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Chris Hoare "Chris" (UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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Belkin 2-in-1 Micro USB and Lightning Charge and Sync Cable for Apple iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6, 6 Plus, iPad Air, 4th Generation and iPad Mini - Black (MFI Approved)
Belkin 2-in-1 Micro USB and Lightning Charge and Sync Cable for Apple iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6, 6 Plus, iPad Air, 4th Generation and iPad Mini - Black (MFI Approved)
Price: £18.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Quality comes at a price, 25 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The belting 2 in 1 Micro cable is a fantastic idea; a single good quality usb cable with a micro usb for charging devices; and then an adaptor dongle that converts it to a Lightning adaptor for charging your iDevices. The cable itself is wrapped in a nice plastic; and the ends are well moulded and feel solid - some cheap cables the ends feel and are shells. So the Belkin 2-in-1 ticks the boxes for quality; for charging it has fast charged iPads and a galaxy tab at 2v as well as charging and transferring data to various phones I use for work.

Its super convenient for your bag as its one cable; and the adaptor is held in place with a silicone holder. The downside is it isn't cheap; if you are travelling light though its an ideal cable for your briefcase.


Asus USB-BT400 3Mbps USB Bluetooth v4.0 Mini Dongle
Asus USB-BT400 3Mbps USB Bluetooth v4.0 Mini Dongle
Price: £11.70

5.0 out of 5 stars Plug and play, 25 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Plugging the USB-BT400 dongle into my desktop was all it took to set it up. Windows 8 Auto detected its presence and enabled the bluetooth settings; and I was away. The signal from the dongle is good enough to connect to a bluetooth printer a few meters away; it has does a good job streaming music to the speakers on my desk.


Sennheiser OCX686G Ear Canal Earhook Headset - Galaxy
Sennheiser OCX686G Ear Canal Earhook Headset - Galaxy
Price: £79.95

4.0 out of 5 stars It isn't easy being green, 25 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The first thing that was clear opening the Sennheiser OCX686G headphones box was the color; these are a bright green headphone. Designed for and I test it with my Samsung Galaxy's the inline microphone and buttons are far too fiddly if you are wearing gloves; and as the cold morning's drag on into April I regularly still am. The buttons themselves are pretty spongy and for the price of the headphones should be of a higher standard. That said they work and allow you to answer calls, move between songs and change the volume without fishing your phone from a pocket. The microphone was rated as OK by people i called; it worked fine for "OK Google" though.

The 686G headphones are in year headphones; with clips to hold them over your ears as you move around. The chord is flat and seems very tangle resistant; even after a few days in the included pouch the headphones weren't a tangled mess. The box comes with three sizes of tips; and its worth trying them out to find the right one for you. The way the headphones sound and the fit depends on how well the buds seal in your ear canals. When you have the right ones inserted; the the sound is pleasantly flat a little base heavy but mostly flat. The range of the sound is pretty good; and they work well with sparkly 60's folk as they do with spotify's Fresh Dance Tracks playlist. The ear tips do a reasonable job at quieting the noise around you too. The headphones hook onto your ears and I found the clips pinched on my ears which became uncomfortable over time. Having tested and bought a fair few headphones over the years I definately prefer the Bowers and Wilkins in ear and Bose in ear clips which press on the inside of your ear and are as rigid. Both do a good job holding headphones in place; the inner ear approach does it without the pinch.

Overall the OCX686G are good sounding headphones and when worn during they activity always stay attached ; the remote does its job - even if the buttons are a little small and feel cheap on what is otherwise a quality headphone.


AIRWAVES Black Mint Menthol Sugar Free Chewing Gum 10 Pellets (Pack of 30)
AIRWAVES Black Mint Menthol Sugar Free Chewing Gum 10 Pellets (Pack of 30)
Price: £12.60

3.0 out of 5 stars Now with Sorbitol, 1 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Wrigley have signed some kind of deal with Cushelle. For a time there were safe havens away from Sorbitol and over the last few months it now seems most all their gum comes with the same sugar you find in Prunes; Sorbitol.

