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Josh (UK)

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Miele S6210 2000 Watt Power Bagged Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner, Sprint Blue
Miele S6210 2000 Watt Power Bagged Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner, Sprint Blue
Price: 154.97

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully compact, perfect for a student house., 13 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I suffered through university with lousy upright vacuums with burned out motors (my fault, vacuumed a sock by mistake), vacuums that spewed out dust when they were turned on and vacuums that couldn't suck up a mote of dust if they were given steroids.

Just about everyone in my family owns a Miele. My mum, both my grandmothers all swear by them. So no, no bias at all!

Miele are well built, you get a 2 year warranty as standard or you can pay 50 to get a 10 year parts+labour (including shipping). It's a bit of a shame that the extended warranty isn't offered as standard, but Miele has a pretty good reputation for reliability.

I chose this as it was the smallest cylinder vacuum on offer. Now a PhD student, I'm still in the stage of moving house regularly and I don't need a massive pet friendly hypoallergenic machine.

The power is more than good enough, yes, it passes the carpet-lift test. There are several attachments for getting into the little nooks and crannies and the power settings are varied enough that you can use it at night without fear of waking the neighbours.

As for bag-space, it lasts long enough. If you have a big house and vacuum weekly then you'll probably want some more capacity, but realistically I don't vacuum the entire house once a week (I'm slovenly, ok?). Replacement bags are cheap enough, around 1 a pop if you look around Amazon.

The quality is apparent. The cable return system is standard fare for Miele so you don't need to worry about winding the cable up somewhere, it's all stored neatly in the body of the vacuum and returns to its home with a tap of the button. Similarly the telescoping handle is long enough (or short enough) and is well built. The main vacuum head is strong and has the usual brush/no brush options. The head doesn't have the rotating brush system that the larger vacuums have, in case you wanted it. The 'full' meter is useless, even on an empty bag it will show half full, but it does give you an indication of when you should change the bag.

Downsides? Only that it's not cheaper and the warranty is a bit short - come on, why not 5 years at least? But as a product I've not been able to fault it yet.

All in all very happy with it. I'm sure it'll still be working in 10 years' time!

Electruepart Dust Bags For Miele S380 Series Vacuum Cleaners 5 Pack
Electruepart Dust Bags For Miele S380 Series Vacuum Cleaners 5 Pack
Offered by Dynamic Deals Limited
Price: 4.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Works well with the Miele S6210, 13 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Fits like a charm and even comes with a couple of extra filters. Only downside is that it doesn't have the proper valve like official Miele bags, but for the price you can't complain. For comparison 4 official bags plus a filter costs around 8 so there's not much in it.

Gerber Recon Task Light Torch
Gerber Recon Task Light Torch
Price: 24.14

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for astronomers, but I don't like the on-off mechanism., 13 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a tiny little wonder. It's not the brightest torch in the world, but it'll do - it's about as bright as most mobile phone torches. It's very small, taking a single AA battery. If you run it from an alkaline (boo environment) it'll last for a very long time.

I would recommend this for astronomy people because it's one of the few torches that comes in dual white/red modes. The only other torch I'm aware of is made by Energizer or perhaps Duracell and only in the US. The red beam is suitably dim for night work. It's not super bright like a bike light or a headtorch, it's obviously designed for covert operations. I had no problem reading charts and setting up equipment using only the red light.

As for blue and green, well supposedly these are useful for map reading (green) and fluid identification (blue). The idea is that blood (obviously red) will heavily absorb blue light and will appear black if you're using it to track something at night. I haven't tested either, but presumably it's useful if you're in the armed forces. Ideally you'd want UV for testing materials, but the torch uses transmission filters rather than separate LEDs and you can't magically generate UV light (in any meaningful quantity) from a white LED.

The housing is sturdy and the filter wheel has a reassuring click and won't budge unless you put some effort in. There is a notch to line up the red beam, not the white one, to preserve your night vision if using in the dark. The clip is sturdy, but not built into the torch so it could slip off conceivably. The filters are recessed and seem hard enough; if you drop the torch you're not going to break them unless you drop it on a spike.

My one gripe is the on/off mechanism. To turn the torch on you have to screw in the end cap which is fine, but I think for security it should be the other way around. Off should be fully tightened, on slightly loosened. I want to unconsciously tighten the torch when it's in my pocket which turns it on. Similarly if you don't have it loose enough, pressing the end cap will momentarily cause the torch to light; probably useful for signalling, but not great for battery consumption. It's not a major concern, the O-ring prevents the end from unscrewing itself by mistake, but it could be more robust.

Recommended - I bought a second after I lost the first one.

TRIXES 150W WATT USB Car Power Inverter DC 12V to AC 220V
TRIXES 150W WATT USB Car Power Inverter DC 12V to AC 220V
Offered by Digiflex
Price: 13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the tin, but forget the USB socket, 13 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Cheap, cheery and only a few caveats.

