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Chappers "chappers" (UK)

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Black & Decker STC1820CM-GB 18V Lithium Strimmer with Lawm Mower Deck Attachment
Black & Decker STC1820CM-GB 18V Lithium Strimmer with Lawm Mower Deck Attachment
Price: 122.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Not the mowing equivalent of Wash’n’Go, 4 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The first thing that needs getting out of the way is that this is not a mower. Don’t be lulled into thinking that with this product you will be able to get a good cut on your lawn and negate the need to buy a dedicated mower - you won’t. Principally, this is a lightweight cordless strimmer, which works well and is fairly quiet in operation.

The bonus is that you can clip it down onto a set of wheels which have two height settings (40mm and 60mm), and at it’s lowest setting will just about nip the heads off daisies, so you won’t be getting the sort of short cut that you would get with a regular mower on its lowest setting, or even two notches up.. The wheel base is best used to allow you to provide a reasonably level cut over regular or undulating grass, with the strimmer cord doing the leg-work.

To dock the strimmer with the base is really simple, as long as you get the approach angle right. Then it just clicks into place. To release it you press down on the pedal and lever it out. Nothing complicated there.

The lithium battery offers good usage levels and doesn’t take too long to charge. I gave it a first-time charge as advised, so as to help prolong its life. The ergonomics are fine, and there are two speed settings that can be selected with a switch at the top of the handle, which is nice. The cord feed is fully automatic so you don’t have to hit the device on the floor to release cable like you do on my old Bosch corded strimmer.

On the whole, I do like this product, but I’m not sure if the wheel base is really worth the 40 premium over-and-above the standard Black and Decker lithium cordless strimmer? If you think that your situation could get enough use out of this approach (let’s not forget that the “mower” you’re getting here is also cordless) then you might think it’s worth it, but it’s a difficult one to justify.

Withings Pulse O2 - Activity, Sleep, Heart Rate and SPO2 Tracker for iOS and Android - Black
Withings Pulse O2 - Activity, Sleep, Heart Rate and SPO2 Tracker for iOS and Android - Black
Price: 99.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, but has benefits over Fitbit Flex, 4 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The world has gone activity-tracking mad, and in doing so there seem to be some distinct themes to how different brands are tackling the issue. For some the design is very functional and offers nothing else. For others it is almost styled as a fashion accessory in its own right. Most people have smartphones these days which also have varying levels of fitness tracking baked into them. There doesn't seem to be a holy grail, and what works for one person might not be suitable for another.

It is with this mindset that I have approached the Withings Pulse O2, whilst also being a user of the Withings WiFi scales (which are great, if a little pricey), a Fitbit Flex, and various smartphone apps. I go to the gym 5 days a week and keep myself fit and active.

The first thing that greets you when you open the packaging is the Pulse device itself, the wrist strap, and a belt clip. Under a flap there is a short USB charging cable. There is a brief manual that slides out of the box to give you some tips and instructions, but otherwise that is pretty much it. Fair enough.

On activating the device a message on the screen instructs you to go to the website on your smartphone to initiate the setup process, which then leads you to downloading the Withings app, unless you already have it - which I did. It then attempts to connect to the device which, if not already paired, triggers your smartphone's Bluetooth configuration wizard. I hit my first hurdle here as I couldn't get my phone (a Google Nexus 4) to pair up. It could see the device but wouldn't pair. A quick search on the Internet suggested doing a device reset, which is achieved by holding the button down until the display goes off (which takes between 10 and 15 seconds). Once that was done my phone successfully paired.

Going through the app it can take you through a few slides of tips. Be careful not to advance to quickly through them because you may accidentally hit the 'unpair' button on the following screen that is located in the same position.

I like how the device synchronises itself to the phone every now and then do you don't have to think about it. You can manually trigger a sync by holding the button on the device for about 3 seconds.

The strap helps give the design a very functional look. It's not as stylish as a Nike Fuel Band nor a Jawbone Up, but with its rubberised strap harking back to basic wristwatches, it has a kind of retro appeal. Unlike a lot of fitness bands, the Pulse O2 also tells the time, which is useful function and negates the need to wear a proper watch, and justifies the wearing of a fairly crude - looking device on your wrist.

The device charges using micro USB and the port is exposed on one side - in my case it points towards my elbow as I wear it on my left wrist. I would be concerned about dust and dirt getting in, not to mention rain or other spillages. You can't go swimming in it like you can the Fitbit. Perhaps making use of kinetic (body movement) or induction charging would allow them to make future versions totally waterproof.

The display is a little smudgy in appearance, possibly due to the grade of plastic it is made from. It seems quite robust but a sharper display would be nice.

