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Chappers "chappers" (UK)

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Russell Hobbs 23862 Darwin 2-Slice Toaster, Black
Russell Hobbs 23862 Darwin 2-Slice Toaster, Black
Price: £16.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple, inoffensive toaster that covers the basics well, 31 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What’s good:
Covers the basics
Simple design
Bread slots are quite wide
Reasonable value for money

What’s not so good:
Main lever is a bit thin and flimsy
Best suited to smaller-sized bread slices
Browning is average

This is a simple 2 slice toaster from Russell Hobbs. It covers the basics with the usual browning control dial, plus buttons for Cancel, Warm and Defrost. The slice openings are a reasonable thickness, but you’ll only really get full slice coverage if you use a smaller loaf.

Browning is relatively even but if you are using a ‘standard’ size of loaf you’ll need to rotate the slice in order to get the top browned as well due to the slice not getting drawn all the way inside the toaster. This is pretty common for budget 2-slice toasters. As per the majority of toasters, this browns based on time, but if you’ve just used the toaster then the elements will be a bit pre-heated so you have to be wary. It would be nice if toasters could actually see what the browning of the bread was and eject accordingly. I’d swear I used to have such a toaster years ago - can’t remember what brand it was.

Style-wise it is simple and inoffensive. It doesn’t try to ape a more sophisticated design, and it’s probably all-the-better for it. The main activation lever is a bit thin and flimsy which is a shame. This is the part you come into contact with the most and it would have been nice to have something a bit more substantial or with a more assured action - but then for the price that’s probably asking a bit much.

Ultimately this is going to be down to a style-preference, as Russell Hobbs seem to do essentially the same toaster in a myriad of different style and they can all be had for around this price. You won’t get that more premium feel unless you dig deeper into your pockets though.

Circulon Genesis  25 cm Hard Anodised Frypan, Black
Circulon Genesis 25 cm Hard Anodised Frypan, Black
Offered by Brands Warehouse Ltd
Price: £26.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great medium-sized pan - were it not for the handle..., 30 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What’s good:
Pan build quality is good
Circulon patented ridged base
Cooks evenly
Heats up quickly on induction

What’s not so good:
Flat profile handle is not very ergonomic
Rough edges to handle show questionable quality standards
Not well protected in warehouse? (slight chip on pan I received)

Circulon is my preferred brand of cookware, as I currently own a couple of other pieces from their other ranges. I also own some similar-looking pans from another manufacturer but i do like the lightly ridged inner surface which just feels nice to cook on.

This pan is a ‘Medium’ being 25cm in diameter - so it’s not by any means a big frying pan, but neither is it one that you’d only fit a single fried egg in. It’s a nice smaller-sized compromise for when you don’t need to fry up more than perhaps a single chopped onion, but not one that I personally would rely on for most of my slightly larger volume requirements.

This pan is of the ‘hard anodised steel’ variety, which is one of the preferred ‘premium’ materials - other materials can include Copper, Copper-bottom, Tri-ply, and probably a few others since I last did my research. Which one is right for you is often down to personal preference, but in my case I have stuck to hard anodised steel as I like a rugged pan and I have an induction hob so that normally rules out most of the copper and aluminium options (unless stated otherwise).

The pan heats up nicely, and importantly it doesn’t buckle - which is something I have experienced in another frying pan (not made my Circulon) - resulting in it not sitting flat and affecting heat conductivity (needless to say it went back as a defect). This particular pan is oven safe as it has all-metal construction, which may or may not be of use to you. Personally I have never put a frying pan in an oven, but perhaps it’s nice to know it can be done.

So why the 3 stars? Well that’s down to one major thing with respect to this particular pan (and one minor thing).

The minor thing is that the pan came with a slight chip out of the rim of the pan itself, so I would suggest that it was either knocked during manufacture, or within amazon’s warehouse. Either way, it would benefit from slightly better protection of the pan rim itself.

The major thing that bothers me about this pan is the handle. My other Circulon pan is a slightly less premium one as the handle is a chunky plastic-esque thing, but it is a nice size and you get a good grip on it. The one on this pan is quite flat in profile meaning you don’t really get much hand grip. Think of it like picking up a wooden ruler from school, but now imagine that on the other end of the ruler is a pan of some substance and mass that will be very hot and contain ingredients further adding to the weight. The ergonomics then come into question. On top of this, the side edges of the handle are slightly roughly finished - almost sharp in a sense. The same can be said of the pan hook hole in the top of the handle which has similarly not been finished to a smooth standard around the inner edge. This is rather disappointing for Circulon.

