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Dr. Paul Ell (NI, UK)
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Carte Noire Espresso No 9 Intense 10 Coffee Capsules 53 g (Pack of 8)
Carte Noire Espresso No 9 Intense 10 Coffee Capsules 53 g (Pack of 8)
Price: £18.63

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good value but for me only a fair coffee blend, 29 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
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. I'm afraid though that they didn't have the kick I'd expected and I'm not wild about the taste. This may just be down to my personal preference of course. The problem with this pack of eight boxes, so 80 capsules in total - is that if the taste is not good for you you've another 79 capsules to get through. Before buying these from Amazon therefore I'd suggest buying a single pack to check you like them.

The Carte Noire capsules are about 30% cheaper than Nespresso's and cost cutting might account for the flavour. 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.I could live with this more if I liked the blend better.

Finally, 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.

I'll be trying other Carte Noire blends but am reluctant to wholeheartedly recommend these specific capsules. So a cautious three stars.


Tacwise Heavy Duty 140 TypeStaples 10mm (2000)
Tacwise Heavy Duty 140 TypeStaples 10mm (2000)
Price: £3.38

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality heavy duty staples, 29 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Heavy duty staples that are a standard size so will work with more or less any tacker. They can be used for a variety of purposes. I've used them to secure a carpet that was not fixed along a skirting board with a Tacwise manual tacker. They were entirely fit for purpose. They are very cost effective with the pack containing 2,000 nails.

Highly recommended.


Tacwise 180/15MM 18G Nails (2000)
Tacwise 180/15MM 18G Nails (2000)
Price: £6.28

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lifetime's supply of small nails, 29 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What will be to many people near a lifetime supply of small nails for use with a nail gun. The nails are high quality and very cost effective. I've used them with a Tacwise electric nail gun. They worked well with the gun and are a big advantage compared to trying to hammer in small nails like these where it's very difficult to hold the nail in place while using a hammer and avoiding hammering you fingers. Recommended.


Oral-B Trizone 4000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Oral-B Trizone 4000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Price: £54.95

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mid-Range TriZone Electric Toothbrush, 28 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a mid-range TriZone electric toothbrush from Oral-B. I've posted reviews of a more basic model, the Oral-B Trizone 2000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun, and the near top of the range version, the Oral-B Trizone 6000 Smart Series With Bluetooth Technology Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun. If you're trying to decide which model to go for I'd suggest you take at my two reviews where I mention the differences between models.

Overall all of the TriZone models do the same basic thing - effectively clean your teeth! The lower spec version has fewer brushing modes, the higher spec version more brushing modes. However, for about 95% of the time you'll be using the standard cleaning mode rather than whitening mode or gum care for example so many modes may not be important. The other major difference are a variation in battery life between recharging - longer life for more expensive brushes - / the number of brush heads bundled with the brush / and whether or not there's a remote display unit or even a bluetooth app.

If you're not sure the 4000 is probably a good, and cost-effective choice. The only caution I'd offer is that the TriZone brushes are larger than standard brushes. Oral-B say that the TriZone models offer a similar cleaning routine to using an ordinary toothbrush. I find the heads make the toothbrush a little more difficult to reach hard-to-reach areas. But they are all good brushes. 5 stars (or perhaps 4.5) with much more detail with my other reviews.


Netgear EX6100 AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender
Netgear EX6100 AC750 Wi-Fi Range Extender
Price: £59.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Latest technology in a compact format, 25 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This fairly compact Netgear range Extender is designed to extend the reach of your current WiFi network to areas that currently have poor coverage. The Extender relies on picking up the current WiFi and amplifying it. Therefore positioning is absolutely crucial. It needs to be placed in a position where the existing network has a pretty strong signal. Bear in mind that as the extender plugs directly in to a power socket (which is great in terms of saving space) you're restricted in terms of positioning to a free socket - there's no scope, without a messy extension lead, to place it at the socket so you can't move it to a table for example if the signal is a bit stronger there. After a bit of trial and error I managed to find a suitable location but expect to play around a bit. You should note though that while compact if you're using the Range Extender in a double socket it will obstruct the second plug.

