Polar Balance Smart Scale

As a long term user of Polar fitness watches and accessories, I decided to buy their bathroom to speed up the weight logging process and to stay within the Polar ecosystem. Other scales may offer more features but all I need it to be able to stand on the scale and for the weight to be automatically added to my Polar Flow online account as well as the other running related accounts I have linked to it, Strava and My Fitness Pal.

The scale arrived nicely packaged in an attractive rather posh box inside of which were the scales themselves together with a multi-language User Guide and a set of three AAA batteries. Build quality seems first-rate with a distinctly high end feel to the product. The facing surface of the scale is highly reflective and almost mirror-like, which not all will appreciate. Ther display is not backlit but is large and easy to read and as well as the weight reading also shows the battery and Bluetooth connection status. Yes, unlike many rivals this device uses Bluetooth to send the data and not wifi. This means that it cannot connect directly to your online Polar account but must do via another Polar device or mobile phone running the Polar Flow app.

Setting the device up is easy enough. Insert the batteries and press the button on the underside of the unit to selects Kgs or Pounds (Uk stones are not an option). Then just open the Polar Flow app or add new Bluetooth Device on your watch and follow the instruction to pair them. The device will work as a normal bathroom scale but is designed to connect using Bluetooth to your mobile phone or Polar sports watch. Take note that not all Polar watches will work with it. Neither my M430 and Polar Ignite, for example, will work although my older Polar V800 does. This is no big deal as I would prefer to sync it to my Android phone as this seems more efficient than connecting it to the watch and then the watch to the phone to send the data. It works perfectly when used with my phone. I just open the Polar Flow app, navigate to the Balance page, press the enter data button and then stand on the scales. This is a quicker process than it sounds and it works perfectly every time. Almost immediately when using the app or when next you sync your watch the data will appear on the Polar Flow website.

That is about that. This is a classy and upmarket scale that works just as well as any other to show your weight. It interfaces perfectly within the Polar ecosystem but a direct wifi connection would have removed the need to use an intermediate device or phone to relay the data. Prices seem to vary from vendor to vendor between £85 to £100+ and there are many much less expensive rivals available but without the Polar interface.

If you are a dedicated Polar fitness enthusiast then this would be a good buy. If not, then cheaper and better rivals are widely available.

The Good
Easy to Use
Batteries Included
Polar Flow Integration

The Bad
Needs PolarSystem
Will not Sync with some Polar watches
No Wifi
No On-Board memory

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APEMAN Waterproof Sports Action Camera 4K A79NEW

Although a junior member of the APEMAN range, the £60.99 newly updated model A79 nevertheless range shows just how much action cameras have developed over the past year or so.

The camera kit arrived packaged in an attractive upmarket box which again shows that increased care given now to the presentation of budget products. A full range of accessories and mounts are included, too many to list here but they are all shown in my video. The only notable omission is that of an SD card, which means the camera cannot be used straight from the box. This is a pity as they are cheap enough these days and would not add greatly to the cost. The printed User Guide is better those usually found, is a decent size, well printed, in good English and easy to read but not as detailed as I would wish.

Physically the 5 x 3 x 2 cm camera is well designed and easy to use although not quite so refined as models higher up the range. All the buttons are recessed and the battery cover is secure but I struggled for some time to remove (and replace) it. The LCD screen is bright and easy to read but is not touch-sensitive. On the side is the unprotected panel housing the micro-SD card, micro-HDMI, and USB and microphone ports. On the other are the Up/Wifi and Down buttons. On the front is the Power/Mode button and the top the OK/Shutter release. The camera also comes with a lavalier style clip-on microphone and a very useful but simple wristwatch-style remote control.

The camera has four basic modes of operation accessed by short pressing the power button on the camera top: Video, Photo, Playback, Settings. 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 function as a webcam. It can also be used as a simple car dashcam since it supports loop recording but lacks the important G-Sensor to detect impacts.

Gone are the days when budget action cameras gave you grainy, low-resolution video with colour casts and artefacts. Video quality is certainly amongst the best I have encountered for an action cam in this price range, and a definite step up from the cheaper no-name GoPro clones of the past. 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. Image stabilisation is also available and although not perfect does make a noticeable difference without image quality suffering unduly, unlike with too many budget rivals/. The camera does good quality 4K@30fps ( 3840×2160) as well as several other rather more useful modes including 1080@60fps. Slow-motion is available at 120fps@720p. 16MB Still images were good and free from colour fringing or casts but a little flat but I was easily able to boost this on my PC. Remember that the sample footage in my unboxing video will have been heavily compressed during posting and not reflect the true quality. I would say the image quality and features are comparable to those from a mid to high-end phone.

The camera is claimed 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 a settings mode accessed using the rear 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 used outdoors. The camera comes with two 1050mAh batteries (smaller in capacity than those higher up the Apeman range) but no separate charger so you cannot 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 “Live DV” app from Apple or Android. I did encounter some stuttering when streaming video but that may be due to the limitations of the phone I tested it with. I find the wristband remote to be more useful as the large buttons are easy to find when engaged in sports and allow recording to be made when in action in a way impossible with app remote control. Also, although I had a few problems using the supplied microphone with default values, which I found muffled and rather too quiet, the standard 3.5mm port allows a choice of third-party mics to be used. Audio issues can be usually corrected by the PC when the video is being edited.

