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Reviews Written by
Tony Jones "Tony" (UK)
(VINE VOICE)   

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Complete Road Atlas Britain & Ireland 2018: (De luxe hardback edition) (Philips Road Atlas)
Complete Road Atlas Britain & Ireland 2018: (De luxe hardback edition) (Philips Road Atlas)
Price: £18.94

5.0 out of 5 stars A great set of road maps at a price, 20 July 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Even in this world of satnavs and smart phone maps with GPS, there is still a place for a roadmap in a book. I find planning a journey somewhere new works well when moving between pages in a well presented atlas such as the Philip's 2018. Electronic methods of navigating are fine for the journey itself, but tend to focus you on destinations. Sometimes the journey is as relevant as the end point.

The book is updated (I can't spot any omissions) and includes various route planners, motorway service station guides specific exit diagrams and lots of city and town maps. The coverage is excellent including a route planner for Ireland and (should I ever need them!) even Lundy and the Channel Islands.

It's nicely weighty with a padded cover, but I suspect it might get kept at home for planning rather than use on journeys (I may be wrong!)
It's not cheap, but is really easy to use and should last a few years.


AmazonBasics Whiteboard Drywipe Magnetic with Pen Tray and Aluminium Trim 90 x 60 cm (WxH)
AmazonBasics Whiteboard Drywipe Magnetic with Pen Tray and Aluminium Trim 90 x 60 cm (WxH)
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A decent whiteboard if frustrating to mount, 20 July 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Despite a few quirks, it's a good sized board for a small office / home use and comes with some useful bits. You get six coloured magnets (two each of red, yellow and green) and two pens (red and black) and the pens can be placed in a magnetic holder that serves as a dry wipe eraser. I'd have liked a blue and green as well, but these are ok for starters.

The board came (and it may have just been me) in a huge external box, and then in a smaller box. When I took delivery I was very concerned I'd misread the dimensions, but no I just had lots of packaging to dispose of.

Like all whiteboards I've seen / owned, you need to drill screws into the wall, and you have the choice of standard corner fitting (allows portrait if you want) or hang via two hooks concealed at the top. This less conventional second option would allow you to remove the board easier for portability or to make decorating easier.

Although easy enough to fit, the instructions don't help. Set out in English and French, they save on reproducing the pictures by alternating the two languages. They also start with some deceptive instructions for fitting a pen tray to the bottom. You can either spend a lot of time cursing and trying to make sense of these, or do what I did and realise the tray can hang lose but stable. Other whiteboards I've owned have a proper fitting tray that sits firm once screwed to the wall, this hangs lose when you first assemble, but does stay on.

Overall it's a decent product, and once mounted does what it needs and you can forget the frustration of day one.


V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Over-Ear Headphone - Matte White
V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Over-Ear Headphone - Matte White
Price: £281.23

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good phones, but not cheap, 2 July 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These are expensive and high quality headphones, an upgrade from the previous C-MODA Crossfades due to the presence of Bluetooth. I've been using these for a few weeks, and have split my observations into three:
* Build quality
* Wireless quality
* Sound quality.

Build is easy. You can tell these are expensive from the reinforced clamshell case, designed to hold the headphones snug, and only just room to slide in a small MP3 player. They are heavier than my normal Philips phones (more later) but not uncomfortably so, and sit well around the ears giving a degree of insulation from external sound. The folding action is 'positive' and the case even has press out chevrons, apparently so DJs can let headphones dry in case after a long night on the decks. This is a measure of the design engineering of the product, and it extends to the packaging and provision of a quality braided cable.

Wireless / Bluetooth next. I paired these first time with my Sony MP4, iPad and Samsung TV. If nothing else, having decent headphones transforms listening to TV, even if it does make it a solitary affair! I found the connection would pause sometimes walking around, but it could be my MP3 giving problems. I had some issues charging, and used a cable of my own (for no real reason) taking much longer than the expected few hours. I also had to get used to the switch. I kept leaving them in standby meaning I had no power when I went for a walk, and sometimes didn't have the braided lead. In terms of sound quality, my ears can't spot a real difference between wireless and wired.

In terms of sound, I listened to a mixed bag of bits all from my Sony NWZ-A15 and compared to my much cheaper Philips Fidelio M1 second edition. The tracks I tried were:
* A play to get just the human voice
* Pulp - Common People
* Hawkwind - Needlegun, loud and rocky
* Ola Gjeilo - something choral
* X-Ray specs - Germ Free Adolescents
* Steve Hackett - some acoustic/ Spanish guitar work
* Jean Michel Jarre - Oxygene and Oxygene 3

Overall it seems to be a matter of taste. The Philips to my ears hold up well, and I am happy with them. The V-MODA have more bass response, and this shows on several tracks, and makes the more modern Oxygene 3 sound very different from Oxygene. I listened on moderate volume and took turns as to which pair I used first.

These are good, the wireless works and they are heavy duty and would travel well.

Are they worth the money? I'm not so sure, but if you have a need for this class of headphone, these are a good choice


AUKEY Mechanical Keyboard LED-Backlit Blue Switches 105 Keys UK Layout Waterproof Gaming Keyboard Metal Plate 100% Anti-ghosting for Gamers and Typists
AUKEY Mechanical Keyboard LED-Backlit Blue Switches 105 Keys UK Layout Waterproof Gaming Keyboard Metal Plate 100% Anti-ghosting for Gamers and Typists
Offered by yueying
Price: £45.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Seems more designed for gamers than typists, 2 July 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm not a gamer, but thought I'd try this keyboard as it says games and typists. It's a well built thing, and sturdy if heavy. It plugs in and lights up, and I'd expected that. I don't need the special effects but they can be tweaked.

