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techpuppy "in cyberspace no-one can hear you woof" (UK)
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Ultranatura Picnic Table Set Luneburg made from wood - 54 x 51 x 29.5 inches (138 x 130 x 75 cm)
Ultranatura Picnic Table Set Luneburg made from wood - 54 x 51 x 29.5 inches (138 x 130 x 75 cm)
Price: £94.05

4.0 out of 5 stars Who's been sitting on my bench?..., 14 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Ultranatura Luneburg Picnic Bench could perhaps be renamed the Goldilocks Picnic Bench; partly because of the colour which is, to say the least, very golden and partly because it seems just the right size, neither too big or too small, for an average family garden or patio. It should comfortably accomodate 4 adults or two adults and all the little baby-bears. The tabletop could be a little deeper front-to-back and it feels like another spar would make it just right - there's just enough depth for two adult place settings (porridge optional) facing each other, but not much more. The bench is also reasonably lightweight, given the overall size, so not that difficult to move around if necessary.

The bench arrives flat-packed in a box (box size is 140cm x 54cm x 14cm) with the benches and tabletop already assembled and all the parts pre-finished with lacquer. The 'Golden Pine' colour that Ultranatura have chosen for the finish is a bit full-on and although the photo's shown here are over-saturated and exaggerate it more, they're not that far off. The finish does have a slight sheen to it, though thankfully not the full gloss Toffee Apple finish. To be fair it's not unattractive, in fact it looks pretty good sitting on a green lawn, but it's not the most natural finish you ever saw - apparently Orange is the New Wood.

All the parts are precisely cut and well finished, with neat bevelled edges and no splinters and everything seemed to go together without much problem. There's just a single photocopied page of instructional diagrams and it didn't take any longer than about 25 minutes to put together. There are two sizes of nuts and bolts and four screws and so you'll need a couple of pairs of spanners or a socket set and a Philips screwdriver as there are no tools supplied in the pack. The construction's very straightforward and the only mistake I made was fixing one of the beams supporting the benches onto the legs the wrong-way-round with the little pilot hole (for the strut which supports the tabletop) on the outside instead of the inside - easily missed but also easily fixed. Once it's assembled there's nothing more to do as it's all pre-lacquered - but it would be useful if Ultranatura specified what kind of treatment and lacquer they've used so that if it needs to be re-sealed in future years we can choose something compatible for the best results. We haven't had ours long enough to judge long-term durability but if the bench is left outside year-round I expect it will need annual treatments to keep it looking good.

Once assembled it seems secure and stable enough to support full-grown adults without any problems. There is an issue with this style of bench, not unique to this particular model, where it's possible for a large and/or tall adult sitting alone to lean back and tip the whole thing over. This bench isn't particularly prone to it, I've tried much worse in the past, but it's something to be aware of and it might even be worth anchoring the legs down to the substrate in some circumstances. Apart from that concern it's a fine picnic bench, well-sized and nicely made and although it's slightly pricey compared to some it does have the quality finish to justify it.


Leifheit 85271 40 m Linomatic 400 Comfort Rotary Clothes Airer, Green
Leifheit 85271 40 m Linomatic 400 Comfort Rotary Clothes Airer, Green
Price: £132.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Almost in a spin..., 12 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Leifheit Linomatic 400 is a family-sized dryer with a generous amount of hanging space and yet it's a surprisingly lightweight unit to move around, I can carry it one-handed quite easily. It feels very sturdy and well-made and certainly lives up to the quality of construction you'd expect from Leifheit. It arrives with a heavy-duty plastic base socket which you have to embed in concrete to provide a steady mount for the dryer - there's also a screw-in style of base socket available for mounting into a lawn but you have to buy this separately. Note that the extended 3-year guarantee is conditional on using the supplied base socket, or presumably the alternate grass version.

