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Reviews Written by
Louise G "loolabub" (UK)

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Sennheiser RS185 Uncompressed Sound Wireless Headphones
Sennheiser RS185 Uncompressed Sound Wireless Headphones
Offered by AOT (VAT registered)
Price: £289.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Well constructed and designed with some thoughtful features, 23 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I will add here the disclaimer that this is a Vine Voice review of free product. There was a mix up in the delivery meaning that these went missing at Royal Mail, then reappeared, so they are no longer on my official review list. Being a high end product, I asked a sound engineer friend (Graham - thank you!) to give me his expert opinion:

Sennheiser RS185 Wireless Headphones

These headphones speak of well thought out construction and presentation from the moment that they arrive in a large box which contains the cans, base unit and accessories.

The first thing that emerges from the box is a sub box containing a power supply, (which comes usefully equipped with euro, US and UK mains plug adaptors). The power supply for the transmitter is a relatively slimline wallwart which shoudn’t take up an unnecessary amount of plug board space.

A set on decently long RCA to RCA phono cables are included, as is a fairly sturdy optical cable. The transmitter features both analog and digital optical in., which was an intriguing feature for someone who has never used wireless headphones before.

Next to emerge from the packaging are the cans and the transmitter unit (removal from the box is facilitated by handily thought out tabs marked ‘pull’).

A brief multi language paper set up guide is included along with a comprehensive manual on CD. The set up guide does what it says on the tin and allows you to get up and running as first as you can plug the transmitter into a convenient audio output.

I couldn’t get the optical in to work from the TOSLINK output of my MOTU 828 soundcard, but the pro audio world is not the market that sennheiser are targeting with these headphones. I am confident that thee will work happily with the optical out from modern TV’s.

The analogue input worked fine – selection between the two input sources is via a switch on the back of the transmitter.

The cans promise uncompressed audio wireless audio – and are clearly aimed at the discerning consumer market.

With the above target audience in mind my first impression is that Sennheiser have very much fulfilled the design remit.

The transmitter is a little lightweight and perhaps a touch ‘plasticy’ at this price point, but is very stable and unlikely to get easily damaged in normal usage.

The cans are reassuringly well constructed. The headphones comfy and don’t feel heavy or constricting, but have some solidity to them. A good range of adjustment was available in the headband. The steel adjustment band gives reassuringly well constructed clicks in operation. The cans are well padded – with nice additional pads inside the band (presumably to keep the top of ones head from getting fatigued).

Set up is quite intuitive – the only delay I found (I don’t like reading manuals..) was actually locating the on/off switch, which turns out to be on the headphones themselves in the form of a fairly well concealed button.

The transmitter features two modes for adjusting input gain. ALC controls the input level automatically, whilst MLC allows the user to manually adjust the gain via a knob on the transmitter. The manual suggests that MLC might be the way forward in getting the best from these cans and it does indeed offer a lot of gain – with handy metering on the front of the transmitter which lights red when input distortion is detected. I can’t imagine having a problem with quiet input sources here.

In truth the ALC function works very well. I was able to squeeze a little bit more input level using manual control but in most circumstances the results would be negligible.

Output level controls are sited on the headphones themselves via + and - buttons. I didn’t find these particularly ergonomic whilst wearing the cans, but it would of course be self defeating to include this control on the transmitter unit because hey, the point here is wireless right ?

The headphone mounted controls additionally allow you to access the MLC and ALC function and also pan the signal from left to right. The cans bleep when you have panned the signal to either extreme left or right – I’m not quite sure where I would use this feature (perhaps to listen a loved one in one ear with TV in the other ?) pressing both buttons together flips the headphones back into stereo centre.

It should also be pointed out that the headphones fade nicely in and out when a different input function is selected or reception is lost – this is far preferable to a sharp noise burst (and it could be sharp, as these cans will put out a good deal of level).

In Use

As a musician I primarily use headphones for the late night jotting down of ideas unfortunately this exposes the issue with wireless headphones in that a slight latency emerges. Presumably this is a result of processing time in the transmitter (the audible delay matched against speakers from the same sources was approx. 20-25ms). This is in no way an issue when listening passively to music (though I would imagine a little disconcerting watching the TV unless you can similarly delay the visual signal) but when playing music this latency makes the task impossible – so these cans are not recommended (or indeed designed for muso activities).

