TECKEPIC H36 Mini UFO Drone

Priced at just £16.29 this has to be one of the most enjoyable drones I have ever used and is a fantastic buy for not much money.

My experience with drones has not been a good one. Firstly, let me say I have a short little attention span and tend to grow bored and annoyed with anything I cannot instantly use straight from the box. Also, I tend to worry when I see expensive and delicate devices banging into walls, falling from a great height, or flying off randomly into the distance.

This low price, robust build quality, coherent instructions, and prop guards reassures me on almost all the above points. This little drone is easy to use, can withstand knocks and if it does pack in then at least it has not cost much.

In the attractive mid-market product box was the mini-drone itself, control unit, User Guide, rechargeable battery, USB battery charger, four spare propeller blades. Build quality is good for the price. The drone seems as tough and robust as you can expect for the size and price and capable of taking a few knocks. The controller feels lightweight and cheaply made but works perfectly well with nothing feeling like it might pack in soon. The User Guide is one of the best I have seen for any drone. It is large, well illustrated in colour, written in good understandable English, although it is cheaply printed. I enclose a scan of it in my unboxing guide.

A little drone like this can only be used either indoors or on absolutely wind-free weather outdoors. The controls are the same as on most others I have used and are easy enough to get the hang of. Due to the added weight of the prop guards, you will only get about four minutes of flight time but that will be OK for training purposes as I would expect most users to move on to more expensive models when they get the taste for drone flying. The rechargeable battery is a standard one, I think, and replacements can be found online.

This would be a great first drone to see if you like using them or as a gift for a child. The lightweight and prop guards make it more child-friendly than larger and more expensive rivals. For the price, this is a great fun buy.

The Good
Great price
Robust build quality
Easy to use
Excellent User Guide
Nice packaging

The Bad
Short flight time
No camera
No controller batteries included
Controller looks and feels cheap

More info and purchase

geo Minim Electricity Energy Monitor

I have had a few similar Electricity Energy Monitors in the past, including ones from Efergy and LinsysRF, and they have all stopped working after a while and I either by then I had lost the User Guide or they just refused to work. Having just switched to a new tariff I thought it would be a good idea to get a new power meter.

This device consists of a colour LCD monitor with UK/EU power supply, CT sensor with four AA batteries preinstalled, transmitter and a well printed and easy to read colour User Guide. I include a scan of the User Guide in my unboxing video, switch to full screen and pause to read it.

Setting it up is easy enough and well explained in the User Guide. Attach the CT sensor to the mains cable going into your home electric meter, the sensor will clip over the red cable. The other end plugs into any of the three sockets in the transmitter. (The other two sockets are used for certain non-standard power supply units). Remove the tab covering the AA battery terminal on the transmitter and the red LED will indicate it is working. After assembling the plug for the monitor power supply, connect it and plug it into the display monitor. By pressing the central button on the monitor you can enter the settings menu and from there set the day, energy tariff, monthly budget target etc using the left and right buttons. You can set the backlight to be always on, off, or on a timer.

The meter will display the real-time electricity usage either in pounds,kWh, or in CO2. You can also track how close you are to remaining within your budget for the current month. Battery, signal strength and current temperature are also displayed. You can scroll the display to show the day before, current week, current month. Data is not displayed for earlier periods and cannot be exported to other devices or online. Another more expensive model is available from Geo that has these advanced features.

The unit is well priced at just £32.95, works well and is easy to configure and use.

The Good
Easy to read display
Good price
Easy to configure
Good User Guide

The Bad
No way to export data

More info and purchase

MaxiMuscle Promax Lean High Protein Bar, Chocolate Salted Caramel, 55 g, Pack of 12

I1 have to say I was very impressed by these protein bars or at least the Chocolate Salted Caramel flavour which I received. I have eaten protein bars in the past when I was a more active runner than I am now and found many of them pretty nasty. I can remember forcing them down from a sense of duty.

