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Black Coal, Thin Ice [DVD]
Black Coal, Thin Ice [DVD]
Dvd ~ Fan Liao
Price: £12.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Promising start but ulimately a boring film, 1 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Black Coal, Thin Ice [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The first 15 minutes of this film were very promising and features one of the most perfectly and realisticly filmed shoot outs I've ever seen. Thereafter the pace and momentum is lost and the film never really recovers.

After a series of murders the lead investigating police officer is injured in the aforementioned shootout and the film then fast forwards five years and the officer is now an alcoholic working for a security company. After a chance meeting with a former police colleague staking out a woman connected with the murders five years previously and a couple of recent murders, he decides to assist the police investigating the case.

The overall plot is ambiguous at times and some scenes are drawn out to the point of tedium. The lead character has no charisma whatsoever and the relationship he forms after stalking the equally uncharismatic woman at the centre of the police investigation is totally unbelievable. There a few surreal moments (an elderly female nightclubber owner submerging herself in a filled bath whilst fully dressed) and the cinema photography of an industrial town in China is impressive. Unfortunately, they can't save what is ultimately a boring film.

The Smiths' Top Songs
The Smiths' Top Songs
Price: £0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Hatful of songs, 28 July 2015
They were such a consistent band that I think you could include any songs by The Smiths in this playlist (maybe even "Golden Lights"!) and there wouldn't be any duds. However, I do believe that any Smiths playlist should include "Suffer Little Children" and "Reel Around the Fountain" from their debut album and "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" should always be the closing song.

Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Pay As You Go Handset Smartphone - Silver
Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Pay As You Go Handset Smartphone - Silver
Price: £80.00

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High quality smartphone that represents excellent value for money, 10 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If like me you don't use a mobile phone enough to justify a monthly contract but still want a very high quality smartphone that can get you online at the numerous free Wi-Fi hotspots now available and that you can also use as an MP3 player and satnav, the Smart Prime 6 PAYG is the one to get.

I previously owned the Vodafone Smart Mini 4 but this a huge step up in terms of quality. It has a Quad-core 1.2 GHz processor, Android 5.0 (Lollipop), 8GB of storage (although only 5.2 GB is available - 3GB is used up by the Android OS), 1GB RAM and its capacity can be extended with a MicroSD card. It really is a bargain and a fraction of the cost of comparative smartphones.

It uses a micro SIM card but, unusually for a PAYG, it does NOT arrive with one in the box. I just popped into my local Vodafone shop and they transferred the telephone number and data from my existing standard SIM to a micro SIM, free of charge. As a phone it works fine and is straightforward to use. I inserted a 128GB MicroSD card and despite the literature stating that only external storage up to 64GB is accepted, it works to its FULL capacity (although I did have to format it to exFAT before it worked).

It looks smart and the build is solid. It has a 5" HD screen which looks clear and detailed at any viewing angle. It's the perfect size for surfing the web and watching videos on the go and with its curved edges and slim body it can be held easily with one hand. The screen feels high quality and it's very responsive with swipes registering first time. The keyboard is a decent size for texting and messaging.

It's very FAST and effortlessly launches and switches between apps - you can have a lot going on but it copes with ease. All the apps that I've downloaded so far can be moved to the MicroSD card and run from there so, so you can literally install an endless amount of apps. Unfortunately it's no longer possible to save BBC iPlayer downloads to the MicroSD card (not a fault with this phone - it's Google policy nowadays).

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth function as they should and GPS finds my position within a few seconds when I use the Here and MapMyWalk apps. If you intend to use the GPS, install the Nokia Here Maps app and their UK map (they're both free) - it works perfectly WITHOUT having to be connected to the Internet. It's been 100% accurate every time I've used it and is near enough as good as any dedicated satnav.

It has an impressive 8MP camera with an LED flash and photos look just fine. It also has a 2MP front facing camera that's more than adequate for selfies and using Skype.

I can't comment on how good it's 4G capability is. It's way too expensive to use mobile data on a PAYG phone but I suppose it's handy for anyone who later signs up to a Vodafone monthly contract.

As an MP3 player it sounds just fine and the volume goes up nice and loud. It has an FM radio too and the reception is crystal clear and you can pre-set your favourite stations. You need to plug in headphones to use the radio and a (surprisingly comfortable) cheap pair are included.

