Noctua NF-S12A PWM Case Fan Super quiet high quality case fan
Roxio Game Capture Pro Capture your console footage for YouTube
Optoma H114 HD Projector Excellent for first time projector users.
VicTsing LED Desk Lamp Bright, sleek and flexible
Ebode Wireless CCTV Camera An excellent choice for outside p2p CCTV

Audio Technica AT2020USB+

When researching into microphones the Audio Technica AT2020 is often recommended as it is modestly price and it sounds great too. From its success came the AT2020 USB microphone, but as with many early USB mics it lacked features such as headphone output which is must for many applications. This lead to the release of AT2020 USB+ microphone, an upgraded AT2020 USB bundled with accessories which include a small tripod desk stand, 10 foot USB cable and pop filter.

This microphone is similar in design to the previous variants with a medium diaphragm 16mm cardioid mic. It is powered directly by a USB (type A to type B) cable where the connector takes the places of the previous XLR socket. The microphone has a self-noise figure of 20dB, which is not brilliant for is adequately low for most studio applications. There is no means of on the fly filtering so any necessary filters must be applied after recording.

The USB side takes care of the 16bit Analogue to Digital conversion which is convenient, but the user is restricted to this convertor. Headphone can be plugged into the phono jack socket on the side of the mic and two thumbwheels on the front of the device control the headphone volume and the balance between the microphone signal and the computers stereo output. The microphone is a class-compliant device and requires no additional driver to use on Apple operating systems and a suitable driver should download automatically on Windows (if not already installed).

Recorded speech confirms that this mic has the same characteristic of the XLR variants but with the added warmth to the lower mids in vocals. It is well suited to all vocal styles and can double as a very capable acoustic instrument mic.

The tripod stand carries the weight of the microphone very well and it is of very high quality. However it is prone to falling over if it is knocked. The included pop filter is intended to be clamped to a suspension boom arm, but for our purposes we cut a custom piece of wood which allowed it to be clamped to a desk.

For audio recordings it is recommended to use the free software Audacity and apply software filers. However for our video recordings we use Camtasia (which does not support audio filters) and instead use Voice Shaper (intended for AM radio) combined with a virtual audio cable to filter audio on the fly.

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SONGDU Mens Black Military Watch

The watch casing is stainless steel finished with an electrostatic black coating. It measures 40mm wide by 51mm long and 11mm thick. While these numbers are reasonable for a watch, it does have decent wrist presence.

The watch uses a single crown to alter the date and time, where for the time the crown must be fully extended and for the date it must be half extended. (Note that watches which display a day number must operate on a 24 hour system in order for it to update.) The crown is of a decent size and it does not interfere in any way when the watch is worn.

The watch also feature two buttons, one at 2 o’clock and another at 4 o’clock. These are used to start/ stop and reset the chronograph. Again these buttons do not interfere when the watch is worn.

The dial is a little complicated in its presentation. It is black in colour and uses blue and white for the markers and text. The markers featured use a Submariner like style where the 12 o’clock marker is triangle shaped and the markers at three, six and nine are simple bars. The remaining markers display the position with an Arabic number in a clear blue font. On the outer dial the seconds are identified with an Arabic number in clear white font every five seconds (except for 0, 15, 30 and 45 seconds), with white markers in-between.

The day number is displayed next to the three o’clock position on the dial and it displays three consecutive day numbers with the middle number identifying the current day (if you wish to set it as such). To the left of the day number is the Songdu name in clear white text.

The chronograph is made up of three dials: tenths of seconds, seconds and minutes. The button in the 2 o’clock position starts the chronograph and for the first minute alone the tenths of seconds dial will operate. The seconds dial and the minutes dial will continue to keep track of the elapsed time. The chronograph is stopped by pressing the 2 o’clock button again so that the elapsed time can be read off. The dials then reset by pressing the button in the 4 o’clock position (which may take some time as the seconds dial may need to complete several rotations).

The hands are classic pointed swords, painted black with a blue fill in the centre. The hour hand is notably smaller, giving the minute hand much more presence against the dial. The second hand is a long needle which is painted blue to match the other two, and the counterweight is also painted blue.

