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Mr. Mischief (Guernsey)

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Netgear 200Mbps Homeplug Powerline Adapter Kit
Netgear 200Mbps Homeplug Powerline Adapter Kit

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fair to set up but then flawless in use, 24 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What do you do when you need access to your home network - or internet - when your PC and router are rooms away and the wireless signal is weak at best? You buy a HomePlug kit, of course. HomePlug is an agreed standard (of sorts) for connecting networked devices through the electrical wiring in your home, effectively using your home's power wiring as integrated network cabling. It's a fiendishly simple principle that, I'm sure, must be more difficult to get right in practice, but a number of manufacturers are making HomePlug-compatible kits now, Netgear being one of them.

The Powerline AV+ 200 is a simple kit comprising two HomePlug adaptors and two 1.5 metre-long Ethernet cables. The adaptors are fairly chunky, white boxes with three green LEDs on the front - one to show that the power is on, one to indicate an active Ethernet connection, and one to confirm that the HomePlug network is functioning. Nicely, both adaptors have an electrical pass-through socket on the front, so they won't actually take up any of your home power sockets - you can plug almost any electrical devices into them, although you are aarned not to plug in major home appliances, so there must be a limit on how much they can handle. The only other items of note are 'security' and 'reset' buttons on the bottom, the latter being recessed and quite awkward to get to when the adaptor is plugged in.

Getting the HomePlug network running at first appears no more difficult than plugging one of the adaptors into a home power socket next to your router and then connecting it to your router using one of the included Ethernet cables, then plugging the other adaptor into a power socket next to your PC and connecting said PC to that adaptor with the other Ethernet cable. You then switch on both adaptors and wait for something to happen. I say 'something' because the manual isn't overly clear on exactly what is supposed to happen (or pretty much anything else, come to think of it.) There's no single 'to do' list to get you up-and-running, just a table of the LED descriptions, what they do, and a brief indication on some of them as to how they should be used. There's also a diagram showing you how things connect, but no clear list of instructions; I'll admit that anyone with an ounce of sense will guess what goes where, but a numbered list would still have been nice.

The manual does indicate that you need to press the 'security' button on the bottom of each adaptor once both are switched on and are communicating with each other, indicated by the 'network' LEDs blinking. I assume that enabling the security scrambles the communications between the HomePlug adaptors so that other houses with HomePlugs can't link to yours through the mains electrical service that you're all connected to, in which case security would seem to be quite important. I waited a good 10 minutes and neither LED blinked, so I went ahead and pressed the buttons anyway. But because there's no indicator light on the adaptors to tell you that the security is working, to this day I'm not sure that I've set it up correctly - would the HomePlug network even function without it? The manual states that a blinking power LED indicates that the adaptor is in the process of starting security, but I never saw that either. In fact, the LEDs all came on almost straight away, but I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. It doesn't help that the adaptors are in different rooms, half the house away (as they would be), so running between them to check was a bit of a chore.

Security or not, once all the LEDs were lit the connection between the adaptors was exceptionally solid; in fact, not once have I had a drop or an obvious fluctuation in the signal strength or quality. My house is around 10 years old, so the wiring is fairly new, and I was therefore expecting a pretty fast connection rate between my PC and my Gigabit router. Using the included Ethernet cables, and TotuSoft's LAN Speed Test Lite program to send packet files across my network, I got an average upload speed of about 28Mbps and a download speed of 34Mbps or thereabouts. Compare that to 18 / 21 using a Wireless `g' dongle, and 40 / 40 with a Wireless `n' dongle, and the Netgear compares quite well. Against a direct Gigabit Ethernet connection (246 / 575) and it doesn't, but that's to be expected. I'm not sure what category the included cables are, but it may be that full-fat Cat6 cabling would produce even better speeds.

I'm pretty paranoid about network security so not having complete faith that my HomePlug network was secure did sour my early experience a little. I feel that Netgear could improve the manual, and maybe add some reassurance to the adaptor that the security if working properly - wireless routers have an LED to indicate that WiFi security is on, so why not this? Maybe I'm just missing the obvious, and other reviewers don't seem overly concerned, but the thought of an insecure network does give me the shivers, however unlikely it might be that my data could be seen by others.