It has a high capacity 2500 mAh battery and you can get around 8 hours from it whilst constantly surfing the web whilst listening to music via a Bluetooth speaker. In stand-by mode with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and display switched off it lasts for days instead of hours.

With a USB plug and cable included in the box, this is phone is an absolute bargain. It feels and acts like a much more expensive smartphone and it's more or less a £300 smartphone selling for less than a third of that price. Definitely recommended.

Oral-B Pro Vitality Plus Cross Action Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush
Oral-B Pro Vitality Plus Cross Action Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush

4.0 out of 5 stars Very good Oral-B brush that you can use any Oral-B Pro heads with., 8 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've been using Oral-B toothbrushes for years and the oscillating action is really smooth and comfortable. It reaches all your teeth with ease and leaves your mouth and gnashers refreshed and clean. This model is no different in that respect.

It comes with a couple of cross action brush heads but ALL Oral-B Pro toothbrush heads will fit this handle. The tapered handle is ergonomically sound and comfortable to hold. It takes about 10 hours to get a full charge and when fully charged I've been getting FIVE days use when using it TWICE daily for 2 minutes each time. There are no battery indicator lights and the instructions do recommend storing the handle on the charging unit to maintain full power and that "overcharging is impossible". At the end of a two minute cycle it goes through a gear change motion but continues running.

Overall this is a very good no-frills toothbrush that just gets the job done. There's NO pressure sensor, 30 second change quadrant alert, battery indicator light or gimmicky gum care / sensitive modes. When buying Oral-B it's worth shopping around - prices for different models go up and down all the time and sometimes the only thing that separates them apart is the type of brush head that they come bundled with.

The Cinema of
The Cinema of
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £18.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating exploration of Gainsbourg's soundtrack work, 8 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Cinema of (Audio CD)
Spanning the period 1959-1990, featuring 131 tracks across five CDs and with a playing time just short of 6 hours, this is an expanded edition of the 1991 three disc box set, albeit in a much smaller package. Universal's Écoutez Le Cinéma series has compiled some fine CDs from French cinema over the past couple of decades and quite a few of these tracks can be found on individual Serge Gainsbourg CDs (La Pacha, Manon 70, Cannabis, etc.) from the series. The discs are chronologically ordered. Discs 1 is mostly Jazz orientated compositions, things get really interesting on Discs 2 & 3 with some of the best soundtrack music imaginable and Disc 4 & 5 focus on 1973 onwards. The fifth disc also includes a few bonus selections.

Some of the music here is staggering. There's some beautiful and sometimes complex jazz compositions on the first disc but it's his mid to late Sixties work with Michel Colombier and 'Histoire de Melody Nelson' producer Jean-Claude Vannier - some of the best music I've ever heard, soundtrack or otherwise - that really stands out. Straight-up classical orchestral music, trippy orchestral music, psychedelia - it's jaw-dropping at times and possibly best described as the missing link between the output of Ennio Morricone and David Axelrod during the same period. Quality does falter on the final two discs but I think it's more to do with the production techniques than the quality of the music. The collection is rounded out with a horrible and totally unnecessary 1991 remix of 'Requiem pour un Con', one of Serge's finest songs ruined!

Housed in a slim and sturdy flip top box, the CDs are in individual cardboard sleeves. There's a 48 page booklet with lots of archive photographs and text in French and English and it features contributions from Jane Birkin and some of the film directors. In summary, this is the near definitive overview of Serge's soundtrack work and, alongside his studio albums, it's essential listening for Gainsbourg aficionados. 4½ stars

Linksys RE4100W Universal Dual Band N600 Pro Wi-Fi Range Extender (Audio Streaming, 2 x Ethernet, Flexible Placement, Easy Set Up, WPS)
Linksys RE4100W Universal Dual Band N600 Pro Wi-Fi Range Extender (Audio Streaming, 2 x Ethernet, Flexible Placement, Easy Set Up, WPS)
Offered by BESTBUYIT
Price: £49.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Easy set-up, speeds up Internet around the house and allows you to play music on your stereo, 6 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Amazon seems to have grouped reviews for different types of Linksys equipment together. This is a review for the RE4100W Universal Dual Band N600 Pro Wi-Fi Range Extender.

It's an unobtrusive device that plugs directly into a wall socket and it has green LED light that stays solid (i.e. it doesn't flash) when it's configured with your Wi-Fi. It supports dual band routers and it has an Ethernet port (no cable included).

