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techpuppy "woof." (UK)
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ScotchBlue Pre-Taped Masking Film Refill Roll Medium 1.21 m x 27.4 m Transparent
ScotchBlue Pre-Taped Masking Film Refill Roll Medium 1.21 m x 27.4 m Transparent
Price: £16.53

4.0 out of 5 stars That's a wrap..., 25 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've always thought the worst part of DIY was cleaning up afterwards and so discovering a product like this that keeps your unmovable furniture and fixtures clean while you work is a real boon. This ScotchBlue Masking Film keeps immovable items protected from paint spatters and/or dust while you’re working in the same room or even elsewhere in the house. This refill roll is meant for the simple dispenser that’s also available - although that’s just a canister open on one side with a serrated cutting edge attached which you use to tear off the length of masking film it is quite a handy way to dispense the film. Check the prices however because at the time of writing this same roll in a dispenser is cheaper than the roll on its own.

The film is folded up, to make it easier to handle, and has a blue masking tape bonded to one edge. You just use the sticky tape to fix the film to the object you need to protect, perhaps using it to get a clean edge if you’re about to paint, and then tear off the film unfurling it to its full size and wrapping it around the object. The film has enough natural static cling to hold it in place but probably won’t be very useful in windy situations. Now you can make whatever mess is necessary knowing your furniture is (at least superficially) protected from dust and spray.

The masking tape is sticky enough to be unstuck and then re-stuck somewhere else a couple of times but in a dusty environment you’ll have to keep wiping the surfaces clean or it gets ruined. You can still use the film as a disposable dust-sheet on the floor, but you might need to weight it down if you’re walking across it. The film is very thin but reasonably tough and doesn’t puncture easily. The M size roll, which is 1.2m long unfurled, is ideal for kitchen wall or floor units or similar whereas the L size would be great for protecting entire bookcases of books so you don’t have to empty the shelves before starting your DIY. Note that the static charge is both a boon and a bane because airborne dust sticks to the film too - better the film than your collection of first editions, but it does mean that you have to be quite careful how you unpeel and dispose of it again.

I wanted to try it to protect wall and sink units in a new bathroom that’s still to be painted and it's ideal for that so I thought we’d stock up for the next messy job too. If you’ve got a similarly messy tasks planned in your home or if you ever do messy work in other peoples’ homes then it seems like a really useful thing to have around.


ScotchBlue Pre-Taped Masking Film in Dispenser Medium 1.21 m x 27.4 m Transparent
ScotchBlue Pre-Taped Masking Film in Dispenser Medium 1.21 m x 27.4 m Transparent
Price: £14.09

5.0 out of 5 stars Wrap it up..., 25 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've always thought the worst part of DIY was cleaning up afterwards and so where has this product been all my life? This ScotchBlue Masking Film keeps items of furniture and fixtures you can’t move protected from paint spatters and/or dust while you’re working in the same room, or even elsewhere in the house. The supplied dispenser is just a canister open on one side with a serrated cutting edge attached which you use to tear off the length of masking film you need from the roll held inside. The film is folded up, to make it easier to handle, and has a blue masking tape bonded to one edge. You just use the sticky tape to fix the film to the object you need to protect, using it to get a clean edge if you’re about to paint, and then tear off the film unfurling it to its full size and wrapping it around the object using the natural static cling of the film to help hold it in place. Now you can make (almost) as much mess as necessary knowing your furniture is (superficially) protected from dust and spray.

The masking tape is sticky enough to be unstuck and then re-stuck somewhere else a couple of times but in a dusty environment you’ll have to keep wiping the surfaces clean, if you get dust on it it’s useless, although you can still use the film as a disposable dust-sheet on the floor. The film is very thin and is mostly held in place by the static charge but it wouldn’t stay in place in a windy situation or if things brush against it too much. I got the M size which is 1.2m long unfurled and ideal for kitchen wall or floor units or similar - the L size would be great for protecting entire bookcases of books so you don’t have to empty the shelves before starting your DIY. Note that the static charge is both a boon and a bane because airborne dust sticks to the film too - better the film than your art-book collection of course, but it does mean that you have to be quite careful how you unpeel and dispose of it again.