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 and it has genuinely useable Electronic Image Stabilisation, Field of View choice, 4K and slow motion. A good range of mounts is included but no carry case, or battery Charger. Compared to more expensive cameras from Apeman this one has a slightly reduced feature set and video resolution but nothing to prevent the user from getting excellent results. The inclusion of an external microphone and wrist-mounted remote control for me is an advantage over the other models. At this budget price, the APEMAN A79 is a very worthwhile buy.

The Good
Great price
Good video quality with EIS
170° Angle of view
Good app
Wide range of accessories included
External Microphone
Two batteries included
Remote Control

The Bad
No SD card included
No carry case
No Touch Screen
No External Battery Charger
Audio Could Be Better

Use this Amazon checkout code for a big discount: 3DQAWTX2

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SZMDLX Projection Clock Radio Alarm

Projection Clock Radios have been available for many years now and it is hard to choose one from another. This new model from the curiously named SZMDLX company does not bring a great deal new to the breakfast table but what it does it does rather better than most of the cheaper and lesser rivals.

Inside the attractive mid-market box were the clock itself, a USB to micro-USB power cord and a well written but rather small and hard to read User Guide. I include a scan of the Guide at the end of my unboxing video, switch to full screen and pause to read it.

Build quality is good. The 17×8.9×3.7cm 220g clock has a more upmarket and substantial feel to it than many others I have tried and it feels reassuringly substantial in the hand. The many buttons and controls are well laid out, easy to find in the dark, large and well labelled.

On the front panel is the large six-inch blue LED screen which aside from the time also tells you the day of the week, AM/PM, temperature (Celcius or Fahrenheit), Summertime enabled, Snooze time, Radio On time, Alarm 1 status, Alarm 2 status. Curiously, it does not show the date. Next to the LED display is the rotatable LED projector with the focus wheel for it on the side. On top are dials to control snooze status/projection brightness and orientation and audio volume/time settings. Also on top are buttons for radio station auto/manual and listening time preset, manual station selection, Alarm 1 status, Alarm 2 status. On the back are the micro-USB power-in port and USB charging port for external devices, and the housing bay for the two AAA backup batteries which also contains the extra-long string antenna when not in use. The ambient temperature sensor is also to be found there.

The clock can either be used as a conventional bedside clock with five levels of brightness easily selectable for the LED screen or as projection clock which can be used either with the front screen on or off. The 0.5-8m projected image can be rotated to display on the ceiling or wall through 180 degrees in front or behind the clock. The image can also be flipped over to face front or back for easier reading. There are four levels of brightness for the remote image and this can be focused using the thumbwheel on the side of the unit.

As an alarm clock, it works particularly well. It has two separate alarms which can be individually programmed for selected days. It can wake you either with the radio to your selected station or a gradually increasing 120 decibel VERY LOUD alarm. Touch any top panel button to kill the alarm. A snooze feature which multiple snooze times can also be used.

Currently available from Amazon for £29.99 (at the time of writing with a further 6% reduction),  this is a good price for a well made and feature-rich clock which is a cut above most of the many rivals.

The Good
Good Build Quality
Two Alarms
5 Level Screen Dimmer
4 Level Projector Dimmer
9 level Sleep timer
Flip Projected Time
Battery Backup
USB Power in
USB Power Out
Unlimited Radio Presets

The Bad
No Date Display
No USB Adapter Included

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KollyKolla 5ooml Custom Insulated Sports Water Bottle

I have tried other water bottles from KollyKolla in the past and have always been impressed by their quality, design and attention to detail. This new one is no exception.

Prices vary but it can be found on Alibaba for $20 or less. It looks great, sleek and sexy made from stainless steel with a powder coating in a range of colours, finish and a retro look bottle shape. It is just under 25cm, weighs in at less than 250gm empty, has a capacity of 500ml with a double insulated wall to maintain the temperature of the contents. It comes with two stoppers. One has a removable filter and carry handle, the other had a quick release drinking nozzle with two plastic straws supplied for optional use with it. Both stoppers are fully watertight when in place and the drinking spout in the closed position. However, there is no separate lock for the spout.

In use, I found it kept my drink hot for a normal working day and cold for longer than that. The wide mouth is better for pouring and makes it easier to add ice cubes and other solids to the bottle but I found made it slightly more difficult to drink from without leakage. I found the screw top easy to engage and once in place secure enough and fully watertight. It is a pity, however, that there is no anti-spill drinking valve mechanism fitted. That said, the bottle does the job well and looks great whilst doing so.

This bottle is very close to being a storage flask with the wide mouth lending itself well to this. For the gym is well suited as it is large, robust and easy to open. I have carried it with me on a few walks now and it has yet to let me down, keeping the contents cool and with no sign of leaks or spillage.

The current price is certainly attractive and if you are after a stylish and robust drinking bottle or flask then this would be a great buy.

