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Richard Hammond (Oxford, UK)
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Cleatskins Grips For Shimano (Cycling)  (Black)
Cleatskins Grips For Shimano (Cycling) (Black)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, 16 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These work incredibly well, and given the very soft nature of the current-issue Shimano SPD SL cleats, are a touring essential. I got a red pair and that bright colour proved useful when scrabbling about in a pack to find them quickly. Comfortable to walk on too, surprisingly so - managed a walk of a mile at one point.


Muddyfox RBS200 Mens Cycling Shoes
Muddyfox RBS200 Mens Cycling Shoes
Price: 25.00

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bendy Nonsenses, 10 July 2013
The most important quality of a clipless cycle shoe is stiffness of the sole: these are flexible as a young ballerina. They bring to mind such non-stiff items as a bendy bus, a sheet of A4 paper and Pele in his adverts for erectile disfunction.

There's just no point owning cycling shoes that bend so easily - you don't get proper transfer of power from your legs and they don't feel properly secure in the pedals. A tenner more gets you Dhb's cheapest shoes instead which are excellent.


Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture: What the World's Wildest Trade Show Can Tell Us About the Future of Entertainment
Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture: What the World's Wildest Trade Show Can Tell Us About the Future of Entertainment
by Rob Salkowitz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Travel Guide to the Underground, 13 Jun 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There's a revolution going on in entertainment and it's one that has remained hidden in plain sight until very recently. Comics, superheroes, videogames - all once niche interests have exploded into a riotous supernova of mainstream product and business. For those of us who count ourselves as geek and proud it's a somewhat mixed blessing: more people understand and tolerate the things we love but equally more of the opportunist businesses are also attracted. Blimey, there's even a magazine in the US entitled, unironically, Geek.

The good news as Rob Salkowitz chronicles it, is that while having grown giant, the pop-culture of geek appears to be capable of supporting the true artists, writers, and passionate fans even at elevated levels. Salkowitz chooses the mind-bogglingly vast Comic-Con as his way into the culture and business and does so by taking us through his five days at the San Diego Comic-Con 2011. The writing style is very much from a personal, almost memoir/travelogue perspective and that might jar somewhat against the business insight Salkowitz also opens up. For me, I found it perfectly comfortable to read a business book that also talked passionately about the author's experience and consumption of a key event within the sector being studied.

The book is entertaining, insightful, lots of fun and, as a member of the constituency under scruitiny it felt real and accurate. I loved the book as both business insight and a rollocking rollercoaster ride through an event that is no less than a Mecca to many of us.


XMI Xmini Max Duo Portable Mini Speakers for iPhone/iPad/iPod/MP3 Player/Laptop - Gun Metal Grey
XMI Xmini Max Duo Portable Mini Speakers for iPhone/iPad/iPod/MP3 Player/Laptop - Gun Metal Grey
Price: 28.65

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Especially good for movies away from home, 2 Jun 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm a big fan of XMI's capsule speakers - constant improvement and innovation mean they stay well ahead of similar me-too products and counterfeit copies. It might be an obvious thing tosay but sound quality seems to be genuinely important to the company - there are plenty of other portable speakers where greater emphasis in their design appear to go into looks or packaging. XMI seem capable of producing great looking capsule speakers, packaged and presented nicely but that also sound fantastic.

I was lucky enough to get a set of these stereo mini-capsules as well as one of their bigger stand-alone brothers the X-Mini Uno. It's an interesting comparison: the Uno is a bit heavier and, of course, mono but benefits hugely from it's larger body size and heavier materials. Whereas the set of Duo capsules offer a lovely stereo soundstage and for movies a 'bigger' sound.

In the end, I've found that I'm selecting the Duo speakers for one particular use-case: watching movies on my tablet in hotel rooms. The stereo set up from this very portable pair of speakers really brings life to films watched on small screens. I generally travel with a Microsoft Surface RT, which has a cracking set of built-in stereo speakers but the XMI pair bring a significant upgrade.

The sound is wide, very precisely sound-staged (you can easily place voices or individual instruments and sounds in specific spots between the two pods) and incredibly detailed. Where the sound is less impressive is in bass and lower mid-range. I don't find the sound tinny but that welcome bass punch isn't present. Musically, I much prefer the Uno instead which while still not hammering bass delivers a more rounded and full sound.

It's nice to have the options though.

Finally: the retail package is nice and the included extras in the shape of a protective pouch and multi-purpose cable are very welcome. The speakers themselves are beautifully made in what feel like premium materials. I like the finishing touch of a little sticker in the box too. It's the sort of detail that tells you a lot about how XMI go about things.


