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Chris Hoare "Chris" (UK)

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Bleak Expectations: Series 5 (BBC Audio)
Bleak Expectations: Series 5 (BBC Audio)
by Mark Evans
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 16.35

5.0 out of 5 stars I thwarte you should all get this, 5 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Bleak Expectations is the amazing life story as told by Sir Philip Bin to the Times newspapers perpetually late Jeremy Sourquill.

The tale is of the life of Younger Pip earstwhile inventor of the Bin and britain's favourite author, and his best Friend Harry Biscuit (inventor of such useful things as the machine gun - a gun that fires machines and the word Harumble) along with their wives and friends spend their lives preventing Mr Gently Benevolent and his henchmen from destroying the world. As Sir Philip noted; Pips life story fits perfectly into 30 minutes sessions with conveniently placed cliff hangers for the Time's readers.

Bleak Expectations a nod's to Dickens and alongside Cabin Pressure one of the greatest Sitcoms on Radio 4. Season 5 see's women's liberation giving the wives a chance to join in the plan thwarting bringing a twist to what is now a long running show.

The six episodes of Season 5 are a rollercoaster ride with 2.5 hours of groan out loud puns and crazy situations; bliss 5*s.

Withings Smart Body Analyzer - Black
Withings Smart Body Analyzer - Black
Price: 129.00

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sleek Scales great App, 5 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A couple of years ago I had a to-do with my doctor about blood pressure. They took it in the surgery and pronounced it super high on the spot. I felt there was nothing wrong with me and invested in Withings Smart Blood Pressure Monitor) the next time I went I was armed with a blood pressure reading for 6 months and it was clear there was nothing wrong. So started my obsession with tracking personal data over time; I have a Jawbone Large UP on my wrist tracking movement; bought the earlier version of these scales a while back. Withings and UP actually work together so my Smart Scale information is visible in the UP app too.

The new scales retain the same sharp look for your bathroom; with a polished glass surface; a bright easy to read LCD. If you have an iPhone they are super easy to setup with your phone; I downloaded the Withings app from iTunes; flip the scales over and press a button to tell the scales to connect to the phone. The app see's the scales and they connect; connecting them to wifi is all done for you - the app does all the hard work. Once its setup each member of the family can use the scales and using some weight / bmi voodoo it knows who everyone is and seems to always get it right.

Step on the scales and the large screen lights up and arrows tell you how to centre your body weight. Each measurement you take is then beamed to the website / your phone; and to the secure Withings website (you can give your doctor access.) After it gets your weight it measures BMI, body fat percentage and heart rate and reports the whole lot to your phone. If you are trying to lose weight the application is really good at supporting this; you can set weight loss goals over time and see how it is going.

One new feature on the latest smart body analyser is a CO2 sensor that warns you if you have too much in your home. Living in a city centre my CO2 varies during the day form about 300-700ppm. I had a house-full of guests one night and it went through the roof to 1700 so it looks like it works.

As scales alone the Withings Smart Body Analyser are expensive; there is a cheaper model that loses the body fat and heart rate monitoring (as well as the CO2 measurement.) The Withings scales are only a small piece of the whole; the easy to use App and data heavy website allow you to store data over time and present it in a way your Doctor gets a better picture than they would get from a snapshot.

She's In Control
She's In Control
Price: 4.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite repetitive, 28 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: She's In Control (MP3 Download)
I bought she's in control as i am a completist; I love Fancy Footwork. I wanted to hear where it came from as more often than not the first album is the good one. Sadly She's in control (the first album) is chock full of songs that sound the same. An overly bright 80's pastiche of analog sounding synths and banal lyrics.

We all come from somewhere and for some its a place we would like to forget. Lucky that for most of us you can't buy it with one click @ amazon. 3*'s as its (just) Okay.

A&W Root Beer 355 ml (Pack of 12)
A&W Root Beer 355 ml (Pack of 12)
Price: 11.70

4.0 out of 5 stars That root beer taste, 28 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Until the 12c A&W root beer hits amazon we have the full sugar version. Each can proudly proclaims that it is made from aged vanilla but also there is 35gm's of sugar in it. It tastes great; far better than the no brand swill in my local supermarket but has far too much sugar for a regular drink.

