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L Richardson (UK)
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Helix Multi-purpose Pencil Sharpener Anti-tamper Screw 3-Hole Blue Ref SB2025
Helix Multi-purpose Pencil Sharpener Anti-tamper Screw 3-Hole Blue Ref SB2025
Offered by K Direct
Price: 1.69

1.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful, 15 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This sharpener has all the options, but it really fails on all counts.

When I first used it, the blades were not sharp enough to get a clean cut on my pencils - the wood came out furry. (I primarily use Mars Lumograph, which are pretty high quality.) Consistently broke leads. Utterly destroyed a china pencil - it just ate up the soft lead in it and turned it to mulch without forming a point.

The point sharpener/clutch pencil sharpener is a joke. It is a nightmare to get a good angle on it, and failing to do so will break your lead. Doesn't form a good point either.

Knock this thing over on your desk and it will defecate lead shavings across it. Turn it the wrong way up, and it will puke splinters and lead shavings everywhere. It is extremely messy for a supposedly sealed unit.

Cheap and nasty product, and not worth even the low price tag. It will destroy your pencils. I probably spent more replacing the pencils this monster wrecked than buying the actual sharpener.


Royal and Langnickel Crafter's Choice Round Taklon Variety Brush Set - White (Pack of 11)
Royal and Langnickel Crafter's Choice Round Taklon Variety Brush Set - White (Pack of 11)
Price: 7.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Best in this price range, 15 Nov 2013
As the title says, I think these are probably the best brushes going in this price range. I've had a set for a few years now, that have endured light use with watercolours, but a lot of travel, and am pretty impressed with how they held up.

The quality of the stroke and brush points is not perfect, but an enthusiast or professional should really be looking at the higher end sables anyway, so I won't go into that. Compared to other budget brushes, they do hold their point quite well, though some of the thinner ones are prone to splitting on occasion. Usually they regain a point when wetted, but I have had a couple that haven't. They don't shed fibres like a lot of cheap brushes do either.

They're incredibly durable for cheap brushes, and the flats that are also available hold their shape well against abuse. The white does stain very fast, but doesn't bleed out, and is merely a visual issue. They're very easy to rinse and clean (washing up liquid seems to be fine).

Would absolutely recommend these for kids that are past the paper-stabbing stage and teenagers, and any other beginner artist. They're good for doing colour fills if accuracy isn't important, and they can take a bit of abuse if you are scared of taking nice brushes out for plein air painting. I would NOT recommend them for professional, accurate painting, and they're pretty unpleasant to ink with, as they are not flexible or accurate enough - they very much feel like a synthetic brush.


HELIX DESK TOP 3 HOLE SHARPENER
HELIX DESK TOP 3 HOLE SHARPENER
Offered by K Direct
Price: 1.69

1.0 out of 5 stars Cheap and nasty, stay away, 4 May 2013
I've had this for over a year, and it has been a thoroughly shoddy product.

The pencil sharpeners are pretty dull and poorly fitted, resulting in a terrible point and hairy pencil tips where the wood isn't cut well.

The lead pointer is dreadful - it is angled poorly, resulting in frequent breaking of the leads, which has probably cost me more than the value of this thing. It doesn't get a very sharp point either.

The poor design means it is frequently puking out bits of shaving when the sharpener docks are opened, and a small shake will quickly have dust coming out of the lead pointer hole. Avoid this, the design and build quality are abysmal.


Wacom Intuos5 Pen and Touch Large Graphics Tablet
Wacom Intuos5 Pen and Touch Large Graphics Tablet

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Intuos 5: Designed to sell nibs!, 13 Jan 2013
I am reviewing this after upgrading my Intuos 1 to an Intuos 5, being a user of the large size tablets in both cases. I have been using the Intuos 5 for several weeks now, and I can say I have run into a number of problems that truly disappoint me. I am a fairly heavy tablet user, and use it for digital painting. I've been using tablets for about 11 years now.

My biggest bugbear is the nib wear. It took a week to run through my first nib, wearing down to pointed wedge that scuffed the tablet surface. Now, the tablet comes with a number of nibs, and I now see why, but at the rate I am going through them, I will need to buy new ones well before Easter. And the replacements are ridiculously overpriced for what is essentially a slither of plastic. This is a blatant money-spinning move by Wacom, and I will point out why in a moment.