The actual washing lines themselves are made from nylon twine rather than the plastic-coated cord many rotary dryers use and so are thinner although still very strong. The really clever feature of the Linomatic 400 is the way all of the lines are gathered up and disappear into the main column of the dryer when you collapse it - meaning the line is kept clean between uses and the whole unit looks much neater when not deployed. To open up the arms and deploy the dryer you just pull a cord until a ratchet mechanism locks it at the height you want - then even the pull-cord itself is gathered back into the main unit so it's never left dangling and constantly 'dinging' against the main pole in the wind, which is a thoughtful feature. The twine feels strong and like it should last for years but I'd be a bit concerned if any line broke or got damaged as there's no obvious (easy) way to rethread a replacement length into the dryer - there's even a warning in the instructions about not opening up the plastic covers which might allow this. However the way everything disappears into the dryer is very clever and compared to the rat's nest of dangling cords that our previous dryer creates it's very tidy looking, so if you routinely collapse your rotary dryer to reclaim some garden space then it's a real advantage.

We already had a suitable mount for a rotary dryer and I was able to just drop this Linomatic 400 into place (the main column is 50mm or 2" in diameter) but there was a problem - our existing mount is a metal tube set into concrete and at the bottom of the tube is a rough gravelled surface. The bottom of the main column of this dryer, which sits into the base socket, is just a cut metal edge and that tends to grind and scrape against the rough surface at the bottom of our mounting so the dryer hardly rotates at all even in strong wind. Our previous dryer has a rounded plastic foot fitted to the bottom of the column which spun around quite easily, even against the rough surface. So, it might be worth noting that this Leifheit dryer seems to depend on its own plastic base socket (or something similar) to provide the smoothest spin action and I'll have to modify our existing mount to make it spin more freely. On the subject of spinning freely, the Leifheit base socket has a flip-up cap to cover the hole when the dryer's not in use and that cap has a couple of spikes on the underside which push into holes in the main column of the dryer and can act as a lock to stop the whole thing spinning - not sure why you'd want to, but you can!

You don't get a storage cover with the Linomatic 400 (although it's available as an optional accessory) but with all the lines cleverly hidden inside the main unit it's probably not as necessary as with some dryers. The instructions recommend storing the dryer under cover during the Winter, but it seems to be made from quality materials that would survive reasonably happily outdoors year-round really. It is a bit pricey compared to some dryers, even those with a similar amount of hanging space, but for anyone who needs or prefers to collapse their dryer between uses and/or remove it for storage then the very clever way it gathers up the lines and hides them away inside is a real selling point. That makes it much neater looking and easier to carry and store than standard rotary dryers would be and maybe that's worth the extra spend - either way it's certainly a quality product.


Philips BG105/10 Bodygroom with Skin Protector Series 1000
Philips BG105/10 Bodygroom with Skin Protector Series 1000
Offered by sotel-electronics
Price: £28.51

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beating about the bush..., 5 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
OK, so I'm not sure how blunt Philips (or you) would want me to be about this device but let's be honest here - it's a body hair trimmer for the man who prefers to keep his family jewels in a silk purse and not a fur pocket. Or - it's for the man (and his mate) who prefers not to go snuffling for truffles in the undergrowth. Or - for the euphemistically challenged, it's a Pubic Coiffure accessory.

The eternal problem for those adventurous sorts who venture 'down-below' clutching one of these depilatory tools in-hand is that you tend to emerge moments later, wincing and cursing, with your best friend and the twins covered in little nicks and cuts and looking like you just dragged them through a thorn hedge backwards. Generally, this result is sub-optimal. However this is the minor catastrophe Philips appear to have solved, or at least significantly improved, with this device.

The device is clearly based on the same design Philips use for all their bikini-line trimmers, the cutting head on this one even twists off so it can be replaced with another - but you only get one so it's a bit pointless really. There are two clip-on guards for the cutting head, one which cuts to about 3mm and one for about 0.5mm, so neither is designed to shave the hair as close as a true razor would, although they get close enough for most purposes and should avoid ingrown hair issues. You could use the device with no guard fitted but it's not to be recommended, it certainly would snag and cut the skin if you tried it on certain areas, be warned. It will work on any area of the body of course but it does seem to have been primarily designed to allow soft, loose skin (insert appropriate body-part here) to be shaved without causing any nicks on the way - something very few clippers or shavers will manage to avoid. That Philips have succeeded where others (including Philips themselves) have previously failed is a credit to them but it does make me wonder what kind of beta testing Philips do in their R&D department? I bet they haven't made a promotional video of that particular research programme...

