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Chris Hoare "Chris" (UK)
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Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock HF3505/01 with Sunrise Simulation - 2 Natural Sounds and Radio
Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock HF3505/01 with Sunrise Simulation - 2 Natural Sounds and Radio
Price: £55.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3rd Time, 13 Nov 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As winter nights draw in the benefit of my light up alarm clock is made more apparent each morning. This is the 3rd iteration I have used; and it sits at the lower end of the current wake up series. I have been using the more expensive HF3520 as my alarm clock for about a year now and would recommend it to anyone. What we have in the 3505 is the main advantage of the slowly lightening lamp that allows you to wake up feeling more awake - and your eyes don't have that morning aversion to bright lights. I have found the wake up light over time to be very good at waking me up feeling better rested than a straight alarm clock - and the light is considerably less harsh than a pure SAD lamp.

What you lose out on with the 3505 compared to the more expensive models are

1) The light isn't as bright as the more expensive one though in my settings I use about the same brightness on both - you do have less control over the light on the 3505.
2) There is only one alarm setting; I have a weekend / weekday programmed on my main alarm clock - you can do this manually but it feels a bit stingy to leave it off.
3) only 2 robot sounds to wake you compared to the 5 on offer.
4) The light is only yellow the more expensive one goes from reddy orange to yellow as it gets brighter. Though the benefit of this is mostly lost on me as I'm asleep when its red.
5) the 3520 has an internal battery to keep you going in the event of a power cut.

The 3505 is still blighted by the philips interface which like the FM radio is a refugee from another era - though it is actually slightly improved over its more expensive brother - all the buttons are on the face which does make it easier to use in the dark (the 3520 has buttons around the edge) it is still difficult to use as a radio or program the alarm itself. A big issue with the 3505 is when the power fails the alarm clock loses everything which is very disappointing - and you can't put a battery in to keep it going. This is supplemented by a disappointing FM radio on both models.

When you open the package and feel how small and well made it is the 3505 feels like a great premium product. Ultimately the lack of battery backup makes this a poor choice of an alarm clock as any small power cut will stop you getting to work on time. It sounds like I'm down on this as an alarm clock - compared to a ringing alarm clock the wake up light experience is a much better way to wake up; compared to the more expensive Philips alarm clocks you can see where they have cut costs and decide where the line is drawn for you. 3*s


Sony QX100 Lens Style Camera for Smartphones and Tablets - Black (20.2MP, Carl Zeiss F1.8 Lens, 3.6x Optical Zoom)
Sony QX100 Lens Style Camera for Smartphones and Tablets - Black (20.2MP, Carl Zeiss F1.8 Lens, 3.6x Optical Zoom)
Price: £299.00

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Breaks Conventions; tries your patience, 24 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Compact camera's have had the same rectangular shape for decades now. The QX100 arrives in a cylindrical box; and inside is a cylindrical camera (and a USB cable and tiny manual - there isn't a USB power charger.) Out of the box the QX100 certainly gets attention; everyone who has seen it has played a guessing game with me to its identity and purpose.

Its fair to say few people that played along with me guessed it was a Camera those that did were helped by the Carl Zeiss Lens square and markings on the lens front. From looking and picking it up it no one guessed it was a quality camera hiding inside the cheap plastic finish. None of the contestants were impressed about how long it took to frame and take a photo after pressing the fiddly and unresponsive power button. Those who stayed to look at the photos were more than impressed. The issue is the camera uses your phone as its screen and optionally as the shutter release. The main design feature of the lens are two feet that pop out and clip to your camera' sadly there isn't a standard mark on the camera to show you orientation it would be nice to have a gunsight line for landscape and portrait. Inside the fat round black body of the lens you can insert a micro sd memory card; as well as the battery that powers the camera. There is a USB slot for connecting it for charging or downloading photos to your computer; the charging slot is one you might use a lot as I found the slow start up times meant I kept the camera on whilst i was testing it rather than powering it on and off - this drained the battery on the camera quickly as well as the one on my phone.

