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Smeg Professional Blender review
1:25 pm | May 17, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Juicers & Blenders Small Appliances | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Smeg Professional Blender: two-minute review

The Smeg Professional Blender is a sleek, high-end appliance with an impressive array of functions: nine blending speeds, four presets, plus a Pulse and Auto Clean mode. It comes with 1.5 liter Tritan jug, a fixed blade, vacuum pump attachment, tamper, spatula, and cleaning brush. I tested one out to see how it compares to the rest of the best blenders on the market. 

This model is known by different names in different territories: 

  • US model: BLC01BLMUS Professional
  • UK model: BLC02BLMUK High Performance
  • Australian model: BLC02BLMAU High Performance

For this review I tested the UK model; note there might be minor differences between different countries' versions. 

Smeg as a brand is perhaps best known for its juicers and espresso machines, but it also makes a small selection of blenders – elsewhere in the range you'll find the entry-level Smeg personal blender and a mid-range Smeg jug blender. The model I tested for this review is the brand's high-end jug blender.

Unlike the brightly-colored and bubble-shape of the majority of the Smeg appliance range, the Professional blender is more sleek and subtle. It's powered by a 1400W motor, and has a row of preset buttons along the top of its aluminum and plastic base. These are then controlled via an intuitive LCD dial on the front. 

Thanks to the blender's slim design, it fits comfortably under kitchen cupboards, even with the jug attached. While its relatively low weight makes it easy to move around your countertop, and store. However, the fact the blades aren't removable makes things tricky when it comes to cleaning and getting blended food out of the jug.

Smeg BLC01 Professional Blender in reviewer's home

(Image credit: Future)

For this review, I used the blender to make a range of drinks and food, including a smoothie, a sauce and hummus. I also used it to crush ice. For the items that had preset functions, namely the smoothie and the ice, the performance was near-perfect. However, for the items for which I had to use the blender's Manual mode, the performance was hit-and-miss. For its premium price ($429.95 / £499.99 / AU$799), I expected slightly more consistent results.  

However, all things considered, the Smeg Professional Blender looks great and works well. If you can afford it, and especially if you've previously been put off by the bright designs of the rest of the Smeg range, it will be a decent investment that should last you a long time. 

Smeg Professional Blender review: price & availability

  • List price: $429.95 / £499.99 / AU$799

At time of writing, there are three models in the Smeg BLC01 blender range and the Professional version is the most expensive, with a list price of $429.95 / £499.99 / AU$799. For this price you get the blender base with a fixed blade, a 6 cup / 1.5 liter Tritan jug, a vacuum pump attachment, tamper, spatula and cleaning brush.

This price makes the Professional model significantly more expensive than other high-end models from the likes of Ninja and Nutribullet. In fact, many rival models, including Ninja's Foodi Power Blender system, offer a much wider range of accessories, blades and settings for half the price. 

In the US, the Smeg Professional Blender is available in black (BLC01BLMUS) or white (BLC01WHMUS) and is sold at Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, plus a number of third-party retailers. You can see the full-range of retailers on the Smeg website.

In the UK, the appliance is known as the Smeg High-Performance blender and it's available directly from Smeg, AO, Robert Dyas and Amazon. Its black model is sold under code BLC02BLMUK, while its white version is BLC02WHMUK. 

In Australia, the black (BLC02BLMAU), and white (BLC02WHMAU) models, plus an emerald green (BLC02EGMAU) version are sold as the High-Performance blender from Smeg, and Amazon. 

If you want a Smeg blender but can't stretch to the Professional model, the entry-level PBF01 Personal blender costs $169.95 / £109.95 / AU$199. It only makes single serve drinks and has just two blending speeds but it's more compact. Alternatively, the mid-range, 50s style Smeg BLF03 Jug Blender costs $299.95 /£179.95 / AUS $362. It has the same 1.5L BPA-free Tritan Jug seen on the Professional model, and a range of presets, but only four blending speeds. It also lacks the vacuum, and Auto Clean feature of the Professional.

With the Smeg Professional blender you're largely paying for the brand and style. The performance is solid, the range of blending options is good, and the vacuum attachment and Auto Clean features are welcome. Yet none of these are revolutionary. This does mean the price of the Smeg Professional blender is a little excessive, but at least you know you're getting a quality appliance from a trusted manufacturer. 

  • Value for money score: 3 out of 5

Smeg Professional Blender specifications

Smeg Professional Blender review: design & features

  • 1400w motor, 1.5 liter BPA-Free Tritan jug
  • 9 blending speeds + 4 presets, Pulse, and Auto Clean
  • Sleek design, but blades are fixed

Smeg is as renowned for the design of its appliances as it is for their functionality. The BLC01 blender is no exception. However, unlike the bubble-shaped, brightly colored designs seen across the majority of the Smeg range, the Professional blender looks much sleeker and more high-end.  

There are hints at the iconic 'Smeg' shape, but they're more subtle. The base has smooth, curved lines with either a white or black plastic panel on the back, and an aluminum panel on the front emblazoned with the Smeg logo. I was sent a black model to review and it fit in seamlessly with my other metal and black appliances and cream units. 

Inside the base is the 1400W motor which produces a max spin of 22,000 RPM. Below the Smeg logo is a circular dial with an LCD display. The power button is on the left-hand side of the base, and along the top is a row of buttons that each relate to the blender's different presets. 

From left to right these buttons are:

  • Smoothie
  • Green smoothie
  • Frozen dessert
  • Ice Crush
  • Autoclean
  • Pulse

In addition to these presets, you can manually select from one of nine blending speeds in Manual Mode. 

Smeg BLC01 Professional Blender in reviewer's home

(Image credit: Future)

Size-wise, the blender measures 16.6 x 6.6 x 8.9 inches / 42.1 x 16.8 x 22.5 cm (H x W x D) and this means it should fit comfortably under most kitchen cupboards, even with the jug attached. Adding the vacuum pump to the top of the jug extends its height to 20.5 inches / 52.1 cm. 

Weight-wise, the base and jug together weigh 14.5lb / 6.6 kg and this makes it easy to move around your countertop, or if you want to store it in a drawer or cupboard. It then has anti-slip feet on the bottom of the base, and a 3ft / 1m cord. 

Smeg BLC01 Professional Blender in reviewer's home

(Image credit: Future)

The jug slots on and off the base easily; there is no fiddly twisting or locking it into place like on most blenders. I was concerned it would move during use but it never did. A lid with a silicone seal slides on top, with a small, twist-off cap that is used to add ingredients mid-blend. 

When making green smoothies, or any drink where you want to retain the nutritional value of your ingredients, the battery-powered vacuum is attached in place of the twist-off cap. 

Smeg traditionalists may not like the sleeker, less conspicuous design of the Professional blender but I'm a big fan. It looks more professional and the small touches such as the smooth dial and discreet controls make it feel premium and closer in design to what I'd expect for the price point.

In fact, my only real complaint about the design is that the blades aren't removable. This means that cleaning the Smeg Professional Blender can be tricky, and somewhat dangerous. I couldn't guarantee that the jug and undersides of the blades were as clean as I'd like when washing by hand. Thankfully, the jug is dishwasher safe and the blender comes with a dedicated Automatic Cleaning mode. So this is a minor point.

  • Design score: 4.5 out of 5

Smeg Professional Blender review: performance

  • Didn't fully blitz kale or seeds 
  • Makes perfect crushed ice
  • Presets perform better than manual settings

With each of the appliances I review, I begin by seeing if I can navigate the different controls and settings without looking at the Quick Start guide or instruction manual. This gives me an idea of how intuitive they truly are and the Smeg Professional blender passed the test. 

The icons on each of the buttons are fairly obvious. My only confusion came from knowing what the difference was between the standard Smoothie button and its Green Smoothie equivalent. Pressing each of these presets brings the LCD display to life and it shows the blending time for the selected setting and an icon of either a single person (for Single Serve drinks) or a group of people for the Family Serve option. You can turn the dial to switch between these two modes before pushing the dial in to start the blend.

Smeg BLC01 Professional Blender in reviewer's home

(Image credit: Future)

The default time for a Single smoothie is 30 seconds. This increases to 45 seconds on Family Serve mode (other default settings are listed in the manual). You can, at any point, turn the dial to increase or decrease the speed. If you'd rather use the Manual mode, simply turn the dial (without any presets selected) to cycle through the nine speed settings. Then push to start.

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Making a kale, blueberry and banana smoothie in the Smeg BLC01 Professional Blender

(Image credit: Future)
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Making a kale, blueberry and banana smoothie in the Smeg BLC01 Professional Blender

(Image credit: Future)

For my first test, I made a kale, blueberry and banana smoothie mixed with almond milk. I pressed the Green Smoothie button, due to the presence of kale, turned the dial to select the Single Serve mode and pushed the dial to start the blend. The resulting smoothie looked far from appealing, but it tasted delicious. 

The texture was thick and slightly gritty, and I could see small flecks of kale floating in the drink but this didn't take away from the enjoyment of drinking it. I had worried I'd be able to feel the kale in my mouth, but the overall texture of the smoothie meant the whole thing went down, well, smooth. 

Making crushed ice in the Smeg BLC01 Professional Blender

(Image credit: Future)

Next, I used the blender to create crushed ice using the Ice Crush setting. This setting causes the blender to operate in short bursts for 35 seconds to crush the ice to a powder. It worked fantastically and created perfectly even and smooth powdered ice that was perfect for margaritas, or slushies.

Lastly, I used the Smeg blender to make tahini, before using the tahini to make hummus. I toasted sesame seeds, poured them into the jug and blended them at Speed 6 in Manual mode for 20 seconds, until they had a crumbly texture. I added olive oil and blended for a further two minutes until the tahini was smooth. I then added the tahini, garlic cloves, oil, lemon juice, drained chickpeas, a pinch of ground cumin and sea salt into the blender and blitzed the mixture for 10 seconds on Speed 4. I removed the lid, used a spatula to scrape the mixture from the sides and blended for another 10 seconds. 

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Making hummus in the Smeg BLC01 Professional Blender

(Image credit: Future)
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Making hummus in the Smeg BLC01 Professional Blender

(Image credit: Future)

After 20 seconds, the mixture had barely blended. I repeated the above step five more times – and even then there were still lumps of chickpea and an inconsistent texture. What's more, trying to get all of this mixture out from beneath the blades was difficult and I ended up having to wash a large portion away because it wasn't possible, or safe, for me to remove it, even with the provided cleaning brush. 

Smeg BLC01 Professional Blender in reviewer's home

(Image credit: Future)

Finally, in terms of noise, the blender averaged around 80dB on lower speeds. During my hummus test, this increased to 85db, on average, and during the Ice Crush test, the decibels soared to 95db+. On Manual Mode, Speed 1 produced around 69db, while on Speed 9 the average reading was 90db. 

From my experience, this blender performs much better when you use the presets than when attempting to make something manually. If you only plan to use the blender for these set purposes – smoothies, frozen desserts and crushing ice – I can barely fault it. If you want it to function closer to a food processor, you may be disappointed.

  • Performance score: 4 out of 5

Should I buy the Smeg Professional Blender?

Buy it if...

Don’t buy it if...

How I tested the Smeg Professional Blender

  • I used it to blend drinks and food
  • I checked the noise level
  • I assessed how easy it was to clean

I used the Smeg Professional blender in my own home for two weeks, making smoothies, sauces, hummus and crushed ice. 

I assessed how simple it was to set the blender up, how easy and intuitive it is to use, how well it performed different tasks, its noise levels and how easy it was to clean. 

I’ve been reviewing home and kitchen appliances for more than 15 years and have a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw on when assessing how well a product such as a blender performs. 

