VWRHar 4K Bidirectional HDMI Splitter/Switch

This deceptively simple little device allows one screen to be shared by two source devices or one source device to switch between two screens. In my tests, I used it two switch my Roku box from one monitor to another and to switch between the Roku Box and a PC on a single monitor. It will work with any HDMI enabled device and supports replay rates of up to 4K@60Hz. No power supply is needed, this is an entirely stand-alone device.

In the tiny branded packing box are just the switch device itself and a simple user guide. No cables or other items are included. The switch box itself is made from metal with two HD ports on one side and one on the other. On top is the switching button which is physical with good positive action with LEDs next to it to confirm the selection.

It could not be simpler to use. Once everything is connected up just press the button to switch between monitors or source devices depending on how it is configured. There is nothing to go wrong, nothing to adjust, it just plugs in and works. Remember this is a switch rather than a true splitter and you cannot use the two connected screens simultaneously.

The switcher will support 4k source devices up to 4K x 2K @60Hz and a range of other resolutions and file types including Blu-ray, DVD24/50/60fps/HD-DVD/xvYcc at 480i, 576i, 720i, 720p, 1080i, 1080p, and 2160p. Audio formats supported include LPCM7.1, Dolby-AC3, DTS, DSD, Dolby-TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio.

A user guide is included but most users will not need it, this is a true plug ‘n play device and should work straight from the box with almost any commonly found video or audio device. If it supports HDMI then it should work with this.

In all my tests it worked fine with no lag or frame drops and since this is essentially a simple switch there is no reason to expect any. There is a slight delay when switching sources, as to be expected, and a slight delay when reframing the display on one monitor which suspect is down to the monitor I used

There are more expensive rivals available that look better and offer remote control, but if all you want is a basic plug and forget switcher then you will have to go a long way to find a better one than this for the £8.79 price.

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RØDE Microphones MagClip GO

You do not physically get much for your £15 but yet it is one of the most useful add-ons I have for my video recording work. This little set allows you to conceal the rather bulky RØDE Go transmitter and microphone combo under clothing when recording audio.

In the box is just the metal clip and magnet set with no user guide included or needed. The ‎RØDE logo is on the clip and the magnet is plain with a matt black finish. Build quality is excellent, as to be expected from RØDE and so it should be for the price and the simple nature of the product.

The RØDE Wireless GO is a wireless microphone set consisting of a transmitter with a built-in microphone that clips to your clothing or any convenient object and a receiver unit that attaches to the camera cold shoe mount. Although small in size the transmitter unit with the prominent RØDE logo is still very noticeable when in position on close or medium distance shots. This set allows the receiver to be positioned inside the clothing with just the small and discreet magnet on the outside.

To use simply attach the metal clip, which has the RØDE logo on it, to the plastic clip of the transmitter. Once in place, it can be left there permanently as the plastic clip functions as normal with it in place. Position the transmitter inside the top layer of clothing with the microphone pointing up and towards the mouth and then place the magnet on the outside of the clothing in line with the clip to secure it in place. I have had no problems with it falling off or working loose and can it seems secure and stable when walking or running.

There are no problems with the product, it works well and as described. Although £15 is not much money and one level well worth it for the functionality it offers, I feel this should really be part of the microphone set. I would suggest that the next version be supplied with a built-in metal clip as standard and the magnet included in the box.

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BoYata Adjustable Laptop Stand

This well designed and compact sized Z style laptop stand from BoYata is not inexpensive at £29.99, but it is always worth paying a bit more for premium quality. Made from premium gauge Aluminium alloy it should give stylish support to any laptop between 7 to 14 inches., especially Macs, with which the silver brushed metal finish complements. This is the smaller and lighter brother of other laptops stands in the BoYata range and is better suited to smaller sized laptops and tablets.

In the box is just the laptop stand itself with nothing else needed or included. Made from aluminium alloy with silicone anti-slip protective pads on the base and supporting plate along with retaining lugs on the front, the stand looks and feels like a quality piece of kit. The joints are stiff and hard to set, as they should be, but move smooth and silkily and once in position do not slip, wobble, or feel like they will ever need tightening. Should the joints loosen over time, and there is no indication that they will, I can see no way of tightening them. The base is well weighted and even when the laptop is at full elevation it feels stable and secure.

