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Content by Martyn Davies
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Reviews Written by
Martyn Davies "booksareweapons"
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Vax Floor 2 Floor Total U86-PM-Te Upright Vacuum
Vax Floor 2 Floor Total U86-PM-Te Upright Vacuum
Price: £62.83

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, but with classic Vax defects, 2 Sept. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The U86 did not feature in the movie "Das Boot" or "The Enemy Below", but is a very powerful vacuum cleaner that here lifted an impressive amount of dust out of a carpet that had been vacuumed the previous day with our older Vax Mach Air. It comes with a selection of extra attachments (for getting into gaps and corners and getting pet hairs etc) which are good to have. It comes packed into a small box, and some assembly is required (about 5 pieces) before you can use it. For the Ikea generation I imagine this is not a major barrier; It took me about 15 minutes to assemble.

On the downsides: to go along with its power, IT'S ALSO VERY LOUD and much bigger than its predecessors, which means you need a taller and wider storage space for it, and also means it's a bit of a beast for handling, and may not fit in/under some places you used to be able to clean.

To use the U86 for cleaning corners or the stairs, you must pull the detachable hose from the cleaning head and attach the straight extension pieces from the conning tower, er I mean handle. This is where it all goes really wrong. The flexible hose is not long enough or flexible enough (and there is no further flexible hose accessory), and so the (heavy) machine constantly tips over and falls on you during use. The design of the extension pieces is such that it keeps falling apart, so the red extension tube they supply is pretty useless.

The inadequacy of the hose is a defect that existed on the earlier Mach Air, and to be honest I'm surprised this is not yet fixed. Do they have a test lab at all (or even the house of a helpful Vax employee)? With the earlier model, an extra ('optional' and quite expensive) additional hose could be obtained to make the problem tolerable. Inevitably, Vax have changed the fixings, so the old hose cannot be used with the new machine. Consequently, for use on the stairs you need to be (a) as strong as a submariner and (b) something of an acrobat, as this thonking great thing has to march up the stairs with you.

In summary, if you live a bungaloid lifestyle, and don't get down into the corners much (or if you don't mind the being repeatedly struck on the head) then this could be the machine for you. If you have stairs, however, then you may need to think again.


No Title Available

3.0 out of 5 stars Great low price, but not really trail shoes, 27 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a good price for some shoes to wear around at the weekend, but I wouldn't call them trail running shoes. They're not really rugged enough, and really don't feel like they've got much spring or resilience in the sole or heel. Actually I don't like them for running at all, road or trail. A further criticism is that they don't really look like the picture, being a much lighter grey and the blue much more pronounced.


Xbox 360 250GB Console Plus Halo 4 (Game of the Year Edition) and Forza Horizon
Xbox 360 250GB Console Plus Halo 4 (Game of the Year Edition) and Forza Horizon

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great classic XBox, 27 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Great console for older kids. This pack has the bigger memory plus two bundled games. The only thing that could be better is if a second controller were bundled.


Crimson/Red
Crimson/Red
Price: £13.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Sprout Album for Decades, 27 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Crimson/Red (Audio CD)
Paddy McAloon in excellent form, with catchy tunes and a deft hand at the lyrics. A lot of familiar themes are visited; "The Best Jewel Thief in the World" celebrates an unlikely hero (possibly a nod to Cary Grant movie "Catch a Thief"); "The Devil Came a Calling" talks about temptation and writes Paddy himself into the song; "List of Impossible Things" sounds like it could have come straight off 1990's "Jordan" album. Many of the songs (like "The Old Magician") have an auto-biographical and nostalgic feeling to them, and overall this is a beautiful sounding album, and the best Prefab Sprout album for decades.


The Undesirables
The Undesirables
by Dave Boling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing but excellent story of Afrikaner fortitude, 27 July 2014
This review is from: The Undesirables (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
"The Undesirables" is a novel set in the Orange Free State in South Africa during the second Boer War at the turn of the 20th century. It follows the Venter family, where the men folk have gone to fight commando-style against the invading British army, leaving the women home at the farm. The British army kill the livestock and burn the farm, part of Lord Kitchener's "scorched earth" policy to deny the guerilla army support or supplies, and take the family into a concentration camp. The narrative largely cuts between the pre-war times at Venter farm, and the concentration camp, and the story is told through the eyes of Aletta Venter, the 14-year old girl of the family.

It's an excellent read, if harrowing at times following the concentration camp conditions. It is a fascinating view of the Boer War from the Afrikaner side, one that is often concealed in favour of tails of derring-do on the British side.


