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The Fat Monk (UK)

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Philips QG3362/23 12-in-1 Waterproof Complete Facial/ Hair Trimming and Styling Multigroom Set
Philips QG3362/23 12-in-1 Waterproof Complete Facial/ Hair Trimming and Styling Multigroom Set
Price: £34.95

2.0 out of 5 stars Quality trimmer let down by poor attachments, 13 Jan 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I made an absolute mess of my beard with this.

Basically the main trimmer body is of good solid quality but the attachments are made of poor soft plastic.

This means that it is difficult to get a consistent trim as the plastic flexes too much.

Add to this the fact that the numbering on the attachments do not match other products. My sideburns are trimmed to a 'number 4' by the barber (using a Wahl trimmer), but even the 6mm here seems far shorter than than (unless it's just that plastic flex again). The numbers are nothing like my Remington trimmer either.

So, after struggling once and making such a mess I'm back on the Remington - I may give this another go, and it may be better at more serious trimming than beard trimming, but I cannot recommend at this point.

Dymo Rhino 4200 Labelling Machine with QWERTY Keyboard
Dymo Rhino 4200 Labelling Machine with QWERTY Keyboard
Price: £58.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good quality print, rugged case, but some limitations, 5 Dec 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
- Good rugged rubberised case so should take knocks well.
- Easy to use, and the QWERTY keyboard is far better than an ABC keyboard as found on many labellers.
- Clear, backlit display.
- Can use various label tape sizes and styles (around 10-15 pounds each on Amazon)
- Can print a variety of layouts incl multi-line, horizontal, vertical, flag and barcodes.

- No PSU supplied so needs batteries (Dymo website didn't list this model when I checked so I can't even find an official PSU!)
- Just one font - a selection of two or three would have been nice.
- Limited selection of symbols available.
- No PC interface.

All round very good at what it does, but not the most versatile out there.

Corel PaintShop Pro X6 (PC)
Corel PaintShop Pro X6 (PC)
Price: £34.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantasitic graphics and photo software, now 64bit - but not much changed since X4/X5., 2 Dec 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The introduction of a 64bit version of PSP greatly speeds things up on a 64 bit machine. Sadly, however, manly of the plugins supplied with PSP are 32bit only and so if you want to take advantage of that extra sped you'll still have to install and revert back to the 32bit version (also included) to use those.

Other than the 64bit version and a couple of cosmetic tweaks there's very little changed here from the excellent PaintShop Pro X4.

Since X4 I've always gone for the 'Ultimate' version as the bundled plugins seemed worth the extra. With X6 I can't say the same and would recommend just going for the standard version. If Corel had managed to get hold of 64bit versions of those plugins then maybe I would have been convinced, but not when they are only 32bit and therefore need you to run the 32bit version to use them.

My PaintShop Pro X4 Ultimate review has full details of why I love PSP over any other graphics and photo editing package - it's not just a photo editor, it's a FULL vector graphic creation tool.

If you have any PSP version from X3 back, then this is a very worthwhile upgrade. If you have X4 or X5 then I wouldn't bother unless you regular edit massive graphics files and would therefore benefit from the extra speed the 64bit version brings.

One final note, Corel have already released Service Pack 1 for PSP X6. Sadly reports are that if you can get past the myriad installation problems (corrupt packages!) then the SP actually breaks a few features as well so is probably best avoided for now.

Samsung Slim Retail External 3D Blu Ray Writer
Samsung Slim Retail External 3D Blu Ray Writer
Offered by ADMI Limited UK
Price: £63.50

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Does not have AV connectivity as claimed!, 24 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The description is very misleading:
" An A/V connection means you can hook up the SE-506AB to your TV to enjoy movies in Full HD or 3D, while the USB 2.0 port can be connected to your computer for even more options."

This implies that this device has both a USB 2.0 connection and an AV connection - ie HDMI or similar. It does not, it only has a USB connection.

The packaging claims that TVs can now support ODDs (Optical Disk Drives?) via a USB connection - well I beg to differ...

I tried this on a Sony TV and an LG TV and neither recognised the player at all - just as I expected.

I've even tried it with a Samsung TVs - a Samsung UE22F5400 22-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p Slim Smart LED TV with Built-In Wi-Fi (New for 2013) - but even that reports errors with the device and won't play anything.

The Samsung UE22F5400 does recognise the device, but I suspect that that is only as it is a Samsung TV and has special firmware. Not being able to play anything from it is a bit useless though.

Regardless of how good this is as an external reader/writer for PC use, it does not have anything that can be generally referred to as 'an AV connection'.

