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Dr. Paul Ell (NI, UK)
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Vibe FLI Over-Ear Headphones with In-Line Microphone - White
Vibe FLI Over-Ear Headphones with In-Line Microphone - White
Offered by Shop Spectrum
Price: £49.98

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.


Oral-B Trizone 6000 Smart Series With Bluetooth Technology Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Oral-B Trizone 6000 Smart Series With Bluetooth Technology Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Price: £99.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five star toothbrush technology, 20 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is near the top of the range of new (as of Summer 2014) Braun Oral-B 'TriZone' toothbrushes.The TriZone 6500 and 7000 come above it in black rather than white (toothbrushes can have designer colours!) and have smart travel cases for both the brush and charging unit. Like all of the other models in this range it has bluetooth built in and an App for iOS and Android that allows you to link the toothbrush to your mobile phone. I'm something of a gadget fanatic and enthusiastic adopter of the web of things. I've got light bulbs that can be controlled over the web via an App not only turning them on and off, but selecting the colour, or event making them turn on when I arrive at my house and off when I leave. I've some scales which are linked to the internet uploading heart rate, BMI and weight and a coffer maker which knows when the separate milk container is running short of milk. So I welcome the opportunity to be able to review my daily teeth-cleaning activity and the chance to programme my own cleaning regime. Bluetooth and the App are an add on, not essential by any means, but an interesting feature nonetheless.

What else makes this electric toothbrush stand out though. Well, what others may also consider an affectation, is a very useful separate display unit. This displays which of six brushing programmes you've selected, shows you when to move on to brushing each quadrant of your mouth, warns of using undue pressure when cleaning your teeth and has a timer to make sure you clean your teeth for at least two minutes. You can use the toothbrush without the display but it helps. Other useful features are the range of programmes available for tooth cleaning although I suspect most people will stick to the standard cleaning routine although the whitening option might be used a fair bit. I'm less sure about `tongue' cleaning or `gum massage' however. I've said that the toothbrush can be used without the display and by briefly interrupting the programme the brush tells you when to move on to the next quadrant of your mouth. There's also a very bright red indicator light which comes on if you're applying too much pressure when cleaning.

The toothbrush comes with so useful extras - a travel case for using when on holiday or away on business. Also four brushes are included - three TriZone brushes and a small-headed brush which is a precision cleaner whatever that means.

I've attempted to differentiate between Oral-B TriZone and standard electric toothbrushes. The brushes that come with the toothbrush are larger than the usual Oral-B ones and this seems to be the key. Braun says:

"Oral-B has brought you another way of cleaning with dynamic Triple Cleaning Action. Other Oral-B power toothbrushes are designed to emulate the motion of professional dental cleaning tools but TriZone electric toothbrush mimics the brushing motion of a manual toothbrush with the enhanced benefits of power, leaving you with superior oral health compared to a regular manual toothbrush."

So there you have it. I'm not sure emulating manual brushing is good though compared to professional dental cleaning tools but Braun see a market here. Nonetheless the toothbrush will work with all other Oral-B brush heads.

Downsides. Well I think the battery life could be better. Braun say a charge will last for 10 days with one user (2 minutes use twice a day). It only just makes this which is a bit of hassle if, like me, you don't have a charger in your bathroom. Also, as always, the brush charge comes only with a two-pin plug and no adapter so you'll need to buy one if you don't have a bathroom charger. This toothbrush is expensive but, like other electric brushes, can often be found at substantially discounted prices, sometimes more than 50% so before buying check for special deals. Finally if you use the toothbrush holder the whole assembly takes up a fair amount of space close to the sink.

Overall though this brush delivers all that is possible in electric toothbrush technology (except the smarter cases with the 6500 and 7000).


Wired for Culture: The Natural History of Human Cooperation
Wired for Culture: The Natural History of Human Cooperation
by Mark Pagel
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable discussion of the key role of evolution, human development and culture, 20 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Brilliantly readable and wide ranging book which argues that cooperation amongst humans around a ‘culture’ is key to human development. I say wide ranging as it covers topics from biology in terms of evolution, the development of art, the importance of practiced religion, and the role of music. The book also discussed common morality which tends to link across humanity. Whilst reflecting the authors background in Biological Sciences I am not surprised at this surefooted handling of evolution, or evolutionary biology in particular. What is surprising is the expertise that he extends the discussion so widely. However, and the reason I’ve dropped a star, is the fairly strong insistence that evolution forms the basis for almost all our activities from sibling favouritism to religiosity. I don’t quite buy in to the predestination theory the book advocates, but I’m not an evolutionary biologist. What was worthwhile was seeing how far the argument could be pushed in a reasonably convincing way. What the book largely lacks is supporting evidence for the theories put forward. That said, this is not designed to be a textbook.

