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Reviews Written by
Stephen Luff "Stephen L" (Worthing, Sussex United Kingdom)

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Plantronics BackBeat FIT Wireless Stereo Headphones with Armband for Smartphone - Green
Plantronics BackBeat FIT Wireless Stereo Headphones with Armband for Smartphone - Green
Price: £83.34

4.0 out of 5 stars A great little pair but lacking a bit in volume, 6 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These are a super sporty pair of headphones for runners. They fit firmly and have a surprising amount of control on the two headphones.

I seem to fly through the battery though. It needs a recharge quite frequently even though I only use them once a week for running and a bit for talking. I suspect I might be accidentally pressing the on switch while in my bag but I can't confirm this.

They work on bluetooth. To connect do a long press on the power on button until it flashes. Then connect with the phone.

To alter the volume you need to do quick presses on the raised nipple on the left side to increase volume. To lower do a normal press to get desired levels.

These can be used for phone calls. Although like most bluetooth headsets it picks up a lot of external sound. Although a light wind doesn't affect the other person's ability to hear you as the position of the mic is well sealed behind the ear. But in quiet environments like at home when you cooking or something it works really well. I would say using them for talking is actually one of it's strengths.

Where I feel they let themselves down quite a bit is noise cancellation. When I tested these on a galaxy note 2, they were very faint on maximum sound indoors. Fortunately my htc one M8 output is very high. But even these fail to produce enough loudness when running outside in the wind and noise. The external noise smothers the sound. I am currently playing them now while writing this indoors in a quiet environment and they sound great. Really good quality. The sound is very crisp and the base is acceptable for these type of in-ear phones.

I will stick with these while running for now. They are really comfortable, small, light and extremely flexible. It's just a real shame I can't produce the same quality of sound when outdoors. I've actually had to turn them done a bit while indoors.

So I guess they are a bit of a mixed bag. They work really well in quiet environments. I've tried using them in a car but the other person seems to struggle a bit to hear me. So probably too much outside noise again.

Thomson HED2303 On Ear Noise Cancel Headphone - Black
Thomson HED2303 On Ear Noise Cancel Headphone - Black
Price: £31.17

3.0 out of 5 stars An Average pair of headphones, 6 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I wanted these because it has it's own volume controller. This is very useful if you are listening to TV on a splitter with another person who prefers a different volume sound. The Volume controller works well.

The headphones come in a compact case that is very useful for travelling and keeping the detachable cord in a safe place.

The volume is loud on these and no shortage of sound.

The comfort of the actual ear covers is really what lets them down for me. They have this strong spring on top and the actual covers are very hard I feel. They also have an unevenness to them which makes the touch to the skin unpleasant even for a short while. To me this should have been tested on some test customers to get feedback. In a way I am a test customer through the vine programme, but I feel it's a bit late in the day for this.

The base isn't that smooth either.

I would say if you are buying these as a secondary pair for a different purpose, and used to a very high value pair of headphone like the Bose ® SoundTrue Around-Ear Headphones you will never use these.

I like that it has the detachable cord. This prevents damage to the headphones. If you accidentally stand on the cord it just pops out rather than damaging the fixed cords from the past.

If the comfort is fixed then these can be a good pair of daily drivers, even though the sound is markedly less quality than the high end ones.

I would say if you are a person who loves music on the go, then get the Bose ones I recommended. I'm one to always look for value for money, but when it comes to a smartphone I try buy a top end one on contract. Currently on the HTC one M8. Fortunately I was given the Bose to review a while ago, but if they get lost or broken for some reason I will fork out the £150 for them again even though that seems outrageous for a pair of headphones. I just can't go backwards any more on headphones.

Philips GC2048/80 Easyspeed Steam Iron with 120g Steam Boost and Ceramic Soleplate, 270 ml, 2300 Watt, Purple
Philips GC2048/80 Easyspeed Steam Iron with 120g Steam Boost and Ceramic Soleplate, 270 ml, 2300 Watt, Purple
Price: £40.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a lovely iron, but even with the swivel cord I prefer uncorded, 6 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've used this iron as my primary iron for over a week now. It's a lovely little iron, steams well, and has this ball swivel action on the iron to allow the iron to be swivelled at an angle.

