Motorola MA1 Wireless Car Adapter For Android Auto™ Review

Do you have a car?
Does it have Android Auto?
Does it only support wired connections and not wireless?
Do you use an Android phone?
Do you like dongles?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all of those questions, then this is the product for you.

I’ve been using the MA1 for about two months. I’ll start with the “Before MA1 Time”:

My new car had Android Auto support, but only via USB plugged in via the middle console of the car. I had high hopes for using Android Auto, particularly for mapping as I’d be confident it’s better than any car’s build in GPS and map solution; but jumping in the car and having to plug the phone in every time is a pain. It might sound like a small pain, but it’s enough to not bother – getting the phone out my pocket, docking it in a phone holder and plugging the USB-C cable in is enough, but then there’s the 20-30 seconds it takes to detect and start actually working. I slowly did this less and less, until I’d only go through it when I had a new destination to go to and knew that before getting to the car.

This has a few negatives, partly the mixed experience in navigating the car’s entertainment system depending if I was plugged in or not, but also not having the benefits of Google Maps telling me where there were delays on each trip and suggesting alternate paths (which comes in handy driving to work where there’ll be an inevitable daily car crash somewhere, holding up traffic).

Enter the Motorola MA1 Wireless Car Adapter For Android Auto™. A small enough dongle designed to make a wired only Android Auto car, wireless. It does what it says on the box, and very simple to pair via Bluetooth and get started with. Once paired, there’s nothing to do – I get in the car, turn it on, and within 10 seconds Android Auto is up and running with my phone still in my pocket.

This means I can do things like quickly scroll to the address of work as I take off in my car and get those traffic benefits. Or, I can control my Podcast app and pick a different item to listen to (legally – my car blocks the touch screen when the car is moving, but allows dial/button controls which I can do at red light).

Answering and making calls was already fine by normal Bluetooth – it’s probably easier to look up contacts now but I’d normally use a Google voice command to call someone anyway. No real difference there.

The only negatives I can call out about this device are that the cable between USB port and dongle is a bit stiff and can’t be twisted – if inconvenient though, I’m sure a USB extension cable would work to get the dongle in a preferred location. The second is that because it’s now running via Bluetooth, I do have a rare occasional dropout and I think it’s actually when I drive in a certain physical location near a hospital; possibly something’s getting in the way of Bluetooth itself. It does take about 20ish seconds to recover, but will do so without having to do anything but wait.

I purchased mine via Telstra Plus Rewards with some points that were going to expire, but you can also buy via Amazon.

Worth checking out for those that answered ‘yes’ to all those questions at the start – it’s a lot cheaper than getting a new car with wireless Android Auto.

A Tale of Two TVs

On second count there’s 6 TVs referenced in one way or another, but don’t let that throw you off my story:

My very cheap ‘FFalcon’ brand TV (which I believe is a rebadged TCL) which for a 65″ 4K TV cost ~$500AU from JB Hi-Fi (link is for a similar model). It actually functioned fine for a year or so, but like a frog slowly heating up in a pot of water, the backlight slowly went from reasonable, to the state you see below and I finally noticed how bad it was; which I couldn’t unsee:

New TV time! I started my research and read article after article, while keeping an eye out for potential bargains. One TV came up – an 85″ Samsung Q80B which has a hot sale down from ~$6000AU to ~$2300AU direct from the Samsung site. As I spoke to their online chat about it to answer a few questions about panel type, the TV sold out. I was annoyed at the effort it took to get to that point, found a great price and missed out. The person on chat gave me a discount coupon to use on any other product, but the prices had gone up across the board and nothing seemed worth it.

A few days later during my sadness of a great deal lost, a new deal came up. 1 day only – the Linsar 82″ TV was down to $999 from $1799. There was also a way to buy the TV via eBay, sign up for Zip and get $150 off – after delivery, that price came up as $904. For an 82″ TV, I thought it was worth a shot!

The TV arrived a few days later, and after having a friend reinforce the wall mount for the TV weight going from less than 20KG up to 41KG, we put this giant rectangle up on the wall, with my brain having visions of a smashed TV lying on the ground, and half the wall ripped out:

55″ TV in background for reference (also a Ffalcon, but no issues with that one and was stupidly cheap a few years ago at $350AU, still going strong)

There was no TV smashing. However, when turning on the TV for the first time, I had a different disappointment:

That line isn’t supposed to be there. It wasn’t an absolutely broken line of pixels or anything like that, but a clear difference in brightness or contrast running down the TV. It was reasonably visible in most shows I watched – and after a bit of back and forth with The Good Guys, they organised a replacement to be sent out and for this TV to be sent back, a relatively easy process thankfully.

