The HornIT Horn / Buzzer Review

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The HornIT is a 140db bicycle horn / buzzer that comes in a small size but packs a huge punch! This audible warning device is great for making people aware of your presences and has many advantages over similar devices such as the Airzound.

The HornIT appears to mount with a cateye type bracket, at first this was worrying as they are notoriously poor. At a second look it appears to use a slightly different tightening mechanism which is an improvement. It tightens via a hex key which appears to be very solid and the rubber grip of the strap allows the bracket to hold well even on polished metal.

It runs off 2 AAA batteries and I’m told that this will last around a year for some users. The horn was still effective after 6 months if used to power 6 x 1 second bursts every day. The battery compartment is underneath the device and is accessible by a Philips screw.

One of the most attractive features of the HornIT is the separate trigger switch, this allows flexible mounting of the product whilst still allowing the user to trigger the device whilst their hand is in control of the brakes. This is a very important factor, such a device should not impede your ability to come to a safe and controlled stop if required, a warning device will not always be heard or prevent someone from doing something you don’t want them to do.
I have noticed that it is possible to catch the trigger cable with your hand and pull it out without knowledge, it is also a little bit tricky to put the trigger back in whilst moving.
The switch it’s self is made from a stretchy rubber that allows it to be mounted to any part of the handle bars, I had no issues stretching it around the hoods on my road bikes.

There are two modes on the HornIT, one rated at 140db which uses a dual tone which can sound a little bit like a bird tweeting. To me this is more of an annoying sound and not one that would instantly grab my attention as something dangerous is coming my way (as a typical horn sound would). The second mode is 130db and is just a single tone. Much more to my liking, the sound is still loud and I feel still suffers the same issue of not sounding like a normal horn. You can switch between modes by pressing a button on the back of the device. Two downsides I see to this, you can’t change the mode from the trigger, so to change mode you must move you hand back to the device. There is also no way to tell which mode you are in without sounding the device. This can be annoying if you want to use the two different modes for different reasons, as it is easy to forget which mode you are in.

Positives

  • Runs on batteries
  • Separate trigger switch
  • Small, easily removable device
  • Two separate

Negatives

  • Buzzing sound doesn’t always register the same as a traditional horn sound
  • Not able to change modes from the switch
  • No way to tell which mode you are in without sounding the buzzer

The clear rival to the HornIT is the AirZound, a product which is already very popular with cyclists after an audible warning device to other road users. The HornIT has many advantages over the AirZound, such as being small, compact, running on batteries, and a remote trigger. Where as the only advantage the AirZound has is a more true horn sound. I found I was pumping up my AirZound several times a week when I used one, and I have to say the ease of use, the fact that it is small, runs on batteries, is about the size of a light and has a remote trigger, the HornIT has to be the winner out of the two.

Watch my video review of the HornIT

As a note, it is a good idea to read the instructions on this and do as it says. I.E. Don’t use this indoors, it really is very loud and does make you deaf!

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Contour ROAM Review

Contour is well-known in the extreme sports camera market, and their latest camera is certainly something to consider.

It’s boasted as being an easy to use camera and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. With features taken from Contour’s top of the range + model, the ROAM builds on top of the solid base that Contour has built over the years with their various cameras. The ROAM takes it a step further by making it waterproof to 1 meter, having a single use power/record slider and auto adjusting exposure settings.

The ROAM keeps the same form figure as the other Contour cameras but it is slightly longer and slightly taller than the others. This is due to the battery being built-in and not removable. This does have its draw backs as the camera no longer fits in some of the mounts, such as the windshield mount.

The 270 degree rotational lens allows you to record at any rotation and the new single laser allows you to make sure your picture will be level. This new laser isn’t quite as powerful as the older style but is much better at making sure your picture is level. The lens is also flush in this version so it is much easier to clean and it doesn’t pick up dirt in the ridge.

The one slide power and record switch is great, no need to check that it is powered on first before you record and the button is slightly larger and protruding from the camera body, making it easy to turn on and off with a thick glove. Note that the on and off time is slightly longer than other cameras, meaning if you manually tag you videos by turning the camera off and on again, it does take a longer time.

The lens is taken from the Contour +, as previously stated this rotates 270 degrees allowing you to get the horizontal image from any angle. The 170 degree wide-angle lens is only available if you choose the 960p or 720p option, the 1080p option offers a slightly smaller 135 degrees which does look a little bit zoomed in comparison. My personal preference is the 960p mode to get all the information you require.

One of the biggest issues that people have noted is the lack of 60fps recording, the ROAM only offers 30fps in all of its modes and is something that can really sway people’s opinions on if it is the right camera for them. Add in the built-in battery which is not removable and some people have lost interest straight away, the battery can last for around 3 hours depending on the settings, anything longer than that and you will need to stop and charge it before doing any more filming.

The ROAM is the first Contour camera to include a 1/4 thread in the body, this allows the camera to be attached to camera accessories such as tripods and allows the use of 3rd party mounts from the likes of RAM. A welcome addition in my books and something I hope they continue in other iterations of all their line ups.

The camera has been waterproofed and is rated at up to 1 meter, this may not seem like much but it makes a huge difference if being used in the rain, previous cameras would require you to add the external case which reduced sound quality and was bulky! The waterproofing has affected the sound, as the camera comes in the box the sound quality is noticeably different to the previous Contour cameras but with Contours latest firmware update for the ROAM it has improved the sound levels and quality but quite a bit!

