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Paul (UK)

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NEW 2016 Drinksafe Waterstraw 700 litre Personal pure water filter
NEW 2016 Drinksafe Waterstraw 700 litre Personal pure water filter
Offered by drinkSAFE-systems Ltd
Price: £16.95

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor filtering compared to Sawyer Mini, 23 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I already had a Sawyer Mini filter but was attracted by the DrinkSafe's promise of better filtering ( chemicals, viruses etc ).

When it arrived I was impressed - seemed very professional and easy to use.

Excited to find out how much better it was than my Sawyer mini I nipped down to my pond in the garden with its slightly green cloudy water. Put some in a bottle, added a bit of mud and shook it to mix it up.

End result a rather greeny mud brown water - yuk!

Now to filter it.

First I tried the Sawyer Mini - expecting poor results. But hey presto from rather muddly green water it produced crystal clear water - wow!

Ok on to the much better Waterstraw. Much harder to test without taking the water in my mouth first - so I rigged up the backflush adapter to a syringe and after a bit of effort got a glass worth.

Now it was clearer than the original unfiltered water - but not crystal clear - compared to the clear water of the sawyer mini it was a little bit murky.

I was rather disappointed. I thought I must have messed up somewhere and tried a second time. Same result.

Maybe its broken? As I happened I had bought two - one for me, one for my partner. I tried hers - same result - slightly cloudy water with a hint of brown.

To demonstrate the difference I put the water in 3 identical glasses and took a photo ( see image upload ).

The muddy brown is the original. The less brown the Drinksafe Waterstraw and the crystal clear one from the Sawyer Mini.

But anyways this has left me a bit concerned about how good the Waterstraw is.

But perhaps it can filter bacteria and viruses out - but not green algae and mud.

But I won't personally be trusting it!
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 15, 2016 9:58 PM GMT

Suunto Reloj Ambit 2 Watch - Silver/Black
Suunto Reloj Ambit 2 Watch - Silver/Black
Price: £231.04

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent until its button got stuck!, 22 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was generally very pleased with this watch.

Been using it for 18 months now and software updates meant it got better and better.

Little bit tempermental at first but an update fixed that and its been rock solid reliable for a long time.

I use it for recording stats like distance etc. But also for navigation of pre-programmed routes and for tracking back if I get lost in fog!

Very easy to manage the watch via MovesCount.

However 4 stars because the main middle button got stuck. It has always been a bit stiff but finally it stayed stuck in and only slowly unstuck - getting stuck each time it was pressed.

This really meant the end of the watch - despite cleaning and WD40 nothing made the button work well again.

Which was very disappointing given the cost of the watch and having only owned it just over 18 months.

However I do like the watch and bought the Suunto Ambit3 Peak to replace it. I was tempted by the Garmin Fenix 3 but Garmin watches are notorious for excellent features but being a bit buggy - especially when first launched.

I use the watch for mountain and hill walking and the last thing I need is a flakey watch that crashes on me in the middle of nowhere!

CAT S50 Ruggedised 4G UK SIM-Free Smartphone
CAT S50 Ruggedised 4G UK SIM-Free Smartphone

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much improved over the CAT B15Q but not as good as the Kyocera TORQUE KC-S701, 9 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Update July 2015:

Upgraded from this phone to the Kyocera TORQUE KC-S701 KYOCERA SIM-Free Smartphone

I found the CAT S50 screen a little dim in bright sunlight. Usable but dim.

The Kyocera is much, much brighter. Visible on even the brightest day in the UK.

The Kyocera also has twice as much storage for apps and my maps. While an SD card can be used on the S50 often apps prefer to be installed on the main phone memory.

The Kyocera has a gloves mode which does work - so long as the gloves are not too thick.

The Kyocera is slightly smaller and better shaped for holding. I find it much more comfortable to hold in one hand - but I have small/medium male hands.

I find the Kyocera screen just nicer - more colourful and sharper.

There's nothing I miss from the CAT S50. If you are looking for a phone for navigation while hiking and occasional phone use then I definitely say go for the Kyocera.

