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Whatchamacallit (UK)
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Pinnacle Studio HD Ultimate Collection v15 (PC)
Pinnacle Studio HD Ultimate Collection v15 (PC)

3.0 out of 5 stars I like it, 15 Oct 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As usual with software suites such as this one there's an abundance of features which sound great. In practice there's a much smaller number of them that I find I actually use, but at least with this package I managed to get them to work well enough. I'm not someone who'll spend hours and hours making my films but I do like a good result when I'm preparing them and I have managed to make some I'm very pleased with using Pinnacle Studio HD. The installation went pretty well but I do find that my machine can struggle sometimes when actually using the software, which disappointed me as it's of a far higher spec than that specified on the package. On the whole I'm pleased with the software, and I like the fact that the package includes a green screen cloth.


Digital Silence DS-321D Stereo Digital Ambient Noise Cancelling Headphones with Microphone - Black
Digital Silence DS-321D Stereo Digital Ambient Noise Cancelling Headphones with Microphone - Black

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comfortable and effective, 15 Oct 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have tried lots of different headphones through the years including other noise cancelling models like these from Digital Silence. I've generally found that the ear bud style has a good ability to block out sound simply through their close fit and initially I did wonder whether there was a need for the extra noise cancelling facility of the DS-321D. Now that I've tried them I can confirm that there really is a difference when using them - quite a lot more than I expected. Because I listen to a lot of audiobooks I tend to notice background noise more than if I had loud music playing and that's where headphones like these come into their own, and offer that little bit extra enjoyment of whatever you're hearing.

They've been comfortable to wear and I think they look good too (they include 3 different sizes for the buds to make sure you can find a good fit). Mine are in black which I prefer as it looks more discreet but they're available in white too. They are rechargeable and the manufacturer reckons they'll last about 14 hours on a single charge. I haven't managed to get that long in my experience but to be fair they do last a long time. They were awarded 4 stars in the review that was carried out by What Hifi Sound & Vision magazine.


Anna Karenina (BBC Audio)
Anna Karenina (BBC Audio)
by Leo Tolstoy
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 14.37

4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 6 Oct 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'd never managed to read the book but did know the story of Anna Karenina thanks to the excellent BBC TV production from 2000. Now that it has been remade as a film starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law there's obviously renewed interest in the classic tale hence the release of this full cast dramatisation from BBC Radio 4. As ever their standards are very high throughout despite a running time of well over three hours, and I was entertained by this fascinating story again. The cast was very good, particularly Teresa Gallagher and Toby Stephens (recently seen on TV in `Vexed'). For anyone wanting the audio version of this novel I can certainly recommend this one.


F-Secure Internet Security Plus 2012 1 Year 3 PC + 1 Phone (PC/Android)
F-Secure Internet Security Plus 2012 1 Year 3 PC + 1 Phone (PC/Android)

4.0 out of 5 stars F-Secure is as good as ever, 6 Oct 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This security package proved easy to install on my Windows 7 machines. It's designed with a nice simple interface which keeps things uncomplicated but still allows some settings to be changed if necessary. In practice it seems to work well enough and I haven't noticed any deterioration in the performance of my computer. I previously used F-Secure some years ago after recommendations from some IT professionals that I knew and I'm pleased to say that the package still seems as good as it did then.

I like the fact that the package is for three computers as most homes now seem to have more than one, and the additional feature of protection for a smartphone or tablet is good too although it is worth noting that this service is also provided free by other major security software makers such as AVG.


Varta 4W LED Camping Lantern
Varta 4W LED Camping Lantern
Price: 24.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't forget the batteries..., 6 Oct 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The build quality of this lamp is excellent, and mine has survived some sharp knocks and bumps without any damage. The design is also really good with the handles folding away neatly, good seals for waterproofing and a heavy base for good stability. The three light settings will prove useful although the full power setting will obviously be the most important one for most people. That provides decent light, especially when the top half of the lamp is removed - the top section unscrews a quarter turn to reveal the lamp, and when hung from the bottom hook this means clear lighting without any shadows. The light itself is a very white light and can appear quite clinical, although it obviously serves better than it might with a warmer tone to it.

