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Peter (United Kingdom)

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Philips 1.5 Watt LED Dusk Wall Lantern, Anthracite
Philips 1.5 Watt LED Dusk Wall Lantern, Anthracite
Price: 49.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Warm-coloured evening garden lighting, powered by the sun, 28 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've been meaning to fit lights in my back garden for a while. I was envisaging something that would let me sit outside in the evenings, that should give me enough light to have a drink and chat, a bit like some pub gardens have. I was put off by the need to run a power supply from the house, which would require armoured cable and drilling a hole through two thicknesses of stone.

Well, I'm pleased to say that technology has come up with a solution that makes it much easier to fit garden lighting, with no need for mains cables at all. The advances that made this possible are in the efficiency of solar panels, the effectiveness of rechargeable batteries and the quality of LED lighting. Assuming you can position the solar panel in direct sun you can now have twilight garden lighting that in the summer can keep your garden lit up past midnight. I've installed a couple of lights in the Philips range, this Wall Lantern and the Philips 1.5 Watt Separated Extra Low Voltage LED Clover Recessed, Inox and I'll discuss them separately on their respective product pages, but there are three features in common.

Firstly, these are not security lights. They're intended specifically to come on automatically at dusk, and provide light continuously until the battery runs out. If you hear funny noises outside at 4 am, chances are these lights won't help because they'll have run out of battery. That said, there is an on/off switch, so you could turn them off manually if you wish to preserve the battery.

Secondly, the colour and brightness. These lights are a very warm yellow-white, not the bright white you get from a normal white LED. This is ideal for evening use, because cool white tends to wake you up and warm white helps you to relax. The lights are bright enough to light up a decent area, but you can't really read by them. They're great for having a drink and relaxing with friends - the fairly dim light is very atmospheric. They have a very low power-consumption (1.5 Watts per light) but the efficiency of modern LEDs means they put out a lot more light than that sounds like.

Thirdly, positioning the solar panel. This should ideally be facing due south and not be obstructed by trees or other shade. East or west-facing will work at a pinch, although the duration of your evening light will be severely reduced. North-facing isn't really an option, for obvious reasons.

Looking at this wall-mounted light specifically, it is very easy to fit. There's a little sliding panel that comes off at the back; this needs to be screwed to the wall using two screws that are appropriate to the type of wall. No screws are supplied, but there's a helpful "top" marked on the plastic to make sure you don't fit it upside down. Once you have fitted that part to the wall, you just slide the lamp on from the top until it clicks into place. There are no cables of any sort to worry about. The only other thing you need to do is work out whether the on-off switch is in the "on" position or not. There's a very subtle difference in the quality of the "click" to help you work it out.

The anthracite grey finish may not be to everyone's liking, but I'm rather keen on the contemporary styling ("anthracite" means dark grey, by the way). Only a small part of the lamp touches the wall; the top part leans slightly away from the wall, so it initially looks a bit like its falling off. The solar panel on top is inclined slightly down to catch more sun.

The light doesn't come on until it is getting quite dark (there's no point in wasting power while you can still see). The light spreads out well, sideways more than forwards, although you can mount it fairly high to get the light projecting a bit further from the wall. The light spreads a long way sideways (180 degree spread), and lights up the wall under the lamp too.

Based on three days' use in July it seems that I'm getting around four to five hours of lighting each evening. In the winter the light will presumably illuminate for a shorter duration, but I'm also less likely to want to sit out in the garden then! When the battery runs out the lights go off abruptly. At this time of year my Boston Ivy is shedding seeds in quite a big way; these have been falling on to the solar panel quite thickly, although it doesn't appear to have had much effect on the light. I've been dusting the seeds off; it makes sense to keep the solar panel clear and clean (a damp cloth and mild detergent very few months should do the trick).

I'm really pleased with this light. I have it fitted by the back door, and it provides me with the light I need in the garden after sunset. I didn't initially like the warm colour of the light (I like cool white) but after a few days' use I appreciate that it is the best colour to have in the garden. Pure cool white light would look stark and unwelcoming; this light is by contrast very welcoming indeed.