It could be that I have received a ‘Friday night’ job and that normally these pans would have the rough edges smoothed out normally, but I am basing this review purely on the item I have before me.

If you receive a better-finished model and don’t mind the flat profile handle you might rate this higher, but I personally don’t like the flat handle and the finish is not up-to-par - so 3 stars it is from me...
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 4, 2016 2:27 PM GMT

Post-it Z-Note Stone Dispenser, Black, with 12 pads 76mm x 76mm Canary Yellow Z-Notes
Post-it Z-Note Stone Dispenser, Black, with 12 pads 76mm x 76mm Canary Yellow Z-Notes
Price: £28.37

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice pebble-esque design, but quite expensive and unclear opening method, 27 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What’s good:
Simple, inoffensive design
Does the job
Sensibly weighted
Grippy base feet

What’s not so good:
No ‘instructions’ per-se
A more textured matte finish might have looked better
Quite expensive

This is a nicely styled dispenser of Post-it’s ‘Z-notes’ range of part-adhesive note paper. Shaped like a smoothed pebble and available in either black or white, I’m wondering if perhaps Scotch missed a trick by not making it more textured or coloured a bit more like a pebble?

When I first opened it I confess to being a bit confused. There were the prerequisite packs of extra yellow z-notes supplied, but I couldn’t figure out how to ‘open’ the dispenser in order to get one in. I then realised that the blue platform within the opening was actually a pre-loaded set of z-notes, and not just a blank platform. I wasn’t expecting that as I thought all the notes supplied would have been yellow. Anyway, once I’d realised that there were notes already in it, I had to try to fish out the top note, et-voila, it works.

I’d initially assumed that once I’ve gotten through this initial pack, then inserting a fresh pack perhaps was done through the dispensing slot - although my brain questioned if this would work? There isn’t any obvious other route to opening up the dispenser. There are no instructions to tell you either. Only when I noticed the comment on another review did I see someone mention that you twist the top section to open it up. Shame on Scotch for not pointing that out! I could easily have broken it had I not realised.

For c. £27 (at time of review) I think that’s quite expensive for this item - and the lack of including a simple yet fairly necessary instruction is rather short-sighted.

3M 050120UK 5 m P120 "Bare Surfaces" Medium Grit Sandblaster Sandpaper Abrasive Roll - Gold
3M 050120UK 5 m P120 "Bare Surfaces" Medium Grit Sandblaster Sandpaper Abrasive Roll - Gold
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars It's sandpaper - but on a roll!, 27 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What’s good:
Practical size - just tear off what you need
Strong material
Does the job

What’s not so good:
Could be considered quite expensive

I don’t know why I hadn’t come across sandpaper on a roll before - it just makes so much sense to me now! Instead of buying the big square sheets that you often cut or tear into smaller more manageable pieces for hand-sanding or putting over a small block, this roll of 5 metres gives you a sensible width to play with (11cm), you just tear off what you need.

This particular variant is ‘medium grit’ so is relatively universal. You won’t get a super-fine finish to your sanding that you would get with a fine grit, and you won’t make rapid shaving progress like you would with a coarse grit, but with a bit of patience and perseverance this medium grit is my go-to sandpaper.

What I like about 3M sandpaper is it is sturdy and doesn’t feel so flimsy as the cheap sandpaper you can get, and the grit stays the course really well too, which is important.

Crabtree & Evelyn La Source Body Care Duo Kit
Crabtree & Evelyn La Source Body Care Duo Kit

4.0 out of 5 stars Good quality body wash and lotion - expensive and not from London, 19 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What’s good:
Not overpoweringly scented
Pleasing botanical/nature-based fragrance

What’s not so good:
Would benefit from greater brand provenance
Quite expensive

I have used Crabtree and Evelyn products before in a hotel I believe. They seemed luxurious and appeared to my mind as a nice premium ‘British’ skincare range without necessarily knowing any more.

