Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Working Gloves
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/ybu2kx5g
Priced at a shade under £10 these new bamboo fibre work gloves from Pine Tree Tools arrived simply packaged with no extras or information included and none needed. I chose Medium size and they make a snug but still comfortable fit for me and a slacker but still comfortable fit for my small-handed partner.
The gloves feel far lighter than normal gardening gloves and although by no means flimsy, may not be tough enough for sustained heavy duty work. These gloves are probably best saved for lighter gardening duties. The gloves themselves are made from bamboo fibre which feels soft and comfortable to wear and on me extends to just past the wrist. The palms and fingers are coated with what feels like a rubberised skin which is water resistant strong and protective but will work very well with touch screen devices, so no need to take the gloves off to answer the phone. The gloves themselves are not waterproof.
These are perhaps the most comfortable work gloves I have ever worn and really do not feel like work gloves at all. I do have doubts about their long term durability, although I have encountered no signs of them failing yet, but for the price, they remain a very attractive buy.
No Skin Irritation
Touch Screen Friendly
Not Heavy Duty
No Wrist Protection
Not Fully Waterproof
Music: YouTube Audio Library: josh pan: Guitar House
Musonic No Pull Dog Harness
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y7wjbpuo
Poppy's chest harness had been getting a bit tight on her for some time as she has put on a bit of weight as she gets older, so it was time to get a new harness. Sizing can be tricky and so I did not want to pay out too much in case it did not fit.
The harness came with a standard size lead and both the lead and harness seem well made, tough, and robust. Although I was careful to measure Poppy before ordering the appropriate size the harness is still rather loose around the neck although it fits here well enough around the chest and feels good and secure. No problems with the build quality, the harness is less bulky and constrictive than some I have seen and lighter in weight but seems to do the job well enough. When she is in it she cannot choke herself like she used to with a normal collar, all the strain goes on to her chest and although she can still pull just as hard if not harder than before, she cannot hurt herself.
For just £12.56 this seems a good buy considering you get both a harness and lead. It is not a perfect fit but that must surely vary from dog to dog. For the low cost, this seems a very decent buy.
Music: YouTube Audio Library: Dan Lebowitz: Hickory Hollow
BoYata Laptop Stand
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/yapdembl
Laptop stands tend to fall into two categories, folding stands designed for travel use and more robust unity designed for static use. File this one into type two.
This well made and rather upmarket laptop stand from BoYata is certainly built to last. Made from a heavy-gauge Aluminium alloy it should give stylish support to any laptop between 11-18″.
In the attractive box was the disassembled stand, together with a single page user guide and an Allen key, used to put together the stand.
The stand has a padded shelve with forward facing retaining lip to position the laptop on and soft anti-slip pads on the base. The base is well weighted and even when the laptop is at full elevation it feels stable and secure. Adjusting the height is simply done using a knob on the rear of the stand riser. It can be set anywhere between 9.9 - 18.1 cm and has no preset notches. To maintain the stability of the stand the angle of rake cannot be adjusted and the laptop cannot be tilted forwards or back.
Priced at £29.99, this is not a cheap item, but it has a build quality and premier feel that the cheaper rivals certainly lack. You get what you pay for here.
Robust Build Quality
Stable at Full Height
Music: YouTube Audio Library: Patrick Patrikios: Voices
SKYWAY Blue Light Blocking illuminated Reading Glasses
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/ya8twy8s
These new glasses from Skyway are something of a bargain. In the past, I have reviewed illuminated reading glasses and Blue Light Blocking glasses but this pair combines both features for just £14.99.
In the plain black presentation box are the glasses themselves, charging cable, cleaning cloth and a soft carry case. Build quality is excellent, the lightweight glasses are tough and robust rather than stylish and the carry case is well made with a spring shut mouth. The glasses and lenses are made from plastic but feel well made and robust enough for prolonged everyday use. To the side of each lens by the hinge is an LED light with behind it a power switch and micro-USB charging port.
Although the lenses are plastic they seem fine to me, with no light loss, no sign of any distortion or aberrations and easy to clean.
Perhaps the main feature of the glasses are the built-in LED lights on each side. The lights, designed to aid with close up work, are separately powered and controlled, each having its own rechargeable battery, micro-USB charging port and power switch incorporated into each arm. The glasses are supplied with an unusual Y cable featuring a standard USB plug on one end and two micro-USB plugs on the other. Should the special cable be lost then of course two normal USB cables can be used. Coloured status LEDs confirm the battery status when plugged in.
The other main selling is the blue light reduction feature.
Artificial lighting, televisions, computers, tablets and smartphones all emit 400–480 nm blue light which can lead to headaches, eye fatigue and can interfere with natural sleep patterns. These glasses block blue light centred at the 410UV point and have the secondary effect of making other colours appear more natural and vibrant. The effect of this is not immediately apparent when first wearing them but the reduced eye strain should be noticed over time.
Cynics out there may wonder if these glasses really do work and so for doubters out there, I have tested them with a blue light kit. This consists of a small blue light emitting torch and a blue light sensitive card. Shine the torch directly onto the card and it at once darkens, when the card clears shine the torch through the glasses lens and the card does not darken, or at least to nowhere near the same degree
Using the glasses is as simple and easy as you might suppose, looking and feeling exactly the same as normal glasses. The glasses are lightweight and comfortable to wear for protracted periods, rather a tight fit, but |I like that. The light switches although small are easy to access when worn with no need to remove the glasses to do so. The illumination from the two LEDs is good and bright but rather tightly focused, a wider light spread would be better for me.
This is a clever and well-made product, nicely presented and available at a very reasonable price.
Music: YouTube Audio Library: josh pan: Guitar House
Urecity Vintage Retro Leather Cosmetic Case
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/yczw9sop
This rather posh cosmetics case from Urecity is not inexpensive at £74.88 for the 10" model reviewed here but is only £8 more for the 15" version. At this price, I would expect something out of the ordinary bearing in mind the large number of budget rivals. Is this upmarket case worth the money?
