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techpuppy "in cyberspace no-one can hear you woof" (UK)
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Smart Weigh SMS500 Digital Bathroom Scale, High Accuracy, Dual Color Weight Change Detection and Smart Step-On Auto Recognition for 8 Users, Black
Smart Weigh SMS500 Digital Bathroom Scale, High Accuracy, Dual Color Weight Change Detection and Smart Step-On Auto Recognition for 8 Users, Black
Offered by Five Star
Price: £34.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Your weight, no waiting..., 31 Mar. 2015
The SmartWeight SMS500 is a really good-looking and cleverly-simple pair of personal scales. They feel well-made and the top of the silver version, although It's not that clear from the photos, is actually mirrored glass with four slightly frosted panels - the mirror reflects back the colours of your room and so the scales could fit in just about anywhere. Of course it also reflects back the look of horror or delight on your face as you gaze down to see your current weight, but that's sort-of the point of this device so you can't complain really. The digital display is very clear and well-illuminated in use, with an attractive blue backlight in standard mode. There's no waiting for these scales to startup or calibrate themselves either - you just step on and within a few seconds your weight is displayed. You can display your weight in either kilo's, pounds or in stones/pounds/ounces and unlike our previous digital scales this one displays the Imperial units in Imperial form - so for example ten and a half stone is displayed as "10st 7lbs" and not as 10.5st, so if you like your weight in old-money you don't need to be doing tricky mental arithmetic first thing in the morning.

The clever, but simple, part is that the scales remember your weight from day to day and then display the difference between your current weight and your previous weight, turning the backlight of the display red if you gained weight and green if you lost some. You don't have to do anything complicated to make this work, just step on the scales and wait for a moment and after it displays your current weight it will switch to the comparative weight automatically. It tracks up to eight different people at a time and it recognises them by their weight, so if any two people are within 2kg of each other the scales could get confused which person is which. In this instance you create a new separate profile for the second person by double-tapping the scales with your toe. In future you just have to check you're tracking that same profile and not your partner's, again by tapping the scale to switch profiles if it gets it wrong.

I really like these SMS500 scales, they look good and perform a clever and useful task really simply and easily - they just work. At the time of writing this review the black version of the scales is double the price of the silver one I received - I'm not sure why that is but the silver version is a great buy at its current lower price and looks and feels more expensive than it is. (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


Satechi 4-Port USB 3.0 Premium Aluminium Hub for iMac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacMini, PCs , and laptops V.1
Satechi 4-Port USB 3.0 Premium Aluminium Hub for iMac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacMini, PCs , and laptops V.1
Offered by SATECHI
Price: £30.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The matter of the hub..., 30 Mar. 2015
There are quite a lot of USB hubs of similar design to this one on the market and I've tried a couple myself, however this Satechi version is the real deal. For starters, the casing that looks like aluminium actually is aluminium and not silver plastic, the machined end plates actually stay attached and the cable doesn't just pull straight out of the unit first time it's used rendering it useless - all problems I've previously had with cheaper similar-looking hubs from other companies. So although it's more expensive than than some it's much better made too.

This Satechi unit has a non-slip surface on the base and enough weight to keep it relatively stable on your desk - the cheaper plastic units get tipped over or dragged around as soon as you plug any cables into them. The connecting cable is quite short, so looks neat and tidy when attached to a laptop, and is just long enough to sit the hub directly under (one side of) your iMac making it much easier to plug and unplug devices without having to fumble around the back. You'll be able to do that in the dark too because when it's connected to your computer the 4 USB3 ports light up with a constant blue LED glow (it doesn't react to any data throughput) which looks cool and shouldn't be bright enough to be distracting, although there is no obvious way to turn it off if you don't like it. The speed of data passing through the hub seems to be everything you'd want from USB3, although it does depend a lot of your host computer, and I`ve had no issues with it so far even with multiple drives attached simultaneously. So, if you want a very useable and stylish hub that doesn't fall apart as soon as you start using it then avoid (some of) the cheaper units and get this one which is actually worth your money (although admittedly it's a bit pricey). (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


Scholl Velvet Smooth Diamond Pedi Extra Coarse Hard Skin Remover Refill - Pack of 2
Scholl Velvet Smooth Diamond Pedi Extra Coarse Hard Skin Remover Refill - Pack of 2
Offered by EveryDay-Shop
Price: £14.64

