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Profile for P. Kendell > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
P. Kendell (Wokingham, England)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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Philips Sonicare HX8911/04 HealthyWhite+ Electric toothbrush
Philips Sonicare HX8911/04 HealthyWhite+ Electric toothbrush
Price: £49.99

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Works well, but expensive and takes some getting used to, 15 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is quite a pricey electric toothbrush, but it's pretty effective.

The good points:

- Like all sonic toothbrushes it gives a good clean. My hygienist supports their use, but reminds me that as this kind of toothbrush doesn't have a rotary action it may not clean in the gaps unless you rotate it yourself.
- It has three power settings and two cleaning methods, for a total of six. If you are new to electric toothbrushes - especially the sonic kind - this allows you to start gently and work up to full power as you get used to it.
- It comes with just one head which is designed to help with whitening your teeth, presumably when used with a whitening action toothpaste.
- It uses a Lithium-Ion battery which goes a long time between charges.
- It has a timer to tell you when to move the brush from one quadrant of your mouth to the next.

On the other hand:

- It's expensive when compared with similar toothbrushes that don't have speed control. Considering that the only difference in manufacturing cost is a simple switch and a few lines of firmware code this seems unreasonable.
- It tickles insanely when you use it on the back of your teeth. This wears off after a week or two, but it's a hurdle you have to jump.
- The battery is sealed and cannot, as far as I know, be replaced. We have become conditioned and accustomed to this by manufacturers of electronic devices, but it still feels like opportunism to me. If electric drills can have replaceable batteries, why not electric toothbrushes?
- Some people will find its noise and vibration at full power hard to deal with.
- It's not made my teeth any whiter.

I still think it's a good toothbrush, but it's worth checking out the whole range. You might find one that suits your needs and is less expensive.


Mindfulness: Living Through Challenges and Enriching Your Life in This Moment
Mindfulness: Living Through Challenges and Enriching Your Life in This Moment
by Richard W. Sears
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Densely packed with information, 3 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is not quite a manual, or how to “do” mindfulness, though there are exercises, and also advice about how to address various things that might get in the way of your practice, like finding time or feeling that you’re not doing it properly. The book includes, however, an eight-week home practice programme. The possible drawback of this is that you don’t have a tutor, but there are recordings and a lot of information on the author’s website (www.psych-insights.com).

He has had a vast amount of experience in various fields, and the book includes many anecdotes from his life, including an account of a terrifying waterfall meditation.

With sense and empathy he gives guidance on how to deal with a variety of “challenges”. While it isn't an easy read, it is easy to read.


TP-LINK NC200 WiFi Cloud Security Camera/Range Extender/Home Monitor Indoor (Easily install, configure and view with tpCamera App on iOS or Android devices, Email Alert Notification, Wi-Fi Extender)
TP-LINK NC200 WiFi Cloud Security Camera/Range Extender/Home Monitor Indoor (Easily install, configure and view with tpCamera App on iOS or Android devices, Email Alert Notification, Wi-Fi Extender)
Price: £24.95

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable performance and basic set-up is easy, but needs expertise to get the most out of it, 23 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a a camera of two halves. Two times two, actually. In some respects it's very good, in others not. It's easy to set up, but also awkward. Let's take a closer look:

Following the printed instructions included in the package and using my Android tablet, initial set-up was just about as straightforward as it could be. Plug the camera into a power outlet (TP-Link provide a handy extension power lead) and connect it to a spare Ethernet port on your network (there's a short Cat 5 cable in the box). Then download the tpCamera app from the Play Store (there is an IOS equivalent). The app finds the camera and lets you input your Wi-Fi network's SSD and password. Up it comes, and off you go. You can also sign up for a TP-Link Cloud account which allows you to view the camera remotely. The camera boots up in 25 seconds - pretty good. It can relay sound from its built-in microphone although, like other IP cameras I have tried, the quality is distinctly robotic.

All this works well enough, but it only gets you so far. More in a moment.

Picture quality from the camera is fair. Colours are well rendered both in daylight and artificial light. The image resolution only goes to a maximum of 640px*480px, which is a long way short of HD, and a little disappointing, but the picture is reasonably sharp. On a local network I found the latency to be around one second. That's in line with most IP cameras that I have tested. But... there is no provision for infra-red so the camera is useless at night-time. This is a serious deficiency if you want to use it as a security camera. The other problem with this is that it has no recording facility, so you can't go back and look at old footage. Not using the TP-Link Cloud, anyway.

If you want to monitor the camera using a PC browser rather than a mobile app, you're going to have to download a plug-in. This raises my hackles slightly. It's a security risk, and also could slow your browser down. To make matters worse, you can't use Chrome, as the plug-in is not supported.