Surface For Dummies
Surface For Dummies
by Andy Rathbone
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.79

3.0 out of 5 stars Weigh up the Value, 2 Jun 2013
This review is from: Surface For Dummies (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Surface for Dummies is well-written, simple without being patronising, and packed with detail. As an owner of a Surface RT from launch, I found this book to indeed be the 'missing manual' - there is lots in Windows RT that you kind of discover by accident. A gesture here, or a long-press there that uncovers something useful or cool.

Scan through this book and you'll find lots of useful tips and processes to improve the way you interact with your Surface. So why only three stars? It's a question of value and relevance: is a tenner worth spending to uncover a few less-than-obvious Windows RT features? I'm not sure that it is, but if you do want to buy a manual for Surface RT - this is a good one.


XMI Xmini Uno Portable Mini Speaker for iPhone/iPad/iPod/MP3 Player/Laptop - Gun Metal Grey
XMI Xmini Uno Portable Mini Speaker for iPhone/iPad/iPod/MP3 Player/Laptop - Gun Metal Grey
Price: 21.10

5.0 out of 5 stars Original and Best, 2 Jun 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Capsule speakers are ten-a-penny these days, not least because of close copying and straight-up counterfeiting. XMI are the original capsule speaker company and founder Ryan Lee has an interesting strategy for dealing with the copies and fakes: he never bothers to sue, instead he believes that concentrating instead on faster innovation and improvement is the key.

The current end product of that approach is the superb Uno: it's the current flagship capsule speaker product on the XMI list and is a significant upgrade from the previous X-Mini II, in the following respects:

- A ceramic driver that delivers a cleaner and crisper sound with less distortion (noticeably so: the speaker stays comfortable at relatively high volumes and is always very clear and detailed)
- Metal rather and plastic base (increases the stability of the speaker though it doesn't change the bass characteristics much)
- A generally upgraded cosmetic finish (the X-mini always looked fine but this feels like a premium product)
- Almost twice the battery life (now 20 hours from 11 in the X-Mini II)

Are there any negatives in comparison to the previous model? Depends on your perspective: the Uno is slightly bigger and a good deal heavier. I'm fine with both of those but it's worth taking into consideration.

So what we have is a really attractive upgrade to the X-Mini II. The result is a capsule speaker that remains extremely portable, plugs into anything with a headphone jack, is recharged via USB and that sounds even better.

That sound:
- Very detailed, surprisingly so in fact
- Has enough bass to know it's there - it's not going to blow your stomach inside out but it's sufficient to make listening a nice experience
- Very open and expansive treble, though more directional than is ideal: there are definite listening 'hot spots' if you want the best sound
- Well controlled and detailed mid-range
- Good lively and fun sound for music from electronic to rock
- Works brilliantly for spoken word
- Very comfortable when listening to movies on a laptop

It's a sound that is an upgrade on any laptop speakers I've tried it alongside: including a recent Sony Vaio, a 2011 MacBook Air and a Microsoft Surface. And of course it's a great companion to the sound output from a mobile phone.

Really pleased: the included cloth bag, charger and integrated cables are a welcome bonus. Even the little sticker in the box is a nice detail.


Contour +2 HD Handsfree Action Camera
Contour +2 HD Handsfree Action Camera
Offered by OutTech
Price: 254.00

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Massively Impressed, 16 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We got the Contour +2 HD in time for a trip to the Bahamas, with lots of snorkelling to be done. The inclusion of the waterproof case meant that was going to be possible straight out of the box. Or so I thought: actually, once you get an action camera of any sort, you soon discover that there are specialised mounts for every activity and that you'll need to grab some before you can make an effective start. The Contour does come with a couple of basic stick-on mounts to get you started but those are limited to flat-surface applications, such as stuck to the bed of a skateboard or fixed to a car dash. For snorkelling I bought a 'Goggle Mount' for just over 20 and that worked perfectly with my swim mask. The mount was solid, absolutely no unwanted shake and it felt safe in the water.

Skipping back to the device itself: Contour have opted for the popular 'tube' configuration and this seems sensible as it maximises the mounting flexibility of the device. It's still easy to mount square-on, but supremely easy to mount to the side or on tube bars etc. It also makes for a very sleek profile. Cleverly, the lens rotates and even features a laser level-line. So, for example, mounted to my goggles meant the horizon would be unlevel on a fixed lens but here I was able to rotate it a precise amount and ensure a level film.

Materials, construction, controls and general finish are of a very high standard: this feels like a lovingly designed and solidly made item. There's a lot of thought gone into the device and it shows. The result is really rather beautiful to handle.

Controls, in particular, are the good sort of clunky and very satisfying to operate: even with gloves on, or underwater.