Duronic Black 10m CAT6a FTP Professional Gold Headed Shielded Network Cable - Black - High Speed 500MHz Premium Quality Cat6a / Patch / Ethernet / Modem / Router / LAN
Duronic Black 10m CAT6a FTP Professional Gold Headed Shielded Network Cable - Black - High Speed 500MHz Premium Quality Cat6a / Patch / Ethernet / Modem / Router / LAN
Offered by DURONIC

5.0 out of 5 stars bridges the gaps, 28 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Sometimes wifi doesnt cut it; my media server is called on my a growing number of devices and occasionally media would stutter. I swapped out my wifi connections for a wired network between key devices. THe 10m cable gives me a reliable gigabit connection and the wire is plenty long enough to snake all the way around a room.

The connectors are snagless thanks to a cover that protects the clip; this should mean the cables lost longer and dont fall out of my computer should they get knocked.

Its a great value, well made and long network cable that met my needs 5*s.

Pentax WG-3 Waterproof Digital Camera - Green (16MP, 4x Optical Zoom, GPS, Front Screen) 3 inch LCD (discontinued by manufacturer)
Pentax WG-3 Waterproof Digital Camera - Green (16MP, 4x Optical Zoom, GPS, Front Screen) 3 inch LCD (discontinued by manufacturer)

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evolution delivers a better camera, 27 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Time in photography really does wizz by; a 6 months ago i reviewed the Pentax WG-2 which took good photos but felt silly in my hands. The WG-3 is an incremental improvement over the WG2; but it really works to fix the rough edges of its elder brother.

As soon as you hold it in your hand it feels better; the WG-2 had lots of toughened plastic angled surfaces that made it difficult to hold; the WG3 is much more comfortable in the hand. Its also tougher than its predecessor you can dive deeper (14m v 12m), drop it from higher heights (2m) like the WG2 it will still operate at -10C and it can withstand 100kg of weight on it. This extra diving and drop performance does come at an increase in size the WG3 is 20% bigger than the WG2 which sounds terrible but its only a few mm in each direction. It is bigger; but it as it still has a large 3" screen on the back the buttons are still quite fiddly - given they are also water proofed they do feel stiff to press. The lens has one big improvement over its predecessor - its an F2 rather than F3.6 at the widest angle -this means that more light can hit the sensor giving you better photos in lower light. The lens is also stabilised which reduces the impact of any hand shake; the WG2 had a digital stabilisation and that slowed the camera down the new optical mode has no noticeable impact. Pentax has taken away though; the zoom is now only a 4x but the improved image quality more than makes up for it (I have uploaded two photos one at full zoom out and one full zoom in so you can see.) The lens is still unprotected though so invest in a camera pouch to make it last.

The Pentax camera software feels unchanged from the WG2; and it does feel dated compared to the menus on a Canon, sony or Panasonic compact camera. It is however easy to use it just lacks the polish of its competitors. The ease of use is aided by the large 3" screen on the back which allows lots of space to display things. Being a GPS model the camera does gain a few features; you can geotag all your photos that allows you to track where you were when you took the images. I really like that it can set its own clock so the time stamps are right if you travel to another country; there is also a compass that shows you where you heading, you can optionally (at the cost of battery life) store a walking track. You can retrieve this using the Pentax software included. There is also a new camera level indicator where two bars show you horizontal and vertical which help you take more level photos.

Pentax has kept the myriad of modes and features including some advanced processed modes that combine images to deliver a better image. The HDR mode takes several images with differing exposures to create a more realistic single image. The twilight mode takes several images to create a single more stable image and finally the panorama mode takes several images and stitches them to create a large panoramic image. Accessing and changing modes is easy; and the simple Auto mode selects the mode it deems best with a fair degree of accuracy so you can just fire and forget. If you want to shoot video; there is a quick access button to switch to video mode video's the camera takes full HD video at 30fps again with image stabilsation so the video looks more smooth straight from the camera; it also has a slow motion modes with 60fps at 720p and 240 frames per second but at VGA 640x480 quality.

Of the issues I had with the original WG2 the only two that remain are the aged camera software and the carabiner strap is still silly (and still doesn't lock); its not long enough to take a photo with it still attached to a bag so you have to detach every time you want to take a photo.