The case arrived in a branded but rather plain heavy-duty box inside of which was a hessian style bag containing the case and a larger and very well printed guide to operating the combination lock.
The case itself certainly does have a quality feel to it lacking in cheaper rivals. It is hand made and with an old fashioned craftsman-like ambience from reinforced leather with solid brass fittings and a large and easy to operate combination lock. My version is in black but a range of other colours is available.
Opening the case reveals the interior which has a large mirror mounted inside the lid, a removable three compartment tray at the top with the below it the main storage area. Along one side of the interior is a full-length elasticated pouch but otherwise, the space is empty and suitable for storing larger objects. The whole interior including the tray is attractively lined with a soft cotton and polyester blend material.
A useful guide to using the combination lock is included but in fact, this is perfectly easy to do. The default password is 0000 and unless you have valuable items inside it is best to keep it in that setting. To set your own combination number, with the lock open simply slide right and hold the brass button, enter your new number and release to set it.
The large handle is made from reinforced PU leather with brass mounts. The corners are reinforced with leather patches hand-stitched and held in place with brass rivets.
The case is both beautiful and strong and well capable of holding a valuable cosmetic kit securely and with style. It is not cheap, either in price or design, but if you want the best you will have to pay for it.
If you travel on the Orient Express, expect to see a case like this.
Music: YouTube Audio Library: ALBIS: New Land
MELOPHY Automatic Curling Iron
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y84umhu5
Priced at £45.99 this new automatic curling iron from MELOPHY is not inexpensive but it has a weighty and upmarket feel to it lacking in cheaper rivals.
In the box are the device itself, hair grip and a well printed and easy to read user guide. Build quality is first rate and this has the feel of a professional level item built for serious use.
The curler has a robust plastic body with a rotating heated curling wand with an anti-scald cap inside the front aperture. The power cable interface with the device offers full 360° cable rotation so the unit can be adjusted to any position in use. At the lower end of the handgrip part of the unit is the power button, long press to turn on or off and short press to select the desired operating temperature, four LEDs above it show the current temperature which can be set between 60℃-220℃. At the top are the two curl rotation buttons, press to select clockwise or anti-clockwise rotation for the curling wand. The unit beeps to confirm a change of status and when the optimum curling time for each temperature has been reached, and whirrs faintly as the wand rotates.
The hair curling process releases negative irons, apparently, and this reduces static and improves the curling process. Also, the unit has a keratin coating which reduces friction and reduces catching and pulling of the hair. I had no idea it was such a scientific process!
Safety is always a worry when working with personal care devices but this one has smart sensors to prevent hair tangles, wand overheating and handset overheating. To release hair when a tangle is detected simply press the rotation button for the opposite direction to the tangle. The unit will also automatically switch off after 45 minutes of use.
Not being a hairdresser myself I cannot comment on how well the device actually works but I can testify to the build quality, design and functionality, all of which seem excellent to me.
I would be happy to purchase this item as a gift and it seems a good buy to me.
Music: YouTube Audio Library: Chris Haugen: Casablanca Caravan
Canon PIXMA TS5050 All-In-One Inkjet Printer
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/ya9yd7wg
My old inkjet printer, another Canon, died and so I needed to replace it with a printer that could use the same ink cartridges, of which I had a large supply. This was one of the few from the current Canon range that was suitable. Priced currently on Amazon at £104.96 it is certainly not an expensive choice.
The box contains all the expected items: printer, UK and EU power cables, USB cable, sample ink cartridge and photo paper sets, software Cd and user guide. Build quality seems fine, if rather plasticky and lightweight.
Setup is simple with walkthrough guides on the front panel 3" colour LCD screen. The printer can connect using either USB or wifi. Once connected printing and scanning can be done from any wireless smart device running a suitable Canon printing app as well as from a USB connected PC or Mac.
Fitting cartridges is simple enough, again with an LCD screen walkthrough and LED status confirmation. Canon really wants you to use their own expensive cartridges but far cheaper third party rivals are available and work just as well.
Printing and copying both work well but the first print can take a while as the device labouriously and noisily sets itself up but once up and running it seems faster to me than the 9ppm print rate it claims. The colours are good and well balanced although the maximum resolution of 1200 dpi could be better. Copying seems easy in principle but in practice, I found multiple options had to be selected on the LCD screen before the scan and print actual took place.
Scanning is excellent, although it depends greatly on the software used. I use it with Ashampoo Photo Commander and it is fast and easy to use. The front panel pulls up to allow access to the paper tray but can remain in place when used for scanning.
This is a decent quality entry-level all in one printer, there are plenty of better made and more capable rivals out there but few that can beat the asking price for this one.
Good Print Quality
Third-Party Ink Available
Slow First print
Annoying Copying Procedure
Canon Ink Expensive
Music: YouTube Audio Library: Patrick Patrikios: Nothing On Me
ESDDI PLV-R432 18 inch Ring Light
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y6gtyf6r
I have tested plenty of small size ring lights before but although they work OK they all lack the professional feel of this 18" lighting kit from ESDDI.
In the box is everything you need to get the light up and running with your phone. Aside from the light unit itself, there is an extended length power cable with UK plug, lighting stand, phone mount, gooseneck extension mount, carry bag, and a user guide. Build quality is excellent and to the usual ESDDI high standard.
The light unit itself has an external diameter of 45.8 cm and an inner diameter of 31.8 cm, which is large enough to accommodate a full-size DSLR, camcorder or phone in an upright position. The base of the lamp has a standard adjustable mount prefitted in and easily slots in place on top of the light stand. The lamp can be angled forwards or back up to 270 degrees with the gooseneck accessory mount able to give still more.