Using it is obvious and intuitive, the only point to mention is to be sure to open and adjust the stand from the centre to avoid putting undue strain or skewing to any single joint. No adjusting Allen key is provided, unlike with some stands, and there are no slots to fit it to but with this lighter weight stand this should not be necessary.

Priced as it is, this is not a cheap item, but it has a build quality and premier feel that the cheaper rivals certainly lack. I would have liked to have received a soft carry bag to protect other items when carried together, but that is no deal-breaker.

This is a quality piece of kit with a high end feel to it and will be a fine addition to your home office.

The Good
Robust Build Quality
Stylish Design
Stable at Full Extension

The Bad
Cheaper Rivals Available
No Carry Bag

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Logitech MX Keys Illuminated Wireless Keyboard

When my old wireless keyboard packed in and I discovered it was no longer available I needed to look around for another. By this time I had also acquired an M1 Mac Mini and a Logitech MX Master 3 For Mac wireless mouse and so it seemed to make sense to look for a compatible wireless keyboard to go with it. The MX Master mouse works just as well on my Windows 10 PC and so it made sense to find a keyboard that worked equally well on my Mac. The MX Keys is by no means the cheapest option available and cost nearly three times the price of my old backlit wireless keyboard with at first sight few advantages. I bought it for £76 but the prices fluctuate wildly and at the time of writing is priced at £95.24 on Amazon.

In the box is the keyboard itself, the dongle, a USB-C charging cable and a large amount of useless na dirrelevant paperwork.

The MX Keys can connect to up to three computers and can do so either using Bluetooth or with the included 2.4Ghz dongle. I decided to use the dongle to connect to my PC and Bluetooth to the Mac. Switching between them is simple using the three dedicated selection keys, just a touch instantly and seamlessly changes from one computer to another each with separate custom keyboard configurations using the excellent Logitech control software. The MX Keys can be used with either Windows or Mac and has dual markings on some keys to allow for this. Setup on the surface is easy enough but I had to struggle a bit to pair it to my Mac but since then it has been entirely trouble-free and connects automatically on startup or when using the keyboard selector. There was no trouble at all when setting up the dongle connection to my PC.

The keyboard is battery powered with a built-in Lithium Polymer cell charged using the USB-C port with a status LED to confirm charging and for low battery alerts. The keyboard can be used perfectly normally when charging if needed. It takes a couple of hours to charge it and one charge should give up to ten days or regular use with the backlight on.

The keyboard is very nice to use with good positive action and very decent key travel. There are audible and visual alerts for caps and numbers lock and for low battery status. There are no rear legs to change the keyboard angle but this is perhaps no bad thing as there is nothing there to break with the slight address angle produced directly from the rear lip of the keyboard base. Perhaps the most interesting feature is the proximity sensor built into the keyboard which turns the backlighting on when it detects a finger about a centimetre away from the keyboard and off again when typing finishes. This works well and has given me no trouble whatsoever which is just as well as I find the keyboard markings themselves to be rather dim and hard to see in low light. The backlighting can be switched off through the Logitech software.

In short, I have to say the keyboard has worked flawlessly every time for me with great battery life and is probably the best wireless keyboard I have used. However, it is not without issues, There is a large amount of paperwork included but no actual user guide and this has to be downloaded via the rather hard to navigate Logitech website. More importantly, there is nowhere on the keyboard itself to store the small and easily lost dongle, a nuisance for those who connect only using Bluetooth.

This is a great keyboard although entirely free of issues, that works well but is expensive with cheaper rivals available.

The Good
Good Build Quality
Good Typing Experience
Supports 3 Computers
Bluetooth or Wireless Connection
Windows/Mac Compatible
Good Configuration Software
Excellent Backlighting
Integrates With Other Logitech Products

The Bad
Poor Documentation
Hard to Use Without Backlighting
No Dongle Storage Option
Expensive

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MAONO AU-PM461S USB Microphone Kit

If you are an aspiring podcaster or YouTuber this new self-contained kit has all you need to get you started.