Second issue is the surface - it is not replaceable. So these poor quality, fast wearing nibs that scuff the surface to hell and back will leave it unevenly worn, something I am already beginning to notice. Because the nature of tablet use, the wear will not be even.

The driver has calibrated the pressure very poorly. I initially found I needed to press extremely hard to get full pressure out of the nibs, which of course, wears them down very quickly. I do not use a high setting either - I have always had the pressure settings on the softer side. There is a fix for this, with some google-fu, that required me to open the driver software files with notepad and bring down the top pressure threshold of the pen. This isn't in the regular driver settings - you actually need to edit its system file. Since doing this, the pen has been much easier to use and control - and the nib wear has slowed considerably. Still, why would Wacom set their software up like that? Do they think their users clasp their pen in their fists and grind at the tablet? Or do they simply want us to wear our nibs out even faster? My inclination is the latter option, since Wacom seem so hell-bent on selling their over-priced, fast-wearing nibs to us.

I've found the touch functions and the side buttons to have very mixed behaviour. Starting with the side buttons, I can say they took some getting used to, but they worked really well in Photoshop. They tend not to lag for me, and the scroll is quite good once it is calibrated - since Wacom's default setting was way too fast. However, trying to use the buttons in Painter 12 was an unholy nightmare. The lag was terrible, and they were on some occasions, unresponsive. I blame Painter for this, since Painter is known for being buggy.

As for touch functions, they work quite well, but again, sometimes have a tendency to lag. Touch is not a big deal for me, since I paint, and therefore have it turned off most of the time. However, if they is a key point for you getting the tablet, I would say that it is less effective than any top range tablet PCs.

What I will say works for this tablet is the USB connection. Being able to plug in the USB into the tablet means that the USB cord can be replaced if it breaks - rather than requiring you to send the whole thing back to Wacom for repairs. (A constant fear on older tablets with a built in USB connection.)

I also rather like the feel of the surface, though I must say, I am not fussy. It has some bite, but nothing nearly as severe as actual paper, and has a slight rubbery feel.

Overall, I would say that this device is a bloated money-spinner when compared to older tablets in the Intuos range. Hence the poor rating; Wacom have produced far superior products to this item, and as time progresses, they should be able to improve, not regress into shameful money-making tactics. After the debacle with the nibs wearing out on the Intuos 4, I thought Wacom had learnt their lesson when they re-released it with a new surface. Apparently not. I would discourage people from buying this item, at least until the nib and surface wear issues are fully addressed.

EDIT: 10/03

So, I think it is time to post a progress update on this.

With the driver edit, I have found the nib wear has slowed quite a bit. I am not going to update the rating as this is a somewhat obscure fix and not accessible through standard use of Wacom's software.
The surface is getting increasingly scratched and battered, to a really noticeable degree now. Furthermore, the material that covers the buttons and wheel has actually faded already, resulting in a slight grey stain. Function is unaffected.
Overall function of the tablet is as good as when I purchased it, with the exception of the surface texture becoming a bit inconsistent.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 22, 2013 12:08 PM BST


Eraser Pen Battery Operated - Jakar
Eraser Pen Battery Operated - Jakar
Offered by Shop Inc
Price: 2.40

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suprisingly excellent, 19 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I will freely admit that I purchased this item because it was simply the cheapest electric eraser around at the time and I wanted a cheap tester before paying for a fancy one.

I never bought the fancy one.

The weird shape of this eraser fits well into the hand, and actually makes it easier to tilt the angle of the tip. As a left hander, I have not found it to be part of the insidious right-handed appliance alliance either. It is still comfortable and effective for me to use, even though the grip is right-handed.

This eraser is great for getting in and taking out small mistakes, cleaning out dirty corners and putting in small subtractive highlights. It does degrade the grain of the paper a little bit (though not as much as a regular eraser), but it produces extremely clean, sharp highlights as a result, which are perfect for any kind of detail work. It works well with pencil and light-moderately laid charcoal.

It is not really suitable for taking out any large areas; it simply is not intended for that, or the tip would be an inch thick.

Over the year and a half I have owned it, I have found that I use far fewer eraser refills than expected - I purchased a pack, and still have loads left. The batteries are a greater expense, but these do still take quite a while to run down.

I definitely recommend this item. It might not be a necessity, but it is EXTREMELY useful for anyone working in charcoal or pencil. It still works as new after a over a year of use, and is brilliant value for money.


