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Form Swim Goggles

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The Form Swim Goggles are smart swimming goggles that pack in the tech to track your swims and feature a lens display that lets you view your swim data in real time.

It’s the first wearable of its kind that puts the swim tracking features you’d normally find in a sports watch into a pair of goggles. It also introduces a different way to view the data, helping you to focus fully on perfecting your front crawl and powering through that interval session. 

At £199, the googles aren’t cheap, but they do offer a major breakthrough for wearables that play nice in the water.

Form Swim Goggles – Design

The good news is that these smart swimming goggles look and feel like pretty standard swimming goggles. There’s only one model – an all-black style with clear lenses that comes with an adjustable silicone strap to make sure the goggles don’t slip around. They’re waterproof up to 10 metres, which makes them suitable for most swimming pools.

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The only indication that there’s a bit more to these goggles than your average pair is the small black unit on the side of one lens, which houses the tracking sensors and the display tech. This is accompanied by two small buttons that let you turn on and navigate menus, which you can view through the smart display. That extra hardware doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, as we initially feared it might, and doesn’t feel heavy when you’ve got the goggles on in the water. We’re happy to say the goggles keep their smarts nice and discreet. 

To ensure a good fit, you’ll find five different sized nose bridges bundled in, to ensure the goggles sit securely on your face. It’s important to get the right fit and seal to ensure the best viewing experience from the smart display, so it pays to play around and find which nose bridge works best for you. 

At £199, these goggles don’t come cheap so you’d hope they’ve been built to go the distance, and there are a few features that aim to ensure durability. Form says it’s used eye seals made from FDA-certified silicone to reduce the risk of leaking, which can often happen with cheaper pairs of swim goggles. Interestingly, it’s used the kind of chemical-resistant anti-fog coating commonly found on diving masks. When you’ve got a display built into your goggles’ lens, reducing the chances of fogging is a big deal. 

What we can say from our months of testing is that fogging hasn’t been an issue. You might occasionally need to give them a wipe down, but on the whole they are no different to a normal pair of goggles. They also come with a pretty handy case that’s big enough to fit the goggles, all of the nose bridges and a few extra smaller items you might want to keep nearby during your swim.

Form Swim Goggles – Screen

The AR display is the headline feature here and arguably the most exciting and innovative aspect of these connected goggles. 

Form has incorporated a waveguide display into one of the lenses, which is similar to the tech used by Google for its Glass smart eyewear. With that in place, the lens is able to display words, numbers and very basic icons, which can be viewed while still allowing the wearer to see the rest of the world around them. The display can feature on the left or right lens thanks to the ability to flip the goggles and the display orientation. 

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In the water, the screen is sharp, clear and easy to view. It’s bright too, with the option to adjust screen brightness directly from the goggles. That’s particularly handy when you’re in an outdoor pool and visibility can be a bit more challenging.

If you’re worried about the goggles fogging up to obscure your view of the screen, that simply hasn’t happened to us. Even after a few months of using the goggles, there’s no sign of the screen visibility dropping off and the experience has been the same as our first swim with them.

Form Swim Goggles – Swim tracking

Form promises to track the metrics you can get from a sports watch and more, and uses the same type of motion sensors that you’ll find in a lot of swim tracking watches. Accelerometers and gyroscopes are used to determine when you’re swimming, with Form’s algorithms crunching the swim data numbers. Right now, that tracking is only suitable for pool swimming. There’s no onboard GPS to enable tracking open-water swims right now, but hopefully that will be added in future models.

In terms of what you can see in the smart display, you can view a maximum of three metrics at once. Options include split time, interval time, rest time, stroke rate, stroke count, distance per stroke, pace per 100 metres, pace per 50 metres, distance, length count and calories burned. Form has also added the ability to monitor and view your real-time heart rate when paired up with Polar’s OH1 heart rate monitor, which can be clipped onto the goggles. You can also customise what you see on the companion smartphone app.

To start tracking, all you need to do is hit the power button on the goggles and choose whether you want to track your swim time or dabble in some interval training. You’ll also be prompted to pick pool size, with the option to select custom pool sizes. If you’re unsure of the pool size, you can still track your swim, although you’ll only be able to record duration and count lengths.

