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Profile for S. P. Long > Reviews

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Content by S. P. Long
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Reviews Written by
S. P. Long "Simon Long" (Cambridge)
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All-New Kindle Oasis E-reader with Black Leather Charging Cover, 6'' High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi
All-New Kindle Oasis E-reader with Black Leather Charging Cover, 6'' High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi
Price: £269.99

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expensive. Gorgeous., 28 April 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the third Kindle I've owned - I had a Touch and then an original Paperwhite. The Oasis is ludicrously expensive, so I ordered one to see what it was like, half intending to return it and stick with my Paperwhite. And then it arrived...

Within 30 seconds of opening the box, there was no way this thing was going back. This is the first Kindle which has the desirability of something from Apple - as a piece of industrial design, it is streets ahead of the utilitarian designs of all previous Kindles. The first thing that strikes you is how tiny it is - even the box it comes in seems to be half the size of those used for previous Kindles. The screen is the same size as on the Touch and Paperwhite, but the bezel has been slimmed to the point that this is basically all screen. Everything about the design screams quality, from the feel of the page turn buttons to the way the Kindle snaps magnetically into the charging cover. Even in the cover, it is slimmer than all previous Kindles, and although with the cover on it is slightly heavier than the Paperwhite, it doesn't feel weighty at all.

My only gripe is that Amazon really need to do something with the user experience on the Kindle - the home screen user interface is a mess, and I cannot believe there is still no way to just download all the documents and books you have in the cloud with one click. But this is the same on all Kindles; it's just not a problem with the Oasis, and it's just software, so maybe Amazon will actually sort it out one day.

The Oasis is ridiculously expensive for an ebook reader (although bear in mind that the price includes a leather case, which reduces the sting a bit). But it is also, hands-down, the most gorgeously designed reader I've seen - it's up to you if that makes it worth the price, but for me, it does.


RockJam Folding Guitar Stand for Acoustic, Classic, and Electric Guitars
RockJam Folding Guitar Stand for Acoustic, Classic, and Electric Guitars
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Robust simple stand, 26 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a simple floor stand to hold a guitar - either acoustic or electric. (Or, in my case, the guitar controller from Guitar Hero Live, which fits just as well!) It's a simple, robust metal construction which folds flat for storage - it's about 15" high, and unfolds onto two sturdy feet. The guitar is held on two padded arms, and the back rests on a rubber pad on the front of the stand, so there's no chance of damage to the finish.

The feet are wide enough to make sure the stand is stable, and it feels well-built enough to take a fair amount of punishment. For the price, you won't do better than this - recommended.


3M 4251 Half Mask Spray Paint Respirator - Blue
3M 4251 Half Mask Spray Paint Respirator - Blue
Price: £24.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Comfortable and effective, 23 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a respirator intended for protection against dusts and some organic solvents, such as paint fumes. I already own a similar product which is the own-brand version of one of the UK's large DIY chains, but I have to say that the extra money for the 3M product is well worth it. This is mainly for reasons of fit and comfort.

The 3M product has a very soft rubber face seal, and the upper of the two straps expands into a plastic loop to be worn at the back of the head; this spreads the force used to hold it to the face and makes a big difference in terms of comfort. This combined with the soft rubber construction makes this mask extremely comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, and the spreading of the force between a loop and an additional strap holds it much more securely against your face without it being uncomfortably tight.

The only concern I have is that there is no indication of how often the mask needs to be changed, bar a "use by" date on the packaging - the enclosed instruction leaflet doesn't seem to recommend replacement after a certain number of hours of use - it may be that the mask is fine up until the stated expiry date (3 years from now), but it would be nice to have that confirmed.

But other than that, this is thoroughly recommended; pay the extra over the DIY own-brand products - it's well worth it.


Honeywell Oscillating Turbo Table Fan
Honeywell Oscillating Turbo Table Fan
Price: £34.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Decent quality small fan, 21 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a small desk fan - about 10" in diameter. It's made of a robust, slightly flexible plastic, and feels as if it would survive being knocked off a table without too many ill effects.