The dial window is made from a synthetic-sapphire which aids in clarity and minimises distortion.
The lume is where this watch falls short. The luminosity of the numbers and markings is terrible, only lasting a few seconds before fading. There is no lume on the hands at all so telling the time at night is impossible. The clearest and longest running luminosity is on the hands of the chronograph, making it the only feature you can use at night.

The bracelet is durable and well built. Note that as with any watch you’ll need to have it adjusted to fit your wrist. This can be done at jewellers or you can purchase a kit to do it at home. The clasp uses the classic oyster style with ratcheting system, being released by depressing the two buttons either-side. The links are tightly interlinked and fit comfortably on the wrist without catching wrist hair.

Overall this is a very good watch, both for casual and formal wear. For its full retail price it is a little steep at £59.99, but at the time of writing the watch is discount to a far more reasonable £32.99.

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Amazon Echo

In brief the Echo is a really promising product. It needs an update or two in order to be the intelligent product that is expected. For now this makes a fantastic replacement for a kitchen radio, playing your favourite tunes from your music library. The voice activation is fun and work really well, but the product itself is not quite there yet.

This product was bought with the intention of introducing our household to the wonders of home automation. With so many products already available I opted for this product because it is by a reputable brand and the ability to give voice activated commands seemed more convenient.

The device is essentially a Bluetooth speaker which connects wirelessly to your internet and it is mains powered so it is always connected and listening. I found the voice recognition to be considerably better than alternative products available (e.g. the Honeywell thermostat) and the listening range extends reasonably far without the need to raise your voice.
The build quality is top notch. It is made of dense plastic and must be internally padded as no vibrations or buzzing occur when the device is responding to commands/ playing music.

The audio quality is decent compared to a digital radio, but is not compared to any professional speaker equipment. The volume is adjustable and will easily fill the entire house.

At the time of writing commands can be given to research topics on the internet, set reminders for future events, play music from your library and even place an Amazon order. I look forward to future updates to extend the device command capabilities.

I am a bit let down that this device has no means of connecting external devices or network cable. It would be nice to connect it up to decent sound equipment for music playback. As I live in a bungalow I am fortunate to have excellent WiFi in each room of the house, but others are not as fortunate (and may not even have WiFi) for this reason it would be nice to see a wired Ethernet port.

This product is a step in the right direction for anyone interested in introducing home automation to their household. For the time being the product feels similar to when the Steam link was released. It was an awesome idea with huge potential, but required updates to make it as such. I am sure in time suitable updates will extend the capabilities of the device, especially as it is from a reputable company who have excellent customer support.

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Pinnacle Studio 20 Ultimate (PC)

Corel Pinnacle Studio 20 is easy to use professional video editing software. It is ideal for compiling your own movies or dvds with transitions, voiceovers and menus.

I have used this software to publish review videos on YouTube. The software is very intuitive with the storyboard at the bottom, the preview pane at the top left and transitions/ videos to import are on the top left. The main benefit for me is that it is compatible with my Logitech C920 webcam and Audio Technica AT2020+ microphone. It includes video recording software to create the clips (with audio) required to form the overall video.

The transition styles look very professional and it is not too difficult to use them (simply drag and drop its length). Also it has a picture in picture feature allowing multiple videos to be played at the same time. The storyboard is where the video comes together. It is here where the clips can be arranged, transitions can be applied and voice over recordings can be made. Several tracks are provided which run over each other so that multiple audio tracks/ video tracks can be played over others. Also so that you can dedicate a track for each media type (eg track 1 for video, 2 for audio, 3 for transitions).

This software is ideal for any amateur or professional video maker. It can be used to create high quality professional video content such as adverts or used for making amateur content for YouTube videos or for putting together home videos.

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VicTsing: Wireless Gaming Mouse

This wireless mouse is ideal for portable gamers. It has buttons which are programmable with the include software and it has an ergonomic right handed design (ideal for long gaming sessions). I took this with me a long with my dell xps laptop to a gaming society local area network event. It found that the mouse was comfortable and provided excellent varying amounts of precision.