Then it’s a case of getting on with your swim. The goggles are able to reliably detect when you’ve started a new length and taken a rest during sets. They won’t start tracking again until you start moving. On the display you’ll see your chosen metrics and a summary of the previous lap when you’ve hit the other end of the pool. When we put the goggles up against a Garmin watch, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the core data, like distance, laps, and pace, were in line with what the Garmin served up.

Form Swim Goggles – Software and app

When you’ve finished your swim and the data has been saved (and you’ve remembered to switch the goggles off), you can sync your workout over Bluetooth to the Form Swim companion app, which is available for Android and iPhone.

This offers a feed of your workouts as well as the workouts of the fellow Form users you follow. If you’ve used Strava, this part of the app will feel very familiar, letting you like and comment on those swims too.

The data is available as highlights or you can drill deeper into sets and individual lengths, and gain an insight into your pace and stroke rate. Whether you want the baseline insights or information that goes beyond that, you’re well catered for.

If you’re not a fan of the well-designed app, a small number of third party apps are supported and cover what many would probably consider the most important ones. You can push swim data to Garmin Connect, Strava, TrainingPeaks and Apple Health. If you want to boast about your swims, it plays nice with Facebook too and it’s very straightforward to connect between two apps.

Form Swim Goggles – Battery life

With any first-generation wearable that promises so much, there’s always the concern that it’s going to have some flaws and battery performance is usually a weak spot. Fortunately, that’s not the case here.

Form says that you will get 16hrs battery life for swim tracking and powering the display, which means on paper it will cover a considerable amount of time in the pool. During our tests, it definitely lived up to that claim and we didn’t need to use the charger very often, even when regularly swimming for 45 minutes to an hour, three to four times a week. The tracking and display don’t sap the battery and even if you’re swimming for an hour every day of the week, or maybe even more, there’s a lot of battery to play with.

When you switch the goggles on, you’ll see a battery bar indicator in the top right-hand corner of the screen that lets you know how much time you’re playing with. When it’s time to charge, there’s a magnetic proprietary charger that clips to the side of the goggles and powers up from 0-100% in around an hour. 

Should you buy the Form Swim Goggles?

If you spend a lot of time swimming in a pool and want to improve your performance or find something that will liven up getting your lengths in, these smart swimming goggles will certainly appeal. 

For pool sessions, they do an admirable job of delivering accurate real-time stats in your eye-line, letting you focus on getting the most from your swim session. You also get a comprehensive breakdown of those sessions in the companion app once you’re out of the water, and everything just works.

At £199, they are considerably more expensive than your standard pair of goggles, but we certainly expected these first-generation wearables to be priced even higher. There are sports watches around this price point, such as the Garmin Swim 2, which offers both pool and open-water tracking, but if you like the idea of not breaking stroke to check your stats, then Form’s goggles are definitely for you.

Form’s Swim Goggles mark a major breakthrough for swimming wearables. They’re accurate, comfortable to wear and it simply doesn’t feel as though you’ve put a piece of tech on your face when you’re wearing them in the pool. Form has now set the standard for any other company with designs on smartening up swimming goggles that swimmers will actually want to own.

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Hands on: Honor MagicBook

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It’s hard to find a cheap laptop that isn’t a Chromebook these days. Most cost in excess of £1000, which certainly isn’t affordable for your average student. Honor looks to provide a solution with its new MagicBook laptop. 

While UK prices are yet to be confirmed, a rough conversion from Russian currency puts the MagicBook at around £700, hitting the sweet spot between modern Chromebooks and ultrabooks. 

Despite its price, the MagicBook looks and feels just as good as ultrabooks twice as expensive. Its metal chassis seems solid enough to endure a few scrapes and scratches, and yet remains light enough that it could easily be carried around with little effort.

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Honor MagicBook 2020

Opened up, the MagicBook looks almost identical to a MacBook. A shiny, purplish tint to the casing at least differentiates it from the hordes of knock-off clones that look to emulate Apple. 

Unlike a MacBook, Honor’s laptop flaunts a fantastic range of ports, including USB-A, USB-C, HDMI and a headphone jack. There’s no need for dongles or adaptors here. This is important, as the MagicBook is being touted as a student laptop. My initial thoughts on the keyboard are very positive too, with enough travel and feedback to qualify this system as a mean essay machine.  