This particular set comes in a nicely decorated blue cardboard box with ‘Crabtree & Evelyn LONDON’ proudly emblazoned on it, containing within two 250ml bottled products. One is a body wash for use during a shower or bath to be administered via a sponge, and the other a body lotion for use after said shower or bath (or whenever) to be applied straight to the skin. Both of them have a nice slightly botanical/nature-based fragrance to them that I rather like. I am not really one for overpowering smells in my skincare or bath products, as very often it takes away from the quality of the lotions themselves, and is often either short-lived, or clashes with the fragrances of any sprays or EDTs you might want to apply afterwards.

The Body Wash lathers up nicely and is pleasing to use, with the gentle aroma making the shower a nice place to be. The body lotion is nicely creamy - perhaps a touch on the liquidy side, but nice nonetheless. It reminded me a little bit of Oil of Olay (or Oil of Ulay for those of us who prefer the old naming conventions).

It was at this point that I decided to have a look at Crabtree and Evelyn the brand at which point I discovered that the brand was not British at all. It was created by an American Film producer named Cyrus Harvey. He and a designer friend came up with the name based on a 17th century English botanist and naturalist called John Evelyn. The first stores were based in America, although the brand eventually made its way over to England. In the 1990s the company passed through a couple of different hands and struggled a bit in the 2000s before we get back to today where it is once again appearing as a premium ‘British’ name. It’s a shame therefore that the product is made in the USA using ‘domestic and imported components’ and the box is made in China. Personally speaking, in this modern world of wanting to know where things are from, I would like to have seen this product made in Britain seeing as in my mind that is the impression it is giving off.

For a price of £28 (at time of review) I think that is rather too much for something of this ilk. You can get a similar-quality gift set with more items in it for less money.

Tefal FV4970 Smart Protect Steam Iron, 2500 W - White
Tefal FV4970 Smart Protect Steam Iron, 2500 W - White
Price: £39.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smart functionality at a very competitive price point - well worth a look, 19 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What’s good:
Smart functionality (no temperature settings)
Competitively priced considering the above
Good ergonomics
Safety Auto-off

What’s not so good:
Lower-grade materials
Unbalanced weight
Average soleplate performance
Stingy 2 metre cord

This iron is from Tefal’s 4000 series which is mid-range, although this particular model employs ‘smart’ technology to eliminate the temperature-adjustment requirement.

It employs the same 2 metre cord as other Tefal models (which is a bit stingy), but also benefits from some of the plus points such as the overall ergonomic design, the large stable heel, and the nice departure angle of the cord itself. It also benefits from the same large useful water aperture with a hinged opening on the top side that makes filling a doddle.

I must mention the packaging, which is a lesson in minimalism. You get the box, a fairly basic cardboard inner frame to hold the iron in place, a small user manual in English, and a small warranty card. That’s it. No mess, no fuss. I like that.

You can tell that this is not from the higher 5000 series stable from the moment you come into contact with it, because the materials used are not to the same standard. It has a slightly ‘slippery’ feel to the parts that you hold, which you may or may not be a fan of. I personally favour an iron with a more tactile or rubbery/grippy texture to it. This iron is also quite front-heavy so the balance of it is not ideal. The soleplate is Tefal’s ‘Durilium’ technology and in the case of this iron it has a sort of painted-ceramic look to it. It performs to a similar nature to the polished metal Durilium soleplate of a 5000 series model - which is good, but not up to the slippery nature of a Philips Azur SteamGlide soleplate.

Steam output is good with this model. The boost is acceptable and not exactly powerful but it gets the job done sufficiently enough.

This iron features Safety auto off, which is an essential feature in all irons in my opinion. In the case of this iron it takes 5 minutes on the horizontal and 8 minutes on the heel for the auto-off to function. I suspect that as it is a ‘smart’ iron, the longer horizontal time is acceptable (you normally find it is less time than this on more traditional irons where I imagine the soleplate heats up to a higher temperature).

The main feature to this iron however is the fact that it is ‘smart’. That smartness comes from the fact that it is from a class of irons that have no temperature adjustments, so they are a bit more ‘idiot-proof’ than a more traditional steam iron. You simply add water, plug in, switch on and off you go. The steam does all the work and you can be comforted in the knowledge that you shouldn’t be ruining any of your garments by ironing them on the wrong temperature setting. In use, it works absolutely fine. I’ve been using ‘smart’ irons for a few years now and they are ultimately my favourites as they give me one less thing to think about during the chore of ironing. Yes the 2500W might not be the last word in power, but it is sufficient to do most things.