It has three speeds, and the option for fixed orientation or oscillation - unlike many fans, when set to oscillate, it moves through a very wide arc; around 120 degrees. it is very quiet in operation, even on the highest speed, and it produces a powerful blast of air which can be felt from several feet away.

As a desktop fan, this is slightly more expensive than the bargain basement models you'll find in supermarkets and DIY shops, but the quietness and build quality justify the extra. Recommended.


Inkrite Laser Toner Cartridge for Brother TN2220 - Black
Inkrite Laser Toner Cartridge for Brother TN2220 - Black
Offered by Refresh eCommerce
Price: £11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Much cheaper than the official cartridge, but build quality is a bit questionable, 17 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have a Brother HL-2250DN laser printer, and the official Brother toner cartridges for it are around £80 a time; that makes this Inkrite cartridge an absolute bargain at less than a quarter of the price.

On unpacking it and comparing it to an official Brother cartridge, it is obvious that this is a copy rather than a recycled Brother cartridge - there are a few design differences; slightly worryingly, one of them is that the metal strengthening beam across the cartridge is held on with 4 screws on the Brother cartridge; these are conspicuous by their absence on the Inkrite. It seems Inkrite decided these were a corner that could be cut, but it does make me uneasy about using the cartridge.

The installation instructions which are included are a bit sketchy, and are actually wrong at one point - you are told to remove a black cover from the new cartridge, but it is actually orange, and looks nothing like the one in the picture!

That said, it fitted into the printer fine and produced decent printing; time will tell how well it lasts.

I'm always uneasy about using third-party consumables, particularly given how long the toner lasts in a laser which, like mine, gets relatively little use - for me, the reassurance of official consumables is worth the extra cost. But if you do a lot of printing, it's hard to ignore the huge cost savings offered by this alternative.


Before the Fall
Before the Fall
by Noah Hawley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Not a thriller, but an engrossing read nonetheless, 12 April 2016
This review is from: Before the Fall (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Noah Hawley's book is ostensibly a whodunnit about an air crash. A private jet goes down in the sea near Long Island, with all but two of the passengers killed instantly. One of the two survivors is a 4-year old boy; the other a middle-aged painter who was a champion swimmer in his youth, and who manages to swim ashore with the boy.

The main narrative thread is from various people trying to piece together what happened to the plane, but this is interspersed with the back stories of all the passengers, many of whom were hiding secrets or serious problems in their lives. This book isn't a thriller in any sense - the subject matter serves as a backbone on which the human stories of the passengers are assembled - but Hawley does a very good job of keeping you gripped as you want to find out what happened and why.

In some ways, this reminded me a lot of some of Douglas Coupland's works - the way the intertwined relationships of the protagonists are slowly revealed - which is high praise in my book. Anyone looking for Michael Crichton's "Airframe" will be disappointed, but if you're looking for a thoughtful modern drama, this is well worth reading.


Rapesco Supaclip 60 Kit with Dispenser and 100 Stainless Steel Refill Clips
Rapesco Supaclip 60 Kit with Dispenser and 100 Stainless Steel Refill Clips
Price: £11.93

3.0 out of 5 stars A new twist on the bulldog clip, 5 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Supaclips are a modern version of the old bulldog clips; they look like bulldog clips without the little wire handles, and grip paper in exactly the same way. Instead of the handles, they are attached to paper using a plastic dispenser, which you load with 8 clips and then slide a button to attach the clip to a sheaf of paper inserted into the jaws of the dispenser.

The effect is more attractive than that of a bulldog clip, but I have to say that the dispenser is quite fiddly - the first clip I attached was fine, but the second one misfed somehow and I had to spend five minutes poking a knife into the dispenser to free it. On balance, I'm not convinced that the lack of handles makes up for the fiddliness of the dispenser.

The clips do have an advantage if you are buying them in large quantities, as they take up less storage space, but other than that, I really can't see that these offer much of an improvement over old-fashioned bulldog clips.


