Politics Most Simple Episode 1 (The Northern Ireland Assembly Election): What is the DUP?

The DUP is the biggest Unionist party in Northern Ireland at the minute, currently holding the First Minister post — or at least when the Assembly is actually sitting. They helped hold up the British government between 2016-2019, back when Theresa May was Prime Minister, and for a short time when Boris Johnson became PM, although that changed after the December General Election of 2019.

But what are the simple points you need to know about the DUP before voting in the Assembly Election, and what values will you be voting for? In this blog, I am going to outline the key details you need to know about the DUP, so you can make the right decision on May 5.

The Democratic Unionist Party was founded by the late Ian Paisley in 1971 — an Evangelical Christian, who — prior to going into politics, was a minister. For this reason, a percentage of the party’s MLAs, MPs and electorate are Evangelical Christians, which has become a problem in politics within recent years. (There are also people in the party who would say they are moderate, but Evangelical beliefs are still a large part of their messages).

They are also — as the party’s full name suggests — Pro Union.

Now looking at Brexit, when the referendum on the UK leaving the EU was held, the DUP were the only party in Northern Ireland to support leaving the EU. They favoured a Brexit which would mean that the UK “leaves as one”, but when Soft Brexit options were debated in Westminster (I will do a series of blogs later describing the entire story of Brexit and why it still matters), they voted against each one.

When Boris Johnson came to power, originally on a “Pro Union” mandate, he promised that he would “Get Brexit Done”. After renegotiating the original Withdrawal Agreement and offering it to the EU, the DUP originally endorsed Johnson’s offer on the 2nd of October 2019, before announcing on the 17th of the same month that they planned to vote against it. When the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement eventually went to Parliament, the DUP voted against the Trade Deal, but it ended up passing anyway in December 2020, effectively delivering what is known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, or — explained simply for anyone who doesn’t follow UK politics — a border down the Irish Sea.

This is where the definition of the DUP starts getting interesting, as we see how much they changed in 2021.

Despite being firmly against the Protocol, the DUP started 2021 by trying to make the best of it. The then leader, Arlene Foster, even made a controversial appearance on The Late, Late Show on RTÉ, where she emphasised that, despite having left, the UK and the EU are still friends, and should work together. But within two months of the interview happening, there were calls for Arlene Foster to resign in April 2021 — after facing calls for her resignation and backlash from her inner circle of MLAs / MPs, after claims were made that she’s softened the DUP’s stance on Gay issues — not that the previous comments she made would have foretold this at all.

Since then, the DUP have found themselves tangled up in a mix of leadership crises, that has seen them going from having one leader to three within a few months (a milestone which has only been held before by their once big but from 2005 little brother, the UUP), with Edwin Poots — Arlene’s original replacement — only lasting for 21 days.

Poots was a Hard Line Unionist, who comes from a religious background, and is a big fan of the environment.

Their current leader is Sir Jeffrey Donaldson — a man who some say is moderate but who wants to be taken more seriously — who sent shock waves throughout Northern Ireland recently, by pulling the now former-First Minister, Paul Givan, out of government, in protest that the NI Protocol hasn’t been collapsed. This means that yet again, Northern Ireland has been left without a government, and to make matters worse, the parties still insist on arguing like little children, which means that — thanks to the Good Friday / Belfast and St Andrews Agreement — if one party doesn’t come back into the Assembly, Northern Ireland doesn’t have a government, unless Westminster returns us to Direct Rule, which just isn’t going to happen.

So to summarise what the DUP is:

  • They are a Christian, Pro-Union Party, with a percentage of Evangelical support, although they are also supported by mixed religions, even to the moderate extent.
  • They supported the UK leaving the EU in the 2016 Referendum, and wanted a deal where the entire UK left together, which lead them mostly into supporting most Hard Brexit Deals.
  • Before the British government passed Gay Marriage and Abortion Services into NI law, they were fundamentally against both political issues.
  • They are against Irish Language legislation, and Ulster Scots — but mainly due to how much each act will cost, and what money could get put into other areas.
  • They are determined to see the Northern Ireland Protocol collapsed, and will not return to the Assembly unless this happens.