The Sony Play Memories application is available on Android and iOS systems and I tried it with my iPhone 4s and Samsung Galaxy S4. The features of both applications seem to be the same; the build quality not so much.On both apps you only have limited camera controls - there isn't much of a manual so I have no idea the difference between iAuto and Superior Auto. Given the canvass the 1080p screen on the S4 offers its a shame that there aren't more manual mode options - only Program Auto and Aperture Priority are available. You can control the focus on both apps with touch to focus; or switch to manual focus when the metal round around the lens becomes a focus ring. On either app pressing the shutter release there was a definite lag; there is a shutter release button on the side which responds immediately so i quickly found myself using that. Neither of the apps tags the photos with the GPS coordinates; but the camera's clock is synchronised with your phones on connection.

iPhone 4s

On the iPhone the app is pretty good; with a manageable couple of second lag when moving the lens about; and it was quick to transfer photos over when you take a photo. As my iPhone is only a 32Gb (and its mostly full of music) I set the app to transfer 2Megapixel images over after taking a shot. You can transfer the full 20megapixel images over if you have the space (on android i tried this and whilst the transfer of the 2mp image took 5 seconds on the larger images it took 23s to transfer and the phone had to do some work to display the image back.

Galaxy S4 (Android)
The stability of the Sony app on my iPhone was missing on the Galaxy S4. In fact my first world issue was when i wanted to use the lens with my S4 I often found the iPhone had grabbed the wifi connection -and despite the NFC the camera didn't connect to the S4 without forcefully disconnecting it from the iPhone. When the app worked the lens had less lag on the S4 than the iPhone - though using the camera with the bigger screen was a much better experience. Transferring full size images is more of a proposition here thanks to the S4's own Micro SD slot.

If you don't want to connect to a phone; you can shoot from the hip but the settings are locked to the last time it was connected so it can be hit and miss.

Image and Video Quality
All that said still Image quality (JPG only - there is no RAW here) is very sharp; and when zoomed all the way out the F1.8 sensor has good bokeh for a compact camera. Together the image sensor and lens combination are first rate; the lens having a 4 times zoom that you can control via the app; a toggle switch on the lens or via a metal ring around the lens. When you zoom in the lens does distort images a little but you can correct it easily in a photo library these days. Despite not having a flash the lens works into winter pub levels of light slowly ramping up the ISO (you can't set it) Im not sure why but Sony don't even try and use the LED flash on the phone; and it doesn't try and use the LED light on your phone - so once the light levels drop the noise levels go up and there isn't a whole lot you can do about it.

Video for some reason is shot at a reduced 1440 x 1080p rather than 1920 x 1080p that modern full HD screens are looking for - when you play it back you get black bars on the sides or the image will be stretched to fit. It shoots that at 30fps and the bit rate is around 12mbs MP4 so its a nice solid image but not quite right.

Summary
The selling point of the QX100 seems to be to take better photos and video than your camera phone can and still allow you to share them quickly with others. Its a brave new camera category probably sitting alone with the Canon PowerShot N both of which are new format cameras designed to make it easier to share images. Ultimately after hundreds of photos Im still struggling to click with the QX100; partly its because the size and shape that make it an impractical camera to carry around but mostly its the delay in taking a photo when something unexpected happens. To get the camera connected to my iPhone and take a photo could easily take 20-30 seconds. The camera I normally have in my Bag is the Canon PowerShot SX280 this has a traditional rectangular camera shape; and it fits into most pockets; it too has wifi and an app on my phones. From pressing the power switch its ready to shoot with its screen powered up in about 3 seconds. I would rather get the photo and spend time afterwards connecting the camera to my phones wifi afterwards to share it to the world than the other way around. That said the software on the Canon isn't likely to get upgraded and Sony has a chance to improve theirs and add more features; so hopefully over time Sony will make it a better world. I am giving it 3*s for the sharp images and Sony's push into new territory.


Kärcher Window Vac Extension Pole
Kärcher Window Vac Extension Pole
Price: £24.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If only it was a bit more flexible, 24 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Karcher window Vac extension pole; is built to work with Karcher window cleaning vacuums. In the box you get an extension pole; a new window cleaning head and a replacement squeegee head for the vacuum itself. The extension set works great if you can stand below your window and move it up and down. Sadly I have to stand to the side (my windows open into my apartment.)

