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Sam Woodward (UK)
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Panasonic ALL8 Wireless Speaker System (White)
Panasonic ALL8 Wireless Speaker System (White)
Price: £286.33

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good hardware but software's not there yet, 31 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's been a few years since I gave all my CD's to the charity shop & went virtual with my listening habits. At home, I stream music from Spotify & Amazon Music. When out & about, I listen to MP3's on my phone. The main disadvantage with music at home was having to leave my PC switched on, burning up electricity, or being restricted to only using my tablet where I could plug it into my PC speakers. So a good quality speaker system which could stream music from wherever my device was seemed ideal.

When I first got the ALL8 out of the box, I was very impressed. It's one large, solid piece of kit! However, my enthusiasm waned during the laborious setup process. Firstly, it would not connect to my Wifi's signal booster, only the main Wifi router itself. However, it picked it up in an area where most devices would struggle to find a signal (and is yet to drop out, despite the Wifi where I live not being great, so presumably requires very little bandwidth). Once it had connected to the Wifi, it proceeded to update the firmware - whereupon I had to start again from the beginning, even having to reconnect to the router & re-enter the Wifi password, etc. The setup leaflet just says that once it's connected, you merely download the app to your mobile or tablet & start streaming. In reality, this was far from straightforward. Playing with the various settings which are spread over 5 different tabs, I pretty much came upon the correct ones at random & to my surprise, it suddenly started working with music stored to my phone. A lot of messing about later & I discovered that it will only stream from Spotify if you have a Premium account - most disappointing, but presumably Spotify's fault, rather than Panasonic's.

Fortunately, setting it up only has to be done once. Once done, you're ready to stream any music files (including FLAC) which are downloaded to your device. However, I had hoped to be able to stream from music I have bought which is stored on Amazon Music's Cloud & the CD's I downloaded to Google Play. I had also hoped to listen to Audiobooks via the Audible app & the BBC's iPlayer Radio app too. Sadly none of these are possible. Perhaps one day, if they update the software? Who knows. It currently offers to stream music from AUPEO! Personal Radio, AllPlay Radio & Napster. Worth a try but it's surprising that Panasonic haven't gotten some of the bigger names onside yet.

Yet while its functionality was more restrictive than I initially imagined, it's still very handy. I can just switch it on, pick up my mobile & start playing music. Job done. And the sound quality is fantastic. My PC speakers are a respectable quality but the ALL8 blows them away effortlessly (treble & bass can be adjusted via the app BTW). For the money, I would have liked much greater functionality & flexibility but it's still a handy gadget which delivers an impressive, all-encompassing sound.


ByteStor Pro 16GB 45Mbps Class 10 High Speed SDHC Card
ByteStor Pro 16GB 45Mbps Class 10 High Speed SDHC Card
Price: £6.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Does the job!, 24 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm very pleased with this card. I tried it in my camcorder & it works perfectly well. My existing SanDisk card is also a Class 10 & if there was any difference in performance, it was too subtle for me to notice. So I guess the only differentiator is price.


No Title Available

4.0 out of 5 stars Check out the guns!, 13 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I recently participated in a dance cabaret where we all dressed as cowboys. Most of my fellow dancers went for the only slightly cheaper plastic guns but all agreed that for a only a little more, these look & feel a lot better. Slightly smaller than the plastic ones, they still fit in adult & hands. And while the others had trouble spinning the light plastic ones, the added weight of these made it much easier to do tricks with them. They could be slightly larger, although this perhaps would make them unsuitable for children. Otherwise, they are fantastic!


Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 24 (Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files)
Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 24 (Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files)
Price: £11.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Bag, 28 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The standard of Dredd tales in this volume fluctuate from one extreme to the other. On the one hand, we've got roughly the first two-thirds of The Pit storyline & a couple of decent shorter tales by Wagner, which are worth checking out. But the rest of the material consists of exceptionally weak short stories written by other writers.

