Syma DoDoeleph S39 RC Helicopter

Drones and RC aircraft are not usually my thing and don’t often review them. They are fragile, easy to break, require time and effort to get the best from and are often more trouble than they are worth. With me behind the controls, they seem to instantly fly up to the ceiling, hit the lights and come down in pieces or when outside will either lodge at the top of a tree or else just fly off never to be seen again.

I read good reports about this RC helicopter from Syma and so against my better judgement decided to give it a go. I am rather pleased that I did. To my surprise, I found I could make it fly (almost) straight from the box and I am sure that it would not take long to get properly to grips with it.

Everything you need is in the box including two batteries (one is already fitted) and a few basic spares. The User Guide is also untypically good: large, well printed and easy to read. Constructed mainly from Aluminium alloy and plastics, build quality seems excellent and so far it has survived several crashes and failed landings. Reassuringly, according to the User Guide, almost all the components are replaceable and can be purchased online. Unlike with most RC devices, this one comes with a large and well-printed User Guide in good English that is easy to follow, concise, and useful. It tells you all you need to know about the aircraft, and how to operate it, and nothing more.

Flying time at around 7 minutes per battery is pretty standard but unlike many rivals, this device concentrates on making the flying easy rather than adding extra functions. There is no camera, no auto-return and the optimum range at around 10 metres is not great but as a beginner, none of that matters to me, for me the key feature is ease of use.

Battery charging takes around 70 minutes and can be done either with the battery in place in the aircraft or externally. One point to bear in mind is that the battery compartment is secured by a small screw and I would advise strongly to take great care when getting access as the screw is tiny, easily lost and very hard to get back in place. Why did they not just use a clip?

Using it is as simple as they claim. The transmitter unit is large and clunky with good-sized robust controls. There is nothing worse than forgetting which button does what when you have an out of control drone in the air above you. With just the few buttons this unit has it is far easier to remember them and if you do forget, a better chance of randomly pressing the right one. The only controls on this unit are Up, Down, Right, Left, Power, Speed Mode, and two trim buttons. The trim buttons are again easy to use and help keep the unit straight and level: if it veers to one side press the trim button for the other direction.

So for me, the two selling points of this unit are, ease of use and build quality. If you need a camera, long-range control, GPS, auto-return or anything more advanced then keep on looking.
This would be a perfect first step into the world of RC flight and this ease of use more than makes up for the above-average price of around £50.

If you want to take to the air, this would be a great way to start.

The Good
Good Build Quality
Good User Guide
Easy To Use Controls
Easy To Use
Searchlight
Large Size
Robust
2 Batteries
The Bad
Expensive
No Camera
No Auto-Return
No GPS
Battery Compartment Access

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Nooie PU13 Smart Plug 4 Pack

Like all the new generation of smart plugs, these are hub free, small, stylish and easy to configure. At just £34.99 for a set of four, this set from Nooie is one of the best so far.

At home, I currently use LightwaveRF switches with my Amazon Echo and Google Home devices and this works well but needs a hub to be connected to the router. The latest generation of IOT products, like these from Nooie requires no hub, connects directly to the router, is assigned its’ own IP number and is easy to identify online. It is recognised by the Amazon Echo and Google Home and seamlessly blends in their home automation ecosystems.

In the simple but attractive box were the four plugs along with a well written but rather small setup guide Guide. The Guide assists in setting up the Nooie Home app and for linking the device to Amazon Alexa and Google Home. I attach a partial scan the guide to my unboxing video. Switch to full screen and pause as needed to read it.

The plugs themselves are well made, nicely designed and feels robust enough for long-term everyday use. They are smaller in size than many older rivals and less obtrusive in use. I was pleased to see that they are not too wide and should fit fine into a multi-socket wall fixture. They each have a power status LED on the side and a large and clicky off/On button.

Setting it up was easy enough and can all be done by following the in-app instructions. Open the app and begin the procedure to add a new device. Plug the socket in and as the LED starts flashing, select the device type from the list in the app, input your wifi password, let the app then detect the device on the network. My unboxing video also walks through the initial configuration. Once the device is set up and online simply switch to the Alexa app, enable the Nooie Skill and follow the steps to recognise the plugs.

Using the Nooie app or Alexa/Google apps you can set up and configure all sorts of timers, schedules, or chained events for the plugs or in conjunction with other smart devices. For example, I have my living room lights turn on automatically at dusk each day and announcing ‘Bedtime’ will cause Alexa to turn off all TV-related devices plus the lights in the living room and conservatory.

This is a fine product in its own right but when integrated with Alexa or Google really can start to transform your home. There are now many rivals available but this one has to be one of the most compact, easiest to use, and least expensive yet.

