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D. Graham (Wakefield, UK)
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The Porcelain Thief
The Porcelain Thief
by Huan Hsu
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

4.0 out of 5 stars a quest for treasure, 29 Jun. 2015
This review is from: The Porcelain Thief (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Gorgeously told story of the author's experience of Chinese society and culture as he embarks on his personal quest to find out more about his family's roots and their buried porcelain treasure-trove.

It's a fascinating story, part memoir, part history. I guarantee you'll come out of it knowing more about Chinese porcelain (and culture) than you expect!


byteStor Pro 32GB USB 3.0 High Speed Flash Drive - Black
byteStor Pro 32GB USB 3.0 High Speed Flash Drive - Black
Price: £8.99

2.0 out of 5 stars cheap & plasticky, 23 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's nice and compact, but the USB is loose in the plastic casing, which just makes it feel very cheap. Transfers files quickly enough, but doesn't feel even remotely robust.


Lowepro Dashpoint 10 Bag for Camera - Slate Grey
Lowepro Dashpoint 10 Bag for Camera - Slate Grey
Price: £11.00

5.0 out of 5 stars really nice little case for my nikon P340 compact camera, 9 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
really nice little case for my nikon P340 compact camera. Comes with a detachable shoulder strap and has a sturdy belt attachment which you could also use to attach to the strap of a bag.. Provides a reasonable level of protection for the camera.


The Watch
The Watch
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars it's about time, 9 April 2015
This review is from: The Watch (Kindle Edition)
Another dark and eerie short from John Winter. Who knew that watches could be haunted? Short and punchy, cracking stuff.


Turtle Beach Elite 800 Premium Wireless with DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset (PS4/PS3)
Turtle Beach Elite 800 Premium Wireless with DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset (PS4/PS3)
Price: £221.41

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, 2 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Disappointed - they sound great, but are a little heavy in prolonged use.

I got them for use with my XBox One - they do work assuming you've got the standard Microsoft chat adapter (not included), and and you get Dolby Digital support via optical cable. The manual online (check the Turtle Beach website for details). There's a problem though - there's a slight delay in the sound which is quite distracting - crash into another car in Forza and there's a split second delay before you hear the collision. I've not tried it with shooters, but I can imagine that it'd make a big difference. You can change the output from the console which helps, but means the sound quality drops.

Also running the sound through the headset adapter does mean you're not properly wireless. And you need to mute the volume through the adapter or you get a slight echo (to go with the delay). Fun times.

That said, they are advertised for the PS4, so perhaps it works better on that console.

They do sound amazing though - the 'signature sound' is really very good, and there are a range of modes for shooters/racing games and so on.


The Invisible Library
The Invisible Library
by Genevieve Cogman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars glorious fun, 2 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Invisible Library (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Loved it. Clever, funny and wonderfully atmospheric. The Library is a fantastic fantastical place and I hope we get to see a lot more of it soon. A heady mix of dimension jumping librarian spies,dragons with a gentleman detective thrown in for good measure.

It's a sheer joy from start to finish.


Zyliss Burger Press with Adjustable Thickness
Zyliss Burger Press with Adjustable Thickness
Price: £15.04

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars easy to use, 2 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Nice and easy to use, does exactly what you want it too. Pop the meat into the press and bingo, burgers. Nicely ridged. Easy to clean.


Garmin Large Vivosmart Activity Tracker with Smart Notification - Blue
Garmin Large Vivosmart Activity Tracker with Smart Notification - Blue
Price: £98.73

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars nice, but could have been great., 17 Nov. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've had a Fitbit One in the past as a step counter, but for various reasons ended up selling it. I've also been tempted by a Pebble smartwatch recently after a couple of people I know got one and loved it. The Vivosmart seemed to combine the two - step counter and phone notifications built into a watch.

In a nutshell, it has these features:

Activity Tracker - tracks time, date, steps taken, goal countdown, distance, calories burned and sleep
Smart notifications - monitor calls, texts, meetings, calendar reminders and emails
Vibration alerts tell you when you have calls, texts, emails and meetings or when you need to move
Discreet, lightweight, flexible and waterproof wristband with a swipe OLED touchscreen to scroll between screens
Wireless sync with Garmin Connect on your mobile or computer to save, plan or share your fitness progress and join on-line challenges

The good:
It's well built and solid but light to wear and nicely understated. Reminiscent of the Nike Fuelband, it looks like a silicone strap with a slight bulge on top of the wrist. The band itself is fairly narrow and you could pretty much forget you're wearing it. It's waterproof, so no need to take it off when you're in the shower. Battery life is pretty good for this sort of device - they say about 7 days between needing to charge it, which feels about right so far.

