Aero Review

Thanks to Zorloo for the sample.

First Impressions:  I hear have a pre production package, lol so the initial “new toy” tweet photo would have given recipients absolutely no idea what was inside.  But hey I like that, it adds a little mystery.  So inside the buds and the first thing I not is that everything is big.  The buds are physically large and the controls are huge.  Well huge by controls standards anyway, really huge.  It’s also weird to see a controller that isn’t up by the side of your face, you see these have no mic in them so it doesn’t need to be near your mouth.  Ahhhhh it must be there they hide the DAC and digital bits and bobs.  Hmm it’s also the Y splitter, sensible but it seems very, very far away from your face.  It’s nearer my navel than it is my face, why so long?  (Note, Zorloo have said this will be not the case in production models.)

So in the ears and while the buds are if they fit me perfectly.  Grabbing the nearby Moto G 4G and plugging them into the bottom, the micro USB socket and a dozen or so seconds later the headset icon appears in the notifications bar at the top.  I hit the play/pause/skip button and music appears.  Ooof these are bassy buggers aren’t they.  Fun for sure, lively, bouncy fun beasts.  Hmm I can see maybe long term the bass being a bit much but right now I’m smiling.  I may also slightly be singing along to Karma Chameleon and dancing about in my chair.

Source:  Well there are their own source as it were.  So they should therefore be identical sounding plugged into your computer, or whichever phone you might have, bypassing entirely the likely piece of crap DAC /amp they have inside them.

Lows:  Big, a great big thumping hearty bass.  I know that it’s too big, strictly speaking its really very boosted but it’s really entertaining.  It doesn’t bleed up the range much so vocals are unimpinged.  The bass can thump its little heart out.  They are not peeked at the mid/bass cusp rather a bit lower so the bass is entirely own its own.  The depth is good, it’s a big rounded hump for sure so the depth does trail away as you’d expect but nicely so.  Odd given their closedness I’d have expected a little more linearity but I’m confident its intentional.  These are not trying to be flat, acoustically balanced, neutral / natural whatever’s.  They are fun time party beasts.  However slapping on Tracy Chapman and the bass was quite happy to sit on its hands and chill.  Its exceeding dynamic over all, as Eric Hutchinson’s “All Over Now” came on next, the bass come barrelling out like a runaway freight train.  Bouncy bouncy bouncy.  God the layering is really very nice.

Okay in quantity terms it’s too much, I know that but given this is really aimed at those poor suckers who insist on using their mobile phones to provide them with music.  Even decently good phones still suck next to proper DAP’s  so Zorloo are trying to work around that.  It also means they can pair and match the DAC/amp internals exactly to the earphone as they control the whole acoustic chain.  That alone given them a massive leg up on everyone else.

Mids:  WOO HOOO,   “I have nothing, nothing, nothing If I don't have you, you, you, you, you!!!!”   Oh ****, was that out loud????  Note to self no matter how much I might like Whitney I cannot and any way shape or form go there vocally.  These have such enthusiasm and joie de vivre that it’s disturbingly infectious.  I recognise mentally that these are very capable but you know they aren’t as nuanced and well-articulated as the best mids at the price but that’s not important.  These are so full of joy and soul it’s aurally captivating, its alike an acoustic wind that just sweeps you up off your feet.  You want to just go with the flow and let it sing out want all the mirth and jollity you can muster.  

They are so much fun to listen to.  The dynamics are so lively and entertaining I’m finding myself getting very little done productively.  I’m also noticing that the more I listen to them the more I find them tiring. 

Highs:  They are relatively tame.  That is bang on for me, I could happily and exuberantly throw on some old school Skunk Anansi “We Love Your Apathy”  “Infidelity”  and “Brazen”  all great songs that are very much let down by their god awful mastering.  The treble on them is brittle, broken up and scratchy as all get out. The Aero slaps a fine layer of plaster over all that mess shielding your ears from it.  Sure the bass is VERY dominant, to the point of ear tiring but its treble reproduction.  Okay so in absolute terms the treble is a little dialled down in comparison to the rest especially that whopper bass.  The detail retrieval is reasonable, it just not highly aggressive about presenting it to you.  It hasn’t really much in the way of edge either.  It’s going to be a little muted and little lacking presence for some.  It can get a little bit obscured in the melee, what with the bass is tearing up the place and the mids fighting to be heard, the treble is the 3rd newly hatched chick.  The chick that may or may well not survive because it hasn’t the strength to sing loud enough to get its parents attention. 

Soundstage:  Distance is pretty good, scale is whoa!!!! Big stuff, big power, big abundance, big wahhh!!!  It’s fun.  It’s a little bit inappropriate at times as intimate closed in tracks just aren’t.  You would think that given their bassy warmness things would be much more drawn in.  However they throw such an abundance of power at you they sound very largely scaled.

Fit:  For me great.  I’ll confess their size concerned me and must surely be a problem for someone somewhere.  Me though, perfect.

Comfort:  See Fit.  I was concerned but they worked perfectly for my ears.

Cable:   Hmm it’s a flat cable, I don’t love those.  Also what’s with the Y-splitter being so very, very far down?  Otherwise it’s fine, nothing actually wrong with it but like I say I don’t love flat cables and I don’t get why the Y-splitter is miles away.  (Note, again Zorloo have told me the Y-splitter will be more reasonably located in production models.)

Isolation:  For a dynamic these actually isolate really well.  Comply’s on them I’m sure assisted, however I was pleasantly surprised.  Though keep in mind they are still dynamics so while they are creeping in the direction of a BA they still aren’t BA’s.  Absolutely fine for on a bus and out and about, maybe even for the odd flight.  Not for regular flights nor a Tube commute but hey.  Oh and naturally more than enough to make you a road stain if you don’t use your eyes while out in traffic.

Phone Use:  While these get plugged into your phone, they cannot be used for making or taking calls.  While I absolutely understand why this is the case it still seems odd.  I mean who actually uses their phones to make calls anyway right?

Amped/Unamped:  So why is this section in here you may ask?  Well to give me space to clarify what makes the Aero special.  It is its own DAC and its own amp.  It bypasses the internals in your phone, now I do realise that phones are getting better.  They are, they really are but let’s face it, a phone is a convergence device and they are never going to put audio as a major priority.  They know that their customers on the whole don’t care and even if they did most use such terrible ear/headphones that it wouldn’t matter anyway.  The additional bonus in all of that being bypassed as that Zorloo effectively control the entire audio output chain.  The DAC, the amp and the earphones themselves an so they can tune them to perfectly pair up.  Any other earphone, no matter how good, may pair particularly badly with a particular mobile, there is no way for anyone to really know how it will sound with different pairings.  The Aero however will sound exactly the same no matter what its connected to.  There is a certainty, no hit and miss synergy pairings.  You can use these on any device and know exactly what you will be getting audio wise.

