Abida High performance Ski Socks

As summer comes to an end it is time to start planning for winter and as a keen walker, I know the importance of finding decent quality warm winter socks for my hiking boots. Although not the cheapest I have seen, priced at £19.99, this pack of four pairs from Abida seem a worthwhile buy. They are also available in twin pair packs.

The socks arrived simply packed in a useful and reusable branded ziplock storage bag with each pair separately packed and labelled. T

The four pairs are all of the same design although the colours vary from pair to pair. The socks are medium thickness but warm and supportive made from cotton, Polyester, Spandex mix.

The socks, reinforced at the toes and heel, have an upmarket feel to them and although not too thick to be worn comfortably with ordinary shoes these are more suited for wear either in boots or loose-fitting slippers. When worn in my walking boots they feel soft, padded and very warm. I have worn them a few times to try them out and I still get that floating on air feeling that comes with new, thick socks.

How will they last? Too early to say yet, but having washed them once in a cold water machine wash and after letting them drip dry (do not tumble dry) they are still as new. I have no reason to doubt these socks will last just as long as any other.

If you need a pair of medium weight winter sports socks, these are an excellent buy.

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AIMASON Wireless Doorbell (Upgraded)

This simple one ringer doorbell is priced at £12.99 and for that, you receive all you will need for a normal sized home or office. In the box are the doorbell, ringer, adhesive pad and screw mounts, screwdriver (to open the ringer battery compartment), and a well written and easy to read User Guide.

Build quality seems fine. Everything is made of plastic but feels well well made and robust. Nothing seems flimsy or liable to fail anytime soon. The bell push is IP55 waterproof, which means it is fine even in the heaviest rain The bell push has an easy to see and feel button. The doorbell uses a non-standard 23A battery of a type I have seen before but that is not always easy to find. Remember to take note of the battery model before searching for a replacement. The ringer unit has an integral UK plug and again seems well made and robust. On the ringer side are tone select Up/Down and a five-step Volume buttons. There are 55 ringer alert tones on offer but the tradition Ding-Dong default is still the best in my opinion. On the front of the ringer are bright blue LEDs that illuminate when ringing, handy for the hard of hearing. The LED’s are bright but not too much so, as some rivals are. The ringer unit is not waterproof so don’t be tempted to use it on an outdoor socket. What is the included mini screwdriver used for? It is to prise open the bell push box to access the battery although found using a slightly larger one was easier.

Mounting it was very simple as could be using the double-sided sticky mount. If you plan to mount onto an uneven surface or need a more permanent mount then a screw kit is provided.

The range is the more than adequate for most situations at up to 400M (outdoors) being claimed and I have no reason to doubt this. The unit is already paired but it can be done again if necessary if the pairing is lost. To select a ringer tone just press the Up or Down on the receiver to scroll through the 55 available tones. To set the volume just press the volume button to select which of the five volume levels you want.

This simple and easy to fit little doorbell should be perfect for a small house or flat. The bargain price this harder still to resist.

The Good
400M range
Great price
Good build quality
Easy to configure
Excellent User Guide
Battery pre-installed

The Bad
Non-standard battery

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PowerLead Wireless Game Controller PG-SW001

This is not like any game controller I have used before. It is the most customisable and versatile I have ever tried as well as being one of the most stylish and well equipped.

Priced at just £31.99 this new mobile game controller from Powerlead makes gaming an easier and more enjoyable experience. It will work wirelessly with the N-Switch and Android platforms, but a wired connection is needed for PC use and it is not suitable for the MAC platform.

In the branded mid-market box can be found the controller, charging cable, spare D-Pad plate and a well written and informative User Guide. All the usual buttons, D-Pad and joystick are here and work smoothly and well. Build quality seems fine with nothing looking likely to fail anytime soon.

The device all the usual controls plus a few more: L1, L2, R1, R2, Select, Left 3D Down L3, Turbo, D-Pad, Home, Start, A, B, X, Y, Right 3D, Down L3. Also on the front is the large Status LED. On the underside are N1, N2, M1, M2 along with R2 and L2 Travel depth switches and the Programming Switch. Phew!

A major selling point of the controller is the level to which it can be personalised and customised both for appearance and playability. The brightly coloured top panels pop loose and can be replaced as desired. The 3D Joystick and Cross Button ca be easily taken out and swapped over also. The R2 and L2 keys have adjustable travel, using easy access switches on the underside.

