Anstar 1080p Dash Cam

 

 

At one time you could not get a good quality car dashcam for under £150 but now prices seem to be in freefall as more and better specified new models come on the market. With a current Amazon price of just £79.99, this has to be one of the least expensive dual camera dashcams available and by far the best I have yet tried.  There are cheaper more basic cameras available is this one worth paying more for?

Packaged in a large and robust mid-market product box aside from the front camera there is also the small rear camera and cable set, short micro USB cable, car power adaptor, rubber mirror mount straps, rear camera mount set, and User Guide. The User Guide, unlike most, was very well printed, easy to read and informative. There is also a black plastic backplate for the front camera assembly, I am not sure what it does but it may be connected in some way with an external GPS option. I include a scan of selected pages from the User Guide at the end of my unboxing video, switch to full screen and pause as needed to read it. Unlike with some more expensive rivals, there was no SD card and the user must supply their own.

Most dashcams are single camera units but this system is supplied with a second small waterproof camera that is attached by cable to the front camera and can be positioned in the back window or above the rear licence plate to continuously record activity behind the car in addition to the forward picture recorded by the main camera.  The video from the rear cam can be viewed on and is recorded by the front camera. The front camera has a 140-degree angle of view according to the User Guide (although the Amazon listing claims 170) and records at either 1080p or 720p at 30fps. The rear camera records at 720p@25fps. I was pleased to see there is no built-in LED nightlight. Such lights are worse than useless and always reflect off the windscreen making the picture impossible to see.

Fixing the camera to the mirror on my Toyota Aygo was easy enough and the cables were easily long enough for both cameras. The front camera is built into an extra large mirror which clips over the existing rear view mirror with the 9.35″ LCD screen incorporated into it. The front camera has a turret mount which can be rotated to give the best viewing angle and slid in and out from the side of the mirror. Fitting the second camera was more of a chore as the cable has to be wound through the car from front to back but once it is done there should be no need to adjust it again. The rear camera is optional as the main camera will work perfectly well without it. If you wish to use it as an automatic reversing camera then you need to take a power feed from the reversing light to the red wire in the rear camera assembly. This is optional as the rear camera takes power from the front and records continuously. Personally, I will just stick to the front camera.

Setting up could not be easier as it can all be done on the huge LCD touch screen. This screen occupies the full mirror surface and not just a central smaller insert with lesser rivals. Just swipe the screen to instantly change from front to rear camera feeds and touch the onscreen buttons to view or delete records as well as to access settings. Due to the size and ease of use of the screen, you can do all you need to do inside the car with no need to use an external computer to configure the device or view and edit files. There is just one physical button which is used to turn the camera off and on to toggle the screen off and on. When the screen is off the mirror functions exactly as a normal rear view mirror.

I found the image quality to be one excellent for a camera in this price range although in low light conditions the image quality dropped somewhat. I include some driving footage on my unboxing video but bear in mind that Amazon compress the video greatly and so it can serve only to show the brightness and clarity of the video rather than the resolution. Unlike with some cheaper rivals, this camera offers full 1080p front-facing video at all times and does not default down when the second camera is connected. Image quality is crucial for dashcams as it is important to be able to clearly identify number plates and other details in a recorded incident. This camera does not pointlessly offer multiple lower quality modes as only 720p or above has the required resolution. Full HD at 30fps is the minimum to consider these days for a dashcam. The camera has the all-important G-Sensor which autosaves and protects video files in which it detects a sudden stop or impact. It also has a picture mode onscreen button to take still images but the screen would need to be switched on first.

This is a mid-priced dashcam but offers all the features needed and a few more besides. All you need is a reliable auto On/Off, a decent quality HD camera with a G-Sensor. Don’t complain about the lack of GPS because although it can be fun at first to trace your route on the screen map remember that in the event of an incident the police may review all the files on the card and use previous speeding errors detected by the GPS against you. GPS is available through a third party add on the device has a socket for this. It has a microphone which can be useful in the event of an incident if you are quick-witted enough to read aloud the numbers of the cars involved. It has parking mode but I have never found this to be much use in any camera due to the delay in awakening the camera following triggering. The only worthwhile feature lacking for me is that of second dual write TF card, handy so you always have a copy of the card handed to the police. No card is included, which is a pity when you buy your own remember to ensure it is Class 10 rated or above and no larger than 64GB to ensure best results.