I used this on a week long camping/road trip so we could charge things as we went. It didn't have a problem charging a macbook air, 150W is plenty for laptops, phones, tablets, etc. Don't try a hairdryer though. A warning that you probably shouldn't run this without the engine on for very long, made that mistake and had to jump start the car the following morning.

Although it's comforting that it has a fan for cooling, it was by far the most annoying part of the device. The blades must have been fouling a component on the inside because it would make noises like an animal dying. A smart tap on the dashboard usually fixed it. I meant to take a screwdriver to it one of these days. It never got hot or overheated so thumbs up there.

The USB charger is mediocre and I'll dock a star for that. Although it will operate without the engine running, it's very low power and we found it easier to use a proper 2A phone charger plugged into the mains socket.

It seems to be well built, sturdy, but the cigarette plug is a bit flimsy and was prone to falling out. In general it's a good product, it does what it says it'll do. Recommended if you need a cheap source of AC when you're on the move.

Waterproof Fold-Drybag 4 Pack - Classic
Waterproof Fold-Drybag 4 Pack - Classic
Offered by Total Access (UK) Ltd
Price: 25.90

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 years without letting me down, 13 May 2014
I bought one of these for a song in the Lake district back in 2007. I have one of the smaller models, which I used to line a 20l trail running rucksack that was otherwise leaky. It did the job and I've continued using it since then. I found it serves best as a portable washing machine - fill it up with hot water in the shower at the camp site or hostel, throw in your clothes and some soap and slosh it around (I even stamp on mine - with the top open a little for pressure release) until clothes are clean. The outside gets a bit damp, but thats' more from the shower than any significant leaks in the bag. In a pinch you could use one as a water carrier, they really don't leak.

The sealing system is effective and should be familiar to anyone with a pannier or other waterproof bag. You flatten the opening and roll it down, forcing air out of the bag. Once you've gotten it as far as it'll go, you do up the buckle and presto - watertight. It's also pretty much airtight so you can use this to compress your clothes a lot much like those vacuum storage bags.

Highly recommended!

External Bluray BD rom drive dvdrw cdrw
External Bluray BD rom drive dvdrw cdrw
Price: 39.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works with OS X and does just what it says on the tin, 21 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I owned a Samsung blu ray drive before this (SE-506BB) - at around three times the price. I since lost it and thought to buy a new one. Admittedly it was also a BluRay writer, but I don't know anyone who actually uses BluRays for backup. Finally it supported 3D BluRay, but as I don't have a 120Hz monitor and we already have a standalone BluRay player hooked up to the telly (which also isn't 3D), why bother?

The drive arrived in a very small envelope, it's actually smaller than the Sammy in a nice compact shell. It's plastic, but black matte so doesn't attract fingerprints and looks attractive enough. There is a label on the top case which will probably vary depending on who you buy this from. Mine is China Industrial, for instance. It's great for travel, taking up about as much space as the drive inside. The base of the drive is very sturdy with a sheet of metal to stop things flexing.

There's the usual split USB cable (in case one port can't provide enough power) although oddly it's a USB B-type plug rather than USB Micro/Mini. There is also a socket for a wall adaptor if your USB cables still aren't good enough, perhaps if you used an unpowered hub.

The drive worked without any installation in OS X Mavericks and MakeMKV found it without any problem (it also works with "Blu-ray player"). It reads all the commercial disks I've thrown at it. It comes without any software, so if you want to watch BluRay films, you need something to decode the discs. This is the same with any BluRay drive, so don't hate because you don't understand why you can't play movies.

Note this is actually the same problem that DVD drives had back in the day on Linux. DVDs are encoded and the decoding software must be licensed. Windows machines came with this license, paid for as part of the OS cost. Linux on the other hand didn't and although the encryption was cracked in no time, watching DVDs on Linux is still technically illegal in some places. Most expensive drives come with playback software for this reason.

If you want a cheap drive that will rip'n'read BluRay discs, then you can't go wrong here. Maximum read speed (riplocked) is 4x, or about 20MB/s - this is the same as more expensive drives so don't be fooled.

Sistema Soup Mug, 656 ml
Sistema Soup Mug, 656 ml
Price: 3.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Besides the vent, it's perfect, 21 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A note on the steam vent: it's there for a very good reason. If you try and microwave a full bowl of soup in an otherwise airtight container, there is a good chance the container will explode under pressure. The seal on the lid is very good, so Sistema are playing it safe. That said, there's no reason why they couldn't have added an O-ring.

Like most people here I bought this as a way to encourage cheap/healthy eating at lunch. I often bring canned soup in, but I also have to remember a bowl.

