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Dr. Paul Ell (NI, UK)

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Sony KDL60W855BBU 60-inch Wedge Design Widescreen 1080p Full HD Smart LED 3D TV with Freeview HD
Sony KDL60W855BBU 60-inch Wedge Design Widescreen 1080p Full HD Smart LED 3D TV with Freeview HD
Offered by Discount-Select
Price: £1,370.00

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Large Sony Smart TV, 3 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a review for Sony's 60 inch wedge design TV - the KDL-60W855. Most of the reviews posted here by Amazon relate to other Sony models. Only the 60 inch model has this design which is quite different from the other models.

On receipt of the TV my first reaction was how large it is. I already have a 55 inch Sony TV so had some sort of idea of the size of this set but and extra 5 inches measured diagonally across the screen actually results in a significantly larger screen area. In terms of dimensions the TV is 54 inches wide and 32 inches high - so a big set. It's also a fairly heavy set. This is due to the wedge design. Positively the TV certainly seems more robust than my 55" model which flexes easily.

Set up is easy and can be done by one person. The stand - consisting of two legs - needed to be fitted (assuming you are no mounting the TV on a wall). Each leg is held in place by two screws and the useful assembly instructions detail how to unpack the large box the TV comes in and attach the legs. The TV is held in place by packing materials whilst the legs are attached which makes the process even easier. One the legs are on it's simply a case of attaching linked devices and that's it. In my case this involved attaching a SkyHD+ box using a HDMI cable. An amplifier/blue-ray player and Apple TV box both link through the Sky box. Whilst heavy the TV is not so heavy that it can't be lifted into place by one person.

Whilst the TV wedge shaped (to increase speaker size and hence improve sound quality) it is possible to mount it on a wall. The TV is heavier than most similar-sized models abut at around 34Kg should not cause problems for wall-mounting systems for this size of TV. It has a standard VESA fitting so if you want to put it on a wall, no problem. You will probably need more than two people to do this though.

In fact after a bit of consideration I decided to wall-mount the set. As I've noted the TV has a standard VESA fitting. Four spacers come with the TV to assist in mounting the set. Attach these to the four mounting screws and the TV is ready to fit to the bracket. The key is choosing a strong wall mount.

Once turned on the TV goes though a set up procedure which involves linking the TV to the Internet (with using a WiFi connection or cabled one), a software download and options to scan for terrestrial analogue channels (in the UK there aren't any anymore!), terrestrial digital channels, and satellite channels (the TV has a satellite decoder built in). In my case none of this was necessary as all TV comes via the Sky box. And that's it. Overall probably a maximum of 30 minutes to set up.

Out of the box the TV picture is very good - bearing in mind that this is a standard HD set, and not one of Sony's ever-expanding range of 4k Ultra HD models, this is pretty remarkable in itself. The TV has the same resolution as my Sony Z3 mobile phone screen. The fact that the picture looks good when increased so dramatically in size is excellent. A HD signal - from Sky HD channels in my case - results in a crisp, rich picture. On a standard definition signal you can definitely see the different.The picture is unavoidably fuzzier. It's not bad, just not as good, and I suspect unavoidable.

So to features of the TV. I guess the most significant issue is sound quality. The wedge shape of the TV is specifically aimed at improving sound quality. Put simply, with most modern flat-screen TVs there is simply insufficient room to have large speakers. The wedge design results in more space for two larger speakers, and it does make a difference. The speakers have more more bass than my 55" model, the volume can be higher without distortion, and the virtual surround sound works better - possibly because the set is so large the speakers are a fair distance apart.

In terms of accessories, as seems to be the case these days, the TV comes with almost no documentation. There's a Quick Start document which is useful and a 'Reference Manual'. This is a weighty manual but only because it contains information in about 15 different languages. Only 15 of those are on English and I fear the term 'reference' must have been lost in translation. You have to rely on the Sony online manual accessed via the TV itself. I don't find this very user friendly and with so many options to tweak the picture and sound a proper reference manual really is needed. In terms of other accessories, again as is often the case, there are no cables at all so if you need an extra HDMI cable you'll need to buy it separately. The TV comes with a standard remote. Disappointingly the Sony RMF-ED004 Touchpad Remote Control isn't bundled with the TV. This offers an alternative, in some ways simpler way of accessing common commands, plus has Near Field Communication functionality which means you can use it to quickly pair a phone or tablet to the TV to display video or photos. I already have the Touchpad Remote and find it useful. You do get two pair of active 3D glasses with the set though.

