SoundPEATS Q29 True Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

The market for True Wireless Headsets is now starting to calm down. At first, only high-end models were available at great cost followed by loads of cheap and nasty clones with poor sound, complicated pairing routines and poor linking but now decent quality but reasonably priced devices are starting to appear.

I have been looking for a pair of back up true wireless earbuds for use in situations where I may lose my expensive Jabra Elite Sport set. I will use the Jabra’s as a reference point in this review, which may seem unfair but this set is good enough to stand the comparison.

This new headset from SoundPEATS arrived in a small but stylishly designed product box. Inside were the earpieces themselves, charging case, a short USB to micro-USB charging cable, three sets of buds (one set of each prefitted), and a User Guide. The User Guide is well written and nicely illustrated although a bit small for my ageing eyes. I enclose a copy of the User Guide on my unboxing video.

Unlike with some other budget true wireless headsets, this one comes with a robust charging case very similar to that with the high-end Jabra’s which charges the earbuds automatically when inserted. The case has an internal battery which is itself charged using the supplied USB cable and it is the internal battery which charges the earbud batteries. The case will be able to fully charge the earbuds about three times with each charge taking about one hour. There are a set of LED’s on the case and LED’s on each bud to show battery status.

Pairing the earbuds was easy enough although more of a performance than with Jabra’s.
1 Remove both earbuds from the charging case and press the single button on each bud until the red/blue LED#s flash. Initiate pairing mode by double pressing the buttons and the LED’s will flash red/white until connected.
2. Turn off one earbud by pressing and holding the button. On the other press and hold the button until the LED flashes red/white. On your phone go to the Bluetooth setup page and look for ‘Q29’ and connect to it in the usual way.
3. Press the button on the second bud until it powers on and the LED flashes white. Hold it close to the first until the two are connected. Once connected the white LED will flash slowly.
This is more easily performed than explained and is made easier by the use of voice prompts during the pairing process.

The two buds can work independently of each other as mono buds and setting them up to do so is another procedure explained at length in the User Guide.

Audio quality was good and better by far than I was expecting. There is plenty of bass, more than I was expecting by far with mid and upper tones clear and well defined with none of the muddiness often found with budget headsets. I found the tone to be somewhat harsher and less refined than from the Jabra’s but more than good enough for general use.

The headset has a microphone and can be used to receive and make calls and when testing I found the conversation was clear and audible both ends. Calls can be muted/rejected and music can be paused by pressing the Multifunction button. TRacks can be advanced forward by double pressing the earbud button. Siri or Google Assistant can be invoked by long pressing the button in standby mode

I struggled a bit with fitting the earbuds and did not find them as good a fit as the Jabra’s and although they felt secure enough The button on each earbud is large and easy to find but needs a positive click to operate which is a little uncomfortable and feels cheaper than the soft touch Jabra button. Battery life is good and at least equal to the Jabra’s and I have obtained several hours music playing time following a charge. The charging case is robust and well made and holds the buds at least as well as the Jabra’s although the case looks and feels cheaper and lacks the auto On/Off feature which is one of the best features of the expensive rival.

At just £41.99 this headset is a fraction of the price my more expensive set but gives it a run for its money as regards sound quality and features. It falls down a bit on functionality and convenience of use and of course, none of the Jabra sports features is present (not that I ever use them). This is by no means the least expensive TW headset available but as the market cools down a new generation of well-specified good sounding devices such as this is emerging.

The Good
Good audio quality
Nice packaging
Charging case
Bluetooth 4.2
Voice prompts
Good battery life
Single bud operation option
Phone Assistant access

The Bad
No auto On/Off
No full track control
No volume controls
Not waterproof
Fiddly initial setup

More info and purchase

LifeBasis Vacuum Sealer with Digital Kitchen Scale

This excellent kitchen device may find itself overlooked due to the  £84.99 price which is not excessive given the quality of the unit but dearer than most of the low-end rivals. It is a high-quality device and priced to compete with the Big Name brand. It would be a pity indeed if this well made and rather posh looking device fell through the cracks due to the lack of a high street name.

The unit arrived in a plain white box which is a pity because the device deserves a more upmarket presentation and the poor packaging can only damage gift sales. In the box was the device itself, vacuum hose, a UK plug, an EU plug, two sample sealing bag sets, and a well written and nicely designed User Guide. I include a scan of the User Guide in my unboxing video.

