Author Archives: Kevin James

Vaporesso Renova Zero review

As an ex-smoker, I’ve been vaping pretty much since vaping was invented and, consequently, have worked my way through _many_ mods looking for the perfect set-up. Indeed many mods and many different brands but, through thick and thin, I always seem to end back up with something by Smok Industries.

And so it was that the mod I’ve been using for the last six or seven months is the Smok Mag Grip 100 (her ladyship too) and I really can’t fault it as a reliable piece of work – both in build and usage.

Still, it’s a lot to lug around, I really should start weaning myself off of the big-hitters after all these years, and I’ve got a flight to Oz coming up. Sooooo it’s time to dip my toe into the pool of discrete vapes again.

I tried a Juul and, in a word, it was (and still is) crap. No draw, no vape, no battery, full of bubbles – absolute toy of an invention. Crap. The only thing that it has proven is the power of marketing.

I was a little wary then of trying again but, with Google as my wingman (best discrete vape 2019) I set off on the hunt.

Time and again, sites ranked the Vaopresso Renova Zero as a winner. Some saying that it’s M2L hit was just like smoking, others it’s stamina, others it’s form factor, others it’s ease of use. At £18 (rather than the ~£40 of Juul ….. crap) it was worth a punt.

And what a punt indeed!

The one downside of the Smok Mag Grip is it’s ability to get through a vast amount of liquid in a short amount of time. So much so that it was costing me nearly as much as tabs to keep the thing filled.

Not so with the Renova. It’s tiny tank lasts me a good half a day (work day) – barely giving trouble to the e-liquid bottle in the process. I get through less in a week with the Renova than I do in a day with the Mag Grip.

Great. But what about the battery? Again, there is a cost associated with the Mag Grip in that the 18650s wear down over time and have to be replaced. Add to that there are four constantly on charge in the house, and the cost goes up.

The Renova takes a twinkling of an eye (about twenty minutes it seems) to charge via passthrough – and then goes on to last all day on a single charge.

That’ll be a win then.

The vaping itself though? Surely it’s a poor second place to the Mag Grip. True, the Renova produces a lot less vape than the Mag Grip – as well it should. However, compared to the Juul (crap), there is plenty of it. And, as per the reviews, vaping M2L _is_ just like smoking a tab. The very fact that I’ve comfortably binned the mod (well, not binned – it’s still in a drawer just in case) for the Renova without a look back, is evidence enough that it’s a good replacement.

Not only that, but I’m no longer categorised with the half-wit cloud-chasers either.

In terms of form and ability to easily sneak into plane toilets? Blinding. Absolutely blinding. It’s tiny. So tiny in fact, that it will fit into the lighter pocket in your jeans with room to spare. It redefines discrete.

The body itself is a kind of grippy matte plastic with shiny metallic detailing along the edges. The tanks are shadowed and there are enough colours available to accessorise.

Ongoing costs? Three coils for the Mag Grip set me back fifteen quid online. Four spare cartridges (the tank/coil equivalent on the Renova is replaced as one) less than that.

So that’s another win.

My only gripes:
It would be nice to have some indication of exactly how much charge is left. Yes, there is a step warning and, yes, it only takes minutes to re-charge. But it would be nice to be able to have a choice of delaying leaving the house by five minutes to charge it – based on X% charge being left.

It seems to have a propensity to get e-liquid in ones’ mouth. That could be me hauling on it like a lunatic, could be me over-filling the tank or could just be a bad tank. I’ll keep and eye on it and report back.

All-in-all. This is the epitome of a discrete, usable and well-built vape.

Bose 700 Headphones after a couple of weeks

TL;DR – Still a “Wow!” from me.

After a week of using the 700s on the work commute (2.5 hours each way) there was still some charge left in them – which is a very plus point as far as I’m concerned.

The sound quality is still outstanding across the very wide array of my musical tastes – you name it, it’s in my music library. And all faithfully reproduced in great clarity.

I had a flick through the Bose community forum to see if there was anything that I should be worried about. I’m not too concerned about not being able to hard-toggle between various paired devices, neither the hand-off between devices – as I tend to listen through my iPhone and, for the reason below, use a wired headset on my Surface Book 2 for conferencing.

There are numerous complaints about the way that the 700s interact with Windows 10 on Surface Book 2s and, in my experience, that is to be expected. For the best part of three grand’s worth of computer, Microsoft put the most shiate bluetooth chip in that they could find. My Plantronics used to cut in and out on a regular basis (hence going back to wired), they also caused mass destruction in group conferences. I’ve binned the Microsoft ( <—– Yes, Microsoft) Sculpt mouse because anything bluetooth near by would corrupt the signal. All in all, Surface Book 2 + anything bluetooth = total disaster.

Shame on you Microsoft.

The 700s are supremely comfortable to wear – including over a baseball cap – and the ear cups are very comfortable for long-term wearing.

The carry case is really helpful and, if it’s raining, I can happily lob the 700s into my rucksack knowing that they won’t be destroyed.

Is it all grand then? Not completely!

Minor gripe: Yes, the ANC does appear to occasionally enhance wind-noise. It’s not a show-stopper by any means but, due to their otherwise flawless performance, it’s noticeable.

Major gripe: I think that the planet is in agreement that the Bose Music app is an absolute bag of nails. I really struggle to find any justification for it’s existence other than Bose harvesting personal information.

It constantly tells me that I need to connect to the internet (this whilst streaming internet vibes through the 700s).

It is constantly dropping the connection to the 700s (fine still through the native iPhone connection)

It randomly decides to switch the Alexa wake-word setting off.

It’s basically a solution looking for a problem – but causing problems just by it’s mere existence.