This is a good quality budget dashcam which will meet all your needs. It is attractive and discreet in appearance and capable of giving good quality results. Perhaps the main appeal of the unit is the large high-quality touch screen which makes using the device so simple and hassle-free.

The price is good given the quality of the video and the addition of the second camera. In fact, the price is great even if the second camera is disregarded and not used.

The Good
Great price
Good build quality
Good image quality
Microphone
No annoying i/r lights
Huge, bright LCD screen

Parking Mode

The Bad
No GPS
Low light video could be better
No WDR/HDR
No HDMI port

No SD card included

Campark X30 4K Action Camera

 

Currently priced at £98.99 (currently with an additional 30% discount at the Amazon checkout)  the new X30 action camera from Campark is by far the best I have tried yet in the low to mid price range and the best yet from Campark.

The camera and accessories arrived packaged in an attractive upmarket box which again belies the low price. You get plenty of kit for your money as my unboxing video shows. A full range of accessories and mounts are included, too many to list here. The only notable omissions are an SD card and a wifi wrist mounted Off/On button. It is a pity about the SD card as they are cheap enough these days and would not add greatly to the cost and would allow the camera to be used straight from the box. It could be argued that the wrist mount feature is included in the phone app but that is not a practical option when engaged in active sports. The printed User Guide is better those usually found, is a decent size, well printed, in good English and easy to read.

The camera itself is certainly better than I expected for the money. Video quality is certainly the best I have encountered for an action cam in this price range, and a definite step up from many of the cheaper no-name GoPro clones. Unlike with so many others, here there is no substantive daylight colour cast. The 170° wide angle lens is great but with the barrel distortion common to all of this type You can correct for this in the settings but I suspect this is achieved by simply electronically cropping the image. Image stabilisation is also available and although not perfect does make a noticeable difference, although I usually keep it turned off. The camera does a perfectly decent quality 4K@60fps – defined as 3200×1800 -as well several other rather more useful modes including 1080@120fps. Slow motion is available at 240FPS@720p and 120fps@1080P.  Still images were good and free from colour fringing or casts.  Remember that the sample footage in my unboxing video will have been heavily compressed during posting and not reflect the true quality. It also uses the new and more efficient H.256 video compression codec I would say the image quality and features are at least as good as those from a high-end phone.

Like with many mid-range action cams this claims to be waterproof to 40M and I have no reason to doubt it. It should certainly be fine for all normal swimming and diving use.

The camera has loop recording, which is often used for cameras and does indeed offer a Car Mode but I do not think it has the G-Sensor needed to record and flag impacts. For me, that is no big deal as I have yet to find an action camera that will actually work effectively as a Dashcam. Still, better to have that feature than not. It has HDMI video out and so can be connected directly to your TV, although a separate micro-HDMI cable will be needed for this. It can also be connected directly to a PC or video display to view files and FPV monitoring.

The camera has a settings mode accessed using the rear LCD touch screen and this is by far the best I have tried so far with multiple and easy to read options large and bright enough to be usable outdoors. The camera comes with two 1350 mAh Li-ion batteries (better than the 1050mAh too often used) and separate charger so you can charge the second battery when the camera is in use.

Like many more upmarket action cameras, it has wifi built in which means the camera generates a mini wifi network of its own which allows an attached phone have basic control of the camera and view live-streamed video. To use it you need to download the “DV King 4K” app from Apple or Android. The Android app is considerably better than most and will act as a  remote control, configure camera settings, stream decent quality video, and save images and video to the app.

This is one of the best action cameras I have used in this price range. Image quality is excellent, there is a wide range of modes and options available with Electronic Image Stabilisation, Field of View choice, 4K and slow motion. A good range of mounts is included but no carry case. For this price, this really is a serious GoPro rival.

The Good
Great price
Good video quality with EIS
170° Angle of view
4K@60fps
1080P@120fps
720p@240fps
Wifi
Touch Screen
Good  app
Wide range of accessories included
240/120fps Slow Motion
Rectilinear Distortion Correction option

Two batteries and charger included

The Bad
No SD card included

No carry case

Nestling 500W Kitchen Mini Food Chopper

 

We do not all have large kitchens or the space to accommodate bulky kitchen gadgets or may not need a fully fledged food processor.  This would also be well suited to a student or young person that does not need a full-scale kitchen. This is where the handy little device comes in.

