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With most smartwatches costing an arm and a leg, it’s quite tempting to go for a cheaper option.  There are plenty of cheaper options available, but are they worth it?  After using the HAMSWAN U80 smartwatch for a little while, here are my thoughts.

First up; the packaging.  It is very minimal.  The box that the watch arrived in is relatively small, with an image of the watch on the front, as well as a brief look at a few of the features.  Below is a list of the watch features and specifications.

• Stopwatch and pedometer, sleep monitoring, anti-theft alarm supported
• Screen size and resolution: 1.44 inch, 128 x 128
• Battery type and capacity: lithium-ion polymer battery, 3.7V/230mAh
• Keys: POWER ON or back software feature
• Rest alarm: support, remind you to stand up, physical activity
• Drink alarm: support, is a reminder that you need to drink more water
• Phone call: support (Load Speaker and Receiver Mode)

Product Specification

• Type: MTK6260-ARM7 360MHz
• SRAM: MTK6260 (built-in)-32mb NOR
• Flash: MTK6260 (built-in)-32mb
• Camera: No
• Touch module: yes
• Speaker: 8/0.7W speaker x 1
• MIC: yes, G-sensor: yes, GPS: no, BT: yes
• Bluetooth: MTK6260 (Built-in)-BT3.0
• Operation system: MTK
• Phone book: 1000
• SMS: support (need APP)
• MMS: push icon (need APP)
• Set time/date: user-defined
• Alarm: support five set

Package List:
• 1 x Smart Watch
• 1 x Charging Cable
• 1 x User Manual

One side of the watch has a button that activates and dims the screen, and the other side has the speaker, microphone, and the charging port – which is covered by a rubber cover that clips into place when not in use, preventing any dust or anything getting into the port.

 


After the initial first charge, I got to grips with the watch.  Connecting to my phone via bluetooth was a simple process, as it should be.  Now it is worth mentioning, to get the full use of the watch, you have to download a selection of apps from the app store.  (For text and other notifications.) If your smartphone has limited storage space, and/or you can’t utilise an SD Card, this is something that you should know from the off.  While the apps themselves aren’t huge in file size, having to have several different ones installed may be enough to put people off.  While on the subject of apps, there are no additional apps to download on the watch itself, so there isn’t anything extra to personalise the watch, just the pre-installed apps.

I wanted to give the pedometer function a proper run, so I did the initial setup (height, stride length*****,) strapped on the watch and ventured out to the local beach.  I had my Fitbit on to test the count number once I had finished walking the dogs.  Once finished, I opened the pedometer app on the watch, only to find that it had not registered a single step.  I restarted the watch and tried again .  This time around, it counted the steps, but there was a huge difference when I put the numbers alongside what was registered on the Fitbit – a massive 147 steps less!  This was off-putting, as well as a disappointment.

 

 

Another thing I found was, because of the silicone strap on the watch, it became quite irritating to wear due to sweat.  I know this is to be expected due to the material, but I thought it was worth a mention.

Next up, I tried a phonecall to my sister from the watch.  Now, while the volume of the watch speaker was loud enough to for me to hear in the middle of a busy supermarket, the quality of the call was disappointing.  The voice came through sounding like a robot- that’s the best way for me to describe it.  Initially, I didn’t even think it was my sister who answered the phone.  I then tried accessing my text messages.  Even though I had installed the apps that I needed, I was still unable to access my messages.

The responsiveness of the touchscreen was actually pretty good.  whether I was swiping from right to left, or selecting an app to go into and check stats, every click and swipe registered as it should.

 

 

The drink and rest alarms worked as they should, notifying me when I should have a drink of water, and also when I should get off my rear end and do some physical activity.  The bluetooth camera control seemed to work ok, but to use that feature, your phone needs to be unlocked and on the home screen.  A press of a button then triggered the phone to take a picture.  I guess this would come in handy if you are stood in front of the phone trying to get yourself into the picture.  The thing I noticed though, is that once I Had taken a picture, it was not anywhere to be found in my phones gallery.  I have no idea what happened to the random pictures that I took.