Overall, if you can get over the fact that the materials used in construction are bit lower-grade, the average soleplate, and the unbalanced weighting, the ultimate plus-point to this iron is the ‘smart’ nature of it. Normally this kind of feature you have to spend a lot more money on, so for Tefal to introduce it at a relatively affordable £43 (at time of review) is darn good going and for that Tefal should be applauded.

Tefal FV5546 Aquaspeed Steam Iron, 2600 W - Blue
Tefal FV5546 Aquaspeed Steam Iron, 2600 W - Blue
Price: £50.72

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-specced mid-range iron from Tefal that gives Philips a run for their money, 19 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What’s good:
Good ergonomics
Decent build and materials
Strong heat-up and steam performance
Safety auto-off
Large & practical water aperture

What’s not so good:
Stingy 2 metre power cord
Average soleplate performance

The design is nice and it sits sturdily on its heel. The cord join retracts nicely into a groove in the heel, and stays out of the way of your wrist in operation. The length of the power cord is 2 metres which is ok but not exactly generous. The ‘Durilium’ soleplate is ok but not up to the smooth standards of a Philips Azur soleplate as it does drag more than the Philips. It has a shiny metal finish to the soleplate, not unlike chrome-plating. There is a good number of steam vents and the steam output is good overall.

The ergonomics of the iron overall are good with plenty of space for your fingers without running the risk of catching any of the body-mounted controls. The water aperture is top-hinged and has a large and easy to fill opening. There is no water cup provided but then any jug you have around the house should suffice especially with the thoughtfully large opening. The water level is clear and visible across the body of the iron

The iron is quick to heat up with 2600W of power and . It features safety auto-off which is something I like to see on all irons as it turns off the iron if left in certain positions for set amounts of time (on its heel for 8 minutes or on the horizontal for 30 seconds).

The anti-calc function on this machine is done by way of a removable valve which is recommended to be done every month and soaked in white vinegar for a few hours. This is instead of an anti-calc button that features on rival models. It’s horses for courses as to which is a better approach, but they both get the job done.

Overall, it is a neat and not overly heavy iron. Apart from the short-ish power cord and average soleplate performance, you are getting a nice well-balanced and well-made iron with thoughtful ergonomics for a not entirely unreasonable sum of £53 (at time of review). That is a very competitive price point when it comes to irons, and you’d be well-advised to look at Philips’ range of Azur irons as a way of comparing ergonomics and comfort levels (just be sure to find one with safety auto-off, as some of them omit that rather essential safety feature).

Sony Bravia KD55XD8005 55 inch Android 4K HDR Ultra HD Smart TV with TRILUMINOS Display, PlayStation Now and Google Cast (2016 Model) - Black
Sony Bravia KD55XD8005 55 inch Android 4K HDR Ultra HD Smart TV with TRILUMINOS Display, PlayStation Now and Google Cast (2016 Model) - Black

21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great lower-mid-range TV from Sony - with some limitations, 19 Oct. 2016
What’s good:
Svelte sophisticated design
Great picture quality
Android TV platform with loads of apps
Potentially good value (compared to slightly more expensive models)

What’s not so good:
Black levels are so-so
HDR performance is not great
Weak speaker performance (easily solved if you add a reasonable soundbar)

Anyone looking for a new TV in 2016 is going to be faced with a lot of acronyms and abbreviations and be wondering what on earth they all mean. To cut through a lot of the noise, you need to look really at what your viewing needs are and work backwards from that.

This Sony 55XD8005 is a great lower-mid-range offering from Sony, and covers all the basics. It is by no means perfect, but then for the price of c. £999 (at time of review), that isn’t going to tread on the toes of any mid-to-high-end sets that cost £1,500 up to several thousand pounds.

What you’re getting for your money with this set is a svelte and sophisticated design (no potentially ‘vulgar’ shiny chrome bits on this set), with Sony’s very nice angled stand (the 43” and 49” models have a different design to the 55” set). It has Android TV which has come on in leaps and bounds from the more erratic early days, and compared to the more premium XD85 models that came out at the start of 2016, this XD80 (that was released in the middle of the year) actually performs in a more speedy and snappy way. Plus you have access to the Google Play store and its wide plethora of apps - more than any other smart TV system currently available. You can even pair up a DualShock 4 controller from a PS4 console to control any downloaded games.