I wanted to try it to protect wall and sink units in a new bathroom that’s still to be painted and it's pretty much ideal for that. I’m going to try sticking a piece to the new skirting boards, moving it around as I work, to protect them and the new floor covering too. If you’ve got similarly messy tasks planned in your home or if you ever do messy work in other people's, then it seems like a really useful thing to have in your tool kit.
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RC Quadcopter Drone, Potensic 2.4GHz 4CH 6-Axis Gyro RC Quadcopter Drone with 2MP HD Camera,Headless System,360 Degree Rollover Function - White
RC Quadcopter Drone, Potensic 2.4GHz 4CH 6-Axis Gyro RC Quadcopter Drone with 2MP HD Camera,Headless System,360 Degree Rollover Function - White
Offered by Potensic Direct
Price: £98.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Flipping great..., 24 July 2016
This is our second Potensic quadcopter and although we’d never heard of their name before we were really impressed and delighted by the quality the first one delivered - and this second one is just as good although it’s a slightly more basic model. The kit comes complete with the quadcopter, the remote controller, a spare set of propellors, a USB charge cable, one (not two, as in the photo) rechargeable LiPo battery (3.7V 750mAh with JST connector and unusual long shape), and a 4GB microSD card with a mini USB card-reader. You have to do some basic construction after opening the box by attaching the undercarriage legs and the four propellor guards but, with a thoughtful attention to detail, the tiny screws which hold these things in place are already part screwed into each component and you just push them into locating holes and then tighten the screw with the mini-screwdriver that’s also supplied in the kit.

The construction of the quadcopter is excellent, compared to similarly priced devices, and the plastics used are strong and rigid and nothing really creaks or flexes more than it should - it’s a lightweight device, as you’d expect, but it feels really nicely made. There’s a camera clipped to the lid of the battery compartment but you can disconnect and remove this if you’re not planning to use it and you can adjust the angle of the lens slightly depending on whether you want to shoot straight ahead or pointing down slightly. You can also clip the camera on facing backwards if you want to try a rear-view style of video shoot. The quality of photograph and video it produces aren’t bad but you shouldn’t expect GoPro-equivalent quality or resolution, it’s a fun feature more than a serious photographic tool. There’s a separate power switch, so you don’t have to keep connecting and disconnecting the battery, and a separate charge socket so you can just plug the charge-cable straight into the 'copter without removing the battery at all. However a single charge only gives you about 8/10 minutes of fly-time (standard for these devices) and so you might want to source a few spare batteries because 8 minutes is never enough. Recharging the battery takes about 60-90 minutes depending on the mains adaptor you use (none is provided).

Like our other Potensic quadcopter, the remote controller is significantly better than the average, usually with budget quadcopters they’re flimsy and cheap-feeling things, and this one comes in the style of a games controller with a cute pop-out LCD screen showing the current settings (not for video monitoring!). It requires 4 AA batteries (not supplied) and feels really intuitive for any game-player, with a fairly standard control setup - throttle/turning joystick on the left and directional joystick on the right - but this controller has a couple of nice extras. You can also switch to an alternate control mode, by holding down either of the shoulder buttons when you switch it on, which relocates the turn control (yaw) onto the right joystick and puts the left-move and right-move control (roll) onto the two shoulder buttons. This mode also activates the right-hand D-Pad just below the joysticks and this now becomes a dedicated Flip-pad which makes the quadcopter perform a full 360° flip in mid-air in any direction - you push the D-Pad up to flip forward, left to flip left, etc. The 360° flip is a fairly standard feature in budget quadcopters but sometimes there’s a confusing sequence of buttons to press to achieve it - this makes it one-tap-easy and makes you look like an expert pilot as you flip the thing every which way before an audience of your family and friends. Normally I’m not a fan of these alternate control modes but this one, with its D-Pad flip control and the shoulder buttons controlling Roll, really works and becomes very intuitive very quickly - the only shame is that you have to remember to set it every time you switch on because the controller doesn’t remember your last setting.

To launch your quadcopter just switch it on, place it on a level surface (important!) and then switch on the controller, they should find each other (the controller bleeps) and after a moment you push the throttle all the way up and then down again and you’re done, they should be connected and ready for take-off. If pushing the throttle up and down doesn’t work trying placing the quadcopter on a more level surface - they calibrate themselves when first switched on and need a truly horizontal take off point. This quadcopter isn’t just well made it’s a great flier too, it holds a steady hover very easily (as long as you’re out of the wind) and is a dream to control most of the time. The controller is nicely calibrated and the quadcopter is responsive and doesn’t soar away into the sky or shoot across the garden and straight into the neighbour’s hedge. If it is drifting you can recalibrate it again using a simple sequence of controls (again this needs a very flat horizontal surface) and that usually fixes it - instructions are in the short manual.