Honor MagicBook 2020

The MagicBook also boasts a slew of features you’d usually only find with more expensive devices, including a fingerprint sensor and a PCI-e SSD that allows for rapid saving and loading times for on-board applications. 

Laptop manufacturers usually sacrifice screen quality when driving down costs, but Honor has fitted a 14-inch Full HD IPS panel here. The display looks bright, punchy and colourful. I won’t be able to determine exact figures until final testing, but initial impressions are great. 

Hands on: Huawei MateBook X Pro 2020 review

Honor MagicBook 2020

So what’s the catch? Where has Honor cut corners? Judging the spec sheet alone, the processor seems the only compromise. The AMD Ryzen 3500u chip is hardly a slouch, but certainly feels outdated in 2020 with the Ryzen 4000 mobile series processors rumoured to launch soon and Intel’s Ice Lake and Comet Lake alternatives offering a significant performance advantage. 

Stick to web browsing, word processing and video streaming, and the MagicBook should run smoothly without a hitch – just keep in mind that you won’t be getting the best performance possible, but that’s reasonable given the laptop’s price. 

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Honor MagicBook 2020

While there’s no dedicated graphics card here – understandably so – the AMD Ryzen 3500u processor does feature integrated Radeon RX Vega 8 graphics. This means you can technically play games on this portable, but we’re talking about the likes of League of Legends and Rocket League rather than Call of Duty and The Witcher. Until we get a review unit, we can’t comment on exact gaming performance or benchmarks, but expect a very basic graphics performance. 

Battery life is also unknown at this point, so it’s not immediately clear whether the MagicBook truly represents good value. But with plenty of high-end features, a lovely design and a promising price point, the MagicBook certainly has the potential to be one of the standout options for students and those on a budget. 

First Impressions

The Honor MagicBook 2020 is tapping into a largely neglected market by undercutting the cost of most ultrabook rivals, but importantly offering more power and freedom than a Chromebook. Such an affordable laptop seems ideal for students, especially with that slick design that imitates Apple’s MacBook.

We can’t be sure of the MagicBook’s quality until the performance and battery have been benchmarked, but the MagicBook looks to have a great shot of being one of the best budget laptops of the year. 

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Hands on: Resident Evil 3

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I remember watching my older brothers play Resident Evil 3 as a child, running downstairs crying to my parents the second Nemesis appeared.

The way Nemesis chased Jill Valentine relentlessly across Raccoon City with the bloodcurdling bellowing of “Stars!” sent chills down my spine, scarring me so much that I wouldn’t return to Capcom’s classic for years.

In hindsight, it feels supremely silly, with the original being drenched in cheesy dialogue and harsh polygonal graphics that sadly don’t stand the test of time. But now, the Japanese publisher is bringing a range of iconic titles back into the limelight with fully-fledged remakes, ready and willing to terrify a whole new generation. I promise I won’t go crying to my parents this time. 

After the rampant success of last year’s Resident Evil 2, it’s being succeeded by the original trilogy’s final chapter. Capcom has once again hit the ball out of the park, coming out swinging with a brave gorgeous reimagining of Nemesis that builds on its inspiration in some fascinating ways. Having spent a few hours with it at a recent event, it’s time to dive into what’s really going down in Raccoon City.

My time with Resident Evil 3 began in a subway station. The zombie outbreak had crippled power across the city, meaning trains weren’t running and the only light on the streets was from rusted neon lights lining the nearby storefronts. It’s a fractured vision of America stamped out by the horrors of pharmaceutical capitalism, an ethos which is punctuated throughout the campaign with campy yet grounded brilliance.

To escape the narrow, zombie-infested streets she finds herself in, Jill Valentine must venture to the surface and reach the nearby substation. Unfortunately, the journey there isn’t easy. With a handful of herbs and sparse collection of bullets in my inventory I left the station where the city’s horrors are finally unveiled. Citizens sprinted past me, some bitten and some not as the undead menace lurched towards them. 

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Resident Evil 3

Crashed cars and raging fires littered the streets, flanked by living corpses who stop at nothing to eat everything in their wake. It was a striking image, and one that stuck with me for the coming hours. Once the public had fled, silence took over.

