LED light strips have advanced a good deal over the years and this new double-length set 10M kit from Elegant Life is one of the best configured, most versatile, and easiest to use I have tried yet. It contains all you need to get going and allows for room for expansion later. This latest generation kit is a marked step upwards from the older ones and i is better made and easier to fit and at £26.99 matches them on price.
In the attractive and capacious product box are the usual components: two self Adhesive 5050 5m Light strip, a UK Power supply, remote control, and a User Guide. The User Guide is indicative of just how far these kits have developed as it is well written, nicely printed and easy to read. I include a scan of it in my unboxing video.
All you need is included here. There is no need to buy anything more unless you plan to expand the unit with more LED strips which can be daisy-chained onto this one and powered from the same PSU.
Fitting could not be easier. Carefully cut the LED strip to the lengths you want at the marked points, peel off the backing from the LED strip and push in place. Connect the plugs on the strip ends to the plugs attached to the power supply, plugin and there you go.
The fitted LED strips if discreetly mounted can be left in place for future festive occasions, otherwise, they can be carefully removed and returned to the box ready for future use. As with all LED strips over time the sticky surface will come loose and so for a long time use a more permanent clip mounting method should be used and some clips are included with this kit.
The strips can be operated using the supplied credit card sized remote control but it is easier and more fun to do so using the Smart Life app. Follow the instructions in the app to add a new device, select the device type from the screen and set the strip into setup mode by plugging and unplugging it three times in quick succession. It will start flashing to confirm it is in setup mode. Again, follow the on-screen prompts to complete the process, which is quick and easy. Continue to follow the screen instructions to connect it to Amazon Alexa or Google Home to get full voice control.
Once set up and running you can select a range of colours and lighting modes as well as integrate lighting into schedules, timers and chained event routines.
The user-friendliness and build quality of this kit make it better than most and well worth the price and it is simple to integrate into your connected home.
For today’s mini-review I have a £9.99 set of three 10ft Lightning iPhone cables from Sundix . These cables are designed for charging and data transfer for an iPhone with any USB equipped device,
The three identical cables are very well made and robust with decent quality metal plugs and heavy-duty nylon blue/black braided cables. The extra long cables are thick and tough and unlikely to tangle easily although this means they are rather bulky and take up more space than lightweight plastic rivals.
The cables have a premium feel to them and if you need to expand your iPhone’s connectivity or need a long cable, then this set would be a worthwhile buy.
Build quality of everything seems fine, tough, robust and at just 348g super lightweight. The LED light and battery seem watertight and rainproof but no IP rating is given. I would not expect any problems in normal UK weather. The outer shell is made from Polycarbonate and the inner shell from Expanded Polystyrene with a padded liner that can be removed for cleaning. The helmet is fully adjustable with a quick-release buckle and size regulator and should fit almost every head size between 57 – 72 cm.
This attractive and well made £39.99 cycling helmet from WONEIRA arrived simply packaged without a branded product box. Although the helmet was perfectly well protected it does make it rather less appealing as a gift. Inside the bag was the helmet itself, a USB charging cable, clip-on sun visor and a small but well-written User guide. I include a copy of the User Guide in my unboxing video.
The headset is a standard one in many respects and from a distance looks the same as the rest. That is fine by me and in fact and this one is a shade less costly than some rivals I have seen. It has a plastic front visor that is detachable and clips into position and is held in place by four powerful magnets. The visor can be locked out the way above the eyes when not needed and quickly and easily clipped in place when the sun comes out. . It also has a bright red multi-LED warning light on the rear which can be switched turn on/off or switched between a flashing, slow breathing and always on modes using the switch built into the light itself. This is awkward to reach and the rider might need to stop in order to do so. The light is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can be charged from any USB socket with a small cable provided for that purpose.
This is an excellent quality cycling helmet, well made, comfortable and protective with the clip-on sun visor both useful and rather stylish. Although by no means the cheapest helmet I have tried this one does possess a premium feel lacking in the budget rivals.
