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techpuppy "woof." (UK)
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Lapasa 3 PACK Men's Boxer Briefs - COMPRESSION FIT - Seamless Sports Underwear
Lapasa 3 PACK Men's Boxer Briefs - COMPRESSION FIT - Seamless Sports Underwear
Offered by ASAS-UK
Price: £18.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Firm but flexible..., 29 May 2017
I've tried a couple of Lapasa men's boxer-briefs before and found them well made and very comfortable, usually with very soft and lightweight fabrics, but these compression boxer-briefs are something a bit different. The fabrication is unusual and is a Nylon/Polyester mix with some thickness to it and a slight textured feel. The waistband seems to be almost integral to the garment and there are few seams, only a couple of curved ribs woven into the fabric which form a slight pouch on the front and a sort of under-seam around your posterior. The rear rib looks like it might be there to give some uplift (but it doesn't really) and overall they do remind me a little of D.Hedral seamless trunks, except without the designer price-tag. They also remind me a bit of women's shapewear, but they don't have quite that level of compression or body-smoothing - would men really want their bumps and lumps smoothed out, maybe some bumps and not others?

As the name implies they are tight to wear but not uncomfortable because there's so much multi-directional stretch in the fabric, so although you can move around in them easily enough you never forget you're wearing them. There's so much stretch in them I can wear them as hipsters or pull them up until they cover my navel - not saying I'd want to wear them like that but you can! You might be able to smooth out a slight muffin-top wearing them but the smoothing effect would be minor. The fabric seems to wick away perspiration and they stay in place quite well, so they might be suitable for sport or activity use under sportswear, they'd certainly stop your junk from jiggling around. They do seem slightly odd to me, but maybe that's because I'm used to Lapasa men's underwear that's so soft and light that you're hardly aware you're wearing it. The Lapasa quality is still there but these give a much different, but not unpleasant, feeling of being contained and controlled - if you want to avoid any VPL under tight clothing or just enjoy that compression feeling then they're just the thing.


Salter Cook Bluetooth Thermometer, White
Salter Cook Bluetooth Thermometer, White
Price: £49.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Half-dead on arrival..., 26 May 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'd like to be more positive about this Cook Bluetooth Thermometer but mine got here half-dead on arrival and only one of the probes, the meat spike, actually works. It's a slightly odd contraption anyway and probably only for the most dedicated (read: borderline obsessive) chefs anyway but it would be a lot better if it actually worked. Examining all the components I seriously doubt the quality of manufacture here - both probes have a metal mesh sheathing to protect the connecting cable from heat exposure but on both of my probes the cable seems to have been severely crimped (or maybe folded) where the sheathing meets the probe causing the metal mesh to fray and open out. This cable damage is probably why my immersion probe isn't working at all, but even if it worked I'd have concerns about longevity or hygiene as it's not easy to wash a frayed metal mesh at the best of times.

The dedicated app that Salter provide to use with the thermometer is well produced and very professional looking and can catalogue your favourite recipes, or find new ones, as well as monitor the data coming from the probes. The probes are connected to a little Bluetooth transmitter (which is not heat-proof and remains outside the oven or stove) and the app receives data from that. Usually with Bluetooth devices you'd pair the device with your smartphone and then switch to the app to see the data but this device pairs only from within the app itself, so you don't bother pairing it first and just make sure Bluetooth is enabled on your smartphone and switch straight to the app.

After you get the probes working, assuming you can, then you might wonder what the point really is. It does give you an accurate readout of the internal temperature of your roast while it's in the oven but you have no remote control over the oven temperature. You still have to go to the oven to turn it up or down, so what's the real advantage over a meat thermometer that you can see through the oven door? Personally I would have more use for the immersion probe, especially when making something very temperature-sensitive like homemade fudge or toffee but our probe doesn't work so I couldn't test that out. Sorry Salter, but I'm not very impressed at all.