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flip the file..., 30 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I got the original Scholl Velvet Smooth Pedi last year and although I don't need to use it that often it's been a really handy thing to have, easy to use and effective. The only thing I thought was lacking slightly on the original was the coarseness of the abrasive roller, they certainly worked but it took a bit of time and several sessions to smooth down the areas of thickest skin. This coarser version fixes that nicely and now you can get the job done even quicker and easier. The difference between these coarser versions and the originals is subtle but significant - it's like flipping your nail file over to the coarser side. They do work quicker and seem to cause less of the very fine dust the smoother versions do, although it's still a good idea to use the device over a smooth, easily-cleaned surface, like a shower tray.

The only catch with the rougher surface is that they're decidedly uncomfortable, although not quite painful, if you apply the spinning roller to normal smooth skin, so you'll want to handle the device with a little more care than before. They clean up nicely, I used a little liquid soap and a nailbrush to restore them to as-new condition after use and leave them hygienic enough to share, but you get two in this pack so each partner could keep their own if necessary. Their working lifetime seems pretty good to me, my original roller still works fine, but of course it depends how often you need to use them - and these new coarser versions are much sparklier, if that's important to you! :-)


Tefal Easy Soup Automatic Soup Maker
Tefal Easy Soup Automatic Soup Maker
Price: £54.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Instant Jug-a-Soup..., 26 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Tefal Easy-Soup looks like an outsized kettle with a blender in it, which is basically what it is, but the size is slightly deceiving as you can only fill it about half-full with soup ingredients -- it needs some headroom for boiling and blending -- although that still means it can produce about 1.2 litres of soup, enough for four good servings. It's a well-made and finished appliance and couldn't be much simpler to use - there are only two parts, the jug base which heats the soup like a kettle and the blender top part which also has the control panel. The top section sits securely onto the base but it isn't air (or water) tight sitting slightly proud of the base on little rubber feet to allow the steam to escape during cooking - and there can be a lot of steam, like a kettle stuck on boil, so it's best to situate the soup-maker clear of overhead cupboards and shelves during use.

The controls are very simple with a button to select smooth blended soup, one for chunky soup, one for making compotes, a self-clean button and a big on/off button to get it all going. The three cooking programs each take between 20 and 25 minutes and during the sequence the soup is quickly brought to a boil (quite a furious boil) for a few minutes, then is kept at a good simmer for the rest of the cooking time with the blender blade occasionally running slowly to stir the ingredients as they cook. If you selected the 'smooth' option the blender then runs repeatedly at full speed at the end of the cooking sequence to (very effectively) blend your soup into a smooth end result. After the cooking sequence ends the soup-maker also switches into a 45 minute 'keep-warm' mode so you can serve the soup when you're ready. Note that there's no way to switch this 'keep-warm' function on manually and no separate 'reheat' function either, so late-arrivals will have to heat their soup in the microwave or on the hob as usual. You cannot vary the preset programmes and you can't open the soup-maker mid-sequence without having to reset and start the program again - so double check you added all the ingredients before pressing the start button!

The manual advises that neither part of the soup-maker is submersible and there's an automatic self-washing program available for cleaning up afterwards - but to be honest the self-wash function is a bit of a token effort and you're going to be hand-washing this appliance like it or not. It is a bit awkward to clean without getting water into any of the electrical connectors but it's doable with a little care. If the unit has been made to withstand the steam and condensation it creates then surely it's going to survive a careful hand-wash without too many problems.

So is the soup it makes any good? Yes and no. The Easy-Soup is all about making good soup fast and with as little effort as possible (the clue's in the name) and although it doesn't do anything that clever it does it all for you automatically so you're free to get on with something else, like preparing the other courses in your meal. You simply prep your ingredients, drop them in and press two buttons - 25 minutes later you've got a not-quite-instant-but-easy Jug-a-Soup. This is soup in a hurry and so there's no time for slow-simmered subtlety, it really doesn't make that kind of soup, instead it makes fresh-tasting soup where all the ingredients are nicely cooked but retain all their individual flavours, unless you've chosen a smooth blended option. There a hefty recipe book included but it's hefty because it has the same 15 pages of recipes repeated in 10 different languages! Almost all the recipes use cornflour as an ingredient and it's obviously there to thicken the soup and compensate for the fact that the soup-maker doesn't slow-simmer anything, as you might on a stove. There's nothing really wrong with using cornflour or potatoes for thickening, but it suggests you'll probably have to adapt your favourite soup recipes to make them work in this machine. That seems true of flavours as well as texture - I made some Roast Garlic, Shallot and Potato soup from a recipe I make on the stove and it was certainly thick enough courtesy of the potatoes, but was much stronger flavoured than my stove-top version would have been. I love garlic but even for me it was a bit over-powering (but still good!) and I could have probably halved the quantity of garlic and used fewer shallots and made a better soup - which would have made it cheaper too, so maybe it's a positive thing? That would be my only real criticism of the Easy-Soup, it makes good soup but it makes it in a specific way and you'll probably have to adapt recipes to suit that method. I've enjoyed using it and will continue to do so but you do have to meet it halfway and work within its limitations.


