Mavic Mini Vs Mavic Air 2: Which One to Buy?

DJI’s Mavic series of drones have set the standard for what compact camera drones can be, but over time the number of drones carrying the Mavic name has grown substantially. The Mavic 2 in either the Pro or Zoom models, represents the top of the range. So if you want to simply buy the best compact DJI drone on the market, your choice is simple. 

When it comes to the Mavic Mini vs the Mavic Air 2 choice however, there’s quite a lot at stake. Each of these drones have their own important pros and cons. We took out both machines to the sunny outdoors and filmed a few off-road motorcyclists doing their thing. After putting these fantastic flyers through their paces, we’ve got a good idea which type of user each drone is for.

The Big Deal: Price

Let’s not beat around the bush. There’s a huge price difference between the Mavic Mini vs Mavic Air 2. You can buy two Mavic Minis for the price of a single Mavic Air 2. So a big part of the decision is whether the extra cost is justified by the extra features. 

In either case, we strongly recommend that you purchase the “Fly More Combo” versions of each drone. The accessories included with these combos are essential and buying them separately later is much more expensive than opting for the combo immediately.

Sizing Up The Competition

The Mavic Air 2 is by no means a large drone, but compared to the Mavic Mini it’s gargantuan. Have a look at this size comparison taken from our Mavic Air 2 unboxing video.

If you get the Air 2’s nifty carry bag, it’s hardly a chore to get it around, but the Mini is small enough that you can throw it inside your existing bag. Consequently, the Mini is a drone that you can always have with you, while the Air 2 is a drone you need to specially pack for the occasion. 

There’s a saying that the best camera is the one you have with you, and so the Mini has a serious advantage here.

The Mavic Mini: Pros And Cons

While you might think the Air 2, if money were no object, would always beat the Mini, you’d be wrong. The Mini has quite a lot going for it in its own right. The first and “biggest” advantage it has is weight. There’s a reason DJI have so prominently pasted “249g” to the side of their drone. In most countries with drone regulations, drones that weight 250g or less are exempt from most if not all licensing requirements. This weight was chosen to exclude the millions of small toy-class drones from onerous licencing needs. 

However, DJI has thumbed their nose at this and managed to squeeze high-end drone technology into that weight limit. Time will tell if there’s widespread changes in the law, but for now Mini pilots don’t have to worry about paperwork or costly certification. You still need to fly your drone in accordance with the law though.

Another major advantage of the Mavic Mini is the ability to charge it on the go from USB sources. Though other larger DJI drones have USB ports, they can’t charge their batteries from it. With the Mavic you can use a car charger or power bank, as long as it’s outputting 24W or less.

Comparatively, the Mavic Mini has several weaknesses compared to the Air 2. For one thing, it doesn’t have any flight avoidance sensors, apart from downward sensing landing sensors. So you don’t have any sort of safety net to prevent you from flying into things.

From a camera drone perspective, the biggest con of the Mini is its 2.7K camera. That is however a matter of perspective, if you’re looking at making 1080p content, 2.7K gives plenty of leeway. If you absolutely must have a 4K camera, it’s a non-starter from the outset.

The last major disadvantage worth mentioning is the use of WiFi as its transmission system. Unlike DJI’s in-house Ocusync technology, WiFi is prone to interference and signal loss. This makes it a poor choice for situations where you only have one chance to film something, such as an action shot. 

The Mavic Air 2: The Pros & Cons

The Mavic Air 2 is a drone that got plenty of people excited. It’s a much less expensive machine than the class-leading Mavic 2 models, but really isn’t that far off in terms of features. In fact, in some ways the Air 2 is better, such as its ability to film 4K video at 60 frames per second. The camera is therefore a serious step up from the Mini and, when compared to Mavic 2 footage side-by-side, the differences are only evident to the real pros.

The other major pro of the Air 2 is just how well equipped it is to fly. Its 68 kph top speed is much faster than the Mini’s 46.8 kph. It can resist wind speeds that are far more ferocious and it has both front and rear obstacle avoidance sensors in addition to the bottom landing sensor feature it shared with the Mini (and every other modern DJI drone).It also uses Ocusync, which has virtually flawless connectivity.

