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

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Manfrotto Professional 50 Roller Bag for Camera
Manfrotto Professional 50 Roller Bag for Camera
Price: £279.95

5.0 out of 5 stars No more backache, 9 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have carried tens of kilos of camera gear on my shoulder and back around the world for years now. After a trip earlier this year I was aware I had a very long trip planned in October - over 60 hours of flying - I decided enough was enough and it was time to stop carrying all that kit. Having been using a Manfrotto Pro backpack I looked at the range of roller bags; and settled on the /smaller/ one.

It may smaller than the 70 series but it still carries a enormous amount of equipment on the inside. The AW50 has a fully configurable camera interior using thick velcro attached padded cells. They are arranged in 3 channels by default but you can reconfigure it to your hearts content (or remove the lot to use it as a regular carry on bag. The bag as strong zippers - with plastic clips to prevent accidental opening. The zippers come together to form a padlock hole if you need a bit of security. On the outside the bag is discreet with a Manfrotto red dot and otherwise its black. On the outside the carrier has a tripod mount;and the other a quick access pocket for tickets or headphones. The whole bag also came with a rain jacket to cover it up. The bag has a fairly sturdy telescoping handle as well as carry handles on either end of the bag.

When packaging cameras into the bag the first thing to note is that this bag is deep; a Canon 28-70 sits vertically in the bag; a 70-200mm is too long to be packed vertically but sits horizontally with plenty of vertical room. The bag is deep enough that whilst test packing I was able to get the Sigma 150-500 into the bag with a pro body above the lens. The camera compartment is padded all under the lens as well; the lid of the bag isn't padded though. The lid has a couple of pockets; one for a very large laptop; a full width deeper pocket for a tablet and two zippered pockets for filters or cables.

Unless you are going to a professional photoshoot you can't really take the bag around with you all day so I took a small day pack (A Manfrotto Advanced Active Camera Bag Backpack) as I walked around each day.

Having got back from my trip I am giving a review after 30, 000 miles of flying ; the bag was fantastic change- moving around airports dragging my camera's made the experience much more pleasant (and less sweaty) - even the long walks at Bangkok Airport were more comfortable dragging my camera's rather than carrying them.


Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV
Price: £69.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So happy with the way it works, 9 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Amazon Fire TV (Electronics)
I have been using a Samsung Lovefilm app to watch amazon prime video for a while; and never been happy with the way it worked. The Netflix app was far superior; it had better search and the video quality and streaming was far superior. When the Prime launch offer for the Amazon Fire TV came out I ordered one on the spot; and have been using it for a few weeks before using this.

I am not entirely happy about having another set top box connected to my TV; but the Fire TV is small. Unlike Apple TV the included remote is a good size; and the buttons are easy to use. Connecting the Fire to my TV used another HDMI port. If you have a surround sound system (and its out of HDMI or doesn't have any HDMI sockets) there is a fibre optic cable to hook it up for surround sound. Once started up a wizard takes you through connecting the Fire to your wifi (there is an ethernet cable socket if you want to wire it in) and then a small training video plays. From plugging it in to watching a test episode of Scrubs was under 10 minutes.

The Fire is an outstanding device for streaming Prime video; with large onscreen information with a picture of the poster and a small introduction text to let you know where you are going. If you know what you want to watch you can press the voice search button on the remote; talk into it and the Fire does a voice search returning a few results you can select from. Streaming the video results in a quick switch to high quality if your network supports it. The Fire TV also allows for buying video outside of the Prime free video from Amazon and streaming it.

On the menus are a few extra's besides video; you can play games (there is a an optional game controller to help with that.) Amazon have included a photo viewing option - and i was disappointed it doesn't support Flickr; Intriguingly on the menu was Music; and selecting it all my amazon purchased CD's and mp3's were listed. Finally There is access to the Amazon Fire app store; and from there you can download apps from the Amazon app store which will let you stream video from other sources like Netflix and the BBC News/ iPlayer. Once installed the Netflix app is good; but lacks support for the voice for search which is a shame.

