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Quiverbow (Kent, England)
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Ring RAC635 Preset Digital Air Compressor with LED Light, 12 V
Ring RAC635 Preset Digital Air Compressor with LED Light, 12 V
Offered by Performance Centre
Price: £32.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Under pressure, 17 Dec 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When I go to my local garage to get petrol, I usually check my tyres there too. You could ask for a number to punch in for three minutes of either air or the hoover but last time I was waiting to pay, I noticed they now have a minimum purchase of fuel to be able to use their air hose and vacuum free of charge. With this neat gadget, I don't have to go near their, or anyone else's, air hose now.

The first thing to realise is that this plugs into your cigarette lighter/12v socket to work. Once on, it's a simple case of selecting whether to use PSI, BAR, or KPA (whatever that is), then setting what pressure you want, attaching the hose to the valve and pressing the 'On' button. When it gets to the desired pressure, it switches off. If, however, your tyre is over inflated, there's a handy deflator valve available.

However, it's more than just a tyre inflator. Whilst it will manage your car, bike, football, etc. (there are a couple of adaptors for this), it can also act as a torch or a warning light. The dial can be set to a white light (the torch, though you won't be able to wander too far with it), a red flash or a red SOS just in case. The digital readout is nice and big, so you shouldn't mistake any numbers, and the whole thing is pretty compact for storing and coming in it's own carry case.

Okay, most people aren't really ever that far away from a petrol station but there might be times when you can't get to one. In those instances, this is a godsend. It should be in everyone's boot.

The Dark Horse Years 1976-1992
The Dark Horse Years 1976-1992
Price: £116.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a Dark Horse, 17 Dec 2014
This was one of the most underrated box sets to be issued since, oh, I don't know, since box sets were first released. Now, to coincide with the recent release of 'The Apple Years', this has been re-marketed. It means all bar Harrison's final album have been given the remastered treatment, and everything except that posthumous 'Brainwashed' are available in one of two box sets. (As it wasn't a solo release, even though it's usually listed as such, 'The Concert For Bangla Desh' is also missing.) Why were so many of his records scoffed at? Maybe it was because he always seemed reluctant to promote many of his LPs so, as a consequence, no longer being in the public eye, was ignored by those who should have known better.

In the same style as 'The Apple Years', or should that be the other way around, this comes with all six releases neatly filed alongside the DVD, which is within a glossy, hardback book. The narrative is by David Fricke (no, me neither) and Olivia Harrison, and each CD booklet has explanatory text from George or the lyrics, or both. With the release of this, surprisingly, the first four made their CD début.

The bonus demo of 'Tears Of The World' is out of place here, as it was recorded four years after this album hit the shelves. That notwithstanding, this is still a fine CD with fine songs and George's guitar back to the fore. Coming after the somewhat disappointing 'Dark Horse', the critics didn't pay it much attention but who cares what they think? I liked it (and still do), so that's good enough for me.

The nearest he got to what could be described as 'easy listening' in that most of the songs are melodic, had no hard edge and wouldn't have been out of place on Radio 2. 'A demo of 'Here Comes The Moon' is the extra offering. Once again, music critics weren't in favour but a legion of his fans were. (As a point of interest, the original LP had George's name printed top right; this CD replaces that with his printed signature top left.)

This sports the original rejected sleeve. It contains two covers of Hoagy Carmichael songs and it makes you wonder what a whole album of 'standards' from George would have been like. The rest is good too and the acoustic demo of 'Save The World' is worth hearing but is nowhere as good as the finished article. It also has one very important change of lyric.

This was originally released to complete indifference, though it isn't as substandard as many may have you believe. Best thing here is 'Dream Away' (from the 'Time Bandits' film). Lacking guitars, 'I Really Love You' features do-wop vocals and is somewhat unique for Harrison, whilst the single bonus song is a demo of 'Mystical One'. I think this is the worst of his Dark Horse releases, though by now he seemed to be making music as a pastime and appeared uninterested in the business. Five years would pass before...

This is more like it! One of my all time favourite albums and a million seller, this would have sold in huge quantities if he had toured at the time. It spawned three hit singles but any of the other tracks would have done just as well. The most Beatle sounding song since, well, The Beatles, 'Fish On The Sand' was just asking to be issued as a 45. Close your eyes and you'll be back in the 60s. Of the two bonus tracks, 'Zig Zag' was a B side and is George aping the smoky jazz clubs of the 30s, whilst 'Shanghai Surprise' is a pleasant enough duet with Vicki Brown. It would be nearly 14 years before he finalised another studio album.