Is this watch worth the money?  Well, at the price of £15.99 on Amazon UK (at the time of writing this review) I would say yes, but only if you are after a very basic smartwatch.  The features don’t all work as they should, which I guess isn’t surprising when you see the price tag.  This is ultimately a gadget that doesn’t perform 100% as it should, the best bit being that it tells the time accurately, and that it has a good look about it.  I’d advise saving a bit of money and going for something with a higher price tag.

With more and more gadgets coming out to help you track your daily activity progress, having something handy and easy to use is definitely welcomed by some people.  I was provided with one of the latest offerings from Kit: – the Milestone Altitude Activity Tracker – to review.  Now due to bad health, I am not the most active of people, but I was very intrigued to see how well my activity and sleep would be tracked.

First things first – packaging.  I have always been impressed with how well products from Kit: have been packaged.  It is always kept nice and minimal, whilst providing detailed information at the same time.  The box that the Activity Tracker arrived in was no different.  The front of the box gives a clear view of the Tracker itself, especially when you open the cardboard flap on the right side.  On the outside of the flap, you have the Milestone text, while on the inside, you are told that progress can be tracked via the free to download smartphone app.  On the bottom left corner of the packaging, you are shown that the Tracker has a vibrating alarm, is sweat resistant, and tracks your activity.  Lastly, the rear of the box has a brief description of the item, as well as a list of features, specifications, box contents, and smartphone compatibility.

box

Removing the Tracker from the box, you have the item itself, a Micro USB to USB 2.0 cable, and a 3.5mm to Micro USB cable.  The Micro to 2.0 cable is used to charge the Tracker, while the 3.5 to USB 2.0 cable can be used to synchronise the data from the Tracker to the smartphone.  The tracker itself sports a nice rubber material wristband that houses the small unit.  In order to charge the unit, you simply pop it out from the wristband so that you can hook it up to a charging source using the provided cable.  It only took a few hours to charge fully, but I was unable to use it until I had done that initial charge as there was no power at all in the unit.  Once charged, inserting the unit back into the strap was as easy as it was to take it out.  It mentions on the box that a single charge should last 5-7 days – I’ve had the Tracker on since I first charged it and have yet to have to recharge it yet (around 2.5 weeks). On the side of the unit is a small button which is used to cycle through the menu – just line this up with the groove on the strap so that you get it back in the correct way round.

Once charged, I will admit that I was a little worried about how simple it was going to be to get things up and running.  There was no need for any worrying as the instruction booklet took me through the process step by step, from getting started to using the smartphone app and understanding the different functions included.  All I needed to do with the app was enter my personal details and what I would like my daily goal to be.  It finishes up with you syncing the Altitude to the smartphone app for the first time.  Now I know that the Tracker comes complete with the 3.5mm to USB 2.0 cable to help with syncing information between the phone and device, but I honestly found connecting and syncing up via Bluetooth not only quicker, but also very straightforward.

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The Altitude tracker has a range of features.  It not only tracks your daily steps taken, but also acts as a watch, tracks your sleep pattern, your distance travelled (km), the amount of calories burned during a 24 hour period, and lastly, what percentage of your daily goal was achieved.  Sleep mode monitors your sleep movement and can record when you are awake, in a light sleep, and in a deep sleep – I found this very handy, myself.  Please note that your sleep activity can only be monitored once you have synced information between the Altitude and your smartphone app.