If you make a lot of phone calls then the CAT S50 does have slightly better sound quality.

Personally I'd not go back to my old CAT S50 - the Kyocera TORQUE KC-S701 is so much better overall - especially the screen.


Update end March 2015:

This is so much better than the CAT B15Q I had.

Screen way better - brighter and higher resolution. Colour accuracy better too.

Everything just works - unlike the tempermental CAT B15Q!


Original review

I have a CAT B15Q phone I use mostly for OS map based navigation and emergency phone calls while hiking in mountains/hills.

It actually does this job reasonably well and but it had some short comings - some minor, others more important.

The good news is the CAT S50 solves all of these issues!

1. GPS was very slow to get an initial lock. Could take 20 or more minutes from cold. CAT S50 picks up GPS location within a minute even when just switched on.

2. Screen was very dim even on max brightness - not an issue indoors or on a cloudy day it is an issue on a bright sunny day. I measured the CAT S50 and its 40% brighter than the CAT B15Q. Not had a sunny day to test it but the CAT S50 should cope better on bright days. Its still not as bright as an iPhone but much better than the old CAT B15Q

3. Button on side designed to be pressed to switch on LED light to use phone as torch. Quite useful - except I found it sometimes turned on the light while in my bag and ran down the battery! With the CAT S50 the button is still there but you have to unlock the phone and hold it down for a few seconds to make the flashlight come on - which will prevent any accidental battery draining issues.

4. Serious lack of internal memory! Because later versions of Android need apps to be installed on the internal memory and not the SD card this caused a lot of problems. Probably the most serious short coming of the phone. The CAT S50 has 8GB - just over 5GB free - compared to the CAT B15Q which was already down to just over 1GB from brand new. While 8GB is not generous it does make the CAT S50 a much more usable phone. I don't have a lot of apps but the ones I do have installed ok and still 3 GB left over.

5. Minor issue but could only connect to a Wifi network which broadcast its presence. I keep my home Wifi hidden and so the CAT B15Q couldn't connect. The CAT S50 has solved this issue and has no problems connecting to my hidden home network.

6. Probably not an issue for most people but I use the ViewRanger mapping app. On the B15Q it couldn't see any map files on the SD card - only on the exceptionally limited internal memory. The ViewRanger software people did figure out a work around but it took a lot of emails and time.

Just installed ViewRanger on my new CAT S50 internal memory and the maps on the SD Card and it picked up the maps without any issues at all.

So far I'm very pleased - it appears to be just as good as the CAT B15Q but with none of its issues.

Other observations.....

The new higher resolution screen on the CAT S50 is definitely nicer than the B15Q. As well as brighter colours seem more accurate. Its no iPhone retina screen but its acceptable.

Phone seems speedy in use - I've not had any lags or other issues. Mind you the B15Q was fine too speed wise.

The S50 supports wireless charging - which saves the hassle of having to pull off the USB port protector. It works very well - you have to buy the wireless charger yourself - I bought one off Amazon - CHOETECH Stadium Qi Wireless Charger Charging Pad 3-Coils Wide Charging Area - and it works great with the CAT S50. Charges faster than I expected.

I've not had chance to test things like waterproofness, phone calls, battery life or other features but I'll update the review when I do.

Nectar Fuel Concentrate Multipack Orange - Pack of 15
Nectar Fuel Concentrate Multipack Orange - Pack of 15

4.0 out of 5 stars The product is great, 23 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The product is great but unfortunately discontinued by manufacturer - but you can still buy the big 2 litre tubs.

Also because its discontinued you may find the best before date is expired when it arrives.

Epson EH-TW3200 3LCD Projector (25000:1, 1800 ANSI Lumens, Full HD 1080p)
Epson EH-TW3200 3LCD Projector (25000:1, 1800 ANSI Lumens, Full HD 1080p)
Price: £695.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good picture quality but mine packed up after 18 months, 5 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Very good picture quality, easy to set up and fairly quiet. I just use the projector for watching films.

