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Spider Monkey (UK)
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SMS Audio SYNC By 50 Cent Over-Ear Wireless Headphones - Black
SMS Audio SYNC By 50 Cent Over-Ear Wireless Headphones - Black
Price: £199.99

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sync Headphones, 29 July 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'll admit from the start that I am a bit of a headphone collector and I own numerous pairs from Sennheiser, Beats, Sony, Bose and now these new SMS Sync ones. I should also mention that I run a music website, so I take my music listening VERY seriously.

The first thing I noticed about these headphones is the build quality. They are much better than Dr Dre's Beats headphones and you have no fear that the headband will snap like the Beats have been known to do. The molded memory foam earpieces make these very comfortable to wear for prolonged periods and whilst my ears got warm wearing them, they didn't pinch or hurt at all.

These come in a sturdy case that holds the manual, various wires, AC charger with assorted international adaptors, a wire for when you want to use these in a more traditional way and the dongle for Wireless use. Both the dongle and headphones were very quick to charge up and within a few hours I was ready to test out the wireless capabilities.

There are buttons on the outside of the earpieces which control the wireless sync, bass boost, volume and track skipping. These buttons feel very sturdy.

I have let these burn in with some solid playing for over a week now (fortunately for me I can listen to music at work and these have had some serious hours put through them already) and the sound has settled enough for me to give a reasonable appraisal of the quality. I have played a vast range of music through these to give them a fair trial from thrash metal, blues, swing, jazz, classical, world music, rock, pop, electronica, relaxation albums, spoken word/podcasts, folk, country, hip hop and rap and more besides. These handle the majority of these genres well and the sound does seem pretty balanced. The classical music didn't have too much high end as some headphones seem to produce and the bass wasn't too muddy either. This coped with all the musical styles I threw at it easily.

Sadly when I used the wireless dongle, even when sat right next to the ipod or stereo I was using at the time, the sound tended to cut out for no discernable reason. I then had to re-sync and carry on as before. This happened a few times in the first few days and I found it so disappointing I quickly reverted back to the traditional wire. When using it wireless it skipped tracks well and adjusting the volume was no problem. I found the bass boost a bit lack lustre compared to the Beats, but I have always found the Beats range too bass heavy anyway, but if bass is your thing then consider these other headphones as well.

The passive noise cancelling (I.e. using the construction and design to block out unwanted sound) was the most disappointing aspect of these headphones for me. Even wearing these indoors with no-one else in and nothing else on I could still hear things like the computer whirring or children playing outside. I have a set of Bose AE2 headphones which are vastly superior at passive noise cancelling (they are almost like industrial ear protectors they are so good) and they come at a fraction of the cost. I dread to think what my fellow commuters would think if I wore these on the train as my wife attests to the fact that there is distinct sound leakage with these. I have stuck to my beloved Bose for commuting so far.

That is another minor thing, I know it is the fashion now for big headphones, but even by that standard these seem rather large and I wouldn't want to carry these with me on a long haul flight due to the size alone.

Finally, despite the good sound quality of these I have to say that again the Bose are superior at a fraction of the cost. I have tried so many headphones over the years and after trying these, Dr Dre Beats and even some excellent Sennhesiser (that also have better passive noise cancelling than these!) I have to say the Bose wins every time. That's not to say you shouldn't give these a try and if having the latest gadgets and looking fashionable are your thing then definitely give these a test run. But if sound is more important to you and you're on a budget, then give the Bose a try at the same time. I feel I may go back to them more often than picking these up.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.


The Buddha Walks into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation
The Buddha Walks into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation
by Lodro Rinzler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Buddha Walks into a Bar., 15 July 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
`The Buddha Walks into a Bar...' is an interesting guide to life from the viewpoint of a teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist school of thought.

It claims it is a `guide to life for a new generation' and whilst it does touch upon aspects of modern life, like 9-5 work, money, going out, electronic gadgets and the like, its teaching are timeless and based on solid principles.