For £45.99 you get a complete studio microphone kit consisting of a USB microphone, USB cable, desk mounted boom arm stand, shock mount, a clip-on pop filter, all nicely presented together with a well written and informative user guide. I have tried similar kits before and although they have all been good value for money few had a microphone and feature set equal to the one included here.

The kit all seems well made and robust enough for daily use. The mic body and grill are made from plastic but it feels robust enough and the light weight should prevent undue strain on the boom arm mechanism. The mic USB cable is tough and robust and at 1.5m long enough for desktop use. The boom arm is of metal construction and works well although is slightly shorter in length than professional level rivals. It is nice to have the splatter guard pop filter included, as most kits leave this out, and this one is designed to clip directly onto the shock mount, so need for the flimsy and easily lost rubber bands used by some rivals. The included plastic shock mount is made from plastic but works well and has been designed to work as one unit with the microphone and pop filter,

This microphone has a standard USB 2.0 plug and should work straight from the box with most computers and similar devices, no preamp, phantom power adapter or drivers needed. Unusually for this price point, the microphone has a gain control dial on the front with a useful halfway notch.

The whole mic assembly works well, the lightweight boom arm is smooth and easy to use with no noise or wobble and once in place stays where it is without drooping or spring back. The pop filter is metal with just a single grill but works well enough and protects the mic from splatter.

Sound quality, the most important factor with any kit of this sort, is excellent and is better by far than I was expecting with decent audio quality and almost no noise, The mic has a cardioid input pattern so remember to talk into the front side of the mic above the logo, not into the end or other side. The gain control is very handy for getting the audio level right before recording, a task which usually has to be done on the mixer or in the recording software.

The boom arm, shock mount and pop filter are of decent but not outstanding quality but the mic is excellent and worth buying the kit for alone. If you are a YouTuber, podcaster or singer seeking to move up a notch and set up a home studio then you could do much worse than start off with this well specified, well made and well-priced kit.

The Good
Great Price
Good Build Quality
USB Interface
No Drivers Needed
Easy Fit Pop Filter
No Phantom Power Needed

The Bad
No Mic Carry Case
Single Layer Pop Filter
Many Rivals Available

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DeTake Disco Party Light

Rebadged and relaunched this deceptively simple budget-priced party lamp may be just what is needed to enliven your child’s party or even just their bedroom.

In the attractive mid-market box you get the disco light itself, USB cable, suction mount, remote control, an adjustable wall/ceiling mount and a well written and easy to read if rather a small User Guide. I enclose a copy of the User Guide in my unboxing video.

The light and mounts are made of plastic and this is where the budget price has to be paid as more costly rivals of similar design are made of metal. The remote control is quite small but the buttons are well marked and have a positive feel to them. Although made of plastic and quite lightweight my unit has shown no signs of packing in but who knows how it will be after use at a few parties. The unit can be connected to a power bank for easy use outdoors, a 10,000 mAh power bank should give around ten hours of use. However, don’t be tempted to use this outside if there is any hint of rain, as this device is not water-resistant.

Operating is easy enough. Just plug in – there is no Off/On switch – select the mode and features you want from the remote, and there you go. The supplied USB power cable is quite generous at 4m but extension cables are easily available as are Powerbanks which can also be used to power this device. Although the device is powered by USB it is a pity a non-standard cable was used, so take care not to lose it.

The remote allows you to select seven lighting colours (R,G,B, RG.RB,GB, Scrolling), and three modes ( Audio Triggered, Strobe, Auto Scroll) The music control mode is determined by the internal microphone which causes the lights to pulse in time with the music.

The lighting effects are very effective and would be perfect to give atmosphere to a party or small disco. The £9.99 price for a sophisticated remote controlled unit such as this is very good indeed although for long term or professional use a more expensive and more robust unit might be better.

The Good
Great price
Dramatic Lighting Effects
Several Lighting Modes
Remote control
Good User Guide
Good Audio Trigger
USB Powered

The Bad
Lightweight build
Not Water Resistant
No power switch
Non-Standard USB Plug

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eppfun Wireless Earbuds LS002

Priced at just £29.99 this IPX6 water resistant headset is light in weight and compact in size and perhaps designed with the sports and exercise market in mind.

