ZHUJIABAO Black Kitchen Knife Set

This fine set of five Kitchen knives from ZHUJIABAO, is priced at just £56.99 before discounts, a decent price for a quality knife set with an unusual storage block, but by no means the cheapest out there.

In the attractively designed presentation box are the knives themselves, each individually packaged, and the storage block with no user guide or information sheet included. The set consists of an 8″Chef Knife, 8″Slicing Knife, 8″Bread Knife, a 5″ Utility Knife and a 3.5″ Paring Knife, all of which are mega sharp, so take care when handling them. Build quality throughout, both for the knives and even the presentation box is first-rate and this is clearly a prestige set.

The knives all have ergonomically designed easy to grip textured non-slip coated handles, high carbon stainless steel blades with a cutting angle of 13-15° per side. The blades have a dark non-stick coated surface and have an anti-corrosion, anti-rust finish and are guarded from the hand by a rounded rose gold finger guard. The knives are lightweight and well balanced and sit nicely in the hand.

The knife block is made from plastic and like the knives is rather light in weight although it does have a padded non-slip base. Each knife slips into its own sheath with are open at the sides to allow damp blades to fully air dry. The four smaller sheaths fold forwards to give a fan like look which both adds to the appearance and makes the knives easier to retrieve.

Caring for the knives, as with any precision instrument, is important and although would guess these are dishwasher safe I will still wash them carefully in warm water with a soft cloth. When sharpening a knife to always do so at an angle of no more than 15 degrees to the whetstone or sharpening tool.

What all this comes down to is that this is perhaps one of the sharpest and easiest to handle lightweight kitchen knife sets I have ever handled. There may be better, I am no chef and don’t have much experience with kitchen knives, but I suspect you would have to look long and hard to find a better set and may much more than the price asked for this one.

This is a spectacular looking super sharp knife set that looks as good in the kitchen as in the striking knife Block

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Telfun LED Star Sky Projector

Now reduced to just £30.00 this new star projector from Telfun is one of the best designed, easiest to use and with the best display of any I have tried so far. As well as a star projector this is also a Bluetooth speaker featuring the latest Bluetooth 5.0 interface for better sound quality and a more stable connection. This new model has an attractive modern design, an extra wide projection area of up to 200 Sq Metres from a 5m throw, basic front panel controls as well as a fully specified dedicated remote, USB-C power in and an enhanced range of visual displays and patterns.

In the box are the projector itself, USB power cable, remote control, and a large and easy to read user guide. Build quality seems fine and the 600g, ‎14.2 x 14.2 x 10.5 cm projector, seems well made and robust and although heavier than average is smaller in size than most of the others. I was pleased to see that the remote is a full-sized one rather than the usual credit card sized jobs and that the USB power in port uses the latest USB-C interface. All the key functions can be controlled directly from the unit itself where a full range of button controls are included, but it is easier and simpler to use the supplied remote control.

The unit is powered through the USB-C input and requires a 5v/2A input. Be sure to use a standard USB power source and avoid high power chargers as they may not work with this unit. No power adapter is provided, which is a pity.

As a Bluetooth speaker, it excels for its size with great sound and full track and audio controls on both the device and remote. It also has a built-in microphone which when set to Music Mode changes the light patterns according to the sound it detects. It has four internal ambient sound modes available as well as four lullabies to lull you off to sleep.

Setting it up for Bluetooth could not be easier, just look for the Bluetooth device SKE-JBP-J01 on your phone. Having connected once, subsequent connections to the same device will be made automatically.

The unit will also connect to your home wifi network using the Smart Life or Tuya Smart apps and from this to Alexa or Google Home for voice control. For some reason this I could not get to work, perhaps due to an error on my part, who knows.

The main selling point, however, is the light display itself and this is remarkable. It consists of red, blue, green, and white shimmering Northern Lights type patterns with green laser stars on top. Most of the other units I have tried have a pulsing wave-like background pattern but the effect here is more subtle and attractive. The mutating colours can be combined and the intensity and duration of the stars also be varied or removed through the remote. There are 48 projection scenes to choose from with four levels of pattern speed and four brightness levels. It has a built adjustable timer and the device will turn off automatically after four hours of normal use.