The device is water-resistant enough to be rinsed clean after use but Philips don't recommend actually using it as a wet shaver - wet skin is more easily nicked by shavers. The included rubber strap means you could hang it in the shower ready for a quick going-over when necessary. Altogether it's a neat little device, it looks good, is reasonably priced and it actually makes Todger Topiary a much less painful process.


SanDisk SDIX-128G-G57 iXpand Flash Drive - 128 GB
SanDisk SDIX-128G-G57 iXpand Flash Drive - 128 GB
Price: £129.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Struck by Lightning..., 5 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The SanDisk iXpand is small enough to be easily pocketable and feels like it would survive a life on the road thanks to its mostly aluminium construction. The Lightning connector is mounted on a flexible rubber tab which keeps it recessed and protected when not in use and then allows it to be bent outwards for connection to your iPad or iPhone. It's both a clever and somewhat awkward piece of design though because although it makes for a neat device it's a slightly clumsy thing to have hanging off the end of your iOS device and it means that your device is tilted sideways if you lay it down on a table - however it works. The USB connector allows you to plug the iXpand into your computer and load it up with content and it appears on your Mac or PC as a standard external hard drive and you don't need any special drivers or app's to make it work - unless you want to use the encryption facility. The USB connector seems to be USB-2 (unfortunately not USB-3) and it's slow for data transfer on computers, in fact it's weirdly slow and I was getting no more than 14MB/s used with a Mac and even less, around 9MB/s, on Windows. That means if you're loading up the iXpand with a bunch of movies to watch on your iPad later it's going to take quite a few minutes to transfer them all. The Lightning connector seems to suffer no such slowdown and playing movies back on our iPad was snappy and responsive and didn't seem to be any problem.

SanDisk have created a dedicated free app for use with the iXpand and this allows access to the files you've stored on the device and even allows you to view pictures or playback video files without having to switch to another iOS app. Often these required custom app's are a bit second-rate and clunky but I thought SanDisk had made a very creditable job with theirs, it looks clean and logical and works very well - tested on an iPhone 5 the video playback was stutter-free for me and probably as good as the best video app's on iOS. Apple don't allow iOS to directly access external drives in the same way as a computer can so this app is essential to get full access to the iXpand to manage your files. If you do want to view or edit your files in different iOS app's there's an "Open in..." function built into the SanDisk app to facilitate this - however this means the file has to be copied onto the iPhone or iPad and accessed from there. This is a limitation imposed by Apple and isn't SanDisk's fault but it does mean the iXpand might not be a total solution to an overflowing iPhone.

There's an encryption facility called SanDiskSecureAccess onboard too, so you can protect your personal files in case the device gets lost or stolen. You simply setup an encrypted folder (or 'Vault') on the device and then any file that gets saved into it is automatically encrypted and kept private. It's easy to setup and use and is also compatible with both Windows and Mac computers - there are two app's installed on the iXpand itself, one for Mac and one for Windows, so that when you connect to a computer and need access to your encrypted files you have the necessary software available right there on the device itself. The only problem with the encryption software is that it's all made visible in the SanDisk iOS app too - so you can see listed both the Windows and Mac app's and also a 'Settings' folder which contains the config files for your encryption. If you accidentally delete either of the computer app's you'll only temporarily lose access to your encrypted files from your computer (until you download and reinstall the app again) but if you delete the 'Settings' folder or its contents you permanently lose access to your protected files - that's not so good and perhaps it would be much better if the iOS app hid these essential files from you (perhaps optionally) to keep them safe from accidental deletion.

There are lots of ways to use the iXpand to extend the onboard storage of your iOS device - for example you could keep a library of movies or TV shows on there and continue to watch them on whichever device was handy and that could be your iPhone, iPad or computer. It's slightly limited because Apple don't allow direct access without using the dedicated app - but the app is pretty good so it's a relatively painless option. It has to be pointed out that GB for GB it's a very expensive storage solution compared to a standard (and much faster USB-3) hard-drive so it's only really worthwhile if you plan to use it primarily with your iPhone or iPad - but it's very well made and presented and it does add another dimension of fun or function to your beloved iPad or iPhone.