Sources:

Paisley, Ian (Dictionary of Irish Biography): https://www.dib.ie/biography/paisley-ian-a10164

Ian Paisley first Minister of Northern Ireland: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ian-Paisley

Brexit: DUP Endorses Johnson’s Offer to European Union: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-49910285

DUP Says it Cannot Support Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/oct/17/dup-boris-johnson-brexit-deal

DUP MPs to Vote Against Boris Johnson’s Post-Brexit Trade Deal: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-49910285

Arlene Foster, First Minister of Northern Ireland | The Late, Late Show | RTÉ One: https://youtu.be/NncuM5XAGfU

Arlene Foster Announces Resignation as DUP Leader and NI First Minister: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-56910045

DUP Leadership Vote to Take Place on 14 May: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-56973796

Edwin Poots Elected DUP Leader to Succeed Arlene Foster: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/may/14/edwin-poots-elected-dup-leader-to-succeed-arlene-foster

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson Ratified as DUP Leader by Party Executive: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jun/30/sir-jeffrey-donaldson-ratified-as-dup-leader-by-party-executivehttps://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jun/30/sir-jeffrey-donaldson-ratified-as-dup-leader-by-party-executive

Northern Irish Devolution Collapses Again: https://www.economist.com/britain/2022/02/12/northern-irish-devolution-collapses-again

Samsung 7 Series 43” Smart 4K Ultra HD HDR LED TV Review

The Samsung Series 7 4K Ultra HD tv, with HDR and LED technology is a smart tv sold by Samsung, and which is available in 43”, 50”, 55”, 65”, and 75”. It can be bought through Samsung’s website, on Amazon, or through Curry’s, and the one I have is 43”, which I bought around April. But how accessible is the tv overall, and is it the right tv for disabled people who want more control?

The box that the tv comes in has the word ’Samsung’ at the top of it, alongside some bits of smaller writing, outlining some things about the 4K, including on other features the tv comes with. Further down the box, we also see the words ’Cristal UHD’ in larger letters, beside some information on how much energy the television uses, in the space beside it. The only thing I think could be improved with the box is that some features could be written in larger letters, so people who struggle with reading could find it easier to see what the box says, but you can get all of the information online as well.

Inside the box you get the tv, the remote, and the stands for the tv to sit on, although it’s up to you whether you want to use the stands or not. I have mine up on the wall, and your wires and cables.

Getting all the nerd stuff out of the way, this tv comes with a crystal display for long-lasting colour and sharp contrast, 4K Crystal Processors for the best picture and sound, picture quality of 2000 PQI, HDR, along with offering catch up tv and 4K streaming.

With the SmartThings app, you can connect your tv to your phone, allowing people with physical disabilities to set up the tv themselves, completely from the app.

To set up your tv from your phone, you will need to start by creating a Samsung account, and allow the Samsung and SmartThings account access to your network. After that, you’ll have to log in giving access to your date of birth, your name etc, and you can also save your password so there’s no need to try and remember it each time. After that, an email will be sent to you to finish off the process, and you also have the option to set up two-step verification, which will let you get login reminders to your phone. Once you’ve created your account, you’re ready to set up your tv. The way you do this is by going to the my home page, and clicking on the option that currently reads ’Living Room’. That will take you to a page that gives you various options, and the one you’re wanting to hit is ’Device’. From here, you’re wanting to hit TV, and then you’ll hit the brand. This will bring you to a page where you’ll want to hit ’Supported Devices’ , and you’ll have to change your location settings to always on, but you can change this later. From there, you can get started actually setting up your tv, from assigning a specific room to it, to setting a wallpaper, etc etc. For using it with a smart speaker or with voice control, you should allow SmartThings to have access to your microphone, but this will take a bit of time to complete. Once you are able to select your tv, you’ll be asked to go to your wifi settings on your phone, and to enter the password you’re given. After you enter your password, your phone will connect to your tv, and you’ll be asked to enter a pin that will show up on your tv. The last thing you’ll have to do is connect your tv to the internet, but after it connects, you’ll just have to agree to stuff, and it will be all sorted.

Controlling the Samsung Series 7 Smart TV with SmartThings on Apple’s iPhone X © Technology Reviews / Phoebs Does Technology Reviews.

After everything is connected, getting around it should look like this. SmartThings will give you other optional apps you can download, but honestly, most of the other apps they give I’ve never heard of.

This remote feature works with iOS and Android Devices.

