Techstick 960P WiFi Wireless Security Surveillance Camera QJ002

I was not sure what to expect when I bought this camera but I took a chance knowing it that at £40.99 it was not too expensive and in any case could always be sent back but in fact in most respects it has exceeded my expectations.

In the attractive mid market box was the camera itself, a short USB to micro-USB cable, Uk USB power adaptor, ceiling mounting kit, reset tool, and a poorly printed and hard to read User Guide. I attach the User Guide to the end of my unboxing video.

The camera is made of plastic and light in weight – no bad thing for a device designed for a ceiling mount – but seems well made and robust. it is smaller than I was expecting and is about the size of a doughnut. On the front, the side pointing down from the ceiling, is the lens and single infra red light LED together with the speaker and reset hole. On the side are the TF card and USB power port together with the single status LED.

Setting up was far easier than I expected having had bad experiences with many cameras in the past. The first thing is to download and install the HDIPC360 app and power up the camera and wait for the LED to flash. Registering the app before us is mandatory (just use a disposable email address if worried about security) and then to add the camera just input your home network wifi and hold the phone next to the app as it emits a series of chirps and cheeps to send the setup data to the camera. The LED will stop flashing and you should then be connected. This worked for me the first time. Checking on my router I could see the camera had been assigned a LAN IP number and was online. It is a pity there was no Ethernet port as that will always give a better and more stable result and with POE could also have powered the device.

Mounting was easy enough but the USB cable is short and for long term use mounted to the ceiling you will have to find a way of getting around this. The mounting kit included allows for easy removal and the camera wil just unclip from the mount just like a smoke alarm. The SD
card slot is easy to access and the card can be removed without having to take the camera down.

The app can then be used to configure the camera to your needs. The camera can then save photos or videos on demand from the app or automatically through motion detection to the app and the micro SD card (up to 128G supported). It will send real time push alerts to the phone but will not send emails or upload over ftp. The app interface is far better than I was expecting and was easy to navigate and bug free. It was quite unlike the usual hard to configure, difficult to navigate, buggy, and poorly translated apps usually found with IP camneras.

VThere are two video quality levels: HD at 1280×960 and SD at 480×640. SD is Ok for viewing on the phone but HD is needced for everything else. The video is sharp and clear but by no means as good as from many other cameras. There is much reciliniear distortion due to the fish eye lens which is made worse by the seeming low resolution of the camera. Don’t get me wrong, it is not terrible or even bad but could be better. I enclose samples on my video but keep in mind they will have been compressed to 720p before uploading and compressed again for display here. Nevertheless you should get a rough idea of the quality as well as the wide angl lens effect.

Below I have included the Good and Bad points that came to mind but many of the Bad include features not normally to be expected on budget devices but worth mentioning for those that may need them.

This is an unusual webcam, the first of this type I have used, and although it lacks a few things it is well priced and offers features few others do and perhaps none in this price range.

The Good
Good price
Easy setup
Good build quality
Good App
Twist to unmount
Two way audio
Fish-eye lens
Motion detection
In app alerts
Mounting for long term use difficult
Support 128G TF Card

The Bad
Short cable
Average video quality
Poorly printed User Guide
No SD card included
App registration mandatory
No email alerts
No FTP alerts
No audio out
No Web interface
No Ethernet port
No Alarm System interface
No 5Ghz wifi support

More info and purchase

Tonbux 4K Waterproof WiFi Action Cam AC170201

Action camera prices are falling and every day it seems less buys more. At only £49.95 at the time of writing this is by no means at the bottom of the market either in price nor features. A year or so ago you could not get a decent sports camera for under £150. I have tried a few Tonbux products in the past and they have all been good quality but well priced and I was interested to see how this new action camera shaped up.

At this point I usually include a list of items in the box but in this case there are too many to mention. Suffice it to say that in addition to the camera the box also contains a collections of almost all the accessories and mounts needed by most users. Notably these include a second battery (one is already fitted) and waterproof housing that differs from the norm in design. It is also worth noting that although no case or carry bag was provided the simple cardboard box the camera arrived in would be robust enough to double for storage use between shoots. Also missing was a SD card. these are cheap enough these days and the inclusion of the card would allow the cammera to be used straight from the box.

The User Guide is typical for action cameras in that it is small and hard to read but explains the basics about the how to operate the action cam. I attach a copy of the guide to my unboxing video. Run the video full frame and pause when needed to read it.

The camera itself is actually rather better than I expected for the money. Video quality is excellent, and a definite step up from the cheaper no-name clones. The 170° angle of view is great but with the barrel distortion common to all cameras of this type. There was a time when this would have been seen as a high end camera and now standards are moving higher even in the budget market. This camera does a perfectly decent quality 4K@30fps (too slow for many action uses) as well several other rather more useful modes including 1920×1080@60fps and 720P slow motion at 120fps. The slow motion is good but could be better – my Nexus 6P phone does 240fps.