The Friendly Swede Disc Stylus, (2 Pack), Black
The Friendly Swede Disc Stylus, (2 Pack), Black
Offered by The Friendly Swede [UK]
Price: £9.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Drawing on windows..., 28 April 2015
Although touchscreen user interfaces are primarily designed for fingertip use there are times you miss the feel of a pen, especially when you need to draw or sketch something - it's like a weird form of finger-painting otherwise. These Friendly Swede Disc Styluses answer that need nicely and at a very reasonable price - a few years back I bought a friend a stylus as a gift and it (for there was only one) cost four times this price! Instead of a soft rubberised tip these use a hard plastic disc which contains a suitable conductive core that triggers the touchscreen. The clear plastic disc slides around quite effortlessly on the screen and lets you get a good view of what you're drawing while you work. Be sure to wipe the screen clean before you begin to ensure there are no particles of grit to get caught under the disc where you won't feel them, unlike with a finger of course, that could get ground into the screen. A screen protector is probably advisable too, although the disc itself should do no harm to the toughened glass of most good touchscreens. You also have to hold the pen slightly more vertical than you're used to (at least I did) otherwise when you lower the pen into contact with the screen there's an disconcerting click as the edge of the disc catches then snaps flat onto the surface. However, those minor considerations aside, it's very easy to adjust to drawing on your touchscreen with a stylus and in a few moments it reinvents your device as a digital sketchpad.

The pens themselves have a metal barrel with a siliconised non-slip collar where you hold them. Along with the pair of styli you get four replacement tips which just push into the tip of the stylus when they're needed. The drawing tips consist of a plastic disc mounted onto a flexible silicon tube and it must be this soft tube which eventually breaks and needs replacing - I haven't managed to wear any out yet so I'm guessing here. The replacement tips have a metal collar to hold them in place and are completely ready-to-go, you just pull out the old tip and push in a new one. The cap of the stylus protects the tip when not in use, so you can carry them around with you safely, and the cap screws onto the end of the barrel when you're drawing. The screw-thread of the cap is quite fine and is a bit tricky to engage when you're putting the cap on, but with a bit of care it's OK. They look and feel like a good quality item and also come in a sturdy drawer-style box and would make a very nice gift.

I've only used them on our iPad 3 and on that they're reasonably responsive and very usable in all the painting and drawing app's I tried - but performance will vary depending on the speed and power of your tablet and on which app's you're using. On iOS the drawn line appears near the top of the clear disc, which must be iOS trying to create the line at the tip of your finger to make it feel more intuitive, but that's easily adjusted to and drawing on your screen becomes quite addictive once you start. Although it works throughout the touch interface of your tablet it isn't that special for general use, your finger usually does the best job, but for drawing, painting and even retouching photo's it becomes second-nature very quickly. I haven't tried it for handwriting recognition but I don't see any reason it wouldn't work great for that too. I would imagine it might also make Windows 8.1's Desktop app's more usable too, since they can have tiny little buttons that are awkward to access with fingertips. However you choose to use them at this price they're a great little buy, good quality and very nicely presented. (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


Satechi Spectrum iQ Bulb Bluetooth 4.0 RGBW Smart 8W LED Lightbulb
Satechi Spectrum iQ Bulb Bluetooth 4.0 RGBW Smart 8W LED Lightbulb
Offered by SATECHI
Price: £30.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Smart, but not that bright..., 26 April 2015
Satechi's Spectrum IQ smart-bulb lets you bathe your room in moody coloured light without having to string up endless fairy-lights or adopt the interior stylings of a kid's bedroom - although it would be really fun in a child's bedroom too. It's sized like any conventional ES lightbulb but it is quite a bit heavier (though not really heavy) and you should be sure your light fitting won't mind the extra weight - I had to slightly tighten the joints in an old Anglepoise® style lamp to stop it slowly ducking down, for example. The light only emits from the top section of the bulb, the bottom half is completely opaque, so that might slightly limit your lamp choices too. The bottom tip of the bulb, which makes the electrical contact, is quite blunt and rounded and in one of our lamps failed to make the connection - but that's probably more the fault of our lamp than the bulb.

