13 honest reviews of things we tried in July | Dyson
Every month The Huffington Post Canada's Living team will review products or experiences that have sparked our curiosity, made us sweat or is the latest, trendiest thing in the world of healthy living.
This month we focused on trying to eat healthy, sleeping more and like always, finding fitness gear that works in our busy schedules.
First impressions: Whoa, neon. Also, I am not sure how I felt about these pads — my first impression was that they seemed like they didn't provide enough coverage.
Pros: For anyone looking for a decently-priced bra for things like running or hiking, this classic padded bra is a good fit. The straps are sturdy (and ideal for anyone with a large chest) and the pads actually stay in place. The Dri-FIT fabric and mesh lining is also good for sweaty workouts, just don't do anything too intense. I also did two rounds of washing in the laundry machine — the bra still looks good as new.
Cons: I felt the band was too tight from time-to-time or I had to adjust the pads especially after going for a run.
Final words: Again, this bra is made for medium-impact workouts, I would skip it if you're doing anything more intense. But for something at this price point, it is a good investment for gym-goers.
First impressions: This isn't your average-looking shoe. It is super light, the laces are simple and it feels more like a slip-on than a running shoe.
Pros: For stability and grip, this shoe is a winner. I tried a series of workouts — stretching, upper body and core workouts — and there was no slipping or sliding at the gym. Nike says the sock-like upper and outsole that expands, flexes and contracts, moving with the rest of your body.
Cons: I do have wide feet, however, so it wasn't as simple as just slipping the shoe on. My only con with this shoe is the fabric around the ankle. The first time I tried them I went running on the treadmill and right away I noticed a tight grip around my ankles. An easy fix of this (which I discovered later at least) was getting higher socks or thicker socks.
Final words: This shoe isn't cheap so I would only suggest investing in it if your main fitness focus is weight training and any type of group fitness. They can be a little challenging for long distance running and walking, but to be fair, they weren't designed for this type of fitness. Also, if you do get them, prepare for a shoe that hugs your foot all day — something I wasn't used to at first.
The starter kit comes with two bulbs and I tested one out in my bedroom using a desk lamp. Along with a remote (which to be honest I have no real use for), the kit also comes with the Hue Bridge that connects to your router and you are expected to download an app that lets you turn the bulb on and off (I know, so cool).
Review By: Arti Patel, Living Editor
First impressions: How on earth is this light bulb going to help me fall asleep and wake up when an alarm clock doesn't even help?
Pros: I have to admit, I am not the best sleeper. On average I get about five and a half to six hours of snooze time a night and I am terrible at waking up. This smart light bulb has many functions, but for the purposes of this review, I wanted to see if it could wake me up and help me fall asleep. I am also the type of person who needs to sleep in darkness, so I was surprised how quickly I feel asleep the first time I used it. Set up was simple and the app is pretty user-friendly. On my first night, I set my bedtime at 11:45 p.m. (the light will fade out after 30 minutes) and set my wake-up time for 6:15 a.m. (the light gets brighter mimicking the sun). On my first night, I fell asleep very quickly (but also assumed it was because I was tired) and woke up naturally around 6:10 a.m. the next day — this was the first time I woke up without an alarm clock. The next few days (I tested it for a week), the results were the same. I quickly fell asleep and I woke up either before or after my set "wake up call" on the app.
Cons: For people without a small lamp or a certain type of light fixture in the bedroom (I for example have only spotlights), there is no point in using these bulbs. I wish the app itself had a tracking function so you could see exactly when you were sleeping and waking up every morning — helping you stick to a routine.
Final words: Using a light bulb didn't make waking up any easier, it just meant I didn't have to keep snoozing an alarm clock (something I've been doing for years). I was surprised at how quickly I fell asleep however, and it was pretty impressive in a sense it was all controlled through a phone. It may not be for everyone but my biggest takeaway after using these bulbs is how much sleep I should be getting every night. One thing I noticed after the first two days is how much earlier I was physically in my bed. The starter kit is also recommended for parents looking for a smart nightlight and for people who wake up several times throughout the night to help them fall back asleep.