The lens shift is particularly useful for allowing you to place the projector significantly off centre.

All worked very well - I was a happy bunny.

So why only 3 stars?

Well after 18 months of limited use ( approx 300 hours ) it packed up with the dreaded and common "Error in the Epson cinema filter" message. The projector had been making odd grinding noises for a few months before this happened - then finally the error appeared and shortly after it stopped working altogether.

I'm not wealthy enough to buy a new projector every couple of years - I'd been rather hoping it'd last a good 10 years given my limited use.

However on the plus side Epson support were excellent and this projector comes with a 3 year on-site warranty. They came within 2 working days and took the old one away and gave me a working re-furbished one.

So all was not lost - hence the 3 star rather than 1 star review.

But I see on the Internet others have had the error take place out of warranty leaving them seriously out of pocket.

*** Update ***

I decided to update to the Sony VPL-HW40ES and have been able to compare the two.

There's no doubt the Sony is better - but twice as good? No definitely not!

There are no areas so far where the Epson is better than the Sony. Both machines are largely in their default settings - except the lamp is on low. Reference mode used on the Sony and similar mode on the Epson.

The Sony is marginally quieter than the Epson. I use both on the low lamp mode - I found the Epson's high lamp mode too loud. At low lamp they are close but the Sony is just a little quieter. Also the Sony doesn't make any odd whirring or clicking sounds - it switches on fairly silent and stays fairly silent.

With the Sony's Reality Creation switched on its definitely very noticeably sharper than the Epson - even when I turned sharpness up on the Epson.

The first time I came to watch a movie on the new Sony even my partner - who doesn't tend to notice these things - said "That looks much clearer than the old projector".

With Reality Creation off the two projectors are quite similar in terms of sharpness.

Contrast and general black levels are better on the Sony - not massively better but definitely slightly more contrast and depth. Its probably only really noticeable when you have the two side by side but there is a subtle difference. The Epson does have an auto iris feature that would help with black levels - but I found it too noisy and distracting and have always used the Epson with the auto iris switched off.

Ease of use - close call - neither has given me any problems. Both have the very useful lens shift feature.

I'm happy with the Sony - I'm hoping this time the projector will gives years of service. It certainly sounds smoother compared to the slightly clunky sounding Epson ( even the replacement sounds clunky )

Heat! Who needs central heating when you've an Epson TW3200! Even on ECO mode it runs quite warm - I had to switch off the heating in the lounge when using the Epson as it was like a mini fan heater. The Sony, while producing some heat, appears to run cooler. Bad news for the heating bill though...

The repair guy did say Epsons are generally fairly reliable - though they do suffer from auto iris issues as well as the cinema filter issues.

Nikon D750 Digital SLR Camera (24.3 MP) 3.2 inch Tilt-Screen LCD with Wi-Fi
Nikon D750 Digital SLR Camera (24.3 MP) 3.2 inch Tilt-Screen LCD with Wi-Fi
Offered by WAA Electronics
Price: £1,399.99

44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing low light abilities and great auto focus, 17 Oct. 2014
*** Update 23 Oct 2014 ***

Had a few more chances to take photos and remain generally very impressed.

What impressed me today was the amazing ability to pull details out of shadows.

I took a photo on the moors just after dawn - although a sort of sunrise it was still quite low light. I deliberately underexposed by 2/3 of a stop to keep highlights in the sky and also of the reflections on the large pond in front. But this did mean everywhere else was quite dark. ISO was 220.

When I got home I didn't really think this would be a keeper - too underexposed. But playing with the dynamic range settings in Nikon's Capture NX-D raw conversion and I got the ground looking reasonably well exposed. Given how much it'd been brightened I expected when I zooming in I would see lots of noise. But in fact it was largely noise free.

Changing white balance from auto to shady and suddenly my dark and to be honest a bit grey and boring scene was transformed!

It went from a deleter to a keeper with some fairly simple steps in Nikon Capture NX-D.

