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Chris Hoare "Chris" (UK)

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Contigo 16-Ounce Double Wall Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Tumbler, Black
Contigo 16-Ounce Double Wall Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Tumbler, Black
Offered by Prut
Price: £22.98

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Get a stainless steel no paint model, 13 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
One nice thing about my Contigo cup having been using it for a few months is it looks like I have taken it through a war. I managed to scratch the paint the very first time i put coffee in it; and since then its felt like the pain comes as soon as I look at it. The paint finish gets the cup 2 stars; which is a shame because aesthetics aside the cup is a nice size; the sealing mechanism is very good - no spills from this cup unless you press the button. Its also great at keeping my morning coffee warm for a reasonably long time - though to be fair in my hands there is rarely a full cup of coffee.

Belkin Aluminium Desktop Loft Stand for Macbook and Laptop
Belkin Aluminium Desktop Loft Stand for Macbook and Laptop

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Looking Stand, 13 Jun. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Belkin Aluminium Loft stand is marketed for Apple MacBooks but works fine with any laptop. Out of the box it is in 3 pieces that easily connect together. The solid Side sits on your desk; the donut site is where your laptop rests. Lifting the laptop up makes it more ergonomic to use as your head can be kept upright rather than looking down and stressing your neck.

You rest your laptop on a soft rubber grip on the ring; the rubber provides some grip but you can move it around easily - it won't stop a child pulling it off. Lifted off the desk and supported by the donut there is a lot of space for your laptop to radiate heat away helps it stay cooler which can't be a bad thing. The stand is a U shape and the base of the stand is also a handy shelf to put your keyboard when you need a bit more space to not work with your computer. The stand is reasonably sturdy; it bounces if you type on it; but you are going to want to use an external keyboard and mouse with this otherwise the ergonomics are likely not quite right.

So its good for keeping your laptop cool; and improves the way you work; its slightly expensive but otherwise very good.

Belkin 1m Thunderbolt Data Transfer Cable - Black
Belkin 1m Thunderbolt Data Transfer Cable - Black
Price: £34.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Slightly Cheaper just as quick as an Apple Cable, 13 Jun. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Belkin 1M Thunderbolt cable is a new and slightly cheaper option for thunderbolt users. Hopefully it is the start of a trend of thunderbolt device prices dropping; which in turn will hopefully bring Thunderbolt to the masses as the performance benefits it offers are staggering over USB3 and Firewire 800. At the moment a lot of thunderbolt accessories are priced for professional rather than home use.

Out of the box the first thing you notice is connector has Belkin written on it in bold White which you may or may not like but that aside it feels as well made as the Apple cables do. The wire has a decent wrapping and the connectors feel solid and solidly anchored to the cable.

Using it with my Belkin Laptop Dock the cable performed flawlessly; using it with an external SSD drive it performed as splendidly as Thunderbolt ever does. Watching a 200Gb copy in 20 minutes always brings a smile to my face. Using the connectors for this big file copy; they do get hot; as all thunderbolt cables connectors do - this doesn't seem to be something to worry about.

The Belkin Thunderbolt data transfer cable gives you all the benefits of Thunderbolt for slightly less money.

Sony DSCHX60 Compact Digital Camera with Wi-Fi and NFC - Black ( 20.4MP, 30x Optical Zoom)
Sony DSCHX60 Compact Digital Camera with Wi-Fi and NFC - Black ( 20.4MP, 30x Optical Zoom)
Offered by Camera Centre UK
Price: £184.99

113 of 125 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A zoom to far, 12 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I wrote this review having spent time with Canon’s SX700 and a Sony HX60; both are 2014 model travel super zooms. Both are broadly the same size and weight; when it comes to taking images both have 30x optical zoom lenses - though the Canon’s is 25-750mm and the sony going from a slightly wider 24 - 720mm. I have used the two cameras around the UK and on a short trip to Germany.

In the Hand

Out of the box the Sony looks and feels that little bit boxy and maybe a bit more nerdy; Sony have managed to put the mode dial on the top of the camera; and next to it there is an exposure compensation dial. The button layout has allowed a cleaner back to the camera and the Sony feels far nicer in my hands. Sony has a flash hotshoe that can take a range of sony accessories; including microphones and viewfinders - though most of them cost almost as much as the camera. The zoom of the Canon is noticeably quicker in stills mode than the Sony; and the canon has a useful framing button that quickly zooms out showing you a box where the zoom will return to. In video mode both the sony and canon have smooth zoom that won’t make your audience feel too queasy.


Inexplicably Sony’s mode dial has two different Intelligent auto modes; as well as scene and varying degrees of manual control. The software in Sony’s cameras continues to push them above their Canon competition for taking photos - the HX60 is able to take a single burst of 10 shots in a second; has a superior low light multi shot mode but for me the Sweep panorama mode is the stand out feature. If the HX60 is a camera to take on holiday being able to take impressive panoramic shots in a single pass should be a must have.

