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Chris Hoare "Chris" (UK)
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TP-LINK TD-8817 ADSL2+ Ethernet/USB Modem Router
TP-LINK TD-8817 ADSL2+ Ethernet/USB Modem Router
Price: £11.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Easy start; reliably runs once setup., 30 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The TP Link ADSL modem was setup and running on my BT ADSL connection about 10 minutes after opening the box. At its simplest level the setup is a question of replacing your existing modem or router; and following a wizard to setup the ADSL for your provider. (On BT it was a question of putting a user name in.) Happily the performance I ended up with was no worse and likely marginally quicker than I was getting with the router supplied by BT.

Once I had the modem setup I was able to build a home network from components that i recognised as providing a better grade service than I was able to get from the BT router. Putting in a proper stand alone firewall that allowed far more flexibility in rules and also to run multiple sub nets which cater to all the devices clogging up my home network and wifi space.

Its been running for about a month now; and i haven't had to restart anything once which is a big step up from the network when it was briefly controlled by the BT home hub. So I am very happy with the TP Link modem; it was easy to setup and gave me the flexibility I was looking for on my home network. Its likely not something to get unless you are looking to build a more sophisticated network as it doesn't have wifi or other home friendly features built in.


QardioArm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor (for iOS and Android)
QardioArm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor (for iOS and Android)
Price: £99.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting new entrant to Smartphone health monitoring, 30 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was told by my doctor I was pre hypertensive a few years ago now; and blood pressure being considered the silent killer I made an effort to understand my blood pressure and monitor it regularly. To try and get on top of things I bought a Withings Blood pressure monitor that synched to my phone and let me keep track of my health -and if i choose I share it with my doctor. The QardioArm picks up that mantle in a much more portable package - its more square than round.

The included blood pressure cuff works with a great range of arm sizes from 22-37cm. The wider end is often a problem and 37cm is one of the largest standard cuff’s i have tried. In the box it was all setup; so it was a question of downloading the app onto my iPhone and synching it up. The Qardio tap to connect solution feels a bit alien here; and after testing on a couple of phones I found the tap to sync connect hit and miss on the first use with my iPhones so I tried it with a second. If you do change phones I found I had to de-register it from the first phone before using it with the second as it just wouldn’t connect to a second one without doing this; which makes sharing it in the house a bit more problematic. Overall the first connection process feels a bit hit and miss ; and I find the Withing’s bluetooth connection to simpler to setup.

Once connected taking a reading is very simple; and the screen displays a great representation of a traditional blood pressure machine. Once the reading is complete you get WHO color gradings which is an easy reference to see how you are doing. The app keeps a history of your readings and you can drill into them and see the reading on a chart representing your blood pressure against different grades of hypertension; this is useful when you start taking readings but soon enough you will know that the numbers are OK or you need to find a way to reduce your BP. The measured BP broadly agreed with results taking using a Beurer BP machine on a different arm at the same time. One thing that Withings can do that Qardio can’t is they have a website that you can access your data from; depending on how you feel about sharing your data that is a good or a bad thing; but its a really easy way of getting data out on paper to take to a gp. The Qardio app does have the ability to email your doctor with your BP history; this sends a really well formatted email (along with a spreadsheet file they can open) - and doesn’t tell the doctor that you did take your BP whilst staying with your mother in law.

One thing the Qardio software also takes a location; so you can take your blood pressure at home, work and maybe the inlaws and see the impact on your blood pressure (though the WHO also says you shouldn’t take your blood pressure too often as taking a reading changes your blood pressure.) For me I take my blood pressure every other day; and I like having the history on my phone / tablet so that when i see the doctor and they get a reading way off the scale for whatever reason i can stop them giving me beta blockers.

I am excited that Qardio are coming into the market and challenging companies like Withings with well designed products and a well thought through app. Qardio have tried a bit to hard with tap to connect which made my first experience with it a bit alien; once I had used it one with my phone it worked without issue the next time. The App itself is very good; and the history features are easy to use. The overall package is smaller than the withings one (and being square rather than round is easier to pack.) Qardio have a long list of products in the coming soon pile that will challenge the rich Withings collection. For taking your BP with your smartphone the QardioArm is as accurate as other at home machines I have tested recently; the initial experience with getting it connected is something that passed and over the month but if i could do half stars I would have made it 4.5 stars because of that; as i can’t it has worked without issue every time after the first one.