This book introduces four elemental animals to helps you in your meditation and shows the characteristics that would be beneficial to embody. But, the core message from this book is that we are all already inherently good and we need to get in touch with that goodness within us to lead a more fulfilling and compassionate life.

This is relatively easy to read and offers up some interesting meditations and ideas to explore and help you find your way on what can be a confusing path. I have explored Tibetan Buddhism (which this is based upon) in great depth in the past and whilst I now follow the Soto Zen path, there is still much here to help anyone regardless of their outlook.

All in all this is a well written and interesting book and it would make a decent introduction to those wishing to learn to mediate and become more connected to their life and the world around them. Just remember that if this doesn't quite click for you then there are other Buddhist schools of thought that you can explore. The key ideas in this book are sound, but you can find alternative ways to practise them if you so wish. Well worth checking out.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.


The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai
The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai
by Barbara Lazar
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

3.0 out of 5 stars The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai, 6 Jun. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Sadly I have to agree with the other review currently on here and say that this book was disappointing. It started off well and the premise of a `woman-for-play' also being a Samurai was enough to intrigue me and drive the story on in the first half of the book. Sadly it didn't live up to this expectation and fizzled out and finished with a rather limp and lack lustre conclusion that almost felt as if the author got bored and wrapped it up as quick as she could. The grand ending it was building towards was nowhere near as satisfying as I was hoping.

I was reading a proof copy and so forgave the numerous and frustrating typos and spelling mistakes, but it was harder to forgive some of the more glaring writing and storyline errors. Things like saying a samurai gripped and settled into his saddle and then following this by saying he turned and mounted his horse and rode away. There were other things along these lines and whilst they are small errors, it jolts you out of the book and ruins the flow.

I have read vast amounts of books about Japan (as my reviews will show) and I have no doubt her research was meticulously carried out, but it also meant I was expecting more from this which sadly didn't deliver. No amount of research will save average writing style. Don't get me wrong, it managed to keep me reading and engaged well enough, but the style was rather flat in places and then overly lyrical in others.

This is also interspersed with numerous poems and whilst I understand these are a key part of a pillow book, here they managed to quickly frustrate and break up the flow of the book. It may have been easier if some of the poems were better written. Some were pithy, enigmatic and beautiful and these only showed up the flaws in some of the more blank and obvious ones that littered the pages towards the end of the book.

Helpfully there was a glossary to explain some of the Japanese terms used, although annoyingly by no means all of them. It also has a brief historical explanation of the time and place, as well as family trees of the clans written about. This is a based on historical events and the author has tried to honour the period she writes about.

All in all this is an average book that could've delivered so much more. If you love Japan, like myself, then maybe there is enough here to maintain your interest, but as a novel and story in its own right you may feel it is somewhat lacking.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.


Frommer's Japan Day by Day (Frommer's Day by Day - Full Size)
Frommer's Japan Day by Day (Frommer's Day by Day - Full Size)
by Matt Alt
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Frommer's Japan Guidebook, 20 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Japan guide book is one of the better ones I've seen and I will admit to having quite a few on my shelf.

It is quite heavy and possibly the kind of book you'd use to plan your trip, rather than one you'd lug around in your backpack all day. The paper is of high quality and it has stunning photos and imagery throughout. There are also plenty of maps and a larger pull-out map in the back.

This has chapters helping you get the best from Japan as a whole, or specific regions, if you only have certain timeframes. There are day itineraries of cities, as well as in-depth week long and longer itineraries of the country as whole so you get to see the best of what it has to offer. There is also a section guiding you around if you have a specific interest (culinary, cultural or photography for example) and also a fascinating chapter with some history and other information on the country to provide some background knowledge.

It shows what it feels to be the best hotels, restaurants and sights and it has a good mix of traditional and high-tech Japan so you can satisfy all aspects of the experience.

As with most guidebooks it has the obligatory section at the back which explains the logistics and practical side of a holiday in Japan, as well as a brief phrasebook.

