YUCHENG LED Ceiling Light 24W with Bluetooth Speaker

This new smart ceiling light from YUCHENG arrived simply but securely packed in a rather unexciting plain box. A pity as a branded well-designed box makes the product look more upmarket and helps with sales.

Inside the box was the lamp itself, a well printed and colourful User Guide to the software, and a fixing kit with screws and electrical connectors. No guide to the installation of the lamp was included although this is pretty much self-evident.

Physically installing the lamp is not too hard. The flexible plastic shade just lifts off after rotating to the left a few degrees. Using the screws provided you then attach the lamp to the ceiling through the predrilled holes around the mount circumference. Two cables protrude from the rear of the unit for the power supply.

The real appeal of the unit lies with the control over light and audio offered through smartphone control. Download and install the iLink app, connect the lamp to your phone with Bluetooth and then to the app – the User Guide explains how – and then you have full control over the lamp. With the app, you can control the brightness of the lamp, the colour warmth of the white and a range of colours through a mixture of granulated sliders and presets. There are also a range of preset colour patterns available as well as music control whereby the light pattern varies according to the music, although I was not too keen on this myself. If the smartphone is not available then switching the unit off and on at the wall will cause it illuminate at full power in white, the default option and it will not revert to any colour setting, which is both a good and bad thing. Should the Bluetooth link break then there is no need to remove the device from the ceiling to relink the devices. The Android app (I did not test the Apple app) is well written and easy to use, a refreshing change from many apps poorly ported from Chinese.

The music the light reacts to is that currently playing on the connected smartphone and this is also relayed to the lamp’s internal speaker. Selecting music from the Android app shows only downloaded MP3 files but I found files streamed through Google Play Music also worked. The audio quality is better than I expected although less good than I hoped for. The app has a built-in equalizer to fine tune the sound. It is fine for background music and general audio use but less so for audiophiles or music fans. For normal everyday use, it is perfectly OK.

This is an excellent device that can be used in the living room as a normal room light or as a party or feature light elsewhere. The music function would make it a good choice for a reception area or waiting room. The current price of £85.77 is not inexpensive by any means but this is a well designed, well thought out and nicely made piece of kit and worth paying out for.

The Good
Good build quality
Defaults to white after power switch off
Easy to install
Well written and easy to use app
Timer On/Off option

The Bad
No mounting instructions included
No wifi connection
Not inexpensive
Does not remember the last setting after power off

More info and purchase

Elecguru Wowtation Pocket Power Screwdriver wowSTICK A1

If Apple made screwdrivers this is what they would be like!

The screwdriver arrived beautifully presented in a large very upmarket box bearing on the lid the words: “For your Favorite Easy and Enjoy”, I am not quite sure what it means but no doubt it is something good. Inside, again lavishly cushioned and protected was the screwdriver itself, Charging station, Charging station cover, magnetic flexible screw-pad, USB charging cable, set of ten drillbits and taps. The only criticism is that the User Guide, elegant and well produced though it is, is virtually impossible to make sense of. I have reproduced it in my unboxing video, so make of it what you will. In any case, operating this device is not rocket science.

The screwdriver itself is made from brushed metal and feels smooth and elegant in the hand. It has three LED array to illuminate the drill bit controlled by s button on the side. On the side too are forward and back motor switches.

The battery in the screwdriver is charged from the base station, itself powered by a standard USB cable. The single LED in the base glows white when connected and charging, red when the battery is low and goes off when fully charged.

The storage case for the bits is magnetic, as is the black pad that is also supplied.

As you would expect it is used pretty much as any other screwdriver and I was pleased to see that any standard 1/8″ bit drill head can be used with it. Switching the device on allows the head to rotate automatically clockwise or anticlockwise with the DoubLe mode allowing motor and hand torque to work together. The impenetrable user guide makes this hard to fathom out. One half hour charge of the screwdriver should give at least five to six hours of sustained use. Lovely, to look at though it is this is still a high-end piece of equipment and is perfect for working on sensitive electronic goods or high end and delicate items.

