Profile for Chris Hoare > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Chris Hoare
Top Reviewer Ranking: 171
Helpful Votes: 3171

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Chris Hoare "Chris" (UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Even the Stars Are a Mess
Even the Stars Are a Mess
Price: £39.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Short and sweet, 10 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I listen to music at work to keep my mind on a steady path; that often means the electronic music of Air or the Postal service; it also includes Simon and Garfunkel and for years now Whitley's the Submarine. Even the stars at a mess is the third album; and sadly only it runs to just over 30 minutes - and 9 songs.

I utterly adore the first Album The Submarine; like Simon and Garfunkel's music I feel energised and controlled listening to Whitleys voice over the sparse music. The lyrics give my brain something to think about besides the code on the monitor; and that really helps. There might be 9 songs but like Paul Simon they have been finessed into something special; "I am not a rock" aside they express mixed emotions in their rhythmic lyrics that combined with the music is sublime. You can find the video for My heart is not a machine on the internets. The song has a heartbeat musical background and with the lyrics you will find something truly special "my heart is not a machine, it beats alone in all the darkness of the night" its made all the more special for the 12 seconds of silence when the heart suddenly stops.

Even the stars are a mess is a great album; sadly I had to pay to import it from Australia; hopefully it will find a release in the UK and the price will come down a bit.


Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock
Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock
Price: £153.40

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could do more, 8 Dec 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Using the Belkin express dock is very handy for getting more and more modern connections from your computer. I have set it up on my desk at work and use it with my Macbook Air. Each morning connecting it to this dock (buy a cable as Belkin don't include one.)

The first and biggest step up for me was getting a gigabit network socket; I have been using one of my precious USB sockets to drive a network port which was considerably slower than the one on the dock.

Secondly the Docks 3x USB3 connectors are a big improvement on my Air's dual USB2 sockets. Belkin has compromised on them they arent as fast as the USB3 standard but still considerably faster than USB2 when using a USB3 device. Besides being speed limited the USB3 sockets are also power limited to 500mA which means you can't use it to fast charge your tablet but your phone is likely ok.

After the USB3 sockets you are left with a Firewire 800 socket that is becoming less useful thanks to USB3 being so much faster than USB2 and Thunderbolt replacing it at the high end. There are also headphone and microphone sockets and most importantly you still end up with a Thunderbolt socket as the express has two.

Connecting it to my computer was just a question of getting a cable and plugging the two together. Sadly the first thing you have to do is plug the dock into a power socket as Thunderbolt can't power the dock. Then get a Thunderbolt cable and plug it in; after that all the sockets just work. In use thunderbolt connectors get hot; which seems to be normal (there is a chip in there handling all the communication; but the express dock too got warm in use.

Its supremely practical and the build is excellent - it simplifies starting up in the morning to two connections; despite that for the price I wish Belkin had made a different more comprehensive product. I wish the dock were either wider and thinner so you can rest your laptop on it; or had a soft surface so you could rest charging phones on it as it stands its a handy dock for your computer but if you are going to use a power socket and take up that much desk space you really ought to do more.


Philips Foldie On Ear CitiScape Headband Headphones - Green/Brown
Philips Foldie On Ear CitiScape Headband Headphones - Green/Brown
Price: £44.31

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The barista in Costa said Nice headphones, 8 Dec 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Philips Citiscape headphones are the first headphones I have owned where someone has commented on how nice they look; and for that reason these may be the phones your are looking for. If looks do matter know that they sound way better than any phones that came with your music device; your music sounds wider and there is more detail. On the chord there is a answer / siri button and microphone.

If you are interested in more than the looks; it feels well made; albeit it the materials do feel a little cheap. The leather looking material may be bonded leather or pvc; it feels ok but the downside is they are unyielding and so the noise seals aren't so good and external sounds leak in.

Philips haven't scrimped on the sounds though; it is a marked step up from included ear buds; I dug mine out of the phone box to give them a spin; they are made from far worse plastic; sounded harsh and everything felt compressed. The Philips Cityscape do a much better job on your ears; they sound much wider and in that space they present a nice neutral sound. Sadly the same can't be said for the microphone in a quiet place its fine; but my phone (like lots of others) has a noise cancelling feature that doesn't work well when you don't use the internal microphone so callers didn't find it as good. Not having volume controls feels like model positioning and price control which is a shame.


Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock HF3505/01 with Sunrise Simulation - 2 Natural Sounds and Radio
Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock HF3505/01 with Sunrise Simulation - 2 Natural Sounds and Radio
Price: £85.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3rd Time, 13 Nov 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As winter nights draw in the benefit of my light up alarm clock is made more apparent each morning. This is the 3rd iteration I have used; and it sits at the lower end of the current wake up series. I have been using the more expensive HF3520 as my alarm clock for about a year now and would recommend it to anyone. What we have in the 3505 is the main advantage of the slowly lightening lamp that allows you to wake up feeling more awake - and your eyes don't have that morning aversion to bright lights. I have found the wake up light over time to be very good at waking me up feeling better rested than a straight alarm clock - and the light is considerably less harsh than a pure SAD lamp.

What you lose out on with the 3505 compared to the more expensive models are

1) The light isn't as bright as the more expensive one though in my settings I use about the same brightness on both - you do have less control over the light on the 3505.
2) There is only one alarm setting; I have a weekend / weekday programmed on my main alarm clock - you can do this manually but it feels a bit stingy to leave it off.
3) only 2 robot sounds to wake you compared to the 5 on offer.
4) The light is only yellow the more expensive one goes from reddy orange to yellow as it gets brighter. Though the benefit of this is mostly lost on me as I'm asleep when its red.
5) the 3520 has an internal battery to keep you going in the event of a power cut.

The 3505 is still blighted by the philips interface which like the FM radio is a refugee from another era - though it is actually slightly improved over its more expensive brother - all the buttons are on the face which does make it easier to use in the dark (the 3520 has buttons around the edge) it is still difficult to use as a radio or program the alarm itself. A big issue with the 3505 is when the power fails the alarm clock loses everything which is very disappointing - and you can't put a battery in to keep it going. This is supplemented by a disappointing FM radio on both models.

When you open the package and feel how small and well made it is the 3505 feels like a great premium product. Ultimately the lack of battery backup makes this a poor choice of an alarm clock as any small power cut will stop you getting to work on time. It sounds like I'm down on this as an alarm clock - compared to a ringing alarm clock the wake up light experience is a much better way to wake up; compared to the more expensive Philips alarm clocks you can see where they have cut costs and decide where the line is drawn for you. 3*s


Sony QX100 Lens Style Camera for Smartphones and Tablets - Black (20.2MP, Carl Zeiss F1.8 Lens, 3.6x Optical Zoom)
Sony QX100 Lens Style Camera for Smartphones and Tablets - Black (20.2MP, Carl Zeiss F1.8 Lens, 3.6x Optical Zoom)
Offered by laZook
Price: £344.26

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Breaks Conventions; tries your patience, 24 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Compact camera's have had the same rectangular shape for decades now. The QX100 arrives in a cylindrical box; and inside is a cylindrical camera (and a USB cable and tiny manual - there isn't a USB power charger.) Out of the box the QX100 certainly gets attention; everyone who has seen it has played a guessing game with me to its identity and purpose.

Its fair to say few people that played along with me guessed it was a Camera those that did were helped by the Carl Zeiss Lens square and markings on the lens front. From looking and picking it up it no one guessed it was a quality camera hiding inside the cheap plastic finish. None of the contestants were impressed about how long it took to frame and take a photo after pressing the fiddly and unresponsive power button. Those who stayed to look at the photos were more than impressed. The issue is the camera uses your phone as its screen and optionally as the shutter release. The main design feature of the lens are two feet that pop out and clip to your camera' sadly there isn't a standard mark on the camera to show you orientation it would be nice to have a gunsight line for landscape and portrait. Inside the fat round black body of the lens you can insert a micro sd memory card; as well as the battery that powers the camera. There is a USB slot for connecting it for charging or downloading photos to your computer; the charging slot is one you might use a lot as I found the slow start up times meant I kept the camera on whilst i was testing it rather than powering it on and off - this drained the battery on the camera quickly as well as the one on my phone.

