MengK 1400W High Speed Total Nutrition Food Blender

I have seen several blenders similar to this one with the same design, form factor and powerful 1400w motor but this one adds a few extra refinements compared to the standard models.

The Blender arrived well packaged in a large and attractive box, distinctly better than those used by some Chinese suppliers and gives a reassuring upmarket feel to the product. Inside was the blender base, mixer jug, jug cap, pestle, User Guide. The User Guide is large, well printed and easy to read and I enclose a scan of it in my unboxing video.

The blender base is large and hefty and has a decidedly industrial look to it. It has a gloss black plastic finish and sports large and easy to find controls. On the front it has an Off/On switch on the left, an infinitely variable rotary blending speed dial on the the front with recommended settings inscribed with below it a mechanical timer with a loud tick-tock mechanism, an advance on the basic models. On the right side is an auto returning flick switch to jump between current and maximum speeds. The mixing jug is made from clear Food Grade plastic rather than glass, which is a pity, but the blades and blending mechanism is of steel. The jug lid is of a bendable plastic which makes it easy to fit and gives a tighter join aided by the fitted sealing strip, an advance again on the basic model. The jug is better made and the seal is superior to that of the older basic models. It comes with a large plastic tamper designed to push the contents of the jug down onto the blades before and during use.

Given the size of the unit I was expecting it to be very noisy but in fact it was not. Surprising too was the fact that it did not move around too much when in use although personally I find best to hold the device when using it at full power. To operate it just turn on with the left hand switch, vary the speed using the centre dial and flick maximum power off and on as needed using the right hand switch. The timer means that you can preset it to run unattended for a set time period. All the controls are large, well marked and easy to use. I was amazed at the power of the device, as my video shows ice cubes were turned into snow in just a few seconds. It seems it will blend virtually anything put into it. I plan to use it to make nut butters and am confident it will be able to cope with the task. That said, I did find this unit slightly less powerful than some others of the same wattage I have used and it is possible they have geared it down somewhat to reduce the noise and increase stability in use.

This is a very powerful and easy to use blender and although no thing of beauty should perform any task thrown at it. The current Amazon price of £119.00 is far less than that of the Big Name rivals. It is slightly dearer than the more basic rivals of the same power but the refinements to the jug, added timer and other minor changes may be worth the extra.

The Good
Good price
Good build quality
Powerful 1400W motor
Large easy to operate controls
Pestle included
Good User Guide
Large 2L jug
Quiet in use
Timer
Heavy duty base

The Bad
No suction cup feet
Plastic jug
More info and purchase

Linkwitz Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones F5A-1

Prices for Active Noise Reduction headphones are falling and this new set from Linkwitz currently priced at less than £80 would cost three times that a year or so ago. I was not necessarily expecting too much considering the price but in fact they are rather good.

The headset was supplied packaged in an attractive but simple mid market product box inside of which was the headset, carry case, audio cable, USB charging cable, and User Guide. The headset is quite compact, sits over the ears and looks rather upmarket and sophisticated. The two cables are both well made if rather lightweight. The User Guide is short but well printed and easy to read and I include a scan of it on the end of mu unboxing video.

The headset feels quite lightweight and comfortable to wear but this is by no means a headset to go jogging in. It is nicely padded, although not to excess, on both the earcups and headband and I find it no strain to wear even for extended periods. The build quality seems fine and although for nearly £80 I did not expect a cheap feel nevertheless they exceed my expectations. The cup supports and headband are extendable and do so do so with a smooth and secure feel coming perhaps from the metal construction. On one ear-cup are the Active Noise Reduction (ANR) Off/On switch and status LED, as well as the usual track and volume buttons, Multi-function button, audio in and micro-USB charging ports. All the buttons are of a decent size, well marked and easy to find and identify by touch and by sight. I get heartily fed up with recessed and unmarked buttons but no such problems here. It is a pity however that there is no separate power On/Off switch. The carry case is a of the semi rigid type, robust enough for day to day protection – but don’t sit on it – and large enough to easily secure the headphones cables and other bits and pieces and with an internal mesh pocket.