The mouse comes in black and has a single led on the top which illustrate which sensitivity the sensor is set to (more flashes means more precision). It connects via a low profile wireless 2.4Ghz usb adapter and requires a single AA to power on. The adapter can be stored in a recess on the underside of the mouse, but it does stick out so the mouse does not lay flat when it is stored.

The mouse offers 6 levels of dpi adjustment from 800 to 4800 dpi and these can be adjusted on the fly with the button below the scroll wheel. The mouse includes a power saving mode whereby it will go to sleep after 8 minutes of non use. This feature is a little annoying as it means that an additional click is required to wake the mouse from sleep. However this is better than having to constantly replace a flat a battery or remembering to switch it off.

In all this is a good mouse. I have no issues installing the software on Windows 10. This product would be ideal for gamers, but would also suit general use as well.

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by VicTsing
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VicTsing Wireless Qi Charger

This wireless Qi charger is perfect for any Smartphone that supports wireless charging. It is solid with a decent weight and suitable grips to prevent it sliding on the surface. It is a silver painted ring surrounding the rectangular charge base.

The front of the base has an indicator light and the rear provides the port for the usb lead. This charger supports fast charge which allows you to charge up your phone nearly twice as fast compared to standard chargers.

The charger is discreet with its auto off light (after 5 seconds) and no beeps.

For the price this is a solidly built wireless charger and it also includes usb A to usb micro B lead. A usb to mains power brick is not included so make sure you have somewhere suitable to connect this device.

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by VicTsing
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PaintShop Pro X9 Ultimate (PC)

Corel Paintshop Pro and Adobe Photoshop are the two most popular professional photo editing software available today. Both have been about since the 90’s and have been through several updates. Paintshop Pro is the cheaper of these programs requiring only a one off payment (whereas Adobe Creative Cloud requires a monthly subscription fee).

Of these two programs I opted for Paintshop Pro as it is the cheaper option and I found it to be more user friendly when looking at the trial software (available on the Corel website).

I experienced problems with installing this software (despite installing the trial without issue). I contacted Corel about this and received an immediate response. The next day I was provided with an offline installer that installed without issue.
Corel Paintshop Pro and Adobe Photoshop are the two most popular professional photo editing software available today. Both have been about since the 90’s and have been through several updates. Paintshop Pro is the cheaper of these programs requiring only a one off payment (whereas Adobe Creative Cloud requires a monthly subscription fee).

Of these two programs I opted for Paintshop Pro as it is the cheaper option and I found it to be more user friendly when looking at the trial software (available on the Corel website).

I experienced problems with installing this software (despite installing the trial without issue). I contacted Corel about this and received an immediate response. The next day I was provided with an offline installer that installed without issue.

I used this software to create and edit images for my blog page and so far it has served me well. The software is intuitive to use. It provides a navigation menu on the left, the image in the centre and image editing options on the right. There are not many new features introduced since the X8 version. These updates are noted on the product page as follows:
-Corel AfterShot 3
-Perfectly Clear 2 SE Live screen capture
-New from Template
-Screenshot featuring
-Smart Capture Gradient Fill tool
-Text presets
-Improved text tool
-Real-time photo effects
-Improved stylus and tablet support
-Batch smart photo fix
-Enhanced scripts
-New guided tour
-Export edit history
-Windows Server 2016 support

The ultimate version includes some nice bonus software: Aftershot 3, Perfectly Clear 2SE, Corel Live screen capture and Corel Creative Collection.

This is a highly versatile image editor at a very reasonable price. It would be ideal for anyone who requires an advanced image editing program for website design, graphic design, home photo touch ups etc. I would not recommend this software as an upgrade from the X8 version unless the new features are of key interest. If you are considering this software, then check out the trial version available from the Corel website. Overall I am pleased with this product as it suits my needs and is reasonably priced.
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Sandberg Thunderstorm Keyboard UK

I took this keyboard with me to our gaming society network event and I received many compliments on how awesome this keyboard looks. The keyboard is black with an opaque thunderstorm effect spread over the keys; the backlight shines through each lightning bolt and creating a cool visual effect.

The keyboard has four light states: red, blue, purple and off. My favourite is the blue, but the red and purple are just as good. I like to think of the red lighting as cracks where lava is seeping through. The blue is your standard lighting storm effect and the purple is like an electric lightning storm.

