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Richard Goring (Boston, MA)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent micro HDMI converter, 8 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have a micro HDMI port on my laptop, and having tried using a direct converter Cablesson XO - Micro HDMI (Type D) to HDMI (Type A) Adapter with 3D, Audio and Ethernet, Use adapter to Connect A HDMI Cable to *Amazon Kindle Fire HD* *Microsoft Surface* Other Tablet PC, Camera, Phone Or Any Device with a Micro HD Port, I found that the width of the full HDMI so close to the laptop meant that I couldn't plug in a USB. Also, with such a small plug, having a full sized HDMI cable plugged into it was quite unstable and caused the adapter to move and fall out easily.

This adapter is much better. The cable is nice and short, so doesn't take up unnecessary room, but it has a very thin micro HDMI end, meaning that it doesn't interfere with any other ports. Also, the short length of cable in the converter has helped improve the stability of the socket considerably. I can now move the laptop (relatively gently still) and not have the cable fall out.

Picture and sound quality are all excellent. The adapter is solid and well-built. Overall, thoroughly recommended.


Karlsson Sunflower MDF Wood Finish Wall Clock
Karlsson Sunflower MDF Wood Finish Wall Clock
Offered by Urban Gifts
Price: £54.99

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Sunflower Wall Clock, 22 Jun. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I first saw this rather eye catching clock in the Netherlands, and a quick check on Amazon meant that I didn't have to try to get it on a plane back home. It stands out from most clocks due to the shape/pattern, which looks great on the wall.

The clock is 59cm in diameter at it's widest point and sits 3.5cm out from the wall (2.5cm for the clock plus just under 1cm for the clock hands). The body of the clock is MDF with a wood pattern plastic veneer added to it. Up close, you will see that it's not real wood, but it does a good job most of the time, and doesn't look poorly done at all. The MDF has been moulded to the shape, and the wood effect veneer appears to be part of the moulding. This means that the front edges have a slight bevel to them, so that the design doesn't look harsh or 'cut out' and the veneer doesn't look like it has any exposed edges that will start to peel away.

The clock hands are made of a shiny silver plastic. They won't stand up to much punishment, but I wouldn't expect them to. Sometimes, in some lights, it can be a little difficult to see them, as they don't provide much contrast against the light brown backing, but it's only really been when the sun has been shining at the right angle, and not a major problem.

The mechanism is a single AA battery powered standard unit. Unlike most of these that I've had before, which produce a ticking noise, this clock produces a much quieter, but constant, grinding type noise. In a really quiet room, sitting close by, you can hear it, but only if you listen for it. The clock can be attached to the wall with a single screw, and has a triangular shaped hanging bracket on the back that sits flush with the mechanism.

Overall, very pleased with it. It looks great on the wall and feels well built.


Samsung Series 9 NP900X3B 13.3 inch Ultrabook (Intel Core i5 2467M 1.6GHz, 4Gb RAM, 128Gb SSD, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit)
Samsung Series 9 NP900X3B 13.3 inch Ultrabook (Intel Core i5 2467M 1.6GHz, 4Gb RAM, 128Gb SSD, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit)

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Ultra Portable Laptop, 21 May 2012
I've been using the Samsung NP900X3B since the end of February, and the last three months haven't disappointed. I use it for Microsoft Office programs, heavy graphics in PowerPoint, hosting online meetings, and watching movies. Essentially most of the tasks that most prospective owners will be using it for.

Build quality:
The build quality is superb, with everything feeling incredibly solid, particularly for such a thin machine. Despite that, it really is very light. I have an iPad 2, and although it is heavier (1100g vs 650g), it doesn't really feel very different - something that a number of others have commented on. Unlike it's predecessor, which had uncomfortably 'sharp' edges, the edging on this new version looks great and is far more comfortable to hold. One thing that I love about the build quality is that despite being so light, you can move the screen up and down without needing to hold down the main body of the machine - something that even much heavier laptops have failed to achieve. It's a small point, but for me demonstrates the attention to detail that has gone into the design.