The bars are a reasonable size for 55g weight and each of the twelve bars in the box contains 20g of protein, 12.8-13.5g of Carbohydrates, 1.6g of sugar and under 200 calories. The bars are also fine for vegetarians although not vegans. They are Informed-Sport Accredited, for what that means.

The flavour and consistency I found to be very pleasant indeed and it was certainly no chore to eat a bar. I found the bar quite filling and afterwards I did find the edge taken off my appetite.

From a nutritional stance, I suspect there is little these have that cannot be found in rival products and I would not claim they are better than the rivals. However, at £21.49 for a box of twelve, they are certainly very competitively priced. I doubt if there are many others that can rival these for taste and flavour. I will be ordering some more and maybe that will be enough to get me out running again!

Rapoo 8000 2.4GHz Wireless Desktop Combo Set

I already use a wireless keyboard and mouse set for everyday use with my desktop PC. My current set comes from Logitech, has a full size extended keyboard and a full sized single button mouse that sits in the hand well and is easy to use.

In the attractive product were the keyboard, mouse, User Guide, USB dongle (stored inside the mouse battery compartment) and batteries. I was pleased to find the batteries as so many items ship without them. At least this product will work straight from the box. Build quality is lightweight but acceptable. The 77 key water-resistant keyboard has two fold-out legs on the underside along with the battery compartment for a single AA battery. There are no caps lock or other LEDs and no off/on switch. The mouse has an off/on switch, a storage port for the USB dongle and also runs off a single AA battery. Battery life of up to one year is claimed for both units.

No setup required other than extracting the USB dongle from the mouse battery compartment and plugging it into the computer and fitting the batteries to the keyboard and mouse. The computer will immediately recognise the Rappoo set and you can begin using them at once.

I found the keyboard to be a bit lightweight with the keys very tightly positioned. Keyboard travel was OK but not good, this is a keyboard for short-term use and not one to write a novel on. The mouse even with the battery inserted felt a bit lightweight but was accurate enough and smooth in operation.

This wireless keyboard set from Rapoo is reasonably well made and works pretty well but I would not like to use every day as my main keyboard and mouse. For occasional use it is fine or for use with an Android TV or games consul, but not for sustained use. At £22.99 it is not the cheapest I have seen and better made and full-sized keyboard sets are available for this price from a range of suppliers. That said, this is still a decent enough keyboard set that works well with no glaring faults or issues.

The Good
Batteries supplied
Nice packaging
Water resistant
Multimedia keys
Compact size
Long battery life claimed

 

The Bad
Expensive
Lightweight build quality
77 keys only
No status LEDs
Mouse feels lightweight
No keyboard Off/On key

More info and purchase

Aidina Handheld Electric Milk Frother

For a small kitchen gadget with a limited use and with a price of just £9.99 you probably can’t expect too much but in fact, I was very pleasantly surprised by this little milk frother from Aidina.

Made from stainless steel throughout rather than the plastic I was expecting the build quality cannot be faulted. This looks and feels like a professional piece of kitchen equipment. It is powered by three AAA batteries and even the battery housing, so often flimsily made in cheap items, seems well made and robust. There is just one control, a simple Off/On button on the end of the unit and this controls the 19000RPM motor driving the frothing head. Previous milk frothers I have used have a single whisking head to froth the milk but this one has two although I cannot really say that this makes it function better. The head is on the end of a stalk about five inches in length which can be easily detached from the body of the device for cleaning and storage. The motor is very powerful and the frothing action is very pronounced so much so that care needs to be taken to prevent spillage. This leads to my only significant criticism of the item – it is a pity there is no speed control so that the frothing action can be more easily controlled.

For the price, this is a great buy and if you like the milk in your coffee frothy, then look no further.

The Good
Great price
Good build quality
Double ended
Easy to clean
Powerful 19000RPM motor

The Bad
No speed control
No storage bag
No batteries included

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YTE Wifi Smart Plug

As I gradually switch my connected home from a hub-based to a hub free setup I have encountered quite a few of these generic smart plugs which vary only in the app they work with and the price. At just £15.59 this is one of the best-priced I have tried yet.