First impressions: I don't like overly sweet stuff or granola bars with fake tasting chocolate. I also know what it is like having a very "healthy" granola bar — I was hoping for a mix of both.
Pros: To start, I don't have a sweet tooth at all, but I found these bars to have the right amount of sweetness to them (to be fair, a few other editors on this team thought the bars were bland). The consistency is a little sticky and they make a good afternoon snack. The chocolate banana flavour was also good.
Cons: I wished they were a little bit bigger in size, but with a small amount of ingredients (and only six grams of sugar) there really wasn't much to complain about.
Final words: For anyone with any allergies (wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish or soy) these bars are life savers — it can be tricky to find snacks with so many restrictions.
Price: Boxes start at $79.99 (Pronto box: 3 dinners for two people) up to $129.00 (Family Box, 3 meals for four people). Go here for more info on prices.
Review By: Chloe Tejada, Senior Living Editor
First impressions: I'm not a strong cook so the fact that these ingredients come pre-measured and with easy-to-follow recipes that I've never tried before made me really excited.
Pros: The recipes were super simple and easy to understand so I was able to cook with ease. All the ingredients are pre-portioned so there's no waste and little measuring you have to do yourself.
The ingredients were fresh and the resulting meals were delicious. It's very convenient if you haven't done your grocery shopping and need a few meals to get you through the week, and the recipes are good inspiration for meals you may not have tried before.
Lastly, the recipes have nutritional information so you can see how many calories, fat, sodium, etc. you're consuming.
Cons: The main cons for me are the price (a box is almost the cost of a week's worth of groceries) and there are currently limited vegetarian options. (Out of the four meal choices you can pick for your three-meal box per week, only one meal is veg.) As someone who doesn't eat beef or pork, I couldn't eat one of the meals (steak) because of my eating habits, so someone who is vegetarian would not be able to eat all of these meals. You also can't ask them to remove certain ingredients from the boxes, so there's no flexibility there.
HelloFresh says allergy cards are clearly labeled and are compliant with industry standards. They also say that they maintain the same standards for declaring potential traces of allergens. However if you do have nut allergies, the packaging notes that the food is processed in a building that houses nut products, so proceed with some caution.
The other big con for me is that the boxes are only delivered Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. while you're probably at work, so the box will be left outside your home or with the concierge if you live in a condo. Meaning, meat can't be stored in a freezer until you get home, which leaves it vulnerable to going bad, especially on a hot day. While the box the food comes in does have several ice packs to keep meat cool as well as a thick liner (tailored depending on the weather), it doesn't replace a fridge. The box says "Keep refrigerated," and food and safety practitioners recommend storing meat in a freezer or fridge until ready to use.
Final words: I think HelloFresh is a really great idea for people who don't do a lot of grocery shopping but like cooking to an easy-to-follow recipe that doesn't take too much time. If you don't mind the cost, aren't a vegetarian (or have a meat restrictive diet), and can be home when the box is delivered, then it's a fun way to cook and try new meals.
First impressions: I've never owned or even tried on a Smartwatch so I was really curious to see what all the fuss was about.
Pros: The watch has a sleek design and many wristband options. It's also comfortable to wear and fairly lightweight. The set-up instructions are simple to follow and it's quite user friendly; swiping and switching from app to app is easy.
The watch keeps track of your basic fitness/wellness needs such as steps taken, calories burned and distance travelled. Lastly, it's quite affordable in an already crowded smartwatch field.
Cons: For a smartwatch, it's pretty basic and I feel like your own phone could do everything it does, and more.
For those who are into fitness bands, this isn't the watch to get: it doesn't have a heart-rate monitor and there are a lot better options on the market. It also has limited iPhone capabilities; it works best for Android.
I also found it hard to find answers for technical support. I couldn't change the age on my wellness profile (the default is 20 years old), so I felt it wasn't measuring my fitness properly.
Final words: It’s a good cheap option for a basic smartphone but if you’re looking for a fitness watch, there are better options. And if you have an iPhone, it might be better to look somewhere else.
