Profile for Stucumber > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Stucumber
Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,454
Helpful Votes: 633

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Stucumber "Stucumber" (N. Wales)
(VINE VOICE)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-17
pixel
Fancy Dress Christmas
Fancy Dress Christmas
by Nick Sharratt
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant comic picture book for young toddlers., 16 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Fancy Dress Christmas (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Nick Sharratt does what he does best, and creates a vibrant, rhyming picture book for young children. Much in the same vein as his previous children's books (some authored by others) such as Chocolate Mousse for Greedy Goose or Octopus Socktopus. This is another wonderfully silly book, perfect for toddlers and their silly Dads. Great surprises are on every page and as usual they're brought with Sharratt's trademark bold style.


Goldilocks
Goldilocks
by Allan Ahlberg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An immediate favourite., 16 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Goldilocks (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When I first saw this book, I thought a long-lost work had been found and published. Seeing two Ahlbergs on the front cover led me to believe, momentarily, that an unpublished work by husband and wife team Allen and Janet Ahlberg had been released, years after Janet's sad demise. The family team were responsible for some classic children's work during the seventies and eighties, (Allen writing, Janet illustrating) all of which are in print and enjoyed to this day - as my 35 month old boy will attest. However, this is a brand new work, written by the much respected Allen Ahlberg yes, but this time joined by another family member: his and Janet's daughter Jessica.

It is such a charming book too. Ahlberg senior takes on the classic Goldilocks tale and spins from it a series of wonderfully comic variations, each more absurd than the last. As well as an irreverent retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, there is the tale of Goldilocks and the Thirty-three bears, and the Bliim (space-aliens) and the (alive)Furniture, as well as a couple of other linked stories. The prose is vintage Ahlberg, all of his humour and his understanding of the way children think is on display here; he also makes it easy for parents to be master storytellers.

The illustrations of Jessica are always going to compared to her mother, which is perhaps a daunting legacy to live up to. However, though there is some familial similarity, she is very much her own artist and her superb work stands on its own merit. It is vibrant, lively and accomplished, with a degree of humour that complements the text well.

The pop-up and pull-tab elements of the book are used sparingly but effectively (sometimes hilariously), in the service of storytelling, rather than for novelty value. That said, perhaps the most exciting feature is the inclusion of another little pop-up book, that comes out and can be enjoyed on its own. This is an illustrated play script, which has a super-cute little pop-up stage and set in the middle.

The stock on which the book is printed is of very high quality, lending the line and wash drawings an almost hand made quality. The construction is of good quality too but I'd be apprehensive leaving this alone with my boy until he can be a bit more delicate - parents will know when their own can be trusted!

Overall, this is a charming book for young children that is also a delight for adults, thoroughly recommended.


ASUS TF300T 10.1-inch Multitouch Tablet with Keyboard (Blue) (Nvidia Tegra 3 1.4GHz, 1GB RAM, 32GB HDD, WLAN, BT, 2x Cam, Android 4.0)
ASUS TF300T 10.1-inch Multitouch Tablet with Keyboard (Blue) (Nvidia Tegra 3 1.4GHz, 1GB RAM, 32GB HDD, WLAN, BT, 2x Cam, Android 4.0)

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All that most people will ever need., 27 Sept. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
On its own the Asus TF300T is a full-featured Android tablet, the inclusion of a dockable keyboard makes it much more than that, such that it should be able to contend with traditional PCs for most people.

Undocked, it is a familiar experience for Android users, albeit one that is considerably higher spec than the average. It runs Ice Cream Sandwich - one of the latest Android iterations - so that it is up to date in terms of software compatibility, most apps will happily run on it. Bizzarely some big developers haven't updated their apps to run on ICS - Electronic Arts I'm looking at you - so you may find an occasional one that isn't compatible, no fault of Asus or Google though. One app that currently does work is the BBC's iPlayer, which is worth mentioning because the recent update renders it incompatible with a great many Android devices (including the tablet this one replaces and has gone to my Mum, sorry Mum), though the Beeb still haven't paid enough attention to Android as they have iOS for Apple.