The replacement TV did not have the same line in question, but it did have worse backlighting line issues – again quite visible when watching anything on the TV and to me, not really acceptable even in a cheap unit.

After visiting The Good Guys again, and their sales people telling me how bad Linsar is and complaining that they shouldn’t even sell them with statements like “If you want another Linsar I won’t sell it to you”, but then trying to upsell me to $3000AU+ TVs, I asked for a refund (which they had no issue in providing) and went back to the drawing board.

More research again, and I landed on the TCL C825. Reviews were very positive in the value of the TV compared to cost, and complementing the Mini LED technology in it. The TV had been quite cheap recently (sub $2000AU) but had gone up again at most places to mid $2500’s or more, with an ETA of a few months for more stock to arrive. Other models (C7xx, C6xx) didn’t have overly positive reviews, and the C9xx was pricier. I managed to find the unit in stock at Appliances Online for $1745 delivered (including a $50 off voucher) which despite not being as big as the 82″ TV and twice the price, was still an amount I was happy to pay to get a decent TV experience.

After receiving the TCL 825 and mounting it on the wall, the first test of course was a grey screen:

I was much happier with these results!

Everything about this TV is better than the last one – apart from the 7″ less viewing surface I have, it’s a great image quality experience. Impressively, the inbuilt Google TV feels faster than the Chromecast with Google TV device I had plugged in, so I’ll actually use the native experience; first time I’ve been happy with that.

As always, it takes me a while to be completely happy with all the screen settings and I’m fine tuning them searching for perfection, but out of the box I was already content with what it was doing.

The inbuilt sound is fine by me, including a small subwoofer in the back of the TV itself. I’m not audiophile, but I don’t hear anything tinny or annoying.

What is the point of this story? A few lessons learnt – try to find out if the place you’re buying a TV from has a decent returns policy (better to search online than purely ask and trust them), but also taking a shot at a bargain TV that has no reviews online whatsoever may be worth it, but don’t expect it. Also, giant TV boxes are annoying and hard to get rid of.

Upgrading my Ubiquiti UDM to a UDM Pro SE

I’ve previously covered my home setup, mostly Ubiquiti powered; I’d bought the UDM (UniFi Dream Machine) myself as my security gateway which was working fine. However, after moving house and acquiring a rack, I asked Ubiquiti if there was any chance of send me a UDM Pro SE to try out – thankfully for me they obliged!

My rack was filled with non-rack items, beyond some shelves that I’d bought. Functional, but a bit sad, and I’d hit capacity on the Switch 8 PoE previously provided.

Beyond going from a giant pill shaped device to a 1RU rack mountable device, what’s the difference between a UDM and UDM Pro SE? And what about the UDM Pro?

Here’s a breakdown of the differences – full specs of each device on the hyperlink title:

HardwareUDMUDM ProUDM Pro SE
Networking interface
(4) LAN 10/100/1000 RJ45 Ports
(1) WAN 10/100/1000 RJ45 Port
(8) 10/100/1000 RJ45 LAN Ports
(1) 10/100/1000 RJ45 WAN Port
(1) 1/10G SFP+ LAN Port
(1) 1/10G SFP+ WAN Port
(1) WAN: 2.5 GbE RJ45 port
(8) LAN: 1 GbE RJ45 ports
(1) WAN: 10G SFP+
(1) LAN: 10G SFP+
PoEN/AN/A(2) PoE+ (pair A 1, 2+; 3, 6-)
(6) PoE (pair A 1, 2+; 3, 6-)
System Memory2 GB DDR RAM4 GB DDR44 GB DDR4 
On-Board Flash Storage16 GB16 GB eMMC16 GB eMMC
Integrated 128 GB SSD
Wi-Fi Standards802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ac-wave2N/AN/A
IDS/IPS Throughput850 Mbps3.5 Gbps3.5 Gbps
UniFi OS ApplicationsNetworkNetwork, Protect, Talk, AccessNetwork, Protect, Talk, Access

Calling out the specifics between the three – the UDM is a more self contained solution which is why it includes inbuilt Wi-Fi, but will also happily manage downstream devices.

The UDM Pro lacks Wi-Fi because really, who needs Wi-Fi coming from the inside of a rack? But it does bring more ethernet ports, RAM, higher IDS/IPS Throughput (threat management traffic), and a niftly little 1.3″ touchscreen to perform simple tasks like rebooting the device. It also has NVR storage capabilities, meaning it can manage and record supported cameras. There’s also IP Phone support, and access support (like card reader through door access).