First impressions: This watch is a conversation starter.**
** Conversations may be limited to "Is that an Apple Watch?" and "No, it is not."
Pros: FitBit app and community are aces, the coloured touchscreen is viewable indoor and in direct sunlight, and it tracks calories, steps, heart-rate, distance, and steps climbed. It also pairs with phone for phone calls, text notifications, calendar reminders and music playback. Has easily swappable bands.
Cons: Limited number of watch faces (there's only four), FitStar workouts feel gimmicky. No built-in GPS for running route mapping. Finicky touchscreen when you're sweating up a storm. The priciest FitBit (currently) on the market. Charging from the proprietary clamshell dock can be awkward.
Final words: In the two months I've sported this watch, I've had friends and family ask if I'm wearing an Apple Watch. And I think it's something of a compliment to the FitBit Blaze. It's the prettiest wearable the company has produced to date and bears a similar square profile, minus the rounded edges.
But that's where the similarities end.
For smartwatch users looking for their next wearable, jumping to the FitBit Blaze may feel like a step backwards. It's limited in its capacity as a smartwatch (which is probably why it's wisely branded itself as a fitness watch).
There are no additional apps you can install and barebone functionalities like timer and alarms are buried in the menu. Receiving phone calls, texts and notifications works well enough as does changing songs if you're listening to tunes from your phone.
FitBit users looking to upgrade might find some value in the watch's coloured touchscreen and its ability to pair with your phone. As for anyone looking for their first fitness tracker but doesn't want to enter dull-smartwatch territory, this device fits the bill.
First impressions: Really, you want everyone to see your back bulge while running?
Pros: Ultra light and airy, not only does this loose fitting tank let your skin breathe, it also allows for a wider range of motion. And since it's made from dri-fit fabric it wicks away sweat. It also gave me a good excuse to wear those cute sports bras I'd never imagine showing off alone in the gym. The thin fabric feels almost weightless on the skin and it washes easily.
Cons: The drop arm holes were a bit too exaggerated for my liking and it felt strange running in such a loose fitting top.
Final words: I'd definitely use this tank again, but mostly in the weight room. It is great for layering and makes a good option for those who sweat a lot but don't want to work out in just a sports bra.
First impressions: This is really cool, but I can't afford that.
Pros: This lightweight vacuum does all the work by itself. You can turn it on manually by hitting the power button and letting it run, or you can download the Dyson Link app and schedule a clean on certain days or at certain times from wherever you are. The app will notify you once the vacuum starts and finishes. If the battery on the vacuum is running low during a clean it will drive itself back to its charging doc and recharge enough to finish cleaning the space, so you'll never come home to a messy house and a dead vacuum in the living room. The vacuum was made with a built-in 360 degree camera so it can take a map of your space which is turned into a blueprint so you can see exactly where the Dyson cleaned. It also has built-in censors so the vacuum will never drop more than two centimetres.
Curious as to how the vacuum would work with pets, I took it to my sister's place, and since it only weighs 5.3 pounds I was able to toss it into my backpack. Her cat had no interest in the vacuum even though it made noise (as all vacuums do) and moved on its own. The cat just sat on the couch uninterested as the vacuum sucked up what seemed to be three cats worth of hair.
Cons: You still have to clear your floors of stray items like socks and cords which can jam the brush bar. You will also have to clean the canister — often if you have pets. The vacuum also takes a long time to run, which is fine because you're probably not home when it is on. To clean my nearly 600 sq. ft. condo it takes the vacuum just under three hours.
Final words: It's a lot of money, but it's worth it. I typically Swiffter my wood floors every night because my long hair gets everywhere, and even though it doesn't take long, it feels like a chore and somehow my floors still don't seem spotless. With eye-nstein (yes, you have to name it, and yes I named mine eye-nstein) I come home to a clean house every day. And I know it's clean not just because I get a blueprint that shows me, but because I see a canister full of dirt, dust and hair, oh and also because I check the corners of my home just to make sure. Oh and my hair (which usually clogs brush bars) actually ended up in the canister and not in a knot on the bar.