EberhardFaber Art Eraser
EberhardFaber Art Eraser
Offered by Avatar Express
Price: 0.89

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super-soft and lifts wonderfully., 19 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This eraser is the perfect standard kneadable eraser. I got it to replace a similar eraser that had essentially turned black with a decade of use (still good for charcoal though!). It is incredibly soft and malleable, with a consistency similar to blu-tack or cheap play dough. It is a little sticky, but it does minimal damage to the grain of the paper when used - much more gentle than a hard eraser or electric eraser.

Thanks to its delightfully gooey nature, it is easy to clean when dirty - just stretch it out and fold the dirty bits inwards. It can be formed into really tight wedges and points for getting into tough areas, and unlike the more fibrous kneadable erasers, is soft from the moment you get it out the packet.

This eraser is particularly good at lifting lightly-laid pencil and charcoal (much tidier than bread!), whether you need to erase mistakes, put in subtractive highlights, take the pencil off an inked picture or just clean up edges. With a bit of practise, it is also useful for erasing to leave soft edges in charcoal, if rolled into a roundish shape and dabbed with care. It can also be stuck to a board and used as a pencil holder/bookrest/etc. Not an art use, but very convenient.

Whilst the couple of quid this costs seems a bit much for an eraser, this is really something that will last for a long, long time. It won't leave dust, and hence barely shrinks in size over time. Just try not to get hair/hard eraser shavings/other forms of debris mixed inside it. Absolutely indispensable kit for any traditional artist.


Lala Pipo
Lala Pipo
by Okuda
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.67

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rotten to the core, 13 Aug 2010
This review is from: Lala Pipo (Paperback)
I got this book in the wake of watching 'Trapeze', which was written by the same author. After enjoying that so much, 'Lala Pipo' had a lot to live up to, but it manages it. Spectacularly. Okuda's storytelling style comes across in a similar way here, and he is ingenious at weaving his characters together, often resulting in hilarious surprises for the reader.

These stories deliver the most blunt and decayed people I have read in a long time. In the eyes of many, the bottom-feeders of society. These qualities make them believable, as well as entertaining. It becomes difficult to stop reading out of a nosey desire to poke into their seedy lives. The description wasn't lying when it claimed these were x-rated, but there is none of the flowery romance novel junk associated with the stereotypes of x-rated literature. The characters aren't stereotypically attractive, and although explicit, even tasteless in places, this is written as a comedic example of a range of different lives.

The one issue I had with this book was the translation. It is a shame that such a fantastic book has a few typos in it. At times the English reads in a somewhat stiff and awkward manner as well, but it does at least remain clear throughout.


SONY ERICSSON HPM-70 -BLACK
SONY ERICSSON HPM-70 -BLACK
Offered by LEADS U NEED
Price: 4.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Obviously fake., 6 Nov 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There is no doubt that the product I received was not the genuine article, but a cheap rip off. The build quality was abysmal, including hanging pieces of rubber from the mould, and the plastic felt very different to a standard pair of headphones. There was also a rather nasty sticky residue on the wiring when I opened the packet. It did not come in an official box. A Sony Ericsson logo on the headphones was missing, and the remaining one was not even glued on straight. On top of that, the sound quality coming from the headphones was unacceptably poor. Avoid like the plague.


No Title Available

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the tin, 7 April 2009
The best thing about these pens is that they actually do erase effectively. The eraser itself doesn't break up or wear down, so there is no problem with it wearing out before the ink is used, and it doesn't smear much at all. It also produces very little debris. It writes smoothly for a ball point pen, and the ink dries pretty fast too, so there isn't much chance of smudging.

There are a couple of issues I have come across using this pen however. First it that it is that it isn't designed with left handers in mind, and any left handers who have trouble with ball point pens 'jamming up' will end up with the same problems with this one in the end as well. Mine became unusable after a few weeks because of this, which was very disappointing.

The ink is also a bit fainter than regular pens, though when the pen is writing properly it isn't a big issue.


Campingaz Kiwi 20l Backpack Charcoal
Campingaz Kiwi 20l Backpack Charcoal

1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible, 21 Feb 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The build quality on this product is absolutely atrocious. When I purchased it, the zipper broke on the very first use. The canvas lining doesn't look very strong either, and the stitching quality was pretty poor. This is no way hard wearing, and I wouldn't recommend it for less arduous uses either, since it cannot handle much weight. This is simply a horrible product, even for something that is so cheap.


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