Read more about how we test.

  • First reviewed May 2024
Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner review
9:00 am | May 15, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Small Appliances Vacuums | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner: two-minute review

The Miele DuoFlex HX1 is part of the European brand's HX1 range, pitched as the brand's most affordable cordless vacuum cleaner. The DuoFlex HX1 is available in five different iterations. They're the same core vacuum with the same main cleaner head, but in a range of colors and with varying tools and accessories included. That means you can choose the model that suits you, without having to shell out for extra tools that you don't really need.

Miele is a European brand that has a long history of designing practical vacuums that stand the test of time. It's still best known for its plug-in vacuums, but will no doubt be hoping the HX1 range will earn it spot on TechRadar's best cordless vacuum ranking.

On test it felt well-built, sturdy and robust, but heavy and cumbersome. It's designed to be as powerful as Miele's bagged vacuums, and I found the dirt collection was good on the higher power level. The HX1's ability to automatically detect different floor types and adjust its suction in response takes the fuss out of vacuuming around your home. I also appreciated the clever self-cleaning filter. 

Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum laid out on the floor, surrounded by attachments

(Image credit: Future)

However, these innovative features are let down by some issues with the basics. The small dirt bin, messy emptying process and the short battery life are frustrating and mean this vacuum cleaner is best suited to smaller homes and those with predominantly hard floors. 

For this review, I tested out the HX1 Cat & Dog version, the USP of which is a handheld 'Electro Compact' brush. I found this did a great job of removing hair from pet bedding and thoroughly cleaning upholstery. However, the small dust bin limits this vacuum's suitability for pet owners, especially if their four-legged friends shed a lot. Read on for my full Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner review.

Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner review: price & availability

  • UK: from £449, available now (launched summer 2024)
  • US: from $599, launching June 2024
  • Australia: price and launch date TBC

Each of the five models in the Miele DuoFlex HX1 range is priced slightly differently. It's the same base model for all versions, but the accessories included differ. Hop to my model comparison table to see exactly how they compare, but price-wise the UK range runs from £369 to £499, with the Cat & Dog model I reviewed is £449. There's plenty of scope to choose the model that's right for your home and lifestyle.

The Miele DuoFlex HX1 range launched in summer 2024 in the UK. At time of writing, that's the only territory it's available in, but it is due to launch in the US in June 2024, at $599 for the standard HX1 model. It will also be available in Australia, but we don't have pricing information yet.

  • Value for money score: 4 out of 5

Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner specs

Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum model options

Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner review: design

  • Sturdy build, tools supplied vary by model
  • ComfortClean system removes the need to wash filter
  • Dust cup is small at 0.3L

The various models in the range are available in different colors. The Miele DuoFlex HX1 Cat & Dog comes in obsidian black and space gray, which is just a fancy way of saying it's essentially a black and gray vacuum – arguably a bit dull. That being said, not everyone wants a bright and lurid vacuum. And while the look is understated, the vacuum itself has a sturdy quality. It feels well built, as do all the tools.

The 'MultiFloor electrobrush' is the HX1's standard cleaning head. Additionally, all models come with a dusting brush and crevice nozzle – both of which can be stored on the wand of the vacuum so they're always to hand when needed – and a large upholstery nozzle. 

Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner with tools attached

(Image credit: Future)

Beyond those tools, the extras depend on the model you go for. The special addition for the Cat & Dog version I had on test is a small 'Electro Compact brush', designed specifically for tackling pet hair on upholstery. 

Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner in use in reviewer's home

(Image credit: Future)

The vacuum switches on via a button on the front of the handle, so there's no uncomfortable trigger to worry about. A second button below it enables you to switch between the two power levels. 

The charging cable can be plugged directly into the vacuum, or, if you're installing the wall bracket it can be included in this setup so the vacuum automatically charges every time it's docked on the bracket. 

Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner in use in reviewer's home

(Image credit: Future)

While many vacuums now include washable lifetime filters, Miele has developed an even better solution with what it calls the ComfortClean self-cleaning function. By turning the ComfortClean cap, the fine dust filter is cleaned in place. Any dirt that's removed from the filter makes its way into the dust bin and gets emptied out with the rest of the debris into your trash.

The dust bin is emptied easily via a flap that releases the dirt into the trash. But the small 0.3 liter dirt capacity will definitely be off-putting for some households.

  • Design score: 4 out of 5

Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner review: performance

  • Dirt bin fills up frustratingly fast, and emptying it can be messy
  • Feels heavy and a bit cumbersome, but maneuvers well
  • Suction is good and auto power switching is effective

When reviewing the Miele DuoFlex HX1, a few things were obvious even from the first use. This vacuum feels weighty, and I'm not just talking about vacuuming overhead. It has a heaviness even when vacuuming floors, which I think is down to the balance and the position and/or the angle of the handle.

Furthermore, the handle felt pretty chunky in my small hands, verging on uncomfortable. But I'm a 5ft 3in woman, so I got my 6ft 2in husband to try it out. He found the handle size to be more appropriate to his hand size. Though he felt there was less space under the handle and his fingers were a bit squashed. He also commented on the appearance of the vacuum which he liked, but I'm less keen on.

Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner in use in reviewer's home

(Image credit: Future)

Maneuverability was good on all floors. The main floorhead automatically detects carpet and increases the suction in response. This auto switching function works effectively, and I found it really took the thinking out of maneuvering between floor types, though the down-side it that it drains the battery (more on that later).

Edge cleaning along baseboards is fine on the lower power setting, but much better on the higher setting. Even when I deliberately sprinkled debris along baseboards, it was thoroughly sucked up on the higher suction, which isn't always the case with cordless vacuums.

Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner sucking up oats near the skirting board of the reviewer's home

(Image credit: Future)

I've got both carpeted and wood stairs and the HX1 coped well with both. However, in general, even on hard floors, it was rare that I could vacuum a whole room on the lower suction. Generally, I felt the need to increase the power to the higher level to be certain of a thorough clean. And again, this impacts the amount of cleaning time you get before the battery dies.

Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner in use in reviewer's home

(Image credit: Future)

After just five minutes of vacuuming a bedroom carpet, that wasn't all that dirty, the small dust bin was full up. The loose carpet fibers quickly fill the small bin, and while it doesn't fill up this fast on hard floors. If you've got a very busy house with children and pets, the dirt bin is not likely to be big enough. Similarly for larger homes, the frequent need to empty the bin will become very tedious.

Further to that, emptying out the dirt wasn't always straightforward. While the catch releases the base of the dust bin, the dirt doesn't always fall out. Often hair gets tangled around the pre-filter and sometimes debris gets stuck behind it. The pre-filter then has to be pulled out by hand to fully release everything, so it can certainly be a messy task.

The ComfortClean system is great for unclogging the filter, but every three months the filter has to be removed and tapped on the side of the trash. Once again, this is very messy to do.

Miele DuoFlex HX1 filter

(Image credit: Future)

The noise level is pretty typical for a vacuum. When using the hand tools it's around 70dB, rising to 80dB on the higher suction level. With the multi-floor brush in place you can expect a noise level in the region of 75-80dB depending on the floor type and power level.

Miele DuoFlex HX1 tools

The main floor cleaner head is referred to as the MultiFloor ElectroBrush, but there are a range of supplementary tools, which I'll comment on more here. The tools you get will depend on which version of the HX1 you opt for. The smaller of these tools can be attached directly to the vacuum for use as a handheld vacuum, or they can be fitted to the end of the wand for a longer reach. However, as a handheld vacuum in the car the HX1 felt bulky.

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Dusting brush for Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner

Dusting brush (included with all models) (Image credit: Miele)
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Upholstery nozzle for Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner

Upholstery nozzle (all models) (Image credit: Miele)
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crevice nozzle for Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner

Crevice nozzle (all models) (Image credit: Miele)
Image 4 of 7

Electro Compact tool for Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner

Electro Compact tool (Cat & Dog / TotalCare versions) (Image credit: Miele)
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Universal brush tool for Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner

Universal brush (Extra / TotalCare versions) (Image credit: Miele)
Image 6 of 7

Flexible crevice nozzle XL tool for Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner

Flexible crevice nozzle XL (CarCare / TotalCare versions) (Image credit: Miele)
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Flexible suction hose tool for Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner

Flexible suction hose (CarCare / TotalCare versions) (Image credit: Miele)

The dusting brush (included with all models) was handy for dusting shelves, but depending on the angle and the height of the shelf, isn't always the most comfortable method of dusting. I also used it on some of my car dashboard, but it couldn't reach into tighter spots. 

The wide upholstery nozzle (all models) means you can cover large surfaces at speed. I quickly vacuumed two sofas, but did need to increase the power to the higher level to effectively remove all the dust clinging to a velvet sofa.

Vacumming a sofa using the crevice tool on Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner

(Image credit: Future)

The crevice nozzle (all models) is a good length and the rubber end is a nice touch that means it won't damage or scratch anything. I found it particularly helpful for getting into hard-to-reach spots in the car.

The Electro Compact handheld brush is only included in the Cat & Dog version I tested, and the TotalCare version. On test, I found it was good for thoroughly cleaning my carpeted stairs. I also used it on my car mats, but found it couldn't reach everywhere in the foot wells. It works well on upholstery too and is designed for vacuuming up pet hair.

The nozzles from the HX1 range that I didn't test were the universal brush (Extra and TotalCare models) for cleaning sensitive surfaces, and the flexible crevice nozzle XL and the flexible suction hose (both CarCare and TotalCare only) designed to help you reach further into awkward areas in the car and the house. 

  • Performance score: 4 out of 5

Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner review: battery life

  • Short run times
  • Vacuuming carpet drains battery
  • Only three lights to indicate battery level

Vacuuming carpeted floors on the higher power setting is the fastest way to drain the battery. The Duoflex HX1 managed 11 minutes of vacuuming carpets on high power before the battery needed a full recharge. However, the surprise came when vacuuming carpets on the lower power level. Despite being on a lower suction, the battery lasted for a pretty pathetic 13 and a half minutes. 

On hard floors I was able to vacuum continuously on the lower power level for 21 minutes before the HX1 ran out of juice. This is the longest run time you'll get on floors, which is only enough time to blitz round two to three rooms, depending on the size of your rooms and how thorough you're being.

Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner, shot of the upper side showing battery life indicator lights

(Image credit: Future)

You'll get a longer vacuuming time when using the non-motorized hand tools, such as the dusting brush and crevice nozzle. But it still only offers up to 55 minutes, which will be on the lower power level.

When switching between all the hand tools, including the mini motorized tool, as well as switching between the power levels, the battery lasted just long enough for me to fully vacuum a Volkswagen Golf. But the car wasn't super dirty and if it had needed a more thorough, detailed clean, I would have had to do it in stages.

During testing, the battery recharge took between three and three and a half hours, which is in line with Miele's specs (which state 210 minutes).

Should you buy the Miele DuoFlex HX1 vacuum cleaner?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Miele DuoFlex HX1

  • I tried every tool supplied
  • I used it on multiple surfaces throughout my home, as well as in my car
  • I timed the battery life

I used the vacuum in my own home for around a week. During that time, I tried all the various tools on a variety of surfaces. I vacuumed area rugs, carpet and hard floors, as well as upholstery, stairs, and even hard surfaces like shelving.

In addition to simply vacuuming, I took notice of ease of use, maneuverability and comfort. I also tested its performance on very specific tasks, like picking up that hard-to-reach debris along baseboards and in the corners of the room.

