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Pack the self-stowing camera bag

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Photographers who carry a lot of kit are often challenged by the lack of flexibility of their camera bags. JOEL DORFAN finds out whether the Tenba ‘self-stowing’ bag is up to the challenge.

Since 1977, Tenba has been making innovative carrying case solutions for professional photographers and filmmakers. Its products are of high quality and are generally well accepted by amateurs and professionals alike.

Last year it introduced one of is more unusual products, the Packlite, described as “the World’s First packable, self-stowing camera bag”.

I received both the Packlite Travel Bag for BYOB 13, and the BYOB 13 insert for any travel bag – the acronym stands for Bring Your Own Bag. I was supplied the size 13 products to test with my DSLR and lenses.

The Packlite is very compact and folds into itself. Once folded it would easily fit into a large jacket pocket or a spare compartment in your main camera bag. Once opened, it expands into a fairly large, lightweight PU-coated shadow rip-stop nylon bag, which has bar tack reinforced stitching on all stress points.

I looked at this bag and started scratching my head. My gear could easily fit into the bag, but it had no compartments and no padding.

While it was true to its tagline, the Packlite could not be used as a camera bag unless the separately purchased BYOB padded bag is inserted into it.

The BYOB is a true Tenba-quality padded camera bag with all the expected features, but without a shoulder strap. This functionality is provided by the Packlite once the BYOB  is inserted..

The combination of these two products resulted in a high-quality lightweight camera bag, able to hold my DSLR with attached 70-200 lens and a number of other lenses, plus accessories.

So who is this combination of products aimed at?

They are pitched at two groups of people:

1 Photographers who carry a lot of kit, allowing them to size down on location.

2 Photographers who want to carry their regular kit in any bag

In 1 above, this would be for professional photographers and filmmakers who travel with large backpacks, rolling cases or shoulder bags. They can easily replace a portion of the padded dividers inside their large bags with a BYOB insert of any size. That way, they always have a bag-within-a-bag set-up, but the benefit is that the BYOB insert does not have the bulk and weight of a typical camera bag. When on location, they can remove the BYOB insert and slide it into a Packlite bag to carry a smaller camera system with them, separate from the much larger bag or rolling case.

In 2 above, this would be aimed at backpackers, campers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts who will often be carrying a large 60-80 liter backpack, and the BYOB insert provides the necessary camera protection from everything else packed within that large backpack. Once the large backpack has been stowed somewhere, the Packlite bag provides a compact and lightweight carry option for the camera gear that is stored within the BYOB insert inside the large backpack.

While the tagline may be a bit misleading, when the Packlite is combined with a BYOB, a useful camera bag is created. Unfortunately, the way the Packlite is advertised, it could lead buyers to expect it to be more than it is unless it is combined with a BYOB.

While this combination would not be everybody’s idea of a general-purpose camera bag, if you fit one of the groups of users mentioned above, then this is the solution to your challenges.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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