In style it's odd: all the keys are exposed and there's no outer shell, this means the keyboards is very noisy and the keys also squeak slightly when pressed. The latter may go with use, but the overall noise level isn't for me, and had I not had this as a review item, I'd be returning it.

A pity as the action is reasonably positive to use, just far too noisy for me. I assume gamers are all wearing headphones


James Tyler Men's Jt174 Casual Shirt, White, Large
James Tyler Men's Jt174 Casual Shirt, White, Large
Price: £14.66

2.0 out of 5 stars If only it fitted!, 27 Jun. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A well made shirt, decent buttons but a little on the small side. All my other shirts are large and fit better than this. After one wash it shrank further and now I can't get it on. A shame as it looks OK, is made of a nice weight of material and would have been a summer item.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 4, 2017 12:22 PM BST


The Unwomanly Face of War (Penguin Classics)
The Unwomanly Face of War (Penguin Classics)
by Svetlana Alexievich
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An astonishing insight into the role of women in Russia's World War II army, 13 Jun. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Unwomanly Face of War is a collection of interviews (often fragmentary) with ordinary Russian woman in an extraordinary situation - the front line of the Second World War. At times it's a difficult read but worth persevering with as you learn about the ordinary challenges (no uniforms designed for women, so having to modify small men's uniforms or improvise for example) they had to face, the particular challenges of being a woman (the sections on menstruation and cleanliness), and the challenges of war. There are far to many moments to cover in a review but suffice it to say they are often astonishing. The whole spectrum of warfare and humanity is here, from the dogged practical nature of women just getting on with a difficult situation, to those who are (or were) as afraid their children might learn just what their mother did to protect Russia.
Their treatment by their colleagues covers all aspects of behaviour as well, from the comradely to the predatory. It's all too easy to get pulled in as you experience the extremes of war second hand.

The book was researched in the 1970s, completed in 1983 and blocked until Perestroika when a heavily censored version was released in 1985. This is the first English translation, and is fascinating. If you want a new insight into World War II from a neglected group of participants, this is very well worth investing the time.


Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet
Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet
by Asa Briggs
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.14

4.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing introduction to the topic., 5 Jun. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
At around 340 pages, including reading lists and an interesting timeline, this book can't cover everything about media, so focuses on context and impact. Subtitled "from Gutenburg to the Internet" it covers those (to an extent in the case of the latter), and many other things. There's a lot on technology and communication (both electronic and physical, such as the train system) and is a decent if occasionally superficial survey of the topic.
Some of the more important chapters include New Processes and Patterns (the evolution of transport and communications) and Information, Education and Entertainment - three broad buckets into which to pace (most) media.
As an introduction to the subject it is excellent, no doubt many will wish to dig deeper into some of the topics, but this book wisely avoids that in the interests of size / accessibility.
Why 4*? Well the cyberspace section is very thin (and is so current we can't yet fully judge how things like social media are really evolving society, and the timeline while of some interest doesn't integrate well into the book as a whole. I also felt the chapter on convergence could be evolved further, but I am only a casual reader of this subject, so may well be wrong


Post-it Super Sticky Notes Assorted Sizes Pads - Assorted
Post-it Super Sticky Notes Assorted Sizes Pads - Assorted
Price: £2.90

4.0 out of 5 stars A good mix of sizes and colours, 29 Mar. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A great pack of brightly coloured and very stick PostIt notes. What isn't obvious from the picture is the fact that these are in 'sideways'. What I mean is the 'hinge' part of the pad is to the left of the picture, so what you have is:
One pad of narrow red notes
One pad of more or less square blue notes (I haven't measured)
One pad of wide yellow notes.

They certainly stick very well, even after being left for more than a week on a moderately porous paper


Post-it Recycled Notes - Pastel Rainbow - 6 Pads Per Pack - 100 Sheets Per Pad - 76 mm x 127 mm
Post-it Recycled Notes - Pastel Rainbow - 6 Pads Per Pack - 100 Sheets Per Pad - 76 mm x 127 mm
Price: £16.28

4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth considering, 13 Mar. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you've ever run a workshop and counted the number of Post-it notes you end up throwing away at the end, this is the product for you. Made of recycled paper writing on them then throwing away seems less of a crime (and these can still be recycled).

Visually appealing, they are clearly not quite of the grade as the normal notes:
- The paper has a lower quality finish giving some inks a tendency to blur
- The colours while visually different are less vivid (less ink used to print) making them stand out slightly less
- The adhesion seems not as strong, but this may be an illusion. If I wasn't looking for differences I might not have noticed anything.

I would prefer the more traditional square shape, but I would say for 80-90% of occasions these are a good alternative to the un-recycled variety and are well worth considering.


Post-it Notes 125 mm x 200 mm Super Sticky Notes Pad, Lined, Pink, Green, 2 pads, 45 sheets per pad
Post-it Notes 125 mm x 200 mm Super Sticky Notes Pad, Lined, Pink, Green, 2 pads, 45 sheets per pad
Price: £6.58

5.0 out of 5 stars A great variation on the Post-it theme, 15 Feb. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These are great quality and whatever they've done to make them 'super sticky', it's worked. I was pleased by the size of these, and while I prefer the plain Post-it notes rather than lined, these are great for when you do need to make a list. I don't think lines would work as well on a smaller note.

These may be too large for some tasks (such as brainstorming) there are plenty of other uses, and the size means no more sticking two small nots together!

Really no complaints at all


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