Salem Rogers: Model of the Year 1998
Salem Rogers: Model of the Year 1998
Dvd

2.0 out of 5 stars i'll pass, 25 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There is a moment in Zoolander where a male model asks a reporter what do you hate about models and the reply was "I think they're vain, stupid, and incredibly self-centered." Salem Rodgers the character lived up to that diatribe. Agatha her erstwhile assistant was equally unpleasant though. The pilot is two people doing mean things to each other and getting rewarded for it. Salem Rodgers starts with Salem saying she will never change; and I don't think I could watch the show without some character development.


Cocked
Cocked
Dvd

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Promising, 25 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Cocked (Amazon Instant Video)
Of this seasons Pilots "Cocked" felt the most laid out to become a series. A solid drama; but lacking a little in the writing and one characters bladder has its own story arch that doesn't make sense... The large cast have colourful characters with a dissent inducing mix of straight and not so straight characters as well as a degree of white collar v blue collar. The arching plot of keeping the factory open and the mix of characters should keep the story going and attract interest from viewers.


Beurer BM75 Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor with HFC and Health Manager
Beurer BM75 Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor with HFC and Health Manager
Price: £68.02

4.0 out of 5 stars Stand Alone Blood Pressure, 20 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I was told by my doctor I was pre hypertensive a few years ago; to try and get on top of things I bought a Withings Blood pressure monitor that synched to my phone and let me keep track of my health -and share it with my doctor. The BM75 was very well packaged and came with a nice storage pouch to store it

The Beurer BM75 Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor offers phone connectivity via an app but only to an Android phone; that unfortunately I don’t have to test with. Bearer also offer a PC app that connects with USB and allows you to track your blood pressure over time.

Not having a PC or Android I was limited in the full range of what I could test; the good news is the BM75 works very well as a stand alone blood pressure monitor. The main unit has a clear screen and can store 60 readings on its internal memory. The arm cuff works with a good range of arms diameters (24-35cm) and comfortably fits around my arm. Taking a reading is as easy as powering up the unit from the large power button. After the reading is taken the screen is very clear with a blue tinted backlight if you like to take your blood pressure in the dark. There is a clear indicator representing the WHO classifications for the readings from green safe; amber through pre hypertensive to red for hypertension.

Beurer have a great reputation for the quality of their products; so It is a shame that the BM75 doesn’t provide support for any of my devices (advertised support in the case of my iPhone) as I have found having a history of readings when you go to the doctor is often very beneficial. The unit is very easy to use; and thanks to the clear screen if you don’t need the ability to store all the information it should be on your shortlist.


Mepra 24-Piece Cutlery Set Lorena Inox 18/10
Mepra 24-Piece Cutlery Set Lorena Inox 18/10
Price: £60.05

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like opening boxes this is the set for you, 14 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Mepra cutlery set came as 6 sets of individual places of 4 ; which sadly resulted in a LOT of waste in the bin. I bought this set as it was a little darker than normal stainless steel and these seem to fit the bill. The knife and fork are nice in the hand with some heft but a nice contoured design; and feel as well made as the Viner's cutlery set I have been using day to day for a decade. The spoons are a funny pair the teaspoon is tiny; and the tablespoon enormous.

I miss a soup spoon from the set most of all; the tablespoon is long and shallow and not really suited to soup. Otherwise this is a different looking; robust feeling cutlery set at a reasonable price; just be ready to throw away a lot of packaging. 4*'s


Panasonic DMC-LX100EBK Digital Camera (4/3 inch MOS Sensor, f1.7-2.8 LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMILUX Lens with 24-75mm) - Black
Panasonic DMC-LX100EBK Digital Camera (4/3 inch MOS Sensor, f1.7-2.8 LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMILUX Lens with 24-75mm) - Black
Price: £589.00

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A second camera you could happily use as your first, 14 Jan. 2015
Choosing the LX100 was a pretty agonising choice; I was luck to get a Sony RX10 which uses sony's excellent 1" sensor with nice zoom lens; though the software interface to do everything always felt limiting when trying to achieve manual control often not taking the pictures I was after. The LX100 like the Sony's RX10 and 100 is targeted at hobbiest photographers or professionals who want to leave the SLR at home. You can use the LX100 in full automatic mode; but that really goes against the spirit of the camera. I have tried it in full automatic and the software makes pretty good decisions; but sometimes you don’t want full exposure because you want it dark and moody.

The Sony and Panasonic both came with viewfinders as well as screens; and as we have all found using a screen in daylight just doesn't work as well as a viewfinder - and the Panasonic viewfinder is nearly as good as the excellent Sony viewfinder. The LX100 has a hint of lag; and some strange colour strobing if you quickly pan. As the light drops the viewfinder keeps going and you needs to be in a pretty dark place before it becomes impossible to use. It noticeable on my LX100 that the viewfinder and screen have different colour tones; I shoot flat colour and correct in Lightroom so although not ideal its manageable in the workflow. When you are taking photos in lowlight its worth pointing out there is no built in flash; but a small clip on flash can be attached; and thanks to the standard hotshoe I was able to use my Canon 580ex which is nearly as large as the LX100 itself.

