Review: Electric Jukebox

Just before Christmas we were sent an Electric Jukebox to try out. The Electric Jukebox is a streaming music service for your TV. In the pack you get the Electric Jukebox dongle that you plug in to your TV via an HDMI port, a small HDMI extension lead and a microphone remote controller. Yes, you read that correctly!

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Review: TomTom Go 5200 – More than ‘just’ a Sat Nav!

The TomTom Go 5200 is a new portable SatNav from probably one of the most trusted and recognised names in navigation. It boasts a five inch touch screen, voice activation, real time traffic updates and a host of new features.

Review: TomTom Go 5200 - More than 'just' a Sat Nav!

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Review: Smanos W020i WiFi Alarm System and HD WiFi Camera

We were recently sent the Smanos W020i WiFi alarm system with HD WiFi camera to enhance our home security. The Smanos W020i is the basis of a total home security solution, something we haven’t had previously and something we were really looking forward to trying out.

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In the W020i kit you get the sleek looking base unit, two sensors suitable for mounting on either a door or window and an HD camera. All of the kit is completely wireless (except for power leads to the base unit and camera) and very easy to set up.

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Once you have chosen a location for the sensors and the camera and base unit are turned on, it’s just a simple matter of downloading the W020i app from GooglePlay or the Apple store. You can then send your WiFi logon details to both the base unit and camera. Both of the included sensors are pre-linked to the base unit so there’s no hassle in connecting them and best of all, there are no monthly fees to a monitoring company and you can set it up in a matter of minutes yourself with no need for an expensive engineer to install it.

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The app is where you can manage your home security from. You can arm and disarm the system remotely, see which sensor has triggered the alarm and even watch a live feed from the HD camera. You can also record from the feed, very  useful if you are unfortunately burgled and manage to get a good image of the suspect in action. Built with a Sony IMX225 image sensor, and with a wide-angle 5mp lens, you get clear visual confirmation and evidence even in super low-light conditions. You can also insert a micro SD card into the camera so you don’t have to clog up space on your phone.

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When the W020i senses an intruder, the sound it makes is loud. Think of a traditional house alarm that you hear going off in the street after a power cut, but actually inside your house. It’ll put off any would be intruder and with notifications sent to your phone in real time, you can open up the camera in the app to take the appropriate action.

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As with traditional alarms, you can arm the system whilst in the house before you leave and have a certain amount of time to get out without setting it off. The same is true for entering the house at the end of the day so you’re not rushing around trying to find your phone in order to turn the siren off! Failing that, the W020i comes with a handy little remote control that can arm and disarm, put the system into ‘home’ mode or turn it off completely. New additions to the security network are also very easy to manage with the app. Along with door/window contacts, PIR sensors and even flood sensors are available.

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A big problem for me was the shape of the power plugs for the base unit and camera. You see, instead of nice square plugs with the wire coming out from the middle of one edge, both plugs are diamond shaped with the wire coming out of one corner and the top pin opposite it. Looks different, even a bit cool I hear you say. Maybe, but when each plug is put into a standard size extension lead or even a wall socket direct, it takes up just enough room to make putting another plug next to it impossible. You are basically sacrificing the neighbouring plug socket due to the ‘cool’ design of something that frankly, didn’t need redesigning in the first place.

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All said and done, the Smanos W020i is quite a good piece of kit with decent video and stills from the additional camera. And with support for more sensors, outside alarms, strobe lights etc the Smanos W020i will grow with your home and keep your peace of mind knowing that you will be in control wherever you might be.

The Smanos W020i system has an RRP of £179.95

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Disclosure: We were sent the above product for the purpose of this review however all opinions are my own.

Getting to Grips with a Sim Only Phone Service with LIFE Mobile

Over the summer I received an exciting email from LIFE Mobile offering me the chance to try out their SIM Only mobile service and it gave me the kick I need to finally ditch my expensive mobile contract in search of something cheaper.

LIFE Mobile offer different SIM Only packages that cost up to £13.99 a month and have up to 4gb of data, 4,000 text messages and 4,000 minutes. As someone that spends most of my life online, and uses things like Whats App to avoid using text messages my main interest was the data side of things – there is no way I would ever use all of those texts or minutes!

The main worry I had when switching from my old mobile contract and across to LIFE Mobile was the lack of 4G as LIFE Mobile if a 3G only service. As a blogger mobile internet access is so important to me – for checking emails, posting on social media or even just Googling something on the go so I really had no idea how the lack of 4G would effect me.

