Debo Stainless Steel Vacuum Travel Flask

Here is a product which I suspect was designed originally for the Japanese market where presentation is everything. This would make the flask very suitable as a gift.

The flask arrived in a robust and elegant presentation box of the sort used for premium malt whiskeys or fine wines. Inside of a microfiber bag the flask was positioned on a faux silk covered bed secured by a hand tied ribbon bow. Also in the box were English and Chinese User Guides, well printed on glossy paper and which I include in my unboxing video.

The flask itself is nicely made from double walled steel with a black silk finish to the exterior. The top screws in place with an internal seal top prevent spills. There is no sipping spout and you have to drink directly from the flask itself and since it lacks a plastic or rubber sill this can be a bit uncomfortable on the mouth. The lack of a anti spill sipping spout limits the use of the flask when on the go and means this is very much a flask rather than a travel mug. On the other hand it does have a pull out stainless steel filter which sits inside the top of the flask which means teas or other infusions made from leaves could be used without the dregs finding their way into the mouth.

I found it kept my coffee warm through the working day and afterwards was simple and easy to clean.

The current Amazon price of £18.99 puts it at the top of the middle price bracket compared to rivals and this is reflected in the build quality and superb presentation. If you want a travel flask that is well made and stylish then this would be a very worthwhile choice.

The Good
Lavish presentation
Good build quality
Good price
Internal removable filter

The Bad
No anti spill spout
Metal lip unpleasant to drink from

More info and purchase

Minhe Fitness Tracker with Heartrate and Blood Pressure monitoring V07S

We do not all want to pay £100+ for a premium sports and fitness tracker and as the market for them develops products like these mirroring the premium brands in functionality but not price become available. The quality of the imported rivals is going up all the time with generic devices re branded and sold at bargain prices. But are the cheap clones actually any good?

In the somewhat down market product box there is the wrist band itself, and a fan fold type User Guide which is small but well printed in colour and very easy to read if at times poorly translated. I include a scan of the User Guide on the end of my unboxing video. No charging cable was included but that was not the mistake I thought it was as this device connects directly to a USB port to charge itself.

Construction quality seems fine for the price but without the premium feel of the high end rivals and seems less robust and rather more plasticky in comparison. That said, the band and charger feel perfectly OK but not high end.

Priced at just £32.99 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. This model boasts a new feature called Physiological Period Reminder which, so far as I can tell, helps women with their monthly cycles. As well as the normal phone call and SMS alerts it also displays messages from Facebook,Twitter, WhatsApp and other applications on the connected phone. It also can be used to remote control your phone camera and can be used to find a mislaid phone by causing it to make an audible alert over Bluetooth. All this is done through the latest low energy Bluetooth 4 connection and allows a claimed 3+ day plus of use between two hour charges charge use to be not unrealistic. It has a bright and clear 0.87″ OLED touch screen. The band is rated as being IP67 waterproof, which means it is safe against short term immersion in water but not suitable for swimming.

It works in close conjunction with an iOS of Android app. The  H Band 2.0 app works OK but does need to be tidied up a bit as it is a bit buggy and at times unfinished. It has a distinctly Chinese feel to the appearance and layout. Although it cannot be compared to a sophisticated eco system like that offered by Fitbit nevertheless it does work for all the key features. After opening the optional cloud account you are prompted to enter your personal data into the app and then connect the phone and tracker together using Bluetooth. this worked well for me and the link seems fast and stable with my Nexus 6P phone. It then connects seamlessly to the tracker and continually updates the steps taken, distance travelled etc. Note that unlike with some rival trackers the only sports activity specifically supported is running and for that it uses the GPS functions of your phone to map your track on the in-app map. If you registered an account when installing the app your tracking data can be backed up to the cloud.

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. The Fitbit updates the Heartrate monitor every five minutes but this does so one every ten amd updates the screen every thirty minutes – enough to give a decent estimation of your average and resting heart rates but not for sports training. The same has to be said of the BP monitoring feature which updates every hour during the night and cannot be compared in accuracy to the sphygmomanometer used in the doctor’s surgery.

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 Minhe might be just want you need.

The Good
Great price
OLED Touch screen
Vibration alerts
Good build quality
Good User Guide
Phone and SMS alerts
Social Media alerts
Heart Rate Monitor
Blood Pressure Monitor
IP67 Waterproof

The Bad
Not part of larger eco system
Basic level app
Wrist strap and buckle could be stronger
Android App lacks design flare
Remote phone camera control
Only Running specifically supported

More info and purchase

YAMAY Heart Rate Monitor Fitness Tracker SW-333

There seems to be a new generation of Fitbit style trackers coming to the market from China that mimic all the functions of the expensive rivals and even add a few of their own. The price of this item seems now to be under review at Amazon but others of with this function range I have seem from YAMAY and others are in the the £30-£35 range.

