At just £15.99 you cannot really expect too much, and certainly this is no Sennheiser but in fact and for the price, this is indeed a good buy.
In the simple, plain but robust product box was just the microphone itself, and a well written but rather small printed User guide. Build quality seems fine for the price. As you might expect for the price everything is made of plastic and feels lightweight but nevertheless seems well made and robust. The microphone has a USB interface with a hard-wired 0.9M cable. The microphone and stand are medium sized at 10.3″ high on a 3.3″ base but when sits neatly on the office desk and looks the business. The microphone has an Off/On switch on the base with status confirmation LED. The cable is hard wired which is a pity as a standard detachable USB lead would have been better as any USB cable could have been used. There is a foam pop filter on the microphone itself which can be removed if needed,
Setting it up is simple enough, is well explained in the User Guide and in fact is exactly the same as with any other USB mic. No additional drivers were needed or installed on my Windows 10 machine. It really is just push and play.
The microphone works well with decent sound quality for the price and a no significant background hum or interference. If better audio quality is needed or for high-end music recording then expect to pay much more. For Skype, blogs and Youtube this budget microphone should be perfectly fine.
If you need a small and neat mic for Skype or other uses with your desktop PC and appreciate the attractive and stylish design this might be for you.
Good User Guide
I have tried plenty of LED strip lights before, many of them with remote control but this is the first new generation model I have tried with full Amazon/Google voice control integration.
Unlike many budget rivals, this package is nicely presented, contains all you need and does not feel like a cheap import. In the well designed and attractive product was the 2M strip itself on a film style reel, a control box, a power supply with standard UK plug and 1.2M cable, a sticky mount for the control box, cable mount kit with screws, LED strip extension connector, and a well-printed colour User Guide.
Build quality seems first rate, with all the kit appearing well made and robust. Unlike with many rivals, the User guide is genuinely useful and I reproduce the most important pages in my unboxing video. Much of the User Guide concerns the iLinTek app which I myself do not use and which is simple and intuitive to use.
Planning is important so first work out where the cabling can be routed out of sight, the best place for the light strip etc. I would suggest connecting it up on your workbench before fixing it in place and then set up Alexa/Google integration before sticking the LED tape down. You may need to cut the LED strip to the length you need, the cut marks are clearly indicated on the strip. Clean the mounting surface first to ensure good adhesion and you may even want to use a few clear plastic cable cleats to keep it in place for long term use. You may also wish to fit an extension strip if the 2M strip supplied is not long enough – the six pin male/male adapter needed is included in the kit but take care not to lose it as it is tiny. Make sure you select a six pin LED strip extension and not the older four pin type.
Setting the device up is simple enough. Connect the power supply to the control box and the control box to the LED strip. I found this last step a bit fiddly as it was a snug fit and I was worried about bending the pins, but after a few careful pushes, it was done. You can turn the strip on at this point and it should flash rapidly to show it is in setup mode. If it does not flash just hold the control box button for a few seconds until it starts. You now open the iLintek app which you should have already downloaded, installed and registered and follow the on-screen prompts to install a new lighting appliance. You can then rename the device to one better suited to voice control. You can now control it from the app and Alexa/Google should automatically recognise it. I should add that the strip works just as well with the SmartLife app and in fact, that is the one I prefer as I already use it for a range of other Alexa controlled devices.
Using Alexa/Google you can now turn the light strip On or Off, change colours and apply a range of other effects. It can also be incorporated into automated routines using Alexa, Google or IFTTT to come on or change settings when a range of selected external events take place.
This is an excellent device and although at £25.99 it is not the cheapest I have seen, the build quality, detailed documentation and versatility make it a cut above older budget rivals.
Available now from Amazon for £17.99, this is one of a range of new gaming devices from EasySMX. This rather less expensive than the high-end rivals and less than half the price of the Microsoft Xbox 360 controller which it closely resembles. This device is very similar to the EasySMX KC-8236 I reviewed from EasySMX but has a few crucial differences.
The device in a simple but attractive branded product box containing the controller, mini USB transceiver, and a well printed if rather a small User Guide. I append a scan of the User Guide to my unboxing video.
The mini USB stick is as you would expect it to be and seems well made and robust. It has no status LED to confirm power connection and the USB stick has no printed logo and so is hard to identify if mislaid. The controller has a matt black finish with red piping and sports all the usual buttons in the standard configuration: A, B, X, Y buttons, LB, RB buttons, left and right triggers, Start and Back buttons, two clickable mini-joysticks, an 8-way D-pad, and Home button. Unlike the earlier model, this one has a Turbo button between the two joysticks. It has blue LEDs incorporated into the Home Button. It has a simple dual-mode vibration motor for alerts and in-game use. It promises and I found delivers over twenty hours of gaming use from the two AA batteries it requires, another change from the other model which features a rechargeable battery.
The device should work with almost any gaming device that uses USB, including Fire Stick, PS3, Android etc. I tested it with my Windows 10 PC and it worked perfectly as soon as the USB stick was inserted with no need for additional drivers or software. The construction feels reassuringly robust and ergonomically friendly in the hand. The buttons and controls are all easy to use and resistance free. I must say I noticed a slight latency with the two analogue sticks caused by the distance they need to be pushed before becoming active. However, this is something that can be worked around, I daresay, with experience.