The app itself (available on iOS 7.0 and above, and Android 4.3 and above) has as many functions as the wristband.  The History menu provides a daily chart of activity (steps, miles, and Kcal burned), as well as the amount of hours slept and how many of those hours were in a light or deep sleep state.  The Activity menu shows an overall percentage of your goals and sleep, as well as simple to understand view of your steps, Kcal, and distance.  Lastly, the Settings menu contains the section where you enter your personal information, workout goal, a reminder setting, and lastly, the alarm clock (with is a nice and steady vibration that comes through the Altitude).

app

I found the tracking provided by the Altitude to be pretty precise, although, sometimes just sitting and moving my arm a bit swiftly would register as steps taken.  The sleep monitor is something that I found useful.  I did like being able to see how much of my sleep was light or deep, and from what I could tell, that was all registered as precise as possible.  Syncing was very straightforward both with the provided cable, and via Bluetooth – the latter of which is definitely preferred method of synchronising.

Overall, when you consider the functions provided by the Altitude when compared to other Activity Tracker devices, I don’t really see much difference – except the price!  You can get the Altitude from Amazon UK or Carphone Warehouse for around £39.99 (at time of posting).  It does what you would expect, is easy to operate (even for people who don’t have much experience with tech), and doesn’t cost a fortune.  I haven’t taken mine off since I first put it on a couple of weeks back – apart from when showering – and intend to use it on a very regular basis.  I highly recommend the Milestone Altitude Activity Tracker to both hardcore, and casual, fitness fanatics.

I’d like to thank the kind folk over at Kondor for providing me with the Milestone Altitude Activity Tracker for review.

I was recently sent the PocketBoom Rechargeable Bluetooth Portable Speaker for review from the guys over at KitSound.  This is one product I was looking forward to getting to grips with.  Check out the unboxing video below.

Setting the speaker up for use was an easy task.  simply power on the PocketBoom speaker and put your phone/device into visible mode.  Your device should pick up the speaker after a few seconds – once it has, choose the speaker from the list of available devices and it should pair up.  If you run into any issues when it comes to pairing the devices, check out the included user manual and you should be sorted in no time.

The sound that the PocketBoom pushes out is surprisingly awesome!  For such a small device, I was not expecting what I heard.  The speaker pushes out a decent amount of bass as well, but depending on what device you are using it with, you may want to adjust the levels on the device itself beforehand to get the best sound out of things – even if you download an equalizer app or something to help with this, it is definitely worth it.

Because the speaker also doubles up as a hands-free device, I was itching to try out both the incoming, and outgoing sound quality.  When a call comes through, simply press the little button on the top of the speaker (the one with the phone icon) and you will be connected.  Incoming call quality through the speaker was great quality and did not come through distorted at all – again, very surprised at the quality.  Outgoing voice was a little on the quiet side when listening through the phone, but I could still hear what was going on.  This was easily rectified by rotating the speaker a little so that the small microphone port was facing the person talking rather than facing the opposite way.

The small rubber section on the bass of the speaker provided a decent amount of grip when the speaker was placed on a surface.  Pressing the buttons, etc, did not cause the speaker to move about unnecessarily, something else that I really liked.  The overall design of the speaker is very easy on the eye and definitely something that you would not be embarrassed to be seen with.

Having the option to connect up a 3.5 to 3.5mm cable is handy, especially if you have been using the PocketBoom for a prolonged period of time via bluetooth and the battery is starting to get low – you can still use the speaker if you are not ready to power down just yet.  When it comes to recharging the speaker, simply connect up the Micro USB cable and plug in the other end of the cable to a PC or laptop, or even a USB mains adapter.  I have used the speaker and managed to get around 3 hours of continuous play from it before having to charge again.

This tiny speaker really does pack a punch when it comes to playing music.  No matter what style of music you choose to play, it comes through nice and clear, and with a decent amount of bass.  The hands-free feature just adds to this little box of awesome and makes using it an absolute pleasure.  You can pick up the PocketBoom Rechargeable Bluetooth Speaker in a wide range of colours and for the price of around £30.00 GBP.  An excellent product at an affordable price.

The Speak’n Go Earset from Sandberg is  made to not only provide you with the freedom of using your phone whilst keeping your hands free, but also to provide excellent call quality, with the added extra of using it to fill your ears with musical goodness.

