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techpuppy "in cyberspace no-one can hear you woof" (UK)
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rotor® 7" Bluetooth HD Quad Core 1024X600 Tablet PC Actions 7031 Cortex A9 CPU Android 4.4.2 KitKat 512MB RAM 4GB FLASH Dual Camera Google Play Store WiFi Support Netflix 3D Games Flash Skype (Pink)
rotor® 7" Bluetooth HD Quad Core 1024X600 Tablet PC Actions 7031 Cortex A9 CPU Android 4.4.2 KitKat 512MB RAM 4GB FLASH Dual Camera Google Play Store WiFi Support Netflix 3D Games Flash Skype (Pink)

4.0 out of 5 stars Pocket marvel, that's light on your pocket..., 30 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
So my first question was - with this low a price just how good an Android tablet could it be? The answer turns out to be - pretty good actually, for the price. You wouldn't expect the best quality of components or construction at this level and you don't get them - but you do get a snappy little device that's capable enough to be genuinely useful and fun to have around. The main shell and the front of the screen are plastic and the overall build quality is OK, though nothing special. You get a mains charger and a couple of useful USB cables in the box but the mains charger doesn't use a USB connection, it uses a pin connector and it has quite a short cable (about 1m long) so it can be a bit awkward to charge and use at the same time. That's even more awkward when the device itself has a somewhat fickle battery that sometimes decides to run out in around an hour - and the next time keeps going for three. However you can also charge the tablet using its micro USB port, so if you have an existing USB charger (preferably a 2.0A one) or a portable power-bank then they can also be used. This style of tablet is available from various sources so if you search around Amazon you can find cases and screen protectors (none are included) that should work with it - for example I found (but haven't actually tried) these, this and this.

Onboard there's a Bluetooth chip to connect to peripherals and a GPS chip so it can figure out where it is. The screen is quite low resolution, just 1024 x 600, but is reasonably bright and clear and although it has a limited viewing angle it's not too bad and is mostly liveable-with. The slightly odd screen resolution means onscreen items originally intended for a 16:9 display look very slightly squished -- so round things don't look exactly round -- but again it's mostly liveable with. There are two onboard cameras, neither is very high resolution but they're fine for a quick video chat with your friends. Quick tip to improve the image quality from the cameras - look at the lenses very closely and you might find (like I did) that the plastic film used to protect the lens during manufacture is still in place and can be carefully peeled off. This will make images from the camera look a lot less bleary and quite a bit sharper, although obviously it leaves the lens more prone to damage in the future - I'd rather get better pictures and take my chances.

I've had a couple of issues with the included version of Android 4.4.4 - there are a couple of app's installed I don't recognise and it isn't explained what they do so my instinct was to uninstall or disable them - so far nothing bad happened. The problem with any Android device is that you're at the mercy of the manufacturer because they all install their own variation of Android and choose their own selection of default app's - the version shipped on this tablet has a few odd user-interface settings and app's that I'm not keen on, but luckily you can customise Android to more suit your needs and style. Spend a few minutes in the Google Play Store to update or replace the onboard app's and you get a much better tablet. For example you can get noticeably better results from the onboard camera if you switch to Google's newer Camera app, which works a lot better than the version included here.

Overall you're getting a remarkably capable device for the price and although there are a few bells and whistles missing, compared to the more expensive tablets, it's a bargain at this price. If you just want a fun media device for watching favourite TV shows or movies then the widescreen format of the display works well - better than the 4:3 format of some tablets. Although the screen is low resolution it's good enough for some casual gaming or to keep up with your email or social networking while you're out and about - providing you can get wi-fi access of course because there's no mobile network access onboard. If your needs are a bit more demanding and you want to do more serious work with text-based app's or play the most demanding 3D games then it might be worth spending a bit more money to get something better, however there's no denying the amazing value for money this tablet offers. (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


65% OFF - QUAD CORE - rotor® 7" 8GB HD 1024x600 - 2015 MODEL - Android 4.4.2 KITKAT (ANDROID 5.0 LOLLIPOP MANUAL UPDATE INCLUDED) - Tablet PC - Miracast Active (Wireless HDMI) Silicone Protection - Dual Camera - WiFi - Supports: Google PLAYSTORE Youtube, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, wired HDMI (via external adapter) Games 3G Calls (via dongle)(Black)
65% OFF - QUAD CORE - rotor® 7" 8GB HD 1024x600 - 2015 MODEL - Android 4.4.2 KITKAT (ANDROID 5.0 LOLLIPOP MANUAL UPDATE INCLUDED) - Tablet PC - Miracast Active (Wireless HDMI) Silicone Protection - Dual Camera - WiFi - Supports: Google PLAYSTORE Youtube, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, wired HDMI (via external adapter) Games 3G Calls (via dongle)(Black)