Carrying a fairly flimsy pistol, I peered down an alley where my first adversary awaited me. Resident Evil 2 did the impossible and made zombies scary again. Unless you land a bullet squarely in their brains, they keep walking. You can blow off their limbs and it does nothing, only slowing the inevitable.

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Resident Evil 3

The weight of each creature felt significant, so letting them get within lunging distance was a recipe for disaster. It’s often best to fire a round into a zombie’s head, staggering them briefly so you’ve a chance to get away. This was made easier with the inclusion of a new dodge move, allowing Jill to dart away from or underneath enemies with a timely button press. It’s a brilliant idea, and one that occasionally removes the frustration of being surrounded by infected. 

A large chunk of my time was spent exploring a number of shops throughout Raccoon City. They’re all ransacked, depleted of supplies or secured in fear of the outbreak. Many of them are filled with corpses, some alive and some dead, although you’ll need to approach them to find out. I made a habit of firing a bullet at ones that appeared deceased, saving me the trouble of them suddenly springing to life. Resident Evil 3 is all about being prepared, always having a strategy ready to enact. 

The gunplay is identical to Resident Evil 2, once against relying on slow, melodic shooting and a keen sense of accuracy to survive. Panicking in a firefight only gives foes a few precious seconds to inch closer, while faster creatures – such as Nemesis – will be on you in seconds regardless. Each weapon has a distinctive weight, especially the shotgun, capable of blowing zombies into gruesome giblets with a single buckshot. 

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Resident Evil 3

Upgrades including laser sights and satchels that increase your inventory space, can be found throughout the city and offer a reason to explore beyond the relatively linear narrative confines – if you’re brave enough, at least. I entered most buildings with a justified feeling of trepidation, weapon drawn and ready to fire. The payoff is normally worth it, and the masochistic side of me loves the thrill of a good jump scare. 

After prowling the streets I stumbled into a nearby substation. A twisted colony of spiders soon crawled out from nests in the walls to impregnate Jill with a horrendous virus that can only be cured by noshing on a green herb. This led to a tense puzzle sequence where I had to navigate a maze switch on generators with spiders hot on my tail. It was a tense encounter, which hearkened back to classic Resident Evil design – both a blessing and a curse. 

Once the bugs were out of the equation, it was back to the streets for our first encounter with Nemesis beyond a few passing glances. To put things simply, he’s terrifying. Capcom has evolved upon the omnipresent nature of Mr. X and twisted them into something truly nightmarish. Sprinting away isn’t a guaranteed solution now, since Nemesis can yank you backwards with his otherworldly tentacles, bringing you to the ground in seconds. 

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Resident Evil 3

This makes the utilisation of Jill’s new skills essential for survival, and dodging past Nemesis with the utmost precision is absurdly satisfying. Capcom has said Nemesis cannot be killed (well, until the plot demands it) and will chase relentlessly throughout Raccoon City. We imagine they will make an exception for set pieces, with one I played seeing him follow you up a burning building, setting it alight with his own personal flamethrower. 

Watching Raccoon City grow smaller and smaller as you ascend into flaming oblivion is an anxiety-inducing delight, reaching a crescendo as you have no choice but to do battle with Nemesis at the structure’s apex. This is where one of Resident Evil’s shortcomings becomes evident, with the boss battles not really having evolved at all. Beating him took a matter of minutes as I strafed around in circles, avoiding attacks and shooting nearby generators to shock him in place. 

Despite its mechanical simplicity, showdowns like this are undeniably thrilling, and I imagine the campaign will be filled with them. Even after a mere couple of hours, Resident Evil 3 is a rattling barrel of paranoia, making the player jump whenever possible with a looming sense of dread. As I temporarily escaped Nemesis’ clutches, a developer places his hand on my shoulder and tells me to stop playing. Jill Valentine’s escape from Raccoon City will have to wait. 

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Resident Evil Resistance

The upcoming remake also comes bundled with Resident Evil Resistance; an asynchronous multiplayer experience following a selection of characters seeking to escape the clutches of an omnipresent mastermind, who is also controlled by a player. The mastermind is capable of spawning all manner of traps, enemies and other obstacles from the gaze of a security camera, watching as the survivors try desperately to solve the mystery that blocks their progress.

