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techpuppy "in cyberspace no-one can hear you woof" (UK)
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Vstarcam T7838WIP (720P Plug and Play) Wireless IP Camera Support 32G Micro SD Card Night Vision with Two-Way Audio Remote control 4.2MM Lens WiFi IR-Cut Up To 10M Indoor Wireless/Wired Surveillance Webcam Build In Mic Dual Filter, Support 802.11b/g/n protocol, Build-in WiFi Module To Perform Wireless Monitoring
Vstarcam T7838WIP (720P Plug and Play) Wireless IP Camera Support 32G Micro SD Card Night Vision with Two-Way Audio Remote control 4.2MM Lens WiFi IR-Cut Up To 10M Indoor Wireless/Wired Surveillance Webcam Build In Mic Dual Filter, Support 802.11b/g/n protocol, Build-in WiFi Module To Perform Wireless Monitoring
Offered by DBPOWER

5.0 out of 5 stars Under surveillance..., 16 Dec 2014
I've been trying both the Vstarcam T7838WIP camera and the associated Vstarcam NVS-K200 monitor (which seems to be currently unavailable but may return) so this will be a joint review.

T7837WIP IP CAMERA:
The T7838WIP really isn't designed for surreptitious filming, it's a bit too large and too white to go unnoticed but it is quite impressive looking, nicely designed and finished and not the eyesore some security cameras are. If you just want a basic setup, allowing you to monitor a location via your smartphone or computer, then it's quick and fairly easy to setup. You first connect the camera to your home network using the onboard Ethernet connection, then using the Eye4 app (available for both iOS and Android) you log onto the cam and configure the name and password for your home Wi-Fi network, so from this point everything is wireless (apart from the power connection). The dedicated smartphone/tablet app's let you monitor the live stream from your camera and by swiping the screen you can move the camera around to see the whole area. You can set preset positions for the camera (your door, your window, your collection of Picasso sketches) and then automatically cycle between them or you can have the camera 'cruise' back and forth either horizontally or vertically. The image quality is really pretty good, it's a bit blocky but the colour rendition is impressive even in low lights. In very low light or darkness the camera switches to night-mode automatically and turns on the ring of InfraRed LEDs so it can see in the dark - these are very effective but have a limited range, maybe 8 to 10 metres. The camera can stream in 320x240 or 640x480 resolution in this mode, it is possible to switch to 720p resolution but to be honest it looks more like a low-resolution image that's been upscaled rather than a true HD image.

However, if you only connect to the camera via your smartphone or tablet you're missing a slew of other features this camera has. If you use your computer to log into the camera via its web interface then a whole raft of clever features become available with options for more advanced networking, alarm mode, recording onto SD card, multiple users and firmware updates. In alarm mode the camera can either be connected to an existing (compatible) alarm system and then switch to record when that alarm trips or you can enable motion detection within the camera itself and have the camera record intruders automatically, with the option to schedule this for certain times of day or night. The camera can also send you an email, with a picture, when it detects a possible intruder or it can upload the image(s) to an FTP server automatically so you can review them later. The camera can also trigger an alarm sound, played though the onboard speaker, but I'm not sure how useful this is. The camera has a microphone onboard too so you can listen in to a location and actually hear your house being burgled - you can also send audio to the onboard speaker and, if it makes you feel any better, shout obscenities at the burglar while they wreck your house.

There are also options to set different 'cruise' speeds and control how many times the camera cruises back-and-forth each time you request it - maybe a couple of passes back and forth for a quick check or you can set it to cruise constantly if you're using the camera to secure an area of your premises. You can also flip the image vertically or horizontally so if the camera is fixed upside-down to the ceiling (a wall-bracket is included) you can right the image again.