4.0 out of 5 stars Pocket dynamo..., 30 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This size of Android tablet has become so popular, probably because it's big enough to use as a handy email/web/social-networking/gaming device but not so big that it won't fit into your handbag or backpack - however not many are also this light on your wallet. You wouldn't expect the best quality of components or construction at this price level and indeed you don't get them - but you do get a snappy little device that's capable enough to be genuinely useful and fun to have around. The main shell and the front of the screen are plastic and the overall build quality is OK, though nothing special. You get a mains charger and a couple of useful USB cables in the box but the mains charger doesn't use a USB connector, it has a pin connector and quite a short cable (about 1m long). You can also charge the tablet using its micro USB port, so if you have an existing USB-style charger or a power-bank that could also be used. I'm finding battery life is fickle and sometimes mine struggles to manage more than a couple of hours usage and also seems to deplete surprisingly quickly even when it's idle and asleep - that's probably a software issue (something unnecessary left running in the background) but I've yet to solve it. Note there's no Bluetooth or GPS chip onboard and wi-fi is 2.4GHz only - if you want Bluetooth and GPS Rotor also have a similarly priced tablet which includes these. You get a silicone slip-cover included, which is a nice bonus, but it is a total dust and lint magnet and looks messy quite quickly - handy as an extra bit of bump protection in your bag though.

The screen is quite low resolution, just 1024 x 600, but is reasonably bright and clear - there is a limited viewing angle where all the colours and contrast looks right but it's not too bad and quite liveable-with. The slightly odd screen resolution means onscreen items intended for a 16:9 display look very slightly squished -- meaning round things don't look exactly round -- but again it's liveable with. There are two onboard cameras, neither is very high resolution but they're fine for a quick video chat with your friends. Quick tip to improve the image quality from the cameras - look at the lenses very closely and you might find (as I did) that the plastic film used to protect the lens during manufacture is still in place and can be peeled off with a careful fingernail. This makes the images from the camera look a lot less bleary and quite a bit sharper, although obviously it leaves the lens more prone to damage in the future.

You might have noticed that there's an Android 5.0 upgrade available free for this tablet and you can contact the seller for details of how to download it. The installation procedure is slightly bizarre and the instructions supplied with the download aren't very clear, so I'll put a quick step-by-step guide in the comments to this review for those that want to try it themselves. Is it worth installing Lollipop? To be honest because this tablet only has 512MB of RAM for the system that makes 5.0 Lollipop run a bit slow on this device and unless there's a specific app or feature you need it's probably best to stick with the supplied Android 4.4.2 - however the upgrade kit also includes the Android 4.4.2 image so you can switch back if need be. Note that to install the upgrade you need to use a utility that runs on Windows and no installer for Mac or Linux is included.

I've had a couple of issues with the included version of Android 4.4.2 - there's a logging service installed and running which should have been removed, probably left over by an untidy developer. There was also some kind of adware running which put pop-up ad's for a game over the home-screen - I couldn't find the exact source but disabled a couple of likely suspects and it seems fine now. That sounds bad but some reports say that about 25% of app's from the Play Store have some kind of adware in them, so it may not be Rotor's fault. The problem with any Android device is that you're at the mercy of the manufacturer because they all install their own variation of Android and default app's - suffice to say this has not been my favourite installed version...

Overall you're getting a remarkably capable device at a bargain price - but there are a couple of issues, as you might expect. If you want a fun device for watching your favourite TV shows, streaming movies or some casual gaming then it's a great little thing. If your needs are a bit more demanding and you want to work with text-based app's or play demanding 3D games then it might be worth spending a bit more money to get something bigger and or better. There's no denying the overall value though, it's amazing for the price. (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


iGadgitz Multi-Angle Aluminium Adjustable Portable Tablet & Smartphone Folding Holder Stand (Suitable for most Tablet, E-Readers and Mobile Phones)
iGadgitz Multi-Angle Aluminium Adjustable Portable Tablet & Smartphone Folding Holder Stand (Suitable for most Tablet, E-Readers and Mobile Phones)
Offered by iGadgitz
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Covering all angles..., 27 Aug. 2015
This is one of those little accessories that does exactly what you'd want it to do and does it well. The main part of the stand is formed from a single piece of aluminium and has a solid and well-finished feel. There are non-slip pads on the base of the stand and at every point where the stand would normally be in contact with your iPad or tablet there's a similar bumper to prevent any damage to your precious device. The front channel which cradles your tablet is slightly tapered and is about 9mm wide at its narrowest point, if that isn't enough to fit your device you can lift out the plastic bumper to make it slightly wider but this does then expose the metal against your tablet.