The Good Good price Powerful Safety Light Rechargeable Battery Showerproof Good User Guide Detachable sponge lining Adjustable size Removable Sun Visor
The Bad Poor packaging Light switch awkward to reach
Priced at just £38.49 and with some negative reviews I was not expecting too much from this new trail cam from DIGITNOW!. Once you get over the few quirks in the design this camera can in fact produce some excellent results.
But what is a trail camera? A trail camera is a camera that is designed to operate unattended outdoors and to automatically capture pictures or video of anything that triggers the built-in motion detector. They are mainly used to monitor wildlife activity but could be used for security purposes also.
This new model HT-001 arrived packed in an attractive mid-market product box inside of which was the camera itself, tree mount strap, USB cable, software CD and a User Guide. Although the camera itself is made of plastic and is rather lightweight (which is perhaps no drawback) build quality seems fine in general. The User Guide is large, well printed and in understandable English but has clearly been edited to remove mentions of the remote control included with other models.
The camera takes four AA batteries, rather than the eight needed by most trail cams. Take note that if used intensively the batteries will quickly run down but in normal use should last several months. The batteries are housed in a compartment in the base of the unit. It has the option to use an external 6v/2A power supply (not supplied).
On the front of the IP65 water-resistant camera are the lens, motion sensor, 30 LED infrared panel, status LED. On the bottom is a single retaining clip holding shut the flap which opens to reveal the battery compartment, TF card slot, USB port and AV port. Under the flap is the single control, a turret switch to select On/test/Off. It is recommended to not go straight from Off to On but to pause briefly at the middle position. On the base is a standard tripod screw aperture. There are no other controls or display panel. Because of the lack of a front opening door and control panel this camera has a smaller profile than any other trail cam I have tried and is far thinner with a rounded back better suited for tree mounting,
So how you operate and configure this control free camera? The manual and Amazon page makes reference to a remote control but there is no remote included with this model. Instead, there is a CD containing a user guide and control software for various trail cam models, Opening and running the MSCONFIG app with the camera connected to your PC allows all the basic parameters to be set: timer, video length, etc. There is no way to monitor the battery life or camera settings other than by the status LED on the front of the camera. One particularly useful feature is that you do not have to choose between Video or Stills as you can set it to record both at once. Remember to format the SD card before use and before running the config app.
After setup on the PC to use the camera just set the turret switch to on, position the camera and leave it to do its stuff.
I was pleased and not a little surprised by the photo and video quality, too often budget trail cameras fall down here by using cheap hardware to save production costs, but not so here. The MSCONFIG app only gives the maximum video size as 720p but examining the camera video files I see they are 1440x 1080 at 15fps and the photos 4608 x 3456. The still photos look good and the video, although not great, is certainly fine for the price. I did find results rather hit and miss, sometimes the camera seemed not to have triggered as it should, although most times it was fine.
The trigger speed of 1.1 seconds is slow and so time needs to be taken to position the camera to mitigate this. Try and locate it so the subject is moving towards the camera to give the device time to start working, the slow trigger speed is one place where corners have certainly been cut but it is not an insurmountable problem. Care must also be taken also to avoid false motion sensor alerts – foliage, vehicles, etc – as this will soon flatten the battery.
This camera can be great fun if you have a big garden and wonder what goes on there when you are away. The results are far better than I had feared for the budget price. Professionals might look to pay more for higher quality, ease of use and remote access.
The Good Great price Small Form Factor Good image quality Good build quality Simultaneous stills and video option Scheduling Good User Guide Only 4 Batteries Audio recording option IP65 Water/Dustproof
The Bad Hard To Configure Heavy battery drain when used intensively 32GB maximum card
This attractive new HEPA air filtration system from Greenote arrived well protected in an upscale and nicely designed branded box. Inside was the device itself, a UK power supply, HEPA filter and a well written and nicely printed user guide. Build quality and appearance maintain the upmarket feel of the whole package.
