When it comes to watches I have two wildly diverging tastes: abstract/ modern or classic vintage. My all time favourite is a Storm limited edition so cool that you can’t tell the time on it but it looks fantastic. Sometimes though, pragmatism wins out and I need something that actually functions as a timepiece.
This is one of the nicer watches I’ve seen in the last few years and is both light and small enough to fit my admittedly smallish wrists comfortably.
The steel links are strong enough keep the watch on your arm and have an attractive gunmetal finish.
It’s been on my wrist for a week now and the 30 or so winds suggested by the manual have proved sufficient to keep it ticking for that time. As someone who prefers not to have a phone in my hand to check the time I have found the date function very useful, more so than the second hand.
All in all this is a very smart watch, quite my taste. That price point is about right – I’d snap it up if it goes much lower especially as it’s limited edition.
I would describe my culinary career level as “experienced dabbler.” It’s something I do a couple of times a week including one decent meal. The other time is usually some sort of sweet snack. I am a better cook than I am a washer up though so will this dedicated machine be worth its space in the kitchen?
It comes with both an instruction manual and a recipe booklet. Now, this is clearly being marketed with an eye on the healthy food market. But apart from the sample recipes swapping out fatty ingredients for low calorie counterparts there is nothing here which will improve your health as you can choose to either alter your own existing recipes or simply not eat the snack in the first place. But that would be a shame as at least by cooking your own you can be a little more certain of what’s inside.
It’s a small machine with a budget feel to it. It’s very light but feels more accessible than an oven as it’s there on your work surface. As most of the heat is being transmitted by contact with the food it is both more economical and easier to spy on midway through the baking process. For my test recipe I choose to use the optional grid which provides 8 deep squares into which to insert your mixture. The green handles are light but stood up to the heat put out by the cooker.
A note on the rear of the machine: the power lead is nicely corded and protected from heat but the hinge coverings and the stand do seem a little flimsy. I had no problems with either of these during my test but thinking of long-term usage I would imagine these are the areas that may fail first with repeated use.
I decided to forego the recipes provided and modified my own take on almond and coconut cookies seen here. For the purposes of a test bake I had to make them thicker and larger than normally. I usually make them small and round giving them a crunchy shell and smooth, marzipan like centre. I found that my 370 grams of mixture just about filled the cooker exactly. I coated the mix in desiccated coconut instead of flaked almonds as I though they would toast better and as it turns out I was right. I also used plain flour and no baking powder so as not to have the mix oozing from the machine. With hindsight, I would add some next time but leave space for them to rise.
Being the first time I’d used this, I checked on the cookies regularly and this had the effect of drawing out the cooking time what with me opening the lid several times but as mentioned the machine was able to get back up to the desired heat much quicker than a conventional oven. In total I guess I cooked them for 18 minutes. I think 12 minutes would have been fine.
As you can see, the coconut did indeed get well toasted (perhaps a little too much, especially on the underside). My lacklustre baking skills aside, I was quite happy that it had been a success. Next time I will try some brownies with a reduce cooking time.
One last note on greasing the plates: I didn’t have any vegetable spray to hand but a little extra virgin olive oil smeared lightly over surfaces worked very well without affecting the sweet taste of the cookies.
Clean up was very easy. Of course the mixing bowl still needed washing but the whole thing felt a little easier than using the oven.
If this review has proven useful, this link will allow you to buy the Nutri Snack Cake Maker from Amazon through my affiliate link, rewarding me with a small amount to encourage future reviews: http://amzn.to/2CJIZ5b
Fantastically versatile and agile Android box, movies, games and TV at your fingertips
The advertised blurb for this is “Aodin Smart TV Box with Android 5.1 Lollipoo Kodi 16.1 Quad Core -Miracast for Android Devices -Build-in Dual Wifi & Bluetooth -Support 4k Media Stream Display” which I’ve included so it’s easy to find but I’m SURE they mean Lollipop and NOT Lollipoo unless there’s a tongue-in-cheek (urgh!) Android update I’m not aware of.
This is the first time I’m getting hands-on with an Android box so I will be reviewing it from the point of view of someone who uses other means of streaming video and playing games on a TV screen.
I have a ‘past its best laptop’ with a wireless air mouse and easy links to streaming film and TV sites set up on the desktop. Connected to an old TV, it has a hard disk full of music and video and is an adequate (or so I thought) media centre which these days could be described as overkill – you don’t need a full Windows machine do this kind of easy stuff. And why does the fan need to go at full pelt just to watch video? As far as games go, Steam runs on it as do the simplest of games that platform provides but I have to connect a wired gamepad so I rarely bother. Besides which, few Steam games are of the casual kind you’d want to play in between watching TV.
So I was I very keen to try an Android box with Kodi as I’d heard good things from people who paid much more than the price of this (£35.99 currently).
Specwise, I tried the lesser model the 1GB / 8GB RAM and though internal storage was cramped, the micro SD and USB ports easily take up the slack here. Some files though need to placed in the internal memory such as ROMs for certain emulators though these can be launched from external storage via the File Explorer. The lower working RAM figure didn’t hamper anything I asked of it – I suspect only top-end games would and to be fair, that’s the domain of your shiny new phone really, not a workhorse like this.
I hooked up internet access via Gigabit ethernet and found the first few tasks a doddle with the supplied remote. I find the cursor key control method of handling these things much more accurate and time-saving. You can add more input devices via Bluetooth very easily, as I did (a keyboard and a gamepad) and the system stops you removing the supplied control accidentally. That remote control is very responsive and will get 90% of what you need done though something with mouse control will be needed for some tasks.