Now - what about all those other things the camera spec says it can do, but the Cloud connection doesn't support? To access them, you're going to have to take a trip into the past. The facilities are there, but to reach them you have to go to the camera's management page by pointing a browser at its IP address and signing in as Admin. If you do that, you'l find the same list of set-up options that IP cameras have had for many years; and which TP-Link have hidden behind the scenes.

Happily, all the advanced functions that I tested worked nicely. I was able to activate motion detection and have the camera send timed snapshots to an FTP server running on a NAS on my local network (of course, without night vision this is not as useful as it could be). I could have set up Dynamic DNS to allow remote monitoring of the camera without having to go through TP-Link's servers. The Wi-Fi range extender is an unexpected bonus. I activated it and it worked well.

So in summary, basic functionality is easy to set up and works well, taking into account the camera's price point. To get to its advanced features you'll need to put your geek hat on. And lastly, the lack of infra-red limits its usefulness as a 24/7 security camera.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2015 1:19 PM BST


Everville: The Fall of Brackenbone
Everville: The Fall of Brackenbone
Price: £3.28

3.0 out of 5 stars World enough and time, 9 Jun. 2015
Everville: The Fall of Brackenbone is a fast-moving fantasy adventure which moves between the transdimensional world of Everville and Eastern Falls University, in our own world.

Although the book is said to be readable as a standalone novel, I'm afraid didn't find that to be the case and I spent quite a lot of time catching up with references to the previous books in the series. As a result I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I would have if I had already been invested in the ongoing story and characters.

Taking the book by itself, I was reminded of the bestselling Golden Age science fiction of E.E. Doc Smith, only in a heroic fantasy genre. The story is strongly plot-driven, the characters are larger-than-life and the scale of events spreads across vast expanses of space and time, and, as I have said, it's not easy to keep up with it if the reader is not already familiar with the backstory. Nevertheless, I found it a good read and I'm sure that the YA target readership will get a lot out of it.

(N.B. - I was supplied with a complimentary copy for review)


The Hebrides: 50 Walking and Backpacking Routes (British Mountains) (Cicerone Guides)
The Hebrides: 50 Walking and Backpacking Routes (British Mountains) (Cicerone Guides)
by Peter Edwards
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.88

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous guide, practical and inspirational, 2 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What a superb book this is! It succeeds at so many levels:

- It's an excellent introduction to the Hebrides, covering their geography, geology, flora, fauna, history and more.
- It's an excellent practical guide. There is a mound of useful and potentially life-saving information about the weather - which can be fierce and sudden - the hazards of river-crossing and all manner of other emergencies. There's all you need to know about transportation, camping, bothies, map-reading and dealing with the terror of the dreaded biting Highland midges.
- The routes - all 50 of them - are well described. The author (and his dog) have walked them all and taken careful notes. There are maps - although the book also lists the OS maps you will need to take with you - and realistic indications of the kind of ground you will encounter and the amount of time a walk will take. Make no mistake, none of these walks are a casual afternoon stroll in the park. They are challenging and tough.
- It's fully illustrated throughout, with excellent photos on every page.
- Readers can share their updates on the publisher's website, to the benefit of all.

But above and beyond all this, the author's love for this wild countryside shines through on every page. It's almost impossible to read it and not smell the sea-air flying on a strong westerly wind, lifting the waves and shuffling the grass. It's utterly inspirational.

There's really only thing to add. This is far too nice a book to pack in a rucksack and risk getting spoiled by the rain. It's probably best to copy out each route and mark it on your own maps, together with the author's notes. That, or take the e-Book copy with you. I'm certainly not going to let that take away the five stars this book deserves. If only it could be more...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 2, 2015 3:29 PM BST


Kensington ValuKeyboard - Wired - Black
Kensington ValuKeyboard - Wired - Black
Offered by Kikatek
Price: £9.78

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good quality basic keyboard, 27 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a simple, straightforward USB-connected wired keyboard suitable for use with Windows PCs, although Apple Macs are also supported. There's not much to choose between keyboards in this price bracket, but here are the main points I've noted about this one:

- As with most inexpensive keyboards the letters are printed onto the keys with a protective layer of lacquer on top. They will wear away in time; and quite soon if you have long nails and type with your fingertips. Keyboards with moulded-in letters are in a different price bracket, of course.
- It has has a pronounced ledge at the front which some users may find uncomfortable.
- On the plus side, it's a little heavier than some, lies nice and flat on the desktop and doesn't tend to skid around, thanks to the decent-sized rubber pads on the bottom. It doesn't creak noticeably. The key action is short but positive and easy to get used to. I haven't tested the claimed resistance to liquid spills.
- The USB plug on mine is a little fussy. It works in some sockets, but not others. I'm not sure what causes this - the non-working sockets are fine with other USB devices and when the keyboard works, it works perfectly well. This may be a one-off, or it may be a characteristic of the type of USB plug used here. All the same, it's a bit awkward and means that I cannot give the keyboard the five stars it would otherwise have merited.