As well as the better colour quality — which is amazingly better compared to my old tv — this tv gives you access to all the top streaming apps, including Apple TV, Netflix and Disney+. As well as these ones, you also get Amazon Prime, YouTube, and TickTock, so there’s something for everyone, and you can even connect it to your Apple Music and Spotify!

This tv also makes it easy for you to enjoy your favourite game consoles, with picture and sounds that adapts as fast as your game. Although I still have my Xbox One S, the 4K picture quality is still extremely good, and it’s much easier to play games with dark scenes than it was when I played them on my old tv.

As mentioned before, the remote the Premium One Remote also connects to your phone — so it’s easy to use if you can’t physically use a remote but you want to control your tv — and you can also connect SmartThings to your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

Lastly, you can also screen mirror your iPad or phone screen to the tv, which I find really useful when attending online history conferences. Last year, I had to screen mirror them to my Apple TV 4K, which — while it was good, didn’t have the best internet connection. But each time I’ve mirrored my iPad screen to the Samsung TV, it’s offered a much more enjoyable experience, which — for anyone who’s interested in using it the way I do — is a big plus.

But what do I think about the Samsung Series 7 Smart TV overall? The 4K is brilliant, and you can definitely see a big difference between this tv and other older tvs. As someone who upgraded purely on the fact that I would be able to control my tv easier than my older smart tv, I love how easy it is to set up the tv on my phone, and how easy it is to control my tv using my phone and iPad, as well as how many apps you have access to on the tv and how easy they are to install.

But even then, there are a few problems. Although you can set up your tv using your phone, and use it as a remote thereafter, there are times when you have to either ask someone to turn the tv on with your physical remote, or you’d have to delete the app and re-download it, until the tv is readable. As well as this, there have been times when the internet has completely disconnected itself off the tv for a period of time, which is when I usually swap over to my Apple TV until it sorts itself, but this is only every now and again.

But overall, I’m really happy with what the tv allows me to do, and 90% of the time I’d say it works.

The Samsung Series 7 Smart tv costs £369.00 as an overall payment, but you can also buy it with a monthly payment. It is a really good buy, and it’s probably the best out there if you want to have everything it allows you access to.

‘School of Rock the Musical’ at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, Review

‘School of Rock’ has been a family favourite since the film — starring Jack Black — came out in 2003, and after being transformed into a musical in 2015 — with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater, and the Playwright being Julian Fellowes — the stage show has also been met with worldwide success.

The show ran from the 9th of November – 13th of November at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, as part of it’s UK Wide Tour, and I went to see it on the 12th. Since then, I had a pretty hectic November that has made me unable to write this review until now, but here’s my thoughts on the performance I saw nonetheless.

One of the main things that made the performance so great was the cast, the adult version which included Jake Sharp as Dewey Finn, with Alex Tomkins performing the role in certain performances. Rebecca Lock took on the role of Miss Mullins, with Matthew Rowland joining as Ned Schneebly, and Nadia Violet Johnson joining as Patti Di Marco. But based on whether Jake Sharp or Alex Tomkins played the lead on the night I was there — we were only able to get a brochure and not a programme — I feel like they were able to make me feel like I was watching Jack Black, a big plus for anyone who has grown up being a fan of the movie!

Something I wasn’t a big fan of was the fact that a couple of the songs were changed from the original motion soundtrack, mainly the ‘Give Up Your Dreams’ song that Patti is meant to sing, and replaced instead with a shorter version. However, the rest of the performance more than made up for that, and the before point was only truly made based on the fact that I have been repeatedly listening to the soundtrack for the last few years.

Something else I also liked was how towards the end — when, in the film version, the parents of the kids arrive at the show — the actors playing the kids’ parents came into the audience, which made the show seem extremely real. This was the part that made me forgive my earlier disappointment of a song being cut short, and it was an extremely clever angle to the entire performance.

As well as everything I’ve mentioned so far, there are a couple of other points. Miss Mullan’s was extremely well played, as was Ned Schneebly, and as was Patti. The set design was also extremely clever, and I thought each design matched the scene perfectly. But most importantly, the kids were extremely good.

So overall, I think the performance I saw of ‘School of Rock the Musical’ was extremely well performed, with good set designs to go along with it. Other than still being disappointed over one song in it, the rest of it didn’t disappoint, and there were clever ways around how to turn a scene in the movie into a scene on stage, which was extremely well done.

