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
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
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

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Sun Energise Solar Panel for Arlo Cameras

This large and well made solar panel is budget priced alternative to the expensive solar panels designed for the Arlo range of high-end battery powered security cameras.

In the rather plain and unbranded box was the solar panel itself, a prefitted wall mount, wall mounting screw kit, ground spike and a large and well written but not very informative user guide. The 19.3cm panel comes with a heavy duty hard-wired 4m output cable with a watertight USB socket on the end. Build quality all seems excellent with nothing looking likely to fail, break or fall off anytime soon. No Arlo charging cable is included but the one supplied with your camera should work fine and can be plugged into the output socket on the cable. This is designed to be a tight fit as it needs to be watertight.

The solar panel is robustly made although not excessively heavy and can either be wall mounted or secured using the large plastic ground spike supplied, just push the two halves of the spike together and then insert it into the bottom of the prefitted wall mount. The solar panel mount is adjustable and allows the panel to be almost completely rotated from front to back. Positioning is crucial and time should be taken to select the location that will get the maximum amount of direct sunlight. Take care also to ensure the panel remains clean and free of dirt, dust or anything that may reduce the amount of light falling on it. There is a large status LED on the underside of the panel which illuminates when sufficient sunlight is being received and so again take care to position the panel where this LED can be monitored.

The LED outputs 5w through a standard USB port and this should work with most of the current range of Arlo cameras including the Arlo Pro 3, Pro 4, Pro 3 Floodlight, Arlo Ultra, and Ultra 2. It should support future models unless the charging interface is changed. The output makes use of a standard USB port and so it may well be that other non Arlo devices can be powered with it, but this would need to be tested first.

This is a simple but well made device that works well with the latest Arlo cameras and at £45.95 is a budget alternative to the Arlo branded solar chargers.

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NIU15W Qi-Certified Fast Wireless Charging Stand

This new smart wireless charger from INIU is well made and both simple and intuitive to use with a lot of clever tech hidden inside. Priced at $18.99 it is no dearer than many less well-specified alternatives.

In the rather plain and downmarket box can be found the charger itself, USB power cable, and a simple but well designed user guide.

The charger should work with pretty much any Qi-enabled device including phones, earbuds and watches. Supported phones include: LG V40/V40+/V35/V30/V30+, Sumsung S20 Ultra/ S20/ S10 Plus/ S10/ S9/ S8/ Note 20 Plus/ 20/ 10 Plus/ 10/ 9/ 8, IPhone 12/ 12 Pro/ 12 Pro Max/ 12 mini/ SE/ 11 Pro Max/ 11 Pro/ 11/ SE/ 10/ XS/ XS Max/ XR/ X/ 8/ 8 Plus, And more,

The charger is made entirely from plastic but feels well made and robust. The base has two nonslip pads to prevent desk skating and I was pleased to see the power in port in the base is of the latest USB-C type. On the side is a large green LED that indicates the current charging status and lights up to confirm the power input connection. One useful feature is the inclusion of a light sensor in the base which automatically dims the LED at night, a boon for bedside overnight charging.

Pretty any sort of Qi compliant device can be charged with the charger automatically detecting and delivering the required power level between 5-15w fast charging. There is no need to remove the phone case as the charging current can pass through material up to 4mm thick. The device can charge connected devices in either portrait or landscape modes and works perfectly well as a simple viewing stand for non-charging devices including tablets. The charger features built-in NTC Temp°Guard Protection to prevent overheating and to protect the phone battery. It also has an intelligent FOD system that auto detects foreign objects that interfere with wireless charging to ensure you a safe and fast charge.

This is a well made and easy to use device which has far more inside than the simple design leads one to believe.

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B-right Night Running Lights a former runner myself I well remember the dangers faced when running at night or on dark afternoons in winter,. I tried a variety of visibility aids but I wish I had had this new lighting kit from B-right with me then.

In the branded and attractive mid market box are just the lighting set itself, no instructions or information sheets are included, which is a pity but no disaster. Build quality seems fine, lightweight as to be expected but well made and built to last.

The kit consists of a dual-lens front facing white light which can be physically rotated and set to various lighting modes, and an always on rear red light. The lights are permanently fixed to an adjustable chest harness with a buckle and reflective white straps. The front lights output a maximum of 180 lumens and can be set to full power (both lenses), half power (single lens) and flashing mode. The rear light stays permanently on independently of the mode the front lights are set to

It can be a bit tricky at first to get the harness in place correctly but once the straps are adjusted and after a few tries it soon becomes second nature. It is lightweight and comfortable to wear and the single button placed on top of the front facing light is easy to find allows you to scroll through the lighting modes. The front light can be rotated up and down on its mount to get the optimum lighting angle although this is not as secure as I would like it to be.