Personally I feel the swivel action is better than no swivel but not that great. I still find the cord does the "drag" on the side of the clothes that are over the ironing board and starts dragging the item up towards the ironing direction.

I've had my cordless iron now for many years. It's heavier than this one but when going cordless it's fantastic. I guess once you've had a cordless iron you really appreciate the freedom it offers.

Black Hole Focus: How Intelligent People Can Create a Powerful Purpose for Their Lives
Black Hole Focus: How Intelligent People Can Create a Powerful Purpose for Their Lives
by Isaiah Hankel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strategic book that examines your life, 29 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I loved the title of this book and the cover is quite striking.

Firstly I'd like to congratulate the author on the presentation of the material. The chapters are micro and very easy to get through on a quick sitting. This presentation lends itself to busy people who don't want to have to re-read a 20 page chapter or more to find the salient points. These helpful books need to be more bite-sized.

By having lots of headings it makes it a lot easy to find things. I did get a physical copy of the book but I do prefer these types of book on kindle. Kindle now has 4 colour highlighters within the kindle reader making find one's notes and bookmarks really easily. So I would advise that with this book it would be better to get the kindle version if you're someone who doesn't like defacing their books!

We only have a finite amount of energy to really concentrate and focus. Understanding when to use that energy will help tremendously to get the projects done. But before one should plough blindly on, it's important to get a very clear and passionate understanding of what we are trying to achieve.

So this book is about finding some of those passions, removing older directions that perhaps weren't really thought out properly. A good example of this was when I lived in South Africa, Johannesburg, a computer Work Colleague could see I was an ideal guy to run a gym as I was so passionate about it. I didn't get on with Cobol(dross) programming and pretty much struggled most of my early career in Programming. He offered to buy a gym for me and I could run it. It was a bit of a dream for me but when I really picked it apart, I realised it wasn't what it seemed. I'd have to be there around 4.30am in the morning to open it up and leave at 10pm to close it up. I'd still be stuck indoors all day!! I'd be swapping much longer hours for an 'escape' from my current job. After I analysed that job top to toe I never returned to that so-called dream situation.

This book will help you with some laser focus into what you really want, or at the very least get you analysing every detail about what you are currently chasing. He mentions doctors a lot. Wanting to live the dream, lots of money etc. But as I can see clearly, most GPs I visit look overworked, tired and unhappy. As Isaiah says you commit so many years of your life to become a Doctor it's almost impossible to turn your back on those hours and years. This is just a sample profession, we'd be in dire trouble in the UK with our high population without our team of Doctors. But it troubles my heart to see that unhappiness. I did my time with programming from 20 to 43(now 53). I probably had about 6 years that was very exciting during the early Internet days, but then it was taken away from a lot of us and we went back to mind-numbing boringness.

There are a lot of very useful chapters in this book, presented very well. The book gets you thinking about your strategy, your goals, your energy for concentration and lots of little detailed things.

The author is very passionate. It's plain to see. I don't think everyone has this passion in abundance. But it certainly won't harm to have a self examination and direct a more structured and laser approach to making changes.

I like that mindfulness also gets a mention. I've worked with this for years. I find some new answers and so many times it's being mindful that's the key. We too often have our little routines that we jump into, our mindsets for lots of things, but it's not always useful to be too day-dreamy with how we run our lives. There is a time and place for spontaneous, but mindfully following a good strategy is very important too.

Producer of Beginner Tai Chi [DVD] and Beginner Tai Chi Level 2[DVD]

Joseph Joseph 6-Piece Nest Storage
Joseph Joseph 6-Piece Nest Storage
Price: £39.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These Storage boxes are in another class, 29 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I like useful things that combine with practical sense and function really well.

These containers are more than just containers. The higher quality product invites use in new areas.

I've nicked the largest one to store some of my bag things that I don't need every day but want them in one place for immediate access.

I like colour. these containers bring a cheeriness to storage containers. Over time I'm sure one will come to recognise the colour and know what size the container is.

We tend to reuse and recycle small take-away containers. But often the lids don't match. These containers will never have that problem. Also the lids can clip to one another. It's a small little feature but really useful and practical. This is the sort of innovation that I find shows an attention to detail.

I went to Brighton Churchill Square where there is a large Lakeland shop. I hadn't heard of Joseph products before, but once I got in there I can see that it's a respected brand with a lot of different products.

