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PB (London, UK)

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Cambridge Mx40 Blk
Cambridge Mx40 Blk
Offered by Richer Sounds
Price: 29.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Good value at 30, great value at 20. 4.5 Stars, nudging 5., 8 July 2014
This review is from: Cambridge Mx40 Blk (Electronics)
I am a tad old-fashioned in that I prefer earphones, rather than the enormous headphones that seem to be in fashion right now. I bought these from the high street retailer that makes them on offer and they are a fantastic pair of 'phones. Unlike many similarly priced options, the Cambridge Audios come with a zip-up carry-case, which is very welcome. Like most other 'phones, they come with an assortment of earbud sizes to get the right fit. The buds do a good job of isolating sound, so the external world doesn't intrude too much on your listening and your sounds don't leak out too much to those around you. The build quality inspires great confidence, with a nice feel to the rubber and plastic pieces and a lovely anodised metallic red finish on the connector and mic. The little bits of red nicely set the 'phones off from the anonymity of most budget 'phones and are a much more subtle design than the "look at me!" types. I have the black MX40s, which I prefer to the white, but of course, that's a matter of personal taste.

I have been using the MX40s with my phone and Kindle Fire HD to watch movies. The sound quality is excellent - a very nice balance with as full a sound as one could expect from earphones. Of course, larger headphones might have larger drivers, but these are not only loud enough, but also very clear. There is no distortion of highs or lows at the upper bounds of my volume tolerance. Music and movies sound great through these. I have bought significantly more expensive 'phones that don't sound as well balanced as the MX40s. I can't think of a better sounding or better made pair of 'phones than these, including the highly rated SoundMagic PL11, Sennheiser CX300, Klipsch Image S4 or X10 (which covers a very broad spread of prices).

The headphones have a mic some way down the right earpiece. To me, it seems a little too low, requiring you to raise it up by hand to speak into it, but more annoyingly, it tends to catch on lapels and shoulder straps and the like. That's a relatively minor annoyance, and the only reason I'm not awarding awarding a full five stars. That might be seen as a little harsh, and you wouldn't have to fight me hard for me to concede and award a full five stars.

Overall, these are very very good 'phones. If you're a "VIP member" at Richer Sounds, you can get these for about 10 less than the RRP. At 20, they are unbeatable value and well worth a full five stars. Whether you pay 20 or 30, though, these are highly recommended.

AmazonBasics 10-Inch Black Sleeve for iPad Air / Kindle 8.9 Inch Tablet
AmazonBasics 10-Inch Black Sleeve for iPad Air / Kindle 8.9 Inch Tablet
Price: 5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value for money, 8 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I will put aside my belief that companies selling devices for hundreds of pounds should include a basic cover/case and charger with the device, as that is a separate issue (and bugbear). Given that in most cases, you need to buy a case for your devices, I feel that this Amazon Basics neoprene sleeve is excellent value at just under 6.

I use the sleeve for my Kindle HD 9"er, which is already shod with a case. The encased Kindle fits snugly in the sleeve with space for a pair of earbuds.

What I like best about the sleeve is that the neoprene is quite thick, has a chunky and strong-looking zipper and some webbing material on the sides for additional strength.

The sleeve protects your device from scratches (from keys for example) and minor knocks and drops. However, the sleeve will not protect your device from more violent abuse than that, so don't expect immortality for your device. I would recommend that you use the sleeve with a case on your device, such as Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9" Standing Leather Cover, Onyx Black (will only fit Kindle Fire HD 8.9").

There are cheaper options on auction sites, but they are not made to the same standards as this one. Basic, but very good.

Carte Noire Espresso No 5 Delicat 10 Coffee Capsules 53 g (Pack of 8)
Carte Noire Espresso No 5 Delicat 10 Coffee Capsules 53 g (Pack of 8)
Price: 16.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Anaemic and wasteful. Not a good Nespresso pod alternative., 28 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Before I get into my issues with this product, I should state that I am no blind adherent to Nestle's Nespresso pods. I have reviewed and highly recommended Cafe Tutto pods Café Tutto Capsules Espresso - my pods of choice, which sell on Amazon for 6.99 for 25.