I reviewed my first vacuums over 15 years ago at the Good Housekeeping Institute in London. Over the years I've reviewed well in excess of one hundred vacuums. It really doesn't take me long to assess a vacuum and pinpoint its good features, as well as the less desirable qualities that are worth knowing before you buy.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed May 2024

Dyson WashG1 hands-on review
8:00 am | May 14, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Small Appliances | Comments: Off

Announced today, the Dyson WashG1 is a wet cleaner designed to get your hard floors sparkling clean. 

Having cemented its reputation as the brand behind some of the best vacuum cleaners around, the WashG1 represents the brand's first dedicated wet cleaner for hard floors. (It builds on the success of combi-vacuum mop the Submarine – read our Dyson V15s Detect Submarine review for more on that one.)

Most wet cleaners use suction, but during its research phase, Dyson found that this approach tended to lead to clogged mechanics, tricky maintenance, and machines emitting bad smells when in use. So rather than suction, the WashG1 uses a triple-pronged attack of hydration, agitation, and separation. So: it adds water, uses rollers to rub at the dirt, and then splits wet and dry waste to make disposal easier.

It's designed to be used with just water, although you could add a floor cleaner liquid if you wanted. It will work on any hard floor but isn't suitable for carpets or soft flooring. 

Dyson WashG1

(Image credit: Dyson)

I had a chance to try one out ahead of its launch, on a visit to Dyson's Malmesbury campus, and overall I was impressed. There's no getting around the fact that a wet floor cleaner isn't quite a sexy as say, a new haircare launch (see: Dyson Airstrait) but it's quietly innovative and engineered with plenty of care and creativity, as we've come to expect from this brand. It also makes sense that Dyson explores this area, given the popularity of hard floors worldwide.

I'll update this hands-on article with a more detailed review when I've had a chance to try it out fully, but for now, read on for my first impressions on the Dyson WashG1.

Dyson WashG1: price & availability

The Dyson WashG1 will have a ticket price of £599.99 in the UK and $699.99 in the US. It will set you back AU$999 in Australia. We also don't have exact launch dates available for the US and UK, although it's said to be arriving 'later this year [2024]'. That said, the Wash G1 is available to buy direct from Dyson Australia from May 14, with the machine becoming available from authorized retailers at a later unconfirmed dated.

Dyson WashG1: design

  • 3 hydration modes, plus a boost mode and a self-clean cycle 
  • Lightweight design with minimal dock
  • Separates wet and dry debris for easier disposal

If you're imagining a bulky, unwieldy cleaner, you don't need to worry. The WashG1 is streamlined and lightweight.

Let's start at the bottom. Here, you'll find the cleaner head, which is about the size of an A4 piece of paper, but thicker (of course). Underneath are two microfiber rollers for wet spills, with a plate that presses into them to squeeze out dirty water. These use high-density microfiber, designed to be super-absorbent and grippy, and the rollers extend almost completely to the edge of the cleaner head, to help you get closer to the edges of rooms.

There are also secondary rollers with big nylon bristles (like those in a vacuum cleaner), designed to tackle debris and hair. A mesh inside siphons off the solid waste and channels it into a little tray that sits in the upper part of the cleaner head.

Dry waste tray on Dyson WashG1

Dry waste, like these oats, collects in a tray (Image credit: Future)

Clipped to the handle are the two water tanks – one for clean water and the other for dirty. Each holds a liter of water, which is designed to cover up to 290 square meters of floor. The tanks clip easily on and off the handle, and each is individually sealed with a screw top to prevent spillages.

Clean and dirty water tanks on Dyson WashG1

The clean and dirty water tanks clip on and off the handle (Image credit: Future)

The charge stand is very minimal. It's only marginally bigger than the cleaner head itself and very lightweight – it actually feels slightly too insubstantial to me, but then it seemed to work fine in use.

Dyson WashG1 in use

The charge stand (in the background) is very minimal (Image credit: Future)

There are three different hydration modes, as well as a no-water mode and a Max mode, which adds even more water and is designed for ingrained dirt. The user selects which mode they want based on the type of flooring and how dirty it is. A button on the handle lets you cycle through the options, indicated by water droplet graphics on a screen that sits on top of the handle (Dyson is in the habit of adding little screens to all of its products at the moment, and the WashG1 is no exception.) You can activate the max boost by holding the same button down.

Screen showing mode in use on Dyson Wash G1 handle

Press the mode button to cycle through the different wash modes, or hold it down to activate boost (Image credit: Dyson)

There's also a self-clean mode. This takes two minutes and can be activated when the WashG1 is on its charge stand. It runs clean water through the mechanism and over the rollers, uses a brush bar to remove any lingering solid debris from the rollers, and then does a no-water run to dry everything off a bit. It's designed for everyday maintenance after each use but must be supplemented with periodic deep cleaning (this is normal for wet cleaners).

Rollers on Dyson WashG1

The rollers can be removed for deep cleaning (Image credit: Future)

To deep clean, the rollers can easily be removed from the cleaner head. The water tanks can also be removed and are designed to be easy to clean – there are no sharp corners where grime could build up, and they're large enough that you can easily get your whole hand in there.

The rollers won't last forever. Exactly how often they need replacing depends on how much you're using the product, but Dyson estimates it at a minimum of six months.

Dyson WashG1: performance

I had a chance to test out the WashG1 on a tiled floor at Dyson's Malmesbury HQ, seeing how well it tackled spillages of unidentified yellow and red sauces (at a guess, ketchup and mustard, but I skipped the taste-test) as well as oats.

It easily tackled wet spillages – these disappeared completely with a single pass with the WashG1. It also picked up the oats with little fuss, although sometimes it'd take a couple of passes to get them all.

A Dyson engineer also demonstrated its use on a dried-on stain that had been there a few hours. It took quite a few passes before the marks disappeared, but it's worth noting that they didn't use Max mode (which is designed for these kinds of stains).

The rollers run right up to the edges of the cleaner head, which means you can get nice and close to the edges of the room. That's useful because there are no attachments for precision cleaning, as you'd find with vacuum cleaners, for instance.

Cleaning head on WashG1 cleaner

The rollers run almost up to the edge of the cleaner head (Image credit: Future)

It doesn't feel especially aggressive in its agitation – the engineers explained that they found the best way to tackle ingrained spillages was by adding more water, hence the 'Max water' mode. In terms of noise levels, I'd it's say quieter than your average vacuum cleaner.

The splitting of wet and dry was effective based on my testing time, and it makes getting rid of the waste simpler. Rather than trying to flush everything down the toilet, dry waste can be tapped into a bin (which is a bit gross, but unavoidable) and the dirty water can be poured down the kitchen sink.

There were occasional unexpected dribbles of water when the WashG1 wasn't in use, like when getting the WashG1 off its dock or into place, the floor was left slightly wet, too. 

Dyson WashG1 in use

(Image credit: Future)

The WashG1 felt lightweight, comfortable to use, and easy to maneuver. Like Dyson's vacuums, cleaner head pivots fully so you can navigate around chair legs, around obstacles, and even under furniture.

The screen will sometimes display graphics showing you how to use the WashG1. I didn't find these graphics super easy to follow, but equally this device is pretty simple to use, so I'm not sure how useful the graphics will be in the long term.

Overall I was impressed by the WashG1 and I think it's a promising start for Dyson's first dedicated wet cleaner. I'll update this hands-on review with a more in-depth version when I've had a chance to try it out thoroughly at home. 

Hands-on review: May 2024

GHD Duet Style review
12:00 pm | May 12, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Hair Care Home Small Appliances | Comments: Off

GHD Duet Style: two-minute review

The GHD Duet Style promises to be a game-changer, because it can dry and style at the hair at the same time. In theory, it could make for worthy, somewhat more affordable alternative to the Dyson Airstrait (which launched after the Duet), but on test it falls a little short in places.

Throughout my trial, I tested the Duet Style on a range of hair states: soaking wet; damp, towel-dried hair; and second-day hair. Compared to my regular hairdryer, which takes my hair from wet to dry in around four minutes, the Duet Style took an almost painful 15 minutes – the slowest hair dryer I've ever used. (In comparison, in our Dyson Airstrait review, we found this drier-straightener was a genuine time-saver.)

The issue with the Duet Style is that because you have to section your hair and dry each section individually. Even then, it takes multiple passes over each strand to truly dry it effectively. If it takes this long on my long, thin hair, I dread to think how long it would take on thick or coily hair. It's not going to be troubling our best hair dryer guide any time soon. 

Using the Duet Style on damp hair took an average of nine minutes, while using it bring life back to my second-day hair took less than two. The latter has quickly become my favorite way to use the Duet Style. The hot air reaches 300F / 150C, while the plates heat up to 360F / 180C. Like all GHD stylers, there's only one temperature setting.

Once your hair's dry, pressing the Shine Shot button turns off the hot airflow and turns on the plates. After 20 seconds, you can then run the Duet Style over your hair like you would with standard straighteners to knock out any remaining frizz and add a dose of shine.

The styles created with the Duet Style last noticeably longer than they ever have when I've blowdried my hair in the past. I have naturally curly hair, and typically a hint of humidity sends it into a frizzy frenzy, but the Duet Style improved this. The only downside is that you have to sacrifice the volume, body and bounce you only really get from a traditional blow dry.

GHD Duet Style hair styler in reviewer's home

(Image credit: Future)

I'm also not a huge fan of the Duet Style's size and weight. It measures 16.7 x 12.8in / 42.4 cm x 32.5cm (H x W) and weighs 1.5lb / 675g. This makes the styler cumbersome to maneuver around your head and near-impossible to create flicks or curls, like GHD promises, significantly reducing the Duet Style's versatility.

This extra weight also means you have to hold the end of the tool for stability and to stop your arm from aching, but the styler has a tendency to get hot during use, making it uncomfortable to grip for long periods. On the plus side, the large size does allow you to tackle bigger sections of hair at once. 

Size and weight issues aside, the GHD Duet Style's controls are simple and easy to use and the fact it creates styles that last is a major selling point. If you're looking for a one-stop shop for drying and straightening your hair, and you're a patient person, the Duet Style could be a good option. However, if you value speed, maneuverability, and styling versatility, or you have thick hair, you might be better off sticking with your trusty hairdryer and straightener combo.

GHD Duet Style review: price & availability

  • List price: $399 / £379 / AU $595
  • Available: US, Australia, UK and Europe

The GHD Duet Style is available in black or white as standard, and at time of writing there's also a limited-edition Elemental Blue colorway, which forms part of GHD's recent Color Crush collection.

The standard model costs $399 / £379 / AUD$595, making it the most expensive GHD styler on the market. In the US, the Color Crush version costs the same as the standard model, at $399, yet in the UK and Australia the price for the blue model rises to £389 and AUD$605 respectively. All three regions sell the blue version with a leather storage case. 

You can additionally buy the black GHD Duet Style as part of a styling set in the US. This kit contains the styler, a 'lizard velvet' storage case and the GHD Sleek Talker heat protect spray yet still costs the same, at $399. 

Within the wider GHD range, the Duet Style most closely resembles the $269 / £209 / AUD$370 GHD Max in terms of design, and is closest in price to the $299 / £309 / AUD$500 cordless GHD Unplugged. Yet stands apart from all of its siblings, as well as the vast majority of the market because of its 2-in-1, wet-to-dry features.

The only other like-for-like styler wet-to-dry styler is the Dyson Airstrait. The Airstrait is available in the US and UK for $499.99 / £499.99 and is due to launch in Australia later in 2024. The Airstrait offers the same wet-to-dry features as the Duet Style but doesn't have the flat iron hot plates seen on the GHD model. 

The GHD Duet Style is available in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and across Europe, and is sold directly from the GHD website, but also via plenty of third party retailers. 

