Category Archives: Reviews

Why I can’t recommend tado

Earlier this year we purchased our first house which finally meant I got control over the installation of our heating system. In the house already was a Draytek wireless solution, with a thermostat in the living room and a controller next to the combi boiler. If the living room was too cold, it would send a signal to turn the boiler on, and when it was too hot it would turn the boiler off. All the timings were programmed directly on the thermostat. Around the house we have a number of Thermostatic Radiator Valve (TRV).

My spec was that I should be able to control the thermostat via an app and my Google Home devices. It should allow for as many or as little variations in programming. And important for me, that my bedroom should be cool in the mornings, but comfortable in the evenings, as previously I’d need to remember to turn down the TRV as I went to bed, and remember to turn it up when I got up in the mornings.

So on Prime Day I purchased a tado Wireless Smart Thermostat Starter Kit which was in theory a direct replacement for the Draytek. Along with a single tado Smart Radiator Thermostat to see how well that would work and if we should invest in more around the house.

Now the first problem is installing a thermostat system in July, it’s pretty hard to test anything.

For installation you start with the Wireless Bridge, this is the device which sits in the middle of everything and connects to the internet. It needs to be connected via ethernet, powered via USB, and the recommendation is to set it up next to your home router. Unfortunately my 140 year old brick house has the router at the front window, the boiler at the back utility room and the range for the tado system isn’t great. So I went for a more middle ground and put the bridge next to one of my wifi mesh points in the dining room which has an ethernet port at the back.

Key: Red – Wifi mesh points, Blue – Boiler, Green – Radiator Valves

The installation of the Wireless Receiver was pretty easy. I followed the steps in the app, telling it what boiler and old receiver I had, and it guided me through labelling the existing wires and how to connect them to the tado.

The thermostat is wireless so you just scan the QR code to set it up, configure the timings and dump it whichever room you want, for me this was the Lounge.

Finally I have to install the TVR. I removed the old Myson valve from the radiator in my bedroom (1 on the floor plan), and then need to work out which of the 10 extra fittings provided I need to attach together along with the correct length pin extension to use the tado. There was little help from the app in showing which one I needed, especially as the Myson TVR is one I’ve seen in a number of previous properties so it’s not as if it is uncommon. Also whilst everything seems to suggest that in horizontal mode the display should be facing upwards, every picture has it facing sidewards.

As the months pass and the temperature beings to drop, the heating is finally needed and here is where the problems appear.

The first is pretty basic, the thermostat in the living room is a white box with no always on display. You need to press the button on it to trigger the white LEDs to show the current temperature and for it to ask if you want to raise or lower it. An e-ink or LCD display like provided by everyone else, or a mains powered colour display could tell me at a glance if a) the room is too cold and b) if the boiler has been triggered to turn on. So instead I end up using the app.

I know what the time is, how much electricity I’m using right now, how much gas we used 30 minutes ago, but no idea how hot the room is.

The second is pretty serious. If the Wireless Controller can’t speak to the Wireless Bridge it will go in to a backup mode. This can be a) turn the heating on, b) turn the heating off, c) keep doing what it was already doing until told otherwise. By default it’s set to a), so when it started playing up, the heating was turned on at 2am in the morning burning through expensive gas. To change it to b) or c) you need to find a help guide online and press buttons on the controller. There is nothing within the app to change this behaviour.
So it turned out that having my bridge in the Dinning Room was too far for the controller, so I had to move my wifi mesh in the kitchen away from the utility room and closer to the dining room so that I had an ethernet port somewhere nearer the boiler, but not too far from the thermostat. This sort of fixed the connectivity issues, but has resulted in a weaker wifi signal in my garden. Also the bridge is now further away from the bedroom and that occasionally causes problems and drains the battery. Maybe I could throw more money at this solution and just buy a second bridge. Stick that in the bedroom and the front of the house will be covered, whilst the bridge in the kitchen can handle the boiler. But no, this system can only have one bridge.

The third issue was with the TVR in my bedroom. So I had it set up to be pretty much off all day, except between 8pm and 10pm where I wanted it to raise the bedroom temperature to 19c. It gets to the evening and whilst in the living room it’s feeling rather hot. So checking the app I can see that the living room is currently 21.5c (target is 20c), and the bedroom is 18c. So tado has turned the boiler on to warm up the bedroom and is heating the rest of the house. I go up to the bedroom, but the radiator is cold. For some reason the TVR has closed the valve as it’s nearly warm enough. If I set the temperature higher the valve is opened and the radiator beings to warm up, but again it closes before it reaches the target, whilst still telling the boiler to pump hot water around the house to every other room.