Video-quality is outstanding: smooth, minimal shake even under rough use, incredibly impressive HD and lots of recording options so you'll always find the balance between variables such as file-size, quality, volume of footage and so on. The companion smartphone app (iOS or Android - we used Android) is neat - it's very, very simple and straightforward. In particular, it makes it very easy to set the recording parameters, which complements a great feature of the Contour - you're able to set the camera to two different recording settings and then, via a switch on the camera itself, toggle easily between the two settings. So, for example, we had it set thus: position 1 - 1080p video 50fps, position 2 - take one full-res still photo every five seconds. That meant we could record video for short sections we knew would be interesting, and then flick over to stills for longer trips where a mass of footage would be tricky to handle later.

Sound quality is fine - it's not movie standard but captures the important stuff with minimised wind-interference. There is also a standard input for an external mic.

Contour's desktop editing package is perfectly serviceable. It's missing one or two items but nothing that you can't turn instead to iMovie or Windows Movie Maker for. What doesn't work so well is the firmware update feature also included in this package: for us it was seemingly random in it's either working, or initially, not working. A glance at forums confirms this as a common issue.

This brings me to the reason why Contour loses a star: they haven't yet cracked the question of supporting users post-sale. Buy a GoPro and you'll open up a world of enthusiastic GoPro staff delighted to engage with and share ideas and solutions with their users. That enthusiastic interaction is lacking at Contour and they would be well advised to address this. Expecting users to muddle through with minimal input from the makers doesn't cut it.

But overall - the Contour +2 HD is well worth serious consideration when looking for an action cam. It's beautifully made, the waterproof housing is excellent, mounts are available for everything you could imagine and the picture and sound are outstanding.


Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy
Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy
by Phil Barden
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 18.39

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crucial that retailers read this book, 16 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Author, Phil Barden, writes 'Decoded' from the perspective of the marketing professional, which makes good sense given his experience. As a marketer, you will find the insight into decision-science incredibly powerful, useful and guiding. But there is another group for whom this book must now be considered a first-day essential - that group is retailers.

There is so much here that, if creatively and practically applied, can improve the performance of retail businesses of all kinds: online, bricks-and-mortar, mobile, pop-up, social. The crucial insight comes from Barden's brilliant application of a theory called Kahneman's Framework, which is a model for how the brain operates in decision-making. Long and the short of it is: understand the impact on customer behaviour of Kahneman's model and it's possible to make retail sites, both on and offline, work more effectively. This is a subject very close to my heart: I'm the author of a book on retailing called 'Smart Retail' and, together with Paco Underhill's awesome 'Why We Buy', 'Decoded' will be featuring in my book's essential retailer reading list when we do the next edition. Read together, Underhill and Barden's books form a supremely powerful insight into the way people shop*.

The book itself is really well presented: lovely paper-stock, crisp printing, excellent use of colour and illustration. It's well laid out and the writing style is very accessible - especially given the deep nature of the content. Well worth the five stars.

*Full Disclosure: although I'm also an author listed in the 'marketing' section, I don't know Phil and I don't work with his publisher. My recommendation here is entirely independent.


JJC Aluminium 49mm Filter Stack Cap - store any number of 49mm filters safely and securely.
JJC Aluminium 49mm Filter Stack Cap - store any number of 49mm filters safely and securely.
Offered by PowerPlanet Europe
Price: 9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 13 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Astonishingly useful! Well made, very satisfying thread action and finished to a high standard. If you use 49mm filters, this is a perfect way to carry them.


Acer Aspire V5-471 14-inch Laptop (Silver) - (Intel Core i3 2365 1.4GHz Processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, DVDSM DL, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Integrated Graphics, Windows 8)
Acer Aspire V5-471 14-inch Laptop (Silver) - (Intel Core i3 2365 1.4GHz Processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, DVDSM DL, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Integrated Graphics, Windows 8)

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly decent, 13 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As a relatively cheap laptop, ones expectations tend to be dampened somewhat. It is then a very pleasant surprise to discover that the 14" V5 is a cracking little machine. It's thin and light, without being a true ultrabook, battery life is a very short three or four hours but even the powerbrick is small and easy to carry. The screen is clearly a cheap part, with very, very, narrow viewing angles but when sat with it in your lap, what you see is clear, bright and with excellent colour balance.

Windows 8 works very nicely, the keyboard is usefully backlit and sound is superb. The industrial design is very nice: of course it's using plastics rather than metal but those plastics are tastefully applied and the unit is finished well.

Bought for my daughter to finish her final year of university and replacing a significantly more expensive HP that had given up the ghost: both she and I are well pleased. Money well-spent.


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