The back support locks flat against the stand when not in use but is released by a push button built into the side of the hinge at the top. It locks into about 12 different useful positions from almost vertical to virtually flat on the table - actually it flips right over to the front of the stand but I'm not sure what purpose that serves. There's a curved cutout to accommodate the Home button on iPads but the stand works well with lots of other devices too - I have a generic 10.1" Android tablet in a widescreen format and that fits perfectly too. The range of lockable positions mean it works if you want to set your tablet at a shallow angle for typing on or almost upright for watching movies or TV and the spring-lock keeping the stand in position seems to be quite strong too, I've had no stability issues with it at all. My only problem is that it's turned out to be so handy I want to keep it with the tablet at all times and I really don't need another gadget to carry! It just works for me, lets me use the tablet quite flat on my desk during the day and at night sits upright on the bedside table as an alarm clock. It's a genuinely useful and nicely made accessory. (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


L'Oreal Garnier Deep Sun-Kissed Look Body Lotion - 400 ml
L'Oreal Garnier Deep Sun-Kissed Look Body Lotion - 400 ml
Price: £3.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Sun in a bottle..., 26 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Be warned, this stuff gets addictive - once you start using it your skin can look grey and sad without it and so Garnier have you hooked, those evil cosmetic dealers. Summer Body gives your skin a pale golden glow rather than a complete faux tan effect and that makes it that bit more controllable and less obvious to your friends and family. On me the effects don't last much more than 4 or 5 days so you have to repeat the process every 4 days or so to maintain that glow. You can repeat it more often if you want to build more colour although a proper faux tan might be a better option if that's what you want.

When first applied it does have an attractive Apricot fragrance, but as the day progresses that fades and you do get the more recognisable faux-tan smell (like a cheese and ham toastie!) but it's not too bad. The lotion is pleasant enough to use and works quite well as a body moisturiser although it doesn't sink into the skin as much as a proper body lotion would. It is possible to cause patches or streaks if you don't work it into the skin properly, but on the positive side you don't need to wear polythene gloves to avoid the orange palm effect, as long as you wash your hands thoroughly immediately after applying.

Like any faux tan you have to be careful in certain parts of the body where the skin is thicker, like knees and elbows, as these areas can go an unnaturally dark colour but it's easily avoided. I'm sure most people already know how to apply these products but here's the routine which works for me: Apply fairly generously using large smooth strokes at first to get an even cover, then immediately work the lotion into the skin using smaller circular and more vigorous motions (this avoids streaks and patches). When you've done the whole body take a face wipe and gently (!) wipe excess lotion from any areas prone to going over-dark - meaning knees, elbows, neck and ankles etc. You're not trying to remove all the lotion, just gently take away any excess left on the surface. This is especially recommended for hairy men (or the slightly hairy parts of non-hairy men) as body hair holds onto the lotion and then 'reapplies' it through the day so you get patchy odd results. Don't forget to wash your hands afterwards.

If you're trying to achieve the full Essex effect (sorry Essex) then this probably isn't the right product for you - although if you'd like to get a stronger colour then I'd also recommend Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Natural Bronze Lotion as it gives a deeper colour that's still just short of a full faux tan effect. However, if you would just like to maintain a golden healthy-looking glow year-round then Summer Body really works.


Jojoba Oil, Organic, 100% Pure Cold Pressed Unrefined, Made in the USA Revitalizes Hair and Gives Skin a Radiant and Youthful Look, Great for Lips, Cuticles, Stretch Marks, Beard, Leaving You Vibrant. Similar to Argan Oil, but Without the Smell, in a 4 oz Dark Amber Bottle, and Glass Eye Dropper for Easy Application
Jojoba Oil, Organic, 100% Pure Cold Pressed Unrefined, Made in the USA Revitalizes Hair and Gives Skin a Radiant and Youthful Look, Great for Lips, Cuticles, Stretch Marks, Beard, Leaving You Vibrant. Similar to Argan Oil, but Without the Smell, in a 4 oz Dark Amber Bottle, and Glass Eye Dropper for Easy Application
Offered by Leven Rose
Price: £24.10

4.0 out of 5 stars Pure and simple..., 26 Aug. 2015
Although I'd known about Jojoba for years I'd only really discovered how suited it really was to my skin in the past year or so when I tried the pure oil on its own. I'm prone to dry skin and get itchy patches if I don't look after it, not as bad as psoriasis or dermatitis but annoying nonetheless. The only natural oil I've tried that has prevented this dryness is Jojoba and that includes this variety from Leven Rose. It's a light and easily absorbed oil and is really effective at smoothing dry skin. Unlike some I've tried before it has no perceptible fragrance, usually Jojoba oil has a nutty smell, and it's a noticeably lighter colour than my previous brand too.