If you haven't read The Pit before, then it's definitely worth buying this version, rather than the single volume reprint. That's because it also contains the fantastic 5-'prog' Cal Files, which introduces the character of Edgar. Head of Justice Dept's Public Surveillance Unit, Edgar's run-ins with Dredd are always worth reading. This one is particularly good, with her manipulating him into digging up enough old dirt on senior Judges to potentially rip Justice Dept apart. "Perhaps If I'd been more honest with him..," she wonders. "The habits of a lifetime die hard."

If you've already got The Pit, then you've got a tough decision on your hands. Because The Cal Files are as short as they are sweet & frankly, they are the only other story worth getting this volume for. So whether it's worth buying for that alone is quite a dilemma.

The other shorter stories are exceptionally weak - particularly those from The Megazine. The artwork in most of them is so unclear that it's difficult to tell what's going on. And the writers suffer from a lack of editorial control because a lot of what they come out with is inconsistent with Dredd's world. For example, one is about an overworked Emergency Room doctor - but for decades, Wagner has shown time & again that all non-Justice Dept doctors are robots. A story about a girl who joins the Judges in her teens to investigate the disappearance of her brother (also a Judge) & is somehow captured by a lone madman is even more inexplicable. Alan Grant's portrayal of the Angel gang sharing an ISO Cube with The Devil himself hasn't aged particularly well. Pat Mills - always one for crossing over 2000AD strips - introduces the ABC Warrior Hammerstein to Dredd's world. But unless you're a huge ABC Warriors fan - and is anyone - then you'll be asking yourself 'so what'? But then 'so what' was my reaction to most of these tales. There's a couple (but only a couple) of good light-hearted ones from Wagner, though - including Dredd dealing with the immense pressure of a mandatory 24 hours off.

But The Pit, though - amazing. The story which cemented the transition towards more adult, noir stories where the Judges are seen as humans under huge pressure, who struggle to cope despite all their training. Assigned to turn around the most corrupt & badly run Sector House in the city, Dredd reluctantly finds himself behind a desk. Which of course he hates - "A plush cocoon, cutting him off from the streets. They all had to make sacrifices." But it's surprisingly dangerous work as he investigates the suspicious death of his predecessor & a renegade undercover Judge who can no longer trusts his colleagues. It's a fascinating change of direction, which introduces multiple storylines about different Judges who are affected by Dredd in different ways. It's naturally considered a classic story.

So this is a mix of frankly very poor & frankly fantastic Dredd stories. Definitely worth getting if you don't already own The Pit. Otherwise it's still worth getting for The Cal Files, as long as you don't pay too much for it.


The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones
The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones
Price: £19.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Martin The World Builder, 8 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Wow. Just wow. The amount of detail which has gone into fleshing out George R R Martin's world is just staggering. This really is proof that Martin isn't merely a modern-day Tolkien but an incredible writer who far surpasses th e earlier author who many hold up as the ultimate comparative. Don't get me wrong, because it reads like a history book, I was actually bored in places (but not for very long) & if you find the number of characters in his other books bewildering, then imagine that multiplied by generations which go back over 300 years! But when you step back from it & see it in its entirety, this is an incredible piece which puts his epic into its historical context & makes the trials & tribulations of the current Westeros & beyond seem like a mere flash in the pan.

What really struck me was how believable the characters & situations were. For instance, his history of the Targaryan Kings gives each of them & their families very human flaws. The Mad King wasn't merely mad - the causes of his paranoia are clearly detailed & very convincing. Likewise, his more good-willed ancestors inadvertently caused harm with the best intentions. There are hints that each of the hundreds of named persons has been fleshed out in Martin's mind to have three dimensions, regardless of how minor a role they had. And that's just the people - there's also the detailed maps & his meticulous analysis of how the layout of Westeros has affected its history & the psychology of the residents of each realm. The psychology of its author comes into play, too. For rather than being Martin's version of Westeros, it's actually styled as having been penned by a Maester Of The Citadel. Thus the 'author' is keen to dismiss any ancient legends for which there is little proof (such as absurd allegations that the seasons in Westeros used to occur regularly, instead of having summers & winters which stretched on for years) & as he gifts the book to Tommen Baratheon, he is careful to criticise neither lion nor stag.

