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R. Stevens (Woking)

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AVG Protection 2016 2 Year - Internet Security & AntiVirus for Unlimited PCs, Tablets & phones
AVG Protection 2016 2 Year - Internet Security & AntiVirus for Unlimited PCs, Tablets & phones
Price: £35.71

5.0 out of 5 stars Great package for households with lots of devices, 1 Dec. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I’ve used AVG previously and liked it a lot because it was effective and discreet. Coming back to it with this version and it things are quite similar. The user interface is still slick and simple, in general you don’t get spammed by messages too much and it detected a real (not adware etc.) threat that my previous anti-virus (Avast) had missed.

However, it has adopted that bane of modern software, the pushy upsell. It really wants you to try the PC Optimizer feature, which looks built in. Only when you try it do you find that it isn’t. You get a 24-hour trial and then it prompts you to purchase. Obviously it is also going to keep pinging up “Your PC is not optimized” messages from time to time and who knows what else. To be fair, it hasn’t been too bad since the first couple of days (especially compared to the free Avast), but time will tell.

Otherwise this is a great package; unlimited PCs, Macs and Android device for 2 years is good value for a full security package like this. Obviously they plan to upsell you a bunch of other stuff during that time, but still.

You don’t actually need the physical copy in the box, when you first install you basically register on the website and download the software from there. I’ve installed to a couple of PCs (Win7 laptop, Win10 desktop) and a MacBook Pro running El Capitan and the installation has always been simple and impressively fast. I had struggled to find a decent and stable anti-virus for Mac previously (though that might have been more down to Yosemite), but AVG has worked great so far. I don’t have any Android devices that I want to protect.

So far the experience has been excellent (upsell aside) and I’m very happy. Knowing all the household PCs/Macs are covered for the next 24 months is a great feeling. Just a shame that iOS is not covered…

Ultrasport Folding Spade with Belt Bag
Ultrasport Folding Spade with Belt Bag

5.0 out of 5 stars Handy addition to our camping gear, 12 Nov. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I picked this up to add to our camping equipment with the intention of using it to remove the top layer of grass when making a fire pit. Obviously this does not constitute heavy duty use and is a task for which this little spade is ideally suited, thanks to its weight and size.

Folded up it covers about the surface of a small plate, with the thickness of a double DVD box. Taking it out of the bag it rattles about as three, loosely attached pieces. But line them all up and tighten the screw twist and you’ve got yourself a mini spade! ‘Mini’ being the key word - it feels tiny! Smaller than I’d imagined from the photos. The optimal position for using it is to be on your knees, which therefore makes using the stepping edges tricky. But since you can get a good, one-handed grip on the handle, should you need to get your foot on there, it can be done without bending completely in two.

The Ultrasport spade does not feel terribly robust and I don’t imagine it standing up to prolonged use in tough conditions (like hard packed soil with hidden rocks). Then again, your back would probably break before the spade did if you tried taking it out of its comfort zone. The saw teeth are blunt and probably wouldn’t cut anything more than rotten wood (though I’ll admit that I haven’t felt the urge to try). The idea of swinging it in anger against anything (as a hatchet) really doesn’t feel right either, especially as it is very light (meaning all the force would have to come from your arm).

Despite everything I’ve just said I really like it. Packed into its pouch it simply disappears into our huge pile of camping gear, ready to be brought out for those little jobs it excels at, which is really all I wanted from it. On the off chance that I find myself needing a hatchet or saw whilst in a field in the middle of nowhere, it is also good to know that it is there, ready to try its best. For the price, it’s perfect.

Miore women's 9ct White Gold Small Freshwater Pearl and Diamond Stud Earrings MG9156E
Miore women's 9ct White Gold Small Freshwater Pearl and Diamond Stud Earrings MG9156E
Price: £74.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart and made from good materials, 5 Nov. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I got these for my wife, who had a pearl necklace and no earrings to go with it. So far she is very pleased.