George on-stage performing a near full set, as a few songs were omitted. It's a double and is also a SACD, which is supposed to be superior to a regular CD but you need a dedicated player for it. If there had been a tour with this same line-up and set list, the queues would have formed days before the box office opened. He sounds in fine voice and the song selection covers his whole career, (well, not quite, as the earliest original song he performs is from December 1965) with a couple of surprises thrown in.

This is the jewel in the crown, as they say. Seven promo videos of six songs (there are two versions of 'Got My Mind Set On You'), four selections from 'Live In Japan' and a feature on the Dark Horse label. What many people forget, or are completely unaware, is that Harrison contributed to five film soundtracks and one for TV during his solo time and there are three here from the awful [film that is] 'Shanghai Surprise'. It's surprising how comic his videos are and in that latter film he makes an appearance as a night club crooner with 'Hottest Gong In Town'. Unless you knew or read the closing credits, you might not realise it's him. Sadly, though this is edited, other than getting the film itself, this is the only place it's available. You can also get this DVD as a stand alone release.

One average and seemingly forgotten CD, three good ones, one must have live release, one gold plated album, and an excellent DVD make up a superbly presented box. Yes, there may be videos and bonus songs (from a vast selection) missing but this can only be reviewed for what it is, not what it could have been. Listening to this and its companion set, you realise how unfortunate it was for George that he was in The Beatles. Had it been any other group, he would have been the main man.

For obvious commercial reasons, this is also aimed at the casual buyer, which is why all the discs are available separately, and those wanting to delve into his solo canon won't be too bothered about alternate takes, etc. Granted those previously unissued bonus tracks are spread rather thinly, but the second half of his solo career is as good as it gets.

Mind you, at the time of review, the price is a bit ridiculous.

NeutronCompression Shorts - Black - Large
NeutronCompression Shorts - Black - Large
Price: £20.00

4.0 out of 5 stars In short..., 16 Dec 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
So, what are compression shorts supposed to accomplish?

They are supposed to improve blood flow around your muscles but I guess without going for tests or whatever they do to measure this, I (and you) are going to have to take their word for it. I might be an ageing footballer who doesn't do much running about (I tend to hang around the centre circle spraying defence splitting passes about), but I have to say these do keep your thighs and hamstrings warm, though don't think they're an aid to not pulling one of those.

They're also a rather comfortable fit, but being black (though other colours are available) you'll have to play for a team that has the same colour shorts or you might feel the wrath of the referee. Worth getting if you take your football, athletics or cycling seriously.

I Wanna Be Santa Claus
I Wanna Be Santa Claus
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £19.95

4.0 out of 5 stars A Christmas presence., 15 Dec 2014
This review is from: I Wanna Be Santa Claus (Audio CD)
It was a rather strange state of affairs that, save for their Christmas flexi discs made especially for fan club members, The Beatles never released a festive style single, nor, indeed, ever included any such song on any of their albums. Still, John, Paul and George all managed to rectify that during the 70s with varying degrees of success but it wasn't until 1999 that Ringo broke cover and came up with something for Christmas; a complete CD of the genre! Unfortunately, as with the majority of what he releases, this was ignored (some would say criminally) by all bar his die-hard fans.

COME ON CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS COME ON: Sounding like something the Glitter Band would have attempted, this is a great opener. This needs to be on Christmas compilation CD.
WINTER WONDERLAND: A singalong that chugs along pleasantly.
I WANNA BE SANTA CLAUS: A single-that-never-was and the best Christmas song by any of the Fab Four simply because the simple lyric couplings are effective. Listen out for the Beatle song reference.
THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY: Starting with some 'Back Off Boogaloo' style drumming, this is taken at a faster pace than most other versions.
RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: Everyone knows this, so we can all join in. The second Beatle to try this, it rocks along nicely.
CHRISTMAS EVE: So slow it seems as if it's going to grind to a halt but that isn't to be negative. It's a really nice sad ballad about a man whose girl has left him. If Sinatra, Perry Como or Crosby had sung this, it would have been a smash.
THE CHRISTMAS DANCE: A Yuletide hoe-down that wouldn't have been out of place on 'Rubber Soul' has good use of the clarinet. A track that deserved a wider audience.
CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE AGAIN: Virtually unheard until 1994, Ringo has continued to use his past as a tool and there's nothing wrong with that.
BLUE CHRISTMAS: The downbeat lyrics make this the worst thing here. It's never been a particularly good song anyway but Ringo tries his best.
DEAR SANTA: What with the plinkety-plink individual plucking of guitar strings, this harks back to the 1950s and is the longest track here. Referencing Lennon's 'Happy Xmas', the tune is reminiscent of 'Oh Darling'.
WHITE CHRISTMAS: Well this is different. Marrying the song to a calypso backing and Hawaiian guitars, it's certainly unusual enough to be quite listenable.
PAX UM BISCUM (PEACE BE WITH YOU): A surprising meld of Indian music and Latin chanting is something straight out of George's drawer. The Beatlesque chanting is broken by Ringo's "Merry Christmas" at various junctures giving contrasting images. Strange but compelling.

