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Mendo Shutaro (Leamington)
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Samsung UE39F5300AKXXU 39-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p Slim LED Television (100Hz CMR, SMART, Dual-Core, Wi-Fi (Dongle required))
Samsung UE39F5300AKXXU 39-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p Slim LED Television (100Hz CMR, SMART, Dual-Core, Wi-Fi (Dongle required))

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb value, and the best app line-up by far, 6 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
First impressions of this TV aren't wonderful - it's very plasticy, the remote looks cheap, and the default picture quality settings are so lurid and gaudy as to be completely unwatchable. Fortunately the settings menu provides a plethora of ways to improve the picture, and a few seconds later it was satisfactory, if still very much an LCD - which is to say, waxy and rather other worldly. I should qualify that by saying that my main TV is very high end (a Pioneer KURO), so my bar is set very high. For most I imagine once the saturation and contrast have been knocked back, the picture wouldn't offend. The sound I would describe as bigger than expected, but still very much TV speaker sound.

The fun part of this TV, is it's connected services, for which the Samsung WIS12ABGN/XEC Allshare (DLNA) Smart TV Wireless Dongle is a must buy. (the dongle supports 802.11g/n at 2.4 and 5ghz) Once online, you get access to the Samsung app store, and their recommendation engine. As I watch very little live TV, I wasn't able to get much out of the latter, but I believe the idea of it, is that it learns what you watch, and so is able to recommend what to watch next. This is also supposed to tie into various streaming services, but that particular functionality doesn't work in the UK.

I imagine most people will want this TV for the apps, so I'll list some of the most popular services, and if this TV allows access to them. Of course new apps are added from time to time, so this list may change in the future.

BBC iPlayer - Yes (720p)
ITV Player - Yes (SD)
4OD - Yes (SD)
Demand 5 - Yes (SD)
Netflix - Yes (1080p)
Amazon Instant Video - Yes (1080p)
CrunchyRoll - Yes (SD)
Blinkbox - Yes (SD)
MUBI - Yes (SD)
Wuaki TV - Yes (720p)
Knowhow Movies - Yes (SD)
Curzon on Demand - Yes (SD)
YouTube - Yes (720p)
VEVO - Yes (SD)
Spotify - Yes

Now TV - No
Sky Go - No
Animax - No

I've used a lot of streaming devices, and the app selection on offer here is the most comprehensive I seen so far, and by quite some margin. Now TV is the biggest omission, but as that's recently arrived on LG Smart TVs, I imagine a Samsung app is probably in development too. There is also a Samsung movie rental store for recent releases, which offers much the same selection as iTunes etc and at identical prices. HD and SD versions are available.

There's also a PLEX app, and DLNA support which gets it's own dedicated screen on the main TV hub menu. It found my shared photos, music, and videos on my NAS straight away, and it played the HD MP4 files I threw at it perfectly.

If I was being picky, then I could criticise Samsung a little for the layout of the app page, which is oddly split between a list of favourite apps (which you can customise), and a list of 'recommended apps', which is unchangeable and always displayed. Stranger still, any app which is in the recommended section cannot be added to the favourite apps list. The app screen is also visually very uninspiring, and is just a screen full of tiny square icons which look like they were from iOS apps circa 3 years ago. The rest of the UI, except for the app store itself (which is a cluttered mess) is pretty modern and well designed.

Overall then, this is a feature packed TV with the best app selection around at a very nice price. The picture quality isn't going to amaze anyone, but I'm sure it will be fine for most. Just make sure you buy the wifi dongle TV, as this TV is crippled without it.


Sony PlayStation 4 500GB Console (Black)
Sony PlayStation 4 500GB Console (Black)
Offered by ROYAL TRADERS
Price: £279.99

19 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A lot of potential, 30 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's been a very, very long wait for the next generation of consoles to arrive. Now that it's finally arrived, it feels like a disappointingly small step forward, so far anyway.

With few games to choose from at launch, I opted for Killzone and Assassin's Creed. It's nice to finally have gaming at true 1080p, but I was disappointed that neither one could manage 60 frames per second, which is something PCs have been doing pretty much as standard for many years now. Still, it's early days, and development hardware is notoriously unfinished in the run up to launch.

The hardware itself is surprisingly small, and has a built in power supply. It's quiet too, although not completely silent. The eject and power buttons are curiously tiny however, and near impossible to press. I found the wifi to be very poor unfortunately. On my 120mbit connection I usually get around 80mbit downstairs (my router is upstairs) on wifi on my iOS devices. My old PS3 used to get around 20mbit. My PS4 though, struggled to get 10mbit. It also disconnects at random, which is a problem no other device I have has. Hopefully it's something which can be addressed with a future firmware fix. The new controller is excellent however, and a big improvement over the dual shock 3, although it has an ENORMOUS blue light on the front, which lights up the whole room when playing in the dark. Sony have recently added an option to dim the light a little, but not extinguish it. This is one aspect that needs to be fixed.