In the budget level windowed gate fold product box there is the wrist band itself, and a fan fold type User Guide which is small but well printed and reasonably well written. 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.

Build quality seems fine for the price but lacks the premium feel and presentation of high end rivals costing several times the price. It is well designed and an example of this is the charging method which cleverly avoids the need of cables by having the sensor pod pop out to reveal a full size USB plug. This also allows the strap to be replaced if needed – assuming a replacement can be found. 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, Clock, Pedometer, distance travelled, Calories used, Sleep Monitor, SMS monitor, Sedentary alert, Call Alert, Remote Camera control. All this is done through the latest low energy Bluetooth 4 connection and allows a claimed eight day standby use between two hour charges charge use to be not unrealistic.

The watch interface shows seven modes each with a separate sub menu of screens: Time, Sports, Heart Rate, Camera Control, Music Control, Alarm, Switch. There is a soft touch button on the front of the device to select a screen or return to the main menu.

It has eight preset activity/sport modes on board with six more accessible from the VeryfitPro iOS or Android app which must be installed for use with the tracker. During and after a sports activity you can monitor Heart rate, Steps, Calories used, distance travelled, pace, average pace and time taken.

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, Music Mode allows music to be played and controlled from a connected phone, 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 VeryfitPro 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. The app is OK but comes nowhere near that from Fitbit which you have to expect given the price. Annoyingly, there is no option to set an alert when the phone and tracker lose their Bluetooth connection.

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 YAMAY might be just want you need.

The Good
Touch screen
SMS and call alerts
Good build quality
Good User Guide
14 exercise activities supported
Remote phone camera control

The Bad
Not part of larger product eco system
No Separation alert
Basic level app
Wrist strap and buckle could be stronger
Android App lacks design flare

More info and purchase

LINKChef 600W 20 Speed Hand Blender Stainless Steel, Silver / Black (HB-2140T)

I have seen many budget priced hand blenders similar to this one and they all are surprisingly good. Increasingly Chinese made products are every bit as good as the more prestigious and better known rivals. This is a case in point as this blender could easily have come from Tefal or any other better known make although not at the current Amazon price of £39.99, which is good value for the quality of the item.

In the rather boring mid market box was the blender itself, 500ml mixing bowl with removable blade and cover, 800ml blender beaker, whisk with adaptor head, blender bar, User Guide. Included was a large and easy to read User Guide in good English which I attach to my unboxing video.

It all seems well made and robust although I would have rather had the mixing bowl and beaker made from glass rather than plastic but I suppose this would add significantly to both cost and weight. The body of the device has a black silk finish and feels good in the hand. The blades and switches are made from stainless steel and seem robust and built to last.

Using this device is pretty much the same as with others of this type. The whisk fastens into place using the whisk adaptor head but fastens directly onto the mixing bowl cover or blender bar head. There are two buttons on the side one for motor On/Off the other for pulse Turbo speed. On the handle of the blender is a rotary twenty speed dial for use when the device is in standard mode using button one. The motor runs at 600w in normal operation and certainly packs some power. My video shows how ice cubes can be turned into snow in just seconds. It does a great job of chopping up fruit, vegetables small enough for any culinary purpose. Great for smoothies too of course.

This would be perfect for a person living alone with the space for a full sized food mixer and blender. The 500ml bowl makes a good helping for one person and is great for chopping salads or vegetables. One minor niggle is that the spring loaded mixing bowl blade can get clogged up when filling the bowl preventing the top from locking but I found that once you get the knack for it you can get around this.

This is a well made good quality kitchen gadget available at a great price and would be perfect for the small kitchen or those living alone.

The Good
Good User Guide
Great build quality
Attractive silk finish body

The Bad
Plastic Bowl and jug
Spring loaded blade can jam
Cheaper rivals available

More info and purchase

Lifebasis SX-100 Home Vacuum sealing packaging system LEVS001W

This handy kitchen gadget will preserve food and other items by heat sealing them into plastic bags with the option of vacuum packing them within the same operation. You can also use the device to vacuum seal external containers which have a suitable interface.

I received my machine nicely presented in an attractive box with the device very well protected within. Along with the vacuum sealer inside the box was the User Guide, a tube and interface for external containers and a selection of vacuum bags.

Build quality seems excellent. The unit is smaller than I was expecting but will handle bags up to 33cm wide. The EU plug power cable tucks neatly into the back for storage. The controls are simple. On the top are buttons for Function, Vacuum Seal, Seal (non Vacuum), and Stop. There are LED lights to show power status, if wet or dry item sealing has been selected and to indicate if vacuum or non vacuum sealing is taking place. The supplied User Guide is large and well printed but poorly translated and hard to follow. There is also a laminated cardboard sign positioned inside the heat sealing chamber – do not throw this away as it is important to prevent damage to the vacuum sealing strips when in storage. The vacuum release button and the aperture for the external tube are also situated on the top face. On either side there are latches to secure the upper and lower halves of the device together.

