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

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BRITA Dolce 3020 3 Way Water Filter Tap
BRITA Dolce 3020 3 Way Water Filter Tap
Price: 189.99

4.0 out of 5 stars You were trained to use this water filter from childhood, 14 Jan 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Brita 3020 Dolce Water Filter Tap replaced the Ikea installed mixer tap in my Kitchen. Straight up the design of this tap is far superior with the water flowing down rather than at an angle there is far less splash.

If your worktop is made from a difficult to work with material (e.g. stone) you might have difficulty installing the tap if the existing down pipe hole doesn't fit/ match. Brita have diagrams on their website with measurements if you need to check. You also need some room on top for mixer tap as it pulls away as well as swings and you need some room for it; my tap just fit without hitting the splash back guard. Besides some space for the tap you also need some room under your sync to fit a fairly large filter - it can be mounted horizontally or vertically if you have a shelf. The last component is a countdown clock; something Brita ought to make part of their website or a phone app then reminds you to biu a filter rather than a single function clock they ship with each tap. Before installation I looked at my pipes and decided based on all the plastic pipes I decided to use the installation service rather than risk and accidental break. Oraganising the installation was very easy being a matter of a phone call. I was given a 4 hour window; luckily for me the plumber came (on a Saturday) right at the start of the window at 8am. They swapped out the existing tap in about 45 minutes; tidying up after himself and was gone in under an hour.

The elephant in the room is the filter cartridges don't last forever and are quite expensive. The last step in the install was testing the water hardness of my water supply; and the hardness was low enough that the cartridges should last 90 days; they can last 30-90 days depending on the hardness of your water. Thanks to the chlorine I was a heavy drinker of bottled water; which isn't required thanks to the filtered tap water; though the water from the filter is close to room temperature so you might still want a cold water jug.

Turning on the mixer tap you notice the nice feel of the handle; the outlet has a nice aeration which saves some water flow and a separate outlet for filtered water. The head swivels smoothly but is quite loose so be careful when its running not to knock it out of the sink. There is a separate tap to release filtered water; from a clean outlet (there is an image of this running.) My tap water has a noticeable chlorine taste (I live in an apartment building that has to treat its water supply) the Brita tap seems to do a good job reducing the smell and the cost of running this is lower than my water habit.

The Dolce 3020 looks nice; the installation isn't onerous and lets you get cleaner water the way you were conditioned to get water from childhood - out of the tap.


Bosch PLR 15 Digital Laser Rangefinder
Bosch PLR 15 Digital Laser Rangefinder
Price: 44.95

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Measure Once., 13 Jan 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Bosch PLR15 Digital Laser Ranger finder is a small and very easy to use range finder.

The PLR15 is for most jobs and weather conditions a direct replacement for a tape measure for most circumstances. It does need a target to point at - you can put some card if you are measure to a drop off edge. To set the PLR15 up you need to put the included batteries in; point the Bosch End away from your eyes and point at something between 15cm and 15m away. In about 1/2 a second you will know how far away the dot is. The distance (measure from the back of the device) is output on a green and black display that is easy to read in most all light conditions. Besides the switch there is one button; hold - press it and the display keeps the last measured value till you press it again. It is resoundingly metric; so if you are needing imperial distances you may want to stick with your tape measure.

On some surfaces it can take some time to settle the measurement down - I also found it occasionally floating between a few mm of the distance. As it measures the reflection of the laser beam this can happen as there are some super unreflective surfaces (like glass) that it can't measure accurately. The PLR15 does has some inaccuracies in its measurements - the manual lists it as +/- 3mm at 25C; it gets worse as the temperature deviates from that. Your existing tape measure is likely as bad (they aren't calibrated and the more you use them the worse they become so don't take it as a big negative; just don't expect it to be perfect. If you want to use the PLR 15 as a ruler; finding exactly 1.5m from your target you can slide it along the surface and the display more or less keeps up in real time (just remember it measures to the end away from the laster.)

One thing you do need to do is protect the optics; and here Bosch have let you down a little - there isn't an included case or clip to keep it away from everything else in your toolkit. So if you do keep it in your pocket make sure your keys are elsewhere. That considers the PLR15 is pocketable easy to use (and generally significantly faster) replacement for a classic tape measure. So long as you think Metric it is a simple easy to use tool that gets quick accurate measurements.


Alpen Light Chocolate and Orange Cereal Bars 19 g (Pack of 5)
Alpen Light Chocolate and Orange Cereal Bars 19 g (Pack of 5)

3.0 out of 5 stars Low Calorie High FIbre, 10 Jan 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Alpen Cereal bars a 70 calories each on the box and have a reputation for being considerably better than most all other cereal bars.

The Alpen Light chocolate and orange bars are an impressive 5% protein and 23% fibre each. My normal cereal bars are Eat Natural which come in at 35g; (almost double the Alpens 19g) and they do have more or less double the calories as these alpen bars. What they don't have anything like is the Fibre - if you need fibre in your diet the Alpen bars are outstanding - Eat Natural only manage 5%. What the Eat Natural bars do have is taste and texture though; the alpen bars offer little in the way of texture - and the orange flavour is far too subtle if you have a coffee - and the overall texture is underwhelming.