Hours can be spent finding the best lighting pattern combination. Of course, it looks best, at night but is perfectly bright enough for use in curtains drawn daylight room and the enhanced coverage of this device means it should fully cover the ceiling in all but the very largest rooms.

This is an excellent device, fascinating and enjoyable to use, well made and well priced and will change any room into a nightime panorama of shimmering light.

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Blue Microphones Compass Boom Arm

Having used an entry-level boom arm for a while I decided to upgrade and having read good things about it, decided to give this model from Blue Microphones a try. Is it worth the current £109.99 asking price?

There are plenty of boom arm microphone holders available and indeed complete kits containing a microphone, boom arm, shock mount and pop filters can be obtained for a quarter of the price of this boom arm alone. The cheap boom arms are often poorly engineered, with an ugly external spring mechanism that cannot hold a heavy professional microphone in place and drift out of position, often creaking and groaning as they do so. Frequently, the desk clamp mechanism is poorly designed and works free, falls off or damages the desk.

In the large and well designed box is the boom arm itself, the desktop clamp, a 3/8” to 5/8” microphone thread adapter and a well designed and easy to read user guide.

First impressions are good. The boom arm is nicely packaged and well protected in the box and this increases the quality feel of the device. Build quality is certainly first-rate with the extruded aluminium arm having the look and feel of a quality piece of kit. The boom arm feels weighty and substantial and far removed from the tinny and lightweight budget rivals.

The C-clamp desk mount is an advance over most rivals as the pivot point of the base is positioned on the desk rather than to the side of it which aids stability and positioning. However, it does mean that a significant section of the desk is now occupied by the stand. An accessory to the mount is available in the USA that allows the pivot base to be positioned inside a hole drilled in the desk, but that is not a UK motion, sadly. One failing of the clamp is that the large adjustment handle is made from what seems to be a rather brittle and perhaps easily damaged plastic and due to the size of the handle it is likely to foul the sides of the desk.

The arm itself, which has a maximum horizontal reach of 32” and a maximum supported weight of 2.4lbs, feels silky smooth in operation and reinforces the upmarket high-end ambience of the device. The chunky size of the arm allows the microphone cable to routed through the groove that runs along the arm for that purpose. which looks far better than the external cabling used with most rival boom arms.

There are some issues to consider regarding the boom arm. Firstly, once again plastic has been used for the three tension adjustment knobs on the arm which I feel could be prone to damage or failure. Also, the grips on the knobs are rather small and hard to get a firm hold of, or at least, not as firm as I would like. Finally, this boom arm has been designed for use with heavy microphones such as Blue Microphone’s own Blue Yeti or the RØDE Microphones PodMic that I use myself. Smaller and lighter microphones may well cause the boom arm to drift or fail to remain in position and although there is an adjustment screw on the underside of the boom arm mount, this may well not do the trick for all microphones.

So there it is. This is a high-end boom arm designed and best suited for heavy microphones, with a quality and well engineered feel that is nevertheless not entirely free from problems. Many users may wish to look elsewhere before paying the £100+ price.

The Good
High End Build Quality
Concealed Cable
Fluid Movement
On Desk Axis Point
Good User Guide

The Bad
Poor Adjustment Knobs
Best With Heavy Mics
Expensive

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BlueDee Wireless Gaming Headset GH030

I have already tried the GH020 headset from BlueDee and this new one is basically the same but with the addition of Bluetooth and wireless dongle connection options.

The lightweight headset from BlueDee goes back to basics with no over the top irritating lights, vibration engines or other annoying and seldom used ‘features’. The headset lacks novelties and gimmicks and put the emphasis where it should be – on audio quality and wearability.

In the box can be found the headset, audio cable, charging cable, dongle, zip lock storage bag and a well written and easy to read User Guide. Unlike with the earlier version no cable splitter is included. Build quality seems fine and although the headset is quite lightweight nothing appears likely to fail anytime soon and it seems tough enough to last the course.

The headset is nicely made, seems robust and strong, and quite attractively designed compared to some gaming headsets I have tried – which is not saying much. It is very well padded with memory foam on the earcups, which are of the over-ear type and the headband. It is comfortable and easy to wear and is probably the most comfortable and immersive gaming headset I have yet used.