It has three operating modes: heat sealed with vacuum, heat seal no vacuum, and air suction via tube for external containers. For normal use just fill your bag with food and lay the trailing open edge inside the vacuum chamber within the unit. This can be a bit fiddly so be sure to get it right. Press the top shut until it clicks either side and then press the button for either Vacuum or non vacuum sealing. The appropriate LED light will illuminate and the device can be heard working at the end of which time it will switch off automatically. Press the vacuum release button and release the side catches to open the unit top The operation is fairly quick depending on the size of bag and amount of contents. The device makes no more than a mild hum when the pump is in use.

The current price of 59.99 Euros is good, the machine works really well, quiet and quick and is more versatile in use than I was expecting. The machine is let down only by the poorly translated User Guide but in fact it easy to work out how to use it without the Guide.

The Good
Good price
Bags provided
Easy to use
Low noise
Small footprint
Three operating modes
External container adaptor tube

The Bad
Poor User Guide
Using Vacuum chamber fiddly
No UK plug supplied

More info and purchase

Helect 2-Line Engineering Calculator – H1002

Here is a thing I have not seen for a while, in fact I did not even realise they still made them – a hand held calculator. Of course after considering it for a while I realised that although for most people the calculator built into their smartphones is adequate for professional users a separate device designed for advanced and scientific use is better and easier to use.

In the box is just the calculator itself including two L1154F batteries already installed, a pull off hard cover and a lengthy but well printed and fairly easy to read user Guide. I include a few sample pages in my unboxing video, the complete manual is too long (and boring) to include in full.

The device is quite large and sports a two line non backlit LCD display which seems very old fashioned compared to the displays found on most displays today but is probably much more battery friendly. It has a slide off rigid cover to protect the screen and 47 button keypad. The build quality is good and the device feels robust and well made although decidedly old school.

It can perform a host of scientific, statistical and engineering calculations all of which are far above my head.

For the price it cannot really be faulted. It would be a far more useful and easier to use device if it has a easier to read back-lit display and someway of outputting the calculations but that would add to the price greatly and get away from the essential qualities of this little device.

This calculator, priced at just £5.29 from Amazon complete with Prime shipping, is a great budget buy.

The Good
Great price
Good build quality
Keypad/Screen cover

The Bad
LCD display
No Back light
No data out/printer port

More info and purchase

Homelody Black Chrome Kitchen Sink Mixer Tap with swivel spray

This will have to be something of an interim review as I shall be saving this tap, or faucet as the Americans say, to be incorporated in my new kitchen when it is finally installed later this year. Having the tap to look at and admire now will be an incentive to me to get the new kitchenput in. My review today will be solely on the build quality, appearance and presentation of this product. I will update it to include installation and functionality in due course. I felt I just had to get my first impressions down!

All you need is supplied in the box. For what is essentially a kitchen fitting which few people other than plumbers will see before installation plenty of care has gone into the presentation of this unit. The stainless steel body is carefully wrapped in protective tissue and all the parts are presented in a custom fitted box. The kit includes the tap unit itself, hot and cold water Uk Standard flexi-tail hoses, additional sink fittings, ceramic cartridge, User Guide. Everything seems to be of the highest quality and even the flexi tails are made of metal rather than rubber. The mixer tap looks fantastic with a chrome finish with a black silicone grip and feels suitably weighty due to the brass construction. The single lever operates smoothly and feel like it might be damped to achieve this. It has a Ceramic Disc Valve Cartridge which replaces the old fashioned rubber valves and should mean it works drip free. The User Guide takes the form of an exploded diagram and is simple and easy to follow. I include a scan of it in my unboxing video. There is no step by step install guide included as a certain level of knowledge is assumed, otherwise just leave it to the plumber to sort out, as I intend to.

The tap is heavy and feels very robust although I will always be worried about scratching the chrome or bodywork since it is all so pristine at the moment. It really is not too much to say that this device is a thing of beauty even before it is finally fitted. The silicone sleeve looks great now but I hope it will not mark or deteriorate with time and use

I really don’t think you will be able to find a more attractive or better built piece of kit and if as much care and though has been devoted to the functionality as clearly has been to the design then it will be a winner indeed. If I saw this unit in a high end bathroom showroom I would expect it to be in at least the £150 range. The Amazon price of £76.99 whilst not being the cheapest I have seen is still excellent buy..

On the basis of looks and build quality – which is all I can currently comment on – this is a definite BUY.

More info and purchase