Given that the choice of wet-to-dry stylers is limited, and the GHD Duet Style is significantly cheaper than the Airstrait, despite featuring hot plates, it represents decent value for money. You're effectively paying for advanced, cutting-edge tech and innovation and getting a GHD hair dryer and flat iron styler for the price of one. That said, you could still a separate hair dryer and flat iron with change to spare, so it depends on your needs. 

  • Value for money score: 3 out of 5

GHD Duet Style hair dryer review: design

  • Large and heavy paddle-shaped design
  • Easy to use controls
  • Well-placed air vents 

The GHD Duet Style is notably larger and heavier than the average styler, measuring 16.7 x 12.8 in / 42.4 cm x 32.5 cm (H x W) and weighing 1.5lb / 675g. The hot plates each then measure 0.6 in / 1.7cm wide. This makes it a bulky piece of kit and not the easiest of stylers to move around the head. It also makes it a pain to store.

GHD Duet Style hair styler with other GHD stylers to show how the sizes compare

(L-R) GHD Unplugged, GHD Chronos and the GHD Duet Style (Image credit: Future)

The plates sit either side of a central air vent on both the upper and lower arms of the styler. These vents are covered in a grid that disperses the hot air evenly onto your wet hair as you pass it through the dryer. There are then two thin air vents built into the arms of the Duet Style. These are used to dry the hair above and below the styler as it moves through the hair. A small but welcome, and smart, addition. 

Grille between the plates on GHD Duet Style hair styler

(Image credit: Future)

Design-wise, the Duet Style closely resembles the GHD Max, thanks to its wide, paddle-shaped design, albeit with a much thicker handle. This handle is where the motor and filter for the drying element sits and this filter is attached to the Duet Style's 360-degree, 8.8ft / 2.7m cord. Its minimal, easy-to-use controls are then found on the top of the styler's arm.

These controls consist of a power switch surrounded by a white LED ring, above a Shine Shot button. The switch controls the dryer element of the GHD Duet Style and can be used on wet or damp hair. The Shine Shot button controls the hot plates and should only be used on dry hair. Both controls are accompanied by a short beep that signals that the styler is ready for use. I'm a big fan of this auditory feedback and I miss it when I use other stylers without it. 

Control switch on GHD Duet Style hair styler

(Image credit: Future)

The hot airflow on the GHD Duet Style maxes out at 300F / 150C while the plates operate at 180C / 360F. GHD stylers only ever offer one temperature setting. This is the optimum temperature, according to GHD, because it's hot enough to mold the hair into shape, while causing minimal damage.

While the GHD Duet Style has a built-in filter, it doesn't offer a cleaning mode (like the Dyson Airstrait) so you'll need to keep it free from dust and build-up over time. GHD recommends using a soft toothbrush to keep this filter clear. 

It may not be the most stylish, or compact styler, but the GHD Duet Style's design is well considered. It shares the premium look seen across rest of the GHD range and there are small touches and accents that elevate its appearance. 

  • Design score: 3.5 out of 5

GHD Duet Style review: performance

  • Slow drying times
  • Difficult to maneuver and use for long periods
  • Long-lasting styles 

The GHD Duet Style takes a bit of getting used to. Not just because it's unlike any styler I've used before, but because it goes against everything I'd ever been told about using stylers on wet hair. For my Duet Style review, I tested the styler on wet hair, straight from the shower; on damp towel-dried hair; and on second-day hair. 

My favorite way to use the Duet Style is on second-day hair. It brings my style back to life without having to rewash it, and it gives more precision than a traditional hair dryer without having to resort to straightening it or similar.

From wet to dry, the GHD Duet Style took significantly longer than it does with a regular hair dryer – almost 15 minutes compared to the average of four. If you have long, thick or coily hair, this could exceed 30 minutes or more.  Taking my hair from damp to dry then took, on average, nine minutes and produced a similar finish. 

GHD Duet Style hair styler in reviewer's home

(Image credit: Future)

These lengthy times are largely because you have to section the hair, and dry each section in turn. GHD advises that you hold the dryer near your roots for three seconds to dry the hair closest to your head before passing it over the lengths, which adds to this time. It then takes multiple, slow passes over each strand of hair to dry it effectively. I had hoped, after spending this long drying my hair, that I'd be ready to leave the house, but my hair lacked the shine and finish I'd have expected. 

Thankfully, the Duet Style's Shine Shot came to the rescue. Press the button, wait 20 seconds and the Duet Style becomes a flat iron styler. You then run it over your hair to knock out any remaining frizz and add shine.   

The biggest selling point of the Duet Style, however, is that whichever way I use it, my style lasts much longer than when I blow dry it. I have naturally curly hair and usually, as soon as it gets even a hint of humidity, it becomes frizzy and the curls return. This was noticeably improved while using the Duet Style. It isn't the cure for frizz, but it's close. 

This does come at the sacrifice of body and movement though. The root drying vents help add volume at the roots but you don't get the same movement or bounce as you do with a regular blow dry. What's more, there's not much you can do about this. The Duet Style is too large and unwieldy to move around the head easily, or twirl it around the hair in the same way you would with a barrel brush. No matter how hard I tried, I never managed to add flicks or curls or achieve the versatility that GHD promises.

Cable on GHD Duet Style hair styler

(Image credit: Future)

Given the size and weight of the styler, it's also necessary to hold the end of the Duet Style while passing it over your hair to keep it steady and to manage the weight. This can get uncomfortable as the styler gets hot and you have to avoid the hot air coming out of the side vents.

It's not so hot that it burns you, but it's hot enough for you not want to hold it for long periods. There are strips of rubber edging to help with this but they're too narrow to really make a difference, and these rubber strips tend to attract a build-up of leftover heat protector and styling products easily. If there is one plus side to the Duet Style's large size, it means you can dry large sections of hair at any one time. Helping to counteract the long styling times.  

  • Performance score: 3.5 out of 5

Should I buy the GHD Duet Style?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

First reviewed: April 2024

Aura Walden review: probably the best digital frame available
2:22 pm | May 10, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Smart Home | Tags: | Comments: Off

Aura Walden: Two-minute review

The Walden is Aura's biggest and best digital photo frame yet, but it's also the priciest; it's only available directly for shoppers in the US. Those outside the US can find the Aura Walden from other retailers, and their efforts will be rewarded – the Aura Walden is exquisite, and one of the best digital photo frames available today. 

With a similar frontage to the Aura Carver Mat, the Walden boasts a larger 15-inch display that makes it Aura's largest digital photo frame display, encased in a classic textured white border and black frame.

It comes with a slick metal stand for resting on a sideboard in both horizontal and vertical positions, plus simple wall fittings, too, for horizontal and vertical mounting. Truly, the overall look and feel of the frame is top drawer.

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Aura Walden digital photo frame box

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura Walden digital photo frame unboxing

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura Walden digital photo frame unboxing

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Supporting frame for the Aura Walden digital photo frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Closeup of the Aura Walden digital photo frame's finish

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Rear of the Aura Walden digital photo frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Closeup of the Aura Walden digital photo frame's rear and mounting options

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Touch bar panel of the Aura Walden digital photo frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Rear of the Aura Walden digital photo frame on a wooden sideboard

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Closeup of Aura Walden digital photo frame charging cable

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)

The Walden may feel too big to rest on a sideboard, shelf or any surface, while it can also feel a little small when mounted on a wall – 15 inches is an awkward middle ground.

That said, I do prefer the size of display over the smaller 10.1-inch Aura Carver Mat, since it allows you to shows off your photos and videos on a larger scale – and having the option to wall mount or have it freestanding can only be a good thing.

For a digital photo frame, Aura's app is as good as they come: simple to use and to share with friends and family, who can also upload images to the frame from anywhere there's an internet connection, and with unlimited photo and video storage included.

Aura Walden: design

  • Slick frame with neat touch bar panel
  • 4:3 aspect ratio display
  • Aura's largest frame yet, and it can be wall mounted

Most digital photo frames – like Aura's own Carver series – are around 10 inches, and designed to stand on any surface; but the Walden is a different proposition, dwarfing those frames with its 15-inch display. 

You probably won't quite be able to squeeze it onto bookshelf, and your sideboard will need to be generously sized to accommodate the frame comfortably. But if you have the space then the Walden will be the preferred choice; plus it's also easy enough to mount it to a wall instead. 

The frame's power cable is covered in a cream-colored fabric, which is more likely to blend into the background than a black cable. Trailing cables can spoil the effect of a digital wall-mounted display, but this shouldn't be a problem here. 

That said, while 15-inches feels big on a sideboard, it comes up small on a wall. For around twice the outlay, the 27-inch Vieunite Textura Digital Canvas is much more at home on a wall, plus that frame offers free and paid-for digital downloads of famous artworks and those from upcoming artists.

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Aura's app for the Walden digital photo frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura's app for the Walden digital photo frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura's app for the Walden digital photo frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Touch bar panel in use of the Aura Walden digital photo frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Touch bar panel in use of the Aura Walden digital photo frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Touch bar panel in use of the Aura Walden digital photo frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Touch bar panel in use of the Aura Walden digital photo frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Touch bar panel in use of the Aura Walden digital photo frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Supporting bracket of the Aura Walden digital photo frame on a wooden sideboard

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura Walden digital photo frame on a wooden sideboard alongside the smaller Aura Carver Mat

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)

Design-wise, the Walden is eye-catching. It's slicker than the similarly sized Netgear Meural Wi-Fi art frame, sporting a matt-black frame and classic white border, for a total diagonal dimension of 15.7 inches.

At the rear, there's a recess to attach the metal triangular stand, or in which to rest the supplied wall mount hook. You can position the Walden in both landscape and portrait formats.

There are two touch bar panels, one on the top and the other on the side of the frame. You barely notice they're there, and they're super responsive for functions such as swipe to next image, plus press and hold to reveal image information such as who uploaded the picture – handy, if you have a lot of "members" with access to the frame.

Aura's free app is available for both iOS and Android devices, and is needed to set up the frame and upload images. It's also through the app that you can invite other "members" – such as family and friends – to upload their own images. 

You can add multiple Aura frames to the app and take control of all of them, plus Aura wants to tempt you to buy several frames through multi-purchase deals. For example, at the time of writing, if you buy two Walden frames then there's a $15 discount. 

Aura Walden: performance

  • Relatively low pixel density
  • Wide viewing angle in daylight and at night-time
  • 4:3 aspect ratio suitable for most smartphone cameras

I have a sideboard at home that's big enough to accommodate the Walden frame, and I've found its size far more preferable to the standard 10-inch displays of most other digital photo frames. 

It has an anti-glare finish that delivers a wide optimum viewing angle before reflections get in the way – or, indeed, before the luminosity of the backlit display is reduced when viewing the frame at night. Compared to the Aura Carver Mat, the viewing angle of the Walden is much wider. 

The display's 4:3 aspect ratio suits most phones that natively shoot in this ratio. However, if you're uploading photos from a proper camera that's more likely to shoot in 3:2 aspect ratio, you'll have to choose between losing part of your shot or having a black border on the top and bottom of the display – as is the case for 16:9 videos.

The resolution of the frame is 1600 x 1200 pixels, making for a modest 133 pixels per inch density. However, I found the display packed enough detail unless I was up close – which you don't need to be given the size of the display.

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Aura Walden digital photo frame on a wooden sideboard alongside the smaller Aura Carver Mat

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura Walden digital photo frame on a wooden sideboard alongside the smaller Aura Carver Mat

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura Walden digital photo frame on a wooden sideboard

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura Walden digital photo frame on a wooden sideboard alongside the smaller Aura Carver Mat

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura Walden digital photo frame on a wooden sideboard

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Night mode of the Aura Walden digital photo frame on a wooden sideboard

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura Walden digital photo frame on a wooden sideboard at nighttime

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura Walden digital photo frame on a wooden sideboard alongside the smaller Aura Carver Mat

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)

As mentioned, it's possible to load videos to the Walden frame, too, although remember that the frame's aspect ratio is much narrower than the standard 16:9 format for video. There's a speaker on the back for audio, although don't hold any great expectation on audio quality – it's pretty basic. 