The socket at the top of the pole where the cleaning attachments connect is adjustable inline with the pole; but right side to side; which means you can't have any twisting action. For people who can stand outside and clean their windows having a rolling socket would have allowed you to clean more of your windows from a single point without having to move around whilst keeping the cleaning surfaces in contact with the window.

The Karcher vac on the pole still does a far better job than the simple squeegee i was using before; it would be easier to use with more adjustments.


Belkin Cat5e Snagless UTP Patch Cable (Blue) 3m
Belkin Cat5e Snagless UTP Patch Cable (Blue) 3m
Offered by MINERVA PRICE
Price: £2.10

5.0 out of 5 stars Great cable for running through short trunking, 14 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Belkin snagless cable lived up to its name; I had to feed it through the cable run of my AV unit and tried it without the duct tape I would have used to protect the clips before. I made it the 2m from socket to router quite easily. Its comfortably handling the traffic i am routing around my network despite being routed with several power and HDMI cables which suggests the shielding is working well.

My Snagless is a vivid blue which keeps it apart from the other cables; it feels like a quality cable and has good connectors. 5*s


LG IPS234V-PN.AEK PS 23-inch Widescreen LED Monitor (discontinued by manufacturer)
LG IPS234V-PN.AEK PS 23-inch Widescreen LED Monitor (discontinued by manufacturer)

4.0 out of 5 stars Vesa Mounted, 14 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The IPS234V-PN (Snappy Name) LG X Monitor matches visually my 2012 LG monitor allowing me to have a pair of near identical monitors. Both come with VESA mounts and I have each of them on a monitor arm to clear some space under the desk. The Screen does come with a desk stand but it is a wobbly when mounted on it.

The 2013 does look brighter than its older brother. The IPS234V-PN (still enjoying the name) ticked my connection boxes by adding an HDMI input to the HDMI and VGA sockets of last year. In the box LG Only include a VGA cable; which is a bit pointless when it can't actually render the 1980 x 1080 resolution of the screen through it (and VGA is a dying connector at this point.) Using a reasonably priced HDMI cable I was able to use the full resolution happily. Sadly LG didn't improve on the power situation; so I now have two monitor power bricks in my desk rather than one - i really dont know why they can' use a mains cable straight into the screen.

I dinged a star for the power brick it is a nice easily adjustable screen for working on; and playing the odd game of civilisation (can't speak for FPS sorry.)


Anker® 24W Dual-Port Rapid USB Car Charger with PowerIQ™ Technology for iPhone 6 5S 5S 5 4S, iPad 5 4 3 2, Air, mini, Galaxy S5 S4 S3, Note 4 3 2, Tab 4 3 Pro, HTC One, PS Vita, Gopro, External Batteries and more [White]
Anker® 24W Dual-Port Rapid USB Car Charger with PowerIQ™ Technology for iPhone 6 5S 5S 5 4S, iPad 5 4 3 2, Air, mini, Galaxy S5 S4 S3, Note 4 3 2, Tab 4 3 Pro, HTC One, PS Vita, Gopro, External Batteries and more [White]
Offered by AnkerDirect
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Snug Fit; bit too long, 13 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Anker 18W dual USB adaptor is a snug fit; that said I have one in my Car at all times and another in my travel bag. It would be nice if it were a bit shorter so only the USB sockets stood proud of the power socket - as it is things catch on it from time - mainly on cars where the socket is on the vertical console bit rather than around the armrests. That said it charges phones and iPads without issue or ever feeling hot and the stiffness in the power socket has kept it in when knocked.

Its good value and the construction makes it feel like it will last a long time; after inserting and removing from half a dozen hire cars now its still stiff in the sockets which is good.


