Honest John Kit Award Winners 2019
We've tested and reviewed a whole load of products over the last 12 months. So, from dash cams and child seats to scooters and security gadgets - which products outranked their rivals to win the Honest John Kit Awards 2019?
Dash Camera of the Year: Nextbase 522GW
The 522GW is the top spec, updated incarnation of the 512GW in Nextbase's brand-new dash cam range - the Series 2. The 522 features GPS and WiFi - just like its predecessor - as well as Amazon Alexa connectivity. Resolution is an impressive 1440p @ 30fps with a 140-degree viewing angle and a built-in polarising filter. It also features a new and improved 3-inch LED touchscreen, a new software suite to watch and edit your footage, and Emergency SOS so you can alert emergency services of your location in the event of an accident. If you want the best of the best, you're looking at it.
Dash Camera under £100 of the Year: YI Smart
Of course, not everyone can afford a top-of-the range dash cam, and while the Nextbase is an excellent piece of kit, you pay for the quality. We've raved about the YI Smart this year, so it's no surprise that it takes the prize for best dash cam under £100 - especially as it sits comfortably under that figure at around £50. It's fairly inexpensive but outperforms cameras that are more than twice the price. The footage is very good, it's easy to use with a simple menu layout and is proving reliable too. It goes out of stock online fairly regularly though, so grab it while you can.
Car Security product of the Year: Rewire Security Nano Tracker
Our winner is simple but brilliant and could be the difference between your car disappearing for good or being recovered. It’s a tracker that comes with the option of an ultra-strong magnetic box to attach it somewhere out of sight on your car’s bodywork. The app integrates Google Maps and the topography can utilise satellite imagery if you choose. Using the desktop site you can set up ‘geofence zones’ that allow you to place markers on the map so that if the tracker goes outside of them you’ll be alerted. Aside from that, you can set up alerts if the tracker moves or travels beyond a certain speed. It can also be hardwired to your car.
Tyres of the Year: Continental AllSeasonContact
Under intense pressure, which one of our top five tyres raised the bar and left the others feeling flat? Our winner is a tyre for all seasons, primarily a summer design, but one that still has impressive performance in the snow. It ventures where others fear to tread and comes in sizes from 14 to 20 inches. It’s the Continental AllSeasonContact. The Continental do well in wet and dry conditions too with reliable, reactive braking and the tyres are also very quiet and refined even at high speeds. They're also very fuel efficient.
125cc Scooter of the Year: Honda PCX 125
The PCX encapsulates everything that Honda is famed for: build quality, plush suspension and ease of use. Best of all, it’s an affordable scooter you can use and revel in all-year round. Running costs are very affordable thanks to a claimed average fuel economy of 133.9mpg, which we found to be closer to 110mpg in the real world. That means a realistic range of around 170 miles per tank. You can also stash a large crash helmet under the flip-up seat and still have some room left. In the glovebox in the front leg protector fairing, there's a 12-volt charging socket so you can top up the battery on your phone or sat-nav on the move, too.
125cc Motorcycle of the Year: Honda Monkey
There are plenty of retro-style bikes out there, but few have the heritage to back up the looks like Honda’s Monkey. This is a 125cc commuter and city bike at its simplest, but the Monkey does so much more - notably plastering a smile over your face every time you ride it. It’s not the cheapest 125cc bike you can buy, nor is it the most practical. But there are keen lease deals on offer and 189mpg combined fuel economy, plus a 200-mile-plus tank range. Being a Honda, it will also be relentlessly reliable, easy to live with and cheap to service. It's the definition of a bike you buy with your heart rather than your head.
Exterior Car Care of the Year: Autoglym Bodywork & Wheels
Our winner comes from a name that’s a long-established byword for brilliance, and bundles together a group of its amazing, top-quality products in one great value package. It’s the Autoglym Perfect Bodywork & Wheels Collection. This kit includes bodywork shampoo conditioner, super resin polish, gloss protector, wheel cleaner, tyre dresser and wheel protector - all of which will keep your pride and joy shining and protected against the elements.
Interior Car Care product of the Year: CTEK MXS 5.0 battery charger
Interior car care product of the year covers everything from cleaning fluids to tools and gadgets used to repair parts of the car you can’t see from the outside. At less than £70, the C-TEK MXS 5.0 is a battery charger and conditioner that charges ahead of the opposition, restoring your car’s battery even if it goes completely flat, yet it’s small enough to fit in your glove box. It’s sturdy and it works well, we've bought several batteries back from the dead using it. Plus, the opportunities for leaving it connected make it ideal for car owners who garage their pride and joy over the winter, or those who don’t clock up quite enough miles to recharge the battery over the course of a weekend.