All in all the Contour is a great camera and fits nicely into their current range. It is a very easy camera to use and really is a point and shoot video camera. There are a few downsides which should be taken into consideration before you buy this camera, the lack of 60fps and an in-built battery will be big decision factors but so will the auto adjusting exposure settings which have really made the difference to my experience of using the Contour Camera.

Magicshine MJ-808 Review

Turn night into day with a seriously good value for money bicycle light that rivals products 10 times its cost!

I’ll start off by saying that the lumen ratings are slightly off, the ratings are the best possible outputs with the components they used and not a true representation of the light output. The 900 lumen lights put out closer to 500 lumens. That is still a good amount of money for the cost of the light!
The Magicshine range of lights are far from a perfect product, if you can work around the slight issues then the light can be a great one.

The lights primary design is for off-road. This is clearly visible in the beam pattern that it produces, it is fairly wide and is not ideal for using on the road, especially at full power. For commuting purposes you can get around this buy using it on the half power setting or by pointing it only 2 meters in front of you, this means that any light going to the driver is not the focused beam and shouldn’t dazzle them.

There have been many complaints that the unit gets hot when at a standstill. I personally don’t think this is a problem, it’s generally a good indicator that the thermal paste is working. The unit has been designed to keep cool by the passing air, when you stop the air doesn’t pass it and the unit heats up.

The main downside of me is the mode switching, it’s a simple button press on the back of the unit to do everything, but the off mode is included in the other options, which means to do a full cycle you need to turn the unit off. Not the best thing when you are cycling off-road at night!

The mounting bracket isn’t the best, it’s a rubber bottom with a rubber o-ring that keeps the unit tight on the handlebars. It is good because it is easy to put on and remove but bad because it won’t keep the unit secure on the handlebars. Lots of users have complained about the unit moving around whilst going over a bump or similar. I get around this by mounting the light under my handlebars but others have got around this by modifying the mount and adding on a cam based bracket which is much more secure and just as quick to remove. It is a fairly simple task to do, simply a single screw to remove the standard mount and then add the new mount with the screw.

Something to consider is the battery pack, it’s an external based one which you need to charge at the mains, no simple AA batteries for this unit. Luckily on the back of the light is an indicator of how much juice is left and if you go for the waterproof case then that also has a volt meter on it. With a light of this power and a batter like this you really need to get a good charging routine thought out if you are going to use it regularly on the commute, the last thing you want is this to die on a dark lane!

An important factor is the charger, if you buy from outside the UK you will probably get an american pin charger. I found it difficult to find an adapter which it fitted in properly due to the chargers design and the adapters design they never gelled properly. It also doesn’t perform quite the same as the 3 pin plug, so definitely worth investing in a 3 pin charger for one of these if you are in the UK.

The cost of these devices can vary massively depending on where you buy them from. You can get them cheap as chips if you buy one from deal extreme but the delivery time can be several weeks due to the way they work. Buy from the UK re-seller or from ebay and you are looking to pay more but it’s still a great price for the power the light puts out.

There are a few variants of the MJ-808, the best one in my opinion is the 3-mode unit with the waterproof battery pack. It’s the most reliable and has the best battery. I use this light for commuting all year round, it stands out from every other cycling light and makes the Hope Vision 1 look like a child’s toy.

Conclusion

A great value light for all kind of uses but be careful if using it on the road, you can easily dazzle other road users .

Hope Vision 1 Review

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The Hope Vision 1 bicycle light is Hope’s bottom of the range bicycle light but don’t let that put you off. The CNC machined case makes the light full water proof and the Vision 1 puts out over 200 lumens from only four AA batteries, something not achieved by many other lights.

Hope Vision 1 Beam

The Vision 1 has 4 light modes, 1 flash and 3 steady ones. Making it a perfect commuting light, especially if you travel through multiple types of roads (lit vs unlit). The Hope Vision 1 is often praised by its quality, Hope certainly is traditionally british as the make good quality parts and offer a fantastic service. The whole product is well thought out and well designed.

Due to the narrow beam a single Vision 1 is not enough for cycling off-road or on unlit roads at night-time in my opinion, two Vision 1’s are enough. Whilst the narrow beam does have that disadvantage, it has an advantage when using it in other traffic. Pointing the beam on the road in front of you means you don’t blind other road users, you light the road up in front of you and you are made visible!

Something which crops up in other lights of similar target market is how you turn it off and change modes. For a light which is used in the dark and potentially off-road it is important how it handles this. The Hope Vision one can only be turned off by the user if the battery is removed or if you hold the power button. Pressing the button cycles through the light modes and this is how it should be.
Other models of lights have the off mode in the button cycle, which means if you want to change back to the first mode you must turn the light off first which either means crashing or stopping your ride.

Hope Vision 1

The only downside to using a light with 4x AA batteries is that the light really does chew through them, using regular Duracell batteries will be expensive and small capacity rechargeable batteries just don’t last long enough. High capacity rechargeable batteries are a good value purchase but you still need to work out a good recharging scheme so you don’t get caught out. At least you can rest in the fact that if you do run out of juice whilst on the road you can at least pop into a petrol station or corner shop and buy some batteries which will get you home, unlike the lights which use special battery packs.

The major downside of the hope vision one is the lack of power indicator, it is one often brought up by people who have bought one and is a real problem with its hunger for battery power. You can get around it with good battery management but be warned, when the power levels get too low the light will suddenly switch off and you will only get a few more minutes on the lowest power setting.

All in all it’s one of the best and brightest lights on the market for commuters, it’s at the higher end of the scale for most commuters but it’s reliability (as long as you manage the batteries) and power more than out weighs the price you have to pay, this light will last you years!

Where to buy one from?

Prices range from £70 – £90 so make sure you shop around