In most modes you can only record video onto an microSD card inserted into the camera itself, which of course means an intruder could remove the card and therefore the video evidence too. It is possible to do remote recordings but you have to connect to the camera using either Internet Explorer on Windows (after installing the special Active X add-ons), by using the dedicated Windows-only app' or by using the NVS-K200 monitor. These options are also the only way to view 720p quality video but, as I mentioned before, it isn't that good anyway. There's no dedicated app for Mac or Linux but there is a 'SearchTool' for Mac which makes it easier to find and then log into your camera using your web browser. You can find links to all available app's and more information on the Vstarcam site here: http://cd.gocam.so/T_PnP_en.html

I've had a couple of issues with the T7837WIP but none were deal-breaking. The most annoying one is the password setting; you must change the password from its default setting to prevent everyone on the internet being able to log into and view your camera, but immediately after you change it the camera turns awkward and can refuse to let you login again, telling you the password is wrong when it isn't. You have to persist if this happens, after 4 or 5 tries it usually relents and accepts the password - if that doesn't work you'll have to press the reset button on the back of the cam and start again. The quality of the video stream viewed on smartphones or tablets is not very smooth and stutters a lot - I think maybe the mobile app's are streaming via the internet (you have to register an account with Eye4 to enable it) and not just via your local home network as the web-browser interface does. Finally, it's not currently compatible with QNAP's Surveillance Station app, but that's a minor point that won't affect most people (and isn't the camera's fault anyway). In most other respects it's a really capable good-quality IP camera with all the features you're likely to need and a decent image quality and seems like great value to me.

NVS-K200 TOUCHSCREEN IP-CAMERA MONITOR
The NVS-K200 is a desktop monitor for your IP-Cameras and can display up to 4 streams simultaneously on its 7" touchscreen. It's a slightly clunky looking device but seems of decent quality and runs a version of the Android operating system, although that's been largely hidden under the dedicated interface. On the main screen are buttons for Video (which displays the streams from your IP cameras), Music (which plays local mp3 files), Photo Frame (displays local images), Movie (launches the Android YouTube app), History (plays recordings made from your IP cameras), Alarm (reviews footage taken when the IP camera alarms were tripped) and Settings (lets you configure a few basic Android settings). You don't get full access to the Android system underneath although it will pop out unexpectedly sometimes - for example if you click on a weblink in the YouTube app the Android web browser will open, even though it's not actually accessible directly.

The image quality on the display itself really isn't bad at all, hardly a super high resolution display but great for its intended purpose, but the touchscreen sensitivity isn't great - again it's fine for the intended purpose but if you're used to a full-spec' Android tablet you'll find it a bit unresponsive. It's relatively easy to find your Vstarcam IP-cameras on your network and connect to them - note that it seems that the monitor only works with Vstarcam cameras and doesn't see other brands or systems. The monitor can make recordings from the connected IP cameras and store them onto any available storage - you have a choice of connecting a microSD card, a USB flash drive or even opening the back of the monitor and fitting a full 2.5" hard drive into the empty bay. You can control the camera position by swiping across the touchscreen, but I found this very unresponsive and slow, and you have access to most of the main features - like the position presets, cruise controls, video quality, audio and the recording and alarm scheduling. Note that although it looks like a portable device the monitor has no onboard battery and has to be connected to a power source and comes with a mains adaptor.

The media playback features of the monitor are basic but fun to have -- you can use as a digital photo frame to review your favourite snaps or play back music or video from a flash drive or SD card -- but those features aren't that compelling in themselves and of course you can't upgrade them with better Android app's because you don't have full access to the Android system. It really might be better if more of Android and its app's were visible and usable, just trying to hide everything beneath a customised interface doesn't really work. It might (probably) be possible to hack the onboard system and remove a few of these barriers but I haven't tried so far. However for the intended purpose as a security monitor the NVS-K200 is a neat little unit, offers decent value and if you need something sitting on your desk or counter to monitor your cameras you could do a lot worse.

