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OMG! It's got a plug! (Winchester)

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Sennheiser MM450-X Travel Wireless Bluetooth On-Ear Headphones with Kindle Compatibility
Sennheiser MM450-X Travel Wireless Bluetooth On-Ear Headphones with Kindle Compatibility
Price: £199.97

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's not all bad news but..., 19 Dec 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The overall sound quality of these headphones is good with space and clarity between instruments but the bass just gets completely lost in the background. I suppose it's better than having a forced and fake sounding bass boost but it is a major disappointment for a pair of 'phones with this price tag. The manual does bang on about apt-X audio coding and if your device has this feature then "you can be assured of crisp, pure and full stereo" which makes you wonder just how good these are if you don't have it...

Sitting on the ears, they fit snugly, maybe a bit too snugly - after about 30 minutes I have to give my ears a five minute break. They're not quite skull crushers but they're nowhere near as comfortable as my Nokia BH-905i headphones. A further disappointment is the amount of hiss when using the lead. I've tried it on both my laptop and iPad and the lead doesn't appear to be damaged but the amount of background hiss really is unacceptable. Additionally, the cover for the charging point does not fit properly.

It's not all bad news. The Bluetooth connection is excellent. It never, ever drops out and the range around the house and whilst on the move is very good. The buttons on the right hand earcup are easy to distinguish between and you can adjust the volume, skip back and forth between tracks and pause the music. A full charge takes about 2 hours and at 75% volume I'm getting about 7-8 hours of Bluetooth playback. You'll also need to have them charged when using them wired. The 'NoiseGard' function is more than adequate and although it doesn't kill all background noise it does block most of it out. However, expect a very low hissing noise (almost indistinguishable to my ears) when it's activated.

The battery is replaceable and they fold up compactly. A travel case and USB wall plug charger with a whole host of interchangeable plugs heads are included. Overall these are adequate headphones; nothing more and I'm just NOT getting a RRP of £300 vibe from them.

Philips DVT 1500 Digital Recorder with Nuance DNS
Philips DVT 1500 Digital Recorder with Nuance DNS

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Digital Recorder; Useless Software, 5 Dec 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
With a 2GB capacity, this digital recorder is about the same size as a pre-smart phone Nokia mobile. Powered by 2 AAA batteries, it's made of plastic and it's very light. It has the following recording capabilities and capacities:

MP3: 8kbps (562 hours) / 64kbps (70 hours) / 96kbps (46 hours) / 192kps (23 hours)
WAV: 1411kbps (3 hours)

On the lowest setting - 8kbps - the sound quality of recordings is (unexpectedly) atrocious but it gets clearer as the quality is increased. Playback on the recorder is OK but recordings sound much better when played back via a PC.

Its capacity can be increased by up to 32GB using a Micro SD card. The microphone records in stereo and has a decent range that can be extended by plugging in an external microphone with a 3.5mm jack lead (not supplied). There's also a 3.5mm headphones socket. It can be set up to work via voice activation and also to switch off automatically.

To transfer files from the recorder, just hook it up to a PC using the supplied USB cable (no software required) and it will show as a new drive. It can also be used as a portable drive for storing documents, photos, MP3s, etc although there is no capability to view/play them and they don't register as being on the recorder until it's connected to a PC. It has four pre-configured folders (A, B, C & D) that cannot be deleted, reconfigured or re-named. Files can either be deleted directly via the recorder or when it's connected to a PC and there is an option to split files via the controls on the recorder. Files are saved with a time stamp (YYYY/MM/DD-HH/MM/SS) and there is a prompt to set the date and time when you turn it on for the first time.

The menu is VERY easy to navigate and understand (although the screen display looks ancient!) and it comes pre-loaded with an instruction manual which is a lot harder to navigate - it's a multi-product manual and it gets confusing because some of the instructions are only applicable to other models. In total there is 16MB of pre-loaded data - multiple language instruction manuals and a pointless "Welcome!" audio clip. Save the instruction manual to your PC and delete the rest to maximise its capacity.

