Phot-R Photo Studio Multi-Function Spring Clamp

 

 

I wanted to mount an additional security camera to the top of our conservatory which meant it would have to be attached to the plastic guttering. I did not wish to glue or screw it in place but instead needed a robust adjustable and easily removable clip-on mount. This unit from Phot-R seemed to tick all the boxes.

The device arrived with no instructions or paperwork and was packaged in a plain plastic bag, nothing more was included nor required.

The mount is made almost entirely of heavy-duty metal with removable slip-on rubber grips on the clamps and rubber padding on the camera screw interface. The device is basically a traditional bulldog clamp with a small ball and socket mount attached to it. The clamp spring is very powerful and opening the jaws fully requires no little effort and cuts into the fingers somewhat. The ball and socket mount has a locking groove and this can be rotated to allow almost any camera angle of view to be obtained. When locked in place the mount is very robust and feels secure. The whole assembly really does seem heavy duty and I would have no problems with mounting a DSLR if not medium format sized camera to it.

To be honest I cannot really think of any problems with it. It is well made, very robust and does the job it is designed for. At the current Amazon price of £7.99, it will certainly not break the bank either.

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Quies Natural Wax Earplugs

 

We live near to a noisy woodyard that often works late into the night and so effective earplugs are a part of daily life. Having tried many different types I have found the wax type to be the best, the more common foam ones for me really do not work and make little difference. Wax ones such as these from Quies when properly used can do a good job of seriously reducing outside noise. On the downside, they are messy, fiddly and more difficult to use and have to be discarded after a few uses.

In the robust resealable plastic box were sixteen ear plugs each contained in a layer of cotton wool style padding. A poorly printed and hard to read multi-language information sheet was included.

Each earbud when first taken from the box is quite hard and unresponsive but once warmed in the hand for a minute or so it becomes pliant and malleable and can be pushed into the ear conforming to the shape of the ear canal as it does so. Once properly inserted it does a decent job of reducing the noise, the information sheet attempts to quantify this in technical terms but the reality is that it works well enough to make the effort of inserting it worthwhile. Taking the plug out can be a nasty business as over time it becomes very soft, quite hard to extract cleanly and merges with your natural earwax in a horrid way. After just a few uses the plug becomes unspeakably vile and has to be thrown away.

Currently priced on Amazon at £4.79 this is the best way I have found to cut down outside noise if you don’t mind things getting a bit icky at times.

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SODIAL IP55 Waterproof Square Junction Box

 

As part of a plan to install an external USB powered camera I needed an external housing for the junction of two cables. The junction had to be outside as I had to use a short flat format cable to feed the signal outside through the double glazed window lock. Priced at just £2.60 including shipping from China this seemed a good buy.

The box arrived packed simply in a plastic display bag with no paperwork or other items included. A wall mounting screw set and some simple instructions would have been a nice bonus but they are not really needed and for the price who can quibble.

The 82g 85 x 85 x 50mm box is made of reasonably thick plastic and is rated IP55 waterproof which means it should be fine in normal UK weather conditions but do not immerse in water or subject to high-pressure water jets. The box has seven grommet protected cable entry ports and knock-out panels on the inside to facilitate wall mounting. The 7 1 inch ports have a removable rubber grommet which should be suitable for almost all sized of cable. It is important to ensure these entry points are watertight so to feed a cable in just make a small hole in the rubber grommet and force the cable through to ensure it seals around the cable. Do not cut too large an opening or try and use it with multiple cables together as water will be sure to find a way in. If you remove the grommet to cut it again ensure it is correctly replaced with the plastic case inside the rubber grommet groove. The box lid will snap firmly shut but there is an access point for a screwdriver tip to prise it open.

I have to say I have been very pleased with this box which I am hopeful will withstand the rigours of an English winter.