If you are looking for something that can be carried around as a portable BluRay player, as well as a reader/writer, then this is NOT the device.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 25, 2013 5:29 PM GMT

RHA MA750 Noise Isolating In-Ear Headphone - 3 year warranty
RHA MA750 Noise Isolating In-Ear Headphone - 3 year warranty
Price: £79.95

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Look and feel great quality - I struggled a bit with the sound quality to start with, but am getting there now., 2 Oct 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)

I really hope the emperor isn't in the nip.. if it turns out he hasn't got any new clothes and is parading around in the nuddie then I'm going to look a bit daft here.

The short version of my advice is to play 'em hard and loud for a few hours to break them in before judging the sound quality.

In my original review (below) I really liked everything about these in-ear headphones except for the most important thing - the sound (oh, and the lack of right-angled jack connector). A month on, and after about 6 weeks of use, I think things have improved significantly, hence this update to my review.

The comments to this review, from both other users and from RHA themselves, suggested that my problems with sound quality were likely to be related to finding the best fit tips for the headphones. While I have some experience with other ear-buds from other manufacturers, and while the fit and outside noise isolation with these seemed good I just could not get the sound right regardless of which tips I used.

It was actually user 'StarkRavingMad's comment that put me on the right track in the end. I'd been listening to quieter, more relaxing music generally (though had tested with everything from classical, folk, industrial dance, guitar indie and spoken word) and was generally listening at quite low level while reading on my daily commute.

After reading StarkRavingMad's comment about breaking in, I decided to crank thing sup a bit and for the last couple of weeks I've been listening to the Chilli Peppers, The Prodigy, Nine Inch Nails and Transglobal Underground at pretty high volume in an attempt to loosen up whatever needs to be loosened in these buds. (It's a testament to the noise isolation quality in these headphones that I haven't once been nudged by a fellow commuter for annoying them with the loud playback on the train).

I'm actually back on the silicone tips that I'd first settled on - the double flanged being too long for me and the foam being a bit too hard as other have commented.

The sound reproduction seems to have leveled out quote nicely. As my original review says, to start with I felt that the sound almost felt like it was being run through a couple of 'notch' filters that were dropping certain frequency ranges. That effect seems to have disappeared now. So, either the breaking in process with a few hours of loud music has worked a treat, or I've trashed my hearing by playing my music too loud. (Either that or the emperor is running around with all his glory on show and I've just got used to what everyone else thought was 'gorgeous' sound in the first place).

I still have a bit of trouble getting the buds placed correctly in my ears, but the over-ear loop really helps keep them there once that's right. And I can't give five stars because the lack of a right-angle jack was a real drop off for me. But in terms of sound quality, I uprating these a good chunk. If I could give a half I'd be upping the rating to 4.5 stars.

Revised score breakdown:
- 9/10 for build simply because there is no right angled jack connector,
- 9/10 for sound reproduction
- 10/10 for comfort and looks.

[ORIGINAL REVIEW (2/10/13): Look and feel great quality - but I'm struggling a bit with the sound quality.]

I'm actually worried about writing this review as every time I write something that is negatively contrary to the popular opinion I'm down-voted. However I have to be honest - especially when people could be forking over eighty quid for these ear-buds.

First of all the package looks absolutely brilliant. These are well constructed and well designed. They are very comfortable to wear - the over-ear molding meaning the way I've been wearing ear-buds for years is now actually comfortable! - and the cable and connectors are incredibly solid and 'industrial'.

The inclusion of so many buds - different sizes and multiple pairs of each size - including both silicone and memory foam options is very very welcome. With ear-buds getting the right fit is crucial both for noise isolation and sound reproduction (loss of bass response being a particular problem if the buds don't sit far enough in your ear). The choice here means that won't be a problem, or at least the size and fit of the buds won't be the cause of any audio quality problem.

The buds come in a pretty lavish package with a carry case and a metal plate that houses all of the bud options - the plate and phones fit in the case snuggly but without much problem.

My first criticism, however, is that the 3.5mm jack is a straight jack, not a 90 degree jack. And in a package with so many bits I was surprised to see no 90 degree adapter included. A 90 degree jack works with (almost?) any kit, but a straight jack means that any kit with a side mounted jack socket - such as my trust Cowon iAudio x5 music player - is a problem.

Indeed, after just a day and a half of use the protruding jack on these 'phones caused a recurrent fault on the x5 to resurface. The jack socket on this player is prone to dry / cracked joints and any flexing of the jack plug causes crackling audio. I ended up having to dismantle the player and re-solder the jack socket connections to get the audio back. The long term solution was to buy a 3.5mm Stereo Jack Socket to 3.5mm Stereo Male Right Angle Plug Gold to plug these phones into - that seems to have done the trick.