The DRAGON Naturally Speaking software is appalling. It's a basic version and it either doesn't like or understand my voice and after a number of failed attempts at recording a voice evaluation (DNS would not accept them), I gave up.

For the price this is, DRAGON Naturally Speaking aside, a very decent and well thought out bit of kit that does what it claims to do and does it well. With iOS and Android voice recorder apps now available for hand held devices, the days of the dedicated digital recorder may be numbered but look no further if you're in the market for one.

Man Chest Hair
Man Chest Hair
Price: £11.68

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard Rockin' Greater Man-chest-er, 2 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Man Chest Hair (Audio CD)
Subtitled "18 Outbursts of Unreleased Testosterone from the 1970's Mancunian Rock Underground" this compilation ranks as one of Finders Keepers Records best releases yet. Mostly sourced from unissued studio recorded demos and acetates from DIY bands operating on next to nothing budgets in Greater Manchester in the seventies, nearly all of the tracks are getting released for the first time. And why most of the music here has never surfaced before is a mystery - the overall quality of the songs and the musicianship is more often than not outstanding. Heads down hard banging rockers, heavy beats, guitar riffs - this is a dirty rock, psych, prog, glam and hairy funk riot. Whilst listening to this you can almost taste the stench of stale ale, sweat and cigarette smoke as your feet stick to a beer soaked carpet.

The story of how the idea for this compilation came about is wonderfully told by Andy Votel in his extensive sleeve notes. After coming into possession of a rare 7" release on a German label by J.C Heavy, FKR attempted to track the band down in Germany only to discover that they were from ...Stockport. Finders Keepers have built a reputation for releasing long lost and forgotten global obscurities but this compilation proves that they can replicate that success when crate digging in their own back yard - they really do go that extra mile when researching and sourcing music. Compulsory listening.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2012 7:35 PM GMT

Secret Enigma 1968-1981
Secret Enigma 1968-1981
Price: £11.22

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cool Seventies Soundtrack Vibes, 30 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Secret Enigma 1968-1981 (Audio CD)
Consisting of 22 recordings from prolific Polish soundtrack composer Andrzej Korzynski, all of the music on this compilation was recorded between 1968-81 and much of it is getting a mainstream release for the first time. Moreover, some of the tracks are previously unreleased and are taken from Korzynski's private archive. His music covers a whole range of styles, taking in electronic, orchestral, jazz, pop and rock with plenty of funky vibes.

Most of the tracks are relatively short (average playing time is a little over 2 minutes) and this does, unexpectedly for soundtrack compositions, sometimes frustrate given how good much of this music is. Highlights include the killer proto-Blaxploitation of 'La Grabuge' and the beautiful orchestration and bass pairing on 'Losy 2'. 'Saved from Oblivion' has a cool and moody vibe and the jerky 'Third Part of the Night Czolownica' sounds, like much of the music here, as though it's been lifted straight from an early seventies Italian soundtrack. Elsewhere there are plenty of offbeat sounds, spooky electronia, easy flowing orchestrations and even a couple of mildly hip-swivelling groovers.

Enthusiasts of Italian (Ennio Morricone, Piero Piccioni, Stelvio Cipriani, etc) and French (Michel Colombier, Francois de Roubaix, etc) soundtrack composers from the same era will find much to enjoy here. Korzynski's soundtrack to Andrzej Zulawski's 'Possession' (also released on Finders Keepers Records) is worth checking out too. The running time is 48:50 and the very extensive sleeve notes are well researched and written.

NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto EDG605.B. Circolo Play & Select Coffee and Beverage Machine EDG605.B. by De'Longhi - Black
NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto EDG605.B. Circolo Play & Select Coffee and Beverage Machine EDG605.B. by De'Longhi - Black
Price: £109.99

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An OK appliance but hot water is not that hot..., 23 Nov 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
**This is a review of this appliance and therefore I make no mention of the quality of the multitude of Nescafe Dolce Gusto capsules available to use with it**

Looking more like a grandiose iPod docking speaker than a beverage machine, this is a decent looking appliance. It has a water tank that holds enough water to fill 4½ standard size coffee mugs. After switching it on it's ready to use after 25 seconds. It dispenses both hot or cold water and heats the water as it dispenses it.

To make your drink, insert the capsule for your drink of choice into the pull-out capsule holder, engage the locking handle, place your cup on the stand, select the size of the cup you're using by scrolling the wheel (exactly like one found on a mouse) until the relevant LED is lit on the display panel and press one of the colour coded buttons for either hot or cold water. It takes 40-50 seconds to make your beverage with minimum fuss i.e. there's not too much coughing or spluttering when the water is being heated and filtered.

It can dispense without a capsule inside it and can therefore be used for making hot water drinks instead of boiling the kettle. However, the hot water is nowhere near as hot as what you'd get from a kettle and is best described as very warm. You can stop the flow of water immediately by pressing the hot or cold water button, depending on which is being dispensed. If the water runs out whilst making your drink it will resume where it left off after you've re-filled the water tank.

Fitted with a removable overflow tray, it can be adjusted to one of three different heights depending on the size of the cup being using. It also comes with a bin (that fits into the cup holding area when not in use) for disposing of empty capsules. All the removable parts that require cleaning are easy to do so.

It's worth bearing in mind that this machine does NOT make your drink of choice taste any better. Whether you're making a hot chocolate, latte, cappuccino or any other drink in the Nescafe Dolce Gusto range, all this appliance does, much like smaller ones that cost much less, is puncture the capsule and filter water through it. The only real advantage is that you don't have to refill the water tank as often.

Suitable for the home or office, it's an OK appliance but consider if you need one this big & expensive and bear in mind that the water it dispenses is far from boiling hot.

Top Tip: Given the warm water this dispenses, I give drinks that I make a 20 second blast in the microwave to get them piping hot.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 3, 2013 9:51 AM GMT

North Sea Scrolls
North Sea Scrolls
Price: £11.18

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A conceptual re-imagining of history..., 21 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: North Sea Scrolls (Audio CD)
Originally premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2011, this is the studio recording of The North Sea Scrolls - a re-imagining of the history of the UK by singer-songwriters Luke Haines & Cathal Coughlan and writer Andrew Mueller. Here's how Haines sums up the concept:

"It's about some hidden information that's become known as the North Sea Scrolls that have come to our notice. This information fundamentally would redefine the way we view our entire history as a nation, and possibly as a planet. It's no small change, this North Sea Scrolls business."

Amongst their re-imaginings, Joe Meek is appointed the Minister of Culture by Lord Protector Oswald Mosley, DJ Chris Evans is burnt at the stake and Enoch Powell, the former "excitable Secretary of State for Death", is now the Poet Laureate. They name check almost everybody from Charles Bronson, Sid James and Gazza to wannabe Princess Anne kidnapper Ian Ball and his namesake (the guitarist from Gomez!) and Tony Allen (a bit-part actor from The Sweeney and Minder).

A concept album, the first disc features a couple of narratives and 13 songs - six written and sung by Haines, six written and sung by Coughlan with the final track being a collaborative effort. The second disc consists of 'The Whole Show', where the exact same songs from the first disc are preceded by a narrative written and performed by Mueller where he informs the listener of the contents of The North Sea Scrolls. Each narrative is between 1-2 minutes in length and the subject matter of each one is followed by a reinterpretation in song form by either Haines or Coughlan. It's an absolutely absurd, insane and mad concept and it probably shouldn't work, but it's exceptional!