Bluetooth pairing with my Android 10 phone was quick and easy with auto-pairing working well subsequently. Charging the larger than average built-in Lithium 600mAh Battery takes about three hours and after that up six hours of gaming can be had. No dedicated charging cable is needed as it uses the latest USB-C charging port.

The device will work straight from the box with many games and other game-specific key mappings can be made by entering Custom Mode and assigning keys to specific game functions. This is all explained in the User Guide. When starting a new game I just test all the buttons to see which ones work and what default actions they have.

All the controls fall naturally to the fingers and when gaming with headphones on the experience is an immersive one. When gaming is done the unit will switch off after five minutes of inactivity.

This is a great way to improve the gaming experience and at a price that will not break the bank.

The Good
USB-C
Customisable Panels
Programmable Buttons
Swappable Cross Button/Joystick
Rechargeable Battery

The Bad
No Mac Support
PC Wired Only

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#N/V Dog Calming Bed

This new pet bed from the curiously named #N/V is super soft, super comfortable and available in a range of sizes from 40 to 100cm and in a range of colours. I selected the 80cm Grey version.

The bed arrived packaged in just a simple unbranded plastic bag, a pity as more attractive presentations would add to the appeal of the item as a gift, but I suppose does help save the planet.

The bed is much lighter and softer than I was expecting. I thought the cushioned lip around the bed would be more heavily padded but in fact the softer filling is a wise choice as allows the border to serve well as a pillow and conforms better to the shape of the dog. It feels incredibly comfortable and if I could squeeze in I would happily kip there myself! It is described as a dog calming bed and I daresay so it is, it would certainly calm me down to sleep there.

The bed is made from a pet-safe microfibre with 4cm plush finish and with a rubberised non-slip base. The bed can be machine washed at a gentle setting and left to drip dry or tumble dried at a low setting. Personally, I would hand wash and let it drip dry.

My two dogs, Poppy and Blenheim, both want it although it seems Poppy had triumphed and now jealously guards it. I suspect the larger size bed will soon be ordered for Blenheim.

This is a fine pet bed, soft, comfortable and warm, safe to use and easy to clean and for the £24.08 price of my model, a great buy.

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QUTAII 10m 100LED Fairy String Lights

This new set of Indoor/Outdoor fairy lights from QUTAII arrived plainly packaged in a plastic bag with the just the light set and the UK power supply adapter inside. No User Guide or data sheet was included or needed.

Build quality seems first excellent. The is basically a single 10M long heavy duty transparent cable with 100 bright warm white LEDs set into it with a UK plug and control box on the end. The light string is rated IP65 which means it can be used outdoors in most weather conditions – normal rain is OK but not water immersion or sustained water jets. Although we are not told, I suspect the rating applies just to the wire and not the plug, so best to keep that out of the rain.

Once set up using the device is easy enough. There is a single button on the plug/controller which cycles through the eight lighting modes: Combination, Wave, Sequential, Slow Glow, Chasing/ Flash, Slow Fade, Twinkle/ Flash, Steady On. The LED’s are a very attractive warm white, almost amber in colour, but are very bright and perhaps too bright for many indoor locations.

This is a good quality and well-made set of LED Fairy Lights, best suited for outdoor use but which can be used with good effect indoors in the right location. The current price of £12.99 is not cheap compared to lesser rivals but you do get what you pay for here.

The Good
Good build quality
IP65 water-resistant
Bright display
Attractive warm white

The Bad
Too bright for some indoor situations
Poor Packaging.

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Gueray Portable CD Player

I was quite surprised when offered this new and updated CD player from Gueray to review. Who still uses CD players? Sales of turntables and even Videotape players are taking off with the current interest in retro-tech and so I suppose it was only a matter of time until CD players fell into that category. Some people too may have a much-treasured CD collection that they still need to have access to via a dedicated player.

In the attractive box that I received was the player itself, two pairs of in-ear headphones, charging cable, audio cable, and a well printed and easy to read User Guide. Build quality seems excellent and this has the look and feel of a high-quality product with nothing looking likely to fail anytime soon.

The player supports the usual formats: CD, MP3, CD-R, WMA and CD-RW with four playing modes: Track Repeat, Repeat All, Play first 10s, Random Play. It also supports A-B repeat play. When playing there are five audio presets to choose from: BBS, Pop, Jazz, Rock, Classic. The device can also play music from a U-Disk format external USB drive.

