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Fire TV Stick
Fire TV Stick
Price: £34.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Excellent, reliable, stable & easy to use – No catch up TV for ITV of Channel 4, 17 April 2015
This review is from: Fire TV Stick (Electronics)
Having totally failed to get my Google Chromecast working in a stable fashion (spending literally hours messing around with it) it was with some trepidation that I plugged the Amazon Firestick.

Set up is a breeze. I already have an Amazon Prime account so just plugged the Firestick into a spare HDMI port, entered my (Amazon registered) email address this and router Password – the Firestick then essentially set itself up. Next downloaded the remote control app to my IPhone. Literally, set up took perhaps 10 minutes and that includes watching the introduction video that automatically plays.

The Fire stick is essentially app driven so you simply click to download the apps from the online library (such as BBC IPlayer, Netflix, games etc) which was also very quick and simple.

I was watching films (which was my primary purpose) within minutes, although I did already have a Netflix account and Amazon Prime accounts, so did not need to set this up first.

The picture quality is excellent, the pictures stable and the connection reliable. The dual band Wi-Fi and 8 mbit/s of inbuilt memory clearly combine to make this a lovely stable device with none of the juddering, stalling & "wheel of death" that render my Chromecast effectively unuseable. To add to the simplicity a proper (albeit simple) remote control is included which works flawlessly. But the real surprise was the Remote app for my IPhone. This allows search, play, pause forward, rewind, etc. and is very responsive with minimal lag. But best of all is the voice search feature that makes searching for content such as favourite films so simple – it’s so good in fact that it’s addictive and had me and my wife calling the names of long forgotten films just to marvel at the speed and accuracy of this search feature. In addition, unlike the IPhone control for the Google Chromecast, the App for the Firestick does not suddenly lose control of the content, so at any stage you can pause, rewind or even exit, and then pick up anytime later exactly where you left off - it just works.

I have to say I am truly impressed. The only real disappointment is that currently there is no catch TV app for ITV or Channel 4, but I am hoping these will be added in due course. I also suspect that the Apps screen may eventually become much cluttered as we download more in the future. As others have said its early days but this an excellent bit of kit and a total bargain at £35.00.

No Title Available

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars First the good news - The Chromecast dongle is very small, 7 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
First the good news - The Chromecast dongle is very small, neat and very “Apple” like, as is it’s lovely minimalist packaging. Apple don’t pack instruction books because their set up is so intuitive. Setting up the Chromecast can be a nightmare. Google you are no Apple, get over it and provide instructions !

Despite being a sexy little dongle, external power is required either from a powered USB on the TV or a spare mains power supply which is supplied – not a big deal but it does mean that once installed the device is not quite as tidy as you first think.

Getting the Chromecast to talk to my BT Hub was painful. I use wifi mains extenders to give good wifi coverge. This works perfectly with all our Windows and Apple devices including phone. Turns out the Chromecast does not like them, despite the fact that they use the same SSID. So these devices needed to be removed from the network or switched off. I also had to log into the BT hub and play about with some settings just to get the Chromecast to connect – that is a first for any device!

Once connected the basic set –up is encouraging simple, fooling you into thinking you are finally getting somewhere. But annoyingly the basic set up (connecting Chromecast to your router using the wifi settings on your tablet or phone) needs to be repeated after EVERY power down. Since we power down our TV at night (and hence the powered USB) this quickly loses its novelty after the 1Oth time - for me there is unlikely to be an 11th.

Initially I could not believe it but after experimenting I found it was true. I simply want to be able to switch on and go, like with virtually every other modern device.

Finally the “Cast” pictures onto the TV suffer from frequent (more than 1 per minute) stalling and stuttering. When watching the same content (e.g iplayer/Amazon Prime/Youtube) through our Apple Mac, PC or Humax PVR, the pictures are stable – so this effect is NOT being caused by our broadband.

After some investigation it turns out that the Chromecast does not appear to buffer at all, therefore any tiny issue with broadcast server or broadband will instantly be reflected in the picture quality. Duh !!

Overall the Chromecast is more like a very nicely made proof of concept prototype than a practical usable consumer product. Why Google would launch something so very amateurish is a total mystery.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 17, 2015 7:45 PM BST

No Title Available

4.0 out of 5 stars Great for the price, 29 Aug. 2014
Cheap, simple and bright. Build quality ok and frankly amazing for the price - but only used to play with the cat

Ring  RIL4000 Ultra Bright Magnetic Flexible LED Inspection Lamp
Ring RIL4000 Ultra Bright Magnetic Flexible LED Inspection Lamp
Price: £39.13

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just the job, 29 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Very Bright, seems sturdy/well made and magnet & articulation allows for reasonably flexible mounting when working - useful for storing securely in the boot of car. Have not used yet for any major automotive so no experience of battery life, so cannot give 5*s yet.