This is a smart TV so is linked to the Internet. I've seen some surveys that suggest that people tend not to connect their TVs to the web. It really is worth connecting this set to the Internet. First, it's easy to do. You have a choice of a wireless connection or a cabled Ethernet link. I use wireless which works fine. A clear advantage of having the TV connected is that as Sony introduce software updates for the TV they'll be installed automatically (if you select the relevant option). These updates come quite frequently - every couple of months or so - so it makes sense not to miss out on potential improvements.

Smart TVs of course come with Apps. By far the most useful on this TV is the BBC iPlayer. You also get Demand 5 (for Channel 5), Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Sony's Video Unlimited, Music Unlimited and PlayMemories. Plus SkyPe's available, a web browser, and a range of more minor apps to provide you with weather forecasts, games, or video of mountain scenery and more. With a fast internet connection, and the iPlayer High Definition option selected, you can watch past BBC programmes in very high quality - as good as watching live via Freeview or SkyHD. No Sony TV's include ITV or Channel 4 on demand services due to an exclusive deal they've done with Samsung to only supply content to them. Irritating but that's the situation. I'd be far more bothered if the BBC programmes weren't available. Netflix and Amazon video services are also pretty good and, even on this large-screened TV, image quality is good. I personally wouldn't be without a smart TV.

Other innovative features. Well for a TV under development in time for the World Cup there's a "Football' button on the remote control that in theory selects all the screen and sound settings so they are just right to watch football.There's also a 'Social View' setting which allows you to watch tweets about the programme your watching stream across the bottom of the screen. You can tweet as well. If you've fitted the Sony CMU-BR200 Skype Camera with Microphone Unit for Sony Bravia TV (higher spec sets include a camera built-in) you can watch TV whilst broadcasting your picture, and you can watch someone else if they have a camera as well. The problem with tweeting is that entering text via the remote is a bit cumbersome. I have a Sony bluetooth keyboard which I hoped might pair with the TV, but no luck. This would have made tweeting much easier. For Twitter fans it's an interesting extra. Plus, while noting special features, SkyPe is installed. Better if you buy the camera, but it works without it.

Overall, a high-quality, multifaceted TV set. It's also pretty good value. So worth five stars. I would advise other buyers though to look at Sony's Ultra HD models. They are not much more expensive and for this size of screen I think Ultra HD is a better bet. There's a range of Sony models which actually look exactly the same as this model, adopting the wedge design.

Tefal ActiFry 2 in 1 1.5kg Low Fat Fryer - Black,
Tefal ActiFry 2 in 1 1.5kg Low Fat Fryer - Black,
Offered by Bright Sparks Store
Price: £277.06

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enhancements over previous models but still of limited value, 3 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've owned one of the original smaller ActiFry which received much use on first purchase but after a couple of months was consigned to the back of a kitchen cupboard and hasn't been used much since. The great test of any kitchen gadget is whether you continue to use it in the long term.

The problem with the original ActiFry is that food tended to break up while cooking being constantly stirred and cooking took longer than conventional models.

Well, the ActiFry2 does partially address these issues. Now it has an upper tray which meat, for example, can be cooked on. So now you can cook two different food products and use the upper tray for food more likely to break up. The lower container is larger but otherwise unchanged. To cook chips it still takes longer than frying them or putting oven chips into the oven and, I'm afraid, I don't think they taste as good. I've tried cooking fillet steak on in combination with chips using the upper tray for the former, and again it takes longer to cook than 5 minutes in a small frying pan (with a small spoon of olive oil) and trying to get a rare steak using the ActiFry seems to be impossible. I expect this is due simply to the indirect heating and the meat not being sealed at a high heat as you would do with a direct heating method such as a grill and frying pan.

Although the manufacturers remain inventive in what you might cook in the ActiFry the majority will use it with chips which I find inferior. For cooking scrabbled eggs for example I really think using a simple saucepan is far simpler - and I do like technology! I'm not sure the cost and specialised used of this device is worthwhile. This is all the more the case reflecting the amount of kitchen cupboard real-estate the fryer takes up. And it's not particularly attractive so it's not something you'll want to leave out. Plus if you use a dishwasher to clean it it will fill the dishwasher in one.