It isn’t the fastest quadcopter we’ve tried but it is one of the smoothest and most controllable and although it’s hardly indestructible it does withstand a few knocks and crash landings better than most. In many respects I wish this had been our first quadcopter because it flies so well and so smoothly that it would have made it much easier to learn how to fly quadcopters without all the snapped prop’s and tree-climbing we had to go through - trust me, budget quadcopters have much improved over the past couple of years and this one is a great example of that.

Overall although I can’t say this is the most exciting quadcopter we’ve tried I can say it’s one of the best quality, it’s well made and sturdy, flies fantastically well and has a really good remote controller (usually a real weakness with cheap 'copters) and everything works, all the features do what they're supposed to (another rare thing in budget 'copters) and they do it well. It’s maybe a bit more expensive than the average but you do get better quality for the extra spend and it would make a great first 'copter if your budget stretches to it. If you want something equally well-made but a bit faster and with an even better remote check out Potensic's F183 Quadcopter which is probably the best budget quadcopter we’ve tried yet.

Disclosure: item was received free or discounted for independent review
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Huggies Pull-Ups Boys Day Time Pants Convenience Pack, Large - 6 Packs (12 Pants Per Pack, 72 Pants Total)
Huggies Pull-Ups Boys Day Time Pants Convenience Pack, Large - 6 Packs (12 Pants Per Pack, 72 Pants Total)
Offered by Souvenirs & Gifts
Price: £26.24

4.0 out of 5 stars Job done..., 23 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We stocked up on these for a visiting mini-cousin and they’ve been really successful. He’s already graduated from nappies and is now a proud little puller-upper, and so they obviously make him feel that little bit more grown up. They’re arrive squeezed into packs of 12 which are small enough to carry with you on longer trips without too much bother and although you’re undoubtedly paying for the convenience, it’s probably worth it.

The Lightning McQueen design on the front does seem to help persuade little backside drivers into them, because obviously these are especially for little boys, but the motif isn't as clear and colourful as it appears in those promo’ pic’s above. You should never encourage your child to hit and run (hit, I said 'hit') but if they do have an accident the velcro tabs on the sides make for a quick and clean getaway from the scene, although disposing of the evidence could be made neater.

I can’t help worrying about the ecological impact of items like these but then they should only be necessary for a relatively short period of your child’s development and if they help make them feel more independent and ready to take charge of their own ablutions then maybe it’s a small price to pay. It certainly seems to be working with our little cousin and he’s already talking about the next stage and proper grown-up pants - so job done, if you see what I mean...


Vodafone Smart Prime 7 Pay As You Go Smartphone (Locked to Vodafone Network) - Black
Vodafone Smart Prime 7 Pay As You Go Smartphone (Locked to Vodafone Network) - Black
Price: £75.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Quite smart, not quite prime..., 22 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Vodaphone Smart Prime 7 is certainly an attractive looking package and could fulfil many smartphone users (especially first-timers) needs quite well, but what’s inside doesn’t quite live up to the polished exterior and this is very much a budget Android smartphone. It comes simply boxed together with a (1A - 5V) mains adaptor, a microUSB charge/data cable and a (rather clunky) pair of handsfree earphones. It looks and feels like a well-made and good quality smartphone, the screen glass is nicely bevelled at the edges and the removable back panel has a subtle texture. The bevelled glass means that the screen is relatively unprotected, if you place the phone face-down the glass is in direct contact with the surface, but Vodafone have dedicated cases and (expensive!) screen protectors available if you feel the need for more protection. The control and feature layout is pretty standard for budget smartphones with the volume and power control on the right side, headphone socket on top, speaker, microphone and microUSB port on the bottom. The back panel can be prised off (there’s a thumbnail slot on the bottom left edge) to reveal a slot for the SIM card and one for a microSD storage card - you might want to budget for one too because there’s only 4GB of storage in this smartphone and a good chunk of that is already in use by the Android OS and the default app’s.

