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

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SanDisk Ultra Fit 128 GB USB Flash Drive USB 3.0 up to 150 Mbps
SanDisk Ultra Fit 128 GB USB Flash Drive USB 3.0 up to 150 Mbps
Price: £24.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars USB3 128gb quick read and write, 3 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Sundisk Ultrafit 128gb Flash Drive is a great addition to a laptop. Barely bigger than a usb socket with just the textured black lip to help you slide it in and out you can likely just leave it in your computer. It's also a USB 3 device (though it will work in older usb sockets) so it offers reasonable speed data access; on my macbook pro blackmagic rated it about 59mb/s write and 110mb/s read. This is nothing compared to the speed of the built in disk in my laptop; if you have a magnetic hard disk in your computer the ultrafit is likely quicker. An older USB2 drive only ran to 9mb/s write and 18mb/s read so the benefits of USB3 are immense.

The step to USB3 makes this a usable storage device for most all kinds of media (and likely for a number of applications you only run occasionally.) With 128GB of storage it is it is as big as a number of computers built in ssd's allowing you to quickly make a big leap in your computers storage space for a very reasonable outlay. The most important thing is its a Sandisk device which adds a level of support, trust and credibility that most unknown chinese brands aren't able to prove at the moment.


Wrigley's Extra Bubblemint Chewing Gum 14 g (Pack of 30)
Wrigley's Extra Bubblemint Chewing Gum 14 g (Pack of 30)
Offered by Anything you want UK
Price: £10.45

4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Gum Flavour., 3 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Whilst I can't sense any mint in them the bubble mint Extra gum; what they do have is that classic bubblegum flavour. Its not an everyday use but from time to time its a great change.
I like the extra gum series for the initial crunch that gives way to a smooth gum. As Extra White I like that these come with xylitol which help protect your teeth; I think they are sightly lower in the evil sorbitol which does terrible things to my digestive system.


Medisana Connect Body Analysis Scales with Bluetooth
Medisana Connect Body Analysis Scales with Bluetooth
Price: £74.01

4.0 out of 5 stars December 2015 became the month of testing smart scales. I have four sets of them, 3 Jan. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
November, December 2015 became the month of testing smart scales. I have four sets of them; including the 440's slightly cheaper sibling the Medisana 430. The 440 scales and the 430 are pretty much identical bar the top surface design. The 430 is white with a circular design and the 440 black with a cross design. The two have the same screen and the same basic functions. On the most important function; the weight they measure agrees within 1% of the Beurer and Withings scales I already had at home. The surface design allows the 440 scales to measure the conductivity of your body allowing it to also measure body fat, water percents as well as muscle mass. These are displayed on a cheap looking blue tinted screen and if you are happy there you can use the scales as you would an old fashioned spring scale; read the screen and remember the values each time.

Where the smart scales come into their own is when you join them up with the VitaDock+ app on your phone (and on the Medisana website.) The app talks to the scales using bluetooth (on the iPhone you set this up in the app which makes me think its bluetooth 4.) The app stores and makes it far easier to read than on the screen on the scales themselves; it also displays the value and allows you to see trends over time. The Vitadock+ website is far superior than the app ( right now the app (at least on the iPhone) is fairly unpolished and far behind the withings equivalent - but the app can be improved over time without impacting the scales so things should get better. The data on the iPhone also syncs happily into HealthKit which does display the data in a better way than the provided app.

The BS440 looks similar to the more expensive Withings scale; though the Withings though the screen on the withings is superior to the one on the Mediana devices. The Medisana 430 and 440 are both priced very competitively against similarly featured scales. The 440 proved easy connect to my phone - thanks to using bluetooth rather than wifi. I also have the Medisana blood pressure monitor and the two work happily side by side; so it looks like Medisana will be building a range of equipment out like Withings - only with more competitive price points though possibly slightly cheaper feeling devices.