(Disclosure: both items were received for independent review)


Jam Fusion In Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones With Mic - Black
Jam Fusion In Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones With Mic - Black
Offered by The Tech Lodge
Price: £34.41

4.0 out of 5 stars Liberate your ears..., 13 Dec 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These Jam Fusion Bluetooth Headphones didn't inspire much confidence when I first unpacked them, they seemed very lightweight - but since then they've been a series of pleasant surprises because they fit better, sound better and have a better range than I'd expected. The fact that they're so light is, of course, no bad thing because they hang from your ears and have to remain comfortable over extended periods. Although, compared to normal ear-buds, they're chunky and a bit clumsy-looking they actually fit really well and feel much more comfortable in use that you might predict. Altogether there are 6 pairs of silicon tips included, two each of small, medium and large, so you can get the perfect fit and seal in your ear for the best sound. However most of the weight, what there is, is held by the clips which fit around your ear and these are quite comfy too - even when used with spectacles.

There's a little USB cable included to charge them up, which takes about 3 hours for a full charge and gives at least 4 hours of playback time. You can pair them with any standard Bletooth device, smartphone or computer, and the range is pretty good too - I was able to go several rooms away and downstairs before it cut out (that's when playing music from a desktop computer) which is better than some Bluetooth devices I've tried. There are onboard controls to Play/Pause your music and adjust the volume and these seem to work with most desktop and mobile devices I tried. There's also a microphone built into the right earphone so you can take incoming calls while you walk or run. Of course, unlike normal headphones, you do have to remember to switch them off after use to save the battery life. I assume they do switch themselves off after a period of inactivity, but with a relatively short battery life you'll want to save as much as you can.

The sound quality is also much better than I'd expected - it's hardly audiophile-quality high-fidelity, but it's very listenable with good bass and reasonable clarity. Certainly much better than the earphones that ship with many portables, so they'd be a worthwhile upgrade. These should also be great for some sports, especially running, because the fit feels secure and they don't move around as you run and so you can leave your player or smartphone zipped up in that pocket. It has to be said that if you spent the same money on non-Bluetooth headphones you'd probably get a better sound but that's not entirely the point. There is something very liberating about not being tethered to your music player anymore, you can move around without constantly being aware of that dangling cable getting caught on everything and to get decent audio quality and the Bluetooth feature at Amazon's price seems a good enough deal.


Senfloco Men's Bamboo Fiber Low Rise Sexy Small Brief 7 Colours
Senfloco Men's Bamboo Fiber Low Rise Sexy Small Brief 7 Colours
Offered by Donner-UK
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Why have cotton when you can have bamboo?..., 13 Dec 2014
Two things interested me about these Senfloco Bamboo Briefs - one was the styling, which I'd never seen before, and one was the Bamboo fabric, which I'd never worn before. I wouldn't normally go for such a skimpy style, don't enjoy feeling like I'm sitting in a catapult, but these are actually quite comfortable. The cut is good and sits well and the quality of manufacture is very good too. They laundered well, no major shrinkage although they took some time to dry - but this might be a side-effect of the Bamboo fibre which can absorb a lot of moisture. The front pouch is not over-generous so if Mother Nature was over-generous with you then you might feel a bit 'muzzled' in there. The S-M-L sizing is for the Asian market so they're smallish but not extreme, I'd normally take a 32-34" waist size and the Large size fits me well, but it's a snug fit so if you prefer something looser then go up a size.

The real revelation was the fabric - I'm not sure of the actual fibre mix because the label's in Chinese but it's a Bamboo Rayon (standard Rayon is made from wood fibre) mixed with some elastane. It's very soft and very stretchy and more like a silk jersey than cotton and feels so light against the skin you hardly feel you're wearing anything. There are lots of reasons why Bamboo fabric is interesting and probably a good choice for underwear or sports wear - it's eco-friendly, Bamboo is the fastest growing plant and usually needs no chemical fertilisers or pesticides, it's naturally anti-bacterial, it can absorb (and wick away) a lot of moisture and it's biodegradable. Of course Bamboo Rayon still a man-made fabric but at least the core ingredient is a bit more environmentally friendly. I'd certainly try other garments made from it and it seems to work really well for underwear. Maybe next time I'll choose something less skimpy like these or these, but that's just personal preference, and otherwise these briefs are something a bit different that's really worth trying. (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