Similarly, we are told it is waterproof to 30M, which is way above average, but there is no mention if this means it has been tested and rated IP68 or what. I would want to know what this was before diving with the camera.

The camera has loop recording, which is used for cameras with Car Mode and it will automatically power up but recording would need to be started manually. Also I do not think the camera has a G-sensor needed to flag impact recordings. However, I have yet to find an action camera that will actually work effectively in car mode so it is no great loss..

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 attached phone to control the camera and viewed live streamed video. To use it you need to download the “SportLook” app from Apple or Android. The Android app is better than most and will stream a decent quality video stream, save images and video to the app as well as give easy access to the otherwise rather hard to negotiate camera settings. I was not able to test the iOS version of the app.

I was impressed by video quality which I found to be excellent at the most used setting of 1080p@60fps. Slow motion was OK at 720p but could be better. Still images were OK but not exciting with low light resolution poor.

On balance I would say this is an excellent buy for the money and at the mid range price of just under £50 the price it is not too dear.

This is a excellent quality mid level camera and has a features and performance that lifts it above the run of the mill. If you enjoy using it you may want to shell out more in the future for a high end model.

The Good
Great price
Good video quality
170° Angle of view
True 4K video
120 fps 720p Slow motion
FHD @ 60fps
Wifi
64GB card support
Good Android app
Good packaging

The Bad
No SD card included
No Car mode
Slow motion could be better
No carry bag

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Essential Oil Diffuser ,7 Colour LED lights by GX.Diffuser

This new and unusual aromatherapy oil diffuser from GX.Diffuser® was supplied in a plain and eco friendly brown cardboard box which protected the device perfectly free from the usual garish packaging. Given the nature of the product what better way could there be to present it? Inside the box was the diffuser itself, a power supply with a UK plug,, a plastic measuring jug and a well written and easy to read User Guide (which I include on the end of my unboxing video).

Although made entirely of plastic the device is nevertheless attractively designed with a wood grain effect except for the translucent cover of the LED light display. With a reservoir capacity of 150ml this unit is on the small size but should still diffuse the oil aroma for up to nine ahours according the the User Guide.

To operate the device is simplicity itself. Detach the the top of the unit and the cover beneath from the base, fill the unit with water to the indicated mark on the tank, add a few drops of your favourite essential oil, replace the top and cover, plug in and switch on by preessing down on the right side of the unit from the top.

 

There are no external buttons or controls. There is just the one pressure switch on the base activated pressing down on the device. One press will turn it on and it will scrol through the seven LED colours as it mists. A second press will lock it to the current LED colour as misting continues. Press again and the LED lights will go off although the misting carries on. One more press to turn both lights and misting off. The product Amazon page mentions four timer settings but there are no sign of any timing controls and so I suspect this may be a translation error.

The diffuser is nicely designed and should sit well in a home, office or clinical environment, the lighting is subtle and unobtrusive and the misting process is pleasant and can lift or give atmosphere to the room. Be aware that due to the nature of the misting process some water may be precipitated around the device so do not locate it close to sensitive objects. This diffuser emits a fair amount of mist, more so than most of the others I have tried, which is a good or bad thing according to your outlook.

Of the several diffusers I have experimented with this is one of the very best as it simple to use, looks good and works well. This is the first I have tried with this scalloped body shape and which features no button controls.

This is a very attractive and eminently functional unit and should answer all your needs when looking for an oil diffuser and humidifier.
The price at just £22.99 must be hard to better too.

The Good
Good build quality
Eco friendly packaging
UK plug
Good User Guide
Safety auto off feature
Seven light colours
Four timer settings
9 hours operating time

The Bad
No sample oil
No timer functions
Only one misting level
Some adjacent water precipitation

More info and purchase

Tycka 204 Led Camera Lighting Panel EU-TK204

I make a fair number of videos of this sort and getting the light balanced correctly can often be a problem. This budget priced compact sized LED light panel may be just what I need.

Inside the plain but heavy duty box, robust enough for long term storage, was the light panel itself, a 2200mAh Li-ion battery battery with charger and USB cable, camera hot shoe mount with threaded 1/4 tripod mount, self supporting stand, connecting mount, User Guide. I include a scan of the User Guide on my unboxing video. All the items seem robust and well made and I would not expect anything to break or snap anytime soon.