It’s a hugely compelling premise, but the execution is tremendously lacking. At the time of writing, it feels woefully unbalanced in favour of the mastermind. After taking direct control of an armoured zombie in the opening moments, I won the match in under 40 seconds by simply spamming attacks towards the survivors. It’s easy to stun-lock them, pinning them to the ground so they’re powerless as the time limit dictating the round whittles down.

Aside from the excellent co-operative play of Resident Evil 5, the franchises’ multiplayer efforts have always been lacking, and this is sadly no different. The melodic gunplay and scrappy melee combat are chaotic and mindless in this setting, lacking the impactful satisfaction of the solo campaign. Instead, tight environments feel clumsy with several players packed into them, equipped with skills that are constantly interrupted by hostile attacks thanks to overlong animations.

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Resident Evil Resistance

That being said, Resistance still has a lot going for it. Characters feel varied enough, distinguished in their roles as healers, tanks or combat experts. I opted for Valerie, a young girl who can lay down a healing spray which replenishes the health of all nearby players. It’s excellent when a zombie gets the jump on you, or if you’re desperately trying to clear a room of creatures camping near an exit. Moments like these are exhilarating, but they’re too often crammed between bouts of tedious frustration.

If Resistance does tickle your fancy, and I’m keen to dive in further on release, there’s an extensive progression system that will see you unlock new abilities, cosmetics and emotes for each character. If you’re a fan of Dead by Daylight or Friday the 13th, there’s definitely fun to be found here.

Resident Evil 3 – First Impressions

Resident Evil 3 is poised to be yet another home run for Capcom, albeit with the ambitious gamble of Project Resistance, which itself still has enough competent ingredients to be a fun addition to the stellar single-player campaign. Jill Valentine’s fight for survival has been recreated for modern platforms with truly stunning production values, ready to terrify a whole new generation of players alongside hardened veterans.

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How to Get Hyatt Status and Rewards: A Guide to Room Upgrades, Free Nights, and More

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Even if you’ve never set foot in a Hyatt hotel in your life, you could arrive for your first visit and already have Hyatt status.

Hoover Steam Express

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The Hoover Steam Express Handheld Steam Cleaner is a handy spot cleaner that comes with an array of small tools and a short hose extension for overhead cleaning.

At times it can feel too powerful for its own good, releasing too much steam and leaving surfaces soaked in water. An option to fine-tune the steam volume here would have been useful. Nevertheless, it’s affordable and easy to use, proving great for anyone looking for a simple handheld steam cleaner.

Hoover Steam Express Handheld Steam Cleaner – What you need to know

  • Grouting – The cleaner emitted quite a lot of water, but restored grey grouting to its original gleaming white state
  • Upholstery – While the steam didn’t make much of a difference to an evenly soiled textured sofa fabric, it removed almost all staining from a smooth upholstered chair
  • Other surfaces – The metal brush helped to clean up a greasy metal rack, while the regular round brush created a transparent patch on the inside of a seriously greasy oven door

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Hoover Steam Express Handheld Steam Cleaner design and build – Easy to grip and handle

At 1.6kg, this steam cleaner is the lightest I’ve tested, allowing for easy handheld use. It has a shape reminiscent of a kettle, alongside a ridged handle for safe gripping. It has a sturdy build, even if some of the plastic edges could be a little neater: the moulding on the water tank cap is a bit messy, for instance.

The water tank itself can be filled from the top of the machine. While there’s no water level indicator, the cleaner comes with a small plastic filling jug. The jug has 100ml and 200ml measurements, and a nice thin spout for precise pouring. Since the tank here is 400ml, it took me two jugfuls to fill it.

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You can put 200ml of water into this steam cleaner

The cleaner is automatically switched on when connected to power, indicated by a red light. A green light indicates the cleaner is heated and ready to use. A full tank took around 2min 45secs to heat up. The steam trigger is on top of the handle and easy to hold down with your thumb. While applying less pressure to the trigger will result in less steam, it’s hard to keep the pressure light when you’re moving the whole unit back and forth to scrub a surface.

As for the electric cord, while 4 metres isn’t particularly short, I did have issues trying to reach areas with no nearby electric sockets – in the bathroom, for instance.