At first appearance the LX100 ticked my desires for easy to access controls; with manual control over the aperture and shutter giving the freedom to create the look i wanted. The negatives when choosing were mainly around the size of the camera and I'm not utterly convinced by the button layout - but fingers learn buttons over time so I took the plunge.

First impressions; the LX100 is an great camera; not just an excellent compact camera but an excellent camera overall. The larger sensor, a camera free of PASM mode selector dials coupled with a a lens that covers most all of the photos i take. Come together and result in sharp pictures when you want; and thanks to the manual controls allowing you to take the image the way you want it to look out of the camera without having to resort to the controls in Lightroom. The LX100 lens roughly covers the 24-70mm of the lens that lives on my SLR; I generally take travel, landscape and city photographs and 24-70 is a great zoom for most things; though for video be careful of the variable aperture leading to a darkening image. As it gets dark and you want to ramp the iso up the camera is capable of 24k though to my eyes over 3200/6400iso the colour noise even in what should be pure black becomes an issue - either of these is great in a pocket camera allowing you to get photos that most all other cameras wouldn’t do. I lock my SLR to not go above 6400 normally and sometimes go to 12800 when I’m in an unlit place and a flash would result in pained expressions on those around me.

The fast aperture is tied to a slightly smaller sensor than my slr; so you can’t really achieve a beautiful bokeh blur (and as you open the aperture up out of focus areas and highlights come with a hint of Onioning.) That said subject isolation is good and there is some blurring; its just not butter. It is leagues ahead of the RX10 I have; and I believe its as good as it gets on any compact I have tried so far. The camera gives nice raw stills; and has a high frame rate. As I have been using it the ability to configure custom function buttons has allowed me to adapt the camera to the way I want it to operate. As a compact camera it comes with built in filters; and the button is on the top face where I feel the movie record button should go.

The autofocus is very quick in full automatic mode - and makes a reasonable fist of choosing a focus point. Where you have a camera that is all about user control the autofocus and manual focus selection became my biggest quibble with the camera. Manual focus is easy to use; and enable though a physical switch; and pulling focus is helped by highlight and zoom tricks in the viewfinder. The zoom process is a electric drive and run through a switch; rather than a direct manual ring or override. When the autofocus is that fast the autofocus would be helped no end with a touchscreen to make selecting focus better; the software mechanism to select a focus point is painful forcing you to select a centre point more often than not to get the image.

The LX100 is the first camera I have had that can record 4k video; I’m not a videographer preferring to take stills for things but every now and then I like a bit of video in my library to remember the moment. It does have an intervalometer in the camera which means you can take time-lapse videos in camera without having to resort to using an external controller (something that drives me nuts with my slr.)

If you are a videographer there may be better camera’s for you out there; the Sony RX10 was my benchmark for compact camera video (albeit it only at 1080p) but the quality and stabilisation were excellent and the manual aperture control benefits from being able to disable the stop clicks allowing you to make smooth noise free changes; the aperture adjustment clicks on the LX100 which adds noise to the in camera track - though if you are using the LX100 for video you may want to consider using a separate sound recorded anyway as the camera doesn’t currently allow for external microphones or headsets (The RX10 does) to allow you to fine tune the audio to match what appear to be excellent visuals. Like many I don’t have a screen capable of playing back 4k at the moment but your video software like mine may allow you to crop the video down to 1080p; which gives you some flexibility in what you are shooting. As the lens isn’t fixed aperture you do have to be careful with exposure if you use the zoom whilst recording as you can find the shot getting darker as you zoom in as the aperture ramps up to the f2.8 at the zoom end.

My overall opinion of the camera; is its great thanks to the way above average manual controls, good price, lens and sensor. Honestly for me its a touchscreen and mic/ headset connecter away from being truly excellent. The best judge for me is how i use a camera; I went away last year travelling super light with just the Sony RX10 and not my SLR and didn’t feel I missed too many photos my SLR would have caught - and enjoying not carrying tens of kilo’s of camera gear. I wouldn’t hesitate to take the LX100 on holiday as my only camera; and I don’t feel I would miss out on too many photos.
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Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter
Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter
Price: £39.89

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At work, on Holiday your screen where you want, 3 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Microsoft Wireless Display Adaptor is broadly similar in concept to the Google Chromecast; though unlike the limited google device the Wireless Display adaptor works with support laptops and allows you to transmit everything windows with very little lag.