Unlike with the previous version all the controls can now be found on the headset itself, all on the same earcup. Looking from left to right are the audio jack port, USB-C charging port, power button, volume dial, microphone mute button. On the same earcup is the hard-wired microphone stalk.

The compact hard-wired microphone stalk is can be flipped up out of the way a full 120° and unlike with some I have tried the microphone audio is clear and easy to hear the other end. The microphone output quality is excellent and although not entirely free from background hum it has been kept to a minimum and will be no problem when gaming. Listen to my unprocessed test audio and I doubt you will hear it. The mic delivers full-range audio at a good volume. The mute button turns the mic off and on with a spoken audio confirmation message.

Perhaps the main selling point of this headset is the connection options available. It can be used as a conventional wired headset but also can be connected over Bluetooth 5 or using the included USB dongle over 2.4Ghz wireless. It is always best to connect using the audio cable to be sure of the best sound quality and a trouble-free connection but the wireless dongle offers a dedicated link that uses the minimum of system resources and Bluetooth using as it does the latest Bluetooth 5 protocols also offers a secure and lag free audio too. Changing modes is easy enough, just press the power button three times when the device is turned on to scroll through the modes with audio confirmations each time. Long press the power button to turn the headset on and off.

How does it sound?
The audio quality is excellent and punches above its weight for the budget price tag. 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 most gaming headsets this one is free from irritating and unnecessary ‘features’ such as LED lights and gaming engines. This headset puts audio quality first and foremost, which is how it should be.

This is a large and well-made set of headphones described as being for gamers but they are fine for general purpose listening with a full and rich sound not often found at this price. If you are looking for a well priced and comfortable headset for music, PC Gaming and general use then this would be a very worthwhile buy.

The Good
Good sound
Great price
Good build quality
Comfortable to wear
Audible Status Confirmation
Adjustable mic position
Passive noise reduction

The Bad
Non-Detachable Mic
No Audio/Mic Cable Splitter
No Branded Storage Bag

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Goofoto Mini Phone Tripod

There are a vast number of octopus style mini tripods but this one is better than most and at £15.99 will certainly not break the bank. It has more of a quality feel to it, more like a serious piece of kit rather than something bought from a market stall.

In the box were the tripod itself, phone mount, smartphone adapter, and a Bluetooth remote control. No user guide was included. Build quality seems fine and as good as you can expect for the price.

The sturdy tripod legs are fully flexible and completely waterproof with a tough anti-slip rubber skin, a big improvement on the plastic tiles too often used. The camera mount is a standard ball and socket type which will firmly hold any small to medium-sized camera or phone with a standard 1/4 inch mounting screw thread. There is no quick release plate here which is probably no bad thing as the small sized ones are usually poorly made and unstable. The included smartphone clamp takes phones between 2.2″ to 3.4″ wide and I was pleased to see the smartphone clamp has threads for horizontal and verticle mounting. The tripod can support weights up to 1500g, enough for a DSLR with a medium telephoto lens in place.

The octopus style legs can be bent and folded to almost any position to allow the tripod to be clamped to any object they can fold around. The legs can be quickly folded together to serve as a handgrip for a mounted camera. Due to their size, they are a little stiffer to use than some others but the rubber skin and thicker core ultimately give them a firmer grip when in place. The sealed skin on the legs means there is no danger of water getting inside, as often happens with lesser rivals. The inner core is made from aluminium alloy for strength and additional corrosion protection.

Included in the box is a small Bluetooth remote control unit with a power switch on the side and two control buttons on the front. It was quick and easy to pair to the two phones I tested it with, although all I could get it to do was to adjust the audio volume on the phones. Possibly the missing user guide might have helped but I could not get it to fire the shutter on either phone.

This is a well made mini tripod that comes with all the adapters you are likely to need and is a step up from the no-name budget rivals which cannot last the course. For the budget price seems a decent buy.

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GUCOPGO Rechargeable Hair Trimmer

Priced at £39.99 before discounts this is not the cheapest hair trimmer I have tried but it is one of the lightest in weight and most stylishly designed and presented. I have tested budget-priced hair clippers and although they all worked perfectly well they lacked the premium feel of this device.

In the minimalist and rather stylish product box was the trimmer itself, two clip-on comb cutting guides, a cleaning brush, USB power cable and a well written and easy to read User Guide. Annoyingly for the price, no storage case is included.

