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Dr. Paul Ell (NI, UK)
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UE MEGABOOM Wireless Bluetooth Speaker - Charcoal Black
UE MEGABOOM Wireless Bluetooth Speaker - Charcoal Black
Price: £236.31

4.0 out of 5 stars Very good bluetooth speaker with some standout features - like being waterproof, 9 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Note that this is a review of the UE MEGABOOM Speaker! In a crowded market of bluetooth cordless speakers (noted by thefact that Amazon are selling three different speakers from one web page!) it's difficult for manufacturers to shine in the market. Well this speaker has one stand out feature - it's weather resistant. So I see myself using it in the garden in summer without the need to remember to bring it in. Now I don't think it will withstand dropping in the bath but should be OK left out in the rain. That said a protection of IPX7 in theory it can be submerged in water of at least a metre deep! Impressive stuff but It's not a piece of kit you'll want to leave out all year however.

Actually getting to the speaker was a little problematic. It comes in a black packing (and storage?) case tubular in shape just like the speaker. This has an outer card sleeve with product details on. I had difficulty in getting the sleeve off and then more difficulty prising the packing open. Also the USB cable is stored, and a bit hidden away, in a draw at the base of the case. The micro USB charging system comes with a cleverly designed compact UK plug and a mainland Europe plug - both in a great high reflective yellow colour.

In use pairing with a bluetooth device was simple - a couple of minutes. It also has NFC built in so placing a near field connection phone close by should do the pairing for you. The speaker comes with an Android and iOS app and the Android one is pretty good. It installed a firmware update for the speaker which took about 10 minutes. The app allows you to add another speaker to the system and to set some detailed graphic equalise settings as well as using a suggested number of presets. The app also allows an alarm to be set. You don't need to use the app to use the speaker however - a big advantage. So you can direct any audio output from your phone or tablet to the speaker.

In terms of sound quality I think it's good. There's a lot of bass and the sound is sent in all directions due to the speaker's circular design, good for outdoor use. On design, I like it's understated nature - two white lights and associated hidden buttons on the top to control pairing and power, two large volume controls on the side (the large blue '+' and '-' symbols, and an Aux in and USB charging port under water sealed rubber on the base. There's also a metal loop which could allow the speaker to be hung from a suitable hook. Pushing the volume controls simultaneously will tell you, in an American accent, the battery charge level. Battery life is predicted to be around 20 hours.

As is so common these days there's virtually no printed instructions. I wonder if someone who had no idea what bluetooth is would ever manage get get the speaker to work. Instructions are downloadable though!

So I think this speaker does have some stand-out features, and now having decided that the shipping packaging is indeed a carry case with built-in handle, I'd strongly recommend it. Did I also mention that it will also act as a speaker phone with your mobile. Press the bluetooth button to answer the call! Despite all this I can't quite bring myself to give any bluetooth speaker five stars. Can anything be perfect when so many speakers exist? But a solid 4.8 - if that was allowed!


Philips SC2008/11 IPL Lumea Precision Plus Hair Regrowth Prevention System
Philips SC2008/11 IPL Lumea Precision Plus Hair Regrowth Prevention System
Price: £420.55

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pain free hair growth control, 9 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There's no doubt that this Philips hair re-growth prevention system is expensive but it seems to deliver exactly what it promises and, for once with hair 'control' systems actually is pain free! So I suspect certainly this IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) system is the way to go. There are other models however - more on this later.

First it's worth noting that the Lumea comes with several warnings and, bearing in mind the technology it's probably sensible to heed there! Most critically it's not suitable for hair which is very blond, white, red or grey. Also for very dark skin which does not tend to tan (this does not apply to skin that burns easily) equally the system is unlikely to work. And if you're sun sensitive - and there are antibiotics about which warn about sun exposure it's not sensible to use the system while taking the medication.

