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Quiverbow (Kent, England)
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König Piano 4.0 Bluetooth Soundbar - Black
König Piano 4.0 Bluetooth Soundbar - Black
Price: £116.36

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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.

Design.
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.

Connections.
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.)

Sound.
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.

Conclusion.
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).

Pros:
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.

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


Mitre Aircell Power Shinguards - Cyan/White - M
Mitre Aircell Power Shinguards - Cyan/White - M
Price: £12.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Football crazy, 22 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
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.


Braun NTF3000 No Touch Plus Forehead Digital Thermometer
Braun NTF3000 No Touch Plus Forehead Digital Thermometer
Price: £42.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Hey! 98.6 it's good to have you back again.", 16 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Those were the days. A small glass thermometer that the nurse stuck under your tongue, left it there for a minute or so, removed, shook and then wrote down your temperature. They could place them in other places of course, so you always prayed you'd get yours taken first. Give thanks those days are over and that glass thermometer has been replaced by this.

A digital thermometer that you point at someone's forehead to get a reading (in either Fahrenheit or Centigrade, but 37 °C just doesn't sound right). It's easy to use too. There's a switch inside the battery compartment to change from F to C, insert the (supplied) batteries, press the on/off button, wait for the start up sequence to end then press the temperature button that sits under the readout.

Providing you're within the correct distance (5cm), before you realise, the subject's temperature is shown. If the backlight is green (acceptable) there's an audible beep too but if it's yellow or red (elevated or high), you'll here ten quick warning beeps. The sound can be turned off if need be.

Other reviewers have commented on the price but, and to use a well worn football cliché, at the end of the day only you will know whether it's worth the asking price.

Caveat: small children will want a go of this and realise that it does not work on dolls, people on the telly or any other inanimate objects.


Kitchen Basics Ultra-Durable Tri-Blade Vegetable Turning Spiral Slicer / Spiralizer for Zucchini, Potatoes, Squash, Carrots, Cucumbers, etc. / Design vegetable stir-fries or pasta dishes / Decorate serving dishes / Veggie Slicer Cutter to Make Healthy Zucchini Noodles Spaghetti Pasta Dishes; Substitute Noodles and Spaghetti Pasta Recipes with Gluten Free & Low Carb Easy Vegetable Noodles Meals Ideas (White/Green)
Kitchen Basics Ultra-Durable Tri-Blade Vegetable Turning Spiral Slicer / Spiralizer for Zucchini, Potatoes, Squash, Carrots, Cucumbers, etc. / Design vegetable stir-fries or pasta dishes / Decorate serving dishes / Veggie Slicer Cutter to Make Healthy Zucchini Noodles Spaghetti Pasta Dishes; Substitute Noodles and Spaghetti Pasta Recipes with Gluten Free & Low Carb Easy Vegetable Noodles Meals Ideas (White/Green)
Offered by F&W Trading
Price: £34.95

2.0 out of 5 stars "You'll always find me in the kitcen at parties." But not using this, 13 Nov 2014
Those of a certain age will probably remember television adverts by Ronco and K-Tel telling us how we couldn't live without their latest life changing, plastic gadget. A record selector that was only useful if you had no more than 24 records, an electric knife that looked more like a chainsaw, a smokeless ashtray that was useless when someone was actually puffing away, and an electric egg scrambler that scrambled the egg inside the shell (yes, really).

To that dubious list that consisted mainly of kitchen gadgets can be added the 'Ultra-Durable, Tri-Blade Turning Spiral Slicer' from Kitchen Basics. Four suckered feet hold it in place, a vegetable or fruit (but not something like an orange, as things will get messy) is placed onto the spiked holder and pushed against the 'cutting board'. Turn the handle and, depending on which one of the three blades you choose, whatever you're using will come out as a noodle, curled, or sliced. And that's it.

There's a green handle that you're supposed to use to push it along as you turn the handle, but as your other hand will be holding the contraption down (even though you don't have to, believe me, that's what you will do) and you can push and turn at the same time, this bit of plastic is redundant. Actually, the whole thing is redundant.

