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M. Thompson (Leeds, England)

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GLADLE 10 LED Multicolor Submersible Party Vase Base Light Bright Lamp Remote Control
GLADLE 10 LED Multicolor Submersible Party Vase Base Light Bright Lamp Remote Control

4.0 out of 5 stars Solid, good light, slightly shoddy manufacturing, 1 Jun. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These little mood lights are really pretty good. They are bright and have a good range of colours, transition patterns etc. The remote works well (although be careful if you buy more than one unit - the remotes are all the same, so unless you point it very carefully at the unit you want to control, pressing one remote will change all the units in the line of fire) and the construction seems very rugged. I've not tested the waterproofness, but the seals seem good and they are sturdy so I'd be happy to try.

Only niggle is that on one of the units I bought (out of 2) there was a spring missing from the battery compartment (see photo). It's not the end of the world - I just stuck a small amount of folded up tinfoil in the gap (being careful not to short it) and it is fine. If you really wanted to and had nothing better to do, you could get a small spring or wind some wire to make one and solder it in. It's on my to-do list, right after "clean the oven" and "solve world poverty". You get what you pay for, and these were cheap. In this case I'm happy I've still got a good deal.
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Bitdefender Total Security 2016 - 1 Year - 3 Users - DVD Case (PC)
Bitdefender Total Security 2016 - 1 Year - 3 Users - DVD Case (PC)
Offered by Esale Express
Price: £16.95

1.0 out of 5 stars Total headache, 1 Jun. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I read lot of reviews saying how great Bitdefender was, and that it was so much more resource friendly than any other anti virus. But I have been really disappointed with it. There have been a few key issues:

1. Very slow start up. When I first installed Bitdefender it slowed my start up time right down. It's ironic, because one of the features of BD is that it includes a "Startup optimiser" which supposedly monitors all programs that launch at start up, tells you how much time they take and allows you to disable or delay them. All programs that is, except BD itself! It conveniently removes itself from the list of start up applications and doesn't tell you how much time it adds to your start up. I have managed to reduce the time by turning off quite a few of the modules (vulnerability scanning, SSL scanning, antispam and ransomware protection), but this is far from ideal (after all I've paid for all these extras), and the start up still takes a while.

2. Total resource hog when it wants to be. Once you've waited for it to start up, it runs fairly smoothly. It seems to go about scanning downloads, attachments etc fairly well, monitors port traffic etc and even alerted me to some potential hacking attempts that my previous software never did (turned out they were to do with streaming media from my home network to the TV). However occasionally I'd be right in the middle of something and my internet speed and hard disk usage would come to a standstill. This was as BD downloaded the latest update (which it does daily). It totally took over my bandwidth whilst downloading, then sent my hard disk usage soaring as it installed, patched or whatever else it did. There's nothing you can do about it. You can try and stop the update, but by the time you've clicked the button, it is in the middle of it and doesn't respond. You just have to go make a cup of tea and come back in 5 minutes! Not good for a program that promises to just get on with it quietly in the background.

3. Email certificate hell. I use Thunderbird as my email program and have quite a few different accounts with different set ups. As soon as BD was installed Thunderbird kept asking me to install new security certificates. It repeatedly popped up FOUR identical messages each time I opened Thunderbird, and then another 4 whenever I checked for new mail. After some searching I found that it was because of a setting in BD web protection called "Scan SSL" and the only fix was to disable this setting. SSL scanning is not essential, but again, I'd rather have the extra protection having paid for it.

So all in all I'm really not impressed. After a lot of frustration and tweaking it now just about does the job (albeit with half the modules turned off) and I will try to persevere for the 327 days of the subscription I have left, but when that is up (or sooner if I get to screaming point with it) I shall be going back to AVG which I used with hardly any trouble for 4 years.

Halloween Party Mist Maker Fogger Mister with 6 LEDs
Halloween Party Mist Maker Fogger Mister with 6 LEDs
Offered by Aquapet
Price: £17.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as dramatic as expected, 15 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
NB: I bought this as a Halloween party prop, not for a reptile house. So please read accordingly.

I think I was expecting too much of this device. I imagined billows of mist overflowing the bowl, but it barely manages to reach the rim. The effect is ok, but whatever you have in mind, scale it down!