So how does it work? Well it's all about controlling the melanin in the root of the hair is passes into a dormant state, the fair falls out, and with with reuse simply does not grow back. Over time reuse becomes less critical. I guess in terms of limitations is the length of time it takes to use the system. I think Philips' estimates of time take - 8 minutes per leg for example - are optimistic particularly as it's difficult to avoid covering the same areas twice, or three times.

There are many advantages however beyond the overall effectiveness of the system. It's cordless to is easier to use, there's no blades that need replacing - in fact nothing needs to be replaced due to use and it comes with special 'safe' attachments for face and, er, other delicate areas.

I guess one key question is why buy this top-of-the-range model. Well to be honest I think you could get away with the Philips SC2004/11 model, currently the second most basic model in the Philips range. It's around £150 cheaper, lacks attachments, and probably shouldn't be used on your face. But if you want the best go for the SC2008/11. I'm dropping one star for the price, the differential of which between other models doesn't seem quite justified, but this is a very good hair prevention system. Throughly recommended, and 4 stars!


Canon Powershot SX530 HS ( 16.8 MP,50 x Optical Zoom,3 -inch LCD )
Canon Powershot SX530 HS ( 16.8 MP,50 x Optical Zoom,3 -inch LCD )
Offered by DB Technology srl
Price: £248.41

4.0 out of 5 stars Promising but details to follow, 8 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the first bridge camera I've owned with a near DSLR lens, but one that can't be changed. It's fixed to the camera. That said with an amazing 50 times optical zoom lens who needs to change lenses? Initial questions are the quality of the single lens itself and the relatively small pixel count at 17 mega pixels. There's also an issue with the quality of the rear LCD display.

I'm playing with the camera now so simply raise these as possible issues. Update by the end of May. Some photos so far lack sharpness and camera use without a tripod with the 50x zoom near the maximum is an issue. But the camera is very inexpensive so a balanced full review soon.


Einhell TE-OS 18 Li solo Power  X-Change 18 V  Lithium Cordless Multi Sander with filter box
Einhell TE-OS 18 Li solo Power X-Change 18 V Lithium Cordless Multi Sander with filter box
Price: £30.02

5.0 out of 5 stars Quality cordless power sander, 28 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I guess a key factor when purchasing this sander is whether you have, or are likely to purchase, other power tools in the Einhell X-Change range. If you do the good news is that when you purchase a battery it will work in all your other X-Change tools. If not, before this sander will work you'll need to buy a battery as well at a cost of around £50. Overall I think it's not a bad deal.

A good deal as I'm impressed with the quality of this sander. Build quality is very good indeed. I like design tweaks which mean that the sander can be connected to my vacuum cleaner making dust collection much more effective than the built in dust collector. Apart from this, in use the Einhell is at least as effective as other power sanders I've used. This is significant as all the others have be mains powered. There are benefits of not having a power cable getting in the way when using the sander.

So overall I'm impressed. 5 stars


Philips BG105/10 Bodygroom with Skin Protector Series 1000
Philips BG105/10 Bodygroom with Skin Protector Series 1000
Price: £20.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Inexpensive and competent, 27 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A compact body groomer designed for men. This is the bottom of the Philips range of body groomers I guess marked by the fact it's battery powered - by a single AA battery - rather than powered by a rechargeable battery, and it has a limited cutting range between 0.5mm and 3mm. All that said it's a pretty impressive, and inexpensive, product. The fact that it's using a AA battery seems to have no impact on the power, it's waterproof so can be used in the shower, and feels safe in use - it's unlikely to cut you where you'd rather not be cut! From the range of hair trimmers about these days, most of which are more expensive, this seems to be a real winner.

Significant drawbacks, well I guess a couple for me, that it won't cut hair to zero rather than 0.5mm. Plus the usage instructions seem to be non-existent. Well worth a try though. Recommended and 4 stars.