The most important feature of any headset, the audio quality, and bearing in mind that this is priced as a low to mid range device in fact I was impressed by the sound. The bass is full and detailed but not overpoweringly so. Mid tones are clear and detailed and the sound is very warm and comfortable. This is a distinctly above average headset for the price as regards sound quality even leaving aside the ANR features. The headset can also be used with a cable as a normal headset and there is little difference in audio quality between the two modes of use.

What about the noise reduction? Well as with every ANR headset the emphasis should be on the word reduction. No headset can fully cancel outside sounds but this one does a decent job and when I tried it in several situations it worked very well indeed. Like with all of them it coped better with low constant noise, the roar of a jet, car engines, traffic rather better than with sudden bangs or high pitched screeches. The light construction and over ear form factor (as opposed to the smaller on ear type) means that this headset benefits from passive noise reduction – akin to putting your fingers in your ears – as well as the on board ANR system which generates noise to cancel out external sounds. Unlike with many rivals when switching on ANR there was no major degradation in audio quality, there was a difference in the bass response and mid tones were slightly muffled but not enough to be annoying.

Not everything is good. It only uses rechargeable batteries. Rechargeables are cheaper to use but for travel use I like the reassurance of having back up batteries in my pocket. However as Linkwitz claim up to 14 hours of use between charges maybe that is not an issue here. It is a pity that no airline adaptor was included to allow the headset when in cable mode to be used with a two prong airline socket.

This is a excellent sounding headset which looks great too. The low price coupled with the sound quality and presentation makes it a five star buy for me bearing in mind the issues listed above. A few corners have been cut to achieve this price but nothing that impinges on the key functions of the headset or in their build quality. I doubt you will find a better ANR headset for this price.

The Good
Great price
Attractive design
Good sound quality
Comfortable to wear
Bluetooth 4.1
Good ANR function
Carry Case
Easy use control
Apt-X codec

The Bad
No separate Power On/Off switch.
Lightweight audio cable
No spare battery option
No Travel Kit

More info and purchase

Flexible Mini Tripod from Tairoad

You certainly get a lot for your money with this this mini-tripod!

In the attractive mid market box was the tripod itself, a mobile phone adaptor, and a GoPro style adaptor. No instructions were included and none were needed.

I was impressed by how well made the tripod seemed for the low price. The legs have a flexible metal core with a armadillo like series of protective thick rubber coverings with a matt black non slip finish. The head unit can revolve completely around as well as tilt forwards and back due to the ball and claw mount. Above the this is the camera plate which offers additional forward and back tilting. The plate itself has a standard camera screw and is does not have quick release (although a third party quick release plate could be fitted). The plate has a small forward/back single spirit level for more precise orientation.

I was pleased at just how flexible the legs are. They can be bent and twisted to almost any position and the low centre of gravity of the tripod means it is stable in almost any position and never seemed to want to topple over.

The current price of less than £12 is remarkable for the quality although I would have been happy to pay more for a metal ball joint as the supplied one is Ok but may not stand up to sustained heavy use. That said, anyone needing a tripod like for professional use would seek out a pro version and expect to pay accordingly.

This is an excellent and very versatlie mini tripod available at a fantastic price.

The Good
Great price
GoPro adaptor included
Phone adaptor included
Spirit level
Ball socket head
Robust tripod build quality
Attractive presentation

The Bad
Plastic head construction
No carry bag
No quick release head

More info and purchase

ANEWISH 4K 2G/16G Android TV Box

The recent press campaign against Android TV boxes used for illegal downloads seemed to have dropped off a bit now. This may be the time to buy before the campaign is renewed and certainly the price of the boxes has dropped to new lows. At one time box as well specced as this one would have sold for £100+ and so at £43.99 this new box from AneWish seems a particularly good buy.

Inside the rather attractive product box was the TV Box itself, a UK power adaptor, medium sized remote control, HDMI cable, and a User Guide. The build quality seems fine and this model is a very typical TV box in this respect. The User Guide is rather better than usual and although small is well printed in colour on glossy paper and contains useful information about this particular model. A pleasant change from the usual poorly printed generic offerings I enclose a scanned copy of it on the end of my unboxing video. Switch to full screen and pause to read it.

