LaMetric Time Wi-Fi Clock for Smart Home

 

 

This is one that is going back

I read the many poor reviews of this item extensively but decided to give the former Kickstarter project a try anyway since it seemed to have a lot to offer. In the end, I have to agree with the bulk of the reviewers that although this device has much potential in the end that even at the current reduced price of £152 it is just too expensive and does not offer enough to justify the outlay.

Basically, this is a programmable scrolling display unit that shows customisable information on a small but cleverly designed muted LED screen. Using a smartphone app you can display information from various smart home gadgets as well as the more usual weather, time, and internet radio. It also doubles as Bluetooth speaker and can stream audio from the internet and connected smartphones and other local sources. I wanted to get it because it can display in real time a connected subscriber count and other information from a linked YouTube channel and also environmental data from a Netatmo home weather station of the type I have. That was the plan anyway.

The device arrived nicely packaged and presented with a distinctly upmarket feel to it. Setting the device mirrored that used by many devices these days – connect the phone to a wifi hotspot generated by the device and input the login details for your home wifi network a subsequent reboot of the device allows it to connect automatically to that network. I was able to connect to the Lametric wifi but it refused to recognise the connection. Using several phones gave the same issue. I suspect the problem was that the phone would spontaneously connect to the open Lametric network before the LatMetric app started polling for it, which confused it. Eventually, I got it working and after then the connection to my wifi network was strong and stable and reconnected easily following reboots.

Build quality seems OK but rather more lightweight and flimsy than the price and packaging lead me to expect. The speakers for the built Bluetooth speaker are small, tinny and underpowered which is surprising bearing in mind the price and the fact that LaMetric seems to consider this a key function of the device. The diffused display is attractive ad glare-free with a coloured customisable icon on the left and scrolling data on the right. The display looks good but is distinctly smaller than I would expect for the price. There are buttons on the top of the display and sides for Power On/Off, audio volume and to confirm app functions.

Configuring the few built-in apps for weather, time, radio etc was easy enough. Further apps can be downloaded from the Latmetric app store, all of them free, but although there are a  reasonable amount of them most are built by users and are very specific in nature. The apps can display singly, in rotation or on demand.  I downloaded the Netatmo app and this was indeed simple and easy to set up and just required linking the Netatmo and LaMetric accounts and then selecting from within the app which metrics to display. The YouTube Subscriber count was another matter and although I was able to link the accounts I was never able to see my subscriber count. No doubt the fault was mine as others have done so successfully but it shows at least that the app is not idiot proof. An email to the developer got no reply. I should say that the device also connects with Google Home and Amazon Alexa and this works well. You can ask Alexa, for example, to display specific data on the LaMetric and this it does. However, there are not many things you would rather see on a limited character data display than have Alexa speak out loud.

In the end aside from the Netatmo data display which looked good and worked well, I was left with a rather tinny radio and a digital clock. No other apps on offer seemed worth the effort of setting up. Had I been able to get the YouTube link working I might have decided to hang on to it but without that, I decided to send it back.

The Good
Attractive Design
Works Well
Good Packaging
The Bad
Expensive
Complex to fully Configure
No wall mount option
Lack of worthwhile apps

Poor Sound Quality

More Info and Purchase

 

HSPRO IPX7 Waterproof Wireless Sports Earbuds

 

Priced at just £15.99 from Amazon I was not expecting too much from this budget headset but in fact, I was very pleasantly surprised by their performance. Having tried them blind I would have expected to pay around £30-£40 for them.

In the small, mid-market box was the headset themselves, a hard case, three pairs of differently sized earbuds, a short USB to the micro-USB charging cable, a tie-back clip and a well written and easy to read User Guide. A User Guide is not really needed for this sort of headset as it obvious how to use them but nevertheless, I will include the Guide on the end of my unboxing video. Switch to full screen and pause to read it.