The lamp has a cold shoe mount on the lower side between the two buttons and another on the top of the unit. There are two metal screw mounts on the rear of the unit. Also on the rear is the large On/Off button and two rotary controls, one for 10-100% stepless dimming and the other for stepless control temperature between 3000K-6500K.
The metal three-stage light stand has large release knobs and extends to a maximum of 1.82M from just 48 cm when collapsed.
In use, the lighting unit is a delight. It is quick and easy to adjust with large rotary pots and a bright and even 4800 lumens display from the 432 LEDs. The light stand, although well made and robust, will wobble when extended, this is no big problem when just the light is mounted but if a full-sized camera is in place you will need to give it time to stop moving. For critical use with a heavy camera, a weightier and more stable tripod would be needed. No screw mount is included and so you will need to provide your own to use it with a camera positioned inside the ring.
The kit is designed to be portable and it will all pack neatly away into the supplied robust carry bag although some additional bubble wrap may be needed to protect the delicate light unit.
Available at £87.99 this is a very good price for a professional level piece of kit.
More Info and Purchase
Music: YouTube Audio Library: Patrick Patrikios: Vishnu
Roundhause R’lax Electric Neck and Back Massager
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y6fkdof7
There seem to be plenty of these Shiatsu pillow massagers on the market these days and most of them very similar and at £32.99 this one is by no means the cheapest. Is it worth the money?
The massager was supplied in an attractive mid-market product box, . Inside the box aside from the massager itself was a UK power supply, car adaptor, and a well printed and easy to read User Guide. I include a copy of the User Guide in my unboxing video.
The device consists of a large and quite heavy four roller mechanism contained in a robust mesh and leather look removable skin. Unlike some more expensive rivals, it lacks the two slings that stretch out either side into which the arms are placed to hold the roller tight to the shoulder and so with this device you have control the massage intensity by simply pushing back onto it. It has a single large control button: On/Off, massage roller direction, heat On/Off. The switch assembly seems well made and has a good positive action although there are no status LEDs. There is also a bright array of red LED’s which light up around the rollers when it is in use and heating selected. On the rear of the unit is an elasticated strap which holds the unit in position on the neck support of your seat. This is a problem as in the home I suspect few of us have suitable high necked chairs but in the car it should work well. In general, the build quality seems very good and the equal of the similar devices from more expensive rivals. It is a pity it is not supplied with a storage bag and the product box is too lightweight for this.
In use it is easy enough, you just rest it on your shoulders, switch on and hold it in place using the rear belt or with the hands. As well as the neck and shoulders it can also be used on the back or indeed any part of the body. It can be quite uncomfortable at times and feels like having two cricket balls pushed into your back but no doubt it is beneficial. It should be noted that the device is by no means lightweight and a person particularly weak or frail could find this problematic. The rollers have a very powerful action which can be controlled only by varying the tension it is held in place or by pressing backwards onto it. The direction of the roller travel can be changed via the control button. The heat action is pleasant and quite pronounced but again cannot be varied other than by turning it off. It will turn itself off after about 15 minutes of continuous use. It comes with a UK power supply but the cable length is far too short and long enough only for use when positioned immediately next to a socket. It is also, bizarrely, provided with a car adaptor for those people needing a massage when travelling. The massage effect is very powerful and once again at least equal to that of the rivals I have tried.
This is a good device, works well and is nicely presented. It is no better (but no worse) than the many rivals available and is priced around the middle of the range. If you need a massager of this type then this would be as good a buy as any.
Good build quality
May be too heavy for some users
Short power cable
No storage bag
Single power setting
Single heat setting
Music: YouTube Audio Library: Patrick Patrikios: Lights
RODE Wireless GO Wireless Microphone System
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y4k7awut
This wireless microphone system from Rode has become pretty much the go-to system for YouTubers and others seeking a medium price wireless mic set up.
In the box are the receiver, transmitter/mic, TRS cable, 2 USB-C Charging cables, 2 pop filters, a soft carry pouch and a quick start guide. Build quality all seems first rate and clearly built to professional standards. I would have preferred to have a larger carry pouch and a more comprehensive user guide
The transmitter and receiver are pre-paired and will work straight from the box although there is a button for manual pairing if needed. The receiver has a built-in microphone but has a 3.5mm socket for an external mic. The receiver has a DB with three preset attenuation levels for the mic output, although the default setting works fine for me. The receiver also has a small but bright LCD screen that shows audio input (with clipping warning), signal strength, and battery status for both devices. It is perfectly laid out and easy to read at a glance.
Audio quality is excellent. Background noise is almost non existent and the audio signal from the internal mic is excellent too, although perhaps a bit thinner than my choice of wired lav mic (K&F Concept Rechargeable Lapel Microphone). I have tested the Rode against a £65 budget rival, the KIMAFUN 2.4G Wireless Microphone System, and found the background noise from the cheaper system to be much higher although the difference is harder to hear when a music track is used.
The transmitter has a standard 3.5mm port to allow an external mic to be used if required, although I do not usually bother. The transmitter clips onto the clothing but is more obtrusive and unwieldy than a conventional lav mic, another reason why some users prefer an external microphone. It has a line of sight range of up to 70m but this can be greatly reduced when objects get in the way or even if the user turns around even when just a few feet away. When the signal is good I have never noticed any dropouts or reduction in audio quality
Battery life is good, a two hour charge will give up to seven hours of use with a clear and easy to see battery status indicator for both units on the receiver screen. I was pleased to see that the latest USB-C standard has been adopted for charging.
This is an excellent system that works perfectly straight from the box with very decent audio quality and minimal system noise. Pricing seems to vary, I paid £135 on Amazon but I have seen it priced as much as £159 there. There are budget rivals but I have yet to find one better and no doubt there are superior high priced systems but they are not an option for me.