All in all I would be happy to use this to plan my trip to Japan and I would be even happier to take it along with, just so long as I knew someone else would be carrying my bags! Well worth considering.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.


Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception
Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception
by Claudia Hammond
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Time Warped, 19 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
`Time Warped' is a fascinating and informative book exploring the concept of time and how the mind perceives it.

It looks at such things as how time seems to go slow when we are bored and how it speeds up as we age and other things in a similar vein. This is easy to read and has plenty of anecdotes to clarify the points being made and to further explain them. It also has some mini experiments you can try yourself to see how your own mind perceives time.

The last chapter pulls together all the things explained in the rest of the book and shows you how you can adjust your thinking to help you speed up or slow down time depending on your preference, which can help when you are in a queue or if you feel your life is slipping you by without you realising it.

Most of the book is very strong and readable and kept me interested as I flew through the pages. The exception has to be the chapter on time and synaesthesia. I have read a great deal about synaesthesia in the past and find it a fascinating topic, but here the author seemed to labour the point and go on in too great a depth, with some rather tenuous links at times. Apart from this one chapter, I found this a enjoyable read and would recommend it to most people who enjoy popular science books and basic psychology

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.


50 Best Business Ideas of the Last 50 Years
50 Best Business Ideas of the Last 50 Years
by Ian Wallis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars 50 Best Business Ideas from the past 50 years, 16 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As the title suggests `50 best business ideas from the past 50 years' is a book that explores some of the most successful business ideas in recent memory. Not only does it include humble items like the post-it note and more far reaching inventions like the internet itself, but it also includes business ideas like Google's 20% innovation time.

Each chapter starts with a single page with a brief overview of it's discovery, country of origin and inventor/s and covers a specific item or idea. The book is also in chronological order. There are black and white photos to illustrate the various inventions and there are also large memorable quotes taken from the text to break up the page.

This is easy to read and informative and you can easily fly through this in a couple of days. It is fascinating to read about some of the things that have had an impact in your own life, as well as discover some things you knew less about. This explores the history of the item being discussed, it's discovery, it's commercial impact and how it will continue to play it's part (or not as the case may be) in the future.

All in all this is an informative and fascinating read and you will come away knowing more about some of the household items you use on a daily basis and some of the things that have had a wider impact on the business world. Well worth checking out.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.


AmazonBasics Faux-Leather Carrying Case for 5 Inch / 12.7 cm GPS Devices
AmazonBasics Faux-Leather Carrying Case for 5 Inch / 12.7 cm GPS Devices

4.0 out of 5 stars Case for 5" Satnav, 24 April 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This case for a 5" Satnav is a simple, but effective product that will protect your satnav from the knocks and scrapes that may befall it whilst out and about.

I own a Garmin 1490 and this case fits perfectly. It is essentially a piece of faux leather folded in half with a sprung webbing side to it so it stretches to fit the unit and then holds it snugly so it doesn't slip out. This does the job as described and protected the screen from scratches and kept my unit from excessive knocks and bumps when placed in a bag with the cradle and dashboard mount.

The Frustration-free packaging that says it can be opened without scissor or knives wasn't quite so great, but this doesn't detract from this attractive and functional case to fit most 5" Satnav's. Worth a try.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.


Breville VKJ551 Stainless Steel Kettle, Colour Select
Breville VKJ551 Stainless Steel Kettle, Colour Select

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Breville Stainless Steel Kettle, 6 April 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Breville kettle is an attractive piece of kitchen equipment, which also manages to boil water very well too!

It has a high glossy, polished surface which looks great stood on the kitchen sideboard, although my wife thinks it shows up fingerprints too much and I'm guessing it will need to be wiped down fairly regularly otherwise it will start to look a bit messy.

It also has the various internal lights which everyone else here has mentioned. There are a choice of colours with the purple and turquoise being especially vivid and attractive. I chose not to have colours active when the kettle isn't in use to save power, but when it is boiling it cycles through some colours as it boils, until it turns red and you know it is nearly done. It certainly is an attractive option, but the novelty wears off quickly.