If you have a good router (particularly a Wireless 'n' model), a WiFi-equipped PC and a solid wireless connection, then the HomePlug may not be of much use to you. But if you struggle to get a wireless signal, because of the size or the construction of your home, I would recommend the AV+ as a good alternative. The one caveat here is that, if you live in an older house then the electrical wiring, if it's as old, might not be up to the task of feeding through a signal that's steady and strong enough for HomePlug to work as well as you'd like. Overall, the biggest compliment I can pay to the AV+ is that, if I hadn't installed it myself, I wouldn't even have been aware that my PC was on anything other than an ordinary Ethernet network, and that's no mean feat.

Tonino Lamborghini KS-6024 2400W Electric Chainsaw
Tonino Lamborghini KS-6024 2400W Electric Chainsaw
Price: £120.72

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My other chainsaw's a Porsche, 7 May 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm no `Axe Men' extra, but I've used a few chainsaws in my time and the one thing I know about them is that you can't really tell how good one is until you've had it in use for some time as that's when the wear and tear sets in. Cracks in the casing or hand-guard might begin to show, the motor may show signs of deterioration, and the blade inevitably begins to dull or work itself loose. So bear in mind that while none of this has happened to my chainsaw, it has only had a couple of days' worth of lopping branches and cutting logs.

Tonino Lamborghini probably isn't the first name you'll think of when thinking about chainsaws (or power tools of any description, come to think of it), but a quick look on Wiki told me that he's the son of Ferruccio Lamborghini, creator of the famous sports car brand. I'm not sure if that makes for a good power tools pedigree or not, but if weight is any indication of quality, then the Tonino Lamborghini is indeed a quality beast. I was a little taken aback with just how heavy it was when I first started using it - it's not something that you won't get used to but it is something that you'll feel after an hour or so of use. The motor on the side accounts for most of this heft, which when it comes to power tools is often a good indicator of power and reliability. The body is entirely plastic, as you'd expect, but it feels solid, with no hint of creaks or obvious points of stress. There's also a nice series of Lamborghini logos dotted about it, so at least your neighbours will know that you can afford one of their chainsaws, if not one of their cars.

Although you do get a plastic chain guard to cover the blades when not in use, you don't get any personal safety gear, just the saw itself and a manual in English and German. That's not too surprising, given how expensive good safety gear can be, but it will mean a trip to your local DIY shop for a face mask, gloves and maybe body protection if you want to be properly safe. You'll also need to get an extension cable as the power lead from the Lambo is disappointingly short at only 3 metres or so; again, not too much of a shock, but something to bear in mind.

Once you've got your safety gear and lead sorted, getting the saw up and running is no more strenuous a task than pouring 200ml of chainsaw oil (yes, you'll need to buy that, too) into the saw, then plugging her in and letting rip (figuratively, not literally.) The saw is simplicity itself to use - there's a double-switch power button on the handle and a blade tensioning wheel on the side underneath a cover panel, but other than that there's very little to think about, leaving you to keep your mind and eye on the job. The Lambo has a safety cut-off built into hand-guard, so if things get hairy all you have to do is to push the guard forward and the blade instantly disengages from the motor.

Having got everything ready, I began by cutting through some one and two-inch branches from a tree that we were starting to prune back and the Lambo made pretty short work of them; don't underestimate the benefits of either a new blade chain or the power from its motor here as both seemed to play a part. I would say that the saw did admirably well, even if the `kick' from it did make me a little wary, which when it comes to chainsaws is no bad thing.

I then moved on to cutting up some logs from a pine that mostly died some years ago but that we only got around to felling a few months ago. I started off by taking a chunk off the side of one of the logs, a pretty large one I will admit, and the Lambo began to show signs of strain, which wasn't too odd as it's often better to chop logs using an axe. The wood was, admittedly, very hard and I saw it as a test of the saw's motor and blade rather than anything else - I would actually have been surprised if the Lambo had done well here as it's a home-use saw and not one for industrial applications.