Hoover Steam Express Handheld Steam Cleaner cleaning cupboard
There’s plenty of reach, but you may need an extension cord to get the steam cleaner into some areas in your home

Hoover Steam Express Handheld Steam Cleaner attachments – The hose is a bit short, but there are plenty of accessories

The dark grey plastic accessories all attach to the cone-shaped tool, which in turn can be attached straight to the cleaner, or to the hose. The hose is useful in the main for overhead cleaning, meaning you don’t have to hold the unit above your head, which would become tiring.

The hose isn’t long enough to allow the placement of the main unit on the floor or other such surface, as you would with a cylinder cleaner. It would topple over easily anyway because it’s small and light. As such, it’s best to hold the main unit in one hand with the hose in the other for the duration of cleaning.

The accessories include a small round brush for scrubbing grease and grime, and another with metal bristles for grills and racks. The squeegee tool is handy for cleaning mirrors and windows – but it can also be fitted with a textile pad to use on upholstery. The angled detail nozzle can be used for tighter areas, the crevice brush for grouting, and the scraper tool for removing stickier stains.

Hoover Steam Express Handheld Steam Cleaner performance – Removes stains and grease with ease

While this cleaner fulfilled most tasks successfully, I had to keep dry cloths handy at all times since it tended to leave surfaces drenched.

Starting with the crevice tool, I managed to restore grey grouting on my kitchen floor to its original gleaming whiteness. The floor was also soaked, but thanks to the power of this cleaner, I didn’t need to scrub hard at all and the bristles of the brush still looked straight rather than worn.

I then used the detail nozzle to remove some limescale from the edges of my kitchen sink. The heat and the pressure managed to get rid of most of the white stains.

Limescale test: Dirty sink (left) vs Clean sink (right) – move slider to compare

The scraper tool was useful for removing grease from my ceramic hob. It couldn’t get rid of the worst burnt-in bits, but these can only be removed with a metal scraper anyway. Using the metal brush, I cleaned an oven rack. While this required some hard scrubbing and the bristles looked a little worse for wear afterwards, they could be bent back into shape and the rack itself was gleaming.

Hob test: Dirty oven rack (left) vs Clean oven rack (right) – move slider to compare

With the other, plastic-bristled brush, I cleared a transparent patch on the inside of my oven door, which had long been obscured by grease.

Hoover Steam Express Handheld Steam Cleaner oven door
The steam cleaner helped to lift off grease on the inside of our oven door

Moving on to the squeegee tool, the cleaner helped me tackle soap scum and watermarks on my bathroom mirror and shower screen. It struggled with the most stubborn of limescale marks, but these can only ever be removed with cleaning agents anyway.

The high volume of steam and water was helpful here, especially since glass surfaces need to be wiped down after cleaning anyway. However, I had to be careful not to drip hot water on myself while using the cleaner with the hose above my head.

Glass test: Dirty glass (left) vs Clean glass (right) – move slider to compare

Finally, I fitted the squeegee tool with the textile pad to clean a darkened area on the backrest of my sofa and some stains off an upholstered chair. Since the furniture had become soaked through the process of cleaning, both surfaces had to be left to dry.

The red textured fabric of the sofa ended up looking a little messier, possibly due to the unevenness of the water reaching different parts of it. However, the stains from the smooth fabric of the chair were almost gone, and the overall colour lighter than before.

Chair test: Dirty chair (left) vs Clean chair (right) – move slider to compare

Should you buy the Hoover Steam Express Handheld Steam Cleaner?

If you’re looking for a budget handheld steam cleaner, the Hoover Steam Express gets the job done quickly and efficiently. Note that the steam volume is quite high by default, but you do get a range of accessories.

However, if you’re interested in a budget option that can also clean floors, the Russell Hobbs Neptune Multifunction Steam Mop is only slightly more expensive and comes with adjustable steam volume.

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Citi Prestige Review: It’s All About That 4th Night Free

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The Citi Prestige is starting to look a whole lot better.

The travel card that helped launch the high-cost, high-reward premium arms race almost a decade ago had fallen behind some of its competitors. But time can be a flat circle, and the Prestige has returned in style after the much-beloved Chase Sapphire Reserve raised its annual fee by a hundred bucks. In fact, the Prestige is now our runner-up for the best travel credit card.