ByteStor Pro 16GB 45Mbps Class 10 High Speed SDHC Card
ByteStor Pro 16GB 45Mbps Class 10 High Speed SDHC Card
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Slow writer but a fast reader..., 20 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I needed to add some extra storage space to an Android device (a STB attached to my TV) and this 16GB 45MB/s SDHC card seemed the ideal solution - and so far it's been absolutely fine. I couldn't resist testing the actual read and write speeds when used in my computer and I rarely got any more than 10MB/s for write speed and read speeds peaked at around 80MB/s - so I guess if you average them out that is about the claimed 45MB/s, but it's a bit misleading. It's quite normal for a flash card to have faster read speeds than write speeds and it's not unusual for manufacturers to fail to explicitly mention that, but I still wish they were more up-front about these things instead of raising people's expectations unrealistically.

If I was using the card in a high-end camera I think I'd pay a bit extra and get one of byteStor's faster cards - you want your camera to save each photo and be ready to take the next as quickly as possible and a faster write speed would really help with that. However, for the purpose I needed it for, playing videos back on a TV set-top-box, this card is certainly fast enough and would be a great value option. I've had byteStor SD cards before and had no trouble with reliability or performance so I'm not expecting any this time either. It's a good quality SDHC card at a good price and it comes in a paper envelope you won't need to find scissors for, so it's all good - just don't take the claimed speed rating too literally.


Foxnovo® F-08 8-Slots Li-ion Ni-MH Ni-CD Universal Intelligent Battery Charger with LED Indicators 5V USB Output UK-plug Power Adapter for Li-ion 26650, 22650, 18650, 18500, 18490, 17670, 17650, 17500, 16340, 14500, 10440, Ni-MH and Ni-CD A, AA, AAA, C, SC Rechargeable Batteries (Black)
Foxnovo® F-08 8-Slots Li-ion Ni-MH Ni-CD Universal Intelligent Battery Charger with LED Indicators 5V USB Output UK-plug Power Adapter for Li-ion 26650, 22650, 18650, 18500, 18490, 17670, 17650, 17500, 16340, 14500, 10440, Ni-MH and Ni-CD A, AA, AAA, C, SC Rechargeable Batteries (Black)
Offered by FoxnovoStore
Price: £59.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The filling station..., 19 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Foxnovo F-08 Battery Charger is a real workhorse of a charger, it would be perfect for a workplace situation where a ready flow of fully-charged batteries was necessary. Each of the battery compartments operates independently of the others, so you can actively charge a wide variety of battery types in the charger at any one time and remove and replace individual batteries as they become fully-charged without having to disturb or interrupt any of the others. It can cope with a wide variety of cells too, everything from AAA to D style cells including Ni-MH, Ni-CD or Li-ion and it auto-detects what style of cell you inserted and charges it accordingly. Each compartment has its own flashing 3-stage LED indicator too so you can see which batteries are ready and which aren't and when individual cells are fully-charged the charger automatically stops charging, as you'd expect.