The device is controlled from the soft touch buttons along the side of the unit, sadly there is no remote control option. The player has a built-in 1200mAh Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery which after a four-hour initial charge should give at about eight hours of sustained use. It can also be powered from a USB cable when incorporated into a home music system. On my device charging, red LED when charging and green when ready, was fast and reliable.

The unit has the expected control buttons on the side of the device: Power, A-B, Mode Selection, Play/|Pause, Previous/Rewind, Next/Fast Forward, Volume Up, Volume Down, Lock. The ports are: Headphone 1, Headphone 2, USB, Micro-USB Power In.

Sound quality is excellent both when connected to an external sound system or when using headphones. The supplied headphones are pretty basic but fine for track monitoring.

If you need a portable CD player you are probably a specialist user and will require a good quality well-made device. This is a major upgrade from the earlier model from Gueray with some under the hood improvements, a big design upgrade to a much more sleek and modern appearance along with a drop in price to just £36 .79. Although not inexpensive it is a quality piece of kit that promises to be reliable and a good long term buy.

The Good
Good Build Quality
Good Audio Quality
Twin Audio Out Ports
LCD Screen
Soft Touch Controls

The Bad
No Optical audio out
No Carry Case

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Tunery Heated Socks

I suffer from Raynaud’s disease, which in my case is a mild but annoying condition causing my feet and hands to be cold even when the outside temperature is very warm. I gave these socks a try to see how much they could help.

In the attractive branded box are the socks, two battery boxes and an easy to read and well-printed user guide. Build quality feels fine, the socks themselves are thick and warm and serve very well winter socks without even plugging them in.

At the top of each sock is a pocket for the battery which fits snugly in place and feels unlikely to work loose. The two battery boxes hold three AA batteries each and connect with a short lightweight cable hard-wired to the sock. Each battery box has a separate On/Off switch and power status LED.

The socks can be worn as normal and the heating turned off and on when needed as the switch can be quickly and easily accessed. When turned on the heating starts gently from the sole of the foot and works its way up. The heat is by not super powerful but it is effective on a cold day.

The suppliers say that rechargeable batteries should be used and this really does make sense. Rechargeable batteries deliver more power over a shorter period and thus will generate more heat. Also, with one set of batteries lasting just four to five hours of sustained use, it would not make economic sense to use regular batteries.

Priced at £25.99, they are are not inexpensive but these are warm and comfortable socks, perfectly good in their own right, but on cold days with the power switched on they are worth their weight in gold.

The Good
Great Build Quality
Soft, Thick Material
Comfortable
Good Battery Storage
Nice Packaging

The Bad
Expensive
Wiring Cannot Be Removed
Short Battery Life
Could Be Hotter
Hand Wash Only

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AHomeTeck Smart Posture Corrector Pro

When I was a boy my mum always told me to stand up straight and to slouch. Now, many years later and as part of a weight loss and health plan, I am going to do something about it.

I have tried other posture correctors in the past but they have been awkward to wear, uncomfortable and not very effective. This new ‘smart’ device from AHomeTeck is new and different from the old-style rivals in several ways.

The product arrived very well presented with a posh, upmarket look and feel to it that belied the modest £16.99 price. Inside was the posture corrector itself, charging cable and multiple user guides, including one in English.

This posture corrector fits like a backpack over the shoulders and around the chest to push the back gently into an upright position. Unlike with previous units, here there are no steel rods or corset-like waist straps to force the body upright. The new lightweight unit relies on science with an adjustable control pod on the back that alerts the user with vibrations to ‘stand up straight’.

The pod is powered by an internal 380mAH battery charged through a micro USB port in the bottom of the pod. Charging time takes around three hours. The unit has a large combined LED status light and power button: red for Low/Charging, green for Charged, blue for Operating.

To use the corrector, first put it on as you would a backpack, tighten the straps to a firm but comfortable setting and then as you sit or stand upright press and hold the button on the control pod for a few second to allow the pod to record and memorise your correct posture. It will give three short and one long vibration to confirm the measurement. Then with the unit turned on a vibration will alert you when you move away from the correct posture by more than 25 degrees. After a while, you can wear the unit with the power off and still get benefit from it.