Screen:
The screen is the thing that you notice first when looking at this laptop. The really very tiny bezel (about 1cm all around) means that you get a full screen experience. Having come from laptops with much wider bezels, this screen means that you can see so much more for the size of machine that you have. Coupled with the 1600x900 screen resolution, this means that you get an awful lot of screen real estate to work with. I find this particularly useful in Office programs, as I have access to more tools and functions around the main working area. Movies also look great on it. The screen is really bright (brightness can be easily changed using keyboard keys) and also matte, which means that you can view it in any lighting conditions without glare or reflections. Despite the matte screen, I think that the colour looks wonderful and the clarity of image superb, but I can't provide any quantitative findings, just that I like it.

Performance:
The core components mean that this isn't going to be playing the latest games at the highest resolution. I haven't tried any games, but it runs graphic heavy PowerPoint files pretty well, with only a couple of judders on slides with a couple of really high resolution TIF image files on. It run movies with no problems, and the WiFi streaming issues of the first generation model appear to have been solved, with great connection to my home network over wireless. Using a Netgear 3700 router, I have been getting transfer speeds from a HDD of 5MB/second over G-band WiFi, which is the same as a slightly older, larger laptop. The key feature in performance terms is the start up and resume times. Start up from cold takes about 10-15 seconds. Closing the lid suspends the machine, using minimal battery, which is back up and running within 2-3 seconds when you open the lid. I know that Apples have done this for years, but it's great that a Windows machine is finally able to compete.

Design:
It looks great, feels sturdy, and fits in any bag without taking up any space. When you open it up, the huge screen with such a small bezel is a joy and makes you wonder why all laptops and screens don't use this technology/approach. The colour is a dark blue/grey, which actually looks really good, compared to most of the black, silver or laptops available, and with a full metal body, it has a great feel to it. These are all fairly subjective points though. There is a slight element of form over function in some cases. Having improved upon the first generation series 9 with ports that are always available (and not accessed by a flap), there are still issues. On the left hand side, the USB 3 port is flanked by the power cable and mini HDMI out. As I use these all the time, it means that only slim USB sticks will fit into the port - there isn't room for anything thicker than the width of the actual USB port itself. The right hand side USB 2 port is more easily accessible however. On the right hand side you will also find the internal microphone opening. On the Series 5 Ultrabook this opening is on the top of the laptop case, next to the keyboard, but someone clearly decided that they didn't want an 'ugly' hole and mic icon printed on the front case, so moved it to the side. They were right that it looks better, but does mean that audio quality on the mic is slightly worse. However, the combined mic/speaker audio port works brilliantly when using an appropriate four pole splitter - [...] 3.5mm 4 Pin to 2x 3 Pin 3.5mm Headset Splitter Adapter - M/F - (something that the first generation series 9 didn't seem to do).

Keyboard:
The keyboard is the main reason that I bought this over other alternatives. I do a reasonable amount of typing, and find it to be well laid out, clear, and responsive. Full size keys are great, and the main keys aren't cluttered with additional functions, meaning that the whole thing looks great. The backlighting is good, with four different settings, although none of them are very bright. A light sensor is used to control whether the backlight is turned on or off. In dark conditions, it works really well, but there is a point, when there is a little light, that I wish the backlight could be just a tad brighter to enhance contrast. The omission of dedicated Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys is a shame, and I do wonder whether they could have but an extra column of keys on the right hand side in (like they have for the larger version), but once you get used to using the function key, it becomes pretty quick and easy.

Mouse track pad:
The mouse track pad is large and friendly. It offers all sorts of multi-functions with one, two, three, and four finger commands. All the reviews complain that it's 'not as good as Apple's version', but having never used an Apple computer, I can't comment. I've found it to work extremely well. On the first generation series 9, I had real problems with the track pad with random jumps and failures, but three months in, this has worked really well with no trouble at all. Although the track pad is a single piece, and you can use all of it to track the cursor, there are two 'physical' buttons on the bottom left and right which you can press. You can also use one or two finger tapping anywhere to achieve a left or right mouse click. Zooming, scrolling left and right, and cycling between programs are all also performed by the track pad, and you can specify that particular programs start up with certain gestures. Overall, I really like it, finding it useful and easy to use.

SD card slot:
For those hoping to boost the storage capacity by using the SD card slot, although you get a full sized SD card slot with this laptop, the SD card sticks out from the slot by about 1cm, so that you can pull it out again. Clearly too thin for a push spring, which sadly means that it's not a quick and easy way of increasing the 128GB SSD.