Features
Good price
Works with Alexa
Works with Google Home
Excellent App
Compact Size
No hub needed
Part of a family of devices
Off/On button
Status LED

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HFWS Outdoor Floodlight Security Camera

This is a very well made, IP67 water-resistant, exterior IP security camera with full HD H265 video and two-way audio. Unlike most rivals, it features a choice of cloud storage options as well as local SD storage on the included 32Gb card, and colour night vision. For the £45.99 this is quite a package.

Included in the plain and unbranded box along with the camera itself was a wall fixing kit, UK power adaptor, wifi antenna, 32Gb micro SD card (installed), power cable extender, Ethernet cable, wifi antenna, cable junction cover, warning sticker and an install Guide. The User Guide, in colour and easy to read, is nicely printed but a little confusing at first sight.

Construction quality is good and indeed one of the best I have tried, feeling robust, well made, and likely to be durable. On the front of the camera is the lens with the surrounding LED array with a lip to give limited protection against sun and rain, although the camera is itself rated IP67 water-resistant. On top is the removable and adjustable sun/rain shade. On the back is the stub for the detachable wifi antenna. On the underside is the grommet protected access panel for the preinstalled SD card. Projecting from the base is a pigtail cable set for Ethernet, power and system reset button. The pigtail is of a decent length and long enough to be able to poke through a wall opening if needed.

Physically installing the camera been made simple with the inclusion of an instal kit including screws, wall plugs and a template. Remember to configure and test the camera on the workbench before fitting it to the wall. Access to the SD card is through a grommet protected panel on the base, so if you want to use that storage option make sure you can easily and safely get to the camera.

Setting the camera up was easy enough using the suggested ICSee phone app. Download and run the app, power up the camera and follow the on-screen instructions to add a camera. You do not need to register the app unless you want to use cloud storage. If you do you have a choice of options with a free initial month.

There are three ways to configure the camera:

1. Over your home wifi either wirelessly or by letting the camera scan a QR code generated by the app containing your home wifi network details and password.

2. Using the camera as wifi hotspot, connecting to it with your phone and inputting your home wifi network name and password.

3. Connecting the camera to your router using the Ethernet cable and then letting the iCSee app find the camera on the network and send it the home wifi details. I found this to be the easiest and quickest method.

Video quality is first-rate and one of the best I have seen from an IP camera of this price for both daytime and nighttime use. The 2-Megapixel sensor can output 1080P Video at 20fps or a more using the latest H265 codec. The illumination from the built-in 600-Lumen LED is powerful and evenly spread and allows the camera to see normally at night and in colour.

This is an excellent IP camera robust enough for almost any external indoor situation and with an impressive feature set. It has a few minor disadvantages and omissions but the first-rate image quality, robust build and low price make this a five-star camera.

The Good
IP67 Water-Resistant
H265 Video
iOS and Android apps
Great Build quality
32G SD Card Included
Built-In Siren
Built-in Floodlight
Well written User Guide
Two Way Audio
In-app alerts
Motion Detection custom Zone
Colour Night Vision

The Bad
SD card access difficult
No POE
No 5Ghz network support
No Amazon Alexa Support

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ZOETOUCH Digital Body Weight Scales

Traditionally bathroom scales were big and heavy, even the high tech digital ones, and so I was very interested to try this new lightweight model from ZOETOUCH , particularly so with the current Amazon price of just £16.99. Take note that unlike other models in the range, this one does not include any Bluetooth or Wifi connectivity and so recorded data needs to be recorded manually.

The scales arrived attractively packaged in an attractive and rather stylish box free from the gaudy packaging and plastics often associated with high tech goods from the East. Inside the box were the bathroom scales, two sets of three AAA batteries, a tape measure, and a well written and easy to read User Guide in reasonable English. I include a scan of the User Guide on the end of my unboxing video.

Build quality seems fine and although it still strikes me as odd to have bathroom scales made from plastic I must say that this model seems robust and well made enough to withstand the knocks and bangs of daily life. In the past I have struggled to get inside the battery compartment on some scales I have used but not so here as it can almost be done single-handed.

Once the device is unpacked and the batteries inserted the first thing to do is to download and install the iOS or Android app “1byone Health” to your phone. You can enter the data manually to the app which will then track your weight and general health trends. The with four onboard sensors, accurate to 0.1kg/0.2lb you can track weights up to 400 lb /180 kg. It is an easy matter to auto recalibrate the scales by simply stepping off and on them.

To use the scales, which should be positioned on a hard and flat surface, just step on them and wait for the large LED display to blink three times as it confirms the measurement. It can now be entered into the 1byone app.

This is an attractively designed, entry-level bathroom scale, that works well and is simple to use and gives you access to a sophisticated app-based health monitoring ecosystem.

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Neewer NW759 Camera Field Monitor Kit

Having changed from making my videos on a 6″ screen phone to a camcorder with a puny and 3″ screen I needed a way of seeing what I was doing better in front of the camera. Not only was the camcorder screen small but it was also offset from the axis of the lens which made positioning my hands during the unboxing process awkward. I needed a larger screen which I could monitor more intuitively. Having looked around I was surprised to find this kit, containing almost all I need was available for less than £100.