It also tracks your altitude, estimated calories burned, and can detect your heart rate and blood oxygen levels, although you have to remove it from the wrist strap to use the finger scanner on the underside. I found the pulse and blood O2 detection to be a little erratic as it would frequently give me blank readings even though I seemed to be using it correctly.

Like the Fitbit this device can also monitor your sleep patterns but to be honest I could not go to sleep with something chunky strapped to my wrist so I don't use that feature.

On the whole I do like this device, more so than the Fitbit Flex. It feels more useful day to day and requiring less manual intervention to achieve its goals. The battery life is ok from my experience so far although I can't tell what impact it has on my phone battery, and there is no indication of device power reserves unless you go into the app on your phone.

It does feel a little expensive at 99 (at time of review) but if you already have other Withings devices you might feel happier to justify the price. There are some areas it could be improved upon but overall I'm prepared to give it 4 stars.

Before I sign off from this review, I would take a moment to consider the new influx of Android and Apple fitness tracking tech that is starting to emerge. For not a whole lot more outlay than this, you could find yourself with a more varied and inactive device. It's worth considering.

Ultrasport Navigation GPS Bike Computer - Black
Ultrasport Navigation GPS Bike Computer - Black
Price: 124.44

3.0 out of 5 stars Complex configuration, 13 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Attempting to get back into cycling, a bike computer was always on the agenda to help me keep track of what I’ve done and how far I’ve been.

This Ultrasport GPS bike computer provides GPS tracking as well as including a chest-strap for monitoring my heart rate. It also includes various other functions such as a compass and stopwatch. The GPS aspect is the bit that costs the money here. Overall, it should fit the bill nicely, provided it’s all ergonomic and super-easy to use...

But herein lies the problem I have had with this device. It is fiendishly difficult to setup and operate. The instructions are written in such a way as to confound. Not even the buttons are labelled in a user-friendly manner. Getting past the first use section was a proper challenge, so-much-so that I had to re-read the instructions for that section about 10 times, and even then it wasn’t clear in my mind what I was doing. In this day and age, user-friendliness is a top selling point, so I hope Ultrasport are paying attention here and make some improvements. I don’t want to be too harsh on it for it’s instructions, just in case they get improved over time, but I suspect the Plain English Campaign would not be giving them any awards any time soon.

I am also slightly frustrated by the fact that I can’t turn it off, it simply stays on permenantly until it runs out of charge. You then need to re-charge it using a USB lead - meaning if you haven’t been out on your bike for ages, you might need to plan ahead and make sure it’s charged up first.

I will persist with this device however, as I am determined to get the most out of what I’m sure is a good product that seems decent quality. It’s chief rival is likely to be the Garmin Edge range of bike computers that also feature GPS. They come in a similar range of prices, and I would wager they might be easier to use, given their proven track record in in-car Satellite Navigation systems.

If you are able to find a bike shop that features a selection of bike computers for you to try, or know some cycling enthusiasts who are more up on these things, they may provide a better recommendation.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 16, 2014 9:13 AM BST

Bose  FreeStyle Earbuds - Indigo
Bose FreeStyle Earbuds - Indigo
Price: 114.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful build but not worth the high price, 13 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have a few sets of earphones in my collection, that vary from the free ones that you get when you renew your gym membership, through to a mid-range Sony set and a JVC 'XX' set to higher-end Audio Technica ear buds - which are my current daily-driver.

Having tried so many over the years, I have come to realise that there is more to choosing earphones than simply relying on a familiar brand or just picking any old earphones off the shelf in you local supermarket. For the past 10 years I have favoured the more isolating in-ear canal style of ear buds which block out more external noise and have an easier job of providing bass than those that simply rest in the ears. These BOSE earphones are almost a hybrid of the two, in that they don't go into your ear canal so can't hope to isolate sound as well as those that do, but they benefit from a soft moulded fitment that fits into the curve of your central ear section so as to provide a comfortable fit and channel a more 'open' sound.

As a result, the sound quality is excellent for mid range and treble, but not quite offering the full and rich bass that you would get from canal ear buds.

The build quality of these earphones is exemplary, with nice materials used throughout. The storage case is good quality although it is simply just like a pencil case you might have used at school, so there is nothing to prevent the cords from tangling.

Restricting the functionality of the in-line controls to only Apple devices is a bit shortsighted of BOSE in my opinion when a lot of Android-based devices are now considered top dog. Why purposely limit your product's appeal to only a percentage of your potential market? That being said, I found it capable of answering a call with the button on an LG G2 phone, but track advance was not possible.