Graphically the device is superb, the screen looks great and you really do get the benefit of HD video content, such as that offered on YouTube or Vimeo. Making use of the display is the onboard graphics chip from Nvidia, this allows gorgeous 3D gaming, GTA III runs perfectly and looks good too.

Once connected to the internet via WiFi, browsing is a pleasure, though most sites direct you to their mobile version, this tablet also handles the desktop versions with ease. This is helped by the relatively generous screen size and resolution, making viewing pages in their full format easy. It becomes a toss-up between using a site's app or visiting using the browser, as the latter is so good. Given the portability of a tablet, accessing the internet whilst out and about is fairly easy. This is not straightforward if you are unable to find a WiFi hotspot, as this particular model doesn't come with mobile internet capabilities (another version allows the insertion of a micro sim for 3G internet), however if you have another device, such as a mobile phone, that allows Bluetooth tethering, then that device's mobile internet can be used. Just check your operator's mobile internet download limits first, before spending an afternoon streaming HD video. There is still no LoveFilm app for Android that supports streaming, though hopefully that will change soon but I did manage to watch The I.T. Crowd last night on 4od without any hassle.

There is a sizable 32 GB internal memory, which is a fair amount in itself but this can be augmented using the micro-SD slot on the side and the full-size SD card slot on the keyboard. Further potential for storage is the USB3 port, again found on the side of the keyboard, this easily found a 2GB dongle I inserted. Again more storage potential comes with the bundled My Net app, which allows connection to storage on your home network via DLNA link. If this still isn't enough storage, ASUS give you access to a free 5GB of cloud storage.

While the USB3 port, Bluetooth and WiFi allow connectivity with other devices, HDMI allows you to connect to a TV with an HDMI port - as most newer TVs do. If you have an HD TV, this means that you can connect the tablet to it and use it as a monitor; handy for games or video.

While this ASUS on its own is a decent tablet, it is the ability to dock with the supplied keyboard which make it more interesting and increases the possibilities. This is a full qwerty keyboard, the same size as the tablet, it is much easier to use than the onscreen Android tablet and allows the composition of fairly long bodies of text (this review is typed on it). This makes tasks such as emailing more feasible, as well as posting comments and the like. ASUS have bundled a scaled down office suite called Polaris, which allows the creation of Word compatible documents, so that a tablet becomes a serious consideration for work or study. Being an OU student, I can readily appreciate the ability to take my work around with me and be able to edit it on a device that is much more portable than a laptop. It will still be better to use the laptop for creating scientific work to a high standard, as the tools are more developed and the hardware has more oomph but there's no reason that much of the work shouldn't be generated on the tablet. The keyboard also features a row of shortcut keys and media controls along the top.

Battery life is good, upto 15 hours which comes from both sections having batteries, while the keyboard can act as a power source for the tablet.

Overall, I'm very impressed, it's so much easier to pick this up and do some of the things I want to, than it is with the laptop. In fact I would say that I prefer to use this than the laptop, its much handier to take around and it's a lot more fun too. Power users are going to want to stick to PCs and Macs for anything processor intensive, such as serious gaming or media production, but for most uses, for most users, this is a great little machine.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 24, 2012 4:13 PM BST


Braven 600 Portable Wireless Speaker - Red Aluminium
Braven 600 Portable Wireless Speaker - Red Aluminium

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 22 Aug. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Braven 600 is the little brother to the Braven 650 but, seemingly, in only one way: a much reduced battery life down from a huge 20 hours, to a reasonable 12, all for thirty quid difference. As such, most of the next review is the same for the 650, just because in almost every respect they're the same product.

I already have a portable speaker, a cheap little thing that takes three triple As and connects via the headphone port. Predictably its not great sounding and the power doesn't last long. Other portables I've had suffered from the same underpowered performance, sometimes drawing on a device's battery, which ends the fun really soon. What is needed is decent sound and battery life, which on both counts the Braven 600 provides.

First impressions are of a compact but solid and weighty, little unit, the size of a small packet of biscuits. The aluminium body has a minimalist design, which is little more than a metal cuboid, in a striking red colour, with black, plastic ends that contain the interfaces and controls. An initial four hour charge, after unboxing, and it is ready to be played with.