I'm not going to put these containers to the sword with curry-staining sauces in them. Even if they do come out in the dishwasher. For me they will be used wisely probably within the house. But that's just me I guess.


9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Start. Well worth a watch once a week., 17 July 2014
I really enjoyed this. Some interesting developments in the storylines. We've got re-generation from what we've been given a glimpse of; alien insemination from what we can gather; artificial intelligence and the ethics of this and some ideas of what living in the future could look like.

It can only grow from here. Hopefully they won't try cram too much into it like Penny Dreadful.

update 17.08.2014

Still really enjoying the series. Once the characters become more developed, you start to go more into the created world of the series.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 26, 2014 10:20 PM BST

Bose ® SoundTrue Around-Ear Headphones - Black
Bose ® SoundTrue Around-Ear Headphones - Black
Price: £149.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best by far set of Headphones I've ever owned., 19 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Firstly it's lovely to find a big surprise with a set of headphones.

The big lovely surprise of these is how incredibly comfortable they are. I really can't emphasis this enough. I absolutely love these headphones for their comfort.

I use them for nearly all my headphone use, which is a lot of variations. Those being watching TV, carrying around in my rucksack for daily use, bedtime as well.

Being super light its great to see they didn't give them a really heavy case to put them in. Instead you get a very useful case that is light and thin allowing a few extra items to be included.

Once again it's great to see the headphone cable is separate. This means should you stand on the cable you are not at risk of stretching your cable. Instead the jack pops right out. It's a lovely feature of more expensive headphones.

The sound is gorgeous. I already had a great pair of headphones but these beat them in several areas. Firstly the weight, secondly the sound, thirdly the extreme comfort of the fit.

This might very well be the last pair of headphones you'll need to buy for quite a while.

Hope to add a video with this review soon.

McAfee Internet Security  2014 - 1 User - 1 Year (PC)
McAfee Internet Security  2014 - 1 User - 1 Year (PC)
Price: £22.60

5.0 out of 5 stars Seems to run really well quietly in the background, 19 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have tried this McAfee once again after about a 6 year absence.

A lot has changed. Mainly it runs quiet in the background and does not appear to be slowing down my machine. Whether that's because modern laptops are more powerful I'm not sure.

It's helped that the original owner of McAfee has been in the tech news with a real live amazing story of survival out of Bolivia. He no longer owns McAfee but its been great press.

So it does the trick. I'd like to say more but I really just want a Internet protection that once installed I don't have to think about too much.

Braun Series 3 340s-4 Rechargeable Wet and Dry Foil Electric Shaver
Braun Series 3 340s-4 Rechargeable Wet and Dry Foil Electric Shaver
Offered by LT Lighting
Price: £59.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Braun Back with a decent Shaver, 19 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I would firstly like to say that Braun seemed to have made a bit of a comeback as far as I'm concerned. I've had several in the past few years and been pretty disappointed with the shaves. That is Rotary and the two bladed ones.

I'm very impressed with this shaver. It does a decent job. It works best if you don't let the stubble get too long. Then it takes a lot longer and some of the longer hairs don't manage to get cut.

I'm currently rotating between this shaver and a Remington PR1270 which is a rotary. I find with 4 day stubble I need to use both of them.(not at the same time:). But like the Braun it works best with regular daily use.

So I'm very pleased to find that Braun are back in my favoured books.

Sony Mobile SWR10 SmartBand Activity Tracking Wristband - Black
Sony Mobile SWR10 SmartBand Activity Tracking Wristband - Black
Price: £49.72

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good start but so far lifestyle tracking poor., 20 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I will treat this review as a lifelog for a week with the Sony SmartBand.
Day 1
I connected it up last night with my HTC one m8. I set my sleep pattern 12.30 to 9. As I went to bed the band was being charged.

To my surprise I slept for 13 minutes and burned of 813 calories while sleeping!

While doing 90 minutes of tai chi no activity was recorded. As far as the lifelog understood, I was just standing around. I did have the gps connected.