I bought the Kindle version. Its plain text includes links to full-sized colour illustrations, which look fantastic on my Tablet. Nevertheless, I have found myself wanting to buy the hardcover as well. The Kindle version is great for reading cover to cover but it would also be nice to dip into it from time to time. Plus there's a qualitative difference between having plain texts interspersed with pictures which can be opened & the wonderful hardback where pictures & texts have been cleverly designed to work together instead of treated as separate entities.

Regardless of the format in which you read it, like many epics this books is occasionally boring yet overall is very absorbing. It has left me wanting to re-read all of the books from the beginning, with the greater understanding that it has provided. It has reminded me that - as excellent as it is - the TV series will never replace the books, no matter how nudity it thrusts at its viewers! It has also left me more keen than ever to get hold of The Hedge Knight, Martins's out-of-print book which is set in Westeros prior to the Game Of Thrones & apparently had a surprisingly significant impact on that world. Well it's going to be such a long wait for the next book, I'm going to have to fill my time somehow!


The Red Knight
The Red Knight
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars So good that I've even forgiven the awful editing!, 11 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Red Knight (Kindle Edition)
After reading all the Game Of Throes books back-to-back, it has been a real struggle to find any fantasy books which are anywhere near as satisfying. But I've certainly found one here! To be honest, the first time I read it, I only got past the first few chapters before the poor editing put me off - I'd love to meet whoever was paid to proof-read it, so I could ask them with a half-cocked eyebrow, 'look, did you actually read it? No, really, though? Really?' However, upon the second attack, I found that the further into Cameron's world I got, the less it bothered me. The action-packed story grabbed me by the scruff of the neck & held me there - right up to the superb ending, which both gave full closure to the story while leaving me itching to get hold of the sequel.

Cameron's true talent is in bringing his words to flesh. His vivid descriptions of the feeling of wearing armour, the exhaustion of non-stop fighting, so many things, made his story vivid & convincing. I particularly loved his descriptions of magical battles which were refreshingly down-to-earth while presenting a whole new dimension within which the characters could react. And the multiple viewpoints worked well, too. A couple of characters from the early chapters just disappeared, though. One came back at the end to sow seeds for the sequel but another simply vanished. But who knows, perhaps they'll be back too.

The Red Knight is a satisfying, enjoyable read which headed in directions which I wasn't expecting. This in itself makes the anticipation for the sequels all the more delicious. If, like me, you are initially put off by the poor editing, then I'd urge you to stick with it anyway - it's worth it.


Zenith: Phase One
Zenith: Phase One
Price: £11.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's finally here!!!, 29 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Zenith: Phase One (Kindle Edition)
Forget Morrison's more convoluted works - Zenith is a straightforward knockabout, written early in his career as a British twist on the American superhero paradigm. Like Moore before him, Morrison approaches the subject with greater realism, presenting a super-powered boorish popstar with no interest in foiling bank robbers. In Supergods, Morrison says that Zenith's loutish behaviour is contrived to make him seem less intelligent & unthreatening in a world where super-'heroes' number roughly half a dozen. But I don't get this sense from the writing at all - the characters are as larger-than-life & iconic as superheroes are intended, without much subtlety to begin with. Indeed, the effect of condensing the story into 5-page weekly segments mean we we only get the bare bones of the characters as events progress rather quickly. This makes Steve Yeowell the ideal artist for is series, thanks to his equally clear & uncluttered black-and-white artwork.

Zenith is a fun, lightweight series, which was different at the time but not unique - Alan Moore had already gone further down the 'cheesey superheroes in a more realistic world' with Miracleman & Watchmen. Indeed, later volumes of Zenith draw from Moore's work, particularly his revamp of Captain Britain. The format makes it feel dated but it's still good fun & worth checking out.


Driving Test Success Hazard Perception DVD New Edition (DVD)
Driving Test Success Hazard Perception DVD New Edition (DVD)
Price: £5.60

3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent clips but flag system doesn't work on my PC, 29 Dec. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This DVD contains lots more hazard perception clips than many of the apps I've seen, so it's great value for money. In addition, I find many of the clips to be more demanding than ones I've seen elsewhere. While the clips on the actual test are apparently of manufactured situations, the ones on this disc are clips of actual hazards. This makes it useful for improving your driving in real-world situations & means that the hazards can be quite subtle in their early stages. I noticed that many of the clips have been filmed in & around Swansea (as I live there) so they may well have actually been filmed by the DVLA, who are based in that area.

