PowerKing Architect Swing Arm Desk Lamp

We have probably all seen these traditional Architect Desktop Lamps before. Usually, good ones are expensive but here is one priced at just £21.99, but is it any good?

In the attractive display box, the lamp is shipped disassembled but it takes only a minute or two to attach the base and shade, both of which just click into position with no screws or clips. There is a choice of lamp bases. You can select the weighty standard round base which allows the lamp to positioned anywhere and moved around as needed. A desk lamp is also available which allows the lamp to be securely fixed to the edge of the desk which makes for a firmer base without taking up any desk space at the price of limiting the movement of the lamp. The lamp takes an E27 bulb with a maximum of 7w for an LED and 40w for an old style bulb. It is a pity the more common B22 bayonet bulb was not used and a pity too that a standard UK plug was not fitted to the 51-inch cable instead of the two pin USA style, although the lamp works fine with the UK 240 mains supply.

Build quality and construction seems fine with the lampstand and shade being made from metal albeit with an attractive black silk finish that looks like it may be prone to scratches.

Using and positioning the three joint 18-inch reach lamp is a dream. It can be put into almost any angle without falling over, although it is best to hold the base when moving the light, and of course, when the clamp is used single handed positioning is easily done. Once set up the lamp is stable and show no sign of moving out of place. There is a thumb key to select and lock the angle of the lampshade.

If you need a retro look desktop lamp that is well made and versatile but will not break the bank this could be a good choice.

The Good
Great price
Dual base
Base/screw mount
Good build quality
Attractive packaging

The Bad
Two pin plug
E27 bulb

More info and purchase

Lekebaby Baby Nappy Changing Backpack Bag with Changing Mat

When we venture forth with a baby it is good to know that everything needed to keep the youngster clean, changed and refreshed is on hand and that the baby is taken care of when out and about with the minimum of fuss and bother. Priced at a penny under £40 this new changing bag from Lekebaby ticks all the boxes for me.

The bag arrived simply packed in a protective plastic bag with no other packaging aside from that supplied by Amazon. This is a missed opportunity as attractive packaging can greatly enhance the appeal of an item as a gift.

Ther bag itself is 21cm x34 x42cm and has a capacity of 26Litres. It has nineteen pockets including a side tissue pocket, two quick access insulated bottle pockets and a waterproof pocket for soiled nappies. It comes with a pair of stroller straps to attach the bag securely to a stroller or pram and 60cm x 30cm waterproof changing mat. The bag has both a carry handle and shoulder straps

The key feature for me is the accessibility. The top of the bag opens out completely to give easy access to the contents. There are several ways to reach inside the bag without needing to open the top. Inside the bag, there are a host of pouches of varying sizes, some elasticated, to store necessities in and outside an easy access tissue holder.

Build quality and construction seems fine to me. The bag seems well built and robust enough to take the knocks and bumps of everyday life. The bag is made from a grey arrow themed fabric with strong metal zippers and non-fray stitching. From the outside, it just resembles a normal shopping bag and indeed could be used for that purpose too.

This is a cleverly designed and well-made baby bag and at the current price is a very attractive buy.

The Good
Good build quality
Good price
Large capacity
Multiple pockets
Removeable changing mat
Easy access pockets

The Bad
Poor presentation

More info and purchase

TYCKA Ultra-thin Portable 104 Led Video Light EU-TK202

I have already used other LED lighting panels from TYCKA and have been impressed by the quality. I was happy to buy this new lightweight slimline unit which will fit more easily into my camera bag when on the road.

I make a fair number of videos of this sort and getting the light balanced correctly can often be a problem. This budget-priced compact sized LED light panel may be just what I need.

Inside the plain but robust box was the light panel itself, a 2200mAh Li-ion battery with charger and USB cable, camera cold shoe mount, threaded 1/4 tripod mount, User Guide. I include a scan of the User Guide on my unboxing video. All the items seem robust and well made and I would not expect anything to break or snap anytime soon.

Using the device is easy enough but first, it needs to be charged using the supplied charging unit which takes just a couple of hours and will give several hours of use depending on how the light levels are set. I was pleased to see the 7.2v battery is a widely used standard type which can be easily replaced for around £20 each. One drawback is that unlike with my older model this one does not have a power socket to allow an external power supply to be used.

Once the battery is fitted and the device turned on using the rear mounted controls it is simple enough to operate. One rotary dial controls the colour temperature which ranges from a warm 3000K – to an almost daylight 6000K, the other rotary control determines the light output which at full power is very bright indeed for the size of the panel. I note that the colour temperature range of this model is wider than of my older unit. Unlike with the old model, this one has a plain white lighting panel with no LEDs visible which should give a softer light free from catchlights.