With my router upstairs and mostly using my iPad 2 and laptop downstairs, the signal was weak on my iPad (no problems with my laptop) and web pages in the Safari browser were taking about 4-5 seconds to load (even with 'Open New Tabs in Background' switched off in the iPad Safari settings).

Looking at the other reviews, clearly some people have had issues setting up Linksys extenders and there are only very basic quick start instructions included, with no trouble shooting tips. Fortunately I had no issues during the one time set-up using my iPad and here's what you have to do if setting it up using an iPad:

1. Plug the extender into a wall socket and switch it on.
2. Wait until the light on the panel stops flashing (approximately 90-120 seconds)
3. Go to iPad Settings>Wi-Fi and select and connect to the 'Linksys Extender Setup' which should be displayed.
4. Open the Safari browser and it should automatically open the Linksys configuration tab (if it doesn't, type the IP address - – into the Safari address bar and hit Go).
5. Agree to the T&Cs and follow the on screen instructions where you need to select your network and enter your wireless key. You don't need to set-up an account or anything.

The set-up should be much the same if configuring it using a PC or Android device.

Thereafter, you just connect to your Wi-Fi network as normal - you don't have to switch to 'your network name.EXT' or anything and any other devices on your network automatically benefit from the extended range. With this device set-up downstairs, web pages on my iPad now flash up in about 1 second and the connection in the kitchen and garden is much stronger with no drop outs or buffering.

You can also use this to play music from a tablet on your stereo over your Wi-Fi network. The instructions make NO mention whatsoever of how you do this. All I did was connect it to my Denon amplifier using a 3.5mm jack to 2 x RCA phono cable, then in my iPad's AirPlay setting selected the Linksys Range Extender, opened Amazon Music Player, selected an album to play and boom, the streaming music was coming out loud and clear through my stereo speakers!

Overall, I can’t find anything to fault this. If you want to speed up your Internet connection around the house AND play music on your Hi-Fi over your wireless network, the N600 Pro Wi-Fi Range Extender takes care of it. Recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 7, 2015 7:06 PM BST

Collected Recordings 1983-1989
Collected Recordings 1983-1989
Price: £45.87

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Causing a commotion, 1 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having had my interest in Lloyd Cole & The Commotions reawakened by the recent 'Don't Look Back' budget compilation, I decided that this box set seemed like a worthwhile investment and it most definitely is. Featuring their three studio albums and two discs comprising of B-sides, remixes, outtakes, demo recordings and rarities, the combined playing time is 4 hours & 10 minutes. There's also a DVD (NTSC; Region 0; 66 minutes) featuring 10 promotional videos and eight BBC performances.

The remastering was overseen by Cole and it's been done very tastefully with no (dreaded) brick-walling. You notice the space and clarity between the instruments that you get when remastering is done properly, although Mainstream sounds more or less the same - Cole has stated that it just didn't need remastering - with only the volumes being slightly adjusted.

Housed in a very sturdy cardboard box with a lift off top there's a cut out hollow for the discs to sit in with a book sitting on top. The CDs and DVD are presented in (near) vinyl replica cardboard sleeves with another cardboard sleeve inside holding the CD (I don't know why they just didn't use gatefold sleeves).

The accompanying 48 page hard back book (the shape and size of it reminds me of those old Ladybird books!) features a lengthy and superbly written essay of the band's history including quotes from band members and associates who were interviewed by the writer, Pete Paphides. I was surprised to learn that when the band first got together they intended to be a soul/funk outfit but changed direction when Cole wrote some of the initial songs for 'Rattlesnakes'. The book also includes archive photographs and recording details. There are also three B&W postcards and a poster. Not sure they're entirely necessary - will anyone buying this really blu-tack the poster to their bedroom wall?!