Apple have been playing with their TV for years and haven't come up with something as well rounded as the Fire TV. It is light years ahead of the app system on my TV and blu ray player. A unified search across prime and the installed apps would make this device absolutely perfect for video streaming; until then this is a stunning first effort.


Cole & Mason 190 mm Dark Wood and Stainless Steel Oldbury Gourmet Precision Pepper Mill, Brown
Cole & Mason 190 mm Dark Wood and Stainless Steel Oldbury Gourmet Precision Pepper Mill, Brown
Offered by Jarrolds Department Store
Price: £35.00

4.0 out of 5 stars If the look of you're dinner table matters to you, 9 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As soon as you pick up the Cole & Mason pepper mill you can feel where your money is gone. The wood on the body is uniform around the mill; its silky smooth and has a even dark finish all over. The mill's design is then accented with two tactile brushed stainless steel on the mechanical elements. The top grinding element is smooth to turn using the large top and the coarseness is adjusted using the narrow band at the bottom. The adjustment band i stiff to use; once you have selected your desired coarseness you get a fairly even grind.

If the look of you're dinner table matters to you this is a nice looking, feeling and functional item that will sit well on yours.


Energizer Lithium Aaa Batteries X4
Energizer Lithium Aaa Batteries X4
Price: £7.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Power when you need it, 30 Oct 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
When I'm travelling around the UK I do the environmentally friendly thing and use eneloop rechargeable batteries and tolerate having to recharge them and keep track of charged v flat batteries all the time. My biggest gripe with recharging batteries is travelling somewhere and finding I have flat batteries when i really need it. As a result I switch over and travel with Energizer Lithium's when i go overseas.

I have found these Energiser lithiums have a number of benefits over my good rechargeable batteries; they are considerably lighter and more temperature tolerant - delivering power even when they are very cold; they also seem to be able to deliver more charge quicker for devices like flash guns so they can recycle quicker; but most importantly they last considerably longer than rechargeable batteries for everyday day tasks like my GPS or LED torch. This combination of benefits means I can travel with less batteries in my bag in the first place and be more confident there will be charge in them (

They aren't cheap; but they keep their charge for a long time in storage and outperform rechargeables when you need them.


Seagate ST4000VN000 4TB NAS HDD SATA III 3.5 inch Internal Hard Disk Drive for 1- to 8-Bay NAS Systems
Seagate ST4000VN000 4TB NAS HDD SATA III 3.5 inch Internal Hard Disk Drive for 1- to 8-Bay NAS Systems
Offered by Inkubus Bargains
Price: £131.89

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seagate keeps it quiet and cool, 30 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The battle for extra storage is a constant one; I added a second NAS to my network over the past year as my photo and iTunes libraries both stretched out the capacity of my first. My storage arrays have 4 slots; and using these 4Tb drives doubles the space for a more than reasonable price over the older 2 and 3 Tb drives that came before this.

The Seagate ST4000VN000 itself is a 3.5" internal drive that Seagate have tuned it for use in a dedicated NAS system. They have taken some of the technology from their enterprise disks to reduce the power use and heat generation of the disk; as well as getting 4 TB into the space I previously used two drives to achieve. It doesn't require a NAS device to use it though; so if your motherboard supports 4Tb SATA 3 drives and you need a lot of storage you could use it in your desktop too; though it would be better sorted as a secondary disk as seagate haven't built a disk to deliver the ultimate speeds rather ultimate storage.

Performance wise before slotting it into my NAS I ran my drive it in an external disk caddy so i can see how it performed. My first observation is that this disk is quiet and spins up quite quickly; recovering from stand by in around ten seconds. On its own copying a few 100 Gigabytes of my Lightroom Photo Library over to see how managing it on a single disk would be. I found it averaged writing around 85 megabytes a second which is far from being a fast disk but its fast enough that you could edit video on it even some compressed 4k video. The great thing is even after an hour of writing to the disk it didn't feel hot as older disks do so a NAS full of these should keep the fans off for longer. The disk is also pretty quiet with some soft clicks as it spins away. So the tuning that seagate have done to the disks have likely paid of.