It will soon find it's way to the back of a cupboard to be met with a, "Oh, do you remember this?" when having a clearout.

Is it a labour saving device? Of a sort, yes, but getting someone else to do the preparation is too.
Will you use it a lot? No.
Is it worth buying? No.

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


Fujifilm X Millican Christopher the Camera Bag - Blue with large insert
Fujifilm X Millican Christopher the Camera Bag - Blue with large insert
Price: £199.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bags of room, 12 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Cross a camera bag with an outdoor fashion brand and what do you get? The 'Christopher the Camera Bag' is what. (Apparently, their range of bags are named after local people in the Lake District, though the only sign of this is on the cardboard tag, which you throw away.) Okay, it was initially designed with Fujifilm's X-series CSCs in mind, but I don't think anyone will question you as to what camera you own should you hold out a wad of cash when buying one. However, though it's billed as a camera bag, this can be used for much more.

Made from organic cotton, recycled polyester, and vegetable tanned leather for the eco-friendly amongst you in a grey-blue colour (it's also available in antique bronze), this isn't just a high quality product; it looks it too. (Fortunately, there's no Velcro in sight - perish the thought.)

The first thing to realise is the buckles can't be undone. It took me a while to figure out they are actually hooks. It fooled us reviewers and it would have you, too. Once open, it's fairly cavernous; not only do you get the main compartment with a zipped insert, which easily swallowed my Olympus E520 and two lenses, but there is a secondary laptop/tablet pouch behind whilst two side pockets make up the internal spaces. Outside, there are two front pockets, one of which has a zippered compartment and the other has three minute ones, of which two can only be used for a single pen (or something of equal dimensions). Within the zipped compartment is a metal hook on which to hang your keys, I'm guessing. Round the back is a press stud pocket that contains a rain cover.

Nestling inside the main storage space is a mini camera case. It's not so much a case, as there's no way of carrying it, so it's obviously meant for your X-series CSC (or other brand). It will hold your camera (but not a DSLR), a lens either side and some memory cards.

The shoulder strap is nice and long but considering the overall quality and feel, my only disappointment is that there's no padding. This might cut into your shoulder after a while. Yes, you can buy a separate strap but that shouldn't be an option at this price point.

This can be used as a smart satchel, an alternative to a boring looking briefcase, or as a substitute handbag for 'er indoors. There's a carry handle too, which is slightly padded in that there's a leather band along its length, but that won't come into play that much. If you want something classy but understated in that it doesn't shout that you're carrying around some expensive camera gear, this could be for you.


( Grey ) Huawei Honor 6 High Quality PU Leather Pull Tab Stylish Fitted Pouches Case Cover Skin By Fone-Case
( Grey ) Huawei Honor 6 High Quality PU Leather Pull Tab Stylish Fitted Pouches Case Cover Skin By Fone-Case
Offered by Fone-Case
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pop up, 11 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A leather pouch for the Honor 6 (or any other phone of the same dimensions) with a tab you pull that lifts the phone out. A simple device to protect your investment should you ever be unfortunate to drop it. Not much else to say really, other than it has a soft lining so the screen won't scratch, but you have a screen protector for that already don't you. Don't you? Oh, it also comes in a variety of colours and you can get some matching earphones too if you pay a bit more.


No Title Available

2.0 out of 5 stars I rest my case, 11 Nov 2014
If you have a tablet of any kind, there are two things you need to buy before you go any further; a screen protector, and a case of some description. Fortunately, this case for the Alcatel POP7 and 7S comes with not only a screen protector, but also a stylus.

The case is black, as you can see, and your tablet is held in place by four clips (one at the bottom, two on the right, one on the left) with the top having a stretch band that goes across the corner. Obviously, these positions are reversed depending on whether you have it right or left opening. There's a magnet on the closing tab to keep it shut when not in use.