The two extra discs contain 36 songs and here's a breakdown:

B-Sides, Remixes & Outtakes

1. The Sea and The Sand (B-side to Perfect Skin)
2. You Will Never Be No Good (B-side to Perfect Skin)
3. Andy's Babies (B-side to Forest Fire)
4. Glory (B-side to Forest Fire)
5. Sweetness (B-side to Rattlesnakes)
6. Perfect Blue (Hardiman Mix) (B-side to Jennifer She Said)
7. Jesus Said (B-side to My Bag)
8. Brand New Friend (1985 Wessex Studio recording. Previously unreleased)
9. From Grace (Unfinished 1985 Wessex Studio recording. Previously unreleased)
10. Her Last Fling (B-side to Brand New Friend)
11. Big World (B-side to Lost Weekend)
12. Nevers End (B-side to Lost Weekend)
13. Mystery Train (Live at The World, New York, 1986) (B-side to Jennifer She Said)
14. I Don't Believe You (Live at The World, New York, 1986) (B-side to Jennifer She Said)
15. Love Your Wife (B-side to From The Hip)
16. Lonely Mile (B-side to From The Hip)
17. Please (B-side to From The Hip)
18. My Bag (Dancing Mix) 12" single

Demo Recordings & Rarities (All previously unreleased except Tracks 2 & 6)

1. Down At The Mission
2. Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? (Demo recording) (Previously on 'Rattlesnakes' Deluxe Edition)
3. Patience (Demo recording)
4. Eat My Words (Demo recording)
5. Forest Fire (Demo recording)
6. Perfect Skin (Demo recording) (Previously on 'Rattlesnakes' Deluxe Edition)
7. Poons (Demo recording)
8. Old Hats (Demo recording)
9. You Win (Demo recording)
10. Old Wants Never Gets (Demo recording)
11. Another Dry Day (Demo recording)
12. 29 (Demo recording)
13. Jennifer She Said (Demo recording)
14. Hey Rusty (Demo recording)
15. Everyone's Complaining
16. Mr Malcontent
17. Jennifer She Said (Polished Rough Mix)
18. Hey Rusty

There are some really interesting demos and alternate version that are significantly different (i.e. they're not just strum-along acoustic demos), both lyrically and in their arrangements, from what appeared on the albums (I've been caught out a couple of times when trying to sing along!). Their first (unreleased) A-Side 'Down at the Mission' is very soulful and funky with female soul singers on backing vocals and is an indication of the direction the band originally intended to take. They also recorded some quality B-sides. It's by no means an exhaustive collection with only one extended mix - My Bag (Dancing Mix) - included. I have read that Cole didn't want any other mixes included because they were only produced for the purpose of the 12" single format and are not representative of the band's overall sound.

Of the three studio albums, 'Rattlesnakes' is a classic debut and needs no introduction. I'm in agreement with Cole that 'Easy Pieces' is their weakest. It's by no means a bad album but in the eighties production was everything and the band had producers foisted on them by their record company. Because of this, I really do believe that if the band had started out 10 years later their career would have taken a completely different path. My favourite is Mainstream (I have so many memories tied up in it!) and as Cole admits, they needed to sell a million copies of it just to break even but, unfortunately, it sold nowhere near that many.

Watching the DVD is like being transported back to the eighties, particularly the three Top of the Pops performances. In all honesty, some of the videos are quite bad but it was the eighties and I suppose they didn't have Michael Jackson budgets.

Promotional Videos:

1. Perfect Skin
2. Forest Fire
3. Rattlesnakes
4. Brand New Friend
5. Lost Weekend
6. Cut Me Down
7. My Bag
8. Jennifer She Said
9. From The Hip
10. Mainstream

BBC Performances:

11. Perfect Skin (Top of the Pops, June 1984)
12. Rattlesnakes (The Old Grey Whistle Test, November 1984)
13. Speedboat (The Old Grey Whistle Test, November 1984)
14. Brand New Friend (Wogan, September 1985)
15. Brand New Friend (Top of the Pops, September 1985)
16. Lost Weekend (Top of the Pops, November 1985)
17. Mister Malcontent (The Old Grey Whistle Test) (Live at Ibrox Park, Glasgow, June 1986)
18. My Bag (Wogan, September 1987)

Watch out for the performance of 'My Bag' on Wogan. Cole starts the song wearing his glasses but after about 10 seconds takes them off and eventually puts them in his jacket pocket. I'm convinced that he meant to start the song without them on and intended to put them on when he sings the line "as my eyesight gets worse"!