It is super simple to use - just put it in a bowl with water covering it to about an inch and turn it on! It is safe with no chemicals or hot water and will just keep going and creating mist. As well as the mist, this does spit out larger drops of water, which get the surrounding area wet. Bear this in mind where you use it.

The LEDs are bright, but there is no way to control the pattern or turn them off which is annoying.

I'll use this inside a pumpkin as a centre piece and hope the effect is enough.

Xcellent Global 12pcs Submersible Waterproof Underwater Tea Lights Colour Changing Flameless Safety LED Candles for Decoration LD040
Xcellent Global 12pcs Submersible Waterproof Underwater Tea Lights Colour Changing Flameless Safety LED Candles for Decoration LD040
Price: £7.55

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Only use as a disco for fish, 14 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Length:: 0:34 Mins

Well they work, but the colour changing is rubbish. I thought it would be a nice smooth transition from blue-red-green over about a minute, maybe through yellow, teal, purple and white as well. I was expecting something soothing. No such luck. They change blue-red-green in a vaguely smooth way, but quite quickly, then they flash quickly and annoyingly blue-green-red a few times, before starting again. The whole process takes about 15 seconds which is far too quick. If it was EITHER smooth fades OR disco flashing that would be ok, at least you would know what you're getting, but this is neither one nor the other.

I'd really like a button or switch that cycles through solid colours, then a smooth fade, then a disco effect, but I'm asking way too much of a 75p bit of plastic.

2 stars because they are submersible, are bright, last a good while and all 12 in the pack worked for me. Losing 3 stars because they are likely to give you a seizure.

Croco® Neoprene Protective Sleeve/Case (15" Laptops, Brown)
Croco® Neoprene Protective Sleeve/Case (15" Laptops, Brown)
Offered by ExpressPro
Price: £9.97

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice product, but fitting a case to a laptop is pot-luck., 27 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought this to protect my new Dell XPS laptop. It is a nice product, and I really like the design, but it just doesn't fit my laptop. I know all laptops are different, but then cases should be different as well, not just "up to 13 inch" and "up to 15 inch".

That aside...
The case is well constructed and well padded, but doesn't add masses of depth to my laptop which is good. It is also very lightweight. It unzips all the way around so you can in theory keep it on whilst using your laptop, or if your charging port is on the side you can plug it in and still zip it up. Inside the case there are elastic straps that fit over the corners of your keyboard and screen to keep the case attached. These don't work for me, as the case is too wide (front to back) and the straps just come off the screen when the laptop is open.

The inside is quite smooth nylon, which is good as it means that if your cooling vent is on the bottom (like mine) some air does still get to it. If the inside was furry, you'd overheat your laptop by keeping it in the case.

I'm going to see if I can doctor the case to better fit my laptop, but at least it does the job of protecting it from bumps and scratches when I'm carrying it around in my bag. And the "bar of chocolate" design is a good talking point!

Anker 2nd Gen Astro E4 13000mAh 2-Port (3A Output) Fast Portable Charger  External Battery Power Bank with PowerIQ Technology for iPhone 6 Plus 5S 5C 5 4S, iPad Air 2 Mini 3, Samsung Galaxy S6 S5 S4 Note Tab, Nexus, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, PS Vita, Gopro, more Phones and Tablets (Black)
Anker 2nd Gen Astro E4 13000mAh 2-Port (3A Output) Fast Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank with PowerIQ Technology for iPhone 6 Plus 5S 5C 5 4S, iPad Air 2 Mini 3, Samsung Galaxy S6 S5 S4 Note Tab, Nexus, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, PS Vita, Gopro, more Phones and Tablets (Black)
Offered by AnkerDirect
Price: £19.99

126 of 131 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for the digital traveller - if going to far-off corners of the world, or just commuting to work!, 27 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was very impressed with this charger. It charged up multiple phones quickly and many times, is well designed and made, and Anker's approach and ethos are very refreshing.

I bought this to take on holiday with me, as we were going to be travelling quite a lot and I wanted something that could keep my phone charged up if I couldn't get to a plug (I did NOT want to lose my music and films 2 hours in to an 18 hour long-haul flight!) This baby was a life-saver. I reckon I could fully charge my phone from absolutely dead almost 4 times before the unit needed charging.

