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Kevin S (UK)

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Delonghi ESAM04.110.S Magnifica 15 Bar Bean to Cup Espresso/ Cappuccino Machine - Silver
Delonghi ESAM04.110.S Magnifica 15 Bar Bean to Cup Espresso/ Cappuccino Machine - Silver

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick and consistent, 20 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I must admit I wouldn't have considered buying this machine at it's full price but whilst it's on special offer it's hard to resist!

The package arrived quicker than I expected (the indications was that it was out of stock but it still arrived within a day or two) and the unpacking and minimal assembly went smoothly.

Like most men, I avoid the instruction booklet unless it's really necessary but on this occasion I thought it best to have a look - just in case. It's a good job I did; there are instructions on how to test your water for hardness and set the machine accordingly.

You can also alter the temperature of the espresso using a combination of button presses. Once all that was done, and I had assembled and fitted the drip tray and coffee grounds receptacle I followed the instructions on how to prime the water pump. That was a 30 second job, but best not to skip it.

Included in the packaging is a packet of Delonghi descaler and you can get another one free if you join their coffee club. (No additional purchase is necessary).

It's true to say that there are a few paces in the instructions that are a bit vague, stating that you'll have to use trial and error to set certain parts of it, but that's understandable as we all have different tastes.

Once assembled and working it's a joy to use - it runs a cleaning cycle each time you switch it on so you may want to leave a cup underneath the coffee spouts to catch the water as it runs out. It just saves it all going in the drip tray. Once that's finished you just press the button and let it get on with the task. Making a cup of 'proper' coffee now takes around the same time as making a cup of instant!

Having been used to the manual type of coffee maker up to now, I really appreciate the fact that everything is automated. The beans are freshly ground, the infuser pushes the water through them and then you just have to foam your milk by pushing a button and turning the knob. Milk foaming is fast and efficient. Once it's done you simply have to clean the foaming nozzle and enjoy your coffee - no coffee grounds to empty after each drink as there's a bin inside the machine collecting them all until it needs emptying.

The consistency is also excellent, once you have the strength and quantity set to your liking it dispenses the same taste time after time.

Others have mentioned the plastic casing, it doesn't offend my eyes and many domestic appliances rely on plastic to keep them light and cheap. It's not a problem for me. The drip tray cover is stainless steel though, which is good for appearance and for cleaning.

All in all, even though it's early days, I'm very happy with my purchase so far.

'Stratus' Wall Clock
'Stratus' Wall Clock
Price: 26.03

4.0 out of 5 stars A good sized clock, 7 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The clock arrived well packaged and without batteries. It took moments to open it and fit the necessary 3 x AA batteries.

I left it on a windowsill to get the time signal which it did fairly quickly and it now resides underneath the television and maintains good time. No problem with radio time signal reception at all.

The backlight is triggered by a small sensor half way up the right hand edge of the clock, I have it next to a table lamp so the backlight doesn't come on very often.

The LCD film is fairly thin and it's true that at some angles the display can 'disappear' altogether, but when it is on the integral stand and I'm sitting watching television I can see the display perfectly well. The clock doesn't look to 'fussy' nor is it too office like, it just fits somewhere in between.

A good value purchase and with radio control it never needs resetting for daylight saving time. It's handy to have at least one clock in the house that will always be spot on!

Hoover Spirit SP2102 Upright Vacuum Cleaner with Pets Tool - 2100 Watt
Hoover Spirit SP2102 Upright Vacuum Cleaner with Pets Tool - 2100 Watt
Price: 109.31

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good value for money, 7 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having only unpacked and used the Hoover once I can't talk for it's longevity or reliability. I'll come back and edit this review when I've got a better idea on those fronts.

First impressions - it's a little narrower and lighter than the one it is replacing. I had a Vax machine but after the handle broke at the point just above the main body of the device I decided it was a design flaw and I wouldn't bother with it again. I just wanted to find something reasonably priced to take it's place fairly quickly. This one had mostly favourable reviews and was at a bargain price so I decided to give it a go.

It arrives well packed with a minimal amount of assembly required, just one screw to attach the handle. (I hope it holds!) and attached the hose, not much more to do than that.

A few people have mentioned the small dust container, it's true that it could do with being bigger but it's not a disaster. It's easy enough to empty. The hose would ideally be longer too, as it doesn't reach far up the stairs - but at least the machine is not too heavy to carry up there.

