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ESP (Dudley, West Midlands United Kingdom)

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Lines of Departure (Frontlines Book 2)
Lines of Departure (Frontlines Book 2)
Price: £3.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Departure From The Original But Not In Quality - A Great Read, 4 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After purchasing, I reserved this book for holiday reading – it's the only chance I get nowadays for intensive and, for the most part, uninterrupted reading. I am not sorry I did. I found it very entertaining and was swept along as the story unfolded.

I started out with SF and moved over to Fantasy, only dipping into the former occasionally in recent years. I suppose this means I am more easily pleased and not so jaded with the SF genre, but even so this sequel seems every bit as satisfying as the first novel even though much of it is, I have to admit, quite predictable. The style and content, plus a few surprises here and there, compensate for the fact that you just know our hero will survive to book 3...somehow.

Despite the main antagonists remaining as enigmatic and dauntingly formidable as ever, the whole adds up nicely with a good cross-section of the personal, the political, the tactical and the strategic – both good and bad. I have always been a fan of hard science and military stories, so this blend of the two is all grist to my mill and very satisfying. For me everything seems to hold together well...in spite of some lingering doubts about these 'Lankies' and their true nature. The human perspective and persistent ability to fight petty squabbles even in the face of obliteration seems to ring true. The tech and the tactics held up (for me) throughout, balancing the more personal and intimate aspects (though it's nice not to have to wade through chunks of 'obligatory' sex scenes). MarKo Kloos' ability to conjure up in the mind's eye landscapes far from what we are used to and tense military action is more than satisfactory.

I certainly intend to buy the third book to see how it all pans out. I may even do say after submitting this review.


Oral-B Pro 6000 CrossAction Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush with Bluetooth Connectivity and Smart Series Powered by Braun (Packaging May Vary)
Oral-B Pro 6000 CrossAction Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush with Bluetooth Connectivity and Smart Series Powered by Braun (Packaging May Vary)
Price: £83.99

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Seriously? You Want Us To Throw The Thing Away Because The Battery is Failing?! Disgraceful., 26 Feb. 2015
Admittedly, the following is based on my experience of a slightly older version of the same product – the Triumph 5000 looks to be an ‘enhanced’ version, with more features. We have had ours for over 2yrs and not had cause for complaint…until now!

It frankly shocks me that in this day and age a company so cynically seeks to exploit its customers by selling products that have such an unnecessarily short life. The battery performance of our toothbrush has been degrading recently, with increasingly frequent charging required. What should be a relatively simple and cost-effective battery replacement for an otherwise perfectly serviceable (and comparatively expensive) product turns out to be an exercise that will cause the vast majority of customers to throw the whole unit away and replace it.

I (foolishly) purchased two compatible replacement batteries online before looking to see how to swap out the original, assuming that it would be a simple case of opening the base, extracting the old battery and inserting the new – rather like a torch. Having looked at both a video and step-by-step document online, not to mention doing a dry run as far as I could, I am now availing myself of a soldering kit of all things! I am damned if I’m going to let them get away with this disgraceful exploitation!

If it weren’t for this, the rating would be 4 stars or more – performance has been great, we’ve had no issues, and the dentist has been pleased with our teeth (we actually purchased two because my wife travels a lot and wouldn't be without one). However, Buyer Beware! Do your research online before buying and find out if this newer version is the same with regard to battery ‘replacement’.


Audioquest Dragonfly V1.2
Audioquest Dragonfly V1.2
Offered by AudioVisual Online
Price: £129.00

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's The Bee's Knees!, 4 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I read a review of the new Dragonfly last month and decided I wanted to try it. At £129 from Amazon, and arriving next day, it was too tempting. Since mid January I have been using it to listen to Spotify (Premium) and my lossless files via Winamp on my laptop. I am pairing the Dragonfly with Klipsch X10 earphones. Prior to this I was boosting my sound experience with the chunky Arcam rPac (cost me about £150 last year).

My verdict? You have to seriously consider buying one of these if you are in the market for a portable DAC.

In all honesty the difference between the Arcam and the Audioquest is by no means night and day. In fact, the differences are quite subtle where sound quality is concerned. However, I believe that the Dragonfly has the edge: that touch more clarity and sense of space, more control of the bass notes making them that bit more taut and defined. There is the sense of a veil being lifted. It is hard to believe such good sound comes via a glorified memory stick! ;-)

Add to this the excellent price and the extremely convenient size and you have a winner. True, it cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but feed it with good quality music files and I doubt you will be disappointed.