Philip's Essential Road Atlas Britain and Ireland 2018: (Spiral binding) (Philips Road Atlas)
Philip's Essential Road Atlas Britain and Ireland 2018: (Spiral binding) (Philips Road Atlas)
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From A to B and back again..., 25 May 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's funny how, even with satnav in almost every smartphone and so many cars, we still have a use for a good road atlas and this Philips Essential version is a pretty good one. The size is just right, basically each map page is A4 plus an allowance for the spiral binding and the binding means you can fold it back on itself and have something that's easy to hold or sit on your lap. The spiral binding means there's quite a big gutter between pages but Philips have split the maps so there's virtually no overlap from the left page to the right, which makes it relatively straightforward to trace your route as it jumps across a double-page spread.

The 1:200000 scale of most of the maps is also just about right although in more remote and less-populated areas of the UK, like the Scottish Highlands, the maps are to a less detailed scale. For driving cross-country they're great and you can pick out your routes clearly, but inevitably as you approach major conurbations there's a tendency for confusing map spaghetti and it gets increasingly difficult to track your route. To help with this there are more detailed maps of the approaches to four cities; Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and London, and they're indispensable if you need to navigate those areas. There are also a selection of around 30 small city-centre maps but some of these are so small, printed 2 or even 4 to a page, that they're only helpful in locating the major streets, great if you're on a shopping trip but not much else. There's a route planner at the front of the book showing which double-page spread you can find each section of the UK on and at the back is an extensive index so you can locate individual towns.

Inevitably when you get into urban areas the atlas becomes much less helpful and you'll either want an A-to-Z of that particular city or you could switch to a satnav device and get the greater detail you need from there. However, it's still a really useful thing to help get you from A-to-B and this version seems pretty much up-to-date. The price seems more than fair and of course it's just the right size for that pocket in the back of the front seats.


THE PROTEIN WORKS Vegan Dairy Free High Protein Shake - 500 g, Chocolate Silk
THE PROTEIN WORKS Vegan Dairy Free High Protein Shake - 500 g, Chocolate Silk
Price: £11.26

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Premium vegetarian alternative..., 25 May 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Even though I'm mostly vegetarian I usually avoid vegetarian or vegan protein powders because they're usually soya-based and Soya offers an incomplete (or at least lacking) amino profile and even contains protease inhibitors which can inhibit protein absorption, which is obviously totally counter-productive. This vegan option from The Protein Works is a bit different and offers a blend of non-animal proteins including Soya, White Hemp, Sunflower, Pea and Brown Rice, so you're getting a more comprehensive range of amino acids and avoiding the bloated feeling Soya can give on its own.

I got the Choc Silk variety and the powder itself is extra fine and mine has a lot of dark flecks through it which turned out to be unblended cocoa powder - giving the bag a shake before you begin helps to blend them better. It mixes quite well but you will need a shaker or blender for best results, those granules of cocoa can survive a good mixing but they're kinda nice anyway. The chocolate flavour is quite grown-up, much more like cocoa than a candy bar, and isn't over-sweet - this is the first protein powder I ever tried that might be nice warmed up, although I haven't actually tried it that way yet. I've tried Hemp protein powder on its own before and although it offers a very good easily digested protein drink it does have a distinctive nutty earthy flavour which some people might find off-putting but this blended protein powder doesn't have that.

There's a generous 25g of protein in each serving and you can use milk or water, although I find it a bit insipid mixed only with water. I don't get any bloated feeling afterwards and it seems to be easily digested. My only negative comment would be that it seems a bit expensive compared to standard dairy-based protein shakes and so strict vegetarians are paying a bit of a premium - on the plus side I think this is probably the best vegetarian protein shake I've tried, both from a nutritional and flavour point of view.


[2 Pack] Galaxy J3 (2016) Screen Protector, Bukm Premium Tempered Glass Screen Protector [9H Hardness][Anti-Fingerprint][Bubble Free] Screen Protector Film for Samsung Galaxy J3 2016
[2 Pack] Galaxy J3 (2016) Screen Protector, Bukm Premium Tempered Glass Screen Protector [9H Hardness][Anti-Fingerprint][Bubble Free] Screen Protector Film for Samsung Galaxy J3 2016
Offered by Bukm
Price: £5.59

4.0 out of 5 stars Double glazing for smartphones..., 23 May 2017
I'm definitely a convert to tempered glass screen protectors after years of using the standard plastic variety and getting one for my Galaxy J3 was a no-brainer. This one from Bukm seems to offer good value, especially when you get two of them at a price many companies charge for one. You also get two sets of screen wipes, one wet and one dry, to prepare the screen before applying the protector. There's also a sticky dust remover, although I didn't need to use this, and a sticky strip which (I think) you're meant to use to make a sort of handle you can use while aligning it with your smartphone screen - you don't want to risk touching the adhesive side of the protector or you'll leave permanent finger-marks. The wet wipe is really quite wet with what seems to be more water than alcohol for a change but it makes a decent job of removing fingerprints, although you also need to use the dry wipe thoroughly afterwards too.