It's a little tricky to know where to start with the Carte Noire pods, so I'll take you through my experience in chronological order.
1. Delivery. The courier brought over a big box. I mean A BIG BOX. If you're ordering these, expect to have to be in for delivery.
2. Storage. The pods come individually sealed in packs of ten. Carte Noire are not the only company to do this, but it is a complete waste. The pods are sealed air-tight, so this additional, non-recyclable packaging is pointless, wasteful and adds a lot of bulk to the package overall. Admittedly, there is a nice smell of coffee when you break a packet open, but that great smell is only seconds away from when you make your coffee anyway.
3. Pods. The pods are, of course, more or less the same size and shape of a Nestle Nespresso pod. No big surprise. Unlike the Nestle pods, the Carte Noire pod bodies are made of a matt plastic. I have no opinion about this; my favourite Cafe Tutto pods are also plastic, which is a decent material for the job. I assume that all Carte Noire pods are the same colour, which may be why they come individually wrapped, so you can tell the stronger ones from the weaker ones.
4. Coffee. Straight out of the Nespresso machine, the coffee looks great, with a dark, full body and rich crema. However, only a few minutes later, the espresso looks anaemic and the crema is all but gone. The espresso tastes OK if unexceptional and very thin. I wouldn't say there is any depth or complexity of flavour; I know this is a "delicat" blend, but that doesn't mean that it should so flat. There is absolutely no silkiness on the palette - it is not an espresso for anyone who likes espresso. I would say that this pod works best for taller coffees, such as a flat white or Americano. Personally, I use my Nespresso for espressos and for that, the Carte Noire No5 doesn't fit the bill. Not awful, but nothing to write home about (or a glowing review for that matter).
5. Cost. The current price for these pods (16 for 80, so 20p each) compares pretty favourably with Nestle's Nespresso pods, especially if you use Amazon's free delivery option. However, at their RRP of 22.32, they don't offer any cost advantage at all.

I recommended Cafe Tutto pods earlier in the review. Another alternative is CafePod Nespresso Compatible Arabica Lungo Capsules (Pack of 4, Total 40 Pods), which cost 10 for 40 pods. The CafePod pods make a much better espresso - also on the mild side, but with greater complexity of flavour, a richer crema and fuller body. They are also individually wrapped, which I am not a fan of. However, if the storage and waste issues don't bother you, I would recommend those over the Carte Noire.

Ultimately, I cannot recommend the Carte Noire coffee pods. They don't taste great, they are way over-packaged and cannot be easily stored nor delivered. In comparison, a tube of 10x Nespresso pods or a box of 25 Cafe Tutto pods will take up very little space in your cupboards. The latter can be posted through your letterbox, so no need to wait for your delivery. The waste the Carte Noire pods generate is quite remarkable, especially for a new product. Worst of all, the coffee is entirely unexceptional. Try something else.

Philips PerfectCare Azur Iron GC4912/80 - One Perfect Temperature, T-IonicGlide Soleplate and 180g Steam Boost
Philips PerfectCare Azur Iron GC4912/80 - One Perfect Temperature, T-IonicGlide Soleplate and 180g Steam Boost
Price: 79.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely good for the strong of arm, 24 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Steam generator irons have really changed the er... ironing game. Their continuous, high pressure steam flow speeds up ironing to the extent that one wonders why you would think about spending close to 100 on a normal (non-generator) iron. Well, enter the Philips Azur. Here, you have an iron which is easy to store and move about than a steam generator, produces a healthy dose of steam and has a few more tricks up its sleeve. The Philips' iron has a rather different, wider soleplate/base than most irons. This, of course, enlarges its contact surface, so you iron more of your clothes with each pass, speeding up the process. The other rather excellent feature is that the Philips has no temperature controls - it auto-sets the correct temperature for whatever you are ironing, be it delicate silks or heavy cotton. Not only quite remarkable, but also a great way to pass ironing duties over to the teenagers in the house.

The soleplate has a coating which makes it glide very smoothly over all materials. The soleplate shape not only irons a large area with each pass, but is well shaped to get into nooks and crannies, such as the crotch/gusset area, between buttons and other fine details. Ironing is fast and well finished.

The only negatives I have are that the iron looks like a Dyson DC-01 vacuum in disguise (OK, that's an entirely subjective problem) and that it is quite heavy. I wouldn't recommend this iron to someone who might not strong arms or grip. For instance, I bought a steam generator for my mother, who suffers from arthiritis. I got her a steam generator because the iron handset is considerably lighter than an integrated iron like this one; I wouldn't give this to her as its quite a bit heavier than a typical iron.

If you don't mind the weight of the thing, or are looking for a no-brainer iron (perhaps for your child about to leave for University), this is very good iron.