Connectivity is very simple via Bluetooth, press and hold the unit's connect button for five seconds, then search through your audio device's Bluetooth screen and connect. Super simple. I tried connection through two different Sony Xperias, a Samsung Galaxy s3 and an iPhone, all connected first time. Should this method not work (or you want to conserve your battery's power), you can connect easily through a 3.5mm audio cable.

Both the quality and volume of the audio are impressive, more than adequate for trips to the park but also able to fill a medium room easily. In fact, in a shop where I work, with several noisy refrigerators and customers and staff talking, I found it was possible to have thing up too loud. It can, however, produce clear audio at high volumes, both for music and speech.

A twelve hour battery usage life, might not see you through a whole weekend, particularly if using as a power source for other devices, so you need to ration use a little. It's still a good battery life though but if you think you would want more use out of it, consider the 650. My main, intended, use for this is to play downloaded radio programmes and podcasts in the bedroom and garden, away from my usual, larger and less portable, speakers in the kitchen. Foreign holidays should be covered too, as the wall plug comes with a variety of different pin types as standard.

Positive points:
.High quality build
.Looks good
.Truly portable
.Easy connectivity
.GREAT sound
.Ability to charge other devices from it
.Long battery life

Negative points
.Packaging could have had more recycling information (I'm stretching, I know.)


Braven 650 Portable Wireless Speaker - Silver Aluminium
Braven 650 Portable Wireless Speaker - Silver Aluminium

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent., 22 Aug. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I already have a portable speaker, a cheap little thing that takes three triple As and connects via the headphone port. Predictably its not great sounding and the power doesn't last long. Other portables I've had suffered from the same underpowered performance, sometimes drawing on a device's battery, which ends the fun really soon. What is needed is decent sound and battery life, which on both counts the Braven 650 provides.

First impressions are of a compact but solid and weighty, little unit, the size of a small packet of biscuits. The aluminium body has a minimalist design, which is little more than a metal cuboid, with black, plastic ends that contain the interfaces and controls. An initial four hour charge, after unboxing, and it is ready to be played with.

Connectivity is very simple via Bluetooth, press and hold the unit's connect button for five seconds, then search through your audio device's Bluetooth screen and connect. Super simple. I tried connection through two different Sony Xperias, a Samsung Galaxy s3 and an iPhone, all connected first time. Should this method not work (or you want to conserve your battery's power), you can connect easily through a 3.5mm audio cable.

Both the quality and volume of the audio are impressive, more than adequate for trips to the park but also able to fill a medium room easily. In fact, in a shop where I work, with several noisy refrigerators and customers and staff talking, I found it was possible to have thing up too loud. It can, however, produce clear audio at high volumes, both for music and speech.

This will hopefully find some use on camping trips, not just as speakers but also as source of energy for charging up mobile phones. With twenty hours of charging and playing promised, weekend trips should be covered. My main, intended, use for this is to play downloaded radio programmes and podcasts in the bedroom and garden, away from my usual, larger and less portable, speakers in the kitchen. Foreign holidays should be covered too, as the wall plug comes with a variety of different pin types as standard.

Positive points:
.High quality build
.Looks good
.Truly portable
.Easy connectivity
.GREAT sound
.Ability to charge other devices from it
.Long battery life

Negative points
.Packaging could have had more recycling information (I'm stretching, I know.)


Stanley's Stick
Stanley's Stick
by Neal Layton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastick., 14 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Stanley's Stick (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Before going into much detail, the most important thing to know, in a review of a children's book, is has the child asked to have this read again? Indeed, our little boy has, more than once; which may be all you need to know.

Other than that, the story, though in a well-worn theme, is a thoughtful take on the idea of the imaginative potential of simple objects. This isn't to say that the author lectures the reader on 'the-importance-of-imagination', rather that he reflects back to children, in a way they'd relate to, something of their own nature.