TONI&GUY  Men Styling Putty 75 ml
TONI&GUY Men Styling Putty 75 ml
Price: £4.89

3.0 out of 5 stars OK, 22 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This product is not quite what I was expecting reflecting a description of 'Styling Putty'. The product is really a viscous liquid that would spill from the container if turned upside down. Although more liquid than putty on rubbing it between your hands before application it does thicken so application is fairly straightforward. TONI&GUY describe this as medium hold but I think it's a little lighter than that. Irritatingly although the hold is limited it can lead a sticky residue which is not great.It's also surprisingly difficult to get off your hands!

So overall I'm not greatly impressed with the product, particularly bearing in mind its relatively high price point. Give it a try but I doubt I'd buy it again. A conservative three stars.


byteStor Pro 32GB USB 3.0 High Speed Flash Drive - Black
byteStor Pro 32GB USB 3.0 High Speed Flash Drive - Black
Price: £9.22

4.0 out of 5 stars Inexpensive flash drive, 17 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A low cost 32Gb USB 3.0 drive that performs as expected. It comes in minimalist packaging which means that, for once, it's easy to extract the drive from the shipping pack. It's increasingly difficult to get excited about flash memory as prices have plummeted. This drive is made of inexpensive plastic so will not be particularly robust. I'd be tempted to go for with the 64Gb or 128Gb versions which offer for Gb for your £. Otherwise this is a serviceable drive at the more basic end of the market. Good value for money


Presenting Data: How to communicate your message effectively
Presenting Data: How to communicate your message effectively
by Ed Swires-Hennessy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.95

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A generic, and slightly dated, introduction to numeric information presentation, 28 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Potentially this might seem to be a challenging book examining how to present data. In fact it's pretty accessible with sections on 'Understanding number' discussing the use of rounding, decimal points, comma separators etc; 'Tables' giving pointers on ways to structure tabular information, and what to include and exclude; 'Charts' looking at some basic visualisations of numeric data through bar and pie charts; returning a little to the first chapter, a chapter on 'Numbers in text'; and finally a section on 'Data presentation on the Internet'.

In some ways this is a surprisingly slim book to address such a major topic as presenting data, at a little over 130 pages long, but I guess this is because the book does not dig too deeply into the issues. Overall I was expecting a rather more technical publication reflecting also the interests of the publisher, Wiley. The challenges of presenting complex data are many, especially in the era of Big Data. There's no mention of Big Data in the book and the really interesting ways of visualising complex data are really overlooked. The 'Charts' section really feels dated with such a focus on bar charts, histograms and pie charts. It could have been written 50 years ago or more, nothing on how graphics software allows so many additional charting options. The section of the use of the Internet only in the last few pages deals with interactive visualisations and does not address issues such as user-driven data queries.

All that said, there is some useful generic advice on how to present numbers in text and how to organise tabular data. And, as I've said, as a basic accessible introduction the book is OK. But it really is an introduction when the title suggests rather more. And it feels dated as I've noted.

Overall not a comprehensive work with much more left out than included. I was expecting a more penetrating volume rather than this rather slim book. Disappointing. 3 stars.


Panasonic ALL3 Wireless Speaker System (White)
Panasonic ALL3 Wireless Speaker System (White)
Offered by Crampton And Moore
Price: £209.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Panasonic's challenge to Bose and Sonos, 22 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Panasonic join the already crowded market of wireless speakers which can be synchronised to play from the same source around the house. I've already use the Bose SoundTouch version of this concept and have considered buying a Sonos system in the past.

So what do you get for your money? Well, the base system, this speaker, is cheaper than the Bose nearest equivalent. You get a compact but weighty white speaker and a power cable. The speaker is minimalist in design with three hidden LED indicators behind the speaker grill and, along the top of the speaker, a power button, two volume buttons, an Aux button and a network button. Somewhat less welcome, the instructions are also minimalist with an A4 glossy page and a couple of additional smaller sheets.