Belfine Chocolate Finger Pup Pets Assorted Characters 15 g (Pack of 8)
Belfine Chocolate Finger Pup Pets Assorted Characters 15 g (Pack of 8)
Price: £8.45

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sticky fingers..., 7 Dec 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If your children really need another excuse to eat chocolate then here's a cute one. The Belfine Finger Pup'Pets (gettit?) are a set of three circus characters, Tito, Pipo and Lionel, nicely modelled in Belgian chocolate and set onto a ring so they can be used as finger puppets. Of course the ring also makes a great way to hold the Pup'Pet while it's being devoured by ravening children and I'm guessing that Tito, Pipo and Lionel have quite short expected lifespans. Belfine have thought of that though and there's a supporting website at www.fingerpuppets.be where you can download PDF activity sheets so that the now-sated kids can print, colour and cut-out new paper versions of the characters to attach to the now-empty finger rings. You can also print out a circus tent for them to play in. The paper versions of Tito, Pipo and Lionel will probably survive longer in the wild than their chocolate counterparts did...

The chocolate is delicious, quite sweet but creamy and with a quality texture and flavour and the modelling of the characters in white, milk and plain chocolate is also very nicely done. Mine arrived packed in a bag of eight (the box shown in the photo's is for retail display and they don't come in that packaging) and one got broken on the way - but that gave me an excuse to 'test' the chocolate before the kids got it. It passed the test nicely. There isn't a lot of chocolate on each one and so from that point of view they may seem a bit pricey, but they are a quality treat and would make lovely stocking stuffers - and the activity sheets might just keep bored younger kids occupied for a little while too.


(1920x1080P 60Hz Full HD Video Output,1G+8G)Dual Core 1.5GHz MX Android4.2 TV Box XBMC Mini PC with 4x USB Ports Built in Wifi, Infra Remote Great for Watching Youtube Surfing Internet, Online TV, Android Game With Remote Control, HDMI Cable Support SD Card up to 32GB
(1920x1080P 60Hz Full HD Video Output,1G+8G)Dual Core 1.5GHz MX Android4.2 TV Box XBMC Mini PC with 4x USB Ports Built in Wifi, Infra Remote Great for Watching Youtube Surfing Internet, Online TV, Android Game With Remote Control, HDMI Cable Support SD Card up to 32GB
Offered by HappyGo
Price: £63.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remix your TV..., 6 Dec 2014
The MX Smart-TV STB looks a lot like an Apple TV only bigger and it has bigger ambitions too, where Apple's device offers a limited (but very polished) range of functions this box of tricks attempts to put a full Android-driven tablet onto your TV. It's well equipped with USB ports, five in total, and there's an SD card slot used to increase the storage (there's just 8GB of storage built-in) or install firmware updates. You can connect to your TV via HDMI (the HDMI cable is included) but it's limited to a 720p output resolution and although there's an option to select 1080p this doesn't actually change anything and you're pegged at 720p. There's also a composite analogue video out via the AV socket (cable also included) which lets you connect to old CRT TV's but because older TV's can't display the high resolution signal this can look pretty awful for menus and many app's - but video playback looks fine.

The bundled remote control is a bit chunky but decent quality and has dedicated buttons for quick access to some Android features, for example the music player, video player, email and web app's. Many app's need a more accurate control method so you'll probably want to add an external mouse or trackpad and maybe a keyboard to make full use of them. The MX can use wired USB mice or keyboards or wireless versions with their own little USB dongle, but there's no Bluetooth chip onboard to make use of those devices. Note that there's no GPS, microphone or camera onboard either so any app that requires those features won't work on this device and may cause some instability. Also some smartphone app's don't run in the landscape format of a TV screen and won't be suitable for use with this box either. However, there are still a vast array of Android app's that will run quite happily and so you can now perform many of your day-to-day computing tasks right there on your TV - for example your email, social networking, photo and video viewing. Web browsing is perfectly usable but I did find it quite a bit slower than a full computer would be - try the Opera or Chrome browsers for the fastest results.