Thankfully, the 700s work happily through the native iPhone interface, so this isn’t really causing me any issues directly – it’s just that the app is so poor that just know that it exists is offensive.

When it may become a huge problem is if I ever need to re-set things up on an aircraft – or somewhere else that requires airplane mode. This is because Bose Music is required to do this, and Bose Music has to be connected to the internet to work.

So, all-in-all, the 700s are a staggering piece of kit, let down only by a woeful Bose Music app.

Crikey

OK. So that was bloody tiring.

Most folks spend a year training to do that. I had two walks over the last fortnight.

Not helped by having to do a load of running between Windsor and Cookham as I picked the same day as the Windsor to Henley MacMillan cancer Mighty Walk – and there were thousands of them ……. all going just that little bit slower that me.

Bose 700 Headphones – Review

Fair warning: This is coming from my only previous experience of ANC headphones – Pantronic £25 ones. 

Mea culpa! Yes, I am guilty of proclaiming that folks wandering around in their own world of ANC in London should be publically birched. 

But that was then.

For reasons known only to myself – probably flicking through Flipboard one evening, potentially with a small libation in me – I decided to pre-order the Bose 700 Headphones. On the face of it an absolutely insane thing to do. After all, these things are £350! Yes. £350. You could add up all the Airpods I’ve ever bought, and the above Plantronics and still not hit that figure. 

Still though, in my new found life as bon viveur, some “decent”(tm) Cans were the only thing missing. 

Fast forward last week and I’m frantically reading other online reviews. Have I wasted my money? Are there any reported problems? (Release date was 11th July – and I’d taken the 12th to work from home as there was no way I was going to let some half-wit delivery driver lob these over my garden fence).

I followed their progress on the DHL tracker and, true to promise, the parcel arrived at lunchtime on the 12th. 

Unpacking ensued – only real comment is that the packing is very good quality (he could have lobbed them over the fence with no worries) and that the case the 700s come in is a real piece of work. There’s a little magnetically sealed comparement for the USB-C (thank you!) and 2mm headphone cable. 

Charged and ready to go, the set-up was simple. Download and install the Bose Music app, turn on the 700s and connect. (This is using an iPhone XS Max). 

The default setting was 10 on the ANC and it was a staggering experience. I didn’t have any music playing but her Ladyship was hovering in the room next door. Popped on the 700s and ……. total isolation. Not even a hint of the hoover. Wow!

Next test, pair them with my Surface Book 2 as well – as they can be paired with two devices at once – and enable spatial sound in the sound settings of Windows 10. ANC set to 5 and fire up Destiny 2. Double wow! It was like I was standing in the game itself. 

Fast forward to today and my first commute into the City as an official ANC-zombie. And what a revelation it has been.

ANC on 5 on the walk to the station with BBC Radio 4 Today playing provided a gentle cocoon without any danger of getting knocked down crossing the road. 

On the assumption that the flaky Three Mobile signal on the train to London wouldn’t improve had me turning to the SpaceMusic Podcast by TC for the rest of the journey. Oh the richness of the sound! Absolutely incredible. Vibrant music across the range, the volume on the iPhone bearly ticking over. Really comfortable fit of the 700s meant that I barely knew that I was wearing them. Crickey. 

Going past Hayes and Harlington the window opposite me blew open and couldn’t be closed, so I could now begin to hear trains racing past the opposite way. No matter, a click of the left button (two actually – 5, 0, 10) and back in peace and quiet. In fact, as a first time real use of full ANC, it was almost un-nerving. I could _see_ the world happening around me, I could hear the relaxing SpaceMusic but that was all. Not an ounce of any other sound intruded into my world. Absolutely uncanny. 

At Paddington I switched back to 5 for the walk to Queensway. Very gentle traffic noise (enough to not get run over) but nothing else. Again, for a busy area of London, incredible performance. 

So though, to the ultimate test. A jam-packed tube train on the Central line from Queensway to Liverpool Street. (Cue some kind of Jaws-type music). 

For those that don’t get to experience this delight on a daily basis, the Central Line is very old, very hot, very crammed (think Mexican bus) and deafeningly loud. Clearly, this was a case for 10. 

I’m still getting over the result. Honestly. 

All I could hear was SpaceMusic and – occasionally, when going round a tight turn – a very muted squealing of wheels. Other than that, I was again cocooned. 

Lord alone knows what kind of sorcery lies within these things. Clearly a by-product of Unicorn’s horn and Fairy’s tears or something. How it is possible to make that tube journey enjoyable is beyond me. 

I switched back to 5 at Liverpool Street and then, as I arrived outside the office on Bishopsgate, switched off the 700s and slipped them round my neck. 

I can only liken that experience to being re-born. Suddenly, the hustle and bustle of London City on a Monday morning returned. If I had teleported straight there from the quiet hills of the Chilterns where I live, the experience wouldn’t have been any different. 

So. Worth £350? Absolutely.

ANC-zombie? Absolutely. 

Bottom line. These things are utterly life-changing. 

ANC-zombie? Absolutely. 

Bottom line. These things are utterly life-changing. 

Escape is useless

I went back to Apple.

After all the effort of going Samsung, it’s just not as good as the Apple experience. So ….

Gear Fit Pro 2 – turned into a 44mm Apple Watch 4.

Tab 4 – turned into an iPad Mini 5 (to be fair, I always promised myself that – when Apple released a Mini that you could write on, then I’d be first in line)

Galaxy Note 9 – turned into an XS Max

Am I proud of myself?

Hell yeah.

(Kept the Surface Book 2 though – it’s bloody amazing)

Oh yes!

I’m in the only sane pub in the wasteland of Brentford (twinned with the Gaza Strip)

Overheard:

“How did you get on in Antarctica Bunny? Did you get decent food?”

I’ll leave that there.