There's only so much you can glean from a couple of days' worth of chainsaw use, but I've still been really impressed with the Lamborghini, and that has nothing to do with the name on the side. It could have a `Trabant' sticker on the casing and I'd still see it as a tough and useful saw for garden and light woodland use. The lack of anything in the way of peripherals lets the side down a bit, but I don't suppose that Tonino Lamborghini is the only company not to include any additional bits with its tools. The proof of the pudding, as is always the way with tools like this, is how well it stands up to regular use, and that's something I can't answer just yet.

Asus USB-N66 450MBps USB 2.0 Wireless Dual-Band USB Ethernet Adapter
Asus USB-N66 450MBps USB 2.0 Wireless Dual-Band USB Ethernet Adapter
Offered by Express Box Limited
Price: £40.41

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not sure if this is any better than a smaller model, 25 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Although it may look like a model of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the USB-N66 is actually a (comparatively large) USB wireless adaptor, for PCs that don't come with Wireless 'N' networking built-in. Measuring 122mm wide by 111mm deep and 62mm high, it definitely isn't designed for those on-the-go, not least of all because it needs somewhere to sit rather than just sticking out of your PC like a Wi-Fi dongle. It's squarely aimed at home-based PCs but I will admit that it looks quite nice when turned on, with a startling internal blue LED lighting effect showing up its lines quite nicely. This extra size is to house dual-band, orthogonal antennas, which supposedly means wider coverage and a faster connection rate - a whopping 450Mbps according to Asus.

You don't get a hard copy manual with the Asus but you do get one on the included CD. It's quite helpful in a lot of areas, explaining to non-techies (like me) what the various terms mean and how to go about getting the most out of the N66. But if you don't like reading, don't worry, because the Asus was - almost - plug-and-play straight out of the box.

I say `almost', because if the Asus Wireless 'N' dongle I bought not that long ago was anything to go by, getting the N66 up and running seemed like a fairly simple proposition. I sited it on the desk next to my PC and plugged it into one of my PCs available USB ports using the included cable. It draws its power from USB so it doesn't need a separate mains adaptor to work, meaning less trailing wires, if not necessarily more portability. I already had some Asus wireless control software installed on my PC from my old dongle, but it wasn't able to control the N66 so I had to install the N66's utility software from the CD. This was a little perplexing, as this software looked almost identical to that already installed and appeared to work the same way, but I had no choice but to put it on my PC in order to get things up and running.

And getting the N66 up and running was the first hurdle I had to overcome, and this took me a good hour of effort. I installed the utility software and drivers from the CD but I couldn't get my PC to connect to my router, either using the Asus software or the Windows Zero Configuration utility. I re-started my PC, with no effect, and then decided to re-install everything and to go through the connection process again. After stopping and starting the N66 utility, and switching between it and the Windows Zero Configuration several times, I finally managed to connect to my router, although for the first 10 minutes or so the connection was intermittent and the connection speed variable. My previous dongle gave me an almost unflinchingly solid connection and a pretty much constant 300Mbps connection rate from the off, and although the N66 eventually did the same, it never reached the claimed 450Mbps transfer speed. Then again, that might have been a limitation of my router. There's a high/standard power switch located at the back of the adaptor but the manual doesn't say what this is for, nor did alternating between the two modes have any appreciable effect on the signal or speed.

The Asus N66 utility software was, at least, easy to install and to get to grips with, once the adaptor itself was working properly. Nicely, pretty much all of the settings are pre-fixed at their optimum levels so there's very little tinkering to do, unless you really want to start mucking about with things. In addition to adjusting the network settings, the N66 utility also allows you to scan for wireless networks, monitor your network's status and to use the adaptor in what's known as 'Software Access Point' mode. This turns the N66 into a wireless access point for devices to connect to, similar I would imagine to a portable wireless router, although the size of the N66 does limit its appeal here a little. Although you don't need to use this software if you don't want to - the Windows Zero Configuration utility does the job as well - you are advised to do so even if it's just to make sure that the settings are correct.

Given its size and purported benefits over a smaller, less featured, dongle, I was expecting wondrous things from the N66. Granted, I may have been expecting a little too much, especially given how few problems (none, in fact) my older Asus dongle has given me and how well it works. It may be of benefit in some situations where the signal from the router is patchy or blocked by several walls, but in my tests it didn't pick up any additional routers (although I know they're out there), the connection strength was no better, and the transfer speeds were the same. It may well be better for someone living in an old house with thick walls, or in instances where the router is well away from the connecting PC, but neither unfortunately applies to me.

