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

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HoMedics Newa for Skin Rejuvenation
HoMedics Newa for Skin Rejuvenation
Price: £199.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Seems to work., 23 May 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
From the design I made an assumption that the Homedics newa device had a battery in it. I plugged it in and left it overnight; then couldnt figure out why it didn't work when i took it into the bathroom. Thankfully the very nice box comes with the transmitter and a pack of the activation/ transmission gel as well as the instructions that saved me from my assumptions. Reading the manual and getting a better feel for it; I didn't feel I needed to watch the included DVD. I started giving it a go I was concerned about heating my skin with radio waves so I started off carefully under my arm. After 4 days I couldn't see any issues from the gel or the radio. Not without some trepidation I started using it under my chin at firing it into my skin. I am not sure what the mechanism that makes it work is; but it definitely seemed to firm up after a couple of weeks use. It does take a reasonable amount of time to apply it properly each day - far more so than putting on a regular cream.

The Newa has a steep entry price but the ongoing costs of the gel are pretty reasonable. It works on my tired skin.


QardioBase Wireless Smart Scale
QardioBase Wireless Smart Scale
Price: £129.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wobbly app, 23 May 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have been using the qardio blood pressure sensor; qardioarm, for a while now. I liked the compact design; and felt the app would get better when i reviewed it. The qardiobase like the Withing's smart scales uses wifi; unlike withings Qardio didn't use the iPhone wifi connection helper. That made it exceptionally difficult to test in the beginning as the QardioBase had a strong dislike to my wifi network; and wifi password. With my original password it wasn't interested in connecting; using the guest network; which only has an 18 character password, i was able to connect it. So setup was a total pain compared to similar products.

Once over the setup hurdles the scales worked nicely. The round shape is unusual; and clearly causes some issues as there are extra feet in the box to provide increased stability. Once configured you can jump on the scale and it quickly takes your measurement. There is an LED array in the sleek white body that tells you what it measured; and if you are moving around. The scales then talk back to the app. The app tells you cleanly your Weight and BMI. On my iPhone these also cleanly synched into apple health.

I have taken measurements and compared them against my Withings unit and some other scales I have tried this year from Medisana. All the scales gave similar readings; within 1kg. I like the round design of the Qardio scales the best; and the LED scree is an interesting design feature.The Withings still have the best combination of features and design for me; the never once wobbled on a level floor. Qardio in their latest email have been offering more feet so I think the stability issues caused by the round design may be causing the wobbly readings others have commented on.

I like electronic measuring equipment as it makes it easy to track trends that taking spot measurements make it easy to miss. The Qardio app definitely would benefit from some polish compared to the best. That said with the ability to output data into apple health this is becoming less important as I can get all the readings and trends from there.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 25, 2016 6:15 PM BST


KIND PLUS, Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants, Gluten Free Bars (Pack of 12)
KIND PLUS, Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants, Gluten Free Bars (Pack of 12)
Offered by THE VALUE WORLD
Price: £19.25

4.0 out of 5 stars A bit too sweet; a bit too much sugar, 14 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Kind Plus Dark Chocolate and Cherry ... bars have a long name are my fourth flavour test. After last months Caramel and Almond bar which was far two almondy (and made me worry for my teeth) for me. Kind bars are all nice; and unlike most other cereal bars are have visible rather than homogenised ingredients.

There are a wide variety of Kind bars to cover a number of dietary scenarios - the caramel and almonds were about protein and fibre. The dark chocolate and cherry variety are about vitamins; which surprisingly are added ingredients (going a bit against the motto of ingredients you can see and pronounce), to supplement the nutrition from the fruit and nuts. The taste is sweet; and that is reflected in the sugar: protein ballance.

The Dark Chocolate and cherry bars are a bit too sweet a cereal bar for my tastes. Cranberry overwhelms the flavour (as they always do.) Of the four I have tried so far the apple and cinnamon bars remain my personal favourites and will be the ones i get next.