The Sony Play Memories application is available on Android and iOS systems and I tried it with my iPhone 4s and Samsung Galaxy S4. The features of both applications seem to be the same; the build quality not so much.On both apps you only have limited camera controls - there isn't much of a manual so I have no idea the difference between iAuto and Superior Auto. Given the canvass the 1080p screen on the S4 offers its a shame that there aren't more manual mode options - only Program Auto and Aperture Priority are available. You can control the focus on both apps with touch to focus; or switch to manual focus when the metal round around the lens becomes a focus ring. On either app pressing the shutter release there was a definite lag; there is a shutter release button on the side which responds immediately so i quickly found myself using that. Neither of the apps tags the photos with the GPS coordinates; but the camera's clock is synchronised with your phones on connection.

iPhone 4s

On the iPhone the app is pretty good; with a manageable couple of second lag when moving the lens about; and it was quick to transfer photos over when you take a photo. As my iPhone is only a 32Gb (and its mostly full of music) I set the app to transfer 2Megapixel images over after taking a shot. You can transfer the full 20megapixel images over if you have the space (on android i tried this and whilst the transfer of the 2mp image took 5 seconds on the larger images it took 23s to transfer and the phone had to do some work to display the image back.

Galaxy S4 (Android)
The stability of the Sony app on my iPhone was missing on the Galaxy S4. In fact my first world issue was when i wanted to use the lens with my S4 I often found the iPhone had grabbed the wifi connection -and despite the NFC the camera didn't connect to the S4 without forcefully disconnecting it from the iPhone. When the app worked the lens had less lag on the S4 than the iPhone - though using the camera with the bigger screen was a much better experience. Transferring full size images is more of a proposition here thanks to the S4's own Micro SD slot.

If you don't want to connect to a phone; you can shoot from the hip but the settings are locked to the last time it was connected so it can be hit and miss.

Image and Video Quality
All that said still Image quality (JPG only - there is no RAW here) is very sharp; and when zoomed all the way out the F1.8 sensor has good bokeh for a compact camera. Together the image sensor and lens combination are first rate; the lens having a 4 times zoom that you can control via the app; a toggle switch on the lens or via a metal ring around the lens. When you zoom in the lens does distort images a little but you can correct it easily in a photo library these days. Despite not having a flash the lens works into winter pub levels of light slowly ramping up the ISO (you can't set it) Im not sure why but Sony don't even try and use the LED flash on the phone; and it doesn't try and use the LED light on your phone - so once the light levels drop the noise levels go up and there isn't a whole lot you can do about it.

Video for some reason is shot at a reduced 1440 x 1080p rather than 1920 x 1080p that modern full HD screens are looking for - when you play it back you get black bars on the sides or the image will be stretched to fit. It shoots that at 30fps and the bit rate is around 12mbs MP4 so its a nice solid image but not quite right.

Summary
The selling point of the QX100 seems to be to take better photos and video than your camera phone can and still allow you to share them quickly with others. Its a brave new camera category probably sitting alone with the Canon PowerShot N both of which are new format cameras designed to make it easier to share images. Ultimately after hundreds of photos Im still struggling to click with the QX100; partly its because the size and shape that make it an impractical camera to carry around but mostly its the delay in taking a photo when something unexpected happens. To get the camera connected to my iPhone and take a photo could easily take 20-30 seconds. The camera I normally have in my Bag is the Canon PowerShot SX280 this has a traditional rectangular camera shape; and it fits into most pockets; it too has wifi and an app on my phones. From pressing the power switch its ready to shoot with its screen powered up in about 3 seconds. I would rather get the photo and spend time afterwards connecting the camera to my phones wifi afterwards to share it to the world than the other way around. That said the software on the Canon isn't likely to get upgraded and Sony has a chance to improve theirs and add more features; so hopefully over time Sony will make it a better world. I am giving it 3*s for the sharp images and Sony's push into new territory.
Comment Comment | Permalink


Kärcher Window Vac Extension Pole
Kärcher Window Vac Extension Pole
Price: £24.95

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If only it was a bit more flexible, 24 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Karcher window Vac extension pole; is built to work with Karcher window cleaning vacuums. In the box you get an extension pole; a new window cleaning head and a replacement squeegee head for the vacuum itself. The extension set works great if you can stand below your window and move it up and down. Sadly I have to stand to the side (my windows open into my apartment.)