As it stands today; the app is a little basic (if you don't have smart scales it is still years ahead of remembering or using a notebook.) The website improves the presentation; and if you have an iPhone you can use healthkit to see the data and trends cleanly. The BS440 is competitively priced; though the differential between it and the 320 seems hard to justify when the difference looks to only be surface deep.

I don't put much weight on the app at present as apps evolve over time - right now it works and displays readings clearly - i would just like better trend and raw data displays. Using an iPhone lets me see the data in HealthKit alongside information from other devices in one place which paints a single picture. The website does show the information and trends more clearly (as well as letting you get a list of raw readings if you need them for a health provider.)

The BS440's black design looks pretty good and will fit into modern bathrooms well. Its primary job taking your weight is accurate, fast and easy to use 4*. The dinged star is because this offers no benefit over the 430 model; besides the design of the top surface.


Linksys RE6300 Universal Dual Band AC750 Gigabit Wi-Fi Range Extender
Linksys RE6300 Universal Dual Band AC750 Gigabit Wi-Fi Range Extender
Offered by BESTBUYIT
Price: £49.59

5.0 out of 5 stars If you have a gap in your wifi reception you want to fill get the RE6300, 23 Dec. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Linksys RE6300 is one of those rare technology products; that just works. The TV in my bedroom came with wifi rather than wires which allowed me to get rid of the ethernet. When I tried to use it; the signal was too low for it to stream amazon prime. I have tried the RE6300 with a Linksys Router; as well as a BT Home Hub (infinity version.) In both cases the WPS connect button allowed the extender to immediately extend the network without any other user interaction.

If your modem doesn't have a WPS button you can set it up with your wifi's wireless key. The setup is done using a web browser with no special software required. In use the setup screens are really good - and maybe worth trying before clicking the WPS button if you have one to optimise the location of the modem. The setup pages indicate the level of signal the system is getting from your existing network and advising if you should move it closer or further away to get the most from the RE6300.

The WPS features made it very simple to setup at home; two button presses and my TV was streaming amazon prime. The network speed isn't as fast the gigabit I get from my main linksys switch; my laptop is reporting a 750mb/s connection; file transfers were quick for wifi; though a wire is still better. A 700gb backup file took a little over 4 hours to copy (SSD at either end); which means a real world speed of about 400mbs but its more than enough for streaming to my tv.

If you have a gap in your wifi reception you want to fill; the RE6300 is quick enough for most networking tasks; most importantly its very easy to setup.


AmazonBasics Circular Polarizer Filter - 82 mm
AmazonBasics Circular Polarizer Filter - 82 mm
Price: £13.32

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the filter improved the image which is why you use one in the first place, 21 Dec. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
At the time of writing I'm not sure the cost of this filter will ultimately be; as a member of the Amazon basics range it should be good value. It ships in the excellent amazon frustration free packaging - cut through a sticker and you get the filter inside a plastic filter protection case. Out of the box I wasn't sure if the thickness of the filter was going to be a vignetting issue - its 0.8cm deep. It does feel well made though; there wasn't any wobble between the two filters; the threads are nice and smooth and it cleanly threaded onto my lens.

I put the 82mm CP filter onto my Canon 16-35mm lens; which on my full frame body is super wide and vignettes a little (at wide apertures) even without a filter.I had thought the super wideness was the reason my previous CP filter was half as thin as this amazon basics one. I was surprised to find that the filter didn't cause any extra vignetting from that the lens causes at any point in the zoom range.

It does do an impressive job as a Circular Polarizing Filter; making skies blue and reducing glare in images; I was blessed to be able to test it after some sun after heavy rain which led to all kinds of reflections on surfaces. I have uploaded two one of some clouds moving over Leicester; and one i took straight into the sun to see if there were any flaring issues. The sky is nice and blue and the clouds are defined and the into the Sun shot is nice and clean.