Now the controversial bit. I'm just not that impressed with the quality of the sound reproduction, sorry. I know that just about every review here is raving about how good they sound, but I'm just not convinced. Don't get me wrong, they don't sound bad - far from it, in fact - but they just don't sound that good either. (To put this in context I was a sound engineer for TV for a number of years and am now a broadcast systems engineer which still includes sound so I am pretty critical of audio.) My old, sadly now dead, Sony EX-71 ear-buds far out performed these in terms of audio quality and were less than half the price. When I replaced the EX-71s the replacement were close but not quite as good though the price was comparable. These are closer to those replacements than the EX-71s.

So what's wrong with the sound? I just don't find it 'full' enough. There seem to be bits missing. The top end seems a bit too much, the bottom end seems fine, but there are bits in the middle that don't seem to come through. I've fiddled with eq to try to get things right and improved things a bit, but I just don't seem to be able to get a genuinely balanced spread of frequencies. I've come directly from a set of Marley Destiny Collection TTR TrenchTown Rock Active Noise Isolating Over Ear Headphones with Mic and One Button Controller EM-DH001-IO full size cans so some eq adjustment was going to be necessary, but I've never had to play quite this much to get a set of 'phones just right.

They are definitely usable, though, and the Marleys have been packed away for now, but for eighty quid I'd expect a bit more (the old EX-71s were about thirty quid for comparison).

I expect unhelpful vote for this review as the vast majority of other people seem to find these 'insanely good' and 'gorgeous'. I'm afraid I don't. In terms of build and noise isolation they're great, in terms of audio quality I find them good and not much more than that. Note that I have tried them on my trust iAudio x5 (mp3 @256kbps, ogg and various other formats) and directly from my HiFi (CDs). Personally I just don't find the sound that impressive - I've heard better. It may be personal taste, but as I've said I find some frequencies seem to be lacking. Unusually this is not the bottom end, it seems to be a few ranges in the mid-range.

I am, however, giving them 4 out of 5 as they really are not bad headphones.

To break-down that score:
- I'd actually rate them 9/10 for build simply because there is no right angled jack connector,
- I'd give 7.5/10 for sound reproduction
- and a full 10/10 for comfort and looks.
As sound reproduction is top priority for me that has to bring the overall score down a star.

[Tested with various music styles including indie, rock, pop, dance and folk. Also a bit of a TV programme - actually it was the spoken word in the TV programme that seemed to be most faithfully reproduced.]
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 5, 2013 9:16 AM GMT

Remington WPG4030 Cordless Body and Bikini Kit
Remington WPG4030 Cordless Body and Bikini Kit
Price: £23.15

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Works well despite appearances, 17 Sep 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Slim Nun reports that she was pleasantly surprised by how effective this is despite first impressions when unpacking.

On unpacking the trimmer she thought it felt 'cheap and plasticky' and a bit 'lightweight'.

Compared with her old Philips trimmer it certainly does feel inferior, but actually in use it seems to work well. She reports that it may not be the closest shave in the world, but with a bit of perseverance you can get the job done well.

After a few hours charge the battery lasted about 10-15 minutes so it probably needs a longer charge to get a longer use out of it.

Because it is so lightweight it would make a good travel trimmer, but even for general use it seems to work well.

Micro Mini iPhone iPad 4G 4S Mobile Phone Sim Card Cutter Maker +2 Free Adapters
Micro Mini iPhone iPad 4G 4S Mobile Phone Sim Card Cutter Maker +2 Free Adapters
Offered by Deviltronics Ltd
Price: £2.17

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scary but effective, 11 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's not pretty, but then again it doesn't need to be.

It's made of solid plain metal and feels well constructed with next to no play in the hinges and mechanism - so on unpacking you should feel confident in the cutter doing the job.

The worry comes when you slip your regular size SIM card in the slot under the cutter. The fit is snug - as it should be - but that's when you realise just how close to the copper contacts the SIM is going to be cut down.

I removed and inserted a couple of time to make sure the contacts appeared dead center in hole, clenched the handles, closed my eyes and squeezed.

It takes a bit of a squeeze, but all of a sudden out pops your micro-SIM!

The edges weren't absolutely perfect - on one side it looked a little as though the plastic had pulled away from the contacts a bit - but I inserted the newly trimmed SIM into my HTC One and it was recognised straight away (i.e. the newly trimmed SIM is in perfect working order).

For the 99p I paid I cannot complain at all. My network would have charged me more than that for a replacement SIM, and it would have taken them at least a day to ship and then another day to switch my number to the new SIM. This cutter arrived next day, so 24hrs after ordering I was fully up and running with my old SIM in my new phone - keeping me connected with an interruption of less than 5 minutes.