The earset arrives in the standard Sandberg packaging – a see through plastic packaging that gives you a nice view of the product itself, with the ‘need to know’ information also included.  The front of the packaging shows that you can use the earset for handsfree conversation, and that the earset contains an inline microphone and answer button.  The back of the packaging provides a short paragraph about the headset – this information is also available in several different languages.

sb1

Taking the earset out of the packaging, to be honest, if you have ever used a pair of earphones with your phone or an MP3 player, then you would already know what this earset is like.  It has the standard earphone feel to it, complete with the inline controls for use, and the 3.5mm connector at the end.  The earbuds themselves are the standard size earbuds, not the in-ear ones that are available nowadays.  Saying this though, the in-ear canal version of this earset is available from Sandberg, and both styles are available in a range of colours.

Comfort wise, this earset is not too bad.  I don’t have overly large ears and they stay in place as you would expect them to.  I am not sure, however, how they would feel to someone with smaller ears, or whether they would fit in place enough to be comfortable – the same with people who have larger ears.

sandberges1

I used the earset to listen to some music from my phone and while the music quality was ok, it wasn’t the greatest I have heard.  Saying that, this earset is made for managing phone calls while on the go, and in that respect, they performed really well.  I had no complaints regarding the quality of my voice during phone calls, and I have no complaints in regards to the voice on the other end of the call.

Overall, this headset does what it was made for, very well.  Trying to use it for other tasks such as listening to music, etc, I don’t think would provide the satisfaction that you may be used to with other earphones.  For a handsfree headset for use when on the go, the Sandberg Speak’n Go does exactly what it says on the tin (and packaging).

Today for review, I have quite a cute item.  It’s a Mini Buddy Portable Speaker from the guys over at KitSound.  There are several different characters and designs available, and I have the Heart speaker to review.  Perfect timing with Valentine’s Day just around the corner.

The packaging for the Mini Buddy Heart Speaker is simple and shows you what you want to know.  It is just big enough to fit the speaker in, as well as the included USB charger cable.  The packaging is a clear plastic style that gives you a decent view of the speaker so that you can see the design fully.

ksheart1

The speaker itself is actually really cute to look at.  It is a nice pink colour with a love heart pattern on the front which is made up of several small heart shapes.  On the side of the speaker there is a female 3.5mm port so that you can connect more than one together if you would like, while on the back is where the sound comes out, so naturally, there are several small holes for the speaker itself.  On the bottom of the buddy there is the power switch and a Micro USB port for the charger cable.  On the top, there is a short keychain that enables you to connect it up to your keys, which when coupled with the build quality of the speaker, you can feel assured that you can just throw it into your bag and not worry about causing any damage, etc.  Lastly, you have the 6 inch 3.5mm jack cable.

To get the speaker up and running, it couldn’t be easier – really.  Simply plug in the 3.5mm jack to the audio device that you want to use it with and you are good to go.  I plugged it into my phone and started up my music streaming app to test things out.  The sound quality was actually pretty good, especially considering the size of it.  The music I was playing came through nice and clear, and I didn’t notice any distortion.  I was able to enjoy my music listening session without feeling disappointed about my choice of speaker and the fact that you can actually hook up more of these little things together can only add to your listening pleasure.  Saying this, I was listening to music that didn’t contain a ridiculous amount of bass.

ksheart2

Since first hooking up this buddy to charge when I took it out of the packaging, I haven’t had to charge it again, despite using it for a fair few hours.  This is something that has impressed me as I would hate to have to charge it over and over again after short uses.  One thing that is worth a mention – when charging, the LED indicator on the bottom of te buddy stays blue.  I think it may have been handy to have the LED colour change between charging and charged.

Overall, I think this Mini Buddy Hear Portable Speaker is cute, very well made, and very well priced.  You can pick up this speaker for £9.99 GBP from the KitSound website, as well as on Amazon UK.  With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, this would make an ideal gift for your love interest/significant other.