The screen is a 10-point multi-touch IPS display and is quite bright and clear with good colours and has quite a wide view-angle, but it’s relatively low resolution at only 1280 x 720, many similar 5" smartphones offer 1920 x 1080 these days, and that’s probably to lessen the load on the underpowered graphics chip that’s in here. The main processor is a quad-core but not a very fast one and it’s a 32bit version. You do get an up-to-date version of Android (6.0.1) but there’s only 1GB of RAM to run it in, which is a bit like driving with the handbrake on. The phone only scores 22686 running the AnTuTu Benchmark app, which is less than impressive, but in fairness the phone is fine for your everyday tasks and is perfectly usable and reasonably responsive, but it hardly excels at anything.

The onboard cameras are OK too, there’s an 8 megapixel version on the back and a 5 megapixel front-facing one, but the rear-facing flash isn’t very bright and only really useful to fill-in shadows in dim light. The photo’s it takes are good, though not exceptional, and the camera is quite responsive most of the time. The battery is non-replaceable (by users) and holds just enough charge for a full day of moderate use, but it does deplete quite fast compared to my other smartphone. You only get a 1.0A charger in the box but the phone charges faster with a 2.0A charger, if you’ve got one handy. The micro-USB port means you can use any standard USB mains charger but also means you can connect to your computer and get access to the onboard storage (and microSD card if you’ve added one) so you can backup your photo’s or add some music files on to the phone - note Mac users will probably need to install the Android File Transfer app on their Mac to get access. The onboard speaker is reasonably loud but does sound a bit squawky at high volumes, you probably won’t want to use it for music playback.

There’s a reasonably vanilla version of Android 6.0.1 installed with a good selection of Google’s default app’s (see photo’s) but with a few Vodafone additions, including their own versions of the phone-call and SMS/messaging app’s. True to form some of the Vodafone stuff is a bit intrusive and pushy, they pester you to install more of their own app’s to enable pay-with-device and other network features - great If you’re already a happy Vodafoner, a bit annoying if you’re not. When you first start the phone it walks you through a (Vodafone-customised) setup process and you get an option to enable handy usage 'Tips' - these are actually really helpful if you’re new to Android but they’re a pest if you’re already acquaint with it, although you can disable them later if you want. You can also access a guide with lots of useful tips by swiping the screen to the right (see photo) and that contains some useful first-timer advice. The smartphone is locked to Vodafone’s network but, in theory, should be un-lockable later (I haven’t tried myself) but there will likely be charge for that. The phone operates on a good range of frequencies, so should be compatible with many different networks here and abroad - but best to check the details first.

I’m a bit torn about how to rate this smartphone - to me it’s a 3-star device because although it’s got a quality look and feel the specification is low and underwhelming and I know you can spend a little more money and get a lot more phone - and not be locked to the Vodafone network. However, for someone who’s already a Vodafone user and happy with their coverage and service then it’s decent budget smartphone - especially if it’s your first because Vodafone have taken the trouble to include some useful onboard tips and guidance. If you only intend to use it for day-to-day tasks like email, web, social networks and catchup TV then it’s certainly capable enough. If you want to play some of the more sophisticated games or demanding app’s then it could be a struggle. You pays your money… '
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Sealy Select Response Pillow, Microfibre, White
Sealy Select Response Pillow, Microfibre, White
Price: £27.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Not as smart as it thinks..., 21 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Surely Sealy can’t be serious about this pillow having the ability to "remove the elctrostatic (sic) charge from your body which stems from exposure to artificial light from tablet devices, screens and mobile phones"? Which marketing numpty came up with that nonsense? Why didn’t they spot their spelling checker showing them how to spell 'electrostatic' correctly - or perhaps they were temporarily blinded by all that electrostatic radiation and needed a restorative lie-down on this pillow first?

Suffice to say there’s no visible sign of carbon fibre here and even if there is it’s not likely to remove electrostatic radiation (and put it where exactly?) even if your iPad had filled you full of it. The main issue with using tech devices at bedtime is that the blue quotient in the light makes your brain think it’s still daytime and that can disrupt your sleep cycle - which is why the latest version of iOS has a 'night-time mode' which switches to a more sleep-friendly warmer tone of light in the evenings. That might help, but I seriously doubt a carbon fibre pillow will - Sealy must doubt it too because that nonsense is only mentioned in the product description here and not on the actual packaging.

So aside from not being a high-tech smart-pillow (seriously?) it’s actually quite a good one and comes nicely packed in a zip-up carrier and is fully expanded, so you don’t have to wait a week for it to reach full size again. The cover is a very soft and silky-feeling microfibre and the edges are all bound and finished with a branded Sealy binding, which is a nice touch. It’s a very lightweight pillow but has a nice resilience - meaning it’s reasonably soft but does spring back again as you move around. There’s a slight chemical 'new-pillow' smell but I’m sure that will fade with a little time. Normally I sleep on two flat-ish pillows, including one latex one which is much bouncier than this, but I actually found this one quite comfortable even though it’s a bit softer than I’d normally choose.