On paper, the actual hardware in this box isn't that special and would rate alongside a low-to-mid-range smartphone, but in use I find it to be pretty smooth and responsive. Challenging app's like 3D games aren't going to run very well (if at all) on this hardware (although 2D games like Angry Birds run fine) but for watching video and catch-up TV it's great and that's what most people will want it for. You can add all the catch-up TV app's like BBC iPlayer and mostly they work well and you're not limited to the video streaming services that the STB-maker has done deals with, you can run almost any of them (assuming they have an Android app) like Amazon's own Prime Instant Video or Netflix. I added Plex to access content from my own NAS server but there's also a copy of XBMC (aka Kodi) onboard and that runs very smoothly and can be extended with thousands of different add-ons that allow you to view TV, movies and 'other' content from around the world. You can even set XBMC as the Launcher (there's an app for that) so you never see any other part of the Android system and it becomes your standalone TV operating system.

This STB is actually widely available from different companies and many of them produce their own custom version of the onboard software - configuring the Android system and often the XBMC app and add-ons to their own specification. If you're willing to tinker then you can download many of these alternative firmware packages and install them yourself onto this box using an SD card. Be aware you lose the existing system when you do this - I haven't found anywhere to download the original firmware this box ships with, so be sure you want to change. So far I've run 5 different firmwares on the box with varying degrees of success. They all seemed to be quite stable but different versions have different features or app's and you might not like the choices that have been made. I also noticed that some firmwares can disable the analogue AV video output so if that's something you need be aware of this.

There's a short and not entirely unhelpful instruction booklet enclosed but a working knowledge of Android (or the ability to figure it out) will help a lot. A good selection of TV and video streaming app's are included but you can quickly add more (most are free) and in no time have a very smart box attached to a very stupid TV. In fact it's amazing how capable your TV can become by adding an STB like this, you end up with a surprisingly capable computer running right on your TV, something that would have cost you hundreds or even thousands just a few years ago. It's much fun too! (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


Philips LED GU10 Spot Light 3W (35W Replacement) Warm White, Pack of 2
Philips LED GU10 Spot Light 3W (35W Replacement) Warm White, Pack of 2
Price: £9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bright and cool..., 5 Dec 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These Philips GU10 bulbs feel quite weighty when you you first unpack them, not excessively so but slightly heavier than the Halogen bulbs they're replacing. I needed them to replace some failed Halogen bulbs in a larger group and was a bit concerned they might have a very different colour of light compared to the Halogen bulbs alongside but this 'Warm White' LED bulb is actually a pretty good match. You can see it's a slightly cooler and cleaner-looking colour but it's not all that obvious. The light beam is softer than the Halogen equivalent but still quite focussed and great for picking out details in your room. Note that these particular LED bulbs are not dimmable, it's all or nothing, and they seem a bit brighter than the 35W incandescent-equivalent Philips suggest, mine are running alongside 50W Halogens and you can't see much difference.

The best thing about them is how cool they remain in use, even after running for hours the front surface of the bulb is just warm to the touch. Conventional Halogen bulbs burn so hot they've always seemed like a real safety hazard to me and so I'm glad to be replacing them with something so much cooler. The fact that they should burn a lot less electricity too is a real bonus - or it will be later when we've saved the cost of the bulbs themselves. I can't say anything about their longevity because we only just got them but here's hoping they last as long as Philips claim they will. To be honest if I was using them in a workroom or kitchen I think I'd rather go for a more pure white colour than these Warm White versions, but for other areas of the home and especially when using the LED's alongside existing Halogens, these are a great choice.