A proper mains-powered timer which actually switches off the fryer is welcome, as is the increased capacity and the design has been streamlined a little to be more positive.

But overall only three stars reflecting all these factors.

Arrow T50X TacMate Heavy Duty Stapler
Arrow T50X TacMate Heavy Duty Stapler
Price: £26.07

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flexible, well designed stapler, 3 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This stapler has some significant advantages over others on the market. I’ve found two significant selling points. First, it will take a variety of sizes of staples, all of which are easily loaded. Second, the long grip handle means that relatively little pressure is needed to use the stapes. Other strong points are its light weight, provision of staples with the gun, easy loading mechanism and clear instruction. This is one of the rare products I fail to find any weaknesses in so highly recommended for DIY jobs and sagging furniture repairs!

Logitech Pro Protective Case for Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro and Note Pro
Logitech Pro Protective Case for Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro and Note Pro
Price: £109.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars High quality case with some avoidable significant limitations, 3 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a very nice keyboard cases - one of the best I’ve seen - with a really high quality keyboard with good spacing between the keys and a rechargeable battery designed to last for three months before charging.

However, it has two or three significant limitations. First, the viewing angle of tablet to keyboard cannot be adjusted so your desk needs to be at just the right height! Second the keyboard keys are not sufficient recessed to prevent contact between the keys and tablet screen when the case it closed. It’s a near thing but contact is there so I’m concerned about medium-term damage to my Samsung’s screen. As a result I’m reluctant to use it. Finally the product is not cheap and for the price, although of high-qulaity construction, the limitations are not acceptable.

Only two stars I’m afraid as a result.

Gooey skin for Samsung Galaxy S4, Red
Gooey skin for Samsung Galaxy S4, Red
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars OK for a specific purpose, 3 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This isn’t a phone case, as the image used by Amazon might suggest, but rather a plastic-like cover to attach to the back of your phone to stop is sliding around. Obviously this won’t work if you’re also using a case for your phone as the phone - and the Goo.ey attachment will both be in the case - so you will need to first remove the phone from a protective case. Nor does it appear to be specifically recommended for car dashboard materials although in use it does seem to stop the phone sliding a little.

Overall for the admittedly only slightly extra bulk, the cost, the fact that you have to ditch your phone case, and the limited occasions of when it can be used, personally I don’t find this product particularly worthwhile. If you keep knocking your phone off a kitchen work surface or glass table when it’s not in it’s case you might well find this skin worthwhile though!

Sony KDL42W705B 42-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p Smart TV with Freeview - Black
Sony KDL42W705B 42-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p Smart TV with Freeview - Black
Offered by Tvsandmore
Price: £489.88

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value for money, 3 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This TV falls within the mid-range of Sony's 2014 line up. The annual ranges (and it is pretty much is an annual process for all major manufacturers) in Sony's case are usually announced in early January and available in the UK from February through to June. Top of the range are the 4k ultra-high resolution models, followed by larger LCD TVs with in built active in passive 3D, Near Field Communication (NFC), a couple of remotes and, sometimes, localised LED backlighting.

This model is around third in the line up. It lacks support for 3D, is only NFC ready, and whilst LED back lighting it present it's not localised. So those are the major omissions but the price of the set, when set against the features the TV does have, makes this without doubt a five star product.

In terms of picture quality, for the 42" model, HD output is brilliant, as is streamed HD output from Netflix and Sony's own film library. Obviously quality is not so good in standard definition, but with a smallish screen of this size is completely acceptable. Colours are rich and vibrant. My only criticism, entirely acceptable for a TV at this price, is that a bright object on a dark screen does create a halo effect which is eliminated on Sony's more expensive models.

With regard to sound, I find the quality good from the inbuilt speakers and if you don't Sony offer soundbars and wireless sub-woofers in a similar design to match the TV.

In design terms I prefer the mono-single glass sheet of glass covering the whole of the front of the TV rather than a glass screen with a frame around it as in this model. However, the frame is getting ever thiner in each model year and this time around is hardly there. The TV, as a result, is smaller than previous 40" models so more screen for less space. It's also thin apart from an area at the back base of the TV. Overall pretty good.