The short of it is the Amazon Basics CP Filter works really well. The build quality is excellent and on my camera the filter improved the image which is why you use one in the first place. 82mm is a good size to choose as you can use step up filters to use the filter on lenses with smaller filter threads.
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Neato Robotics Botvac Wi-Fi Enabled Robot Vacuum Cleaner, 0.7 L, 43 W - Black/Silver
Neato Robotics Botvac Wi-Fi Enabled Robot Vacuum Cleaner, 0.7 L, 43 W - Black/Silver
Price: £469.97

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Superior Robotic Vacuum, 21 Dec. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have been using a couple of iRobot Roomba vacuums at home for years. I love that repeated unattended use keeps the dust bunnies off my floor. I know they didn't do a great job which is why i augmented them with a braava dust / mopping robot. I also knew that if they didn't run for a few weeks (whilst i was away) the first vacuuming was far from acceptable - they run around the room with a dust trail. I was happy using the Roomba's as they are still better than vacuuming by hand; I had been waiting for the vaporware dyson eye robot to appear; but well over a year has passed without it manifesting itself. So the chance to review a competitor to my Roomba's was something I was eager to try.

As soon as you have charged it up and set it free its immediately noticeable that the Vacuum is much stronger than the roomba's - its strong enough that it can suck up dust that isn't under the vacuum; it also has a square leading edge which does better in the corners than the roomba. The strong vacuum does have a small disadvantage in that the exhaust from it isn't angled up so can blow things around as it goes.There is a downside if you are at home when the Neato runs; in that the vacuum is very noisy; its not the motors for moving around rather the motor for the vacuum and airflow are noisy. You can turn the power down from Turbo and get a quieter but less clean finish. At the end of the cycle the bin lifts up from the top and is easy to empty; its plenty big enough for a week of daily running in my living room. The big step up from the Roomba is when the robot gets stuck on something; like the feet of my recliner chair; it was able to get itself free thanks to strongly articulating wheels- most overtime my roomba would get itself stuck and need freeing (which is why when I'm away for a period dust builds up with the Roomba as it can't clean repeatedly.) The Neato doesn't seem to trail dust bunnies; and the underside of the vacuum is cleaner than the Roomba with less places for dirt to accumulate.

You have to manually program the Neato to connect to your home wifi (it doesn't have app connections support; on the iPhone at least.) To do that you connect your phone to a temporary wireless network with the robot; and then you configure the robot to connect to your home wireless network. Once that is done you can use the app to control and program the Neato Botvac from your phone - which is much simpler than the interface and screen on the device. The wifi features are fun to show off; starting the vacuum from the office. Ultimately though a regular schedule is better a better fit for me than turning it on and off from the phone. Also if you like playing you can drive it like a slow radio controlled car.

The box includes a number of spares for the vacuum parts; a detailed manual, as well as a roll of magnetic plastic you can lay on your floor to act as a virtual wall. This style of virtual wall isn't very practical as its about 1cm high and 2-3cm wide. You can hide them under a rug; but that doesn't really work for me. I don't think this is as convenient as the powered walls that iRobot use; it doesn't use batteries though. I tried it the botvac on my open first floor without a virtual wall and it didn't leap to its death so it must have some fall sensors in it.

The Neato is without a doubt a far superior vacuum to the Roomba - the floor is far cleaner with the Neato than it is with a Roomba - the easiest way to notice is looking in the corners - something the braava was taking care of before. Running the braava over the floor after the roomba always picked up a noticeable amounts of dust (over a 15m2 wooden floor it was visible on the pad). It still did with the Neato but far far less than previously. I was pleasantly surprised by the vacuum power of the Neato and frankly coming home and finding it docked in its charging station is a revelation having been used to playing hunt the roomba when i got home.


Medisana BS 430 Connect Body Analysis Scale with Bluetooth
Medisana BS 430 Connect Body Analysis Scale with Bluetooth
Price: £53.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Good Value Accurate Measurements and easy to set up, 6 Dec. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
November, December 2015 became the month of testing smart scales. I currently have four sets of them at home; including the 430's more expensive brother the Medisana 440. The 430 scales have a nice sleek look and the weight they measure agrees within 1% of the Beurer and Withings scales I already had at home. The surface of the scales have a circular pattern of metal that allow the scale to measure the conductivity of your body allowing it to also measure body fat, water percents as well as muscle mass. these are displayed on a blue tinted screen and if you are happy there you can use the scales as you would an old fashioned spring scale; read the screen and remember the values each time.