The lightweight design and lack of excess straps mean that the support is perfectly comfortable to wear for protracted periods. It is best worn on top of a T-Shirt or vest and when worn with a pullover or jacket on top it is not noticeable.

As to how well it works, only time will tell, but it already seems to be doing some good even after a few days of wearing it for a couple of hours each day.

Slouchers out there may well find this is worth taking a chance on.

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LC-dolida 1080P USB Webcam

Priced at just £16.79 this new webcam from LC-dolida is one of the most inexpensive webcams I have yet tried, but is it any good?

You get a good amount for your money. In the box are the camera, a handy metal desktop mini- tripod with additional clip mount, a stick-on privacy shutter, and a well written and nicely printed user guide. The camera itself is nicely made with a folding monitor mount which doubles as a desktop stand and features a brass tripod screw hole, a feature lacking in many budget rivals.

I plugged the camera into my Windows 10 PC and it was instantly recognised with no drivers or software needed. The Windows Camera app allowed me to configure it, with some reduced resolution options available, although the default setting of 1080P@30fps was fine for me. I also tried it on my MacBook pro and again it was almost instantly up and running – although it is possible drivers were silently downloaded in the background, although I did not observe it. The camera has two LED’s a red one to show it is powered on and the other green when the camera is in operation.

Video and audio quality when viewed on the monitor, the use this and other webcams were designed for, was fine but the resolution of recorded files seemed lower.

If you want a budget priced but reasonable quality no-nonsense webcam for Skype or other streaming purposes then this would be a sound choice. I doubt there are many cheaper rivals available with the convenience of true Plug n Play and the accessories included here.

The Good
Great Price
Windows 10 Friendly
Good Build Quality
Streaming Status LED
Plug and Play
Good Audio Quality
Privacy Shutter
Tripod Mount
Tripod Included

The Bad
Video Quality Could Be Better

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OGUARD Sonic Electric Toothbrush S501

I can remember when budget products were seen as poor relations of the Big Name high street brands. Not so now and not so here as this new toothbrush seems to me to be every bit as good as the premium rivals.

The item arrived beautifully packaged and presented and looked like it could easily have come from Philips, Braun or any market leader.

Inside the box was the toothbrush itself, slimline and rather elegant, along with eight brush heads, a charging cable, carry case and an English only User Guide. I enclose a scan of the User Guide on the end of my unboxing video. Flip to full screen and pause as needed to read it. Build quality seems fine and this device has a premium look and feel to it.

The brush is exquisitely designed with the handle and to a lesser degree the charging base both things of beauty. The handle is perfect for me and sits nicely in the hand. The toothbrush when in use is virtually silent when any of the four modes are used. This is one of the quietest toothbrushes I have used and is very unlikely to awaken the household when used at night. Personally, I just use the Clean mode which I find suits me fine but there are also Smart, Sensitive, Whitening, modes available.

What is Smart Mode?
One unique feature of this brush is Smart Mode. In this mode, the brush automatically adjusts vibration methods according to your brushing movement.

Looking at the unit, at the top below the drive shaft head, is the single On/Off button with under it the travel lock indicator. In line below are buttons for the cleaning modes: Clean, Smart, Sensitive, Whitening, each with a status light. At the bottom is the power indicator LED. On the base is the grommet protected USB-C charging port.

This is the first brush I have seen that uses the new USB-C port to charge from, USB-C is the new standard and is easier to use as the plug can be inserted either way up and is a big advance from the non-standard and easily lost cables still used in older brushes. A USB-C cable is included although no power adapter, no matter as they can be found everywhere now. Charging takes around six hours but the 1800mAh battery can give a remarkable 150 days of normal use and up to five months on standby.

Using the unit is perfectly simple, just switch on and select the mode you require. The brush will then run through a two-minute cleaning cycle with 30-second alerts and turn off automatically. Inverting and shaking the brush will also turn it off, no need to press the button. To prevent mishaps when travelling the brush can be locked by just pressing the power button for five seconds, do the same to unlock, in each case the brush will vibrate and the lights flash in confirmation. The brush is IPX7 water-resistant, so if you drop it in the bath it is no big deal.

This is an attractive and elegant device as good as the equivalent Big Name brand equivalent but at a far more reasonable price.

The Good
Good price
Attractive design
Attractive presentation
Almost silent operation
Five operating modes
30-second alerts

The Bad
No Power Adapter

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