It tracks your steps, syncs to your phone (check Bluetooth compatibility before you get one! Needs Android 4.3 at least in order to work) so you can see when you get an incoming call on your phone, texts or emails. The Android client is pretty good, and you can configure it to display alerts from a load of different apps - GMail, FB Messenger, Twitter etc.

I like that it's all bundled into one unit which you wear on your wrist. One of my key concerns with the Fitbit One was that I'd leave it attached to a pair of trousers when I got changed. I'd forget to clip it to my work trousers. It wouldn't count any steps I did before I got dressed in the morning. The Vivosmart is always on you, so is always counting.

You can pair it with a Garmin heart-rate monitor or other Garmin products such as bike speed sensors or VIRB HD action camera. I don't have any of these, so haven't tried this.

It charges over USB and you get a charge cable with it (of course), but no plug. I just used one of the many USB charger plugs we seem to be amassing, plugged it in and away you go.

The not-so-good
Having the display off by default takes some getting used to. You can set it so that if you raise your wrist, the time/date shows automatically, but sometimes that doesn't work, so you end up dropping your wrist then raising it again. It feels a little laggy when the display does kick in - you have to give it a second to respond to the movement.Sometimes you just want a quick glance to check the time, not have to faff on to get it to display. You can double tap the display to wake it up, but that's not always convenient.

The display itself isn't as clear as it could be. The actual display bit seems to be behind a thin layer of the silicone strap, so it's visible, and is fine, but it's not as clear as a regular watch face or the Fitbit One's display, for example.

If you're a keen Twitter user like I am, you'll probably very quickly turn the notifications off. It's easy to do, but when you get into a twitter chat, having your Vivosmart buzz on your wrist gets a bit annoying after a while!

I've noticed that it drops the bluetooth connection fairly regularly, which is a pain if you're using it to keep an eye on notifcations. It could just be my phone though. I've had a couple of occasions where the phone and Vivosmart just completely refuse to talk to each other. I've had to unpair and repair the device to get my phone to recognise it, but only the once. Sometimes I've noticed the connection drop, left it for a while and it reconnects. Also, turning bluetooth off and on again on the phone usually reconnects.

The strap can be a bit fiddly to put on. There are two little studs which pop into the holes on the strap and sometimes it can take a couple of goes to get them lined up. I'm a little worried about the longevity of the strap too. I've gone through a number of silicone/plastic watchstraps in the past, including a Garmin Forerunner 50. It's not clear if you can get a replacement strap if it fails and popping/unpopping the strap could potentially put some strain on it. It feels fairly robust, but it's just something which worries me at least a little.

Also, I don't trust the step count. First few days I used it I was clocking in at 12 to 14 thousand steps. As I mentioned earlier, I had a Fitbit One for a while and never came near that in my regular daily routine. I noticed as well that when I was drying my hair after a shower, the step count would go up. If I watched the step count as I was walking down the road, it'd go up in twos to match my stride, but every now and again it'd skip and count three instead of two.

Summary

Overall, it's a nice little gadget which could have been great. All the component parts are there - watch, activity tracker, very configurable when it comes to notifications, decent app, good website to track your stats. It's just not quite there.

I think given the choice I'd go back to the Fitbit One for accuracy of tracking steps (with the added bonus of counting stairs climbed) and a Pebble for notifications - having an 'always-on' watch face is something I've realised that I miss.


Hufa S Cap Holder for Lens - Black
Hufa S Cap Holder for Lens - Black
Price: £6.03

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simple & useful, 23 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Nifty little bit of kit, slips easily onto your camera strap (or the strap of your camera bag) and holds a lens cap nice & securely. Simple and useful.


Smiler's Fair: Book I of The Hollow Gods
Smiler's Fair: Book I of The Hollow Gods
by Rebecca Levene
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.48

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars so so, 23 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The worldbuilding is excellent but the characters didn't really do it for me. They seemed oddly disconnected and not very likeable, especially in the beginning. Lots of other people have raved about the book, so maybe I'm missing something. Overall it was fine, nothing spectacular. Not sure I'll be looking out for book 2.


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