The music is, for the most part, acoustic and features piano, guitar and cello and it never veers into comedy territory. However, a lot of lyrics and all of the narratives are hilarious and surreal. Haines and Coughlan are on top form here - the songs are immediate and, despite the subject matters, utterly gorgeous at times. Cathal Coughlan, with his rich baritone voice, brings to mind Scott Walker and Nick Cave both vocally and musically. Master wordsmith Luke Haines brings to mind ...Luke Haines, carrying on where he left off on his previous solo album (a superb concept album about the British wrestling scene of the 1970s).

A serious contender for album of the year, I wholeheartedly recommend it. Housed in a gatefold cardboard sleeve, this 2CD set is a good idea by the label - the narratives don't lend themselves well to repeated listens and get in the way of the songs.

The track list:

CD1 (53:15):

1. Preamble (Intro)
2. Broadmoor Blues Delta
3. Mr Cynthia
4. I'm Not The Man You Think I Am Karen, I'm The Actor Tony Allen
5. Witches In The Water
6. I Am Falconetti
7. The Papal Pagan
8. Ayatollah Cornelius
9. The Morris Man Cometh
10. Tim Hardin MP
11. Enoch Powell - Space Poet
12. The Australian IRA Show
13. My Mother My Dead Mother
14. Narration (Outro)
15. Anthem Of The Scrolls

CD2 (76:05):

1. Preamble (Intro)
2. Scroll 1
3. Broadmoor Blues Delta
4. Scroll 2
5. Mr Cynthia
6. Scroll 3
7. I'm Not The Man You Think I Am Karen, I'm The Actor Tony Allen
8. Scroll 4
9. Witches In The Water
10. Scroll 5
11. The Papal Pagan
12. Scroll 6
13. Ayatollah Cornelius
14. Scroll 7
15. I Am Falconetti
16. Scroll 8
17. The Morris Man Cometh
18. Scroll 9
19. Tim Hardin MP
20. Scroll 10
21. Enoch Powell Space Poet
22. Scroll 11
23. The Australian IRA Show
24. Scroll 12
25. My Mother My Dead Mother
26. Narration (Outro)
27. Anthem Of The Scrolls

Hyundai Mr Scan Portable Mobile Scanner (WiFi, A4, microSD-slot, USB 2.0) - Grey
Hyundai Mr Scan Portable Mobile Scanner (WiFi, A4, microSD-slot, USB 2.0) - Grey
Price: £77.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good but not perfect, 17 Nov 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Before using this scanner you will need a Micro SD card - it does not have an internal memory and a Micro SD card is NOT included. You'll also need a steady hand as you have to manually slide the scanner across whatever it is you're scanning. Powered by two AA batteries it's advertised as being able to scan up to A4 size and, using the supplied OCR software, you can covert scanned text to an MS Word document and therefore edit it.

There are three resolution settings and you can scan in colour or mono (B&W). Scans can be saved as either .jpg or .pdf. When scanning photos or images the quality is very good (see the image from a CD cover I scanned). Scanned text documents can appear slightly lopsided especially if the page has been folded. I find it's best to save scans, including text documents, to jpg - although this is advertised as being able to scan up to A4, it does scan a slightly wider area. If saved as a jpg you can trim any rough edges off an A4 document scan and then convert to pdf using the supplied software.

It has Wi-Fi capability and when activated you can view scanned images in your browser. This worked on both my MS Vista laptop and iPad but it does drain the scanner's batteries. To transfer images to your PC there is a supplied USB cable and MS Vista automatically installed the drivers.

In summary, this is a very good handheld scanner although given the cost I think Hyundai could have included a basic Micro SD card. Additionally, a couple of very slight guide ridges on its underside the width of an A4 sized piece of paper would be a real asset when scanning A4 documents.

Top Tip: Before scanning a document, secure it to a flat surface using a very small amount of Blu-Tack. It makes the job much easier.

No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cheap junk stolen from Action Man's kitbag, 15 Nov 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This grooming kit will, as the product description states, keep you "groomed from top to toe" but it will require a lot of time and effort. Apart from the beard trimmer - which is quite good and easily compares to other branded beard trimmers in the same price range - some of the other attachments are just far too small to be effective and look like something you'd find in Action Man's kitbag.

