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Philip (Stafford, United Kingdom)
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The Icecreamists: Boutique ice creams and other guilty pleasures to make and enjoy at home
The Icecreamists: Boutique ice creams and other guilty pleasures to make and enjoy at home
by Matt O'connor
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Good flavours, poor base selection., 16 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This recipe book has a variety of wonderful ice cream flavours, from pistachio, to liquorice, to plain vanilla. It also gives you a wide range of sorbets and combination deserts. Like one previous reviewed mentioned, the base mixture for the ice creams is exactly the same, which gives less variety than I would like, especially if you're trying to cut the calories. Personally I prefer the three base options of the Ben and Jerry's home made Ice cream book.

Overall, a good collection of flavours.


A Perfect Spy (BBC Audio)
A Perfect Spy (BBC Audio)
by John Le Carre
Edition: Audio CD

2.0 out of 5 stars A rather slow and gentle little spy story, 11 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I listen to a lot of audiobooks, but rarely these full cast radio play type books, as I find them rather artificial and forced. I came into this then not expecting a lot, and initially I did find the radio acting quite off putting. After a few chapters though, the story started to pick up and the acting became less distracting.

Sadly the story never really built much beyond those first few chapters, and it's gentle and slow nature doesn't make for the most riveting listen. When the conclusion came I can't say I found it terribly satisfying, and the characters, with a few exceptions, have already faded from memory.

Not terrible then, but barely average at best.


Crysis 3 (PS3)
Crysis 3 (PS3)
Price: 12.73

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very solid shooter, but it belongs on a PC, 11 May 2013
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Crysis 3 (PS3) (Video Game)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Crytek have long had a reputation for pushing visuals hard, so much so that the original Crysis remained a PC exclusive for years, and brought even high end systems to their knees as they attempted to run it. Crysis 2 saw the developer head into console territory, with visuals which were rather less ambitious.

Crysis 3 represents a balance of those two approaches, and appropriately enough also mixes the locations of the first two games. So we get the jungle of Crysis 1, mixed with the much less interesting buildings from Crysis 2. The result is an interesting ruined city, full of foliage and rubble. Gameplay also returns a little to the more open nature of Crysis 1, losing some of the corridor feel of Crysis 2. Sadly the rather obnoxious cast returns too, with the annoying cockney sidekick still hanging around.

However there is a problem with this release - it doesn't run well on the PS3. Crytek have clearly let themselves go a little and ventured back into the soothing waters of PC development, leaving the console versions of Crysis 3 rather limping along in the background. The frame rate here is often poor, and the game never feels like it's running well. Even in closed of little rooms it still limps along. Admittedly this is a problem other developers have too, and despite the technical problems it's still a very impressive visual achievement on such ancient hardware.

An good effort then overall, but if you have a PC up to the job, then you can safely leave the console ports on the shelf.


David Attenborough in His Own Words
David Attenborough in His Own Words
by Sir David Attenborough
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 5.50

3.0 out of 5 stars A somewhat thrown together collection of interviews, 18 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This CD, and there's only one here, includes several interviews with Attenborough done at various points during his incredible career. There are interviews with Parkinson of course, as well some less effective ones on Desert Island Discs. (minus the music) Some of the anecdotes I had heard before, but Attenborough tells them so well I could listen to them all multiple times. He must surely be the best interviewee of all time.

This CD however, feels cheap. Three of the five interviews are from Desert Island Discs, which seems very lazy, and the short running time seems very odd given that there must be dozens of hours of interviews in the archives to draw upon. Even the cover art feels like it's been thrown together in 2 minutes.

Definitely one for the hardcore Attenborough completists only.


Please Look After Mother
Please Look After Mother
by Kyung-Sook Shin
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely story with a slightly confusing narrative, 27 Mar 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The book begins with a group of siblings and their father searching for their mother who is lost during a visit to Seoul. The story cleverly lays out the dysfunctional relationships between the different family members while highlighting the social norms and expectations of rural Korea. I love the format of this book which opens up the life of the mother like a puzzle, giving greater intricacies of the housewife's life through each chapter. Each chapter narrates the memory of the mother from a different family member's perspective. All chapters are written in the first person narrative which made it slightly confusing till you worked out who was actually giving their version of the story. Nevertheless, this is a lovely, touching, family story which brings to life the saying 'You don't know how good you've got it till it's gone". It does not stray into the soppy, tear jerking territory but rather spins a delicate and touching tale. I certainly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it.