Brabantia BBEK1001 Soft Grip Stainless Steel Kettle, 1.7 L, 3 kW
Brabantia BBEK1001 Soft Grip Stainless Steel Kettle, 1.7 L, 3 kW
Price: £43.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Style over Substance, 14 May 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Branbantia BBEK1001 has been a tough review for me to write. I love the look; styled after their bins and coming in a brushed stainless steel; even though it arrived with a small dent in the top it looks excellent. The downsides are living with it as a kettle; being stainless steel it gets very hot on the outside - its a kettle to keep away from children. My model at least doesn't sit still as you boil it either - for a few seconds before it finishes the boiling sequence she kettle jiggles about around its mount a the water bubbles inside; this is regardless of the volume at the minimum and maximum.

The minimum volume is a fairly high 800ml; and it boils just under two minutes; when full it takes around 3.5 minutes. That 800ml volume minimum is over 2 of my mugs so you are using twice the energy if you only need a single much - the heat loss through the metal also means the water cools off quickly if you leave it in the kettle.

It looks great; and it does boil water relatively quickly and quietly. After that its hard to recommend it.


iMuto 5000mah Dual USB 2.1A Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank with Aluminum Unibody and Quick Charge for Apple iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, 6 Plus, 5S, 5C, iPad Air, Mini, Samsung Galaxy S6, S5, Note, LG, HTC,Tablets, MP3 Players, Cameras and More (Dark Gray)
iMuto 5000mah Dual USB 2.1A Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank with Aluminum Unibody and Quick Charge for Apple iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, 6 Plus, 5S, 5C, iPad Air, Mini, Samsung Galaxy S6, S5, Note, LG, HTC,Tablets, MP3 Players, Cameras and More (Dark Gray)

4.0 out of 5 stars Compact well made power bank, 1 May 2016
The iMute 5000mah is a nice and compact; and fairly lightweight, USB charger that comes in a nice solid metal jacket. Inside the box you also get a usb cable to charge it and a tiny pamphlet manual. The device It has two usb sockets to connect devices to and a micro usb socket to charge from. Both the USB sockets provide high current for fast charging tablets and phablets; though the capacity of the battery is a bit low for tablets. The 5000 mah makes it compact; but it still able to recharge my phone about twice (from 20% power)- its most useful for those times i need to use my phone as a 4g wifi hotspot which burns battery power, connected to the iMuto i can last a day.


Service Design for Business: A Practical Guide to Optimizing the Customer Experience
Service Design for Business: A Practical Guide to Optimizing the Customer Experience
by Ben Reason
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.90

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow start but great language helps express ideas for change, 1 May 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Business help books have to tread a line; on getting the readers up to speed; and Service Design for Business started up too slow for me; its a word heavy book. It got going for me in chapter 3; understanding customers better. That was a lot of dead wood to read before the book got me in. If I wasn't reading it for the review I would have put it down before then.

The overall ideas in the book are interesting; and even where they weren't new concepts to me; the book has given me a better language to express my thoughts and ideas both within my business and when engaging clients. So that redeems it from the slow start; but overall hold it back from being a 5* book.


Gobe Adventure 32GB SDHC 90MB/s UHS-1 SD Memory Card
Gobe Adventure 32GB SDHC 90MB/s UHS-1 SD Memory Card
Offered by Gobe Europe
Price: £18.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As fast as it says, which is great for my needs, 1 May 2016
Gobe's Products are a little different in a world of look alike photographic products. My Adventure SD card arrived in a small brown (amazon frustration free alike) brown pack. Gobe have three speeds of sd card and this sits in the middle of their range. Opening it was a nice experience; inside the brown envelope revealed was the SD card in a plastic case; though the bag packet itself had a metalized (perhaps antistatic inside.)

The faster gobe cards are more than my camera can do so for now I chose adventure 32gb card. A typical day of taking photographs for me can often result in me taking 700-1500 shots; so the faster download time is always a bonus.

My first day using it wasn’t atypical; I was taking photos at a Rowing Regatta. The GOBE card didn’t hold back the buffer writing images away which. When I got home; I had 14.9 Gb of images on my 32Gb card. I use a Lexar USB3 card reader; and it dragged the images over to my computer in just under 3minutes for a real world data read speed of 88MB/s which is awesome.

Since then I have filled and emptied the cards several times without any degradation in performance. Gobe's price is competitive with other cards with a similar performance; you also know that your purchase has caused some extra trees to be planted.