Noise:
I had tried a Toshiba 830 before this and it had to go back because of the awful fan noise. I am happy to report that the Samsung is either silent, or near silent when the fan does start. The fan noise is very smooth and low level, so you don't really notice it at all. Interestingly, if it does start to annoy you, you can turn it off with a key on the keyboard - although I have no idea what this will do in terms of performance or life if things start to overheat. So far, running it all day, and even during some periods of moderate activity, it's never really been very warm at all, which was something of a surprise in a machine so thin. Everything else is silent running, with no hard drive noise due to the SSD. The keyboard is no noisier than anything else that I've tried

Power supply:
For such a well-designed laptop, the power supply is nothing special. A small transformer unit has about 1.5-2m of cable with a port on the end to plug into the laptop. A 1m long kettle lead plugs into the other end and the wall socket. I thought that the first generation Series 9 PSU was nicer (just a single plug and a long power lead into the laptop), but they appear to have changed direction on this. The Asus Zenbook has a similar single plug PSU, which also works with this laptop, so you might be able to get one of those instead, if you can find one.

Accessories:
For such a premium laptop, you get remarkably few accessories. A Windows DVD and ethernet adapter (from mini ethernet to the regular patch lead socket) is all that you can expect to find. Given that the Samsung Series 7 and 5 laptops all come with a converter for mini VGA to VGA, so that you can connect to a standard monitor, I was disappointed to find no such accessory with the Series 9 - particularly given that you don't seem to be able to buy them individually anywhere. The only way that I've been able to connect to VGA was using a Samsung mini HDMI to VGA adapter, created for the first generation series 9. I struggled to find this in the UK and had to go to Amazon.de (Germany) for one! Other laptops, such as the Asus Zenbook also come with a specially designed carry case, and ALL the adapters that you need. It's a shame really that such a fantastic product is not completed as fully as it should be.

Having moaned a bit at the end, I still think that this is a five star product. It's slim and light, performs well and is a perfect tool for almost any 'business' or 'office' type user.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 22, 2012 6:16 PM BST


USB 2.0 and SD Card Reader Adapter for Apple iPhone 4/4s IPad 30 Pin Connection
USB 2.0 and SD Card Reader Adapter for Apple iPhone 4/4s IPad 30 Pin Connection

4.0 out of 5 stars Good iPad Camera Connection Kit, 28 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This simple little add-on for your iPad allows you to connect your camera's SD Card to your iPad and copy photos directly onto your iPad, rather than through email or iTunes. The SD Card slot worked fine on my iPad 2 with an 8GB SD Card and transferred photos (.jpg) easily. However, it failed to recognise any movie formats that I tried (.avi .mp4 or .mts - from my Panasonic TZ10), which was a little disappointing. The device also failed to regcognise a 16GB USB drive, with the iPad 2 reporting an error of 'this device requires too much power'.

The build quality isn't great - don't expect anything as neatly or firmly put together as Apple's own products. The plastic is a slightly off-white colour and not a terribly solid feel, and the two halves have fairly obvious seams which aren't perfectly aligned. However, for a fifth of the price of the official Apple equivalent, the quality is fine, as it (just about) functions as required and delivers what you want it to i.e. taking photos directly from your camera's SD Card into the iPad.

On the side is a very tiny switch to connect either the USB or the SD Card readers, which may be a little fiddly for some to use, although if the USB connection doesn't work, as on my version, then you won't actually need to use this function.

Overall, four stars for lack of USB functionality and no movie transfer. Otherwise a product where you get what you pay for and recommended over the far more expensive official Apple version.


Samsung Slim External DVD Writer
Samsung Slim External DVD Writer

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent DVD Re-writer, 11 Jan. 2012
This DVD writer is a very neat, slim, well designed package from Samsung. It is from the same range as the Samsung 900X3A Samsung 900X3A 13.3 inch Notebook (Intel Core i5 2467UM 1.6GHz, 4GB RAM,HDD 128GB SSD, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit) - Black with the same styling and materials used. It's also very light, so easy to carry with you if you need it. Discs are loaded into the drive on a tray which pops out like most drives, rather than a slot load drive. The drive reads and writes CDs and DVDs (DVD multi-recorder, including DVD+R DL for extra capacity). for the avoidance of doubt, it is not a Blu-ray drive, nor an AV drive (so you can't plug it into your TV and watch films from it).