MeasuPro TF5000 Instant Read Waterproof IPX7 Thermocouple Digital Thermometer with Wide Range and Large LCD Display
MeasuPro TF5000 Instant Read Waterproof IPX7 Thermocouple Digital Thermometer with Wide Range and Large LCD Display
Offered by Five Star
Price: 29.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Fast and accurate digital thermometer, 25 July 2014
I have a pair of very accurate kitchen scales by Smart Weigh, so when they offered to send my their new thermometer to try in exchange for this review I jumped at the chance. I'm pleased to say I wasn't disappointed.

The thermometer consists of a thin metal spike with the sensor concealed in the thinnest part right at the tip, and a larger handle-cum-controller-cum-readout at the other end. The temperature sensor can be used to measure temperatures from minus 50 to plus 300 degrees Celsius; however, the handle-end won't survive extreme temperatures, so you need to take a little care. There's a slightly odd plastic protector for the metal spike, that looks for all the world like the plastic barrel of a ballpoint pen, complete with clip. The clip is not for carrying the thermometer in your pocket: instead, it can be fitted onto the back of the handle-end of the thermometer at right-angles so you can (for example) measure the temperature of a pot of boiling jam without burning your hand.

The thermometer uses a CR2032 coin battery. It comes with one fitted, but when that run out you'll need a very small cross-head screwdriver to fit a new one. There's no backlight, so the battery should last some time. The thermometer does however beep at you when you press a button.

The thing is, this thermometer gives near-instant readings to the nearest tenth of a degree, and it gets quite addictive. If you want to to check how hot the inside of a joint of meat is, you can push the spike in and get a reading within a couple of seconds (I found, for example, that a joint of pork I'd had in the oven for two hours at 200 degrees was only 95 degrees inside; the juices ran clear anyway). Or you can check to see if a joint has properly defrosted before you start cooking. I also learned the benefit of warming a teapot: the water comes out of the kettle at around 97 degrees Celsius, but if I haven't warmed the teapot its down to about 75 within thirty seconds. If I warm the pot, the water is still at 92 after a minute.

I do hope I'm not becoming a thermometer bore.

There's an option to record maximum/minimum temperatures, so you can for example find the hottest of several measurements easily. Switching from Celsius to Fahrenheit is a single button-press. There's also an option to calibrate the thermometer, but that begs the question: against what? I have no other thermometer that's remotely as accurate as this one. And quite frankly, if it tells me the temperature of a batch of jam is 221.2 degrees when its really only 221.1, I don't mind. I know it has safely reached setting point, and I don't have to squint at a narrow column of red liquid in a glass tube to find out.

Anyway. If you need a way to measure spot temperatures quickly and easily, you could do a lot worse than this thermometer.

Roberts Stream93i DAB/DAB+/FM/ Internet Stereo Sound System with 3 Way Speaker System
Roberts Stream93i DAB/DAB+/FM/ Internet Stereo Sound System with 3 Way Speaker System
Price: 144.44

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous sound from an internet radio that's especially good for BBC stations, 24 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This radio works as a conventional DAB and FM radio, but it can also stream radio over the internet, play the BBC's "Listen Again" content and podcasts. In addition, it can play music from your DLNA music server or music library, and if that isn't enough you can plug your iPod into the Auxiliary port too. There is no Bluetooth, which to my mind isn't much of an issue, because WiFi gives you all the connectivity you need.

Setup if pretty straightforward, especially if you have a router with a WPS button to allow the radio to connect quickly (there is a wired ethernet port that you can use if you don't have WiFi). There is a remote control supplied, but you can also use the ConnectR remote control app on your Android or Apple device to control the radio. If you think you might want that, choose the "internet always on" option when setting up the radio. DAB (Digital Radio) and Internet Radio automatically search for stations, but FM doesn't. I don't use FM any more, so this doesn't bother me. The 100-page manual (all in English, so it really is 100 pages) says on the cover"Please read this manual before use". I didn't, but its a good reference.

