Gritin Running Belt with Adjustable Elastic Strap

As phones have got larger of late it has been increasingly difficult to find running belts capable of holding the current 6″+ phones. This new belt from Gritin will hold a phone of around 6.5″ without too much bother.

The 76cm belt is made of an elasticated webbing material with two adjustment buckles and a central quick release locking clasp. The pouch has a central waterproof zip incorporating a reflective strip and an access port for the headphone cable. The interior is rubberised and has a long main pocket for the phone together with three smaller ones for keys, cards etc.

I tested it with my OnePlus 5T phone which is slightly over 6″ in length. I found although it fitted inside perfectly well, the rubberised pocket of the rather thin and bendy pouch meant it was quite awkward getting it inside. I found myself accidentally switching the phone screen on as I struggled to get it inside, a problem perhaps with the phone rather than the belt. A slightly more rigid pouch construction would have made life easier. Getting the phone out when running was a little tricky too for the same reason. I like the elasticated belt which is flexible and easy to adjust and the soft slimline pouch does not dig in when running.

For the current Amazon price of just £7.99, this is certainly a good buy and one I will be sticking with. This is not necessarily the best belt available but it suits my needs and at a very decent price.

More Info and Purchase

POLAR Vantage V Multisport Watch

 

This is not so much a review but rather an explanation of why I sent my watch back.

As long-term runner and user of Polar sports products, I was very much looking forward to getting this watch. I gulped a bit at the £438.91 price but decided it would be worth it for the five years or so I planned to use it. I never expected to have to send it back after only a few days.

Currently, I use a Polar V800 which is a great watch, built like a tank, accurate and easy to use. However, I have had problems for a long time with the charging/sync connector and following recent firmware updates I have been having sustained Bluetooth problems with my Heart Rate Monitor connection and smartwatch failing repeatedly. It seemed a good time to move on to the V800 successor and top of the Polar watch range, the Vantage V.

I had read reviews where people complained about the dim screen but I was amazed at just how feeble the display was when I switched it on. I updated the firmware to the latest version 2.07 – a quick and easy job when syncing the watch – but it made little difference. Turning on the backlight helped a bit but the backlight remained on for just a couple of seconds with no option to extend it and even then it was far dimmer than I would like. In my video and in others the screen looks far brighter and snappier than in reality. I have to say this is one of the dimmest screens I have ever encountered on a smartwatch, worse by far than the V800, my Motorola 360 or even the many low-end watches and trackers sent to me for review.

Also, I have to criticise the ruggedness of the build quality. The watch buttons felt cheap and not firm enough and the strap p- which cannot be changed – felt thin and weedy and in complete contrast to the heavy duty V800.

I was unable to pair my watch to the phone, neither of which could see the other. In fairness perhaps that may be an issue with my watch and could be solved with more work but it certainly did not work straight from the box. Even had I been able to connect it I  would not be able to receive notifications from the watch as this is one of many features promised but not yet available.

Setting the watch up and registering it to my Polar account could not have been easier. The initial steps are walked through with large and simple on-screen instructions with the option to complete the process on the watch, on the phone or with a computer.

I took it on a couple of runs and I have no criticisms of the performance, the GPS and Heart Rate Monitor both worked well – although with the usual question mark over the accuracy of arm based HRM readings – but I just found it too hard to read the screen. I want to be able to just glance down and read my current metrics without having to keep pressing the backlight button.

To summarise here are the reasons I decided to send the watch back.

1. Dim screen
2. Lightweight Build Quality
3. Bluetooth Issues
4. Too many features not yet implemented

5. High Price

So, for the time being, I will have to soldier on with my V800 or switch to another brand as I do not think any other Polar watch aside from the Vantage M – a cut-down version of this one – offers all day heart rate tracking.

I was very disappointed with this watch. Had it been substantially cheaper maybe I would have persevered with it as technically it is one of the most advanced sports watches on the market with a host of features needed by runners and athletes far above my level, but for the current price I expected it to work perfectly and answer all my needs from day one.

GoPetee Durable Anti-Slip Dog Back Seat Cover

We already have a dog seat cover in our car. It works but is starting to show signs of age, the zipper has failed and it is getting scuffed and scruffy. This new cover from GoPetee seems a worthwhile replacement and at £22.99 is not the cheapest but does seem to be a cut above the rest.

You get more for your money here than with any other seat cover I have tried. As well as the cover itself you also receive a robust and well-made carry bag, three dog seat belts, and a well printed although rather unneeded User Guide.