Tinte f Füller parfüm gn Apfel 30ml
Tinte f Füller parfüm gn Apfel 30ml
Offered by Seitz-Kreuznach, Versandhandel
Price: £12.70

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice colour, but where's the apple???, 17 April 2013
Herbin's range of scented inks has intrigued me for quite a time so in the end I bit the bullet and bought a bottle of this, their apple-scented version. It comes in a nice, part-frosted 30ml glass bottle with a metal screw-cap, and a product info label looped around the neck.

The Herbin is fairly light green in colour, with some of the most watery consistency I've seen of any bottled ink. A pen with a medium nib is probably the ideal here as this will apply it thickly enough for you to appreciate the colour fully without going overboard; anything larger may have it seeping through the page unless you use heavy-weighted paper. The ink darkens somewhat as it dries so don't be too hard on it if it looks overly light and washed-out as you write. Overall, though, this isn't an ink for signing formal letters or papers, more for taking occasional notes or jotting down reminders.

The apple scent is fairly noticeable when concentrated in the bottle, but virtually non-existent when applied to paper. You have to put your nose right up to the page to get any sense of the aroma and even then you may need to be in possession of a good sniffer to tell what the smell is. I gave my bottle a good shake before testing it so I can only assume that the scent either dissipated in the bottle over time, or wasn't very strong to begin with.

I tried the Herbin in my medium-nib Parker jotter pen and my broad-nib Pelikan and I wasn't overly keen on the results from either - using the Parker it looked okay when properly dried but in the Pelikan it seeped through the paper straight away, and I couldn't detect the apple scent with either. I had this grand idea of signing my letters at work with the ink, giving them not only a distinct look but also a distinct aroma as well. Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as I'd hoped and I'm left with an ink that's really no different from many others out there. If you only want a light green ink, then you could do worse than this. If you want an ink that's actually smells of apples, then this isn't it.

Jabra Revo Corded Stereo Headphones - White
Jabra Revo Corded Stereo Headphones - White
Offered by Trusted-Goods
Price: £50.89

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for iOS / Android users, less so for everyone else, 16 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What is it with headphone manufacturers and the colour white these days? It seems that you can't get away from people wearing them while on the bus, on the train, or just walking down the street. Whatever it is, Jabra is clearly jumping on the bandwagon with its new Revo headphones, decked out in their shiny white finery with orange accoutrements; I will concede that they look good, even if Jabra seems to have taken its design cues from another, certain manufacturer (who shall not be named.) The headband extends at each end to allow for those of us with, shall we say, larger noggins, and each earpiece rotates slightly to allow for a better fit. Some of this benefit is negated by the fact that the Revos sit on the ear as opposed to around it, which I don't find to be as good at keeping the sound in, or even particularly comfortable as the headband squashes the earpieces against your ears, rather than against your head. The headband also bends towards each end, compacting the headphones and allowing them to be stored away in the included fabric bag; the bag isn't an unusual inclusion, but I do like having `phones that don't take up as much room when they aren't being used.

The Revos are connected to your phone / media player by a braded, bright orange, fabric cord with gold connectors at each end. Yes, it's gaudy, but it looks pretty darned cool and sets off the white of the `phones very nicely. A slim, three-button remote just in from one end allows you to control certain devices, but this is dependent on the kind of device you have. If you have an iPhone, for example, you can use the remote to control the volume as well as pause and skip tracks and to answer phone calls, the latter being through microphone located in each of the cups. You have pretty much the same control over iPads, just without the phone functions.

My Nokia Lumia 920 running Windows Phone 8 is slightly less controllable, with only the ability to pause and skip tracks and to answer calls available. The centre button on the remote controls these functions and works fine, but the outer buttons (for volume) don't. I won't blame Jabra for chiefly supporting the most popular devices, but not being able to use the remote to its full extent does immediately make me think that it might be better to take a smaller pair of earphones with me when I'm out and about. I at first thought that the remote was at the wrong end of the cable, as it was only a couple of inches away from the headphones and so was harder to see without straining - I then realised that the cable was detachable so rectifying this was simply a case of reversing the cable. The only issue here is that doing it this way puts the remote a bit close to the playing device, a problem if it's secreted away in an inside pocket. On the plus side, the cable can be plugged into either earpiece so at least you should be able to reach the remote regardless of whether your hand persuasion is right or left.