Physically, the radio is tall and angular, with a stereo pair of speakers behind a cloth grille facing front and a 75mm bass speaker facing rear, with a small reflex port. The overall effect is very good - Roberts have clearly put a lot of effort into getting the sound sounding as good as you can in a relatively small enclosure. It has a fair bit of welly too - it sounds at least as good as my Sonos Play 1, if somewhat less clinical. There are a couple of rotary controls: one for volume and the other to scroll through selections and push to select. There are some smaller buttons, including the five quick-access presets which are arranged under the large colour screen (which displays album art when you're playing music from your music library). A minor niggle: the "back" button, which I find myself using quite a bit, is hidden away in a small row of buttons, so is quite hard to locate until you get used to it. The DAB/FM aerial is long and robust.

Note that there is no battery option: despite the handle on top this is not really a portable radio. All that bulk has gone into making it sound good, which is a fair trade-off, I suppose. The remote control comes with the coin battery loose in the box; I promptly lost mine and had to buy another. The remote control seems sturdy enough, but the buttons are little plastic bubbles which I suspect can be damaged if you press too hard. For some reason the Select button isn't in the middle of the four direction arrow keys; it has been placed above them, which feels awkward. There's no button labelled "Back", but the left arrow seems to serve that purpose.

On the back, in addition to an "Aux In" jack, there are Line Out and Headphone jacks. There's also a USB Playback port so you can listen to the music from a memory stick.

For bedside use, there are two alarm timers (so you can for example have different alarm settings for the weekend) You can choose to wake up to the last station you listened to or to a station you select, and it can be DAB or internet. The "sleep" option (by which the the radio switches itself off after a set time) is hidden away in a submenu.

There's no option to either pause or record live radio, either from DAB or Internet. You can pause podcasts though. The podcasts are sensible listed in the Internet Radio menu under the appropriate station - so Any Questions?, Bells on Sunday and so on are all under Radio Four. Many of the BBC Listen Again podcasts have no episodes available for listening, as much of the output is only available for a week after broadcast. Internet Radio stations are listed by in several blocks: there's "Local", which really means UK stations, there's the BBC, which gets a category all to itself (hooray!), and there's a catch-all for all stations and all podcasts. There's also a category you can customise with your own stations.

Playing music from my media library (which is on a NAS and consists of both iTunes and Amazon-sourced music, served over DLNA) is a little fiddly, but there's a good selection of options for listing by album, artist, artist and album, or skipping straight to a letter of the alphabet. It takes a little getting used to: it doesn't have the sleekness of iTunes or of the Sonos Play app. Speaking of Apps, there is an app you can download from the iTunes Store or Google Play Store called ConnectR. It detects any Roberts Internet radios and lets you control them remotely over WiFi. When you start the app up for the first time, it asks for a PIN to connect to the radio(s). The PIN is 1234. It also complains that Bluetooth is not enabled. As it connects to the radio over WiFi, it doesn't need Bluetooth, so you can ignore that warning. The app makes it *much* easier to play music from your music library.

I really like this radio. The emphasis is on the things I like: decent sound quality, ease of use - and easy access to BBC radio content!

Bad points:
- No "pause live radio" (although you can pause podcasts), and no record to USB option.
- "Sleep" is buried deep in a menu structure.
- Must be plugged in to work - no batteries, so its not very portable.
- A bit fiddly to navigate through a large music library unless you install the app.

Good points:
- Gorgeous sound for a small(ish) radio.
- DAB and Internet Radio very easy to use, especially with five direct-access presets for each as well as 35 additional presets for each if you want that many.
- Easy access to podcasts and BBC Listen Again.

PowerGen 3.4-Amp (17 Watt) Dual USB Wall Charger for Apple iPhone 5S 5 4S iPad Air Mini, HTC Samsung Motorola Android Phones Designed for Apple and Android Devices (USB Cable NOT included) - White
PowerGen 3.4-Amp (17 Watt) Dual USB Wall Charger for Apple iPhone 5S 5 4S iPad Air Mini, HTC Samsung Motorola Android Phones Designed for Apple and Android Devices (USB Cable NOT included) - White
Offered by E-TRADING24 LTD
Price: 39.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A 2-socket USB charger, with one socket each for Apple and Android devices., 23 July 2014
I've used Powergen portable rechargeable USB chargers for a couple of years, so when they told me about their new wall-socket USB power adapters I was keen to try them out. Powergen kindly supplied this unit to me for review, but did not attempt to influence my comments in any way.

