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

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ARCHOS 50 Platinum 4GB UK Sim Free Smartphone - Black
ARCHOS 50 Platinum 4GB UK Sim Free Smartphone - Black
Price: £179.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocked at how good this is, 11 Feb 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I normally leave my feelings about a product till the end; but the Archos 50 Platinum is for its price fantastic.

Saying that really is a surprise to me as its been a while since I had used any Archos product; my mental image was tainted by older devices with poor slow and unusable touch screens. Opening the Archos 50 Platinum and I was confronted with a phone that is clearly a copy of my (work provided) Samsung Galaxy S4 - only the Archos FAR better made. As soon as you pick it up the Archos feels a quality product - more like the Nokia Lumia's - this is helped by the removable battery cover being very rigid and the materials whilst not as glitzy as the Samsung are far more robust. Once powered up the screen is bright; and displays text and images clearly; the phone is quick at opening apps - most everything you could want in a phone.

After a solid nights charging; i put in a Full Size Sim ! - not only is there room for a full size sim; Archos have room for two Full Size Sim sockets (And a Micro SD Card slot to expand on the Paltry 4gb of included storage.) Sadly for those sim cards one is 2/ 3g and the other 2g; but I'm not sure how many people are willing to pay for 4g until it becomes more established so likely not a problem for most people. If you travel though it does mean you can keep your UK sim in place and add a local sim (Mine is Sim free) which is great.

On its first startup I was taken through a wizard through which I configured my google account into the inbuilt google apps and watched my contacts and email sync from google. Reading my emails on the large screen was easy; the resolution isn't as high as the Samsung - but for business tasks its fine. The installed software is a Android 4.1; its untouched by Archos so you get the standard Google Apps and interface; and the ability to download the amazon app store. As an untouched android its easy to replace the standard apps with ones you would rather use from the app store. Unlike those Archos devices of old the Platinum is very responsive and surfing the web or reading your email is brisk.

The 4gb of included storage as quickly remedied with a Micro SD Card and that allowed me to test the built in camera which took respectable photos; the exposure was the big win for the phone; the resolution and noise were good but it seemed to get the exposure right in good lighting better than my Samsung. The second camera for video chatting worked find for skyping.

As I started the review; given the price I wasn't expecting something close to being as usable as the Archos 50 Platinum before it arrived. It deserves its 5*s for showing you can make a great phone with good software and camera for far less than the market leaders are charging. Sure there are things missing that my Galaxy has - but i can't remember the last time i used its built in pedometer or eye control features as they are gimics.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 2, 2014 7:53 PM BST


Cotton Men's Handkerchiefs Hankies (HH21) - Box Of 7 White by Handkerchief Heaven
Cotton Men's Handkerchiefs Hankies (HH21) - Box Of 7 White by Handkerchief Heaven
Offered by Wholesale Interiors
Price: £9.08

4.0 out of 5 stars White - Hankerchiefs, 11 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These handkerchiefs are at the lower end of the quality scale (they go transparent when wet and the thread count looks bad) but they remain above the point where I would reject them out of hand for being too low grade. They helped me survive the heat of the tropics for two weeks and survived being washed. For the price there is little to complain about really.


Sony SRS-BTS50 Wireless Portable Speaker Bluetooth with NFC - White
Sony SRS-BTS50 Wireless Portable Speaker Bluetooth with NFC - White
Price: £49.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Share your music and movies on the road., 11 Feb 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Sony SRS-BTS50 is small bluetooth speaker and microphone system; its about 80% the size of a 500ml bottle of Diet Coke; and and inside it are some speakers and batteries.

Thanks to its diminutive size for the last 3 weeks I have used it nightly for the 4 nights a week I spent in various hotels. The surprising thing was the battery held up to a couple of hours use each night 4 nights a week; so i left the charger at home.