The Good
Good Price
7 Access Ports
Self Sealing grommets
Easy Open Lid

The Bad
Ships From China
No Wall mounting screws

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GXZB Wyze Cam 1080p

 

UPDATE- UPDATE –

Since ordering the first camera which worked OK despite clearly not being an official Wyze product (Wyze not yet being available directly in the UK) I went ahead and ordered two more.
Neither was recognised by the Wyze app and although by guessing the meaning of the Chinese voice prompts I was able to get it on my LAN I still cannot find any software to use with the camera. I read that the MiHome would work but no. I suspect some of the cameras they sell are limited to work in mainland China only.
You might be lucky and get a working model but maybe not.
I contacted the Amazon supplier for a refund or support but got no response and had to claim my money back directly from Amazon.
In conclusion, I strongly suggest you do not buy this camera.

This camera will be familiar to users of the iSmartalarm security system as it is physically identical to their own rather more expensive Spot+ camera and in fact, it can also be found rebadged by several other manufacturers from multiple suppliers. There are a few minor physical differences, the plastic used for the iSmartalarm version has a gloss finish, but the main difference is in firmware which means that you cannot use the Wyze camera with the iSmartalarm alarm system.

In the small and neat little box was the camera itself, a USA two pin USB adapter, a stylish white flat format USB to micro-USB cable and a Chinese only User Guide. Separately packaged was a UK to USA plug adapter. Build quality for all is excellent and as good as that of iSmartalarm. One thing missing was the neat and handy sticky-backed magnetic wall mount found with the dearer rival. The Wyze cam base is still magnetic and will attach to any flat metal surface but it is a great pity the simple to use mount was left out. Do not worry too about the USA two pin PSU as the Wyze camera will work using any standard USB power socket.

Setting the device up was easy enough even for non-Chinese speakers as a walk through English language install guide is included with the Wyze Android/iOs app which needs to be installed and registered before configuring the camera. This is done by inputting your home wifi login and password to the app and then scanning the bar code generated by the app with the camera.

Once connected a range of features are on offer: motion detection (with zones and tagging), sound detection, external alarm sound Detection, timeLapse video, two-way audio, night vision, continuous recording, app push notifications.  The camera comes with free cloud recording for unlimited 12-second recordings stored for up to one week. You can also store recorded video directly onto a micro-SD card (not supplied) in the camera base.

The camera is not waterproof and is designed for indoor use only. However, there are a range of external mounts with which it can be used successfully outdoor. One such is the BECROWMEU Wyze Camera Wall Mount Bracket which I use myself.

Video quality really is excellent as along with the iSmartalarm and other clones is the best I have used at this price point and considerably above it.

Priced at less than £25 this budget wireless IP cam is by far the best I have ever tried in this price range offering excellent image quality together with free cloud storage and other advanced features.

The Good
Great price
Great Image Quality
UK Adapter Included
USB Powered
Good Android App
Easy to Configure
Free Cloud backup
SD Card recording

Timelapse Recording

The Bad
No magnetic mount
No English User Guide
Two Pin PSU

No SD card Included

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BECROWMEU Wyze Camera Wall Mount Bracket

 

Sadly the UK Amazon listing for this camera housing has changed since mine was delivered and now the listing is just for the smaller wall mount at a reduced price of £5.99. However, UK Amazon offers several similar rivals such as Silicone Cover Protective Skin for iSmart Alarm Spot Camera and the original can still be found here Wyze Camera Wall Mount Bracket.

I use the excellent iSmartalarm home security system which offers an easy self install alarm system with a range of features and options. However, for some reason, an external camera is not amongst them but third option external mounts such as the one under test are available at sensible prices. This mount fits the iSmartalarm Spot+ camera as well as the physically identical Wyze Cam popular in the USA but new to the market in the UK.

In the plain product box was the camera housing and two mounts, one a conventional ball and socket mount with screw attachment to the rear of the camera housing, the other a flush fitting square fixture into which the built-in camera base can be easily slotted. screw fitting kits are included for each mount. No instructions or paperwork of any kind were in the box. Build quality seems OK with the mounts made from lightweight plastic with metal for the ball and socket joint assembly on the bigger mount.

Both mounts screw to the wall using the supplied screws/wallplug kits. The smaller flush mount allows the flat base of the camera to be easily and quickly slotted in place but of course, offers no protection from the elements.