With the screen streak and dust free you quickly line up one end of the screen protector, I used the Home button as a guide, and then apply it with gentle pressure - being made of glass means the protector wants to stay flat so it really applies itself while you watch. The trickiest bit is getting it aligned right at the start, but I got mine on first time with no streaks or trapped dust and with the edges quite well aligned with the phone. It's certainly easier than flexible plastic protectors and there were no trapped air bubbles that needed to be teased out either.

These protectors are cut shy of the edges of the J3's screen, there's about 1mm between the glass protector and the raised bezel that runs around the display, which was a bit disappointing because they'd look and feel better if they fitted right to that edge. Note that this glass protector sits slightly proud of that raised edge so if you lay your phone screen-down the glass is now in contact with the table. There's a cutout for the Home button and another off-centre one for the sensors, camera and speaker at the top of the screen. This looks a bit awkward but it's probably unavoidable given how Samsung have arranged things, it does make the screen protector quite visible though and is a real giveaway.

So far mine has remained completely blemish-free and it feels as good as the screen it's protecting. I don't notice any reduction in touch-sensitivity but I can see a very slight softening of the onscreen image. It isn't noticeably darker but if you look very closely there's a slight sparkly effect but it's minimal and doesn't affect normal usage. The glass wipes clean of fingerprints quite easily, at least as well as the original screen underneath. I haven't had to test the impact resistance yet but the surface seems to be resistant to day to day wear and tear and there's no sign of it detaching or moving, plus I know I have a backup if anything does happen to it.
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AUKEY Bluetooth Speaker 16W with Enhanced Bass and Bluetooth 4.0 for iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Nexus, HTC, Laptops, and More
AUKEY Bluetooth Speaker 16W with Enhanced Bass and Bluetooth 4.0 for iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Nexus, HTC, Laptops, and More
Offered by yueying
Price: £31.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Rock your pocket (without emptying it)..., 22 May 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The design of this Aukey SK-S1 Speaker isn’t so different from so many others, it’s a chunky little brick sized just right to sit under your computer monitor or slide into a backpack, but to get something this well made and sounding so good for this price is really special. It comes simply boxed with an instruction manual and a pair of decent quality cables, one microUSB cable for charging the on-board battery and one short jack-to-jack audio cable for connecting to non-Bluetooth devices. Note, this speaker is recharged via USB but it doesn’t work as a USB audio device when connected to your computer, it only charges the battery.

As soon as you pick it up you realise this is a quality item, the construction feels very solid and well-finished with no hollow creaky plastics and there’s a bit of weight to it, without it being too heavy to carry around. The entire bottom surface is coated with a non-slip silicone bumper, which stops it sliding or rattling around at high volumes. The perforated metal mesh wraps around the front and back and the power button, microUSB port and audio line-in socket are on the rear right top edge. On top are a row of function buttons, from left to right, Call Control (to answer incoming calls on your paired smartphone), Volume (up and down), Track Control (previous and skip) and a Play/Pause button. Obviously the control buttons, except the volume controls, only work when the speaker is paired with another Bluetooth device. On the front edge is an LED which flashes or changes colour to indicate the current status - for example blue for Bluetooth linked mode, flashing blue for Bluetooth pairing mode and green for Line-In audio mode.