What impresses me most is the range of features Sony have built in. The smart TV elements are outstanding with both reliable wireless connection to a network available together with a ethernet option as well. A vast number of apps are available - the key ones being the BBC iPlayer, Netflix, and Sony's own Video (and Music) Unlimited entertainment offering. Of course, due to licensing issues you don't find ether catch-up services from ITV or Channel Four but neither are a patch on the iPlayer anyway. The commercial agreement between Samsung and ITV and C4 precludes access by Sony but is not a concern for me. Other smart elements of particular value is the ability to `throw' film or pictures from a Sony Tablet, smartphone or selected cameras direct to the TV using a wireless link to the TV. This works well for images but a little less so for high-definition video content where the connection seems to struggle to keep pace with the amount of data being passed through it. As a result films can freeze in playback. There are lots of other apps which you will find of varying value. The only absence I note is the lack of Amazon's Instant Video service. The app is under development, as you're told on the screen when you click on the icon, but not yet working. This is surprising when it's on last year's TVs and this year's Blu-Ray machines.

Other features include a revised user interface where the vast majority of TV settings can be adjusted, the now standard iManual providing built-in screen-delivered instructions on the use of the TV, a significant enhancement in the provision of both digital terrestrial AND satellite decoders (although for satellite only expect access to free-to-air channels and without a nice Sky-like interface) and a stand that can be easily be adapted to attach the TV to a wall. This represents a significant saving compared to the price a high street store will ask you to pay for a wall bracket for a TV of this size.

Although not marked on the box my TV came with a second remote, the Sony RMF-ED004 Touchpad Remote Control. This is a simplified remote, although pretty much all features can be reached using it. It has a laptop-like touch panel allow easy movement around menu systems and buttons to change channel, volume etc. It is also NFC enabled which allows you easily to mirror what's displayed on your NFC phone or tablet on the screen of the TV.

Almost finally, I should say something about PlayMemories online which allows you to sync pictures taken with your phone with Sony's servers and those pictures to be viewed on the TV.

Definitely finally, the TV has an A+ power rating. It uses 50w when in use (about the same as two low wattage light bulbs) and 0.5w in standby. In effect the TV is always on standby because of the very low power consumption, although there is a switch at the back to turn it off completely in this mode. The advantage of the standby mode is that a remote turns the TV on.

So overall, this is not the most advanced TV available, and if you want 3D you won't choose this model. But nor is it £4,000 or even £1,000. On a price/feature assessment it offers a great deal which the majority of buyers will be very happy with indeed. Highly recommended.

McAfee Internet Security Dual Protection for MAC and Windows 2014 - 1 User (PC/Mac)
McAfee Internet Security Dual Protection for MAC and Windows 2014 - 1 User (PC/Mac)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Standard anti-virus software with a twist, 16 April 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Well the twist is that the software runs on both a Mac and Windows machine so it covers two bases which is good plus the interface is more or less identical. No doubt anti-virus software is vital for Windows machines. I'm less certain about this for Macs and have never discovered a virus on any of my Macs. Better safe than sorry though.

Others have commented on the lack of a CD contained in the pack but with fewer and fewer machines having DVD readers I think this makes sense. I only have a rather old PC that has the capability to use a DVD. The software seems to do the job though I have a feeling that all the main stream anti-virus software will provide the protection you need.

The only problem I have with McAfee is that I have recurrent problems trying to register new software. I find the registration system clunky and am often asked to pay for the product I have a registration code for! Installation of this software was no different so a star is dropped for this. I wish they'd wipe their database and just let users install the software rather than wanting your details registered so they can sell you more products in the future.

Overall a reasonable choice of software especially for Mac and PC users.

Sharon Ultrathin iPad Air iPad 5 Keyboard Cover with magnetically detachable hardcover for tablet - QWERTY
Sharon Ultrathin iPad Air iPad 5 Keyboard Cover with magnetically detachable hardcover for tablet - QWERTY
Offered by LEICKE Germany
Price: £32.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Novel design which will suit most people, 13 April 2014
This keyboard case is unlike others I’ve come across. It essence it comes in three parts - a back black leather-like cover, a carry bag, and a detachable keyboard and stand which attaches to the back cover via a strong magnet. The design offers a good degree of flexibility. It you want to fully protect your iPad and keyboard you place it in the cary bag, if you want to use the keyboard with the iPad, or indeed use it as a stand on a desk, this works well. If you don’t want to use the keyboard you can detach it by pulling it away from the magnetic holder and carry the iPad around whilst still protecting the rear of the iPad.