Gobe CPL 82mm SCHOTT 16-Layer Multi-Coated Polarized Filter
Gobe CPL 82mm SCHOTT 16-Layer Multi-Coated Polarized Filter
Offered by Gobe Europe

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Banish Reflections, 24 April 2016
I read some advice a while ago; buy the best filter you can sized to fit the largest filter thread you have. I chose the Gobe 82mm Circular Polarizing filter to fit my lens with the widest filter thread; a 16-35mm. To switch it down to fit my other lenses I use Step Up Rings which are inexpensive filter rings. Besides the filter Gobe emailed me a 6 month premium trial account for dphoto which is a photo archiving service. They also use some of their profits to plant trees; after my purchase i had an email saying 10 trees were to be planted as a result.

I have used a few CPL filters with my landscape photography over the past few years; they are a constant in my bag. The Gobe filter is a step up from the cheaper filters I have used in the past. Using high quality Schott filter glass; mounted in what feels like a robust and high quality filter holder. Unlike some cheaper filters the frame is taught; there isn't any wobble in it; the threads spun onto my lens cleanly without sticking from badly machined threads. Once its on my camera the rotating filter section rotation is silky smooth. When you stop turning the thread it holds its place; the lack of wobble improving the image quality.

To give the filter a whirl a difficult first real world use; I took it down to the local Rowing Regatta held on a sunny April morning by the river. This gave me a chance to spin the filter around and make the best of the suns reflections on the water. Spinning the Gobe CPL filter around to find the sweat spot; it was was easy to find as the water became darker and the reflections drastically reducued making the shots of the rowers increased separation from the water. The smooth filter made it easy to change the rotation as i panned to take shots (the image of the Swan taking off was a split second event of the bird taking flight; the reductions in the reflections make it look far better to my eyes) I have tagged a couple of photos taken a sunny day. Common with all CPL filters you are removing light from the photo so you have to drop the aperture or bump up the aperture - especially when taking pictures of moving subjects (something away from my more normal Landscape photography.) With photos and video the Filter gave a very uniform effect over the entire frame on stills. When shooting 1080p video taken on my Canon 6d the good news continued there wasn't any banding and the reflections are nicely reduced over the frame.

The Dphoto trial and tree planting are interesting extras that others don't offer; the filter is the main event though and the Gobe 82mm does a remarkable job. The river was shining from the sun for most of the photos but the filter removed the reflection and really make my subjects stand out against the water. Shooting city of rural landscapes, or rowers by the river, with the Gobe CPL you will get the benefit of reduced reflection from windows; or bluer skies.
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TP-LINK M7300 4G LTE-Advanced Mobile Wi-Fi Router/Hotspot - White
TP-LINK M7300 4G LTE-Advanced Mobile Wi-Fi Router/Hotspot - White
Price: £66.15

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You can stop the signal, 23 April 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have had good experiences with TP-Links products over the past few years. I have been using a personal MIFI unit when i travel for work despite my mobile phone having a wireless hotspot feature; I have been doing this primarily as it saves the battery life of my phone on the days/ nights in the hotel I end up using it. Its also really handy to have one in my car as both my car and passengers can use it as we go.

Setup

The M7300 is the first mifi device I have had that uses a mobile phone app to configure it. Using the app is a breeze; plug in a sim to the M7300, charge it up and power it on. Then Connect your phone to the Mifi (download app first using another network then connect to the device over wifi.) First time in the app invites you to change the default admin password to protect your settings. Using my vodafone sim; on connecting to the device i found i had a text message (readable on the app) telling me to use manual settings to configure the device; in the app's menu it was just a question of selecting the contract APN from the sim and the network was away. Using a 3 payg sim the experience was pretty much the same. I didn't need to do any manual configuration. The app does allow you to configure a manual APN to connect to the network if your sim doesn't have them programmed on it already. (A quick search will help you find this information.)

Performance

This sadly was a great disappointment and hopefully one a firmware update can resolve; using speedtest.net to test performance I could repeatedly get around 16mb down and 10mb up with the chip in my iPhone. Putting the same sim into the M7300 I could only get 5mb/s down and 4mb/s up using the MIFI (both tested from my laptop over wifi.) This was down to signal strength; the M7300 reported 1/2 strength in places the iPhone was getting 4/5 bars. Putting it near a window often improved the signal strength but positioning issues are always a hassle. The performance wasn't better with 3; though their coverage around my home isn't as good as Vodafones. I tested through the performance and the numbers I have quoted were stationary at home averaged out over a day of use; but my experience around the country in other cities has been similar.