Bearing the £263.99 Amazon price in mind I was not expecting too much and feared it might be a cheaply made plastic thing. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Both the 1.2Ltr bowl and motor housing are made from brushed steel and look tough enough to last for years. The layered blades are steel too and are razor sharp. The bowl lid and switch housing are made of plastic but all seems strong enough for me. Also in the box is a rubber non-slip base onto which the bowl sits, and a large and easy to read but large unneeded User Guide. For those interested, I include a scan of the Guide at the end of my unboxing video.

Using the chopper could not be simpler. Fit the blade into the mounting inside the bowl and put the food into the bowl, slot the bottom of the motor housing unit into the groove in the lid and holding the unit in place press down on the big top button. A gentle push for slow speed and a firmer one to engage high speed. I found the 500w motor chopped upped the onions I used for testing in seconds. I see no reason why it should not be able to cope with all the culinary chopping and dicing needs of a single person or couple. For best results, I found it best to use the unit in ten-second bursts or in rapid pulses.

This is an excellent little gadget with no real drawbacks other than being a bit awkward to store unless you keep it in the box it came in.
A great buy indeed.
The Good
Great Build quality
Great price
Powerful motor
Attractive design
Twin speeds
Good User Guide
The Bad
No storage bag

The base does not lock in place

More Info and Purchase

Fairywill Sonic Electric Toothbrush FW-508

I have tried other budget electric toothbrushes from Fairywill and all impressed me enough to give this new and updated model a try. The new version is now available in shocking pink and with a substantial price reduction.

The toothbrush arrived nicely packaged in an attractive product box inside of which was the toothbrush itself, three colour coded heads (one prefitted), an interdental head, a short USB Charging Cable. No USB charging adapter is included, although any standard phone charger will do. A brief but well-written User Guide was also included and I append this to my unboxing video.

The build quality seems excellent and although this is not a high priced device, the toothbrush feels robust and sturdy and is satisfyingly chunky and easy to hold in the hand. The head is of the sonic rather than rotary type and makes a not unpleasant buzz when in use. The toothbrush is IPX7 waterproof, so no need to worry if it falls in the bath!

Using the toothbrush was simple and straightforward. At speeds of up to 40000 strokes/min the toothbrush worked fine in all five brushing modes (White, Clean, Sensitive, Polish, Massage) selectable by pressing the large Power button. Each selected mode is indicated by a backlit and labelled individual status button. It has a two-minute auto-off timer with 30-second alerts. The Charging Indicator LED will flash when the brush needs charging, show continually when charging and go off when charging is complete. A charge should be good for at least three weeks of normal use. It is a pity that a non-standard USB cable is used rather than an easily replaced regular cable.

The brush sat nicely in the hand and was nice and quiet in use. My mouth felt just as clean and refreshed after use as with the high-end brush I usually use. The brushes seem good and strong but replacements can be found online at Amazon for the current price of £8.99 for a set of four.

This is a first-rate budget toothbrush, well priced and well made, that works excellently, is easy to use and looks good in the bathroom. My only criticism is the use of a non-standard USB charging port on the device itself, so take care not to lose the charging cable. The current Amazon price of just £19.99 makes it particularly attractive buy.

The Good
Great price
Robust build quality
Three heads included
Five modes
Clear Mode status indication
Auto Timer

Good User Guide

The Bad
Non-standard Charging cable
No USB Adapter
No Carry case

No Charging Stand

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RLSOCO Case for Jabra Elite Active 65t Headset

RLSOCO is a company well known for the aftermarket cases they produce for a wide range of gadgets and gizmos and this new case custom designed for the market-leading Jabra Elite Active 65t/Jabra Elite 65t Bluetooth True Wireless headsets.

The case arrived simply presented in a plastic bag, which although perfectly adequate for the job does reduce the appeal slightly of the item as a gift. No instructions or paperwork was included apart from the attached information label which contained information about the manufacturer and an instruction ‘Do not throw it into a fire!’. Sound advice indeed.