This would make a perfect gift for any electronics enthusiast with a sense of style and taste.

The Good
Superb build quality
Lavish presentation

The Bad
Poorly translated User Guide

More info and purchase

Wholev 8 inch 1024×768 LCD CCTV Monitor with Speaker

This little monitor from Wholev arrived nicely packaged in a robust but plain brown box. This is a pity as more upmarket packaging would make it more attractive as a gift.

Inside the box was the monitor itself, HDMI cable, BNC cable, VGA cable, UK power adapter and cord, stand, User Guide. I include a scan of the user guide in my unboxing video. Everything you need to get it up and running is included in the box.

This little monitor has all the ports and interfaces of a full-sized version: VGA, HDMI, BNC, AV and is supplied with all the cables needed for most connections. The HDMI cable is braided and heavy duty as are the others. No corners seem to be cut here. My only gripe is that the supplied power cord is rather too short and there seems to be no headphone socket. On the front are a row of buttons, good clicky buttons not soft touch, for Power Off/On, input source selection, Menu, Volume/selection Up, Volume/Selection down. Using the OSD menu you can flip the screen orientation if necessary to allow the monitor to be mounted upside down.

To test it I connected it to the HDMI out on an Android TV box and the monitor immediately recognised the connection and displayed it on screen with no selection or screen adjustments needed. Pressing the Menu button will display a range of adjustable options for brightness, contrast and more for me the default values worked fine. Audio from the built-in speaker was loud and clear if a bit tinny but fine given the size of the device. Picture quality was clear, sharp and bright and more than acceptable for the budget price.

If you need a small monitor for home security, a second screen for a computer or for use with an Android TV box then this would be a good choice. The current reduced price of just £48.99 makes this a particularly attractive buy.

The Good
Good price
Good build quality
High-quality cables
Integral speaker
Easy access controls
Easy to configure

The Bad
Power cable too short
Cable access restricted when on stand
Audio quality could be better
No headphone socket

More info and purchase

Oittm Smart WiFi Socket for Alexa and Google Home

I was not actually expecting too much from this wifi socket. In the past, I have experimented with cheap wifi and Bluetooth home devices with distinctly mixed results. At home, I currently use LightwaveRF switches with my Amazon Echo and Google home setups and this works well but needs a hub to be connected to my router. This socket from Oittm requires no hub and connects directly to Amazon Echo and Google Home.

In the box was the plug itself and a well printed and easy to read but rather small colour User Guide all presented in a simple but attractively designed mid-market product box. The plug itself is well made, nicely designed and feels robust enough for long-term everyday use. I was pleased to see that it is not too wide and should fit fine into a multi-socket wall fixture. It has a single button on the front, a proper clicky button that you can feel engaging, with a red LED above it to indicate Off/On status.

Setting it up was easy enough but the Smart Life app has to be downloaded first for Apple or Android. To use the app you have to register using an email address but a disposable address can be used if you are concerned about security. To setup, the plug follow the instructions in the app, press and hold the button on the plug until it starts flashing quickly, select the device type from the list, input your wifi password, let the app detect the device on the network. The switch can then be controlled by the app and you can add the Alexa and Google Home Smart Life skills to get in onto their ecosystem. The Smart Life app will walk you through this.

The app is excellent and does much more than just allow you to add the plug to Alexa and Google. The app will also allow the plug to be triggered by events such as you entering and leaving the house, sunrise/sunset, etc and will work in conjunction with a wide range of wifi devices from the same manufacturer. My only criticism of the app is that on my OnePlus 5T Android phone I find the text impossibly small and difficult to read.

This is an excellent product in its own right and when integrated with Alexa or Google really can start to transform your home.