The dual function devices certainly looks impressive. It is made from stainless steel and silk finish ABS and has a large and bright backlit LCD display on the top. The LCD display is used just by the scales function and it is a pity use could not be made of it to show vacuum pressure during the sealing process.There is a large stainless steel circular platform which is used by the scale and this screws in place on top when in use and underneath the unit when in storage. It is has a two pin mains voltage power socket as well as an additional 12v DC port for travel use. The scales alone can be powered by two AA batteries housed within the unit. Along with the two grommet protected power ports on the back, there is also a housing for a detachable bag cutter for use with custom bag rolls.

To use the scales first set the two side switches to the scales position then just press the scale button, the screen lights up and the scale resets itself. You can select metric or imperial measures. Place the object on the scale platform and the weight is instantly displayed on the backlit display panel. There is a Tare button to zero the scale when an empty food container is in place.

Using the sealer is almost as simple. Set the side switches to VAC and open the lid of the device. Place the food into the vacuum bag and position the open bag lip onto the vacuum channel. You will see the vacuum nozzle and line up the bag lip just below that. Close the lid and press the VAC/SEAL button before pressing the lid down firmly on either side. You will see the SEAL LED light up, the magnetic clasp engages and the pump will start. The light will go off, the clasp release and the pump cease working automatically. You can then remove the bag. You can fine-tune the process by using the front panel switches to select moist or dry food, Seal only or Vacuum and Seal, Normal or Gentle pump speed. There is also a STOP button to end the vacuum/seal process manually. As well as bags the vacuum pump can also be used with external containers by connecting the supplied tube to the port inside the device and controlled using the red VAC/MARINATE button on the left-hand side of the unit.

The unit is pleasingly quiet in operation and takes only a few seconds to vacuum seal a standard sized bag. The results are excellent with the sealed bag shrinking down greatly in size and is hard and unbending to the touch.

This looks like an expensive high-end device and so it is. This is not a device designed to be stored away when not use but one to be left permanently connected and on display on the work surface. If you can take the chance on buying a high-end kitchen gadget from a less well-known name then I do not think you will be disappointed here.

The Good
Easy to Use
Great build quality
High end looks
Good User Guide
Multiple power sources
Sealing bag sets supplied

The Bad
Poor presentation
Expensive
No bag storage slot
No LCD sealing process display

More info and purchase

SYOSIN Abdominal EMS Muscle Toner

Having already tried several EMS muscle toning sets from other suppliers I was keen to add this enhanced version to my exercise kit. It is replacing an earlier and very similar model but this one uses rechargeable batteries rather than normal coin sized ones and replaces the remote control with more intuitive and easier to use on-device controls.

The device arrived attractively packaged and resembling a high tech gadget rather than an exercise 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 one of the first I have seen of this type.

In the attractive but simple product box was the large abdominal gel pad, storage bag, storage board, a battery/controller, USB charging cable, and a large and well-printed User Guide. I attach a scan of the most important sections to my unboxing video. Don’t through the box away, although a lightweight storage bag is provided for the gel pad no case is provided for the cable and control unit. However, the robust box may serve as a good long-term storage box. Although we probably all have plenty of the USB adapters needed to power this device it is a pity that one was not provided in the box.

Using the device is simple enough. After charging the square battery/controller unit via USB, carefully clip the unit to the gel pad terminals. Fit the gel pad 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 pad is 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 although it was a pity the waist belt provided with some rivals was not included here.

Turn the unit on by pushing and briefly holding the power button located between the plus and minus signs on the battery unit, the button is poorly marked but can be felt easily enough, and a tone will sound to confirm it is on. It begins at intensity level zero and the level can be adjusted using the plus and minus buttons, the blue LED will indicate that you have left level zero. The device will scroll automatically through six exercise modes automatically and this will take around twenty minutes in total to complete. The device will then switch off with a long beep sounding. To turn off before the end just long press the power 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 the maximum level, each charge should last around sixty cycles

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 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 a shade under £70 (cheaper, however, than some rivals) 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
Storage bag for gel pads
Fifteen intensity levels
Six exercise modes (according to the User Guide)

The Bad
Expensive
Needs delicate handling and storage
No rigid storage case
No USB charging adapter provided

More info and purchase

AYG Men’s Polar Fleece Warm Cargo Combat Pants

I am usually reluctant to order Chinese made clothes because despite ordering the correct size it seems that they seldom fit. I am not alone in this as having spoken to others about this it seems to be a common phenomenon. Nevertheless, spurred on by the low £25.99 price and the appearance in the photos I decided to take a chance.

I was very pleased that I did. Firstly, although a little long in the leg (I had to get a 33″ leg rather than my preferred 31″ due to my vast waist size) they are a perfect fit. They feel comfortable, commodious and secure around the waist. The trousers are lined throughout and feel very warm. They will be perfect for winter walks, fishing and other outdoor pursuits. The only minor annoyance is that the belt pictured is not included although the description does make that clear.