Looking at the UI, it also feels unfinished. It's extremely spartan, and little more than a 'last played' list of items. It's a huge step back from the PS3's UI, which to my eyes is still beautiful and very functional. There are some rather inexcusable omissions from the UI however, including no support for DLNA (streaming content from your home PC/Mac/NAS),no ability to play media from USB sticks, and no way to play MP3 files.

I found myself using my PS3 more and more for streaming video as its functionality grew, so for those interested, here's a quick list of which services the PS4 currently supports. The list will grow no doubt, but as it stands, here's what it has, and has not. (there's no remote control available for the PS4, curiously, which makes using media services a bit of s chore)

BBC iPlayer - Yes (HD 720p)
BBC Sport - Yes (SD)
BBC News - Yes (SD)
Netflix - Yes (HD 1080p)
Amazon Instant Video - Yes (HD 1080p)
Demand 5 - Yes (SD)

ITV Player - No
4OD - No
MUBI - No
Now TV - No
CrunchyRoll - No
Animax - No
Curzon on Demand - No
Wuaki TV - No
Knowhow Movies - No
Blinkbox - No
Sky Go - No
Spotify - No
VEVO - No
YouTube - No

So far then, the PS4 feels early and feels unfinished. I'm sure it will be far better than it is in a year, and maybe even in 6 months. It's also too early to judge just how much more powerful it is as a gaming box. Early impressions are somewhat uninspiring, but they're just that - early. It will improve.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 10, 2013 7:39 PM GMT


Tamrac 5777 Velocity 7Z Sling Pack Bag for DSLR - Black/Grey
Tamrac 5777 Velocity 7Z Sling Pack Bag for DSLR - Black/Grey

5.0 out of 5 stars A design masterclass in camera bags, 24 Nov. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've used camera bags for years, and while the number of little pockets and cubby holes have increased, they essentially have remained the same for many years. Which is to say, a squarish bag on a long strap, which flaps about as you move. This bag then, is something of an eye opener. To say it's packed full of clever ideas and smart thinking would doing it a disservice.

The main section of the bag is segmented by nicely padded dividers, which are attached by velcro so can be removed should the need arise. This nicely allows a camera fitted with a longer lens to fit just as perfectly as a camera with a shorter lens. Spaces on the sides are also nicely padded and perfect for extra lenses (or a flash). There's even a slot on the back for an iPad or similar. The zipper is hidden away behind a little flap and has a nice little cloth extension on the end so it can easily be pulled.

Around the front there is another pocket with a plethora of smaller pockets inside, some colour coded red so you can put priority items in them, such as memory cards. There are lots of these little pockets too, so you really can go to town filling them with phones, batteries, and anything you fancy.

This bag also has something called the Modular Accessory System (M.A.S), which allows additional smaller bags to be clipped to the side. Of course there are bags for more lenses, but also a water bottle. I shall certainly be getting the latter.

Even the strap is very nicely designed, as it's a shoulder strap which works like a backpack, with an additional optional strap to keep things secure. Difficult to explain, but comfortable in use and it can be slid around to the front for access to the camera. It keeps the bag secure when moving, which is really a revelation, and yet is quick to access when the need arises.

All in all I'm very impressed with this bag. It has clever design touches throughout, and looks to be very well constructed too.


Circulon Steel Elite Cookware Saucepan Set, 5 Pieces
Circulon Steel Elite Cookware Saucepan Set, 5 Pieces

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very well designed set of pans, 24 Nov. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Having owned and used several sets of high quality pans over the years, there are a few things I look for now. The first is something so obvious it's amazing that not all pans have this - a coated or non metal handle, so the pan can be lifted when in use. The second is a thick, sturdy base so the pan remains stable when used on a precarious gas hob. The third is a lip around the edge so the pans can be stacked, even when in use. The the last is a non stick coating which works, and lasts.

These pans manage to achieve all of that, although as I have only recently acquired them, I can't comment yet on how long the non-stick coating will last. Based on what I've seen in other pans, this can be anywhere from 6 months to a couple of years, so I'm hoping for the latter from these pans.

The only criticism I would have of this set, and this is true of virtually all pan sets, is that they're perhaps a little out of touch with modern cooking. That is to say, they're very focussed on what could be considered the standard set of pans. I do a lot of asian cooking, and so I find I need a variety of Woks more so than saucepans. Perhaps it's time to include a wok as standard in all pan sets, and if that comes at the expense of one of the saucepans, I can live with that. I wouldn't say no to a slightly larger frying pan too, as the 24cm one included in this set feels a little small - I find a 28cm or 30cm frying pan makes cooking quite a bit easier.