Accessories:  Well I have a pre-production so I don’t know what it’ll be you get.

Value:  As best I know the RRP will be US$120 which is about £86.  Woo hoo!!!  You’ll be hard pressed to find anything more fun and you get the added plus of not having to already have a good sounding phone.  I mean especially if you have say, an Iphone, you get to skip its inadequacies.  So yes I’d say bargain, big bassy bargain that’s oodles of fun.

N.B.  If you however get in early, they will be offered as a perk for just US$70 on their forthcoming Indegogo campaign.  That’s just £50, even with the horrible exchange rate just now that’s a bit of a steel.

Conclusion:  The Aero’s are a bit of a queer duck as they say.  It’s not like a normal earphone you see, usually an earphone is a link, the last link in the audio chain, its output is a factor of each of those links.  However the Aero is the whole shebang.  There is a few negatives to this, most notably that everything uses a 3.5mm jack but these don’t.  These therefore will be more limited in how you can use them.  They come in 3 cabled versions, a lightning cable, a micro USB cable and lastly a micro USB 3 cable.  So right there, there is a limitation.  So most people have one phone this isn’t a huge issue and the fact you can change the cable helps but they just won’t ever have the ubiquity of the universal 3.5mm jack.  However what you give up you gain total control over the audio chain in way you cannot otherwise.  Swings verses roundabouts.

Overall I’m very pleased with the outcome here.  Back when I used their siblings, the Z:ero I was a bit of a fan of the idea but I felt they were coming in a price level where they simply didn’t have drivers that could make the best use of the DAC and amp.  The Aero however is.  They are really lively, fun and bouncy beasts and they will always be that no what phone you use.  Using these means you don’t have to care about good synergy because it’s all good and it is, all good.

So should you buy one?  Well if you are wedded to the idea of using your phone for audio, especially if you’re an Iphone user, then using these gets you good audio quality with a highly crowd pleasing sound.  The caveat is it won’t work for all phones (like they wouldn’t work with my P8.)  So that’s clearly a massive issue and its one that Zorloo have no control over.  Granted it’s a show stopper for some but it’s the incompetence of the phone makers (Huawei / Honor I’m looking at you here) so I won’t blame Zorloo any more than you’d blame Ford for the roads being full of potholes.  As it stands the Aero is a great product, its exactly what I said wanted to see when I looked at the Z:ero.  So congrats to Zorloo and I shall be eagerly awaiting getting to hear the two other variant and what they can do too!

Zorloo Aero Quick Review

Zorloo Aero Quick Review

Thanks to Zorloo for the sample.

Brief:  Zorloo make exactly what I wanted them to.

Price:  Post Indiegogo I believe RRP will be US$120

Specifications:  DAC/amp ESS SABRE 9018Q2C, Max Sampling 48kHz, Max Depth 24 bit, SNR 105dB, THD 0.003%, Driver Size 14.8mm, Cable Length 1.2m

Accessories:  3 pairs of silicone tips, a pair of Comply’s and a little baggy case thing.  Which looks like a grey version of what I got, it’s a pretty sturdy, thick nylon baggy.

Build Quality:  It would appear to pretty good.  There isn’t really anything I can think of to complain about, though I still don’t love flat cables.

Isolation:  Very nice actually for a dynamic.  They don’t feel or sound open so accordingly they isolate very nicely.  More than sufficient for your normal out and about, on a bus type travels.  You’d get by with the odd flight or Tube commute too.  Naturally that means they are way easily enough to make you an organ donor if you forget to use your eyes when near traffic as you won’t otherwise hear it.  Eyes people!

Comfort/Fit:  They fit me bang on great, though…….. the buds are big, really big and I did, when I first saw them, gulp.  They turned out to fit snugly in my ears with no issues whatsoever but I’m convinced that can’t hold true for everyone.  If you have little ears I’d be concerned.  However they fit me perfectly well and could thus wear them all day long, happily.

Aesthetics:  The buds aside from being huge, they are exposed metal and as I’ve said many a time, I love that.  I also love that the metal colour is dependent on the tuning / type.  I’m not totally sure why the apple vs android editions come in different colours as you can interchange the cables and hence the connector, so why can’t you get the light and dark grey ones with either connector type?

Sound:   They are big, weighty powerful beasts and they a have a slant towards the low end.  It does make me wonder then how bass must the “Euphoric” ones be?  Anyway think big thumping bass.  It’s pretty rounded, its depth drops off and it declines on nearing the mid-range but it itself is a bit of a beast.  It loves to come out, rip roaring, thundering out a party bassline.  The audio snob in me frowns a bit as it’s kinda over blown but there’s no denying it’s a party animal.  The mids comparatively are rather behind the bass but the mid/bass blending region is nicely dipped so the vocals are largely unimpeded.  They are however still on the darker, warmer, more weighty side of things.  Delicate, light breathy vocals just isn’t its forte.  Soft and creamy vocals though do very nicely, a little over viscous perhaps but they just sound so pleased with themselves.  There is a joy to what they do, they feel like are wildly enjoying themselves.  So much joy and happiness.  The treble, it’s a little bit muted.  They don’t want to do cutting, crisp edges which is perfect for my ears.  It’s also perfect for the majority of mainstream music in that they are badly recorded, horribly mastered then often played back at crappy bitrates.  Oh and not forgetting being dynamically compressed to hell so they clip like a fleet of clipper ships.  The Aero does its best to gently cover up those acoustic atrocities so they won’t be loved by everyone.  They won’t be replacing a pair of RE-0’s or ER4’s as their treble in comparison is very tame and it doesn’t offer up massive detail.  It’s about ensuring the listener has a good and enjoyable time, they are not acoustic magnifying glasses there to help you examine music in detail.  

Think party fun time.  Give ‘em a woo hoo and then go dance inappropriately round the room.