You can decide if culture leads to human development or human development leads to culture. The book helps along the way


Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (PCVS-Polity Conversations Series)
Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (PCVS-Polity Conversations Series)
by Judith Butler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Challenging relatively specialist book, 20 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is unlikely to attract the casual reader, but then again it is aimed at an academic audience. Nonetheless I found the style unhelpful with over-complex language being unnecessarily used almost to feed the authors ego. The result is a book which, thankfully, has concise and progressive chapters, but has a dense style which requires close reading.

The discussion on the left and queer and feminist theories is pretty insightful and relevant. However, I’d like the book to be more grounded in empirical evidence than appearing to be largely conjectural. As such I’d recommend only to a subject expert.


Road to Referendum
Road to Referendum
by Iain Macwhirter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative read on an issue which will impact far beyond Scotland, 20 Aug 2014
This review is from: Road to Referendum (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is very shortly set to be out of date with the referendum on Scottish independence due to take place in less than a month. As someone who's English living in Northern Ireland I guess I have more than a passing interest in the debate and the outcome of the referendum. What's particularly interesting from a NI perspective is that the British/UK government has demonstrated that it is prepared to allow a democratic vote from a constituent country within the Union on whether it wishes to remain part of the Union. This doesn't necessarily solve the Northern Ireland problem as many would suggest that a vote restricted to the Northern Ireland of today is undemocratic as the state was established to ensure an inbuilt Unionist majority. Indeed if a vote were held today there would, no doubt, be a very large majority in favour of the Union, a vote against a break from the UK which would attract more voters than from just the traditional Unionist community. Of course, from the other perspective, the `nationalist' NI position would be that only an all Ireland vote on the constitutional position of NI would be valid, something that Unionists would not accept, and even then a majority for a break with the UK would not be guaranteed.

So interesting questions and impacts for NI from the Scottish vote. This book is neither pro or against independence. In fact it does a very good job in charting a neutral path whilst explaining both sides of the debate. It's also very readable. It sets a very good and well grounded historical context to the independence vote and a particularly interesting section on the rise of the Scottish Nationalist Party including their remarkable win, that was never meant to happen, in the last Scottish Assembly vote. The pre-war history of Scotland is necessarily an overview with increasing detail from the 1950s. The debate on how Scotland would fare as an independent county I found insightful as was the discussion of government from a somewhat distant Westminster.

Overall this book should be of value to anyone with an interest in UK politics. If the vote is for independence somewhat bizarrely I suspect the book may attract more English readers then! It's certainly pertinent in an England looking favourably to an extent on the UKIP vision of the world, to the debate about whether Scottish MPs should vote on legislation just impacting on England (although of course the reverse has always happened for Scotland) and for the UK's future in the EU with the SNP firmly in favour of continuing membership. Moreover, if Scotland goes, the remaining parts of the UK are pretty much guaranteed a right of centre government for the foreseeable future. Well worth a read, and five stars.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 22, 2014 12:28 PM BST


Bolse® Wireless Presentation Presenter with Laser Pointer and Fly Air Mouse
Bolse® Wireless Presentation Presenter with Laser Pointer and Fly Air Mouse

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent multi-function presentation tool, 9 Aug 2014
I give a lot of conference presentations and invariably use PowerPoint. I hate being tied to my laptop when doing this - pressing the spacebar to move on to the next slide - and have been looking around for a wireless presenter for a while. This device certainly fits the bill and includes some very useful add ons as well.

So what you get in the very smart box the Presenter comes in? Well with the device are 2 AAA batteries, instructions and and USB wireless usb receiver to connect the computer to the Presenter. Of course I didn't read the instructions and couldn't get the Presenter to work and worked out I needed a USB receiver. I then discovered this was included and was cleverly stored in the battery compartment of the presenter.

The Presenter is plug and play. When I first tried to use it with my Apple MacBook Air the Air seemed to think I was installing a keyboard. I removed the USB receiver and plugged it in again. It then worked perfectly. The presenter allows you start a PowerPoint presentation if PowerPoint is open, move backwards and forwards through slides, and very usefully blank the screen at any point allowing you to take questions for example at the end of a talk without the final slide still being shown. It also works with Apple's Keynote presentation software although not quite as smoothly.

The usefulness of the Presenter doesn't stop at this though. Built in is a powerful laser pointer which has a dedicated button and can be used during presentations. This means one less device to carry, and something that's very useful in its own right.