Where the smart scales come into their own is when you join them up with the VitaDock+ app on your phone (and on the Medisana website.) The app talks to the scales using bluetooth (on the iPhone you set this up in the app which makes me think its bluetooth 4.) The app stores and makes it far easier to read than on the screen on the scales themselves; it also displays the value and allows you to see trends over time. The Vitadock+ website is far superior than the app ( right now the app (at least on the iPhone) is fairly unpolished and far behind the withings equivalent - but the app can be improved over time without impacting the scales so things should get better. The data on the iPhone also syncs happily into HealthKit which does display the data in a better way than the provided app.

The BS430 looks really nice; and is priced very competitively against similarly featured scales. They were easy to connect to my iPhone - thanks to using bluetooth rather than wifi. I also have the Medisana blood pressure monitor and the two work happily side by side; so it looks like Medisana will be building a range of equipment out like Withings - only with more competitive price points.

As it stands today; the app is a little basic (if you don't have smart scales it is still years ahead of remembering or using a notebook.) The website improves the presentation; and if you have an iPhone you can use healthkit to see the data and trends cleanly. The BS430 is very competitively priced; and does the main job of taking weight measurements.

I don't put much weight on the app at present as apps evolve over time - right now it works and displays readings clearly - i would just like better trend and raw data displays. Using an iPhone lets me see the data in HealthKit alongside information from other devices in one place which paints a single picture. The website does show the information and trends more clearly (as well as letting you get a list of raw readings if you need them for a health provider.)

The BS430's round metal on white design also looks good and will fit into modern bathrooms well. Its primary job taking your weight is accurate, fast and easy to use 5*.


Medisana Number BU 550 Connect Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor with Bluetooth
Medisana Number BU 550 Connect Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor with Bluetooth
Price: £58.04

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Monitor; the app is currently a gem in the rough, 1 Dec. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I had the misfortune of being dragged to A&E a year ago after a misdiagnosis by my GP. When they took my blood pressure it was sky high and I started to get the talk about managing blood pressure. Luckily I regularly monitored my BP using another blood pressure monitor and app and was able to demonstrate my normal BP was considerably lower. My BP is usually just under the amber grade of the WHO scale; and regularly taking readings lets me take steps to manage my BP and keep it down without drugs.

The Medisana BU500 Blood Pressure monitor is an app capable blood pressure monitor; but its one you can use stand alone if you aren't ready to put your data onto your phone. Out of the box you need to connect the cuff to the monitor; slip your arm inside the cup and press the on button. It then quickly takes a reading; that agrees with the values from my previous blood pressure monitor. The screen shows your blood pressure as well as a clear indicator against the WHO traffic light guidelines for blood pressure monitoring; the impact of these are clearly outlined in the manual in the box.

Connected to the VitaDock+ app you get a nice chart of the readings on your phone; though you can't get a readings list from the app - if you enable the vita dock website to access the information you can get a list from their to share with your doctor.

The Medisana Blood Pressure monitor is excellent; the cuff seems big enough for the biggest arms, and the display is very clear. The app isn't as polished as some of the competitors but that is something they can improve. If you have an iPhone you can export the data to health kit which does give you some extra options for viewing and sharing the details. The website will let you get the data you might want to send to a doctor if you need it.


Logitech Harmony Elite
Logitech Harmony Elite
Offered by Technology Solution
Price: £229.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Harmony Hub Yet, 1 Dec. 2015
This review is from: Logitech Harmony Elite (Accessory)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have been using programmable home cinema remotes at home for over 15 years; and remember the nightmares programming them using them. When the Harmony remotes came along; the difficulty in programming them was fixed; but the remotes themselves were a little clunky. When the original Hub;s came out using my iPhone as the remote seemed a great step forward. I was lucky to get the original to test and have eagerly watched them evolve over the last few years. At the outset the app wasn't as good as it could have been; but logitech got in touch with me and other users and have rapidly and consistently improved the app. Today you can run the app on your tablet or PC and its via the Harmony Hub you have a great way to watch TV or control HUE Lights.