Value:  If you already have a fantastic source then at their RRP of US$120 you can do “better” but these aren’t for people who already have good stuff.  These are for people who, for whatever reason, need to use their phone.  They then get to ignore the potentially terrible DAC and amp in your phone and give you a consistently capable output no matter what’s driving them.   It’s a vastly more convenient package than having your phone and strapping a DAC and amp to the back of it.

Pro’s:  Super dainty complete package.  Party time enthusiasm.

Con’s:  Sadly USB audio out on android is hit or miss.  Treble is light for some.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Fidue A65 Review

Fidue A65 Review

Thanks to hifiheadphones for the sample.

First Impressions:  You know I do believe this might be the first Fidue I’ve had in.  Not quite sure how I’ve managed that but hey, I’ve always read good things about them.  Titanium drivers it says, fancy.  Hmm and how do you get the things in the black foam out of the box??? Gravity and a vigorous shaking apparently.  Ooooh have a look at that copper.  It looks freshly milled which for some reason I find vastly more visually appealing than the polished Monster Turbine Pro Coppers ever were.  It’s a curious visual choice, are the whole enclosures copper?

In the ears and there is a certain scale and darkness to them.  The bass seems rather abundant but it’s not very warm, it’s ever so slightly warm but with a darkness, it reminds me a little of the C751 but it had a thoroughly cold darkness to its bass.  No gently smoothing nor softening.  Gosh the mids are rather nice, Erasure’s acoustic version of “Piano Song” is a grandly darkened abundance of depth and, and, I don’t know, something, something in the vocals, not warmth but something symphonic.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, some tangible texture, something that’s right there but I can’t quite grasp it.  How very curious. 

Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-650, 1G Ipod Shuffle, Nexus 5, Lumia 735 and Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear.

Lows:  They are actually really quite variable.  It’s been a while since I found something I felt that changes so much dependant on power.  Out of the Solo it was gloriously behaved.  Very clean very articulate, still a bit of a rounded hump but that while slightly on the decline as it hits the mids it’s still an itty bit elevated.  Mids therefore a bit lower mid centric.  The bass though it’s curious.  It isn’t rich nor warm but it’s got a certain viscosity to it but I can’t bring myself to say thickness.  There is a darkened tone to it.  The limitations of language leave not quit being able to express the darkened nature that isn’t warm.  It’s not exactly cold but just ever so slightly above room temperature.  They are too clean, to clean to be warm, warm has a softness, a gentility to the edges but this isn’t that.  I’m not sure I’m making any sense at all here to anyone but I just cannot find a way to verbally describe its tonality. 

Quantity levels, it’s boosted, a reasonable bit boosted but so are many things and this isn’t particularly stand out.  Honestly its gently sloping backslash sounds signature actually works totally fine for me.  It’s a simple, easy sound signature to get right and it’s popular too. 

N.B.  Fire up Owl City’s “On The Wing” amped, and woahhhh, it can really thunder out a vigorous low end.

Mids:  They are inclined to favour the lower vocal ranges than they are the upper.  Thus males tend to be more suited than girly ones.  That said all sound good on them.  They aren’t particularly soulful, detailed, breathy, nuanced nor any of that but there is that texture, that quality I cannot for the life of me put my finger on.    I know they are skimming over some vocal nuances, I know it, I can plainly hear it but there is something there.  There is something symphonically languid about them.  Some near detached quality that separates them from the truest rendition but they are in some way capturing the essence of the vocalists intentions.  Yes I know I may not be entirely making sense in this descriptor but like I say, its something I just can’t quite put my finger on.  I know what it’s lacking, where it misses something but there is this something else there that I’m finding wildly appealing but I don’t know why.

Quantity wise they are a touch elevated in the lower range so males tend to go better, girlies that sit in the upper ranges are most noticeably lacking in air.  Not warmth nor creamy thickness but some gentle darkness to everything.

Highs:  In quantity they are rather moderate.  A little subdued and so while I keep going back to the term “dark” the treble is the little shimmer and sparkle of a starlit night sky.    Just so long as you don’t think that light or sparkle are ever going to dominate because they won’t.  I personally am totally fine with it.  It does shift a little in that direction of you pair with something brighter like the Studio but these are never going to be one for treble junkies.  It’s all about the delicate little dash here and there, a gentle sparkly a, a little cymbal crash.  There is a bit of a monitor-esq timidity to the upper end.  Always easy on the ear while giving an adequate clarity.  That coolish, dark tone pervades everything. 

In some grand symphonic style these feel like they attuned to replicate an orchestra in the focus it has in terms of acoustic dominance.  Strings are so cleanly rendered as to be dominant, timpani drums up next the cymbals are mere accompaniments.  Maybe a bit gritty if you push them, so don’t push them.

Soundstage:  Glorious.  Not the biggest in the world but there is something of wonder to it.  It is at its most happy when they are thundering forth Elgar’s Cello Concerto, so darkly grand, so enveloping and enrapturing.  Squeeee!!!!!! Its super fun.

Fit:  Great for me.  Worn up or down they gave me no issues, just shove in and done.

Comfort:  Likewise with the fit, I had zero issues.  They are a touch big and a touch weighty so some might, I’d also wager wearing down for long will result in ear tugging fatigue.  So just wear them up.

Cable:  It’s a nice cable though I’ve see that red and grey with a translucent grey sheath before.  It looks rather like the one from the Finder X1.  Seems like a good cable to me.  Feels sturdy and I rather like its look too. 

Build Quality:  Time is the only real way to tell but…. they look super nice for the price.  The buds with their copper clad housings and other bits metal too, all very nicely put together.

Microphonics:  As the cable is a touch on the stiffer side if you insist on wearing down it was noticeable and irritating.  Also there is no chin slider so I’d very much suggest wearing them up.  That way there is hardly any.

Amped/Unamped:  Well for a thing that costs just £50 I wouldn’t expect that in the real world they are much likely to encounter much amping.  If they do, it’s probably a little FiiO baby amp.  It’s not going to be a real, desktop amp like the Solo I’ve been mostly using.  I know that but……. these soooooo like getting amped.  If you’ve got it throw all the power you can at them.  They take on a new level of dynamics and wonder.  Their soundstage and their symphonically inclined sound signature both work together to sound fantastic.  Plugging into a phone, even the reasonably decent Lumia 735 and my heart would sink.  It’s not that they sucked or anything, far from it but they just weren’t having their legs stretched.  They wanted opening up, like changing a TV from the muted cinema setting to suddenly slapping it on vibrant.  Everything seemed more, more dynamic, more alive, more colourful, just more everything. 

