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Dr. Paul Ell (NI, UK)
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Logitech Harmony 650 Remote
Logitech Harmony 650 Remote
Offered by Big Ben Deals
Price: £65.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent mid-price universal remote, 2 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I tried a top of the range Logitech remote control a couple of years ago which was considerably more expensive than this model and I wasn't impressed with the results. In fact it was returned. So I guess it's fair to say that my expectations for this combination remote were limited to say the least even though it's the 2014 version of the 650 remote (confusingly a 2011 model looks the same and has the same 650 coding so look carefully if you think you've found a bargain).

Trying to set up the remote seemed to confirm my expectations. As with most mid to high-end remotes you need a computer to set the device up. The problem was that Logitech didn't seem to be able to decide whether I should use their web-browser set up process or the newish `MyHarmony' app. Incidentally both are available for the latest versions of OSX and Windows. After going around in circles for a while I finally managed to start the set up procedure using MyHarmony.

I have to say that setting the remote up was remarkably easy. You simply need the precise model of device you want to operate and this matches (hopefully) to the same device in Logitech's database. I had no problem with finding exact matches for any devices I tried to find. This includes a Bose SoundTouch WiFi 30 music system which has only been on the market for a couple of months which was quite impressive. Other successfully linked devices include a large screen Sony smart TV, a Sony combined Blu-Ray and cinema sound system, a Sky+ HD box with 2Gb of storage and a recent Apple TV box. It even has pre-programmed settings for a Dyson fan - pretty impressive. Once you've matched devices the set up programme will ask a few questions about how each device is connected - specifying HDMI or scart inputs mostly (and not including the fan).

To get the remote up and running that's pretty much it and, having overcome the initial software problems, it really only takes about 15 minutes. I think this is a big plus that it doesn't take hours of work before you have a remote that more or less works.

Once the basic set up is complete you can set the remote to carry out specific tasks such as `Watch TV', `Watch a Movie', `Listen to a Music'. This involves choosing the relevant devices and the correct connections between them. Watch TV works well. I've had more problems getting my Apple TV to be selected - which involves turning the Apple TV on, turning the TV on and selecting HDMI 1, and turning the blu-ray/amp on and selecting a HDMI input for it. All works apart from the last step. To be honest this might be asking a bit much of the remote as selecting the correct HDMI for the amp requires choosing a specific HDMI output from a couple of different menus and several options.

More importantly each device works as I would expect it to when controlled by the remote. I had a few niggles with the Sky setup in that a `backup' button was not available on the remote but it's easy to train an unused button on the remote to send a signal to the Sky box learnt from my old Sky remote. `Backup' was available as an option via the LCD screen which is typically used for commands which don't feature as standard buttons on the remote. There are a few of these for my Sony Smart TV for example. The ease of trainability though means that after a few days, and a spot more programming, you can get the remote to do exactly what you want.

Nice additions include an option to set around 20 channels as favourites and decide whether these are set by your TV or Sky box (and from other sites you can download and display logos for the channels on the LCD screen), the fact that the remote is movement sensitive so comes on as soon as you pick it up (although this also means you can't fully turn it off either), and the buttons are all backlit.

Problems - well much to my surprise there are very few. I think I've got a fairly complex audio-visual set up but the remote can certainly control each device individually perfectly. it does get a bit confused in setting strings of commands such as getting all the settings right to watch Apple TV, or Netflix or the Amp but most people without instructions would fail to do this! One limitation is that this model without an add on unit will not control a Playstation. It does not use bluetooth and you'll need to add a Harmony Hub to allow this. The LCD screen has lowish resolution but good enough at this price point. The more expensive Logitech universal remotes have a touch screen a little like a mobile phone with a bigger range of customisable on-screen options but they are double the price.

Overall for the price I'm surprised just how much this remote can do. I'd recommend it for most users. It's not difficult to set up or fine tune and effectively replaces a stack of remotes. Just make sure you get the 2014 model and not an older one. Really recommended, five stars.


Philips 5W (50W) GU10 Master LED Value Spot Light, Warm White 3000K, Dimmable
Philips 5W (50W) GU10 Master LED Value Spot Light, Warm White 3000K, Dimmable
Price: £11.66

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Philips ‘value' GU10s, 2 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Another LED light bulb to add to my ever-growing collection and a new bulb from Philips. This bulb, like a number of other LED lights, is designed to replace 50w halogen spotlights - coded GU10 - which are commonly embedded into ceilings in kitchens and bathrooms or form part of spotlight installations. They have rounded power fittings not to be confused with the needle-like connections of some 35w halogen bulbs. These Philips bulbs use the latest technology - LEDs (light emitting diodes) - which are the next generation of lighting replacing florescent tube bulbs which have, in turn, replaced the original incandescent bulbs.