Like all TV Boxes this is basically an Android phone without the mobile phone capabilities optimised for use a media player for local and internet files. A range of applications are pre installed and others are available from the Android Play store

A decent but by no means generous range of ports are available for playing local files and additional equipment. It features: two USB, SD card, HDMI, Optical, Ethernet and power in. It features an Amlogic S905 Quad core Cortex A53 running at 2Ghz CPU, which is more than powerful enough for a TV box.It comes with 2GB RAM, and with 16GB of storage, both double the standard capacity. That said, I must also say that in use I have found very little difference between any TV boxes once up and running. This one works nice and fast with an easy to navigate onscreen menu system and seems stable and robust enough in use. It uses the now rather dated Android 5.1 Operating System. Although Android 8 has just been launched it is yet to appear on any TV Box.

Thanks to the two USB ports third party memory sticks, keyboards and mice can be used to make navigating the User Interface faster and easier, although the built in pop-up keyboard and remote control will suffice. The supplied handset is fine but some users may wish to invest in a wireless keypad to give the full range of keys and a built in mini touch pad. The device also sports Bluetooth 4 connectivity and so wireless keypads and other devices also be attached that way.

The only real task is in setting the device up is to connect to your home network and it has both wifi and Ethernet options available. It supports both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz wifi as well as high speed , Gigabit Ethernet. If you are familiar with Android then configuring the unit is very simple, non Android users may find this more difficult. Once connected to your home network to get the best from this device you should login to your Google account, so apps can be installed from the Google Play website, Gmail and YouTube will be auto configured at the same time.

There are a variety of applications pre installed, some useful and some not, but with time you may discover that like me you find that everything want can be done from from the pre installed apps. Without leaving the pre installed media app I can view memory card files, files on all of my three NAS devices, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime.The app will also index and download subtitles, synopsis, song lyrics and images for all you home media files so when you browse your library this information is presented to you. It can be a bit flaky to use and channels will appear and then vanish without warning so you need to keep on top of it.

The on screen menus are attractive and easy to use and the faster processor and above average amount of RAM makes moving around fast and easy. However, once inside the media player this box feels pretty much as they all do.

This is a high quality TV streamer but as with all Android TVs there is a learning curve to get the best from it. It has many attractive features and for me the only drawbacks are the device using the now rather elderly Android 5.1 and it having just two USB ports rather than the four often found on many boxes.

The Good
Many essential apps pre installed
Good build quality
SD card slot
Gigabit LAN
Dual band wifi
Bluetooth 4
4K support

The Bad
Can be challenging for new users
No handset batteries supplied
Limited User Guide
Only two USB ports

More info and purchase

IMATE remote controlled muscle toning kit from Echoss

 

This new muscle toning and exercise kit from Echoss arrived attractively packaged and resembling more a high tech gadget than an excercise device. In many ways that is what it is as it aims to simplify and rationalise muscle toning through the application of smart new technologies. Of course electrically stimulated muscle toners have been around for quite a while but this is the first I have seen of this type.

In the attractive and upmarket windowed display box were the large abdominal gel pad, two smaller gel pads, support belt, storage bag, two storage boards, remote control handset, three receiver/simulators, a full set of CR2032 button batteries and a User Guide. The User Guide is large but poorly printed and rather hard to read. I attach a scan of the most important sections to my unboxing video. Don’t through the box away, although a flimsy storage bag is provided the robust box will serve as good long term storage box.

Using the device is simple enough after fitting the coin sized batteries to the remote control and receivers carefully fit the receiver units to the gel pads. Fit the gel pads to the body areas in need of work, pushing down carefully and holding in place for a second or so if necessary. Make sure the skin is dry, clean and sweat free first. Take care the pads are applied correctly as failure to do so can be painful when the device is turned on. Unlike with most rivals, no external gels or liquids are needed to ensure a good electrical contact.