Being bluetooth its easy to setup and use for a variety of purposes - and if you have a device with a N - nespresso like logo (for NFC) on it setup should be a question of touching your device to the logo on the speaker. Using it as an adhoc speakerphone or streaming music from my iPhone and to replace the speakers in my laptop when watching a love film. The microphone part of the Speakerphone was perhaps its weakest not really working as a speakerphone and picking up noise from the speak; but the speaker bit worked fine. Once setup and running the buttons are a nice improvement over the last bluetooth speaker I had; with a twee voice announcing Pairing mode or that the battery is somehow still at 70%. Musically its more than adequate for its size though if you are in a loud room it doesn't go especially loud - and I'm not sure it would work at parties. There are two positions you can use it in - horizontal and vertical. The sound in the vertical mode did nothing for the sound and didn't seem to improve the sound in the room I was in.

To help with portability there is a metal loop on the side; in the adverts its used with a Carabiner but Sony don't include one. It is almost mildly moisture protected - I thought great a speaker for the bathroom but the safety notices say keep away from the steam of a bathroom.

The BTS50 is easy to connect to a computer or phone; emits a nice balanced sound and the battery lasts a sensible amount of time. If you want to share your music or movies on the road - or just want better sound than your laptop can do its great. 4* (Dinged a star for the moisture protection not being especially useful.)


Anker® 2nd Gen Astro E3 10000mAh Portable Power Bank Pack External Battery USB Charger with PowerIQ™ Technology for iPhone 6 5S 5C 5 4S, iPad Air, mini, Galaxy S5 S4 S3, Note 4 3 2, Tab 4 3 2 Pro, Nexus, HTC One, Motorola Droid, Moto X G, PS Vita, Gopro, most other Phones and Tablets
Anker® 2nd Gen Astro E3 10000mAh Portable Power Bank Pack External Battery USB Charger with PowerIQ™ Technology for iPhone 6 5S 5C 5 4S, iPad Air, mini, Galaxy S5 S4 S3, Note 4 3 2, Tab 4 3 2 Pro, Nexus, HTC One, Motorola Droid, Moto X G, PS Vita, Gopro, most other Phones and Tablets
Offered by AnkerDirect
Price: £49.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charge When you need it, 30 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Anker 10,000 mAh USB charger is bigger than either of my phones; but happily charges them both up at the same time. It also happily powered up a camera that used USB power. The charger wouldnt charge my noise cancelling headphones as they didn't meet the minimum voltage to charge requirements. So for most purposes the Anker Astro is excellent.

The quality of manufacture and the fit and finish of the Charger isn't as good as I would prefer but for the price its more than adequate and as a tool to charge up devices when you are away from the mains for a few days its excellent.


Energizer CA-LPE6 Digital Camera Battery (Equivalent for the Canon LP-E6)
Energizer CA-LPE6 Digital Camera Battery (Equivalent for the Canon LP-E6)
Price: £28.45

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Workers perfectly in my 6d, 30 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Once I had cut my Energiser LPE6 out of the (annoying plastic heat sealed packaging) it charged cleanly in the canon charger; and it safely cutoff the charging without overheating. In the camera the menus aren't able to tell me about the life of the battery and the charging cycles but the battery gauge seems to reflect the state of the battery. The official EP6 part is far from cheap but you know its safe with your equipment and gives a decent number of images on a chart.

In my hands the Energiser LPe6 works very well in my Canon 6d; in the harsh winter and through tropical heat of a holiday in the far east. General Energizer batteries are quality product well made with a long life; and their EP6 replacement part does the job almost as well as the official part and honours the company name, best of all they come in at a considerably lower price.


Amazing Spaces
Amazing Spaces
by George Clarke
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

4.0 out of 5 stars Idea for tight spaces, 30 Jan 2014
This review is from: Amazing Spaces (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Amazing spaces is a nice contrast to home design magazines - there are a mixture of very expensive and expansive looking buildings as well as tardis like tiny spaces. As the various spaces (its not just homes but trailers and even a Land Rover) the book spends time showing you how it was done. After showing you lots of ideas and possibilities the last chapter covers how you can find a designer or work to achieve your own vision.