Satechi RideMate USB Rechargeable Bicycle Taillight
Satechi RideMate USB Rechargeable Bicycle Taillight
Offered by SATECHI
Price: £30.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Seen from behind..., 4 Dec 2014
The Satechi Bicycle Taillight is really bright and very visible in use - it's rated at just 26 lumens but you'd be forgiven for thinking it's much more than that. The wraparound design means it's visible for about 300° around too, which is just what you need in urban cycling. The main shell is polycarbonate (the plastic used in bullet-proof glass) and so it should stand up to a lot of use - it's certainly a lot better than the easily-scratched plastic most taillights seem to be made from.

The light is attached to the saddle stem, or other part of your bike, with a flexible silicon strap which fastens with a hook and eye. The strap is permanently attached to the light at a slight angle, to allow for the angle of most saddle stems, and can be rotated to allow the light to be used either horizontally to vertically. It isn't the easiest thing to attach and remove from your bike, not as quick and easy as the more common clip-on bracket would be, but when it's attached it does feel secure. I'd also be a bit concerned about how long it might last, if the clip gives out the light becomes quite useless, but it does seem to be good quality.

There are three settings for the light itself, full brightness, low brightness (still quite bright) and flashing and the battery should last 3 hours for full brightness and double that for low and flashing modes. On the rear there's a little rubber trapdoor covering the micro USB port for recharging the battery, which takes about 3 hours. It's slightly awkward to get the USB cable plugged in there, you have to hold the fixing strap out of the way, but it's OK. You get a short (20cm long) micro-USB cable in the pack and it's really handy if, like me, you seem to be collecting devices that need the same connector for recharging - it's small enough to throw in a bag or pocket and carry around with you.

As usual with Satechi products I've been very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the RideMate taillight, the polycarbonate construction should mean it lasts - my previous taillights have ended up so scratched it looks like they're made from frosted plastic. It's also a sealed unit with a non-replaceable rechargeable battery but that keeps the unit small and means it should be very weatherproof - best of all it's very bright and highly visible. (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


Satechi RideMate 2500mAh Portable Energy Station 500 lumen Bicycle Light with USB Port
Satechi RideMate 2500mAh Portable Energy Station 500 lumen Bicycle Light with USB Port
Offered by SATECHI
Price: £52.99

5.0 out of 5 stars See a country mile..., 29 Nov 2014
At 500 lumens this Satechi RideMate light outshines my previous LED (CatEye) light by a country mile - almost literally. It's fitted with a single extremely bright LED instead of the LED cluster my previous light used and the rechargeable battery is built in making for a sleek and neat unit that's reasonably lightweight too. The main body is made from ABS, the front cowl is aluminium and the lens over the light source seems to be Polycarbonate, so it should be as tough as old boots too, it certainly feels like a quality item. The bracket to fix it to the bike is quite small and neat too and it certainly holds it in place securely - maybe too securely as it's not the easiest thing to clip and unclip, but maybe that's a good thing.

There are two rubber buttons on top with a row of blue LED's, the rear button switches the unit on (so it can function as a power bank) and then you press the front button to switch on the light. On full brightness it's really bright (too bright to look at directly - so don't!) and I found it was bright enough for unlit country roads. On an urban cycle you could reduce the brightness to the medium or low settings and extend battery life - or if you want to be sure to be noticed by other drivers then there's a strobe option too, which lasts even longer. The beam of light is also focussed into two very distinct areas, a smaller bright section in the middle so you'll see those potholes coming, and a dimmer section around it for general illumination. The pool of light is mostly cast downwards onto the road, where you need it and this will avoid blinding oncoming motorists - what a shame so many motorists don't extend the same consideration to cyclists, I've lost count of the number of times I've had to pull over when blinded by a dim-witted un-dimmed motorist! I'm just saying...