So you don’t “need” an amp to use them, they will still sound good but with an amp they will sound better.

Oh and usually, adding impedance can go some way to replicating what an amp can do, not here.  Adding in the Ety impedance adapter did largely nothing.

Isolation:   So so.  They are adequate for a dynamic but as I type this I can hear me hitting the keys.  They would probably be fine for out and about, maybe on a bus.  Not one I’d pick for a flight nor Tube commute but I suppose better than nothing.  However my usual warning, they are still quite sufficient to get yourself run over if you don’t learn to use your eyes when near traffic.

Phone Use:  It has a standard control.  It’s only got the play/pause/skip button.  No volume controls but it should work on every device the same.  The mic does site a little high on your face when you wear them up so you may sound a little distant to the other party.  However it seemed to work fine as best I could tell.

Accessories:  You get a shirt clip, a bunch of tips, 4 pairs I think and a little baggy.  There is also a cable tie thing attached to the cable, though you can remove it if you want.  I’d have rather seen a little hard case but oh well.

Value:  Acoustically they are great and if you can amp them then they just get even better.  Its sound signature is more or less a near perfect fit for me so I may not be the most objective reviewer as I would personally take this over a great many other things.  As is often the case with relatively new brands, they are great buys for the money

Conclusion:  Yep I like these, I them rather a lot too.  They practically nail what is the ideal sound signature for my ears.  A bit subdued in the highs, goodly capable mids and a bit weighty in the bottom, I mean who doesn’t love a shapely and weighty bottom?  So at times it came maybe a little sedate, too staid perhaps for some tastes but you throw some power their way and they come to life like magic.  It’s like something out of a Disney cartoon, things going from a drab, mottled grey everything to some cartoonish vibrancy.  For me they are nearly perfect fits for my ears, for my hearing curve and for my own tastes.  Sure they aren’t all that in detail retrieval but they are gloriously pleasing.

Fidue may be one of the “new” companies coming out of the Far East and they may have a fairly flavoured sound, a certain darkness and warmth but not warmth to them and I get that as a rule the hard core audio world would want a more neutral sound.  These are not that, these are more towards the consumer sound with their elevated bass levels but I find their granular, tangible middle mids to lower mids there is just something so captivating, a texture a, feeling, a something I want to reach out and grab it.

So would I buy these?  Yes.  My only reservation for regular use is they don’t really isolate so much and I know I’d miss that but otherwise….. I’d be fine.  I know they aren’t detail monsters but they don’t pretend to be.  They do what they do, they do it well, with a weirdly cold, not warmed up bass yet dark and big and imposing.  Something, there is a something there I just can’t describe it but whatever, they are great, they are fun, they are dynamic, they a lively and they are lovely.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go dance around my living room listening to Relient K’s rendition of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.”

Fidue A65 Quick Review

Fidue A65 Quick Review

Thanks to hifiheadphones for the sample.

Brief:  Don’t mind if Fidue (sorry but I had to:-)

Price £50 or about US$70

Specifications:  Driver Unit: 8mm dynamic Drive with Titanium Composites, Frequency response: 16Hz - 22000 Hz, Rated impedance: 16Ω, Sensitivity: 101db, Distortion: <1%, Max Input Power: 30mW, Plug: 3.5mm mini stereo gold-plated plug, Cable: 1.3m, Sensitivity of Mic: -42+-3db, S/N Ratio of Mic: 55db

Accessories:  Silicone eartips (S/M/L), Double flange silicone eartips, High quality pouch and lastly a shirt clip.

Build Quality:  They would appear to be quite exemplary, my fingers and eyes both agree these are a quality object.

Isolation:  So so at best.  I mean if you are coming from using earbuds then you’ll likely be amazed but if you’re coming from a pair of Ety’s then you won’t be chuffed.  They are middling to the lower end of the level we see from most dynamics.  I mean music playing it’ll be fine to easily over shadow traffic noise but, on a bus I’d be weary of being that guy.  Still as ever with them playing it’s all more than sufficient to get yourself run over of you aren’t using your eyes.

Comfort/Fit:  Good.  I had no trouble at all but if you wear down they are a little weighty and can tug at the ear a little.  Wear them up and your fine.

Aesthetics:  I see copper and I think a bit blingy but the offset of the, err dark ish metal both being brushed and thusly not so highly reflective, I rather like.  They’re nice.

Sound:  They are bassy but it’s a dark bass, not warmed, not really what I’d call cold but just no added warmth.  A bit dark, soulless, detached something that I cannot quite find the words for.  There is something dark there but no usual accompaniment of the rich warmth that is almost always the case with elevated bass.  I like it, it helps keep the bass clean and detached.  It is a bit elevated and its elevation continues towards the lower mid ranges.  Male vocals tend to a touch boosted but again there isn’t the typical richness to the elevation.  It’s curious.  Girly vocals don’t stand out so much and can be a little dead inside.  There isn’t the creamy richness that its darkened presentation normally offers.  Gah, there is a darkened something, something a little detached going on here but I just can’t nail what.  In the highs they are mostly subdued.  They are not particularly apparent but hey are cleanly rendered.  Just faintly delicate, clean, but in the back and they never come close to dominant.  Even when pushed, they are really quite treble subdued.  My ears are bang on pleased with that.  It does have a beautiful metallic edged twang when cymbals are struck. 

Value:  Yey!  They are lovely value but then there are so many things from the Far East that are.  These happen to very much suit my own tastes, gloriously scaled bass, crisply clean yet subdued treble, yeah im a bit of a fan. 

Pro’s:  Darkly gorgeous sound.  Bass is epically and darkly glorious.  Crisp shimmery treble.

Con’s:  Vocals a little soulless. Can’t do lightly open and airy.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

MEEaudio M6 Review

MEEaudio M6 Review

Thanks to MEEaudio for the sample

First Impressions:  Usually the first impressions means the first moments I have with a product, but oldies may recall that the M6 has been around a while.  Not just that but waaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the day I reviewed them.  If memory serves they were a little more expensive back then, I’m sure they were about US$50 but aside from my mentioning that when I first reviewed them, I have no evidence.  However whatever they were, they are now available for the grand sum of US$20, delivered. UK peeps can get them for just £16 delivered from the Rainforest place.  So these are about as cheap as cheap gets for earphones.

