Joystick Junkies 3DS Stylus Pack

This review is part of the 1 Pound Challenge – can you find a decent gadget in a pound shop?

Every-so-often you’ll find full-price products available in a Pound Shop, probably un-sold stock, the result of which is a better than average quality item. This is the situation here – the Joystick Junkies 3DS Stylus Pack has been on sale for a lot more than the £1 than it is now at Poundland.

Joystick Junkies is a fashion retailer, specialising in gaming gear, but they produce occasional branded accessories as well. The 3DS stylus pack is normally to be found in a plastic “blister” pack but here it is in a pleasant, silver embossed cardboard box.

Inside there are a total of 5 stylus’ provided. The most striking is a black oval, attached to a short Velcro strap. This goes around the finger and a point on the oval is used on the touchscreen. It works quite well.

The remaining 4 stylus’ are of the usual 3DS style, each being retractable – 2 are black plastic, 1 is light blue and the last is a metal version with black plastic stop and bottom. They are a little stiff to retract at first, but I suspect this will relax in time.

[review]5 good quality 3DS stylus’ for £1, including a rather novel finger stylus. If you own a 3DS it’s always worth having spares, and you’re unlikely to get better for this price.[/review]

Gadget Tech USB Card Reader Mini SD-Card

This review is part of the 1 Pound Challenge – can you find a decent gadget in a pound shop?

Available from Poundland, this is a small black plastic device about the diameter of a large button cell battery and the depth of a number stacked on top of each other. It comes with a little loop and best anti aging skin care

clip attached so you can it to a key ring, or similar.

Flip open a little compartment and you can plug in a mini SD card (including mini SDHC). Snap that down and the whole compartment then swivels around on its axis revealing a USB plug which can be plugged into your PC (or Mac) for quick and simply access to the card contents.

According to the packaging it’s compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac.

[review]The construction is not brilliant with unfinished edges and a fit that’s no-where near perfect. But at a pound, you can hardly argue. As a simply, inexpensive way to access your mini SD card, it’s fantastically good.[/review]


Signalex iPhone/iPad Docking Station

This review is part of the 1 Pound Challenge – can you find a decent gadget in a pound shop?

Before I start, I should add that although it’s called an iPhone/iPad Docking Station there is a sticker on the product which states that it doesn’t work with iPads. However, I have tried this with an iPod Touch and it works fine.

This is a glossy white plastic dock. On the top of an iPhone docking connection and the plastic raises up behind this to support the device. Underneath is a white, non-slip pad.  The product looks remarkable similar to Apple’s own, but this doesn’t have the support. And the Apple version is £26.

On the rear is a connector for plugging in your phone’s cable and a headphone socket next to it for audio. However, this doesn’t work unless power is being supplied via the iPhone cable. With the iPhone cable connected you can both charge your device and sync it with your computer.

The device doesn’t look too bad – it’s not brilliantly put together with some rough edges and the non-slip pad being placed crookedly, but overall I don’t really have complaints.

It’s available from Poundland.

[review]It works well and looks good. The connection are a bit stiff, but that might change over time, and it’s not brilliantly glued together. However, it is just one pound and you’ll need £25 more to buy the Apple version.[/review]

Signalex 4 Port USB Hub

This review is part of the 1 Pound Challenge – can you find a decent gadget in a pound shop?

Not to be confused with the identically named product, this has a more square design with each of the 4 USB ports on their own separate side. The top is domed and the plastic hub measures approx. 6x6x2cm.  The version I have is made of see-through green plastic, but other colours are available. It has a 38cm (approx) captive cable on it.

Non-surprisingly it’s USB 1 (although it doesn’t explicitiy state this on the packaging). Plug the USB cable in and a green LED lights from inside.

One of the corner has a hole in it and there’s no screw in the bottom at this edge as there are on the others. I’ve seen an image of an identical product online that shows something plugged into this corner – I wonder if this is a power option.

The product is made by Signalex and sold at Poundland.

[review]It works. It’s USB 1. As with my other USB 1 hub reviews if you don’t need the speed (e.g. plugging in a keyboard) then this is quite suitable. Otherwise, avoid.[/review]

Signalax USB Notebook Cooler

This review is part of the 1 Pound Challenge – can you find a decent gadget in a pound shop?

