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Al (Farnborough, UK)

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Philips SpeedCare Compact Steam Generator Iron GC6631/30 with 170 g Steam Boost and 1.2 Litre Water Tank, 2400 Watt, 4.5 Bar, Purple
Philips SpeedCare Compact Steam Generator Iron GC6631/30 with 170 g Steam Boost and 1.2 Litre Water Tank, 2400 Watt, 4.5 Bar, Purple
Price: £200.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Impressed, 15 Dec 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Positives:-

• Lightweight and easy to use.
• Excellent ironing results (better than the old steam generator I had).
• Handy locking facility to enable you to carry the iron.
• Quiet when using steam facility, old one was much noisier.
• Heats up fairly quickly.

Negatives:-

• Cannot see the level of water in the tank very easily.
• Old one had a warning light which flashed when water level was low.
• Could have done with a plastic jug to fill up the tank. Considering the price of the iron I think this is very poor.

Not tried the cleaning system yet, so cannot comment on this facility.


BURBERRY Brit Rhythm for Men Eau de Toilette 30 ml
BURBERRY Brit Rhythm for Men Eau de Toilette 30 ml
Price: £32.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Understated, 15 Dec 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The fragrance is fresh and not overly masculine. If anything it is a bit sweet for a male fragrance. My wife thought it would be suitable for ladies to wear. It could be marketed as a fragrance suitable for men or women.

The fragrance is not as strong or long-lasting as other eau de toilettes I have used. In a way I see this as a benefit as my clothes don’t retain the fragrance afterwards. I don’t always use the same fragrance so I prefer them not to linger on my clothes for too long. A single spray will not last all day.

It is nicely packaged; the box and the bottle are understated and give the impression of quality, reflecting the contents. It would make a very nice gift.


Verbatim 52609 LED MR16 GU5.3 5.5 Watt 350 lm Light Bulb
Verbatim 52609 LED MR16 GU5.3 5.5 Watt 350 lm Light Bulb
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Long Term Savings, 11 Dec 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This bulb is easy to fit; it fits exactly how a conventional bulb would apart from being a few millimetres longer than a conventional bulb (it is the same diameter). It lights up as soon as you switch it on giving a bright white light. I have not experienced any problems such as flickering.

The lens surround is white plastic whereas on many bulbs this would be silver. This could be an issue if you have a light fitting where this part of the bulb is visible, but at least when you change all bulbs over to these they will be consistent. Personally I don’t actually look at light bulbs once they are fitted so this doesn’t bother me. But I thought it was worth mentioning.

The technical specification claims a very long life, many on/off cycles and low energy usage. I haven’t had time to check this out but I would expect that if this information is true (which is almost certainly is) then these bulbs should work out very economical over time. It just might cost a bit to switch over to them as the purchase price is higher than other options and the savings are more long term.


USB Microphone Web Flexible Noise Canceling Mic For Mac PC Computer Laptop Stand By FamilyMall (Black)
USB Microphone Web Flexible Noise Canceling Mic For Mac PC Computer Laptop Stand By FamilyMall (Black)
Offered by FamilyMall (8-23 shipping days)
Price: £2.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Value, 9 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I can't believe how good this is for the price.

The sound quality is very good. I get clear sound with no interference, buzzes etc. My (Windows 7) PC sorted out the set-up when I plugged the mic in for the first time and I didn't need to do anything. It is quite compact, so it is easy to store in a desk drawer when not in use.

It feels as solid as other PC microphones for similar or slightly higher prices.

I know this is not the place to review the seller, but I think this is worth mentioning; the seller I bought this from has a long lead time for delivery (up to 23 days I think, and mine did take about that amount of time to arrive). They state this up front, so they are not claiming to provide a faster service and this is not a criticism of them. But it is something you could miss when ordering and if you need a microphone quickly this may be a deciding factor for you. There only seems to be one seller for this microphone so at the time or writing it is not possible to get one of these any quicker.


Cole & Mason 145 mm Brushed Chrome Oxley One Handed Pepper and Salt Mill Set, Set of 2, Silver
Cole & Mason 145 mm Brushed Chrome Oxley One Handed Pepper and Salt Mill Set, Set of 2, Silver
Price: £38.55

5.0 out of 5 stars Well made and work well, 3 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These look quite impressive with their brushed aluminium finish and attractive design.

The feel solid but they are no heavier than other salt and pepper mills.

The one-handed action, which involves pressing a lever on the side, is easy to operate and works very well, with little pressure needed. This would be ideal for anyone who has difficulty with the twisting action required for a conventional salt or pepper mill, perhaps due to arthritis. The ability to use them one handed could also be useful in the kitchen, if your other hand is otherwise occupied, for instance stirring.

The salt and pepper come out in varying sizes, with some larger chunks and some finer grains.