Music: YouTube Audio Library: Patrick Patrikios: Vishnu
Mpow H19 IPO ANC Wireless Headphones
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y2kfcbpf
This active noise cancelling headset from Mpow was discounted down from £45 to just £30 and at that price is one of the cheapest ANC headsets I have yet tried, but is it any good?.
Inside the attractive and well designed box was the headset itself, a soft carry bag, USB Charging Cable, audio cable, and User Guide. The User Guide is well written and easy to read. I attach a scan of it to my unboxing video
The headphones feel lightweight but well made and robust and are of the n over-ear type. The headset looks good with an attractive black silk finish to the body and what looks like PU leather for the headband and earcups. The padding is good but not luxurious. The build quality seems fine to me with no sign of the padding on the band working loose, poor stitching, visible wires or weak joints – all elements that have failed on similar headsets I have owned in the past. There is nothing to make me suppose that the headset is not well made or that it will fail anytime soon.
The Active Noise Cancellation, as with all such headsets is better described as Active Noise Reduction, works very effectively for sustained low pitch noises – traffic, road roar, engines, – rather than for sudden high pitched noises but in general, makes a big difference. The music reproduction changes when ANC is turned on but not necessarily for the worse, it is a matter of taste. The headset can also be used as normal earphones and an audio cable is provided for this purpose. There is a marked increase in audio quality when the ANC button is pressed.
The simple control buttons are easy to find and identify by touch and by sight. There is the usual track/volume and multifunction buttons to control audio and phone operations on one earcup and an On/Off switch for the noise reduction feature on the other. The buttons are large, not recessed and this makes them easy to use by feel and for me, this is a big plus.
Bluetooth Pairing simple enough and achieved in the usual way by depressing the Multi-function/Power button for several seconds. The connection is indicated by the usual Red/Blue flashing LED with English language audio prompts. Once paired I found the connection to be stable and strong due perhaps to the use of the new QCC3003 Bluetooth 5 chip.
The 500mAh Battery life seems fine to me and I have no reason to doubt the claimed 35 hours of music time from a two-hour charge. The headset also has a fast charge feature which gives you two hours of music from a ten minute charge.
This headset is lacking a few features now often found even on budget headsets these days. The is no FM radio, SD card slot, AptX codec or NFC pairing option. The only non-standard feature is support for the relatively new CVC 8.0 noise suppression technology for the built-in microphone.
This is not an expensive headset but I was very happy indeed with the audio quality. The bass is good, clean, smooth and distortion free. Mid tones are clear and detailed and very easy to listen to. The sound quality of this headset has to be one of the main selling points bearing in mind the price. The audio quality is excellent, by no means the best I have ever listened to but good enough to warrant buying the headset for that feature alone at £30.
The headset is well made, comfortable, lightweight and easy to wear even for extended listening sessions and with decent sound quality too. It is a pity there was no SD card slot or radio but I wonder how many people would actually use them? Nevertheless, the excellent audio reproduction, ANC and good build quality make this a great buy for the price asked.
Good Audio Quality
Easy Access Controls
Good build quality
Comfortable to wear
No SD card
Music: YouTube Audio Library: john pan: Calvin Harris
WPHUAW 24 OZ Cocktail Shaker Set
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y56gckpg
This new Cobbler style cocktail or martini shaker set from the curiously named WPHUAW consists of a 24 oz tumbler with cap and internal strainer, a two-sided measuring jigger (1.0 oz & 0.5 oz) and an attractive fluted long-handled stirring spoon. The package comes very simply presented in a plain white unbranded box, this is a pity as it detracts from the appeal of the set as a gift.
The set is entirely made from high gloss food grade Pro 304 Stainless Steel and has a robust and well made feel to it. Nothing looks likely to mark, brake or bend anytime soon. Good quality food grade steel is important as the metal has a crucial role in both dissipating the heat and mixing the drink.
Using it of course, is up to you. It can be used with the supplied steel strainer lid or Boston style with a mixing glass. Either way, the results will be delicious.
This is a nice product, well made and easy to use and I hope that soon a deluxe version will be made available with more attractive packaging and perhaps a recipe or cocktail preparation guide.
If you are keen to have a try at mixing your own fancy cocktails, this would be a great way to start. At the time of writing the price is not available but I would expect it to be at the budget end of the market.
Music: YouTube Audio Library: Freedom Trail Studio: We Could Reach
Victure SC40 1080p Webcam
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y4plblms
Priced at £34.99 the Victure SC40 is not quite the cheapest I have seen but it is perhaps the best in this price range and compares very favourably with my usual webcam, the £126 Logitech C920 HD Pro.
In the box is the webcam itself, an optional stick-on privacy shield and a rather basic User Guide. Build quality seems excellent, the camera is well made and robust with nothing looking likely to fail anytime soon.
I plugged the camera into my Windows 10 PC and it was instantly recognised with no drivers or software needed. The Windows Camera app allowed me to configure it, with some reduced resolution options available, but most people will just leave at the default [email protected] I also tried it on my MacBook Pro and again it was almost instantly up and running.
The camera has the lens and dual microphones hold on the front, with the fully adjustable rotating base below. On the underside of the base is a standard tripod screw mount, which unlike with some lesser rivals is brass, not plastic. The camera has a 75° lens which is less wide than some rivals, but more to my taste and is free from barrel or rectilinear distortion. The microphone is far better than on most webcams in the price range with a clear and unmuffled sound which I did not need to boost when editing my video. The optional privacy screen is a simple flip on/off plastic fitting with a sticky-backed mount.
The camera itself has a clever mount with an anti-scratch inside face and which folds up to form a tabletop stand when not screen mounted. The camera is USB powered and with a 1.5m cable. The camera has a built-in microphone and features a true autofocus lens, this is a big deal as most budget webcams have a fixed focus lens. The autofocus works well although not as fast as I would like. I was able to manually adjust both the focus and exposure using the Windows Camera app and this can no doubt also be done in any suitable camera program.