Compared to how he has been short changing us time wise with his last few releases, this clocks in at an admirable 45 minutes. Not only that, you get the words on the inlay (something else that has been lacking over the years with him). The surprising thing is, is that none of these songs were ever aired on the radio or television, which is a shame as this merited more. (It still does.) Not blessed with the best singing voice, which he would be first to acknowledge, he makes a decent job of the dozen songs here.

With half a dozen tracks that would have made really good singles, I'm going to stick my neck out here and say this is one of the best Christmas CD around. He treats some well worn songs everyone knows in his own way (but still remain catchy) and four of the six originals are upbeat enough to make the statement that he's having a great time (and all Christmas songs should be cheerful). One thing is for sure; this trashes anything his three mates managed.

If you're fed up with Slade, Wizzard, Wham! and all those other overplayed songs (and who isn't?) and want to hear something else for a change, get this. He doesn't try to be too cute or too clever, and he knows his limitations. I think it works.

Lavolta Folding Laptop Table Desk Tray Stand with Mouse Board and Cooling Pad - 2x Cooler Fans - Aluminium Alloy - Adjustable-Angle Legs - Silver
Lavolta Folding Laptop Table Desk Tray Stand with Mouse Board and Cooling Pad - 2x Cooler Fans - Aluminium Alloy - Adjustable-Angle Legs - Silver
Offered by Smart Parts UK, Digital Lifestyle Retailer
Price: £29.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Silent running, 13 Dec 2014
A laptop rest with foldable legs? What's that all about?

At the higher end of Lavolta's laptop stands is this double fan offering, which comes with three adjustable legs on each side and can/will be confusing at first. Don't try to pull any of the legs down or your heavy handedness will run the risk of breaking one. No, with this stand you have press and hold in the button on each leg and move it round until you get to the desired angle. (To ensure all legs are set the same, each one has a 180° marking, though the bottom two can be turned in a pointless full circle.) Once satisfied, your laptop is placed on the tray to which two plastic clips are attached to the front lip, apparently to stop your laptop from coming over this front lip. Of course, you don't have to extend the legs.

Connect the supplied USB lead to the power socket underneath and turn on the fans. And that's all there is to it. It comes with a left or right mounted, non-adjustable but removable metal mouse 'mat'. It does what it's supposed to do and the fans will keep you cool on warm days too. They're also quieter than I expected, which is a good plus point. It's also good that the legs can be clicked into a variety of positions. Looking at it, it's sturdy enough and, though emptying your pocket a bit more, is a much better option than theirLavolta Laptop Stand Cooling Pad for 13" 14" 15" 16" Notebooks - USB 2.0 Hub 2x ports - Adjustable Angle - Black. It's light, easy to store and is available in a variety of colours.

This was sent to me by the manufacturer for review purposes.

Lavolta Laptop Stand Cooling Pad for 13" 14" 15" 16" Notebooks - USB 2.0 Hub 2x ports - Adjustable Angle - Black
Lavolta Laptop Stand Cooling Pad for 13" 14" 15" 16" Notebooks - USB 2.0 Hub 2x ports - Adjustable Angle - Black
Offered by Smart Parts UK, Digital Lifestyle Retailer
Price: £10.90

3.0 out of 5 stars Take note, 12 Dec 2014
So. A laptop stand that has four angle settings and an inbuilt fan to keep your machine cool. Sounds okay. It's easy to set up. Just fit the metal bar into the slot you want, push in the two 'sliders' into the slot and slide them to the desired width to stop your laptop falling off. Attach the enclosed USB lead, press the little button and off you go. Simple enough, even an idiot could do it (I did). Unfortunately, that exhausts the compliments.

It's cheap plastic. The four foam pads on the tray part were either falling off or stuck on in a haphazard manner. The Lavolta logo sticker was also peeling off (maybe a nothing point to many but if it's there, it should be right). The two 'sliders' had sharp corners and one was missing its foam pad. If you don't have any right sided USB slots, you're in trouble unless you have a longer lead.

