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Dr. Paul Ell (NI, UK)
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Sony SCR24 Style Up Cover for Xperia Z3 - Black
Sony SCR24 Style Up Cover for Xperia Z3 - Black
Offered by HOG UK Ltd
Price: £28.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great slim case with clever app, 17 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was very nearly put off buying this case because of the number of one-star reviews here. I'm posting my own review to offer an alternate view. Whilst I guess it depends what you're looking for in a case, I'm very impressed with this product.

Yes, it's fairly expensive but all Sony phone and tablet cases are expensive. Also don't buy this if you want a case that offers a lot of protection for your phone.

I don't much like phone cases at all. They make phones more bulky and generally take away from the look of the phone. This Sony case does neither. It's extremely thin, adding almost no weight or bulk to the phone. it also looks good with the phone.

The really clever bit about the case is the way it works with the associated Sony App. The clear plastic window allows you, once you've downloaded the relevant software from Sony, access to key information without unlocking the phone. The App lets you choose a variety of content to display, and you can flick through a few screens of information. On my phone I've selected a Twitter window, an e-mail window, a weather window and a walkman window. Also opening and closing the case turns the phone on and off.

Problems with the case, well I see three. The case doesn't offer much protection. It should stop the screen and back of the phone from getting scratched but that's it. But I've only recently started using a case at all so much do I dislike the bulk and difficulty of accessing a phone that they result in. More of an issue for me is that there is no mechanism to keep the case closed - it flaps open. A magnet to keep the case closed would have been welcome. Less of a concern, and one of the reasons the case is slim, is that the case is stuck on to the back of the phone. I guess this sticky back might fail at some time. If it does I'll report back. So all this means the case drops a star for me. It is, however, the best case I've ever used, next to not using a case at all of course...


Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements 13 (PC/Mac)
Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements 13 (PC/Mac)
Price: £119.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward photo and video editing packages, 17 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As the title suggests, but to be clear, two Adobe products are packaged together in this product, Photoshop Elements for editing and enhancing photographs and Premier Elements for use with video material. The pack includes two DVDs - one for Windows systems and a second for Macs. There are also two small, but useful, booklets describing the main features of each software package with a limited introduction to using the software. I've installed the Mac software but from the booklets the software appears to be the same across Windows and Macs. This is the latest 2014 version of Photoshop and Premier, version 13.

Photoshop is pretty much the industry standard for editing photographs. The software here is a streamlined consumer focussed version of Photoshop as the 'Elements' name suggests. It has the most common, useful, and straightforward features of Photoshop. I haven't used Photoshop Elements before but if you've used any image enhancement software you'll be pretty familiar with what it does. This is helped by three levels of handholding provided by Adobe. 'Quick' is for beginners and offers a limited range of processing options that you simply click on. 'Guided' increases the range of processing options with a description of what you're doing. 'Expert' seems to offer pretty much the same choices but without the guidance - it's assumed that you know what the icons do.Each approach is embedded in the user interface.

It's quite fun to play around with the many options available. Throughout you're working on a copy of the original photo so there's no danger of destroying the original. The interface and expertise levels work very well and it's easy to use. I'd recommend this for most users.

I've less use for video editing software and have played around with Premier Elements less. Adobe use the same three expertise levels which again I think works well. The video timeline interface makes splicing and intermixing two videos straightforward. The software does what you'd expect - allows you to add your own narration to video footage, add titles to footage, enhance images to a limited extent, and develop neat transitions between scenes. I've been running the software on a fast Mac and Premier is by no means sluggish. However, it is clearly using a fair amount of processing power which might be worth bearing in mind if you've a basic computer. This isn't an issue for photoshop though.

So overall accessible software with good interfaces which share many common features. For the price I think it's hard to fault. Strongly recommended.


Bitdefender Total Security 2015 - 1 year - 3 users (PC)
Bitdefender Total Security 2015 - 1 year - 3 users (PC)
Offered by Esale Express
Price: £24.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, if uninteresting, antivirus software, 16 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Not an exciting purchase but necessary for a Windows machine - unlike my Mac where antivirus software is a little more of an optional extra.

I installed the software on a recent Sony Vaio machine running Windows 7 - retro-fitted to replace Windows 8.1. The software installed fairly quickly, in around 15 minutes, without any problem. I've noticed no performance implications have having to software installed but as I've a recent i7 laptop I would have been surprised if there had been. Compared to other anti-virus software I've tested successful installation and no performance impact are both big plusses.

No problems since installation with the software updating correctly. So overall no issues and it's to have licences for 3 PCs. I've dropped one star because I dislike the annual routine of having to pay again for antivirus software or find another package.