It's quite toughly made and should stand up to a decent amount of use. The spring-loaded clips which hold the batteries in place are fairly tight and have to be slid back firmly to insert your battery, however the smaller batteries don't sit totally securely in place and do have a bit of movement within the compartments, even though they always remain properly connected to the electrical contacts. There's also a USB port on the side so you can charge up your smartphone too - so about the only thing you can't use it to recharge would be 9-volt PP3 batteries. The mains cable has an inline transformer but it's quite small and doesn't get that warm even with a full load of charging batteries. The mains plug itself is an odd design with a sort of cut-out shape that looks a bit dangerous at first, although I think you'd be hard-pushed to actually do yourself any harm with it - you'd have to push your fingers quite hard around the plug while plugging it in and I doubt that's something most sensible people would do, however it's worth being aware of, especially for kids using the charger. Apart from that slight question mark it's a really useful, hard-working and practical charger that would make a great 'recharge-station' for your home or workplace. (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


4 x Foxnovo ICR18650 2600mAh 3.7v 9.6Wh High Drain IC Protected 18650 Rechargeable Li-ion Batteries
4 x Foxnovo ICR18650 2600mAh 3.7v 9.6Wh High Drain IC Protected 18650 Rechargeable Li-ion Batteries
Offered by FoxnovoStore
Price: £39.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Safety first..., 19 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've heard the scare stories about dodgy 18650 batteries going bang when they're recharged, presumably because they don't have the necessary protection circuits in them, and so I've been very wary of going for the cheapest no-brand imports just to save a few pennies. However, these Foxnovo ICR-18650 batteries seem to be absolutely fine, they claim to have the necessary protection onboard and have been good so far. They recharged relatively quickly (in a Foxnovo charger) and although they got slightly warm during the recharge it was never worryingly so. It's recommended that you fully charge them before their first use but thereafter they can be charged as and when it's convenient because they're a Lithium-Ion cell and so shouldn't suffer from any 'memory' effect.

We use ours primarily in a CREE LED head-light and they've been fine, lasting a decent time and performing well outdoors even in cold weathers. There's a reassuring weight to each battery, like there is actually something inside, and the time they last before needing recharged seems to bear that out too. They're not the cheapest 18650's but they seem to be among the best and I'd rather pay a little more to get something safe and reliable. (Disclosure: item was received for independent review).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 27, 2015 8:46 PM GMT


Powerfly Unisex Abdominal Muscle Toning Belt
Powerfly Unisex Abdominal Muscle Toning Belt
Offered by Smart Parts UK, Digital Lifestyle Retailer
Price: £51.90

4.0 out of 5 stars The crunch point..., 16 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Powerfly Ab' Toning Belt is very well-priced, compared to big-brand alternatives, seems reasonably well-made and comes with a handy carry-bag and (just) one set of conductive gel pads. You have to prepare the belt for use by applying the conductive gel stickers onto the belt itself, there's a clear diagram in the instructions showing the positions, but you need to do this carefully and ensure the pads are symmetrical, otherwise you might not stimulate both sides of your abdominals equally. You have to cover the pads up again with their plastic backing sheets between sessions so they don't dry out too quickly. These Powerfly Replacement Muscle Toning Belt Pads are good for about 30 sessions and then have to be replaced, so if you used the belt every day you'd be replacing them monthly - so the belt may not be quite the bargain it seems at first.

Placement of the belt onto your stomach is fairly critical, especially to properly engage the obliques, and you might want to experiment a bit before trying a full session as there can a big difference in the effect just by moving it a centimetre or two up or down. I found it really only works effectively on the upper ab's and if you try it further down it misses the obliques and starts sending electrical impulses down the nerves in your hips - not the nicest sensation. When you switch it on it begins at the lowest power setting and you raise this in small increments until reaching a level where it's really working your ab's without being uncomfortable - note that sometimes the low settings are slightly painful, like little needles, until you crank it up a bit and the muscles really engage and then it's fine. There's a timer, which defaults to the maximum recommended 10 minute session, and 6 different pulse modes and when first switched on the belt goes straight into a sequence where it switches automatically between these modes. Conveniently, you can switch modes manually at any point and it doesn't affect the overall timer, which will continue counting down your 10 minute session. Some modes seem a lot more effective than others, these vary from short rapid pulses to longer 'gripping' motions, but leaving it to run through the mixed sequence seems an effective way to use it. The power control, which sets how strong the electrical stimulation effect is, can be varied through 30 different levels and this means you don't get any nasty surprises and are always in control.