Braun Oral-B 5000 PRO CrossAction 5-Mode Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush with Wireless Smart Guide
Braun Oral-B 5000 PRO CrossAction 5-Mode Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush with Wireless Smart Guide
Offered by SPARES-2-GO
Price: 149.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Reassuringly good. Reassuringly expensive?, 23 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This toothbrush as an RRP of 170, which is a lot of money by anyone's standards. However, if you are patient, you should be able to get this toothbrush for considerably less. For example, the Braun Oral-B TriZone 5000 Six Mode Power Toothbrush with Wireless Smart Guide Black Limited Edition has an RRP 200, but is currently being sold on Amazon for 87.50. Assuming that you will be able to get this toothbrush for less than RRP, we can (somewhat) ignore the 170 asking price.

We actually own the TriZone brush as well, and I would say that this is on a par with that. They have the same features and can take the same brush heads. This brush has a lower RRP and a lighter brush handle, which you might prefer (we did). We have also had ultrasonic brushes in the recent past and I would say that the "simpler" rotary head toothbrushes offer a superior clean to those. Oral-B offers a wide range of different brush head styles so you will be able to find the one that suits you best.

Two of the main advantages of this toothbrush are the wireless smart guide and visual warning light for when brushing too hard. Assuming you follow the guide, it encourages you brush your teeth in sections, offering a full 30 secs to each quadrant. This is good for children who can be a bit lazy with their brushing. At the end of your brushing, the guide awards you a star rating for how well you brushed. Gamification of tooth brushing! On the brush handle itself is a red LED light to warn when you are brushing too hard - this saves your gums and the brush and ensures that the brush works as it should.

The unit is very well thought out, with a light but solid and nicely balanced brush handle, detachable charging dock that fits into a case to hold up to four brush heads (one for everyone), three different brush head-types, the wireless guide (complete with battery) and a very handy travel case.

The toothbrush does a very good job of brushing ones teeth. It is effective, fast and gentle. The brush heads are very good quality, and although they are not cheap, Amazon's subscription service does help to reduce the cost for regular replacements. There are four different modes, but we have found the "daily clean" to be more than good enough. None of us suffer from sensitive teeth or gums so found the settings for those to be a little too gentle. Although we tried the "whitening" setting with Pearl Drops toothpolish Pearl 50ml Drops Ice Mint Gel Tooth Polish Advanced Whitening Toothpaste, I couldn't see any discernible difference between that and "daily clean" other than less splatter.

I would certainly recommend this toothbrush to anyone looking for an electic, rotary option. Just wait until Oral-B offer it at a discount (as they almost always do for all their brushes).

Ultrasport Abdominal Trainer Ultra 150 - Fitness Power Ab Trainer, foldable
Ultrasport Abdominal Trainer Ultra 150 - Fitness Power Ab Trainer, foldable
Price: 69.33

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Over-complicated and under-performing, 9 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the type of exercise equipment that ends up being used as a clothes horse. What's wrong with it? Well, let's start at the end - to get an effective ab workout, you really don't need lots of equipment. If crunches and sit-ups are not for you, there is an immeasurably simpler alternative to try: 66fit Abdominal Roller Wheel With Knee Pad which, at 13 is way cheaper than the Ultrasport's RRP of 150.

In more detail, I believe that this suffers from numerous issues, which I'll try and list in the order of discovery:

1. The assembly instructions are quite poor.
2. The quality of materials is poor - the handles do not feel like they could really take much abuse. Also, note that the max weight of the user is limited to 100Kg. That's just under 16 stones, so if you're heavier than that, this isn't the equipment for you, by the manufacturer's own admission.
3. The unit isn't as portable as you might assume. The manual states that you shouldn't move it around too much, e.g. from room to room. The linchpin is also quite tight, so adjusting from flat-fold to in-use isn't that easy.
4. The red plastic pieces on the handles serve no purpose and don't stay put - they just sit there loosely.
5. The exercise itself is nothing more than OK and you could easily get just as good results from doing some basic floor exercises, or using a a balance ball (such as Gym Ball / Exercise Ball 65cm (Blue) With Dual Action Hand Pump at about 6.50), a pull-up bar (such as EXERCISE BAR / DOOR BAR, PULL UPS,CHIN UPS SIT UP at under 11) or the ab roller above. Apart from the balance ball, you won't need to find much storage space for any of those options and they will all cost you considerably less than this and, in all but the roller's case, offer you many more exercise options than this one trick pony.
6. You must keep small children away from this - the exposed rollers could quite easily cause injury. I would also advise that you don't exercise in the nude as you might... well... just don't.