Out of the Camera I think the Canon SX700 delivers slightly more realistic colour. Sony has a better range in its photos though and is more able to extract detail in its shots in a wide range of light conditions. Sony also has built in HDR modes that take multiple shots and combine them to make a more human-eye like light and color range.

Looking at the actual images; if you don’t push the zoom range or you are in bright light I think the Sony has a superior image quality. There is more detail in the Sony photos compared to the Canon ones; and less noise in daylight situations. As the light dims; if you don’t resort to software trickery, Canon edges the sony out with less noise in the photos The noise from the Sony sensor starts visibly degrading things at about ISO 400; as the 30x lens is also slow you need to reach into those higher ISO numbers quickly at longer zoom ranges.

As both canon and Sony have included low light photo effects you should use the software trickery to get around the limitations of the sensor and lens; of the two Sony’s twilight mode which takes multiple shots and combines them into a single image is the better of the two.


Like Canon, Sony has a dedicated video recording button; as with other buttons on the Sony its location makes it less likely you press it by accident (something i repeatedly did on the Canon); it isn’t out of the way though; being adjacent to the thumb rest so you can easily find it without having to look.

When you actually record video Sony uses the AVCHD format; recording full 1080p HD at upto 50 frames a second. Canon use MP4 which supported by more devices; and records at up to 60p. 60p makes fast moving scenes look slightly smoother than the 50p the Sony is capable of. Both allow you to slightly slow the video down without losing quality if you want slomo effect. If you want super slow motion, only the Canon can help with up to 240 fps albeit it at 320p.

Battery Life
A win for Sony. Both will let you take far more photos in a day than you are likely to need; so testing with video the Sony took almost 25 minutes more video than the Canon.


For stills the combination of the battery life, more usable controls but more importantly the combination of the Sony sensor,lens and software edge it out over the Canon. There is more detail in daylight and the software saves it in lower light. The Sony interface is marginally easier to use than the canon’s For video shooting the Canon has better image quality and the zoom panning is smoother.

I like to take photos as I travel far more so than videos; so of the two the Sony is the one I have in my laptop bag at the moment. 4*
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 8, 2015 7:54 PM GMT

Finish Power and Pure All-in-One (Pack of One, Total 50 Tablets)
Finish Power and Pure All-in-One (Pack of One, Total 50 Tablets)
Offered by Acorn solution
Price: £7.12

4.0 out of 5 stars Compressed does the job, 2 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Finish Quantum tablets barely fit in my dishwasher drawer. The Finish power and pure tablets are about 70% of the volume of their bigger brothers. With my normal dishwashing tasks I didn't notice any difference between the more expensive quantum and cheaper power and pure.

Bosch PDO 6 Detector
Bosch PDO 6 Detector
Price: £36.64

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Power lines seem to cause issues, 13 April 2014
This review is from: Bosch PDO 6 Detector (DIY & Tools)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Despite following the instructions the Bosch PDO6 kept crying wolf in my apartment. Its easy to use; put on the wall press the single power button to turn it on wait for the auto calibration to say its ready.

Using the PDO6 on a partition wall with wooden studs moving slowly the PDO6 was able to detect studs reasonably accurately - reasaonly in that in each direction with a centimetre of disagreement. Where i knew there was a partition from previous work it agreed with my knowledge. Moving Along walls with metal supports it was far better and detecting the hidden content getting it bang on in each direction (again now power.) Moving onto a wall power cables in it the PDO6 beeped consistently at any height warning me about power lines - in doing so it failed to tell me about studs as it was too busy crying wolf about power cables meters away from where i was measuring.

Given my issues with checking walls with power cables (And that 80% of my walls have power cables in them) I really can't recommend the PDO6.

Veho VCC-100-XL MUVI X-Lapse 360 Degree Photography and Timelapse Accessory for iPhone/Action Cameras/Time Lapse Cameras - Black
Veho VCC-100-XL MUVI X-Lapse 360 Degree Photography and Timelapse Accessory for iPhone/Action Cameras/Time Lapse Cameras - Black
Offered by Gizoo - Gadgets & Gifts
Price: £16.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1 Hour timelapse, 13 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Veho X-Lapse is built to take rotating time lapses; in the box Veho supply the clockwork rotating time-lapse body along with an adaptor to connect a phone. If you remove the adaptor there is a standard tripod screw to let you connect a light camera (or go pro.) The clockwork section has a tripod thread on the base; as well as 3 extended feet for a few extra stability options.

It takes an hour to do 360 degree's; time well spent in the right place. Overall the Veho is cheap and a fun way to make some interesting videos and you get to take some time to enjoy your environment whilst it slowly spins around.