The only problem I have is that I use the DVD in my PC, which the Product description above says is ok. But when I click on the clips (as you would in the real test) it doesn't register my responses. So all I can do is watch the clips back, estimate roughly when I clicked & pretty much guess what my score would have been. Of course my score is always '0' when using it in this way, so I can't track my progress. This may not be a problem if using it in a conventional DVD player & perhaps it would work on a Windows-based operating system (I use Linux) but as it stands, it severely limits the usefulness of this package to me.

So while I use it sometimes for reviewing what in my opinion are the best hazard perception clips I've come across in programs & apps like this I've come across (and I used quite a few) the flag system not working on my PC means that I have to use other hazard perception resources as well.


Driving Test Success Anytime 2014/15 Edition
Driving Test Success Anytime 2014/15 Edition
Offered by Sunset Media
Price: £5.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Very comprehensive & works wherever there's Wifi!, 29 Dec. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've been using the Digital Code version of this software & it's proven to be very useful. Because I can access it online, I use it on my tablet wherever there's Wifi. So it's great for looking at during my lunch break at work. Incidentally, I'm using an iPad & haven't had any problems with playing the videos or any other content - as long as you have access to the Internet, it should work. In order to register, you just need an email address in order to create and account.

Not on.y is is very useful but it's also incredibly good value. The price includes 6 months subscription to the site, which is more than enough time to prepare for the Theory & Hazard Perception tests. I've seen some Hazard Perception apps which cost £3-£5 & don't contain anywhere near as many clips. In addition to clips which you can test yourself on, there's also the official DVSA revision clips & new Official CGI sample clips. Focus' own clips are better than some others I've tried, being actual hazards can't on film rather than staged situations. You need to be very quick to get full marks on some of them, which is a good thing.

There's numerous video clips of driving lessons, which cover everything you need to know. The instructor is clear & concise they are well presented. Occasionally they don't pick the best camera angles but usually this isn't a problem. For reversing around corners, for example, the screen splits to show the rear window & close-ups of the instructor & students' faces. A shot taken from there are side window would have been handy & while seeing the students' face is useful for seeing which way she's looking, seeing the instructors' face isn't much use at all. But for most of the clips this isn't really a problem.

Overall, this is excellent driving software & being able to use it wherever you have an internet connection (which is most places these days) is incredibly useful. It's great value & very well presented.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 5, 2015 10:09 AM GMT


Judge Dredd Day of Chaos: Fallout
Judge Dredd Day of Chaos: Fallout
by John Wagner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.90

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting change of direction. Sadly, the writing is inconsistent, 11 Nov. 2014
PLEASE NOTE - Amazon seem to have messed up the reviews, bless them, & many of the reviews on this page seem to be for the previous volume (Endgame) & not Fallout. This review is of Fallout.

Fallout is an interesting volume which deals with the aftermath of the Chaos Bug. Mega City One is in ruins. The Judges have been decimated & have a huge clean-up job to contend with, so the Space Corps are drafted in to help maintain order. All in all, it reminds me of the stories which followed The Apocalypse War, as the landscape of the city changed to one dotted with radioactive areas. But this is far more drastic. So it's a fascinating change of direction for the series.

When it comes to Dredd, that which isn't written by Wagner himself usually falls way short of his level. And most of the short stories which make up this volume aren't written by Wagner. Nevertheless, I was very impressed by newcomer Michael Carroll, who seems to 'get' Dredd's world & its humour better than most writers. However, he introduced a supporting character in his first story who he went on to over-use. It's as if he was intimidated by writing about Dredd himself & felt more comfortable writing about this person. But there's great potential there for the future - although at this rate, Dredd may soon find himself single-handedly policing a population of 5!

There's some interesting, new ideas in here. Sadly, the writing isn't always up to par as Wagner deservedly seems to be taking more of a back seat. I was torn between giving it 3 stars or 4.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 29, 2014 5:20 PM GMT


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