Build quality seems fine, the metal earpieces seem robust and well made. The earbuds are quite large and tend to project outwards a bit too much for my taste but once in place are comfortable enough and are securely fixed looping over the ears. However, experimenting with the other earbuds helped with the comfort and sound quality. The cable connecting the two earpieces I found to be quite short compared to some others and I had no need of the little clip included to secure the cable behind the neck. It is a pity that the earbuds do not clip together for storage as some rivals do. This headset is IPX7 waterproof which means they should be fine in the worst weather and can even be immersed in water up to 1M deep, although I would be reluctant to put this to the test. Note that the Amazon listing says they are IPX7, the User Guide says IPX6, so take care with the water! A single ninety-minute charge should give up to ten hours of audio playing time.

Pairing with my phone was quick and easy and the connection seemed strong and stable when I took them on a run. Press the MF button on the right headset to pair with the two volume/track buttons next to it.

Usually, budget headphones have poor audio but not so here.  Sound quality was excellent. There is a decent level of bass and although it is no rival to Dr Dre’s it is better than on most in-ear Bluetooth headsets I have tried. Mid tones are clear and well defined with non of the muddiness common to cheap headsets. All the instruments could be heard separately and clearly. Higher frequencies are again sharp and clear although for me perhaps a little too abrasive at times, but that can be down to my personal preferences.

For the price, this is a great buy. A decent quality well-made headset with a full range of accessories, an excellent User Guide and a very much above average sound quality.

The Good
Great price
Good sound quality
Excellent User Guide
Easy to use controls

The Bad
Audio a bit abrasive (for me)
Cable too short
Earbuds non-magnetic

LC-dolida 8 in 1 USB-C Ethernet Hub

 

As computers and smartphones continue the move from USB to USB-C we will find adapters such as this increasingly useful. As they gain in popularity the prices for these all in one device continues to fall and at the current Amazon price of £36.99, this is one of the least expensive 8 in 1 devices on the market.

Packaged in a low key and rather a downmarket box the adapter was bundled supplied with a small but useful User Guide which I reproduce in my unboxing video. The User Guide deals mainly with using the adapter with particular specialised devices.

The 5″x2″x 0.5″ device is made of matt brushed metal with a short USB-C cable on one end and a Gigabit Ethernet and USB-C 87W Power ports on the other. On one side are two USB 3.0 ports together with SD and TF card reader slots, and a full-size HDMI and an AV ports. The HDMI port supports video resolution up to (4Kx2K) at 3840x2160P@30Hz. Note that the TF and SD slots cannot be used simultaneously. Also, if you connect a high power device such as a DVD player then you will need to connect the USB-C port to a power source. Build quality seems good although not premium but fine for the budget price.

The USB, TF and SD cards function as they would with any other card reader. The HDMI port allows you to play video directly from your current generation MacBook or MacBook Pro as well as many high-end smartphones and devices. The USB-C port can be used to charge smartphones and other selected devices. Many of the functions can also work with selected USB-C smartphones but this varies from model to model. The unit also supports Samsung DeX mode for the Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ and S8/S8+, Note 9/8 and Huawei Mate 10/pro. I do not own any of those devices and so have not tested that capability but have no reason to doubt it working.

I was perfectly happy with the operation of this little device, I tried it with a small format desktop PC, MacBook Pro and with my Android phone and both worked well although not all features are supported on my phone, a limitation of the phone rather than this device.

For the relatively low price, this is a worthwhile addition to the kitbag of any Mac or USB-C device owner.

The Good
Great price
Works well

USB-C Power port
No drivers needed

The Bad
Not all USB-C smartphones support all features
Budget packaging

 

Gvoo 4 Ports 40W/5V 8A USB Wall Charger

I am not entirely sure why a USB charger would be Christmas themed and surprised indeed that one would be sent to me for review after the festive season. In fact, it does not matter as this is an excellent USB charger, well made, robust and powerful.

We all probably now have plenty of similar wall chargers at home supplied with phones and other appliances but this new charger from Gvoo has more to offer than the basic rivals despite the budget price of £9.99.

Discarding the Christmas sleeve, in the rather plain inner product box was just the charger itself and a simple one-page User Guide, which has some useful information for those that need it. I enclose a scan of it at the end of my unboxing video.