I had a Sistema vegetable steamer before this, it's well built and encouraged me to buy more from the range.

The mug feels pretty strong and although the handle looks a bit thin, it's very rigid and I have no fear of it bending or breaking. There is a little flex in the cup itself, but nothing to worry about.

The lid clamps on securely and has a large rubber seal to keep liquids in the mug. It works; if you slosh the cup around, nothing comes out of the sides. The top, however is a problem. There is a small steam vent at the top which gives the false impression of locking (it clicks securely at least). However if you tip the cup, it will leak guaranteed. The obvious downside is that you can't commute with it unless you're sure it's not going to fall over. I'm told the breakfast bowl works quite well so I'm going to buy that, it has slightly less capacity (530ml instead of 656ml) without the milk bowl, but that's probably enough.

One thing I have noticed compared to a ceramic bowl is the increased insulation. Stuff stays hotter for quite a bit longer and due to the fairly narrow design there's less area for your soup to radiate away heat. And of course the handle means you don't burn your hand taking stuff out of the microwave..

Olympus Stylus TOUGH TG-2 Digital Compact Camera - Black (12MP, 4x Wide Optical Zoom) 3 inch OLED
Olympus Stylus TOUGH TG-2 Digital Compact Camera - Black (12MP, 4x Wide Optical Zoom) 3 inch OLED

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best you can buy, for now., 16 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Updated after the holiday, see end (May 2014)

There comes a time in everyone's life where you wish your camera worked underwater. If you look around the current offerings, things don't look good. You have a few options:

1) You own a good camera and you buy waterproof housing for it.
2) You buy a very expensive all weather camera (e.g. the recent Nikon AW system)
3) You buy a mid-range compact

Option 1 is all very well, I own a Nikon D90 which is a bit of a lumbering beast. Proper waterproof housing costs as much as the camera itself, so is there really a need if you're not a professional diver? Option 2 is probably the most sensible route for people who don't own a camera. The new mirrorless systems are getting better by the month and the price isn't outrageously high. As a second camera though, it's a little steep.

So I went for option 3, and things got difficult. There aren't that many waterproof cameras on the market, most of them falling under the 'tough' category. The reviews aren't terribly inspiring - pretty much all the cameras have abysmal low light performance, poor high-iso performance and a host of little niggles to put you off. The Tough TG-2 follows on from the fairly well recieved Tough TG-1, so far so good. Really when I say the competition is weak is an understatement. There are virtually no waterproof compacts around that look half professional. There's the Pentax offering in lurid orange and there's the Canon offering which - no kidding - looks like a fish. These are not cameras you'd feel comfortable about taking to the pub and leaving with your pride intact.

The kit comes with the camera, a USB cable and a battery. You can swap the red front for a black one if you so desire, a spare ring is included in the box. There's also a reassuringly thick lanyard. The camera charges over USB so an external charger isn't required.

Featurewise it's a pretty standard 'modern' compact. It has GPS onboard, a frankly lovely OLED screen, no viewfinder and a host of quirky yet pointless image filters (miniature, mosaic, punk, etc.). One bonus is the presence of an f/2.0 lens, letting more light in than comparably priced cameras. Of course as soon as you start to zoom, things get dark, but that's par for the course. There's a barometer (which works underwater) and a digital compass too, if that matters.

The GPS is hit and miss. I found it took a very long time to lock in urban areas and by the time I'd waited, I'd already taken the pictures. Not terribly impressed at this - how hard is it to integrate an off the shelf GPS? Once you do get a fix, the camera will show you features nearby your current location, though you need to know what you're looking for and navigation is finnicky. But hey, if you do a lot of hill walking, you shouldn't have any problems tracking your routes.

There are a number of modes, the all important automatic, programmed auto, fake aperture priority, two custom modes, a macro mode and some other things. There isn't a dedicated video mode, you simply hit record.

Programmed auto lets you change things like the ISO and these settings can be transferred to Custom 1 and Custom 2 via a menu option for later use. Note that this isn't covered in the manual very clearly (if at all) - changes made in custom mode don't save, you have to change them in P and transfer. Bizarre choice on Olympus' part here.

This camera is screaming for shutter priority. Aperture priority exists, but its' useless. In low light situations, the aperture is fully open anyway. You can't control depth of field to get nice blurry backgrounds because 'aperture' in this case, is a series of electronic neutral density filters - smoked glass, if you will. It's a bizarre choice not to have manual exposure instead, which would actually be useful - there are plenty of times when the camera could cope with a faster shutter speed, but it simply chooses to shoot at 1/4.

The macro mode is astonishingly good. Really. There is an LED that can be used to illuminate your scenes and the focus distance is pretty much up to the lens cover. Perfect for taking disgusting pictures of your significant other.