The bulbs form part of Philips 2014 light bulb release (yes, there are annual releases of light bulbs together with glossy brochures about them). They are available in three different types - there are three choices of colour warmth - 2700k very warm white, 3000k warm white and 4000k cool white. These bulbs use slightly less power than last year’s Philips’ range at 5.3w compared to 6w. The bulb forms part of the Philips ‘value’ range and has a reduced life expectancy at 25,000 hours compared to the 50,000 hours of last year’s bulbs. This is still a very long time though compared with standard halogen bulbs! I’m not sure if Philips have cut corners in the value line which have resulted in this reduction of projected lifespan. In theory the `very warm white' 2700k bulb reflects the light colour from a standard halogen bulb. I prefer this 3000k 'warm white' for most settings. The 4000k `cool white' produce a noticeably whiter-white which works well in bathrooms and kitchens for a slightly more clinical feel.

The headlines for these bulbs is that they use just 5.3 watts almost a 90% drop in power consumption. As most halogen bulbs tend to be installed as groups there's a chance for big power savings - 4 halogen bulbs use 200w which can be reduced to 21.2w. You could almost leave the bulbs on continuously they use so little power. The other important factor is that the value range is about half the price of last year’s bulbs. Importantly they are exactly the same size as normal halogen bulbs so can easily be retrofitted simply by replacing the bulb.

One thing I’m not quite so keen on, and marks these bulbs out as being different from halogen bulbs, is the lighting head with individual holes for each LED. I prefer a design where the LEDs fit behind a single layer of glass.

Overall, design taste put aside, these bulbs represent good value for money, use very little power, and can be easily used to replace existing halogen bulbs. Difficult to fault so 5 stars.


First World War For Dummies (For Dummies (History, Biography & Politics)
First World War For Dummies (For Dummies (History, Biography & Politics)
by Seán Lang
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to WW1, 2 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book offers a reasonable introduction to WW1. It has a wide-ranging brief from a chapter on Europe at the turn of the nineteenth century, to the home front, to the post war settlement. It aims to cope with true bigginers to the subject summarising the countries involved and even defining terms such as theatres of war, fronts,battles etc. Significantly it does not just concentrate on the western front but places the war in a global context with sections on Africa, the Far East and Oceana.

Criticisms, well some of the chapter headings are perhaps misleading in the topics they cover. There's probably too much emphasis on the context of the war and the post-war situation as opposed to looking at the war itself. The chapters are a bit too broken down into small subsections for my taste and I think a more chronolical approach might have been better, especially in dealing with the military aspects of the War. I don't like the way readers are guided to a section of the book to clarify a matter referred to in another chapter when often there's only a line or two about the issue there. Finally some of the marginalia such as 'Remember' seem pretty random to me.

Overall though not a bad book to improve your knowledge of WW1.


Ritzenhoff 0.3 Litre Martina Schlenke My Darling Mug, Multi-Color
Ritzenhoff 0.3 Litre Martina Schlenke My Darling Mug, Multi-Color
Price: £18.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another design from Ritzenhoff, 27 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Very attractive design on this Ritzenhoff My Darling collection mug.


Black Sim+Micro SD Memory Card Slot+USB Cover Replacement For Sony Xperia Z1 L39H
Black Sim+Micro SD Memory Card Slot+USB Cover Replacement For Sony Xperia Z1 L39H
Offered by DealZone
Price: £6.70

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Necessary for Z1 Xperia, 27 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A design weakness of the Sony Z1 is the need to lift the waterproof cover to the USB charging port to charge the phone - unless you have a more or less essential magnetic charger. Despite having a charging stand I don't take it on business with me using port charging then. At some point the cover became damaged and this company provided a perfect replacement - and replacements for the two other covers for the SIM card and memory card. Due to use the charger cover is likely to fail first but it's worth having replacements for all.

Costly for three bits of plastic and metal but they match the phone exactly and Sony would no doubt charge far more for what they would regard as an out of warranty repair and the phone would have to be sent to France! So five stars.


Kenwood BM450 Bread Maker with Ingredients Dispenser
Kenwood BM450 Bread Maker with Ingredients Dispenser
Price: £89.50

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a winner, 15 July 2014
Much has been written by others about this bread machine. I just wanted to add that it has stood the test of time. I purchased it about a month ago and it consistently produces good results. The bread is a good size and the ingredient dispenser gives additional functionality. Well worth the money.


