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Profile for Dr. Paul Ell > Reviews

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Content by Dr. Paul Ell
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Dr. Paul Ell (NI, UK)

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Hornby R1138 GWR Passenger Freight 00 Gauge Electric Train Set
Hornby R1138 GWR Passenger Freight 00 Gauge Electric Train Set
Price: £73.99

4 of 5 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!

PetSafe ScoopFree Replacement Crystal Litter Tray (Pack of 3)
PetSafe ScoopFree Replacement Crystal Litter Tray (Pack of 3)
Price: £43.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than standard cat litter, 14 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This definitely has a longer life than standard cat litter - due I think to its ability to absorb 'moisture' which in turn reduces the smell. A week in I've yet to see if it can last for a month - with one cat using the tray. I think it's going to be pushing it.

So a better product than normal cat litter but several times the price. I can't see why the product is so expensive but will make a final cost/benefit judgement after a month. If it lasts that long in the cost will be more acceptable.

On other plus point is that the litter seems less mobile than other cat litter. I hate hoovering up after the cat daily!

Barracuda Men's Vivante Road Bike - White/black ( Wheel 700C, Frame 22 1/2 Inch)
Barracuda Men's Vivante Road Bike - White/black ( Wheel 700C, Frame 22 1/2 Inch)
Price: £246.68

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Looks good at this point, 12 Oct. 2014
Lightweight bike that seems to be good quality and is pleasant to ride. I bought on a value-for-money basis with limited expectations. Now looking at some reviews I hope it survives in the medium term! I'll report back with any problems but all good at the moment.

Viking Men's Pro Racing Bike - Yellow, 56 cm
Viking Men's Pro Racing Bike - Yellow, 56 cm

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction, 12 Oct. 2014
A very good bike for the price - it's Viking's entry level racing bike and as such offers a good price/quality balance. Assembly is remarkably straight-forward. I found the brakes needed some adjustment so check for this. The 14 gears work well and the bikes not to heavy and is a pleasure to ride. Recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 22, 2014 10:57 PM BST

Indigo Men's Regency Electric Bike - (Black, 18 Inch, 28 Inch)
Indigo Men's Regency Electric Bike - (Black, 18 Inch, 28 Inch)

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Assembly issues, 12 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you're returning to cycling after a long break beware. You might want to go for a gentle introduction and this (relatively!) low cost electric bike might look like a good entry point. However, since I last rode a bike 20 years ago things have got more complicated with lots of gears and settings that need to be made before a bike is safe to ride. Of course 20 years ago Amazon didn't exist and you'd probably buy a bike from a cycle shop. The advantage of this is that they would set it up for you.

This bike, a product of the internet age, arrived semi-assembled. You would have thought assembly would be straightforward. After all most people know where the peddles go! However, the bike comes with near useless instructions which mostly relate to use of the battery and no assembly tools. You need a range of allen keys to put it together. Plus you'll need a pump to pump the tires up. And you need an adjustable spanner to adjust the brakes - and so it goes on. So it went back partly assembled.

With clear assembly and adjustment instructions, and assembly tools, this bike might be a sensible buy but not as it stands where you really need a bike shop to assemble the bike and check it's safe.

Brothers in Blood (Roman Legion 13)
Brothers in Blood (Roman Legion 13)
by Simon Scarrow
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More of the same, 12 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Hmm, I'm not too sure that I'm not reading Scarrow's Cato and Macro Roman novels more from habit now. That's not to suggest that this novel, the thirteenth in the series, isn't readable, but the ongoing adventures lack the excitement they once had. This is pretty inevitable. Coming up with new plots restricted to a specific time period, and representing a particular side (the Romans!) is going to test the skills of any author. I guess this is why there are few examples multi-series novels. They're normally restricted to trilogies or perhaps four volumes. Exceptions are there - Cornwell's Sharpe books or O'Brian's Royal Navy series - but to be honest I've never really got on with either. And anyway, I'm just not sure that Scarrow's writing is up to the job. I found the series late and read the first four or five novels all in one go so taken was I with them. But I don't think that the historical detail has ever quite been there when compared to Kane, Riches or Igguilden. I'll probably still carry on Scarrow's books but mostly because they're certain - a good read and something I know, a safe bet, and a bit like a comfort blanket.