This a four-port USB charger, what a pity there is no USB-C port, and according to the User Guide can output at up to 24W across three ports at 5V/2.4A per port maximum and to a combined maximum of 8. This exceeds the power output of most basic rivals and allows four phones to be charged together at full power. It will work with mains power of between 100 and 240V and will work with any UK  socket.  It has CE Certified Multi-protection and built-in overvoltage and overcharging protection. Build quality seems fine and nothing appears likely to break or fall off any time soon.

It should work with almost any Android or iOS device or USB powered electronic device. It should charge an iPad mini in about three hours and most larger capacity modern smartphones in two hours or less. It is small enough to fit into a pocket or travel bag and robust enough to survive life on the road.

If you need an inexpensive portable charger that will speedily charge a range of devices then this would be an excellent choice.

The Good
Great Price
Good Build Quality
High Power Output

UK/USA voltage compatible

The Bad
No USB-C

No Status LED

More Info and Purchase

WXY BT-990 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

 

SPECIAL 70% Reduced price Promotion on WXY model 816 (on the same Amazon page) use the checkout code: UVSVKV89

https://amzn.to/2SK9FL1

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You get a good deal for your money with this new budget headset from WXY currently priced at £27.99. This has the upmarket looks and sound quality of a rather more costly device.

Inside the Amazon box was just the headset itself, a hard carry Case, USB Charging Cable, audio cable, carabiner clip and User Guide. The User Guide is well written but small and rather hard to read. I attach a scan of it to my unboxing video. Strangely, there was no product box for the headset, it arrived just as shown in the video. This is a real pity as it devalues the look of the item and makes it far less appealing as a gift.

The headphones feel lightweight and a bit plasticky but well made and are of the on-ear rather than over-ear type. The headset looks good with an attractive rose gold metallic finish to the body and what looks like white PU leather for the headband and earcups. The padding on the earcups and headband is good but by no means luxurious. The build quality seems fine to me with no sign of the padding on the band working loose, poor stitching, visible wires or weak joints – all elements that have failed on similar headsets I have owned in the past. There is nothing to make me suppose that the headset is not well made. Time will tell and if something fails in the future I will update the review accordingly.

As with most Bluetooth headphones of this type they can also be used as a normal headset and an audio cable is provided for this purpose. The simple control buttons are on one ear cup only and are easy to find and identify by touch and by sight. There are the usual track/volume and multifunction buttons to control audio and phone operations. The buttons are large, not recessed and this makes them easy to use by feel and for me, this is a big plus. Also, I was very pleased to see a separate On/Off turret switch, a feature too many budget headsets lack.

Bluetooth 4.2 Pairing is simple enough and achieved in the usual way by depressing the Multi-function/Power button for several seconds. Pairing is indicated by the blue flashing LED, select ‘Headphones 990’ on your phone to pair and the blue LED will stop flashing. Once paired I found the connection to be stable and strong.

Battery life seems fine to me and I have no reason to doubt the claimed twenty-five hours music time from a ninety-minute charge for the 430mAh. A red LED shows when the device is charging and turns blue when fully charged.

This headset is lacking a few features often found even on cheaper units these days. The is no FM radio, SD card slot, NFC pairing or Bluetooth 5. However, they have concentrated on the key features needed by a headset at passed over the often unused extras.

Considering that this is not an expensive headset I was more than satisfied with the audio quality. The bass is good, clear, smooth and undistorted. Mid tones are clear and detailed and very easy to listen to. The sound quality of this headset has to be one of the main selling points.

I like this headset. It is well made, comfortable, lightweight and easy to wear even for extended listening sessions and with decent sound quality too. It is a pity there was no SD card slot or radio but I wonder how many people would actually use them? Nevertheless, the excellent audio reproduction and good build quality make this a great buy for the relatively low price.

The Good
Great price
Attractive upmarket looks
Excellent sound quality
Easy touch controls
Good build quality
Comfortable to wear
Microphone
Bluetooth 4

Hard Carry Case

The Bad
Lightweight Feel
No NFC
No SD card

Ansbell Stud Finder TH250

This deceptively simple budget priced Stud Finder from Ansbell arrived simply packed in a branded cardboard box. Inside was the Stud Finder itself and a single large format User Guide which append to my unboxing video. No battery is included but this is a standard 9v model of a type widely available.