However, I have been amazed that there has been 3G access pretty much everywhere we have been since the new SIM arrived and the only place I noticed a lack of reception was in a hotel car park when we were away for the weekend and I was trying to find my booking reference. Other than that the service has been without any issues and the coverage has been fantastic.

I love that with LIFE Mobile I can cancel at any time. I pay for a month and if I want to cancel I can do just that. I’m also able to cap my bill so that if I do, somehow, manage to use four thousand text messages LIFE Mobile will stop me using any more rather than letting me rack up a huge mobile bill.

But, with a SIM Only service are there any downsides? For me, so far, I haven’t found any negatives but the main issue for anyone would be the lack of a new phone at the same time as taking out the mobile service. But, this goes to show, over the course of a 24 month or longer phone contract you are mostly paying for the cost of the phone and not the services you use your phone for at all. LIFE Mobile is so affordable as you don’t get a new phone and most phones are still in great condition at the end of a contract anyway – so why bother getting a new one?

LIFE mobile seems to me to be the perfect way to save money each month, reducing your mobile bills and yet giving the same service you are used to from a contract phone. For me, the only little niggle is the lack of 4G but in all honesty I haven’t needed it – or missed it. But, I have only been using LIFE Mobile for a month.

I’m going to be using LIFE Mobile going forward and already love the service however I’ll update you again in a few months to let you know how I’m getting on, whether I truly am a SIM Only convert and whether LIFE Mobile are still right for me.

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Disclosure: I am working with Life Mobile to review their service for 12 months and have been compensated for my time in writing this post however all opinions are my own.

Review: Black and Decker SMARTECH Cordless Lithium 2-IN-1 Hand and Floor Dustbuster Vacuum (336Wh)

Black and Decker recently made us aware of their new range of upright vacuums, especially the SMARTECH Cordless Lithium 2-IN-1 Hand and Floor Dustbuster Vacuum (336Wh) and we were sent one to put through it’s paces in everyday family life.

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Out of the box, the vacuum is very easy to assemble with a simple screw to fix the long handle to the main body. The handheld part of the vacuum easily slots into it’s housing and is held in place very securely when using the vacuum in upright mode. It is easily free standing with no balancing act to perform when between tasks or you can store it on the neat charging base which will fit nicely into any corner of a room, out of the way.

As an upright vacuum cleaner, the Black and Decker SMARTECH Cordless Lithium 2-IN-1 Vacuum performs excellently and moving it around the room is a breeze. It is great to use one handed and it includes a ‘Powerboost’ button to give it extra suction should it be needed. A series of lights on the main unit tell you how much battery is remaining so you can manage your vacuuming time before you need to recharge and the Filtersense will also tell you when it is time to clean the filter to maintain maximum performance from the unit.

One of the best features of the SMARTECH though is the ‘Autosense’. This helps with cleaning by automatically adjusting the suction used for bare floors through to thick carpets. All you do is move from one surface to the other and within a few seconds, you will have extra or less power as the surface demands.

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As a handheld device, the SMARTECH Cordless Lithium 2-IN-1 Vacuum is what you would expect from a classic Black and Decker Dustbuster, after all, they did invent it! It is very powerful and so lightweight you will power though the stairs, get into every nook and cranny and have the house or car looking good in no time. With most handheld devices, the dirt chamber isn’t going to take as much as a traditional mains powered vacuum but opening the dirt chamber to empty it is simple with the press of a button and removal of the washable filter.

One criticism is that the detachable brush head for the handheld unit does not seem to have anywhere to be stored. It won’t fit onto the handheld unit when in upright mode nor does it have anywhere to sit in the base charger. We have been keeping it close to the charger so we know were it is, but it may be easy to lose as it doesn’t really have a home.

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Having said that, we have had many vacuum cleaners, both mains powered and cordless and the Black and Decker SMARTECH Cordless Lithium 2-IN-1 Vacuum ranks quite highly for ease of use and durability. It has enough battery life to use round the house for daily spills and then a longer vacuum of the rugs in the evening. It will charge up overnight ready for use the next day.

Quite simply, The Black and Decker SMARTECH Cordless Lithium 2-IN-1 Vacuum is the best vacuum cleaner we have used to date and fits easily into family life – our carpets have never been so clean!

The Black and Decker SMARTECH Cordless Lithium 2-IN-1 Vacuum has an RRP of £149.99

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Disclosure: We were sent the above product for the purpose of this review however all opinions are my own.