‘School of Rock the Musical’ was on from the 9th-13th of November, and will resume the tour from the 15th of January next year. Overall, I will give the performance 4 out of 5 stars, and it was an extremely good show.

Skullcandy Venue Active Noise Cancelling Headphones: Are These the Best Wireless Headphones Ever?

The Skullcandy Venue Active Noise Cancelling Headphones are Bluetooth Wireless Headphones developed and sold by Skullcandy Inc, and which did cost £100 on Amazon a couple of months ago, but now cost £79.99 on Amazon. I bought them with one of my pay checks while completing a couple of work experiences this year when they were selling at the more expensive price point, but were they worth the money?

The bag that the headphones came in said “Let today be the start of something new” and when I got the box out of the bag, you could really see how glossy the box was.

On top of the box you get the usual Skullcandy logo, along with the words: ‘All Music. No Noise.’ followed by the word ‘Venue’. Below that, you have some more information on what all the Skullcandy Venues offer, including on how much charge the headphones give you depending on how long they charge for, and to give you just an idea of how good these are, just 5 minutes of charging will give you five hours of usage.

The case that the headphones are very Beats-like, but probably bigger and in my opinion, better looking.

The case is easy to open, and inside it, you get the headphones, the charger, some more information about the headphones and how to set them up, and a couple of wires.

There is some more information about the headphones around the back, but there’s nothing more to say about them other than that.

It’s easy to connect your headphones to whatever phone you have, and as soon as I put them on, I couldn’t hear anything, not even anyone talking to me. The Active Noise Cancelation is extremely good, and I haven’t even found myself listening to stuff as high as I normally would with my Skullcandy Uproar Wireless, with which I had to put my volume up fully. The charge is amazing – especially given that my older headphones (which I had used every day) had started losing charge, but it works well at the minute when I use them side by side.

I haven’t been able to test the Tile feature yet, which lets you track where your headphones were are, but you also get a monitor mode, as well as the Activate Assistant mode. But as someone who has wanted these headphones for years and has just been able to buy them recently, I’m very happy with what I got.

24-inch iMac Review: How Accessible is it for Disabled Users?

The 24-inch iMac Pro is one of Apple’s new Mac lineups, coming in a range of seven different colours. I got one of these during the Summer as my 2015 MacBook Pro has started running out of storage for so many things. Throughout the last few years, I’ve been using it for videos, for audio, and of course the book I’m writing. But what all do these new iMacs come with, and are they accessible for everyone?

So the new 24-inch iMac was announced on the 30th of April 2021, with the first customers getting theirs on the 21st of May. After watching loads of reviews, I decided it would be worth the upgrade, and got mine at the end of July. I got the blue version.

iMac Box Photo © Phoebs Lyle

The box that the iMac comes in has a picture of your colour of iMac on the front, with the word ’iMac’ round the side, and more pictures of the device, itself, at every single side, and covered with the usual special plastic that Apple fans love, it allows for quite the unboxing experience.

As soon as you open the box, the first thing you’ll see will be a protection shield with the word: ’Hello’ on it, and covering the actual iMac beneath it. Under the iMac, you have your keyboard, your Magic Mouse, the charger for your iMac and the one for your keyboard, and all of your quick start information, and this would also be where your Magic Trackpad would be if you ordered one, but the Apple Store in Belfast didn’t have any in stock at the time, so I ended up ordering a silver one on Amazon. Although I’m happy with the trackpad I got, it would still be nice to be able to buy a blue one to match at some point, so if Apple ever let you customise colours of their Magic Trackpads at some point in the future, that would be great.

Everything was very nice to unwrap and set up though, as these couple of videos will show.

The keyboard is also extremely easy to type on, although in future, I wouldn’t bother with getting the one that comes with Touch ID, as it just isn’t accessible enough for people who can’t do everything with their hands or their feet.

Getting back to the geek stuff, the new 24-inch iMacs are 11.5mm in thinness, with a screen you can move to adjust the angle, and less than 40 kilos.

Powered by the M1 chip, the chip is what gives the iMac its extraordinary design, and helps integrate the processor, graphics and more. I like how the screen sits on a poised stand, sort of like it’s iPad-ish, if you compare it to the 2020 Magic Keyboard Case for the iPad, and at the back you have your power button, with incredibly fast ports beside it.