As a hands-free device, the Revos are okay without being great. Jabra has included its `Noise Blackout' tech in the Revos, which uses twin microphones and DSP to help clear out unwanted noise, so making hearing your caller that much easier. But no amount of DSP can get away from the fact that the Revos do suffer with the microphone being so far away from your mouth and effectively not pointing at it; while callers to you are clear enough, I'm told that your voice can appear a bit muffled to them. They're not terrible, but boom microphones (however much they may make you look like a telesales person) are always a better bet.

As for listening to music, it seems that the sound you get from the Revos depends completely on the quality of the device you're using them with. For instance, my old Nokia N8 mobile produced a terrible, flat sound with no definition and very little clarity. My Lumia, on the other hand, produced a much better, more even-sounding tone - in fact, apart from a slight lack of bass, there was little to dislike about it. I did have to use the Lumia's Dolby Digital sound processing to get this result, and I did have to muck about with the equaliser settings quite a bit, but the difference was stark. Through an amped device like a hi-fi separate, the sound was much improved, resembling that from the Lumia but "more". Doing this obviously defeats the object of having a pair of made-for-mobile headphones, but it at least shows what the Revos are capable of when driven properly; although I don't have one to test, I suspect that a portable amplifier would make them sparkle.

As if to confirm that improved sound I was getting with my Lumia, Jabra seem to have realised this too and have duly included a downloadable app (for Android and iOS devices) in an attempt to help non-amplified devices. To continue the theme of supporting the most popular devices, I had to download this app to my iPad as it's not available for Windows Phone. Just like with the Lumia, the app gives you a few sound-processing options including Dolby processing, surround-sound and an equaliser. Although I'm usually quite suspicious as to how well any supposedly sound-bettering software can perform, the Jabra app did make a clear difference and I would almost recommend it without hesitation.

I did say `almost' - on the downside, you can only use the app with media that's actually on your device and not media streamed from the cloud, as the app scans your device and adds any media found to its own library. A better option would have been to allow the app to enhance the sound of any media being played by your device, but my guess is that this is a limitation of iOS rather than something imposed by Jabra. Another perceived limitation is that the app needs to scan your device every time it opens, which if you have a lot of media can take some time - I don't have that much of anything on my iPad so it wasn't a problem for me, but I could see anyone with GB's of media just not bothering. Also note that the app is free to download, but it can only be used after having inputted a code included in the Revos' box.

Prior to getting the Revos, I only knew Jabra for its Bluetooth earphones, so I had no real idea on what to expect from them in terms of sound quality. Largely, though, I've been impressed by them - when driven well or aided by some form of DSP they produce a well-rounded, and fairly neutral, sound that that does lack bass slightly but does well in all other areas. If you have an iOS or Android device, and if you prefer headphones to earphones, then you could do worse than the Revos. If, like me, you aren't an Apple or Google user, then their appeal will be much more limited.

Tefal Enjoy Omelette Pan, Non Stick, 20cm
Tefal Enjoy Omelette Pan, Non Stick, 20cm

5.0 out of 5 stars Small but perfectly formed - just like its omelettes, 15 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As any man will tell you, omelettes are great. Not only are they nutritious and great-tasting, they're also a piece of cake to make; actually, they're technically a piece of cooked egg to make, but that's beside the point. Whatever they are to make, it is, of course, only if you have the right tools to make them with - too many times I've had omelettes turn out thin and burned, due to me using over-sized pans with little or no non-stick coating left. Tefal's omelette pan is far from over-sized, in fact at just 26cm some people might think it too small to make anything other than a small omelette in. That was my first thought when I took it out of the box, but as I soon found out while it is pretty small this lack of diameter means that omelettes made from 3 or 4 large eggs are much easier to turn over while cooking and come out deliciously thick.