It's a nice product, but there are two big selling points for this particular drive:

1. It only requires a single USB connection to read and write discs. Many of the other external ODD (optical disc drives) that I have seen require two USB connections for the extra power required to write discs. While fine on many laptops, some have USB ports on opposite sides of the machine (like the 900X3A), which creates real difficulties. A single connection is much easier and more versatile.

2. Rather than have a separate USB cable that is plugged into both the ODD and the laptop, this one has a built in USB cable which is hidden inside a compartment underneath the drive at the back. You slide the cover back to reveal the USB cable, remove it and then slide the cover back over the cable to give a stable footing. It's very neat and means that you don't need to carry any extra cabling around with you. Having said that, the USB cable is only about 6cm long, so you'll need to sit the drive close to any laptop. Looking at the drive from the front, the cable exits from the left hand side directly out of the back of the drive (about 2cm from the edge of the case). I've found that I have to put the drive at 90 degrees to the laptop to accommodate the short cable, but I don't use it much and put it away when I'm done.

Overall, very pleased with it. Build quality, single USB and hidden cabling storage make this a great product.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 2, 2012 11:38 PM BST


No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent DVD Re-writer, 11 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This DVD writer is a very neat, slim, well designed package from Samsung. It is from the same range as the Samsung 900X3A Samsung 900X3A 13.3 inch Notebook (Intel Core i5 2467UM 1.6GHz, 4GB RAM,HDD 128GB SSD, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit) - Black with the same styling and materials used. The top is made from Duralumin (a black aluminium alloy), the sides from a glossy black plastic and the base from a pearlescent black plastic. It's also very light, so easy to carry with you if you need it. Discs are loaded into the drive on a tray which pops out like most drives, rather than a slot load drive. The drive reads and writes CDs and DVDs (DVD multi-recorder, including DVD+R DL for extra capacity). for the avoidance of doubt, it is not a Blu-ray drive, nor an AV drive (so you can't plug it into your TV and watch films from it).

It's a nice product, but there are two big selling points for this particular drive:

1. It only requires a single USB connection to read and write discs. Many of the other external ODD (optical disc drives) that I have seen require two USB connections for the extra power required to write discs. While fine on many laptops, some have USB ports on opposite sides of the machine (like the 900X3A), which creates real difficulties. A single connection is much easier and more versatile.

2. Rather than have a separate USB cable that is plugged into both the ODD and the laptop, this one has a built in USB cable which is hidden inside a compartment underneath the drive at the back. You slide the cover back to reveal the USB cable, remove it and then slide the cover back over the cable to give a stable footing. It's very neat and means that you don't need to carry any extra cabling around with you. Having said that, the USB cable is only about 6cm long, so you'll need to sit the drive close to any laptop. Looking at the drive from the front, the cable exits from the left hand side directly out of the back of the drive (about 2cm from the edge of the case). I've found that I have to put the drive at 90 degrees to the laptop to accommodate the short cable, but I don't use it much and put it away when I'm done.

Overall, very pleased with it. Build quality, single USB and hidden cabling storage make this a great product.


No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Small Umbrella, 23 Nov. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I am a big fan of Fulton umbrellas as they are always well-designed, well-made and sturdy (especially for their size). I purchased the Winter Stripe version.

I was a little surprised when it first arrived as I have a Fulton Superslim 1 in black, which is actually slightly smaller than the Superslim 2. They are both the same length, but the Superslim 2 is quite significantly wider when folded and stored in the case. The dimensions (when closed) are 21cm long by 4.5cm wide (both shorter and wider than the product description). I don't know why it is so much wider than the 3cm wide Superslim 1 model, as the canopy appears to use the same frame and very similar fabric (maybe a fraction thicker, but I could be imagining it). However, it still feels small and compact.

The umbrella has a 74cm span when open (again, slightly smaller than the product description), but is a good size and typical of these small umbrellas.

The printed pattern on the fabric is very good. The colour replicated very well in the Amazon image.