Video modes range from the usual 1080p up to the super high frame rate modes. You can shoot at 120 or 240fps - around 5-10 times normal video speeds. Resolution suffers and you need very bright lights to really take advantage of this (again, for whatever daft reason you can't leave the LED on while filming). Still, if you compose the scene right you can get some amazing results. Video quality isn't terrible, on par with most other comparable cameras.

As for the underwater mode, I did what every sane person would do when they opened the box. I went to take a shower, tested out both the high speed video mode and the waterproofing of the camera and sent the video to my girlfriend. So far so good, I've since used it in the rain plenty of times and I've tested it in a bucket of water without any issues. I'm off to sunny places in a few months so I'll update with how it fares in the sea.

Toughnesswise, I haven't really done anything to damage it yet. The display is mounted behind a layer of thick plastic, as is the lens. There isn't a proper lens cover - not even a sliding metal panel - which is a strange omission. I trust the transparent lens protector will be fine, but something a bit more robust would be welcome here.

Battery life is similarly good. I lasted a week's holiday only needing to charge once, with plenty of video, some flash use and a few hundred photos. The GPS was also on most of the time, though it failed to lock onto anything.

Picture quality comes last. There isn't much to say - photos look nice, if you put the ISO up you're going to suffer. There are enough megapixels to satisfy even the least well endowed. If you want better image quality, buy a standard compact. What you're paying for here is the ability to abuse your camera without any ill effects.

Should you buy it? Probably, given the competition. It's sad; the Tough TG-2 is a decent camera, but it only wins because there's nothing significantly better in this price bracket. As a camera you can chuck in your bag/pocket for any occasion it's a great option. The majority of the time it works as you want it, the pictures are good enough for most purposes and the ability to go swimming with it is a major plus point. On the downside, there are plenty of little problems that Olympus should be addressing, some of which will really get on your nerves after a while. However, none of them are show stoppers so my recommendation is still buy.

UPDATE - Post Holiday

I took the camera to Scotland for a week's camping holiday. How did it fare? The answer is on the whole, pretty good. I was very impressed with the pictures outdoors, lovely bright colours - postcard quality stuff. Can't say the same for indoors, but what do you expect.

It was our dash cam in the car, recording around 50 hours of video. The video (720p) came out nicely, good colours and the sound was also acceptable. Video eats the battery like no tomorrow and we discovered the hard way that the camera will only function and charge at the same time if you're using a high power USB charger. A laptop or battery pack won't cut it, you need a 1.5-2A plug or more.

I did try the camera in the North Sea and it didn't have any problems recording video. It got covered in sand and salt and is still working now. I don't dive so I can't vouch for its deep water handling, but for people who want to mess around in the sea/pool it gets my thumbs up.

All in all pretty happy. It's much easier to whip out quickly than the SLR and provided you're mostly using it outdoors the picture quality is great.

AC Power Adapter Extension Wall Cord for Apple Mac EU
AC Power Adapter Extension Wall Cord for Apple Mac EU
Offered by Allske
Price: 4.28

5.0 out of 5 stars Great quality plug, 20 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought this for my girlfriend who got her Mac in the UK and needed an EU plug. It's very solid, made of a hard matt rubber, has proper grounding (very important as a lot of Apple knock offs don't) and seems to work fine in Spain where it's used continually.

Dremel Line and Circle Cutter
Dremel Line and Circle Cutter
Price: 13.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Fine for light tasks, but will struggle if you want a perfect finish, 20 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a very handy little device for when you need to route something and don't want to put the effort in, or don't own a router. You screw your Dremel into the holder with a suitable bit, set the plunge depth and you're good to go. You do need some kind of guide, a piece of 2x4 or similar will do the job - any straight edge. The crosspiece on the device is a bit wobbly and it doesn't actually align straight enough so if you're trying to drill through some tougher material it's liable to wiggle a bit. For something like perspex or acrylic though, this is great.

It struggles on thicker wood, I tried to route some 0.5" MDF and it was OK, but the Dremel wasn't really up to it. The bit kept on snagging and the aforementioned wobble stopped me from really doing a good job of it. Bottom line is if you need to do big straight things, most of the time a cheap saw will do the job faster and cleaner.

The circle cutter works in a similar way, there's a pin which you whack into your material and then rotate the Dremel around it. You're limited to a fairly small size and frankly using a hole saw is a lot easier, but if you need to route an arc or something similar then this might just be what you need. Again though, the slightly poor construction means you can't guarantee a quality finish on you work.

Should you buy it? Probably, it's a cheap attachment and doesn't seem to be nearly as bad as some of the Dremel products (e.g. the drill press). If you're only cutting soft woods and plastic then you'll have no problems at all. Harder and thicker products will struggle. I haven't tried metal, but I suspect if you were slow you could easily cut thin sheet aluminium.

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