The kettle also beeps quietly when you place it down on it's base and when it is done which is great for blind people who may want to use it.

If you fill this to it's maximum point it shakes and rattles like a goodun' when it has boiled, but when you are boiling just enough for a couple cups of tea then it is a very speedy and sedate affair and does the job perfectly.

One minor niggle is that when it boils steam escapes around the edge of the lid and then condenses on the lid surface. This isn't a problem per se, but unless you wipe this off each time you will soon get unsightly watermarks on the glossy lid. Just keep a tea towel to hand and you'll be fine.

Overall this is a great bit of kitchen equipment. It boils water quickly and has enough little features (like the beep and colours) to make it stand out from the crowd. Worth a look if you're in the market for a new kettle.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.


Lonely Planet London (Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet London (Travel Guide)
by Lonely Planet
Edition: Paperback

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars London Lonely Planet Guide, 24 Mar. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have lived and worked in and around London all my life and it is only recently that I have started to fully appreciate what a vibrant and eclectic city is sitting on my doorstep. With this in mind I have purchased numerous London Guides and I quickly ordered the Lonely planet guide when I saw it.

I will admit from the start that I am a fan of Lonely Planet guides and this is a particularly fine example of what they can publish when they get the package right. It is colourful, full of stunning images, easy to decipher maps and chock full of insightful tips to help you get the most from your time in London, whether it be a day trip (like I tend to do) or a longer vacation.

This has a London Top 16 section and I have to say I generally agree with the choices the publishers have made. If you do these 16 things alone you will have a decent taste of what London can offer. This includes museums, parks, markets and pubs.

This book also guides you around the various regions of the city and has an extended section to cover the east, which is especially useful in this Olympic year. This has a fascinating historical section at the back, as well as the usual guide book info on currency, electricity, opening hours etc. There is also plenty of info on the best places to eat, see live entertainment and stay.

From a Londoner's point of view I can say this is an excellent guide book to help you get the most from your trip to the capital. It makes for interesting reading for natives who want to learn more and get more from their city, as well as for visitors who want to know some of the background and key highlights before they arrive. London is such a varied city and this guide goes some way to unlocking it's delights for you. I have some rather bland Lonely planet guides in my collection, but thankfully this isn't one of them and it would make a worthy addition to anyone's travel guide bookshelf.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.


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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sennheiser HD229, 24 Mar. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My main set of headphones are a pair of around-ear Bose and I am extremely happy with the sound quality of those, but I wanted a pair of relatively inexpensive headphones for holidays, business trips or other times when I wouldn't want to take a more expensive pair away with me. It was with this in mind and taking into account Sennheiser's reputation that I ordered these.

The build quality of these seem sturdy enough and the swivel ear pieces are good to reduce size for easy storage. The padded earpieces are comfortable and the headband sits well on the head, even with prolonged use.

I like the one sided wire that headphones of good quality opt for and it makes it so much easier when wearing these and preventing tangles.

The sound quality is pretty decent and the bass in warm and rich. The trebles are pretty good as well, although the mids can get a bit lost at times. You hear this most with jazz and orchestral music, but I have tried these with a range of music, from metal to blues, jazz to classical, spoken word and electronica and more besides and it coped very well with all I threw at it.

The sound leakage from these is minimal, but if this is a big concern of yours then I would consider around-ear headphones, rather than on-ear. You may notice some excessive noise on flights for example, but for home or day to day use these should be fine. They cope well with high or low music volumes and the closed back design means you shouldn't annoy fellow travellers or your spouse too much.

All in all these are a decent set of headphones, which aren't too bulky and which had a solid sound quality for most musical styles. They're not studio quality, but they don't try to be and they would make a respectable purchase for most music fans.

Feel free to check out my music blog where I have discussed headphones in more depth, which can be found on my profile page.


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