If you do invest in this machine I am warning you not to sit and watch it in action — it will drive you crazy because it will not clean in straight paths, but rest assured that this is because it is cleaning every inch it has access to.
First impressions: Eco-friendly toothpaste, I'll try it.
Pros: This toothpaste is vegan and cruelty-free. It has no artificial colours or foaming agents and still leaves your mouth feeling minty fresh.
Cons: The texture is very gritty. And while being fluoride-free might be seen as a good thing, most dentists recommend it since it helps prevent cavities.
Final words: This isn't for me. The texture and lack of foam was a bit of a turn off and I felt like I was brushing my teeth with a mixture of baking soda and water. That being said, my breath smelled fine and I didn't notice extra plaque while flossing.
First impressions: I'm a major pasta lover so any chance to try new pasta is always good in my books.
Pros: I think this pasta is good for people who don't have a lot of time to cook and want to shave off as many minutes as they can when making dinner. The Pronto pasta basically removes the step of having to drain your water in a collander by asking you to boil the pasta with water in a skillet, letting the water evaporate as the pasta cooks. Then, you can add whatever other ingredients you want right in the pan.
Cons: I'm not a pasta expert but it's not the best pasta I've ever had. I made it with a simple pasta sauce, so I could get a real feel for the pasta, and it was just OK. I wasn't blown away by the texture or taste. I also added an extra cup of water than what was recommended, because otherwise the pasta wasn't completely covered with water, although this could vary by pan.
Final words: I think this pasta is good for those who aren't picky about quality pasta and just want a quick meal. I would definitely recommend adding extra herbs, spices and veggies to this pasta to amp up the flavours.
First impressions: I love iced coffees but I've been reluctant to try the single serve bottles you can get at grocery stores.
Pros: I would say that this drink is great for people who really love their coffee. You can really taste the 100% arabica coffee extract, so if you like your coffee strong, you'd probably be into this. I also like that it's just 1 per cent milk fat (M.F.). The packaging is great because the bottle is easy to handle with a natural groove for your hands, and the design is pretty sleek.
Cons: There's a ton of sugar — 28g to be exact— so it's not a healthy drink option. All that arabica coffee extract might also put off people who prefer a milder coffee because it is pretty strong. I also found it really filling after only drinking about a third of it.
Final words: I'm still not sure about single serve iced coffees. I prefer getting them "fresh" from a coffee shop. However the Natrel one is probably a good option for people who want to store some in their fridge. Just don't drink a lot of them because you will probably crash and that much sugar on a daily basis isn't good for anyone.
First impressions: "It's like having my own personal trainer on my phone!"
Pros: Tons of different workout options based on your goals, fitness levels, schedule and access to equipment. Customizable workout plans, video demos for each exercise and voiceovers and timers to guide you through the exercise properly. Tracks your activity, including amount of workouts completed, NikeFuel points and miles travelled.
Cons: It's tricky to reschedule the workouts placed in the customized plan. If I miss a workout one day, I'll try to do it on the scheduled "Recovery Day," but once the week is over, you are unable to go back and go complete any missed workouts. You also can't 'lock' your screen, which could be problematic if you press "End workout" by accident on your touch screen. If you do accidentally end your workout too early, you'll have to restart the whole workout as you can't skip through any of the exercises.
Final words: This is definitely an upgrade from the previous Nike+ Training app. The older version was definitely more challenging for me, especially as a beginner, as the exercises were too difficult and more suited to someone who works out regularly. With this app, I can choose exercises and workouts based on my fitness level and goals, and gradually work my way up to more challenging plans. The voiceover and timer is a great guide and it's super helpful to have the video demos of each exercise. The workout schedule also keeps me motivated and on track — I only wish I could move around the workouts so I have the chance to "catch up" in case I miss a designated workout day. My only concern is that I'm not sure if my form is proper when doing the exercises. While the voiceover does provide tips on form, there's no real way for me to know if I am doing the exercise properly unless I had a trainer with me. But considering the app is free, it's definitely worth a try.