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Reviews Written by
Eness Clarke "CostaLotta" (Somerset, UK)

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Cambridge Audio GO Bluetooth Active
Cambridge Audio GO Bluetooth Active
Offered by Tech Nuts
Price: £169.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Cambridge Audio Go V2, 29 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After receiving a replacement for a unit with power problems directly from Cambridge Audio the new one functions to specification. Charged for over four hours as advised for first use and the unit powered up with a 2 second hold of the power-on button. Power-on was signified by a brightish blue light and a loudish beep. Pairing was simple - held the Bluetooth button for a couple of seconds to make the unit discoverable and picked it up immediately on my iPad Air. Later I repeated the exercise for a five-year-old iPod Touch, again no problems and near instant pairing. The Go remembers the devices so secondary connections are a tap away.
Sound quality is variable according to where the unit is placed and the surface it's on. On a wooden surface such as a bedside table, the sound tends to heavy bass which can make the overall sound a bit muddy though this appeared to be fine for TuneIn radio. On a glass table, with plenty of room the sound is brighter and clearer.
Tried a range of music with the following results (although different people hear different things so this is subjective). Max Bruch Violin concerto was nicely balanced with the instruments across the orchestra clear except the cellos which were less distinct. The same can be said about a Rachmaninov piano concerto so orchestral music pretty good for a speaker of this size. Radio Head's 'There There' is very bass and drum heavy and this sounded really good except that the backing vocals practically disappeared behind the heavy beats, something not apparent over earphones. Eliot's 'Blue River', with its thrumming, lazy bass and orchestral backing, faired a little worse the bass proving rather obtrusive although the vocals were clear and precise. Other tracks from a range of artists suffered similar fates - clear vocals and orchestral tones but an indistinct bass and rather drowned-out backing vocals. As a speaker for playing the soundtrack when watching movies on the iPad then the Go is brilliant. The soundtrack for Avatar was just awesome making the Go a great device for watching movies where you want more than the iPad's speaker can deliver.
The device is Class 2 Bluetooth giving it a range of approximately 10 metres. Line of sight appears best for operation although operating it between a kitchen, via a hallway to the speaker in the lounge worked without problems - a distance of about 7 metres. Balancing the volume on the device with that on the Go V2 is important. My speaker arrived with the volume setting high which effectively amplified the noise of the Bluetooth UHF signal making it sound like an old radio. Turning down the volume on the Go and upping that of the sending device cured the problem by effectively balancing the signal to noise ratio in favour of the signal. I've not experience any distortion but, there again, I don't envisage running this device to substitute for a disco at a party. Realistically this is for personal listening and upping the volume too high will bring back the UHF noise amplification problem that one should expect with devices such as this that receive broadcast signals. Also running the speaker at high volume will inevitably take its toll either by introducing distortion and/or shortening the life of the device. Run at a reasonable volume level this solidly built unit should last a long time.
UPDATE 21-05-15 - Re the issue of distortion mentioned by other reviewers. The quality of the sound is dependent upon the sending device's Bluetooth. A five year old iPod Touch had a far more limited range than the nearly new iPad Air and indeed a degree of distortion was obvious in the chorus of Elbow's 'Forget Myself' that just wasn't apparent with the Air. This can be put down to the quality of the sending device's ability to broadcast the Bluetooth's UHF signal. The larger newer kit is markedly better.

Belkin F8T065BF USB 4.0 Bluetooth Adapter - Grey
Belkin F8T065BF USB 4.0 Bluetooth Adapter - Grey
Price: £11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Belkin Bluetooth Dongle - Works Fine on Windows 8, 30 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Plugged it in, ran the accompanying disc on my PC and it all worked in about 5 minutes. Picked up the SandstrÝm speakers so I could disconnect the cable between the speakers and the sound card. Speakers worked fine. Then tried connecting an iPad Air 2, Nokia Windows Phone and an old iPod Touch. All connected OK to the Bluetooth on the PC. The Nokia was the most difficult to connect, failing to pair for three attempts and, for no apparent reason other than my persistence, the fourth attempt was OK. So the Belkin's fine, seems to behave itself and connects OK on each load of the PC. Haven't found a use for Bluetooth other than why it was bought - to run my speakers so that I can position them further away from the PC than the cable connection would allow. iTunes doesn't seem to have any Bluetooth connectivity that I can see so using it to sync the iPad or iPod is a non-starter. Haven't tried the Nokia phone but, being Windows 8, it will be a dire experience so I'll not be going down that route. So, in summary, does what I needed it to at a reasonable price and, so far, it's proved to be reliable.