That brings me onto the Elite; Harmony Elite comes in a really nice box. Inside it is a hub; a touchscreen/ button remote as well as a charging station and two extension Infrared repeaters (as well as USB power sources for the hub and remote dock.) If you hide your AV equipment inside cabinets or a cupboard the repeaters let you control devices in multiple cabinets; or get IR signals to your TB from inside a cabinet. The feature that takes the elite to another level from the previous remotes is the remote control. First up it recharges itself; secondly the screen has a nice resolution, it has a responsive touch screen- like the one on your phone - and not the mushy ones on harmony's of yesteryear. Having been using the Harmony app for the past year I am aware of its biggest deficiecy which is having to unlock the phone and wait for it to connect to the hub - on a tablet its great as the battery life can keep going; on a phone it slowly drains the battery.

Setting up the Harmony can be done from the app on your phone or on a downloadable app on your computer. For most all devices you don't need to have the original remote as you can program it with the make and model of the device. Logitech have the codes on their servers and it downloads them to your phone / remote.You can keep the setup simple and control each device separately; or you can setup actions that control multiple devices in one go.I have a simple watch TV that powers on my tv and sets my lights. I also have Watch Apple TV; that powers on the TV and sets it to the Apple TV input. You can extend these a long way; so my home cinema action included powering on my projector, bluray player, av amp and really lowering the lights.

Im a cable cutter so don't watch any broadcast TV; the Harmony app will however let you program the channels onto your remote so you can quickly jump to your Favorites. For me this means I can get to the netflix app on my tv with a single button.

The logitech Harmony elite hits the spot. I have had one with a less smart remote; the remote didn't have the screen so it wasn't as clear what you are doing so I mostly used the app on my phone and tablet to control my devices. The remote in the elite package is simply outstanding; its easy to use feels great in your hand and is really responsive. Previous Hub's were good and became progressively better. The Harmony Elite truly is the best programmable remote I have had.


iDOO "Odin" { 3 Coils } Foldable Qi Wireless Charger Stand for All Qi-enabled Devices - Black and Metallic
iDOO "Odin" { 3 Coils } Foldable Qi Wireless Charger Stand for All Qi-enabled Devices - Black and Metallic
Offered by Energia Team
Price: £65.45

5.0 out of 5 stars QI Pad and Phone Stand in a nice looking package, 28 Nov. 2015
The Odin QI Charging pad looks pretty good on my desk and matches nicely with my computer and other accessories. The Odin gets its power from a Micro USB cable (there is one in the box); your existing phone charger is likely sufficient to work as the power source. The cable plugs into the back of the long end of the aluminum colored base. its all plastic but the base has an aluminum finish that contrasts nicely with the matt black. Most QI chargers are lie flat which makes it harder to see the screen when you are using it; the Odin has a pivot so you can angle it to see the screen whilst your phone rests and charges. If you want to use it lie flat you can; and the little lip that folds out as you pivot the stand that supports your phone as you angle the stand. Thanks to the 3 coils in the pad charging your phone is simply a matter of putting it on the charger; pads with less coils need you to put your phone into a sweet spot to get maximum power out of them which makes them harder to use.

I used the Odin with my iPhone which doesn't have QI charging built in and got its power via a QI converter case ( Energia { iPhone 6 QI Case.) It makes it very simple to top the charged in the phone up; it charges at the speed of a standard USB 1amp socket so if you are in a rush you may still want to be able to charge via a 2amp socket to fast charge up.

QI makes charging your phone very simple; and its increasingly winning support with QI pads rolling out in public places like starbucks. On your nightstand or on your desk the Odin looks good and being able to use a QI Pad as a phone stand really works for me; in the office its particularly useful; as it removes the need to unplug the phone from the charger every time it rings making it easier to answer the phone when it inevitably rings.


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