I know I tried something similar on a RAW image from my Panasonic GM1 4/3rds camera - ISO 200 - low light dawn scene on the moors - and while it worked I got quite a bit of noise in the shadows. Usable but nowhere near as clean as the Nikon D750.

So even if you never shoot high ISO images - the Nikon's amazingly clean low ISO RAW images make it worth buying this camera.

*** Original review ***

This is not a "proper" review but more a rambling detail of my experience over the last week with the Nikon D750.

There's two particularly standout features of this camera that make me go WOW.

One - its high ISO images - ISO 12,800 producing an image that looks good - WOW!

Two - its auto focus - ability to track fast moving objects and ability to focus in low light - WOW!

I'm an over enthusiastic amateur who has owned far too many cameras in his time!

I now have just 2 cameras - the Nikon D750 and the Panasonic GM1 four thirds camera.

The D750 is my "serious" camera and the Panasonic my light weight easy carry camera I use when either I don't expect to be in the right place for a good photo or I'm just taking family photos for fun. Its a fraction of the weight of the Nikon!

For a while I had a Nikon D700 - an amazing camera.

But I wanted something easier to carry but just as good and bought a Sony a6000.

The Sony hype promised a state of the art autofocus system that could photograph someone cycling at height speed towards you and capture every single frame in perfect focus. All you need to do was point and shoot. Ha I wish!

Maybe its user error but despite my many attempts to photo my dog running at speed towards me often all I got was 30 slightly out of focus photos. Instead of focusing automatically on the dog the Sony seemed to want to focus on almost anything else - a clump of grass, a rock - anything. So dog out of focus but the irrelevant clump of grass in perfect focus - marvellous!

While the a6000 is a very good camera I needed a camera with a genuinely good autofocus system. Especially as I plan to go back to the coast of St Davids, Wales and take some sea life photos - dolphins swimming through the water and puffins on a nearby island.

I spend ages fiddling with the a6000 trying to get a decent photo of my dog. Anyway the Nikon D750 arrives I point it at the dog and wow - it spots the dogs eyes and focuses perfectly! I'd not even got round to reading the rather huge manual.

I returned to the location I tried to photo my dog running through water with the Sony a6000 but failed dismally and tried with the Nikon D750 and the Nikon 70-300. And this time I got plenty of keepers - the 9 point AF worked very well. Ok 30% were still out of focus but this more due to my newness with the camera and sure beats 100% failure with the Sony.

Since then I've spent a lot of time using the Nikon D750 and I'm just so impressed at how good the autofocus is. Seems to just nail the focus most of the time.

Something else I missed with the a6000 was the D700's full frame silky bokeh. When you want to isolate a subject by making everything else out of focus you just can't beat a full frame camera.

The camera's high ISO quality is just amazing. As a test opened Lightroom and looked at some of the shots I took to see if I could guess which were the very high ISO shots. Sometimes its a bit more obvious but many shots I thought - "Oh that must be ISO 1600" only to find its ISO 12,800!!!! On shot in particular of my dog in low light in the lounge - the detail and smoothness is shockingly good for ISO 12,800! My Panasonic starts smudging the fine details beyond ISO 1600 nevermind looking good at ISO 12,800. As someone who shot photos in the days of film when ISO400 was considered exciting and ISO 1600 film rather exotic and specialised - being able to take good photos at ISO 12,000 is just amazing!

I won't be giving up my Panasonic GM1 - the Nikon D750 might be lighter weight than other full frame Nikons but its still fairly heavy once you add a decent lens. The Panasonic may not be a match for the D750 but the images it produces are often good enough if its just family photos or memories of places visited you want. But demanding high speed action or low light situations - its got to be the Nikon D750.

If you are starting out the lenses I'd recommend if you are an amateur like me would be:

Nikon 24-120 f4 ( good general purpose lens )
Nikon 70-200 f4 ( good for shooting photos of the dog )
Nikon 16-35 f4 ( great for expansive landscape shots )
Tamron 150-600 ( for wildlife )

The fairly new Tamron 150-600 is a particular surprise - I didn't expect too much but its actually a really good lens and great for wildlife photography. It not going to beat the Nikon telephoto primes for sharpness but its good enough and much cheaper and lighter!