Picture-quality wise, Sony’s have always been able to produce nice natural colours, without going for over-saturated punch (unless you want it to) and this set is no exception. I found that with the colour preset to ‘Expert 1’ and the red levels dialled down a bit, plus some adjustments to contrast and brightness etc. a perfectly pleasing image results. What this sort of price won’t get you however, is the high levels of brightness and deep levels of black (on the same scene). This is normally something that is achieved via what’s known as ‘local dimming’ which this device does not have. As such on a more basic non-local-dimming set such as this you have to make a choice to either have the backlight brightness set to low to get better blacks (that still aren’t great) and losing out on highlights of an image, or bump it right up but sacrifice the black level in a darker scene to get better brightness. If your viewing environment is generally always in a lit room, then this might not be so much of a big deal for you, but if you like to watch TV in darkness, then this might prove to be an annoyance and you’ll need to look at spending more money on a set that offers a good degree of local dimming, or even stretch up to ‘OLED’ which is a different type of display technology where each pixel is illuminated as opposed to being supported by a backlight. The very best ‘full array local dimming’ sets can give OLED a run for their money, but technologies change very fast so it’s only a matter of time before something else comes along.

This set comes with all the connectivity you might need - although there are some slight technical compromises compared to higher-end models, such as the fact that only 2x of the HDMI sockets can accept an enhanced 4K signal, whereas higher-end models can accept the signal on all 4x of the HDMIs. The other compromises aside from the lack of local dimming and low contrast and peak brightnesses are in the screen’s native refresh rate, which is 60Hz whereas higher-end sets tend to be 120Hz. On some sets this might prove to be a problem, but in this screen’s favour it doesn’t prove to be an issue at all as it manages to hide it’s lower native refresh rate very well. There is a 400Hz Motionflow XR being utilised but these otherworldly numbers (800Hz 1000Hz 2000Hz etc.) are not all apples-to-apples comparisons and very often if you turn on these functions they have a tendency to make images quite strange to view.

HDR is the other thing which this set can make use of, but what is not often clear in marketing blurb, is that not HDR sets are made equal. What this set does is process an HDR signal and increase the colour gamut and range accordingly, whilst also bumping up the brightness levels. However, owing to the fact that it does not offer the peak brightness and deep black levels (at the same time) required to really qualify for full-on HDR viewing, it is not going to give you the full-fat HDR experience you might be expecting. You’ll simply need to save more pennies for that one.

The remote control is a simple affair and has a lightweight but well-made feel to it, with buttons that are embossed onto the relatively grippy surface. I quite like it, and it has Sony’s usual ergonomic and well-thought-out button placement. It also features a microphone for voice-activation features - something that works surprisingly well.

Sound-wise, the standard performance of speakers from any slimline TV are never going to win any awards and this set is no different. Whilst it will be perfectly adequate for typical daytime TV viewing, if you’re going to want any kind of broader range of volume and punch of sound, you’re going to need to hook this set into a soundbar or sound system of some kind. The set I purchased came with a free Sony HTCT390 soundbar which does the trick nicely - although it is stereo as opposed to surround sound.

The built-in YouView interface for Digital TV viewing is excellent and allows you to scroll back to fire-up catch-up services straight from the program-guide, which is very handy. The individual catch-up serves are also available from within the menu if you want to access them directly.

All-in-all, this is a great low-to-mid-range 55” set from Sony and it showcases the Android TV platform well creating a consistent and varied user experience across all their Android TV models. It covers all the bases well, but it will not provide the killer HDR experience that some people might be keen on. This price band currently just doesn’t offer any TVs that will achieve that, in spite of what each brand’s marketing departments might claim. If your viewing is most likely done in well-lit rooms then this set will do the trick nicely. If you are more likely to view in a dark or dimly-lit room, you might want to look for a set with a darker panel or with local-dimming to help with the black levels.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 26, 2016 2:52 PM BST

Tefal Ultimate Hand Blender, 1000 W
Tefal Ultimate Hand Blender, 1000 W
Price: £74.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful well-made blender with lots of pieces, 15 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What’s good:
Nicely made
Ergonomically sound
Good performance
Fairly quiet in operation