The Good
Good price
Works with Alexa
Works with Google Home
Excellent App
No hub needed
Part of wide range of devices

The Bad
App text too small
Plug LED very bright

More info and purchase

Joso Dash Cam, 170° Wide Angle, Parking Monitor

Insurance frauds and scams are growing daily and one way of fighting back is to install a good quality dash cam. Dashcams such as this one are positioned discreetly pointing forwards through the front window and record all your driving activity. The dashcam turns on automatically when the car is started and off again a short time after the engine is turned off. It records continuously in short recordings onto a memory card that seamlessly dovetails together when played back. When the card is full the camera records over the oldest recording. A good camera will have a built-in G-Sensor which automatically records impacts and secures that file against overwriting.

Dashcam prices seem to be in freefall and whereas at one time you were not able to get a good quality car dashcam for under £150 now prices start at less than £30 and this camera, priced at just £29.99 is a typical budget camera. But is it any good.?

Presented in a simple eco-friendly brown box aside from the camera there was a car power adapter, sticky mount, long USB power cable, USB cable and User Guide. The camera is stylishly designed and all seems well made and robust. The User Guide is small but it is fairly well printed and easy to read. I include a copy at the end of my unboxing video, switch to fullscreen and pause as needed to read it.

The camera takes a micro-USB storage card of up to 32GB in size but sadly no card was included which means the device cannot be used straight from the box. No matter as cards are very inexpensive and widely available. Make sure you use a good quality class 10 card from a known manufacturer, Many people blame video failings on the camera when it, in fact, the cause is a cheap or low-end memory card.

Fixing the camera mount to the windscreen by the mirror on my little Toyota Aygo was easy enough and the cable was easily long enough. This camera is quite small and easy enough to conceal behind the driving mirror. Configuring the device is easy enough due to the brighter than average screen and once done should not need to be repeated.

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. 1080P at 30fps is the minimum to consider these days for a dashcam and this camera supports this. The camera has the all-important G-Sensor which autosaves and protects video files in which it detects a sudden stop or impact. The angle of view of the camera is 170 degrees and this wider than found with most cameras.

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 sample video just to give you a rough idea but remember it will have been heavily compressed for display here.

This is a budget dashcam but offers all the features you will need. All you actually 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 driving speeding errors detected by the GPS against you. 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, with a motion sensor to record footage if the car is disturbed when parked up, but I have yet to find decent parking protection due to system latency which means by the time the video starts recording the cause of the incident is long gone. But these are not important features. The only worthwhile feature lacking for me is that of second dual write TF card, which few cameras do have, but is handy so you always have a copy of the card handed to the police.

This is an excellent budget dashcam which will meet all your needs. It is well made, attractive in appearance and capable of giving excellent quality results. The price is excellent given the quality of the video.

The Good
Great price
Good build quality
Good video quality
Microphone
Parking Mode

The Bad
No Memory card supplied
No GPS included
Low light video could be better
No HDMI out

More info and purchase

Blueskysea B1W WiFi Mini Dashcam

This is an unusual dashcam, small in size and with no screen. Don’t let that put you off, in fact, this is an excellent Dashcam indeed, and one of the best I have used in the budget to mid-range price bracket.

Insurance frauds and scams are growing daily and one way of fighting back is to install a good quality dash cam. Dashcams such as this one are positioned discreetly pointing forwards through the front window and record all your driving activity. The dashcam turns on automatically when the car is started and off again a short time after the engine is turned off. It records continuously in short recordings onto a memory card that seamlessly dovetails together when played back. When the card is full the camera records over the oldest recording. A good camera will have a built-in G-Sensor which automatically records impacts and secures that file against overwriting.

Dashcam prices are falling fast. At one time you were not able to get a good quality car dashcam for under £150 now prices start at less than £30 and this camera, priced at just £49.99 is priced near the bottom of the range. But is it any good?

Presented in a simple if not plain brown box, which does it no favours as a gift, as well as the camera inside, was a car power adapter with long hard-wired cable, two sticky mounts (another is prefitted), long power cable, USB cable, and a User Guide. The camera is stylishly designed and all seems well made and robust. The User Guide is large, well printed and easy to read. I include a scan of it in my unboxing video. Switch to full screen and pause to read it.