The pan incorporates Tefal's standard non-stick coating, which appears as good as you'll find on any Tefal pan, as well as the company's proprietary Durabase technology for more even heat distribution. I really can't vouch for the effectiveness of this base coating, but the omelettes I've made have been cooked about as uniformly as you could hope for - no charred bit (provided that you don't have the heat turned up too much) and no missed spots. The handle is held on by a single Torx / star-drive screw and although the handle rattled slightly when I first got my pan, a quick attending-to with a screwdriver soon sorted it out.

A highly recommended pan for anyone who likes their omelettes thick and perfectly done.

Cartier Declaration Essence Eau De Toilette for Men 100ml
Cartier Declaration Essence Eau De Toilette for Men 100ml
Offered by FragrancesCosmeticsPerfumes
Price: £50.85

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not spectacular but sufficiently different to be worth a try, 15 April 2013
More often than not, when I buy a new scent, I find that it smells great for the initial hour or so but then the top notes wear off and the smell turns a bit stale. With Cartier Declaration Essence, the opposite is true; when I first applied it, I thought that it made me stink like a boozy old drunk on the pull in a smoke-filled pub. Okay, so I don't actually know what boozy old drunks smell like, but I do remember what smoke-filled pubs were like, so I can use my imagination. However after that initial feeling of dread, only 10 to 15 minutes later, the sickly sweet, tobacco-esque odour became much more subdued and what was left was much more pleasing; on me, Essence is a scent that gets better as the day wears on and that begs not to be put on too thickly.

Essence is a hard fragrance for me to describe, because it smells like no other I've experienced - a slightly sweet, slightly spicy, woody aroma that with a smoky background that you may, or may not, find to your liking. It's less sweet than Cartier's new (and supremely nice) Declaration d'un Soir but they do have something in common, although that's not to say that they're overly similar. Projection is fair to middling, although it certainly won't get you noticed in a room crowded with odours if you don't splash it on, and if you do that then you risk becoming the aforesaid `boozy old drunk' of the party. I find it a difficult balancing act to get right, especially seeing as I don't want to use too much if I can help it, but then again I do have skin that tends to absorb rather than project scents. Longevity is also fairly unspectacular, on my skin lasting for an hour or two at best - I have eau de toilettes from other houses than do much better but I also have some that do worse.

Essence is an older fragrance that I've only just now got around to trying, and while I don't consider it an essential purchase, it is sufficiently unlike anything else I have (and sufficiently pleasing to the nose) for me to continue to use it on those occasions when I want something a bit different. I'm not sure that I'll buy another bottle when this one is used up, partly due to my policy of not sticking with any one fragrance for too long and partly because I find Declaration d'un Soir to be better overall.

Colantotte Magtitan NEO Carbon Magnetic Bracelet (100mT) MADE IN JAPAN
Colantotte Magtitan NEO Carbon Magnetic Bracelet (100mT) MADE IN JAPAN

4.0 out of 5 stars If it's good enough for a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, 26 Mar 2013
I don't consider myself a brand tart by any stretch of the imagination, but when I was looking for a new magnetic therapy bracelet, the fact that Colantotte's Magtitan NEO Legend was worn by Tony Stark in the movie `Avengers Assemble' didn't exactly put me off buying one. After all, if something is good enough for Iron Man, then surely it's good enough for me? The Magtitan arrives in a small cardboard box held inside a cardboard outer sleeve emblazoned with pictures of the main characters from the movie and graphics showing it merging with the Iron Man armour - Colantotte are clearly milking the product placement for all it's worth, even if the bracelet's appearance in the film was somewhat brief. The only other thing contained within the box is a small pamphlet with usage instructions in English and Japanese. I bought the medium-sized version of the Magtitan and this fits my girlish, 17cm wrist with just about the right amount of `give', after I bent the ends of the bracelet slightly to fit.

Releasing the Magtitan from its cardboard prison, I was at first somewhat surprised at how small it was. In truth, it's no smaller than any other magnetic therapy bracelet, but I suppose, given its `Iron Man' association, that I was expecting something big, bold and imposing. But after a day or two I became accustomed to the sizing and realised that anything bigger would look a bit silly on anyone other than a superhero.