Turn the unit on by pushing and briefly holding the Up button. You can scroll between the six exercise modes available by pressing the centre button. You can reduce or increase the intensity of each mode by pressing the up and down buttons. The product will stop automatically after each mode has completed the cycle. Turn the device off by pressing the lower button. It is important to remove the gel pad slowly and carefully, pulling it off roughly may damage the delicate pad. Wipe the pad with a dry cloth and then stick it carefully to the shiny side of the storage board provided in the kit.According to the User Guide at maximum level each button should last between twenty and twenty five operations.

It takes a bit of getting used to at first. It can be quite uncomfortable if not actually painful at first if the device is turned up too high. It is best to start at the lowest level and to work your way up over time. It goes without saying that this device will only work in conjunction with a healthy diet and at least moderate whole body exercise. This device can only be looked at as being part of an overall fitness regime.

I have not yet had the kit long enough to give a definitive answer over how well it actually works but I can say that in less than a week my upper arm muscles are certainly looking more toned and fit and my abdominal muscles certainly feel like they have been working hard and so I am hopeful for the future.

The device is not cheap, with a current Amazon price of just over £140 but if you want toned abs this may be a very useful step towards getting them. Who can put a price on that?

The Good
Easy to use
No electrical gel needed
Attractive presentation

The Bad
Expensive
Needs delicate handling and storage
Frequent battery changes needed
Lightweight storage bag

More info and purchase

Arvin Heart Rate Blood Pressure Monitor Fitness Tracker SW34BK+NT+UK-1

I have seen variations on this design from several suppliers, using the same app and with very similar hardware but varying slightly in price. This latest version from arVin, currently priced on Amazon at £26.99, is one of the least expensive and most attractively presented..

In the simple but attractive product box there is the wrist band itself, and a a very well written and illustrated colour User Guide which is perhaps is the best I have ever seen for a tracker of this type. I include a scan of the User Guide at the end of my unboxing video. No charging cable was included which I thought at first was an oversight but the clever design of this product makes one unnecessary.

Construction quality seems fine for the price but lacks the premium feel and presentation of more expensive high end rivals. It is well designed and an example of this is the charging method which cleverly avoids the need for cables by having the sensor pod pop out from the wristband to reveal a full size USB plug. This also allows the strap to be replaced if needed – search on Amazon sports for YG3 to find them. Some effort is needed to remove the strap and I was a bit nervous when tugging on it at first but soon got the hang of it. The device is IP67 waterproof which means the device is waterproof up to 1 metre for short periods. So it may be OK in the shower but not for swimming.

This unit closely resembles the Fitbit Charge HR and mirrors most if not all of the costly rival’s functions as well as a few new ones. It supports a Heart Rate Monitor, Blood Pressure monitor, Clock, Pedometer, distance travelled, Calories used, Sleep Monitor, SMS monitor, Sedentary alert, Call Alert, Remote Camera control and alarms with vibration. All this is done through the latest low energy Bluetooth 4 connection and allows a claimed week long standby use between ninety minute charges to be not unrealistic.

There is a soft touch button on the front of the device to select a screen or return to the main menu. A sustained press of at least six seconds is needed and I some difficulty in turning it off and on (remember to set the screen to shutdown mode first to run off). From here` you can turn the device On or Off, select manual or automatic Blood Pressure monitoring, Manual or automatic Heart Rate monitoring, Step Counting, Sleep Monitoring, Count Down timer, Alarms and Reminders, Stopwatch, Incoming Call handling, Notifications and Pushes, Sedentary Reminders, Heart Rate Warning, Remote Camera control, Lost Phone alerts, Screen orientation.

The Time Mode allows the time and date to be set and displayed, Heart Rate mode shows current heart rate independently of Sport Mode, Camera Control mode allows for remote control from the wrist of the connected phone’s camera, Alarm Mode allows for various alarms and timers to be set and controlled. The watch will also display alerts for incoming phone calls and some third party apps such as Facebook and Twitter.

The H Band app is needed to configure the device as well as to collate and display the health tracking features. After installing the app it then connects seamlessly to the tracker and continually updates the steps taken, distance travelled etc, and can display real time heart rate. This app is used by many generic trackers and has a rather Chinese look to it but works well enough if lacking the extended scope and attractive interface of the Fitbit and other name rivals.