Kodi 16.1 is pre-installed with dozens of add-ons so straight away I tried to watch a movie. With no previous experience of Kodi I was watching one of the latest films in decent quality within minutes. I found plenty of TV series I’d forgotten about as well as ones I’d fallen behind on, all queued up to watch during my spare moments. No fiddling around and no expensive Sky boxes needed. Though some found no sources upon playing, the most well-known had plenty.
One of the biggest ‘wow’ moments was switching the box on the morning and with a few clicks watching highlights of last night’s football – definitely the most useful feature for me!
I’ve tried some of the Google Play games though for that and for YouTube some sort of mouse control is needed. I use a Bebencool gamepad which has mouse mode. This allows me to drag and click then switch mode to use as a proper gamepad. I also connected a Bluetooth keyboard and this worked perfectly but soon discarded it as the mouse mode triggers the onscreen keyboard anyway. The few games I tried all ran fullscreen, 1080p very smoothly.
I measured the power usage during various activities. The range was 5.6W to 6.9W, topping out during 3D gameplay. The smallest draw was playing media files and browsing, this thing is a real miser when it comes to electricity. I recall that my first generation PS3 used 220W at peak draw (!)
One issue I experienced was that a few times, upon starting Kodi (not the box, just Kodi) it went through a first time install process taking a couple of minutes and losing my favourites. This was not before I’d started the box with an external HDD connected and hasn’t done it since I disconnected it so perhaps it is related.
Caveats about Kodi:
* You cannot rely on anything to be live when you need it to barring perhaps the FilmOn TV channels and YouTube.
* Also you may need to check the legality of watching certain streams in certain countries especially things you don’t already own or license. I cannot comment on this aspect of it and obviously don’t condone using it for anything illegal.
That said, you will have a LOT of fun with this box and my mind still cannot grasp how cheap something this useful is.
I have used this for 9 days straight now for several hours a day so have seen much of what this has to offer though have yet to go through a Kodi update. I held off getting a Kodi box for so long and to anyone who has done likewise – treat yourself right away – and get a gamepad too!
Note: I tested the UK version of this box so your wattage rating may vary, it DID come with a local plug.
This is the first projector I have tested that is LED based as opposed to the previous generation. I have seen many budget projectors on the market but when examining specs, it turns out they were little more than toys with awful resolution and no power. Therefore I was expecting a lot more from this, currently priced at £161.
It is a neat looking set up with build quality in line with a low-end printer, that is to say functional, quality of things like the plastic leg to change projecting angle seems a little flimsy. The ring to adjust lens focus too. However during my 20 hours of testing, none of my fears were founded. The benefit of this is that it is a LOT lighter than my previous projector, a Hitachi ED-X15.
To sum up the improvements over that generation of projectors:
*HDMI and component inputs
*Media support via two USB ports
*Firmware upgrade via the same
*Handles a 1080p input
*Much, much cheaper
*Fully functional remote control
*Flimsier build quality
*Manual keystone control via a mechanical dial
*Power input via kettle lead does not sit neatly in the the socket, rather it has a few mm of play
A 1.5M HMDI and Red yellow white RCA leads are included. Setup is easy, the menu has no quirks with a simple up down left right, OK and back system.
Sound is OK. For my purposes I plugged an external stereo speaker into a pair of phono outputs. This didn’t cut out the internal audio so that will have to be muted or turned down if you want solely the audio out to your speakers or hifi.
I tested it projected at the minimum distance giving a diagonal image of 50″ at 16:9 ratio. At this close, focusing had to be exact. Adjusting the keystone at minimal distance meant that either the top or the bottom of the picture went ever so slightly out of focus. I overcame this by raising the projector to get a perpendicular image rather than a slanted projection. At longer distances for a larger image, this ceases to be a problem.
The last image I have added here is a blown up section of the pure light coming from the sensor. This is to show the LED pattern. As you may be able to see the reds, greens and blues are interleaved nicely, meaning less moire interference and less blockiness of the projected image.
I tested mostly with a set-top box via HDMI. This worked perfectly, once adjusted for colour temperature and sharpness. My preference is for a cooler image and high contrast. I also tried a SONY Playstation 3 running games at 720p. This worked very well and is how I mostly used my previous projector as I will this one.
Image is bright and clear in a darkened room and still visible and watchable even during a sunny day.
Lastly, the projector does support playing media via the USB ports. I tried all types of media which were handled well with the exception of an older MPG video which seemed to stutter every few seconds. All over major filetypes played without problems.
The RAGU RG-01 is a capable mid-market LED projector which is energy efficient compared to older models meaning less heat and less noise. There are no major problems and once the price of this decreases with the Christmas rush (2016) becomes more and more attractive. It is what the Chinese do best which is to not settle for the cheapest components to get a sale, only for the product to fail but to leverage maximum functionality for a good price. I can recommend it for TV or for gaming.
Disclosure: I write reviews for press and websites, including national magazines and have done for years. The normal way this is done is an item is sent to a reviewer for their professional appraisal. No money changes hands and it is expected that the review will highlight both good and bad. In this case I paid a large chunk of the normal price and have reviewed the projector from the point of view of a paying customer.
Also, this is NOT made by the same people that make the pasta sauce. Which is probably a good thing.
Howdy! The old site with all of its archived content is still at 2atoms.com but this shiny new section is dedicated to bringing you honest appraisals of various (mostly) tech products which I like to run my greasy fingers over.