In music listening mode however these headphones are very, very good – they claim to offer ‘uncompressed sound’ via wireless. Indeed I could hear none of the companding / compression artifacts that I would associate with wireless audio.

Being new to wireless cans I decided to go for a wander whilst listening. The headphones claim a 100m line of sight range and I have no reason to doubt this. I managed to get consistent coverage throughout my house across 3 floors with no drop in level or sound quality. Some occasional drop out occurred when in stone built cellar two floors below the transmitter, but again this to my mind exceeds what can be reasonably expected of any wireless system. Drop outs where well handled – fading in and out rather than nasty noise bursts. Good work on this sennheiser !

Sound

Again these cans are aimed at the consumer market so I wasn’t expecting any real revelations. My (subjective) opinion based on listening to a range of music through them and a/b ing against other cans and speakers was that they are quite ‘warm’ and flattering around the low mids (I’m guessing that they will work really well with TV and movie dialogue for this reason). Low frequencies were a little hyped but very solid. HF perhaps lacking a touch of detail in comparison – I found myself wanting to wind some 10kHZ in on dense rock mixes.

What I was really impressed with was the very detailed stereo image – nice sense of space without being artificially wide.

A wee bit of noise floor was in evidence when the output was cranked up – but again under normal circumstances this would be no problem at all, and I did have to check to make sure that I wasn’t imagining this a couple of times. I can only assume that this is processing / transmission noise.

Overall – a not at all tiring listening experience, and probably flattering for most material, even after a couple of hours which I guess is the intention in the design.

Conclusion

Pros
Well constructed and designed with some thoughtful features
Nice stereo image
Very comfy both sonically and physically
Excellent reception range

Cons

Latency (research suggests that this is common to all wireless headphones)
Bit ‘warm’ and hyped – so maybe not as transparent as hi-fi buffs would want for some styles of music.
Touch pricy..


Practise & Learn: French (Ages 9-11) - with vocab CD-ROM
Practise & Learn: French (Ages 9-11) - with vocab CD-ROM
by CGP Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Well thought out and useful practice, 1 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have purchased a number of these books for practice in various subjects. They don't look immediately appealing from the cover but much better inside.

The activities are varied, interesting and follow on well from each other. This one covers words and common phrases, giving a double page to each topic so nice bite sized chunks: "Hello" (greetings), "What is your name?", "Numbers", "Colours", "Months", "My family", "Animals", "Clothes", etc. Each page will typically introduce some vocabulary or phrases and then give a number of activities to apply them, for example find in a wordsearch, link words to meaning, create a sentence, write a sentence in French, etc. The topics and activities work well together as they build on learning throughout the book. There is a separate answers section that is easily removed from the centre pages.

It is aimed for age 9-11, so it is focusing on quaestions and answers in the present tense mainly. Grammar is not covered, other than the very basics like masculine/feminine words. There is no pronounciation guide in the book, however there is an accompanying CD-Rom for the computer which covers this. An app instead would have been good I think.

This is well thought out and not "gimmicky". A good book to give extra practice to complement school learning.


ByteStor Pro 16GB 45Mbps Class 10 High Speed SDHC Card
ByteStor Pro 16GB 45Mbps Class 10 High Speed SDHC Card
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Working great in my digital camera, 26 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Working great in my digital camera. Good price for plenty of memory. I would tend to compare the memory size and "Mbps" (megabits per second- higher the better) and compare makes on price. I have bought lots of cards over the years of different makes and never had a duff one. I'm not an expert and just need storage for back up, transferring files and in my camera. This suits just fine but a quick comparison of other brands shows you could get the same spec a wee bit cheaper at the moment. The memory size is more than enough for most snappers and the transfer speed from card to pc. If you want to take lots of video get a bigger card. If you just want tonnes of snaps even high res this is plenty. This is a full size SD card, as used by most cameras as opposed to a micro SD that you tend to need with phones. It is great that you can get all this memory so cheaply these days!