Garmin Fenix GPS Multisport Watch with Outdoor Navigation
Garmin Fenix GPS Multisport Watch with Outdoor Navigation

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Its not the watch its the software, 13 April 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have walked miles with the Garmin Fenix watch; taking it hiking around the Derbyshire countryside and Central London. As a digital watch the Fenix has some nice features; the time is always accurate using the GPS clocks; it also has multiple time zone functions.
If you are going to put a watch this size on your wrist you are going to want something more; and Fenix delivers with programmable tracks; route tracking there is also a barometric altimeters and a temperature sensor that can warn you about changes in temperature. The temperature and altimeter features need a degree of setup each time you want to use them in order to make them accurate. You can purchase separate external temperature, heart rate monitors and cadence sensors to give you some physiological monitoring as you go.

In central london the GPS was better than i expected at keeping track of where it was; on the paths there were gaps as I walked between large buildings but the majority of the tracks was intact. In the Peak District it was pretty much perfect; alerting to route changes and keeping track of where we had been.

Programming the routes the Garmin way requires you to use Garmin's Basecamp software. The problem being that Basecamp's maps are appalling you can't plan any route using them - the country is a blank slate with only major roads and cities showing. You can pay Garmin to get more detailed maps or download maps from alternative online sources. Once you have some more detailed maps you can program routes and transfer them to the fenix with the supplier USB dock.

After using base camp to plan some walks I connected up to Garmin's Connect service which uses bing maps to show where you have been out for your run. I am no runner but for tracking where you went and how fast you did it it seems excellent keeping track of pace; along with the detail from the altimeter it tracks as you go up and down hills too.

The watches battery life help up to Garmin's claims - running purely as a watch it was still going on day 5. Using GPS the battery drains much quicker - in central London it lasted about 8 hours and was almost flat. Recharging it is super convenient using USB (there is a mains charger in the box) - and you can use an external power device to keep it going longer unlike my older GPS which was AAA powered.

Overall for me its a 3* device. The basecamp software is a real letdown and out of the box is unusable; and feels like Garmin just want to make more money out of good customers who have already invested a considerable sum on the watch. For runners the picture is rosier; the Connect software is very good. For everyday use the watch itself is too bulky (and its digital.)

Canon PowerShot SX700 HS Compact Zoom - Black (16.1MP, 30x Optical Zoom)
Canon PowerShot SX700 HS Compact Zoom - Black (16.1MP, 30x Optical Zoom)
Offered by Executivez
Price: £183.90

153 of 161 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new dawn, 5 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I guess Canon evolved the SX200 series cameras as far as they could take them; the SX280 was a great travel / pocket camera; albeit one you needed a spare battery for. The SX700 loses features from the SX280 - most painfully for me a reduced ISO range and for travelling around and knowing where you took your photo its disappointing to lose the GPS feature. In exchange for those features you gain 4megapixels with the SX700 having 16 megapixels and an extra 10x of zoom taking it to 30x and to try and manage that extra zoom the image stabilisation has been improved. After the new zoom the next big improvement is the new screen on the back has twice the resolution so it looks more clear; and the menus look better. The battery live is also still improved; though the SX700 still doesn't charge via USB needing a cumbersome charger to go on holiday with you.

The zoom / Lens
In my first city centre based experiments with the camera I found the camera nice in the hand. The button layout is new but the movie button is better on the top than the back. There is a snap out of zoom button to help you frame your photos; press it the SX700 zooms back and shows a box where your zoom was; release it and it snaps back; excellent for tracking moving objects. That 30x zoom does come at a price though; I have steady hands but zoomed out to 30x its very difficult to hold the camera steady; and for truly sharp images you need a tripod; back at 20x its much easier to control the camera. The pictures modes are still there from the SX280; including my favourite miniature mode (which is also available in the video.)

Still Photos
The drop in ISO / raise in mega pixels has resulted in mostly noisier photos which is a step backwards. I also feel at the extreme ends of the zoom the image quality isn't as good as it should be; photos look out of focus. I have uploaded examples of the zoom range in the city centre a couple of photos from a walk in the Peak district. The Robin Image has really good image separation (and the background blur is excellent) but the Robin itself isn't really in focus - you can't see the feathers. As a snapshot it might be more than enough; but you can get a better photo.
The drop in ISO ability is most noticeable when you are out with friends; I took my SX700 to a retirement party in a restaurant; less than perfect lighting. Pretty much all photos the camera asking me to raise the flash (its manual now which is a big improvement) at times the SX280 wouldn't have done so. With the flash on the pictures were very good; but do you want to fire a flash in a restaurant?