Still, I can't fault the quality, at least so far.


Braun Satin Hair 7 BR170 Iontec Brush
Braun Satin Hair 7 BR170 Iontec Brush
Offered by RazorBladz
Price: £22.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent hairbrush but not quite what is promised, 19 Nov. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A review from my wife:

I was curious to see if this hair brush would live up to the claims of smoother hair, reducing frizz thanks to its ion technology. Unfortunately I was disappointed by this.... after many blind trials involving the husband guessing which side of my head I had used the ionic brush on and which my usual flat brush, the results were disappointing at well under a 30% correct guess rate. Despite this, he insists there is a slight reduction in the frizziness of my hair. I also discovered that when the ion button is turned on, there is a small opening at the back of the hairbrush which can give you a mild zap if it touches your fingers and I've managed to catch the zap by accident at least thrice! Not that I have sustained life changing injuries from the small zaps but I don't expect a hairbrush to be electrocuting me!

It's a decent enough hairbrush but I wouldn't be expecting dramatically different results from it. And I guess that's the problem, for an ordinary hairbrush it's is a pretty expensive purchase.


Roku 3 HD Streaming Player
Roku 3 HD Streaming Player
Price: £78.98

99 of 123 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little streamer with a patchy app line-up, 26 Oct. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Streaming boxes such as the Roku, or the New Apple TV (Latest Model - Launched Mar 2012) are single purpose devices. Unlike consoles such as the PS3 and the Xbox 360, which also play discs and of course, games, these devices live or die by how many third party streaming services they give access to. The Apple TV is still a total dud for UK audiences, so the market is wide open for Roku to fill it.

Sadly the results are rather poor, and improvements arrive at a glacial place. The easiest way to illustrate how useful this box will be to anyone reading this, is to list which streaming services it provides access to.

BBC iPlayer - Yes (720p)
Netflix - Yes (1080p HD)
Demand 5 - Yes (SD)
4OD - Yes (SD)
Now TV - Yes (720p)
YouTube - Yes (720P)
CrunchyRoll - Yes (SD)
Spotify - Yes
VEVO - Yes
BBC News - Yes (SD)

Amazon Instant Video - No
Amazon MP3 - No
ITV Player - No
Sky Go - No
Animax - No
MUBI - No
Curzon on Demand - No
Blinkbox - No
Sainsbury's Entertainment - No
Knowhow Movies - No
Wuaki TV - No
Last FM - No
BBC Sport - No

The big omissions are clearly the Amazon services (ironic, given how Roku originally distributed the Roku in the UK exclusively through Amazon), and of course, ITV. As a film fan, I can't manage without Amazon Instant Video, which I find to be the best of the UK film streaming services by quite some margin. If you're a fan of art house, classic, and non English language cinema, MUBI is also essential.

Roku are very keen to trumpet their hundreds of channels, and that's true, there are plenty in the channel store. However, the aim has clearly been quantity over quality. Outside of the well known services everyone looks for, you'll find little of interest in the store. The mix is spread fairly evenly between obscure films - and by obscure, I mean straight to video efforts made for pennies, non-English language TV - which are mostly Indian and African, UFO/Ghost/Conspiracy Nut/Nonsense channels for crazy people, and most terrifying of all, a very wide array of ultra hardcore religious channels. The abysmal quality of 99.9% of channels makes looking at the channel store a total waste of time.

I should add that there is no support for DLNA streaming in the Roku, although you can install the very bare bones PLEX app if you run a PLEX server on your PC and stream local content that way. It's worth stating the obvious however, that PLEX won't stream anything which has DRM on it, such as video bought from iTunes. One nice feature of this latest Roku is a headphone jack in the remote, which could be useful for those who don't want to disturb others in the house.

Sky now sell a variant of the previous generation (and now discontinued) Roku 2 box as a way to push their Now TV service, and presumably because of this Demand 5 and 4OD have recently appeared on the platform. Given that Sky block Netflix from their own branded Roku 2, it seems highly unlikely they will want Amazon Instant Video to arrive. Roku UK seem totally disinterested in acquiring new services, so if you want to watch Amazon Instant Video, or use Amazon MP3, then this isn't a box I would recommend. If you're happy with iPlayer, Netflix, 4OD, Demand 5, and Now TV, then this may suffice, although I'd still recommend a PS3 instead, which does a lot more for only a small premium over the price of a Roku 3.
Comment Comments (21) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 30, 2014 1:25 PM GMT


Zyliss Herb Tool Cutter - White
Zyliss Herb Tool Cutter - White

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic job with herbs but partial to fingers too..., 17 Sept. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Zyliss herb chopper does a wonderful job in mincing herbs. It has a useful handle which you can turn to two different settings - one to roll over the herbs and one to do some fine chopping. The blades are extremely sharp and handle all herbs with ease. You can complete all your chopping needs without any contact with the blades. This would have been a perfect design if it wasn't for the cleaning process. When you use the blades to roll over the herbs, a few strands invariably get inside the hollow middle. You can take the top off to clean this however this a a bit stiff. You absolutely need the blade cover to work this safely but the blade cover can come off fairly easily. Once you have the top off however you have exposed blades on the inside and it continues to be a harrowing task as you continue to try and avoid loss of digits!
Overall then this does a fantastic job with herbs but be very, very careful with the blades!