The gum tastes as good as ever; just take it slow or you might spend the rest of the day in the restroom.


K&F Concept 77mm Slim Fader Variable ND Neutral Density Adjustable ND2 to ND400 Lens Filter for Canon 6D 5D Mark II 5D Mark III for Nikon D610 D700 D800 DSLR Cameras + Lens Cleaning Cloth
K&F Concept 77mm Slim Fader Variable ND Neutral Density Adjustable ND2 to ND400 Lens Filter for Canon 6D 5D Mark II 5D Mark III for Nikon D610 D700 D800 DSLR Cameras + Lens Cleaning Cloth
Offered by dcmall
Price: £24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Value for Money, 1 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I had been meaning to buy a variable ND filter for my 24-70f2.8l for a while. When I heard about K&F filters; having tried a 3xnd filter kit pack that I was impressed with; especially at the price. I looked at K&F's other products and found this more than reasonable price ND filter and had to give it a go.

The filter is shipped from China; so its not something to order if you are in a rush - but when it did arrive I was blown away by the quality of the presentation. The filter was packaged inside a well designed; expensive looking, cardboard outer package and then a hard plastic inner with a foam sheet to allow it some protection.

On opening the pack one disadvantage to this filter immediately manifested itself; the front element isn't 77mm so your lens cap won't go back on the lens with the filter mounted. The filter mounted smoothly onto my lens. The variable darkness is achieved by rotating the front element; as you would a circular polariser. The K&F filter spun smoothly but with enough resistance to keep the darkness you set so knocking it won't change the setting. One disadvantage to the design is the filter doesn't have coded ND values so there is a bit of guesswork to get the right exposure for stills.

I tried the obvious and took an image of a plain white wall at various ND settings; and there was some minor differences in the brightness of the photo - it was a bit lighter at the edges of the frames. At its darkest on long exposures; the 6d went red shift but this is correctable in Lightroom (and made much easier if you use a colour checker passport.) If you zoomed in on the plane white background you could see some variations in darkness; and ultimately pixel peeping at maximum darkness a mesh. That said taking pictures of something more interesting than a wall the effect was lost in the detail of the image.

I rarely shoot video so for you dear reviewer; I shot some test video of the same white wall. I don't have any fancy video editing software and just watching the video back in lightroom; the darkening effect was pretty uniform across the photo. As with stills if there were any criticism it is very minor and that the corners show up brighter than the centre of the frame. The majority of the frame being uniformly dark. There was no patterning showing in the video.

Using a standard ND filter definitely gave a more even darkness to stills but I am planning 3 long trips this year and carrying 5 ND filters everywhere felt like a chore. Now I just need one. If i could I would ding 1/2 a star for the front element size not being 77mm but its a minor inconvenience in the scheme of things.


Epson Perfection V550 Photo Scanner with ReadyScan LED Technology
Epson Perfection V550 Photo Scanner with ReadyScan LED Technology
Price: £169.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfection, 22 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought the Epson Perfection V550 scanner to archive a couple of shoe boxes of old photos and negatives.

Taking it from the box I faced a small hurdle in that epson ship the software on CD and none of my home computers have an optical drive any more. So after copying the disk at work I set the software up on my computer and went through three rounds of software updates. This is quite frustrating; i know the disk can't always be the latest version but the software update shouldnt download all the intermediate versions.

Once all was setup; the software itself is pretty useful for archiving volumes of photos. It has 3 modes; and the home mode allows you to load multiple photos at once onto the scanner and scan them in one parse. So whilst its not the fastest scanner I am able to scan (at 600dpi) just over one photo a minute. The software has some features to restore photos; including ICE dust removal and some software tunes to improve color. I found these to generally degrade the quality of the image. Having the multiple modes allows you to choose the settings that best suit you; or you can use the quick scan buttons on the front. The scanner also comes with some OCR software to translate images to text; it did a reasonable job and may help if you need to rescue the text in a document.

What the scanner doesn't come with is any kind of document archive software. The advertising blurb also says you can scan to the cloud; but i can't see how to do that on the OS X version of the epson scan software.