The cover itself is made from heavy-duty waterproof 600 D oxford fabric with a non-slip surface.  It takes the form of a rectangular box without a lid when assembled and with the sides up is 53″x24″x19″. The front and rear panels are secured to the headrests with quick release adjustable belts 19″ apart. The two end panels can be zipped to the upright position and come with metal loops so they can be suspended from door pillar hooks if available. The front panel at the has a central zipper with locking buckle to allow the dogs access to the front of the vehicle and which also allows one end of the front panel to be folded down to allow a passenger to sit in the rear without needing to remove the seat cover. There is a handy carry pouch incorporated into the front panel for poo bags, clothes or other items needed for the journey. The cover set comes with three car seat belts for the canine passengers which have a standard dog leash clip on one end and a seat belt clip on the other which can be fed through the seat cover to the seat belt points on the back seat. There is also a built-in plastic carry handle for the easy transportation of the cover.

I have to say that a good deal of thought seems to have gone into the design of this unit which is more than just a seat cover but represents all you need to carry your dogs in safety in the car whilst minimising possible;e damage to the vehicle interior. For the price, this seems an excellent buy indeed for dog-owning drivers.

More Info and Purchase

Cycorld Activated Carbon Dustproof Mask

In the past, I have always used disposable masks when doing building work or in other situations where there is a lot of dust but this reusable mask may be better for long-term use. Certainly, cyclists, Antifa followers and others may also prefer the stylish design of this new £12.99 mask from Cycorld together with the convenience of replaceable filters.

The mask arrived attractively packaged in a windowed display box clearly targeted more at the general or health conscious user rather than the building trade. In the box was the mask itself together with four filters each sealed in a separate bag.

The mask is made from a bamboo, nylon and spandex mix which leaves it soft and pliable and moulds easily to the contours of the face. It two plastic air intakes either side to which the filter is attached. It has multiple holes for exhalation and these are designed to route the breath away from glasses or goggles to prevent misting. There is a rubberised reinforcing strap to hold the mask against the bridge of the nose and passing over the ears, a velcro strap to support in place the mask behind the head. The filters, of which four are supplied with the mask, are soft and pliable and made from layers of fabric, cotton, activated charcoal sandwiched together.

The filter is attached my releasing the two mask air intakes, inserting the filter into the mask so the holes line up and then replacing and screwing in place the air intakes. According to the manufacturer, the filter can remove up to 99.7% of particulate pollution. Once in place, the mask is surprisingly comfortable but I would not wish to wear it for prolonged periods.

This mask seems well made and robust enough for long-term use and looking quickly online I see that replacement filters are freely available at around £1.50 each or less depending on how many are bought. With that in mind, I would say this would be perfect for those regularly in a situation where dust or fumes are a problem. Also, it would make the perfect gift for the Antifa person in your life.

More Info and Purchase

Cycorld Microspikes Crampons

We live in a hilly area prone to snow and every year I buy a set of crampons and every year they either fall to bits after a few outings or I lose them. This new pair from Cycorld seem a cut above the others I have used and so I am optimistic that they will last out the year.

Priced at on Amazon at just £17.99 the crampon set arrived packaged in a robust zippered storage bag containing the crampons and a pair of velcro straps. No instructions were included but none are needed but if in doubt you can always check the Amazon product page.

Like most crampons, they are designed to slip over the boot or shoe with a tough elasticated rubber overshoe securing the vicious looking steel barbed grips with steel chains. Unlike any other set I have used these ones have a separate velcro strap that goes over the laces and holds the two sides of the overshoe firmly in place. In the past, I have found crampons and work loose and come off but hopefully, the velcro strap will prevent this. Each crampon is clearly marked left or right with a forward facing arrow to ensure they are fitted the right way.

To fit the crampons after ensuring you have the correct one then work the front over and under the toe end of the boot then lift the crampon’s rubber heel and fit it over the heel of the boot before using the velcro strap to hold the two sides taught over the laces. Personally, I have found this easier to do before putting the boot on but with practice, it may well be better to but the boots on first.

Build quality seems excellent, the steel grips are the largest and fiercest I have seen and may be better suited to deep snow and thick rather than the sparse covering we often get. Usually, crampons fail with the rubber overshoe splitting or coming away from the chains but these seem particularly well made so with luck this may not happen. Of course, time and the weather will tell on this.

These seem a well made and robust pair of crampons but in the absence of snow I cannot fully comment on how well they will last. The good price, build quality and the handy storage bag certainly makes them an attractive buy at first sight.