The versatile mount can be used to position the camera securely to the top of the computer monitor, as a self-supporting desktop stand, or using the screw hole to any standard tripod mount. When on a tripod the camera can be rotated through 90 degrees using the camera mount and also rotated fully from side to side. The screw mount is brass and so will not degrade over time if regularly used for tripod mounting. The hard-wired USB cable is generous in length but it is a pity it is not even longer.
For me, the main appeal of this camera is the excellent video quality, which is good and sharp and with well-saturated colours, although with a marked blue cast. As to be expected with any new camera it is true Plug ‘n Play with no drivers needed.
If you want a budget-priced, good quality, no-nonsense webcam for Skype or other streaming purposes then you would have to go a long way to find a better one than this for the price. There are many cheaper rivals available but I suspect few offer the high-quality video of this one.
Good Build Quality
Plug and Play
Good video Quality
Detachable Privacy Screen
Hard Wired Cable
Music: YouTube Audio Library: The Whole Other: Winner Winner Funky Chicken Dinner
ESDDI Studio Light Box Kit 60 x 60cm
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y32s2t4x
This self-contained light tent kit from ESDDI has all you need for seamless and evenly lit small to medium size product or still life shots. The light tent is self-supporting once assembled and comes with an integral 156 LED 25000LM top light with optional diffuser and an adjustable front flap with lens opening. It has an external UK PSU which can be used to steplessly dim the 5500K internal top light.
In the box are the Led shooting tent, power adapter, diffusing cloth, 4 plastic coloured seamless background sheets, and a user guide. Build quality is fine, everything seems well made and robust although as with all products of this type is important to protect it from dirt, creases and markings.
Using it is simple enough and gets quicker with practice. There is really only one way to assemble the tent and using the built-in light is again intuitive and obvious. The plastic backdrops just slot into place and are more robust and easier to use than colourama cards. The diffusing cloth has a lens opening and can be used on the front to allow a front-facing external light to be used or to soften the interior top light. The top light is basically preset as there is no easy way to adjust the fixed internal light other than dimming, it cannot be moved nor easily have gels fitted. However, for most users, this may be their first experience with a light tent and more complex lighting rigs will not be needed.
This is a well made and well-designed unit and perfectly suited for a small scale studio and for photographers needing to make their product and pack shots more professional. Not a bad buy for £84.99.
Music: YouTube Audio Library: Slynk: X Ray Vision
Sunvook Touch Dual USB Table Lamp
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/yynu6xcs
This is a simple but well made retro designed bedside lamp with some very modern tech hidden inside.
In the box is the lampstand, bulb, shade and a very basic but easy to read user guide. Build quality seems excellent, the stand and base are made from metal and the shade from a robust fabric. It has a standard UK plug with a 1.5m cable. The bulb is moderately bright, fine for bedside use, and is a relaxing warm white. Nothing looks poorly made or likely to fail anytime soon.
So, at first sight, this is a very traditional old style bedroom light with a nicely weighted circular base and a 42 cm stand, both made from heavy-duty coated steel. The 5w E27 screw bulb can be replaced easily enough with any E27 bulb rated up to a 60w equivalence. What gives the lamp a high tech edge are the two side-mounted 5V/2A USB charging ports and the unusual touch switching.
To operate the lamp touch anywhere on the metal base or stand to adjust brightness, unlike with rivals there is no soft touch switch or switching area. This could be handy when fumbling to turn it on at night. First tap to turn the lamp on, twice to change to low brightness mode, the third tap to medium brightness mode, the fourth to high brightness, and the last a to turn off the lamp. I had some trouble with this the first time I used it but after moving the lamp to another location it has worked perfectly.
This a well made and easy to use bedside lamp, free from annoying whistles and bells, that does the job it is made for rather well with just enough modern tech to make it interesting. For £39.99 it is not cheap, but good things seldom are.
Music: YouTube Audio Library: Patrick Patrikios: Nothing On Me
DIGITNOW! V106 10" Graphics Drawing Tablet
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y6yekwah
I was delighted to receive this new £49.99 graphics tablet from DIGITNOW! for testing as I have some experience with their other products and have always been impressed by the build quality, presentation and functionality.
The graphics tablet arrived very well packaged and securely padded in a large and attractive presentation box making it very suitable as a gift. Inside the box was the V106 tablet itself, DP106 stylus, stylus stand, nib storage box with eight spare nibs, nib removal tool, USB to micro-USB Adapter, USB to USB-C adapter, user guide.
Build quality of everything is up to the usual DIGITNOW! high standard with nothing feeling flimsy or looking like it is liable to pack in any time soon. The pad looks very impressive with the row of preset keys running down the side. The batteryless pen sits well in the hand and is lightweight and easy to use. The only design fault I can see is that the USB power cable is hard-wired into the graphics pad. It would have been better had a standard USB-C port been used to allow for easy replacement if necessary.
On the left side of the tablet are six pairs of buttons for Eraser/Brush, CTRL-/CTRL+, Brush-/Brush+, Mouse Forward/Tab, Mouse Back,/Space CTRL/ALT. There is a status LED and the 360×240 mm drawing area with phone drawing area marked. The heavy-duty extra long USB power cable is hard wired to the left side of the tablet.
The tablet will work with Windows, Mac and Android, although I was only able to test it using my Windows 10 PC. Firstly it is important to plug the tablet into a rear port of the PC, not a front panel accessory port or external hub, if you do the hub may not work. No driver CD is included but a virtual CD drive appears in the 'This PC' window which has installers for the driver and a sample graphics program. The blue status panel will illuminate on the tablet to show it is receiving power and available. Remember to remove the plastic protective skin before first use and take care as it can be tricky to remove cleanly.