Overall for my purposes the ability to scan photos and archive them; its giving me good quality scans - you have to manually load them - but you don't get the track lines that feed scanners were giving me. The ability to scan multiple photos or slides in a single pass is a real timesaver- though I wish the scanner had usb3 and scanned 50% quicker as the pile of photos is still daunting. 4*
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 7, 2015 11:12 AM GMT


VAX Air Cordless Lift
VAX Air Cordless Lift
Price: £239.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Vacuum without much vacuum, 21 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Vax Air Cordless Lift works in two modes; a traditional upright complete with LED lighting to help you see where you are vacuuming and spinning brushes to beat dust out of carpets. The second mode allows you to remove the vacuum and use it as a hose vacuum; and in the box there are two brush attachments supplied to help with this; though strongly the main unit only has a storage point for one of them. My first impression was Vax had designed a complex box that made it quite hard to get the vacuum out; but once it was out the packaging was well laid out with separate sections for batteries; hoover attachments and the charger. Vas include two large; but light, batteries with the hoover and a large charger.

My overall impression of the vacuum was sullied by the hose mode; there isn't enough section to do a good job - putting my hand over the pipe it didn't feel like there was much; and testing it I found it couldn't lift a 1 inch screw up with suction. Like many people I use the hose mode for vacuuming my stairs; and neither of the two brushes supplied did a great job of getting into the fibres. The flexible head was stiff to position; but as soon as i tried running it along the vertical section of my stairs it changed snape and the brush didn't get into the fibres. The rigid brush was slightly better - but the low suction meant it did do as good a job as my existing mains powered compact vacuum. Using it on my stairs I was also perplexed why there isn't a shoulder strap for the device. Not having a strap makes for two handed use when you separate it from the base unit; the hose isn't long enough to get up half a flight of stairs so you will need to move it with you as you go up.

After my first impression I dismantled the unit and removed (and washed) the filter; something you need to do after every 5 uses, and reattached all the hoses and this didn't make a difference - there just doesn't seem to be enough suction to lift heavier or clingy items from the floor. When used in traditional vacuum mode on carpet and wooden floor the brushes do a far better job of getting dirt and throwing it up into the vacuum - my screw made it into the hopper used in traditional mode. In traditional mode the head is nice and wide and the unit is reasonably light and has a pivot to make it easier to turn.

The batteries are rated to last 50 minutes; and this is plenty long enough for me to complete any vacuuming session. As two are provided you can always keep one on the device; and have a spare charged ready for the first to run out so you shouldn't be unable to complete any task because of a lack of battery power.

I remember reading about how the european rules about powering vacuums was going to make them less useful and thinking the vacuum companies would come up with a resolution for that. I don't know if this is vax, if my unit is defective - though other reviews seem to confirm the suction issue or if it is that post power restrictions vacuum manufacturers still have some way to go. 3* as the full unit does an acceptable job; the inability to satisfactorily vacuum my stairs losing the other stars.


Vanish Gold for Whites Oxi Action Stain Remover Powder 1.41 kg
Vanish Gold for Whites Oxi Action Stain Remover Powder 1.41 kg
Offered by Alex Shanks Ltd
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good stain remover; and white's brightener, 21 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Using detergent boosters isn't something I normally use; relying on the chemists working on Persil and Aerial to do their jobs. So I tried Vanish gold for the first time in my wash. The first thing I appreciated was the instructions on the packaging covered all eventualities; pre-soaking and using with my machine. Inside the pack is a small scoop for getting the right dose into the wash.

To give it a test I spilled some espresso onto a work shirt; and let it dry. As a tougher stain I created a paste and used the scoop to rub it into the stain and ran it through my wash. Sure enough the stain was gone when my shirt was done in the machine. Running more day to day things through the wash; like my white sheets, these came out brighter than before.

As a stain remover I was impressed with the speed the stain was removed; and after the wash the shirt really was looking as it did before i wasted my coffee. For generally brightening up whites it did a good job. The large pack might last me a lifetime; though if you have stain makers in your life I can see the benefits of the large pack.