The charger you get attaches via magnets, and all the accessories you get come in exactly the same colour as your mac.

As someone who is still using the 2015 MacBook Pro but has moved to the 24-inch iMac for film and audio reasons, you can really see the difference in the 4.5K Retina display. The P3 wide colour gamut brings what you’re watching to life, and images shine with a brilliant 500 nits of brightness. The True Tone technology adjusts the colour temperature to the ambient light of your environment, for natural viewing experience. I can’t wait until I try making a couple of short films next year so I can see how the display plays them back.

Even the cameras have got a massive update in this iMac, with a 1080p FaceTime HD Camera. Double the resolution of higher quality video calls, we get a larger sensor that captures more light, and the Advanced Image Signal Processor, thanks to the M1 chip, greatly improves image quality.

The new iMacs come with studio-quality mics, which make sure that whether you’re recording a podcast, a video chat or on a video chat, you’ll always come across crisp and clear. The three-mic array is designed to reduce feedback, so conversations flow more naturally, with the including beamforming technology helping to ignore background noise, meaning everyone hears you and not what’s around you.

The new sound system on the iMac brings room-filling audio to any space. The two pairs of force-cancelling woofers create rich, deep base without any unwanted vibrations, and with high performance tweeters – the volume on this new iMac is absolutely brilliant.

This iMac also supports Spacial Audio when playing music or video with Dolby Atmos, but the fact that a lot of this is still limited to Apple headphones makes it a bit annoying. Although you can still connect non Apple headphones to Apple products, I would love if my Apple products would show my Skullcandies on the screen the same as how the AirPods show up if you’re truing to connect them, but hopefully if both companies are seeing this, there’s a way they can make this happen.

Lastly, this iMac is able to run the newest iOS software, which at the time this blog has been written is iOS Monterey, and if you any iPad later than the iPad 6th gen, iPad Mini 5th gen, or the iPad Air 3rd gen, or any iPad Pro, you will be able to use SideCar. SideCar isn’t fully accessible as of yet, however, because to use it you have to have an Apple Pencil, and other styluses which are easier for people with mobility issues to use won’t work, but hopefully this changes one day. Away from Sidecar, you will also be able to download iPhone and iPad apps onto your mac, although this does depend on the developer.

But overall, although there are some small things that could be improved, the vast majority of stuff on this new iMac I am able to access. It was easy to set up, and once my Trackpad arrived, it was easy to set up all the accessibility features I needed to use the Mac, such as tapping the right side of the trackpad instead of using two fingers to right click, and setting up Sticky Keys so there’s no reason for me to hold down two buttons at the one time. The only things I think have to improve is for the side bars for scrolling down the side of applications to be constantly on, and with customisable largeness, for Face ID to be added so those who can’t use Touch ID have a smart way of paying, and for SideCar to work on iPad with styluses that are more accessible than the Apple Pencil. But other than that, I’ve loved using the new iMac ever since I got it, and overall, it is accessible.

You can get the new 24-inch iMac in Blue, Green, Pink and Silver, with Orange, Yellow and Purple also being a choice with the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID options. They cost between £1,249-£1,649.

Experiments With Adaptive Gaming: Does This Budget Manfrotto Arm Work the Same as the Manfrotto Variable Friction Arm?

What’s up TR Fans and welcome back for another blog here on Technology Reviews! In this blog I’m going to be looking at whether this budget Manfrotto arm I got works just as well as the Manfrotto Variable Friction Mounting Arm which I reviewed last year, and which is better for the price.

But first, thanks for 30 subscribers to the YouTube Channel, ‘Phoebs Does Technology Reviews’, and if you like what you’re seeing and would like to see more, then head on over and hit subscribe, and if you help me get up to my first milestone of 50 subscribers, I will let you have the choice of whether I do a gaming video of your choice, or if I do a ‘What I Have On My iPhone or iPad’ video.

So what you’ll have to get if you’d like to use a budget Manfrotto arm for gaming is:

  • The Manfrotto 196AB-2 Single Arm 2 Section – £39.95
  • A Manfrotto Super Clamp – between £26 – £34.95
  • Manfrotto Mounting Studs (the ones I got were £6 although prices vary) and;
  • A small or large rectangular mounting plate – £20 through Inclusive Technology

The studs I ordered however, took a bit of time arriving, and after they arrived, I had to get help putting it together, but all was good after.