Weighing in at just 140g the trimmer feels light in the hand, but none the worse for that and feels well made and robust with a distinctly premium feel. There are no controls to worry about, there is just one large button on the front to turn the single-speed motor off and on.

The hair trimmer is powered by either the built-in 500mAh Li-Ion battery or directly by the USB charging cable. Take note that it uses a non-standard USB cable, so be sure not to lose it. In operation, the clippers are genuinely low noise and vibration free and despite this manage to cut neatly and well. The guide combs clip on and off quickly and easily and make it far easier to get a neat cut. The ceramic cutting blade easily removes for cleaning by pushing it forward and away from the trimmer body.

The trimmer is designed, we are told, for ‘below the waist’ areas but I see no reason why it cannot be used for general hair cutting and body hair removal. It seems powerful enough for general use and the included comb guides look very similar for those I have tried for barbershop use.

This is a cut above the rivals I have tried and I think worth the price difference. This has the feel of a quality piece of kit that I hope should last well.

The Good
Good Build Quality
Light Weight
Low Noise
Dual Power Options
2 Guide Combs

The Bad
Expensive
No Carry Case

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Running Bulls 60 LED Globe Fairy Lights

Priced at just £11.19 before discounts, this 30ft set of indoor/outdoor globe lights seem better made than most, built to last and hopefully will not need to be replaced every year. They have an attractive design with small transparent globes housing the 60 LED’s which are warm white and add a pleasant effect to the summer garden or home. The set I selected are warm white but multicoloured, cool white and blue versions are also available.

Presentation in an attractive and well-designed box is nice with inside the 9.1 m length LED string set with hard-wired battery/control box, USB cable, remote control and a well written if rather poorly printed User Guide. The little globes are very attractive and far better than bare LED’s and although made from some form of plastic or resin, they do look like they are made from glass. The globes themselves are spaced at intervals giving a total length of 9.1 m.

The lights can be powered either by 3 AA batteries or by plugging into any standard USB socket using the cable provided. The transparent cable matches the lighting string but has a non standard plug on the end end, so take care not to lose it.. It is a pity a normal USB cable cannot be used. When using the lights outdoors on battery power be sure to insert the grommet into the power socket on the battery case to prevent water getting in.

The lighting string is IP67 water-resistant, enough to keep it protected from everything including water immersion, but the power supply is not and so for outdoor use be sure that it is plugged into an indoor or weatherproof external socket. The globes themselves are spaced at intervals giving a total length of 9.1 m.

Controlling the item is easy enough and can be most easily done using the credit card sized remote control. The remote control can be used to set the timer, lighting pattern and 10 step brightness level and turn the device turned off. The single button on the power supply can also be used to control the lighting set: short press the button to scroll between the 8 lighting modes, long press for timer setting( 6h on/ 18h off).

Once in position, the warm white lighting set does look good, aided perhaps by the large size of the glass effect lighting globes. Certainly, when correctly positioned they can add some real style to your room, garden or patio. If you need a set of decent quality robust indoor/outdoor globe string lights then this would be a very decent buy.

The Good
Good Build Quality
Good Price
Remote Control
8 Operating Modes
Timer
10 Brightness Levels

The Bad
Power Supply Not Waterproof

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LHBD Cordless Electric Whisk

This compact sized lightweight rechargeable electric whisk is well made with a stylish design and presentation that belies the £19.99 price tag.

In the attractive presentation box are the handset, a short charging cable, a mixing head, whisk head, and a simple but well designed user guide in colour. Although the device is light in weight nevertheless it feels well made and tough enough to stay the distance, with the feel of a quality object.

The operation is simple enough. The device is charged through the micro-USB port on the base with status LEDs to confirm the charging state. The same LEDs confirm the selected power level which is controlled through the large operation button on the side where the thumb rests. Unlike with rivals devices which scrolls through the levels with each press, with this model press twice for the next level, press once to turn off. The unit is not silent in operation but even at the maximum 18000 rpm the noise is not excessive.

This device, which is a whisk rather than a mixer, is fine for milkshakes, souffles, light cake mixes or batters. The little motor is not designed for use with heavy cake mixtures, dry mixes or doughs. For the task for which it has been designed it works perfectly.