Using the tablet is simplicity itself and it feels fast and responsive thanks to the 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity which means colour and density can be varied according to the pressure applied through the pen and is a big advance of the 2048 levels of older generation rivals. Twelve preset buttons are positioned down the left side of the table and can be redefined asrequired to make life easier for the user. The lightweight battery-free pen itself is a delight to use and can be used at up to 60° of tilt.
This is a first rate graphics tablet available at a very attractive price. I doubt that anyone other than high end graphics professionals would really need to pay more for an upscale unit from better known rivals.
No Stylus Battery
8192 Pen Pressure Levels
Hard wired USB cable
No Application Specific Presets
No Storage Bag
Music: YouTube Audio Library: Silent Partner: Blue Break
EUNA 5 PCS Rose-Gold Kitchen Knife Set
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y4y5dyeu
This amazing looking set of five Japanese style Santoku Kitchen knives from EUNA, is priced at just £49.99, a decent price for a quality knife set but not the cheapest out there. Are they worth the difference?
So what is a Santoku knife?
It seems it is a general-purpose Japanese kitchen knife, deriving from 三徳包丁, or ‘three virtues’ in Japanese. The Santoku knife is shorter, lighter, thinner, and has more hardened steel in the tradition of Samurai sword steel than a traditional Western chef’s knife. Of course, how far this new knife set from EUNA embodies this, I cannot say, I can only say that they are all mega sharp.
In the impressive presentation box are the knives themselves, a tough plastic sheath for each knife and a short user and care guide. The set consists of 8″ Chef’s Knife, 8″ Slicing Knife, 7″ Santoku Knife, 5″ Serrated Utility Knife, and a 3.5″ Paring Knife. Build quality throughout, for the knives and even the box is first-rate and this is clearly a prestige set. The amazing rose gold finish to the blades makes them look all the more impressive.
The knives all have ergonomically designed textured handles, non-stick coated carbon steel blades, 1 with a cutting angle of 13-15 degrees each side. The blades, we are told, have a Rockwell hardness of 53+ (whatever that is). The BPA tested handles are made from a plastic resin of some sort, listed as 'PP', but they all sit nicely in the hand and balance the blade nicely.
Caring for the knife, as with any precision instrument, is important and although these are described as being dishwasher safe, it is recommended for best results to wash carefully in warm water with a soft cloth. It is also suggested that when sharpening a knife to always do so at an angle of 15 degrees to the whetstone or sharpening tool.
What all this boils down to is that this perhaps one of the sharpest and easiest to use kitchen knife set I have ever handled. There may be better, I am no chef and don’t have much experience of kitchen knives, but I suspect you would have to look long and hard to find a better set and may much more than the price asked for this one. The only drawback for me is the lack of a robust storage case or wall mount, something I would be happy to pay more for.
This is a spectacular looking knife set that is as good in the kitchen as the display case.
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Rybozen 3 in 1 Out HDMI Switcher
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y2ls68w3
This is a simple little device that does some complicated things. Priced at just £8.99 it will allow one TV or monitor to be used with up to three HDMI devices and will support 4K video and Dolby audio in various formats. It will switch automatically between devices when a one is switched on or can be switched manually using the button on the front.
It could not be simpler to use. once everything is connected up just switching a source device on should switch automatically to that device, although there are some particular source devices that may not support this function in which case the button on the front of the switcher can be used. There is an LED on the front to confirm which is the current active source device.
The switcher will support 4k source devices up to [email protected] and various types of compressed audio including LPCM, DOLBY AC3, DTS7.1, and Direct Stream Digital.
A user guide is included but most users will not need it, this is a true plug 'n play device and should work straight from the box with almost any commonly found video or audio devices. If it supports HDMI then it should work with this
There are more expensive rivals available that look better and offer remote control, but if all you want is a basic plug and forget switcher then you will have to go a long way to find a better one than this for the price.
Music: YouTube Audio Library: Vibe Mountain: Mint Chocolate 2a
Aeo WiFi Magnetic Reversing Camera
More Info and Purchase: http://tinyurl.com/qy9niklz
This new reversing camera from Aeo is very different from the cheap and flimsy models sold for general use. This is a specialised high quality product designed for demanding users and priced accordingly at £83.99.
In the upmarket presentation were the camera, charging cable, sticky mount and user guide. Build quality, needless to say, is first-rate and this camera is clearly designed for a long term and heavy duty use.
This camera is not really designed for use in normal cars but rather for lorries, trucks, SUV and other larger vehicle with dangerous blind spots impossible to monitor with just mirrors. The camera has a powerful magnetic base and uses no wires and so can easily be moved from point to point around a vehicle as circumstances dictate.
Unlike the cheaper rivals, this camera uses a powerful wifi signal to send live video to your phone or tablet with a line of sight range of up to 100m but of course much less in practice. Nevertheless, it should be easily capable of letting the driver of even the longest vehicle know what is going on at the rear and that his load is safe. Many users will not keep the camera permanently in position, although this can be done, but will move it around the vehicle as required to deal with on the job problems.
Using it is quick and easy. Turned the camera on using the single button on the front and the blue LED lights to confirm the device is on and sending a wifi signal. Connect your smartphone to the camera's wifi hotspot network and use the Safetyeye (iOS) or SafetyCam (Android) app to monitor the live video from the camera. The app will record snapshots on demand and can also show a visual reversing aid and flip the image horizontally.
This is a high quality and rather specialised camera that may be just what you need to keep your large or non-standard vehicle safe.
Music: YouTube Audio Library: Freedom Trail Studio: Amazement
TECKIN TC100-1 Home Security Smart Camera
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y5jp4lvr
With the TC100 Camera, now updated, TECKIN, are in a very competitive market. For the budget price of just £19.99, what do they have to offer?