First thing to note is that there's no point in having an all-in-one 13-Amp plug-cum-USB-socket if you don't have easy access to a free 13 Amp socket that's somewhere convenient for charging your mobile devices. Secondly, the shape and size of the plug means that it will fit easily beside other 13-Amp plugs (for example in a distribution board), but there's a lump hanging down under the live/neutral pins that means you need a couple of inches of free space under your socket. I doubt this will trouble most people, because that's where the cord comes out of most plugs. Thirdly, not all USB sockets are the same, and this device has two different sockets. It best to be aware what this means.

The USB 2.0 standard is 0.5A from each USB socket, but many USB devices are capable of charging much more quickly if the charger can tell the device that it can deliver a greater current. Unfortunately, Apple's way of signalling this is different from everyone else's.

So on this adapter there are two USB sockets. They will both charge pretty much any USB device at the regulation 0.5 Amp, but one of them will charge Apple devices much quicker than that, and the other will charge Android (and Kindle) devices much faster. Basically, unless you have one Apple and one Android tablet you shouldn't expect to be able to charge two tablet devices at the same time. It will work perfectly well to charge a tablet and a mobile phone at the same time; just make sure you plug the tablet into the appropriate socket, and the mobile phone into whichever socket is left. Of course, if you have (say) a Kindle Fire and an iPad, then this adapter will charge them both at the same time at a combined current (shared between the two sockets) of 3.4 Amp, which will be fast enough for most purposes.

The adapter comes in shiny white, with rounded ends and a bright blue LED that shines continuously if the power is switched on - so it doubles as a great nightlight! If you need to charge two devices from the same power socket then this is a good option (although the PowerGen 4A 20W Quad USB Wall Charger is even better).

Mr Muscle Oxy Stain Remover Fresh Scent
Mr Muscle Oxy Stain Remover Fresh Scent
Price: 7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than a general-purpose surface cleaner, 15 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Prior to trying this odour removing spray I've always used general-purpose surface cleaners (the sort that kill 99% of all known germs). The trouble with that is that when one of my dogs marks I don't just want to kill germs. I also want to get rid of the smell so the other dogs don't all join in and make it even worse.

The spray comes out quite fast, so its easy to saturate the affected area quickly. You then need to let is soak in for a few minutes before you blot off any excess, and then you just need to wait for the liquid to dry off. It has a pleasantly fresh but at the same time fairly nondescript scent, so its not at all intrusive. I've used it mainly on curtains and a hard floor (its really intended for fabrics and carpets), and it is really effective at eliminating scent. I can't vouch for the stain-removing properties: I haven't had any stains to deal with, but it is very good indeed at removing unpleasant dog-related smells.

I'm not quite sure what the "Oxy Action" flash cross the pack means. The ingredients are water, a hydrotrope (to allow insoluble stuff to be dissolved in water), sodium bicarbonate (the old ways are the best!), Acticide MBS, which is a strong microbiocide - so it will prevent bacteria from colonising the soiled area - and an "odour-neutralising" fragrance. Whatever it consists of though, it seems to work pretty well for its very specific purpose.

I won't ever again use Dettol Surface Cleaner for cleaning up after my dogs - this stuff is much better than a general-purpose cleaner.

Pegasus Health Salmon Oil for dogs 1 Litre
Pegasus Health Salmon Oil for dogs 1 Litre
Price: 18.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Virtually pure fish oil, 15 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you use a decent quality all-in-one dog food there's no need for supplements. However, dog love fats and oils, and its easy to see that it does them good.

This salmon oil from Pegasus Health is about as pure as you could get: its 99.5% pure salmon oil, with the remaining 0.5% made up of antioxidants. It smells lovely (if you like the smell of fresh salmon) - almost good enough to eat yourself. Because its fresh you need to keep it refrigerated. There's a measuring gadget on the top of the bottle; the suggestion is to only use a little oil each day, ranging from 5ml for small dogs to 15ml for the largest dogs. Assuming your dog comes somewhere in between, one bottle will last more than three months.