I like these earphones, but there is an elephant in the room... that price. No matter which way I swing it, I can't get these earphones to stack up well against my Audio Technica set, which I happen to prefer the inner ear style of, and therefore superior sound in my opinion. The build quality is near identical and the fit is just as comfortable with their own style of 'C-tip' curved attachments, but they undercut the price of these BOSE earphones by almost half. If you absolutely detest canal style ear buds and don't want full-on over-the-head cans, but want a premium product then the BOSE range will suit your needs (at a hefty price), but for everyone else who might just be looking for a premium range of earphones with high quality sound performance at a more realistic price, have a look at the Audio Technica range and you should be pleasantly surprised.

Finish Quantum Regular (Pack of 1, Total 60 Tablets )
Finish Quantum Regular (Pack of 1, Total 60 Tablets )

4.0 out of 5 stars The greener alternative, 13 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The greener alternative

Review of the "Power and Pure" variant, followed by a footnote for the regular Quantums...

I generally use the regular "All-in-1" tablets and tend not to have too much of a problem with them, aside from the occasional granule of residue left on things.

However, I prefer using these types of gel tablet as there is less waste and no chance of any powdery residue, although you do have to be careful how you store them, as if they get wet in the storage pouch then you could have a mess on your hands.

These new "Power and Pure" tablets from Finish are advertised as offering the same cleaning power as regular Quantum, but made using fewer chemicals - which can only be a good thing.

You also need to bear in mind that if you only tend to use very short washes, then you these are of questionable use to you. You could try putting the tablet at the bottom of the internal compartment instead of in the tablet dispenser to give it a head-start, but generally speaking these sort of self-contained tablets prefer longer washes (over 30 minutes) in order to fully dissolve, else you'll end up with a sorry-looking squidgy leftover tablet corpse when you open your dishwasher up after the cycle.

It is worth bearing in mind that all combination tabs contain salt and rinse-aid, so if you are fortunate enough to live in an area where you don't need to use these features, you might be better off with a cheaper alternative that doesn't include them.

Ultimately, I expect a straight-forward, fuss-free, mess-free execution of the dishwasher without having to think about anything. Storage and wash-cycle cautions aside, these tablets are great.

However, value for money is a key aspect for me, so at a one-off purchase price of 8 for 40 (at time of review) these work out at 0.20 per tablet/wash, isn't too bad, but more costly than a pack of 78 All-in-1's for 10 (at time of review), which works out at a price of 0.128 per tablet/wash.

These are heading in the right direction, and I'd be happy if they were the only option. A little cheaper and they'd be spot on.

For the regular Quantum tablets....
However, value for money is a key aspect for me, so at a one-off purchase price of 20 for 60 (at time of review) these work out at 0.33 per tablet/wash, which in my eyes is a bit pricey, and when you stack it up against a pack of 78 All-in-1's for 10 (at time of review), which works out at a price of 0.128 per tablet/wash, it makes the Quantums more than double the price per wash.

Rowenta Ultrasteam DR6055 Steam Brush, Dual Voltage
Rowenta Ultrasteam DR6055 Steam Brush, Dual Voltage
Price: 25.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The handy travel companion that dribbles, 13 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you travel a lot and frequently find yourself needing to freshen up a shirt or blouse, suit jacket or trousers, more often than not hotel rooms don’t come equipped with the means to achieve a crisp and freshened look to a garment, short of laying your outfit under your mattress before you go to sleep.

Rowenta thinks it has the answer in the form of their “Ultrasteam” Steam Brush. This has potential to answer the prayers of many the travelling businessman or woman.

While not very large in size, some might struggle to accommodate it in their overnight bags without sacrificing something. Fortunately it comes with a pouch of it’s own to help keep it together.

The water container is quite small - as it would have to be for a portable hand-held device such as this, but it does still give you enough to steam a few bits and bobs.

It heats up quite quickly, and I like that it has the 110/230 voltage adjuster in the event that you wish to take it with you to foreign lands with their strange low-voltage idiosyncrasies.

The amount of steam that it puts out isn’t massive, as there are only a few holes on the head, but it does help to take out some of the lighter creases in garments, and certainly helps to freshen things up.

I did find that it has a tendency to dribble, so watch out for that.

It is comfortable in the hand, and there is a detachable lint brush to help with the overall presentation of clothing, which is a useful addition.

To ask it to be smaller, more powerful, and not dribble water are probably tricky to achieve whilst maintaining a realistic price-point, so I’d have to give Rowenta the benefit of the doubt. There are a handful of other so-called “garment steamers”, that vary in price from 15 to 50, so Rowenta are aiming firmly for the middle ground here.

It’s not bad at all really, and it will be getting another workout in two weeks time when I’m off to a wedding and will need to freshen up the suit while I’m there. No doubt the other travelling wedding party guests will want a go if they’ve travelled far.