The main cons include the fact you need a special battery charger and it’s not quite portable enough to throw in your bag or always keep with you.

Camera & Flight Performance

We took our Mavic Mini and Air 2 out to a remote mine dump, a place where off-road motorcyclists like to spend their time throwing up plumes of dust and dirt as they race across the flats. It’s hot and mildly windy and we did our best to film these guys doing their thing on the sands.

The film quality from both drones was excellent. However, you’re stuck with a preset color profile with the Mini, which means your color-grading options are limited. The Air 2 on the other hand offers a flat color profile, so you can really tailor the footage to your needs.

The Mini also struggled to keep up with our subjects, but the Air 2 zoomed around like it owned the skies. If you want to film fast-moving objects the Mini really isn’t the tool for the job. One place the Mini did excel was in flight endurance. Though both drones have a stated flight time of around 30 minutes, the Mini’s batteries were charging in the car while we flew. So we have more full charges for it! Sadly, we also had signal loss on the Mini, while the Air 2 was rock-solid.

Here’s a selection of clips from the Mavic Mini, shot at its 2.74K maximum and then upscaled to 4K.

Finally, here we have clips from the Air 2 of the same event. These are native 4K clips.

Final Verdict: Which Drone Is For You?

So after spending quite a lot of time with both machines, here’s what we have to say about these two excellent drones.

The Mavic Air 2:

  • Is the drone to buy for most people.
  • But it requires licencing in many countries.
  • Still, it’s good enough for professional use.

The Mavic Mini:

  • Doesn’t require special licencing (yet).
  • Is truly portable and can charge from USB.
  • Takes amazing footage that’s not quite pro-level (but you can make it work).
  • Suffers from signal problems thanks to WiFi.

So, if you want the best all-round drone on the market today that can do just about any job and take excellent footage, the Air 2 is unbeatable at the price.

If you want a drone for filming beautiful scenes or (relatively) low speed action that you can always have with you, charge anywhere and don’t need any paperwork or government approval then the Mavic Mini is the best deal today.

10 Free Amazon Fire Stick Channels You Should Install

Will TV go out of fashion? It’s difficult to say. A burgeoning number of people are cutting the cord every day. Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ etc are streaming in. Then, smart devices like Amazon Fire Sticks are helping you customize the way you surf TV channels.

The Amazon Fire Stick is one of the best alternatives to Google Chromecast. But whichever device you choose, there are just so many hours in a day. So, your choice of movie and TV channels becomes critical to getting the most out of them. 

Here are some of the most popular Amazon Fire Stick channels you should install.

YouTube

YouTube was the victim of a tiff between Google and Amazon. Then it came back on Amazon Fire Stick and Amazon devices. And why not? Where else would you get to watch 30+ million channels and content in more than 80 languages? YouTube handles a third of the web’s traffic. 

Install the YouTube app on the Fire Stick and let Alexa do its thing with a, “Alexa, play the latest song from Taylor Swift” voice command.

Download: YouTube (Free)

Tubi TV

The Tubi TV Fire Stick channel has a nice feature called Collections that you can use as a shortcut to watch acclaimed movies. For instance, the Highly Rated on Rotten Tomatoes collection will help you discover some rare gems like the “Requiem for The American Dream”. 

It is the world’s largest ad-supported video on demand service with over 20,000 movies and television shows from every major Hollywood studio. That’s a claim you can test while binging on its vast collection. 

Tubi is available in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Download: Tubi TV (Free)

FilmRise Classics

Want to return to the best classics? On the FilmRise Classics Fire Stick channel you can watch shows like 21 Jump Street and Third Rock From The Sun here. You can also turn to more recent films like Monster, Memento, and Spotlight if you’re tired of TV shows. There’s a selective lineup of free documentaries too for a dose of reality.

Download: FilmRise (Free)

Popcornflix

Watch streaming movies, viral videos, and web series episodes. A selective lineup of free to watch foreign films and documentaries completes the package. You have to put up ads through them, but the content is free to air. 

An interesting trivia is that the Chicken Soup for the Soul company owns the online channel. 

You will find documentaries foreign films and original web series. Use the directory to browse for shows across all genres from action to Asian action. And don’t miss out on some of the unique categories like Standup Comedy and Bro Movies.