The air filter is about the size of a wastepaper basket with a discreet and unobtrusive appearance and soon blends into the background. On top there is a subtly illuminated touch screen panel giving control of the power off/on, four-stage fan, three timer settings and sleep mode with a low level musical chime to confirm a status change. In operation at the default lowest setting the fan is almost inaudible, when cranked up higher the fan can be clearly heard but even at full power, a setting few would need to use, it is no louder than a small office fan. When set to 22dB Sleep Mode it is inaudible unless you are leaning over it and when I tested it I had to put my hand over it to feel the slight breeze to confirm it was working. In addition to the four operating modes, there is also a timer that can set the unit to run for two, four or eight hours before turning itself off.
The device has a Japanese Toray filter element built into it which uses an ozone-free HEPA filter that can capture 99.97% of fine particles, effectively absorbing 2.5 PPM of allergens, such as dust, pet dander, smoke, mould and pollen. The effective filtration area is about 15m² at 10 times/hour. The large AP10-F3 HEPA filter is accessed by upending the unit and unscrewing the base to reveal the filter. It is unsecured and can be easily replaced, a task that should be done every three to six months. Greenote say that replacement filters will be available in June, but the price is not known,
This is an excellent device, well made, attractive and simple to use. priced at £79.99 it is not inexpensive but is on a par with rivals I have seen. It seems a pretty good buy to me.
I have tried several gaming headsets from ONIKUMA and they are all very similar, all very good and all budget priced. This new model K16 is no exception.
The headset arrived nicely presented in a mid-range display box. Inside the box was the headset itself, cable adapter, and a small but easy to read User Guide a scan of which I include in my unboxing video.
The headset is nicely made, seems robust and strong, and quite tastefully designed compared to some gamer headsets I have tried – which is not saying much. It is moderately well padded on both the earcups, which are of the over-ear type, and on the suspended headband. It is comfortable and easy to wear even for long gaming sessions. The 1.5m braided audio cord has both a 3.5mm jack and USB plugs. An adaptor is including which connects to the universal 3.5mm jack plug to allow the mic and headphone signals to be split for devices with separate sockets. The earcups illuminate with multicoloured LED’s when connected using the USB plug and in fact, this is the only purpose of the USB plug as USB audio is not supported and there is no built-in vibration engine. An audio volume dial and mic mute switch are found on one earcup.
How does it sound? The audio quality is actually not bad at all and worthy of a higher priced device. There is plenty of bass, not so much as to be overpowering, with the mid and higher frequencies being clear and well defined without being too sharp or abrasive. When both gaming and listening to music it is becomes a very immersive and enjoyable experience. From a pure gaming viewpoint the lack of direct talkback through the console is a drawback but the fine sound quality and ease of use for general music playing more than makes up for it.
Unlike with some gaming headsets, the LED lighting is quite subtle and not unattractive with the ONIKUMA logo pulsing gently on both earcups, with the microphone tip glowing red. Colours cannot be preset and the lighting can only be switched off by unplugging the USB plug. It is worth saying again that the USB connection is to power the LED lights and not to allow for system-level interaction with a gaming console. The microphone stalk is very flexible and can be easily folded out of the way but cannot be unplugged. The mic is good and is one of the best I have tried on a gaming headset,
This is a large and well-made set of headphones described as being for gamers but really they are fine for general purpose listening with a full and rich sound not often found at this price. If you are a serious gamer, particularly a console user then my advice would be to keep looking. If you are looking for a budget headset for music, PC Gaming and general use then this would be a decent buy for £20.99.