Finally the most important aspect; the photos it takes are sharp and the autofocus is quick and accurate; though the full 16megapixel images are almost 9Mb in size so get a big SD card for your holiday. Compared to the WG2 the newer camera is more expensive at the moment but you get a richer feature set; a significantly better lens that takes better photos more of the time. Ultimately that is the reason to upgrade or get a camera; capture memories and moments for later.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 1, 2014 10:50 AM GMT

Panasonic V210 Full HD Camcorder - Black (10 MP, 1920 x 1080P, 1MOS Sensor, 72x Intelligent Zoom) 2.7 inch LCD (discontinued by manufacturer)
Panasonic V210 Full HD Camcorder - Black (10 MP, 1920 x 1080P, 1MOS Sensor, 72x Intelligent Zoom) 2.7 inch LCD (discontinued by manufacturer)

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fits in your pocket zooms to the moon, 25 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When the box from amazon containing the Panasonic V210 arrived I couldn't believe how small it was. Opening the box; you find the camcorder itself is yet smaller still. It truly is tiny; its about the size of a can of coke and weighs less. This low weight does point to one downside; its all plastic everywhere so don't bash it as you move about. Besides the v210 camera in the box is everything you need to get started except for the film - the V210 uses faster type 4 or higher SD Card's. These are very cheap these days and widely available as you travel.

Charging the battery is done on Camera with the bulky external charger plugging into the camera. Once charged up the battery lasts about 2 and 1/2 hours which is more than enough for a family day out; but if you are taking it on holiday or filming your opus you will want to take the charger (and maybe a spare battery too.)

Once you take it out; its very simple to use; the bright and clear screen pops (and rotates around so you can have a good view or show the person your are filming the image) out so you can see what you are filming; and if you use the hand loop on the right hand side (sorry lefties) the zoom, photo and video buttons all fall close to your thumb. I must admit i did wish the screen was touch enabled; which is a stretch at the price; but the menu buttons and video playback buttons are a little small and fiddly.

Out and about shooting video the small size makes the camera discreet. Shooting video the camera works fine with internal and daylight and the V210 makes a concerted effort to record in low light - its a bit noisy but you can see whats going on. The internal microphone suffers from wind noise whistle if you are filming outside. As with digital cameras the first reason to look at the V210 is the zoom; there is an enormous 38x optical range and an option in the menus to extend this to 72x using some digital trickery. The digital zoom definitely loses some quality but if you are at the back of the concert you can certainly zoom in to the watch the drummers facial expressions using the digital zoom. The zoom is backed up with a good image stabilisation system - though if you are going to 72x you really need a tripod or the worlds steadiest hand. Use the zoom button sparingly whilst recording though as it zooms in and out at high speed which might make your audience feel sick. You can also use the V210 as a 10 megapixel camera; but the picture quality is pretty terrible.

When you have all the footage on your SD Card you have two options to play it back; you can play the video back on your television using the included the HDMI cable (well done panasonic.) The video quality is acceptable - under slow movement and good light its fine - especially given the budget price.

The V210 records full HD in the AVCHD format which if you are a Mac user isn't a native format so you can't copy the files off the memory card and just play them back without a suitable driver. On your mac you can get the video off with a recent copy of iMovie. This will import and convert the video in an easy step. Bringing it into iMove will let you edit it through.

If you are on a PC the v210 does come with some video management software in the form of HD Writer LE 2.0 which will help you import the files to your PC - its very basic though and if you want to edit the video down you are best investing in another tool. I set up the HD Writer LE 2.0 on my PC and found it easy to import the video; and get out to youtube to share it with others.

The v210 is a light weight truly pocketable camcorder. Its stand out feature is an excellent optical zoom and image stabilisation that let you zoom into the action. The video isn't the best you can achieve; but at the price its nothing to complain about. 4*s

Crabtree and Evelyn Avocado Olive and Basil Carry Case
Crabtree and Evelyn Avocado Olive and Basil Carry Case

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well presented gift set., 14 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought the Crabtree and evelyn olive and basil carry case as a gift for a friends birthday. It comes really well presented with a straw weave case and a leather feeling handle. I didn't get to try all the products in the case but the hand cream is excellent and the recipient hasn't complained. Its great value and the packaging makes it feel that little bit more special.

Philips PerfectCare Xpress GC5060/02 Steam Iron - One Perfect Temperature - 200g Pressurised Steam Boost
Philips PerfectCare Xpress GC5060/02 Steam Iron - One Perfect Temperature - 200g Pressurised Steam Boost
Offered by SPARES-2-GO
Price: 81.90

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plug and Play, 14 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When I reviewed my previous philips iron the Philips Azur GC4890/02 I was happy about the power of the Iron that let it warm up quickly and generate enough steam to quickly iron my work shirts. I was also completely baffled why Philips had created an Iron with over 80 heat settings on the dial. Two years later step up the Philips Perfect Xpress Iron; - the only buttons are for even more steam and ECO - with no temperature or material settings to worry about. It's the ultimate in man friendly iron - fill up the water tank with soft (or softened water) and its plug and play.