In use the range is not massive but it is powerful enough to light a large room, garage or attic sufficiently to see what you're doing and it's certainly possible to eat or read by its light if you are closer to the lamp. Overall I have to say that it's a really good lamp and the only thing that I was disappointed about was the lack of batteries; despite being branded by a major battery manufacturer the lamp doesn't come with any fitted meaning that you can't actually use it until you have three `D' cells such as these to fit it Varta Longlife Extra D Alkaline 1.5 Volt Batteries - 4-Pack


A Good and Useful Hurt
A Good and Useful Hurt
by Aric Davis
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.56

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and thought provoking, 6 Oct 2012
This review is from: A Good and Useful Hurt (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Good reviews from other readers prompted me to read this book, and I'm glad that they did. It's not the type of book that I'd normally be drawn to but in this case it was worth it, despite some reservations at the start. It's mostly presented in short chapters and written in a fairly easy to read style, and at under 300 pages it's not a long book. This is Aric Davis' second novel and tells the story of a tattoo artist called Mike and the events that unfold when he starts to get clients asking for tattoos containing the ashes of recently deceased loved ones. Despite the story seeming to be heading one way, it turns in another more unexpected direction and becomes a crime thriller with a difference. I enjoyed reading it and can recommend it to anyone who enjoys an interesting and thought provoking story.


Belkin Notebook Pockettop Case - Chocolate With Tourmaline
Belkin Notebook Pockettop Case - Chocolate With Tourmaline

3.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity by Belkin, 30 Sep 2012
The idea of a functional laptop case which looks stylish as well as offering storage and protection for the laptop and all of its cabling is a great one. This one is well made and pretty well designed up to a point, with some good attention to detail. For example, because it's designed for the laptop to be used within the case with the lid raised, Belkin has fitted straps to hold up the lid, and also two raised platform areas on the inside base which raise the bottom of the laptop and allow air to flow underneath for cooling purposes. It's also able to take various sizes of laptop, and when checking my own I've found that any laptop with a diagonal outer case measurement of 18" (457mm) should fit okay.

The downsides of the case are that smaller laptops can still move around to a degree, and that because of the harder, raised platforms on the bottom of the case my laptop doesn't grip and simply slides around too much to actually use it inside the case as I'm supposed to. It would have worked better if the case formed into a lap pad on which the laptop could be placed when it was closed, but the shape doesn't quite lend itself to that use unfortunately. Overall I think that this is a good product but that it's a missed opportunity by Belkin as it could have been a better product.


Homedics Shiatsu Compression Massager
Homedics Shiatsu Compression Massager

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I think I'm in love..., 22 Sep 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
From that first embrace on the sofa, I knew that it was meant to be. The tight clutches, and the way that she held me and knew just where to push and pull had me genuinely moaning with pleasure. It felt as if the birds were singing and as was well in the world as I was warmed, lifted, rubbed, and kneaded in all of the right places - and that was just on the `demo' setting. I couldn't bear to end this beautiful relationship so soon, and almost immediately I'd moved on to a full massage, changing the settings ever higher and higher until I could take no more. Before I knew it, our time together was over but I felt more relaxed than I have in a very long time.

She's a fickle mistress though, and now she's charmed another who is sitting, embraced in her arms and being pleasured to the heights that I had been only moments before. Come back to me, my Homedics marvel and make my life complete. Where have you been all of my life..?
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 13, 2013 10:26 AM GMT


Samsung Series 9 NP900X4C 15-inch Laptop (Black) - (Intel Core i5 3317UM 1.7GHz, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit)
Samsung Series 9 NP900X4C 15-inch Laptop (Black) - (Intel Core i5 3317UM 1.7GHz, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit)

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very highly recommended, 18 Sep 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Samsung refer to their top of the range equipment under the Series 9 name. From the start it's obvious that this is a high end product thanks to the nicely presented packaging in a sleek black box within the outer `normal' packaging. It's hard not to be impressed even before you see the actual machine which is a very good looking laptop - machined aluminium edging shining through a sleek black finish. It's not even adorned with the usual labels you might find next to a cheaper keyboard as Samsung have kept the presentation to the highest standards, and the overall impression is a very, very positive one.