I guess it would keep your laptop cool when used over a long period and it is very quiet. It's just that the whole thing looks and feels catchpenny and nasty, but what else would you expect for this price? I can't see it lasting long, so it might be a false economy. Also, when folded down it doesn't lay flat. The fan had a nice blue light though.

This was sent to me by the manufacturer for review purposes.

Beatles For Sale
Beatles For Sale
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £9.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beatles Four Sale, 4 Dec 2014
This review is from: Beatles For Sale (Audio CD)
With everything now instantly available on a plethora of social media sites, goodness knows how many television channels (and still nothing to watch), and music available 24 hours, it might seem strange to those bought up in today's disposable society, but the release of each new Beatles album was a headline grabbing, front page, world-wide event and half a century ago today, December 4th 1964, that's what happened when this, their fourth LP, hit the shelves. At the time, there were suggestions the group didn't appear too keen to have another long player on the shelves, but, with the lucrative Christmas market a few weeks away and America demanding more product, it wasn't a question of 'if' but of 'what?'.

Hindsight may suggest that this was rushed out for that remunerative time of the year, but virtually every LP was in those days. Though there were still cover versions, some were substandard (as songs that is, not in the way they were recorded), and many thought recording covers was a backward step after the all original 'Hard Day's Night'. Even so, to hear the two raucous rockers in 'Kansas City' and 'Rock And Roll Music' is to wonder at the luck of how two of the best ever rock singers, and writers, ended up in the same group. Countering those two was the gold lamé horror of 'Mr. Moonlight', consistently voted one of the worst things they ever recorded, which showed the group weren't immune to bad taste, and George swamped by some ridiculous echo and an extortionate amount of sibilance on 'Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby', though maybe it was intentional all along. Both are easily trashed by any of the eight original songs.

Despite the somewhat despondent nature of the lyrics of equally despairing song titles in many of the self-penned numbers, which could have been their way of complaining about having to produce another long player, those eight fresh songs were another step up the ladder of originality, application and sound experiment. Waiting with anticipation, the buying public knew there would be a surprise or two. Outside, this was a gate-fold sleeve (maybe even the first of it's kind) and inside 'Eight Days A Week' was one of the exciting musical moments. Fade outs were commonplace on songs but a fade-in? Such a thing might not be unusual in this Pro Tools manipulation age, but this is where it started. The false ending on the aforementioned 'Everybody's Trying...' was another departure from the norm, which wasn't in writer Perkins' version. As with many of their 33rpm issues (at 36:58, this was the longest running of their first seven), no single preceded it (with one exception, they always gave value for money) and, surprisingly, only one original song made it into their live act.

Discernment also tells us that 'Beatles For Sale' tends not to make a showing in any poll that asks for someone's top five favourite Beatles LP, and when they were all reissued back in 2009, this was the third worse seller. Even though this is looked upon as a holding operation, and most other groups and artists would consider this the pinnacle of their career, it's still an essential purchase.

Unlike the three LPs that went before, there aren't any discernible differences between the mono and stereo versions to get excited about.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 8, 2014 4:50 PM GMT

Octopus's Garden
Octopus's Garden
by Ringo Starr
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eight arms to hold you, 30 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Octopus's Garden (Hardcover)
How this passed me by, I have no idea (and no, that wasn't a deliberate reference). I have to admit I didn't get this for the book but for the CD and, like me, I have no doubt many other Beatles fans have missed this, and it's something we would all want, as Beatles collectors tend to buy all their solo stuff too.

The CD has four tracks:

1. A brief introduction from Ringo explaining how it all came about.
2. A new recording of the song from, I assume 2013 (though it doesn't mention anywhere who was involved).
3. Ringo reading the words, so we can all follow from the book.
4. A karaoke version of the new recording.

The book is colourful enough and might be something little ones will return to, as long as you play the song.

König Piano 4.0 Bluetooth Soundbar - Black
König Piano 4.0 Bluetooth Soundbar - Black
Offered by Invero
Price: £109.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Sound and (non) vision, 25 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Current LED televisions are brilliant for picture and aesthetics, and one with a 40 inch screen is now only marginally bigger, but a lot lighter, than a seven year old 32 inch set. (It's mainly down to the size of the bezel.) Where they can't compete with older models is in sound. The thin edges mean there is nowhere for a manufacturer to incorporate anything more than a couple of very small speakers that emit equally small and thin audio. To improve that sound, some form of external device is needed, and there are three options available. A soundbase has a somewhat limited choice whilst a surround system is impractical for many people, so what do you do? There is always the third alternative; that of a soundbar.