A nice touch with Aura frames is that you can purchase them as a personalized gift and preload images onto the frame ahead of time. 

Aura Walden: price and release date

  • Available in the US for $299 (currently on sale for $259)
  • Not directly available outside the US

The Aura Walden is available now, although do note that it's often sold out. It has a list price on the Aura website of $299; at the time of writing, it's reduced to $259. If you click onto other regions on the Aura website, such as the UK, then the Walden is unavailable. However, if you search the internet there are other retailers, such as Nordstrom, that will ship the Walden internationally. We'll update this review if and when the Aura Walden becomes available globally.

Aura Walden: should I buy?

Aura Walden digital photo frame on a wooden sideboard

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Aura Walden: How I tested

  • At least two months of regular use
  • Image uploads through the Aura Android app
  • Viewed in daylight and at night

The Aura Walden has been a fixture in my home for a couple of months, positioned on a window-lit sideboard. The mains-powered display is automatically active during the day, and can power off at night to conserve power. 

I’ve uploaded digital photos and videos through the Android version of Aura's app. I've scrolled through the gallery of images using the frame's touch panel and regularly updated the images in the gallery through the app. 

I’ve checked out the quality of the display in daylight and at night, close-up and far away, plus viewed it straight on and from the side to check the viewing angle of the anti-glare display. 

  • First reviewed May 2024
Nutribullet Ultra blender review
12:38 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Juicers & Blenders Small Appliances | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

UK: view at Nutribullet.co.uk

US: view at Nutribullet.com

AU: View at Nutribullet.com.au

Nutribullet Ultra review: two-minute review

The Nutribullet Ultra is the brand's most advanced, and expensive, personal blender. Compared to the others in the range, it's more powerful, quieter, and boasts a touchscreen operation with 30-second and pulse functions, rather than the usual twist-to-blend approach.

I tried it out to see how it compared to the rest of the best blenders on the market right now. For this review, I tested the UK version. This model is also available in the US under the same name, and Australia as the Ultra 1200. (Note: there may be minor differences depending on territory.)

Overall, I was impressed. The lower-frequency noise it emits is certainly not whisper-quiet, but it is noticeably quieter than the model down (read about that one in my Nutribullet Pro 900 review). 

The 1200-watt motor and improved blade design worked as intended, blitzing ingredients instantly, creating silky smoothies and textured dips. It performed well for all recipes I was making, but I did have to intervene on occasion, with the ingredients lower down being blended smoothly, but those at the top never reaching the blades. On the occasions that this happened, I added more liquid and gave the cup a shake to get things moving again.

The design is still recognizably 'Nutribullet', but an updated version, complete with a glowing interface that only comes alive when the cup is clicked onto the base. Press the solid circle icon for a 30-second blitz, or hold the dashed circle to pulse. Although cool to look at, I found these controls a little too sensitive – I had to make sure my fingers didn’t accidentally touch them when I was putting the cup on the base.

At ticket price it costs $149.99 / £149.99 / AU$189.95, but there are discounts to be have if you buy at the right time. It's the priciest individual Nutribullet blender, but it looks and feels premium, and I think the upgrades are worth the expense. Read on for my full Nutribullet Ultra review. 

Nutribullet Ultra review: price & availability

  • List price: $149.99 / £149.99 / AU$189.95
  • Launch date: 2023
  • Availability: worldwide 

Nutribullet sells a wide range of personal blenders, jug blenders, food processors and juicers. The cheapest option, the Nutribullet Go portable blender, costs from $15.99 / £29.99, but the Nutribullet Ultra is the brand’s premium blender, and more expensive. At list price, it's $149.99 / £149.99 / AU$189.95, although at time of writing, discounts were available in some territories. At the time of writing, you can purchase it direct from Nutribullet, or via third party retailers like Amazon.

I think its price is reasonable for a personal blender that has a high-end finish. It feels well-made and the improvements over the rest of the Nutribullet range feel worth the extra investment. The blade is designed to last longer than an entry-level Nutribullet blender, so you could be making savings in the longer term, too. 

  • Value for money score: 4.5 out of 5

Nutribullet Ultra review: design

  • Redesigned 'Rapid Extractor Blade' for fast and effective blending
  • Includes two Tritan Renew cups, made from 50% recycled materials 
  • Stylish glow interface for pulsing and blending 

The Nutribullet is very easy on the eye. It comes with a sophisticated graphite finish base with touch interface (other personal Nutribullets don't have this), and it looks high-end on the countertop. Suction cup feet stop it from shifting about when in use. Setting up the Nutribullet is easy and intuitive – all the parts twist or click into place nicely.

It comes with a 1200-watt motor and a ‘Rapid Extractor’ blade, with a stainless-steel platform and titanium coating. This is designed to increase longevity of the blade – Nutribullet says it'll last for up to five years – as well as ensuring your blends are fast and effective. This blade is sharp, so you’ll need to take care when washing it, but its design makes it very effective at breaking up ingredients. 

Nutribullet Ultra blender in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)

The included cups both come with to-go lids, which is great for smoothie-lovers who want to just blend and go, without having to decant to another container. They are at the larger end of Nutribullet's range – you don't get the single-serve 'Short' cup (18oz / 511ml), but you do get the 'Tall' (24oz / 680ml) and 'Oversized' (32oz / 900ml) cups. That's good news if you want to tackle larger blending jobs, but you can purchase all cups separately, so it shouldn't be a decision-maker when choosing which Nutribullet to go for. 

Cleaning

In terms of cleaning, the cups and blade are dishwasher-safe. However, it's worth rinsing everything off immediately after use, because if you leave food to dry on the blade, it can be tricky to get off. There have been times when I haven’t rinsed the cups before popping them in the dishwasher and they’ve come out dry with caked-on pancake mixture residue left on the inside, and the inner nooks and crannies of the blades are tricky to get into if food gets dried on, too (a small brush would be useful for this).   

  • Design score: 4.5 out of 5

Nutribullet Ultra review: performance

  • Quieter in operation than your average blender 
  • Excellent for smoothies and hummus, struggled a little with ice
  • Food can get stuck to the sides

The Nutribullet Ultra is one of the most satisfying personal blenders I’ve tried. It looks and feels premium, and this is reflected in the performance too. To give it a good trial, I made both homemade humus and a berry smoothie to see how well it could blend to a smooth finish and pulse for a more textured finish. The berries were frozen to get a good indicator of how well it crushes frozen ingredients, but I also tested it to see how well it could grind a batch of ice cubes too. 

Nutribullet highlights how quiet this blender is. While it's not something you’d want to turn on next to a sleeping baby, I did find the Nutribullet noticeably quieter in operation compared to other blenders I've tested. While making a berry smoothie on the 30-second blend setting I measured it at an average of 88.9 decibels using the Decibel Meter App. Comparatively, I measured the Nutribullet 1200 Pro+ at around 93.3 decibels on a similar blend, and my Ninja 3 in 1 Food Processor with Auto-IQ at a lofty 99 decibels.

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Nutribullet Ultra blender in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)
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Nutribullet Ultra blender in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)
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Nutribullet Ultra blender in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)

I adapted Nutribullet's own recipe for Easy Hummus to see how well the Ultra performs when tackling chunky chickpeas, garlic and combining them with smoother ingredients such as tahini and oil. Unlike other Nutribullets I’ve tried, which start blending when you twist the cup and into place, the Ultra waits for you to press the start buttons before it turns on. If, like me, you’re someone who likes to go at their own pace when prepping in the kitchen, this is something you’ll no doubt appreciate. 

The blender has a ‘glow interface’ and the two touchscreen buttons appear when you click the cups into place on the base. It’s worth noting that the buttons are quite sensitive and I did find myself accidentally starting the blender on the odd occasion. The main blend setting only runs for 30 seconds, however, so if you do accidentally press it, it won’t run for long and is easy to stop. 

On my first go, the chickpeas got stuck at the top of the cup and I realized I hadn’t included enough liquid for it to blend effectively. After adding a bit more oil and a splash of water, I was able to tap the pulse setting to create short, intermittent pulses until the humus reached the semi-smooth texture I was aiming for. 

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Nutribullet Ultra blender in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)
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Nutribullet Ultra blender in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)
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Nutribullet Ultra blender in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)

Next up, I made a Triple Berry Smoothie using frozen berries, almond milk, nut butter and banana. I popped in all the ingredients and pressed the blend button, which whizzed for 30 seconds. I made sure I put in enough liquid to stop the frozen berries getting stuck, although the spoonful of peanut butter wasn’t playing ball and got stuck to the side of the cup. I managed to scrape this off the side (unfortunately there’s no spatula in the kit) and pressed blend for another 30 seconds. The result was a super silky smoothie, with all the berries nicely broken down. 

Nutribullet Ultra blender in reviewer's kitchen

(Image credit: Future)

Finally, I filled the larger 900ml cup with a batch of ice to see how well the device could handle frozen cubes. I pressed the start button and within 30 seconds of blending only the base of the cup had managed to crush any ice. I gave it a shake, but the ice wouldn’t move, so a little water was needed to loosen the ice and ensure all the ice got crushed. 

  • Performance score: 4.5 out of 5

How do the Nutribullet personal blenders compare?

Should you buy the Nutribullet Ultra?

Buy it if...

You want a fast and quiet blender 

The 1200-Watt motor and base on the Nutribullet Ultra is designed to operate at a lower sound frequency. While it’s not completely silent, it’s one of the less offensive designs I’ve tried in terms of noise levels. 

You want to make smoothies for two

The Nutribullet Ultra comes with both a 900ml and a 700ml cup, which each have 'to-go' lids. A generous smoothie serving is around 300ml, so you've got room for two and blending space in there. Alternatively, one mega protein shake. 

You want a blender that looks stylish on the worktop

With its streamlined charcoal grey finish and touch interface, the Nutribullet Ultra looks and feels premium. Rather than hiding it away in the cupboard after use, it’s a design you’ll be happy to keep on display on the countertop.

Don't buy it if...

You're on a budget 

There are cheaper Nutribullet blenders available if you're happy to sacrifice the fancy touch interface, extra power and quieter motor. The original Nutribullet 600, for example.  

You want simple and fast control  

Other Nutribullet blenders start blending as soon as they're twisted into place, but the Ultra has two control buttons. This is a pro or con depending on how simple you want the blending process to be.  

How I tested the Nutribullet Ultra

I have tested an array of blenders before, including the Nutribullet 900, and know what makes for a good design – be it a personal blender or a traditional jug blender. To get a good feel for the Nutribullet Ultra, I used it to make a smoothie and dip. I was keen to see how well the hard ingredients such as chickpeas and cold ingredients such as ice and berries could combine in their respective recipes. The Nutribullet Ultra claims to have optimised blades for quieter blending so I also measured its noise levels using the Decibel Meter App on my phone to see just how quiet it can perform. Finally, I wanted to know whether the device was easy to maintain and so I washed each part after use and wiped down the base.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed May 2024

Aura Carver Mat review: a gorgeous but flawed digital photo frame
8:16 pm | May 8, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Smart Home | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Aura Carver Mat: Two-minute review

Aura is a well-known name in our best digital photo frames guide, regularly making an appearance. A leading name in home displays, the brand is responsible for the budget-friendly Aura Carver. The Aura Carver Mat on review here shares many similarities with the regular Carver, only it comes with a more classic finish.  