A word of caution: my labradors had no trouble at all with their 10ml doses on their food - and it means they spend a lot longer licking the bowl, so mealtimes last a bit longer - but one of my cavalier King Charles spaniels had a lot of trouble adjusting to the rich oil, and it gave him an upset stomach - and it didn't get any better until I stopped giving him the oil. So its not for every dog, although I'm sure you'd be hard-pressed to find a dog that doesn't like it.

* New arrived!* - New Version MSI Magic Wand WIFI Portable Handheld Colour Scanner 900 DPI With OCR Software (not for MAC)
* New arrived!* - New Version MSI Magic Wand WIFI Portable Handheld Colour Scanner 900 DPI With OCR Software (not for MAC)
Offered by Sunvalleytek-UK
Price: 99.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A tiny scanner you can carry around with you, 29 Jun 2014
If you don't have a flatbed scanner or a multi-function printer, you probably still need to occasionally scan in a document. This compact little "wand" scanner may be what you'looking for.

It stands about an inch high, is an inch top to bottom, and is just a bit wider than the short dimension of a sheet of A4 paper. There's a little roller-bar along to bottom to help it glide easily over the paper, and once you've got the hang of selecting colour or monochrome and JPEG or PDF with one button, and resolution (300, 600 or 900 dpi) with another before you begin scanning its quite easy to use. First you turn the scanner on (press the on/off/scan button for 2 seconds, then you select colour, output format and resolution, then you press the on/off/scan button again briefly. A green light lights up, and you move the scanner smoothly, and not too fast, down the page towards you (if you push it away from you the image is captured upside-down). Press the on/off/scan button again to finish scanning, and you're done. Note that the scanner is really designed for right-handed use: the display is on the left, and you can't see it properly if you're using your left hand.

The scanner can be used in three different ways, which makes it seem a bit complicated, but really you just need to choose which mode best suits your needs:

- You can scan direct to your computer (using a mini-USB cable, which is supplied, and the rather ugly widget-style software).
- You can scan to an Apple iPhone or iPad over Wi-Fi (not strictly wireless LAN, it uses peer-to-peer networking) using an app you can download from the iTunes Store.
- You can install a micro-SD memory card - an 8GB card was supplied with the unit I was sent although the manual says it is not supplied - and use the scanner standalone, and upload the pictures to your computer later, as you would with a digital camera.

If you're using Wi-Fi or if you're using the scanner stand-alone, you need to insert batteries (not supplied), specifically 4 x AAA 1.5V cells. If you connect it to the computer using the USB cable you need neither batteries nor the micro-SD memory card. I find it easiest to use the scanner standalone and then upload the images later. I don't much like the little PC widget-app, which works in an unusual way (it allows you to paste images directly from the scanner into a document such as a Word document). The OCR half of the application can load files from disk as well as directly from the scanner, but it won't work unless the scanner is connected. The OCR is very good, and it preserves images in the correct place within the text; if it wasn't for the OCR part I'd have uninstalled the app: the scanner works fine without it.

Scan quality is also pretty good. If you move the scanner too quickly during scanning you get a "squashed" image (and a red LED lights up to warn you).

Other than the scanner, the micro-SD card, the USB cable and *no* batteries, you also get a not-very-good instruction leaflet with tiny letters and a photocopied feel to it, a little cloth to keep the glass on the scanner clean and a little nylon carry-bag with a drawstring. The carry-bag has a very strong "industrial chemical" smell - I had to peg mine out on the washing-line for a couple of hours until the smell dispersed.

A "wand"-type scanner is never going to give as good results as a flatbed scanner, but on the other hand it is tiny to store, so if you're short of space and you only need a scanner for occasional use it makes a lot of sense.

My rating is for the scanner alone (it is rather better than the software and the accessories). I was supplied the scanner by the distributor for me to review; I have been using it for about a month now, and I'm finding it surprisingly useful. I carry it in my laptop bag, so I have it whenever I need it. You couldn't do that with a flatbed scanner!