Whereas most of the pound products that I’ve so far reviewed are compact, small gadgets, this one is very much larger. Coming in a cardboard box, the USB Notebook Cooler looks very nice. It’s a clear perspex stand, standing taller at the back than the front (30mm, compared to 10mm). At 250mm x 170mm, it’s not enormous, however. Foam pads sit in each corner of the top and and on the bottom of each “leg”. In the middle is a smallish fan, from which comes a 40cm USB cable.

The idea is that you place your laptop on top of the stand, which puts it a good angle for typing, plug in the USB connector and the fan blows cooling air underneath, lowering your laptop’s temperature. To top it off, there’s a blue light at the side of the fan which illuminates the underneath with a glow.

Sound good?

Well, the stand is actually really nice and a good quality. The fan, on the other hand, is a little noisy for its size and yet doesn’t seem to push too much air upwards.

Bear in mind that your laptop will only really benefit if you have air intakes on the underside of your laptop. Mine does, so I set about checking the temperature. I took measurements of both the CPU and hard drive beforehand. I had no applications running so it wasn’t being pushed – as a result the CPU was only running at about 48 degrees.

I then placed my laptop onto the stand but without the fan running – this would test whether lifting the laptop up off the surface of the table offered any benefit. The temperatures didn’t change, so I connected the fan and left it for about 15 minutes. The result… no change. The fan had made no difference in the laptop’s temperature.

I was using my 11″ Lenovo laptop, but also tried a larger 15″ Samsung on it. With the larger device on it you have to be careful with positioning, otherwise it tips easily. This is a shame as it may mean that you cannot position the fan directly below the appropriate position.

Lastly, I wasn’t keen on the blue light. A way of switching this off would have been nice because otherwise it’s just drawing more power from my laptop – maybe not having the light might have meant the fan ran quicker?

The Signalex USB Notebook Cooler is available from Poundland.

[review]A mixed bag. It looks nice and seems to be of reasonable quality but the fan just doesn’t seem to be strong enough to make a difference to the laptop temperatures. [/review]

RJM Accessories TouchScreen Gloves

This review is part of the 1 Pound Challenge – can you find a decent gadget in a pound shop?

Made by RJM Accessories, Poundland sell a one-size children’s glove that works with capacitive touch-screen devices. The gloves I bought were a nice blue with silvery grey finger ends on the thumb and index finger. And they work really well. I gave them to my 13 year old daughter – they’re a bit of a tight fit but they work wonderfully well on her iPod Touch.
They’re reasonably well made, not brilliantly thick so won’t keep your hands too warm but they do their job well.

The only issue here is the size. Intended for kids the “one size” is actually quite small – as I said above my 13 year old daughter struggled with them. So I can only assume that these are intended for the under 10’s with touch screen devices. At least they can be washed as normal, though, in the washing machine.

[review]Reasonably well made, these actually work well. You’ll need small hands, though![/review]

800dpi Precision Optical Mouse

This review is part of the 1 Pound Challenge – can you find a decent gadget in a pound shop?

Pound products have been a bit of a mixed bag – some have been excellent but equally some have been appalling and others have been, well, meh. Walking into PoundWorld today I say an optical mouse – for 1 pound. Surely not?

Well, it’s an average size, probably more suitable for a laptop than your desktop. The top and bottom are black plastic, wheras the sides are transparent. It has a USB connection, transparent scroll wheel and it glows red when in use (making use of the red LED light used as the optical sensor). In fact, digging out a Saitek mouse I bought some time ago I realised that they must have both come out of the same mould – the design of the mouse is near identical (I can only find one minor difference between them, right down to the dimensions). Sadly what was poured into that mould wasn’t the same – whereas the Saitek has a nice rubberised coating over the top and sides, the PoundWorld equivalent doesn’t. In fact the plastic that it’s made of feels cheap. The Saitek has a rubber click wheel which glows white, whereas the pound version is again just made of a cheap plastic which glows red, but only when moving the mouse.  The internals look different too.

Packaging wise it’s held in a bag within a small box (not sure the reason for bag to be honest).

But, is it any good? In use, there was no difference between the cheap mouse and the Saitek equivalent. Or, indeed any other mouse. It was precise and felt good under the hand. The button are more audible than most, though, so don’t buy this to use in a library!