Sorry Arcam, but I will be selling my rPac onward very soon.

EDIT: Listening again this evening, I decided to directly compare between plugging the Klipsh x10 earphones directly into the earphone socket of the laptop and using the Dragonfly. Firstly, I have to admit that the Acer output is not bad at all (things have improved in recent years). However, that said, having switched back to the Dragonfly, it's the latter I prefer. With the 'phones plugged directly into the jack socket the sound is clear and crisp and even provides decent bass weight and definition. Yet, to my ears, the sound is brittle and quite possibly too harsh for extended listening. Yes, it has clarity, but there's no warmth and depth. When the Dragonfly is plugged in it is necessary to notch up the volume for comparison. That done, the sound gains 'life' and colour. The bass has better controlled weight and punch. I suppose you can say that overall the sound is better balanced and richer without becoming too biased toward either end of the scale.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 8, 2014 6:09 AM GMT


Klipsch Image X10 - High Performance Noise-Isolating In ear headphones
Klipsch Image X10 - High Performance Noise-Isolating In ear headphones

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars At Under £100 They Are The Most Bargainous 'Phones I've Ever Owned...but see Edit, 28 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Just a quick word to support all those who have given these beauties a high rating. When they dropped under £100 on Amazon last year(?) I snapped them up and have not had a single regret since. No issues with the cable to-date. Great sounding in-ears. I also own the Sennheiser ie80 pair (which cost considerably more) and the Klipsch 'phones are comparable in my opinion. A slightly different emphasis on sound balance, but overall a strong rival - it's down to personal taste and preference.

Personally, I think the main problem (challenge) is finding the right ear buds - not always those that are supplied. Human ears come in an infinite variety of sizes and shapes, so finding the best fit for comfort and sound is not that simple. I have Comply buds fitted to both my sets and find these really help, preferring them to the as supplied sets. I found them a worthwhile 'upgrade'.

Oh, and I also prefer the simple Klipsch case to the overly fussy Sennheiser box.

Add a suitable DAC/Amp and you'll be positively beaming with audio pleasure. :o)

[EDIT]

It is with regret that I have to join the ranks of those who complain about the durability (or otherwise) of the cabling on this model of earphone.

I purchased a pair in February 2013 and enjoyed using them in the office at my desk. Not a demanding environment. Even less so, when you consider that I have alternated them with another well-known brand of high quality earphones. Indeed, I cannot fault the sound quality at the price.

However, in early March 2014 I suddenly noticed that the black sleeve at the business end of each bud is splitting along the seam. I suppose I could attend to this with a piece of insulation tape or similar, but I really think that this should be an unnecessary step for a premium pair of earphones. I will shortly be getting in touch with Amazon to see what can be done. The manufacturer warranty is supposed to be greater than 12 months so I will see how it pans out. In the meantime it looks as though I will be moving to the sturdier Sennheisers.

So, where does that leave them on the rating scale? I deduct 2 stars. I can hold the seams together with tape, but shouldn't need to. At over £200 as originally sold, there is no way the kind of use I have put them through should result in degradation like this. A great shame - disappointing.

[LATEST EDIT]

The other day I decided that it was simply too much bother to go down the route of contacting whoever might wish to claim responsibility for the disappointing durability of the x10 earphone cables. Instead, I applied a small dab of Locktite glue to the offending areas. This appears to have effectively welded the seams and stopped the rot. It's not ideal and it's not elegant, but it works - for now at least. The earphones still sound terrific. :o)
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2014 10:06 PM BST


Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines Book 1)
Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines Book 1)
Price: £3.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Does It Survive First Contact With The Enemy?, 22 Oct. 2013
I enjoyed the book, finding it entertaining and largely plausible in terms of an extrapolation forward into the `near' future of military technology and socio-economic trends. To be honest, I don't tend to be too critical anyway as long as the author remains consistent and doesn't push the bounds of credibility too hard. It's science fiction after all.

I found the style both engaging and gritty by turns; the characters sufficiently interesting to sympathise with. Despite the mayhem dished out, there were touches of humanity and pathos to balance it. A dash of humour here and there was welcome too. I also appreciated that the main characters didn't develop into model soldiers overnight with perfect scores in everything. OK, so certain elements were stereotyped, like the canteen brawl and aftermath, but that's all part of the military territory.

Throughout I was readily able to visualise the action in my mind's eye. In fact, I could see it being transferred to screen at every stage. With today's enthusiasm for CGI and SF, the only thing that might halt the march of Terms of Enlistment to the screen is the queue ahead of it.

