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Chris Hoare "Chris" (UK)

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AmazonBasics 16-Gauge Speaker Wire 1.3 mm² / 100 Feet
AmazonBasics 16-Gauge Speaker Wire 1.3 mm² / 100 Feet
Price: £7.27

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sounds Good, 27 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My first thought on opening the Amazon basics hassle free box was is that it.

Inside the easy open box was a spool of wire with a diameter smaller than a CD. The wire itself is very easy to work with though it is about 1cm across the two wires so obscuring it behind carpet is that bit harder. The wires have a soft translucent cover that is easy to strip to reveal the wire underneath. The 100ft (just over 30m if like me you are Metric) was enough to comfortably rewire my home cinema system and compared to the cable that came with it the sound was considerably more rich.

Compared to included wire with my speakers the sound is a big step forward; its very easy to work with and for the price its hard not to recommend it 5*s.

Netgear WNDR4300 Premium Edition N750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router
Netgear WNDR4300 Premium Edition N750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router
Price: £106.21

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly easily configurable router for cable and fiber users., 13 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Netgear WNDR4300 Premium Edition N750 has a silly name; don't let that put you off it really is all routers too all people. So long as you don't have ADSL; and even then you could get an ADSL bridge to use the system.

On the back you will find 1 Ethernet in connector to plug into your cable or bt fiber modem. 4 Ethernet sockets for legacy devices or the best transmission speeds for HD TV or gaming; a USB socket for printers or hard drives (Sadly not both) and the power jack / switch. My common complaint about these devices is that the mains lead doesn't plug straight in saving a box in my room. After the 4 ethernet sockets there are 2 full wifi circuits that can be setup as a public / guest network allowing visitors access to the internet but not your files. The wireless speeds are claimed unto 750mb/s but i don't know what kind of adaptor you need for that my wireless n could only get 330mb/s. Its fast though and the range was more than enough for my duplex flat; whilst contending with 22 neighbouring wifi devices.

Once all plugged in the lights on the front come on and you can set the router up; being an ethernet only router this is quite easy as there aren't any ADSL settings. It comes setup with a device specific password which is great as its less likely others will be able to hack your device should you go with easy settings. Setup can be as simple or as complex as you like; and there is an iPhone/ iPad app that speeds you through setup; and makes changing the complex options easy.

The single USB socket could be a limiting factor for you; if you plug in a printer you can use the device as an AirPrint with an i Device; or a wireless shared printer with everything else. If you plug in a drive you have a wireless backup drive for a mac (time machine compatible) or pc. The ace in the card for me is plugging a drive in makes it accessible whilst you are out of home via a time limited function called Readyshare. The N750 comes with a subscription through September 2014 that lets you create your own private cloud storage system. After that they are going to charge for it...

As with most routers; once you have done the setup you just leave it alone on the shelf and it ticks over doing its job. I have been using it for almost a month like that and hardly had to touch the setup application - and only when i wanted to tweak some settings for online gaming.

After a month I really only had two desires; a name that flowed off the tongue and a second USB socket to let me plug my printer in. 5*'s but only if you have cable / fiber internet.

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS Compact Digital Camera - Black (12.1MP, 20x Optical Zoom) 3 inch LCD
Canon PowerShot SX280 HS Compact Digital Camera - Black (12.1MP, 20x Optical Zoom) 3 inch LCD
Offered by Digi-Fun
Price: £169.99

96 of 101 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Lens, Great Sensor, great camera, 12 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought an SX280 after I dropped my beloved Canon Powershot SX260.

The Powershot HS super-zoom takes all the best of Canon camera's and puts it into a small pocketable camera. On the front is a great lens; on the back a bright screen some finger friendly buttons and a mode dial that has lots of automatic options and scene modes as well as aperture, shutter and full manual modes for those wanting to take more control of their photo's. The automatic modes include a handheld night mode, snow and fireworks as well as creative modes like Toy Camera, Fisheye and my favourite Miniature mode. In video mode you can take smooth full HD 1920 x 1080 at 60fps in the higher quality MP4 format. At lower resolutions you can take ever fast shutter rates right up to 240fps for super slow motion images - albeit at 640x480 dvd quality. Taking video is as easy as pressing the dedicated record button.

The SX280 is an evolutionary upgrade to the SX260 I previously carried. The most important feature the stabilised 20x zoom lens goes from a wide 25mm through to 500mm and remains unchanged. After the lens comes the sensor; it's still 12 megapixels but its considerably more sensitive than its predecessor allowing you to take photos with less noise in darker conditions than last years model.The processor is markedly improved from the 260; you can shoot up to 14fps (albeit for only 7 shots) in the high speed mode. The autofocus is noticeably quicker that its predecessor; a faster autofocus lets you get that picture before its too late to take it. Besides the improved sensor and processor the remaining new feature is wifi which lets you transfer pictures using a Canon app you install onto you smartphone. Its not the most useful feature in the world; and mainly just a drain on your battery.

The battery life of the 260 was generally pretty good - the 280 on its first trip out took over 120 photos with the GPS turned on (in Central London) before the battery light started flashing. With the GPS turned off its rated at 210 shots so the GPS hunting in the city centre cost me about 90 photos.

The extra sensitivity in the sensor and the general increase in speed thanks to the Digic 6 process make the 280 a great improvement over the 260; far more than the top level spec's might suggest. At the time of writing though the sx260 which is maybe 80% of the camera is considerably cheaper and remains the better choice till the price of the 280 comes down.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 28, 2013 6:26 PM BST

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

28 of 30 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)
Offered by Leading Brands Worldwide
Price: £11.99

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
Price: £22.99

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

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