[review]Yes, it’s got a few bad points – no rubberised coating, a poor click wheel, loud buttons, cheap constructions – but, more importantly, it works well and is an absolute bargain. If you need something to throw into a laptop bag and use occasionally, there is no reason to pay any more.[/review]

Retractable USB iphone & ipod Cable

This review is part of the 1 Pound Challenge – can you find a decent gadget in a pound shop?

This unbranded (other than the ITP Imports name in small print on the back – this appears to be a range exclusive to PoundWorld) retractable has been designed to connect your iPhone or iPod to your PC. It has a 75cm cable which winds onto a reel, in a similar way to the reTrak products. The difference here, initially, is the price – retract equivalents are ten times the price at least. In fact on inspection the reel mechanism seems very similar to the reTrak version so I had high hopes of a product well worth the pound.

The cable reeled in and out without a problem even after repeated use. The mechanism felt a bit rougher to me than the reTrak, but my daughter felt this was easier to use.

The plastic connectors on either end let it down though – they appear to made of very cheap white plastic which you feel wouldn’t last very long. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the biggest problem. After some initial problems getting the iPod connector to fit into my daughter’s iPod Touch we got it to connect to the computer. That was the first and last time it did – after that nothing happened. It would appear that it simple failed after one successful use.

This came from PoundWorld but an equivalent Signalex branded version can be bought at Poundland.

[review]For a pound the reeling mechanism works well but the connectors on the ends are so cheap that failure is always imminent. Save the pounds and get a quality version with a guarantee![/review]

Signalex Multislot USB Card Reader

This review is part of the 1 Pound Challenge – can you find a decent gadget in a pound shop?

There are a number of card readers on the market, but this one I particularly like. It’s only compatible with 4 card types but it’s the latter card that’s most interesting – MS, SD, Mini SD, Micro SD. Unlike other card readers which say they are Micro SD compatible, but they expect you to use a converter in the SD card slot, this has a slot for Micro SD cards.

The reader is really quite compact measuring just 7.5cm long, 2.5cm wide and 1.6cm deep. The top is see through plastic of different colours (mine is blue) and the rest of the device is sold white plastic. There is a long loop at one end, meaning that you can add this to a keyring if you wish. A 2cm captive USB cable tucks underneath.

Plug your memory card in and you’ll find the speeds are comparable with pretty much any other card reader (including those built into laptops).

Signalex has recently repackaged the product and it can be found on the Poundland website. It appears to be the same but they are promoting the fact that it is USB 2. I believe the current one is already USB 2 as the speeds it was reporting were higher than USB 1 would be able to produce.

[review]Brilliant – compact, cheap and has it’s own very useful micro USB port. An essential for any PC user’s toolbag![/review]

2 in 1 Laptop Screen Protector & Mouse Mat

This review is part of the 1 Pound Challenge – can you find a decent gadget in a pound shop?

PoundWorld are selling something that’s named (deep breath) “2 in 1 Laptop Screen Protector & Mouse Mat”. Basically, it’s a thin, black mouse mat with a rubberised back that measures 12 x 8 inches (approx.). It’s sold flat in a cardboard sleeve.

It’s “2 in 1” because it can be stores on the top of a laptop keyboard when the lid is closed. This protects the keyboard from damaging the screen (yes, this does happen – the TrackPoint on my ThinkPad Edge, for instance, leaves a mark on the screen). However, I’d only recommend doing this if you feel the hinge is strong enough and the lid doesn’t “latch” into place (i.e. if you simply fold it down then this should be fine as the mat won’t cause an undue pressure). At 12 x 8 inches it’s unlikely to be big enough to cover the keyboard, but meerly keep it seperate from the screen. Well, unless you have a Netbook or small laptop – it’s far too big for my Edge 11.

Although it’s sold primarily as a screen protector it’s greatest strength is as a mouse mat. And it works really well – as good as the gaming mouse mat I bought some time ago for a lot, lot more than £10 (and that came rolled up and took an age to get to go straight!).

[review]As a mouse mat this is brilliant – well worth the money. It’s use as a screen protector, although this works, is suspect as jamming something between a closed laptop lid is only likely to cause problems in the long run. Ignore the latter, concentrate on the former and it’s great![/review]

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