When you first switch it on the bulb lights up in a cool neutral white colour, like many LED bulbs, and you have to use the app (available on both iOS and Android) to change the brightness or colour. The bulb responds quickly to your commands, even when you spin your finger around the colour wheel it does a pretty good job of keeping up. It also remembers the last colour and brightness you chose and lights up that way again when you next turn it on using the light-switch. The app also lets you programme the bulb with simple macro's to make it switch on and/or off at scheduled times with the option of having it fade up/off slowly - so it could gradually dim as you're falling asleep. It could also fade up in the morning, like a wake-up light, but I doubt if the bulb's bright enough on its own to have the full wake-up effect - I have a wake-up light and it's significantly brighter than this bulb is. You only need to use the smartphone app to programme the macro's which then run independently of the app, so the bulb will switch on or off without your smartphone's help. The only exception to this is the Disco mode, which uses the microphone in your phone to pick up ambient sound, including music, and alter the colour of the bulb in response to the sounds - obviously you have to leave your smartphone connected with the app running for this to work.

My only slight disappointment with the IQ bulb is that it doesn't seem quite bright enough, partly because the light it casts is quite diffuse and shadowless. So while it's great as mood lighting it isn't really intense enough for task lighting, although it could be good in a bedside lamp to read by. It doesn't get particularly warm either so should be safe for use in a kid's room and of course they would love being able to change the colour if they have a tablet or smartphone, especially in Disco mode. Note that you also need Bluetooth 4.0 on your tablet or smartphone to be able to connect to the IQ bulb, so older Bluetooth devices might not be compatible. Once the Spectrum IQ bulb is fitted in a suitable lamp it's barely noticeable yet it gives you the option to vary the mood or add interest to your room whenever you like just by picking up your smartphone. It's more fun than practical, but what's wrong with that? (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


[Apple MFi Certified] Syncwire Nylon Braided Lightning to USB Cable - Lifetime Guarantee Series - for iPhone 6 Plus 5S 5C 5, iPad Air 2, Mini 3, iPod 5th generation, iPod nano 7th Gen - Aluminum Connector - 3.3 ft / 1m Space Gray
[Apple MFi Certified] Syncwire Nylon Braided Lightning to USB Cable - Lifetime Guarantee Series - for iPhone 6 Plus 5S 5C 5, iPad Air 2, Mini 3, iPod 5th generation, iPod nano 7th Gen - Aluminum Connector - 3.3 ft / 1m Space Gray
Offered by Syncwire
Price: £29.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, affordable and good-quality..., 23 April 2015
I've tried various non-Apple iPhone cables in the past and most of them have been second-rate and short-lived, but these Syncwire Lightning cables seem to be one of the few that stand up to direct comparison with Apple's official originals. I've tried both the white and the grey braided versions and they're both quality products. The cables themselves are quite thin but feel sturdy and hold their shape a little, which is sometimes a sign of decent shielding inside. The cables seem to be very securely bonded into their connectors, which is the main problem I've had with cheap cables, the cables work loose and the cable stops working. The grey braided cable also has metal plugs at both ends, not plastic ones, and the casing seems to be formed with a single piece of aluminium so shouldn't split apart, another problem I've had with cheap low-quality cables. Most importantly both cables work for both power and data - that might sound like a silly thing to say but Apple-approved Lightning cables must have a 'gateway' security chip in the Lightning connector and if the chip is absent the iPhone or iPad won't allow a data connection for syncing, although you might still be able to recharge the battery - it's another issue with cheap knock-off cables but these Syncwire cables are fine and work perfectly for both power and data.

The white cable has a silicon-like feel, and looks a lot like Apple's original, except for a Syncwire logo on the Lightning connector. It's also not quite as soft and pliable as Apple's cable but that's not really a negative thing. If you're just looking for a more affordable replacement or spare than buying the Apple-branded version then you couldn't do much better. The grey braided cable has a nylon shielding threaded around the cable and feels extra-tough, although I'm not sure it actually would be. It gives the cable a good look, a bit like fishing line or climbing rope, and looks especially cool if you've got one of Apple's devices in Space Grey to connect it to. Warning, don't quickly run your fingers down the cable to straighten it out or you get a nasty friction burn - I just discovered... My preference would be for the grey braided cable, it's worth the extra £1, but either of them are a really good quality and affordable replacement for Apple's own cables and a step up in quality from the plethora of cheap knock-offs - plus they come in a nice enough box too, so if you're buying them as a thoughtful gift you won't look cheap!