With regard to set up hopefully your existing WiFi router will have a WPS button. If so all you need to do is plug the Extender in and press the WPS button on the side of the Extender and the WPS button on the router. They should then pair automatically and that's it. If you don't have a WPS button, or this doesn't work, it's necessary to configure the Extender manually. This potentially becomes a bit messy although Netgear have gone a long way to make it more straightforward than it used to be. Critically you'll need to know your router's WiFi security password. Without this you won't be able to link the systems. Note this is not the same as any password your router may need to access the Internet through your service provider.

There are couple of outstanding features with the Extender. It uses the new AC standard which should be faster and have a wider range than N based routers. You should note however that older devices will not be able to use the AC band. N and previous iterations are included as well though. New, or recent equipment, will support AC such as the 2013 Apple laptops. In additional the extender uses both 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequencies. 5GHz is more recent and is also faster and has an extended range. You can chose to connect specifically to the 5GHz frequency for devices which support this frequency thus getting the best from your ISP in terms of the highest speed and fewer dropouts.

Overall a very good product which makes configuring networks at least bearable if not a pleasure!


Oral-B Braun CrossAction Replacement Rechargeable Toothbrush Heads - (Pack of 4 Refills)
Oral-B Braun CrossAction Replacement Rechargeable Toothbrush Heads - (Pack of 4 Refills)
Price: £14.39

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Practical and effective Oral-B toothbrush heads, 25 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Not the most exciting of products to purchase but if you’ve purchased an Oral-B electric toothbrush replacement brushes are pretty much essential. I’m not sure that brushes wear out quite as quickly as Oral-B suggest but guess they should be replaced every four months or so. The advantage of taking the plunge and buying this pack is that with four brushes you get sufficient to last for more than a year, plus they are cheaper than buying brushes individually. Also as each brush is individually packed they are not going to get dusty or covered in toothpaste at the back of the bathroom cabinet.

The CrossAction brushes are the latest release of an ever expanding range of Oral-B toothbrush heads. These are suitable for everyday general use - unlike the floss action heads for example and the cross-action movement of the bristles may clean a little more effectively. Recommended


Hornby The Majestic With E-Link Dcc 00 Gauge Electric Train Set
Hornby The Majestic With E-Link Dcc 00 Gauge Electric Train Set
Price: £299.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant train set let down by software issues, 24 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
On paper this is a very attractive train set. It comes with two separate engines - a British Rail fairly modern Type 47 Diesel and a Pacific Class steam engine in BR Experimental Blue. Included are three passenger carriages in BR colours but ex-LNER stock and four goods wagons. Also included is an extensive range of track - sufficient for two interconnected circles and a siding. A trackmat comes with the set which seems to be more compact than other mats I've seen. To complete the layout as per the trackmat only one additional Hornby R8224 00 Gauge Track Extension Pack D - is needed. This is the one that includes a level crossing. The additional packs mentioned by Amazon are for a more complex layout. Usefully there are also several Building Packs you can buy to complete the setup. As the layout is fairly complex you'll probably need to put the set on a baseboard. It's not the sort of thing that should be assembled and packed away repeatedly. The track itself would deteriorate quickly if you did this.

Also the set comes with the very latest computer control system - the E-Link DCC - which comes with the associated Railmaster software which can control 9,999 trains together with signals, points etc. It allows the two trains that are supplied with the set to work independently of each other. The downside of this is that the set does not come with its own control unit but requires a Windows computer to control the trains. You get a black E-Link unit which connects to the track and supplies power via a transformer and connects to the computer via a USB port. This is great, you might suppose, assuming you have a suitable laptop around. The Railmaster software looks to resemble what I'd imagine is a real railway control room with a schematic of the track with points highlighted and the position of the trains marked.