When the arm is put together, you’ll want to have the clamp at the bottom of the arm, with the rectangular plate on the other end. To move the position of the plate, you’ll be using the clamp as well as the circular star-like control on the arm, but a warning that this has only worked with switches for me, and I haven’t tried it with a controller.

But what are my thoughts on this budget Manfrotto arm overall? Well, the good news is, it does definitely do the same job. After trying it with a couple of games, I found that the budget Manfrotto arm slipped a bit more compared to the Variable Friction Mounting Arm, but it wasn’t too noticeable, and it could have easily just been my position changing, as I do slide quite a lot. So yes, it might slide a lot, but for some people, would you notice?

But in relation to the question, how does this arm compare to the Manfrotto Variable Friction Mounting Arm, I think it depends on what all you are looking for. If you can afford something way over £100 and you want that actual sturdiness, then by all means, go for the Variable Friction Mounting Arm. But if you’re a disabled gamer who is on a budget, or you live with someone who is on a budget, this is still a good arm. You can even buy each of the pieces over a couple of months like I did, depending on when you have more money, and you definitely won’t be losing out.

Blue Snowball ICE Microphone Review

What’s up TR Fans and welcome back for another review! Thanks to everyone who has continued to support this blog during the last 6-7 weeks while I’ve been on work experience! I’ve had a brilliant few weeks! But although this is my first blog back, I’m still only going to update a couple of times a month, especially with how busy I’m getting behind the scenes, but hopefully I’ll be able to say more about that soon.

I’ve meant to do this blog for a while now, but for various reasons it’s been pushed back to now. But here’s my review of the Blue Snowball ICE Microphone, which is the microphone I use for voiceovers and my podcasts.

So the Blue Snowball ICE Microphone – as the name will suggest – is sold by the company Blue Microphones – and is a good budget microphone costing around £55, making it a good alternative mic for anyone who wants to start recording but has a budget, or who can’t afford their more expensive microphone, the Blue Yeti. Coming with Blue’s custom condenser capsule, it is capable of delivering crystal clear audio quality, miles ahead of the built in microphone quality on your computer. It can also be used for recording, podcasting, voice overs, twitch gaming, YouTube videos, and is compatible on PC and Mac.

Coming in a white and blue box, the front of it includes a photo of the microphone head, with the word “ICE” in blue behind it, and the word “snowball” in the E. You also have a bit of information at the bottom, as well as a miniature photo of the microphone set up, and as we look round the side, we’ll find information on the audio specs.

Inside the box, you have the microphone stand, the USB cable, the microphone head, and some paperwork. The microphone head comes in a separate box inside the package, and it is easy to unwrap.

The only bit of setting up the microphone you might need help with is when putting all the pieces together. You have to twist a couple of times to get the microphone attached to the stand, and even then, you might have to change the capsule options at the back depending on how you want to set it up. After the microphone is set up, you would just put the USB cable into the back, and that’s you ready to use it. I don’t personally have experience of trying to turn each capsule with my chopstick, so I don’t know how easy or hard it is to do, and I also can’t use anything other than my head, but if you fancy trying it out and telling me how hard or easy it is, then I’d be interested in learning your view.

If you would prefer using it on your iPad or phone, or any other tablet, you would have to buy a USB to USB-C cable or any other adapters, but you can buy them for cheap on Amazon if you want to get one.

But what do I think of the Blue Snowball ICE Microphone overall? It’s got good audio quality overall, and although I have to put it as close to my mouth as it can go to get good enough quality, it doesn’t catch the sound of my ventilator as much as other microphones I’ve tried have. For disabled people who want to have the independence of setting it up, it might not be the best option, but overall, it’s a good microphone if you want a good budget microphone.

XBox Pulse Red Controller on an Xbox One S Review

©️ Phoebs Lyle

The next generation consoles for Xbox and PlayStation have been out since November, but while many people have either one of the two consoles, it’s still a distant dream. Like me, some of my readers might still be using one of the last generation Xbox Ones, so in this blog, we’re going to be looking at how accessible the next generation controllers are, and how they stand up for people who are waiting a wee bit longer before upgrading to the current generation.

So starting with the box, you see the Xbox logo on the front, above a picture of the controller itself, which stands beside the words Pulse Red.