The pearls are cultured, but real nonetheless (compared to synthetic options). The white gold prevents irritation, adds weight and is, well, gold. Finally, the diamonds are almost invisible to my aging eyes, except when they catch the light, which is really all the counts I suppose. The overall look is classy, but sober and they go great with the aforementioned necklace.

The clasps clip on well and reassure that the earrings are not going to fall out and get lost. The box the earrings come in is also very nice, with a dark blue, velvety lining that sets the jewellery off very nicely. You also get a credit card like certificate of authenticity that, among other things, claims that the diamonds are conflict free (though you can never be 100% sure, due to the nature of supply in Africa).

All-in-all these are lovely little earrings for a reasonable price.

Lamaze  Sonny The Glowing Bunny
Lamaze Sonny The Glowing Bunny
Price: £15.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cute and fun - shame he's a little hard, 4 Nov. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We really like Lamaze’s toys and I got this bunny a bit on impulse. It has everything a budding toddler could want – it has buttons, makes noises and lights up. On top of that it is cute and (parts of it are) huggable.

It is great that it can be configured for 4 different languages – my wife is French and my son understands both English and French, so being able to switch toys between languages is always a plus. To change language, you need to take the batteries out and put them back, which resets the rabbit and lets you make the selection again. Obviously this is overly fiddly and only meant to be done once.

There are some issues though. Firstly, there’s the hard plastic body, which can bang your baby if he/she is swinging it by the ears or flopping down on it. The fabric that covers the body is very snug and for the life of me I can’t get the Velcro over the battery compartment to close flat, so it always leaves scratchy edges sticking out.

There are day and night modes. Night mode simply plays music and cycles the colour of the light for a few minutes, then stops. Day mode changes the colour of the rabbit’s tummy and speaks the colour (not always clearly) when you press the button in the correspondingly coloured ear. Pushing two buttons at once plays some music (always the same). Changing between the two modes just needs a press of the button in the paw. Changing from night to day needs a long press, while, bizarrely, changing from day to night only needs a short press. This means your child can constantly switch to night mode inadvertently, which just doesn’t seem right to me.

At the end of the day I’m in two minds about this rabbit. It’s definitely aimed at very young babies, but I’d worry about the hard body and scratchy Velcro. But on the other hand it is very cute and colourful and has that lovely glowing tummy. Provided you’re aware of the various niggles described, I’m sure many would be happy with this little guy.

CAILLER Milk Chocolate Selection Small Box Assortment (16 Piece)
CAILLER Milk Chocolate Selection Small Box Assortment (16 Piece)

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality chocolates and a lovely gift, 1 Nov. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If I were basing this review on packaging alone, I’d give this 5 stars off the bat. The box is worthy of Apple for making the opening of your box of chocs a real event. Giving one of these boxes as a gift is almost a no brainer.

As for the chocolates themselves, there’s a nice selection of classic fillings that could please most tastes (especially fans of pralines and hazelnut). There are two of each variety, with two exceptions, so you or the person you’re buying for can share with their loved one. The chocolate is fine and creamy, while the fillings are rich, but I didn’t find them as exceptional as I’d hoped given the reputation and packaging. My wife really appreciated them, as she’s more of a milk chocolate fan than I, so maybe I’m not the best public.

At about £1 the chocolate they’re not cheap, but they’re well-presented and good quality. The delivery packaging protects the box itself extremely well, so you should have very few concerns about the box arriving dented or the chocolates squashed.

ByJoy 925 Pear Shaped Ruby Sterling Silver Pendant of 45 cm Curb Chain
ByJoy 925 Pear Shaped Ruby Sterling Silver Pendant of 45 cm Curb Chain
Price: £35.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Simple and elegant, with a nice touch of colour, 25 Oct. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Very nice necklace. The chain is fine enough to be smooth, but not so thin as to feel cheap or fragile. The clasp is sturdy and easy to use without being overly large.