What was more impressive than that was the speed it charged - I could almost see the percents ticking up as I watched! You might think that a phone will charge at the same rate regardless of how it's plugged in, but that isn't so. Sometimes different chargers are lower powered, and sometimes they just don't speak the same language as the device being charged. Anker use something they call PowerIQ to identify the device plugged in and charge it at the optimum rate. Clever stuff. I can safely say that this charged my phone FASTER than the wall charger that the phone came with. I'm considering using it at home as well as travelling!

The best thing about it is its portability. You can plug your phone in, leave them both in your bag for the 20 minutes it takes to transfer at a bus station (when you're too busy trying to work out the timetables/terminals/tickets/toilets to be using it anyway) and your phone is well on it's way to being charged again.

It was useful having 2 USB ports, as both me and my girlfriend could charge at the same time. Plugging 2 phones in does make the charging a bit slower, but not by much.

The unit itself charges up quite quickly but this depends on what you use to plug it in. My travel adapter has a USB port which gave out a good amount of power and charged the unit from flat in about 5/6 hours, but my phone charger (wall plug to USB) took all night and some of the morning!

NB. there is no wall plug adapter supplied with this unit, just a USB cable. To charge it, you either need to buy a USB-wall plug adapter, or use a computer (not very practical) or phone charger.

The unit feels very well made. Size-wise it is slightly smaller than a laptop transformer, and probably about as heavy, but it's not fat, it's all muscle as they say. On the end are 2 standard USB ports, a micro-USB port (that you use to charge the unit) and a bright LED torch. The torch is a bit of a gimmick, but who knows - one day I might be very pleased to have it! With the battery power in this pack, I imagine the torch would last for ages.

On the top, 4 blue LEDs show you the capacity of the unit and if it is charging. On the side is a single button that turns the unit on (but it turns on automatically when you plug something in) and also turns the torch on (press and hold for a few seconds). I was slightly concerned that the button could be long pressed accidentally in my bag and the torch could be burning away, but I never had any problems.

The unit also comes with a very nice, fitted, padded mesh bag. Far from being a useless "extra" that they've just thrown in, this bag is very good. You can keep the unit in the bag all the time and still have access to the ports, it does a great job of protecting the unit, you can store the USB cable in the bag when not in use, and because it's mesh, the unit won't get too hot when charging.

There was only 1 little niggle for me: the USB cable supplied with the unit was not great quality and had a dodgy connection. This was a real shame, because the quality of the rest of the unit was so high. Given that most of the time this will be used for charging on-the-go (in backpacks, pockets, vehicles etc) they should have invested in a better quality and more rugged cable.

I'd never usually single out the packaging of a product, but in this case I will because it came in a very neat cardboard box that was both eco friendly and easy-open. It included a feedback card that told you how to get in touch if anything was wrong (it's got an 18-month warranty anyway) and a proper, well written instruction booklet that had useful info like what PowerIQ was, USB adapter charging times and FAQs.

• My advice? Buy this product. In a modern world, it is invaluable.
• Keep it charged up - who knows when the next plug will appear!
• Take a spare cable with you. Not only are you covered in case you lose one, but then you can also help out a friend/lonely traveller who is in desperate need of some juice!


UPDATE 7/2/15
Extra gold star for Anker customer service!
They emailed me through Amazon asking if I was happy with this product. I said yes very, apart from the dodgy USB cable, but that I wasn't really bothered - hadn't impacted my experience/review. They were very apologetic and sent a replacement cable without me asking for one! And it wasn't just a straight replacement, it was a much thicker and better quality premium Anker cable!
If I could give 6 stars I would!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 25, 2015 3:28 PM BST

Ex-Pro High Power Plus+ Lithium Ion Digital Camera Replacement Battery for Fujifilm FinePix NP-50
Ex-Pro High Power Plus+ Lithium Ion Digital Camera Replacement Battery for Fujifilm FinePix NP-50
Price: £5.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Good replacement for OEM, 27 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've been using this battery in my Fuji Finepix F80 for a few months now and it seems like a good replacement. I'm always worried with non OEM batteries that they just won't last as long, but no complaints so far. I've been using this battery alternately with the original one (about 2 years old, but not heavily used) and they last equally as long.