Finally, the UDM Pro SE really is a ‘special edition’ of the UDM Pro, giving the ethernet ports PoE support. It also brings 128GB of integrated storage for a bit more wiggle room for the UniFi OS Applicaitons. The ethernet WAN port gets bumped from 1GbE to 2.5GbE for those who somehow have the internet data coming through at speeds greater than gigabit.

The useful little 1.3″ touchscreen
The UDM Pro SE installed, with the cable management project planned for Q1 2023.

My experience on migrating from the UDM to UDM Pro SE was an easy one. Using the admin web interface is pretty much the same as before, apart from having the extra options around the extra OS applications:

The always entertaining Lars Klint made a video around upgrading from the UDM Pro to the UDM Pro SE which is pretty much the same process as going from the UDM to UDM Pro SE:

You could also just take the upgrade approach of starting from scratch, plugging everything in – downstream devices will still be detected, but require either takeover with the old password, or a factory reset on each device physically to allow you to re-set up.

I am still really happy with the Ubiquiti stack of devices, the central view and management of the entire network the platform gives me (including making it easy to see a problem where my wife’s work laptop was constantly uploading data due to a corrupt Outlook profile), making sure the 34 active network based clients are behaving and having a good experience.

Getting a Pixel 7 Pro As Cheap As Possible

I thought I’d document the efforts I’ll go to, to get something at the cheapest price possible. It was a few days before the release of Google’s latest phone, the Pixel 7 / Pixel 7 Pro and I wanted to upgrade from my still decent Samsung S21+…

The Google Pixel 7 Pro RRP for Australia is $1299 for the 128GB version, and this is the price you’ll see it at most places. Some will have small discounts or bonuses as part of their promotions; Google themselves sent me a 10% off coupon if I pre-ordered.

However, the best deal was JB Hi-Fi, but it had to be timed right. is a great source of information to find bargains, and a lot of what I found was through there. The JB Hi-Fi pre-order deal was a free Chromecast with Google TV + Google Nest Hub, and a $100 JB Hi-Fi gift card.

Source: JB Hi-Fi

The Pixel 7 Pro was due to be released on October 13th – but as you’ll see from the screenshot above, the offer of this deal actually ends on October 16th; in theory meaning you wouldn’t have to pre-order to get this, but could wait until release. This is very important, because there was a second deal that if you traded in an old phone, you received a $300 off voucher for the Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 pro – but this couldn’t be on pre-orders. This gave a 3 day window between release and the first bonus deal expiring.

Source: JB Hi-Fi

I had an old iPhone 8 lying around, so traded that in for $100 credit, plus the $300 voucher. I already had another $150 voucher from an old phone that had been smashed and wasn’t worth being repaired. This left a gap of $749…

Again, Ozbargain helps with that by showing where you can get discounted gift cards and at what rate. I’m a Budget Direct member, so I can get 5% off cards there. It saves $37.45, so I’m really paying $711.55 out of pocket.

I’ll also be claiming a portion of the phone cost on tax as it’s partly used for work purposes. I’ll hand the receipts to my accountant and let them work that part out though.

I’m still left with a Samsung S21+ though, which when I bought it, I took out Samsung Care+. This means I can swap it out for a brand new replacement for $129. These are going for around $700 on eBay brand new.

I’ve still then got the $100 JB Hi-Fi gift card + Chromecast ($99)+ Google Nest Hub ($124) to come – which I could sell off the hardware or keep; undecided at this stage.

Considering all the above, upgrading my phone should cost me almost nothing. I’ll probably spend more on a screen protector and case than what I’ll be out of pocket for the upgrade itself.

Yes there’s a lot more effort involved than adding the phone to my cart and putting in a credit card number, but in scenarios like this, the effort is worth the payoff.

I Finally Have A Smart Watch a.k.a. Garmin Instinct® 2 Solar Review

I gave up wearing my analog watch a few years ago. I’d been wearing a watch since a teenager, and 20+ years of flicking up my wrist to tell the time was over; replaced by grabbing my phone out of my pocket to check the time. I figured I had to check my phone constantly for other alerts anyway, and I didn’t need to check the time that often – so why wear a watch at all? I’d also been tempted a few times to try a smart watch, but the idea of charging every day or two was an instant dismissal from me.

Browsing, I came across a post about a Garmin watch with 24 days of battery life. This was sounding a bit more tempting; and I went into research mode. So many watches to choose from, just from Garmin:

Snipped from

I don’t use an iPhone so an Apple Watch was out of the question, and others such as Samsung and a potential Google Pixel watch were never going to focus on long battery life without an E-Ink screen like the Instinct series has, and the Garmin Fenix 7 series have colour E-ink screens with long battery life, but a pricepoint of over $1000AU that I really can’t justify.