The Presenter can also be used as an 'air' mouse. In this mode the mouse pointer is moved my moving the Presenter in your hand through three dimensions. You get the usual mouse select buttons and roller wheel. This works particularly well when demonstrating something on a laptop without needing to stand in front of it using the touchpad. It's also good to manipulating images with 3D visualisation software. It can also be used for presenting something via an LCD projector - such as a website - using the air mouse and looking at the projector screen instead of being hunched over your laptop. This works very well as long as text entry, obviously, is not required.

Overall I think that any one of the three functions the Presenter delivers - a high powered laser pointer, an aid for PowerPoint, or a remote Air Mouse, is worth the price. Combined, and with excellent build quality and thoughtful design (especially when you realise the USB receiver is held in the battery compartment for safekeeping and transport!), this product is pretty much unbeatable.

So overall five stars and throughly recommended. If you give a lot of presentations this device is pretty much essential.

This device was provided by the manufacturer for independent and impartial receive purposes.


Philips YS527/17 Click and Style 2-in-1 Shave and Stubble
Philips YS527/17 Click and Style 2-in-1 Shave and Stubble
Price: £44.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good value multi-function razor., 3 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Philips 2 in 1 Shave and Stubble system both works as a wet/dry shaver and stubble trimmer. It comes with two different heads for each function. At this price point, and reflecting the dual function, it works well in both capacities. Whilst it is at the lower/lowest end of the Philips shaver range having only two rotating blades, and from what I can discern, the most basic design of these blades, it works surprisingly well. Best results are achieved using the razor with a wet shave. However, if you're going to stand over the sink and use shaving foam etc as far as I'm concerned you may as well use a standard razor - certainly you're not saving any time and I don't think any electric shaver is as good as a traditional razor. I think one of the main reasons the shaver works so well is that two shaving heads simply makes the shaver more manoeuvrable and it's easier to reach all parts of your face with ease.

The stubble trimmer is probably the more effective part of the package. After all there are better shavers around. This has a 5 length adjustable plastic head, and it can be used without the attachment for even shorter stubble. It works well although on the shortest cut without the attachment is a little hard on the face as in effect you're running a bit of metal up and down your cheeks!

Positive features - it charges very quickly indeed, is shower proof if not completely waterproof, and is good value for money.

Negative elements - well the shaver is not top of the range, but that's reflected in the price. The stubble cutter is, as noted, a little hard on the skin and the plastic attachment looks as though it might break over time.

One additional point. Amazon suggest this is a shaver for younger men - 16 to 25. I'm not sure why - it's not especially kind to the skin - and this is not repeated in the documentation from Philips as far as I can see.

As a final assessment, with the dual function, fast charging, and mixed wet/dry use this is worth four stars.


Rapesco X5-90PS Less Effort Heavy Duty Stapler
Rapesco X5-90PS Less Effort Heavy Duty Stapler
Price: £37.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heavy duty manual stapler, 3 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a large and heavy stapler which if left out takes up a considerable amount of desk space. It sits at around 17cm high and 21 cm long. It does, however, have a solid, weighty, reassuring feel to it. The number of pages that can be stapled in one go depends on the staples you use. Mine came with a pack of Rapesco 923/10mm staples that are recommended for stapling between 40 and 70 pages. Longer 923/12mm staples can cope with up to 90 pages. 'Standard' staples - 24/6mm will only staple up to 30 pages however. Not rocket science i guess, the longer the staples the more pages they can hold together. To get best use of this stapler you will need to source the correct staples though.

The term 'Power Assisted' is a little misleading. It suggests some sort of battery operated motor to force the staples through sheets of paper. In fact the length of the stapler simply allow you to leverage more pressure when stapling. Not a big issue if you know what you're ordering but a potential pitfall if you're expecting a fancy electric stapler.

Other features, there's a yellow paper guide, purple in the Amazon picture, which allows you to make sure that multiple stapled documents are all stapled in the same place. This guide when moved to a 30 degree angle can also be used to help clear any trapped staples from the stapler. Refilling is easy by pulling back the top of the stapler and inserting the staples into the staple channel with staples pointing down. It holds a fair number of staples - very slightly above 100 when fully loaded.

Overall if you're looking for a powerful mechanical stapler, and have the space, this stapler looks like a good choice. Plus it comes with a 15 year guarantee.


Logitech Harmony 650 Remote
Logitech Harmony 650 Remote
Offered by Big Ben Deals
Price: £62.49

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: £11.48

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.


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