The camera takes a micro-USB storage card of up to 64GB in size but sadly no card was included which means the device cannot be used straight from the box. No matter, as cards are very inexpensive and widely available. Make sure you use a good quality class 10 card from a known manufacturer, Many users blame video failings on the camera when it, in fact, the cause is a cheap or low-end memory card.

Fixing the camera using the double-sided mount on my Toyota Aygo was easy enough and the cable was easily long enough. This camera is quite small and easy enough to conceal behind the driving mirror. The lens can rotate completely around and can even be made point inside the car if wanted, handy perhaps for taxi drivers. Configuring the screenless camera was simple indeed using the built-in wifi and this can be done at home before installing the camera. Plug the camera into a USB power source and then connect your mobile phone to the mini wifi network generated by the camera using the password 1234567890 and open the B1W-CARDVR app you will have downloaded previously. The app will connect automatically to the camera, no password or accounts needed, and from here you can fully configure the camera as well as take recording and video. (Of course in normal use the camera will record to its internal micro-SD card. Voice prompts from the camera will help.

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. 1080P at 30fps is the minimum to consider these days for a dashcam and this camera supports this. The camera has the all-important G-Sensor which autosaves and protects video files in which it detects a sudden stop or impact. The angle of view of the camera is 110 degrees and this wider than those found with many cameras.

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.

This is a budget dashcam but offers all the features you will need. All you actually 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 driving speeding errors detected by the GPS against you. 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. Pressing the large end button once will lock video clips not already automatically flagged by the G-Sensor. Long press to turn off wifi, which is on and stays on by default. Do not worry that it lacks parking mode, I have yet to find decent parking protection camera due to image latency – by the time the video starts recording the cause of the incident is long gone. But these are not important features. The only worthwhile feature lacking for me is that of second dual write TF card, which few cameras do have, but is handy so you always have a copy of the card handed to the police.

This is an unusual and well-designed Dashcam capable of giving excellent results and easy to conceal in the car,

The Good
Good price
Good build quality
Good video quality
Microphone
Wifi setup
Good app
Easy configuration

The Bad
No Memory card supplied
No GPS included
Low light video could be better
No HDMI out
Poor presentation

More info and purchase

 

SoundPEATS Q30 Wireless Secure Fit Earbuds for Sports

I needed a pair of budget earphones to use when running. I needed a pair that was lightweight, weatherproof, robust but with decent audio quality. yes, and I did not want to pay too much for them.This new pair from SoundPEATS seemed to meet all my needs and at just £13.15 are cheap enough not be worth taking a chance on.

I was very surprised when they arrived. Far from the generic brown box with minimal packaging, in fact, they arrived very nicely presented in a rather upmarket presentation box. Inside aside from the headset was a USB charging cable, a soft carry case, spare sets of buds and tips, a detailed although poorly printed User Guide and a Quick Start guide. Build quality seems fine and distinctly upscale for the price. The headset looks well made and not cheap at all, the carry case is not the usual drawstring type but has a self-closing metal purse style mouth. The User Guide is comprehensive and well written.

The headset looks good, way above the price point, and has an in-line control box, larger than normal ear tips with find pre-applied buds and fins. There is a grommet protected micro-USB charging slot. The in-line control box is a good size, feels tough enough for sustained use and has large embossed letters so there is no need to look down at it to operate it. I was very surprised to learn the headset supports the new APT-X codec, still usually found on only high-end headsets.

Sound quality is good, not fantastic, but better than I was expecting or had any right to hope for at the price. There is a good amount of bass and mid and high frequencies are clean and undistorted and with no trace of sibilance.

To go with the headset I also bought an excellent charging case, also from SoundPEATS, so I can protect the headset and keep it charged up when on the go.

For the price, and not just for the price, this is a remarkable buy.

The Good
Great price
Good build quality
Good packaging
AptX codec
In line controls

The Bad
User Guide hard to read

More info and purchase