Sandstrom SBS2012 2.0 Wireless Bluetooth Active
Sandstrom SBS2012 2.0 Wireless Bluetooth Active
Price: £38.95

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sandstrom SBS2012BT Speakers - We all make mistakes!, 21 Jan. 2015
There is a well known saying "Buy in haste, repent at leisure". Well I've got a lot of leisure time to look forward to. Managed to connect via a Belkin Bluetooth dongle from my PC to these speakers with the connection details being shown as a Bluetooth headset. I can get over that as the speakers came up OK and played music from iTunes. Great. The speakers lack bass and the bass control makes little difference to how they sound. Switching between Bluetooth and the line-in is a bit hit and miss despite the cheery assertions of the instruction leaflet. Pressing the source button multiple times doesn't really cycle through the line-in and Bluetooth functions. Line-in shows up as a red/blue light so you at least you know when you're there. I then connected an iPad. The Apple device found the speakers without problem and all was well. Now I have no access to the speakers via Bluetooth on the PC. I do have a slow blinking blue light on the speakers. No amount of following the instructions, pressing the source buttons, completely disconnecting all Bluetooth kit and starting over enables me to connect from the PC to the speakers via Bluetooth. The iPad seems to have gained sole access to these speakers and that's about the end of it. Oh ... and the Belkin control panel shows attempts to connect and then fails. Finally on the Bluetooth front, asking the Belkin to forget the device fails unless you take the dongle out of the computer and turn the speakers off.

The speakers have an auto power-off function which for mains-only speakers is a bit weird. This operates in both line-in and Bluetooth modes. The implementation of this function is very poor, the speakers making a rather awful crackling sound when they power off, almost as if there's a short somewhere in the system. Not pleasant and is probably damaging the twin speaker drivers.

All-in-all pretty dire kit that I really wish I'd never spent my hard earned cash on. One-star because line-in works for the PC and the iPad has some sort of mystical power over these speakers which means the Sandstrom's are always found and work.

Komputerbay SD / SDHC / MMC Card to Compact Flash Type II High Speed Adapter
Komputerbay SD / SDHC / MMC Card to Compact Flash Type II High Speed Adapter

4.0 out of 5 stars CF Adapter and the Canon EOS400D, 1 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As the owner of an older Canon SLR this was bought to enable me to standardise on the SD format. The adapter means I now need just one simple USB device to transfer shots to my PC, netbook or iPad and means the camera will still be usable in the event that the CF format is discontinued. I've held back one star as it's too early to say how robust it is though it appears well made and works fine in the EOS400D even on continuous shooting. The adapter is compatible with SD XC and formats before so tried a 32Gb Sandisc Ultra HC format. Wow! The camera display shows room for 1722 shots in dual format (JPEG and RAW). Seems like a good buy so far. Re delivery - DPD were great predicting the delivery time as between 12:38 and 13:38. Rob arrived with the parcel about 2 seconds after 12:38.

Ubuntu Linux Toolbox: 1000+ Commands for Power Users
Ubuntu Linux Toolbox: 1000+ Commands for Power Users
by Christopher Negus
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.58

4.0 out of 5 stars It's a Good Toolbox, 18 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The title's completely accurate and just what I needed to manage a rejuvenated, 9 year old AMD64 PC and 2 year old netbook both of which were crippled with Windows. As other's have said this is not a book to help you learn Linux - O'Rielly books have some great material if that's what you need. If, as I did, you need to find out how to use certain features of Linux then it's excellent as the book is divided into subject areas you may want concentrate on so there's a chapter on installing the operating system and adding software; how to use the shell ; how to work with files and how to manipulate text; how to manage the system and the network as well as a real insight on managing security. It has those all-important examples of how to use the commands in fundamental ways that the Man Pages would benefit from. Whilst the book is headed 'Ubuntu Linux Toolbox' it's absolutely fine for my 64-bit Linux Mint (a Debian / Ubuntu core distro) and of course the excellent 32-bit Lubuntu that runs like the wind on an Acer Aspire One netbook with just a single gig of RAM. When you're stuck on the command line, dip into the toolbox - all the tools are there.


2.0 out of 5 stars Lenovo H520S - Unreliable, 15 Dec. 2013
This review is from: LENOVO H520s
When you buy a family desk top machine you are looking for reliability. In its first year this machine has spend 2 months in repair. The first time I was trying to produce a recovery disc. The said disc wouldn't boot despite following the instructions. However this machine is one of a new breed of Microsoft/Intel digital rights protection systems - the UEFI Boot system. This is supposed to be for our benefit protecting us from root-kits and all sorts of other internet nasties but personally I think is it just looks after MS's revenue stream. I checked the BIOS settings, made sure the DVD drive was at the top of the boot order - disc wouldn't boot. I looked on line and found that I should turn off secure boot - tried again - no luck. I got a message to say the system couldn't find an operating system. Ejected the disc with the aim of giving up on having a recovery disc. Now the good bit - the machine, without a DVD in the drive, couldn't find the operating system. The machine was dead. Back to the supplier for a month and a BIOS update later the machine was OK. 6 weeks pass. The speaker on the motherboard beeped at relatively random times, but often when opening and/or closing the DVD tray. I've owned desk top computers for some years (this is my fourth). Motherboard speaker noises are bad news. The machine had become slow and the network connection now intermittent. When the network gave up entirely I tested the link (cable connection and router) with a Raspberry Pi which ran Medori browser without any problems. Back to the repair shop. Another 5 weeks and lots of testing and it's back to working order.