The case is well made and robust with a semi-rigid body, a removable shaped insert for the Jabra case and buds, a padded internal flap and a mesh bag for cables, spare buds and any other small items.  The case has a twin pull full-length zip to keep it secure along with a wrist strap on the outside. No problems or doubts with the build quality here, this case is built to last. As the shaped insert is removable this does mean the case can be repurposed for use with other items as and when desired.

The shaped insert has openings for the Jabra charging case and for the two buds. When inserted they are a snug fit and although easy enough to remove they will not fall out even when the open case is inverted and the base tapped forcibly. Once inside the headset is not going to come out unless you want it to.

One feature of the Jabra headset is the auto On feature which means to the buds become active as soon as they are removed from the charging case. With this in mind remember to manually turn the buds Off before storing them in this case to prevent accidentalBluetooth connection or battery depletion.

Currently available for £13.99 from Amazon this case is a good buy for 65t owners that need additional security for their rather expensive headsets.

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RKFIZZ 16 piece Manicure Set

 

Priced at just £10.99 this pocket-sized but comprehensive grooming kit from RKFIZZ contains all you need to keep your hands, feet and skin looking good. The kit arrived with no external box or branding, which is a pity as it removes some of the appeal as a gift, but all the tools are well protected by the clasp fastening 9.7×15.5cm PU leather case.

My case had a bright yellow lining but a red-lined version is also available. Inside was a 16 piece grooming kit with all the tools you might need secured and fastened within. The kit consists of: Cuticle clipper, pedicure knife, angled blade pedicure knife, ear spoon, medium nail clipper, angled blade nail clipper, acne needle, nail file, dead skin remover, scraper, large nail clipper, double ended nail cleaner, cuticle cleaner, scissors, tweezers. I really do not think you could want for more.

Build quality seems fine. The tools are all of stainless steel with a black silk coating and can be washed and disinfected as needed. The mechanism of the clippers and scissors seems robust and the blades are all razor sharp. Nothing seems likely to fail anytime soon.

If you take personal care seriously, or if you work in the personal care industry this would make an excellent buy either for travel or normal daily use.

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Lospu HY 2 in 1 Hair Straightener and Curling Iron

 

 

There are a great many hair straighteners available and many of them in the same budget price range of this one from Lospu HY at £29.99. Is this one worth the price and how is it better than the rivals?

From the start, this comes across as a quality item. The product box is heavy duty and robust enough to store the device in when not in use as well as being tastefully designed and free from the garish colours and overkill of some products. Inside the box was the straightener itself,  two hair clips, a large salon style comb, and a User Guide. It is a pity no storage bag was included.

Build quality is first rate, everything seems robust and well made and of studio quality. The straightener is heavy enough to sit well in the hand without tiring the arms when used for long salon sessions and has a lengthy 2.7M power cord with a UK plug. I was pleased to see that there is a 360-degree revolving joint where the power cord enters the device so the cable should not get in your way when using the unit. There is a lock button to hold the jaws together for storage and transit. The two hair clips supplied are lightweight but seem strong enough not to fly apart at first use and large comb seems to be of decent quality also. The User Guide is, well printed and easy to read and unlike with some product, it does more than just tell you what the buttons do. The unit will work at any voltage between 120 and 240 which makes it ideal for travel use.

Using the product is very easy.  After plugging the device in it is switched on by rotating the dial control to the desired temperature suitable for your hair type. 120-160 degrees for Dark or coloured hair, 180-219 degrees for normal or slightly curly hair, 230 degrees for thick and wavy hair. You can confirm the temperature and ensure it stays constant using the LCD display on the device. The 1.25-inch heating plate heat up very quickly taking just 15 seconds to get to the selected level.

You then part and then bundle the hair securing it with the clips included with the pack. It is best to take a moment and practise this first in front of a mirror before using the device as getting this right is crucial to the final results. Take a 5cm hair bundle with the straightener and stroke down with it from the scalp end to the hair tips. You may need to apply Argan Oil or other protective product first to stop the hair getting damaged or frizzy. Be careful not to get carried away when using it and keep watching in the mirror. You can always return for a later session.

This is a high-quality product and although cheaper and lesser rivals are available I think the quality of construction and durability of this device make it a cut above the rest.

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