Casting my eyes on them, god damn they still look as good as they ever did.  Having been playing with the spookily similar looking XF-200 these with their silvered woven cable with a transparent sheath, they were about the best looking earphones ever and that’s still true.  Just look at the little buggers!!!

In the ears, ahh there’s that bass, gosh were they always this bassy?  Is it that I’ve cheated and slapped Comply’s on them?  Oh my word they are bassy little beasts aren’t they?  Jesus they shift some air, my sinuses may not love this.  Anyway lets send them to the burn in machine.

Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-650, 1G Ipod Shuffle, Nexus 5, Lumia 735 and a Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear.

Lows:  Holy crap there is a lot of it.  Oh my god it’s a big air mover, was it always like this granted to Comply’s give more a firm seal but maybe it’s just that there has been a relative shift over the years.  I mean they were always bassy but their siblings were even more so, so they may had comparatively seemed less so?  Maybe they have been retuned and tweaked over the years?  Anyway, loads of bass.  Loads and loads of it.  Compared with the XF-200 these are big woolly beasts.  A rather similar tonality, their sound signatures both being bass dominant with thicker mids.  Treble taking a back seat.  Curiously though these do trail away a bit early, which is unexpected.  I mean I’m glad because if they stayed so epically vast all the way down I suspect they’d be making me queasy.    

These are bass beasts, beastly thumping power, great big air shifters that is moderately firm given their volume.  If you want to slap on bassy pop and let it go rip roaring, exploding all over the place you’ll love ‘em.  Mental stuff but gosh, for me, it’s too wow!!!

Mids:  Creamy, thick and weighty.  Oh Jesus, that bass it does like to get in your face and show off.  Mids are reasonable and pretty clear, certainly easily decent enough for chart topping pop.  There are made for mainstream charty stuff.  Wow, go wild party beasts.  Bass punching you in the sinuses then crabbing you by the collar and hurling you all over the place.

Vocals, well their okay.  A little too thick and accordingly not big on detail retrieval.

Highs:  Lol they do what they valiantly can to fight there way through the melee, they do all that they can to put on a good showing but make no mistake they are not, nor will they ever be the star of the show.  Even in highly treble heavy songs they never take centre stage.  What’s there is clean, gently edged and really quite refined and polite.  It’s always in the back but it’s really quite pleasing tonally.  Details not terrible either.

Quantitatively they are forward slash shaped.  Though the treble and mids aren’t very far off each other, the bass is easily more considerably scaled than the mids and treble.

Soundstage:  Placement and such is so so.  they do however begin to shine in terms of voluminous scale.  That bass is epic and expansive.  Big heart, dominating and full ed with power.  The mids are pretty much back in the midle and the highs just beside them.  It’s the bass that easily dominates though.

Fit:  Perfect for my ears.  I also rather like the amount of effort MEE have put into trying to teach people how to wear them.  Not just do they have a little booklet that’s highly detailed but they made a video too,  I’d suspect long term Head-Fi’ers won’t need such advice but we were all there once.  Encountering an earphone than you had to wear up rather than down, how perplexing and curious it was the first few times.  Though I should note I got a bit of driver flex, it wasn’t bad or a problem but with a silicone tip creating a tight seal it could get annoying if you’re pulling them out every two minutes.

Comfort:  Perfect, couldn’t be better if my ears had been their model to base them on.

Aesthetics:  Oh just look at them.  Look at them, I still freekin’ love that cable with its silver weave coated in a transparent sheath.  Just look at it!!!  They looked great when they first came out, they still look amazeballs good.  Oh and if for some reason you don’t fancy the clear ones you can get them in heap of difference colours.

Phone Use:  Okay I don’t have the mic’d set but an extra US$5 gets you a mic and a universal volume control that will work with everything as it’s basically a variable resistor. 

Isolation:   Very good, right at the absolute best a dynamic can give you they.  They sound sealed to my ears and besides the SE215 I don’t think I’ve encountered a dynamic that can isolate so much.  Easily good enough for out and about, on a bus, normal stuff.  Flight and a Tube commute you could get away with too.  Oh and even without music going you’ll never hear that bus behind you, seriously people use your eyes or get a donor card.

Microphonics:  None.  There’s a chin slider if you “need” it but you won’t for microphonic reasons.

Cable:  Squeee!!!!  Look at how pretty it is, and then it’s super soft and flexible too.  It’s a great cable by any measure not just for something so cheap but period.  The jack and Y splitter are great too, there is just nothing you can fault here.

Accessories:  You get 6 pairs of tips, a shirt clip and a little case.  Basically everything you could want for them.  One thing to note that’s weird, the bits you get are “colour matched” so if you get the orange ones, your case comes with orange accents, blue, pink etc etc.  tips are coloured too.

Amped/Unamped:  They when amped get more forcefully vigorous.  Its most noticeable in the bass, it’s highly potent anyway and it just firms up to punch you even harder in the face.  Though at their price they aren’t likely to see a big amp and thusly they really don’t need one.  They are pretty easy to drive.

Value:  Super-duper value.  I’ve said it before for other things but that they can even be delivered worldwide for the price tag, I don’t know how they do it. 

Conclusion:   Okay, right off I want to say these are not for me.  Oh my oh my, the bass they spit out is just too much of a tour de force for my delicate little ears.  These are beasts, powerful monstrous beasts that want to power out a bass line that’s like a force of nature.  Ploughing through any obstacle in their path, gym inspiring monsters that will grab you and haul you through your session.  That it is what they are meant for, it’s what they are designed for.  It’s how you should use them.

You see, I’m much more happy with something delicate and polite, they are bass monsters.  They want to just power on through and while I may find it fun in tiny doses, I can feel it beating the hell out of my sinuses.  Oh god it’s actually making me slightly dizzy when I crank the volume.  It’s just insane, seriously mad stuff.  I can see many uses loving it like mad and no doubt bass heads will love it but gosh, it’s all a bit much for me.

So should you get one?  Well it’s a stunning looker, its “sweat proof” (IPX5 rated,) it’s got a great fit that’s super secure for jumping about and it’s got a gym loving sound signature.  No wonder MEE are pushing it as an “In-Ear Sports Headphone.”  It fits that bill perfectly so if that is what you are after, then it’s perfect for you.  If you want a purist, polite monitor then, lol, no it’s not what you’re looking for.