The one positive I will grant the Ultrasport is that the exercise works - you will feel your abs burn after a quick workout. The machine allows you to perform a minor variation on knee pull-ups, at various different angles/levels of difficulty. However, I can't say that the machine is worth the money or that the results cannot be obtained using simpler options.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 11, 2014 1:08 PM BST

Creative MUVO 20 Portable Bluetooth Wireless NFC Speaker with AptX Audio, Built-in phone charger, Microphone and Aux-in - Black
Creative MUVO 20 Portable Bluetooth Wireless NFC Speaker with AptX Audio, Built-in phone charger, Microphone and Aux-in - Black
Price: 69.68

4.0 out of 5 stars Very good value for money, nice sound quality, but a bit big to be truly portable, 19 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Creative have made some of the better PC speakers for a few years now. As people are increasingly listening to their music on laptops and handheld devices, bluetooth speakers have started to become more popular. The Creative MUVO 20 is an impressive sounding speaker. It has a full and rich sound and is capable of playing at an extremely loud volume without distortion; it's not going to sound better than a proper hifi, but that would be an unrealistic expectation to go in with. Creative say that the MUVO 20 delivers "the biggest sound in its class", and that is likely to be true. However, it is marketed as a "portable" speaker, and while it certainly is portable in that it is supplied with a rechargeable battery (arriving charged, which is nice, as you can get straight to using it), it is also significantly larger than the obvious competition, such as:
Beats by Dr. Dre Pill 2.0 Bluetooth Wireless Speaker - Black (169 at the time of writing) or
JBL Flip Rechargeable Bluetooth-enabled Loudspeaker with Built in Mic - Black (110) or
Sony SRS-BTS50 Wireless Portable Speaker Bluetooth with NFC - Black (111) or
the largest of the alternatives, the JBL Charge Bluetooth Wireless Speaker - Grey (120).

So, yes, the biggest sound and the biggest unit in its class. Having said that, the Creative MUVO 20 is also far more competitively priced than those, coming in cheaper than all the alternatives and not just by a few pounds. It is even cheaper than the older JBL Flip mk1, and trumps it with NFC capability. Size aside, the Creative looks OK. I would say that the JBLs both have it beaten for premium looks, with Creative's plastic looking a little cheaper and duller. However, the Creative does have Bluetooth and NFC pairing options, and supports aptX, which is meant to provide a better quality sound (like using wires, apparently). What's more, you can charge your phone using the built-in battery on the speaker in an emergency.

The MUVO 20's size is closer to the Logitech UE Boombox (200RRP, currently selling at 125), which is about twice the price of the Creative. So, again, the Creative offers great value for money. For completeness, there is a Creative MUVO 10 (RRP 50, currently selling at 43), which is closer in size to the items listed above. I haven't reviewed that, but it is even cheaper than the MUVO 20, which makes it considerably cheaper than the alternatives above, and has the same feature set.

In terms of features, the Creative offers everything all its competitors offer, except for the water-resistance of the Sony. It is truly fully-featured, and beats all of the others for its range of features as well as price, so certainly a value-for-money option.

In terms of sound quality, the JBL Flip is best, with an incredibly good sound, and the Sony the worst with a woolly, flat delivery. However, the Creative is nearly as good as the JBL Flip and can certainly go louder. If you want a speaker to sit proud on your shelf and fill a room with sound, the Creative is worth considering. If you want to pack it away for trips away and to the park, you might find it a little too large to bother with.

Operating the Creative is very straightforward. I set it up and had it working without reading the quickstart guide. The unit comes charged, so press the power button at the rear and it wakes up with an audio status message. Hit the Bluetooth button to start the pairing process with your phone, do the same on the phone and the units paired without any fuss, again with audio status updates from the speaker. After that, just hit play. The speaker has volume controls on the front, but of course, you can also control the volume from your handheld device, so no need to go back to the speaker unless you want to switch it off.

At the back of the speaker is a phono connection, should you wish to connect with wires, a USB output to charge your phone from and a micro USB connector to re-charge the speaker's battery/power the speaker. There is also a rear-firing bass port, which certainly helps to provide bass oomph that is surprising from a unit this size. Unless you like your bass to be overpowering and flabby, the speaker needs to be placed a little way away from a wall, especially corners, otherwise the sound gets a bit... souped-up Vauxhall Astra.