Brabantia Portable Laundry Basket and Bag - Grey
Brabantia Portable Laundry Basket and Bag - Grey
Price: £27.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb idea - a bin that turns into a bag, 21 Mar. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a really good idea! It's a laundry bag which has been strategically stiffened so as to be usable as a freestanding laundry bin. There are a couple of wooden supports which fit into the sides, and the handles at the top then lock together with magnets to produce a bin with a big hole that you can drop clothes through - when it's wash day, just grab the handles, the magnets separate, and you can carry it to the washing machine.

It's made of tough cloth that feels like it will last for years, and is big enough to hold a couple of days washing for a family - it's about 2 feet high, 2 feet wide and 10" or so deep.

A brilliant idea - thoroughly recommended.


Vax U84-M1-Be Power Base Bagless Upright Vacuum - Grey/Orange
Vax U84-M1-Be Power Base Bagless Upright Vacuum - Grey/Orange
Offered by Overstock Ltd
Price: £44.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent cheap basic cleaner, but attachments are too fiddly., 14 Mar. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I tried one of Vax's first bagless vacuum cleaners a few years ago, comparing it to my Dyson, and wasn't hugely impressed - the product was clearly inferior to Dyson's offering in many ways, but was still very expensive. It would seem that Vax have realised this and this new model is now around a third the price of a Dyson - so is it a good cheap alternative?

Mostly, yes. It's easy to assemble, feels pretty solidly built, it removes a satisfying amount of dirt and dust from the carpet, and the bin is of decent capacity and easy to empty. So as an actual upright cleaner, it's pretty good. One of my biggest complaints with the older model was that the hose was far too short to be of any real use with the attachments; on the new one, there is an extension hose which clips onto the handle to provide a sensible length. However, this does bring up one of the biggest drawbacks compared to a Dyson - this is very fiddly to use. On a Dyson, you pull the handle upwards, and the hose is already attached and ready to use. On the Vax, you pull the handle upwards to remove it - but you then have to detach the hose from the base of the cleaner and connect it to the extension hose with a bayonet fitting; this involves bending right down to the floor.

Similarly, to use the cleaner on hard floors, rather than a simple switch, you need to turn the cleaner over and attach an additional hard floor bracket to the base - again, unnecessarily fiddly.

The hard floor attachment is supplied, along with a 2 in 1 crevice tool / brush, and an adaptor to enable the brush to be attached to the hose without needing to connect the handle, to make it easier to use when cleaning in small spaces. (Incidentally, said adaptor isn't mentioned anywhere in the instructions - I had to try and guess what it was for!) There is space on the cleaner to store the brush, but not the hard floor attachment or the adaptor - you'll need to store these separately somewhere, which is an invitation to losing them.

In summary, if all you want is a decent cheap upright cleaner and you never clean hard floors or use attachments, this is absolutely fine for the money. But if you do need a bit more flexibility on a regular basis, it might be worth paying a bit more for something a little better thought-out.


Philip's Multiscale Europe 2017: Spiral A3 (Road Atlas Europe)
Philip's Multiscale Europe 2017: Spiral A3 (Road Atlas Europe)
by Philips
Edition: Spiral-bound
Price: £9.09

4.0 out of 5 stars Good basic road map of Europe, 9 Mar. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a road atlas of Europe - it covers all of the EU, Scandinavia, Iceland and goes as far east as Moscow, Kiev and Ankara.

There are overview planning pages which cover the area in 15 pages at 1:3,200,000 scale, and then more detailed maps at 1:750,000. The mapping is clear and readable - in the UK, it covers motorways, A roads, a selection of B roads, and all towns and large villages, so presumably offers similar coverage of mainland countries. (Not having done much driving on the Continent, it's hard to be certain!) There is a comprehensive index of place names, a selection of town centre plans and larger scale urban area plans, and a few pages of useful advice on requirements for driving in the countries covered.

A couple of weak points - the paper doesn't feel particularly hard-wearing, and looks as if it would tear easily - given the spiral binding, I can see a few months heavy use turning this into a selection of loose-leaf pages. It's also irritating that, while most pages have the map in portrait format, for several you need to turn the book on its side into landscape, which makes moving cleanly from one page to the next harder than it needs to be for the sake of saving a few sheets.

But other than that, this looks to be a decent companion for a European road trip if your satnav dies - but make sure you have additional town plans to go with it.


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