In the well designed mid-market box are the camera, UK Power adapter, USB cable, double-sided sticky mount and a short but well-written user guide. Although compact and lightweight, everything seems pretty robust and well made.
The camera is small sized and follows the square format used by many new budget cameras with on the fron the lens. microphone, and status LED with the reset button and speaker grill on the back. On the side is the micro-USB card slot.
Along with the camera is a new and well designed smartphone app from TECKIN, simply called TECKIN, and this is used to configure and use the camera. The app is designed to be the heart of the new TECKIN ecosystem and can also be used with plugs, lights, home gadgets and appliances the company plan to produce. The app integrates with Alexa and Google Home to allow full voice control. Using the app to configure the camera could not be simpler and the app walks you through the whole procedure.
Once set up the camera offers good quality 1080p video with audio at around 15-20fps. It supports two-way audio to allow for intercom use. It can be movement or audio triggered and saves video to the TECKIN cloud, the smartphone or to a micro-SD card of up to 128gb in the camera.
TECKIN is entering a market already crowded with budget priced cameras but this one has a quality feel to it lacking in some of the budget rivals. For the price, it is a rather nice buy.
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Benma Motion Detector Solar Lights
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y3foaf3u
This new three headed solar powered security lamp is well priced at just £30.92, including shipping to the UK from Germany given the features on offer.
In the box were the lamp unit, credit card sized remote control, solar panel with hard-wired 5m cable, and a well written and easy to read multi-language user guide. Build quality is lightweight but good with nothing looking likely to fail anytime soon.
The three lamps all cannot be individually controlled but work together although the two outside ones can be separately rotated up and down and side to side. On the underside of the central lamp are the two manual controls, a switch to turn the unit off and one, and a button to scroll through the three operating modes. On the rear is a simple wall mount that allows the whole unit to be pointed up or down. The solar panel is connected to the lamp unit with a 5m cable using a grommet protected socket on the underside of the lamp unit.
The device can also be operated using the simple and easy to use six-button remote control - very handy if the unit is positioned in an elevated position. The remotes has buttons for On, Off, Mode 1, Mode 2, Mode 3, and SOS.
The unit has three operating modes.
Off but light on full power for fifteen seconds when motion detected.
Low Light mode switching to full power for fifteen seconds when motion detected.
Low Light mode on continuously.
The main selling points of this device are separate solar panel which can be positioned away from the lamp unit in an area with better sunlight. The compact-sized and flexible design of the lamp unit, which allows the light to be orientated for maximum coverage. The brightness of the lamp unit relative to the small size. Finally, the remote control allows for easy control of the unit no matter where it is located.
This is a surprisingly powerful and very adaptable outside lighting unit available at a price that will not break the bank.
Music: YouTube Audio Library: Causmic : Luxery
N Twin Head Exfoliating Body Brush
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y47g3msk
This new back scrubber from KN has been produced along traditional lines, made from wood and boar bristles it would not have been out of place in the bathroom of Queen Victoria. What a refreshing change that is from the usual ABS plastic used by some rivals.
Priced on Amazon at £9.89 this brush arrived simply packaged in a clear but not very eco-friendly plastic bag containing just the brush and some promotional guff. No additional paperwork was included or needed.
The brush is 44 cm in length and weighs in at just 260g. The 11.9 x 6.1 cm exfoliating head, one side soft bristles the other firm, is made from boar bristles, the traditional material used, but vegetarian users may look elsewhere for a non-animal alternative. It has a rubber grip on one end and a cotton hanging hook on the other, to make life easier in the bathroom.
Using the brush is easy and simple due to the lightweight. The brush feels stimulating to the skin but is soft enough not to be abrasive or painful to use. The exfoliating effect helps to remove dead skin and toxins, as it stimulates circulation and the hormone and oil-producing glands. The brush also seems to produce a particularly foamy and smooth lather when soap is applied to it.
If you prefer traditional and natural bathroom products then this bathroom brush may be just what you need.
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LucaSng Portable Handheld Sewing Machine
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/yxcvuohz
Priced at just £18.99 this little portable handheld sewing machine could be kept on hand or when on the road to fix loose seams and or other minor repairs and if you are bold enough even undertake more ambitious sewing projects.
In the box can be found the sewing machine itself, nine cotton spools in various colours, ten safety pins, a tape measure, Extension Spindle, scissors, sewing needle, and what I think is a threading aid. I also bought an external power lead, which is not included in the pack and is a £2.99 option. No case is included, which is a pity but perhaps understandable given the price.
Build quality seems fine. The body is made from lightweight plastic with the sewing mechanism as to be expected from steel. The device seems well made and robust but of necessity, the threading and sewing mechanism is delicate and needs to be handled with care. The device is powered by 4 AA batteries with a port to use a non-standard external DC 6V USB power cable, available as a separate purchase for around £14.
On top of the sewing machine is an On/Off button with a locking switch next to it, push forward to lock. On the side are the bobbin holder for the cotton spool, the power in port, and a large rotary wheel which lifts the needle arm at the front of the device. Below the needle arm is the metal fastening plate used to secure the cloth in place. The needle arm has a thread tension control and setting screw. On the rear of the device is the battery compartment.
The unit arrives ready to go with a spool in place and a needle loaded and threaded. I suggest you take a photo of this to help if you encounter threading problems later.
To use the device, after first
Set the switch to the LOCK position and insert batteries or the power cord.
Turn the rotary wheel to raise the needle arm
Lift up the fastening plate without pressing down on the elevated needle arm and position your cloth underneath.
Set the switch to Unlock
Hold the device in the right hand and press the power switch with the thumb, holding the cloth in the left hand.
The machine will feed the cloth to the left as it operates and the left hand can be used to guide (not pull) the cloth through. Use the machine in short ten-second bursts only followed by a five-second pause.