Panasonic ALL1 Network Audio Connector
Panasonic ALL1 Network Audio Connector
Price: £199.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not ALL that..., 22 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
At first the Panasonic ALL1 worked fine for me and I thought I'd avoided all of the connection problems other reviewers had - then after a firmware update (the second in a month) and the unit being disconnected and moved to another room it threw a tantrum and refused to reconnect, at least for a while. Setting up the ALL1 up on your home network should be simple enough: you simply connect it to your hi-fi amp with the supplied (but quite short) phono cable and then turn it on. At first the unit creates its own (unprotected) wi-fi hotspot and you temporarily connect your smartphone (or other device) to that which allows you to log into the ALL1 and set the username and password for your existing home network. The ALL1 then shuts down its hotspot and reconnects to your home wi-fi network and from now on you can use the Panasonic Music Streaming app on your iOS or Android device to play individual songs or create playlists. The ALL1 lets you play songs direct from your smartphone or tablet, from a NAS server you might have setup (for example using PLEX or a DLNA app), from internet radio app's or from streaming services like Spotify, though you'll need a premium Spotify account for this to work.

In theory, because it uses wi-fi, the ALL1's got several advantages over similar devices that use Bluetooth - the range is much greater, so you can control the device from anywhere in your home you have a wi-fi connection whereas Bluetooth has a more limited range, usually only in the same room. Bluetooth usually uses its own codecs to recompress music before sending it over the Bluetooth connection, this reduces the sound quality quite audibly (although the aptX codec is pretty good) whereas the ALL1 can send the original files over your home network with no additional compression necessary - if you store your music in a lossless format this will mean a significant difference in audio quality. Finally, the ALL1 must have some onboard storage of its own (although Panasonic aren't admitting how much) because it doesn't continually stream the music from your smartphone or tablet, it simply uses the app as a kind of match-making service. You pick the songs you'd like to spend some time with and the app makes the introductions between the music source and the ALL1 and then steps away leaving them to get along with each other - so once you've setup your chosen playlist you can switch off your phone and the music still plays.

In practise however, the ALL1 isn't all that. The first impression isn't great, it's an ugly little plastic box with a faux-leather texture on the top and a faux-woodgrain effect on the sides - it's as if Panasonic are channeling the worst aspects of 70's hi-fi - and it even smells a bit funny (although faintly). There are three touch-buttons on the front each with their own LED which flash in incoherent ways to indicate the current status of the device. You'll need to download the full operating manual from Panasonic's website to make any sense of these morse-code-like communications - the manual that's in the box is a quick-start guide only. To be honest the unit looks and feels like a prototype device Panasonic decided to put on sale to gauge interest, it doesn't feel like a finished product at all, at least not one from a company with the prestige of Panasonic.

This prototype impression continues with the iOS app too, which is a slight re-interfaced and rebranded version of Qualcomm's own 'AllPlay Jukebox' app and is (slightly) inferior to it in most ways, although luckily both work with the ALL1 so you have a choice. Once you've created a playlist you can quit the app but I found that it was very difficult to reopen the app to add, remove or skip songs from an active playlist, it sort-of works but the app doesn't update itself with the current state of play and so you have to manually stop then restart the playlist at the right place - which is just clunky. The biggest problem is how difficult it can be to get the ALL1 recognised by the iOS app in the first place. I got lucky the first time and it just worked - but every subsequent time has been ridiculously difficult and frustrating. Last time I tried the device just would not appear in the smartphone app whatever I did, although my computers could see it on my home network, which makes me wonder if it's an issue with the app's rather than the device itself. Then suddenly after about 25 minutes of frustration it just popped up and started working with no clue as to why it suddenly decided to co-operate. This seems to be regular behaviour - no sign of it at all for about 20/30 mins and then it suddenly appears - and it's annoying to the point of rendering it useless. These issues may well get fixed in future app or firmware updates but who wants to take the gamble?