Creative Sound Blaster Roar Speaker: Portable NFC Bluetooth Wireless Speaker with aptX/AAC. 5 Drivers, Built-in Subwoofer
Creative Sound Blaster Roar Speaker: Portable NFC Bluetooth Wireless Speaker with aptX/AAC. 5 Drivers, Built-in Subwoofer
Price: £129.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blows the competition away, 21 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For the asking price the Creative Roar is simply an excellent Bluetooth speaker. Even at twice the price it would gain a good review. The Roar is a portable mains or battery powered speaker. Running on battery and played at a sensible volume the Roar has an all day in the office battery life.

The Roar looks pretty good too; with a nice metal case with millions of holes; that look a bit like the newer bose speakers. The sies have a wider mesh; and are supposed to be bass radiators. The controls; which are either solid switches or blister buttons are all placed on a silicone wrapped section which is nice and grippy. Though given the number of controls you need to hold it carefully to avoid changing something. All the metal and battery has resulted in a speaker that is a little heavy weighing close to a kilo; its like carrying a second laptop around with you – and it uses an external charger so you may have to carry that too.

Soundwise for the price its outstanding. It doesn’t compare to my Zeppelin for audio quality but it is a quarter of the price and far more portable. The small size prevents you from getting stereo separation, this is the big sound limitation in the Roar – but you can buy two and set them up as left and right speakers if you want. The Roar is built to fill a small room with music – and is plenty loud enough for that. There is a ROAR button which is a software process run over your music that tries to make the soundstage bigger; but doesn’t really add anything besides a little bit of volume. If you are a fan of singlish pressing the terabase button smoothly tells you “Terrabase on”; it also destroys the music you are listening to by overwhelming the lower end but if you like it that way you are covered.

You can stream music onto the Roar from standard bluetooth; you can also stream high quality sound using aptx bluetooth sound (which really did make a difference when streaming lossless music to the speaker.) You can also stream music to it over USB.

One thing creative have done that doesn’t impress me is try and make the speaker more than just a Bluetooth speaker. Cramming in a micro sd card slot so you can playback music without using Bluetooth (aac codecs work fine.) This playback is supported by normal music play type buttons on the back; which crowd up the back of the device. These buttons don’t work when streaming over Bluetooth though. You can also record phone calls using the speaker; given the speaker phone suffers as they all do from fishbowl sound for listeners.

Overall used as a speaker for the price its looks and works far better than similar priced products I have tested from Sony. If you are looking for a gift the packaging is well done and the device feels like it will last.


A Foto-gears Mesen New Professional 77MM Neutral Density Filter kit ND2 ND4 ND10 Filter Set with a filter bag for Pentax Fujufilm Sigma Olympus Nikon Canon 77mm lens ND Filter kit
A Foto-gears Mesen New Professional 77MM Neutral Density Filter kit ND2 ND4 ND10 Filter Set with a filter bag for Pentax Fujufilm Sigma Olympus Nikon Canon 77mm lens ND Filter kit
Offered by Mesenltd
Price: £41.36

4.0 out of 5 stars ND2-4 and 10 stands out from the crowd, 15 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Foto Gears filters 77mm ND Filters are well presented with a 3 filter fold out wallet to store them in. The selection of filters in the case is unusual and what attracted me to them - the ND10 filter is a stop darker than most kits ND8 and saves doubling up on the filters (which can lead to vignetting at wider angles.). Filters are normal thickness; and have smooth threads for your camera; and if you do need to double them up.

When you do take longer exposures the filters add a red hue to your images (as do many other ND filters.) This tint was easily corrected in Lightroom. When used to reduce the light hitting my sensor the images had an even color palate suggesting the filters didn't have any light or dark spots across them; they also don't appear to have interfered with getting sharp images when in use; so the quality of the filters seems to be on the mark.

If you want some filters to let you open your aperture in the day; or take light streaks at night this is a good kit and the inclusion of the darker ND10 is useful. In the past a kit like this would have been maybe twice the price; but there are competitors with similar or lower pricing; I wanted that slightly darker filter for my lenses. 4*; not for the quality but as competitors are slightly cheaper.


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