I'm very pleased and excited by the D750 and taken all sorts of shots I'd not be able to take with a Sony a6000. Looking forward to getting more use out of it over the coming years.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 25, 2014 9:48 AM GMT

Tamron SP AF150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens for Nikon Camera
Tamron SP AF150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens for Nikon Camera
Price: £739.00

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, 10 Oct. 2014
So often marketing hype promises "amazing" but what you get is just "ok" or sometimes "disappointing"

But this lens really truly does live up to the marketing hype! No wonder these things are so hard to get hold of!

Given its range and the 600mm focal length this is a really sharp lens - even the corners are quite good. Sometimes you get a little chromatic fringing in the corners but its small and easily fixed and only effects extreme corners.

I've been using it on my Nikon D750 and it works a treat. Focus is very fast and sure. I've only shot static objects so far - the moon, distant hills and houses but what I've seen has impressed me and I'm not easily impressed.

I expected to pixel peep and see softness - but instead I see sharpness!

I don't have a 400mm or 500mm Nikon prime to compare this with - they are too expensive and too heavy for me. I would expect them to be sharper than this but I wonder by how much.

For a 600mm lens its actually quite light. I plan to use it shooting puffins on islands off the coast near St Davids Wales.

I've shot the moon handheld without issues.

However light it may be for its focal length but this is still a beast of a lens. Handholding is fine but aching arms and shoulder can be expected with lots of use. I wonder how long I could use it holding it up handheld at an air show - won't know until I try!

For birding, motor racing, aircraft shows or just zooming in on distant things this lens is the best you can buy for just over £1000. If you can find it that is - took me while to find one in stock.

Bosch BCH625KTGB Athlet Upright Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, 0.9 L - White
Bosch BCH625KTGB Athlet Upright Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, 0.9 L - White
Offered by Electronics and Gadgets Direct Ltd
Price: £214.99

35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent on stubborn dog hair and way better than the GTech AirRam, 2 Sept. 2014
*** 15 Month Update ***

Still good cleaning power. However every so often it cuts out while hoovering. Also yesterday I went over a largish bit of dirt and the hoover made a terrible grinding noise for a good while despite my attempts to take it apart and clean it.

Sounding better today but lots of cut outs - suspect its on its way out....

*** Long term update ***

I've had this now over 6 months and its continued to work well - unlike many hoovers I've bought which start off great but after a few months either start smelling "dusty" when being used or just plain pack up!

The only thing I did find is you need to clean the hoover well before the "low suck" warning light comes on. I thought mine was broken - suck was very poor and it was leaving bits behind.

No warning light but I thought it'd be worth giving it a good clean. Thankfully they made it easy to disassemble the whole thing - clean all of the filters with plain water and after a few days drying put it back together.

When I did the device sucked - in a good way - it was back to how it was when it arrived!

Given it seems to put out less dust particles than other hoovers I've used in the past this may well be a good one for allergy sufferers.

Very pleased with this vacuum cleaner - light, easy to use and effective.

**** Original Review ***

Until I bought this I had a Dyson DC33 Animal and a GTech AirRam 2.

The GTech AirRam is ok but poor on dog hair and does a light clean but leaves a fair bit of dust behind.

I usually use the Dyson DC33 once every couple of weeks to give a deep clean - it does a great job of getting pet hair off and removing dust.

The GTech AirRam always felt a bit like a carpet sweeper more than a vacuum cleaner. Not sure how much suck it had to be honest.

Anyway I saw the Which? Magazine best buy award given to the Bosch Athlets and decided to buy one.

I always hate it when you buy something that promises much but ends up being no better than what you had.

But I'm pleased to say its a very significant improvement over the GTech AirRam.

A couple of little things first.

The dust container on the GTech AirRam was always rather small and its design meant even half full you risked spilling some of the dust when emptying it - especially if you do it outdoors in a wind!

The Bosch Athlet has much better capacity and it doesn't spill like the AirRam.