Unless you're blessed with a very fine stubble, the shaving attachment will take an age to get anywhere near a decent shave and I had to stop the first time I used it and finish the job with a wet shave. Likewise, it has an attachment to shave your head but it's so small it would take forever. The nasal hair trimmer is nowhere near as effective as a trimmer with a circular cutting motion and a simple pair of scissors does the job easier and better than the body hair trimmer.

Beard trimmer aside, this is a gimmicky product that tries too hard to cover all the bases. If you care enough about your appearance to be considering this trimmer, invest in whatever tools you need (a proper electric shaver, hair clippers, a pair of scissors, circular motion nasal hair trimmer etc) instead. It'll cost more but at least you'll get the job done properly.

In summary, it's crap.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2012 8:37 PM GMT

Delta Swamp Rock: More Sounds from The South 1968-75 - At the Crossroads of Rock, Country and Soul
Delta Swamp Rock: More Sounds from The South 1968-75 - At the Crossroads of Rock, Country and Soul
Price: £13.27

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Southern Rock, Country & Soul 1968-75, 14 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Much like Volume 1, the headline title of this compilation - Delta Swamp Rock - is slightly misleading and the sub title 'At the Crossroads of Rock, Country and Soul' describes it better. A single disc affair, it's only 13 minutes shorter in playing time than the double disc first volume and the overall quality of the songs here is superior. A delicious melting pot of rock, country and soul (and even a bit of funk), the songs really do deliver.

From Area Code 415's storming banjo and harmonica driven 'Ruby' to Earl Scruggs closing 'Lonesome And A Long Way From Home' the sequencing is (almost) perfect. Bobbie Gentry weighs in with a couple of sublime cuts with 'Touch 'Em With Love' (the chorus sounds almost identical to Van Morrison's 'Crazy Love' in places) being the pick. The aforementioned Area Code 415's 'Devil Weed And Me' is a country-psych jam and Tony Joe White brings the funk with 'Who's Making Love'. The guitar on Chet Atkins & Jerry Reed 'Tennessee Stud' is deliriously good and 'Sufficiently Breathless' by Captain Beyond is a cool and breezy number that takes in a fuzzy guitar break. Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Freebird' seems to have been included for the populist vote and does seem out of step with much of the music here (an edited version featuring the second half of the song would have made the perfect album outro though).

With a running time of 76:29 and featuring the standard Soul Jazz Records accompanying booklet (52 pages), this is a fine compilation. 4½ stars and recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 15, 2012 9:42 PM GMT

Morricone In Colour
Morricone In Colour
Price: £26.41

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eight Morricone film scores: 1969-1979, 1 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Morricone In Colour (Audio CD)
Featuring eight Morricone Italian film scores recorded between 1969 & 1979 and originally released on the Cinevox label, this is a very welcome release by Bella Casa. Clocking in at exactly 5 hours and featuring 101 compositions, it really is a treasure trove for Morricone enthusiasts.

The music of Morricone needs little introduction and he was at his peak when this music was recorded. He covered a whole range of styles - Avant Garde, psychedelia, easy listening, beat, classical, Bossa Nova, jazz, suspense - the list is almost endless, but always retained a distinctive sound. Moreover, even though the music on these discs was recorded to accompany films, they work perfectly as standalone albums. This boxset features a total of 10 bonus tracks that didn't feature on any of the original releases.

Each CD contains two soundtracks and they are presented in cardboard sleeves with the original artwork for the albums printed on either side. All four discs are housed in a sturdy cardboard flip-top case which is accompanied by a booklet featuring details on the films (cast, crew, locations, etc) and brief liner notes.

Essential listening for Morricone aficionados and at £2.75 per score (at the time of writing this review), it's a steal.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 5, 2013 9:58 AM GMT

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