Zyliss Fine Stainless Steel Grater, Acid Etched
Zyliss Fine Stainless Steel Grater, Acid Etched
Price: £15.89

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very efficient, but dangerously sharp, 1 Sept. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I didn't think much new could be done with zesters, - you move your hand up and down holding a lime/lemon, and the zester chips away at the skin creating a little pile of shavings. They've been the same forever. When I received this Zyliss zester, the first thing I noticed is that it's pretty big, and the zesting surface is hidden away behind a large protective shield.

It turns out, that the cutting surface is hidden away for good reason, as once exposed it's incredibly sharp. This means that in practice, some refinement of your zesting technique will be called for, as this thing will slice right through to the flesh of a lemon with a single stroke. It's seriously sharp.

However I soon found out, that it's really rather too sharp. With a knife, sharpness is required, but as you have control over every precise cut, with steady hands on a stable work surface, the danger is much reduced. With the up and down hand motion required when zesting, an accident is always a possibility, resulting in a scratch or a graze. With this zester, an accident results in many layers of skin being removed in an instant.

My fault of course, and I now treat this as if I would a barely tame lion, but it seems to me that it's simply over the top for a fairly random and wobbly process such as zesting. It's a very efficient device, but if you slip, get ready to lose a chunk of your finger.


Philips HP6390/10 Facial Precision Trimmer Hot Pink
Philips HP6390/10 Facial Precision Trimmer Hot Pink
Price: £17.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Handy and useful, 23 July 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A review from the wife ...
This hot pink trimmer looks lovely and works well too! It is a compact device that will easily fit into your handbag for any facial hair emergencies. It is useful to quickly get rid of any pesky hairs without having to worry about the pain of waxing or threading. It comes with an eyebrow trimmer, allowing you to trim the length to 2mm or 4mm. This works very well and gives your eyebrows a uniform, neat look. It also comes with a eyebrow shaper precision attachment where the shaver head is partially blocked by the attachment. Useful in theory but I think this could still be fairly disastrous if you were to slip during trimming. I think I would much prefer to use tweezers or threading to precisely shape my eyebrows. This trimmer does come with some tweezers but they are nothing special to write about. My manicure set tweezers are of a much higher build quality and I will be continuing to use those. And finally, you also get a cut cleaning brush to get rid of clean off any rogue hairs from the device. Overall a decent, compact device which will no doubt be used regularly. I only wish they had supplied a small carry case for all the little attachments.


Philips Shaver Series 7000, Wet and Dry Shaver RQ1195/17 with Click-On Beard Trimmer
Philips Shaver Series 7000, Wet and Dry Shaver RQ1195/17 with Click-On Beard Trimmer
Offered by BuSell
Price: £149.98

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good shaver, but hugely over priced, 21 July 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Having had Philips' shavers for years, I know what to expect - a nice contoured shape which fits the hand well, and solid reliability. This shaver certainly doesn't disappoint there, but there is one aspect which leaps out - the price. My previous shaver was a Philips SensoTouch RQ1180cc GyroFlex 2D Rotary Rechargeable Shaver with Clean and Charge Stand, which as far as I can tell, performs to exactly the same level as this shaver and is physically near identical. However it's £55 cheaper, and comes with a cleaning unit which works nicely but requires special cleaning fluids. (and as such was never used once the free supplied bottle ran out).

This shaver comes with a beard trimmer admittedly, but it's little more than a small piece of plastic, and certainly not enough to justify the crazy price tag.

As with my other shaver (the RQ1180), this must be docked in the supplied stand to charge, which is a real pain when travelling as it means carrying the charger around too. Would it really have been that difficult for Philips to simply add a power socket somewhere on the body? The charger with this shaver is collapsable at least (although still pretty bulky), which is an improvement over the RQ1180.

Overall then a perfectly solid shaver, but one with a price tag so eye wateringly high that I can only assume Philips' profit margins are absolutely astronomical. As a disclaimer, I received this shaver through the Vine programme on Amazon, and as such, got it for free. Had I been paying for a shaver, I would not have considered this one.


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