In past experience my issue with Hollowfibre or polyester pillows was the way the innards sometimes clump together and make one part of the pillow more supportive (aka lumpy) than another. I’m not entirely convinced this pillow will avoid that as you can feel the separate sections of the filling and there could be a danger of them clumping over time. However, as a new pillow it feels like a quality item, it’s very nicely finished and comfortable to rest on - but I do think it’s significantly over-priced (currently almost £28) even if it was as smart as the marketing blurb says it is.


Ilov 5in2 Cable 5pics 7.4V 650mAh battery for Parts And Accessories for JJRC H8C H8D DFD F182 F183 Rc Drone with a Bookmark (Parts D)
Ilov 5in2 Cable 5pics 7.4V 650mAh battery for Parts And Accessories for JJRC H8C H8D DFD F182 F183 Rc Drone with a Bookmark (Parts D)
Offered by ILov
Price: £22.46

5.0 out of 5 stars Counting to five..., 20 July 2016
We recently got a Potensic® F183W Quadcopter which requires this size and rating of battery and we were on the lookout for spares because it’s such a good quadcopter and we wanted to have as much flight-time as possible. This Ilov multi-pack has turned out to be exactly what we needed with 5 batteries and a multi-charging cable that allows all of them to be charged at once, assuming you’ve got a suitable mains charger. Actually the pack turned out to be even better than expected because we received 6 batteries instead of 5 - I’m going to check with the supplier to see if this is correct and the listing is wrong or if ours was packed by someone who’s arithmetically challenged - I suspect we just got lucky.

The batteries have a slightly higher capacity than the ones supplied with the quadcopter — 650mAh compared to 500mAh — and so each battery keeps us airborne a little longer than the standard. They fit into our quadcopter exactly as the originals do and there doesn’t seem to be any problem with compatibility. I was a bit wary of the five-into-one charger cable at first and had visions of our mains charger (the one supplied with the 'copter) overheating and spontaneously combusting - but it doesn’t at all and seems to balance the charge between each battery quite happily and gets no warmer than it would charging one. It does take a bit longer to charge all five together, as you’d expect, but it’s still much faster than doing them individually. You do have to be especially careful with this type of unshielded LiPo battery, they have been know to explode or combust, and so if you’re really concerned consider getting a LiPo Battery Fireproof Safety Bag to charge and store them in.

The pack arrives very simply packaged in a poly-bag with each battery also individually bagged. There are no instructions but the guidance given with your quadcopter or device should be good for these too. If you’ve got the quadcopter bug (we’ve got it bad) then they’re an essential item that keep you airborne longer and give you more time to learn to master your new hobby.

Disclosure: item was received free or discounted for independent review
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Solla® 100W LED Flood Lights Outdoor Security Lights, Super Bright Floodlight Waterproof LED Spotlights Wall Lamp,9200 LM,Daylight White (5500-6500K),480pcs SMD4014 LEDs
Solla® 100W LED Flood Lights Outdoor Security Lights, Super Bright Floodlight Waterproof LED Spotlights Wall Lamp,9200 LM,Daylight White (5500-6500K),480pcs SMD4014 LEDs
Offered by led-supply
Price: £59.88

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here comes the sun..., 20 July 2016
I think the first piece of advice I’d give anyone considering this 100W LED Floodlight is to be sure you understand how big it is - this isn’t your average security spotlight and it’s about 350mm/14" x 240mm/9½" and about 55mm/2¼" thick and the whole unit would hang about 140mm/5½" down from any surface it’s attached to using its inbuilt bracket. It certainly not your average floodlight in terms of brightness either and this thing is seriously bright - far too bright to look at so you’d have to consider carefully where you want to place it. It’s certainly bright enough to use over a work area, either inside or out, but you’d want to be positioned out of your normal sight line or it would get very annoying very quickly.

The construction seems excellent, it feels really sturdy and with a good weight, and it has a slightly textured paint finish that seems to be fairly tough, at least for use outdoors in all weathers. It’s relatively slim so could fix to a low-ish ceiling without getting in the way but you do have to consider the heat that’s generated by a light this powerful. Those heat-fins on the back panel are there for a reason and the centre of the back does get pretty hot in use, although it’s probably not as hot as an old Halogen unit would get. The rest of the light stays cooler, the heat seems to be quite localised, and it all cools down quite quickly when switched off, so those fins seem to do their job quite well.