TP-Link TL-WDR4900 N900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Cable Router(2.4GHz 450Mbps, 5GHz 450Mbps, 2 USB Ports for Storage Sharing, Printer Sharing, FTP Server and Media Server)
TP-Link TL-WDR4900 N900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Cable Router(2.4GHz 450Mbps, 5GHz 450Mbps, 2 USB Ports for Storage Sharing, Printer Sharing, FTP Server and Media Server)

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre performance and ugly industrial design, 27 Feb 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've tried quite a few routers over the past year or so, and have found that performance varies considerably. I initially had an Apple Airport Extreme, which provided fairly poor performance, no media server functionality, and was incredibly unreliable. I then tried a NETGEAR R6300 WiFi Router, a router which was supposed to be a top end product. Performance and reliability were utterly miserable. My wifi devices downstairs (PS3 Slim, Xbox S, iPad 3, iPhone 5) would struggle to get more than 1-2 mbit.

I then moved to an ASUS RT-N66U - 900Mbps Dual Band Wireless N Router, Gigabit LAN/WAN, 2x USB, Print FTP UPnP VPN Server, IPv6, 8x SSID, Wireless 3D HD content streaming, 3 Year Warranty , which performed far better than any other router I had tried. The only downside was it didn't seem to play well with my Xbox, and the media server stuff was very flaky and unreliable.

So while I was moderately satisfied, I was certainly open to something better. When this new router popped up in my Vine email, I snapped it up and ran some head to heads with the Asus.

My connection is a 100mbit Virgin Media cable connection which runs through a Virgin 'superhub' set to modem mode. In Speedtest.net when I tried these tests I was getting 80mbit through Ethernet on my Windows 8 PC - much higher than usual as it was during the afternoon - evening performance is always far lower. The routers were set up upstairs, and my testing was done downstairs through 3 walls and at a distance of about 10m.

iPhone 5 - 802.11n 5ghz - ASUS - 26mbit / TP - 16mbit

Xbox S - 802.11n 2.4ghz - ASUS 2mbit / TP - 0.7mbit

PS3 - 802.11g 2.4ghz - ASUS 17mbit / TP - 7mbit

A clear win for the Asus, and it's interesting to see how the performance is awful for both with the Xbox. I've no idea why Xbox wifi is quite so terrible, but I have found that it only really works well when the Xbox is physically very close to the router.

I also tested the DLNA media sharing on both. The ASUS is easy enough to set up, but in practice often doesn't find new media for hours, days, or even at all. I've talked to ASUS support about this and they're sadly clueless. Setting up DLNA on the TP-Link was also easy, but in my testing simply didn't work. While the Xbox and PS3 could see the server, neither could find any files shared. My iPhone could see the server, but bizarrely the DLNA client app I was using (Simple Player) crashed every time I tried to connect.

Performance really isn't too hot on this then, and I'll also add that as a piece of industrial design, it's a contender for the ugliest product I've seen in years. The only other router I've seen lately which could give it a run for it's money is, sadly, my current ASUS router. For looks if nothing else, I miss my old Apple router.

My hunt for the perfect router goes on then, but for now, I'm sticking with my ASUS.


Seagate STCK1000200 1TB Wireless Plus 2.5 Inch External Hard Drive - Grey
Seagate STCK1000200 1TB Wireless Plus 2.5 Inch External Hard Drive - Grey
Price: 119.99

9 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly designed and of very limited use, 23 Feb 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Firstly I'll say what this drive is not - it does not allow you to share your media over your home wifi network. Reading the Seagate marketing blurb, you might not realise that is the case, but after a good few hours of playing around with this thing I've unfortunately reached that conclusion. The documentation supplied is virtually non existent too, so it took some rooting around online to figure out how to use this device.