If you are on a strict diet there is a lot of appeal with these bars they have some flavour and texture; i just prefer the flavour and rich texture of the Eat Natural bar; and the low calorie high fibre is a rare combination.. The comparative lack of texture and flavour for a saving of only 89 calories compared to the eat natural bars isn't something I am prepared to make


Auraglow 5m 300 LED RGB 5050 Tape Strip Light Complete Kit
Auraglow 5m 300 LED RGB 5050 Tape Strip Light Complete Kit
Offered by Safield Dist. Ltd
Price: 79.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent LED Kit, 10 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have bought several LEd kits over the last 2 years as I replace old lighting in my apartment. The Auraglow kit is one of the best; it may be more or less the same components as the other kits; only Auraglow is far better presented and comes with some very useful extras others miss; like the strip joining links and some brackets you can use to screw down strips if the 3m adhesive on the back doesn't work. Though the first few CM of the strip the glue was ruined as Auraglow had pealed it back to solder in a connector into the strip; for that small section I used a glue to attach. The Rest of the strips adhesive worked well as I stuck to to some gloss paint in my kitchen; and it has remained in place despite the heat of cooking and my coffee machine.

The White from the LED's is a little cool compared to other light forms (it makes some orange / red colours look a little strange); but it is low power and very discreet. You can cut the strips up every 3 LEDs (about 10 cm) and Auraglow supply a few connectors to join strips together (so you can make cleaner corners or jump over gaps. The remote control lets you select colours from a preset list (you can't dial a colour) as well as alter the brightness of the kit. If you power off an on the strips default to powered on (if you are thinking of wiring them into a switch.)

The discreet nature of LED strips appeals to me; and the ease of installation (and removal) lets you get light into places that are a little dark with ease. Auraglow's kit is good value and the kit itself is the best I have bought so far.


Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse for Mac
Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse for Mac
Offered by Annzon Vendor
Price: 47.20

3.0 out of 5 stars Too Small, 10 Jan 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Logitech T631 is a well made and good looking mouse; with a smooth white plastic on top of a cool metal base. The mouse is small - its barely bigger than a credit card and about as thick as a mobile phone. It connects to your computer by bluetooth; and if you have a desktop its worth nothing there isn't a dongle in the packaging. On the base of the mouse is a connect button and for me a feature I asked logitech to add a number of years ago - a Computer 1/2 Switch. You can program the mouse to work with multiple computers - I have 3 on my desk today and being able to cut down on the mice on my desk is a great advantage. If you use the mouse with a desktop and notebook when you are on the road it will do the same for you. For those on the road the mouse charges from a USB micro cable; so if you have pretty much any phone bar an iPhone you already have the cable in your bag; Logitech include a tiny USB micro cable if you don't. Charging from USB is very convenient; though the battery seems to last at least 8 days between charging; the battery indicator on the control panel suggested it was getting low so i charged it at that point.

Logitech chose the shape is determined by its top surface being a touch surface and so its large and flat; my previous mouse the Logitech T620 Touch Mouse - Graphite has the same touch features (albeit Windows 8 only) but is considerably larger - and considerably more comfortable to use as a mouse. The Touch functions allow you to control OSX functions like swipe on Safari or change desktops unfortunately they don't include the mouse pointer so you have to move the mouse to control the pointer and the T631 is just too small to use comfortably and that sadly detracts from everything else.

I love the charging, the ability to use with two computers and the touch functions but for general mouse pointer duty the T631 falls flat 3*.


Spudz SPBK20 10x10 Micro Fibre Lens Cloth In Pouch -Black
Spudz SPBK20 10x10 Micro Fibre Lens Cloth In Pouch -Black
Offered by RK Photographic
Price: 6.71

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lens cloth with built in storage and drying wire clip, 31 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Spudz micro fibre lens cloth is a grey card coloured lens cloth that is attached to its own neoprene storage container. The lens cloth is easy to get out and put back into the neoprene; and the micro fibre does a good job in cleaning a lens of dust and moisture. I used it recently in a jungle for a few days and it removed lots of moisture and dirt (mud generally gets a first removal with a bottle of water) from my gopro case and slr lens filters with the cloth removing whatever was left. Used on such harsh environments Its pretty easy to clean - though its best to have two for those circumstances a dirt and finishing cloth set. Using the pouch you can't protect one side from the other easily to have a single cloth be dual purpose. When its dirty flip the neoprene inside out to get all the cloth out and (its stitched into the neoprene) then keep holding onto the neoprene - its a hands on affair with water and a mild a soap as you can find as you can't machine wash it. On my unusual trip that happened once a day and the cloth was still soft on the fifth day of daily washing.

