Top 10: Favourite products of 2018
We've tested over 100 products since we launched Honest John Kit in May 2018, but which ones stuck out as our favourites?
Dash camera under £50: YI Smart
The YI Smart is an excellent dash cam for the money. 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.
At this price, it's not surprising to find it lacks features like a GPS - but if that's not an issue for you, this is a no-brainer. YI also has excellent customer support and you only have to have a quick glance at the customer reviews on Amazon to see many satisfied buyers. This is one of the best non-4K cameras we have tested and, for the price, is superb value for money.
Our favourite toy: Sphero R2-D2
If you're a Star Wars fan you will absolutely love the Sphero R2-D2. The attention to detail is great with the proper lights and sounds that come directly from the unit, it's like having your very own R2 unit at home. Thanks to the well designed and easy to use the app, it's also something that everyone, from toddlers to teenagers and parents who grew up with the original films, can play with and enjoy.
You can drive R2-D2 yourself and get him to perform one of the 18 pre-set actions, all from the Star Wars films. These include the scene where R2-D2 is first captured by the Jawas and falls over. Plus, if you sit R2-D2 in front of a copy of Star Wars, he will react to certain parts of the film - as well as other Sphero droids.
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Product update: Tile Pro
Tile is a Bluetooth tracker to help keep you from losing your keys, purse or whatever else you attach it to. If you lose your keys you can use your phone to find it. Lose your phone and your Tile can make your phone bleep back at you. Every running Tile app tracks Tiles around it too, so if you lose both then you can call upon your fellow Tile users to help you find it.
In October 2018, Tile updated the previous Tile Pro to equip it with a replaceable battery, one of the most requested features from Tile users. This means you no longer have to pay to replace your Tile after a year, and it's far more environmentally-friendly, too. It also has a longer Bluetooth range (90m) and is three times louder than previous Tiles.
Our favourite luxury product: Melitta CI Touch
The Melitta CI Touch costs more than a lot of people paid for their first car, but it's easily one of the best bean-to-cup coffee machines on sale right now. Easy to use, stylish and hugely customisable — it provides simplicity to the otherwise complex and (occasionally) baffling world of high-end coffee. It can brew two drinks simultaneously while allowing the user to tailor coffee strength, temperature and grinding fineness of the beans involved. It comes with a two-year warranty as well.
At £999, the Melitta CI Touch is a significant outlay in terms of cost, but for two adults willing to replace coffee shop trips with a home-brewed alternative, the CI Touch will quickly recoup its cost in a year. And it also steam cleans itself. Fancy...
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Budget headphones: Brainwavz S0
If you’re looking for good value, balanced earphones for a very reasonable price, the Brainwavz S0 should definitely be on your list. You get noise isolation, which generally costs more than the modest price tag, plus they come with a lot of accessories and have a pleasant warm sound signature.
In the box, you get a wide variety of earphone tips - including six sets of silicone ear tips (in small, medium and large) and one set of Comply isolation T-400 foam tips. There's no active noise cancelling at this price, but the Comply foam tips effectively isolate sound by fitting snugly into your ears to block out external noise.
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Premium sat nav: TomTom Go 5200 sat nav
TomTom's range-topping sat nav packs a five-inch screen, worldwide maps with free updates, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, speed camera alerts, integrated live traffic updates and voice control. And if you connect your phone to it, it can also read out your text messages and provide hands-free calling - it’s compatible with Siri and Google Now, so your electronic personal assistants can be used while on the move.
It’s not cheap, though, unsurprisingly. You might baulk at the price but, if you’re looking for a feature-packed and powerful sat-nav, the TomTom is well worth considering. It's a great companion for frequent travellers – and as it’s continually updated and has worldwide maps, it should last you a long time.
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Dark horse: Anker RoboVac 11S
While high-end robotic vacuum cleaners from big-brand names like Dyson and Roomba still cost a pretty penny, mid-range options like the Eufy RoboVac 11S offer a very decent, cheaper alternative. All in all — it's easy to use, quiet and does what it says on the tin.
It's also a very useful tool for anyone who struggles with lugging a vacuum around. Who knows, you might even use the extra daily 15 minutes you'd usually spend vacuuming to read more or learn to play the piano. Or, more likely, to stay in bed a little longer. For us, the Eufy RoboVac 11S was a dark horse amongst robotic vacuums. We didn't expect much but it performed very admirably.
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Best budget buy: Seedball
Seedballs are designed to make sowing seeds incredibly easy and create beautiful wildflower patches in your garden to help to attract bees and butterflies. Each tin costs only £6 on the Seedball website, or £19 for a set of Bee Mix, Butterfly Mix and Urban Meadow Seedball tins on Amazon.
Each tin contains around 20 one-centimetre balls made of clay, up to 100 seeds, peat-free compost and a pinch of chilli powder to ward off pests. The idea is that each seed ball has everything it needs to get started and you don’t need any gardening expertise to get good results. The seeds, as well as the tins, are also made in the UK.
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Summer fun: Campingaz Master 4 Series Classic LXS Black Edition BBQ
The Campingaz Master 4 Series Classic LXS Black Edition is a high-end, gas-powered BBQ grille with a large cooking area capable of catering for between 12 and 16 guests. Its long name is fitting - this is a big BBQ in every sense. It's pricey, but for the serious BBQ chef - or for people who regularly cater for large amounts of people — this is well worth the money.
It's made from high-quality materials with key parts manufactured in rust-resistant stainless steel — which means it should be many years before you’re looking for a replacement. We loved using it for our office BBQs this summer because it easily catered to make enough food for everyone, with veggie options being easy to keep separate. The LXS isn't available on Amazon, but the 4 series Classic LS Plus we've linked to below is similar. You can compare the two BBQs here.
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Modernising an older car: Sony XAV-AX100
The Sony XAV-AX100 allows you to update your old car with a modern infotainment system. It's a lot of money – but the Sony XAV-XA100 features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, so it can be linked to a smartphone and used to stream Spotify, make and receive calls and navigate with Google Maps.
It fits a double DIN slot, so check with a car electrician if you’re not sure if it’s compatible with your car. This system effectively replicates the same functionality you would get from a new car with the latest connectivity features and it's very easy to use. Though installation can be tricky, so if you’re not sure about in-car electrics then ask an auto-electrician or visit Halfords.
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