Also with the AirRam it seemed to collect a lot of little dirt particles in the tray under the dirt collection canister. The easiest way of getting rid of them was to go outside and turn it upside down. Bit of a hassle though no show stopper.

No issues like that with the Bosch.

I've only had the Bosch a few days so can't comment on longevity or other aspects yet. It seems ok build - a little plastically but I think strong enough. Certainly not industrial strength though!

Now on to the hardest challenge.

I have a Labrador dog.

Its moulting season.

Can it cope with my hair magnet floor runner rug?

I have a very long rug next to the door designed to capture dirt from outside - and it does indeed do a great job of attracting dirt and dog hair. But its less than keen on releasing them again so the rug quickly ends up dirty and very hairy.

The GTech AirRam just couldn't cope. Even going over the rug 10 times there was still hair stuck to it like glue and refusing to budge.

I usually gave up and used the Dyson DC33 Animal to get the rug clean. Which it did pretty much perfectly.

I tried the new Bosch Athlet and on maximum power ( Turbo ) it did indeed remove all the hairs after 1 or 2 goes ( not 1 go like the Dyson ). But that's a major step up from the GTech AirRam.

On anything less than Turbo max mode it won't get it hair free.

Now I just get the Dyson out once a month.

Compared to a powerful Dyson upright hoover there's no doubt that the older more powerful Dysons are more effective than the Bosch.

But the Bosch is usually good enough for most hair and dirt and less of a faff to get out and use. No unwinding and winding cords. And much lighter.

But the power difference between the Dysons and this Bosch will all change. In 2017 the EU is banning even moderately powerful vacuum cleaners. The 2014 EU ban was just the start and only banned super powerful vacs - which were not always the best anyway.

But in 2017 the max power allowed drops by almost half again. You'll notice that the very new Dysons ( 2014 and later models ) are actually way less powerful in terms of air watts ( suction power ) and less effective than the 2013 and earlier models - unless you buy a non-EU Dyson which remain as powerful as ever.

I suspect therefore in 2017 this Bosch will be just as good as the newest Dysons.

I just bought a Dyson 2012 model ( Dyson DC41i Dyson DC41i 1400 Watts Bagless Upright Ball Vacuum Cleaner ) as back up when my current Dyson packs up.

Dyson DC41i 1400 Watts Bagless Upright Ball Vacuum Cleaner
Dyson DC41i 1400 Watts Bagless Upright Ball Vacuum Cleaner
Offered by The Plasma Centre
Price: £448.59

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy Now Before The 2017 EU Ban!, 2 Sept. 2014
This is the "old" Dyson DC41 - there's now a mark 2 been launched.

Now you might think it makes sense to buy the latest model - but in fact due to the next set of EU regulations in force from 2017 - the old model - i.e. this one - will be banned.

So in fact the new model is a EU 2017 regulations compliant low suck model.

The DC41 Mark 2 is only 110 air watts. This "old" DC41 is in fact 255 air watts - more than twice as powerful.

If you've seen the Which? DC41 best buy review - its of the old model - not the new one.

Outside of Europe Dyson have replaced the DC41 with the DC65 - which is slightly more powerful than the old DC41.

Lucky people outside of Europe get the good stuff while we get stuff that's less than half as powerful.

For years Dyson advertised the high air watt ratings of their vacuums as being important and personally I think it still is. Which is why I bought this DC41i ( Essentially same as the old DC41 but with an extra tool ) before it gets banned.

The motor is 1300watts - from 2017 the EU is banning anything over 700watts. Hence why this model will fall foul of the EU regulations.

From 2017 only available from a dodgy geezer in a pub offering hard drugs, guns and high power vacuum cleaners. Don't you just hate those sick people peddling their high powered vacuum cleaners? Drugs are one thing but vacuum cleaners is another level. I hope the EU gives them life sentences...

Now the actual review. Unlike the new DC41 mark 2 - this one sucks - in a good way! Very powerful and made easy work of dog hair and mud. Easy to use and whizz round carpeted and hard floors.