The Good Good sound Great price Good build quality Comfortable to wear LED Illumination Audio/Mic adaptor Adjustable mic position Passive noise reduction
The Bad No vibration engine Not suitable for some gaming consoles
My old MacBook having died it was time for a replacement and I bought a new 2020 M1 processor model 13″ MacBook Pro. A good choice and an excellent machine I am very happy with. The next step was to find a way of physically protecting it as already it was showing early signs of scuffing. After searching on Amazon this one seemed a good buy although at £18.99 it was not the very cheapest option.
It arrived in just a branded plastic bag but survived the journey to me well enough, which bodes well for the future. In the bag were the top and bottom halves of the case, four stick-on non-slip feet, a decent sized cleaning cloth and two keyboard protectors.
Fitting the two halves of the case could not have been simpler, they just each one up, press in place and the four raised lugs click in place. It is just as easy to remove them if required. The keyboard protector too was far easier to fit then I expected. I thought it might be a struggle to line it up but each time I tried it the gel cover seemed to magically get in position. Incidentally, there are two gels included, one for Macboks with the Touch Bar, and one for those without.
This case should fit any 13″ MacBook Pro made from 2016 onwards but that said, it is important to check the Amazon page carefully to ensure your specific MacBook model is supported. The Amazon page gives an exhaustive list of all the suitable models.
If you need a well made, robust and protective case for your MacBook Pro 13″ then you will not go far wrong with this one.
I have tried a few video capture cards before and with varying success. This new Capture Box from DIGITNOW! is something new. No computer needed, no complicated codec configuration, it just plugged in and it worked – but for nearly £200, so it should!
In the rather attractive and upscale product box was the capture device itself, a USB-C cable, HDMI cable, UK PSU, SD card, AV cable set, and a well written and nicely printed User Guide. The Capture Box itself is made from brushed aluminium alloy, with on one side two HDMI and two AV ports and on the other, a full-sized SD card slot, on top are USB and USB-C ports as well as power and volume up and down buttons. On the front to the side of the 5″ OLED screen are buttons for menu, Mode, Previous, OK and Next. Build quality feels premium and externally there is nothing that can break or fall off.
The point of this device is to record video streamed from any HDMI or AV source at up to 4K@60fps, although a full range of lesser resolutions are also available. Unlike with simple capture, the device itself does all the video rendering itself in real-time and so no PC or other external devices are needed other than for the video source.
I tested with my 1080p Roku device connect via HDM to the video box and used a class 10 SD card as the capture medium. Operating could not be simpler. select the source and output media from the easy to navigate settings panel. Press Play on your source device and the video with sound will begin to play on the video box screen then press OK on the box to begin and then to end recording. Your recording will now be on your card and you can replay it either directly on the box, over an HDMI cable to your monitor or TV or by inserting the card into your play device, You can also monitor during recording on an external screen, although the box screen then goes off.
Video and audio quality are both first-rate but for me the main selling points, which make it worth the £199.99 price, are the ease of use and reliability.
It’s not cheap but it is well worth the price for the peace of mind,
So what is a trail camera? A trail camera is a camera that is designed to operate unattended outdoors and to automatically capture pictures or video of anything that triggers the built-in motion detector. They are mainly used to monitor wildlife activity but could be used for security purposes also.
This new top of the range camera from Apeman, already a name in the trail cam world, arrived packed in an attractive mid-market product box inside of which was the camera itself, metal ground/surface mount with screw fittings, retaining tree mount strap, data cable, and User Guide. Although the camera itself is made of plastic and is rather lightweight (which is perhaps no drawback) build quality seems excellent. The User Guide is a good size, well printed, easy to ready.
The IP66 water-resistant camera takes eight AA batteries, four can be fitted for setup only, which means it can be left to operate untended over extended periods. Take note that if used intensively the batteries will quickly run down but in normal use should last up to six months on standby but far less if extensively used. The batteries are housed +in an easy-access compartment in the base of the unit. It also has the option to use a 6V/2A external power supply (not supplied).