The stone has a nice colour and is well mounted. The whole design has an everyday elegance that works for many occassions.

The only slight letdown is the box. Actually, that's not quite true; the box is nice and it is great it comes supplied, but the insert that holds the necklace could be a little nicer (it is foamed plastic) and ours was upside down when received. Then again I'm probably being overly picky for the price point.

Tomy Foam Cone Factory Toy
Tomy Foam Cone Factory Toy
Price: £12.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More bubbles!, 23 Oct. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
You have to expect the uses of this toy to be limited. Outside of making fake ice-creams what are you going to do? Well, our son has adopted the shaker full-time and keeps coming back to stacking the cones or using them to pour water. As for the foam maker, that is always a source of curiosity, but after about 3 days it was no longer requested when we came to bath time. That doesn’t mean that if I stick it to the side it won’t be used, though.

As mentioned in other reviews, the sides of the bath need to be dry when you stick it on or it slips around (making working the handle difficult). Dosing the bubble bath, water mix is really easy and even if you get it a little wrong (for ice-creams) it still makes usable, fun piles of bubbles (you can fill anything, even bowls). It doesn’t need batteries, just good ol’ elbow grease to make the foam, which makes a pleasant change.

The fun ends at the end of the bath because it is a bit of a pig to rinse and clean. You’ve just filled it with soap, which can take an age to rinse out again, so mould is always a worry. I tend to stick it to the wall tiles, upside down, when it is not in use and so far so good. The whole thing is solid, resistant and somewhat heavy – you wouldn’t want to drop it on your foot. Basically it feels built to last.

Basically, after the initial excitement, this is a toy to bring out occasionally for it to be a long-term success. Leaving it always available will lead to over-familiarity and abandonment. But bring it out every now and then for role-playing or just making heaps of foam and it’ll remain a success for quite a while.

Aquadoodle Super Colour Deluxe
Aquadoodle Super Colour Deluxe
Price: £22.59

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instant toddler fun!, 22 Oct. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
First thing to say, this is a great way to get your kid scribbling. Second thing to say, get this version, because the bigger the better.

So, onto the why. First off, have you tried using crayons lately? They suck! They look fun and have lots of colours, but they barely leave a mark on paper unless you push really hard or half melt them. Fill the AquaDoodle pen with a little water and you get nice heavy, colourful lines with hardly any pressure. OK, you can’t control the colour, but that’s not a big deal. Want even thicker lines? Use the paint brush, with its anti-spill water pot, and your kid will think they’re painting a wall.

So why the biggest version? Well, it’s more practical for two or three kids to use at once, but mainly because it takes longer to scribble over it all, either giving your children time to get the scribble out of their system or giving the first scribbles time to dry and be ready to be drawn over again when all the space has been used.
Downsides? Well, for one, don’t be fooled by the marketing photo, the AquaDoodle isn’t the size of a small rug, more like the half of a dining room table. And as implied above, once it is all wet you can’t use it again until it has dried out. My son loves to use the brush to paint huge swathes over and over, does his best to make the anti-spill pot spill and has found that shaking the pen hard enough sends drops of water everywhere. Needless to say, when he’s done the ‘paper’ is soaking. But even so it only takes about 20 minutes to dry out, but that is enough time for him to wander off and start doing something else.

But overall we’re very happy. Our boy took to it immediately and keeps coming back for more, often with friends. There’s little mess aside from some water spillage and everything is easy to prepare and put away. You'll need to take photos to keep as mementos, but with mobile phones so easily at hand that’s not a problem.

Recommended - just get the big one.

TOMY Bath Toys Bathtime Dragon
TOMY Bath Toys Bathtime Dragon
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Cute and effective - maybe not ideal for younger children?, 8 Oct. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
What does ‘fire breathing’ mean? This little dragon works essentially like any bath squirt toy, there’s a soft body which can suck in water through a little hole in the mouth, then squirt it back out. The difference is in the head, which is hard plastic, contains a little red LED in the mouth and a battery compartment in the ‘skull’.