The Good
Stylish Looks
Good Build Quality
Good Price
Holds temperature well
Robust construction
Carry Handle
Drinking Spout
Good Presentation

The Bad
No lock for Drinking spout.

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APERIL Reusable Food Storage Bags – 10 Pack

This set of reusable snack and storage bags from Aperil arrived in minimal but adequate eco-friendly packaging in accord with the environmentally friendly claims of the product. No paperwork or other items were included and none needed. They are slightly dearer than many rivals but are they any better?

The bags, six 22 x 18.5 cm lunch bags and four 22 x 12 cm snack bags are made from extra thick FDA-grade Eco-friendly PEVA materials – a type of biodegradable silicone – and feel soft and flexible to the touch but almost impossible to tear or puncture in normal use. Both sizes of the bag have a double ziplock seal and are very secure when closed. The material above the ziplock is larger than on most rivals to allow for a better grip. In my tests, after careful sealing, the bags could be upended safely when full of water, but I do not advise storing fluids in them.

The silicon-based material from which they are made is flexible, foldable and very strong and should last for years with careful use. Unlike most lesser rivals these have a double ziplock seal which makes them less likely to pop open in transit and better able to keep the contents both fresh and protected.

The bags are fine for use in the freezer but are not suitable for microwaving. For food and lunch storage these bags are safer and more eco-friendly than cling film or most throwaway bags and with care should last for years.

For the current Amazon price of £13.88 (promotions may be available at the checkout), given the good quality and potential long life of the bags, this is not a bad price indeed.

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Norbase Party Bags, 40 Pack

This set of paper party bags from Norbase is designed to help you organise your party, wedding reception or other events in advance to ensure it proceeds flawlessly on the day. You can fill the brightly coloured bags in advance with sweets, cookies, gifts or other goodies for distribution around the party table. Of course, they can also be used for general use around the home, storing items, home-baked cakes and biscuits, or anything else you can think of as the bags are robust and strong enough to offer long term protection.

The bags arrived with minimal outer packaging but securely protected in a heavy-duty carry bag. Inside were the 40 bags, 3.8cm sticky label bag seals, and two sets of children’s temporary tattoos in Unicorn and Dinosaur themes. No other paperwork was included or required.

The 23 x 12 x 8 cm bags feel strong and robust enough to withstand life on the party table being made from 70 GSM Kraft Paper and come in 5 colours, 8 pieces for each colour, pink, red rose, purple, red, orange, yellow, green fruit, sky blue. The bags are made from recycled paper and are themselves biodegradable. The bags are all prefolded and come with a firm square bottom surface to give delicate contents maximum protection whilst retaining an upright position.

For the current Amazon price of £9.99, there really is not much to find fault with here.

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Amazon Echo Wall Clock

My first impression is that this is just another cheap plastic wall clock. To an extent, that is what it is but it does have some Alexa features on offer for the pretty reasonable price of £29.99.

The clock arrived cleverly packaged in a complicated cardboard sleeve inside of which were just the clock, basic instruction sheet, wall mounting kit and a set of 4 AA batteries. The 25cm x 4cm clock is lightweight and very basic in appearance and feel. It has a conventional analogue clock face with a row of 60 white LEDs along the circumference and single large status LED at the bottom. On the rear are the battery compartment, Bluetooth pairing button and wall mount keyhole. There is no glass or plastic protection for the clock hands and it is crucial not to touch them as doing so may disturb the delicate mechanism within and cause the device to fail.

Setting the device up as simple as selecting the Echo device I wished to pair it with over Bluetooth – this is not a stand-alone unit and will only work when connected to one and only one existing Echo device – and asking Alexa: “Alexa, set up my Echo Wall Clock”. Setting up can also be done directly from the Alexa smartphone app. Should problems arise there is a button on the rear to manually pair the unit. The clock will pair with pretty much any Echo device but not Amazon TV units. It is important to understand that this is not a stand-alone Alexa unit, but as an add-on to an existing and already connected device. Be aware too that if your connected device is playing music or performing certain other Bluetooth related tasks then the clock timer will not work whilst it is doing so.

Once set up the clock will automatically set itself to the time of the paired device and begin functioning. You can set one or more timers for any length of time and see the display count down on the 60 LED on the circumference of the clock face. The LED’s will flash when the timer is up.

Once all set up the clock does work perfectly well both as a regular kitchen style clock and as an Alexa timer. The clock is silent in operation and has no alarm sounds of its own, these have to come from the connected Alexa device. The clock face is large and easy to read and the timer LED’s are hard to miss.

This is a simple addition to the Alexa range with one function which it performs well. It is no thing of beauty but for the price, you cannot expect too much more.

If you are an Alexa user and lack a kitchen or office clock then this would be a nice way of enhancing Alexa’s capabilities without breaking the bank

The Good
Budget Price
Easy to Configure
Batteries Supplied
Timer display fails When Connected Device Busy
Only Connects to one Each Device

The Bad
No Clock Hands Protection
Needs a separate Echo Device to Function
Cheap Build Quality
Basic Looks

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