No Title Available

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does what it's supposed to, but not "universal", 27 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this for travelling through multiple countries. I wasn't sure how reliable it would be, but it worked very well. The plug fitted a variety of socket types and the USB charging ports worked great. The little pouch is nice.

As with all adapters of this type, it is quite heavy and can be a bit precarious when plugged in. I was slightly concerned that it might fall out of the wall. It also takes up quite a lot of room, so it was difficult to plug in next to anything else.

Be aware that this is not a universal charger. It can be used in Europe, USA, Australia, UK and other countries that use those plugs. Check your destination on the International Electrotechnical Commission website before you go:

NB this won't convert voltage, so check the voltage in the country you are going and check that your device can handle it.

Caratest Professional Gold & Silver Testing Kit - Tester Solution, Miniature File, Magnet, Testing Stone & Full Colour Instruction Booklet
Caratest Professional Gold & Silver Testing Kit - Tester Solution, Miniature File, Magnet, Testing Stone & Full Colour Instruction Booklet

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple, quick and potentially very cost saving, 27 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Wanted to be sure that the silver jewellery I bought online was genuine, so got this kit to test. Very good instructions and very easy to use. You don't need to use much of the solutions at all, just a drop, so these little bottles will last for ages. For just £20 you could potentially save yourself hundreds of pounds on counterfeit jewellery.

The kit contains all you need for testing silver/gold items, including a booklet explaining what to do and what to look out for in the test.

NB Doing this chemical test will stain your jewellery item, so use in a hidden place, or use a jewellery cleaner afterwards.

The original order I placed never arrived, so I contacted Caratest and they were very apologetic and sent another kit out by special delivery. Excellent service.

One thing to say is that when it arrived, one of the solutions had leaked. Not great as they contain some very nasty acids. Luckily the bottles were double sealed in heavy duty plastic bags. Just be very careful when handling - always use plastic gloves and wash your hands well, store the bottles upright when possible in a sealable plastic bag, and if you notice a leak, rinse the bottles/bags well with lots of cold water.

P.S. As suspected the kit confirmed that the jewellery I bought wasn't sterling silver, even though it was stamped as such. I tested another silver item to be sure and there was a very obvious and different reaction. Needless to say I'll be having words with the online jewellery seller...

Brinno HDR Time Lapse Video Camera TLC200 PRO & ATH120 Weatherproof case package
Brinno HDR Time Lapse Video Camera TLC200 PRO & ATH120 Weatherproof case package
Offered by GLI Cameras
Price: £196.36

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, easy solution for home-made time-lapse films - set and forget!, 10 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this for work, as we had a big, one-off, outdoor event happening that would take about a week to construct and I wanted to capture it going up. The Brinno was really the only solution for me, as there would be no power on the site until at least the 4th day, and I didn't want to have to climb up a ladder every few hours to change batteries. I wanted "Set-and-forget" which the Brinno delivers in aces.

The Brinno is a great solution for making your own time lapse recordings, and definitely worth investing in if you can think of a couple of projects that you will use it on. The image quality is pretty good, and the HDR on this 200pro model really does help the quality when there is lots of contrast (eg. a cloudy day with alternating strong/weak light or an indoor scene with areas of light and shadow).

It is good that the camera automatically creates a film file (even if you will probably need to do some editing on it, even just to remove the sections where nothing is happening and add some music) but it does have that "home movie" feel to it. In some situations that can be a bonus, but don't think you'll automatically get a beautifully shot, emotive timelapse film. You'll have to do some of the work yourself!

Easy set up and use
Amazing battery life
Self-contained unit
HDR sensor gives good changeable light/low light performance
No special software required to create a video
Good weatherproof housing
Interchangeable, focusable lens

Small screen with not much detail
Screen can be very difficult to see if you are up a ladder trying to get the camera in place - positioning the camera and starting the recording can be a lot of guesswork
Video is HD, but only 720, not 1080
Heavy fisheye effect with wide-angle lens (to be expected)

_The Camera_
The camera and housing are both well made and feel sturdy, but be aware that they are quite heavy, especially with the 4xAA batteries in the camera. The camera can take a memory card up to 32gb, but each film can only be 4gb (not the camera's fault - that is the limit of a single file on a memory card). There is a good way round this though: if you use the timer function (set the camera to record only between certain times of day) the camera creates a separate video for each day of filming.