In the mid-market box was the headset itself with earbuds in place, two additional different sized gel sets, a short charging cable and a small but useful User Guide. Build quality is lightweight but with a quality and upmarket feel to it. Nothing seems likely to fail, go wrong or drop off any time soon.

There are several new and interesting features with this headset, The case has an unusual circular design with a row of tiny status LEDs along the front and a USB-C charging port on the rear. The case has a wireless charging base, just put the case down onto any standard wireless charger and the case and earbuds within will begin charging.

The lightweight case, a design feature I feel rather than a failing, is small and neat and can easily slip into a pocket and should give at least 18 hours of top up music time to the earbuds, which on their own should play for up to 6 hours from a single charge. There are status LEDs on the case and earbuds to indicate charging and battery status. The earbuds, incidentally, can be used as a pair in the normal way or separately in mono mode. Unlike with older bud sets, there are no Master and Slave buds here.

Sound quality is excellent despite the small size and the Bluetooth connection is fast and stable due to the use of Bluetooth 5 connectivity. There is good deep bass, clear and well defined mid-tones and treble that is clear and distinct but not harsh or hissy. Each bud has a single touch button that can be used to raise and lower volume, music track control, answer or reject calls and invoke your selected digital assistant.

Although it can be used for general listening I think this set will be perfect for runners, walkers or athletes as the buds are small, light and comfortable for sustained use as well as being IP6 waterproof. The case too is small and light enough to be tucked into a running belt to top the buds up during a long run.

For the budget price, sound quality and range of features this headset is well worth a listen.

The Good
Good Price
Good Sound Quality
Compact Size
Light Weight
USB-C Charging
Wireless Charging

The Bad
Plastic Charging Case

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BlueDee Gaming Headset GH020

This new lightweight gaming headset from BlueDee goes back to basics with a standard audio jack and no over the top irritating lights or vibration engines. 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 splitter, and User Guide. Build quality seems fine and although the headset is quite lightweight nothing seems 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 on both 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. The headset has a traditional 3.5mm plug but an adapter is included to split the signal when separate audio in and audio out feeds are needed. The braided audio cable is slightly longer than normal at 1.6 m and sports a large and easy to use In-Line Control Box with a microphone mute switch and audio volume thumbwheel.

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.

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.

How does it sound?
The audio quality is excellent and punches above its weight for the $39.99 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.

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 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
Audio/Mic Splitter
Adjustable mic position
Passive noise reduction

The Bad
Non-Detachable Mic
No Branded Storage Bag

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eppfun Wireless Earbuds LS003

eppfun are a company new to me but this new headset makes them a name to look for in the future. Priced at £59.99 they are not inexpensive but they do have a premium feel to them and a feature set worthy of nthe price.

There used to be a time when you had to pay plenty to get decent quality True Wireless Earbuds but the introduction of Bluetooth 5.0 seems to have changed all that. Before Bluetooth 5.0 all but the most expensive True Wireless earbuds would continually drop out, crackle, pop and generally prove more trouble than they were worth. As technology develops each pair is better than the last and this new set is one of the best I have tried for under £100 and boasts the very latest Bluetooth 5.2, USB-C Charging as well as CVC 8.0 noise reduction and the state of the art aptX HD audio codec.

In the rather mid-range product box were the two buds together with a very upmarket feeling slimline aluminium alloy charging case, a short USB charging cable, and a well written but small User Guide. Everything has a distinctly premium and upmarket feel to it with the first-rate build quality of the overpriced high end rivals.

First time pairing could not be simpler and took just a few seconds. Subsequently, taking the buds from the case powers them on, and connects them to each other and the phone automatically, returning them to the case turns them off and begins charging. The smaller than average case can recharge the buds at least 5 times from a two hour charge with a 15 minute top up giving around two hours of music. There are LED’s on each bud to show charging and connection status. I was pleased to see the latest USB-C port has been used for charging although this has been awkwardly positioned on the rear of the case. Unlike with many smooth-skinned rivals, these buds are easy to remove from the case, for me a major selling point.

