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Reviews Written by
Paul Ferguson "Gildermershina" (Glasgow, Scotland)

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Bosch AQT 37-13 Plus Pressure Washer
Bosch AQT 37-13 Plus Pressure Washer
Offered by Rocka Group Ltd
Price: £131.83

4.0 out of 5 stars Flexible and powerful, 28 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I haven't used pressure washers before, but I'm quite impressed with this one. We have a balcony with slabs that collects a lot of, well, bird poop mostly, but various other dirt and mess that's hard to clean. This made short work of that job, and I also used it to clean the windows. I wasn't sure if the spray would be too powerful, but the 3-in-1 nozzle gave me enough flexibility. I did kick up a few small stones at first, which took me by surprise - but after some adjustments I quite enjoyed the whole process.

All the various attachments here seem useful, but most people will find they only need a couple. They're not particularly well documented either, but it's worth trying them all out. One of the attachments in my box was broken however - a piece of a plastic guard seemed to have snapped off. This may have happened in transit, and it didn't really hurt the functionality of it (I haven't really used that attachment), but it is a shame to find that in such an otherwise robust product.

The lack of instructions can a problem, especially with the multiple attachments, but it is quite easy to use overall. You point and squeeze, and whoosh, high pressure water fires out. Most people won't be using this every day, so thankfully it's easy to store - quite compact once it's packed away.

AnySharp Plastic and Stainless Steel Mini Chopper, Black
AnySharp Plastic and Stainless Steel Mini Chopper, Black
Price: £12.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Takes the hassle out of small chopping jobs., 28 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This chopper is pretty good at chopping small things. I find it very useful for garlic cloves, onion, and chillies. You pop your stuff in, and then punch it a few times. Depending on the thing you're chopping, after a few pumps you might end up with a lot of variation in the size of your chunks, usually a quick shake and another go around will fix this.

One downside is that it's quite small. It's too small for half of an onion. For larger items you'll need to pre-cut them for size. As a result, it's not particularly useful for big jobs. It is easy to clean however, with the plastic guards twisting off and detaching quite easily.

I hate finely chopping vegetables, and this takes a lot of the hassle out of that.

LG G3S UK SIM-Free Smartphone - Metallic Black
LG G3S UK SIM-Free Smartphone - Metallic Black
Price: £139.95

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid mid-range phone, disappointing camera, 8 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The LG 3GS is the mid-range cousin of the former LG flagship, the 3G. Although it mimics the appearance and style of the 3G, this is definitely not up to the same level of performance and design quality. I have been using the LG G3S for over a month as my primary phone, and found it to be decently capable and well-designed. Even without the fancy trimmings, there is something oddly satisfying about this phone. Even if it doesn't wow you with flashy extras, its core features make for a solid, reliable everyday phone.

The G3S runs Lollipop 5.0.2 (at time of writing), which is a little behind the update curve, but I haven't found any egregious issues that many Lollipop users have found. The LG interface is reasonably close to stock Android, and nicely customisable - you can even record your own vibration patterns if you want. I was delighted to find this phone didn't come loaded with much LG bloatware, and what little there is can easily be uninstalled or disabled by the user as desired. It was very quick to get up and running with my preferred home screen, widgets, and apps. Kudos on that one LG.

Hardware-wise, the screen is 5 inches, but with an unremarkable resolution for that size (720 x 1280). It's nice and bright, with decent colour, but not outstanding - certainly not as crisp as higher-end models. I find the interface feels a little bit chunky for the size, but it's clean and easy to navigate.

The speaker here is not great at all, but other than my HTC One, I've never heard a great phone speaker. It does the job if you need it, but the placement is a little problematic. It's on the back, near the centre bottom. It becomes easily muffled if you place the phone screen up, especially on a soft surface. I am very pleased to have a sturdy headphone socket on the bottom edge however, and the jack stays in securely, unlike my HTC One. The volume controls are on the rear face of the phone on either side of the power button, which seems odd at first glance, but their placement and size makes them easy to use with one hand, while the phone is in a pocket or out of view.

Unfortunately the 8MP camera on the G3S is completely uninspiring. Photos tend to be quite grainy, especially in low light, and in daylight, they don't stand out against other phone cameras I have used. They get the job done, but don't go expecting spectacular results here.