This is an excellent product for the money. High-level gamers may be prepared to pay out much more for the slightly smoother gaming experience and reduced latency of a pro level controller but for most gamers, this new controller should offer all they need.
Uses standard AA batteries
No USB stick LED
This well made £29.99 cycling helmet from Base Camp arrived simply packaged with no branded product box. Although the headset was perfectly well protected the lack of a display box does make it rather less appealing as a gift. Inside the box was the helmet itself, a drawstring carry bag and a small but well-written User guide. I include a copy of the User Guide in my unboxing video.
Build quality of everything seems fine although of necessity rather lightweight being made of plastic and EPS foam. The LED light and battery seem watertight and rain proof but no IP rating is given. I would not expect any problems in normal UK rain. The helmet is fully adjustable between medium to large sizes (22 to 24 inches) with a quick release buckle The inner sponge lining is held in place by a clip and can easily be removed for cleaning.
The headset is a standard one in many respects and from a distance looks the same as the rest. Indeed I suspect it is a generic model rebranded for different suppliers. That is fine by me and in fact and this one is a shade less costly than some rivals I have seen. It has a bright red multi-LED warning light on the rear which can be switched turn on/off or switched between flashing and always on modes using the switch built into the light itself. This is awkward to reach and the rider would need to stop in order to do so. The light is powered by a CR2032 watch type battery. Although these batteries are inexpensive and widely available it is a pity that a rechargeable battery was not used. The light needs to be removed from the rear of the helmet which is best done using a flat screwdriver to ease it out as it is a tight fit and held in place by pressure only.
A good quality helmet is a necessity for all cyclists these days and the addition of the safety light is a great bonus. This is an excellent lightweight safety helmet and would be a worthwhile addition to any cyclists kit.
Watch type battery used
Available for £18.99 on Amazon this has to be judged as a budget item but in fact, you get quite a lot for your money here with the new gaming headset from EasySMX.
The device arrived nicely presented in a mid-range branded display box. Inside the box were the headset itself, headset splitter cable and a large and easy to read User Guide which I include at the end of my unboxing video.
The headset seems nicely made, robust and strong, and quite attractively designed compared to some gamer headsets I have tried – which is not necessarily saying much. It is well padded on both the earcups, which are of the over-ear type, and on the headband which has a soft sling beneath a rigid frame. It is lightweight, comfortable and easy to wear even for long gaming sessions. The headset does not support Bluetooth, as an increasing number do now, but does have a dual cable adapter to allow for separate mic/audio connections – green for headset, red for the microphone. The splitter adapter’s standard 3.5mm plug allows the headset to be used with mobile phones and other devices with combined microphone and audio socket. The earcups and microphone tip have bright blue LED’s when connected using the USB plug and in fact, this is the only purpose of the USB plug as USB audio is not supported and there is no built-in vibration engine. There are no in-line controls but instead, all the controls are on the headset: volume control rotary dial, microphone On/Off and, unlike with most rivals, a separate switch to turn the LED lights On and Off.
The audio quality is excellent and worthy of a higher priced device and one of the best I have tried in this budget price range. 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. When making calls the audio quality from the mic was fine with my caller saying my voice was clear, undistorted and easy to understand.
As headphones for general listening, this headset is excellent for the price. As a purely gaming headset, it less attractive. The mic has been improved but I would still prefer a clearer sound. It is worth saying again that the USB connection is to power the LED lights and not to allow for system-level interaction with a gaming console.
These are 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 a serious gamer and prepared to pay more, particularly a console user then my advice would be to keep looking. If you are looking for a budget headset for music, PC Gaming and general use then this would be a good buy.
Passive noise reduction
No vibration Engine
This simple but very practical alarm clock and night light from Outwit is currently available from Amazon for just £8.99 and for that budget price is a great buy.
The clock arrived presented in a simple but attractive mid-market box containing the clock and a well written but rather hard to read instruction sheet. No batteries were included.
The 102g 100x90x90mm ABS all plastic kid friendly clock is touch-operated and has two pressure switches on the underside which react when the top of the device is pressed down. Pressing once turns the unit On and again to turn it off. The control buttons are all situated on the base of the device next to the battery housing panel for the three AAA batteries required. The controls are simple and easy to operate and allow the user to set the current time, date, alarm time, snooze time (up to sixty minutes) and select from any of the eight alarm tones on offer. Pressing the Up, Down or Alarm button to cancel the alarm when it is sounding.
After configuration and when switched on the clock displays the current date, time, temperature and Alarm status. It will automatically begin cycling through the seven backlight colours which can be cancelled by touching the clock body.
The clock is marketed as being child-friendly and this is perhaps due to the simple construction from safe materials together with the lightweight but robust and durable build quality.
If you need a budget-friendly simple alarm and nightlight for any room including a child’s bedroom this would be a very worthwhile choice.
Easy to Use
No touch panel alarm cancellation