The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine
The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine
by Miko Peled
Edition: Paperback

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the truth lays in the personal story not in the national narrative, 19 Dec. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
"....the truth lays in the personal story not in the national narrative"
Miko Peled

The General's Son, melds Peled's personal story with the history of Israel and the Palestinian people. His vantage point is superb; a native Israeli Jew, born to into a prominent Zionist family and former member of the "elite" IDF, Red Berets, he is well versed in Israeli nationalism and above any charges of anti Semitism.

Tragically, his niece Smadar was killed in a Palestinian suicide attack in 1997 and we join his subsequent journey of discovery. His understanding develops, first through reconciliation groups in the USA and later through journeys into the West Bank and Gaza. He forms deep friendships with many Palestinians, learns that there is another side to the conflict, conquers his deeply inculcated fear of "the other" and finally becomes a full-blown peace activist.

There are many insights along the way, for example, his discovers an extensive and dignified NON-violent resistance movement in the occupied territories and that many of Israel's wars have been elective rather than a defensive necessity. It's interesting to note that Israelis are effectively prevented from entering Gaza and a large part of the West Bank (area A) so have virtually no knowledge or experience of their Palestinian neighbours despite sometimes living, literally, only meters apart.

Peled unpeels the historical background, without the tedious hair splitting detail that can make books on this conflict so impenetrable. We learn how much of the Israeli "national narrative" is based on distortion and myth and that there is truly another dimension to this conflict.

The sad uncomfortable truth he discovers is that Palestinians have been systematically dispossessed of their rights, land and dignity since the establishment of Israel and current Israeli laws and settlements in the occupied territories are simply a continuation of this process. Israel's occupation of territory gained in the 1967 war has turned it and it's forces into brutal oppressors of the native population - something that Miko' s father (The General, Matti Peled of the title) had presciently feared over 40 years ago.

If the book has weaknesses, it's perhaps that some third party anecdotes cannot really be verified, but most of the essential history is readily verifiable. It could also be argued that it largely sidesteps the issue of ingrained anti Semitism in much of the Arab world, but then again the focus of this book is squarely on the Palestinian /Israeli conflict rather than the wider Arab /Israeli conflict.

Finally, possible answers are only briefly explored and his desired solution (a single democratic state shared by Palestinian & Jews) may seem a little naÔve to some, but many others will conclude that it is visionary.

This books purpose is to strip away many myths and illuminate the day-to-day and historical realities of the Israeli state and it's impact on both the Palestinian and Jewish people. Peled does this in a natural, engaging and highly readable fashion and I thoroughly recommend it generally - but especially to casual supporters of Israel.

Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed
Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed
by Paul Mason
Edition: Paperback

19 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Left me a little cold, 13 Aug. 2010
Some may wonder whether the recent financial crisis was a monumental cock up, part of an ongoing natural cycle, the result of a few maverick bankers or perhaps a massive global conspiracy.

For Paul Mason, the answer is unequivocally the latter -it resulted from a truly giant neo liberal conspiracy, forged over 40 years ago (tested in Chile) and painstakingly implemented in the USA and UK before being forced on an unwitting developing world through the IMF and World Bank. And if such a secret and co-ordinated conspiracy is not enough , for Mason the INTENT was always to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a tiny capitalist elite by impoverishing the working class and exploiting the third world.

This book starts with an excellent examination the many strands of the credit crunch including the (largely unnoticed ) transformation of the banks to giant casinos and the economic models and political values that played significant roles in shaping the context in which they operated. But then , but like the rambling conspiracy theorist in bars the world over, Paul Mason quickly winds himself up into a frenzy and weaves all the these strands into an all encompassing conspiracy. Behind the conspiracy are men of pure evil, working tirelessly to enslave the rest of us whilst building false reality to mask their evil machinations. There is no room for mistakes, mavericks, chance, flawed ideas, even a misplaced faith in markets, for Paul Mason this was nothing less than a deliberate, co-ordinated raid by the rich on the poor.

He largely ignores the bubbles and crisis that far preceded so called noeliberalism (tulips anyone?) , the sclerotic nature of many state owned enterprises towards the end of the Keynesian consensus and the associated stagflation. He forgets the chaos inducing and undemocratic power of some trades unions prior to labour market reforms. Finally he totally ignores improvements in living standards, public health, life chances of the millions of people around the world pulled out of grinding poverty each and every year by globalization and free trade. Amazingly he does not concede (with one tiny exception) that derivatives and financial tools serve any valuable purpose at all, when in reality many (although admittedly not all) of these tools are vital to modern global complex commerce.

For Mason it would seem there is no (and never has been) legitimate purpose or good faith in the actions and policies of any of the protagonists (politicians, bankers, businessmen etc) they were all part of a gigantic co-ordinated smash and grab raid.

In the end this lack of subtlety and unremittingly anti market agenda is, for me, the books weakness, it`s one sidedness just raises too many nagging doubts about his analysis. I suppose was expecting the balanced insight of the BBCs Paul Mason, rather this angry polemic.

For me, the world is far more random, vibrant, varied and interesting than this book would have us believe. But If you like your (Capitalist) conspiracy theories detailed but concise, pseudo academic and angry then this is the book for you.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 16, 2011 4:45 PM GMT

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