It's great to have a microSD port in here for my 64GB SDXC, and for that matter, a user-removable battery. The phone does feel kind of chunky, thicker than more expensive models, and larger than I generally like. I personally prefer 4.5 inches or less for a phone, but the G3S does feel sturdy (although obviously it's plastic) and well built. It feels a little wider than I like, but balances well in the hand. 4G support is very nice, though living in Glasgow I have spotty 4G reception at the best of times. WiFi is only 2.4Ghz, but has proven reliable and with good range.

Over time I have found the phone reliable and hasn't suffered too much from slowdown or bloat. Although it's hardly the snappiest phone out there, performance is fairly solid. I have had minor issues with the Google Keyboard not popping up some times, but I have had these issues on other devices and I put this down to one of those kinks in Lollipop. I really appreciate the fact that LG haven't crammed it full of ever-expanding software I don't want, unlike pretty much every other phone I've ever owned.

A quick mention should be made about the remote control app here. It's a novelty that's easy to set up, but being able to control your TV and home cinema equipment with your phone isn't much fun when there's almost a second of lag between inputs. Not a great selling point, but maybe you'll like it. I did like the knockcode (it's a kind of blank screen pattern unlock) when I tried it, but again, this is a novelty whose fun wore off pretty quickly for me, and I moved back to the traditional visual unlock code. I've heard some users have had problems with it.

Overall, I have owned more powerful phones, and although the camera disappoints every time I use it, I do have to admit the G3S has a lot of charm. On contract prices, it's a good mid-range option. Battery life is quite reasonable, lasting me a good day and a half with a good amount of music playback. But you have to know what you're getting here. This is a mid-level phone in all areas - and it doesn't stand out in any particular way. It's just a solid, reliable, chunky, friendly phone that doesn't fail trying to be anything it's not.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 8, 2015 4:59 PM BST

Scholl Gel Active Everyday Insoles for Men
Scholl Gel Active Everyday Insoles for Men
Price: £11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A little wide, 2 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I popped these into my Merrells and I found them an improvement over the basic soles. It took a little time cutting them to size. The cutting guidelines underneath are not necessarily very accurate, so I advise drawing around your old soles, cutting a little larger, and then trimming to size. Because they are soft and floppy, I found it a little tricky getting the insoles to sit in exactly the right spot at first. They also weren't a great match for the overall shape of my Merrells' standard narrow soles in the heel and arch - but in broader work-style shoes these should fit fine. After a day or so of wear, that sort of worked itself out. They definitely relieved some heel pressure.

I prefer a stiffer insole myself, and the Scholls seem to put a bit higher in the heel than the toes. I wouldn't recommend these in narrow trainers or walking shoes.

Doppler Labs Acoustic Advanced Tech Earplugs - Grey
Doppler Labs Acoustic Advanced Tech Earplugs - Grey

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good earplugs, a little light on protection., 20 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've used various music-friendly earplugs over the years. The main purpose of this type of earplugs is to attenuate sound without muffling it entirely. These "Dubs" (as the little plastic case calls them) claim to provide a 12dB attenuation, which is maybe enough to take the edge off, but I prefer the greater protection my Alpine MusicSafe Pro Filters offer, particularly at loud, long shows. The Dubs feel a little weak, but the attenuation does seem to be nicely balanced. You lose more treble than bass, but at gigs, that's better than getting an earful of feedback.

The "Dubs" are certainly convenient in size and stylish in presentation, with comfortable rubbery tips much like modern ear buds. They're chunky and easy to put in. They only come with one size of tip however, and these don't seem to be replaceable, so your fit may vary. I didn't have any trouble with them, and they do seem a little more comfortable than my usual set, since they don't need to be squished right into the ear canal.

If these came in higher attenuation levels, maybe 20dB, I'd be more inclined to use these. They're definitely worth a look for casual use, but if you're going to gigs regularly, it's probably worth going for something stronger.