This vacuum cleaner is actually my "deep clean" hoover.

For regular light cleans I use a Bosch Athlet which does a reasonable job of cleaning and removing some dog hair but every few weeks I use the DC41i to give the floors a really good clean and remove all dog hair ( for now! ).

My hope is I can make it last as long as possible as beyond 2017 it's bye bye clean floors and hello stubborn embedded dog hair!

To be fair if I didn't have a dog or go muddy walks a low power hoover would probably be enough. But for dog hairs give me the class A banned vacuum cleaners from dodgy Dave down the pub....

CAT B15Q UK Sim Free Smartphone
CAT B15Q UK Sim Free Smartphone

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good alternative to GPS devices like Garmin Monterra, 11 Aug. 2014
I use this phone as a GPS navigation device while hiking.

The main attraction is its ruggedness. If I'm relying on this to navigate while hiking remote areas I want to be sure that during a storm on the top of a mountain I drop my phone, it bounces off a rock and in to a puddle I want to be sure its going to survive.

I've had the phone about a week and over all I'm impressed!

Its about rugged - its not going to be a replacement for a top end Samsung Galaxy S5.

*** Good Points ***

It bounces! I did a drop test on to a hard floor - twice - and it bounces nicely and no damage. I'm confident it'll survive most common drop disasters.

Its waterproof and really does work in the rain! During the recent storms and heavy rain I tried using it outside. Not only did it not get wet inside - the touch screen remained usable even with rain falling on it. No problems scrolling the map and opening menus with my wet fingers. However it won't work under water - the water confuses the touch screen which mistakes the water with being touched by a finger. Which causes all sorts of random menus and actions! The same applies to heavy rain - big rain drops hitting the screen can cause the phone to think the screen has been pressed.

But in normal wet and windy conditions - i.e. a British summer, winter, autumn and spring - it works just great.

It seems fairly fast too - no noticeable lags while using the device.

Useful torch facility - pressing the middle button on the right side for 2 seconds causes the quite bright LED to switch on and act as a torch.

Camera is good - I can imagine it'll be perfectly good for taking photos on site or other situations.

Battery life seems good too. I had the GPS on ( but mobile network off ) while walking and after 3 hours walking it'd dropped from 97% to 90% battery life! Its easy going to cope with a long 8 hour walk and have a little to spare - even with regular use of the screen.

GPS accuracy is good - once it has a fix. Takes a while to fix location from cold - a good 5 or more minutes. But once it does it keeps tracking really well - even with the phone in my trouser pockets.

Not made many calls with it but the few I made seemed to be perfectly fine. Probably average ability to pick up a mobile signal and call quality. The loudspeaker is pretty loud though - which is good!

*** Bad Points ***

Screen can be a little tricky to read in really bright sun - could do with it being a bit brighter and less reflective. But its manageable - I could still see well enough to read the screen it was just a little more challenging.

Storage terrible! In theory it has 4GB of on board memory for your apps and data. In reality when it arrived it was already down to about 1.5GB of free space - which is hardly any memory at all. They could really do with providing 8GB of memory as a minimum.

It does accept an SD card - but some apps are fussy about storing things on an SD card. It took me a few hours and a lot of emails to their support to get one app - ViewRanger - to correctly view maps on the SD card. Other apps had no problems at all with the SD card. So 1.5GB is poor but not a disaster given you can insert an SD card. Mine is a 32GB Sandisk card.

Chunky and heavier than the average phone - but then what do you expect? Can't have rugged and super slim in the same package. But still perfectly pocket friendly.

Not many bells and whistles. Pretty standard Android installation - not much in the way of extra apps or any frills. To be honest it doesn't need them.

Works in rain but not heavy rain - excessive water confuses the device making it think its been touched by a finger rather than a rain drop. At best this causes a random menu to open - at worst the device gets so overwhelmed with what it seems as multiple finger touches it starts to slow down and become unresponsive. Light rain - no problem - heavy rain definitely an issue.