This drive actually works by making it's own network, which wifi devices can then connect to. Of course to do that, you have to disconnect your PC, iPad etc from the internet, then once you're done with the Seagate, disconnect for it, and reconnect to the net. If that sounds cumbersome and clunky, that's because it is. Thinking about it logically there may well be no way for the drive to actually join an existing local network and share content, but I suspect most will not expect that to be the case. As if to reinforce this limitation, the drive actually turns off it's wifi when connected to a PC.

Putting the bizarre wifi stuff aside, as a stand alone hard drive this is a passable effort, with a nice rubberised back and a custom Seagate connector which can take adaptors for USB, Firewire, and Thunderbolt. (USB 3 is supplied, albeit with a laughably short cable) The supplied software is dreadful, and I had to download it from the Seagate website as the version supplied on the drive wouldn't run. I ended up just using the built in backup software that comes with Windows 8 (it's called 'File History'), and have the drive set up purely a backup device.

If you are foolhardy enough to buy into Seagate's bizarre media sharing world, then it supports Airplay as well as DLNA, and there are Android and iOS apps available too.

My advice - buy a cheaper external HD without the pointless wifi stuff.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 23, 2013 10:54 AM BST


Lexar Professional 16GB Class 10 UHS-1 600X 90MB/s High Speed SDHC Memory Card
Lexar Professional 16GB Class 10 UHS-1 600X 90MB/s High Speed SDHC Memory Card
Offered by TRADE LINK
Price: 24.49

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quick, but flimsy, 21 Jan 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
First off, the packaging for this is totally obscene. Not because it features anything rude, but because it's absolutely enormous. As all that's inside is an SD card and a tiny pamphlet, this is some of the most offensive packaging I've seen in years.

That aside, the SD card itself promises '600x' speed. Well I'm not sure what type of SD card is 600x slower than this, but I did a comparison with a bog standard Lexar 4gb SD card I had lying around (a card which makes no great claims about it's speed) and there was a nice difference. The 600x Lexar card was getting around 18.5mb/sec, while the older card was getting a mere 4.5mb/sec.

Another aspect worth noting is that the card is extremely flimsy. My older Lexar card is fairly sturdy and doesn't have much flex in it's plastic shell. That isn't the case with this card, which looks to be encased in exceedingly thin and cheap plastic, and it feels like it would snap with little pressure.

I imagine most people will simply put this card in their camera and forget about it, but if you swap cards out often you might want to look for something a little sturdier.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 10, 2013 6:09 PM BST


Brazil
Brazil
by Michael Palin
Edition: Audio CD

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but marred by it's subject, 19 Jan 2013
This review is from: Brazil (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Having read all of Michael Palin's travelogue books (and listened to all in audio form) I know them well. The best is still the original Around The World In Eighty Days , and with each subsequent journey things became a little less interesting. This is partly because of the switch from the journeys being something of a race against the clock, to being leisurely and done in several chunks through the year, but also because they have become focused on single regions or countries.

Brazil is not a country I admit I had much interest in, but with Michael Palin involved I was sure he would find plenty to talk about. Sadly the reality is that big though Brazil is, it just isn't all that interesting after all. There are some cowboys, some dancers, some slums, and an abandoned town (which is the most interesting part of the book), but not a whole lot else.

Overall then this is still a Michael Palin travelogue, and so still worth reading/listening to, but it's a long way from the early adventures. If Michael intends to keep making travelogues perhaps another grand journey/race would be the best plan.


Dell AY511PA Premium Audio Soundbar with Virtual Surround
Dell AY511PA Premium Audio Soundbar with Virtual Surround

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent, but don't expect wonders, 14 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having just bought a nice new 27" Dell monitor Dell Ultrasharp U2713HM AH IPS 27 inch Widescreen Monitor with LED I wanted a soundbar to go with it, to keep my desk tidy. I first tried this -Dell AX510 Soundbar Speaker for Ultrasharp and Other Monitors with Pass Through Connector and found the sound quality to be truly awful.

So I bought this higher end model, and it's a big improvement. It fits the monitor as well as the previous soundbar did, although it unfortunately uses it's own separate power supply unit, rather than the monitor's DC out. Still, it's a small price to pay for a huge improvement in sound.

It's still a set of cheap, very small speakers, so don't expect wonders, but they suffice for most things.


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