Group 0+ Child Seat of the Year: Joie i-Level
Our winner is excellent in terms of quality and value. What will tempt many, and rightfully so, is the ability to lie it totally flat – a position that is much better for small babies over a long period of time. The high-quality materials and the comfortable memory foam means that this value isn’t kept tucked out of sight, though.
Group 0+/1 Child Seat of the Year: Nuna REBL Plus
The Nuna REBL Plus is one of the best 360 swivelling seats out there, with a premium feel running throughout, from the recline handle to the belt buckles and the seat material itself. It's also durable and feels as though it will easily last the use of several children. The good news is that at £350, it's great value for a seat that will last you from birth to four years old.
Dog Guard of the Year: Guardsman dog guard
The Dog Guard category will stop your canine companion from joining you in the front seats if you have to slam on the anchors, as well as protect your car seats from unwelcome Fido fur. Our winner comes from a company that has been going for more than 50 years and is an official supplier to Guide Dogs UK and The Dogs Trust. Simple but effective and unbeatable quality, it’s the vehicle-specific Guardsman Dog Guard.
Novelty Experience Day of the Year: Crystal Maze LIVE - Virgin Experience Days
Experience days don’t have to be about tearing around a deserted airfield in someone else’s car. Thrills, adventures and delights come in all shapes and sizes - as evidenced by our winner. If you've ever wanted to be a slightly baffled person locked in a room while people shout things at you, this is your chance. The Crystal Maze LIVE experience through Virgin Experience Days is a faithful replication of the 90s game show, letting you travel through four zones in an attempt to win crystals, buying you time in the Crystal Dome. We won’t go into details about each of the games, as that would spoil the surprise and the thrill of doing them yourself. They are, however, excellent re-creations of those from the programme and the work that has gone into making them look completely authentic is very, very impressive.
Car Experience Day of the Year: Triple 80's Hot Hatch Driving Blast - Buy A Gift
Step back in time to an era of limited (if any) restrictive driving assists. This experience day from Buy A Gift will let you get behind the wheel of three hot hatches of your choice from an impressive selection of 80s icons - including the Renault Clio Williams, Peugeot 205 GTi, Volkswagen Golf GTi, Vauxhall Astra GSi or Ford Escort RS Turbo. Enjoy three miles of racing in each one, exclusive to some of the most prestigious tracks in the UK.
Innovation of the Year: HEXR Helmet
Our innovation award goes to a company that has taken one of the most incredible pieces of modern technology and applied it to safety. Our winner uses 3D printing, and by taking the measurements of an individual’s head using an app, can create a Polyamide, foam-filled cycle helmet that is the perfect individual fit. Both clever and safe - it's the HEXR Helmet.
Gift Under £20 of the Year: SEEDBALL
All our shortlisted products are different and quite funky in their own way, but our favourite gift goes right back to nature and is brilliantly simple in its concept. Each tin contains around 20 one-centimetre balls made of clay, containing up to 100 seeds, peat-free compost and a pinch of chilli powder to ward off pests. The seeds, as well as the tins, are also made in the UK and it’s a great way to give a much-needed helping-hand to bees and other pollinators. Great results for even the least experienced gardeners - it’s SEEDBALL. They also won't leave you too out of pocket, with each tin costing around £6 - or £19 for a set of Bee Mix, Butterfly Mix and Urban Meadow Seedball tins online.
Gift Under £50 of the Year: Tile Pro
Our sub-fifty gift winner is a brilliantly clever yet extremely simple piece of kit, perfect for the scatterbrain in your life. Attach it to something you’re prone to losing, like your keys, your handbag, your wallet, your youngest child… and by using an app on your phone you’ll find it instantly. If it’s your phone that you’re prone to losing, attach it to that and install the app on someone else’s. With a Bluetooth range of 90m, a replaceable battery which lasts around 12 months and a one-year warranty — it's the Tile Pro!
BBQ of the Year: Everdure CUBE
Our winner comes from the man who invented lickable wallpaper. No, really. Celebrity Chef Heston Blumenthal’s Everdure range of portable cookers is brilliantly well-made and delightfully simple to use. The compact CUBE even comes with a built-in storage drawer and preparation tray. Intended to be used out and about, the CUBE is made from lightweight durable steel with a sleek finish and cool-to-the-touch carry handles. The design also leaves room to store the coals within the body of the barbecue with two safety latches holding all in place when the CUBE is moved.
Home Appliance of the Year: Tado Smart Thermostat Starter Kit V3+
Much like Hive, the Tado smart thermostat aims to keep your heating bills down - and according to our maths, it could easily pay for itself within a few months. Driving home from work? Boost the heating so your house is snug by the time you get back. In bed thinking it's a bit stuffy? Just tap the app or tell Alexa to adjust the temperature. Compared to rivals like Hive or Nest, the Tado represents good value for money. There isn’t really anything it doesn’t do, and it’s easy to install and use.