You can also use the light as a power bank to run or recharge other devices and at the rear is a rubber trapdoor which opens to reveal two USB ports, a micro one for depositing power into the power bank and a full-sized one for withdrawing it again for other devices. There's no mains adaptor included but any standard USB charger or port should work. You do get a short (20cm approx) USB A/micro-B cable in the pack and it's really handy to throw in a bag and carry with you - I seem to collect devices that need a micro-B cable for charging. The option to use the light as an emergency back up for your smartphone is a nice feature and the power bank stores a useful amount of charge, assuming you don't need it all for the light of course. I knew my previous light needed updating to something brighter and normally I'd just have gone for another CatEye but I'm glad I was persuaded to try the Satechi. It's not the cheapest but when you compare it with other 500 lumen output lights of the same build quality I think it stacks up very well - plus you get a power bank option in case you even need it. Definitely worth a try. (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


Xpelair CSTS 4-inch Simply Silent Contour Extractor Fan Timer Delay
Xpelair CSTS 4-inch Simply Silent Contour Extractor Fan Timer Delay
Price: £49.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poop in peace..., 27 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The existing fan in our shower-room has sounded like a tractor going uphill in reverse for years so it was long overdue for replacement and this Simply Silent Contour fan seemed just the thing. The existing extractor was an old box-style surface mounted Xpelair but I figured I might be able to swap them over without too much trouble. This Contour fan seems to be decent quality and looks clean and neat when fitted, the square panel on the front simply twists off and exposes the fan inside so you can clean everything when necessary. The fan is a turbine-style and it's worth noting that this unit needs a decent amount of clearance inside the wall or ceiling - about 86.5mm for the fan itself but you also have to allow space for the ready-fitted back-draught shutters to deploy, maybe another 30~40mm. The back-draught shutters are meant to stop cold air from outside blowing in and when not in use the shutters are kept closed by pieces of flexible plastic tape (basic but effective) but our fan looked like it was missing one piece of tape and one shutter wouldn't stay shut - worth checking this before you install yours because the tape can detach quite easily. In the end it didn't matter for our installation because there wasn't enough clearance in our wall for the shutters to operate and I had to fit a back-draught shutter at the other end of the vent instead. The fan outlet diameter is 98mm so standard 100mm ducting fits around it nicely.

Assuming you have the hole cut and ducting in place then installation is pretty easy, just three screws to hold the base in place (or there are fitted clamps which can be tightened to grip the inside of a ducting pipe) and then the front part of the casing snaps on, followed by the square vent cover. Our wiring was already in place so was straightforward too but the cable connector block is quite tiny and a bit fiddly. You can choose two speeds for the fan and also adjust the timer delay, to keep the fan running for a fixed time after the bathroom light is switch off. The fan speed is set by using an old-school jumper, a switch would be better but it works. The lower speed is set by default and it is very quiet in use (the relief!) but I felt it wasn't shifting quite enough air for a steamy shower-room and so I switched to the higher one, which is louder but still quieter than just about any other bathroom-style fan I've heard. For example, on both speeds the fan is just audible when standing outside the closed bathroom door (and that's in a very quiet house) so for anyone who shares their en-suite bedroom with a nocturnal yoyo this fan could be a real blessing.

Obviously for anything electrical fitted in a bathroom you need to be extremely careful and get tradesmen when necessary, especially for a new installation - but if you've got something similar already in place then swapping them over isn't that hard for a basic DIY'er. Getting rid of the noisy rattly old thing we had before is such a relief and this fan makes a much more bearable whooshing sound, you hear the sound of the air moving more than the sound of the motor running. My only reservation is with the square cover plate - might be better to get the round version because it would look even neater and if you fit the fan slightly squint (as I did at first) it would be far less obvious...