This little unit would be fine for youngsters in the kitchen, or the elderly, the disabled or those that lack the strength to use full-sized handheld mixers. It is nicely presented and has a quality feel to it and for the price is an excellent buy.,

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Comica CVM-V30 PRO Camera Shotgun Mic

I have tried several microphones from COMICA previously and this new active powered £59.69 Shotgun Mic maintains the high standard and does not disappoint.

In the box was the rather large shotgun microphone with a prefitted shock mount, foam pop filter (also prefitted), a large and impressive wind muff and a well written and easy to read user guide. All that you will need aside from the two AAA batteries required can be found in the box.

The other shotgun microphones I have used, including those from Comica, have all been metal but this one has a plastic casing probably due to keeping the weight down due to the large size of the microphone and the batteries needed to power it. The cable to the camera is hard wired, which is a pity, as it means the microphone has to be binned if the cable fails. That aside, build quality is first-rate and up to the usual Comica standard with the Wind Muff or deadcat filter being particularly impressive.

The microphone itself is larger than the other shotgun mics I have used which allows it to hold the two AAA batteries needed to power it. Because of this, the microphone needs to be switched on before use using the three-position turret switch on the rear with a green/red status LED to confirm. Push the power switch fully to the right to power on and enter the normal operating mode with the LED showing green. When the battery level runs low the mic will still operate but the LED shows red.

The microphone has the option to boost the output by 10dB when needed and this is done by moving the power switch to the middle position, the LED remains green.

To reduce traffic rumble and other low-frequency noise, the microphone has a low-cut filter that cuts out sound below an 80Hz threshold, and this can be controlled via the top switch on the rear of the mic. This works effectively but should be used with care as it can adversely affect voice recordings.

The foam pop filter is prefitted and although it can be removed it is best left permanently in place with the wind muff fitting over it.

The Wind Muff is large, well made and impressive. It can be a little tricky to fit the first time, just take care to ensure the mic is inserted the correct way to allow the top of the muff to be folded over the end of the mic with the mic control panel poking through the small aperture.

The Shock Mount fits the hot/cold shoe of your camera and reduces noise from camera movement or lens autofocusing. The shock mount also has a standard 1/4″ thread fitting to allow off-camera mounting tripod mounting

The sound quality is good with plenty of bass and plenty of volume too It has a super-cardioid Polar Pattern coverage but unlike with some shotgun mics, this is not adjustable. For most users, this would be fine as it will pick up sounds in a broad field in front of the mic. The frequency range of 40Hz- 20 kHz is better than on some rivals I have tried and well suited for speech and interview use with an extended high-end range.

This is a good quality microphone, well made and with all that most users will need except for a carry case, which is a pity.

This is a decent quality microphone for a very attractive price.

The Good
Good Build Quality
Good Audio Quality
Lo-Cut Filter
+10dB Boost
Excellent Wind Muff

The Bad
No Carry Case
Cheaper Rivals Available
Hard Wired Cable

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HASAGEI 350ml Travel Mug

This compact-sized 350ml drinking mug from HASAGEI arrived simply but adequately packaged in an almost plain white box. Inside was just the mug itself with nothing more required or included. Build quality seems fine, the mug is made from stainless steel with a dark red brushed metal finish and stainless steel inside. The base made from robust plastic with a non-slip finish. The plastic lid unscrews to give access to the interior and features an unusual and cleverly designed double hinged flap that folds out of the way when drinking and clips firmly shut the rest of the time.

Despite the flap folding completely out of the way I still found it rather awkward to drink from. The access hole, better described as a slot, for the contents is quite narrow and also some distance from the rim of the mug which makes locating it with the mouth and making a seal around it not very intuitive. That said, it does work and after some positioning, it works well enough.

As regards keep liquids warm or cool inside the closed mug it does a reasonable but not spectacular job. There is a marked temperature change over about six hours for both hot and cold water left in the closed mug at room temperature. Water at 83C went down to around 53C and cold water went from 17C to

The mug is well made and looks attractive, works reasonably well at maintaining a temperature although is rather awkward to drink from. Priced at £11.54 with a 500ml version on sale for just £12.43, it is not a bad buy but I suspect better alternatives are available.

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