In terms of setting the system up I would advise everyone to update the firmware. Others have reported problems in getting the speaker to work correctly, problems most often resolved by a software update. This is pretty simple to do. You need to turn the speaker on and use a tablet or smartphone to connect to it wirelessly. Then using the tablet/smartphone chose your preferred network for the speaker to connect to and select a suitable name for the speaker. Pressing a combination of buttons on the speaker, now connected to the internet, forces a firmware upgrade.I experienced no problems at all in getting the speaker to work.

The 'Panasonic Music Streaming' app is fairly standard. It allows audio from a variety of sources to be directed to the speaker. Irritatingly I found some BBC podcasts could not be read by the app. Spotify works fine but to use the speaker with Spotify you have to have a premium subscription - so £9.99 a month. This is a real limiting factor. I'd rather use the free version of Spotify and listen to the occasional advert than pay £10 a month. If you're new to Spotify you get a free month's trial subscription. Panasonic implicitly suggest that this is arranged by them. In fact it's the standard Spotify free trial. So if you've already had a free trial you won't get another one. The Panasonic app also works with AllPlay Radio and AUPEO. It doesn't seem to work with the BBC Radio iPlayer although I need to play around with this more. If the BBC app can't be used this will also be a marked problem for me.

Going back to comparison with the Bose system, as noted the Bose speakers are more expensive. They're also more difficult to set up initially. However, the Bose speakers will work independently of the associated SoundTouch App. Each speaker in the range has six pre-programmable buttons that can be set to stream radio channels. The Bose system also comes with a small display which shows what you are listening to. A really useful idea! Further the Bose systems all come with a small remote control so you're not dependent totally on a smartphone or tablet to use the system. This is compounded by an inability to use a PC to control the speaker. Again Bose produce a OS X and Windows app to allow this.

Overall, a reasonable effort from Panasonic but I don't see they ecosystem offering more than the Bose SoundTouch systems which to be honest I'd rather pay a bit more for. They have much more flexibility including a battery powered system, and clock/radio option and speaker links to use a TV surround sound system. Not enough stands out from Panasonic's offering to convince me it's worth investing in, or indeed that it will be around for that long. The problems with playing audio from Spotify and the lack of a display further compound my view.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 24, 2015 10:15 PM GMT


Oral B Vitality Plus Trizone Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush
Oral B Vitality Plus Trizone Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush
Price: £19.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Basic electric toothbrush with few features, 22 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This electric toothbrush is at the bottom of the range of Oral-B’s TriZone range. The TriZon brushes come with a larger tooth brush compared to the Professional Range which have the more typical smaller, round, brush head. In theory the TriZone brush is supposed to feel more like a manual tooth brush. That said, the TriZone is compatible with all the other brushes in the Oral-B range so presumably if you find the larger brush doesn’t suit you you can simply change the brush head. Personally although the brush is larger I don’t feel it cleans quite so effectively. It its more difficult to reach hard to access parts of your mouth and the round-headed brushes seem more precise in use.

As the most basic electric toothbrush in range the brush comes with just one cleaning mode - and a cut down cleaning mode at that with no pulsating movement in addition to brush sweeps. Equally significant, there's no alert system to warn if you are exerting too much pressure whilst brushing. There is further cost cutting - the battery only lasts for five days of use (two minutes twice a day) and while there's a two minute timer the brush doesn't indicate when it's been used for 30 seconds allowing you more accurately to move on to the next quadrant of your mouth. Nor does the brush have a warning light to warn the battery needs recharging - a bit irritating for something with such a short battery life. And it doesn't have a light to indicate when the brush is fully charged. The brush also lacks a carry box for travel, something which is useful if you travel a bit as it prevents the toothbrush coming on in your suitcase. You do get two brush heads though!

Overall I guess this is an ideal brush to have as a backup, or to take on holiday (pity about the lack of a carry bag) or to test the water to see if you want to move to an electric toothbrush. However, the limited battery life, lack of a warning system when the battery is running down, and lack of a pressure sensor are deal breakers for me. As indeed is the trizone action. I'd trade up to a better model.


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