I've been using this Leven Rose oil almost exclusively for a few weeks now and it's been really good, I've had no negative reactions and my skin has stayed comfortable and calm. Note that I use it as an all-over body oil, not as a hair or nail product although I know it's also effective for those areas too. I have to say this oil doesn't feel as effective as some I've tried previously, which had been exceptionally good at smoothing and softening my skin, and it does feel like there's something missing here. I'm not sure if it's more highly filtered than others but it just seems a little less effective than those I've tried before although it still feels like a quality product - Leven Rose claim it's a cold-press and organic product, so maybe it's just me. It comes nicely bottled and with a handy dropper, but I did find the dropper particularly difficult to control without dripping, but that's a minor point. It's still been a pleasure to use and I'd certainly recommend anyone with dry skin tries Jojoba, it's been very effective for me. (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


70% OFF rotor® 7" HD 8GB Quad Core Android Kids Tablet - |Shockproof Protected| Kids Mode Apps KIDOZ Pre-Installed - Dual Camera - WiFi - Supports Playstore, Youtube, Netflix | Kids Edition | (Blue)
70% OFF rotor® 7" HD 8GB Quad Core Android Kids Tablet - |Shockproof Protected| Kids Mode Apps KIDOZ Pre-Installed - Dual Camera - WiFi - Supports Playstore, Youtube, Netflix | Kids Edition | (Blue)

5.0 out of 5 stars Almost asking to be dropped..., 26 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I think I was born much too soon because I would have absolutely loved to have something like this when I was a kid - actually I'm still quite happy about it now! This Rotor Android Tablet for Kids is an entry-level tablet that arrives safely ensconced in its own protective bumper case, complete with a foldable handle that doubles-up as a stand. The case is chunky and 'grabbable' and made from that resilient foam you find in the heels of your trainers and should help the tablet survive the odd fall or seven. The screen remains quite vulnerable and is fronted with plastic and not glass - there's no screen protector fitted and if you can find one the right size it would be a worthwhile addition. The case is quite firm and fits the tablet tightly so it isn't coming out without a struggle, in fact you have to be careful not to do any damage getting it out so the whole thing is about as kid-proof as it could reasonably be.

The tablet itself is certainly an entry-level device but it's actually quite snappy and responsive for most purposes and even some more demanding games run quite well on it. You get a mains charger in the box and this connects using a pin connector rather than USB, it's also got quite a short cable so using the tablet while charging isn't that convenient. Battery life isn't great, about 3 hours, and it takes a bit longer than that to recharge again - but maybe that's a useful inbuilt ration for young kids, 3 hours a day and that's enough? However there's also a micro-USB port on the device which can be used to transfer data (copying songs or videos onto the tablet) and for recharging so if you already have a suitable USB charger or power-bank (preferably a 2.0A) with the right cable then you can use that too.

There are two onboard cameras but they're quite basic too, good enough for video-chatting or your first steps in digital photography, but that's about all. There's no Bluetooth chip (or NFC) onboard so accessories like headphones will have to be old-school wired types. The wi-fi reception is 2.4MHz only and works well and there's also a GPS chip onboard, so app's like Google Maps can find your location to work out travel routes and search engines can give you local results. The screen is quite low resolution but that's not too much of a problem on a 7" screen - the more noticeable limitation is the viewing angle, which is a bit limited although liveable-with. The screen resolution is an unusual 1024 x 600 pixels (1024 x 640 or 1024 x 576 would be more normal) and this means the onscreen image gets a little bit squished and round things don't look perfectly round on this screen, it's a minor anomaly but it can be noticeable occasionally.