The video image quality is better; as is the sound quality. I took and the video stabilisation is markedly better - even at the extreme 30x end of the zoom. The sound quality is excellent; shooting video of songbirds in the forrest the audio was very good; in the city the auto levelling the microphones are internal to the camera but are now on the camera race. As they are internal though so the zoom is evident if you use it. The video looks better than its processor - and it doesn't destroy the battery in the way it did with the SX280. There is a super 240fps mode at very low resolution if you want to analyse sports or other fast moving events the SX700 can still make super slow motion videos.

Its Peers
I get to play with a lot of cameras the SX700 (as with the SX280) I bought with my own money. If you are looking to spend your own money; my honest advice is at the time of writing the SX280 is considerably better value. If you want the latest toy; the Canon has good image and video quality compared to its peers. The interface is also much more responsive and easier to use than its sony and olympus peers. . Compared to the competition I have a Sony super zoom and had an Olympus in my camera cupboard both are in the 20-30x zoom space and competitors. Both have higher megapixel counts in their sensor but take more noisy photos (and in the case of the olympus it feels sluggish.) In my use the SX700 is excellent compared to its peers. Using MP4 video on the canon the video is easier to work with than the AVCHD of the Sony; and the image and sound quality on the SX700 is noticeably better than both the Olympus and sony. The sound levelling in the SX700 seems much improved.

Sharing photos / there is an app for that
The Canon iPhone / android app lets you take pictures or share them on the internet is easy to get from the app stores; and its easy to use with the SX700. The Canon app lets you take and share photos; and in use its more flexible than Sony's was (though sony cameras all have differing interfaces so that may change) - both the Canon and Sony apps worked first time - I have never been able to get the Olympus one to connect.
My advice on the Canon SX280 when it came out; was it was better than its predecessor but the significantly lower price tipped the purchase in favour of its predeccessor. I think at the time of writing the SX280 is far better value; as the price of the SX700 comes down that will change. Im just not sure the SX700 is all that much better than its predecessor. The extra zoom range is nice; but when using those high zooms you don't get a sharp image unless you have some kind of support. I also miss the in camera GPS function; I can use my phone with the app to tag images - but that comes at the expense of both camera and phone batteries which isn't a good solution.
Compared to its competition its 4 stars at the current price point; its pictures are generally better but it doesn't feel like a polished product. Bring on the SX720 in 2015. At its current price its predecessor is 5*.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 15, 2014 1:56 PM BST

Giottos Vitruvian VGRN8255 Carbon Fibre Tripod with MH5400-652 Ball Head - 6kg Weight Capacity
Giottos Vitruvian VGRN8255 Carbon Fibre Tripod with MH5400-652 Ball Head - 6kg Weight Capacity

4.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect, 30 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought the Giottos Virtuvian in an out race with the manfrotto 055 series tripod. I knew I wanted the lightness that came with Carbon fibre but I also wanted a compact tripod I could get into a check in suitcase. The Vitruvians collapsed height of 40cm; and that Giottos unlike Manfrotto still give you a bag inched it my way. The included Ball Head was a nice bonus (in my mind) but something I would swap out for a manlier head early on.

Out of the box the difference in weight to my previous travel aluminium tripod (a Giottos MT GTMT9340B - a considerable cheaper tripod now) was noticeable. Eager to get it setup I quickly untwisted the grips and extended the legs in my living room; one of them sagged down -and that is a common theme each time i use it. I never tighted each twist lock as much as I should have done. One tightened the second noticeable difference to my previous travel tripod is just how rigid it is.

The legs of my older giottos sagged as they took up the weight of my Canon 6d seemingly irregardless of the lens I attached. The VGRM8255 legs held up to my 6D even with a Sigma 150-500mm attached; surprisingly to me - so did the included ball head which proved to be as much of a star as the carbon fibre legs. It has a nice friction control for all angles; and a separate control for panning. Its not going to be something you shoot video with but for stills its a very nice mount to start with. When you extend the centre column up for the full height things begin to look a bit perilous as the Vitruvian tripods are very vertical - lacking the leg angle adjustments offered in my old tripod. The centre column does have a bag hook which lets you add mass to stop any camera shake - I found the legs so stable I'm not sure you will need it that often though.

In the bag is a short centre column you can swap out the longer one for which will allow you to get the tripod very close to the ground; there were no instructions on how to swap the head at all in my box / bag though. It doesn't look difficult but seems a strange omission. If you want to you can remove the centre column and convert it into a monopod; which feels like a gimic but if you are in places that don't allow tripods might give you an edge without having to pack a separate monopod for your trip.

Taking the tripod out and about is a delight as the low weight reduces fatigue as you go; if like me its going into your suitcase it won't eat into that checked in or overhead locker allowance. My older GTMT9340B has lasted me well; but its outclassed by the carbon fibre and compact shape of the Vitruvian tripods
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