Using the device is easy enough but first it needs to be charged using the supplied charging unit which takes just a couple of hours and will give several hours of use depending on how the light levels are set. I was pleased to see the battery is a widely used SONY standard model which can be easily replaced with spares available for around £20 each
The light can be powered directly from the mains using a DC 7.2 – 9v power source but annoyingly no adaptor is supplied. However, the socket looks to be a standard one and so it would be easy enough to find a suitable adaptor.

Once the battery is fitted and the device turned on using the rear mounted controls it is simple enough to operate. One rotary dial controls the colour temperature which ranges from a warm 3200K – to an almost daylight 5600K, the other rotary control determines the light output which at full power is very bright indeed for the size of the panel.

The supplied mounts allow the light to be positioned on the standard Hot Shoe mount found on most professional semi pro cameras with the option to mount on a standard tripod mount or on a small self supporting base.
The unit is quite heavy and so it will need a secure mount or tripod to hold it firmly.

This is an excellent little unit and would be perfect for those making home studio videos or as a fill light when shooting outdoors. The direct light can be a bit harsh and so a reflector or diffuser would be needed for best results. For the current price of just £36.99 this should be in any gadget bag of any photographer or videoographer.

The Good
Good price
Good build quality
Battery Self non proprietory battery
Batteries widely available

The Bad
Heavy
No Mains supply adaptor
No carry case

More info and purchase

Orinsong Bluetooth 4.1 Wireless On-Ear Headphones with Built-in Mic

Price can be deceiving with this new headset from Orinsong which being currently priced at £29.99 has to be judged as as budget headset. This looks and sounds like it should quite a bit more.

Inside the attractive and well designed windowed display box aside from the headset itself was a soft carry Case, USB Charging Cable and User Guide. The User Guide is quite comprehensive although too small to read easily. I attach a scan of it to my unboxing video

The headphones feel lightweight but well made and robust and is of the on-ear rather than over-ear type. The headset looks good with an attractive grey silk finish to the body and what looks like PU leather for the headband and earcups. The padding is adequate but by no means luxurious. The headband, earcups and sliding mechanism are made of metal. The build quality seems fine to me with no sign of the padding on the band working loose, poor stitching, visible wires or weak joints – all elements that have failed on similar headsets I have owned in the past. There is nothing to make me suppose that the headset is not well made. Time will tell and if something fails in the future I will update the review accordingly.

Unlike with most rivals there is no option to use an audio cable, these headphones are Bluetooth only and a short USB to micro-USB charging cable is provided for this purpose. The simple control buttons are on one ear cup only and are easy to find and identify by touch and by sight. There are the usual track/volume and multi function buttons and I was pleased to see it has a separate power Off/On button. The buttons are large and not recessed as they too often are and this makes them easy to use by feel and for me this is a big plus.

Bluetooth Pairing simple enough and achieved in the usual way by depressing the Multi-function/Power button for several seconds. Connection is indicated by the usual Red/Blue flashing LED with voice status prompts. Once paired I found the connection to be stable and strong.

Battery life seems fine to me and I have no reason to doubt the claimed 8 to tens hours music time from a two hour charge.

This headset is lacking a few features often found even on cheaper units these days. The is no FM radio, SD card slot, NFC pairing or wired connection option.

Keeping in mind that this is not an expensive headset I was very happy indeed with the audio quality. The bass is good, clear, smooth and undistorted. Mid tones are clear and detailed and very easy to listen to. The sound quality of this headset has to be one of the main selling points. The headset has the looks of a high end device and the presentation is that of a much dearer product and this makes it more attractive still as a gift.

I like this headset. It is well made, comfortable, lightweight and easy to wear even for extended listening sessions and with decent sound quality too. It is a pity there was no SD card or radio but I wonder how many people would actually use those missing features? Nevertheless, the excellent audio reproduction and good build quality and presentation makes this a great buy for the price asked.

The Good
Great price
Attractive up market looks
Excellent sound quality
Easy touch controls
Voice prompts
Good build quality
Comfortable to wear
Microphone
Bluetooth 4.1
Carry bag

The Bad
No NFC
No SD card
No Radio
No AptX codec support

More info and purchase

ROWNYEON Portable Professional Makeup Case

This is described as a Makeup Organiser Case for the use of models, hairdressers and those in the Beauty industry and although this is what the case was designed for in fact it could be used by anyone with delicate small objects to transport and store or even as an overnight bag.

The 41 x 29.5 x 10.2 cm bag resembles a small suitcase externally and in fact could be used for this purpose or as a carry-on bag and has an elasticated external band which can be looped over the extended handle of a wheeled suitcase. The bag is made from semi rigid Oxford Fabric – so don’t go putting suitcases on top of it – and seems very well made and robust. It has a strong brass double zip securing the top and this opens to reveal a 10cm deep base section with a fully modular and adjustable set of rigid dividers which can be positioned as needed to make up to ten storage compartments. The dividers can be removed altogether if required to make one large storage area. The lid section of the case has nine elasticated pockets suitable for brushes or other small items. One thoughtful addition is the addition of a pull down Velcro fastened flap to cover it to protect the rest of the case from spills or smearing from brushes stored here. Both the inner surface of this flap and area that it covers are made from a high gloss wipe clean plastic. The lid also has a zipped full size internal pocket suitable for documents, mirror or even an iPad.