If you're new to Scarrow, don't start with this book. It can be read in isolation but struggles a bit. I'd try his earlier books. I don't think new readers will be attracted now. Most readers will know Scarrow and are probably hooked by now and won't care what I say. So in brief, you'll get to see Britain and Rome (again) as Claudius' reign struggles on. The rivalries amongst Claudius' family is taken up again, but the hero's triumph in the end, again. What a surprise.

I'd like to give the book 3 1/2 stars but will lean to four for old time's sake.

Bose ® SoundLink Colour Bluetooth Speaker - Black
Bose ® SoundLink Colour Bluetooth Speaker - Black
Price: £119.95

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Low cost Bose Bluetooth speaker., 10 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
An excellent low-cost Bose bluetooth speaker that's compact and easy to set up. This ultra-portable rechargeable Bose bluetooth speaker adds to their current range with the Bose ® SoundLink ® Mini Bluetooth Speaker - SIlver and the Bose ® SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III. SoundLink seems to be Bose-speak for bluetooth.

As you'd expect from Bose build quality is excellent and set up is extremely straightforward. It took about a minute to pair the speaker with a Sony Z3 smartphone and a Z2 tablet. Pairing is largely intuitive but Bose provides paper instructions as well and the unit has spoken commands built into its interface. Simply turn the unit on and you will be prompted to select your language (English is first) by using the + and - buttons. Once the language is chosen not only will the spoken instructions guide you through set up but will also advise when the battery power is running low. Without instructions, simply turn the speaker on and look for the Bose speaker on your phone or tablet bluetooth menu under available devices.

The speaker can be paired with a maximum of two bluetooth devices which is potentially restrictive. Usefully the speaker automatically switches between the paired devices without a problem.

In common with most Bose devices the speaker is simple to use. On the top of the speaker are six small buttons - on to turn it on and off, two for volume, one to pause what you're listening to and the bluetooth pairing and an aux button. The aux button, and a 3.5mm input at the rear of the speaker, allow you to listen to sources which do not have a bluetooth 4.0 connection.

Sound quality is very good reflecting the size of the speaker and a bluetooth connection. I don't have a SoundLink Mini to compare it to but it compares well with the SoundLink III although the maximum volume is not quite as high and the richness of music not quite as good. This reflects I suspect how you'll use the speaker. The SoundLink III can fill a small to medium room with music. The Soundlink Colour Speaker is really designed to carry around with you. If I was to criticise it, and it's perhaps a general criticism of Bose, the bass is a bit heavy.

Key to a portable speaker is battery life and charging time. Charging takes less than three hours and the battery I've found lasts for more than seven hours. The speaker comes with a compact USB mains charger and a USB cable. Unlike the SoundLink Mini which has a charging stand and seems designed to be on power continuously the SoundLink Speaker seems to be designed as a portable unit attached to the mains when the battery is running low.

The speaker is pretty portable. It weighs about half a kilo and is the size of a portable radio. It's good for taking with you while travelling although is a bit heavier and sizeable than many ultra-portable speakers. Disappointingly Bose doesn't seem to sell a carry case at the moment.

Overall a good small portable speaker

Philips LED lamp replaces 40 Watt E27 2700 Kelvin - warm white, 5.5W, 470 lumen
Philips LED lamp replaces 40 Watt E27 2700 Kelvin - warm white, 5.5W, 470 lumen
Offered by AcPower
Price: £7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good 40w equivalent but limited power saving, 10 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
While there are now a vast range of LED bulbs on the market it's reassuring to buy one from an established manufacturer such as Phillips. However, there's no mention of a guarantee on the packing of this light bulb which is possibly concerning. The Philips website indicates a 12 month guarantee which is less than more expensive bulbs.

Positively the bulb comes on instantly, with no lag common with florescent low-enegy bulbs. It also looks like a traditional incandescent bulb. The 'warm white' light matches that of traditional light bulbs. So all good. Possibly less positively the bulb is a fair bit heavier than a standard light bulb which may cause problems when used in a desk lamp for example. Also the energy saving compared to fluorescent bulbs is not particularly marked. A 40w equivalent as a fluorescent bulb will be around 8w and this LED version is only 2 less at 6w. Of course this bulb is forecast to last for 15 years and will not take longer to reach full brightness as it gets older. But it is a fair bit more expensive so you need to consider whether this is really a money saving option.