So does it work? I can't help thinking that as an aid to weight-loss it's probably near useless as it's just not generating enough aerobic activity to have much impact and you'll probably have to lose the weight the old-fashioned way - on the floor doing some core exercises and 5 minutes of those would certainly burn off more weight than 10 minutes in this belt. However, if you've already done the floor-work and are looking for a way to get some extra definition and tone then I think it might be a real benefit. Over the past year I've managed to get my stomach flat (no, I couldn't believe it either!) and wanted to try this as a way to achieve some definition, which I don't really have, and it's working. I've used the belt for 10 minutes a day for a week and I can see a real difference already - so maybe it'll help me go the last mile to a six-pack or something close to it. I'll report back later after using it for a month or so... (Disclosure: item was received for independent review)


Scholl Active Work Gel Insoles for Men
Scholl Active Work Gel Insoles for Men
Price: £14.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The bounce in your step..., 16 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These Gel-Activ insoles seem to take their cue from the specially moulded and shaped insoles you find in the best sports footwear, rather than the old-style flat foam insoles you might put into work shoes. The base section is made from squidgy silicon and while it's very pliable it feels like it will hold its shape a lot better than normal foam insoles, which tend to get flattened quite quickly. For that reason, as well as your own comfort, you'll have to be sure that your shoes or boots have enough 'headroom' to accommodate these insoles because they are quite thick, especially at the heel. The insole cups the heel nicely and has a ribbed structure to absorb the pressure and impact as you stand and walk on them. When you trim the insoles to fit your shoes you have therefore to trim from the front section only and leave this heel structure intact.

I thought that, because most of the structure is a non-absobent silicon gel, that they might get very clammy in use but they've actually been fine, although it might depend a lot on which shoes you use them in. There's a flock lining on top of the insole and perforations and channels formed in the gel which presumably are there to let some air circulate and these seem to work pretty well for me. They do relieve a lot of the pressure from your feet too, especially the heel, and make otherwise uncomfortable hard-soled shoes much more bearable for long periods, but they might be best suited to deeper shoe or boot styles, rather than slim-fitting formal shoes which I doubt would have the room to accommodate them. They are quite pricey but the resilient silicon gel should give them a longer life than many and they're certainly worth considering if you're on your feet for most of the day.


Kenley Heat Powered Stove Fan with 2-Blades
Kenley Heat Powered Stove Fan with 2-Blades
Offered by Smart Parts UK, Digital Lifestyle Retailer
Price: £69.90

5.0 out of 5 stars An eco-irony..., 14 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Where we live we can look out of the window and see wind turbines spinning on a nearby hill, generating electricity so people can heat their homes - and now we can look at the top of of our stove and see the heat of our home generating electricity to turn a fan and create wind. It's a sort of eco-irony.

The Kenley Stove Fan, we got the two-blade version, is modest in size and seems well-enough made and should sit comfortably on most medium-large stovetops. It's not exactly pretty but then it doesn't have to be to do its job, but it's quite eye-catching and hypnotic once it gets going - rather too fascinating for small children who won't realise how hot it gets in use so extra care is needed of course. It gets going surprisingly quickly, takes about 10 minutes after we light our stove, although it turns more slowly until the stove really gets up to heat. Even at full tilt you're not going to feel a real breeze or draught from it and I think that's probably intentional. There's a bimetallic strip on the underside of the foot which seems to be designed to lift the edge off the stovetop as it reaches high heats, I'm assuming this is a temperature regulation function.

The real benefit of the stove fan seems to be in keeping a bit of lateral air movement going and so gently pushing more of the heat out into the room instead of it all rising up to the ceiling and staying there. This is a particular issue for our main stove which is in a large double-height room and it can take a while for the heat to fill the roof space and then work its way back down to frozen-tootsie level. I think the Kenley Stove Fan has helped that process a bit and you do feel more heat at floor level more quickly than without it - it's not a dramatic difference but there is an improvement. If you were using it in a normal single-storey room I think you'd probably feel an even more noticeable difference and it might be especially helpful if your stove is recessed into an old fireplace or similar - although you'd have to check there's enough headroom for the fan to fit on top of the stove.

There's a little wire handle on top to pick it up when it's hot - and be warned it does get very hot in use - but generally it's a device you just put into position and forget. There are no batteries to buy or major maintenance to perform and it should just start up and stop with your stove. It also comes simply, but nicely packaged in a printed box so could make a thoughtful gift for any stove-burning friends or family. It also seems decent value, I've seen fans of similar quality at much higher prices, and little enough to pay if it makes your home cosier and gets more out of the logs or fuel you're burning. (Disclosure: item was received for independent review).


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