Camping Equipment product of the Year: Campingaz Camp Bistro 2
The Campingaz Camp Bistro 2 is a simple one burner stove. It comes with its own plastic carry case and includes piezo ignition (no matches needed here) and a gas cartridge safety locking system to ensure the gas canister is fitted correctly every time. If you want a simple-to-use stove for camping, the Bistro 2 is ideal - it takes a few seconds to set-up, lights first time and heats quickly, plus it's very stable which is ideal if you're using larger saucepans. There are plenty of very similar one burner stoves around - and at a cheaper price than the Campingaz version - but these aren't built to the same quality. We think it's worth spending a few extra quid to get a brand you recognise, especially when you're dealing with something that runs on gas.
Our Favourite Product of the Year: Sphero R2-D2
Regular readers might be thinking, I don't remember this category. And you'd be right. This year we've added two categories to our Honest John Kit Awards, the other one being the Innovation Award - each of which don't have have a shortlist. The Sphero R2-D2 was our favourite product for a whole host of reasons, a big one being that the HJ editorial team is mostly men in their thirties - but the toy version of everyone's favourite droid also knows how to move around, communicate and interact with the Star Wars films when they're on your telly...
Headphones of the Year: Marshall Major III
I know you’re all ears for this category. Our winner is a great pair of wireless, on-ear headphones with an iconic design and an arguably even more iconic sound signature. The headphones are Bluetooth and foldable, making them perfect for commuters. And, as you'd expect from a brand like Marshall, the sound quality is exceptional and you'll get 30+ hours of music on a single charge. For those who listen predominantly to rock/alternative/indie music, the Marshall Major III are ideal.
Speaker of the Year: Cambridge Audio YOYO (S)
We like the fabric-clad look of our winning speaker, which is one of the main reasons you'd pay for it over the many, many other mid-range, plain black speaker offerings on the market. There's also a lot less distortion than there is in smaller speakers simply because the YOYO's larger drivers can deal with high volume better, so if you want a speaker that'll soundtrack a BBQ outside with the noise of chatter and kids to contend with, this is a good pick. It may have had its ups and downs, but the winner is the Cambridge Yo-Yo.
Cycle Computer of the Year: Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt
We deliberately left cycle computers out of the Cycling Accessory category as they’re a massively popular and growing area of the tech market that deserve a category of their own. If you’re a gadget geek and a keen cyclist, the ELEMNT Bolt is made for you. It’s the kind of computer that you’ll forever be uncovering clever features on, but you don’t need to be tech-savvy to use it - in fact, it's exceptionally easy to set up. When synced up via Bluetooth, you can also pair it with Strava, RideWithGPS, Komoot and more apps. The Bolt can also pair directly with ANT+ sensors, like Wahoo's TICKR Fit heart rate monitor (as well as power meters, speed sensors, cadence sensors etc).
Cycling Accessory of the Year: Hornit Clug
Our winner is brilliantly simple and not very expensive at all, but it will enhance cyclists’ lives no end, especially those who live in urban areas with limited storage space. It’s a wall-mounted clip that holds your bike up by its tyre, so you can hang it on the wall when not in use. It's a brilliant bit of kit for the price, but it won't leave you out of pocket too much if you don't really like it. It's very discreet, functional and easy to install - with the bonus of exceptionally smart packaging. It isn't flawless, but if you want to store multiple bikes without putting up a bike shelf or hanging them further up the wall - the Hornit Clug is the solution you're looking for.
Scooter of the Year: Micro Suspension
No, we’re not repeating ourselves. This time, it’s a scooter that isn’t petrol powered and you don’t need a licence for, the type favoured by both toddlers and teenagers, as well as accident-prone parents. Our winner is pricey, but with 200mm wheels, an adult-sized weight limit, quick-fold design and built-in suspension, it’s as much a form of urban transport as it is a plaything. It’s the Micro Suspension!
Toy of the Year: RazorX Cruiser electric skateboard
Our winner is a toy that combines the traditional with the modern, while at the same time allowing users of up to 100kg in weight - meaning that show-off parents can have a go as well. It’s one of the least expensive of its kind on the market, too. The RazorX electric skateboard goes up to 10mph (16kph), lasts 40 minutes on a single charge and is suitable for ages 9 and up with a 220lb (100kg) weight limit. It's ideal if you're looking for a fun toy to mess about on for you or your little ones, and don't fancy being an adult on a scooter. It's clearly a beginner board, which isn't a bad thing. In fact, we think it's the best value, entry-level e-skateboard you can buy - and it doesn't cut corners on quality to get there.