That's the good stuff out the way.

Yes, it comes with a stylus but there's nowhere to hold this when you're not using it. Where is the holder? Equally, there is no cut out for the camera, so you have to take the tablet out in order to use this function. If you have the flap opening right to left as some do, you won't be able to access the on/off button as this is hidden by one of the clips.

Okay, it won't cost much but that's irrelevant. It's poorly designed and those quibbles are not necessarily minor ones either. It shouldn't happen.


Wolf Winter
Wolf Winter
by Cecilia Ekbäck
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.72

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Howling Wolf, 5 Nov 2014
This review is from: Wolf Winter (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's early 18th century and fourteen year old Frederika and her younger sibling Dorotea have travelled from Finland with their parents, to settle in an area at the top end of Sweden in the shadow of Blackasen mountain. (Finland was part of the Swedish Empire at the time.) The two girls are herding goats to a pasture when they come across something no teenage girl and her six year old sister should see; the mutilated body of a man. With the assistance of a couple of other settlers, their mother, Maija, takes the body back to his home where the consensus of opinion is that it was the work of a wolf or other predator. Maija, however, isn't convinced.

Though listed in the crime/mystery/thriller genre, it's not really part of that. Yes, the community, or rather Maija, endeavours to find out who killed the man, Eriksson, but the whole book is more of one of survival, and not just against the harshest of elements. Coming across as the strongest character, Maija is the main protagonist and it's to her that the investigation, so to speak, of the crime falls. All is also not as it seems with the mother and eldest daughter, both of whom have the ability to see and converse with the dead. Or is it merely their own minds telling them something they attribute to those of the spirit world? (Those passages did confuse me to begin with, and left me having to skip back to find out whether I had missed the part where Maija's [unknowing to the reader at first] dead mother turned up.)

There's no question that for all the male bravado, it's the women who are the strongest. Damn, now it's got me thinking. Maybe they really are and we just pretend it's us. The priest soon realises the same thing when caught with Maija and her daughters in the 'Wolf Winter', the worst of storms. He comes to realise that superstition is rife and maybe the church doesn't hold all the answers.

For a début novel, author Cecilia Ekback certainly conjures up some fine images and wonderful metaphors and similes. When Frederika strips off to go in the river, you can feel her initial shock of the chill water. When her sister suffers frostbite, you can feel her pain. When everything becomes too much for their mother, you will her to carry on. You also take an instant dislike to certain characters. It makes you wonder why anyone would want to live in such a place. Delightful as it may be in the summer months, surely the winter isn't something anyone would choose to endure.

I wasn't sure about this at first but the descriptive narrative swayed me. I'm not sure phrases such as "Poor sod" and a few others were around in 1717, but I guess no book is perfect. Worth reading.


Orbis Revell Airbrush Power Studio
Orbis Revell Airbrush Power Studio

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let us spray, 3 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've never been very good at drawing or painting. I can do a decent stick man when leaned on, but that's about as far as my experience goes. I guess I never had a particular aptitude for art of any form. Admire it, yes; produce it, no. I can't say this has renewed my interest, as there wasn't much there to start with, but it's certainly given me a reason to stumble around a bit.

There are plenty of stencils included in here – well, 10 actually; five animal and five strange ones – but the idea is to make your own. (You can buy others too.) Valid for skin – it will wash off – cotton clothing and paper, there are eight cartridges in the box though there is also a glass option, but you'll have to get that separately. If you do get other inks, there are four empty slots on the ball for these.

Connect it all together, switch it on and off you go. One caveat is that this has a two pin plug, so an adaptor will be needed. As it's an air compressor, it's also fairly noisy. I've used this a fair bit and there's still some ink remaining in the cartridges, so providing you don't go overboard with it (though you will), you'll get some decent use.

You might think this is aimed at children, and in a way it is, but there's plenty of fun to be had by grown up kids too (including you). It could get messy when first used, so make sure you have plenty of space that can be wiped clean just in case.