You certainly get a lot of kit for your money, just £99.99 when I ordered. You get a 7-inch 1080p monitor, battery pack, battery charger, hard carry case, and a full complement of cables. Although one HDMI cable was included with the kit, the micro HDMI cable I needed was not, but luckily was included with the camera. Sadly, no power adapter is included but it does have a standard power-in port.

Build quality is better than I was expecting, everything seems well made and robust, although the screen shade is rather flimsy but does fold up for storage. Getting all the items into the storage case is a squeeze but can be done. On one side of the unit are ports for: USB upgrade, OSD control, Headset, AV In, HDMI In, DC Power In. On the rear are the battery slot and speaker grill.

Setting it up initially was easy enough, it just worked straight from the box when connected to my camera. Tweaking the settings was more troublesome, although a range of options is available through the on-screen menu system. There are a number of buttons on the front of the device under the screen, most of which I suspect entry-level users like me will not need. From left to right: Mode, Vol Down, Vol Up, Menu, Multifunction 1, Multifunction 2, Custom 1, Custom e2, Power, Status LED. With these, you can configure Picture Mode, brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, colour temperature, red, green, blue, tint. You can also change the menu system language, screen aspect ratio, image flip, focus assist, and a few other deeply arcane options. Custom buttons and shortcut keys can be defined.

The screen itself feels rather dated to me. The On-Screen menus look and bit clunky and the video quality although fine for simple use could be better. After much messing around I was never able to get a screen image I was fully happy with. However, since all I need is to check for sharpness and composition it does the job well enough. I doubt many high-end users will be going for his set up and if all you want is a bigger version of your camera screen to check composition and sharpness this will be fine.

For non-demanding users this well made and easy to use monitor kit is still a bargain indeed.

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FAMINESS Reusable Nano Adhesive Tape

This tape is not really a tape. At first sight, it looks like it is just another double-sided sticky tape, but it is rather more than that. In fact, it is a malleable, stretchable super sticky gel that can be used to stick almost anything to almost anything else. It comes in the form of a 3M x 30mm length with a peel-off protective layer.

To use it, after first ensuring the surface to be used is clean and dry, cut the length off that you require and if necessary form it to the shape you need. Stick the bottom surface down and when in position remove the protective skin from the top and press the item to be glued in place. The fact that it can be shaped and easily moved around and repositioned makes it stand above conventional double-sided tapes. Like with most adhesive products it is best not to use it on peeling, greasy or flaky surfaces.

The appeal of this product, rather than it’s adhesive qualities (there are stronger glues available) is that it can be peeled off, washed and reused although I would guess there is a limit to how often it can be reused. In some ways, it is closer to Blu-Tack than to normal tape although it is far stickier and more adhesive than Blu-Tack.

For the £7.99 price, this is an interesting new product with a wide range of potential uses around the home.

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BAMOMBY Changing Bag Backpack

When we venture forth with a baby it is good to know that everything needed to keep the youngster clean, changed and refreshed is on hand and that the baby is taken care of when out and about with the minimum of fuss and bother. Priced at a penny under £26 this new changing backpack bag from BAMOMBY ticks all the boxes for me.

The bag arrived simply packed in a protective plastic bag with the backpack contained inside an attractive branded sack. No other packaging aside from that supplied by Amazon was used. This is a missed opportunity as an attractive colourful presentation box can greatly enhance the appeal of an item as a gift.

Ther bag itself is 41 x 31 x 15.5cm and has sixteen pockets including a side tissue pocket, a quick access insulated 3 bottle pocket and anti-theft laptop storage. It comes with stroller straps to attach the bag securely to a stroller or pram and 55 x 33cm waterproof changing mat. The bag has both a carry handle and shoulder straps and can be worn as a rucksack or carried.

The key feature for me is accessibility. The top of the bag opens out completely to give easy access to the contents. There are several ways to reach inside the bag without needing to open the top. Inside the bag, there are a host of pouches of varying sizes, some elasticated, to store necessities in and outside an easy access tissue holder. I like the easy access but secure side pocket capable of holding a tablet, phone or small laptop.

Build quality and construction seems fine to me. The bag seems well built and robust enough to take the knocks and bumps of everyday life. The bag is made from a dark grey Oxford Fabric and Polyester with strong metal zippers and non-fray stitching. Take care when cleaning as it has to be spot or hand washed only. From the outside, it just resembles a normal shopping bag and indeed could be used for that purpose too. The bag could also be useful for seaside trips as the waterproof interior pockets and bottle pouches could be very handy when on the beach.

This is a cleverly designed and well-made baby bag and at the current price is a very attractive buy indeed.

The Good
Good build quality
Good price
Large capacity
Multiple pockets
Removable changing mat
Easy access pockets
Tablet/Laptop Pocket
Bag Can Easily Be Repurposed

The Bad
Poor presentation

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