The supplied mounts allow the light to be positioned on the standard Hot Shoe mount found on most professional semi-pro cameras with the option to mount on a standard tripod mount or on a small self-supporting base. The unit is quite heavy and so it will need a secure mount or tripod to hold it firmly.

This is an excellent little unit and would be perfect for those making home studio videos or as a fill light when shooting outdoors. The direct light can be a bit harsh and so a reflector or diffuser would be needed for best results. For the current price of just £31.49, this should be in any gadget bag of any photographer or videographer.

The Good
Good price
Good build quality
Non-proprietory battery
Batteries widely available
Wide colour temperature range

The Bad
No Mains power option
No carry case

More info and purchase

NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 MR1100 LTE Mobile Router

I have used several Netgear mobile routers in the past, the last one I used before this being the NETGEAR AC790-100EUS Aircard Wi-Fi Mobile Broadband Hotspot. This new model, NETGEAR MR1100, is a significant advance over the earlier models but at £299 is more than twice the price and this may be a step too far for most potential users.

In the attractive upmarket box was the router itself, Removable 5040mAh Lithium Ion Battery, UK/EU Mains Charger and USB Type-C cable, User Guide. The router is larger and heavier than the previous models, is square in shape with rounded edges and about the size of a small home router. On the front is a large colour LCD information screen and on one side are sockets for Ethernet, USB-C and USB 2 and TS-9 external antennas. Inside are micro SIM and Micro-USB card slots. Build quality is first rate as can be expected from Netgear.

Setting the device up is easy enough although inserting the tiny SIM card be a little tricky. When powering the device on and connecting to the User Interface with your computer a walkthrough guide makes this straightforward enough. My tests with three MVNO cards, TalkTalk, ASDA and FreedomPop all worked well although it may be necessary to select the MVNO parent (ie Vodafone for TalkTalk) from the options offered although it will soon display the correct name. The device can be controlled and configured through the Netgear Genie app for Android and iOS.

This router offers a maximum speed of CAT16 1Gbps downstream and 150MB upstream but I was unable to get anywhere near this due to the limitations of my mobile network. Few users will be able to find a connection fast enough to fully utilise the potential of this device. It can connect up to twenty devices to the network it generates and offers Gigabit LAN with full Dual-Band/Dual-Concurrent WiFi at 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz and 802.11 a/n/ac 5GHz. It also has a built-in NAS feature so you can stream your downloaded movies and music from the internal SD card or external USB device. You can also use it as a power bank to charge external devices from the USB port. All this may test the battery but I got a full day of normal use from it. Expect less when streaming video or powering external devices.

This is a superb device but if all you need is a mobile hotspot you can carry around with you it may be more than you need.

The Good
High-speed connections
Good User Interface
Great Build quality
Easy to configure
Good battery life
NAS feature
Powerbank feature
Up to 20 devices may connect

The Bad
Large size
May offer more than many users need

More info and purchase

Jomst Professional USB Condenser Microphone

At just £25.99 you cannot really expect too much, and certainly this is no Sennheiser but in fact and for the price, this is not a bad little microphone.

In the simple, plain but robust product box was the microphone itself, mini-tripod stand, pop filter, splatter guard with projecting mount, microphone cradle, spare cradle securing band, and a well written but poorly printed User guide. Build quality seems fine for the price. The microphone and tripod are made of metal rather than plastic and both seem well made and robust. The microphone has a USB interface with a hard-wired 3.3ft cable. The microphone is quite small in size but big enough for handheld use, but when positioned in the stand sits neatly on the office desk.

Setting it up is simple enough, is well explained in the User Guide and in fact is exactly the same as with any other USB mic. No additional drivers were needed or installed on my Windows 10 machine. Assembling the stand can be a little tricky at first. At the front and back of the mic cradle, through which the mic is positioned are elastic bands forming a mesh. You have to push the mic through the front and rear mesh to secure it. This is a fiddly job but once done does suspend the mic free from the stand itself to protect it from vibration. The optional splatter guard is held in front of the mic using the metal mount which is held in place by screws on top of the mic cage to allow it to be positioned as needed.

The microphone works well with decent sound quality for the price and a no significant background hum or interference. If better audio quality is needed or for high-end music recording then expect to pay much more. For Skype, blogs and Youtube this budget microphone should be fine.

If you need a small and neat mic for Skype or other uses with your desktop PC and appreciate the unusual and stylish design this might be for you.

The Good
Great price
Good build quality
Good audio quality
Good User Guide

The Bad
No carry bag
Hardwired cable
Assembly mic stand and cage can be fiddly

More info and purchase


Running Android 7.1.2 and with 3GB of Ram and 32GB of storage at one time a box as well specced as this one would have sold for £100+ and so at £69.99 this new box from TICTID seems a particularly good buy.