Tsunami Kids: Our journey from survival to success
Tsunami Kids: Our journey from survival to success
by Paul Forkan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, 20 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An incredible true story of an unconventional childhood, the tragedy of the tsunami that changes everything forever, and the creation of a successful global business. This is not great writing or storytelling - there is a lot of repetition and I didn't really feel I got to know or understand the family in any depth. The book is authored by ""the Gandy Brothers" - Rob and Paul Forkan, but it is actually only Rob's narrative throughout. It would have been good to have more than one perspective. This is real life though not fiction, so regardless it is a story worth telling. Inspiring stuff.


Oral-B Pro CrossAction 600 Power Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush - Pink 6, Units Per Case
Oral-B Pro CrossAction 600 Power Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush - Pink 6, Units Per Case
Price: £28.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent toothbrush - as recommended by the dentist, 16 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Was recommended this type of brush (spinning head) and Oral B in particular, by my dental hygienist at a recent visit for gum problems. Have been using it for a week and it has really impressed me. Using as directed by the hygienist - holding the brush against the tooth (not brushing) with the brush angled towards the gum line, it gives comfortable and efficient cleaning. The angled bristles really seem to get into the nooks and crannies. Charge holds well too. I have charged it once seven days ago (initial charge takes nearly 24 hours) and it is still operating fully after a week of brushing 2 x 2 mins per day.

I downloaded the app and was confused by the connectivity to start with. The app says to press the bluetooth button but there is none on this brush. It can connect to the app by sound, with the 2 minute timer on the app starting when it hears the brush going. On my phone it kept stopping and starting so is no use. Easier just to press start and stop on the app. The app is a bit of a gimmick but works well and because the timer is split into quarters you can concentrate on spending 30 seconds on each quadrant of the mouth, as recommended by the dentist. You get some cheesy "keep going" and "well done" encouragement, and it delivers your diary messages, news headlines and the weather while you brush, which is quite good. It records your stats and probably gives you badges and stuff like most of these things but i don't think i'll keep taking my phone to the bathroom!!

Overall this is an excellent brush that keeps your teeth really clean and your gums healthy. Everyone should have one - mush more effective than manual brushing. Also much better than the sonicare one that I had prior to this.


Igenix DF0006 2-Speed Portable Clip Fan 15 W - White
Igenix DF0006 2-Speed Portable Clip Fan 15 W - White
Price: £16.10

5.0 out of 5 stars Compact and cooling, 4 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Good size and effective fan. Not too noisy. Easy to assemble from the box - needed just one screw to attach the base clip to the fan. Says it is 6 inch but actually 8 inch if you are measuring the "cage" and then a bot more for the chunky base clip. It is all white so looks fairly smart. The clip is sturdy and strong but needs a decent edge to secure it to - a shelf or table for example. The fan can be rotated up/down/side-to-side to get the right direction. Doesn't swivel itself like a full size desk fan, but then it is a more compact, low cost version. I am sure it will get lots of use on those long hot summer nights (if we get any!!). Lovely and cooling.


Coding for Kids For Dummies
Coding for Kids For Dummies
by Camille McCue
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.09

4.0 out of 5 stars Well written but a shame it requires additional purchase to take learning beyond 35 day trial, 4 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book teaches you how to use the coding language MicroWorlds EX. You get a free trial version to download lasting 35 days / 90 saves-allowed. There is a "deep discount" of 70% on the full version saving around $70, meaning that the full version would be around $30.
I had not heard of MicroWorlds EX. My daughter has heard of Scratch, which which it is compared and she seems to get on OK with that (which is free and pretty intuitive). My daughter is 8, i.e. a kid. This is called Coding for Kids and I think it is too tricky for her to read and learn from, at least by herself. Having not done any coding/programming myself since the days of visual basic and O'levels many years ago I thought I'd give it a go myself.
The book is set out in a series of projects over 5 weeks. 3 projects a week. Each would take around 2 hours if you really play around with them. Before the projects, the introduction / getting started section explains the basics - downloading and starting the software, what the main commands and spaces do. Most of the jargon gets explained although I was baffled by talk of turtles initially!