When you do plug it in a green light comes on; and after about a minute when the iron is ready it flashes blue. Pick it up and flip it over and a constant stream of steam starts coming out; but only whilst you are moving it when you stop moving it stops steaming. Yes the steam; philips have managed to shrink a steam generator to fit into a handheld iron. Its not totally devoid of buttons though; there is a steam boost button; and an eco button though i'm not sure what impact that has. The Perfect xPress iron comes in at 2800 watts so it uses a LOT of energy but it does iron through my work shirts quicker. Ironing 5 shirts for the week the water reservoir was far from empty; if you do finish you are supposed to empty the tank to reduce the chance of scale building up. With all the steam philips are obviously worried about scaling; to the point there is even a water test strip to test how hard your water is; Leicester water is a little hard so I used water from my Britta filter which reduces scale; Philips also sell an official descaler too.

The Xpress is a great iron and a big step up form my 2 year old Azur; but its a very expensive hand held iron. Its ready for ironing quickly; and not having to worry about settings for materials makes it easy to use and all the steam makes it quicker to iron - oh and the time you save changing between the silk of a tie and cotton of a shirt and waiting for it to warm up or cool down. The xPress is far from cheap but it does a great job; and if you do have delicate things to iron the knowledge that they are safe from any mistake should be worth paying a little extra for.

Jawbone Large UP Fitness Tracking Wristband - Black Onyx
Jawbone Large UP Fitness Tracking Wristband - Black Onyx
Price: 62.60

98 of 115 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wakes you UP Shakes you UP, 11 April 2013
The Jawbone UP is a movement tracking device with some clever software to help you track your day.

The band itself is a soft hypoallergenic plastic rubber that is comfortable on your wrist; its very light and and after a few hours I stopped noticing it was there even when typing. The band is fairly resilient you can shower in it though they suggest you avoid swimming with it. Once its on your wrist the UP has a great battery life as the the battery is rated to last up to 10 days. Getting the band on is very simple; the ends of the band arent connected but cross over so it just on your arm by opening the overlap in the band very easily (getting the right sized band is quite important though there are 3 sizes.)

There is only one button at one end of the device so its hard to knock and accidentally switch settings. You do need to remember a number of combinations to use some of the devices tracking functions or switch modes e.g. press and hold the button to enter / exit sleep tracking. There are two indicator lights that can change color but they are simply indicated day time or night night which it simple to understand.

At its most basic level as you move around during the day it tracks your steps and at night it tracks your movements in bed, Out of the box this was relatively accurate (compared to other pedometers I have tested) it overestimated by about 5% over 1500 steps; the UP has a calibration system and this made it considerably more accurate over the same distance. The UP Band itself has no screen or other indicators so you need to get the information onto your phone / tablet to see it. Jawbone recommend you do this twice a day. Connecting it up is very simple - you remove the cap and plug it into your Android Device or iPhone/ iPad's headphone socket and it sucks the information down. I haven't tried the Android software but the iPhone software is excellent with an excellent interface and great trends tracking. One extra feature besides loading up your activities you can easily track the food you eat by quickly inputting what you eat into the application; as you build up a pattern of daily consumption and exercise you can see the impact on your sleep and vice versa. The app also has an aide memoir to help you remember that its two short presses and one long one to take a power nap - it wakes you up when it thinks you will be rested - or after 45 minutes - based on your nightly sleep patterns.

Given that all the band really does is track your movement the UP actually stacks up a lot of great features; from monitoring exercise, reminding me to get up and move around whilst i'm working has made me feel less stiff at the end of the day. As an alarm clock its very discreet - it vibrates on your wrist waking you up without anyone around you noticing a thing . That said the UP isn't quite perfect for me; I wish it had bluetooth rather than plugging it into the headphone socket to sync data as it would be easier to get information to from it - and i would only need to take it off to charge I also wish it tracked your pulse - especially as you exercise - as it would deliver a better indication of effort. It isn't as visual as the NIKE device but it is smaller and lighter which makes it a bit more discreet and the 10 day battery life is excellent.

This UP is a version 2; and the polish really shows especially in the software 4 *'s mainly because of the lack of pulse monitoring.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 7, 2014 4:45 PM BST

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