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 this socket from YTE require no hub and connects directly to the router and is recognised by the Amazon Echo and Google Home. It is assigned its own IP number by the router and is easy to identify online.

In the simple but attractively designed mid-market product box was the plug itself and a well written and easy to read User Guide. The Guide assists to using the eFamilyCloud app and for linking the device to Amazon Alexa and Google Home. I attach a scan the guide to my unboxing video. Switch to full screen and pause as needed to read it.

The plug itself is well made, nicely designed and feels robust enough for long-term everyday use. I was pleased to see that it is not too wide and should fit fine into a multi-socket wall fixture. It has a large blue/red power status LED on the front which doubles as a proper 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 the LED starts flashing quickly, select the device type from the list, input your wifi password, let the app detect the device on the network. The switch can then be controlled by the app and you can add the Alexa and Google Home eFamilyCloud skills to get in onto their ecosystem. The eFamilyCloud app will walk you through this. I was pleased to see that the socket was also recognised by the Smart Life app which I also use for other devices and could be controlled from there too. It may well be recognised by other apps you already use, so give it a try.

The app is excellent and does much more than just allow you to add the plug to Alexa and Google. The app will also allow the plug to be triggered by events such as you entering and leaving the house, sunrise/sunset, etc and will work in conjunction with a wide range of wifi devices from the same manufacturer. I doubt most users will use the app but will control is just through voice, as I do.

This is an excellent product in its own right and when integrated with Alexa or Google really can start to transform your home. I have seen identical rebadged products from other suppliers but this one has to be one of the least expensive yet.

The Good
Good price
Works with Alexa
Works with Google Home
Excellent App
No hub needed
Part of wide range of devices
Off/On button
Status LED
Works with other apps

The Bad
Plug LED very bright

 

More info and purchase

FQ777 FQ17W WIFI FPV Foldable Pocket Drone

I have tried many budget drones before and it really is true that you get what you pay for. However, this little drone from FQ777 bucks the trend and for the budget price of £29.99 you get a decent quality device that you really can have some fun with.

In the attractive and rather upmarket box you find the drone itself, control unit, battery, USB battery charger, screwdriver, phone clip, four spare prop blades, User Guide for the control unit, User Guide for the app, carry bag. Build quality for the controller feels a bit cheap but robust enough, the quadcopter is lightweight as you would expect but feels better quality than the control unit. The two User Guides are rather poorly printed but are well illustrated and in good English. I have scanned them into my unboxing video, switch to full screen and pause to read them.

The 3.7V 250mAh LiPo battery, which gives about five minutes of flying time, is charged using the USB adapter and comes with dire warnings not to overcharge the battery. The battery is then easily fitted into the hinged compartment on the drone. There is no slot for a memory card, and pictures and video can only be recorded over wifi to the phone app. This is a real pity as images can be lost or corrupted due to wifi dropouts.

There are two ways of operating this drone, you can either use the controller or the free Airfun UFO app. I found it more reliable to operate the device using the controller but the app is better for recording video and stills and the onscreen buttons are easier to find and more intuitive to use. When using the app to control the device you need to first connect your phone to the wifi hotspot generated by the drone and then use the app to fly the device and operate the camera. I found it quite easy to fly but realistically can only be used indoors or outdoors when there is no wind.

These little drones are known as selfie drones and this one has a very useful altitude hold button to make taking selfies and video much easier. I did notice a few video dropouts in use and the shutter speed of the still images is rather slow and so a stable hover position is important. I was not expecting much from the camera and certainly, it is no Leica but the 720×576 video and 720 x 576 330kb picture could be a lot worse. The highlights do not blow out and the colour balance is not bad. The main issue is the slow shutter speed. The camera will yield best results on bright evenly lit days.

This is an excellent little drone, easy to fly and operate and comes with an above average camera.

The Good
Great price
Easy to use
Altitude Hold
One key takeoff and landing
Dual control options
Decent camera
Little camera latency

The Bad
Wifi dropouts
No memory card option
No batteries for remote

More info and purchase