LYNE
LYNE
Price: £1.58

4.0 out of 5 stars A good and quite ingenious puzzler, but not terribly exciting, 12 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: LYNE (App)
This is a decent little puzzle game with a well thought out set of training levels which lead towards some much harder stuff. But it's a bit on the dull side and best played a couple of levels at a time. You certainly wouldn't want to binge on it.


Raspberry Pi 2 Model B Desktop (Quad Core CPU 900 MHz, 1 GB RAM, Linux)
Raspberry Pi 2 Model B Desktop (Quad Core CPU 900 MHz, 1 GB RAM, Linux)
Price: £32.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RPi GTI, 6 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a very worthwhile speed upgrade on the original RPi. I have yet to try it out as a Linux desktop, but it's giving me a decent speed increase running OpenELEC. I'm sure that as OS's and applications develop that fully exploit the multiple cores of the Pi 2 we'll see them doing more heavy-lifting tasks in the real world. It's a big step forward, from being only just powerful enough (the original Pi) to having CPU to spare.


Braun Silk Epil 9 9-549 Wet & Dry Cordless Epilator with 4 Extra Attachments
Braun Silk Epil 9 9-549 Wet & Dry Cordless Epilator with 4 Extra Attachments
Price: £92.56

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Effective and easy to use, 6 April 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There are many different ways of dealing with unwanted body hair – shaving, waxing, laser treatment or by using an epilator. In case you’re not familiar with the way epilators like the Braun Silk'épil 9 work, it’s analogous to using tweezers to pull your hairs out by the roots. The main difference is that here a number of tweezer-like metal fingers are attached to a rapidly rotating roller. A mechanical linkage causes the tweezers to squeeze together and tug on the hairs as the roller passes over the skin. It’s like having many tweezers all tweezing away at the same time. There's a handy LED that illuminates the working area and a two-speed option.

So; how effective is it? At this point I hand over to my other half as I fully intend to keep all the hairs I have for as long as possible:

This is a very easy and painless method of epilating. However, I’ve been having my legs waxed for over thirty years, and the regrowth is sparse, so other people might find it painful.

A half leg wax is about £18.00, and a three-quarter wax about £23.00 (where I live), and you need to have it done every six weeks; that’s a lot of money annually. With this epilator, depending on your rate of regrowth, you also seem to need to do it every four to six weeks. (I have used it on my legs only, and haven’t used the ‘wet’ option), but you can do it at a time that suits you and in the privacy of your own home.

The Braun Silk'épil 9 comes as a complete kit, with a handy travel pouch, a charger base, a cleaning brush, and a shaver-style head. The battery seems to last for a long time, so there’s no need to charge it up continuously. This is fortunate, as the charger (in the version I got) comes with a continental-style plug which fits bathroom shaver sockets the way an electric toothbrush charger does, but not regular UK mains sockets. You’ll need to provide an adaptor if you want to charge the epilator elsewhere, as Braun don’t include one in the package.

Also included in the bonus edition is an electric facial cleansing brush which, by the way, is not rechargeable. Braun do include a couple of AA batteries for it, though. Neither my OH nor myself got on very well with this, finding it aggressive and a bit like using sandpaper. However, if your skin isn’t too sensitive you might do better than we did.

So, to wrap up, the epilator is terrific and will pay for itself in no time. The bonus brush isn’t, but that doesn’t stop me giving this excellent product five stars.


Black Closed Case for Raspberry Pi 3 and Raspberry pi 2 Model B (and B+) Great for XBMC users
Black Closed Case for Raspberry Pi 3 and Raspberry pi 2 Model B (and B+) Great for XBMC users

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but lacking features, 28 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This case is OK - it does the basic job - but it's missing a thing or two that would make it a good general-purpose case.

- There's no external access to the SD card.
- There's no way to feed the ribbon cables for a camera or display through the case.
- Screw holes are provided to fix the RPi into the case, but no corresponding screws are supplied with it.
- Receptacles for feet are moulded into the base but no rubber feet are supplied so the case can skid across a surface.

These limitations don't especially matter to me as I've tucked it behind my TV as a dedicated Kodi (was XBMC) box. And, to be fair, the case is described as "closed" and "suitable for XBMC" but there are other, better cases out there if you're looking for a bit more.


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