The mains cable comes out of the back around two thirds of the way up the machine, there's a clip at the top for it if you find that it drags underneath the Hoover.

The previous machine started up a full speed instantly, this one seems to wind itself up a little slowly but it gets up to strength quite quickly. Once there, the dust (and dog hair) collection is every bit as good as the previous machine. It's also a little quieter.

All in all I'm happy with the purchase, very good value considering the low (sub 70 quid) price.

KitVision Rush Waterproof Full HD 1080p 30 FPS Sports Action Camera with Wifi, Mounting Accessories and Case - Silver
KitVision Rush Waterproof Full HD 1080p 30 FPS Sports Action Camera with Wifi, Mounting Accessories and Case - Silver
Price: 150.20

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More Cons than Pros!, 17 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I got this camera on the lightning deal and thought that it would be good value. However, and sadly, I've had to give up on it.

Before buying it I looked at some footage on Youtube and read some reviews - they all looked quite promising.

When the camera arrived I was very impressed with all the fittings that were included - they all looked sturdy and very useful. The camera looks very good, too.

The first issue I had was with the Android app. It took ages to find it to download and when I did install it, it just wouldn't work. It either wouldn't connect or would connect intermittently but would never act as a viewfinder (which was the main purpose of installing it.) I contacted the developer and also the manufacturer of the camera but the developer did not reply and the manufacturer suggested unistalling and reinstalling it. Nothing changed and with no further assistance forthcoming (Despite saying they would get back to me) I gave up on the app.

Ok, I'm supposed to be reviewing the camera, not the app - but they are linked and my opinion of the app hasn't impacted on the overall score. It's just incidental info...

So, without the app I took some video. The first attempt came out quite well so I used it some more. This time the controls became unresponsive while recording and I couldn't stop it. I had to press the 'Reset' button to halt the recording. This happened a couple more times and I was already getting disenchanted with my purchase.

After capturing some video I thought that the battery would need charging so I plugged it in with the USB lead supplied.The red LED that should illuminate when it's charging and go out when it's fully charged didn't light at all. I had takena round 45 minutes of video in full HD so some level of power would have been used. I took some more video, stil the same result.No LED.

Without the LED I couldn't tell whether the battery was full, charging or empty. Not very useful. In desperation, I installed the app one more time as it has a battery indicator. When it eventually connected, the battery monitor was just blank..

I fugured that a camera that I couldn't control, with a battery that I couldn't monitor was no use to me. I've sent it back.

Shame really as it looked so promising. Maybe I was just unlucky.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 20, 2014 1:53 PM BST

Audio Technica ATH-FC707 Foldable Cup Headphones - Black
Audio Technica ATH-FC707 Foldable Cup Headphones - Black
Price: 50.00

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good value in lightning deal, 5 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As suggested above, I got these on one of the quick deals and I feel I got excellent value and am happy with my purchase.

Here's my view on them...
They arrive in a smart package that isn't too much trouble to get into - always a good thing! I hate these bubble packs that cut your skin with frayed edges of sharp plastic packaging.

They look very smart, the polished covers on the earpads have a gradient effect when viewed at certain angles. They are stylish without being showy.
The earpads themselves sit on top of the ear, they don't cover it right over but they do keep out a god deal of external noise while (obviously) keeping most of your audio in. They leak very slightly but not enough to disturb people close to you unless you have them very loud. The pads are lightly padded with a soft pleather covering. I would have preferred something softer like cloth but that's just personal preference.
The headband is pretty minimalist with no padding underneath it but it isn't uncomfortable. When adjusted to your head size it stays pretty much in place with no difficulty. As the diagram shows, you can fold the earpads into the headband for ease of storage and portability. This works quite well if space is at a premium for storage or transport.

A couple of points to remember about the construction - these are described as portable headphones. You can read that as "headphones for portable devices". The distinction being they have a much shorter lead than other types; it's around a metre and a half long. Perfect if your portable device is in your pocket or close at hand. The other thing is that they terminate with a right angled mini jack plug. If you're not already aware, this is the type that you'll find on just about any modern portable device (iPad, iPod, iPhone, Android phone etc...) Some headphones are supplied with an adaptor that will also allow you to plug them in to a full size jack plug, the sort that you'll find on home hi-fi units for example. These don't come with one so if you plan on using them with such a unit you'll need to find an adaptor.