I'm at a loss to explain the (suggested) retail price, which is utterly ridiculous when compared to widely available Bluetooth devices which do a similar job and would probably satisfy most people and can cost about a tenth of this price. I realise Panasonic are trying to offer an audiophile-pleasing alternative and when it's working the ALL1 can sound great, but there's a limit to how good any compressed music will sound regardless of how you deliver it to your hi-fi and so this device is probably of most value to those music-lovers who lovingly ripped their music into lossless formats only. I also can't help feeling these features would be best built-into a hi-fi system itself, many of the components you'd need are already in a good hi-fi, but maybe that's Panasonic's future plan anyway. So sorry Panasonic, normally I love your work but this is a big disappointment and the final straw is just how temperamental it is about remaining accessible on your network, at this price it should just work and work every single time - but it just doesn't.


Nivea Cellular Anti-Age Skin Rejuvenation Concentrated Serum 40 ml
Nivea Cellular Anti-Age Skin Rejuvenation Concentrated Serum 40 ml
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Surface deep..., 20 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Nivea Cellular Serum is one of those skincare products that aims to make an instant difference to your skin, rather than making you wait for the full benefits with prolonged usage. I'm not sure of any long-term benefits yet but it does give your skin an immediate velvety feel, tightens it slightly and does help diminish the look of the finest wrinkles, even if it leaves the more pronounced ones unaffected. So I guess it does partly live up to the claims Nivea are making for it, which must be a rare thing in affordable skincare? The velvety texture on your skin does feel a bit silicon-y to me and since the largest active ingredient is Cyclomethicone (a liquid silicon) that's not a big surprise, but it also leaves the skin with a matte finish so it should be fine for men's use or for use under make-up.

The consistency is thick and creamy and absorbs readily but it doesn't have much 'travel' on the skin so I did find myself using more than I'd expect - that 40ml may not last as long as you'd like. I've got slightly sensitive skin but haven't had any major negative reaction to it either. The fragrance however is something else - it's a really pronounced and not particularly attractive fragrance, very perfume-y and unnatural and a bit over-strong. I guess it's in-line with other Nivea products but I found it quite off-putting. Luckily it fades away quite quickly but I wouldn't describe it as a particularly sophisticated or expensive fragrance so why it's necessary at all I don't know.

I've been using it now for a couple of weeks and the results seem fine, if nothing special, and my skin is slightly smoother and maybe a little tighter than before. I'm not entirely convinced by Nivea's claims that it accelerates skin renewal, it feels more like the effects are just surface-deep and more cosmetic than that, at least so far. I've used Vitamin C serums in the past that seemed to have more effect in boosting the skin's own renewal process, if that's what you want to achieve. However if you like richer, more conventional skincare and don't mind the distinctive Nivea fragrance then it's a perfectly decent serum at a reasonable price.


AHS Natural Collagen Capsules - Pack of 180 Capsules
AHS Natural Collagen Capsules - Pack of 180 Capsules
Price: £24.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Don't swallow it..., 11 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Collagen is one of those buzz-word substances that many manufacturers add to their products without any real explanation of what it might do - and this supplement seems no different. So many face-creams claim to contain collagen but in its natural state the collagen molecule is too large to penetrate the skin, so it does virtually nothing - the more expensive 'serious' skincare brands have to alter the natural collagen molecule to make it more effective as a skincare ingredient. So the idea of swallowing collagen as a supplement is intriguing but I didn't hold out much hope of it working - and seems I was right, at least so far. I'm about half-way through the bottle of 180 capsules and so I've been taking it for around a month - you take three capsules daily at bedtime, preferably on an empty stomach. So far I don't see any effect at all, or at least none I could realistically attribute to this supplement. I've suffered no ill effects, no stomach upsets or reactions, but there are no obvious benefits either.

The product is nicely packaged and presented, although obviously aimed at pink-loving girly-girls, and comes in a frosted glass bottle that wouldn't look out of place on your dressing table beside your pricey skincare jars. The capsules are slightly large and you do need a glass of water to help them down - note, that for amino-acid therapy to work you should avoid taking the supplements with anything containing protein (like milk) and preferably several hours after your last protein-containing snack or meal. Note that this supplement is not suitable for vegetarians - collagen is usually extracted from bovine or poultry sources.

I will see the course and finish the jar and I'll report back if I do see any improvements, to be fair vitamin and mineral therapies often take some time to take effect, but I'm not holding my breath. In the end, I think believing that eating collagen will improve your skin is a bit like believing that you can cure baldness by eating hair.


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