I've since been bounced into loading Windows 8.1. In the countryside where broadband speeds can be little better than an old dial-up 56K modem, the download took 6 hours. The install seemed to abort and after 8 hours the system recovered Windows 8. I shut it all down in a huff. Powered up the following evening and the system said it was finishing installing Windows 8.1! This took a mere 2 hours more. The machine now thinks it's a client on a network as it tries to boot from a remote server failing to access an IPV4 or IPV6 link using something called PXE. The machine hangs up. I press the off button and the system goes down immediately. It then restarts on the power up saying it's loading patches (starting at about 58% complete). I can then log on as normal and write this review.

Whilst this is a comment on the Lenovo I suspect that there are a combination of factors working here. The Lenovo with the UEFI boot is unreliable. Windows 8 and 8.1 are just downright nasty (on 8.0 the patch system regularly failed at 14% application and just peeled all the patches out!). A touch screen OS for a desktop machine - just plain daft. I'm saving up for an Apple desktop machine now and my old Mesh computer (over 8 years old and with a faulty memory module), running newly installed and very reliable Ubuntu 13.10, is preferred to Windows 8 of any flavour. Think on this - how can an old AMD Athlon 64-bit single core machine with a Linux-based system outperform the Intel i5 quad core Lenovo running Windows 8.1 because it sure as hell seems to?

Coyote Workshop Maintenance Bike Stand
Coyote Workshop Maintenance Bike Stand
Offered by bikes4life limited
Price: £78.68

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Coyote Bicycle Workshop Maintenance Stand, 11 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A really good product, surprisingly robust. The clamp head is entirely plastic and seems to be similar to the Raleigh equivalent advertised elsewhere. The clamp is heavy duty plastic with a rubber lining to protect the bike and increase grip. The V-shaped clamp is capable of holding most tube profiles, which was my main concern as all 4 the family's bikes have different constructions. My son's bike has a square tube profile and doesn't fit well into the V but slipping the quick release (QR) on the seat post and swiveling the clamp through 90 degrees and you've a stable work position. Using the seat post is preferable for most jobs involving gears and brakes as using the cross-bar can clamp the rear gear and brake cables. The clamp QR works very well, easy to adjust and get a good grip of the frame or seat post. The rotation mechanism is used by means of the rear QR. Hold the lever down and release the QR and the clamp head moves forward revealing a collar with studs one side and holes the other. These allow for 30 degrees of rotation per stud. On the outside of the collar there are markers to aid alignment. Being plastic I'm concerned about the durability of the studs if they are not aligned properly with the holes before pulling back the QR to secure.
The whole stand can be folded as advertised and the mechanism works very well. The bracing arms are secured to the central post by a plastic collar which slides very easily. Again I'm concerned about durability as the bracing arms are metal, are bolted to the collar with metal bolts so wear and tear might be an issue if the stand is used a great deal and is collapsed down every time after use. The metal central post is extendable with slot and groove mechanism to stop twisting whilst the bike is on the stand.
In use the stand is very stable and does everything other reviewers have stated. Working on an adult bike servicing gears, breaks and wheels is so much easier and why I've struggled all these years without a stand I don't really know why! The only trick I've yet to learn is how best to take the rear wheel out with the bike the right way up. After years of turning my various bikes upside down to take the rear wheel off I'm having to learn a new technique. Maybe I should clamp the bike upside down!? The problem having the bike the right way up is that, on loosening off the rear wheel the changer drops forward with the wheel and fouls the axle and the chain really doesn't want to disengage the gears. There's a device you can buy to keep the changer in place to stop this happening so maybe worth considering. In summary I really worthwhile buy that makes working on a variety of bikes much, much easier. It's stable, it's relatively robust and its easy to use.