OK, that's a lot of detail on the appearance and suchlike - what do they sound like?

My initial listening suggests that they have a very 'warm' and pleasant sound to them. The low and mid-low frequencies are very well represented and when listening flat (without any EQ or tonal adjustment) they still deliver a solid bass response. To my ears they are a little light on top end when used like that.

If you can adjust the output of your device to add some higher frequencies they show that they can certainly handle top end quite well without sounding tinny or harsh. I've set up my phone to add some treble and they don't sound like anything is missing.

Obviously, they will not compare to headphones that cost many times the price, nor would I expect them to. But the convenience of being able to store and carry them easily makes them a good compromise for the daily commute - rather than the full size cans that I use at home.

I listen to a broad range of musical styles; pop, rock, dance and classical and they seem to handle each of these perfectly well. I've also used them when watching catch up TV on the iPad and the sound is fine.

Much is said about the 'burn-in' of new headphones, some say that they improve after a number of hours use and some say that it's all in the mind. If I notice any change in the coming weeks I'll update this review.

I hope this helps you decide whether these are right for you!

Drayton LP522 Heating & Hot Water Programmer 5/2 day
Drayton LP522 Heating & Hot Water Programmer 5/2 day
Offered by Plumbing Supermarket
Price: 38.46

4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly easy to fit - looks neat and works well, 17 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I ordered this to replace a very old mechanical controller; the Switchmaster 900.

Having read some of the reviews I was reasonable confident I could do the job myself (despite the warnings in the instructions).

As the old version was 'portrait' format and this is 'landscape' I knew I'd have to replace the backing plate and that meant changing the wiring over. I switched the power off after having searched for as much information as I could regarding the configuration and after taking a picture of the old backing plate with the wiring in place as a reference point I proceeded to change it all over.

Fixed the back plate to the wall, installed the controller, switched the power back on and it worked straight away! The clock was already set to the correct time as it has an inbuilt battery backup so I just had to customise the timings that I wanted for weekdays and weekends.

All in all, very easy to fix as long as you prepare properly, it took about as long to set all the different timings as it did to install the controller. The instructions are quite daunting but not indecipherable.

Overriding any of the programmes is easy - just push a button - and it looks very neat. All in all I'm very pleased with it.

PortaPow 3.5A UK Plug Dual USB Wall Charger with iPad Fast Socket and 3 Year Guarantee
PortaPow 3.5A UK Plug Dual USB Wall Charger with iPad Fast Socket and 3 Year Guarantee

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars You'll be needing that guarantee..., 9 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Never mind 3 year guarantee, mine barely lasted 3 months.

Charged an iPad a couple of times, an Android phone a few times but today - nothing.

It doesn't charge, the small blue lamp doesn't light, it's just dead. Now I have to waste my time trying to get it returned, it's just outside the 30 day window that Amazon has so it's not as easy as it could be.

Very disappointed in this.

CamelBak eddy ISOLIERT thermo bottle 600ml black/transparent thermo bottle
CamelBak eddy ISOLIERT thermo bottle 600ml black/transparent thermo bottle
Offered by Onya Bags UK
Price: 18.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So far, so good!, 6 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I can't write much about it's durability or longevity as it has only just arrived.

However, my first impressions are that the bottle is very well made and looks really good. The clear outside and smoked inside almost take on a 'mirror' look when it's filled with water!

After giving it a wash through (as instructed) I filled it with chilled water. The bottle has been on my desk in a warm office for the past few hours and the water is still refreshingly cool.

The bite system works well to seal the liquid in and allows you to flip the spout out using one hand and sip quite easily. I think that if you agitate the bottle quite vigorously you might see some leakage but in most situations it seems quite secure.

I have noticed that replacement bite valves and the accompanying tubes can be quite expensive so bear that in mind when deciding upon whether to buy this type of bottle. A quick search on Amazon will give you a guide as to the costs. For example: Camelbak 2 x Bottle Bite Valves Clear and 2 Straws

On the positive side, CamelBak offer a lifetime warranty on workmanship so anything outside wear and tear or misuse should be covered. I hope I don't have to invoke the warranty, though!

It's not a cheap option and I know there's something to be gained by simply reusing the bottles that you buy your drinks in - but I was specifically looking for something that would also keep my drink cool. I think this will do the job admirably and will update this review when I have had more use from the bottle.