What’s not so good:
Recipe book is a waste of paper
Need to store a lot of parts
Quite expensive

The Tefal ‘Infinyforce ultimate’ [sic] to give it its full name (weird spelling included) is a higher-powered hand blender than the usual fare you will get in the 500-800W range. This piece of French tech boasts a meaty 1000W of power, and while you might find that relatively imperceptible if you only ever blend very soft things, if however you blendy chunkier substances you might appreciate the extra oomph that this device offers. That aside, the build-quality is very good and all the individual parts while a mixture of plastic and metal are all quite substantial in feel and should prove relatively durable. There a lot of bits and bobs to go with it, so storing everything safely is something you’ll need to factor in, as the box it comes in doesn’t lend itself well to this purpose.

Ergonomically, it fits in the hand as well as you’d expect, and features a Power and Turbo rubberised buttons right where you’d expect them to be in range of your gripping thumb. There is a variable speed dial on the hilt of the device, and while I have seen this used elsewhere and marked it down for usability, the way it has been deployed on this tefal is way better in that the outer rim of the dial is rubberised and dimpled to make it easier to rotate, it also has a ‘clicking’ rotation action and there is a gauge on the top with a red indicator line and numbers to help you appreciate what setting you have it on. I like that.

The device comes with a Recipe Book but this is a real let-down as in spite of it being nicely made and glossy in appearance, of the 91 pages it has, only 7 of them are in English covering 12 recipes in total. There are 12 languages covered in this book, and in trying to cover all bases I personally feel the resulting book is massively wasteful. They’d have been better producing a bunch of recipe cards and just inserting the relevant language ones in depending on the nationality of the country of sale - perhaps with other languages available for download online?

That aside, in use this device works brilliantly and is less noisy than I was expecting as well. All the pieces are well made, and it comes with a couple of unusual parts including a ‘Mayonnaise Success’ attachment which I have yet to try.

For the price of £69.99 (at time of review) that is in the steep-end of the market for these kinds of devices, but if you value the extra power and would appreciate the nice sturdy build-quality that this machine offers, then it is a worthwhile investment. Just be sure to factor in some storage for all the bits, and don’t but much stock in the rather poor recipe book.

Skullcandy Barricade Bluetooth Wireless Portable Speaker - Black/Transparent
Skullcandy Barricade Bluetooth Wireless Portable Speaker - Black/Transparent
Offered by UK Surplus Central Ltd - Dispatched Same Day If Order Received By 14:00
Price: £29.58

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great quality portable waterproof speaker - a little limited in bass and quite pricey, 11 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What’s good:
Sturdy and well-made
Ergonomic controls
Thoughtful design touches

What’s not so good:
Output power for charging a device is too low to be useful
Bass performance is limited
An integral card-reader would have been a nice feature
Expensive compared to competition
Packaging could be better

I really like this little speaker. What it lacks in bass performance and wholesome sound, it easily makes up in sensible design and seemingly great build quality.

After demolishing the outer packaging to get in (which could really be improved upon) you are presented with a nice compact boxy speaker which has a good sturdy feel about it. There are slightly rubberised feet on two sides to help it sit stably on a surface, and there is a useful canvas hook on one side. The controls are simple with a power button, a Plus and Minus button which double up as track advance and track rewind, and a middle button that functions as the Play/Pause or Call Answer button. Under a water-sealing flap there are the charge in micro USB socket, as well as a full-size USB output socket - this is a bit of a non-starter for me because it cannot put out enough power to make it useful, especially given the power draw of most modern audio-hosting devices such as smartphones. For an older phone that doesn’t require strong charging power it might be sufficient.

Connection can be made either with a 3.5mm audio jack (in which case the waterproofing will be compromised), or via Bluetooth. I generally use Bluetooth and found the performance to be perfectly adequate.

Sound quality is so-so. It gets quite loud and there is plenty of mid-to-top-end performance, but the lower ranges and bass are a little lacking as one might expect from a speaker of this size.

All-in-all I think this is a well-designed and well-made portable speaker. I would maybe have appreciated a memory card reader under the flap, perhaps in place of the limited-use USB power output. That and the rather high price of £49.99 (at time of review) make it a bit of a pricey item compared to its peers. As such, I am happy to give this 4 stars. If it were available at a more competitive price it might warrant 5.

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