The Stud Finder has a large monochrome LCD panel on the front with the Power/Mode button at thumb level below. On one side is the scanning button and on the rear the battery holder. On top as you face it is the indicator at which you can mark the centre point of the located stud. Build quality seems fine and the device is clearly robust enough for on-site use, although it is a pity no protective case was included.

The device has four operating modes, all selected using the main front panel button. The modes are Stud Mode (19mm maximum depth), Stud Deep Mode (38mm maximum depth), Metal Scan Mode ( up to 60mm deep), AC scan (unshielded wires up to 51mm deep).

Using the device is easy enough. After inserting the battery turn the unit on and select the desired operating mode using the front panel button. Hold the device against the wall to be scanned and press and hold the scanning button on the side of the unit to calibrate the unit. The Bars on the LCD display will diminish and the beeper will sound once indicate calibration is complete. Press and hold the scanning button again and gently move the unit flat against the wall. When a signal is found it will beep and a signal strength bar display shows together with an arrow indicating which way to push the unit, a verticle line will indicate the target edge and CENTER will display at the midpoint of the stud. You can then mark the wall at this point.  The principle is the same for Metal and AC Wire modes.

In my limited test the device worked perfectly but with all such units, you need a basic level of common sense when using it. The studs which I knew to be in the wall were all located with a minimum number of false positives. For the very reasonable price of £16.99, this seems a worthwhile investment.

The Good
Works Well
Good Price
Good Build Quality
Bright LCD Screen

Audible Alert

The Bad
No Carry Case

No Battery Included

More Info and Purchase

Clean Pulse One – Countertop Water Flosser

There are many very similar countertop dental flossers available but this one is perhaps the most nicely presented I have seen and is certainly one of the most inexpensive.

In the attractive mid-market product box was the flosser itself, aUK Power Supply Unit, a set of three colour coded standard heads, Tongue Scraper, Orthodontic Tip, Pocket Tip, Bush Head tip, and a User Guide. The User Guide is large, well printed and easy to read and I enclose a scan of it in my unboxing video.

Build quality seems fine for the price and this is one of the nicest and most comprehensive countertop flossers I have tested. Take note that this device is not designed for UK bathroom use as it does not come with the two pin plug needed for UK use. It can be used in the kitchen, bedroom or other rooms without issue.

The main unit consists of a 600ml water tank with water level indicators on the front and which is replenished by filling through the removable lid. On the front is the large three position rotary control dial with above the storage location for the handheld nozzle unit with feed tube from the integral pump situated in the lower part of the device. The handheld nozzle has two controls, one where the head is inserted to select water pressure and the large Pause switch on the handle itself to turn the water flow off and on. On the base is the socket for the power supply input and a water tank valve.

Using the device is easy enough. After filling the tank with water, connecting the power supply lock the head unit of choice in place by inserting firmly to the nozzle handing whilst pressing the securing ring.  Press the button in the centre of the control dial to turn the device on and select the mode required by rotating the dial. Push the switch on the nozzle handle to select the water pressure and then press the pause switch on the nozzle handle to start the water flow. There are three modes available selected using the rotary dial on the main unit of the device: Clean (thirty-second jet followed by a short pause for up to three minutes), Massage (pulsing water flow), and Fresh (for use with a 5% saline solution only). The device will shut down after three minutes or by pressing the rotary dial button. Use of the specialised heads is explained in full in the excellent User Guide.

As a long-term user of these devices I was pleased with the power of the device, often flossers can only manage a rather feeble flow, not so here. I usually use it in Clean mode and switch to Massage modes for the gums. The 600ml water tank is more than enough for a cleaning session and can be quickly refilled from the tap.

This is an excellent device, works well, and compares well to similar units from high-end rivals. The current price of just £23.90 on Amazon makes it an attractive buy even with the bathroom use limitations.

The Good
Great price
Effective Cleaning
Quiet in use
Three cleaning modes
Multiple Heads Included
Excellent User Guide
The Bad

Not for UK bathroom use

More Info and Purchase