There’s a special Popcornflix Kids Amazon Fire Stick app too.

Download: Popcornflix (Free)

IMDb TV

IMDb is an Amazon company but needs no separate introduction for film lovers. It always had trailers, celebrity interviews, and other short form content. Last year, Amazon launched IMDb TV (earlier it was IMDb Freedrive) as a free but ad-supported Amazon Fire Stick channel for movies and TV shows. 

It is available only in the U.S. Look out for the “Watch Free on IMDb TV” sign when you are browsing the site to instantly know if the title is available on IMDb TV. You can also find IMDb TV titles in your Watchlist on the site.

Download: IMDb TV (Free)

TED TV

TED Talks have always been the easiest way to get brain food. You can move from your desktop or mobile to the couch with its Amazon Fire Stick app. 

The easy sync between the devices ensures that you keep your favorite talks and watch history wherever you watch the talks. Plus, you can bring them up with voice commands.

Download: TED TV (Free)

XUMO TV

The XUMO Fire Stick channel has a channel lineup that looks just like the one offered by your cable provider. There are 180+ free channels to pick from. All channels are free to watch and stream from any device. 

Apart from free movies, you can relax with ABC News Live, NBC News NOW, HISTORY, PGA Tour, FailArmy, and other channels XUMO partners with. Of course, like any other cable channel you have to tolerate commercial breaks and ads. 

One happy benefit of XUMO’s free offering is that it tries to add new channels every month.

Download: XUMO (Free)

Crackle

Sony Entertainment brings you Crackle. The free video streaming app showcases movies and TV shows while supporting ads. Browse the content that is organized into neat “channels” that makes discovery easier than Netflix. 

For instance, you can go through the Home School Channel to find kid-friendly shows. Or, the Film Fatales Channel for some kickass women-centric films. Crackle is available in the U.S. only.

Download: Crackle (Free)

NASA

Space and astronomy are back in vogue. If you want to catch up, then NASA’s awesome content is the first place to tap because it’s not a niche Fire Stick channel for space buffs. And yes, it streams everything for free. 

Watch news, live events like space launches, broadcasts from the ISS, interviews with astronauts, and even historical content. NASA also uses other partners to beam its content like YouTube, Twitter, and Twitch among others for public education. 

The Amazon Fire Stick app and a 4K TV is a good combination for a lean back spacefaring experience.

Download: NASA TV (Free)

PBS Kids

The Public Broadcasting Service has a bunch of apps with family friendly shows. PBS KIDS is for the little ones. It is the most trusted source of good quality educational content for kids. 

The 24×7 edutainment is all free. It could be the perfect distraction for your kids when schools are closed, and they are stuck inside the house.

Download: PBS (Free)

Free Amazon Fire Stick Channels: More Than You Can Count

An Amazon Fire Stick can turn any dumb TV into a smart TV and save you a lot of money. Install the right streaming channels and you can even drop your cable subscription for good

But don’t just stop at these apps. Download these amazing Amazon Fire Stick apps and turn your TV into a multipurpose entertainment hub. 

How To Use Bluetooth For Car Audio In An Old Or New Car

Bluetooth is an almost universal short-range communications technology found in everything from smartphones to coffee makers. The latest version of the technology is incredibly power-efficient, can transfer significant amounts of data and has little perceptible lag. So it’s no surprise that newer models of vehicles now have Bluetooth built in. 

The thing is, what can you do if your car doesn’t have Bluetooth for car audio? Even if it does, how do you even use it? 

Don’t Forget About USB Cable Adapters

One of the reasons that people are turning to Bluetooth for car connections is the rapid death of the smartphone headphone jack. Your car or car radio probably has an auxiliary jack, but your new phone likely won’t. 

The good news is that you can get that functionality back by using a USB (or Lightning for iPhones) to 3.5mm jack converter.

They usually aren’t that expensive either, but there is one important caveat. Some phones don’t have a DAC or digital to analogue converter built in for use with their USB port. So you’ll need to buy an adapter that has a DAC built in. These are pricier, so do some Googling to determine if your phone needs a DAC-enabled converter or not.

This is by far the cheaper, more reliable solution compared to Bluetooth. Although, it is less elegant and comes with all the hassle of working with cables.