It's a tablet-sized 10.1-inch display designed to sit on a sideboard rather than being mounted to a wall, featuring an approximate half-inch border that takes the total diagonal dimension up to 10.5 inches.

I prefer the classic-frame look of the Carver Mat over the Carver – it's super-slick and looks the part positioned on anything from a desk to a bookshelf or a piano. The ridged frame of the Carver, on the other hand, looks cheaper in my opinion.

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Box of the Aura Carver Mat digital frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura Carver Mat digital frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Side of the Aura Carver Mat digital frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Rear of the Aura Carver Mat digital frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Power cord of the Aura Carver Mat digital frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura Carver Mat digital frame power cord

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Edge detail of the Aura Carver Mat digital frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)

The quality of the Carver Mat's 16:10 aspect display is superb. Photos are punchy in dim light and natural in daylight, with the 1280 x 800-pixel display rendering crisp detail. However, there are two things that make other frames a more tempting proposition, including Aura's own Mason frame. First, the display is landscape format only, and second, the optimum viewing angle is narrow. 

I'll discuss those to limitations further down; but in every other regard, the Carver Mat is a gorgeous little frame that's super easy to use, and even allows you to share photos with loved ones, who can upload their own photos onto the frame remotely through Aura's slick app. 

The Carver Mat is a hit in the looks department and in terms of user experience; it's just a shame that it's limited to landscape format viewing.

Aura Carver Mat: design

  • Well built and a classic look to suit many a home
  • Landscape format only
  • Neat touch bar panel

The Aura Carver Mat frame is superbly crafted with its matte-black frame and white border, while its generous 10.1-inch display is of a size that many people will be familiar, given its dimensions are roughly the same as the classic iPad, if a little smaller.

It features a thicker underside so it can stand up independently, although therein lies its fundamental design flaw: the Carver Mat can only be positioned in landscape format. In 2024, when so many images are shot in portrait format, particularly on phones, the Carver Mat's design feels particularly limiting. 

You can display portrait format pictures on the Carver Mat, but they won't fill the frame. Other models, such as Aura's own Mason and Walden models, allow you to flip the frame between landscape and portrait format and use the whole display; the Mason is only a fraction pricier than the Carver Mat, which makes it the better choice.

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Aura's digital frame app

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura's digital frame app

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura's digital frame app

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura's digital frame app

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura's digital frame app

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Aura Carver Mat digital frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Closeup of the Aura Carver Mat digital frame display

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Touch panel of the Aura Carver Mat digital frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Touch panel of the Aura Carver Mat digital frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)

Aura frames feature a neat touch bar panel – here, on the top of the frame – that allows you to turn the frame on and off and includes functions such as swipe to next image, plus press and hold to reveal image information such as who uploaded the picture.

Elsewhere, I welcome the choice of power cable – it has a cream-colored fabric exterior that will easily blend into the background of many a home's decor. An ugly trailing cable along a wall or a side could have proved an eyesore. 

Getting started with the frame is fool-proof. You download the free Aura app, which is available for both iOS and Android devices, follow the pairing instructions to become a "member" and, once you're connected to the frame, you can start uploading images from your phone / tablet's gallery. 

Multiple Aura frames can be added to your Aura app, and you can invite family and friends as members to upload images to the frame, too. 

The whole image upload experience is seamless, and the collaborative aspect is superb, too, making Aura frames a brilliant gift. For example, as a member, I could upload the latest photos of my kids to my parent's Aura frame from anywhere with an internet connection. 

Aura Carver Mat: performance

  • Crisp and natural-looking display
  • Decent for daylight and night-time viewing
  • Narrow viewing angle

So how good is the display itself? Well, the 16:10 aspect display has a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, which is roughly 150 pixels per inch. That's a decent enough display, rendering crisp detail when viewed from an optimum distance of around a few feet away. 

The display itself has a glossy finish and suffers from reflections, more so than the Aura Walden. If you look at the two images below, you can see the difference when viewing the Carver Mat straight on or to the side – position yourself at an angle and reflections can impede clear viewing. 

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Aura Carver Mat digital frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)
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Reflections in the Aura Carver Mat digital frame's screen

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)

In addition, at night when the backlit display is luminous, it loses its luminosity when viewed from an angle. Again, for the brightest and punchiest viewing experience, you'll need to be straight on to the frame. 

Otherwise, there's little else to say – the Carver Mat packs good detail with punchy and faithful colors, while it's simple to modify the images that are on display and for what length of time through the app, although you'll need to edit your images to taste before importing them. 

Aura Carver Mat: price and release date

  • Available in the US and UK for $179 / £179
  • Look out for deals 

The Aura Carver Mat is available now and costs $179 / £179 on the Aura website – although, at the time of writing, it's reduced to $149 in the US. 

US and UK shipping is free. The Carver Mat is also available in Canada, France and Germany, although it isn't currently available in Australia.

Aura Carver Mat: should I buy?

Aura Carver Mat digital frame

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Aura Carver Mat: How I tested

  • A long-term fixture at home
  • Image uploads through the Aura Android app
  • Viewed in daylight and at night

The Aura Carver Mat has been living in my home for a couple of months at the time of writing this review, positioned on a window-lit sideboard. The display is mains-powered and is automatically active during daylight hours, and automatically powers off when it's dark to conserve power. 

I’ve uploaded digital photos through the Android version of Aura's app – although, sadly, the frame is limited to landscape format orientation. I've scrolled through the gallery of images using the frame's touch panel and have regularly updated the images in the gallery through the app. 

I’ve checked out the quality of the display in daylight and at night, from close-up and from far away, straight on and from the side to check the viewing angles and also if the frame suffers from reflections. 

  • First reviewed May 2024
Ninja Double Stack air fryer review: half the footprint, double the fun
11:49 am |

Author: admin | Category: Air Fryers Computers Gadgets Home Small Appliances | Tags: | Comments: Off

Ninja Double Stack air fryer: two-minute review

The Ninja Double Stack air fryer demonstrates once again that the brand is king of convection cooking, offering blazing cooking speeds in a clever form factor that serves to address the needs of smaller households and keen cooks the world over. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best air fryers I’ve ever used – and I’ve used a fair few at this point. 

Shopping for the perfect air fryer can leave you feeling a bit like Goldilocks, and especially if counter space is at a premium in your kitchen. A two-drawer model like the Instant Vortex 9-quart Air Fryer with VersaZone technology might be perfect for the number of mouths you typically have to feed, but these are typically behemoths. Alternatively, you could opt for one of the best small air fryers, but then these often have a meager, sometimes single-portion only capacity.

It’s been my perennial issue as a single-person household that regularly has guests. My kitchen is fairly compact, so I've been incredibly limited for space when I’ve tested larger models like the Ninja Foodi FlexBasket Dual Air Fryer. That’s why since I learned about the Ninja Double Stack air fryer – styled as the DoubleStack in the US – I’ve been itching to get my hands on it. 

Ninja Double Stack air fryer in reviewer's home

(Image credit: Future)

As the name suggests, the Ninja Double Stack air fryer stacks its two cooking drawers stop one another instead of side by side, as we tend to see in dual-basket air fryers. Instead of a top- or front-mounted dashboard, a small panel juts out to the right side of the device, hosting all the functions and controls you’ll need to operate the Double Stack. Plus, Ninja has even thrown in two extra racks, which can be slotted in above the main crisper plate, giving you bonus surface area to cook with – though the grill spacing makes these far better for larger food items. 

Just like other products in the Ninja line, I saw great results from the Double Stack air fryer, from delicious fluffy fries to perfectly crispy chicken and succulent salmon. It should be no surprise, but I was concerned before trying the device that the cooking quality may have been compromised by the new design. Thankfully, there were no cooking compromises that I could detect. The only real down-side is the price, which is on the high side for a dual-basket air fryer – but for those who need to protect their previous counter space, it's well worth the extra cost. Here's my full review.

Ninja Double Stack air fryer review: price & availability

  • List price: XL (8.3qt / 9.5L): $229.99 / £269.99 / AU TBC
  • Availability: UK and US – Australia TBC

At time of writing, the Ninja Double Stack is available in the UK and US. In its XL 8.3qt / 9.5L capacity, it has a list price of $229.99 / £269.99. Availability and pricing in Australia is TBC. There should also be a standard, 6.7qt / 7.6L model to go alongside the XL model reviewed here, but since the devices were first announced earlier this year, we haven't heard anything about it. 

The Double Stack XL is a fair bit more expensive than comparable double-drawer air fryers like the Instant Vortex 9-quart air fryer, which costs $199.95 / £199.99 / AU$399, but for the price difference, you get an as of writing one-of-a-kind device offering superior performance and maximum air frying potential.

It comes with two non-stick, dishwasher-safe drawers and crisper plates, two stainless steel racks and a recipe guide.

  • Value for money score: 4.5 out of 5

Ninja Double Stack air fryer specs

Ninja Double Stack air fryer review: design

  • Space-efficient design, with two drawers stacked vertically
  • Side-mounted dashboard
  • Two extra stainless steel racks doubles the cooking space

For anyone with a smaller kitchen or who prefers a more compact setup, the Ninja Double Stack is a revelation. It’s the first air fryer to stack two drawers vertically to optimize counter space, and the inclusion of its two stainless steel racks doubles the surface area available for cooking. The air fryer is available in one colorway; a sophisticated slate gray shell, with ridged silver handles. It’s simple and subtle, and I personally prefer that to the glossy black cladding many air fryers opt for. 

Ninja Double Stack air fryer in reviewer's home

(Image credit: Future)

To account for those who might have lower-hanging cabinets, the controls for the Double Stack are mounted to the right of the air fryer, which does add 2in / 5cm to the overall width. However, it’s fairly unobtrusive, and unless you plan on having the right side of the air fryer flush to the wall shouldn’t pose a problem (reminder that you should be leaving at least 5 inches of space around an air fryer if you don’t want to make one of the biggest mistakes of air fryer cooking).

The side panel offers all the usual Ninja air fryer features. There’s a screen at the top which shows the timer for each drawer as well as the temperature setting. Beneath are numbered buttons to individually control each drawer, as well as a list of the six presets for air frying, roasting, max crisp, reheating, baking and dehydrating. Each setting has a light indicator next to it to show which mode is currently selected, and you can tweak the settings using the temperature and time buttons in tandem with the roller dial. Lastly, you’ll find the Double Stack Pro, Sync and Match buttons above the power and stop / start buttons. 

Ninja Double Stack air fryer in reviewer's home

(Image credit: Future)

Its two dishwasher-friendly 5qt / 4.75L baskets have individual handles, so you can fully manage each drawer independently. However, if you’re using the two stainless steel trays on top of the base crisper plates, it might be a little more annoying to flip and adjust your food mid-cooking cycle. Ninja has made efforts to ease this slight drawback by adding handles to the trays, making them nice and easy to quickly remove. 

It’s worth noting that the back of the baskets each have a grate with fairly large holes, so it’s not suitable for cooking high volumes of liquid – we recommend against cooking these kinds of dishes in an air fryer instead of one of the best instant pots, regardless, but some users do like to break convention. These holes also mean that if you shake particularly oily, batter-laden or otherwise messy foods, some liquid may splash behind the baskets onto the back of the air fryer. It’s a very small issue judging by my testing so far, so long as you keep on top of cleaning the Double Stack. 