*** Conclusion ***

I'm really happy with this phone. Its not my main phone - its my rugged hiking phone. So I don't browse the net or check emails with it - just use a map app called ViewRanger.

The two improvements I'd like would be more internal storage and a brighter screen. Other than that it may be no frills but does the job and can take life's daily abuse.

*** Compared to Garmin GPS Units Monterra ***

As I say I'd bought this for navigation while out in the wilds of Dartmoor or Snowdonia.

I wanted a navigation device with Ordinance survey maps I could install which could cope with harsh conditions of the UK weather - and me dropping it!

I looked at things like Garmin GPS devices - in particular the Garmin Monterra.

I decided on the CAT B15Q because:

1. Screen resolution.

B15Q is 480 * 800
Garmin Monterra is 272 * 480

Given the screens are both 4 inches that means the pixel per inch is much, much better on the B15Q.

2. Price.

B15Q plus ViewRanger app plus 1:50000 maps for the whole of the UK will set you back around £340 or less.
Best price I could find for the Garmin Monterra seems to be about £495 on Amazon plus £120 for the whole of UK 1:50000 OS Maps - making a total of around £615!

So £340 for the Cat B15Q vs a lower spec Garmin Monterra at £615 - no competition!

With the spare cash you could buy a weekend away in Snowdonia!

3. Cat B15Q is IPX67 - Garmin is IPX7.

Basically both are waterproof to 1m for 30 minutes. But the Cat B15Q is also dust proof - the Garmin is not tested for dust proofing.

4. Cat B15Q drop tested on to a hard surface from 1.8m. The Garmin has not been drop tested. My guess is the Garmin is probably not going to survive as well on average as the Cat B15Q

5. The CAT B15Q is also a phone and can browse the Internet - the Garmin is not a phone and has no Internet connection abilities.

6. Battery life. Some things I can't easily test without buying the Garmin. For example battery life. Garmin claim 22 hours from 3 AA batteries. I'd need to do more testing before I could be sure how long the CAT B15Q will last - so far 7 hours of navigating with the device and still around 60% left on the battery. But it depends on how you use it. Its using the screen that really uses up the juice - with the display off but with the ViewRanger app open tracking location via GPS I estimate easily 30 hours of battery life. But that's not realistic - obviously at some point you are going to look at the screen!

Just to update on battery life. I just did a 6 hour walk on Dartmoor - half of it in areas new to me and which I had to use the phone for navigation as paths were non-existent in parts. Left home with 100% charge - arrived back with 83%. As often the case the Met Office predicted no rain - it rained twice for half an hour - no problem for this phone! As long as you are just using the phone for navigation this phone battery just keeps on going! I doubt any single day walk I could do would wear it out unless you have the display on very frequently. I keep the phone in Airplane mode to switch off all unnecessary battery draining stuff. Plus Wifi is off as is blutooth.

I'd say with moderate screen usage the CAT B15Q's battery will last roughly 12 - 18 hours. Less if you use the screen a lot. More if you don't.

Although I have a SIM card installed I switch the phone in to Airplane mode to save battery - especially as in remote areas signal is weak to non-existent.

Also while Garmin claim 22 hours its hard to know how close that will match reality - I imagine display usage is what uses up the Garmin's battery too.

7. CAT B15Q is smaller and lighter.

CAT is 12.5cm x 6.95cm x 1.49cm
Garmin is 14.96 x 7.48 x x 3.63 cm

CAT weighs 170g
Garmin 331g

Overall the CAT B15Q wins hands down - but there are a few areas the Garmin is better.

1. UV Sensor - Garmin has a UV sensor - which might be useful but not a showstopping necessity.

2. Garmin supports ANT+ allowing connection to ANT+ monitors like heart monitors. But there are plenty of bluetooth HRM straps these days that you could use with the CAT B15Q

3. Garmin has more internal memory. But with an SD Card installed on the CAT B15Q its not a show stopper.

4. Garmin includes a Barometric altimeter. CAT B15Q has none.

For me the advantages of the CAT B15Q far outweigh the minor benefits of the Garmin. Especially when its so much more expensive.
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