When you squeeze the body, the water pressure triggers a little switch that turns on the light. This is oriented in such a way that it lights the water up red as it exits the mouth and is quite a convincing display. More like fireworks than fire, but not bad at all.

Our son is just over 2 years old and apparently he’s not ready for this toy yet. The problem is that to activate the pressure switch to turn on the light, you have to squeeze surprisingly hard. At first I didn’t think the dragon was working, that the batteries were flat or that I’d missed a power switch somewhere. It was almost by accident that I discovered that it wasn’t faulty. Admittedly the stronger squeeze makes the water spray out more and looks better than a weaker stream. The prolonged experimentation and the final noisy display simply made our boy too wary of the toy and he doesn’t want to touch it now. He might not be able to squeeze it hard enough to get the fire effect in any case.

The hard and heavy head was a little off putting for him too. Though there aren’t any hard corners he could still give himself a good whack if shaking it around.

I think if we’d unboxed it and tried it out without our son present, things might have been different. It is a fun toy and I’m sure that when he’s a little older he’ll take to it with gusto, but for the moment we’ll be putting it away until he’s a few months older.

Britax Dualfix Isofix Rearward and Forward Facing Car Seat - Group 0+/1 from Birth to 4 Years, Zebra
Britax Dualfix Isofix Rearward and Forward Facing Car Seat - Group 0+/1 from Birth to 4 Years, Zebra

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The king of car seats, 18 Sept. 2015
So, all research these days says that rear-facing car seats are safest. But what happens when your rear-facing seat just doesn’t have enough space for your little one to stretch their legs? This is the solution; a rear-facing seat that can be turned to forward-facing when needed. And that is just one of the advantages of this seat.

Amazingly this seat is good from birth (using the newborn insert) to 18kg, which is estimated to be about 4 years. Admittedly, given the price, getting one is a big investment, but if you get four years to spread the cost then it doesn’t seem so bad. And what cost the security of your child?

Downsides include the size of the thing – it is definitely not adapted to smaller cars. When we got ours we had a Mini (new version) and the passenger had to ride very close to the dash because of the Dualfix behind their chair (upgrading to a full-sized 4-door has improved things enormously). If you’re likely to move it from one car to another, then be prepared for the weight and bulk of the thing. As a rear-facing seat, you also have to be prepared for the fairly bulky support leg that goes into the foot well. And for extra impact protection there’s also the seat-back bar (there to prevent the whole seat rotating in that direction in the case of a rear impact), which adds size and weight, but also makes for a handy carry handle.

However, all these bulky bits increase the safety of the seat, the form of which wraps right around your child and thus provides good side protection as well. The form of the seat and the padding is very comfortable and our son is now able to support longer journeys with much less fussing than before. Putting him into and getting him out of the seat is much easier thanks to the ability to turn it 90 degrees and the headrest is also simple to move up and down. Fitting it is easy and very secure thanks to Isofix and the various indicators that show whether you’ve done everything properly or not.

What’s missing? Downsides? Well, some seats come with ways to hold the straps out of the way when you’re putting your child into the seat, but unfortunately the Dualfix doesn’t. To adjust the recline you need to push in and hold a button on the base while lifting a release at the front edge. For some reason this still causes it to block when trying to raise it and requires a jiggle to get it moving, so it is not as easy as it should be. The bar across the seat back, though necessary, does reduce the amount of space for your child’s feet and can hook them up when rotating the seat.

But overall the advantages outweigh the problems and we’re very happy with our choice. Rear-facing seats that can support up to 18kgs and quite rare (many are rated for much lower weight limits) and rotating ones are even rarer. Our only regret is not getting it immediately from birth (we used a carrier on an Isofix socket, which was only rating to 9kgs and was too small before then). We feel confident that we’ll be using this seat until our son is around 4 years old and that we’ll be able to keep him rear facing for the large portion of that time. A great seat, especially if you get it from birth.

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