Did someone say bright? This is a seriously bright light and the daylight colour looks very natural so that you forget that it’s artificial light you’re working under quite quickly. It’s probably overkill for an average sized garage, although you’d certainly see what you were doing in there, but for a bigger workshop or a large outdoor area it’s fantastic. The shadows it casts are fairly sharp but softer than a Halogen light would be, the large flat panel of LED’s give a less focussed point source of light, so you should still see clearly even if you have to work in your own shadow. The pool of light is fairly localised beneath the lamp itself and doesn’t spread out too much (although light-sleeping neighbours might not agree) so I’m not sure that inbuilt reflector is really doing very much. We’ve also got the 60W version of this same light, which is also physically smaller, and that’s perhaps more suited to the average garage for example but this beast is hard to beat if you just need the clearest, brightest light over a fairly large area without burning up large amounts of electricity.

Disclosure: item was received free or discounted for independent review
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Archeer 25W Bluetooth Home Speakers Upgraded A320 with Huge Bass and Superior Stereo 2.1 Channel Sound from 10W Drivers and 15W Subwoofer
Archeer 25W Bluetooth Home Speakers Upgraded A320 with Huge Bass and Superior Stereo 2.1 Channel Sound from 10W Drivers and 15W Subwoofer
Offered by Archeer-UK
Price: £179.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A grown-up Bluetooth speaker..., 19 July 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I’ve always believed Amazon’s 5-star rating was there to be used and so when a product’s as good as you can reasonably expect it to be (or even better) then I use it. I’m not the kind of reviewer who holds back a 5-star rating waiting for some mythical 'perfect' product that never actually arrives - but if I was, this is one of the products I would have been waiting for. I’ve had a bunch of Bluetooth speakers over the past few years, some good and some great, but this one is really exceptional and it’s far from the most expensive. It arrives in very unassuming packaging, just a simple cardboard box, together with a drawstring carry-bag, a USB charge cable (no mains adaptor) and an audio jack-to-jack cable. The speaker looks great with a solid Bamboo front and rear panel both very smoothly finished with a near-matte lacquer. The rest of the outside is covered with a hessian-like fabric in charcoal-grey, including the base which could get a bit dirty or worn with use. The unit has a nice weight to it, not heavy but with some real substance, and is easily moved around - but when picking it up you do tend to poke your finger or thumb into the speaker ports and against the exposed speaker cones, obviously you mustn’t damage these or you’ll ruin your speaker.

On the top of the speaker is the control panel with buttons for Power, Play/Pause and Volume Up and Down, in the middle of the buttons is an LED which flashes green while connected to a line source and blue while connected to Bluetooth. Keep the Power button pressed for about 5 seconds and the speaker starts - you’ll see the LED flash and then hear a rising tone moments later. Keep it pressed slightly longer and it goes into Bluetooth pairing mode ready to pair with your smartphone or other device. Tapping the Power button briefly switches from Line mode to Bluetooth mode, the LED switching colour to indicate which is currently selected.

On the back panel there’s a bass port at the bottom - this kicks out enough air to rustle nearby papers (I just noticed) when you’re playing suitably dynamic music. At the top is a small panel of connectors with a jack socket to accept a line-in connection from almost any audio device and a micro-USB port to recharge the battery. Note the speaker does not work as a USB audio device, so you’d have to use Bluetooth or Line to connect to your laptop or desktop computer. There’s an LED here too which lights to show that it’s currently charging and goes out when it’s fully topped up. There’s also a reset button which presumably clears any existing Bluetooth pairings and lets you start again with a new device. I’d almost forgotten this was a rechargeable speaker because it just runs on and on, the battery life seems to be excellent and it maintains full volume for virtually all of it.