Overall performance is pretty good and although I expected the tablet to struggle with more demanding 3D games it actually copes quite well. You get a copy of Temple Run and Angry Birds: Space included and they both run fine - newer games like Minions Rush and Crossy Road are perfectly playable too. There's a copy of Kidoz included, which is a 'walled garden' type of app that attempts to create a safe and secure way for your kids to enjoy their tablet. Approved app's (those made available by Kidoz plus any suitable app's you've installed yourself) are gathered together in a Kidoz's own Launcher (which is locked on by the parent) and supplemented by a range of video clips and approved websites that kids can view within the Kidoz app. As these things go Kidoz is one of the better kid protection app's around and the interface is attractive and works quite well. However, more recent versions of the Kidoz app have really started pushing the paid-for content forward and many of the links your kids will click will then require them to spend Kidoz' in-app currency to download - and of course parents have to buy the virtual currency using real money first. Some of the videos offered by Kidoz are also just trailers for movies or TV shows and most are simply pulled from YouTube. If you really don't want your kids being presented with a lot of 'In-App-Purchase' opportunities then check out the alternative Kid's Shell app which offers a similar locked 'walled garden' approach but lets you fill that garden with app's of your own choice. You simply download the app's you'd like your kids to use, for example most of the Cbeebies and Lego app's are great and most don't have IAP temptations, then use the free version of Kid's Shell to limit your child's access to only those selected app's - there's an option to buy a full version of Kid's Shell if you want to also add website bookmarks or media files or activate a few more sophisticated features, but it's not essential.

Google haven't made Android the most kid-friendly operating system and there aren't many really effective Parental Control options built-in, at least not compared to Apple's iOS which takes this more seriously and makes it all much simpler. However, with a bit of effort you can make this tablet reasonably safe and secure for your kids and they'll probably have an enormous amount of fun with it - and get some education along the way. There's no denying it's just a basic starter tablet in a bumper case but the value here is also undeniable and it's a great package for younger kids - at least until they start to notice brand-names... (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


70%OFF - rotor® 10.1" Octa (8) Core GPU - 5.0 Lollipop Android - Quad (4) Core CPU - 1GB RAM - Tablet PC - 16GB Flash - BLUETOOTH 4.0 - GPS - WiFi - Wlan - HDMI - Google Play Appstore Preloaded - Supports all 3D Games, Music, Applications - BBC iPlayer - Netflix - HD Crystal Clear Display - Dual Camera - Soft Touch Coating - Unique Design (Black)
70%OFF - rotor® 10.1" Octa (8) Core GPU - 5.0 Lollipop Android - Quad (4) Core CPU - 1GB RAM - Tablet PC - 16GB Flash - BLUETOOTH 4.0 - GPS - WiFi - Wlan - HDMI - Google Play Appstore Preloaded - Supports all 3D Games, Music, Applications - BBC iPlayer - Netflix - HD Crystal Clear Display - Dual Camera - Soft Touch Coating - Unique Design (Black)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Low cost, high value..., 24 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Most of us would probably approach a 10.1" tablet at this low a price with equally low expectations but, apart from one real weakness, this Rotor Android Tablet might surprise you. There's no denying this is a budget tablet but the overall build quality is OK and the case has a nice textured finish on the back and sides. It's slightly heavy, about 514g, which makes it feel substantial and solid when you first pick it up but then becomes a bit wearing after you've held it for a while. The speaker (there's only one) is tinny and is mounted on the back so it's facing away from you - it's fine for alerts or alarms and probably good enough for most casual games but if you're watching videos or listening to music you'll want a pair of headphones. You get a mains charger and a couple of handy USB cables but you don't get any instructions about the tablet itself, just a useful little introductory guide to Android 5 Lollipop.

Most of the physical features are self-explanatory with the standard connection ports for USB (micro), HDMI (mini), headphones, DC power and an inbuilt microphone - but there's also an 'Esc' key, which isn't so common but does pretty much what you'd expect it to do, acting like the 'Back' button most of the time and like the Esc key on Windows at other times, taking you to the main menu of a game for example. The only physical control I miss is a volume up/down control - sometimes it's a nuisance having to bring up the Android navigation bar just to quieten a noisy game. There are two built-in cameras, front and back, but neither of them is very exciting, they both need good lighting to get a half-decent image and they're fairly low-res and a bit grainy - OK for a quick video chat with your friends but not much more. There's also an FM radio function onboard, although you need to connect a pair of headphones so the cable can act as an antenna for it. Wi-Fi reception is pretty good and the tablet can access both 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz networks. There's Bluetooth onboard (I think it must be version 4 but I can't confirm this) but there's no NFC point. There's an accelerometer to detect which way up you're currently holding it but it's slow to respond sometimes.