Front of Xbox Pulse Red Controller box © Phoebs Lyle

As you start looking at the sides, you’ll see some information telling you what you get inside, and at the back, some more about what you get with this controller.

Most of the features this controller gives you have been around for a couple of generations now, such as the textured grip and the hybrid D-pad, which was included with the Xbox Elite Controllers – although you do have a choice not to use it on that controller. But the one new thing that you do get on this controller is the new share button, so if you want to share a moment of your gameplay with your friends, you can.

The box is easy to open – much easier than the keyboard case I looked at last week – and you’ll see the controller as soon as you open it. But the only other thing you get in the package is two batteries, which now seem a bit pointless because you should instead get some rechargeable batteries.

Once I got using the controller, I found the buttons much easier to use than the buttons on my Elite Series 2 controller, but it might just be with it being a newer controller that I haven’t been using for the last year.

Some other information about this controller is – depending on what controller you’ve had before – it may be smaller, but for me, as someone who has been playing on the Xbox Elite Series 2 controller in Co-Pilot with the Xbox Adaptive Controller, I think the Series X/S controller is actually bigger. As the controller is built with Backwards Compatibility, you can use it on the Xbox Series X and S, as well as the One X and S, Windows 10 and on Android, with iOS support coming in the future once XCloud gets run out to the web extension for Apple fans who want to use XCloud.

But how accessible is the controller overall? Well, starting from the what I like about it side, I think the buttons are easier to press than on the Elite Controller, I love how I can now share clips of my gameplay – which is something I’ll start using more as I bring out more gaming videos, and if you prefer using your controller with the Swap Sticks option on, your settings will automatically be saved from what you had it set to on your last controller, plus it still works very well in Co-Pilot. I also like how you can still plug it in and play, if you have rechargeable batteries.

But even then, there are some things I don’t like about it. One of these things is that it doesn’t let me use the right stick for navigation until I’m signed in to my account, which makes it difficult for me to sign in because I’m right-mouthed instead of right handed, and sometimes when I’m trying to hold down the home button and trying to turn it off, it takes a long time. I’m not sure if this is something that only occurs when you use it on the Xbox One, but could someone please tell me if it is? Other than that, I don’t have any complaints about it, and even the white back doesn’t annoy me as much as I know it has some other people, because I use mine on a clamp and I play with my mouth.

So overall, I would say this controller is accessible, but some small features still need to be sorted.

2020 Magic Keyboard Case for 11-inch iPad Pro Review

What’s up TR Fans and welcome back for another review here on Technology Reviews! Today, we’re going to be looking at how accessible Apple’s new Magic Keyboard Case for the 11-inch iPad Pro is for disabled people, or anyone with limited movements.

But before I get into this review, I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has got my Phoebs Does Technology Reviews YouTube Channel to 25 subscribers, and for making my Story of My Life / 20th Anniversary of my Accident video the most watched video on my channel, with it now on 151 views. If you haven’t seen the video yet, you can find it at https://youtu.be/zO5AHsRAgYg, and if I get to 30 subscribers, I will put a video out on my Instagram announcing options for what type of blog and video I will make if we get to 50!

So the new Magic Keyboard Case for iPad by Apple came out last year, and can be used with the iPad Pro 11-inch 2nd Generation, as well as the 4th Generation iPad Air, and the 2019 iPad Pro. It features a similar keyboard that comes with the new MacBooks and on new Bluetooth keyboards, and is now joined with a trackpad and a USB-C port for passthrough charging, turning your iPad into a mini computer.

Coming with a floating, cantilever design, it allows you to attach your iPad magnetically, and to smoothly adjust its viewing angle, depending on what’s more comfortable for you.

Home Video on Box of the Magic Keyboard Case ©️ Phoebs Lyle, technologyreviews.co.uk

The box that the case comes in has a picture of the case on the cover, and at the back, some details and images on what all it’s compatible with.

And like everything else Apple related, it has the usual special plastic that comes with all other Apple Products, so for fans of the packaging, you’re still not losing out.

Once you open the box, the first thing you’ll see is the Smart Keyboard Case, and the paperwork on how to use it is in the middle of the case, which you can set aside until you’re ready.