The Magtitan is made from part polished / part brushed stainless steel with carbon fibre inserts covered in clear resin, giving it an overtly sci-fi appearance that will probably elicit a variety of responses from your friends and co-workers. The steel, although stainless, isn't scratch-resistant, and I found some minor marks on my Magtitan after only a few days' wear-time. Then again, they're not particularly noticeable unless you look for them, and scratches on a bracelet are almost an inevitability, particularly if you wear one while working at a desk.

Notwithstanding its appearance, I bought the Magtitan chiefly because of its magnetic-therapy benefits, as it has two 1,000 Gauss Ferrite permanent magnets held in the bracelet's prongs, facing upwards into the bottom of the wrist when worn. Colantotte's website cites increased circulation around the area worn (that would be the arm) and a reduction in joint pain and stiffness through more effectively oxygenated blood flow as reasons for wearing one, neither of which I can really vouch for as I don't suffer from any particular affliction requiring magnetic therapy. I did, however, hope that the bracelet would help with my lethargy - unfortunately two weeks on and I'm as lethargic as ever, but that probably has more to do with my dislike of hard work than any physical malady.

The manual warns to be careful when wearing the Magtitan near any item that may be affected by a magnetic field, so that's almost any personal item these days. Mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras and digital watches could all be affected, but I'm yet to experience any problems during normal use so my guess is that the magnetic field is quite low and won't pose a problem unless it comes really close to an electrical item.

I like the overall look of the Magtitan, but I will admit that it won't be to everyone's taste. I also have to admit that its therapeutic benefits are lost on me, but that's not to say that it won't help others. But I bought the Magtitan chiefly for its looks and knowing that any improvements in my health would be a bonus, just make sure if you do the same that its looks will be to your taste.

Lexar 16GB JumpDrive S70 USB Flash Drive Memory Stick
Lexar 16GB JumpDrive S70 USB Flash Drive Memory Stick
Price: £5.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good drive, but don't buy for the bundled software alone, 21 Mar 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The days when all you got with a flash drive was storage space seem a long way off; now, manufacturers are bundling all kind of software with their drives, some of it quite useful but some of it not. Lexar has jumped (pun intended) on the bandwagon with its JumpDrive S70, a USB flash drive with a retractable USB connector (so no cap to lose) that comes with the company's Secure II software pre-installed. In all other respects, the Lexar is a fairly run-of-the-mill device, with a plastic housing and 14.6GB of available space when new.

Although software bundled on my other USB drives can be opened using the Windows 7 `Autoplay' function, what I found was that the option to open the Secure II software was missing when I popped the JumpDrive into my PC, with only the standard USB options (`open folder', `use drive for backup' and `speed up system' available in the menu - I needed to open the drive and then rummage about in its directories to find the Secure II program to run it directly. I'm told that this is a restriction in Windows 7 and not the fault of the drive itself, but it's still a bit of a pain.

Secure II isn't as comprehensive as some, but it does incorporate a file shredder that allows you to securely shred data both on the drive itself and on the PC the drive is connected to. There's zero in the way of shredding options so I have no idea how well files shredded using the software are actually erased. In truth, there are better, free shredding programs out there, you just have to search for them.

Secure II also includes two file encryption sections, one of which allows you to encrypt and decrypt selected files both on the drive and on your PC using 256-bit AES encryption. The other secures all, or just selected, files on the drive by segregating them into `vaults' on the drive, which are effectively areas screened off from the rest of the drive and secured using different passwords. You can set up vaults as you please, so one could be kept for your work, one for your semi-confidential work, and one for your personal files. It's a different, and welcome, take on other secure drives, which typically have one password securing the entire contents of the drive.

Using the H2testw speed test program, read speeds on the Lexar with came back at 20.6 MByte/s, while write speeds clocked at 8.63 MByte/s. To put that into perspective, a 4GB movie file takes about 8 minutes to write to the drive. Not the fastest I've seen, but still pretty good, and better than most other flash drives I have.

Purely as a USB flash drive, the JumpDrive S70 is pretty standard fare - the retractable USB connector is a nice touch but the plastic casing feels slightly less-than-secure. The Secure II software is good, but you can get free software of the same or better calibre free from the `net. So, if you need a 16GB flash drive then the JumpDrive is a good choice, just don't buy it purely for the bundled software.