For myself I plan to use this case to store and transport delicate electronic engineering equipment and for this I feel it should be perfectly suited.

There are cheaper alternatives priced rather less than the £49.99 asked for this case from ROWNYEON but I doubt they would have the professional level build quality of this one or the attention to detail clearly spent on the design.

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BOROFONE BE8 True Wireless Earbuds

I have been looking for a pair of back up true wireless earbuds for use in situations where I may lose my expensive [[ASIN:B073S9QQXH Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless Bluetooth Waterproof Fitness and Running Earbuds with Heart Rate and Activity Monitor Includes Advanced Charging Case with UPGRADED 13.5hrs BATTERY life – Black]] set. I have tried several budget rivals and it amazing how much you can get for so little with this set costing just over one tenth of the price of the high end Jabra’s. I will use the Jabra’s as reference point in this review, which may seem unfair but this set are good enough to stand the comparison.

I was impressed by the packaging and presentation which rivalled that of the posh Jabra’s with the headset arriving in an well designed and attractive windowed display box. Inside the box were the earpieces themselves, charging case, a short USB to micro-USB charging cable, three sets of buds and three sets of wings (one set of each prefitted), and a soft hessian style carry bag. The User Guide is not bad although poorly translated and although this feature is mentioned on the box we are nowhere told how to use the earbuds to invoke Siri or Google Assistant. I enclose a copy of the User Guide on my unboxing video.

Unlike with some other budget true wireless headsets this one comes with a robust carry case which also charges the earbuds when inserted. The case has an internal 300mAh battery which is itself charged using the USB cable and it is the internal battery which charges the 60mAh earbud batteries. The fully charged case will be able to fully charge the earbuds about three times. There are a set of bright blue LED’s on the rear of the case and LED’s on each bud to show battery status.

Pairing the earbuds was easy enough although more of a performance than with Jabra’s. Press the single button on either earbud until the voice prompt confirms the earbud has power and is pairing. Open the Bluetooth control panel on your phone and then pair in the usual way. Then repeat for the other earbud. It does not matter which bud you select as they are both identical and either can be used to control the other or be used individually and separately. Once paired and they should connect automatically in the future. Unlike with the Jabra’s the buds have to be separately powered on and off each time by pressing the button on each earbud. They do not auto turn on and off when being placed in or taken from the charging box. Once connected the Bluetooth linked seemed good although not quite so good as the Jabra. When out walking I usually have my phone in my shoulder bag and although this worked fine at first dropouts started after a while with each earbud losing and then regaining connection very rapidly. When I moved the phone to the breast pocket of my jacket the connection was fine.

Audio quality was good and better by far than I was expecting. There is plenty of bass, more than I was expecting by far with mid and upper tones clear and well defined with non of the muddiness often found with budget headsets. I found the tone to be somewhat harsher and less refined than from the Jabra’s but more than good enough for general use.

The headset has a microphone and can be used to receive and make calls and when testing I found the conversation was clear and audible both ends. Calls can be muted/rejected and music can be paused by pressing the Multi function button. Sadly, there is no way to change the audio volume or advance/return music tracks from the headset. The unit can also be used just with a single bud for phone calls if needed.

I struggled a bit with fitting the earbuds and did not find them as good a fit as the Jabra’s and although they felt secure enough they seemed to project at an awkward angle from my ears when in place. The button on each earbuds is large and easy to find but needs a positive click to operate which is a little uncomfortable and feels cheaper than the soft touch Jabra button. Battery life is good and at least equal to the Jabra’s and I have obtained several hours music playing time following a two hour charge. The charging case is robust and well made and holds the buds better and more easily than the Jabra’s al;though the case looks and feels cheaper and lacks the auto On/Off feature which is one of the best features of the expensive rival.

At just £22.99 this headset is a fraction of the price my more expensive set but gives it a run for it’s money as regards sound quality and features. It falls down a bit on functionality and convenience of use and of course none of the Jabra sports features are present (not that I ever use them). That said they represent a great way to try the world of true wireless music at a budget price.

The Good
Good audio quality
High end packaging
Carry bag
Charging case
Bluetooth 4.1
Voice prompts
Good battery life
Single bud operation option

The Bad
No auto On/Off
No track controls
No volume controls
Not waterproof

More info and purchase