On the front of the device are the lens, light sensor, motion sensor, Status LEDs, 850nm 40 LED infrared panel. On the side are clips to secure the front flap which opens out to give access to the colour LCD monitor, and control buttons. Inside the panel is the full-size SD card slot (Class 6 or better recommended), far easier to deal with on a cold night than a tiny micro-SD card. Inside the panel on the base is the grommet protected power-in port and Mini-USB port, microphone. On the bottom are the single metal screw hole for a tripod or the included surface mount and the clip secured access flap to the compartment housing the 8 AA batteries.
Inside the flap next to the LCD screen is a turret switch to set the device to OFF/SETUP/ On and the control buttons. button. The buttons are for Up, Down, Return/Confirm, Menu and Mode. The buttons are a good size and reasonably easy to find and use outside at night.
The camera is triggered by the front-facing motion detection sensor and at 0.3 seconds the delay on this model is the fastest I have yet tried and has three motion detection sensitivity level options are available.
Although there are plenty of refinements and fine-tuning that can be made, in fact, the camera can be up and running very quickly with the default settings. After inserting the batteries and removing the gels covering the lens, sensors and screen, set the turret slider to SETUP and press the MENU button. From here you can now set the image and video resolutions, video recording lengths and other parameters such as time stamping, time-lapse, Time Lapse etc. One particularly useful feature is that you do not have to choose between Video or Stills as you can set it to record both at once. Time should be spent on best positioning the camera for the best results. Remember to insert an SD card first and to format it using the camera software before use.
Like some other high-end trail cameras I have tried this one offers a wifi connection to the camera. This is more useful than it might seem as it allows you to configure the camera settings remotely and without needing to handle the camera. You can also directly take stills and videos and access existing recordings. Setup was quick, easy and fully automated from the excellent Wildlife Cam Pro app.
I was pleased and not a little surprised by the photo and video quality, too often trail cameras fall down here by using cheap hardware to save production costs, but not so here. For the price image quality is excellent for both Video and stills at up to 30MP and gives genuinely high quality 4K video at 30fps. Personally, I found 1080p to be the best for practical use as it creates far smaller file sizes and is less demanding of the SD card, whilst still giving excellent results. I found that in some lighting conditions highlights can burn out so take care to select the right camera position to avoid them. Care must be taken also to avoid false motion sensor alerts – foliage, vehicles, etc – as this will soon flatten the battery. Although the trigger time is fast nevertheless when recording wildlife try and position the camera so the subject approaches the camera and not across it. The sensors here are a big improvement on older versions, but will not capture all cross lens motion. That way the trigger has time to fire and you will see the subject head-on and not get a picture of its rear end as it leaves the frame!
This camera can be great fun if you have a big garden and wonder what goes on there when you are away. Both for features and image quality this is by far the best trail cam I have ever used and sets the benchmark for others. Priced at £109.99 this is the most expensive trail cam I have yet tried but the high-quality results and ease of use make it still an excellent buy.
The Good 4K@ 30fps video quality Fast 0.3-sec Trigger Good image quality Good build quality Simultaneous stills and video option Time-Lapse Mode Excellent User Guide Audio recording option IP66 Water/Dustproof
The Bad Heavy battery drain when used intensively Dated mini-USB Port used Expensive
This new compact-sized high absorbancy bath mat from Meyecon has a quality feel to it despite the small size and small price of just £13,92.
It arrived packaged in a reusable branded ziplock bag with no paperwork or other materials included with none needed.
The mat itself is made from 100% Polyester with a non-slip backing of Environmental Thermoplastic Rubber (whatever that is) and reinforced stitching around the edge. The pile is soft, thick and supportive and it feels good to handle and to walk on. The mat is fully washable by hand or by machine at up to 30 degrees in a mild detergent and is best washed separately to avoid colour run. Air-dry the mat after washing.
This is a nice little bath mat, perfect for in front of the bath or loo, that feels good, looks good and hopefully should last well is properly cared for,