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Profile for Dr. Paul Ell > Reviews

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Dr. Paul Ell (NI, UK)

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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: £226.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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: £27.21

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: £16.00

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: £4.67

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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: £8.99

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 Hughes Direct
Price: £119.00

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.

Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Razor with Flexball Technology Plus 3 Blades
Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Razor with Flexball Technology Plus 3 Blades
Price: £14.49

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sensible technical advance, 19 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Gillette's latest iteration in their Fusion range. The key change is the 'flexball' feature. This allows the blade head to move from right to left, and left to right, when in use. It isn't a ball as such as it does not allow universal movement of the blade head - if that's their next innovation I'm copyrighting it first! What it does allow is the blade to follow your face more exactly. This seems like a logical additional feature and in many ways I'm surprised they didn't come up with it before.

I'm a habitual user of Gillette Fusion razors and this gives at least a comparable shave to other versions of the system. Logically this system should give a better shave but using earlier versions it was pretty good and I can't detect any immediate improvement. Nonetheless I'll probably switch to the Flexball system. Equally, adopting any innovation going, I prefer the 'Power' version of the Fusion range and again will stick with this. I think the vibration makes the razor slightly smoother in use.

Perennial issue with Gillette 'high end' razors is the cost of replacement blades, and especially the price difference between 'Power' and 'Manual' blades. There's no difference here. Replacement blades are expensive. I'll stand the cost albeit reluctantly. It's worth checking on Amazon to see the best offers for blades. Often a new razor and blades can cost less than the blades alone. Another point, a reviewer has suggested you have to buy Flexball blades to work with this razor. Certainly other Fusion blades work fine so that's not the case.

With this pack you get a Power Flexball razor, a battery and four blades.

VAX W85-PP-T Dual Power Pro Carpet Washer, 1200 W
VAX W85-PP-T Dual Power Pro Carpet Washer, 1200 W
Price: £179.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Top notch model, 9 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you're feel a serious need for a carpet washer this is one of the models you should consider. It has a large reservoir for fresh water, automatically releases and mixes carpet cleaner from a smaller receptacle, and has a large container for the dirty water. The suction with the machine is outstanding. Carpets are left remarkably near-dry after using the cleaner. There's also a separate suction hose and tool best used for cleaning small areas or sucking up and cleaning accidental spills. A separate attachment allows it to be used on hard floors.

I've dropped a star because it's a big machine. A problem in use and potentially for storage. That said it's not a machine you'll be using twice a week so perhaps weight in use is of less relevance. When using you have to be coordinated in releasing the carpet cleaner (ideally when pushing the VAX forward and apply suction when pulling the VAX back). It just takes a bit of getting used to. Also at the moment the machine is a bit expensive. VAX seem to heavily discount other models.

But as a carpet cleaner this is hard to beat.

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