The trousers have eight button secured pockets plus a curious fake zip pocket at the front. There are drawstrings around the ankles so they can more securely be worn with boots or gaiters. The interior felt like interior lining is warm and soft to the skin and securely stitched in place, All the seams and stitching appears secure and well made with no loose ends or knotting. These trousers seem very heavy duty and hopefully should last for years.

If you need a pair of well made and heavy duty winter trousers for walks or country activities then these would be a great choice at a very reasonable price.

More info and purchase

Campark ACT68 2.7K wifi Sports Action Camera

This new action camera from Campark currently available at just £35.99 must be one of the least expensive I have seen although GoPro clone prices seem to be in freefall right now. At one time a camera like this would have been on sale for over £100 but those times are long gone.

My unboxing video shows that you certainly get a lot for your money. The packaging used is straightforward, attractive and robust. My camera came with a what seems a large number of mounts, clips and fixing kits of all shapes and sizes but with little indication of what they actually do. All the basic mounts you need are included as well as quite a few more and including two batteries but it is a pity no SD card could have been included. They are cheap enough these days and to do this would not add greatly to the cost and would allow the camera to be used straight from the box. The included User Guide is well above average and is large enough and sufficiently well printed to be easy to read and actually useful. I attach a copy of it to my unboxing video. Run the video full frame and pause when needed to read it.

The camera itself is actually rather better than I expected. Video quality is just fine, within the limitations of the camera resolution. 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 FHD (1920 x 1080 ) but at what seems like a stately 30fps. To get the 60fps most users look for now you have to drop the resolution to 720p. There is no option for 4K recording or full slow motion. It does support 2.7K@30fps(2688×1520)resolution, a step up from basic 1080P and a ‘High Speed’ mode of 720P@90fps. Similarly, we are told it is waterproof to 30M, which is good, but there is no mention if this means it is rated IP68 or what. For serious underwater use, this is an important omission. It offers wifi for basic controls and limited video streaming but this does not interest me as personally, I find this can be more trouble than it is worth and is a novelty that soon wears off. There is no G-Sensor or Motion detection so the camera cannot be used as a dashcam or for security purposes but again for me, this is no issue as I have yet to see am action camera actually used for this purpose successfully.

Operating the camera is easy enough. Power On/Off by long pressing the button on the camera front. Scroll between, Video, Picture, Slow motion and Settings by short pressing the front button. Use the Up/Down buttons on the side and the OK button on the top to change options with the front button to change between screens.

Results are fine if you do not ask too much of this budget camera. Still images are good and sharp at full resolution although some extreme highlights may flare and in general, the results are a bit insipid looking but can be brightened up nicely with software. Video at the 2.7K or 1080P is good and sharp and in fact brighter and more saturated than in stills mode. The results from this camera are fine for the budget price.

On balance I would say this is a decent entry-level action camera that fulfils all the basic and essential needs of a sports camera. Points would be knocked off had the price been much higher however due to doubts about the build quality of the accessories and the limited functions. I would expect to see this price fall again as better specced cameras enter the market.

This is a decent quality entry level action cam and if you enjoy using it you may want to shell out more in the future for a high-end model.

 

The Good
Good video quality
Fits GoPro mounts
170° Angle of view
Standard tripod screw mount
Full range of standard accessories included
Two batteries supplied
2.7K@30fps
Wifi

The Bad
No SD card included
No 60fps FHD
No 4K
No motion detection
No Car Mode

More info and purchase

Senwow 1080P Dash Cam CT606A With 16GB Card

This attractive new dashcam from Senwow arrived nicely presented in a simple but stylish box. Inside was the camera itself, long USB car power cable, short USB cable, suction cup mount, sticky mount base, cord clip set, 16GB micro USB card (prefitted), USB card reader and User Guide. The User Guide is nicely designed compared to those usually supplied and well printed in colour. I attach a scanned and edited copy to my unboxing video. Switch to full screen and pause as needed to read it.

Insurance fraud is on the rise and one way of protecting yourself from driving-related scams is to install a dashcam. Dashcams such as this one are positioned discreetly pointing forwards through the front window and record all your driving activity. The dashcam turns on automatically when the car is started and off again a short time after the engine is turned off. It records continuously in short recordings onto a memory card that seamlessly dovetails together when played back. When the card is full the camera records over the oldest recording. A good camera will have a built-in G-Sensor which automatically records impacts and locks that file against overwriting.