Once washed put it somewhere to air dry (not in the dryer.) The pouch has a clip to attach it to things (like a camera strap) I don't understand the point of that - i want to keep the cleaning cloth away from the dirt till I need it. I did find it very useful on the hotel bathroom drying wires after washing them though.

There are cheaper ways to get lens cleaning cloths but the micro fibre and attached pouch make this a great choice for travelling with.


Barratts Refreshers Fruity Flavour Fizzy Sweets 34.2 g (Pack of 48)
Barratts Refreshers Fruity Flavour Fizzy Sweets 34.2 g (Pack of 48)
Offered by VIRGO PARTY SHOP
Price: 16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great tasting fizzy sweets, 31 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Barratts Refreshers are a great nostalgia sweet; they have a nice sort of fruit flavours and a great fizzing sensation that are popular with old and young visiting family. There are 48 individual packs that come in a single larger box; which makes the price of a single pack very good value.


Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
Price: 999.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Sharp; super wide angle, 31 Dec 2013
The Canon EF16-35mm F2.8 USM ii lens is chunky; distorts considerably at the widest angles and apertures and vignettes like it has an instagram filter inside it but takes some of the most amazing landscape pictures I have achieved. On my camera the zoom ring and manual focus rings are both smooth; and allow for clean focus pulling if you are shooting video. Even on my Canon 6d the (full time overridable) autofocus is pretty quick from shortest to infinity focus and the autofocus results in sharp images. The body is plastic with a metal body mount; if you add a (UV) filter - its an 82mm thread - the lens offers weather sealing (the zoom does move the lens in and out of the body of the lens so there is also a high likelihood of ingesting dust in its use so the filter should help reduce that too. Finally in the box you also get a lens hood; I found even without it I was able to take images in pretty much all circumstances without getting any flaring but its there if you need it (and the lens hood for the 24-105 fits inside it if you want to save some space)

I have dragged it around Bangkok and Singapore going in and out of air conditioning and tropical rain and the weather proofing kept it going; its super wide angle lets you take some amazing shots of the city Day and Night hand held getting everything in the frame without having to resort to stitching. With the aperture closed all the way down to F22 you get amazing sparkles on all the lights ( i have uploaded a full frame and cropped image showing the effect) ; and at F2.8 you can get images in lower light that you wouldn't be able to achieve with the 17-40mm F4 without extending the ISO / Shutter speed to difficult levels.

If you have a cropped sensor camera you should look at the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens although note it has a higher min aperture and its variable which isn't so good if you want to shoot video, its considerably cheaper - on a cropped body the 10-22 takes great shots over the same wide angles as the 16-35mm offers on the full frame. Despite the distorting issues that you should expect with a zoom-wide angle lens with a tool like Adobe Lightroom you can easily remove or reduce the distortion of the lens and are left with simply fantastic sharp images day and night.


Case Logic Action Bag for Camera - Black
Case Logic Action Bag for Camera - Black
Price: 15.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Degrees of separation, 31 Dec 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Case logic Action Bag is made for transporting cameras like the Go Pro series.

These cameras are pretty tiny; but they tend to come with a variety of connectors and clips to allow you to mount them to a variety of surfaces as you travel. Some of these parts are pretty tiny some of them not so tiny. The case logic action bag is first off pretty big so it can hold a lot of parts; what it lacks are enough dividers to make it useable. I can throw things into it; and put a few items behind mesh pockets but there aren't containers for the different extensions or mounts that I find I carry along with the camera. I have just dragged it around on a 22,000 mile journey around asia and back and it kept everything in one place; I had a gopro3, a number of sticky mounts, tripod mount, a sizeable number of extension brackets, use cable, tube mount, window suction cup and egg timer (for time-lapse) in the bag and it was plenty big enough.

What I found though was whenever I was trying to build the right mount to get the images I was after more often than not i had to empty it to find what i was looking for which makes it an awkward bag for field use. That makes the flat divider camera packs you can find generally more user friendly. It is however exceptionally cheap and an easy way to move things around if you can live with the lack of dividers.


Finish Dishwasher Cleaner Dual Action Twin Pack (2 x 250ml)
Finish Dishwasher Cleaner Dual Action Twin Pack (2 x 250ml)
Offered by Selectric London Limited
Price: 15.05

3.0 out of 5 stars A washer for your dishwasher or the emperors new clothes, 19 Dec 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The finish dual action dishwasher cleaner is a bit of strange one to test. You are supposed to use this once a month; so I did a run through with my finish power ball tablets; emptied my dishwasher and then immediately I ran it through my dishwasher with the cleaner.

After that first run through there was a feeling of this being the emperors new clothes - visually I couldn't see any difference.

As a single frequent traveller my dishwasher is used maybe once a fortnight and is only a year old. As part of the extensive list of benefits the stand out one for me is Finish say the dishwasher cleaner it removes limescale; I have had two dishwashers fail in the past 10 years through limescale build up.

Its not especially expensive; a couple of pounds a month and if it does make my dishwasher last longer its likely a price worth paying.


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