As you can tell by the title of this post, I ended up finding a relatively newly released Garmin Instinct® 2 Solar on Amazon shipped from the UK for $481AU – a decent discount from the $699AU RRP (and for some reason, shops are still selling the previous generation at the exact same price?) and a watch that claimed unlimited* battery life!

A few weeks later, the watch turned up in a relatively small box.

The box itself wasn’t even sealed, which worried me a bit – but the insides seemed untouched. A fake display was stuck onto the watch face to show you what you’d be in for. Inside the box wasn’t much else, beyond a proprietary charging cable with a USB end, and some manuals which I refuse to look at. If you’d like to check out the 114 pages, you’re more than welcome to :)

On the wrist, the watch is quite comfortable. It only took a few hours to have a watch feel ‘normal’ again. The watch isn’t chunky or heavy, and the rubber wrist band doesn’t dig in anywhere and doesn’t slide around.

The experience of setting up the watch was better than I expected, but also not the smoothest possible. After starting up the watch, it will ask for you to pair with the Garmin Connect app. Easily found in the Google Play Store, I installed it and quickly paired. I then had to set up my profile of height, body weight, age, gender etc. One of the first options I was presented about custom watch faces as part of it’s ‘getting started’ wizard asked me to then install the Garmin IQ Store app. I installed that, picked a watch face, which then advised me to install Garmin Express. I couldn’t find THAT on the Play Store, and after a quick search worked out it was a Windows piece of software, so gave up there.

Apart from this, the setup process worked and I was up and running with a watch that I had no idea how to use. Eventually I worked out what all the buttons did – and although I won’t be using the watch for any sports specific activities, there’s still a bucketload of features that will take a long time to learn. The basics of receiving a notification that comes through from the phone just worked – and each notification I had (which lightly buzzed my wrist) the option of blocking the app, which was a useful way of slowly filtering out noise I didn’t need while leaving the important stuff. I also had the option of dismissing notifications from the watch, or if I did it from my phone, it would clear the watch notification which was useful in avoiding double up actions.

Information such as the temperature, date, and step count are on the watch face I’m using at the moment, but I might change to include more data such as heart rate. It’s hard to go through so many options – and the faces themselves can then have each section configured to display different types of data (e.g. changing the battery left % to sunrise time) which results in a huge amount of choice.

At some stage I’ll dive into the advanced options more – I’m not sure when I’d need the ‘area calc’ option which seems to be walking around an area using GPS then having the estimated floor space shown – but one day that might be useful. As might be a compass on my hand, or wind direction – or a bunch of data that I really don’t understand what it even is (I think there’s one for how far above sea level I’m at, and another for my ‘body battery’). I’m sure the point here is that not everyone will use everything, but you have a giant toolkit to use and configure as you please.

Navigating the watch itself is done via 5 buttons as there’s no touch screen – 3 on one side, and 2 on the other – and both acting differently if you just press them, or hold them down. The buttons are easy to press and I’m quite fine with this method rather than swiping on the face.

Unlimited battery life? Probably not based on how much time I spend in the sun (not much!) but I’ve gone from 47% which the watch had out of the box, down to 25% in a week. I’m expecting to charge it occasionally – but it will be more like filling my car with petrol; once it gets low enough I’ll leave it plugged in for a few hours (officially 123 mins to fully charge). Without solar and GPS usage, the non-solar version claims 28 days battery life, and the solar version requires 3 hours in the sun daily to be unlimited.

The amount of data the Garmin Connect app saves and shows is huge – and honestly I’m probably not going to really look at this very often, but I still respect the beauty of data:

Also when setting up, I was prompted to set up my credit card, and thought this might be a quicker way to pay using Paywave rather than my credit card. I had to look up on how to actually use this feature, and it’s a bit clunky, particularly entering a 4 digit passcode with up and down buttons on a rotary phone type display. I get the security side of it, but it’s clunkier than taking a credit card out of my wallet so probably won’t use this feature often.

Wrapping up, I’m very happy with this watch so far. Highly configurable and feature packed, despite not being touchscreen. Easy enough to navigate, and great at giving me wrist accessible notifications instead of having to pull my phone out of my pocket to check. Light and comfy to wear, with a great battery life. Viewing angles are alright – there is a noticeable difference between straight on and a very slight angle, but not enough to prevent me from reading what it says. For the price point I was able to get it for, I consider it a good purchase.