Carte Noire No.10 Espresso Nespresso Compatible Coffee Capsules 53 g (Pack of 4)
Carte Noire No.10 Espresso Nespresso Compatible Coffee Capsules 53 g (Pack of 4)
Price: £11.16

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent blend, 11 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've reviewed another Carte Noire espresso blend and much prefer this one. First though, it's really good to see the Nespresso monopoly of coffee capsules coming to and end. I'm a big fan of Nespresso machines compared to other pod-based systems. Nespresso keeps things simply - no fancy drinks such as a caramel latte or iced tea of the kind developed for other machines - just simple coffee and, with my machine, the ability to make a latte with fresh milk.

These particular capsules are supposed to have an intense flavour, the strongest Carte Noire make as their No 10 blend. The strong arabica beans really come through. This coffee is brilliant as a simple espresso on its own but also a good base for other drinks. I think it's particularly good as a latte. While coffee is a question of taste, personally I'd recommend these capsules. In this pack you get four boxes of 10 capsules each. This is a good number to decide if you like the coffee and not so large a number that you'll feel you'll be drinking it for ever more if you don't.

The Carte Noire capsules are about 30% cheaper than Nespresso's and cost cutting here doesn't seem to make a difference. account. It's definitely evident in other ways though. The capsules are plastic, not metal, and they are not pre-perforated. I've found as a result that they may not be fully pierced and this can result in hot water not correctly passing through the capsule resulting in weak coffee. No matter though, I like the blend and the price!

note though that Carte Noire have gone packaging crazy. The boxes are pretty large and each capsule is in its own sealed wrapper. So the capsules take up a lot of cupboard space and produce a lot of waste.


Till We Meet Again: A Bamforth Gift Book of WW1 Postcard Images (Bamforth Gift Books)
Till We Meet Again: A Bamforth Gift Book of WW1 Postcard Images (Bamforth Gift Books)
by Bamforth & Co
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £5.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lost opportunity, 5 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A postcard size book featuring around 40 facsimiles of postcards from the Great War produced by Bamforth. The postcards themselves have no interpretative information. Literally all you get with this book is 40 cards reprinted at their original size. It might have been more worthwhile to produce a book of postcards that could actually be used. Here though the back of the cards is not printed. Each individual page features the front of a card on each side.

The majority of the cards seem to be designed to send news to serving troops. Typically each has an image and a short poem, many written by Madeleine St Clair. They are lightweight - don't expect evocative Great War poetry here.

Overall this is little more than a curiosity item which will hold interest for 15 minutes. The cards could have been usable, their history could have been explained, the facsimiles could have been better, they could have been printed in oversized format, they could have included used postcards with news to and from the front. As it is I'm not sure I'd recommend purchasing.


Classic British Comedies The DVD Board Game
Classic British Comedies The DVD Board Game
Price: £21.17

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Novel game based on brilliant BBC comedies, 28 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As a fan of many of the BBC comedies that feature in this game I welcomed the opportunity to review it. And they are BBC comedies - ITV doesn't get a look in here, but that's not a problem for me. For a game that's leading feature is a collection of around 100 comedy clips on a DVD with the potential of having to mess around with a DVD player it actually works remarkably well with no issues with playing the DVD and getting access to clips quickly. Indeed the clips are the strongpoint of the game.

The game rules are straightforward and suit pretty much all ages. However, the comedies are largely from the 1970s and 1980s so the interest from anyone under 40 is likely to be limited. Also some of the comedies are distinctly politically incorrect which you might want to bare in mind for younger players.

So overall this is a novel and unusual game that works very well but I don't think it's quite the all-round family game it claims to be. Any if you're trying to get away from TV it doesn't quite work as it's about TV and part of it needs to be played on the TV. Nonetheless brilliant subject material and well worth 4 stars.


Cole & Mason 165 mm Dark Wood Morley Crank Pepper Mill, Brown
Cole & Mason 165 mm Dark Wood Morley Crank Pepper Mill, Brown
Price: £29.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality Pepper Grinder, 24 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A high-quality stylish pepper mill that looks built to last. The mill is constructed of excellent materials - stainless steel and beech - and most critically the grinding mechanism is carbon steel and ceramic which should ensure a long life.

The pepper mill comes with peppercorns so it's ready to test on arrival. The grind is fully adjustable from rough to very fine pepper and virtually no effort is needed in operation thanks to the large crank mechanism. With this grinder there's no need to have a good grip as is the case with tractional pepper grinders.

Cole and Mason it appears has a long lineage in manufacturing salt and pepper grinders going back over around 100 years. They certainly produce a wide variety of different models. This seems a fine example so fully recommended.


Murad Age Reform Rapid Collagen Infusion 30 ml
Murad Age Reform Rapid Collagen Infusion 30 ml
Price: £78.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a try..., 21 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's a brave claim "Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in 2 hours" and I can see no difference. I guess there could be a debate about what 'reduces' means. It might be by a couple of microns. Equally it might be necessary to buy in to the whole Murad skin care routine to get the desired effect. The range is very extensive and it will cost you a fair bit although this product is one of the most expensive items.