The menu system is quite intuitive once you've read the instructions and played with it a bit, and it will remember your settings, so you can get it all set up at the bottom of the ladder before having to put it in place!

The lens is interchangeable and seems good quality. You can manually focus it which is really useful if you want to do some close up filming and want to create a nice blur of the background. The lens is very wide-angle (112 degrees) so you can see a lot, but you get a big fisheye effect on your video as well. Probably to be expected, but it did take me back the first time I saw it.

The screen on the back is really quite small and only usable for getting a general idea of what you are capturing, you can't see any detail on it at all. I would suggest setting the camera up, taking a short video and seeing what that looks like on a bigger screen before committing to the real thing. Of course you need to do this without moving the camera, which is neigh-on impossible...

Once the camera is set up to record, you press the button and off it goes. The screen turns itself off after about 2 seconds, which is a bit annoying, because you are never quite sure if it's recording or it's just gone into standby mode waiting for you to press the button. There is an LED on the top which blinks each time a picture is taken, but it would be really useful if the screen stayed on for longer so you could see what it says.

The placement of the screen is actually my biggest issue with this camera. In order to see the screen you have to be directly behind the camera. Sounds obvious, but think about where you are likely to put this camera - if recording a construction project for example, it will be on a piece of scaffolding in the very corner of your work site, probably high up and angled downwards. So to see what the camera is seeing, or to change the settings, you will need to do a pretty impressive balancing act to get behind it. It would be much more useful if the screen was able to be tilted downwards, sideways, or even around so that it faced the same direction as the camera lens. What would be even more use is if it had wi-fi functionality and a mobile app where you could change the settings, see what the camera was seeing as you position it, and start/stop the recording remotely. I strongly urge Brinno to take a leaf out of GoPro's book and look in to this for future models.

_The Housing_
I took the case into the shower with me (no camera in obviously!) and it remained perfectly dry inside, so I have no worries about it leaking in a rain storm. It's worth noting that the camera has a tilting lens so you can angle it for the best view BUT the case doesn't. When you use the case you have to have the lens pointing directly forward and tilt the entire body on a tripod (I use a Gorillapod and it works really well). There is a tripod mount on both the camera and the housing, and quite a few fixing holes in the housing so you can use bungees, cable-ties, slim padlocks, security wires etc to secure it how you want.

All the buttons are accessible through the case, except the power on/off switch. This is actually not as big a problem as it might seem, because you can turn the power switch on, put the camera in the case, and it will just go into standby mode until you press another button, which could be hours later, so there is hardly any power wastage.

I had no experience of Time Lapse photography before this, so I made sure I played with the settings and did a few test runs to check positioning, field of view, sun position during the day, appropriate time intervals etc before the actual event, and it really did pay off.

About time intervals - My advise is to capture more footage than less. On most projects like this one you'll usually have periods of intense activity which you want to show in as much detail as possible, and then periods when it seems that nothing has changed for hours - it is easy to edit out or speed up the quiet periods afterwards, but you can't get back the detail of the busy periods if you didn't record them in the first place! I have twice used a time interval of 20-30 secs for a week-long project and that works well.

_Brinno and wi-fi_
Just thought I'd add this little note.
After I wrote that section about how Brinno should think about integrating wi-fi so that you could control the camera from afar, I thought I'd see what I could do myself with a wi-fi SD card.

I chose a Toshiba Flash-Air card, as it was a lot cheaper than an Eye-Fi Pro X2, and you can change the settings. It was never going to allow me to control the camera (ie. Stop/start recording, change settings, or give a live preview of what the camera was seeing) but I hoped I could download the video file at the end of each day and review it without having to go up a ladder and risk moving the camera.

Unfortunately, in order to access the card, the wi-fi has to be on constantly, and that drained the battery after just one day. So this would only be practical if the camera was plugged in to the mains, which is possible to do.

One thing I did do with the Flash-air was set the wi-fi card to stay on for a few minutes after the camera is powered on. This allowed me to check I had the camera positioned correctly. I positioned the camera, started it recording for a few minutes, then stopped it again. I could download the film via wi-fi, play it back on my computer, then start the timelapse for real once I was happy with it.

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