The socket at the top of the pole where the cleaning attachments connect is adjustable inline with the pole; but right side to side; which means you can't have any twisting action. For people who can stand outside and clean their windows having a rolling socket would have allowed you to clean more of your windows from a single point without having to move around whilst keeping the cleaning surfaces in contact with the window.

The Karcher vac on the pole still does a far better job than the simple squeegee i was using before; it would be easier to use with more adjustments.


Belkin Cat5e Snagless UTP Patch Cable (Blue) 3m
Belkin Cat5e Snagless UTP Patch Cable (Blue) 3m
Offered by CrossCables
Price: £3.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Great cable for running through short trunking, 14 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Belkin snagless cable lived up to its name; I had to feed it through the cable run of my AV unit and tried it without the duct tape I would have used to protect the clips before. I made it the 2m from socket to router quite easily. Its comfortably handling the traffic i am routing around my network despite being routed with several power and HDMI cables which suggests the shielding is working well.

My Snagless is a vivid blue which keeps it apart from the other cables; it feels like a quality cable and has good connectors. 5*s


LG IPS234V-PN.AEK PS 23 inch LED Wide Screen Monitor
LG IPS234V-PN.AEK PS 23 inch LED Wide Screen Monitor

4.0 out of 5 stars Vesa Mounted, 14 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The IPS234V-PN (Snappy Name) LG X Monitor matches visually my 2012 LG monitor allowing me to have a pair of near identical monitors. Both come with VESA mounts and I have each of them on a monitor arm to clear some space under the desk. The Screen does come with a desk stand but it is a wobbly when mounted on it.

The 2013 does look brighter than its older brother. The IPS234V-PN (still enjoying the name) ticked my connection boxes by adding an HDMI input to the HDMI and VGA sockets of last year. In the box LG Only include a VGA cable; which is a bit pointless when it can't actually render the 1980 x 1080 resolution of the screen through it (and VGA is a dying connector at this point.) Using a reasonably priced HDMI cable I was able to use the full resolution happily. Sadly LG didn't improve on the power situation; so I now have two monitor power bricks in my desk rather than one - i really dont know why they can' use a mains cable straight into the screen.

I dinged a star for the power brick it is a nice easily adjustable screen for working on; and playing the odd game of civilisation (can't speak for FPS sorry.)


Anker® 24W 2-Port Rapid USB Car Charger with PowerIQ™ Technology for iPhone 6 Plus 5S 5C 5 4S, iPad Air 2 Mini 3, Samsung Galaxy S5 S4 Note Tab, Nexus, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, PS Vita, Gopro, more Phones and Tablets (White)
Anker® 24W 2-Port Rapid USB Car Charger with PowerIQ™ Technology for iPhone 6 Plus 5S 5C 5 4S, iPad Air 2 Mini 3, Samsung Galaxy S5 S4 Note Tab, Nexus, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, PS Vita, Gopro, more Phones and Tablets (White)
Offered by AnkerDirect
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Snug Fit; bit too long, 13 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Anker 18W dual USB adaptor is a snug fit; that said I have one in my Car at all times and another in my travel bag. It would be nice if it were a bit shorter so only the USB sockets stood proud of the power socket - as it is things catch on it from time - mainly on cars where the socket is on the vertical console bit rather than around the armrests. That said it charges phones and iPads without issue or ever feeling hot and the stiffness in the power socket has kept it in when knocked.

Its good value and the construction makes it feel like it will last a long time; after inserting and removing from half a dozen hire cars now its still stiff in the sockets which is good.


John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: Series 2 (Audiogo)
John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: Series 2 (Audiogo)
by John Finnemore
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £16.34

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars That Difficult Second Album, 13 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am a huge appreciator of Mr Finnimore's work and jumped at the chance to get my hands on Souvenir Programme Series 2. Sadly for me John hasn't gone all experimental and series 2 carries on with the original themes and builds on them but on a second listen its not as much fun. I get he doesn't listen to the archers but the jokes is done with the dumdiledum intro music and its the same with ghost stories and book reviews. The first listen it was pretty good on subsequent hearings it doesn't stand up. Doesn't stand up to the high water marks he set with souvenir series 1 or any Cabin Pressure where the jokes feel much tighter and less reheated.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20