Black & Decker Handle Command Steam Mop, 1600 Watt - White/ Blue
Black & Decker Handle Command Steam Mop, 1600 Watt - White/ Blue
Offered by The Big Boys Toy Shop
Price: £69.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to use and effective despite the marketting guff - but better packages around, 3 Sep 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This steam mop is very easy to use and maneuver and seems very effective.

When the mop arrived we were in the middle of some decorating work which had left a wooden floor covered in a dusty coating (a mixture of sanded fresh plaster and tile cutting dust). This would probably have taken a few cleans to remove fully with a regular foam type mop and floor cleaner, but the steam mop made a pretty good job of it in just one go - and that's without using the steam boost button.

Putting the mop together was very easy - I didn't have any problem getting the water bottle and handle to fit correctly and snugly as some have reported and the mop worked first time, heating up to the correct temperature in 10-15 seconds.

The marketing guff says the mop has a 'AutoSelect' technology... well this is not my definition of automatic. There are three buttons on the mop handle that allow you to select the floor type - that's about as automatic as it gets (by that definition my car automatically takes me wherever I want to go, I just have to drive it there. And my TV automatically shows me the programmes I want to watch - I just have to push the button for the correct channel at the correct time!)

That doesn't detract from the fact that the mop does exactly what it's supposed to do and seems to do it well with the water bottle looking just as full after cleaning that very grubby wooden floor of about 8 square meters as it did when I filled it.

My only criticism would be that there are comparable steam mops from other manufacturers such as the Morphy Richards Supersteam 70490 Steam Cleaner and Mop, White which come with a range of attachments that allow you to steam clean windows, tiles, curtains and upholstery. The mop reviewed here can only be used one way up due to the way the bottle fits, so curtains and windows are not possible. I'd also be a bit dubious about using this on carpets, though the spec and 'AutoSelect' buttons say it is capable of carpet cleaning.

All in all a useful and effective time saver, but it's worth looking at some of the more comprehensive kits available from the competition.

Offered by Akord Technologies Ltd
Price: £9.99

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Destroyed my 3G dongle - see Amazon user photos for damage caused, 28 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I used this in a TP Link MA260 3G HSPA+ USB Adapter and on removing the SIM this adapter managed to rip out the copper connectors inside the dongle.

As it is a clip in design (i.e. the micro-SIM clips into the adapter rather than there being a sticker to hold the SIM in place) the bottom edge of the adapter sits very very slightly proud of the micro-SIM. This very very slight edge got caught around the copper contacts and the SIM and the adapter could not be removed without force - resulting in the thirty pound 3G dongle now being completely unusable as it cannot detect the SIM (not surprising at the dongle only has three of its six contacts remaining - I have posted a captioned user image of the damage done, you can find it alongside the main Amazon product images).

This is a very handy thing to have, but the design means that it could wreck any device you install it in. Obviously the SIM slot design of the kit you are installing it in will have some influence on whether this works or not, but you won't really know if it's going to get stuck until you install it and try to remove it, by which time it is too late. The TP-Link 3G dongle I tried this in has a slight curve to the SIM slot which will have made the problem worse, and I'm sure a number of people have had sucess (if you're not intending on ever removing the SIM then you'll probably be fine) but I certainly wouldn't trust one of these adapters in any of my devices in teh future.

Loosing a thirty quid 3G dongle is bad enough, but imagine if this had been a four hundred quid new phone or a contract phone...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 12, 2013 10:36 AM BST

TP-Link MA260 3G HSPA+ Wireless USB Dongle
TP-Link MA260 3G HSPA+ Wireless USB Dongle
Price: £24.64

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beware SIM adapters, 24 July 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I purchase a Micro-SIM adapter so that I could swap the Micro-SIM from my Nexus 7 into this dongle - the dongle uses a standard size SIM.

Unfortunately the SIM slot is so tight that the adapter got completely stuck and I had to completely dismantle the dongle to remove the SIM adapter.

You may have more luck with a different type of SIM adapter - maybe one of the ones with a sticker on the back and therefore a flat back wouldn't snag in the SIM slot, but the safest option would be to just use a standard sized SIM in the first place.

[UPDATE: I purchased a regular sized SIM to try in this and it turns out that inserting and removing the Micro-SIM adapter has actually ripped three of the six copper contacts out if the SIM holder. Basically no SIM was detected so I disassembled again and took a closer look - completely irreparable! So, please heed my warning and do not use SIM adapters with this dongle - I am unable to review the item further due to mine being utterly broken! I've posted photos of the damaged dongle on the Amazon Micro-SIM adapter page]

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