Both lights are recharged from the same grommet protected micro-USB port located in the rear light and the two lights are connected together by a separate cable. One four hour charge should give over four hours of running time depending on the light settings used. Personally, I would prefer to charge each light separately to allow the connecting cable to be dispensed with or failing that for the cable should be concealed inside the straps. It is a pity too that one light cannot be unplugged and removed when both are not needed.

The lights are good and bright and make the wearer visible from some distance away with the rotating front light able to point down at the road directly ahead to light the way. For most situations I think a single front facing light would be enough. which would extend the battery life and avoid dazzling oncoming traffic.

Priced at £25.99, I have to say that there are plenty of cheaper rivals available but this lighting set is well made, works well and is easy to use. If you are prepared to pay a bit more for a quality item then this may be for you.

The Good
Good Build Quality
Good Light Output
Easy To Use
Adjustable Straps

The Bad
No Carry Bag
Separate power Wire
Lights Cannot Be Removed From Harness

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Toguard AP35 Wireless Rechargeable Outdoor Security Camera

This new indoor/outdoor wireless rechargeable security camera from Toguard, is competing with the likes of Arlo and Nest in the fast developing true wireless security camera market. For the budget price of just $85.99, what does it have to offer?

In the small, well designed but simple box is the camera, USB cable, wall mount, screw set, charging cable, spare access port grommet and a small, well written but hard to read user guide. Although compact and lightweight, everything seems pretty robust and well made and nothing looks likely to fail anytime soon.

The camera is small-sized with a rounded bay front holding the lens, PIR, Night Vision LEDs, microphone, and status LED. On the rear is a metal screw mount, on the underside is the speaker grill, along with a recessed bay for the Power/Reset key, micro-SD card and micro-USB charging port. A heavy-duty detachable grommet for the bay is installed with a spare included in the pack.

To configure the camera just install and register the Adorcam app and then follow the instructions there. Make sure your phone is connected to a 2.4Ghz wifi network and, in my case at least, ensure your phone is not set to a dark theme as this may distort the QR code which the app generates. Following the instructions in the app and the voice prompts, enter your wifi network name and login password and point the camera at the QR screen generated by the app. The network data will be sent to the camera it will then login automatically to the network each time.

After connection, the camera uses the easy to use and well designed Adorcam app to configure and use the camera. The app configures targeted motion detection, scheduling, app alerts, cloud storage, camera sharing, format the micro-SD card (maximum size an impressive 128gb), access and edit alert videos and pictures. The app is very user friendly with all the main features immediately accessible on the front page. Multiple cameras can be connected to the app and all can be set up and operated separately from each other.

Once set up the camera offers good quality 1080p video with 2-way audio at around 15-20fps. Videos can be saved to the micro-SD card in the camera, downloaded over wifi to the app or directly from the SD card to the computer. Unlike many rivals, the camera works perfectly well without cloud storage. The user can configure various operating modes for use when home, away, etc which allow for push notifications to be set or disabled, video recording, and a simple one-button disarm setting. I will probably mainly use the camera as a wildlife camera as my video shows it works perfectly well for that too as well as for security.

Perhaps the main selling point of this camera is that is totally wire-free and uses an internal rechargeable battery for power. Battery charging takes several hours, but given that battery life is between two and four months depending on usage, that is not too bad.

I was impressed by the build quality of the camera, which has a distinctly upmarket feel to it, the excellent quality of the results and by the ease of use and design of the app, which is itself a marked step up from the rebadged generic offerings too often used. On the negative side, I could see no way of configuring cloud storage, no doubt this will come with a future update and by the lack of scheduling or motion detection zones. It seems that Motion detection is either off or on and set to the whole screen only. The video quality although good is not up to the 4K offered by the latest high-end rivals and the camera and security settings are less sophisticated but then this camera is less than half the price of the big boys and it works perfectly well without the cloud storage they insist on as well s being far easier to set up and operate.

Toguard,is entering a market already crowded with rival cameras but this one is well priced, well-specified, easy to use and must surely be worth a look.

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Use YTFANS at the checkout for 25% discount.