Speed and performance wise this tablet isn't bad at all and it's coped with everything I've thrown at it so far - including a few demanding 3D games - without much problem, although admittedly it isn't exactly cutting edge performance. The AnTuTu Benchmark app gives it a score of 21238 which is a mid-range score, just below a HTC One for example, and rates it as 'high' for general use and 'average' for both games and battery life. Bearing in mind the price is that bit lower than the average for a 10" tablet that seems like a pretty good result. I'm finding battery life is good too and a full charge would last at least 6 hours for me, including several hours of gameplay. The mains charger that's included isn't, for a change, a USB style and instead has a fixed cable with a pin connector - the cable's quite short so it's not that convenient to use the tablet while it's charging. However the micro USB port can also be used to charge the battery (as well as for data transfer) and so if you've already got a 2.0A USB charger from another device you can use that too.

The achilles heel of this tablet is definitely the screen and when I first saw the spec' I thought the low resolution would be the biggest issue but actually that's quite liveable-with. The biggest problem is the very limited viewing angle and if you remember laptop screens from about 10 years ago you'll know what I mean - you have to view the screen from a very specific angle to get the full contrast and colour rendition and if you deviate from that angle the image quality really suffers. Viewing it in landscape/horizontal position the optimal view-angle feels reasonably natural and intuitive but when you rotate the tablet to vertical/portrait position you also have to twist the tablet askew at a slight angle to maintain the best quality. Also the screen resolution at 1024 x 600 is neither an exact 16:9 or 16:10 ratio and so when it's viewed vertically the screen squeezes the image slightly and round things don't quite look round anymore, it's only slightly off but it's often noticeable. On the plus side the screen is a full 10-point multitouch version, some budget tablets are only 5-point. Low-res screens aren't always very good at rendering text but this tablet's fine and perfectly good for checking email, web-pages or for reading eBooks, for example with Amazon's Kindle app, although you should probably turn down the brightness for extended sessions. Note that the screen surface is plastic and not glass so could scratch if it's not treated with some care - generic screen protectors should be available in a size that will fit and might be a good investment, if only to make it easier to get rid of the fingermarks this screen attracts.

Overall there's much more good than bad here, especially at this price, and although the screen view-angle is a big limitation it's bearable especially if you only plan to use this as a personal device - it just won't work as shared screen for watching movies in the back of the car for example. As a personal media player to watch catch-up TV or streaming movies it's great and the wide-angle screen, even if it isn't a true 16:9 ratio, is much better suited to that than the 4:3 format screen many tablets have. Most games play smoothly and the Android 5 interface is always responsive and smooth. You wouldn't expect to get a high-end tablet at this price, and you don't, but you are getting amazing value for money. (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


Octonauts Gup I Playset
Octonauts Gup I Playset
Offered by Fun Collectables
Price: £30.41

3.0 out of 5 stars A floundering guppy..., 21 Aug. 2015
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:2.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Octonauts Gup I Playset (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I wouldn't normally bother complaining about packaging, it's just so often annoying and unnecessary, but I do wonder how much of the price of this toy is to cover the cost of the insane amount of carefully-concealed sticky tape, hand-tied cord, plastic retainers and origami-worthy cardboard structures that this thing arrives in? I really pity the poor people probably being paid a pittance for putting it all together - and I really wish they hadn't had to bother and that the toy came in a more appropriate box, meaning something less than half the size which would allow a lot of more of them to fit into the shipping containers from China! Sorry, don't mean to rant, but sometimes...

The toy itself is reasonably sturdy, especially the little accessories, and certainly looks the part and if your little ones already know the Octanauts from Cbeebies then they'll probably be delighted at first. It promises three different play modes as it changes, Transformers style, from a roving vehicle (Water Bear Mode) to a onsite work station (Command Centre Mode) to a vertical observation platform (Scout Mode). In reality only two of the modes really work, Water Bear and Command Centre, and the third mode, Scout Mode, where the vehicle is supposed to stand upright on two back legs is so wobbly and unstable and therefore pointless that it was quickly ignored. Too many of the mechanical functions of this toy are ill-judged - the wheels are split into two sections with the front two axles being one section and the rear axle forming the second. The front section has little wheels underneath and rolls around nicely on the floor but the back section has no wheels (because it's meant to be the legs for the upright Scout Mode) and so it doesn't roll and just drags along behind looking like a pair of dead legs. Raising and lowering the legs is trickier than it should be, again because the rear section behaves differently to the front. The roof which should flip open to reveal the Command Centre is tricky to release and yet the front cab, which drops forward in Scout Mode, isn't held in place securely enough and tips forward when you don't want it to. A bit more time more time in the design process and these little annoyance could have been spotted and fixed making for a much more enjoyable toy.