Recommended USB Adapters

If you’re an iPhone user, we recommend simply going for the Apple original adapter, which is guaranteed to work. The only real downside to this inexpensive dongle is that you can’t charge your phone while using it.

If you have a phone like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+, which lacks a DAC, then an adapter like the WKWZY adapter is a good choice. It has a built-in DAC and so doesn’t depend on the phone’s hardware to produce sound, which makes it a safe bet.

Bluetooth To Auxiliary Adapters 

If your car doesn’t have Bluetooth, but has an auxiliary jack, you can still add Bluetooth functionality to it by using a Bluetooth headphone adapter. These devices are designed to let you turn any set of headphones into a Bluetooth-enabled pair, but they work just as well directly connected to your car instead.

The only real downside is that they require a USB power source if you need them to keep going for longer than their batteries will last. On the plus side, when you get out of your car at the end of the trip, you can simply plug in your headphones and be on your way.

Recommended Bluetooth To Auxiliary Adapters 

When looking for good Bluetooth receivers for your car that plug into the auxiliary audio jack, two products stood out thanks to their super user reviews.

The first is the Mpow receiver. This has the latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology in it, which should mean that you’ll get very high quality streaming with no stutter. We also really like the inclusion of a small status screen, so you can quickly see what’s connected and how good the signal is. Mpow claims a 40-foot range. So unless you’re driving a tour bus, you’ll probably be OK.

The next tantalizing option is the TaoTronics bluetooth receiver. This product lacks a screen, but has the ability to also act as a Bluetooth transmitter. This makes it pretty versatile outside of simply using it in your car.

Bluetooth FM Transmitters

If your radio doesn’t have an auxiliary jack, all is not lost. You can use an FM Bluetooth receiver to merge the old and new technology. Usually these gadgets will run from your 12V lighter socket.

You’ll connect to the device using your smartphone the same way you’d connect to any Bluetooth device. Once that connection is working, simply tune your car radio to the FM frequency the device is broadcasting on. You may even be able to change the broadcast frequency.

While these FM transmitters are pretty neat, you really should only use them as a last resort to get bluetooth for your car. The audio quality is at best as good as analogue radio. They are also prone to interference from radio stations and any other source of radio waves on the same frequency. 

This is the best solution if you want Bluetooth audio in a much older vehicle and don’t want to spend too much money. If you have any other options however, we’d suggest trying them first.

Recommended Bluetooth FM Transmitters

The first FM transmitter we really like the look of is this IMDEN unit. It slots right into your lighter socket and offers pass-through charging via quick-charge USB A port or a 18W USB-C Power Delivery port. Amazingly, it also offers hands-free calling! Using it is as simple as tuning your radio to an open frequency and then setting this gadget to the same one.

Need a second choice? The Zeeporte offers essentially the same feature set, but has a different design and offers 27W of charge instead of 18. It’s somewhat of a coin flip between the two.

Buy a Bluetooth-Enabled Radio

Many modern cars have factory-fitted radios that are integrated into a non-removable facade. In older cars however, it’s usually pretty easy to replace the entire radio head unit. If you’re lucky enough to have such a car and don’t mind spending a little money for a new radio, then getting Bluetooth audio is actually fairly painless.

Even entry level car radios have Bluetooth as a feature now and once installed it’ll be like bringing your old junker into the 21st century. Well, at least when it comes to listening to music and podcasts.

Recommended Bluetooth-enabled Radios

If you do want to go the whole hog and replace the entire radio in your car, there are plenty of choices, but the most popular choice seems to be this BOSS Audio Systems 616UAB Multimedia Car Stereo. It’s a single DIN unit that should fit most cars and comes in at a tiny price as well. This modern budget head unit won’t play CDs or cassettes, but you’re pretty much covered on the digital front.

If you’re a little more flush with cash, then this Pioneer FH-X730BS Double-Din has the Bluetooth you desire, plus every other bell and whistle you could imagine. Between these two options you’re sure to find something suitable.