The speaker comes with a USB-to-micro USB cable, which is handy, but it doesn't come with a power supply/charger. Now, using a micro USB socket makes charging very easy, and you can use just about any charger (unless you have one of those Apple proprietary cables), which is of course really handy. However, I do think Creative should have supplied a charger. This is a growing trend, and while I can understand why companies are able to justify this saving having adopted such a universal standard, it's quite annoying to h ave to source your own charger. However, I really do like that the unit uses the now ubiquitous micro-USB socket - it's so much more convenient than lugging various chargers with you everywhere.

So, because the unit is so big (yet sold as a portable speaker), has a slightly iffy appearance and doesn't come with a charger, I'm not able to give a full five stars. The sound quality, price and features, though, more than justifies its place on your shortlist.

Disney Princess Cosy Chair
Disney Princess Cosy Chair
Price: 19.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Your princess will probably love it, 19 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Your princess will likely be delighted by this chair, but that's because of the imagery more than anything else. The chair itself arrives flat, requiring you to inflate it. It will therefore come as no surprise that the chair is very lightweight, made up as it is of light fabric, plastic, air and happy thoughts. Assuming your princess isn't very overweight, she will reign supreme in this slightly insubstantial throne. An inflatable chair will of course hold the weight of a small child and probably be comfortable enough for watching a bit of TV or reading a book. The chair seems par for the course for an officially licenced Disney product - 13 is probably what you would expect to pay. One day, the chair will find its way to the tip or a charity store, but until then, your little girl will probably love it. Just don't expect to be wowed by its quality.

PG tips Peppermint Pyramid Tea Bags 22 g (Pack of 4, Total 80 Tea Bags)
PG tips Peppermint Pyramid Tea Bags 22 g (Pack of 4, Total 80 Tea Bags)
Price: 4.76

5.0 out of 5 stars Tea-lish, 16 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
PG Tips have been producing decent tea at a reasonable price for years, but has only recently started to produce fruit and herbal teas. PG Tips' teabags have a pyramid design, as you'll know from their ads. Peppermint teas typically take a while to steep (depending on taste, of course). We usually have Twinings mint tea, with a brew taking about five minutes. The PG Tips' teabags do brew faster, one would think thanks to bag design. What's more, the PG Tips peppermint tea bags taste very good; they may not be for those who prefer a delicate, subtle taste, but if you like strong hit of mint, the PG Tips are worth a try.

PG Tips is a household brand, so I was expecting these teabags to be somewhat cheaper than they are. As it is, they cost about the same as Twinings' bags, which have a more premium image. However, I can't criticise PG Tips for pricing their product at the same level as the competition.

Very nice mint tea, especially for those who who like a stronger flavour.

CafePod Nespresso Compatible Arabica Lungo Capsules (Pack of 4, Total 40 Pods)
CafePod Nespresso Compatible Arabica Lungo Capsules (Pack of 4, Total 40 Pods)
Price: 9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent coffee, but storage and packaging are an issue, 6 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
CafePod Nespresso pods do, of course, fit Nespresso machines. Unlike most pods, they come individually sealed within a stay-fresh, metallic sleeve. I'm not a fan of this idea. Nespresso and Nespresso-style pods are air-tight anyway, so this additional sleeve is simply more packaging, more waste and more space required for storage. Three boxes of 10 CafePod pods takes up more space in my cupboard than 9 Nespresso sleeves. Although I love the convenience of Nespressos, I do have a nagging guilt about the amount of waste they produce. Although you can recycle Nestle Nespresso pods for free if you use the Nespresso online ordering service, this doesn't suit everyone (including me). The CafePod pods simply create more waste - the sleeves and the pods themselves.

The CafePods aren't well suited to Nespresso dispensers, such as the Tavola Swiss Capstore Vista Nespresso Coffee Capsule Stand. On opening a CafePod sleeve, you do notice that some coffee grounds will shake out from the pod's top. I suppose this is why the pods come in a sleeve as the top is made from a thin, perforated plastic layer, unlike Nestle Nespresso pods, or my favoured Cafe Tutto pods. Using a dispenser such as the Tavola will probably affect the freshness of the coffee and will leave your worktop with some coffee grounds to clean up.

On a positive note, the coffee itself is perfectly good. It produces a decent crema and has good body, depth of flavour and aftertaste. However, because of the packing and subsequent storage limitations, I cannot whole-heartedly recommend the product. If you are after a cheaper alternative, I would advise that you look at Cafe Tutto Café Tutto Capsules Espresso - they are great tasting and far better packed, allowing them to be posted right through your letterbox, and then stored in a Tavola-type holder or taking up less space in your cupboards.

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