Despite the flaws there is some fun to be had with the Gup I - the snowball firing machine is a particular favourite - but overall it just seems a bit half-finished and although the construction quality is fine it just needs a bit more thought. Kids will still find things to enjoy and to spark their imagination but I doubt it would ever become a favourite toy. A bit ho-hum I'm afraid...


Just Life Kids Gifts Funny Bending Hand Gesture Ballpoint Pen Creative Gift for Student Office Lady (12pcs)
Just Life Kids Gifts Funny Bending Hand Gesture Ballpoint Pen Creative Gift for Student Office Lady (12pcs)
Offered by Fun Mall
Price: £38.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Really handy pens..., 20 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Always a good idea to keep a pen handy and these pens are much handier than most! They're as cute in real life as in the pictures and maybe slightly bigger than you expect, about 20cm long and the removable top acts as a chunky base so they can stand up unaided. The top half (the handiest bit) is bendable and holds curves nicely although it's not entirely mouldable, there is a a bit of resistance and spring to it. The bottom half (the writing bit) is wide and even with the top off it's much thicker than an average ballpoint would be - not sure if this helps small hands or hinders them. I found them a bit difficult to control at first but that's maybe also because they write very freely, the ballpoint tip glides around very easily. Every pen has black ink, whatever the colour of the actual pen, and the tip is about a medium thickness. It seems that the pen is sealed together and there's no obvious way to replace the ballpoint pen itself, so these are probably one-shot deals.

On the negative side the smiley faces printed onto the hands wear off very easily, in fact you can just scrape them off with a fingernail, so they won't last long - but even without the facial expressions they're still cool looking pens and everyone notices them and asks about them. At their current price they seem good value, even if they're not refillable, because they're so unique and would make great stocking-stuffers or goody-bag fillers - but obviously the 12 pack is much better overall value. They're really fun and although they might not be your first choice for writing that novel they're really handy to have around (sorry, last one!). I do think it might be even more fun if the ink colour matched the pen colour - maybe a set of felt-pens with the same design would be cool too? (Disclosure: item was received free for independent review)


Micro PC rotor Intel Atom Quadcore (Z3735F) 1.83GHz 2GB 32GB (eMMC) WLAN BT Windows 8.1
Micro PC rotor Intel Atom Quadcore (Z3735F) 1.83GHz 2GB 32GB (eMMC) WLAN BT Windows 8.1

5.0 out of 5 stars Worth 10 and not just 8.1..., 18 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've tried various Android Smart-TV dongles but this is my first Windows flavour and this Rotor micro-PC is on a whole other level, mainly because you're running a full version of Windows at full speed - something that would have been almost unthinkable on a device this small only a few years ago. The micro-PC comes with 'Windows 8.1 with Bing' installed, which is a full version of Windows that has Microsoft Bing preset as the default search engine - the OEM's are not allowed to change that preset although end-users can. However as I was setting up Windows 8.1 I was offered the free upgrade to Windows 10, so I took it (my tin-foil hat's at the cleaners this week) and the Windows 10 download started immediately with no waiting for my turn in the Windows 10 queue or even for 8.1 to finish updating itself. So now I'm running the very latest version of Windows on our flatscreen TV for a fraction of the price that even a basic desktop PC might have cost!

The device itself feels solidly made and arrives with a mains adaptor, a USB to micro-USB cable, a handy USB to micro-USB adaptor-cable and a short HDMI extender-cable to allow you to connect the device without having to plug it directly into the TV. There are 2 USB-2 ports, one full-sized and one micro which can be used for peripherals plus a third micro-USB port which is used as a power input. There's also a microSD card slot so you can increase the onboard storage - that takes a maximum 64GB card - and a little illuminated power button to actually switch the micro-PC on. At first I tried to power the micro-PC by connecting it to a spare USB port on our TV, however it wouldn't start-up this way because this device needs the full 2.0A current that its own mains adaptor supplies, much like iPads and other high-drain devices do. The cable on the mains adaptor is just over a metre long so you might need a handy socket or extension. With the power connected you just press the little power button for about a second and the device boots up Windows - note that this power button is the only way to cold-start this PC and so you need to be able to reach it while it's plugged into your TV. In use the whole mini-PC gets quite warm and would be best placed so there's a good flow of air around it - using the supplied extender cable might be wise in many situations especially as there's what looks like a ventilation grille on one side and that probably shouldn't be obstructed.