More Info and Purchase

JONTER M90 Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

 

December Only: Special 25% off discount Amazon checkout claim code: L4XUIERA

The new M90 speaker from JONTER does not try to be the jack of all trades that many rival speakers do. Instead, it concentrates on providing decent sound quality whilst being suitable for true outdoor use. The price at £39.99 for one speaker is not the cheapest and there are plenty of budget rivals out there with more features but this well made speaker does have some qualities many rivals lack.

Inside of the box which was the speaker itself, a short USB to micro-USB charging cable and a well written and easy to read User Guide. I enclose a scan of the surprisingly lengthy User Guide at the end of my unboxing video.

The stark and stylish looks of this speaker are unlike any other I have tested with a strikingly designed grey silicone-skinned body with a chunky orange angular handgrip. On the top is the simple control panel, which features the usual volume controls and track controls and the button layout is easy to see and to operate with wet hands, in the dark or when on the move. On the rear is a grommet protected port bay featuring an Aux audio input, micro-USB charging port, LED indicator and a TF memory card slot. On the underside is what seems to be a tripod mounting hole. On the front are the two speakers and status LED behind a hefty plastic grill. The included user guide well written, large and easy to understand although printed in an annoyingly hard to read grey ink.

Pairing to my phone was easy enough although I had problems connecting to other devices later. There is no NFC option nor can the device connect to two Bluetooth devices at once. When rebooting the speaker connected automatically to my phone.

The sound quality is first rate for the small size with plenty of volume and 20 watts of good powerful bass. For the size, the sound is loud, clear and resonant enough to be heard when on the beach or outside in noisy situations. Yes, this speaker is designed for outdoor use and is IPX5 rated, which means it should be fine in the rain and is protected against prolonged water splashes but may not survive immersion in water.

The device is charged via a micro-USB port in the access panel. The two internal rechargeable Lithium batteries have a capacity of 2200mAh but it is a pity there is no power out port to allow the device to charge or power external devices. This is a shame as many similar devices offer this as they do a built-in FM radio which again is missing here. However, the claims for eight-hour usage per charge from my experience seem pretty realistic.

Compared to many rivals this device is short on features lacking as it does FM radio, NFC, AptX Bluetooth 5 compatibility which can be found in many less expensive similar sized devices but in the end decided the sound quality and rugged build more than compensated for these failings and make the device a great buy for outdoor and indoor use.

The Good
Good sound
Unique design
Robust build quality
Audio in port
Micro SD slot
Easy to use controls
Non-slip finish
Excellent User Guide

IPX5 Waterproof

The Bad
No FM Radio
No NFC
No Aptx
No Power Out feature

No Bluetooth 5

More Info and Purchase

Vorally Fast Wireless QI Car Charger

This is a cut above the average wireless car charger as it is Qi-enabled and allows for three levels of charging speed according to the requirements of your phone.

The charger arrived presented in an upmarket and attractive mid-market box that helps make the product particularly suitable as a gift. Inside the box was the charger itself together with a USB-micro USB cable, airvent mount, and a well printed and easy to read user Guides.

Build quality seems fine and more substantial than many others I have tried. The charger has a matt black finish throughout and feels robust and well made. The vent adapter attaches to the rear of the phone cradle with a ball and socket joint and can be adjusted to suit varying grill types. The phone cradle has separate buttons on the rear to adjust and lock the verticle and horizontal clasps. An old-style cigar lighter interface is included but as almost all modern cars now come with USB ports it may well not be needed.

Having mounted the device using it could not be easier. As with all wireless chargers just put the phone into the mount and touching the charging pad and it will work automatically. In fact, this one is easier to use than desktop chargers because the phone is held in place and positioned exactly over the charging coil by three retractable and adjustable arms that grip it tightly and securely. It should be noted that the arms can be adjusted to suit phones of different lengths as well as width, unlike with some lesser rivals. This adjustable length feature means that even new 18:9 format phones should fit safely into it. The secure mount coupled with the ball and socket joint on the rear means the phone can be quickly and safely rotated from portrait to landscape modes with no fear of it falling out.

I found that the device worked well both in the car and when tested on my desktop. The adaptive charging protocol should mean it will work with any wireless charging equipped device. It can work with all QI certified phones, with 10W devices, with 7.5W and the rest defaulting to the standard 5W charging level.

The unit is currently available on Amazon for £23.49 (plus a further 5% reduction at the time of writing) and at that price is a great buy for the convenience and versatility of in-car wireless charging at the maximum level your device will support.

The Good
Good Build Quality
Easy to Use
Good User Guide
Good Presentation
Works well
Excellent Car Finder App

Cigar lighter adapter

The Bad
Cable too short
Wireless Charging can be erratic

More Info and Purchase