Connecting To a Modern Car’s Bluetooth

If you’ve got one of those newfangled cars with Bluetooth built in, how do you actually connect to it? The good news is that, if you’ve ever used any Bluetooth device, the process is essentially identical:

  • Refer to your car’s manual on how to enable Bluetooth pairing mode and follow the instructions.
  • Open your phone’s Bluetooth settings and look for your car’s name in the list of available Bluetooth devices. Tap it to start pairing.
  • Your car’s infotainment display will most likely show a passcode. When prompted on the phone, enter that code.
  • The car and phone should now be paired.
  • You may have to choose whether calls, media or both are handled by the car’s system.

That’s really all there is to it. Some cars have special phone compatibilities, such as Apple Carplay, but in general it’s no different from any other Bluetooth connection. 

What Is an Amazon Fire TV Stick?

There are heaps of online streaming services available. As the largest online retailer and one of the largest companies in the world, you know that Amazon isn’t missing out on those potential customers.

The Amazon Fire Stick is Amazon’s streaming service answer, making online video streaming as simple as popping the device into an HDMI port and clicking a button.

Here’s what you need to know about the Amazon Fire Stick and whether it’s the right video streaming device for you.

What Is an Amazon Fire Stick?

The Amazon Fire Stick is a portable streaming device you can plug into the back of any TV or monitor with an HDMI slot. It’s small in stature, only a few inches tall and just over an inch wide, so it doesn’t require much real estate behind your television. The tiny footprint gives it a clear advantage over other streaming boxes that sit underneath your screen, taking up space and looking untidy.

Your Amazon Fire Stick comes with a handy remote for controlling what you watch. There are two remote control variants. The second-generation remote includes an additional Alexa voice control button, which allows you to switch programs, open apps, and more, all from the remote. The first-generation remote control lacks the Alexa integration, although Alexa is present on the first-generation Fire TV Stick.

The most recent version of the Amazon Fire Stick enables 4K Ultra HD video streaming – if your internet connection will allow it.

How Does the Amazon Fire TV Stick Work?

One of the best things about the Amazon Fire Stick is the ease of use. You unwrap it, plug it into your screen, login, and you can start watching programs or downloading apps. You can even take your Amazon Fire Stick around with you, turning any screen into an online video streaming portal.

The Amazon Fire Stick enables you to watch online video content across a range of apps. Of course, Amazon would like you to use Amazon Prime, the Amazon online video streaming service. While you absolutely can watch Amazon Prime using your Amazon Fire TV Stick, it is not obligatory. You can use other online video streaming service apps available instead.

Those other video streaming apps include Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO Now, Disney+, and YouTube, amongst many others. There are also apps available for personal streaming services, too, such as Plex or Kodi. Wondering which apps you should install first? Check out our guide to the best Amazon Fire TV Stick apps.

The Amazon Fire Stick has six tabs to choose from: Home, Your Videos, Movies, TV Shows, Apps, and Settings. Each section is fairly self-explanatory and will populate with suggestions and options from the streaming service apps on your device. For example, if you watch a lot of shows on Netflix, your TV Shows section will feature your favorite programs plus a few options it thinks you might like to watch next.

What Else Does the Amazon Fire TV Stick Do?

The Amazon Fire TV Stick isn’t just for streaming online video. It has a few other tricks up its sleeve, too.

As it’s an Android-based device, you can sideload many Android apps onto the device. Not all apps play nicely with the version of Android on the Fire Stick, so not all of your favorites will work. Furthermore, you might have to look into some workarounds for apps that are incompatible with the Amazon Fire Stick controller direction wheel.

The Amazon Fire Stick has a regular internet browser, too. The default option is Mozilla Firefox, but you can find many more options in the app section. And, as above, you can sideload different browsers onto the device if you wish.

There is also a decent range of games available for it, too. Again, as the it’s an Android device, you can download and play a huge number of Android games. The success you have playing them depends on your skill with the controller. However, you can connect several popular game controllers, as well as the official Amazon Fire TV Game Controller.

Is The Amazon Fire Stick Value For Money?

As with any online video streaming service, there are pros and cons. Is the Amazon Fire TV Stick worth your money?

If you subscribe to one or more online video streaming services and want an incredibly simple way to get them all under one roof, the Amazon Fire Stick is a great option. It’s inexpensive, reasonably powerful for what it is, and allows you to control the apps you have on the device.