In summary, I think Lloyd Cole & The Commotions are one of the most enduring bands of the eighties and this box set more than does justice to their legacy. If you're a fan, get it - you won't be disappointed.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2015 7:29 PM BST

7 Inch T716 Tablet PC, 16GB Multimedia, Multi-touch 1024 x 600 HD Display, A33 Quad Core, Google Android 4.4 KitKat, WLAN, Dual Camera, Wifi, Black
7 Inch T716 Tablet PC, 16GB Multimedia, Multi-touch 1024 x 600 HD Display, A33 Quad Core, Google Android 4.4 KitKat, WLAN, Dual Camera, Wifi, Black
Offered by AresparkDirect EU

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value for money despite some limitations, 1 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a basic tablet but given the price, I wouldn't expect it not to be. However, it does represent excellent value for money. Running Android 4.4.2 (KitKat), the 16GB model has a generous 12GB of free space. Fortunately, there are no pre-loaded manufacturer apps (that you'll never use!) that you get with the likes of Samsung. With a Quadcore 1.2Ghz processor and 512MB of RAM, it switches effortlessly between apps and you can have a lot going on but it copes with ease.

Given the price, there are some limitations. It does not have a GPS (but you can pinpoint your position using WiFi) or Bluetooth capability. The sound quality from the built-in speaker is limited and the option to use a Bluetooth speaker would have been useful. However, the sound quality when using headphones is very good and, despite what another reviewer has written, the sound does go VERY loud after you've acknowledged a (EU mandated!) safety warning.

The screen resolution is not brilliant but it’s more than acceptable when surfing the web and playing back downloaded iPlayer videos and watching videos on YouTube. I’ve fitted it with a 32GB MicroSD card but you cannot transfer apps to the card and, therefore, cannot save iPlayer videos to the MicroSD. However, given the amount of on-board storage you can download a lot of videos before space becomes an issue. The front and back cameras are low resolution (does anyone use tablets for taking HQ "keeper" photos?) but again, they’re acceptable for things like Skype. Quite often you have to double or treble swipe for a swipe to register which can be frustrating.

The build is very solid and comparable to the Hudl and Amazon Fire and it's light and comfortable to hold with well located buttons. With a full charge I've been averaging approximately 3½ hours of use when surfing the web whilst playing MP3s. It comes with a (non-USB) charging cable with a fitted plug, a USB to micro USB cable (again, despite what another reviewer has written, you can also charge it using this lead and a USB plug (which makes the supplied charger redundant)) and a USB adapter cable that allows you to connect an external hard drive or memory stick. I attached a 1TB hard drive and it recognised it and the MP3 files on it (and really makes we wish you could use it with a Bluetooth speaker).

Overall, this tablet is a bargain and it’s perfect for anyone who doesn't intend to spend hours online each day and also a great and affordable tablet for kids. I received my tablet from the supplier free of charge in return for this honest and unbiased review.

The Grandmaster Flash Collection
The Grandmaster Flash Collection
Price: £5.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something for everybody, 27 Jun. 2015
Consisting of 55 chronologically ordered tracks across three CDs and a fourth disc featuring a 60 minute mix by Grandmaster Flash, this collection represents excellent value for money and it's more or less a definitive history of hip-hop. Given that it's aimed at the mass market there are loads of mainstream crowd pleasers but there are also a lot of lesser known gems. The first disc is full of old school hip-hop classics (A Tribe Called Quest, N.W.A, Eric B & Rakim, etc.) and it's the best here - the beats and the clever use of samples are at times jaw-dropping. Grandmaster's mix is nothing particularly special but for the money, you can't complain too much. Clocking in at a few minutes short of a mammoth 5 hours, it’s housed in a neat triple gatefold digipak. Existing hip-hop fans and newcomers will find much to enjoy.

Philips GC4521/87 Azur Performer Steam Iron - 200g Steam Boost, 2600 Watt
Philips GC4521/87 Azur Performer Steam Iron - 200g Steam Boost, 2600 Watt
Price: £60.26

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The next best thing to a steam generator iron, 22 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The is a big but by no means cumbersome iron that is probably the next best thing to a steam generator iron. It has a really big tank and even with the continious steam option on, it lasts a long time. You get a real blast of steam when you use the steam boost option that literally moves the iron independently across garments! The plate is big with a nice pointed tip for getting into those hard to reach areas. The calc function really does work and you can see the limescale it clears from the iron. Stand it upright and and the auto-steam stops and it automatically switches off when it's motionless for too long. All in all, this is a first class iron and a cheaper alternative to a steam generator iron. One final thing worth bearing in mind - it has a relatively short lead so be prepared to stand your ironing board as close as possible to a power socket or, alternatively, use an extension lead. Overall, 4½ stars (half lost for the short lead!).

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