Ultimately for their purpose these disks are excellent; just remember to get more than one. 5*


Braun NTF3000 No Touch Plus Forehead Digital Thermometer
Braun NTF3000 No Touch Plus Forehead Digital Thermometer
Price: £37.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Thermometer is easy to setup, 30 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Braun NTF3000 Digital Thermometer is an accurate, fast and discreet way to take your or your families temperature. The Thermometer is easy to setup; remove it from all the packaging insert the included batteries. In the box is the thermometer; a multi-language instruction book, the aforementioned batteries and a cover to protect the sensor when not in use.

There are three buttons to use it; a mute switch on the side; handy for taking someone’s temperature at night. The round power on button and a take temperature button. Unlike some older thermometers this reads by contact - and unlike the strip thermometers seems to take a more accurate reading. The no contact mode broadly agreed with the direct contact readings (there was a difference up to 0.2 Celsius; and both agreed with my oral mercury thermometer. It’s also quick at taking a reading; with the temperature coming back in a couple of seconds every time. Braun say it is accurate reading temperatures from 5cm away. If you are taking the temperature of a sleeping person there is a targeting light emitted that helps get the right spot in no contact mode so you don’t disturb them; or if you have gentle hands you can use it to guide you in for contact temperature reading. This is where the no noise mode comes into its own; you can discretely take someone’s temperature day or night.

If you are taking your own temperature its best with sound on. It is easy to take your own temperature by pressing to your forehead; pressing the take temperature button and waiting for the beep to let you know it’s done. If the sound off you really need to be able to see the screen to use it.

The temperature read out screen itself has a clear back lit display. The back lights red/ green up after taking the temperature to give you a visual indication. The display shows a precise temperature 37.4C; far more so than my mercury thermometer which is limited to 1/2 degree increments.

The Braun NTF3000 ticks my boxes for the thermometer; it’s easy to use; quick and accurate thermometer. I also approve of the reduced cleaning requirements or the need for disposable tips that the touch and remote sensor readings allow. 5*


Tefal Safe to Touch Kettle, 1.5 Litre, 3000 Watt, Black
Tefal Safe to Touch Kettle, 1.5 Litre, 3000 Watt, Black
Price: £29.99

4.0 out of 5 stars with an excellent piano black style finish and chrome touches to bring ..., 8 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Taking it out of the box the first thing you notice about the Tefal Safe To Touch kettle is the minimalist style to it; with an excellent piano black style finish and chrome touches to bring it out. Function has given way to fashion; there is no water volume indication you have to look inside to check. As something that’s going to spend a few years in your kitchen counter, looks matter and it wins on that front.

The rest of it functions as you would expect from Tefal; the kettle removes from the power base without a cord, it boils the water quickly – with an indicated 1.5l boiling off in around 3 minutes. This goes against most environmental advice; but the Safe to Touch has a thermal sleeve. Once the water is boiled, this kettle will keep the water hot for around 30 minutes, ensuring it is still at a usable temperature. Another benefit of the insulation system is if you are clumsy or have younger children determined to touch the black thing on the counter, is that the outside of the kettle doesn’t heat up once the kettle is boiled, it does get warmer but it is still safe to touch.

If you can cope with opening a kettle to check the volume of water still inside; the Tefal Safe to touch’s benefits that come from the thermos like function and its all around good looks should earn it a place on your counter. 4* as its nice to know how much water is the in the kettle and I cant help feel opening it to check diminishes the performance of the keep warm.


Philips Shaver Series 9000, Wet and Dry Shaver with SmartClean S9031/26
Philips Shaver Series 9000, Wet and Dry Shaver with SmartClean S9031/26
Price: £157.49

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Improvement on the Sensotouch; but toppled as the king of electric shavers, 8 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Over the last few years I have tested a number of razors using my chin as the guinea pig. There are reviews for the Braun cooltec, this Razors predecessor the Sensotouch 3d and most recently the Panasonic Silver 5 Blade Wet/ Dry Foil Shaver. The Series 9000 is the height of the Philips razor range.