So yesterday I contact Amazon, who were kind enough to refund the TVR and I’m back to manually tweaking the Myson in the bedroom to find the right temperature. I’m still on the fence about the Wireless Thermostat and Receiver

Upchic TWS-880 Wireless Bluetooth 5.0 Headphones

I had recently been looking for some completely wireless headphones. My bluetooth, but wired between headphones are OK, but new tech!

However I really didn’t fancy the prices being charged, and I have had previous bad experiences with some a couple of years ago.

So when I found these Wireless Bluetooth 5.0 Headphones for just £30 with a promo code thought it was worth a trial.

Continue reading Upchic TWS-880 Wireless Bluetooth 5.0 Headphones

Anker Zolo Mojo Review

The Mojo is a Google Assistance device very much like the Google Homes. I got one on import a while ago for my desk.

Now we don’t have a Google Home nor an Amazon Alexa so I can’t compare to them, but as someone who isn’t an audiophile I’m pleased with the audio quality that come out of them.

Now I primary listen to Radio 2, RadioX or Spotify at my desk, whilst all of this is possible via my laptop, my laptop speaker isn’t great, I also use sites that need sound, so I had to adjust one and the other to get the best balance and also I’m not hogging ram.
Continue reading Anker Zolo Mojo Review

Aukey Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker

Thanks to the wonderful people at Aukey they’ve sent me some stuff to test.

Next is the Aukey Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker.

This little bluetooth speaker is built like a builders radio, it can take a good kicking and I’d expect it to survive a drop from some scaffolding.
The audio quality is what you’d expect for a £20 bluetooth speaker, good but not amazing.
Pairing was a breeze with my mobile, however after that it was let down by the bluetooth. I had the speaker on my dining room table, walking through the doorway to my kitchen (a distance of several meters) was enough to cause the audio to start dropping out, which means that either the phone stays with the speaker, or the music has to be paused if I’m not close enough.

img_20161120_200859It has a hidden micro usb port for charging and also comes with a 3.5mm port for audio in, if the device you use doesn’t have bluetooth. It would have been nice if it also had USB A port, then I could have considered powering a Chromecast audio from it and then wouldn’t need to rely on the poor bluetooth, but it’s a cheap speaker.

Overall 3/5

Aukey Nylon Braided Lightning Cable

Thanks to the wonderful people at Aukey they’ve sent me some stuff to test.

First up is the Aukey Nylon Braided Lightning Cable.
img_20161118_101500 img_20161118_101524

By being braided it should be less likely to kink compared to the cable that Apple provide with their iPhones. It’s also less likely to knot up, however when trying to pack it does like to spring out. At 1.2 metres long you can use the phone whilst on charge without having to sit next to the wall.

Being Apple MFI certified, your phone won’t moan about using an unsupported cable.

As with any USB cable the main test is how they perform in 6 months, and I’ll update next year.

WinnerGear Rumba Earphones Review

I’ve used these WinnerGear Rumba Earphones now whilst in the house, walking to work and on the train. I was sent them for free to review and normally use Soundpeats Qy7 bluetooth headphones.

The audio quality is better than my bluetooth headphones and a huge increase on my normal emergency earphones (which came with one of my past mobiles). Although they aren’t noise cancelling, they do a good job of stopping other noises get in. They are sold as “best bass”, I’m no expert but the bass did sound better and not at the cost of the other ranges.

Continue reading WinnerGear Rumba Earphones Review

Mr. Robot

Enjoy computers? Enjoy drama? Then watch Mr. Robot!

Amazon have got the UK rights and you can watch it as part of their Amazon Prime service.
If you don’t already have Prime and not had it for the last year you can get a 30 day trial in which you can binge all ten episodes.
Alternatively you can by the show for £16.99 in HD and episode 1 is available to watch for free.

I want to rave about how great it is, but don’t want to spoil a thing, other than the final scene of episode 9 was so rewarding.

Soundpeats Qy7 Bluetooth Headphones Review

I’ve had my Soundpeats Qy7 headphones now for over 6 months and they are a great buy.
The quality of the sound is fine for my ears (I’m sure for audiophiles you’ll have some issues) and they stay in whilst at the gym or walking.
I use them most days and the battery life is around 7 hours per charge and a full charge doesn’t take too long to complete.
I went for the black and red model, however since then the range of colours has extended to include full white, full black and yellow cables, plus the original green ones.

Continue reading Soundpeats Qy7 Bluetooth Headphones Review