Unfortunately the problem is that the Railmaster software is rather buggy. I'm pretty computer literate but had to resort to the manuals - and there's more than one - to start to get the software to work. More specifically there seems to be a problem with getting the E-Link box to talk to the computer. It's essential that you look at a PDF file called drivers.pdf. This talks about how to install the E-Link drivers on an XP, 7 or 8 machine. I'm running 8.1, which isn't mentioned but the 8 drivers do seem suitable. There are instructions because the E-Link box most definitely isn't plug and play. Even though the correct driver was on the supplied CD it had to be manually installed. The instructions in the PDF anticipate that you'll need to do this and even that you'll get an error message when installing the driver due to a signature issue. This means, as the instructions tell you, you'll need to restart the computer in safe mode. This involves a bit more fiddling, especially for Windows 8.1 users as the instructions are out of date and don't correctly tell you how to restart in safe mode. It's not too difficult to find out thought. Once I'd done all this, and manually installed the driver, Railmaster recognised the E-Link, and all seemed to be fine. Except that when I turned the whole system off and restarted it it would not recognise it again. After swapping to a different USB port a couple of times Railmaster did work again.

Nonetheless, although I've managed to get it working the computer regularly fails to find the E-Link box. Even when it does it thinks about connecting for a very long time - and runs through a range of COM ports until it finds the right one - in my case either COM 3, 4 or 5 depending on which USB port I use. So far I've failed to get the software to register with Hornby. The current software is time and function limited before registration so I have about 85 days to sort this problem out. I've got a long registration code but the software doesn't seem to want to talk to Hornby's server. The other thing to note is that the software that came on my CD was out of date and a new version needs to be installed. This seems to overwrite the original installation completely so is probably a fairly major update. However, if you install the software that comes with the set it should update automatically when you start it.

All of this would be OK if E-Link was an added bonus and there was another way of controlling the trains. Hornby do make PC-independent digital control units albeit without anything approaching the functionality that Railmaster offers. But as it is you have to get the software working. On the software itself, the interface is terribly dated, even though it's new, and needs an overhaul. On the plus side there's both iOS and Android phone an tablet apps which you can download. I've yet to wrestle with these but will as a tablet would be a much better way of controlling the trains. However, you still need a PC connected as well!

So a very good and comprehensive train set. The steam engine is a particularly fine model - and as a result Hornby recommend that the set is only suitable for 14 year olds and older as it could easily become damaged (and so the three years and above recommendation on Amazon is incorrect). More importantly a three year old, even with the IT literate young, is not going to be able to operate this set and the size of it means, as I've mentioned, that you'll want a baseboard. The set forms the most comprehensive package you can get from Hornby in terms of rolling stock, track and engines, but it's badly let down by the software. I'll update the review once I've tried the tablet versions out and played with some of the more complex aspects of train control - which can include collections of macros linked to timers so the trains will run when no one is about! For the moment though, disappointing, I can only give the set three stars as a great number of people are going to struggle to get the software to work. More in due course...


Interpet Aquaverse Glass Aquarium, 65 Litre
Interpet Aquaverse Glass Aquarium, 65 Litre
Price: £99.95

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neat and practical starter tropical tank, 23 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A good starter fish tank which has the advantage over some others that, holding 65 litres (110 litres also available), it's large enough to support a reasonable number of tropical fish without needing to constantly change the water or suffering high mortality levels. The tank itself is made of glass and a traditional rectangular shape. This too is an advantage. There are some snazzy small tanks around now but many of them are made of plastic-like material which can easily scratch and have curved sides which are both difficult to clean algae off and distort views of the fish.

The tank pretty much comes with all that's needed to get started. It has a single T8 fluorescent aquarium light, built into a neat black tank hood, a traditional glass heater, and an internal pump-driven filtration system. The filter is easy to maintain by simply replacing the filter media once a month or so. Since it relies in part on carbon, which has a fixed life in terms of removing nitrites from the water which if they build up will kill the fish, the filter does need to be changed regularly. Also included is a glass water temperature gauge, water de-chloriniser and a chemical to encourage growth of bacteria in the filter medium. This means the tank will be ready to take fish a bit faster.

What needs to be added is substrate for the bottom of the tank - either gravel or sand would be suitable. As the filter is not an undergravel type there's no need to stick just to gravel. Plus then plants and fish. The light is pretty bright so I expect plants to grow well.