Of course, style doesn't count for much unless the content is up to scratch, but luckily the excellence continues. This is a machine which has been designed for performance on the move and thanks to the solid state drive (no old fashioned hard disc drive here!) and very good general specification you certainly can tell the difference between this machine and a `normal' laptop. The 15" screen is big enough to comfortably watch films, the performance is far better than most desktop computers, and it's extremely portable. Boot up and response times are very, very good. The machine is very quick in use and simply gets on with the job without a fuss; even intensive operations don't faze it and it seems to cope admirably.

Battery life really is excellent - I can get over eight hours use from it doing a mixture of web-browsing, word processing and video playback. It doesn't even get hot thanks to its efficient design and metal case and is virtually silent most of the time as the fan doesn't seem to be needed very much. It's very light in weight - picking up my old 15.6" laptop feels like I'm lifting weights after using this one! It still feels really solid though, and light weight doesn't mean that it's any less sturdy than you need. I also liked the fact that many of the settings I'd usually choose were already set by default on this machine. Previously I had to spend a lot of time putting even simple things the way I like them but not this time. The fact that they have thought about it and set it up better than other manufacturers I've seen recently speaks volumes to me.

In the main I have been extremely impressed with it and there are very few points I can make against this laptop. The lack of a full size LAN connection on the machine itself is a slight disappointment, though that's only because it wouldn't have fitted in such a slim laptop and to be fair Samsung have included a small adaptor which you can use to hook up with. I would have liked a larger SSD to be fitted (some of the models in this range sold abroad actually have 256GB SSD fitted) but to be fair it's not a problem that can't be solved relatively easily. A 64GB SD card is not expensive these days (I've added the Sandisk 64GB Class 10 Ultra SDXC UHS-I FFP Memory Card - Frustration Free Packaging) and the rest of the time I either plug in a USB drive or use the memory on my network drive. Whether it's really necessary is up to the individual but the fact is that the standard machine has just less than 50GB of free memory space left after the operating system and backup is accounted for. This is a great looking laptop but I've noticed that it's prone to finger marks on its surface. I generally have clean hands when using a laptop but I've still noticed this happening. Mind you, it does wipe clean very easily and looks as good as new afterwards. Sound is less than perfect on film playback, or any time that the volume is turned up high and I noticed an annoying `white' noise sometimes when playing it loud, though since the speakers are so small in a compact machine like this it's not really a surprise, but for the price I had expected a better sound quality.

Those quibbles aside I can heartily recommend the Samsung NP900X4C. If it matters then you'll be pleased to hear that admiring glances are virtually guaranteed when you use it, and if that doesn't stir you then the top-notch performance certainly will. Very highly recommended.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 30, 2012 7:06 AM GMT


Frommer's New England Day by Day (Frommer's Day by Day - Full Size)
Frommer's New England Day by Day (Frommer's Day by Day - Full Size)
by Paul Karr
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A great guide book, 18 Sep 2012
This Frommer's travel guide could be the best I've seen in a long time. Despite being a handy size to take with you when travelling (204 x 128 x 21mm) it contains masses of information which is very well presented. There are 590 pages plus an excellent map of New England tucked into a wallet inside the back cover (the map is plasticised paper for durability). Maps and photographs are used to illustrate the very informative pages, and the guide also features suggestions that you could consider depending on whether you'll be somewhere for one day, two days, three days etc.

The bulk of the book is made up of guides to the states which make up New England, but there's also some handy sections at the back of the book which contain useful tips for travellers to the region, special interest trips, food and drink, and a brief history of the area. This is the first Frommer's guide that I've seen but if the rest of them are as good as this one then I'll be very impressed.


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