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Profile for Ben Saunders > Reviews

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Content by Ben Saunders
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Reviews Written by
Ben Saunders (Stirling, Scotland)

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Spearmark Noise Activated Colour Changing Head Light
Spearmark Noise Activated Colour Changing Head Light
Price: 16.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Headlight, 5 Oct. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I ordered this in spite of, rather than because of, it’s ‘novelty’ aspect. Perhaps it would be amusing for children, but I simply wanted a night light. This can be used as a regular night light, with a constant white glow or a rotation of colours, but it also boasts a noise-activated green light. This was the feature that particularly appealed to me.

I don’t particularly like having a light on all night but I thought the noise-activated light might be useful if you want to get up in the night and can’t find the light switch or don’t want to turn a main light on. Unfortunately it’s only a very brief flash of light, so not really suitable for this purpose. It’s not normally triggered by ordinary conversation or the TV, but will respond to something like a clap. I haven’t tried setting it by my hifi, though this seems to be the intended use. I imagine it could be mildly entertaining, but would probably grow old quite quickly.

It doesn’t come with either batteries or a main charger, but I found that my older Nokia charger fits. Having only run it from mains, I can’t say how quickly it would drain batteries, but it’s an LED so I assume it’s pretty economical. It didn’t quite do what I wanted, and I do find the novelty appearance slightly off-putting, but on the whole it works fine as a regular nightlight.

SmoothSkin for Men IPL Permanent Hair Reduction
SmoothSkin for Men IPL Permanent Hair Reduction
Price: 299.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Needs more time, 5 Oct. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I wouldn’t normally consider buying anything like this but, when offered one for review, my curiosity got the better of me and I thought I’d give it a try. For your 300, it certainly looks like a high-end product. The device itself is a bit larger and heavier than I expected, and looks something like a Star Trek phaser, but it’s easy enough to grip and use one-handed.

I should say I don’t normally do much, if any, body hair removal. I had initially thought to use it on my beard area, to avoid the need for shaving, but this is apparently not recommended since the effects may be permanent (p. 13 of the manual). This is slightly odd as ‘permanent’ hair removal is normally supposed to require monthly ‘top up’ applications. In any case, I’ve not tried it on my face or neck.

I was somewhat apprehensive about trying this at all, there being so many warnings. It’s not safe for use on or around the eye(brow)s, nipples, anus or genitals, nor on damaged skin, moles, birthmarks, tattoos, varicose veins, etc. You should not use the device if you have a history of skin cancer (manual, p. 7) and, following use, you’re advised to use SPF15+. This made me rather wary of its safety. I assume it must have been declared safe for sale, but so are sunbeds, and they’re a risk that I wouldn’t take personally.

Still, in the interests of reviewing, I tried it on my shoulders/back (with my girlfriend doing the application) and she had a go at using it on her legs. You need to shave the area first: this will remove remaining stubble and stop hair coming back, but it’s not intended to remove hair. There’s a sensor that detects the skin colour in order to automatically adjust the setting: the darker the skin, the lower the power (and it’s not suitable for use on very dark skin).

Using it is pretty tricky. The instructions say that you can either ‘stamp’ it from place to place or ‘glide’ it across the skin. In either case, however, you want to avoid both missing bits between ‘shots’ and overlapping treatment areas, meaning the same patch of skin gets two doses in quick succession (that this is to be avoided has me wondering about the safety again…)

My girlfriend didn’t report any particular discomfort, saying that this was considerably less painful than epilating, though I felt a slight burn or sting on application (my hair was probably longer and certainly darker than hers). It’s too early to comment yet on how effectively this prevents regrowth, since the instructions recommend weekly treatments for 12 weeks to achieve full effects, after which only monthly treatments should be necessary. Since Vine reviewers are required to submit their reviews within a month, I obviously haven’t undergone the full cycle yet. I intend to come back and update this review if I have anything to add after further use.

Avery HRR01 A6 Printable sheet of 40mm dia Removable Round Labels (Pack of 36)
Avery HRR01 A6 Printable sheet of 40mm dia Removable Round Labels (Pack of 36)
Price: 3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Just what I needed, 22 Sept. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I recently tried to organise my craft/hobby material by buying lots of clear plastic tubs for different bits and bobs. While the tubs are transparent, it still proved a pain at times to identify the one I was after, so these labels are just what I needed.

At 40mm diameter, they’re a good fit for the sides of the tubs, and large enough to write the contents on in pen. (I didn’t bother trying to print the labels, since pen is sufficient for my needs and far quicker and easier.) The labels are easy to write on with biro and I haven’t had any smudge. They have stuck cleanly and securely to the plastic boxes where intended. The packaging suggests that they can also be removed cleanly (though not reused), but I’ve not had need to test this.

Were I to buy more, I might prefer rectangular ones, but these do the job fine.