Braun Oral-B PRO 5000 CrossAction 5-Mode Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush with Wireless Smart Guide
Braun Oral-B PRO 5000 CrossAction 5-Mode Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush with Wireless Smart Guide
Price: 80.72

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "Smart Guide" wireless display encourages children to brush properly, 22 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is pretty much the same toothbrush as the Oral-B 4000 Braun PRO CrossAction 4-Mode Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush. However, there are a couple of extras that you get with this Oral-B 5000 Pro that you don't get with the 4000 Pro, both of which can be very useful if (a) you travel at all, or (b) you have children.

The toothbrush offers four "modes", the same as the 4000 Pro. "Mode" really means how fast the motor is running and whether it is pulsating. The modes are:

- "daily clean", which is the normal setting;
- "sensitive", which runs the motor more slowly; there is also a different brush head supplied that is softer;
- "whitening", which helps you polish your teeth; again, there is a special brush head supplied to go with this mode; and
- "gum care", which is a gum-massaging mode, with the motor running at different speeds.

In addition to the two special brushes, the normal brush is the "cross-action" head. this has bristles at different angles, to get down into the crevices between your teeth. Oral-B also does a floss-action head, but it is not included in this pack. All of this is the same as the 4000 Pro. So what else do you get that makes this brush so much better?

The first "extra" is a clear plastic travel case that holds the handle plus two brush heads - great if you're going away for a few days (you shouldn't need to take the charger unless you'll be away for longer than a week, or if there are lots of you using the same brush handle). It is just a plastic case, but it makes a big difference.

The second "extra" is a little LCD display that's described as a "Smart Guide". It is particularly useful if you have children and you want to encourage them to brush properly. It gives visual feedback about what mode you have selected, shows you which quadrant of your mouth you should be cleaning (different quarters of a circle are displayed as your brushing progresses), tells you if you're pressing too hard (unhappy face) and when you have finished your recommended two minutes of brushing (happy face). You also get awarded up to four stars depending on how long you've been brushing, which acts as an incentive for children to brush properly. My son has been both captivated by the technology and motivated to brush properly; I wouldn't normally have considered getting a toothbrush with a "gimmick" like this, but I'm glad I did.

The Smart Guide can be wall-mounted using the sticky pad and plastic mount provided. If you have a large family, you can connect up to two brush handles to the same Smart Guide, but they must be wireless-enabled, which means a 5000 Pro or a 6000 Pro, not any of the handles from the rest of the range.

Braun Oral-B PRO 4000 CrossAction 4-Mode Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
Braun Oral-B PRO 4000 CrossAction 4-Mode Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush
Price: 54.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quality electric toothbrush, good for people with sensitive teeth, 22 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There's little doubt that a proper oscillating electric toothbrush like this does a much better job of cleaning your teeth than a manual toothbrush. The downside is the initial cost, but if cared for properly an electric toothbrush should last many years, with the cost of replacement brush heads roughly comparable with the cost of a new manual toothbrush every three months.

The question is then: how many features do you need or want on your toothbrush? Well, assuming you have reasonably healthy teeth and gums, the basic Oral-B Pro 600 has all the essential features: it comes with the best (cross-action) brush head, it has a pressure sensor to let you know when you're pressing the brush too hard against your teeth, and the motor "stutters" every 30 seconds to tell you when its time to move on to the next quadrant of your teeth. At the other end of the range, the Oral-B 6000 has a variety of modes for gum care, teeth-whitening and sensitive teeth as well as a "deep-clean" mode and four different brush heads. It also links up with an app you can download to your smartphone to keep track of your oral hygiene regime.

The Oral-B 4000 Pro is in the middle of the range. It is the cheapest toothbrush in the range that offers both a sensitive mode and brush head, so if you find brushing uncomfortable or painful it may be worth considering. It also has a whitening mode and brush head as well as the gum-care mode that is also featured on the Oral-B 3000 Pro and Oral-B 2000 Pro. The only oscillating brush head you don't get is the plaque-removing one (it has four little plastic paddles round the edge). According to the manual the cross-action brush head that does come in the box is also good at removing plaque.

I'm not altogether convinced by the different modes. It makes sense that the sensitive mode runs more slowly than the standard mode. The whitening mode cycles from slow to medium to fast, and gum-massaging mode gently moves between a slow and faster speeds. The reason for the different brush heads is more apparent. The standard cross-action one is good at giving your teeth an overall clean, including getting down into the crevices between teeth. The sensitive brush head is very soft. I don't have sensitive teeth, so I can't say how much benefit it gives, but it still seems to clean my teeth well. The whitening brush head has a little rubbery cup in the middle of the head that polishes your teeth, although I'm afraid my teeth are beyond whitening.