Seagate STCK1000200 1TB Wireless Plus 2.5 Inch External Hard Drive - Grey
Seagate STCK1000200 1TB Wireless Plus 2.5 Inch External Hard Drive - Grey
Price: £119.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful, but read the manual to get the best out of it, 18 Mar 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I love my iPad, but I hate the way you have to use iTunes to get your photos / videos / music on to it. I much prefer the good old drag-and-drop system employed by many Windows-capable devices which (in my opinion) gives you better control of what goes on to your device, how and when. So up until now, while my iPad has been used for loads of things, they didn't include viewing photos at friends' houses, watching movies on the plane, or listening to music in the office. I could have forked out for a USB connection kit, but I think Apple has had enough of my money over the years!

A nondescript grey plastic box marginally bigger than an external hard drive, at first glance that's exactly what it looks like, and that's almost what it is. The Wireless Plus houses a 1TB hard drive for storing just about anything you want - the drive comes pre-formatted to the NTFS standard so getting your media or documents on to it is simply a case of plugging it into a PC and dragging-and-dropping the items in to one of the pre-created folders, or making your own. For this, Seagate provide a short USB 3 cable, as well as a removable USB 3 adaptor, a plastic backplate for covering the adaptor port when it's not in use, and a mains adaptor with UK and US plugs.

There's also a `quick start' guide but no full manual, so I would recommend downloading one from Seagate's website as it gives a lot of instructions and advice that the guide doesn't. The manual is pretty long at 42-odd pages, but it's wise to read it if you want to get the most out of the device as it's easy to make assumptions about it that aren't quite true. The box incorporates a rechargeable battery that's good for around 10 hours, but I've found that heavy use will drain it a lot more quickly.

But external hard drives are two-a-penny these days, so don't think that this is all that it is - to account for its extra size, the Wireless Plus incorporates a WiFi transceiver which broadcasts a WiFi signal that allows devices like PCs, tablets (including iPads!) to connect to it. In effect, the Wireless Plus makes its own mini half-network, and devices connected to this network can view files stored on the Wireless Plus; doing this is simply a case of holding down the wireless broadcast button on the side, then selecting the Seagate network from the network list in your device's Wi-Fi settings.

Seagate provide a free iPad app, downloadable from the App Store that gives you direct access to the drive's contents as well as to its settings, or you can just go to the site [...] from your web browser if accessing from a PC. While devices connected to the Wireless Plus can pull files from it, they can't `talk' to each other, so I suppose a more accurate description of it would be to call it a wireless NAS. Up to 8 devices can connect to it at any one time, which I would think would be ample for home users.

Of course, you don't have to use the wireless function if you don't want to, in which case you're left with a pretty bog-standard 1TB external hard drive, but that would kind of defeat the purpose of buying it. Or you can do as I do, and use it for both streaming and for backups, as long as you add some security to the connection to protect your more sensitive files. The Seagate network doesn't come with a password so the first thing you should do once you have connected to it is to set one from the settings menu.

Some reviewers have said that devices can't connect to any other WiFi signals at the same time, so you can't browse the internet through your wireless router at the same time as viewing files on your Wireless Plus. This isn't actually true, as the option to connect to a `proper' network at the same time is available from the iPad / Android app and from your web browser. It's just a case of pressing the `WiFi' icon at the top of the software front page when connected to the Wireless Plus, and selecting your home network from the dropdown list. Doing this actually connects the Wireless Plus to your network, and your device with it, rather than having your device connect to both individually. This means that, when connected this way, any other devices connected to your router will have access to your Wireless Plus, unless you disable that option.

For the first couple of days after having got the Wireless Plus, I really wasn't sure how much use I'd get out of it, or how useful I'd find it. I'd gotten used to not viewing my media on my iPad and was pretty comfortable with it. But then I started using the thing to show work colleagues my holiday snaps and to play music when out and about and it really started to prove quite the find. Okay, so it does mean carrying another thing around with you when you want to take your files around, but 1TB-worth of data isn't to be sniffed at.

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