There is a wide range of choice for these, with an equally wide range of prices, and Dutch manufacturer Konig has a new one out that sits at the lower end of the spectrum, the Piano 4.0 Bluetooth Soundbar. There is a virtually identical soundbar from a UK company called KitSound and Konig also have a cheaper version of the one reviewed here (without the connections), but this is an updated version of both those.

It's black and shiny (hence the 'piano' in the name), which attracts both dust and fingerprints, whilst the front is mesh and incorporates too bright LED's to show what source you're using, though it's fortunate these are only lit for a few seconds. On the right hand end are four buttons; on/off (from standby), volume up, volume down, and mode. As this is 80cm wide, 9cm high and 8.5cm deep, it's not going to be intrusive, though it doesn't look inspiring, and shouldn't cover your television's IR sensor. The remote is what you would expect with everything available to be selected from here.

At this price point it's unusual to find much in the way of connections, a single optical offering seems to be the way, so it's surprising that this has a plethora of sockets round the back. Sporting two HDMI's in, one HDMI out, two optical ins, two AUX connectors and an on/off switch, there's something here for everyone, meaning you can connect your Blu-ray player, Sky box, console, etc. direct to the soundbar. Thoughtfully, the company has seen fit to include a lead for every occasion in the box, with the HDMI lead being hinged so it can slot into any awkwardly placed sockets you may have on your telly. (Be aware that the manual - just one page - doesn't explain how you should connect this and what should give the best results.)

As this is something sold as an improvement to the sound from your set, how does it fare in that most important department? In comparison to those lightweight flatscreen drivers, this has far more 'weight and depth' behind the sound. There are three mode options: 'music', 'movie' and 'night'. The last of these is there supposedly so as not to disturb the neighbours or anyone asleep upstairs. It just makes everything sound tinny, thin and unlistenable, and as you have to crank up the volume to hear anything, rather pointless too. As for the other modes, I couldn't really discern any difference between them, though 'movie' might have a smidgeon more 'body'.

Even so, that isn't the main issue with this, as it will undoubtedly improve the audio. No, the problem I had (and you might too) is that the picture kept cutting out every 30 seconds or so. My telly doesn't have an optical socket, so I was using the three HDMI ports (Sky box and Blu-ray in, lead from the out to the TV) and whatever combination tried, it resulted in the same thing. The screen would also lose the picture briefly each time I used any of the buttons on the remote.

This is a difficult one to judge. I can only evaluate this on what I have and to be brutal, sound notwithstanding, the continuing loss of picture makes it unusable and therefore hopeless. It's now back in the box and under the stairs.

However, to be fair and give the benefit, I might have a conflict somewhere (doubtful), or I have a faulty product that is affecting the visual aspect, this is something that will undoubtedly improve your audio, and something you will only buy once, so it might be for those on a tight budget (and it's always preferable to spend the majority of your money on the television).

It's cheap.
More powerful than the speakers in your telly.
Loads of connection options.
It's compact (it's smaller in width than a 40 inch telly).
Leads (four) are included.

It's cheap.
Insipid, shiny design.
No volume/bass/treble indicator.
Picture keeps cutting out.

Mitre Aircell Power Shinguards
Mitre Aircell Power Shinguards
Price: £8.00 - £11.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Football crazy, 22 Nov 2014
Law 4 of Association Football state that each player must wear the five S's, i.e. shirt, socks, shorts, suitable footwear and shinpads. If a player didn't have the first three of these he, or she, would like rather silly. The suitable footwear doesn't necessarily mean football boots either. It's the last of the five that is the most important, as it can mean the difference between wandering off home after a game for your Sunday lunch or a trip to A&E.

Not too many years distant, shinpads used to be bits of hard plastic you shoved down the front of your sock and were annoying to wear. Now, improving technology has meant a vast advancement in both comfort and durability with these Mitre pads testament to that.

First off, I'd dispute these are cyan/white as claimed, as they look a simple light blue but that's probably irrelevant; they aren't supposed to be a fashion accessory. They are exceedingly comfortable to wear and the sock keeps them in place, so there's no more stopping to adjust your pads during a match.

They fit nicely, and they protected my shins. Okay, at my age, I don't do that much running about on the pitch - I'm the orchestra conductor, so to speak - but young shavers still try it on thinking my advancing years make me vulnerable.

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