John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: Series 2 (Audiogo)
John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: Series 2 (Audiogo)
by John Finnemore
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £11.44

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars That Difficult Second Album, 13 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am a huge appreciator of Mr Finnimore's work and jumped at the chance to get my hands on Souvenir Programme Series 2. Sadly for me John hasn't gone all experimental and series 2 carries on with the original themes and builds on them but on a second listen its not as much fun. I get he doesn't listen to the archers but the jokes is done with the dumdiledum intro music and its the same with ghost stories and book reviews. The first listen it was pretty good on subsequent hearings it doesn't stand up. Doesn't stand up to the high water marks he set with souvenir series 1 or any Cabin Pressure where the jokes feel much tighter and less reheated.


Philips Shaver Series 7000, Wet and Dry Shaver with Clean and Charge System RQ1197/22
Philips Shaver Series 7000, Wet and Dry Shaver with Clean and Charge System RQ1197/22
Price: £140.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Clean and Shave, 9 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I should start by saying I have a Sensotouch 3d shaver as well as this Sensotouch 2d shaver. There is a noticable difference in price between the two though they do look quite similar. The 3d has a more complex shaving head; where each of the 3 shaving elements can move independently whilst the 2d doesn't they move as one unit. When i look at the shaving foils the 3d is more complex than the 2d one. The 3d is meant to deliver the ultimate shave and the 2d a very good shave. Both the sensotouch shavers have a very similar look and they are both nice to hold in your hand; and the articulation of the shaving head does a good job and keeping the cutting surface in contact with your skin.

I shave most days; but from sleeping in at weekends or being on a long flight I do occasionally miss a day. I have found with both Braun and Philips razors that missing a day soon leads to long hairs that track along my neck that the razor is unable to pickup; the Sensotouch 2d is no different. Philips recommend that you shave in a rotary motion and I find that this makes the Philips razors give a superior result to the Braun ones. Through this repeated contact approach; both the 2d and 3d are unusable without shaving gel. The rotary motion and large shaving area result in significant razor burn. For science I tried the 2d without gel and sure enough my neck was covered in red blotches at the end. Used with gel though the 2d gives a close shaved look and feel; though after a couple of hours there is a noticable stubble feel - albeit you can't see it yet. In use I really can't tell the difference between the 2d and 3d.

The jet clean system is designed to make it easy to clean your razor at the end of a shave. The jet clean unit though is absurdly large and doesn't fit inside my bathroom cabinets; so my razor was cleaned in the kitchen. The design of the Jet clean system; a long time ago I had the Braun equivalent and that used a sealed reservoir and was nice and clean and tidy - the philips system has a detachable bath you add liquid to from a Philips jet clean bottle -which is cheaper but liable to spills and needs to be kept away from children. The results of using the jet clean system made it look less beneficial - but this may be because I haven't used it enough to see the difference yet; or as a gel user I wash the razor more to remove the gel from its head. The cleaning is supposed to lubricate the head though my 3d one is a year old and still going strong; at the end of its life you replace the entire head (not just the foils) so like a wet razor a new head is a new shaving system - reusing the battery and motor.; so the version without the jet clean system might make more sense. As well as removing the head for replacment you can remove it to slot in a beard trimmer (the manual very carefully says its for "above the neck" use!

For travelling (and smaller bathroom cabinets) Philips have included a smaller travel charger / stand and an unprotective cloth bag and a head protecting plastic clip.

Overall the 2d is definitely better value than the 3d - the difference in shave doesn't justify the extra cost. I'm not sure of the long term value of the Jet Clean system; its bulky and adds considerable cost - so you might want to consider the models without it. I prefer the Philips rotary design over the braun foil design; though I cant use a Philips razor without some kind of lubricant to protect my skin.


No Title Available

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blazingly Fast no compromise on storage, 5 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have been using SSD's for a few years now; as the 128gb drives became more affordable in 2010 on went into my notebook; in 2012 it was 256Gb that became affordable and I upgraded my desktop. Now at the end of 2013; 1000 Gb drives are fast becoming affordable.