Having used this for a few days I can say that the insulation is better than an ordinary plastic bottle - but only just.

It'll keep the drink cold for about 30~60 minutes depending upon the ambient temperature. I've filled it with very cold water from the 'fridge and found that it's just about still cool after little over an hour. I was hoping for slightly better results but I guess the only was to guarantee better insulation is to get a specialised vacuum flask or mug.
The best way to make sure your drink stays cold for longer than an hour is to leave this bottle in the fridge, another illustration that the 'insulation' isn't really all that good.

August MS425B Portable Bluetooth Speaker with Microphone - Powerful Wireless Speaker and Mobile Phone Hands Free Kit - Compatible with iPhones, Samsung, Galaxy,Nokia, HTC, Blackberry, Google, LG, Nexus, iPad, Tablets, Mobile Phones, Smartphones, PC's, Laptops etc
August MS425B Portable Bluetooth Speaker with Microphone - Powerful Wireless Speaker and Mobile Phone Hands Free Kit - Compatible with iPhones, Samsung, Galaxy,Nokia, HTC, Blackberry, Google, LG, Nexus, iPad, Tablets, Mobile Phones, Smartphones, PC's, Laptops etc
Offered by Daffodil UK
Price: 24.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Good value but Bluetooth connection is frail - now remedied!, 13 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Review edited on July 1st 2013 to add that the vendor has been in touch with me and replaced the unit with one that works faultlessly. Excellent customer service, Thank you very much!

Overall, I think this is a good little unit. I didn't buy it for the hands-free facility and haven't used it for that yet but as an external loudspeaker it is very effective. The bass isn't earth shattering but I wouldn't expect it to be from such a compact unit. It is, however, very warm and full sounding. There is just enough weight to the unit for it to feel solid and well made.

Admittedly I have a little EQ added to my audio player to bring out the top and bottom frequencies but this unit handles the sound very well. Acoustic guitars sound quite 'live' and pleasant, vocals also have a fairly natural sound to them. There is enough volume to comfortably fill a small room.

Where you place this unit also has an impact on the overall sound so I'd suggest you try a few different surfaces/locations to see what each one does to the sonic presentation.

I have marked the unit down slightly due to the poor connectivity on Bluetooth. This was the main reason for buying this speaker as I already have external ones that attach with leads but wanted something that was neater and more portable. Sadly, I can't get a solid connection for anything greater than about a foot. I know that many times this will suffice but I do find it somewhat restrictive. You can only pack so much technology into a small item and I'm happy with the audio quality. Maybe I've got a particularly poor one but it's a bit of a let down.

I haven't used it for enough hours yet to comment on the longevity of the battery and will update this review when I have.

Not a bad purchase at all and proactive customer service - what more could you ask?
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 27, 2013 5:28 PM BST

Ogio Street City Corp Messenger Bag 24.6 Litres, Black
Ogio Street City Corp Messenger Bag 24.6 Litres, Black
Offered by Fawkes Cycles
Price: 44.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Missing a few features, 8 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Overall, I'm fairly happy with the bag. It certainly looks good and has plenty of capacity to carry all manner of things. I took a bit of a punt on this because I couldn't find anything other than the photo showing the bag closed so had to guess what the interior was like. I'll upload a couple of photos when I get the time to help others decide whether this is the right bag for their needs.

It feels sturdy, the handles seem strong enough to cope with heavy loads and the zips seem robust enough to last awhile.

The pockets are helpfully labelled with icons for airline tickets, phone, laptop and water bottle. (Although the latter is not large enough to cope with anything other than a small bottle.)

On the negative side, I've looked everywhere but can't find the: "Pocket for an mp3 player with a handy exit port for a headphone lead" - I'm beginning to think the description for that part is wrong. There are numerous pockets inside but no exit port that I can see. It's a shame as I thought it would be a useful feature.

***Edited to add*** Don't buy this bag if the mp3 pocket with exit port is important to you. I've contacted the vendor and although they have admitted the description is false, the feature is still listed but is absent from the actual bag.

The other minor disappointment is the lack of a key hook inside the bag. I know there is no mention of one in the description so I'm not complaining. I have got other bags that were cheaper that do have this feature and I find it quite useful to have the keys easily to hand rather than having to search for them. Ogio could benefit from including this feature on their designs I feel.

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