AmazonBasics USB A to Lightning Compatible Cable for iPhone 5, iPad 4, iPad mini, iPod nano 7 and iPod 5 3 Feet / 0.9 m - Apple certified
AmazonBasics USB A to Lightning Compatible Cable for iPhone 5, iPad 4, iPad mini, iPod nano 7 and iPod 5 3 Feet / 0.9 m - Apple certified
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Getting a new iPhone get some of these, 25 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Amazon really do their cables a disservice calling them basics.

The basics connectors are chunkier than some and as a result easy to use and they feel well made. Every Amazon Basics cable I have tried has worked first time. So when i finally upgraded to a 5s I had to replace my Dock connector cables all over the place... I didn't look elsewhere and just ordered 3 of these. I wasn't disappointed; they are great value, arrive in easy to open packaging are a sensible length for most every purpose and have allowed my phones to charge and sync with every device I have plugged them into. 5*.


No Title Available

1.0 out of 5 stars Sounds Good; Lack of power, 25 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Weirdly given the mixed reviews from others my Victsing black 30 pin to 8 pin adaptor delivers audio from my iPhone 5s perfectly but doesn't charge the phone up.

Decided not to waste any time looking at other third party adaptors and have ordered the official part.


Bluelounge Sanctuary 4 Charger Docking Station for Tablets & Smartphones - White
Bluelounge Sanctuary 4 Charger Docking Station for Tablets & Smartphones - White
Offered by Top-Tech-Outlet
Price: £89.95

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The key bowl gets an upgrade for 201x, 25 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have had an older sanctuary for years and I am utterly convinced by the design concept of a small place to put your keys and charge your phone when you walk in the door or besides the bed. I was looking for an upgrade as my older sanctuary no longer supports modern phones or tablets. Then I saw Bluelounge had a new version with 4 usb sockets rather than the mess of phone charging cables of the original My first sanctuary has lasted very well and looks as good as it did when i bought it so despite the price I was happy to order a new version.

The 4 usb sockets are marked inside the box clearly showing two for charging phones two for phones or tablets. When it arrives inside the box is the Sanctuary and its power source as well as a USB micro cable and most a pictorial guide on how to set it up. Printed on the manual is a code for the blue lounge website to order some extra cables at a discount (You get 1 USB micro cable in the box) from Bluelounge. The amazon basics cables were cheaper when i looked (and as a user of several I will vouch for their quality too.)

I have configured mine to charge my personal iPhone and iPad as well as my work Galaxy (A picture is attached.) Setting up the Sanctuary for my two phones and tablets took a minute; I was prepared and had cables ready before it arrived. From the USB charger you route your cables through a cable hole at one end for tablets and the other for your phones. As the tablet stands up (and tablets vary) you can adjust a bar that supports tablets whilst charging.

Coming from the previous version as soon as you get it out of the box its clear that Bluelounge have cut costs on the overall design (whilst maintaining the price.) The platform you put your phones on is no longer soft and velvety and is now plastic. The cable management system is more cumbersome than the neat holes in the previous version and for me a step backwards as my phones fit better charging sideways than lengthways.

Ultimately the Sanctuary still does the job I bought it its retired sibling to do; it is a place to throw my keys and charge my phones when i walk in the door. It looks good and on past performance lasts well. I wish they had kept the velvety top of the previous versions as it made it feel that little bit more special; but I will happily trade it for the ability to charge my phones and tablet without needing a separate charger to be plugged in.

1*s knocked off for the plastic deck and inferior cable management system otherwise its still excellent.


BRITA Dolce 3020 3 Way Water Filter Tap
BRITA Dolce 3020 3 Way Water Filter Tap
Offered by Osmio Water Filters
Price: £169.98

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.


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