Use the setting screw to release and change the needle when needed, be sure to use #14 style DHx 1 sewing needle.
Using the sewing machine can be a bit fiddly and there is something of a learning curve here, but once mastered it soon becomes second nature.
This is a handy and useful little device, well made and well priced, that deserves the time and effort needed to get the best from it.
Music: YouTube Audio Library: Geographer : Lightning Bugs
Victure HC220 Trail Camera
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/y6y5esth
A trail camera is a camera which is designed to operate unattended outdoors and to automatically capture pictures or video of anything that triggers the built-in motion detector. They are mainly used to monitor wildlife activity but could be used for security purposes also.
Victure's new trail cam, positioned at the lower end of their range of trail cams, arrived packed in an attractive mid-market product box inside of which was the camera itself, metal ground/surface mount with screw fittings, retaining tree mount strap, data cable, and User Guide. Although the camera itself is made of plastic and is rather lightweight (which is perhaps no drawback) build quality seems excellent. The User Guide is a good size, well printed, easy to read and, unlike many, is genuinely useful.
The IP66 water-resistant camera takes eight AA batteries, four can be fitted for setup only, which means it can be left to operate untended over extended periods. Take note that if used intensively the batteries will quickly run down but in normal use should last up to six months on standby but far less if extensively used. Lithium batteries generally work best and last longest. The batteries are housed in an easy-access compartment in the base of the unit. It also has the option to use a 6V/1.5A external power supply (not supplied).
On the front of the device are the lens, light sensor, motion sensor, Status LEDs, 850nm 32 LED infrared panel. On the side is a clip to secure the front-facing control panel flap. The hinged flap opens out to give access to the colour LCD monitor, speaker grill and control buttons. Inside the panel on one side is the full-size SD card slot (Class 10 recommended, 32Gb maximum), far easier to deal with on a cold night than a tiny micro-SD card. Inside the panel on the front face is the battery compartment release catch, LCD screen and control buttons. Inside the flap on the lower face is a Mini-USB port, and power in port. With the flap closed on the bottom is the single metal screw hole for a tripod and the grommet protected outer access port for an external power supply.
Inside the flap next to the LCD screen on one side is large turret switch to set the device to ON/TEST/ OFF Above it are Menu, Up, OK, Down and Mode buttons. The buttons are a good size and reasonably easy to find and use in the outside at night.
Although there are plenty of refinements and fine-tuning that can be made, in fact, the camera can be up and running very quickly with the default settings. After inserting the batteries and removing the gels covering the lens, sensors and screen, set the turret slider to TEST and press the MENU button. From here you can now set the image and video resolutions, video recording lengths and other parameters such as time stamping, time-lapse, Time Lapse etc. One particularly useful feature is that you do not have to choose between Video or Stills as you can set it to record both at once. Time should be spent on best positioning the camera for best results. Remember to insert a micro-SD card first and to format it using the camera software before use. Do not insert or remove the SD card when the camera is turned on.
I was pleased and not a little surprised by the photo and video quality, too often budget trail cameras fall down here by using cheap hardware to save production costs, but not so here. For the price image quality is excellent for both Video and stills at up to 20MP and gives good quality 1080p video at 15fps. I found that in some lighting conditions highlights can burn out so take care to select the right camera position to avoid them. Care must be taken also to avoid false motion sensor alerts – foliage, vehicles, etc – as this will soon flatten the battery. Although the trigger time is about average at 0.4s nevertheless when recording wildlife try and position the camera so the subject approaches the camera and not across it. That way the trigger has time to fire and you will see the subject head-on and not get a picture of its rear end as it leaves the frame! The camera has a minimum reset speed of just 2 seconds and a time-lapse photography option.
This is a budget camera and is lacking a few features, side sensors, wifi, remote control etc and the frame rate of 15fps is disappointing but that aside all the key features you will need are here.
This camera can be great fun if you have a big garden and wonder what goes on there when you are away. Both for features and image quality this is one of the best trail cams I have used in this price range. At less than £60 this is a very decent buy.
Good image quality
Good build quality
Simultaneous stills and video option
Excellent User Guide
Audio recording option
Heavy battery drain when used intensively
Mersoco M435 Bluetooth Record Player
More Info and Purchase: https://tinyurl.com/yydnkwsf
Blog: Blog: https://tinyurl.com/y46of937
This newly updated and nicely designed retro look record player from Mersoco can be used as a stand-alone way of revisiting your old discs or with an existing audio system connected through the standard 3.5mm headphone jack or using the rear stereo RCA Phono ports. The unit comes with RCA and audio cables supplied along with a UK plug power supply and a well written and easy to read User Guide. The body of the device is well made, stylish and robust, although the turntable itself feels a bit lightweight.
The damped turntable has a decent quality belt drive inside and a soft touch tonearm mechanism on the outside. It supports 7, 10, and 12″ discs at 33, 45 and 78 speeds. Unusually for a retro player it also supports Bluetooth audio in, so you can play music from your phone or tablet on it. Annoyingly, there is no Bluetooth Out, so external BlueTooth speakers cannot be used. Although there is a blanked off USB port on the rear unlike with some more costly rivals this player does not export digitised audio.
It has built-in speakers and although the sound is loud, bright and well defined it does lack bass. The integral speakers are fine for monitoring use or when top audio quality is not needed. For serious listening, external speakers or a HiFi system can be attached. When connected to a good quality external system the sound quality is perfectly fine. The device does look good, with a 1950’s retro feel to it and can play almost any form of record thrown at it, including, singles, LPs, shellac 78’s, jukebox singles missing the centre spindle and more modern 12″ 45rpm singles.
For the £52.99 price, this is an excellent buy and an inexpensive way of breathing new life into an old record collection.
Music: YouTube Audio Library: : Vibe Mountain: Mint Chocolate 2a