Oral-B Pro 5000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Oral-B Pro 5000 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Price: £68.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent but the 6000 with App sounds more exciting!, 15 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was using an earlier iteration of this toothbrush - a 5000 series brush - until the rechargeable battery gradually stored a smaller and smaller charge. That I replaced with a Phillips Sonic model - again like this brush a near the top of the range version. In my review then I said I preferred the Oral-B - the brush heads were smaller, the brush easier to handle. Well I guess it's what you're used to as having tested the new PRO 5000 I prefer the Philips Sonic! I find the brush head too small with this brush, and it's too easy to apply too much pressure when brushing. Although at least too much pressure is clearly highlighted by a large red light.

That said, this is still a five star electric toothbrush. It comes with a host of features noted by others which I won't repeat. I'd just pick out the range of brush heads included in the pack so you can experiment a bit; the seperate LCD brush monitor which I think is real plus over the Phillips models; the travel carry case; and finally the clear warning when using too much pressure when cleaning your teeth.

However, in this ever more connected world I'd have gone for the Braun Oral-B PRO 6000 CrossAction 6-Mode Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush with Wireless Smart Guide and Bluetooth Connectivity which looks sleeker, comes with even more brush heads and with a phone App to record you tooth-cleaning history and change toothbrush settings. That's the future of electric toothbrushes but I'll live with the 5000 for now! 5 stars and remember these brushes will likely be discounted in the near future.


Super Legend E27 Edison Screw 7 Watt LED Super Smart App Controlled Bluetooth Light Bulb, Warm White
Super Legend E27 Edison Screw 7 Watt LED Super Smart App Controlled Bluetooth Light Bulb, Warm White
Price: £42.67

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Significant problems initially getting it to work, but good performance afterwards, 15 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In essence this is a much cheaper version of the Philips hue Personal Wireless Lighting Starter Kit (3 x A19 E27 LED Light Bulbs, 1 Bridge). The bulb is operated using either an iOS or Android App which is suitable for either a tablet or smartphone. This is linked to the bulb using a Bluetooth connection. The app has good functionality - you can set the bulb to a very wide variety of colours, adjust those colours, and set the bulb to turn on and off at set times. As mentioned it's also a fraction of the Hue cost.

So why only three stars? Well I experienced very significant problems in getting the bulb to work with the Apps - and I used both iOS and Android versions. Whilst the app would detect the bulb it would not form a Bluetooth link with it. And consequently the apps would not control the bulb.. The manufacturer advises turn the bulb off for five minutes and go through the set up procedure again. This I did to no effect. Eventually, and I'm not quite sure how, I got an Android phone with the app to work. I have not played around with other devices since then! Had this not been a Vine review I'd probably have given up and sent the item back as faulty.

In operation, assuming the app is set up and working, as I've noted it has good functionality. Note though that as this is a Bluetooth system you need to be in range to use it - perhaps up to four metres. Nor can the bulb can be controlled away from your house as with the Hue system as it's not WiFi based. As more minor issue is that it uses a European screw fitting so you'll need a compatible lights fitting or adapter.

Update September 2014: Well I've now been using the bulb for a couple of months as a porch light which is set to come on at 8pm and go off at 11. This has worked very well even when, on a couple of occasions the light switch has been turned off and I've had to reset the programming using the App. I'm currently using white light settings but might use a festive green at Christmas! To reflect the good performance to date I'm adding an extra star to my review. The set up issues seem a distance memory now so 4 stars.


Edwin Jagger DE89 Chrome Plated Double Edge Safety Razor
Edwin Jagger DE89 Chrome Plated Double Edge Safety Razor
Price: £21.83

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best Edwin Jagger razor, 13 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've owned a couple of Edwin Jagger razors in the past both have which have used proprietary triple plus blades. The admittedly much cheaper safety blades this razor takes makes me a little more nervous in use and I've had one or two cuts. That's all down to practice though. What I like less about the razor is its rather stubby form - the handle is very short. It also lacks grip and overall the razor is a bit lighter than I'd like.

Jagger make excellent razors. I'd be tempted to go for one with a mock ivory handle (they are far better than the sound!) with a built in stand. Then the razor can neatly be put on display as well. This one with no stand simply has to sit in a pool of water in a bathroom cabinet after use.

So good, yes, but Jagger do much much better.


Bose ® SoundLink ® Mini Bluetooth Speaker - SIlver
Bose ® SoundLink ® Mini Bluetooth Speaker - SIlver
Price: £159.95

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compact unit, big sound, 16 Jun 2014
For an ultra portable and compact speaker the sound quality is excellent. Add to that bluetooth that works both with Android and Apple systems and a good battery life and this is an outstanding piece of kit. Highly recommended, 5 stars.


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