Wenger 600628 UPDATE 15" MacBook Pro Backpack , Anti-scratch lining with dedicated 10" iPad Pocket in Black / Grey {20 Litres}
Wenger 600628 UPDATE 15" MacBook Pro Backpack , Anti-scratch lining with dedicated 10" iPad Pocket in Black / Grey {20 Litres}
Price: £48.00

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good backpack, not the best fit for me, 29 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have been using Wenger backpacks for four years, and have always been a fan of their quality and features for the price. While this backpack lives up to those expectations, unfortunately, it's just not suitable for my use.

I don't carry a Macbook these days, I have a 15 inch Lenovo that just barely fits in the laptop compartment. This is fair enough, it's designed for Macbooks after all. I imagine other thin and light style laptops would fit just fine, but not my chunky Lenovo. The bag is roomy but compact, much smaller in profile than my other Wenger.

The bag has all manner of compartments and pockets, including a microfibre-lined laptop pouch, a generous lined pouch for tablets, and even a smaller one for your phone in the foremost compartment. I can't imagine keeping my phone back there, but it's a nice option to have. The main carrying handle is reinforced with a steel cable which is even double-riveted. The zips are strong and nicely detailed. On my bag they do tend to catch on the internal padding in some places when full, which is a minor nuisance stemming from the compact design.

As I mentioned earlier, the bag has a lot of compartments, including tiny zipped side pockets just big enough to fit a charging cable or a couple of pens. Despite the abundance of storage options, the bag seems small. When it's filled, things can be a little hard to get to. For every day use you can fit a thin laptop, tablet, small accessories and cables, a couple of books and notepads, and a water bottle or two, with a good bit of room to spare.

Ultimately, the problem for me comes down to the straps. The straps are slightly too wide and too close together (only a 2 inches gap compared to my other Wenger at 3 inches) for my average-skinny build. The straps press and rub against my neck as I walk. In addition, the shock-absorbing elastic sections at the top of each strap made even a half-filled load bounce as I walked, making this even worse. I'm left with the feeling that the bag is built for a smaller than average person.

On the whole, it's well designed, and the compact size is perfect for carrying to work every day without sacrificing storage options. If it weren't for my issue with the straps and the fact my chunky laptop doesn't fit comfortably, I would probably use this as my everyday bag in place of my older, larger Wenger.

Finish All in One Max Dishwasher Tablets Lemon, 74 Tablets
Finish All in One Max Dishwasher Tablets Lemon, 74 Tablets
Price: £20.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Clean dishes!, 4 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I don't use enough dishes on a day to day basis to warrant regular use of my dishwasher, but for those occasions when I need to, I know I can rely on these Finish tablets. My experience in the past with dishwashers has always been mixed, but using these tablets, everything came out absolutely spotless. It was quite a nice surprise.

I'm not hugely versed in the effectiveness of the various additional "qualities" the All in One Max variety offers, and I can't say whether these offer a substantial improvement over the cheaper tablets offered by Finish or others. It could well be that other tablets are equally effective in these areas. All I can speak to is the end result, perfectly clear glasswear, cutlery, crockery, etc. Hard to argue with that.

SanDisk Ultra II SSD 240 GB Sata III 2.5-inch Internal SSD up to 550 MB/s
SanDisk Ultra II SSD 240 GB Sata III 2.5-inch Internal SSD up to 550 MB/s
Price: £64.99

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great SSD, 11 Dec. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have used a number of SSDs in the past year, in my desktop, mini PC and my laptop. This drive is no slouch.

The SanDisk went into a mini PC that I ran as a Steam Machine for a few weeks, before ending up as additional storage in my main desktop. The drive is nice and fast, and has a formatted capacity of about 223GB. This is a little on the small-side for me as the only drive, but as an additional drive or a system drive paired with a larger storage drive, this leaves plenty of room to play with.

To take full advantage of this, make sure you have a SATA III port available. It will still be faster than a hard drive on SATA II, but if you can spare it, you'll enjoy the extra speed.

SanDisk have a tool on their site for additional configuration options and firmware updates, which is handy (not all SSD manufacturers provide these). The drive itself is 2.5inch, the same physical dimensions as a has laptop hard drive, but it comes a plastic spacer for use in a larger bay.

It's hard to come up with interesting things to say about SSDs at this point. Computer technology moves so fast you tend to take things for granted. But SSDs continue to impress me on a daily basis, and the SanDisk is no exception.