Pairing with Bluetooth devices is simple enough, the speaker automatically searches for known devices when switched on, if no known device is available it will try to pair with any available unknown devices. I find it isn't the fasted to pair I’ve tried and sometimes you have to be a little patient. The Bluetooth 4.0 does deliver good quality audio but there’s no additional support for the aptX codec, which is a slight disappointment since the speaker is good enough to justify it. Connecting a cable to the Line-In socket automatically disables the Bluetooth transmission and the status LED turns green to let you know - you can’t have both active at the same time. When paired via Bluetooth the volume controls of the speaker and paired device don’t sync up and remain independent of each other, so you might have to tweak both to get it sounding right. On the plus side the on-board volume control doesn’t have that stepped effect some do, where the volume goes up or down in preset steps and they’re either too loud or too quiet - this volume control slides gracefully up and down so you can find your own sweet spot.

Thankfully the sound quality is really good, especially for a speaker this small and this affordable. It really sounds much like it feels - small but really solid. It’s got a clean, tight sound that’s punchy and powerful and yet doesn’t distort even at full volume and that's loud enough for most situations. The very low bass notes are missing but there’s enough upper and mid bass here to fill out the sound nicely. It seems like they haven’t tried to force deep bass out of a small speaker, something which never really works, and instead have concentrated on getting a tight refined sound instead. Like any small speaker you need to be directly in front of it to get a true stereo effect but placed under your computer monitor or laptop it makes a great upgrade for tinny on-board speakers. I do find that placed off to one side or across the room it does sound much less impressive, but again that’s really the limitation of a small single-unit speaker.

Note that a virtually identical speaker is available from another brand but that one also has NFC on-board which makes pairing it with compatible devices even simpler, however that model is slightly more expensive and doesn't sound any different to this one so if NFC isn't a critical feature for you then this is a better buy. Overall it's a great little speaker for the price, if you went for some brand names you’d probably spend double or triple this price and not get anything better sounding.


PhD Nutrition Smart Bar, Cookies and Cream, Pack of 12 x 64g
PhD Nutrition Smart Bar, Cookies and Cream, Pack of 12 x 64g
Offered by Monstersupplements
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Yummy at a cost..., 21 May 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Over the years since I first started eating protein bars (and it's hard to stop once you start) they seem to have gotten better and better - more of the unwanted carb's and sugars get removed and yet the flavours and textures get better. This PhD Nutrition 'Cookies & Cream' Smart Bar has to be one of the best yet and if you weren't told they were low-sugar and carb you'd probably never guess. The only slight giveaway for me is the texture of the chewy fudge in the middle of the bar, which is slightly gritty and typical of so many protein bars. Around that fudge core is a thin layer of caramel encrusted with soya crispies and covered in chocolate. The 'Cookies & Cream' name and the pack illustration makes you think this will be an Oreo-style bar but (thankfully, because Oreos are foul) it isn't really and it's more like a Lion bar.

There's a good serving of protein on board (20g in total which is about all your digestive system can absorb at one session) and that's drawn from both dairy and Soya sources. The sugar and carb content may be low but there's still 11g of fat (7g of which is saturated) in there and there's 241 calories per bar - the bar's a good size and quite satisfying so the calorie count seems reasonable to me. If you're packing on the protein even when you're out and about then they're a great way to get it and will sate your sweet tooth too. They're so tasty you wonder what the catch is, then you see the price - admittedly they are expensive but they're really good too...


PhD Nutrition Protein Superfood Powder, Banana, 1kg
PhD Nutrition Protein Superfood Powder, Banana, 1kg
Price: £27.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Super protein food..., 17 May 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've tried lots of different protein shakes but this is really something different - it still delivers a decent amount of protein in each serving (though a bit less than many standard protein powders) but it's also loaded with lots of other nutrients and extracts reputed to be superfoods. I remain sceptical about how super these so-called superfoods really are, but there are so many of them in here surely something's bound to be good for you? The protein is also derived from a mix of sources including Hemp and Brown Rice so should have a good amino profile, something many vegetarian proteins lack.

It mixes reasonably well, though you really need a blender or shaker for the best results, but there is a bit of grittiness even after a thorough blend. You don't need as much of this powder as some, only half a scoop, so the bag lasts reasonably well - according to the instructions you can use a double-dose full scoop too but I found it too sweet and sickly made that strong. It mixes with water or milk (cow or nut) but it's a little insipid when mixed with water. I got the banana flavour and although it's supposedly a natural flavouring it still tastes a bit of fake banana, it's also quite sweet but bearably so.