The keyboard itself is recessed and makes full use length-wise of the space available. Keys are responsive with some dedicated to iPad functions. The keyboard connects to the iPad via bluetooth which is easy to do, and is recharged via a micro-USB.

All good, so why have I dropped one star? Well I think Sharon make a better, and lighter option with their Sharon Ultrathin Aluminium Cover Case with QWERTY Keyboard, also available on Amazon. The keyboard I’m reviewing here is a bit heavier and the use of black plastic means it’s not as stylish. Moreover, because the base of the keyboard is made of aluminium it is liable to scratching so you really need to use the carry case to get full protection for your iPad and keyboard.

Overall a good product, but in my opinion the manufacturer makes a better product.

Sharon Apple iPad Air iPad Air 2 Ultrathin Aluminium Keyboard Cover Case with Keyboard (QWERTY) | SmartCover Function
Sharon Apple iPad Air iPad Air 2 Ultrathin Aluminium Keyboard Cover Case with Keyboard (QWERTY) | SmartCover Function
Offered by LEICKE Germany
Price: £36.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding keyboard, 13 April 2014
Without doubt this is the best bluetooth keyboard I have seen for the iPad Air. Stylistically it marches the Air perfectly being made of high-quality aluminium reflecting the same quality of the Air itself. It is also exceptionally light so adds minimal weight when carrying both items around. In terms of functionality the Air sits very securely indeed into a groove built into the keyboard. Whilst the angle at which the Air sits cannot be adjusted I’ve found it perfect for typing. It also acts as a good desk stand when you’re not using the Air. It should be noted though that the keyboard is best used on a desk, not on your lap because of the nature of the way the Air is fixed to it, and the fact the angle of viewing can’t be changed.

The keyboard itself connects wirelessly to the iPad via bluetooth which takes a minute to set up. From extensive testing the connection is both consistently fast and reliable. Charging is via a micro USB cable which is supplied with a full charge taking around three hours. Once fully charged the keyboard seems to use power very frugally indeed and I’ve used it for days without recharging. The keyboard layout makes full use of the space available whilst reflecting the somewhat diminished dimensions of the Air. The keys are recessed which means they can’t be pressed when not in use and are responsive. A range of specific iPad function keys are included as well as the standard QUERTY keyboard.

For carrying, the iPad and keyboard lock together firmly, the iPad being held face down onto the slightly larger keyboard. A carry bag is provided to place both items in. As such this is not really a fully protective case in traditional terms. The keyboard locked in place covers the screen but the back of the iPad is exposed unless placed in the carry bag. Nonetheless this is an elegant and smart solution if you want a quality keyboard to use with your iPad Air. Well worth five stars.

The distributor provided the keyboard for independent review purposes.

Colour Deconstructed
Colour Deconstructed
by Tricia Guild
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.40

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiration but without detail, 13 April 2014
This review is from: Colour Deconstructed (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a beautifully, and somewhat novelly, produced book examining the use if colour, and combinations of colours, from a home interior design perspective with support of colours in the natural world. As you might expect the photography is excellent and some of the images really striking. The book itself is usefully slightly oversized and is printed on high quality very thick paper. The spine actually doesn’t exist! It’s simply the pages of the book sticked together with the word ‘Colour’ marked on it. With a normal book of course the spine normally covers this stitching. The sections within the book are grouped together by colour types in ranges so purple covers a range of variants.

So overall an interesting physical object with some brilliant photographs. It’s really an art book and taken as such is worth 5 stars. I’ve dropped a star because there’s very little text explaining the use of colour and our appreciation of it, and some colours simply don’t make it into the book - no reds for example (although some of the pinks come close) and no yellow. I like the text but wish there was more! It’s inspirational but I’m not sure I would dare to use it alone to start re-coloursing my house. A good starting point though so 4 stars, and a clear coffee-table book.

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