TCP 5W LED GU10 Spotlight 330lm 36° Beam Angle Warm White 3000K replace 50W halogen bulbs
TCP 5W LED GU10 Spotlight 330lm 36° Beam Angle Warm White 3000K replace 50W halogen bulbs
Offered by bestf
Price: £4.47

5.0 out of 5 stars Very bright compared to many existing lamps, 7 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Very bright little bulb, with 6 LEDs . The bulb is a little longer than the previous one (around 3mm), which means it does not sit flush in the fitting I have (originally for halogen bulbs), but this is not a big deal in my situation. The bulb is built in China, but the LEDs are from Nichia, which is a Japanese company of good reputation. The bulb is white plastic with no metal parts that you can touch, which generally seems to be a good precaution given some of the questionable power supplies in low-end LED bulbs. I like it.


Full Replacement Parts Set for Syma S107 / S107G RC Helicopter, Main Blades,Tail Decorations,Tail blade,Balance Bar,Connect Buckle, Inner Shaft. Red Set.
Full Replacement Parts Set for Syma S107 / S107G RC Helicopter, Main Blades,Tail Decorations,Tail blade,Balance Bar,Connect Buckle, Inner Shaft. Red Set.
Offered by CraftStore
Price: £1.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 7 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Useful set with replacement items for many breakable parts on the S107.


TCP LED B22d Bayonet Cap 10 Watt LED Classic Shape, White
TCP LED B22d Bayonet Cap 10 Watt LED Classic Shape, White
Offered by STARLIGHT LIGHTING
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Nice warm white bulb, 28 Jun. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Gives good warm diffuse light, and is a good replacement for the slow-starting fluorescent bulb I was using before. Hopefully also with a claimed 25000 hour (2.7 year) lifespan, this bulb should be in place for a long time.


Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor for iPhone & Android
Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor for iPhone & Android
Price: £37.68

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple to install for Android, iPhone, and supports a number of fitness apps, 26 Jun. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This nicely packaged heart-rate monitor runs off a replaceable 3V coin cell, and was really very easy to set-up. The quick start guide tells you only to go to the Apple or Android app store and download the Wahoo app (which is free). Once you’ve done this, the app leads you through switching on Bluetooth and connecting the TICKR monitor to your smartphone. In my case it spotted that the firmware in the unit was old, and allowed me to upgrade it via the app and the iPhone’s internet connection.

The TICKR itself is about 70x40mm with two LEDs visible on the front, and a clip-on adjustable strap (which contains the sensors). The Blue LED tells you that Bluetooth communication is happening, and the red flashes with your heart-beats (not that you’re likely to be staring down at your chest during a workout). The unit has no on-off switch, but activates automatically with your heart beat, and connects to the smartphone app.

Wahoo’s own app allows you to record your workouts, but as a long-time user of Endomondo, I was quite happy that this is also compatible. Once the iPhone is configured to connect to the TICKR, Endomondo (and several other apps) can then also see it, and you can add live heart rate information to your workout. In Endomondo this appears as another graph overlay, so you can see the full heartrate history across your workout, and compare it with speed, altitude and so on.

Note that you need a phone that has Bluetooth 4.0 (Bluetooth Low Energy), which is not available on iPhones older than the 4S. The TICKR can support a subset of Android phones also (BT 4 capable), such as the Samsung S3, S4. A full list is available on the Wahoo website.

I briefly connected the TICKR to a Samsung S4, and this also worked fine. I downloaded the Wahoo fitness app from the Google Play store, and it was pretty easy to switch Bluetooth on, detect the TICKR device and start recording heart data.

I haven’t done any power tests yet, but it seems that it could be pretty demanding on battery with some of these fitness apps. During a workout you will be using GPS, 3G data and Bluetooth, not to mention the screen when you look at the maps and statistics, so I think better be ready to give the phone a charge on return from a long run or ride.

Overall, I'm happy with it. It's really much better than the older proprietary radio device I had before.


D'Addario NYXL1046 Regular Light 10-46 Electric Guitar Strings
D'Addario NYXL1046 Regular Light 10-46 Electric Guitar Strings
Price: £10.80

5.0 out of 5 stars Nice bright strings, 18 Jun. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These NYXL strings are “regular light” (10’s) rather than the “super light” (9’s) also available in the same range. They have a good lively sound and ideal twang for the Telecaster; they are meant to be engineered to give more output in the 2-5kHz range.

I like the simplicity of the packaging, and the colour coded ball ends. They also guarantee authenticity, so if you find that you have counterfeit NYXL strings you can visit the web site to report this and get a complimentary replacement set.

As for the claimed durability and strength, time will tell; I’ve only had them on for a few short weeks so far.


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