Although it's already a complete mix I've taken to using it as the basis of a smoothie and blending it with skimmed milk, a fresh banana and a scoopful of Wheatgrass powder - that makes a rich, sweet and creamy banana smoothie that's a little odd but really nice. Blended with real banana the flavour works a lot better and the resulting smoothie is really satisfying and works well as a meal-replacement if you're in a hurry. I'm not that keen on the taste of Wheatgrass alone, though it's bearable, but that blends in with this banana flavour really well and you're hardly aware of it.

Whichever way you prepare it this Protein Superfood Powder does deliver a real boost, thanks to the Green Tea and Yerba Mate so you feel quite satisfied and more awake than before. If you primarily need protein this isn't the most effective or economical way to get it, but as a protein-rich meal-in-a-glass it really works well, especially if you blend it with some appropriate fruit. It's pricey but the bag lasts longer than you might expect and despite the price this is a protein shake I'd really like to keep taking, although I'd still use the more conventional protein powders alongside it.


BIC 4 Colour Designed for You Ball Pen - Assorted (Pack of 1)
BIC 4 Colour Designed for You Ball Pen - Assorted (Pack of 1)
Price: £4.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Four-in-one ballpoint..., 14 May 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Yes, this is one of those multi-coloured ballpoints that you probably had in your school pencil-case a few years ago, or maybe decades ago because they've been around for that long. It's a chunky barrelled pen but not uncomfortably so and the mechanism which switches ink colours seems to work quite well. Back in my schooldays I remember mine got jammed up quite easily but this one seems to avoid that. At the top of the pen are four appropriately coloured latches and you simply slide down the one you want, sliding another latch disengages the first and replaces it with another ink colour. All the colours are clear enough, though not very brightly coloured, but the green one seems prone to blotches and doesn't flow as smoothly as the others.

For writing the pen is fine but feels a bit inaccurate, the nibs seem to move around slightly in the aperture, and so I'm not sure I'd want to use this pen for extended writing tasks. For marking up other work the pen's perfect and the different colours would let you colour-code your notes.

This particular version comes with one of a selection of designs chosen by French Facebook users, I'm not sure why that matters or if it really makes much difference but the moustached version I got is cute. When one or other of the inks runs dry it does appear that they'd be easily replaceable but I haven't checked for compatible refills. The quality is OK though nothing special but it's a fun pen that could have a practical purpose too and no pencil-case is really complete without one.


Essential Winetasting: The Complete Practical Winetasting Course
Essential Winetasting: The Complete Practical Winetasting Course
by Michael Schuster
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond the swig..., 9 May 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I didn't find this book first-time-round, although I wish I had, so this revised edition is all new to me but it does seem to be the perfect one-stop introduction to winetasting, even if all you want is to make better choices in the supermarket. The book seems to get the balance just about right between being concise and jargon-free enough to be approachable and at the same time having enough depth and expertise to be worthwhile. Personally when it comes to wine drinking I know what I like but I don't always know why I like it or what else I might like that's similar and this book really does help illuminate some of that.

The beginning chapters run through the basics, the qualities of wine you'll use to appraise them and how they work, so you don't just get explanations of the types of bouquets and flavours wine may present but also an explanation of how your nose and palette actually detects and experiences those qualities. Subsequent sections explain the different types of wine, giving valuable information both on the origins and the specific qualities of those grape types we're so familiar with but may not fully understand. The third section, dealing with actual winetasting, gets up close and personal with wine and breaks down the qualities to look out for with each different wine type. There's additional information to be downloaded from the author's website and even an online winetasting course you can subscribe to but the book contains enough information to make this optional and the author doesn't promote it beyond a few mentions.

The final section of the book is for reference and contains wine-making maps and facts and rounds off your crash course in winetasting nicely. I'm sure some will find there's a bit too much technical information here and others not enough but for me it seems just about right. I have other wine books that catalogue and explain grape and wine varieties and they can be slightly dry reading (pun intended) but this book doesn't just lead you toward wines you might really enjoy, it tells you what to do with them when you get there. Really worth a look if you want to expand your wine-infused horizons.


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