Rowenta DW9230 Steam Force Steam Iron
Rowenta DW9230 Steam Force Steam Iron
Price: 99.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Top quality German iron, 13 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Sticking closely to Rowenta's tried and tested look, which is very functional. This particular model is white with cranberry-coloured accents and a flick of pink near the heel.

Having tried other irons from Rowenta’s stable, I was beginning to think that they only did short power cables, but I’m delighted to see that they have seen sense and equipped this model with a much more useful length of power cord.

There is a central button that deactivates the constant steam, effectively rendering it a dry iron. Pressing the central button again gives continual steam.

Build quality is excellent. Very solid and quite heavy - a fact that for some people might be a negative, but for others it might be a positive.
The soleplate is very nice and allows you to position the iron with ease. The handle is comfortable, and all parts of the iron that you need to touch are well laid out and ergonomic.

Filling the water chamber is easy, although one observation is that it is difficult to assess the water level through the coloured window as it is not as clear as in other irons I have used.

This iron comes equipped with a movement sensor which takes a little bit of getting used to, as you can feel a very slight and subtle humming vibration through the iron when it is operating. This feature allows the iron to know when it is not moving, and can therefore shut off the steam output to reduce the likelihood of burning fabrics or the ironing board. DIfferent manufacturer’s higher-end products have different approaches to this, some are more noticeable than others. I don’t mind this approach, but you might find it irksome.

On the whole, this is a very good quality, sturdy and powerful steam iron with some good practical features. The price of 99 (at time of review) seems rather steep though, as I would not consider it to be worth the premium over irons in the hotly contested 45-60 bracket. The heavy weight as mentioned could be either a good thing or a bad thing, and the clarity of the water chamber are not so good, but if you value top German quality above all else, then this or another Rowenta iron should be worth a look.

Antique Brass 2 Gang Light Switch (Windsor)
Antique Brass 2 Gang Light Switch (Windsor)
Offered by UEP Limited
Price: 4.71

4.0 out of 5 stars Does the job, 2 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
While not the exact same shade of “Antique Brass” as the existing fittings throughout my house, this particular switch won’t really be on show so didn’t need to be too precise. The dolly rocker switches that are elsewhere in our house cost a fortune and would have been a waste of money where this switch was going.

It does the trick and functions as expected.

If I were being picky, aside from the colour thing which is down to personal preference, the switches don’t line up with 100% precision, being a fraction out, but then this is only a light switch.

Reasonable value and prompt delivery.

BC to ES Lamp Adapter
BC to ES Lamp Adapter
Offered by Ryness Lighting & Electrical
Price: 2.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Looked better than the cheap-o ones, 2 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: BC to ES Lamp Adapter
I wanted to mount a Plumen bulb into the centre point of a wrought iron cartwheel pendant, but typically the fitting wanted a BC and the bulb I had was an ES. I looked around at the various 99p adapters, but there were three things that put me off:

1) they looked really cheap - and I don’t just mean cheap in price. If I’m going to plug something into my electrics I want to be a bit more confident that it’s not going to go wrong.
2) They were white, and given the black cartwheel and the black base of the designer bulb, I thought it might look a bit naff if I had a white adapter protruding out of the socket.
3) Some of the reviews were a bit erratic. Some suggested it didn’t fit their BC sockets, others just said it didn’t work. Confidence levels were dropping.

Fortunately, I had heard of the retailer that supplies these through amazon (Ryness Lighting and Electrical) - in fact I can’t remember but I might even have bought from them in the past.

The black colouring was more akin to what I was after, the price was acceptable, and the device itself just didn’t look as “cheap”.

The item arrived on time, fits like a treat, and does the job intended.

Can’t fault it really.

Philips MyGarden Fence Outdoor Wall Light Stainless Steel (Includes 1 x 23 Watts E27 Bulb)
Philips MyGarden Fence Outdoor Wall Light Stainless Steel (Includes 1 x 23 Watts E27 Bulb)
Price: 23.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice contemporary lights from Philips, 2 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I’m just annoyed that the price dropped by almost half about a week after I ordered 3x of them…

I ordered 3x at 23.99, and you can currently get them for 12.16 (at time of review). I thought they were pretty good value compared to anything else I liked, but at 12.16 they’re a steal!

They are a nice size and come well-packaged. The silver trim is just that, and has no bearing on the waterproofing of the unit itself. The illumination from the supplied bulbs is quite high giving a good spread of light all around. It isn’t entirely uniform how the light is emitted, owing to the fact that the bulb sites vertically in the unit and the casing is translucent, so the base of the bulb is going to be the darkest spot, but overall it’s a good unit.

I’m going to give them 4 stars, but only because I wasn’t fortunate enough to get them at the current bargain price.

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