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Reviews Written by
Chris Hoare "Chris" (UK)

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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: £68.00

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.

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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: £519.00

19 of 22 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: £42.67

12 of 14 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 Sleep System: Wake-up Light and REM Sleep Tracker
Withings Aura Sleep System: Wake-up Light and REM Sleep Tracker
Offered by sotel-electronics
Price: £289.58

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*

Philips M120G/10 In.Sight Wireless HD Home Monitor (Pack of 2)
Philips M120G/10 In.Sight Wireless HD Home Monitor (Pack of 2)
Offered by Oxid7
Price: £99.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Cameras; expensive service, 30 Dec. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Philips In.Sight Wireless Home monitors come with 2 sleek, wifi only cameras in the box. As well as the cameras you get a manual to get you going; two usb wall chargers and 2 fairly long USB cables to let you position the cameras where you want. To assist you in that there is also wall mounting plates and screws so you can attach the cameras to a spot more permanently.

Philips has made some nice looking camera's; they are powered by a USB cable there are two sets of USB sockets and cables in the box; though you can use other USB power sources and they work fine. The cameras can be wall or ceiling mounted using the parts in the box; the attached base acts as a shelf stand; and allows for a reasonable adjustment in position. The cameras don't have any motor so once you select an angle that is what you are going to get on the feed.

Besides making the camera's look sleek Philips has done an outstanding job on making them easy to set up. You need an Apple or Android smartphone (or Tablet) and to download the Philips app. Once the app installed; setting the cameras up is all done from your phone. You step through a wizard about the name and network the camera will use etc) and a barcode is displayed on your phone; which when shown to the camera triggers the camera to configures itself. This completely removes the complexity of initial setup - there are no temporary networks; its all done and checked on your phone and then the camera just works.

Once connected up the App still controls everything; and shows a live stream from all your cameras. Sadly there is no way in the app to record the video stream using the app (you can take screenshots in the app.) The only way to record video from the cameras is with Philips paid service that will record alerts from £7.99 a month (there is a short trial including with the cameras.) If you don't want to pay for the service the camera's can alert your phone to an alert which includes a still photo (visible in the app) but you only get video recording using the paid service. On my 4g iPhone the streaming video quality is excellent in day and low light modes.

If you aren't using these as a security camera rather a nanny/ granny cam you can actually talk back through the camera from your phone; likely a bit strange to the people at the other end at first but the volume is impressive - and probably a nice way to reminding the kids you are watching.

The Philips In.Sight cameras are the second home Camera's I have reviewed recently; the video quality and ease of setup and ongoing use of blows away the other system. Getting an alert when someone entered my flat whilst on another continent as soon as it happened with a photo of the persons face; they were permitted entry. For those times where that isn't the case is where Philips falls ; I am not convinced that buying the cameras and then paying for the recording feature as an add on doesn't make the overall cost onerous. For the initial cost of the camera's I believe there should be something included for more than 2 weeks including in the cost of the camera - or the camera's should support sending video clips by email or ftp without the need of using the philips service. So the cost of the service dinged a star; if you can save on your insurance by using them it may make it worthwhile for you. The

Zomei® Ultra Slim HD 18 Layer Super Multi-Coated SCHOTT Glass PRO Density Neutral Gray ND1000 Lens Filter - 82mm
Zomei® Ultra Slim HD 18 Layer Super Multi-Coated SCHOTT Glass PRO Density Neutral Gray ND1000 Lens Filter - 82mm
Offered by jooice
Price: £39.93

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars That long exposure bug, 30 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought the Zomei Super Slim filter to take on Vacation; I wanted to take some dreamy long exposures without having to use F22 or a stack of square ND filters as I have done in the past. Using 10d filter of the waters around Fiji and it did the Job well enough. At the wide end of my 16-35mm lens the filter wasn't visible which ticks the slim box; as i have tried other filters that vignetted. The filter does color cast but it was even over the frame and as such it was easily corrected in Lightroom. The photos are some of the most interesting i took on vacation; and it has given me a long exposure bug.

Bitdefender Total Security 2015 - 1 year - 3 users (PC)
Bitdefender Total Security 2015 - 1 year - 3 users (PC)
Offered by Esale Express
Price: £17.78

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just stay away from Optmise, 30 Nov. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The first time I installed Bit Defender Total security I made a mistake; one of the features is a PC optimisation routine. I ran that and spent the next day setting my computer up again as it had broken all my applications - to the point that a system restore wouldn't recover them.

Lesson learnt and needing a computer I reinstalled windows and set my machine up again. I reinstalled Bitdefender (For science) only this time I didn't run the Fast Tune Up optimisation application and just ran the comprehensive suite of anti virus applications - that check your machine; run in your browser and scan emails in Outlook. As a virus scanner it has caught emails that my office system let through and removed the content. Its hard to gauge performance as I ended up running it on a freshly built PC: but it doesn't feel slower and the history clearly shows it paging through and checking my files all the time.

Setting up the application to work they way you want is done through a jargon free interface - Protection, Privacy as well as a huge raft of extra tools like Safepay which helps protect you from phishing or false sites. In my experience just keep away from the one called Optimize.

The Bit Defender Total security has a huge variety of features beyond the normal virusscanner; you need to judge for yourself if you would benefit from all these added extra's over the standard application. Features like 2Gb of secure online storage or the Remote wiping features of the Anti Theft functions are likely two standouts - though as I mentioned above the anti spam feature is very good.

As for the most important thing the virus scanner is regularly rated as the best on the market; the Total Security Suite comes with an awful lot more besides it. 3* because Optimise is dangerous the rest of the suite is excellent.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 26, 2015 11:25 PM BST

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