Compared to the sensotouch predecessor you lose the built in beard trimmer; but in place gain an easier to hold razor grip and longer battery life. Not to worry about the loss of the built in beard trimmer; philips have included a smart click trimmer that you can swap out the main head for. (This is a great feature and on my older razor and i use the smart click brush to clean my face (its a male version of the vivo cleaners.) The battery life has been very good; there is a clear battery indicator on the grip; and its still going on its last bar after 2 weeks of daily use.

The minor changes to the grip aside; the major improvement up from the Sensotouch is the new razor heads these are far superior to the Sensotouch heads they are based on. These heads have a lots of degrees of movement; they can pivot around the grip; each of the 3 cutting heads can idependantly move with your face as you move; with the 9000 head there is now extra degree of movement with the inner cutting head on each of the 3 blades now also able to pivot. The benefit to all this movement is the heads keep closer contact with your face resulting in less passes as you shave. Using the sensotouch shaver I always had to use a lubricant to get the head to glide over my skin without pulling as it was all about cutting and not about gliding. The new head has a metallic ring on surround of each cutting blade that makes it much easier to pass over your skin. This is still a wet dry shaver though so use your favourite gel and you get a better shave from agitating your stubble; the water thickening it up and the gel further reducing friction. The 9000 works fine without a gel; but works better with it.

My 9000 shave also came with a new philips jet cleaning and charging system; this is similar to the older braun systems where the cleaning fluid is inside a plastic container; the previous versions had a little bucket to keep the liquid (from a bottle) in which could spill if you moved the charging station. The jet cleaning station does an excellent job of cleaning the razor; though the fluid never dried completely in the autumn weather unless i opened the heads up to dry out. Charging the 9000 can be done without the docking station; the included power charger can plug straight into the shaver which is great if you travel - the included travel pouch is by far the nicest of any shaver i have used.

This is all so very positive; so the 3* review might come as a surprise. Using the Phlip's click system to get a pace cleaner or the beard trimmer is a unique and useful feature (the face cleaning brush is excellent); but for its primary use is as a daily shaver the king has been toppled. Ultimately the reason for my low score is for the task of shaving the Panasonic 5 Blade system is broadly the same price and results in a far closer shave. A simple test of shaving with the 9000; then the Panasonic you could hear the panasonic cutting hairs as it went.


YEB0202 Fitted Gentlemen Mens White Solid Fantastic Design Cotton Handkerchiefs 4 Pics Set One Size By Y&G
YEB0202 Fitted Gentlemen Mens White Solid Fantastic Design Cotton Handkerchiefs 4 Pics Set One Size By Y&G
Offered by Men's Fashion

5.0 out of 5 stars These (Y&G) are a good mixture of size (albeit it not quite the size ..., 4 Oct 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have bought and used other handkerchiefs from Amazon. These (Y&G) are a good mixture of size (albeit it not quite the size quoted) price and quality. Some cheaper handkerchiefs don't survive a trip through the washing machines; these came through unscathed and a blast with the iron has them ready to go again.


Triggertrap MD-N3 Mobile Dongle 2 for Canon
Triggertrap MD-N3 Mobile Dongle 2 for Canon
Price: £23.40

5.0 out of 5 stars The cable that opens a new world of possibilities with your camera, 4 Oct 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you haven't tried it or heard of it the trigger trap app is the camera app that Canon should have written. Trigger trap can do all sorts of clever smartphone enhanced photographic timing functions like taking a photo every 100meters using the phones gps to map it out; or take a photo when someone moves in front of the (phones) camera as well as all kinds of time-lapse functions. Unfortunately triggertrap won't connect to my 6d using the camera's built in wifi so you need a control cable to use it. The MD-N3 cable is for the /professional/ style canon shutter release cables. You connect to your phones headphone socket (dialling the volume all the way up) and to your camera; then set the camera in bulb mode and you are away.

The cable is a cable; the world it opens is fantastic fun. The App is free; 5*.


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