  • Design score: 5 out of 5

Ninja Double Stack air fryer review: performance

  • Same fantastic performance as other Ninja air fryers
  • Perfectly crisp chicken wings and fluffy fries
  • Time and effort-saving Sync and Match settings

Before I tested the Ninja Double Stack air fryer, I was a little dubious about how its performance would hold up against other Ninja models I’ve tested. Surely, there would be a compromise to vertically stacking the drawers, otherwise, it would have been done far sooner, right?

Thankfully that doesn’t seem to be the case with the Double Stack. Everything I cooked came out just as good as I’d expected, with perfectly crispy chicken wings without the need for a drop of oil, and gorgeous fluffy fries with the perfect amount of bite. There was a small degree of unevenness; fries towards the back of the basket cooked ever so slightly faster than the front, but it was to such a small degree I don’t think most users would notice.   

Chips / fries in Ninja Double Stack air fryer

(Image credit: Future)

The Double Stack offers six cooking modes – Air Fry, Max Crisp, Roast, Bake, Dehydrate, and Reheat – all of which work just as well as in other Ninja air fryers. The different modes all have different temperature and time limits, but the Double Stack can reach temperatures of 450F / 240C and cook for up to an hour. It doesn’t require pre-heating, meaning you can get straight to cooking. 

Food cooked on the stainless steel trays seems to fare just as well, though you do lose the benefit of the crisp trays’ surface area. For some foods, that’s a benefit; you don’t always want foods to cook via contact as well as convection, which was definitely the case for the chicken wings I cooked across both types of trays. 

Chicken in Ninja Double Stack air fryer

(Image credit: Future)

You’ll also have to think about the overall temperature setting of each basket and put foods with like-for-like cooking times and temperatures in each basket, or open up the trays to add in food later. This can be slightly annoying at times; I had to strategically plan how I cooked four tapas dishes to make sure I’d optimized both the strengths and weaknesses of both types of tray, as well as the cooking times and temperatures of each dish. It’d still opt for this rather than heating up a whole oven, though.

Chicken cooked in the Ninja Double Stack air fryer

(Image credit: Future)

In case you’re new to the world of Ninja air fryers, it’s worth highlighting the Sync and Match cooking modes, which work to ensure your food all comes out at the same time. Simply select your cooking mode, set your time and, if you’re synchronizing the two baskets, select the cooking times for each, and you’re all set.

Unlike other dual-drawer models I’ve tested, including Ninja’s Instant Vortex 9-quart air fryer, there’s virtually no heat leakage between the two trays, which is excellent news if you’re working with very precise foods or just don’t want to waste energy by passively heating two areas when you only need one. 

Ninja Double Stack air fryer in reviewer's home

(Image credit: Future)

On the down-side,  you can’t cook larger foods like pizzas or whole chickens in the Double Stack like you can in wider air fryers with larger cooking cavities. It’s the natural trade-off with its smaller footprint, and there are plenty of options that do cater to that need, if that's your priority. While Ninja claims the XL model I tested can feed eight people, I’d say that’s a little ambitious unless you’re padding out the meal with non-air fryer foods too. 

  • Performance score: 5 out of 5

Should I buy the Ninja Double Stack air fryer?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Ninja Double Stack air fryer: alternatives to consider

How I tested the Ninja Double Stack air fryer

  • I used the Ninja Double Stack air fryer for two weeks 
  • I used it to cook all of my meals, including chicken wings, fries and salmon
  • I also tested the different cooking functions

I used the Ninja Double Stack air fryer as my main countertop cooker for two weeks, using it to cook everything from fries to chicken wings, salmon and even cauliflower cheese. I evaluated how each food item cooked across all four trays, using different settings to see how well each function performed. I assessed how succulent meat and fish were after cooking against how well the outside crisped, as well as the evenness of the browning, and how well fries managed to retain their internal fluffiness while still achieving crispy skin. 

In addition to the cooking, I evaluated how easy maintenance was; is it easy to clean the baskets and trays both with and without a dishwasher, are there any extra considerations for cleaning, and how easy is the device to actually operate. 

I’ve been testing air fryers for two years, and in that time I’ve tried everything from premium to affordable, single-serve to full family models. This experience combined with my love of food and cooking help to inform my findings in every review.

Shark HydroVac Cordless review: a very effective vacuum-mop
2:10 pm | May 7, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Small Appliances Vacuums | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Shark HydroVac Cordless review: two-minute review

The Shark HydroVac Cordless is a multipurpose cleaner that vacuums and mops at the same time. For this review, I tested the UK version, but there are equivalent models in the US and Australia (there are minor differences in specs, but essentially this is the same product):

There are plenty of reasons to admire this product. It’s powerful, and can tackle lots of different types of wet and dry debris on hardwood flooring, as well as freshening up door mats and rugs. This means you can do away with your traditional mop – should you be able to prize yourself away from it – and condense the number of cleaning tools you need. 

It cleans by sucking up the spillage as you push back and forth until the area is left looking clean and smelling fresh. It’s capable of tackling mess such as milky cereal, baked beans and biscuits. It works fast too. We'd expect nothing less from the brand behind many of the best vacuum cleaners on the market. 

It's not quite perfect. It doesn’t come with a crevice attachment, so you’ll need to use the vacuum’s head to get right up to the skirting and into corners, which can sometimes be tricky. And while it has a self-cleaning feature to keep the insides smelling fresh, you will also need to keep on top of the vacuum’s maintenance and clean and dry the dirty water tank and brush roll after every use, which can be a bit of a pain.

Overall, I was very impressed with pick up – both on finer dust and larger wet debris. I also like how easy the vacuum is to store on the charging dock so that it’s conveniently ready when you need it. It gives you a decent 25 minutes of runtime too – all in its handy cordless design. If you're on a tighter budget and don't mind a cable, there's a corded version that's cheaper. 

That's the short version – read on for my full Shark HydroVac Cordless Cleaner review.

Shark HydroVac Cordless Hard Floor Cleaner review: price & availability

  • List price: US$359.99 / £329.99 / AU$399.99
  • Launched: 2023
  • Available: worldwide

While Shark sells small appliances worldwide. The cordless model I tested is the UK version, which has a list price of £329.99. The US version (WD201) has a list price of $359.99, but at time of writing was discounted to a far-more-affordable $199.99. The Australian version (WD210ANZ) has a list price of AU$399.99.

 If you’re looking to spend a little less and don’t mind a corded model, you can get a corded version in the UK and US. In the UK, this is the WD110UK and costs £279.99, in the US it's the WD161 and costs $249.99. Note that Shark recommends that you replace the filter and brush roll every six months, which is an ongoing cost. 

Two-in-one vacuum cleaner/mops can vary quite a bit in price, with the cheapest starting around £150 / $190 / AU$285 and going up to around £350 / $440 / AU$665. While the Shark HydroVac isn't the cheapest option on the market, the design has a lot of premium features, and I'd say it's good value for money. 

While Shark offers discounts at peak sale times throughout the year including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, at the time of writing the product is being sold at full price.

  • Value for money score: 4 out of 5

Shark HydroVac Cordless cleaner specs

Shark HydroVac Cordless Hard Floor Cleaner review: design

  • LED headlights illuminate hidden debris
  • Ample 500ml water tank
  • Stylish charcoal grey design plus compact charging dock

The Shark HydroVac Cordless Hard Floor Cleaner WD210UK has a stylish charcoal grey finish and sleek body. The body is relatively light at 3.95kg, and the design includes an antimicrobial brush roll and a 500ml water tank.

Although you can't wall-hang this device, it does come with a docking station where the cleaner sits neatly when not in use. It’s the size of a standard cordless vacuum, so while it won't take up too much room, it helps if you have a large room or separate utility area to store it.

Shark HydroVac Cordless floor cleaner plugged in and charging

(Image credit: Future)

What I instantly liked about the two-in-one cleaner is how easy it is to get set up. Attach the body to the head by following the simple instructions provided. When it's ready to go, fill the tank with water and add some of the cleaning solution provided. The LED control panel on the cleaner is simple to read and provides info on battery life and cleaning solution levels.

This cleaner is designed for use on both wet and dry messes, and a variety of floor types. You start it up simply by leaning the handle of the device back.

Close up of dirty water tank on Shark HydroVac Cordless floor cleaner

(Image credit: Future)

There are two modes. In hard floor cleaning mode, it'll vacuum when you're pushing forwards and wash when you pull back. The device automatically starts in this mode when you turn it on. You can also switch to a freshen mode using the button at the top of the handle. In this mode, it seems to mop lightly in both directions. There's a self-cleaning mode that you can activate by pressing the start button once the device is on its stand. You’ll need to supplement this with your own cleaning, however – I'll get into that more in the Performance section.

Shark HydroVac Cordless floor cleaner with LED lights illuminating the floor

(Image credit: Future)

When the device starts, LED headlights illuminate to help you see hidden debris as you vacuum.

It’s worth noting that while the Shark HydroVac Cleaner can be used on low-pile carpets rugs, the brush roll won't work on plush/thick long pile. If you’re after a cleaner for a thicker carpet, you’re better off taking a look at the Shark CarpetXpert Deep Carpet Cleaner EX150UK.

  • Design score: 4 out of 5

Shark HydroVac Cordless floor cleaner review: performance

  • Effective cleaning on sealed hard floors
  • Quite noisy in use
  • Lightweight and easy to move about

If you’ve ever tested a cordless vacuum cleaner, you know how bulky they can sometimes feel. But I found this design reasonably lightweight and well balanced. It's easy to drive around the floor – both on hard flooring, mats and rugs. The head of the vacuum is wide enough to make good progress in just a few strokes, but not overly chunky.

On a full charge, it ran for 25 minutes, which was long enough for me to do a refresh of my hallway, dining room, living room and kitchen before needing to refill the water and pop it back on the charger.

Shark HydroVac Cordless floor cleaner on a wooden floor

(Image credit: Future)

In hard floor cleaning mode, the simple push-pull action is a joy to use, and perfect on the days that I simply needed to quickly pep up my dusty dark walnut hardwood flooring. I found it also worked well on tougher messes – for example when the kids had brought mud into the hallway, or spilt cereal under the kitchen breakfast table (Cheerios are the bane of my life!).

The HydroVac also managed to clean up baked beans on vinyl flooring within seconds, as well as sucking up digestive biscuit crumbs with ease, and always leaving a fresh smelling surface behind. The suction is powerful and I was impressed with just how quickly it got to work.

I also tried refresh mode on a doormat and my Persian carpet. I was a little apprehensive as I've tried wet-dry cleaners in the past that have left my carpet sodden wet. Luckily, the HydroVac didn’t leave too much residue behind. While it’s hard to tell whether it makes any real difference when freshening mats and carpets, I think the fact that it leaves behind a trace of multi-surface cleaning solution with odour neutraliser reassuring.

On the down-side, I found the Shark HydroVac could get quite noisy – ramping up to 83.1 decibels in use and really packing a punch for a minute or so when it’s in self-cleaning mode. Comparatively, I measured my Dyson V15 Detect Absolute at 76.4 decibels.

Maintenance

The HydroVac has a self-cleaning mode, which can be activated when it's back on its charging base. This helps freshen up the inside mechanisms and cleans the brush roll. That's useful because the antimicrobial brush roll can take a bit of a battering, depending on what you’re cleaning. Straight after cleaning up beans and biscuits it was looking rather dirty, for example.

Close up of brush roll on Shark HydroVac Cordless floor cleaner

(Image credit: Future)

That said, you will need to then empty the dirty water tank and also leave the brush roll out to dry for up to 24 hours before using it again. If you forget to empty the tank after use, the dirty water tank will start to smell as I found out on one occasion..

However, you'll also have to do your own maintenance work. After every use, I had to empty the dirty water tank and take off the brush roll (often clogged up with food or hair) to clean myself and leave it out to dry. While this is relatively easy, it is something to bear in mind if you think that the self-cleaning mode here does it all.