Like with the Fitbit Charge 2 which I currently use the Heart Rate Monitor here is OK and a gives a decent indication of resting and active heart rates but cannot be considered accurate when compared to a chest strap HRM of the type used by serious athletes.

This tracker feels and looks a bit cheaper than a Fitbit or other Name brands but mirrors almost all the features as well as adding a few new ones. If you are looking for a simple but well specified sports and fitness tracker and don’t want to pay for a premium name then this new wrist mounted tracker from arVin might be just want you need.

The Good
OLED Touch screen
SMS and call alerts
Good build quality
Good User Guide
Lost phone alerts
Remote phone camera control
Blood Pressure monitoring

The Bad
Not part of larger product eco system
Basic level app
Wrist strap and buckle could be stronger
Android App lacks design flare
No Music controls
No Pace measurement
On/Off hard to set

More info and purchase

Hieha Sport Action Camera 4k H68

Priced on Amazon at £59.99 this new action camera from Hieha falls into the mid range for both price and features. A year or so ago you could not get a decent sports camera for under £150 but excellent cameras can now be found for less than half that amount. This one boasts some high end features for what seems a very decent price

As my unboxing video shows you get plenty of kit for your money. A full range of accessories and mounts are included including a and remote control. The only omissions are the lack of a second battery, carry case and SD card. A full accessory kit including case is available for this camera on the same Amazon page. It is a pity about the SD card as they are cheap enough these days and would not add greatly to the cost and would allow the camera to be used straight from the box. The camera and accessories arrived packaged in a large and upmarket box punching above

The printed User Guide although small is reasonably well printed and easy to read but very brief and basic in content. I attach a copy of the guide to my unboxing video. Run the video full frame and pause when needed to read it.

The camera itself, which resembles almost exactly every other action camera of this type, is actually rather better than I expected for the money. Video quality is good but not exceptional, but a definite step up from many of the cheaper no-name GoPro clones. The 170° angle of view is great but with the barrel distortion common to all cameras of this type. There was a time when this would have been seen as a high end camera and now standards are moving higher even in the budget market. This camera does a perfectly decent quality 4K@30fps – the exact size of the claimed 4K is not defined in the manual but usually this taken to be 3840×2160 -as well several other rather more useful modes including 1920×1080@60fps and 720P slow motion at 120fps. The slow motion is good and at 240fps is better than on many rival action cameras and the same speed as my my Nexus 6P phone albeit just at 640×480. Still images were good but prone to colour fringing when in HDR mode and with some highlights burning out. With a right subject in even lighting it was capable of producing excellent results. Remember that the sample footage in my unboxing video will have been heavily compressed during posting.

We are told it is waterproof to 30M, but there is no mention if this means it has been tested and rated IP68 or what. I would prefer a more precise definition before diving with the camera. The camera has loop recording, which is often used for cameras but this one seems not to have a G-Sensor or Car Mode. For me that is no big deal as I have yet to find an action camera that will actually work effectively as a Dashcam.

Like many more upmarket action cameras it has wifi built in which means the camera generates a mini wifi network of its own which allows attached phone to control the camera and viewed live streamed video. To use it you need to download the “Novacam” app from Apple or Android. (Don’t throw the box away, you will need it to download the app from since it is not named or linked to in the user guide) The Android app is better than most and will stream a decent quality video stream, save images and video to the app as well as give easy access to the otherwise rather hard to negotiate camera settings. I was not able to test the iOS version of the app. I doubt I will need to use the app as the camera comes equipped with an excellent remote control button, large and easy to use in gloved hands which allows you to take pictures and videos, which is all I would want to use the app for.

This is a excellent quality mid level camera with several features not usually found at this price range and that lifts it above the herd. If you enjoy using it you may want to shell out more in the future for a high end model.

The Good
Great price
Good video quality
170° Angle of view
4K video
VGA@240fps
720p@120fps
1080P@60fps
Wifi
128GB card support
Good Android app
Nice packaging
Remote control button
Wide range of accessories included
2 inch screen

The Bad
No SD card included
Still Image quality could be better
No carry case

More info and purchase