Putting an SSD into a reasonably modern computer with a hard disk for storage is by far the most effective upgrade you can do. Before I installed it into a computer though I wanted to do some hard performance testing using my trusty Seagate Thunderbolt Adapter this is the absolutely fastest way I have of moving data between computers; and I had been using an old drive replaced when installing an SSD. I would regularly get write speeds of around 30 MB/s and I was far from upset about that to the hard drive which mean I could quickly copy files. Using the 840 Evo this went up to 160MB/s for writing so it was about 5x faster than my old hard disk. Doing it the other way around to my 1 year old Samsung 250Gb SSD; the performance was telling - 110MB/S. What this meant in the real world is my new drive wrote the file in about 6 minutes; the old drive took just over 10 minutes a handy improvement ear on year- the hard drive took about 30.

Wanting to get that performance benefit in my last remaining hard disk equipped computer. Instead I spent 40 minutes following some easy to use instructions (and easy to find on the net) dissembling my Mac Mini Server; replacing one of the two hard drives in with the SSD. This was by far the most time consuming install - into my Macbook Pro it took under 10. Running from the old disk my Mac Mini booted in about 30 seconds; from the SSD its about 5 seconds; and most of that is the pre-boot testing. Its not just booting that benefits; Chrome is open before i have stopped clicking. Adobe Lightroom is considerably more usable as you jump between the tabs. I reinstalled my computer from scratch; if you don't want to do that there is a disk to help you clone your old disk - it doesn't come with the cables for that but amazon have a number of USB - SATA adaptors that will do the job. The 1Tb of storage being of great benefit with photos and video; I can work on a section of my library locally before pushing it back out to my Drobo for archiving.

If the 1Tb is beyond your budget there are 750 and 512Gb capacity models with pretty much the same performance; if you are finding your computer slow going its a fantastic way to revive an old computer.


Canon EOS 100D Digital SLR Camera - (EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens,18MP, CMOS Sensor) 3 inch LCD
Canon EOS 100D Digital SLR Camera - (EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens,18MP, CMOS Sensor) 3 inch LCD
Price: £469.00

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look through the lens, 10 Sep 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There is an old adage that the best camera to use is the one in your pocket. To that end there are a lot of Camera's on the market from the one on your cellphone; tiny pocket cameras with enormous zooms through to enormous professional ones. The Canon 100d is primarily a compromise Camera; it has a lot in common with the Canon 700d which is about 25% bigger but the same sensor and software. That said its half the size of my current SLR though it is twice the size of my Sony Nex 5N compact system camera (its an SLR without the viewfinder and mirror.) I think that things being equal most people would rather have the smaller camera. Having used the 100d for a month I prefer it over the Nex 5n greatly; the Nex is simply too small. My Sony has a
virtual interface accessed via a touchscreen; the 100d keeps the touchscreen but has physical controls where you need them. You can always see the mode dial on the 100d so you dont turn your camera on to find yourself in twilight mode after you press the shutter release. In bright light you can look through the lens to take a picture; something its always good to be able to do. Like the Nex5 if you choose to take pictures using the touchscreen rather than the eyepiece; the 100d's allows you to control the focus of the camera by
touching the screen and once a subject is checked the 100d will image
track slower moving objects as the camera moves around - allowing you
to frame your shot nicely before you take it. Unlike the Nex5 - in video mode touching the screen results in cinema style focus pulling; the focus change is quick but smooth and without a lot of focus hunting.

Taking still photos in automatic mode results in nice sharp well-exposed images and the sensor/ lens combination. The higher image quality continues through lower light conditions; though the 100d is eager to switch to using the flash whenever it can. Thanks to some high sensitivity and the kit lens image stabilization (and a night twilight mode) the flash isn't always required. The lens autofocus motor is audible as it operates hear operate as it focuses though - its not massively loud but people will hear it. I mostly take landscape and cityscape photos so the autofocus noise wasn't an issue - especially on the Windy Peak district day I first tested it with. The wide-angle end of the lens was good at this; taking fairly distortion free images despite the wide angle of view. At 55mm the zoom doesn't take you into the action but if you are taking pictures of friends and family its a nice lens for portraits.

Canon has made a huge leap in their software from where they were 2 years ago; but the Sony software in my Nex is still has more functions than the Canon. Sweep panorama images and a much faster image burst rate are both in the Nex's favour. The Canon can take significantly better photos thanks to its better autofocus and vastly superior video.


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