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Reviews Written by
D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   

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AVANTEK AR52 Amplified Freeview HD TV Panel Aerial Digital Indoor HDTV Antenna for DVB-T Television Tuner Receiver
AVANTEK AR52 Amplified Freeview HD TV Panel Aerial Digital Indoor HDTV Antenna for DVB-T Television Tuner Receiver
Offered by Avantek UK
Price: £37.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Location, Location, Location, 28 Mar. 2015
At 6½ inches wide and 7 ½ inches tall and sitting on separate brackets the ‘AVANTEK AR52 Panel Antenna’ may be located on a window cill - I found this the best position for reception. The Instruction Manual says very little - but very little needs to be said - a useful diagram says it all and installation is straightforward. The co-ax cable from the panel is connected to the aerial socket of the TV, and the AC adaptor plugged into the mains is then connected to the small connecting box on the co-ax cable.

Some TVs may need to be re-tuned. Initially reception was fuzzy and I operated the TV’s auto scan, and for some reason it locked onto BBC Wales instead of BBC NorthWest - but reception was satisfactory after a bit of jiggery-pokery to adjust the location of the antenna. I live in a poor signal area and needed to locate the antenna (and TV) on the side of the house facing my normal TV mast, and then to locate the antenna near a window. Satisfaction for me depends on location, location and location - but in good signal areas there should be no problems.


Simian PowerUp 10400mAh Water Resistant Power Bank for Tablets & Smartphones - Dual USB Output with Torch and LED Power Indicators - 3 Year Warranty
Simian PowerUp 10400mAh Water Resistant Power Bank for Tablets & Smartphones - Dual USB Output with Torch and LED Power Indicators - 3 Year Warranty
Offered by iHeadphones UK
Price: £24.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Carefree Camping, 28 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Essentially the ‘Simian Power Bank’ is a battery for charging a variety of 5V devices such as tablets, mobile phones etc. and it is itself rechargeable. There are 2 USB charging connections - a 1.0A and a 2.1A - plus a micro port to charge the device with cable provided. There are 4 blue LED lights to indicate battery strength, but battery life will depend on usage - product information claims 4 full charges for a typical smartphone before recharging. Holding down the on/off switch turns on a LED flashlight, and further holding down switches it off - a useful feature. A User Guide is included but is hardly necessary for straightforward operation - but comments on care and maintenance with prevention of water ingress are to be noted.

There are many power banks or power packs on the market, and this ‘Simian Power Bank’ is physically larger than some at 3 x 4¾ inches and almost 1 inch thick, but its capacity at 10400mAh is less than others of smaller size. However a major advantage is that it is water ‘resistant’ - yet printed on the casing is the warning ‘Do not immerse in water’ suggesting it is not fully ‘waterproof’. The casing has a silicone finish with socket inlets and outlets having rubbery covers to keep the device dry, and the covers also exclude dirt. It appears well-made with a sealing ring and of an anti-shock material that should stand some hard use. Together with its flashlight this makes the ‘Simian Power Bank’ suitable for carefree camping away from electric supplies - and in damp conditions. However its bulky size and low capacity loses it a star - hence 4-star rating even though it is a 5-star product.


The Weeping Willow
The Weeping Willow
by Ray Wilson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Family Fortunes, 27 Mar. 2015
This review is from: The Weeping Willow (Paperback)
At one level ‘The Weeping Willow’ provides a reminder to what is often referred to as the ‘Forgotten War’, and its action takes place in Malaya in 1957 some 9 years into the ‘Emergency’ that embroiled Britain in that part of the declining ‘Empire’ after World War II. Narrative is woven around the teenage children of a British Army officer sent to Malaya, and the grandchildren of a Malay Chinese who is a senior figure being resettled in a ‘New Village’. The story is short but even so there is some repetition, and it is simply told without need for its ‘Glossary’. Being of limited scope there are lightweight piecemeal episodes, and the book appears to be directed at a ‘young adult’ readership - but there are serious undertones.

Atrocities are described by both Communist terrorists and British Army, and insights are provided to radicalisation, brainwashing and propaganda, and to intimidation and psychological warfare. The British teenagers experience fear and guilt as they come face to face with the horrors of terrorism as well as the dangers of the Malayan jungle, and the Chinese grandchildren take opposing stances on the way the future should be determined. All come to realise it is family that matters. In searching for freedom and harmony the Malay Chinese must consider the family in its fullest sense as both the individual family and the family of the community, and the Army officer must decide how best to achieve safety and togetherness in peace with his children. It is a pity ‘The Weeping Willow’ is so short as there was much more that could have been developed.


Now That I've Found You
Now That I've Found You
by Ciara Geraghty
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful Dialogue, 26 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The setting of ‘Now That I’ve Found You’ is modern day Dublin, with the story told by taxi-driver Vinnie in the first person describing his present days and past thoughts, and by his fare Ellen in the form of letters she is encouraged to write to her absent husband. Vinnie has been left by his wife Paula to bring up their two children, and Ellen is struggling physically and mentally to pull her life together after an accident. Vinnie’s bantering with his best friend Kenny and work colleague Janine makes for delightful Irish dialogue in short sharp sentences, and Ellen’s contacts with her Dr. Deery raise issues to be pursued poignantly in communications with husband Neil.