Of course Windows needs some kind of control device - a keyboard and mouse or a combo keyboard with trackpad device - and you can choose either to connect via USB, Bluetooth 4.0 or to use wireless devices that have their own USB dongle - everything I tried just worked so you can choose what suits you or use what you already have. There isn't a camera or microphone onboard so if you want to chat to friends or use Cortana then you'll also have to add those devices too - I haven't tried using any wireless mic's or cameras yet but in theory it should be possible.

To be honest I was expecting this device to be a bit underpowered and maybe struggle to run Windows at a decent speed - but it doesn't struggle at all and Windows is mostly very responsive and absolutely useable for all your day-to-day tasks. Windows is also smart enough to recognise the screen or TV you connect to and pick an appropriate resolution - on our 40" flatscreen it defaults to 1080p. There is no discrete graphics card onboard, it uses Intel HD graphics, so more demanding app's like games won't run very well if at all -- I tested it with a basic 3D racing game and it was barely playable, but simpler games, like Crossy Road, were OK. Playback of HD videos and other media, which is probably what you'd most want this device for, is great and because you've got access to all the players and video codecs available for Windows there probably isn't much it can't play. Storage is quite limited of course with just 32GB onboard (only about 28GB of it useable) and a complete version of Windows 10 will take almost half of that, although you could trim that down a lot by uninstalling unused features. You can insert a microSD card straight into the micro-PC or add extra storage by using external hard-drives or a flash drive. I tried a bus-powered Seagate drive and couldn't get that to work correctly, I'm assuming it didn't get enough power, so external hard-drives might need to have their own power source to work reliably. The only slight negative I can find is that when I first started up the wi-fi reception seemed a bit flaky and the signal-strength meter in the Windows taskbar fluctuated wildly. It may just have been a driver issue (an update seemed to fix it) but this unit may not have the best wi-fi reception and so need to be quite close to your router for the most stable throughput.

So why switch to Windows 10? As mentioned I was offered an immediate upgrade to 10 which I took and so didn't really spend any time using this micro-PC with 8.1 at all. Installing Windows 10 gives you access to 10's 'Tablet Mode' which slightly simplifies the user-interface, launches app's in fullscreen by default, makes some buttons bigger and generally looks and works better as an interface seen on a TV screen across the room. It's still not quite a proper "10-foot interface" but it's a bit better than the standard Desktop Mode on a big flatscreen TV - and you can switch back into Desktop Mode at any time with a single click. Be warned the process of downloading and installing Windows 10 did take a while, several hours, so be prepared for a wait.

Some quick tips : The available updates for Windows 8.1 included a newer driver for the wi-fi card so it might be sensible to install that before you begin any lengthy download of Windows 10, I think it might have helped stabilise my connection which doesn't seem to fluctuate nearly as much now. Also, this device ships with a year's free subscription to Office 365 (it's bundled with Windows 8.1) and you might want to activate that before switching to Windows 10 - the offer isn't officially valid for Windows 10 devices because they can use the new Office Mobile app's but these have reduced functionality compared to Office 365. Also, when I first switched on I noticed a slight shimmer effect onscreen, it was only intermittent and might have just been a blip while it was setting up, however I switched the display refresh setting to 60Hz (instead of 50Hz) and it disappeared and the image looks rock solid now - most flatscreens should cope with 60Hz with no problem.

It almost seems ridiculous to get a device this small and this affordable that can do so much and do it so well - but it's true. If you don't already have a wireless mouse and keyboard then you'll have to budget for those but you can get equally tiny and affordable devices like this Mini Mobile Wireless Keyboard with Touchpad that can do the job in the meantime. You might budget for anti-virus software too as Windows Defender is really only just adequate to protect your device. Aside from those extras (and maybe some extra storage) you're getting an amazing little device that can make your already smart TV into a total brainbox with the ability to stream media from any of the main providers, run streaming and media app's like Plex or KODI flawlessly, play the occasional casual game and access the web using full-fat desktop browsers and not limited mobile ones. As mentioned, I've used quite a few Android Smart TV devices in the past and they're great but you're at the mercy of the companies that supply them because each company installs their own version of the Android system and a bundle of (often awful) app's and that can make them quite unstable and tricky to configure correctly. This device is running Windows, a grown-up operating system, and it doesn't come with loads of unwanted trialware - you just get a legitimate copy of Windows, running smoothly, and then you add whatever you want yourself to build your perfect little media PC. That makes it one of the most fun devices I've tried in ages... (Disclosure: Item was received for independent review)


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