You are supposed to charge the handle for 22 hours before first use, after which it should work for a week (brushing twice per day for two minutes) before it needs charging again, although its easiest to leave it sitting on the charging stand all the time. There's a little tray with a lid for keeping up to four brush heads in. All of the heads supplied in the pack come with blue identification rings (the refill packs however come with four colours that, so you know which brush head belongs to which family member).

The thing I found a bit awkward at first was working out which brushing mode the toothbrush was set to. It always starts up in normal ("daily clean") mode, and then you press the button again to cycle between modes. Choosing the right mode was only a problem until I'd got used to the sounds the different modes make. To turn the brush off you hold the button down for a bit longer.

There's a red light to tell you when you're pushing the brush too hard against your teeth. I didn't think I'd be able to see it, but in fact it is very clear. I was brushing too hard; getting the immediate feedback is very helpful.

Given that it ought to last for around five years (until the rechargeable battery gives out), the additional features, including the brush head storage box, that come with the 4000 Pro are worth considering over the more basic models, especially if you have sensitive teeth.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 22, 2014 10:27 PM BST

Take Back the Skies
Take Back the Skies
by Lucy Saxon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.09

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uneven pacing, but it gets much better as you read on, 15 Jun 2014
This review is from: Take Back the Skies (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I enjoyed this novel much more than I was expecting. Its a debut novel by a sixteen year-old, and at the beginning it seemed a bit like Treasure Planet fan fiction, set in a steampunk universe with steam-powered ships with masts and rigging, and with extending canvas wings to fly through the air. There's lots of brass and cogwheels, and at the heart of every engine are drive chains and the mysterious telium that powers everything. And a clockwork robot servant, of course.

The book begins with Cat (again, I wondered whether the name might be a bit derivative) escaping from her privileged Anglyan family life to stow away on a skyship. This first part of the book races past so quickly that I didn't get a good sense of Cat's reasons for wanting to run away. The description of the shipyard could have been fleshed out a bit more too: there's loads of scope for imagination, but I'd have liked to be guided a bit more to think what this wondrous sight would be like. There's a pickpocket scene a bit later where the heart of this new adventure for Cat is missing: she sets off to pick some pockets, and then she has suddenly been very successful and has a stash of purses and wallets. Its a bit like seeing the cut-scenes from a game, but not experiencing the action.

The plot heads off in a completely different direction after the first hundred pages, and gets a lot more interesting. There are some intriguing discoveries about what the Anglyan government has been up to and there's a new sense of purpose to the action. And then a hundred pages later there are further discoveries that finally bring out the emotional depth that the novel needed earlier on. There's a fair bit of pathos and some moral ambiguity. The last part of the book reads like a rather good Doctor Who episode, with evil villains, much buckling of swashes and daring rescues.

I rather belatedly (at around page 250) realised that the references to different source material (Treasure Planet, Hunger Games, Doctor Who) were deliberate. Even the author's pen-name is a Doctor Who reference. Her skill is in blending the elements of these different universes to create something new.

There's a strong romantic thread running through the story: the characters frequently pause in their efforts to save the world for all mankind in order to discuss their feelings for each other - even when they are hiding in the villain's lair. I was half-expecting the villians to overhear these hormonal teenage discussions.

The ending is pleasingly ambiguous. Its not that it doesn't reach closure: it does, and there's a feeling that the story has come to an end in a satisfying way, but at the same time it's not a perfect ending - there are some "what-ifs" to deal with, and the book is much stronger for this.

There are some problems with pacing, and some of the characters - especially the evil ones - don't appear for long enough to give a sense of continuity. Some parts of the structure of the book only become apparent very close to the end; if one or two of the characters had been referenced more consistently through the story the story would have been stronger.

Saxon's world of Tellus consists of half a dozen islands. Cat's story is the story of one of these islands, Anglya. I wonder what stories she'll have to tell us about the other five islands in the next books in the series?

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