Overall, these are very solid, well made and attractive mills that work well. The one-handed operation provides something that most other mills do not offer.


Philips LED Light Bulb (E27 Edison Screw 6W A60) - Warm White
Philips LED Light Bulb (E27 Edison Screw 6W A60) - Warm White
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Looks like a "normal" bulb, 20 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This lights up immediately when switched on – it does not need time to warm up like some energy-saving bulbs do. It gives a constant white light which is suitable to read by, although you may need a higher wattage than my 6w/40w equivalent to light a large space.

It looks like a normal bulb and it is roughly the same size as a normal bulb, so it should fit into any light fitting in place of a conventional bulb.

It is advertised as having a much longer life than many other bulbs, but I have not had time to see whether this is correct (we have a time limit to post reviews on the Vine programme so all I can say is "so far, so good"). I'll try to remember to update this review in the future when I know more about the bulb's long-term performance.


Solo Guitar Playing, Book 1: A Complete Course of Instruction in the Techniques of Guitar Performance [With CD (Audio)]
Solo Guitar Playing, Book 1: A Complete Course of Instruction in the Techniques of Guitar Performance [With CD (Audio)]
by Frederick M. Noad
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.97

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book, but you won't master the guitar by working through a book on your own, 19 Oct 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I first encountered this book in the 1970s when I was a teenager learning to play classical guitar. I was attending group lessons and this book was the basis of the course, supplemented by additional exercises provided by the teacher. I studied the guitar for about 2 years, learning music theory and performing endless exercises to develop the dexterity of my fingers and to learn to sight-read music. When anyone asked me to play some guitar pieces for them I could not, because all I was learning were tuneless exercises and very short snippets of a few actual musical compositions. After a couple of years I got fed up of that and gave up.

I recently decided to have another attempt at playing guitar and I bought another copy of this book. I later found my original copy and very little has changed over the years, which has to be some testiment to how good the book is. I quickly found that I was getting bogged down in theory and practising guitar was a chore rather than something to enjoy. I then bought a steel-stringed guitar and a book that teaches chords, scales and uses tab notation. I found this far more enjoyable although progress was still slow. I recently started attending goup lessons that aim to teach chords, scales, strumming techniques and after a few weeks I can already play some songs.

The point I am making is that although this book will provide thorough instruction on playing classical guitar, if you just want to learn guitar as a pastime this may not be the right path for you to take.It will teach you to master a very demanding style of play along with the music theory that entails. You will have to spend long hours practising exercises to achieve this with very little to show along the way, in terms of actual music pieces you can play. If you really want to master classical guitar it will be hard work and I don't believe that you will be able to achieve that by working alone with this (or any) book. You will need a teacher to help with your playing technique and the music theory that you will need to master, as well a providing motivation, which you will definitely need from time to time!

If you are considering learning to play guitar as a pastime, unless you are really set on learning classic guitar I would suggest you consider learning a different style. Becoming really competent at any style will require a lof of hard work, but other styles will provide more rewards in the shorter term. Learning just 3 or 4 chords and a few strumming techniques will enable you to play a number of songs; learning a few scales will allow you to play some melodies (or "riffs"). This will give you something to show for your hard work while you continue to learn. You will not get this pay-back by learning classical guitar from this book!

Whatever style of guitar playing you choose, finding lessons will be many times more effective than working alone from a book. Your local music store should be able to provide details of local teachers and local adult education centres may run group lessons (cheaper plus you meet other people who are learning the guitar). If you decide to work from this book I would recommend you find a local teacher to guide you, even if you only meet every 2 or 3 weeks (to keep costs down).

Don't just buy this book and expect to master classical guitar - it is not likely to happen! (and if it does you probably have a rare talent!).


Greenpan Venice 24 cm Ceramic Non-Stick Open Frypan, Grey Aluminium
Greenpan Venice 24 cm Ceramic Non-Stick Open Frypan, Grey Aluminium
Offered by EKS
Price: £29.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dissapointing after such good first impression, 19 Oct 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This pan feels very solid and well made. It cooks very evenly across its surface, without the hot spots you get with some pans. I haven’t had a problem with the metal handle getting hot as some other reviewers have reported.

It has quite high, rounded sides, which would make it suitable for cooking casseroles, except that it does not have a lid, which you might need when cooking such dishes.

The instructions that come with the pan advise you to cook on a low heat. That is fine for some foods but you cannot fry some items such as eggs on a low heat. I actually found it difficult to get any heat into the pan anyway, even when I turned the ring up. It is not just slow to warm up, it never really gets warm enough. (I have a ceramic hob - I'm not sure whether this is a factor). I cooked some mushrooms in the pan this morning and after giving them more than enough time to cook they were stil barely cooked.