11-inch iPad Pro Unboxing ©️ Phoebs Lyle

Some other features that this case comes with are full-size, backlit keys, how you can use the same Multi-Touch gestures that apply to MacBooks on the trackpad, and how it folds into a case that provides front and back protection. However, the keyboard case doesn’t cover the entire iPad as there is a bit at the side that is uncovered that other YouTubers have pointed out, so it’s best to just be aware of that in case you’re travelling, but it hasn’t personally impacted me just yet as I only got it near the start of this most recent Lockdown.

Type Testing ©️Phoebs Lyle, http://www.technologyreviews.co.uk

It’s been over two months since I bought this case, but I was so excited to get using it when I first got it that I got stuck in to testing how accessible it was straight away. Here’s a video of when I tried using the keyboard and trackpad on it for the first time, and how easy it was to get a hang of it.

But what do I think about the Apple Magic Keyboard Case overall, and would I advise other people to get one? Well, since I got the new Magic Keyboard Case, I’ve been using my iPad more than I’ve ever used it, and it brings a lot of the worries over not being able to reach something away, now that the trackpad has been added. I also like how I can plug my hard drive into the iPad while charging it at the same time, how your keyboard settings will be the same as they were if you’re swapping over from another keyboard case, and the keyboard is nice to type on, but I would like if you could change the colour of the backlight.

However, although there are good things about it, there are also some things that Apple could improve on.

Unfortunately, the same customisable trackpad settings you have on Mac aren’t available in the trackpad settings for iPad, most notably, the ability to right click with the left or right of the trackpad, which could make life easier for some physically disabled people. A lot of apps also don’t support scrolling with arrow keys, which might disadvantage people who can’t scroll using the trackpad or for whom clicking a button might be easier. The price _ at £279 _ also makes it expensive, although if you can afford it, it’s well worth the money, and lastly, more mac apps should bring out iPad and iPhone apps, but that might be closer than we think if the rumours regarding Pro apps coming to iPad are anything to go by.

But overall, I think the Magic Keyboard Case for iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd Generation) is accessible, but it could still improve in some ways.

XG-13 Wireless Earphone Review

What’s up TR Fans and welcome back for another review here on Technology Reviews! Today we’re going to be looking at a pair of XG-13 wireless earphones that were made in China and which I got for my 23rd in January, so let’s see how accessible they are.

Just a quick note, though, that this is going to be the last review blog coming out on here until the 19th of April as I’ll be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the accident that left me disabled on April the 9th, which I’ll be making a video for to highlight my story. My plan at the minute is to maybe upload a video on the Phoebs Does Technology Reviews YouTube Channel as a My Story video, but it will all depend on what sort of music I include, so I might include it on here but we’ll have to see.

But now, let’s get into the review.

The version of the XG-13 Wireless Earphones I have are the Version 5.0+ in EDR and Bluetooth range, with a transmission rate of 10M. The transmit power is 2.402-2 to 484GHZ, and the included Charging Case Battery Capacity is 350MAH.

XG-13 Charging Case

The case itself is small, so you’re able to take the earphones wherever you go with ease. Then, if you want to charge one or both of the earphones, you would just plug a DC 5V charger into the back, which for Skullcandy fans like myself, is the same charger we’ve been using, but if you don’t have that sort of charger, you can get them for cheap on Amazon. But they also charge if you just place them in the case, without you having to charge the case as well.

You get a talk time of about 3 and a half hours, music time of about 4h, standby time of about 120 hours, so you definitely get good usage out of them.

When you open the case, the earphones look like this, and they should be a good enough size for whoever’s using them. They are available in black and white.

So what do I think about the XG-13 Wireless Earphones overall? I like how clear you can hear sound on them, and I think it’s cool that you can charge them inside the case. Each time I’ve charged them, they’ve been able to charge quickly, and I like how I’m not required to have them both on constantly, as well as the voice you hear to tell you they’re connected.

But even then, there are a few problems. As many of you know, I use my head to do things that other people take for granted, and it’s for this reason why my Skullcandy headphones are still my main headphones, and I only use these one of these ones in one ear at a time when I’m watching something. Although they are comfortable, they would fall out of my ears more if I used them with everything else I do, but they are accessible depending on when they’re used, like if you sleep on your side.

Like my other headphone reviews on here, the only other thing I’d like to see would be a voice control feature, so I can control the volume and other features on them if, for example, I drop my stylus, but other than that, I’d give them four stars.