It aesthetically pleasing too. Good fun.


Honor 6 4G UK Smartphone (5 inch, Touchscreen, Octa-Core, 3GB RAM, 16GB ROM, 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, LTE CAT6, Android 4.4, Emotion UI 2.3) White
Honor 6 4G UK Smartphone (5 inch, Touchscreen, Octa-Core, 3GB RAM, 16GB ROM, 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, LTE CAT6, Android 4.4, Emotion UI 2.3) White
Price: £249.99

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hanging on the telephone., 30 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Although this phone is not yet available to buy in the UK, the manufacturers give boxed versions to Amazon for review purposes, the same as they give handsets to magazines for review. There has been some comments regarding the suspicious nature of reviews for this handset. All reviews prior to UK availability that have the green banner at the top are genuine, impartial reviews. If you click on the 'What's this?' bit at the end of that banner, all will be revealed.

Before the review, let's see what's in the sturdy, blue box.

A white phone, though it's also available in black.
In-ear headphones.
A booklet that merely tells you where the buttons, etc. are (not a manual, as intimated on the product page though this may change by release date).
A USB lead.
A warranty card.
Screen and rear protectors.
A two-pin plug with USB socket (there will be a three pin plug included when available in the UK).

So, it's a mobile phone and the technical specifications seem impressive. It uses Android 4.2.2, has a 13MP camera (and a 5MP front facing one), is full HD (for video), has 16GB of internal storage, 22 inbuilt ring tones, 26 message tones, it's 4G, has a large five inch screen, and lots of other numbers and acronyms myself and no doubt many others don't understand, such as 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and OTG support.

The first thing to notice about the Honor 6 is that the SIM card (a micro one) is under a flap on the side, next to the micro SD card slot, so you have no need to take off the back - not that this is possible anyway and the battery cannot be accessed. The start up screen is accompanied by what sounds like the opening bars to 'Emmerdale', but we'll move on from that. The usual setting up process is then negotiated and once you've connected to the correct Wi-Fi you'll see that even though the phone has just been released, there are already updates to 'improve performance and add new features'. Hmm.

To be a bit brutal, this Honor 6 doesn't do anything different to my broken Samsung Galaxy. Yes, the Android version is more up to date and the internal memory is greater but there isn't anything that makes you go "Wow!" Actually, there are a couple of interesting features. Usually, you have to activate the camera function before taking a photo; with the Honor 6 you can take a picture when the screen is locked or even when it's off by quickly double clicking the down volume button. When everyone else is still faffing about, you have your photo(s). You can also take a screen shot of the screen. Why is anyone's guess, but it's there. For those interested in the photo side, there are plenty of choices for playing around with your David Bailey moment, including a near 360 degree panorama option.

The icons are nice and big, as they should be for a screen of this size (Android is Android), and that screen has plenty of detail. The default themes are also rather pleasant and I had mine to set to change every five minutes. It has DTS sound and playing music, especially classical, is all very dulcet and better than one might expect.

There is no in-phone system tutorial and at the time of writing, there is no online manual either. This is a big phone (dimension wise) and those with small hands might find it difficult to get on with. My phone was 48% charged and using the USB via my laptop, it took about three hours to get to 100% but it might be faster using a mains lead. Once fully charged, that battery does last a long time.

When all is said and done, its major use is as a phone. You can talk to people on it, you can message others, you can upload photos, etc. to various social media sites. What it is is expensive (and that's just my opinion) but then as companies like Huawei don't make any money from airtime, I guess they have to price them at this point.

Is there anything here to tempt someone to change their brand (and I suspect many are loyal to one name)? It's neither special nor unique. It's aesthetically pleasing, but so are many other phones, and it's easy to use, as are many....well, you get the idea. The biggest problem the company face (in the UK at least) is trying to take market share from the established marques. There's nothing wrong with this phone; I just don't think it offers anything to entice those whose allegiance lay elsewhere.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2014 6:18 PM GMT


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