The larger mount uses three screws to fix to the wall with a ball and socket assembly to screw to the rear of the camera housing. The weather resistant camera housing resembles a tiny house with overlapping eaves and sides that fully cover and wrap around the camera body. If fitted correctly I see no reason why it should not protect the camera well from all but the worst weather conditions. The built-in camera stand needs to be folded flat to allow it to be slotted in place into the housing. getting it out of the housing is slightly more difficult as the housing sides have to be pulled apart to get it free. There is a ridge on the housing rear to allow the USB power cable access to the port in the rear of the camera but it works best with lightweight slim-fitting cable otherwise it may force the housing sides away from the camera allowing water to enter. Some reviewers have commented that screwing the ball and socket joint too firmly into the rear of the mount can cause it to deform and bow outwards and this is indeed the case. This again means that care needs to be taken when installing the mount to prevent water access. When fitted and in place, the camera is secure and unlikely to fall off but it may move if located in a windy position, so again take this into account.

Even taking those points into account this is an excellent way of adding an external camera to the iSmartalarm and related camera systems although additional cabling and connectors may be needed to get there. I will review the other items needed in due course.

For the £10.99 I paid I am now able to securely mount a weather protected external camera to my home security system.

Gueray Rechargeable Battery portable CD player

I was very surprised when offered this product to review. Who still uses CD players? I have not used one or even laid eyes on one for years but then sales of turntables, CD players and even Videotape players are taking off with the 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 rather mid-market box that I received was the player itself, in-ear headphones with three sets of buds, extension cable with remote control pod, USB to micro-USB charging cable, audio-in cable, soft carry case, 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, and CD-RW with four playing modes: Track Repeat, Repeat All, Play first 10s, Shuffle Play. With MP3 discs there is also an option to repeat play a selected track folder. When playing there are five audio presets to choose from. The device can either be controlled from the buttons around the mono LCD screen on the lid or using the in-line control pod. The player has a built-in 3.7V/1400mAh rechargeable battery which after a four-hour initial charge should give several hours of sustained use. It can also be powered from a USB cable when incorporated into a home music system. On my device the charging LED, red when charging and green when charging complete, worked erratically but it still seemed to charge OK.

Sound quality is excellent both when connected to an external sound system or when using the supplied headphones. Indeed, the headset is a cut above that usually supplied with portable players and can give excellent if not outstanding results.

If you need a portable CD player you are probably a specialist user and will require a good quality well-made device. This £45.99 unit is not inexpensive but it is a quality piece of kit that promises to be reliable and a good long term buy.

The Good
Good Build Quality
Good Headphones
Extension cable with in-line Controls
Carry Bag
The Bad
Expensive
Charging LED unreliable

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Sannysis Weekly Medicine Storage Organizer

This has to be the least expensive item I have ever thought worth reviewing. The reason I am reviewing this little pill box really is to register my amazement at the price. £0.81 including shipping, like Suzanne’s oranges, all the way from China. In other colours for some reason, the price goes up to £1.52.

The pillbox arrived packed in a plastic display bag and included a short metal chain so the box can be suspended or fixed to a key ring. No paperwork of any kind was included or required.

The pillbox itself is excellent. It is made from robust transparent plastic with seven compartments each clearly marked with the days of the week. Each compartment lid clicks firmly in place with no sign of popping open. Each daily compartment is large enough to hold up to a dozen or so small sized pills and probably about five larger Spansules.  On the end is a small and rather feeble plastic eyelet for the supplied mini-chain.

I would be happy enough keeping my weekly medicines in this box even when inside a suitcase or rucksack away from home. The eyelet aside, the pillbox is tough, well made and robust and answers all my needs. Hopefully, it should spare me now from the agony of wondering if I really did take my pills today or am I remembering it from yesterday…

How can they sell it so cheaply? It seems that the UK government offers free shipping to small mainland Chinese vendors and so that subsidy coupled with cheap labour means they can easily undercut British or other manufacturers.