MEEaudio M6 Quick Review

MEEaudio M6 Quick Review

Thanks to MEEaudio for the sample

Brief:  A fresh look at an oldie

Price:  US$20 or £16

Specifications:  Driver 9 mm ultra high performance drivers with neodymium magnets, frequency response 20 Hz to 20 kHz, impedance 16 Ohms at 1K, sensitivity           98 dB (1mW at 1KHZ), maximum power 30 mW, memory wire stainless steel, connector 3.5mm gold plated, right angle connector, cable color matched 130 cm (51 in) cord with attached shirt clip, water resistance rating IPX5

Accessories:  6 pairs of silicon tips, a shirt clip and a case.  All of which are coloured according to which colour earphones you get.

Build Quality:  Very good, you never know to look or touch them as to how cheap they are.

Isolation: Very good for a dynamic.  Easily one of the very best isolating dynamics, practically at the lower end of what a BA IEM can do.  Easily fine for normal out and about or on a bus uses.  Even flight or the occasional Tube commute you’d be okay with.  Naturally easily enough to get yourself killed if you don’t keep your eyes open when you’re near traffic.

Comfort/Fit:  Excellent.  A little bit of driver flex but otherwise no issue in fitting them nor wearing them for hours.

Aesthetics:  They come in a heap of colours but it my opinion the clear ones look just stunning.  The clear buds with the silver woven, then transparent coated cable is pretty much the best looking cable ever.

Sound:  Bass.  Like the song says these are “All About The Bass.”  They are simply at their most happy when they are thundering out a gargantuan bass line.  My own musical tastes may be rather somewhat more sedate so for me , oh my it’s a bit a show stopper.  Its beastly, potently violent when push that volume dial.  Lol, it’s mental.  If you need yousinuse need blown out these’ll do it.  Owl City’s “Tidal Wave” while a fast paced, rhythmically lively pop extravaganza, the bass, oh my the bass.  Its skull punching, thankfull these aren’t the firmest in the base, they are a touch soft which is a factor of their cheapness but its highly welcome for me.  This level of quantity and its desire to leap all over the place with the slightest provocation would otherwise kill me.  They are marketed as gym earphones (IP5X sweat resistance rated) and if you need a bass line to haul yourself through a session, this is the sort of bass that’ll do it.  It’ll simply grab you by the collar and throw you through the nearest plate glass window.  It’s not trying to be same great acoustic masterpiece, it’s a beast, a beast with a clear purpose in life. 

Value:  Silly cheap, look orgasmiclly good, and they either have a sound you will love or hate.  Super value.

Pro’s:  Look sublimely good.  Stupid bass power.  Look fantastically good.

Con’s:  They are rather unruly.  That bass its skull crusing.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Elephone P8000 Review

Elephone P8000 Review

First Impressions:  Hmmm well having waited so long for the thing to come I am rather eager to get it open.  There was some issue with the first manufacturing batch and so the first run came without a notification LED inside apparently.  Elelphone seemed to think that then offering some discount voucher or something was suitable recompense. I therefore am not going to complain that the retailer I bought it from opted to wait till the net batch was available.  If I’d gotten no LED I’d have been sending it back as defective.   Anyway, weird box.  Some kinda beige pattern.  Opening it up there is the usual layout.  Phone facing you, bits underneath off to the side.  You got a couple of plastic screen protectors in there, which I guess is nice, though it is a reminder no “Gorilla Glass 3”   here.  Oh and the accessories, a charger and a charging cable.  Both of which are white and is my phone white???  No it bloody well is not, I hate, HATE, that.  I know it’s not a big deal as I’ve got a million micro USB cables and USB charging sockets but it’s beside the point.

Picking it up and holy crap, the thing is huge and weighs a ton.  Woah, my god it’s a beastly beast of a thing.  God it’s so big!!!  Peeling off the back though just look at that massive battery.  Shame it’s not a removable one which seems a stupid move on Elephones part.  I mean it’s right there but nope, no carrying any spares.  Still it’s so big no one should need to.

Powering it on the first thin your notice as that it has weirdly big black boarders round the screen.  Hmm, why?  Why not just make them the same colour as the rest of the front, is it really to make the screen look bigger?  That just seems idiotic.

Hardware:  The thing is a beast.  Well it’s a beast for a phone anyway but it’s still very easily pocketable.  I’m still not sure I love its size, it’s just that bit too big for fitting my hand and touching the screen with my thumb.  In fairness that’s what happens with big screens.  I rather like its weight though, makes it feel solid.  The screen it good, not awesome but for the pennies it’s a pretty decent screen, 1080p so as many pixels as my TV has so its pin sharp.  Colours are fairly neutral and “realistic” meh, I say washed out but then I love colour saturated AMOLED screens.  I just dunno it’s not wowing me, certainly nothing on the P8 one which is lush.  This is not wrong in anyway but it’s boring.  It may not help that it’s got a screen protector on which I don’t normally love.  I did buy a glass one too which I’ve yet to try to put on with breaking. 

Onwards to the internal bits, well it’s a weird thing.  It’s got a 64bit MTK6753 octa core CPU and Mali-T720 GPU. That’s paired up to 3GB of RAM.  A 13MP rear camera (which is some Samsung sensor) and a 5MP front camera.  So you’re thinking it’s all pretty high spec right?  Well yes those things are pretty high spec, most impressively so for the price.  Then when you look closer it’s not quite all that.  The CPU, its only clocked at 1.3 GHz so it’s not the worlds fasted.  The place where it really cuts back though is in the sensors.  Now you probably never think about the sensors in a phone right?  I know I don’t and I review the things!  Firing up CPU-Z and sliding over to “Sensors” we see just 3 things listed.  An accelerometer, proximity sensor and a light sensor.  If I go to my 1st gen Moto G 4G it has 11 sensors and my Nexus 5 lists 19 different sensors.  So you get the idea, the P8000 really has cut back on them.

My concern over the lack of sensors focused on the relative lack of navigation potential.  I don’t often use google maps for navigation but as we all know, it can be unspeakably handy.  A recent trip to Ikea gave ample opportunity to fire up directions.  The maps worked perfectly, the voice commands bellowed forth perfectly accurately.  So it would seem any fears I had were unfounded though it does make me wonder why other devices have so many then? 

Where things were absent and I did miss, was in the lack of 5GHz Wi-Fi.  I also bemoaned the lack of NFC even if it’s something I hardly ever use.  The Wi-Fi though, that I do use, I use it lots and while 2.4 works and it works fine…… I’d really prefer if all my devices used 5.  I know that it doesn’t really, really matter, I know that, but it bothers me nevertheless.