Furthermore, you’re not locked into using Amazon Prime, so that isn’t an issue. Plus, you can purchase the Ethernet adapter to wire your device to your internet to achieve better speeds.

Overall, the Amazon Fire TV Stick is a great online video streaming option, especially if you don’t want to go to the extra effort of setting up a Raspberry Pi for video streaming.

Like all devices, it may run into an issue every now and then. When that happens, check out the best Amazon Fire TV Stick troubleshooting tips.

3 Best GPS Trackers For Cars

A GPS tracker for your car can be tremendously helpful. After all, when is the last time you parked in a large parking lot and completely forgot where you parked? These trackers can also be useful in locating your vehicle should it ever be stolen. GPS trackers can also provide information like unsafe driving alerts, mileage tracking, and much more. 

Finding the best GPS tracker for cars can be tough though. Although the Spytec GL300 is our recommendation for the best tracker out there, the VSync and LandAirSea 54 are both great options that may be a better fit for your specific needs. 

Spytec GL300

The Spytec GL300 has all of the traits of a quality GPS tracker: it’s small and discrete, has a long battery life, and provides 24/7 real-time GPS tracking. The device uses a 4G network to provide updates on its location to a phone, tablet, or computer. 

Thanks to its small size, the Spytec GL300 can be slipped under the seat or in the glove compartment. It isn’t easy to find, so if you are trying to hide its presence from the driver (or from someone that isn’t supposed to be in the vehicle), it’s easy to do. 

The Spytec GL300 can send email or SMS alerts when it enters or exits a specific area. This is a great way to keep tabs on someone when they get home or when your kids leave from school. Best of all, the Spytec GL300 is designed with privacy in mind. None of your information is stored, and all transmitted data is encrypted end-to-end. 

The Spytec GL300 is $70 on Amazon, with a $25 monthly fee to access all of its features. 

VSync GPS Tracker

If the high monthly price of the Spytec GL300 is a bit much for you, the VSync might be a better option. While the initial cost is $10 more at $80, there is no monthly subscription for the service. There are other fees, though: a one-time activation fee of $40, and a yearly renewal fee of $80. 

One major benefit to the VSync GPS tracker for cars is that it provides almost worldwide coverage. You can get real-time tracking no matter where your vehicle is in over 220 countries. The VSync is great for tracking work vehicles or new drivers. 

It isn’t as discrete as other options, though. It plugs into the OBD-II port of the vehicle (an onboard computer port usually located under the steering wheel), although you can hide it to some extent by using an OBD extension cable. The tradeoff of this is the amount of information the VSync provides to the user. 

First of all, the VSync doesn’t require a battery. It draws the power it needs from the vehicle. It can provide access to error codes, fuel level, fuel efficiency, engine RPM, speed, and much more. It even provides location tracking of loved ones’ mobile devices if they have the VSync app downloaded.

The VSync tracker provides real-time tracking and unlimited map history. The device even updates once per hour when the vehicle is turned off, as opposed to every 15 to 30 seconds. 

LandAirSea 54

The majority of GPS trackers for cars are internal devices, but these are often the easiest to find. If you would rather attach an exterior tracker to the vehicle, the LandAirSea 54 is a great option. At just over 2 inches square and less than an inch thick, the LandAirSea is discrete and easy to hide nearly anywhere on your car. 

Movement tracking is done in real-time through the use of Google Maps and the information is transmitted through the web portal or through an app. You can also receive email and SMS updates about the location of a vehicle, piece of luggage, or a person. The small size of the LandAirSea makes it possible to slip it into your luggage without it being noticed. 

The LandAirSea 54 is waterproof and includes a high-powered magnet, so it can be placed in the wheel well or on the bumper of a vehicle without anyone noticing. There are LED lights on the device, but these can be disabled through the app to better hide the location of the tracker. 

The LandAirSea 54 also provides worldwide coverage and works in the majority of countries. It does require a subscription due to its use of a SIM card. The cost of the subscription is based on how often you want updates; the more often you want updates, the more expensive it will be. Prices range from $20 per month to $50 per month.

Whether you want to safeguard your vehicle against theft or you are trying to keep an eye on a new driver, a GPS tracker for your car can be the solution. These three devices are some of the best options on the market. 

What is your favorite GPS tracker for your car? Let us know in the comments below.