Plug it into a spare HDMI socket on a TV and feed it some power over the USB cable, wait for the adaptor to the boot and the screen shows a Microsoft logo. Once that is being shown; from Windows 8 Mirracast supporting laptop (e.g a Surface Pro 3) swipe in the charms menus and select project from the devices and you are away. The video is streamed over a wireless network (you can still use your main network at the same time on the surface) in near real time - windows allows you to mirror or use the adaptor as a second screen.

The quality is upto 1080p and when connected you can comfortably stream full HD Prime Video to the device along with iTunes and youtube - as well as powerpoint or anything else you need to show with high quality sound as well as video. Without losing your wifi data connection. There is an optional supporting app on the Windows Store that allows you to rename the device as well as set a passcode; as well as optimise it to fit onto screens better; the passcode bit may come in handy to stop people hijacking your presentation.

The Microsoft wireless display isn't as cheap as the Chromecast but it isn't as limited if you are regularly doing presentations for work; or like me want to watch your own films in a hotel room, it is super handy to have in your bag as it makes connections so much simpler than finding the right monitor adaptor.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 24, 2015 3:02 PM GMT


BBC iPlayer
BBC iPlayer
Price: £0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars High Quality video; easy to use, 3 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: BBC iPlayer (App)
The iPlayer app on the Fire Tv is very good; the quality of the streamed video is high and the interface is snappy.


Withings Aura Smart Sleep System (iOS)
Withings Aura Smart Sleep System (iOS)
Price: £243.01

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The trend is your friend, 3 Jan. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Withings Aura is a sleep aid; for one at the moment - a second sensor pad is coming soon for monitoring a partner. The Aura comes in two parts; a central power and alarm unit with a light and clock on it; and then a separate sensor pad that sits under your mattress (or topper.) The sensor connects using a fairly long USB cable. The central unit connects to the mains through a power brick; and in exchange for your socket it gives you the benefits of Aura as well as a USB socket you can use to charge your phone over night. On the base unit there are 3 usb sockets; plug the sensor into one of the pair of sockets; you then need to put the sensor under your mattress at the same level as your chest.

Timing at this point is everything; Power up the Aura; and download the app on your phone. After logging into the app; you can add the Aura as a device; and as you do it calibrates the monitor - this takes 10 minutes and you won't be using your bed whilst you go through this. I got the setup wrong the first time and the calibration was nonsense which caused invalid results. I removed and reset the device on my phone; and on the second night had a much more sensible result.

As a sleep aid Aura tackles its goal on two fronts; one of its tasks is to help you fall asleep more easily; and wake up more refreshed. It does this using Red light to encourage melatonin production which aids sleep. In the morning you are brought to life with a blue light that does the opposite. The light comes from the cone of the main unit; along with sounds to help you sleep or wake; sadly you can't play your own music through it. If you don't get on with the sleep function you don't need to use it; the alarm and monitor will still work; and either way you can adjust the volume and brightness of sleep and wake cycles to meet your preference.

The second fiddle to the Aura orchestra is the monitoring that comes from the sensor under the mattress; if you get the calibration right you can review during the day how your sleep has gone. The sensor monitors resting heart rate; temperature, the brightness in your room as well as motion as you sleep. The blurb says it also monitors ambient sounds; but i can't see how to view this on the app. The app takes the motion information and presents it as wake / sleep time - telling you when you aren't getting enough. When you combine it with the temperature and light information you can spot trends where you are / aren't getting sleep. After a few weeks use; it looks like nights when my room is cooler I sleep longer; as I am writing this in deepest winter when its dark a lot of the time the luminosity information doesn't seem that useful right now; we will see if that changes in the summer.

The sensors and central unit combine together for the waking alarm function. You can configure your wake time as a deadline with some floating time before it. If the sensors believe you are in light sleep it can wake you earlier than needed - but at a point you are more awake. As a long time user of the Philips wake up light; being woken by the Aura wake cycle was a familiar friend - a slowly brightening light that aims to wake you up feeling fully reseted. I'm not a huge fan of the noises that come out of the device when the alarm eventually goes off but it does wake me up feeling rested. Philips at least give you a radio so you can wake to the news...

When the Aura arrived I already had quite a lot of Withings data on my iPhone and securely only their excellent website accumulated from the Scales, Blood Pressure and pedometer. All this gives me a line of defence at the Doctor; especially when they take a blood pressure reading that is crazy off the scale and take it as gospel. The Aura is partly different from those other devices its not really a health monitor its a sleep aid. As a really light sleeper the question for me is does the data relate to each other; adding the Aura lets me monitor sleep as well as external factors like temperature and ambient noise and paint a picture of how my days impact on my sleep. 4*


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