These earbuds use the latest Bluetooth 5.2 technology which is currently only supported by the latest high-end smartphones but of course, they will also work with older Bluetooth devices. Bluetooth 5 adds a longer range and greatly improves both the stability of the wireless connection and battery life. The buds can be used as a pair in the usual way or separately for mono listening.

The buds are small, neat and comfortable to wear and will deliver up to six hours of music per charge. Sound quality is excellent for a TW headset with a very decent level of bass together with clean mid-tones and a sibilance free high end. The buds have the new aptX HD audio codec for enhanced music and call quality and thanks to the use of Bluetooth 5 with a stable and firm reception. They are rated as IPX5 water-resistant which means they should be OK in the rain but do not immerse them in water.

Calls were clear to hear and easy to make. The headset can accept or reject incoming calls and end them. Call quality was fine at each end of the conversation with no dropouts or excessive background noise.
Each bud has a single soft touch button on it which can be used to end/reject calls, play/pause music, navigate tracks, alter volume and invoke your phone’s voice assistant. This works well and is easy to use.

For the price, this headset compares very well with the high-end rivals I have tried as regards sound quality and features. Indeed, you would have to go a long way to find a better True Wireless Headset at any price.

The Good
Lightweight and Compact
Comfortable
Good audio quality
Good Build Quality
Auto On/Off
Great battery life
Bluetooth 5.2
Magnetic Case
Apt-X HD Codec
IPX 5 Water Resistant

The Bad
Awkward Charging

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Yuyio HC300 Wildlife Camera

This newly rebadged camera may be known to you as the Victure HC300 but the change of name has now changed the quality of this excellent mid range trail camera.

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.

The camera, still in the old Victure packaging, arrived in an attractive mid-market product box inside of which was the camera itself, metal floor/surface mount with screw fittings, retaining tree mount strap, micro-USB to USB cable, 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, very well printed and in understandable English and is one the best I have ever seen for any trail cam.

The camera takes eight AA batteries, a lot but it 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 several months. The batteries are housed in a compartment in the main body of the unit. It has the option to use an external 6v/1.5A power supply (not supplied). On the front of the device are the lens, light sensor, motion sensor LED, 38 no-glow LED infrared panel, wide-angled motion sensor. On the side are clips to secure the front and rear sections of the camera. When these clips are released the front of the device opens out on a hinge. On the underside is an easy access clip to gain access to the battery compartment, and this can be done without needing to open the camera main door or remove it from the mount. On the underside also is a metal tripod screw, an external power supply input and a USB port. On the rear are loops for the mounting belt.

When the door is opened on the inside of the front face is a colour LCD screen, with backlit navigation buttons alongside. Below is a three-way turret switch for Off/TEST/ON. On the side of the inside front face is a full-sized card slot (for cards up to 32GB), The use of a full-sized SD card is a major improvement and will make life much easier when using gloved hands in the winter. The camera has an IP66 rating, which means the camera is protected against dust and strong water jets and so should be fine left outdoor for extended periods.

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 and sensors and screen, set the turret switch to the Test mode and press the MENU button. Test Mode turns the camera on but disables the motion sensor. You can now set the image and video resolutions, video recording lengths and other parameters such as time stamping, time-lapse, scheduling 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 front and side sensors and the device can help you with these using visual indications of when you are in range during setup. Remember to insert an SD card first and to format it using the camera software before use.

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. Image quality is excellent for both Video and stills with 20MP still images and decent quality FHD video at a rather disappointing 15fps.

Take time when positioning the camera as 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 a very rapid 0.3 when recording wildlife try and position the camera so the subject approaches the camera and not across it. 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. Professionals might look to pay than the £59.99 asked here for even higher quality and improved build quality for needed extended field use.

The Good
Great price
Good image quality
Good build quality
Simultaneous stills and video option
Scheduling
No-Glow LEDs
Excellent User Guide
Audio recording option
Full-size SD card
IP66 Water/Dustproof

The Bad
Heavy battery drain when used intensively
32GB maximum card
Slow Frame Rate

More Info and Purchase