The transition from Earthside into the Solar System and beyond was, maybe, a little contrived. However, it was a plot twist that again didn't promote the hero as an over-achieving stereotype. For this I was thankful. Sometimes life's curved balls can come that way. The plot held my interest all the way to this point and beyond.

SPOILER ALERT!!

Now for the reasons I couldn't give this entertaining book five stars (although I would prefer to give 4½ rather than just four). Firstly, in all honesty, I think that I found that things simply developed rather too fast once young Andrew was transferred into the Navy. To an extent it seemed to me that the last section of the book was too rushed. Is this because the author wanted his readers hooked on what will come in subsequent books of the inevitable series? I admit that I am cautiously eyeing the hook with interest, although it has the hallmarks of `bandwagon' emblazoned across it.

My expectation was a straightforward development into an account of various actions that involved colonial policing actions and the ongoing competition (if that is right word) between the North American Commonwealth and the Cino-Russian Bloc. So I don't know whether it was a masterstroke to plunge the hero into a First Contact situation with an aggressive and hostile alien race with very little preamble. This is why I feel the latter section of the novel is rushed and inclined to start docking stars.

My second reservation focuses on the first encounter with the aliens themselves: from my perspective Mr Kloos had better give some darned good explanations in his later novels. There are questions to be asked regarding the nature and tactics of the aliens. Marko Kloos has very possibly left a great deal to be answered with good reason and purpose, but the initial encounter and the circumstances that surround it are filled with contradiction given the obvious technological level of the aliens.

I look forward to the direct sequel to Terms of Enlistment with interest.


The Robert Sheckley Megapack: 15 Classic Science Fiction Stories
The Robert Sheckley Megapack: 15 Classic Science Fiction Stories
Price: £0.83

5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Enjoyable Trip Down Memory Lane, 19 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A great read - back when SF stories were new and original. Reading these afresh after many years, I appreciated the enthusiasm and humour, the sense of 'what-if?' and 'just imagine' in stories that only filled a very small section of my local library.
A great deal of the content is 'dated' and we can smile at some of the concepts in light of more recent developments. True, too, there are gaps in logic that need a bit of a leap to negotiate, but overall this is a very entertaining collection. Keep in mind when these stories were being written and then appreciate the ideas and the wit.


Andalusia Regional Map 578 (Michelin Regional Maps)
Andalusia Regional Map 578 (Michelin Regional Maps)
by Michelin
Edition: Map
Price: £5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Useful, 19 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
We used the map only twice (just two day trips) and found it to be very useful. It's not perfect, the Granada city map would have been better left out - Granada needs a map of its own - and clearly the toll motorway we travelled on should have been marked as a toll road although it wasn't on the map. Otherwise a very helpful item to have with us:clear and good quality.


Game of Thrones - Season 2 [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
Game of Thrones - Season 2 [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Lena Headey
Price: £19.64

5.0 out of 5 stars Are People Really So Hard To Please?, 8 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Maybe not. Of over 400 reviews on Amazon alone, only a small proportion have complaints, and even of those some are more to do with the DVD quality or some aspect of Amazon's service (hardly fair on the story, but I suppose you have to complain somehow if you have a problem). However, being who I am, I always do read the low scores just to see if there is something I should be aware of, so a balanced view is helpful...just in case. My, what a (limited) chorus of disapproval!
So, is it any good? Too right it is! Those who have given the series a poor rating must be really difficult to please, with standards I can only dream of. Can the DVD version really be so poor? The Bluray is beautifully crisp and clear. I don't have a cinema sound system, but through the stereo it sounds great. The story moves on apace and characters develop or fall by the wayside (some most unexpectedly and, I have to say, much to my disappointment - but this is gritty fantasy with the realistic view that not everyone you want to will survive the telling).
I read the first book in George RR Martin's series before I saw the first season (also on Bluray) and enjoyed both very much. However, the viewing lost something because I knew what was coming, mostly. I started the second book in the series and then stopped, reasoning that if I was to watch the series on disc, I didn't want it spoiled with prior knowledge of what was to come.
So, unhindered thus far by novel-related baggage and information from my friends, I am working myself through season 2. It is a feast for the eyes and holds the attention, particularly if your friends have dropped vague hints that more big names are up for the chop - you don't know who might be next!
Admittedly there is what might be thought of as gratuitous nudity, sex and violence but I'm afraid in this day and age it would buck the trend if it didn't. And, of course, given the nature of the story, there's bound to be plenty of violence. That's why the majority of us enjoy it. ;o) Well, that and the complex relationships, political maneuvering, treachery and interesting characters and their motivations. It was certainly interesting to see the fleshing out of the main 'bad uns' that began to make a nonsense of the 2-dimensional baddie. In some instances you can almost, but not quite, sympathise and certainly understand why they are the way they are.
I will probably moderate my praise for the series when I read the rest of the books and understand what has been sacrificed to bring the story to the screen, but as a visual spectacle and drama, I happen to believe this is a top notch TV series. I certainly want more. Long may it continue.