I had a few problems getting my HTC music player to work at all while the band was connected. With some fiddling, switching the phone on and off its now working.
The controls are simple. One tap to play or stop. The tapping times out after activation. So let's say you were playing a track then finished listening. To restart, you push the side button once, one tap then it starts playing where you left off. 2 taps to skip forward, 3 taps to skip back . The stop tap deactivates the player. Tapping is actually quite practical and simple. If running or you want to stop the music quickly the taps are great. Volume taps would be very useful.
I was going to start with a 2 star. But while reviewing I switched the phone on and off which brought back my music player. I think the tapping alone for the music player will prove to be most useful. As I run with bluetooth headphones, phones safely tucked away in hipbag, Skipping through a play list will be super. I wish the smartwatch offered more tapping functionality.

A short 3 minute drive in my car did not record at all. I'll see if I can fine tune that.

I will be running this week, so will give it all a proper test. Hopefully the star rating will climb as I discover more things.

Like the smart watch, 3 to 4 good functions make the device useful. For me the smartwatch is great as a watch!, timer is brilliant, Stopwatch is very useful, messaging, incoming calls. But I find buzzing all day with other alerts is just annoying and eats the phone battery. I will use the smart band sparingly too with alerts.

DAY 3 - 21.5.2014

Not much has changed in terms of gaining functions. The sleep function or night mode kicks in regardless if you've gone to sleep or not. So it just assumes you are sleeping at 00.30 to 9.00am even if you are still up and about.

The band goes out of range very quickly around the house. The Smartwatch seems to have a much longer range.

I can't seem to get it to track when I'm driving, or cycling. Today I carefully activated everything including my endomondo training app. But nothing was recorded of the exercise. So without that ability the band so far is a glorified play and pause device for my music. Useful but as I said above it needs about 4 really useful functions. Like the one's that my sony smartwatch has. Although I'd like more from a Sony watch.

I was really hoping the smartband could track my running, cycling and walking but so far it's doing nothing.

17.33 update
There are no videos in youtube and nothing on the sony website to show how everything connects up. So those managing to get the device to connect up with driving, cycling, running, walking must be using Sony DEVICE. I'm using the htc one m8.

I do like the monitoring of my web browsing. I find that very useful as a tracking of where my time goes. It records how long you listen to music and when this happens in the day as well. Certain lifestyle tracking is useful.

So that's a second useful function. But I don't think I need the smartband only the lifelog to do that.

Day 4

After a few days I've decided to not use this device. I love that its really comfortable. If it told the time I might wear it. It just doesn't seem to work as shown in the demos done by Sony demonstrators. It obviously, for now, works on Sony phones but not outside those. So even all the 4.4 version of Android phones out there outside Sony, this band, for now, is a glorified play, stop, skip track by tap device. As this was an evaluation sample I shall be using it for just that function on my runs or any other time its convenient. I like the vibrate to wake up function but it can't be used for each unique sleep cycle. You have to have a blanket fixed bed and wake time for the week, no napping or weekend wake up times or your day off.

Once again Sony developing great engineering, but not doing enough sampling in the real world like google do with google glass.

I'd wait a bit and check youtube videos to see the software progress on your phone for this if its not a Sony smartphone.

update after a week break 06-05-2014

The tracker and lifelog seem to be working together now. I think a few updates must have happened. Its hard to tell as there is no screen or message to say updates are happening.

But the good news is it's now logging my runs. It logged my whole run today. It didn't put a mini icon up in the lifelog animation but the summery below logged the run and the gps tracker recorded the route too. I put a bookmark on the spot where I started my run with a little heading. Tomorrow I will test it out on a small cycle to work. It hasn't tracked that so far so I'll see how that goes.

So the band has now been upgraded to 4 stars. I think its now useful. I was hoping it would eventually get some updates and work properly. It also recorded my drive to my running destination. Hopefully it will recognise I'm cycling tomorrow. I was using endomondo today so I'm not sure if it picked up info from that running app. Tomorrow I will not run the endomondo and see what happens.

I will probably only use it on my running and cycling days. I like the idea of having a history of that day on my lifelog. The tapping to control the music is useful too. My Sony Smartwatch requires too many fiddly power light on, home button, search for the app icon, activate then finally skip the track. Whereas the band just requires power on two taps to skip track, or tap whatever you need.

July 3rd 2014

I'm not using it anymore. However, its sparked a renewed interest in my Sony Smartwatch 2. I just feel that wearing something all day on your wrist should at least have a screen that gives you some other useful functions. This is just a one trick pony.

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