The whole thing is solid and holds up reasonably well against reasonably winds. It will occasionally blow inside out, but so far, I've not had any damage to the frame. Equally, in strong winds, if flexes and bends quite well against the wind with seemingly no damage to the frame afterwards. Too strong a wind however, and you will experience problems, but I would say better than most other (cheaper) umbrellas that I've had in the past.

Overall, an excellent umbrella, with just a small shade of disappointment, given that it is wider than the Superslim 1. Still highly recommended though.


Nordicware Christmas Tree Cake Pan
Nordicware Christmas Tree Cake Pan

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent cake tin for a Christmas tree shaped cake, 28 Oct. 2011
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This cake tin creates a large Christmas tree cake. I have seen versions of this with two duplicate halves of the tree in one, but the tin that I recieved from this listing was just a single Christmas tree half. You could just bake one and lay it flat, but personally, I prefer baking two which I have then stuck together with butter cream to create a great looking cake that stands up like a tree. The detailing in the mould in very good, but you need to ensure that you properly fill all of the small branches with mixture so that they are not lost or broken when the cake is baked. If sticking two together, the cake that you create is relatively tall and thin, so I would suggest using a good amount of thick butter cream to ensure that the two cake halves are properly stuck together. To get the cake to stand upright, it is also important to give a good base of butter cream that will stick it to the plate, as it may not stand up on its own.

The cake tin is made of a highly non-stick material, which means that cakes baked in it come out easily without losing any of the detailing from the mould. Pre-greasing with butter is useful, or the various sprays that are also recommended.

Washing is relatively simple, and whilst it will go in the dishwasher, I don't know whether this will adversly impact the excellent non-stick over extended periods.

As this tin is for only 'half the cake' or half the size of many other Nordicware cake tins, it is somewhat easier to store and wash, although you do have to spend twice as long waiting for both sides of your cake to cook.

Overall, this is an excellent cake pan with good non-stick finish.


Nordic Ware Zoo Animal Muffin Pan
Nordic Ware Zoo Animal Muffin Pan

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent cake tin for mini zoo animal cakes, 28 Oct. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This cake tin creates a set of eight small cakes in the shape of zoo animals (lion, giraffe, whale, monkey, rhino, elephant, clown fish (Finding Nemo) and hippo). The detailing in the moulds are very good, but you need to ensure that you properly fill each of the small detailing areas with mixture so that they are not lost or blurred when the cakes are baked. Each of the cakes produced are about the size of large muffins and in total, I used about seven eggs worth of cake mixture to create a batch of eight cakes (I do tend to overfill the mould though and then cut off the excess to provide a flat base for the cakes - great in a cream/yogurt/mousse Eton Mess style dessert).

The cake tin is made of a highly non-stick material, which means that cakes baked in it come out easily without losing any of the detailing from the mould. Pre-greasing with butter is useful, or the various sprays that are also recommended.

Washing is relatively simple, and whilst it will go in the dishwasher, I don't know whether this will adversly impact the excellent non-stick over extended periods.

Overall, this is an excellent cake pan with good non-stick finish.
Comment Comment | Permalink


100 Facts About Sharks
100 Facts About Sharks
by Claudia O'Doherty
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.00

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Shark Facts & Highly Entertaining, 28 Oct. 2011
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This review is from: 100 Facts About Sharks (Hardcover)
100 Facts About Sharks is a real eye-opener into the exotic underwater world of sharks. This book reveals more about sharks than almost any other natural history account. Covering all species, it provides amazing insights and useful facts for your quiz team, lift conversations or commuting chats. In three words, this book is: Shark-tasitc, Shark-eriffic and Shark-tabulous!

For those that realise that this is a comedy book, it will also leave you highly entertained. The book is set up with 100 Facts relating to sharks. Each Fact is delivered on a double page spread, with an accompanying image and caption. The images are all very well done and the captions sometimes more insightful (amusing) than the fact itself. The book is reasonably small (about 15x10x1cm), but hardback bound, giving it a nice feel.

Along with it's sister book (100 Facts about Pandas), this covers a wild array of different Facts, that if told with a straight face, could potentially convince people. Some of the Facts are simply absurd, but most are just bizarre enough to make you think 'could that be real?' if told in isolation. For this reason, I like these books.

One a day, or as a coffee table book, you and your friends will enjoy it. It won't take you long to get through it if you read it all in one go, so I'd suggest little and often as the best approach.


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