It has a smaller diameter than other frying pans that I have used and I struggled to fit three fried eggs into it; they ran into each other and I had to separate them before serving. It didn't help that it took so long for the eggs to "set" due to the lack of heat. I would recommend comparing the dimensions with your existing pans before ordering to make sure the size is suitable for your intended use.

In summary, this looks and feels like a really good pan but, unfortunaltely, the difficulty in getting enough heat into it is a serious flaw for me.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2014 9:29 AM GMT


Power PDF Standard (PC)
Power PDF Standard (PC)
Price: £64.24

4.0 out of 5 stars Some useful features, 28 Sep 2014
This review is from: Power PDF Standard (PC) (DVD-ROM)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Installation was straightforward.

Once installed it is not intuitive to use; for instance you often have to work through a lot of menu options to find what you want to do. The documentation is not very good, so it takes a while to get used to using the software.

The most useful features for me are the ability to extract selected pages from a PDF document and the ability to convert a PDF document to Word (or Excel), so you can edit the content. The results of the latter are not always that good with resultant Word file likely to need a lot of editing & re-formatting. But it usually gets the bulk of the text, which avoids the need to re-type the whole document. It is worth buying for the features such as these, that are not available via freeware.

MS-Office can save documents in PDF format, but the underlying code is not good; for instance PDF created from MS-Office aren't always compatible with accessability packages (e.g. document readers). If you are going to create a lot of PDF documents from MS-Office it is therefore worth considering buying a package such as this as it will create much better PDF versions of your documents.


Omron RS8 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor with NFC Pad
Omron RS8 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor with NFC Pad
Price: £75.08

5.0 out of 5 stars Really Impressed, 13 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Overall, I am very impressed by this monitor.

I found it easy to use to take readings. I had no difficulty in positioning it correctly on my wrist and I got consistent readings, which were also consistent with my other monitor (an Omron upper arm monitor) and readings taken by my doctor. The display is extremely clear, with alerts if an irregular heartbeat is detected.

Your wrist needs to be level with your heart when taking a reading and there is an indicator on the unit’s display that tells you if your wrist is too high or too low. It does mean that you may have to sit with your arm raised while taking a reading, rather than just resting it in the arm of a chair as you would with an upper arm reading. I didn’t find this too much of an issue but it is a difference between the two types of monitor.

The unit comes with a small hard case for storing it. This is small enough to pack into a work bag, sports bag or overnight case if you want to take readings on the move or need to take it with you so you can take readings at a set time every day, or set day every week.

This is part of a range of wrist monitors offered by Omron, and this model’s unique feature is that it can link with some software you install on your home PC to which the unit can transfer its readings. This uses Near Field Communication (“NFC”), which means that instead of connecting via a cable you just have to tap the monitor on to a pad (actually called a “tray”), which is connected to the PC via a USB cable, to download readings. The tray is included with the monitor (I was not aware of this and I had expected to have to buy one separately).

Setting up the tray and installing the “BI-Link” software was straightforward. You have to set up an account, which means entering your name and email address, but nothing too intrusive. You can set up different user accounts on the software, which supports the monitor’s ability to track readings for two users. In other words, two people can use the monitor and the software to track their readings.

The software you install is little more than a front-end for a web site. The local software managed downloading the readings, which must be stored “in the cloud”. If you are worried about your readings being stored like this I would say there is little to worry about really. I just entered the initial instead of my full surname when creating my account and I used an email address that does not contain my full name, so there is nothing to link my set of data to me if anyone did for some reason want to hack into my blood pressure readings.

The web site allows you to set targets; i.e. your desired blood pressure and pulse rate. It shows a graph of you past readings with your targets also shown, so you can see how you are faring.

The web site also allows you to set targets for measures such as the number of steps you have taken in a day, which presumably relate to other Omron devices (i.e. a pedometer in this example). It would provide a useful way to see how an overall health and fitness regime was progressing if you can capture and analyse data from various devices in one place. I have a basic Omron pedometer to track my exercise levels and I will look into buying one that is compatible with this software.

You don’t need to download your readings every time to take a reading – you can just download a batch of readings when convenient, then view your stats online.

A couple of minor grumbles…

When you install the software and when you use it you get annoying pop-ups congratulating you on your “achievement”; e.g. “You have just achieved something!” just because you have downloaded some readings. The same pop-up asks you if you want to post this on Twitter. I don’t use Twitter and even if I did I would not want to post every time I took a blood pressure reading. There is also a panel on the web page listing your “achievements”. It wouldn’t be so bad if this just showed true achievements, such as hitting one of your targets, but even managing to log into the application seems to be a cause for celebration. This just cheapens what is actually a useful tool and I can’t see how I can turn it off.

Also, when installing the software you can choose “English (US)” (and various other options) as a language but not “English (UK)”.

But, all in all, I am really impressed with this.


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