The manufacturer recommends three corydoras catfish (which are active during the day), a bristle nose catfish although I'd probably chose a plecostomus even though it will outgrow the tank in due course, a couple of Cobalt Blue Gourami's although any dwarf gourami would do, five Glow Light Tetras - I'd probably go for Cardinals - and `feature' fish in the form of three Rams - maybe a bit challenging for the beginner.

Overall this is a great product which is pretty good value for money. It would be good if the electrics were wired under the hood so that it only used a single socket. I have another aquarium which does this for neatness. As it is you'll need three sockets - one for the pump, one for the heater and one for the light. The latter has a switch built in to the cable to turn it on and off easily. The others, including the pump, should be on continuously. Overall though worth five stars.

Note this is a review of the 65 litre tank.


Oral-B Trizone 2000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Oral-B Trizone 2000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Price: £33.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Low cost Oral-B brush, 23 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This electric toothbrush is at the lower end of the range of Oral-B’s TriZone range. The TriZon brushes come with a larger tooth brush compared tothe 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 does n’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.

As a more basic electric toothbrush in range the brush comes with fewer preset programmes - just two in fact - the normal daily clean clean mode and a gum care mode in which the brush moves more gently. In practice though I image 90 per cent of people don’t change brushing modes even when they have five or six to chose from. 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 - or an external display or a bluetooth link to your mobile phone. The battery life is also a little shorter at around 7 days with twice daily brushing for two minutes.

The brush does have a useful pressure sensor with a bright red light to indicate that you are using too much force when brushing your teeth and has a light to show when the battery was running low.

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. In practice it does much the same as the more expensive models. Also you should note that although this is towards the cheaper end of the range it too is often sold at a heavy discount. You should be looking to pay around half the list price. Four stars, one off for having no travel bag, plus unlike more expensive models you only get one brush included.


Vibe FLI Over-Ear Headphones with In-Line Microphone - White
Vibe FLI Over-Ear Headphones with In-Line Microphone - White
Price: £57.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but other choices out there, 20 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is review for the wired Vine headphones, not the bluetooth version which is also described in the Amazon product description. So no NFC and a cable instead to link the headphones to audio source.

These, I guess, might be considered to be 'designer' headphones - they are pretty hefty, appear in a range of bright colours, and come in rather snazzy packaging. I find them a little to heavy for my liking and although the headphones are adjustable I find they clamp on to my ears a bit too firmly. Of course this all helps to exclude external noise. It's a bit like wearing a set of ear muffs! Large over ear cups with big cushioned surrounds - entirely suitable for cold weather. Indeed, as the headphones don't have noise cancelling technology, the headphones need a system to exclude external sound. Another approach is to emphasise the bass of any music source. The Vibe headphones make a lot of this. They describe the headphones as 'Extreme Bass Stereo Headphones' and say that 'Bass is the heartbeat of all music.' Certainly the bass is significant, and I like a fair bit of bass when listening to music, but for my tastes it's a bit overdone. It also makes the headphones not particularly suitable for listening to non-music sources. So for voice radio, and as a mobile phone headset (the headphones have an inbuilt microphone) the sound is rather muffled.

As I've said, the headphones are large. To make them more transportable they fold. This does reduce the bulk a bit but there still more bulky than Bose noise-cancelling headphones for example. Moreover there's no travel case and I'm not too sure how the plastic and metal build of the headphones would fare when travelling or commuting. Other issues - strangely there are no instructions with the headphones. Not essential but there's a switch on the headphone cable and I've yet to discover what it does! The flat headphone cable matches the headphones in white and has a flat design. It can be detached from the headphones though as the headphones aren't wireless I'm not too sure of the point of this. It might make the speakers a little easier to carry around I suppose. Of course if the cable is damaged you'll be lucky to find a matching one unless Vibe sell bespoke cables.

Overall I'm not particularly impressed with this product. They make a statement but I suspect that if you're concerned about that you'd buy Beats headphones of something similar, plus they're not all that much cheaper than Beats. So all this is a bit negative. The headphones are fine for listening to music but I think there are better products out there. So three stars for OK.


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