Overall I doubt miracle creams work but reflecting the issues discussed above I'll sit on the fence with three stars. It might be worth a try...


Sony HDRPJ810E Full HD Camcorder with Built In Projector - Black
Sony HDRPJ810E Full HD Camcorder with Built In Projector - Black
Price: £662.91

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feature-full video camera, 14 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A top of the range HD camcorder from Sony that's remarkably compact bearing in mind the features it has. These features, in brief, include a sophisticated lens with anti-camera shake mounting, a touch sensitive screen, a working adjustable viewfinder, inbuilt charging via a USB port with no large transformer unit, a massive 32Gb of storage with no need for memory sticks, and most notably of all a built in projector. Whilst the camera is not quite in the same league as Sony's Professional range and it's not a 4K ultra-HD camera, it's pretty impressive.

As I use the camera more I'll add to this review concerning new features. For now though here are a few.

First, I think it's worth stressing that the camera has 32Gb of storage built in. You can also use a memory card to add additional storage but I find it very refreshing that a manufacturer is prepared to include storage. I hate buying a camera - still or video - and then finding I have to buy memory cards. The capacity of the storage is such that it will last longer than the 90 minute predicted life of the battery when recording in the highest quality.

Second, the lens housing is incredible. When I say that it's designed to limit camera shake this is not some software process. The lens can very visibly be seen moving in the housing to maintain a steady shot. With the 12x standard zoom and the 24x digital zoom it works very well in practice.

Third, if you've a Sony smartphone the phone will act as a remote for the camera. With NFC on the phone and on the camera (I have a Sony Xperia Z3) simply having the PlayMemories App installed allows you to see on the phone screen what you're videoing, start videoing, take still shots, and zoom in and out. The quality is excellent.

Also with a Sony phone, and using PlayMemories, content can be automatically moved to the phone and then posted online. A clever feature that stops content forever remaining on the camera!

Third, when recording videos I'm often irritated to here my own voice booming over all other sound. It's always an option to keep quiet but not that easy to remember. Sony solve this with noise cancelling technology which means that voices near to the camera are electronically reduced. It doesn't remove voices completely but gets close.

Fourth, the inbuilt projector is a big selling point. This is not going to take the place of a professional projector - for a start the resolution is not HD and the brightness at 50 lumens is not lighthouse like. But it will display a good three or four foot image on a nearby wall. To be honest the sound is a bit of a letdown here - it simply cannot be set at a sufficiently loud level using the camera speaker. This will limit a film show but it's still impressive. Even more so as you can link a tablet computer or phone to the camera and use the projector. So if you've a film on your tablet you can watch it on a larger 'screen'. Sony do sell speakers to boost the sound output for the camera.

Fifth, there are some nifty special effect options. Most interesting I think is time shift recording which will show multiple frozen shots in the same video of a train, for example, running past. This needs a bit of practice to get right.

Sixth, for now, on all but the highest video quality still photos can be taken while filming. These are pretty good with a 24 megapixel size at the best quality - better than almost all digital SLRs.

Seventh, the 12x optical zoom is worthy of mention. This is one of the best zoom ranges available on a video camera and the the wide angle of the lens really will meet pretty much everyone's needs. And combined with the image stabilisation discussed above, the zoom is brilliant.

More in due course... But a clear 5 stars for now. The only downside is the price.


Hornby R1138 GWR Passenger Freight 00 Gauge Electric Train Set
Hornby R1138 GWR Passenger Freight 00 Gauge Electric Train Set
Price: £59.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faultless starter set especially for young children, 14 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you're after a good value starter train set it's difficult to go wrong with this setup. You get a small GWR loco (of limited quality admittedly) plus two open good wagons and a small passenger coach. As Hornby say rather elegantly, it's the sort of mixed goods and passenger services found on many past rural branch lines.

The track forms a simple oval with one set of points and a siding. It's quick to put out and unlike larger sets can be installed in the living room and packed away quickly. An adult or older child will need to help put the track session together though as at least for a while they're fairly hard to link. The siding adds a bit of variety rather than simply running the train around the oval circuit. The analogue Hornby controller is a simple basic affair entirely suitable for fairly small children. And, as I've noted, the loco may not be top quality, but unlike more expensive models there aren't really any bits that are going to fall of in first use.

It's also a good basis on which to then extend the railway. In fact the set might be a Hornby loss-leader to hook people! The set comes with a medium sized track mat which immediately shows how additional Track Pack and Building Packs can enhance the set and make it more interesting. All of the track can be used in a larger model railway and even if you decide you want a late pre-nationalisation set, or a later BR setup, it's conceivable that a forgotten GWR locomotive might still be operating on a remote branch line.

The only issue is that the train is not DCC ready or fitted so it won't work with Hornby's digital controller. Still with it's own controller it could run on a branch line.

When I was a child I had a GWR set and the it was nice to see my favourite railway company featured in this set. 100% recommended!


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