Overall the bulb is fit for purpose but the cost of being an early adopter and the limited energy saved need to be borne in mind. You'll obviously realise that this bulb has a screw fitting and is not a bayonet UK standard fit.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 11, 2014 3:54 PM BST

Philips A5PRO/00 DJ Headphones (3500mW RMS, Sensitivity: 105dB, Cable up to 4.7m, Gold-Plated) Including Replaceable Ear Cushions and Innovative Folding Mechanism Black
Philips A5PRO/00 DJ Headphones (3500mW RMS, Sensitivity: 105dB, Cable up to 4.7m, Gold-Plated) Including Replaceable Ear Cushions and Innovative Folding Mechanism Black
Price: £209.92

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Headphones for life, 9 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These are exceptionally robust but compact headphones which are Phillip's version of professional DJ headphones, a product of collaboration suitably with the Dutch DJ Armin Van Buuren.

Whilst I can't comment on how well they would suit a DJ I can see that they might fit the bill in terms of sound quality, sound volume and build quality. First on build quality, these are extremely well made headphones. The headphones have a substantial anodised-aluminium construction with replaceable leather ear cushions and a leather headband. The headband is held in place with secure stitching and the ear cushions are removable via a detachable camera lens like multiple-point locking system. These headphones are not going to fall apart pretty much no matter what you do to them. There's no plastic parts to break off and the headband and headphone housing is all metal.

You're not going to have concerns about the acoustic qualities of the headphones either. In terms of volume the headphones have a significant punch with 3,500mW of power output, 50mm drivers, and virtually no distortion (less than 0.1% THD if you want the exact figures). The sound quality to my ear seems excellent with clear rich sound across the spectrum. It should be noted that the headphones don't have noise-cancelling technology built in. They rely on the around-ear ear cushions to help block out surrounding noise and, in noisy environments pure sound quality and volume. This works well but they are not as suited as Bose noise-cancelling headphones for use on a plane or train listening to a film for instance.

This is a pity because the headphones are not over-heavy and are remarkably compact. Compactness is largely due to the fact that headphones turn through 90 degrees and have a folding mechanism which means that the earpieces fill the area beneath the headband. The hinge structure allowing this is all-aluminium so isn't going to break. The aluminium construction adds lightness and because the headphones are so strong they don't need a large protective case. A loose canvass bag comes with the headphones for carriage which works fine. So they're great to carry everywhere with minimal fuss.

Other plus points for the headphones. Well the ear cushions are not just replaceable but they come in three different sizes to suit, I assume, the size of your ears. There's no issue with figuring out which is the right and which the left earpiece - there's large 'L' and 'R' letters on each. And the headphone cable can be attached to either the left or right headphone for added flexibility. It also locks in place if you plan to do anything energetic when wearing the headphones - like DJ'ing! Plus the headphone cable is replaceable and has gold fittings plus a 6.3mm 'large' headphone socket adapter.

If you're round and about with the headphones - which increasingly seem to be fashion statements - these are surprisingly understated. They do have 'Philips' in white sticking on the head cushion but the overall black anodised aluminium finish and back leather cushioning doesn't make these headphones into an egregious fashion statement (or faux pas). In fact bearing in mind their size they couldn't be much more understated.

Shortcomings, well for once in a review I struggle to find anything. For some environments noise-cancelling would be good but I suspect the sound quality would suffer with the compromises needed for the technology. The cable doesn't have a microphone or inline controls - not needed if you're a DJ but more relevant if you're on the train and want to take a phone call. Phillips have thought of this and, at extra cost, sell a 1.2m alternate cable. I guess most significantly the headphones are not cheap. But they'll last a near to a lifetime. These quibbles not deserve the loss of a star.

Really fully-recommended and five stars.

Scalextric 1:32 Audi R8 Police Slot Car
Scalextric 1:32 Audi R8 Police Slot Car
Price: £34.94

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great car, 6 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a high-quality 1 in 32 Scalextric Audi R8 model. It is a part of the Scalextric Street Range, is DPR ready, and has working headlights, rear lights, flashing blue lights, and emergency siren. This is one of the most detailed Scalextric cars I've come across and unlike others is compete out of the box with no need to add stickers to the model yourself.

In use the car holds the track very well and the siren is not so loud to become annoying. The car works with standard Scalextric setups (those which are not digital). To use the car fully with a digital system a DRP chip needs to be added. The only slightly incongruous element to the car is the enormous rear spoiler - which came detached after a spectacular crash. The car works fine without it - with no loss of roadholding! And it probably looks better.


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