Rebel Kitchen Coffee Mylk 330 ml (Pack of 12)
Rebel Kitchen Coffee Mylk 330 ml (Pack of 12)
Price: 23.50

2.0 out of 5 stars Okay in itself, but there are better alternatives, 19 Sept. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I ordered this principally for my girlfriend, since she’s vegan and likes a number of similar drinks. I tried a small shot myself, which I’d describe as ‘not unpleasant’ – I don’t think I’d want to drink a lot of it, but I very rarely drink coffee, let alone things like this.

My girlfriend’s verdict was that it was ok, though she said she didn’t like it as much as other Rebel Kitchen products that she’s tried (specifically chocolate) or Blue Diamond’s ‘Almond Breeze’ coffee drinks. We’d possibly consider buying this again if it were on special offer but not at full price since there are better alternatives.

Hallmark Thank you Card 'Tea and Macaroons' - Medium Square
Hallmark Thank you Card 'Tea and Macaroons' - Medium Square
Price: 2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars At least it's not Dido..., 15 Sept. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This card is cheaper than some others on here but, at 2.99 plus delivery costs, it is more than I’d usually spend on a card of any sort. For your money though you do get something with decent quality card, embossed designs, and an attached button, which do make the card stand out slight from the run-of-the-mill. Not being particularly sentimental about cards myself, I’m not convinced that these additions represent good value, but I concede that this is a matter of personal taste – I didn’t get the card for my girlfriend, but she did comment that she thought it was quite nice (she also identified the macaroons, whereas I thought they looked more like burgers).

ERiiS for Sun - Sun Protection SPF30 with INFRA RED, TRIPLE PROTECTION(30 SPF)
ERiiS for Sun - Sun Protection SPF30 with INFRA RED, TRIPLE PROTECTION(30 SPF)
Offered by Healthcare Europe
Price: 21.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Fine, but I'll stick to cheaper brands, 9 Sept. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I tend to tan, rather than burn, but earlier in the summer I noticed that my arms had obviously caught some sun. Not so surprising given the July we had (and it being my first summer down south since 2010). Typically, since I ordered this, the weather hasn’t been as sunny, but my naturally paler girlfriend and I have each tried it on several long walks. While it’s hard to notice much difference between one brand and another in their effectiveness, it seems to do the job.

Although called a ‘milk’, it didn’t seem too different from other sun blocks that I’ve tried – it’s not actually like dairy milk in its consistency – but it runs in pretty well. The pump dispenser is handy for getting the right amount and the bottle, while not exactly elegant, doesn’t look cheap (if this matters to you). The downside is that you can’t easily see how much is left in it. Also, while the instructions carry a surprising amount of information about the skin and the effects of the sun’s rays, they don’t appear to have been translated by a native English speaker: “Apply generously the product on the skin before sun exposure” for example.

All in all, this is fine but, given the price, I think I’ll probably be going back to cheaper brands next summer.

Crayola Paint Maker Kit
Crayola Paint Maker Kit
Price: 14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice idea, but..., 30 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Crayola Paint Maker Kit (Toy)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Amazon lists the recommended ages as 6-11 but the box actually says 8+ and, in my opinion, that’s reasonable. A younger child might enjoy it, but would almost certainly need hands-on help (not just adult supervision). Indeed, I found it tricky to snap the plastic pieces together to assemble the ‘paint station’ myself. Thankfully there wasn’t much to assemble but, if you have impatient children, you may want to do this in advance. Once assembled the station folds up, the two ‘wings’ being joined by a carrying handle for transportation, but it will no longer fit in the box unless you want to take it apart again. (Personally, I’d suggest using another box or a plastic bag.)

Once assembled, you can begin ‘making’ paint. Since I dabble in painting myself, I was rather curious to see how this worked (and whether I could steal some of the ‘base’ as a medium for my own paints). The paint base supplied is surprisingly thick – almost like PVA glue. You simply pour/squirt a little into one of the empty pots provided, add five colour strips (any five, though the instructions say not to use more), put the pot in the shaker and turn the handle.

At least, this is the theory. I found that the colour strips were rather fiddly – they’re attached to some kind of film and don’t peel off neatly. Further, the shaking mechanism will certainly be beyond younger children without assistance, since there’s nothing to hold the station steady. I was able to do it myself, using one hand to hold the station down and the other to turn the dial, but the results were not so impressive (and very noisy). Even after much shaking, it didn’t produce a nicely mixed colour: instead of an even orange, for example, the result was a sort of ‘marbled’ mix of red and yellow.

What I will say is that, while children and paint is always a recipe for mess, some thought has been given to reducing the danger here. As I said, the paint is quite thick, so a spill wouldn’t run too far quickly. Further, at least when used properly, things lock together well: the pots have a lip which is gripped by the shaker, so you’re not likely to find them flying off. This is a plus, though I’d still recommend putting down newspaper or plastic sheeting before the paints come out.