  • Performance score: 4.5 out of 5

Should I buy a Shark HydroVac Cordless?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Shark HydroVac Cordless Hard Floor Cleaner

I used the Shark Hydrovac in my home for six weeks. In my home, walnut hardwood flooring runs through the hall to the dining room and living area and it’s prone to looking dusty if not cleaned regularly. I used the Shark Hydrovac to clean the floor daily. I also used it on the vinyl tiles in the kitchen and upstairs in the bedroom where we have laminate hardwood flooring.

I tested how well it did on targeted areas and scattered a section of the room with large oats – to mimic large debris – and a mixture of flour and crushed biscuits – to mimic finer dust. I was keen to see how quickly and effectively it could clean up the area. I also used it to clear up a baked beans spillage on the vinyl flooring in my kitchen and measured the noise levels of the vacuum using the Decibel Meter App on my iPhone. Finally, I also used it in freshen mode to clean the small carpets and doormats throughout the ground floor of my home.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed: May 2024

Nanoleaf Skylight starter kit review: Nanoleaf is looking up
4:00 pm | April 27, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Smart Home Smart Lights | Comments: Off

One-minute review

The Nanoleaf Skylight is an alternative indoor lighting solution that can provide everything from strong white lighting to subtle mood lighting in whatever brightness or color you desire, and easily sits among some of the best smart lights. The simple square panel design belies the true nature of the device, which reveals itself once it’s brought to life in brilliant technicolor via the app or PC/Mac software. 

It’s not all sweetness and light though. The installation is a bit more involved than the usual Nanoleaf ‘stick the LEDs onto something and plug them into a power outlet’ scenario. 

The main panel is the same as any other ceiling light, in that it’s hardwired into the lighting circuit. If you have experience installing traditional light fittings, you shouldn’t find it too challenging, but, as always, get a professional to install it if you’re at all unsure; this is dangerous work.

Once the lights are up and running, you can control them with the free Nanoleaf software for PC, Mac or phone app, and it soon becomes apparent just how flexible the system is. I put it through its paces for a couple of weeks and its performance impressed me. I can see a broad range of uses within my home, but the cost seems prohibitive and I did have a fair few teething issues. So, is it worth the asking price? Read on.

Nanoleaf Skylight mounted on the ceiling

(Image credit: Future)

Nanoleaf Skylight review: price and availability

  • List price: starts at $249 / £229 / AU$469 for a three-light starter kit. Other options include;
    • Expansion pack (1 panel): $69.99 / £69.99 / AU$139.99
    • Starter kit (6 pack): $459.96 / £418.61 / AU$609.90
    • Starter kit (9 pack): $669.93 / £623.64 / AU$889.90
    • Starter kit (12 pack): $879.90 / £828.66 / AU$1,309.90
  • Available in the US, UK and Australia 

The Nanoleaf Skylight was released in February 2024 and the starter kit is available for $249 / £229 / AU$469 directly from Nanoleaf’s US, UK and Australian websites and Amazon

The starter pack consists of one main unit, which is wired directly into the mains electricity, and two expansion panels. Larger kits are available from Nanoleaf consisting of six, nine, and twelve lights, and there’s also a single-panel expansion pack. 

Nanoleaf Skylight review: Specs

Nanoleaf Skylight components

(Image credit: Future)

Nanoleaf Skylight review: Design

  • Minimalist and unobtrusive (when they’re off)
  • Modular design allows for a multitude of configurations
  • Unique ceiling-mounted lighting system

Anyone who enjoyed playing on the Atari 2600 in the 70s will get a kick out of the look of these lights. I like the pixel-esque aesthetic and would love to create some huge ceiling icons with a 9x9 square - if only it were possible to control the color for each square individually. I mean, who wouldn’t want a 2.7-square-meter Space Invader or Pac-Man on their ceiling? Unfortunately, that would set me back approximately £5.5k and 1300 Watts, so this vision will forever be a dream.

The combined equal depths of the housing and diffuser are nicely proportioned to the 300 x 300 face but I’m not completely sold on its shiny surface. Maybe a matt finish wouldn’t diffuse the light so well or look any better, though.

The cable management inside the units is well-designed but a little fragile. Each side has two cable routing holes that allow for some more interesting offset configurations if you don’t just want a symmetrical layout. The rubber bungs for these holes can be left in situ as the cables can be passed through slits in them. 

Little features like this make it feel like Nanoleaf spent a great deal of time and effort getting the hardware design right, but then rushed the component selection and software testing. I’ll cover this in more detail in the performance section. 

As is the running theme with this review, the Nanoleaf Skylight’s design is akin to the troubled second album by your favorite band. You buy the record because you love what they do but feel they have let you down.

Nanoleaf Skylight review: Installation

If you skipped over the one-minute review, I will reiterate: if you have experience installing traditional light fittings, you shouldn’t find it challenging, but, as always, get a professional to install it if you are unsure.

Your existing wiring will likely be too inflexible to follow the path to the connectors in the Skylight and it only requires two wires. The rest of the wiring must be out of the way above the ceiling. I replicated the connections within the existing light fitting and increased the size of the hole in the ceiling to do this. 

Image 1 of 2

Nanoleaf Skylight wiring rework

(Image credit: Future)

This bundle of wires was never going to fit in the Nanoleaf Skylight.

Image 2 of 2

Nanoleaf Skylight wiring

(Image credit: Future)

 Up, up and away. 

The next hurdle is the rather poor installation instructions, which erroneously show the plasterboard self-drilling fittings as being screwed through the housing, for example. In reality, the fittings should screw directly into the ceiling and the screws should go through the housing and into those fittings. I say “should screw directly into the ceiling” as during my installation, two of the supplied fittings broke off in the ceiling before I gave up with them. 

Fortunately, I had some more robust metal fittings to hand, which saved the day. To be fair, my ceiling is ‘mature’, and perhaps drilling a 4mm guide hole first would have reduced the mortality rate of the plastic fittings. There are, however, plenty of other inaccuracies in the installation instructions, which add to the confusion. If these instructions were a cake, the missing ingredient would be “care”.   

A bit more wiggle room in the screw holes would also be of benefit as screwing or drilling into a ceiling is prone to error unless you are Spider-Man. Usually, fittings have a combination of horizontal and vertical slots that allow for errors made during drilling or screwing. I’d also recommend ensuring that someone is available during installation to provide placement directions, as it’s not easy to get things straight on a ladder facing upwards. 

Once the primary unit is up, the others are very straightforward. I found it much easier to install the data wires (the short wires with square connector blocks at the ends) between the light units first, and then push through the power wires. Alternatively, the rubber grommets can easily be removed but they may be needed at a later date, should you want to move or reconfigure the lights. Routing the cables between the lights is made easier by the numerous clips built into the unit for this purpose, but, as I learned when I managed to break one, they are a little fragile.

After restoring power at your dwelling’s fuse box and flicking on your light switch at the wall, the Skylight will initially come on at low brightness. It will then increase in brightness to signify that it’s ready to pair with the Nanoleaf app.

Nanoleaf Skylight review: Performance

The first thing that struck me about the Skylight was how much light it gives off. If you sometimes need a bright, even white light while assembling something or taking things to bits, this light is your friend. It’s reminiscent of old-school fluorescent lighting without the irradiation and mercury poisoning. 

The Skylight can, of course, emit any color you wish, but be warned that the color is not uniform across the surface of the diffuser. Inevitably, though, you will need to address the elephant in the room – the Nanoleaf app.  

In previous reviews of Nanoleaf products, I’ve described the Nanoleaf app as “wayward”. Perhaps I am just unlucky, but every time I add a new Nanoleaf product to my network there is a period of chaos. Some of the mayhem may be due to the many and varied devices that I have, and the synchronization between the home automation systems and their cloud accounts. Whatever the root cause, there will be a couple of days of rebooting, deleting, and adding devices until everything works again. The app will invariably have a different view of reality, which may or may not change depending on whether you look at it. Schrödinger’s app.

App issues shown in the Nanoleaf app

No, I do not have any Nanoleaf devices in the entrance or kitchen. No, I do not have three hall lights and no, I cannot delete them. An example of the app's version of the truth.  (Image credit: Future)

The sense of frustration was further compounded by the hardware itself misbehaving. I had a period where the light was flickering when set to white light at full power. Following this, the unit then point-blank refused to switch on even after I removed the face plate to press the reset button. Flash forward to the time of writing, I can’t replicate the flickering and it has behaved itself consistently for a few days. 

It’s like having a cat on your ceiling; you ask it to do something and it will ignore you, show you its backside, and walk away. Schrödinger’s app and cat… On the plus side, the supplied scenes are good, you can create your own or use scenes created by others, and these can all be synchronized and used in Apple Homekit. You could avoid using the Nanoleaf app altogether, but you would miss out on firmware and app updates. It’s a necessary evil. 

I have spent many hours with the Nanoleaf app thanks to one of my favorite bits of kit, the Nanoleaf 4D. I was looking forward to using Sync+ to extend the screen colors to the Skylight but, no, it does not work. So, I have two products that support Sync+ but do not support each other… right. 

Not to worry, as Nanoleaf should be applauded for developing a desktop app for both PC and Apple Mac (both Intel and Apple Silicon), which offers screen mirroring. The screen mirroring via the desktop app is a great idea and works well with the 3-pack starter kit laid out in a straight line, but I do wonder how the app would know if you have offset your units in a stepped layout. It also didn’t work with all of the games I tried. I wanted to watch a film via Apple TV+ while mirroring the screen to the Skylight, but the Mac was unhappy about sharing. Thank you, Apple. 

It’s a similar state of affairs with the rhythm feature – a great idea but it falls at the last fence. You can select which source the sound is coming from, but that doesn’t seem to work as well now as it did when I first received the device. Having said that, it is good enough and as I write the Skylight is gently pulsing color along to the music. Wonderful.

Unlike dumb lights, the best smart lights offer a host of control options but that’s not always a boon with wired lights like the Nanoleaf Skylight. When the Skylight has been powered off at the wall, it will take about a minute to appear online within your home automation system or the app when you flick the switch on again. 

Normally that’s not an issue with smart lights, but the problem with the Skylight then becomes the almost imperceptible little ticking noise that the skylight makes when it has power but is not on. It’s akin to Chinese water torture and drives you nuts after a while. I’d strongly recommend using one of the best smart switches for easier control and happier ears.

On top of all this is the lack of Matter support and no built-in thread border router as promised at CES 2023. I like Nanoleaf, I like its ideas and that it makes these feature-rich products happen, but a simple thing like testing could make them so much better. 

Nanoleaf Skylight: Should I buy?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

The Nanoleaf Skylight is, as far as I’m aware, a unique product, so it is difficult to find a direct equivalent. Here are some alternatives if you want to dip your toe into smart lighting, but don’t want to give it the full beans.  

Nanoleaf Skylight: How I tested

  • I used the Skylight for work and play for over a month.
  • I tested the PC/Mac application on both platforms where possible. 
  • I controlled the device from both the Nanoleaf iPhone app and Apple Homekit.

I installed the Skylight in the room where I spend the majority of my time during the dark winter months. I tried to understand what each feature within the application does and how reliable/repeatable they are. Any inconsistencies were investigated but I have yet to find any form of event logging to help me understand exactly what it thinks it is doing.

I powered down my whole house to simulate a power cut to see how it would recover and also rebooted the Wi-Fi router and other devices in my smart home setup at various points.

I kept a log of any updates to the versions of the applications and the device’s firmware. I avoided using Beta versions of the application.

For the majority of the time it performed as expected but it is not bulletproof.

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