This is a gaming keyboard, there is nice travel on each of the keys and they feel very well made with the square cut of them. It would be nice to see a mechanical variant of this keyboard as that seems to be the in thing with gaming keyboards these days. However I personally prefer the soft touch of membrane dome keys.

Being a gaming keyboard it has the essential disable start button combination to prevent you from accidentally tabbing out of games. It is the UK qwerty standard with a decently sized return key. I cannot get on with those half-sized return keys as I naturally hit the top part of this key. There are many shortcut keys along the top for controlling your system volume and media player, email and browser applications.

There is also a rapid fire feature that decreases the delay speeds between key presses, allowing you to simply hold down a key as opposed to spamming the key. I am using this feature now to swiftly make corrections to this review.

The keyboard has a nice weighty feel to it weighing 1.1kg, so it can take a beating from overly enthusiastic gamers and this also stops it from slipping over your desk. This keyboard is backed by a 5 year warranty, which shows that Sandberg has faith in this product. Lastly, it has a nice looking navy blue nylon-braided USB which is 1.8m in length.

I am more than happy with this keyboard, it would suit any gamer who wants a weighty keyboard with cool effects and membrane dome keys. I am awarding this product 5 stars, however there are a few improvements that could be made: There needs to be a mechanical variant with blue key switches, the space bar is a little mushy (it seems this is common with membrane dome keys) and it would be nice if the status lights for the num key, caps lock etc also changed colour (they are blue).

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by Sandberg
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Goronya 1080P HDMI to HDMI Audio Extractor

This product is exactly what I was looking for. I have my Nintendo Wii U connected to my monitor via HDMI and was using the internal monitor speakers (which sound terrible). With this product I can extract the audio track from the HDMI cable and output it through stereo RCA connectors. Now I can play audio from my Wii U through my Mackies speakers and it sounds miles better!

The device is a small box powered by a mains adapter (included). No audio or HDMI leads are included, which was a bit annoying as I had to search everywhere for a RCA to phone cable. The device has two RCA ports (left and right channel audio) and two HDMI ports (input and output). There is a 3 position switch which sets the device to pass the audio straight through, extract it to stereo audio or extract it to surround audio.

Preferably I want to connect the audio to my pc through the line in of my sound card but I haven’t work out how to do that yet. I was able to achieve this by connecting to the microphone port and listening to the microphone port, but the sound was not very clear and crackled from time to time.

This is a very good product and it suits my needs perfectly. I would have liked to see an audio cable included, otherwise I am happy with this product. This would suit any console users wishing to play the audio separately through decent speakers.

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by Goronya
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VicTsing Mechanical Feel Keyboard

This gaming keyboard is back lit with 7 changeable colours which can be adjusted between: stable, breathing and off. The keys are back lit, so is the white plastic surround and the brightness is adjustable.

This keyboard has 5 programmable keys which you can use to record key strokes for short-cuts or to type short phrases.

It comes with a detachable palm rest, which makes for a very comfortable typing experience. I did not feel the need to work out how it detaches, but it is stated that this is removable. I found it tends to swing under the keyboard if it is picked up.

The build quality is very good, the design and feel gives the impression of a mechanical keyboard (which is probably why this is stated in the product name). However doesn’t be fooled into thinking this is a mechanical keyboard. It has rubber domed keys (which I actually prefer), not the clicky keys that are associated with mechanical keyboards.

The keyboard includes many shortcut keys via the function (Fn) key combined with the F keys. These included media play/pause, next/previous track, launch calculator, launch browser etc.

The layout is QWERTY English UK, so the @ sign and “ are in the correct places. Unfortunately keyboard does not have a full sized return key, which is something I cannot do without as I always hit the top of this when typing (which on this keyboard is replaced with #). Also a slight annoyance is that the Fn key replaces the left Windows key (which is my go to key for showing the desktop and opening the start menu).

In conclusion this keyboard would suit PC gamers and typists alike. Typing feels comfortable and natural, but some learning is required for the reduced return key and the lack of a left Windows key. The programmable keys are very practical and do not take long to record to. The colour lighting is a great extra and the mechanical keyboard feel gives it a high quality finish.

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by VicTsing
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