In Use
The battery life is excellent; I have used it during 5 hour meetings and it has held up all the way through them. The M7300 is about the size of a mobile phone so its easily portable; and fits comfortably in my laptop bag. Charging it is done over micro usb. One handy feature a number of these devices share is the ability to stick a Micro SD card into them and use it as a network drive; with 128gb cards under £40 now this is actually a really useful feature as you can use the Mifi as a backup as well as a your internet connection.

Overall
The M7300 is a newer version of the model I had before; TP Link, thanks to the app setup and management, have improved the experience of using the device greatly over previous incarnations. The app made setup a breeze and makes it simple to track how much data you are using (it also lets you puts limits on it if you are on contract and going over the allowance gets expensive.) My reasons for using a personal hotspot are usually to overcome issues (or cost) with wifi in hotels and offices, so me the M7300 really let itself down with its inability to draw in signal - there are times when i really need a high performance network to do a task; and as i write the review the M7300 isn't up to the task


Newcomdigi Lighted Magnifying Mirror 5x Magnification Warm LED Light Bathroom Makeup 360°Rotating Vanity Mirror
Newcomdigi Lighted Magnifying Mirror 5x Magnification Warm LED Light Bathroom Makeup 360°Rotating Vanity Mirror
Offered by Yuema
Price: £68.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Natural White Light Magnifying Mirror, 22 April 2016
Straight out of the box the Newcomdigi mirror surface has a pristine finish which is a very promising sign. This is made better that the outer surface feels like a smooth glass surface rather than plastic mirror coating which can distort or color over time. The entire unit is lightweight, but feels well made; the case is a white plastic but it all looks and feels well finished. I opted for the middle 5x magnifying mirror; unsure how much magnification I would want. The mirror itself is about 15cm across. Over my sink unit with the 5x magnification i can just get both my eyes visible at the same time in the mirror; I'm not sure at 7x that would still be the case. Cleaning the mirror of is easily done with ordinary window cleaner and a microfibre cloth; it quickly came back to its original state (this again points to the surface being a glass one.)

The Newcomdigi Magnifying Mirror was also the first one I have taken from the box to find a USB lead in it. The mirror is illuminated to help you with your make up. The light source is a diffuse natural white, rather than the cold bluish light some LED's radiate. I have attached a couple of photos to try and show this; the outer white surface is a diffuser - front on the light is nice and even, from the side you can see the lights but wanted to include a profile shot to show how it blends in nicely. The switch for the LED's is somewhat infuriatingly on the back, which results in a scramble to find it - the wall mount lets you rotate the mirror so its often not in the same place; i have put a thin sharpie pen line on the angle of the switch to make it easier to find it. The lights are arranged in a clear circle around the mirror and provide a great even light over your face as you use it. The USB lead is there as the lights are low power LED's so you can run them for a long period using a battery; the battery is included and rechargeable over the USB cable; you will need to use an existing USB power source to do this though. This makes it ideal if you don't want to or for renters, can't, whip out a drill to put in wires to power a light.

The mirror attaches to the wall by suction cup; the first time i attached it it fell off in minutes. A quick clean of the surface; and the suction pad and the mirror has been attached for over a week without further incident. The suction cup is push to attach and has a twist collar to further increase the suction. This does mean you will need to attach it to a non porous surface; like a tile or existing mirror rather than a wooden material.

Overall the Newcomdigi magnifying mirror is a handy addition above my sink. With my white tiles it blends in nicely; and the mirror and light are surprisingly useful. After its initial falling off the wall i was a little concerned about the suction abilities of the mount especially given the glass surface, thankfully it survived the first drop drop, the second time I mounted it after more preparation and it has proved resilient; I'm probably going to err on the side of caution and reattach weekly rather than risk it falling. You could use an adhesive suction pad (not included) to provide a more stable mount.

Newcomdigi provided me with a mirror for review purposes.
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