One last thing, it has capacitive buttons at the bottom.  By default they are the Samsung way round, i.e. the wrong way but…… as they only have dots rather than images you can with the help of an app remap them the right way round and use them that way.  This is what I did, it’s really a very, very customer friendly device in terms of tweak and customisability.

Audio Software:  I spot that there is an FM radio app, so the thing has a radio in it.  Errm does anyone use the radio on their phones?  There is also the stock google “Music” app that will play back any on-board music you have stored.  Which is something you could do as the phone has a micro SD card slot soooooo you could fill it and play whatever.  However the key attribute to this being an Android phone is that you can install any of about 4 hundred million audio playback apps.  That doesn’t even take into account the myriad of streaming music services, Spotify, Deezer, Google Play Music, etc etc etc.  My own preferences are to use Deezer for random music exposure but to use Play Music for reviewing, where it only plays back my own music I’ve uploaded to Google.

Audio Hardware:  I want to note firstly that I have read reports of there being issues with the hp out on the P8000.  People claiming that audio cuts out and that on inspection there would appear to be a soldering issue.  I have not had any of that but just throwing it out there.

What is most immediately noticeable is their power output.  While it rather needed the volume cranked to near max they did then start to roar.  They felt like they had masses of power behind them, this was most noticeable when using big cans, in the bass especially they wanted to start pounding.  A fun and energetic sound that worked great right up until you put on something sedate like Nora.  She was clearly bored and just phoning it in so to speak.  Curious.

Lows:  They were pretty good, pretty well powered when you cranked the volume dial.  Otherwise they didn’t ever seem very lively.  More than adequately capable for a phone but just not enthusiastic about anything.  Always rather pleasant to listen to, always pretty capable.  I just couldn’t seem to find any particular caring one way or the other about them.  They were good, fine, they ran everything fine.  They had pretty good oomph behind them at volume to drive things deeply.  Just I dunno when listening nothing ever leapt out at me.  Everything was so middlingly balanced and behaved.  It’s all really quite grown up for a phone.  There is a little boosting in the bass output when you crank the volume but otherwise nicely polite.

Mids:  They do a little get pushed back from being centre stage and upfront.  They don’t rise to the occasion as you crank the volume which serves to relatively push them back a touch.  Still they are nicely middling in tonality.  They aren’t the most resolving mids but they are very pleasingly melodic. A nicely pleasant layering as vocals overlay and mix together.  It’s all really very pleasant.  Clarity wise they are nice too, a little obsfucative as there is a certain something from the dry breathy upper vocals that is missing.  In my head I know that’s a detractor but from a phone and a really cheap phone at that, I can’t bring myself to bash them.  Clearly the quality of even ell cheapo DAC’s and amp hardware out there is at all levels getting pretty good.

They may lack a touch in life, a little bit creamy but they are highly listenable, I’d just like a little more of them.

Highs:  Good, they continue the faintly creamy style and the highs then don’t have the bight or crisp edge that some like, they may not strike listeners as instantly revealing as others might.  This is deceiving as they really are pretty decent.  Again even the cheapest of DAC’s tend to put out a detail level that until you start to get to the higher end ear / headphones you just can’t notice.  Leaving the big Momentums behind and putting on the Oppo’s, it becomes apparent that the DAC and amp combo can’t spit out every last nuance.  No surprises there but they are more than adequate.  Swapping to something considerably cheaper like the XF-200 then you realise that lack of resolution doesn’t matter anyway.

Still there is a bit of a lack of crispness and relative lack of treble abundance for some.  I’m fine with its level as there’s nothing worse than harsh, edgy treble so much better to gently round it off.

Soundstage:  Weirdly good.  Maybe it’s some disturbing coincidence of the things I picked up to try with the P8000 but they always sounded grandly scaled and with a good distance to them.  Mids are central but not too close by, they’re up on that stage out in front.  The treble is close by the mids and the bass too feels somewhat distant.  Instrument separation is fine but placement is pretty vague.  Still they are nicely distanced and scaled.

Battery Life:  Woo Hoo!!!!  The battery in there is a big 4165mAh and whatever they have done with their battery conserve whatever, the battery would last days.  I mean just now its showing at 83% and in the Android battery thingy, it estimates it has got 3 days battery life left.  Though one thing to note, that while it supposedly has quick charging it would regularly seem to take an age to charge up.  Not that it was an issue, I mean you can survive a day easily so just charge it at night and you’ll be fine.  Seriously though the battery life was fantastic, it’s been easily and buy a considerable margin, been the best battery life I’ve had out of a phone in forever.

Now you do pay for that battery in that the P8000 is a bit heavier and a bit bigger than some other phones but while on paper 203g seems huge next to some other device, really, you can’t put an extra 50 grams in your pocket?

Build Quality:  From as best as I can tell, it’s all quite nicely put together.  It’s a bit of a beast actually it’s all metal heft make it feel really, really solid.  I’m not super sure about the screen though as it’s not coated in any name brand glass but as it came with a screen protector…… well I haven’t been able to bring myself to pull it off.  Otherwise there is nothing to potentially complain about, it’s nice.

UI:  Like so many Far East makes they slap on their own custom skin and they remove the app drawer.  I hate that so almost instantly I got Nova installed and then it was back to the same old Android I find all-over the place.  Otherwise the overlay is practically non-existent.  The menus seem unaffected so yey for leaving things be.  I did however have some lock screen issues.  So I quick smart installed ACdisplay which put me back to something normal and all was good once again.  Yey for Android customisability!

In The Hand:  It is a bit of a big old beast.  It may only be 40gramms more than other phones but it feels heavy and it feels evenly weighted so the weight isn’t all nicely at the bottom where your hand is.  It can make it essentially impossible to reach the top with one hand.  As with big phones these days you have to use the things with two hands.  You know that going in though, it’s just a factor of a big screen.  The P8000 is slightly bigger than others, it’s got some pretty big black bezels on it but they never bothered mu in use.  Truth be told in use I never really noticed them. Still it does make the thing that bit bigger than other 5.5 inch screen devices.

Format Support:  It’s Android so everything.

Volume:  The output while it often felt like it had good power reserves behind it, I was almost always near the top of the volume dial.  On the Oppo’s (which granted are one ears and planers) I had the volume at max and it was fine but I could have put louder.  On earphones this was considerably less of an issue but as outputs go the P8000 was one of the slightly quitter ones.  I can see it not quite being enough for everyone.