Hegley is a poet and this comes through in his prose, there is a rhythm to the words that I recognized from seeing him perform. It is somewhat different to the usual children's book style, though it does have a lovely lyrical quality.

The illustration may divide people due to its deliberately naive style, it's a style that I appreciate requires a great deal of practise (it's not actually that easy), though it's not one that I enjoy. That said my boy (two and a half) did enjoy it, he talked animatedly about certain pictures and showed a great deal of interest in it.

Despite my own prejudices about the illustration (I must be getting old, it'll be oil paintings of Lancaster bombers for me next), I and my boy both enjoyed reading this together.


Philips SensoTouch RQ1180cc GyroFlex 2D
Philips SensoTouch RQ1180cc GyroFlex 2D

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New electric shaver convert., 17 July 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I generally avoid electric shavers due to their tendency to irritate the skin on my neck, instead I have always used a razor and plenty of preparation to soften my beard bristles beforehand. Most electrics are used dry and so cannot be used with a lubricating shaving foam, thus they tend to aggravate sensitive skin, whereas a blade will glide over problem areas. I've also always thought of electrics as being a bit of a faff, the need to regularly and thoroughly clean the shaving head being a major negative point.

So, when given the chance to try out a wet and dry electric, that promises to be as good as a wet blade, I took it and I've been really rather pleased with it so far. Given a proper routine (soften bristles with hot water, etc.) the shaver gives a shave that is about as good as a razor, so much so that I couldn't quite tell if my beard was any different in length after using either. It's a pleasure to use with shaving foam, which the head does fill up with quickly, but is equally quick to rinse out in water. How was the post-shave rash? Not bad, still not as good as with a blade but then the number of toilet-paper-blotted nicks was reduced to zero - a happy trade-off. As a bonus to using a wet over a dry shaver, is the lack of trimmings on clothing afterward, meaning a quick shave with an open collared shirt on is not out of the question.

A deep clean unit is provided, though frankly, I've not found that I've needed to use it, but then I don't shave daily.

The swappable trimming and styling head came in useful too, allowing me to trim down my full beard, in a couple of minutes to a length that the main head could deal with in another couple. In general the precision of both heads is good, though not being one for facial topiary, I can't tell if this will allow you to fashion the perfect soulpatch or Craig David style marker-pen effect.

Overall, I've found this shaver worked particularly well, and though I don't shave daily, I have ditched the razor blades because of its convenience. It is solid feeling, well designed and, importantly, does its job well.


Robot (Make It)
Robot (Make It)
by Mike Brownlow
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too, too limited., 15 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Robot (Make It) (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I really wanted to like this, the idea sounds fantastic: a story book where the child gets to build a robot as they go along, unfortunately it doesn't really live up to its promise.

The overall design and quality of illustration are great, it is colourful, fun and interesting to look at. My 2-and-a-half year old was really excited by the book. We pulled out the parts as we went along, following the story and reading the interesting facts. This is obviously pitched at an older age group than my boy but we did together, so there shouldn't have been any problems. But there were. For one a cardboard tab was slightly too wide for the designated slot and split in my hands, getting this part to work was tricky. I'm 37 and experienced at model making; but how easy would a 6 year old find this? The whole process plays out in a similar fashion, frustrating and fiddly.

The built model will not stand any sort of play, it's too flimsy; this is an ornament only. Still, once you've made the model you can still read the book again right? No, it's a pretty dull story and is rendered obsolete without the robot to make and if you've paid the full £7.99, you might wonder was it worth it. A book you can read only once and a frustrating building experience to make a toy you can't play with.

Had this come, not in book format but as a kit with an annotated story and at a smaller price, then the faults would be forgivable. As an expensive, high quality hardback book that may as well go in the recycling after the first day, I'm less inclined to be so forgiving.


WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo 4TB Desktop External Dual Drive Storage System with RAID
WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo 4TB Desktop External Dual Drive Storage System with RAID
Offered by Vebox Direct Computing
Price: £366.97

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly for Macs., 15 Jun. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I chose his product to review as part of Amazon's Vine programme. The product was offered with only a short description, which didn't mention that the Thunderbolt part of its name refers to a type of interface. This interface was developed, as a joint project, between Apple and Intel and is intended to deliver incredible speeds of up to 10 Gb/s - twice that of USB 3.0. This is all well and good, however, Thunderbolt is almost exclusively limited to Apple Macs. If you have a Windows compatible PC, like me, the chances are it doesn't have a Thunderbolt port, and it's unlikely that you will soon (some PCs are starting to adopt Thunderbolt, we'll see if this becomes widespread). Why not use the USB or ethernet ports that this surely has? Well, it doesn't, Western Digital (wrongly or rightly) decided that if you had a spiffy, Thunderbolt enabled Mac, you would have no need to use those other types of interface. This does limit the device to an entirely Mac environment; not just that, one where every conceivable user is using a recent Mac. To be fair, a wired device, such as this, intended for Mac using, creative professionals, is unlikely to be used by more than the one person, and then only in a work environment. It's simply not intended for domestic use but instead as a high-end tool, that can provide them with speedy access to large files, that can be readily manipulated without a drop in performance.

All that said, how does this perform? Well, I'm a PC owner, I have no Apple products...but I know a man who does and he very kindly spared me an afternoon to play around. It is impressively fast, at least in large file transfer and compared to my experience of USB2.0, wireless LAN and ethernet. The HUGE amount of space 2TB to 4TB depending on your RAID or JBOD setup, starts to fill up quickly, though we ran out of files before we got any where near full. However, I can't vouch for how well this performs at its bread-and-butter tasks of shunting around large, ever-changing, files, in a demending professional setting. This sort of thing really requires in-depth benchmarking; fortunately these reviews are out there and only take a minute to find and I've used these to decide on my final score. I'll refrain from posting as I'm not sure how that sits with Vine rules.

If you're looking for a home or (non-creative professional)office network, then this is probably not for you. If you are a Mac-wielding music producer, graphic designer etc. this certainly will be of interest to you, most other people may find the 10GB/s overkill, even if they can use Thunderbolt.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 7, 2012 5:55 PM BST


BT Aura 1500 Single Digital Cordless Phone with Answering Machine - Black /Chrome
BT Aura 1500 Single Digital Cordless Phone with Answering Machine - Black /Chrome
Offered by liGo
Price: £29.99

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good quality phone., 23 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My first reaction to the Aura 1500 was how much it resembled a basic mobile phone, perhaps one from a few years back. That isn't a bad thing because even basic mobile phones are more feature packed than the average landline.

First off it is a solid weighty phone that is comfortable in the hand and while pressed against the ear. Styling is minimal but not plain; it's quite sleek in black with silver trim. This goes for both the handset and the base unit.

The interface is where it most resembles a basic mobile phone, I wouldn't be surprised if this uses technology and software gleaned from mobile design. The interface is a combination of colour screen, numerical buttons, answer/hang-up, d-pad and menu select buttons. These can be used to access a menu system with the mobile phone hierarchy and input methods. This can take a while, when setting up the phonebook, as letters are chosen by cycling through the corresponding numerical button, something you might want to spend an afternoon doing, particularly if you want to use all 250 places. I found the button respnses a little bit slower than I would have liked, increasing data input time somewhat but not terribly annoying.

There are a choice of polyphonic ringtones for handset and base, some of which I found annoying and i would have a welcomed a standard phone 'chirp-chirp' sound but this wasn't included. Call sound quality is good and can be set to a suitable volume.

Battery life is good, meaning the handset can be left for days before needing to be returned to the base. You'll need to leave the handset in the base, for an initial charge for 24 hours before you can play with it though.

Some extra features, such as caller ID, conference calling, speaker call, call screening raise it above a standard landline phone and justify the somewhat higher price. I found the product description accurately reflected my experience with the phone.

If you're think that you might need more than one handset I would purchase these in one package rather than seek to add to what you have later. In the multiple handset packages the additional bases do not have the same functionality as the main unit; I haven't been able to find single, additional handsets with these basic bases and don't know what, if any, compatibility problems may arise.

Overall, this is a decent high quality home phone, with many extra - and useful - features.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-17