Super Mini Wifi HD 1080P Waterproof High Resolution Professional Sports DV Cam Action Camera Helmet Camcorder (White)
Super Mini Wifi HD 1080P Waterproof High Resolution Professional Sports DV Cam Action Camera Helmet Camcorder (White)

4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite the Hero, but cute..., 26 Nov 2014
The Mini SportsCam looks like it escaped from the video-game Portal 2, it's got the same curvy white styling, though unfortunately not the voice. For the price, the build-quality seems really good and it arrives with a kit of decent quality accessories too. There's a tiny LCD display on top of the camera which shows the current settings and battery level but it's difficult to read most of the time and then impossible to read when the camera is in its waterproof housing. Thankfully there are also two LED 'headlights' on the front which change colour to indicate the different modes and then flash while it's recording - so once you've memorised the (relatively straightforward) options it's possible to tell what the camera is doing without trying to peer into that tiny display. The waterproof case actually is waterproof (i tested it stuffed with tissues) and seems to be made out of polycarbonate (tough stuff) with silicon seals around the door and waterproofed button-pushers so you still control the camera while it's inside. There's also a screw mount on the bottom of the case (like the camera) so the supplied mounts work with the case too.

The camera has three modes; 1080 (at 30fps), 720 (at 60fps) and stills (in 4:3 at 2560 x 1920 resolution) and can be used as a standalone device or as an external camera linked via either wi-fi or USB. The picture quality in 1080p is pretty good, 720p looks much the same only smaller, but it needs daylight or a bright room as low-light performance isn't very special. Still photographs aren't great either and look gritty and indistinct - but video is what this camera is about and that's OK, with a couple of reservations. The lens is quite wide-angle (120°) so it distorts objects close to the camera and might not be the best choice for indoor photography - however if you're riding around on your bike or halfway up a cliff face it's just what you'd want, you get a great view of the world around you. There's no built-in storage so you have to add a microSD card (up to 32GB) to store video and for some reason the camera divides videos in one minute chunks, each one saved onto the memory card as a separate file. You can stitch these together again on your computer quite easily and they're usually seamless, but it's an annoying extra step you don't need. There's a single mono microphone on the front to record sound which is better than nothing, however once you put the camera into its waterproof case it gets too muffled to be really useful. Battery life is about 90 mins on a single charge and the camera can be recharged via USB (cable included) when it's empty. When connected to your computer via USB the memory card mounts and you can access the videos or photo's directly, plus you can also switch the camera into a 'PC-Mode' which turns it into a webcam for video conferencing (worked on both Windows and Mac). You can also connect the camera via HDMI to your TV and playback your videos directly, but the micro-HDMI cable you'll need is not included.

The included mounts and brackets are decent quality too, if a bit clunky, and I attached mine to my bike handlebars with no problem. In use though the mount picks up every vibration of your bike (while the mic picks up all the clunks and creaks) and so although the footage can look quite dramatic it isn't exactly smooth. It's fun though! You can also connect to the camera wirelessly, the camera creates a wi-fi hotspot you can then log onto to with your smartphone. Using a free app (both iOS and Android) you can then see what your camera sees on your smartphone - this is really useful for attaching it to a bike or similar because you can make sure it's pointing in the direction you want. You can also start and stop recording from the app, but I switched wi-fi off to save battery life and just used the buttons.

Annoyingly, the camera puts a date/time stamp onto your videos and there's no way to turn this off - at least not one I can find. There's also a slightly clunky way to set the date and time - you have to create a text file (called TIMESET.TXT) with the new date and time in it (in the format '2014-12-25 13:25:00') and then drop it into the root directory of the microSD card and then restart the camera - presumably trying to sync the restart with the time you wrote in the text file. Quirky...

Of course the SportsCam is trying to be a cheap GoPro HERO style camera and in some ways it's successful, the build quality is surprisingly good for the price, but I doubt the video quality is on a par - but then this camera is less than half the price of the cheapest GoPro, so you pays your money. If you're expecting video quality any better than a mid-range smartphone then you might be disappointed but if you want an affordable way to record your outdoor adventures, whatever the weather, then it's a really fun (though quirky) item - and which would you rather see tumbling off your handlebars at top speed? (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


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