Finally when you connect it up and start the music you get the nicest surprise because it sounds fantastic! Most smaller and affordable speakers give you a lot of mid-range and not much else so they sound throaty and unbalanced - this one is almost the reverse with a clear detailed treble sound and a bass with real heft and presence while the mid-range is kept in check. The first thing I noticed was how spacious the stereo image is, again most smaller speakers sound very contained and you’re very aware of listening to a small device with the sound coming from one specific position - but this one has an open and spacious sound that has a real stereo spread, especially if you’re sitting right in front of it, of course. It isn’t the loudest speaker I’ve ever heard but there’s enough volume to fill most rooms and it doesn’t distort even at high settings. It also isn’t the most floor-shaking sound either, it’s more refined than that but still with a full and satisfying bass sound. It also makes the most of Bluetooth audio, which isn’t always easy because Bluetooth usually re-compresses the music before transmission and so diminishes the audio quality, but this sounds pretty great. Using a line-in connection is probably better but the difference isn’t so great that you’d worry about it, it’s a flexible and good-sounding speaker either way.

For the current price (around £75) I think this is a little gem of a speaker. It sounds great, with a warm and rich sound that you can listen to for extended periods without it getting wearing, it’s got a grown-up sound that has presence and power without sounding like it’s trying too hard. The Bamboo panels and hessian make it look and feel more like a piece of furniture or vintage hi-fi than just another piece of black-plastic tech and so it would look great almost anywhere in your home. I doubt if I’d want to carry it around and use it outdoors, it’s too nice (and not rugged enough) for that really, so the included carry-case (which does nothing to protect the speaker cones anyway) is an unnecessary addition for me and anyway isn’t made to nearly the same standard as the speaker. I also added a set of four little silicone bumper pads on the bottom to protect the fabric covering from wear and tear - yes I'm being a bit over-fussy but I'd like to keep this speaker around for a long time, it's a real delight!

Disclosure: item was received discounted or free for independent (and honest!) review
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Hugine 6 Channel High Simulation Radio Control Forklift Truck
Hugine 6 Channel High Simulation Radio Control Forklift Truck
Offered by Toy Model Mall
Price: £42.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Lighten the load..., 18 July 2016
Length:: 2:01 Mins

The Hugine Remote Control Forklift Truck is a good size, about 30cm/12" long to the tips of the forks and about 22cm/8½" high, The forklift itself is quite lightweight but seems to be made from rigid and reasonably resilient plastic. There are some nice details like gear sticks and foot treads and these seem to be securely fixed on, although a really determined child could probably prove me wrong about that. The tyres are shiny plastic too and not rubber or silicone so they tend to freewheel a bit on smooth hard floors and don’t get full traction, they’re fine on short-pile carpets though. You can adjust the distance between the forks, just like the real thing, and the whole forklift mechanism is raised and lowered using a cord and pulley system - I’d be slightly concerned the cord could snap although it might be replaceable. The forks won’t lift anything very heavy, the product photo’s show them about to lift a small can of beer (now that’s appropriate for kids!) and that’s probably about as heavy as they'll manage. You get an appropriately sized pallet and oil-drum in the kit but I found the upward angle of the forks made using the pallet tricky, sometimes you can slide into it and sometimes you can’t (see video).

In the base of the truck is a battery compartment and the power switch, the compartment opens with a latch (no screwdriver necessary) and there’s a NiCad (4.8V 700mAh) rechargeable battery inside. There’s a mains charger in the box and although it does take some time (a few hours) to fully charge the battery you do get a decent amount of play-time from a single charge. All four wheels of the truck are powered and they work in pairs, left and right, and that’s the way the remote works too. The remote feels a bit flimsy and has slightly confusing controls, it takes two AA batteries (which are supplied) and there’s a flexible whip antenna that needs to be attached to get proper reception.

On the top of the controller are two D-pads, the two-way left pad controls the forward and reverse movement of the left wheels, the four-way right pad also only controls the forward and reverse action of the right wheels and the four buttons (confusingly) duplicate those actions. So to move in a straight line, either forward or reverse, you have to press both left and right pads together. Pressing one pad circles the truck to the right or left and pressing one pad up with the other down spins the truck on the spot. The other two round buttons on the top are non-functional. The two shoulder buttons operate the fork lift mechanism, one button for up and one for down. With a little practice it’s not difficult to control but the four-way D-pad confuses matters at first. The red hazard lights on the front also light up when the truck moves forward and it goes at a reasonable speed but you’ve got no real throttle control, it’s either full-speed or stop with nothing in-between, and that can make precise manoeuvres to pick up a load with the forks a bit tricky. It’s still fun trying though and most kids will love it although the load the forks can lift is really quite limited and so warn over-enthusiastic kids it's meant more for Lego bricks than the real thing.

Disclosure: item was received free or discounted for independent review


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