First project is creating an "Art Toy" programming in various command buttons to generate pretty and colourful spirograph patterns. I found the basic "primitive" commands easy to learn and recall and was soon putting them together in procedures. The end result was fun and pretty satisfying so I am encouraged to keep on with it. I like how it lets you make your own choices right from the start to encourage experimentation and creativity.

I always find the For Dummies books really well set out and this is no exception. Boxes provide, tips and explanations to help you really understand the subject, There is also, as usual, additional content on the Dummies website, including a cheat sheet and a bonus project. Once I understand it better myself I will work through it again with my daughter. It seems to be not as easy as Scratch (although I've only briefly played with that), which I think is good because you have to understand and remember more. It is just a real shame that the coding language used in the book is not free or included with the purchase of the book. I may well decide that it is not worth purchasing the full version meaning the book is wasted once the trial is expired.


Braun Face SE80 Replacement Cleansing Brushes 2 Pack
Braun Face SE80 Replacement Cleansing Brushes 2 Pack
Price: £12.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Cleansing brushes for Braun SE820 Face Epilator and Facial Cleansing Brush, 24 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These are replacement brushes which are identical to those used in the Braun SE820 Face Epilator and Facial Cleansing Brush. I don't know why the title says hair removal pads as they don't remove hair! They do however get your skin nice and clean using the the Braun brush attachment which I am really pleased with so good tostock up on replacement parts.


Braun SE820 Face Epilator and Facial Cleansing Brush
Braun SE820 Face Epilator and Facial Cleansing Brush
Price: £58.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Exceeded expectations!, 24 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was a bit sceptical about this product based on the only review at the time. How much better would it be than a pair of tweezers and some wax strips? the answer is much better! While not particularly hairy, I have dark, coarse eyebrows and annoying occasional thicker, darker hair on the upper lip and chin. The epilator was really easy to use with two directions for erffective plucking and gave a really smooth finish such as I have only had from professional threading. It was really effective getting the minute hairs from under the eyebrow and eliminating any "mono-brow"!!! You do still need good tweezers for the fine shaping.

The facial brush is also great and the heads are really easy to change over. The brish is nice and soft and my skin felt really clean and smooth after using with a small amount of facial wash. Gives the face a good massage too. You can use it in the shower and easy to clean with a quick rinse. Comes with a replacement brush and you can buy spares too.

Great product


Revell Multicopter Hexatron
Revell Multicopter Hexatron
Price: £89.36

3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun but a bit flimsy., 14 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Revell Multicopter Hexatron (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
First thing to note is it is massive! 82cm wide to be precise. Next thing is that the manual says it is not a toy, and is for age 14 and above, whereas box says 8+ in very big letters. Naturally my daughter is very disappointed that only I get to play with it. It is very lightweight, with the main frame being a high density polystyrene and the propellers are thin plastic.

Charged the battery in a couple of hours. There are some scary warnings about the battery - not leaving it unattended while charging, only charging in a fireproof area (?), risk of explosion!! I covered it with a saucepan to be on the the safe side ;). Remote control needs 6 batteries which are not supplied.

Finally I got to play with my new not a toy toy. By this time it had got dark, which is brilliant because it has all these coloured LEDs on it. I read the instruction manual carefully and it gives some good tips for beginners. So for my first flight I just concentrated on getting it to hover in the air and moving it up and down. Looks awesome in the dark with the lights glowing - like a UFO. The controls are really sensitive. Tap it up too far or too quick and it shoots right up in the air. I was lucky it didn't end up on the roof. It drifts about a bit even before you start using the banking and forward/back controls, so it was bashing into the house and garden walls and bushes rather a lot and nearly lost it over in the neighbours garden! After a minute or two I was getting the hang of it and had it zooming around the garden but eventually a crash too many resulted in one of the the polystyrene "wings" snapping around the time the 5 mins battery life was coming to an end. I've glued it back together so hopefully it will be OK for next time. It was a lot of fun for those 5 minutes. There is a lot you can do with the controls - up/down, bank left/right, forward/back, rotate left/right. You can tell which is the front of the unit because of the two white LEDs, which really helps with the control. There are various adjustments I don't understand yet.

I would say it is a cool, fun machine, looks amazing with the lights, but not very durable handled by an amateur!


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