Apple iPod touch 64GB (Launched Sept 2009)
Apple iPod touch 64GB (Launched Sept 2009)

52 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good But Not As Good As I'd Hoped - but iOS4 delivers improvements, 16 Jan. 2010
I'd owned a Nano for 4 years and had outgrown it so I treated myself to a 64Gb Touch last November (2009). The look and feel is everything Apple - sleek, well presented and beautifully if simply packaged. Charging is quick and connection to iTunes 8 a .... failure. No mention of the need for version 9 but hey ho this worked and my collection of some 2200 tracks copied pretty quickly. No instructions on how to use the interface but it was all pretty natural and straight forward as you'd expect from this company. The new ear phones fitted well and the addition of a sound control on the right lead was most welcome. The earphones produce a bass-oriented sound which, on occasions, can overwhelm the singer so not so good if you want to learn the lyrics and sing along! A set of Sennheiser mid-range ear-buds produce a lighter sound and better balance. The best listening results came from a pair of good Sony earphones rendering the best balance without resorting to the in-built equalizer.
Linking to my WiFi hub was dead easy and late evening on the first day of ownership was spent catching up on a couple of programmes on BBC's iPlayer. The screen on the Touch is an absolute joy - clear and crisp and no motion blur. I suspect that bandwidth on my broadband was a problem as the iPlayer hung up about 5 minutes from the end of one of the broadcasts. I got no sense that the Touch was buffering and there was no way from the system screen of tuning this. Sometimes the Touch would recover when tried with other programmes but if it doesn't restart pretty quickly then you have to watch the programme all through again and hope that it doesn't run out of buffer space as there appears to be no quick advance slider to step you quickly through the programme.
I've loaded up all my contacts from Outlook and the e-mail works a treat retrieving e-mail from my personal and business accounts. I did try Mobile Me for part of the free time provided but it offered nothing more for me than my current ISP services.
I've used it to retrieve maps and plot a route and used public WiFi hot spots to update - all work well. The gesture driven zoom is awesome and totally natural to use - just love it.
I've ripped a couple of my favorite DVDs to watch on plane journeys. These play back easily and crisply with good sound through the Apple ear phones.
The down side is a real shocker but only if you're into playing with sound quality. I've experienced severe sound distortion on a good number of tracks. This was until I remembered that, in trying to get a better balance out of the Apple-supplied ear phones, I'd used the in-built equalizer. Turning this off sorted the problem but it is a real disappointment as it was a feature that worked well on the Nano. My collection is 160Kbit MP3 (plenty of space to use and thus can afford better dynamic range of 160 over 128Kb/s). Re-ripping one of my CDs to Apple's AAC reduced the problem significantly but the distortion was still there. This has cost the product a whole star I'm afraid.
Battery life is pretty good enabling a complete run of Blade Runner with a reasonable bit left for music. You'll be lucky to get two full movies out of the battery unless they're both under about 90 minutes or so each.
I've downloaded a couple of the free apps just to see how they go and get used to the process; Tube maps and a sample driving game. Tube maps are brilliant and the driving game is really good - great driving the game using the in-built motion sensor. Downloading, installing and arranging the apps on the Touch using the iTunes app is really easy.
All-in-all I'm very pleased with the Touch; no regrets at all as long as I don't use the equalizer. I'm just hoping the the distortion introduced by turning on the equalizer can be fixed in software and, if so, is part of an early software upgrade.
11-Aug-2010 - Downloaded iOS4 (not for the faint-hearted at 300+M bytes) and the mandatory iTunes 9.2 as this handles the additional features of the new OS. Loaded up into the iPod with no problems at all. The equalizer is now OK on all earphones so 'well done' Apple, problem cured. Downloaded the iBooks app and some of the free books on offer including 'The Jungle Book' and 'Treasure Island'. It's a good app but obviously would benefit from the iPad's larger screen. A good feature of this app is the PDF facility. I'm buying a Roberts MP53 radio/iPod Dock and downloaded the owners manual from the Roberts site. This now displays as a book in the iBook app - pretty neat. The folder functions is good as it declutters the home screen so I've now got a games folder and media folder for iBooks, iplayer, TuneIn Radio etc. The e-mail app is tidier and better organized now showing multiple accounts on the intro page. Just for info I bought an iPod Touch/iPhone TeckNet leather case for £7. This is leather (although I had my doubts at first) but the marvel was the quality of the case as well as the silicone case, the removable belt clip and screen protector that were also in the box. All-in-all, with iOS4 a really good bit of kit.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 11, 2010 5:07 PM BST

Zack & Wiki Quest for Barbaro's Treasure (Wii)
Zack & Wiki Quest for Barbaro's Treasure (Wii)
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: £17.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars C'mon - Enjoy, 21 Mar. 2008
Look guys I'm 56 years old and play this with my 8 year-old son so, as others have said, if you like solving puzzles this really is the tops for any age. We both love trying to solve the problems with one operating the WiiMote and the other shouting, sometimes bizarre, instructions. As it's a single-player game we sometimes squabble over the WiiMote but, hey, that's kids for you (and I include myself in that)!! I can't add anything more to what others have said about using the WiiMote - turning keys and puzzle pieces, driving contraptions, playing tennis, using mirrors to reflect light, creating keys from ice - all absorbing and fun stuff. C'mon - enjoy!

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