The camera is larger than most and has a 3″ screen, a size few others equal but the larger size makes it more difficult to mount the camera discreetly. The camera attaches to the windscreen with the supplied suction mount and in my tests, this worked well. Like most cameras this one has a built-in battery which is designed only to allow the device to power down safely and to give short-term coverage should the car power supply fail in the event of a crash. For normal operation, it should always be powered from the car power port or USB socket. The camera has a speaker and microphone which is useful for an incident if you have the presence of mind to observe and announce number plates or external events not captured by the camera. The dashcam has a G-sensor, a must for any dashcam, which will ensure that impacts or other events are not overwritten by other recordings on the card. The camera takes a micro SD card of up to 32GB to record onto and you must get a good quality high-speed card. Class 10 is best if a card is too slow the camera will not be able to write to it properly. A good quality 16GB card comes pre-installed.

The camera lacks a GPS sensor, a disadvantage for some users but not for me as I found watching my journey on the map is a novelty that soon wears off. Also, should your device fall into the hands of the police after a crash they will be able to note and use against you any previous speed infringements or driving errors caught by the GPS. The User Guide does mention using an external GPS sensor and one can be connected to the AV port. However, like many budget dashcams, this one does have an annoying LED night light which may cause glare on the windscreen and reduce visibility if turned on.

Video results are good for the price and it offers multiple resolution levels. At the maximum FHD resolution of 1080p@30fps, which is about the minimum capable of producing worthwhile results for a dashcam, the picture is good but not outstanding. Several looping time lengths are available and I suggest 3 minutes for best results. The built G-Sensor trigger will lock and the flag the current video file if an impact is detected.

The camera offers Parking Guard, triggered by the G-Sensor or microphone which sets the camera recording even when the power cable is disconnected to catch vandals etc but the system latency means you usually miss them. You can also set up alerts through the Motion Detector when the car is parked but for this, the power supply must be left connected and a special hard wire kit may be needed to give achieve this.

This is an entry level dashcam and priced as such but provides all you need from a dashcam plus some extras besides. Video quality is fine for the price and for the current low price this is an excellent buy.

The Good
FHD video 1920×1080@30fps
Microphone
G-Sensor
Auto on/auto off
Attractive design
Large bright screen
140-degree wide angle lens
Still image mode
Parking Mode
Parking Guard Mode
Motion Detection
Memory card supplied
Good User Guide

The Bad
No GPS sensor
No memory card supplied
No GPS option
Annoying Night Vision light
No HDMI port

More info and purchase

 

 

 

Fifine UHF Wireless Lavalier Microphone (K031)

A lavalier microphone is a small microphone used for television, theatre, and public speaking applications in order to allow for hands-free operation and this is an excellent example of it.

The new £37.99 Lavalier microphone set from Ffine, a company with a reputation for producing good quality microphones and related equipment at budget prices, arrived presented in a very attractive upmarket product box robust enough for long-term storage of the device.

Inside the box is the small Cardioid microphone itself with a prefitted but removable pop filter and lapel clip, the transmitter with fixing clip, a USB dongle receiver, two AA batteries, Mini XLR cable to connect microphone and transmitter, 3.5mm jack to 3.5mm jack audio cable. Also included is a well written and comprehensive fanfold User Guide nicely printed in colour. I enclose a scan of it on the end of my unboxing video.

This kit comes with a USB dongle receiver and so is designed for use with computers and laptops, perhaps for presentations, podcasts, and Skype rather than for broadcast, radio work or with a smartphone or other portable recording unit. The transmitter has a clip so it can be secured to the belt or back pocket and takes two AA batteries (supplied. It has a small recessed Off/On button on top and a similar button below the LCD frequency display screen. The USB dongle receiver connects to the computer and has a 3.5mm mini-jack output socket for output to a speaker or analogue recording device. Note that the transmitter and receiver have to be within line of site for best results.

To operate connect the microphone to the transmitter after first connecting the dongle to the PC and allowing Windows to install any drivers needed and then enabling your choice of software audio application. Turn the transmitter on by long pressing the top button and the receiver should connect automatically. In the event of poor reception, triple click the button below the LCD screen to change frequencies by 5MHz within the 672.5-684.5 range. Take note that if you plan to use the audio output cable from the dongle to an external speaker you may need to plug the dongle into a Powerbank as the USB port on the speaker may lack sufficient power to drive it.

I was very happy with the audio quality of my tests. It was interference free with a clean and detailed signal. Not quite up studio quality but that is to be expected with this sort of equipment.

This is an excellent hands-free microphone system for home or presentation work. If you need a system for stage or studio work then Ffine also produce the very similar model KO37 which has a powered receiver unit with jack connection.

More info and purchase