Inside the rather attractive product box was the TV Box itself, a UK power adaptor, medium sized remote control, HDMI cable, and a User Guide. The build quality seems fine and this model is a very typical TV box in this respect. The User Guide is rather better printed than usual but contains little more than how to connect the box up. I enclose a scanned copy of it on the end of my unboxing video. Switch to full screen and pause to read it.

Like all TV Boxes, this is basically an Android phone without the mobile phone capabilities optimised for use a media player for local and internet files. A range of applications are pre-installed and others are available from the Android Play store

A decent but by no means a generous range of ports are available for playing local files and additional equipment. It has two USB, TF card, HDMI, SPDIF, Ethernet and power in. It features an Amlogic Octa core A53 Processor running at 2Ghz CPU, which is more than powerful enough for a TV box.It comes with 3GB RAM, and with 32GB of storage, both double the standard capacity. That said, I must also say that in use I have found very little difference between any TV boxes once up and running. This one works nice and fast with an easy to navigate onscreen menu system and seems stable and robust enough in use. It uses the Android 7.1 Operating System, the most recent I have seen on any Android TV. Although Android 8 has just been launched it is yet to appear on any TV Box.

Thanks to the two USB ports third-party memory sticks, keyboards and mice can be used to make navigating the User Interface faster and easier, although the built-in pop-up keyboard and remote control will suffice. The supplied handset is fine but some users may wish to invest in a wireless keypad to give the full range of keys and a built-in mini touchpad. The device also sports Bluetooth 4 connectivity and so wireless keypads and other devices also be attached that way.

The only real task is in setting the device up is to connect to your home network and it has both wifi and Ethernet options available. It supports both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz wifi as well as high-speed Gigabit Ethernet. If you are familiar with Android then configuring the unit is very simple, non-Android users may find this more difficult. Once connected to your home network to get the best from this device you should login to your Google account, so apps can be installed from the Google Play website, Gmail and YouTube will be auto-configured at the same time.

There are a variety of applications pre-installed, some useful and some not, but with time you may discover that like me you find that everything can be done with the pre-installed apps. Without leaving the pre-installed media app I can view memory card files, files on all of my three NAS devices, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime. The app will also index and download subtitles, synopsis, song lyrics and images for all your home media files so when you browse your library this information is presented to you. It can be a bit flaky to use and external channels will appear and then vanish without warning so you need to keep on top of it.

The on-screen menus are attractive and easy to use and the faster processor and above average amount of RAM makes moving around fast and easy. However, once inside the media player this box feels pretty much as they all do.

This is a high-quality TV streamer but as with all Android TVs, there is a learning curve to get the best from it. It has many attractive features and for me the only drawback is it having just two USB ports rather than the four often found on many boxes.

The Good
32GB Storage
Many essential apps pre-installed
Good build quality
TF card slot
Gigabit LAN
Dual band wifi
Bluetooth 4.1
4K support
Android 7.1.2
LCD Screen

The Bad
Can be challenging for new users
No handset batteries supplied
Limited User Guide
Only two USB ports

More info and purchase

QACA Dancing Flames LED Candles 5 Pack Set

There are plenty of LED candle sets available of various types but this one combines the features of the rest for a very reasonable price of just £39.99.

The set arrived simply but securely packed in a plain box. This saves money and is good for the planet but restricts the appeal of the product as a gift. Inside the box are five candles, each with a diameter of 8cm and varying in height from 20cm to 10cm. Each candle is powered by three AAA batteries (not included) and has an Off/On switch the base. The candles are controlled by a credit card sized remote control unit. The candles are made of real wax but are supplied with a plastic protective skin which needs to be removed before use. Unlike lesser rivals which are purely electronic in operation, these candles feature a physical artificial flame which moves realistically in a way LED only lights cannot match.

Operating the candles is simple enough and using the remote they can be switched between Candle (flickering) and Light (Steady) modes. They can also be dimmed to the level needed and a timer mode selected which offers running times of two, four, six or eight hours.

The candles are powered by three AAA batteries and although some users might prefer a built-in rechargeable battery the use of normal batteries means the lights will not have to be discarded in time when the rechargeable batteries fail. Of course, the user has the option to fit their own AAA rechargeable batteries to get the best of both worlds. These candles should last to up to 50,000 hours of use before the LED elements pack in.

If you need an elegant and sophisticated candle lighting set then these would be a great buy

The Good
Realistic candle effect
Real Wax candles
Remote control
Two lighting modes

The Bad
Poor presentation
No batteries included
Uses normal batteries.

More info and purchase