Aside from this, though, I have to say that it’s a nice idea that’s not well implemented. Mixing primary colours to create other colours has some educational value, but it would probably be easier to buy and mix some poster paints. Further, while some children will probably enjoy the mixing process itself, for those that actually want to get on with painting, it’s merely a frustrating delay. No doubt some will love it, in which case 20 to keep them entertained isn’t so bad, but I wouldn’t recommend it personally.
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Hallmark Congratulations Card 'Well Done' - Medium Slim
Hallmark Congratulations Card 'Well Done' - Medium Slim
Price: 2.69

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cute Congratulations, 28 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I don’t really know what to say about a card… As you can see, it features some cute woodland animals, probably more suited for a female recipient I’d suggest (and not necessarily for all women, but I imagine more women would appreciate it than men).
The congratulations is for a non-specific ‘special occasion’, which means this isn’t a bad card to have in reserve in case it’s needed – though with so many specific cards out there for a variety of occasions (new baby, new job, exams, new house, etc) a generic ‘congratulations’ may seem almost impersonal.
Message inside reads ‘… and it’s such a pleasure to send it TO YOU’. Card dimensions approx. 12cm wide by 23cm tall, which should fit within Royal Mail’s standard letter size (24x16.5cm) assuming it’s no thicker than 5mm thick (it should be alright, despite the raised detail on the front).

GCSE English Text Guide - Frankenstein
GCSE English Text Guide - Frankenstein
by CGP Books
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.95

5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I'd studied Frankenstein at school..., 23 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It’s some time since I did my GCSEs (1998), but I ordered this because I am a fan of Frankenstein and wanted to see whether it would help me get more out of the text. Even as someone who went on to do A level in English Literature, I’d say that it did.

First of all, although this is a thin book, at about 60 pages, it’s perhaps worth noting that it’s much larger than I expected. Other revision notes that I’ve used have tended to be pocket-sized but this one is larger than A4.

Content-wise, it begins with some brief background about when the novel was written and some of its contemporary influences, then proceeds to analyse it, first by chapter, then by character, then by theme. There is obviously some repetition here, but I think it’s helpful to reinforce key points and to prepare students for different questions.

After this, there’s then a section of literary techniques and another on essay writing and exams, though the latter could presumably be reproduced in almost any GCSE guide with only the examples changed. Finally, there’s a two-page ‘graphic novel’ or cartoon-strip style summary of the story, which is a helpful reminder of key events.

Each section is pretty short. There’s generally only one or two pages of analysis per chapter, theme, or character and given the layout – with lots of bullet points and coloured boxes – that isn’t a lot of text. I doubt the explanation of, for instance, Rousseau’s views on how society corrupts natural man is really sufficient for understanding of that, but it’s probably enough for the purpose of being dropped in to a GCSE essay on Frankenstein.

Personally, while I found the format easy to get information from, I did find the tendency for so many key words to be underlined and in colour slightly off-putting. At times it’s like reading an online document with lots of hyperlinks (except, of course, they’re not in fact links).

Overall, however, I would recommend this book to any GCSE student lucky enough to be studying Frankenstein at school. In fact, there’s probably enough here to serve as a ‘bluffer’s guide’ for someone who hasn’t even read the novel, not that either I or the authors endorse this. (It could be handy for anyone studying a related text who wants some points of comparison.) The best use will require you to have read the novel before, and again after, consulting this guide, but it contains lots of helpful pointers towards good marks.

Panasonic RP-DJS150E-R Fully Folding DJ Style Headphone
Panasonic RP-DJS150E-R Fully Folding DJ Style Headphone
Offered by SmartSalesUK
Price: 12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Style - don't know about substance, 11 Aug. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These are described as ‘DJ style’ headphones, but I should say that I’m not DJ and cannot really comment on whether they’re suitable for professional use (which may require specialist equipment). I ordered these for the purpose of listening to music at home and work without disturbing my girlfriend and co-workers. This means that they’re effectively replacing cheap computer speakers, so it’s probably not too much of a surprise when I say that the sound quality – in my admittedly rather amateur opinion – is significantly better.

Perhaps because of this, I did find not only that I could turn the volume down considerably, but that I had to – not only to give a listening experience like I had before but to avoid it being uncomfortably loud. This is actually a bit of a pain. These speakers don’t have their own volume control, so I had to adjust it on my laptop (both the speakers and Windows Media, such was the adjustment necessary) and this means I have to fiddle with things every time that I want to go from headphones to speakers, or vice versa.

At least with the volume quiet, I have no problem conversing with my girlfriend next to me, even while listening to music. That can be a plus, but it means that they’re not so good for blocking out background noise, which was part of my purpose for ordering them. On the other hand, my girlfriend couldn’t hear my music, so at least they work well on that front – though, again, this is on low volume (perhaps they give off more noise pollution at higher volumes).

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