Accessories:  You get the phone, with a screen protector on it, a spare one in the box, a USB charger plug (euro plug) and a USB cable.  They are both white which I personally hate but hey, I’ve got a million micro USB cables and I use USB desktop chargers anyway so they both got left in the box.  As for buying things yourself, eBay and the like do have a selection but it’s not a vast selection.  However Elephone does offer an official windowed front covered case.  Though it took months to get here (first one got lost and sender was arsey about waiting 3 months before declaring it lost.)  It was exceedingly cheap at just a few £.  It works pretty nicely too, you close the case and you get a little preview window.  You can make and take calls that way too as the mic is on the bottom and thus not obscured by the cover.  I wish it had a magnet to keep it closed but otherwise I’m enormously pleased with it as a case.

Speaker:  Like all phone speakers, it should never ever be used for music, anyone who does should be shot for crimes against hearing.  However if you want to fire up Netflix to hand over to the small human relative you want to shut up and go away, that’s a different story.  It’s not a speaker of stupendous quality like any phone speaker but its output is goodly sufficient.  It’s adequately loud.  If you use it for on-board video and use MXplayers over driving ability you can output a quite reasonable level.  For a phone it’s pretty fair.  Please note, the speaker is rear facing so if you may want to use your hand to cup and redirect the sound output towards you rather than the wall.

Camera:  Spec wise it’s some Samsung 3L2 sensor.  So, err, erm yeah I have no clue about camera sensors but from what I gather, the Samsung ones are alright, pretty reasonable but not as good as Sony ones.  Given the photo taking wiz that I am, taking a couple of shots I can testify that they are fine.  They are good enough for me anyway and personally I think if you really care about photography anyway then go buy a real camera.  Again I’m perfectly pleased with its abilities for the price of the device.

Reception:  In use I found it had no issues but I did note that having the P8000 and N5 both on the same network, the signal measured in dB was consistently lower on the P8000.  The difference was only about 4dB so the difference was hardly earth shattering but it was there.  Additionally I never exactly felt the N5 had the best signal in the world to begin with.  The sim in use was in the sim 2 slot.  Swapping the sim over to the sim 1 slot, I honestly expected no difference and it seems that was about right.  There still seems to be about 4dB difference between the N5 and P8000.  However, the very same app, inside the app rather than its widget, reports that the signal on the N5 is actually rather lower than the signal on the P8000.  About 5dB in the P8000’s favour.  I have no idea why the N5 has this discrepancy, not a clue.  If we just go by anecdotal evidence, the P800 hold a signal very well and only once do I recall it dropping a call.

The Good:  The P8000 is not a super flagship device with every bell and whistle you can think of.  It is a midrange to lower midrange handset by stint of its price and for that price it’s really a very nice object.  The screen is a good, it’s big and its bezel is a bit big but its viewing angles are wide and its colour presentation is nice, fairly balanced.  Blacks are reasonably black and when you crank the brightness it goes pretty bright too.  Everything is pretty good.  That really sums up the device, every aspect of it is pretty good.  Nothing exceptional nor bad.  That it’s able to hold its own despite its price tag.  As is put by Elephone in their rather amusing chinglish, the P8000 is “The most worth buying phone.”  Its value for money is pretty awesome.  Oh and this phone has 2 sim card sockets and a micro SD card slot.  What’s more they are separate, so you can actually use both sim slots and the storage all at once!!!!

Then there is for me the big positive about the P8000.  The battery.  Of all the android devices I have and have used it is without question, far and away the best battery life of them. 

On more “good” as far as I am concerned is Elephone’s highly pro modding behaviour.  They seem keen to allow users to root their device if they wish, they give out the kernel source info and, and…… they host custom ROM’s on their own forums.  They seem to be actively encouraging developers to mod and tweak things.  I mean seriously, they even have their own tutorial on rooting the thing.  Sigh if only all phone makers were so dev friendly, because dev friendly is ultimately customer friendly.  Additionally they have promised Marshmallow will come, at some point.

The Bad:  Well there is the afore mentioned hp out issue I’ve seen others report. There was also a bizarre episode when it launched where the first several thousand devices shipped went out without an LED in the capacitive “home” button.  There is also the most peculiar placement of the micro USB socket.  You see it looks in the middle right, but then look where the home button circle is.  The socket is ever so slightly off centre, it’s not important at all but it’s curiously weird.  Then we have the bezels, which are rather big and serves to make a big device even bigger.  They don’t bother me but some people get really upset by bezels.  That’s about it, there really isn’t anything that’s actually bad about the device.  There are areas where it maybe doesn’t quite come up to the big name flagship standards but it is comfortably good enough.

Value:  I may have ordered mine from Gearbest and while they price things in US dollars and just convert on the fly to whatever currency you want, even with the pound as it is the phones still is a steal.  At circa £130 it’s a steal, simple as that. 

Conclusion:  The P8000 is a curious device, it’s got 3GB of ram (yey) but then its CPU is only clocked at 1.3GHz.  So it’s not by any real reckoning a “flagship” device but I’m not sure I can really think of it as a mid-range device either, that 3 GB of ram, that really propels it above and beyond what you’d expect.  Then it’s a got a pretty reasonable 1080p screen, rather than a 720.  Everything about it just feels that bit better than what you expect from something mid-range.  Even little details such as if you get your hands on one of the official cases with the flappy cover.  It has a little magnet to trip the screen window view thing.  It’s a little thing but I find I rather like it.

The down side of the P8000 I think more than anything inherent to the device is the fact that you can’t walk into a Carphone warehouse or anywhere else and actually see one.  As a tech nerd yeah I’ve heard of Elephone and I may be willing to buy a phone from the Far East but the reality is that, in the UK at least, most people buy their phones from the mobile network.  If the network doesn’t either have it as a PAYG or “free” on contract then most people will never even know the phone exists.  Which would be a shame but that’s just how it is and why phone makers care so much about ass kissing network operators.

Should you buy one?  Well yes and no.  No question that the P8000 is a steal compared to big brand name devices, the spec is good and the battery is great, then things like the 2 sim and a separate micro SD card slot are just icing.  However what if something broke?  How long might that take?  I’d wager any local repair shops likely won’t have seen one before.  While I, touch wood, rarely break things these things are not issues for me nor is its lack of high street availability.  The trade off is that you get a lot of phone for the money, a hell of a lot of phone.