Duracell Multi-Battery Charger & 8 AA 2500mAh Rechargeable Batteries
Duracell Multi-Battery Charger & 8 AA 2500mAh Rechargeable Batteries
Price: £36.60

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic charger, great rechargeable batteries that actually hold their charge, 6 Nov. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When I first opened this, I was surprised by the size of the charging unit. I have used many battery recharge units, but none this big. The reason for the size is simple: flexibility. You can charge up to 8 AAAs or AAs, 4x Cs or Ds and one 9V in this charging unit. The unit is made of nicely sturdy plastic and has light indicators for each of its 9 charging bays.

I haven't charged anything except the provided AAs. They were not fully discharged, and I wasn't timing it, but when I returned a couple of hours later, the lights had switched from red to green.

It's a shame the power adaptor is too chunky to store inside the charging unit, but this is a minor quibble given how well the thing is built.

The 2400mAh batteries provided are precharged, and seem to hold their charge incredibly well. I have some that I last charged over a month ago, in devices I haven't used heavily in that time, and the battery meters read nearly full on those devices. Previous rechargeables I have used would have drained at least a third by now. It's nice to see battery technology continues to improve.

I guess I'll have to see how well these hold out over the long term. These are certainly a solid alternative to alkalines. It's a nice change to be able to rely on rechargeables on a pinch, and I am delighted to be able to do that now.

Skullcandy Air Raid Rugged Water and Drop Resistant Portable Rechargeable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker - Grey/Black/Hot Blue
Skullcandy Air Raid Rugged Water and Drop Resistant Portable Rechargeable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker - Grey/Black/Hot Blue
Price: £104.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sounds good, built like a tank, 19 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm not someone who normally goes in for small portable speakers. I'm a casual audiophile, I would generally rather not listen to music at all if I have to listen on a terrible set of speakers. I was surprised to find that the Skullcandy Air Raid, while not an audio quality revelation, actually sounds a lot better than you might expect for the size of it (2x 2 inch 5W speakers). It's a little "boxy", which is hard to escape given its size and power, but it projects really well, with surprising clarity and lack of distortion at high levels. It can go pretty loud to boot, more than enough to fill a good sized room. Sound-quality wise, it's about on a par with a good portable radio, maybe a little bit better.

Bluetooth pairing works smoothly, it connects quickly with everything I've tried, and it remembers a couple of devices so it can re-pair as soon as you switch it on. I haven't had any major glitches, except where the bluetooth dropped out on my phone once. I've been able to use the device all the way across my flat from the connected device, which is nice.

Battery life has proven pretty strong thus far. I've probably used it for 15 hours on and off over the course of a few weeks before needing to recharge, which is more than advertised, but I would guess that continuous use at higher volume would drain it faster.

The construction is nice and solid, steel case, grills over the speakers, handle on one end (actually a little one on the other end too in case you need to strap it to something), and nicest of all, a chunky silcone wrap around that means you don't have to be dainty with it. While I haven't dropped it out of a window or anything, it does seem to be built like a tank, and I would be plenty happy to use it outside without any fear of damage. It weights a little over 800g, which isn't too bad for the construction of it. It is also water-resistant. Not waterproof mind you, but I've used it in the bathroom while showering, and it's done admirably. I believe Skull Candy's claims it stands up to heavy rain and splashes too.

The controls are simple, volume up and down, a central control button in the middle for pause/play. Hit the centre button and the plus or minus to skip forward and back. Simple. Hold the centre button to reset the bluetooth pairing list and search for new pairing. It's all here.

There's even a 3.55mm aux-in nestled in the back under a flap next to the microUSB charging socket. If any bluetooth device is paired, this won't play, which could be frustrating, but is very easily fixed by wiping the pairing list with the centre button.

If I have one major complaint with the Air Raid, it's the device's in-built power on/off sound. It's an obnoxiously burst of loud fake radio static, and I cannot see any way to disable this. A woman's voice also announces "Connected" in a way that is slightly too loud for quiet listening. The volume controls do not seem to affect the volume of these sounds, so if you've got it set low and you're looking for some quiet, it's a little unsettling to have your listening bookended by loud bursts of noise.

I've been pleasantly surprised with the experience of this little thing over all. I would hope they make that on/off noise optional in future models, but other than this, I love it.

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