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (DVD + UV Copy( [2013]
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (DVD + UV Copy( [2013]
Dvd ~ Hugo Weaving
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.31

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much Maligned But Entertaining, 8 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Based on the mixed reviews I have heard or read I had my doubts about this film. However, friends loaned us the DVD a few weeks back and on the strength of that loan we have now purchased it. Once the trilogy is out on Bluray, no doubt we will buy the boxed set to match the LoTR set we already have.
No, it is not a faithful adaptation, but very few screen adaptations are. We found it entertaining and enjoyable. Certain aspects reminded us of the madcap exploits in the Raiders series. It was fun. The purists and nay-sayers need to draw back and consider the audience it is aimed at. Just like the book itself. I dare say that if I went back and re-read The Hobbit after all these years I would find it childish and ultimately not as satisfying as I did when I first encountered it.
Admittedly, expanding it to the by now almost obligatory trilogy, might be stretching things too far (only time will tell) but we have found it a visual feast and an entertaining yarn that holds the attention well. There are some great performances, set-pieces and interaction between characters. I have seen comments that deride dialogue and aspects of the little scenes along the way that are a touch juvenile, but isn't that what a large percentage of the audience want? I am sure that if I was a lad in my teens, I would lap up every second, including burping dwarves, sleighs pulled by rabbits and more, giving the film a resounding 5 stars.
As it is, I will dock it one star for taking just a few more liberties than arguably wise in order to create a second money-spinning trilogy. Otherwise it's a big 'thumbs up'. Good fun and another enjoyable visit to JRR Tolkein's world.
I cannot wait until they decide to adapt the Silmarillion for the big screen - that's when the fur will really fly! ;o)


Invicta
Invicta
Price: £15.92

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still Daring to be Different, 13 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Invicta (Audio CD)
Since receiving Max's questionnaire email a couple of days ago, and learning of Invicta's release, I have been trying it out on Spotify in an attempt to decide whether I want to buy it or not. Today I ventured onto Amazon to see what others think. I was surprised. I was expecting more criticism and fewer stars! But browsing through the reviews to-date, I can see that my own thoughts are pretty much covered, one way or another. I can also understand the detractors.
As I have mentioned in another review I posted of earlier Enid albums, I first heard them back in the very early '80s - once. I was blown away by what was probably the full-length version of Fand, played on radio (and missed the announcement of band and track name). It took me a good while to discover exactly who or what I had been listening to! Years later I am very firmly in the camp that appreciates the early, symphonic Enid style. I have been very disappointed by the vocal tracks and albums. To me `instrumental' is The Enid's strength. Any departure from that has, historically, been a turn-off for me.
So, you can imagine that my first listen to Invicta was something of a jolt. I can understand why the 2-star review sits among the 4- and 5-star ratings. On my first visit to the album I thought to myself that this was another to be avoided; too much of a departure from Aerie Faerie Nonsense, In the Region of Summer Stars and even White Goddess for me. But, having first listened to it on good quality earphones, and appreciated the production values and, indeed, Joe's excellent vocals, I decided to give it a blast on a decent hi-fi system. And I must admit that maybe, just maybe, this album will be categorised as `fungus music'. I am recognising the need to re-evaluate my approach and give the style a chance to grow on me. The sound is crisp and clear and open, unlike other Enid albums that have seemed dull and cramped by comparison (which is a real shame). The production and arrangements help me begin to get over my prejudices.
Yes, it's quirky. No, it isn't the symphonic story of yesteryear. Yes it's making me listen and think. I certainly would like to hear more of Joe's vocals. Goodness, what would Pendragon sound like with him fronting them!?!
Don't listen to it just once and discount it out of hand, as I almost did. Take advantage of Spotify (or whatever) and give Invicta a proper listen, several times if need be ...and then decide. Personally, I am still wondering, but it is difficult to completely dislike the album. It certainly knocks Journey's End into a cocked hat (IMHO) - I dozed through a large chunk of the second half of the Birmingham concert!
For me, maybe a 3.5 is a fairer rating. Maybe. Oh, and a message to the band: keep up the creativity!


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