Reviewed by Louise Totton
I love gadgets – I think that one of my favourite things is opening a brand new, pristine box and unpacking my latest shiny new toy. In fact, one of my next favourite pastimes is selecting gadgets, researching them, reading up about them and trying to decide which one best suits my needs or the needs of the person I’m buying for.
I was recently sent a selection of three gadgets to review, two of which I had never considered purchasing before, so went into my test with no preconceived ideas about the products or brands.
The first product I’d like to write about is the Y-Cam Evo home security camera. This is one of the products I’d never considered buying – I actually wasn’t aware of this type of product at all. The Y-Cam Evo is a tiny home security camera that uses WiFi and an Android / iOS app to set up, control and manage.
Out of the box, the whole set up process took me less than 10 minutes before it was up and running. The camera plugs in via a micro usb cable, which is included. After you have downloaded the app, the next step is to either log in to your existing Y-Cam account or set up a new one. The camera is then paired to the phone, recording zones and sensitivity levels are selected and the system is up and running.
The camera can either be wall mounted or sit on a shelf or surface using the stand that is included. The camera is unobtrusive as it is so small.
The app is fantastic – when the camera is first set up, the app offers a really simple but informative tutorial which I found really helpful. The app is used for changing settings on the Y-Cam, as well as being the viewing device for monitoring images. If you were to have a home with several of the cameras, the app would act as a hub where you could view and monitor any of the rooms in your house.
I think the thing I really liked about this system is the fact that it is motion / sound activated. You can set the app to send a push notification to your phone when it detects movement in the activation zone, allowing you to immediately check what the issue might be. If you have your mobile data switched on, you can check in on your house from anywhere in the world, which is very reassuring.
The standard of video that the device captures is great – it even has a night vision mode and facial features can be made out even in pitch black.
Unfortunately, we haven’t had cause to go on holiday since we got the Y-Cam, so it has mainly been used in my 7 and 4 year old daughters’ bedroom to monitor them playing when they’re out of sight. It is really great for this application, and has even allowed me to settle a few arguments as to who did what to who.
It’s a great little device – it stores the videos on a secure cloud storage account on a rolling 7 day basis. At the time or writing this is free of charge, which from what I have seen, is unusual as most manufacturers of this type of device offer a paid subscription only for video storage (Editor’s note: this has since changed to a paid service). You also have the option of downloading any clips you need to keep to your mobile device. It is a fantastic gift idea for gadget lovers everywhere, and is pretty good value at £129.99. For more information or to buy visit Y-Cam.
The second product I was sent is a set of Nicky Clarke DesiRED Wide Plate hair straighteners.
I have pretty thick hair and I’m trying my very best to grow it at the moment. It’s at a really awkward length and can be prone it looking somewhat bedraggled so I was really keen to see if I could inject a little ‘between haircut’ style into my hair.
These straighteners look really great. They’re a really eye-catching bright red colour and it makes them look like a really special gift. The lead on them is a great length (3 metres) – I’m 5ft 9” and I like to stand up whilst doing my hair. My previous set had a much shorter cable, and meant I had to stoop whilst using them. No such problems here.
The heat level is adjustable. For me, I use them on the highest setting, but I recently straightened my 7 year old’s very long thick hair and did it on a lower setting for her. The straighteners heated up super quickly, so there is no hanging around waiting for them to heat up.
The wide plates are great for longer and thicker hair. My hair was still super straight at 6pm after a full day of work. The outer, red part of the straighteners is fantastically smooth which means that it doesn’t catch or tug on the hair as you use them.
These are substantially cheaper (RRP: £84.99) than a pair of GHDs, but they do the job just as well in my opinion. The design of them is so eye-catching and unusual, they’d make a great Christmas gift for a teenager right the way up to a sophisticated lady with a sense of fun. Available to buy in Boots for £39.99.
The final item I was asked to review is an Asus MemoPad HD7 ME173X.
My daughter has recently grown out of her kids’ tablet and my old Android tablet that I passed on to her had recently given up the ghost. So she seemed like the perfect candidate to try out the Asus tablet on.
This tablet is very much at the budget end of the market (£50 to £60), but the build quality does not make this obvious. It feels solid and not at all plasticky. It’s also very light and portable – and the aspect ratio of the screen is really nice. The tablet is super easy to hold with small hands and my daughter can manipulate the side buttons easily, as well as plugging in her headphones. I love the fact that the charging port is at the top of the device as when they’re at the bottom, I think that have a tendency to be bent and damaged if the tablet is held whilst charging.
The screen on it is really impressive, and is a full HD 1080 display. There are no dead pixels on our tablet, and it is great for watching YouTube and Netflix – there is no shadowing and the black looks black and the colours are vibrant.
My daughter has had some great fun with the 5MP camera and video recorder, and currently has a great selection of makeup tutorials and TV presenting efforts sat in her gallery.
The tablet uses a nice, plain, vanilla version of Android 4.2.2, and whilst there is a small amount of bloatware preinstalled, it is a lot less than some tablets. It isn’t the most up to date version, and there are a few apps that no longer seem to be supported, but this is a budget tablet ideal for kids and they don’t tend to need apps with the highest system requirements.
One other thing that does really impress me with the tablet is the battery life. It’s great! She does use some pretty battery heavy processes, including the video camera, watching videos and uploading to YouTube and we can still get a couple of days out of it before we need to charge it.
We have noticed no lag / response delay whatsoever and the tablet hasn’t frozen on us once. It runs all of the apps without crashing and is proving to be a very reliable and super quality device.
Of course, my daughter’s favourite part of it is that it is pink and she can take selfies. For more information visit Asus.