There is much humour in both threads to the story, and author Ciara Geraghty skilfully makes her characters totally credible. Even more than this - she makes them attractive. From the start readers will be expecting romance between Vinnie and Ellen, yet as readers revel in the warmth of their relationship, they will find themselves empathizing with Kenny, Janine, Vinnie’s children and his Ma, and even errant Paula. ‘Now That I’ve Found You’ is a love story that readers will fall in love with, but also they will receive insights to serious issues - Vinnie’s parenting and marriage problems, Ellen’s reliance on psychiatry and physiotherapy, and Paula’s mental health. Narrative flows in a cosy comfortable manner with bits of information revealed a little at a time - but suddenly it becomes complicated and readers may become apprehensive - with reason.


FSL Inertia Bluetooth Earphones with Mic - Wireless Headphones with aptX and NFC - Perfect for Sports and Travel
FSL Inertia Bluetooth Earphones with Mic - Wireless Headphones with aptX and NFC - Perfect for Sports and Travel
Offered by iHeadphones UK
Price: £109.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Wireless and Wonderful, 26 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The ‘FSL Inertia Bluetooth Earphones and Microphone’ arrives in a super double sided zipped hard material carry case - and on setting up and using the device it was soon clear to me that the care taken with the case is mirrored with the device - it is a magnificent 5-star product. In addition to the case and the earphones there are alternative earpieces and there are fins (marked left and right). These give added security for use on the move, and the flat rubbery connector of the lightweight earphones makes for comfort, plus usual controls for volume, play, pause, next/previous track etc. positioned on the earphones connector. There is a discreet microphone for communications - with all usual functions supported - answer/end/decline/switch etc.

A USB to micro cable is provided for charging, and an instructions booklet with illustrations and text presents straightforward details for setting up and operating. LED lights indicate charging in progress and the light switches off when fully charged. Charging time is approx. 2 hours and though battery life is dependent on use it has lasted over 4 hours and still going strong - and I don’t doubt the product data claim of 150 hours standby. Also there are LED lights to assist with Bluetooth pairing of earphones to mobile phone or tablet, and the procedure is simplicity itself. I am not in a position to comment on NFC pairing, but this is likely to be even easier than Bluetooth. Finally - what about sound quality? Considering the size of the device this is remarkably good with ample volume - but perhaps a bit light on base. This does not detract from my assessment of the ‘FSL Inertia Bluetooth Earphones and Microphone’ as truly deserving a 5-star rating.


FSL Delta Portable Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Stereo Speaker with Rechargeable Battery, 20m Range and True High Definition Audio
FSL Delta Portable Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Stereo Speaker with Rechargeable Battery, 20m Range and True High Definition Audio
Offered by iHeadphones UK
Price: £39.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Alternative Aux, 25 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was attracted to the ‘Delta Portable Bluetooth Speaker’ for its wireless mode, and I have not been disappointed as Bluetooth pairing is straightforward and the device works well with mobile phone and tablet. Also there is a built-in microphone to allow hands-free communication - the microphone is located at a small aperture to front left on the speaker’s upper surface. However I am most delighted to be able to use it with my laptop as it supports Aux connection via double jack cable provided - though I use my laptop to select music tracks. Also provided is a USB - micro cable for charging the built-in battery, and a User Guide to assist with set up and operation.

The ‘Delta Portable Bluetooth Speaker’ has a smart gloss black finish and it is only 4 x 3 x 2½ inches, with rubber strips to ensure stability without vibration. Controls are not immediately obvious but appear as LED display on the upper surface when the device is switched on. There are commands for play, pause, next/previous track, plus a pairing key. Red and green LED indicators on the front assist pairing and warn when the battery needs to be charged. Most importantly the 6W output gives a surprisingly intense sound with good quality from bass to treble. A volume control is provided but I set the level via my laptop. Its wireless range is stated as 20m and certainly it is fine within domestic rooms. With Bluetooth the battery capacity is 850mAh giving approx. 6 hours playing time, but this is considerably more when using Aux jack connections to my laptop. Potential users may ignore my preference for direct connection, and they can be sure of a 5-star rated Bluetooth arrangement with a wide variety of devices.


Bluefinger High Capacity Power Bank, 13000mah, Safe, Clear and Portable Suitable for Mobile Phones, Iphone, Ipad, Cameras, Htc, Samsung, Blackberry, Nokia, Psp/ndsl, and Mp3/mp4 Players
Bluefinger High Capacity Power Bank, 13000mah, Safe, Clear and Portable Suitable for Mobile Phones, Iphone, Ipad, Cameras, Htc, Samsung, Blackberry, Nokia, Psp/ndsl, and Mp3/mp4 Players

5.0 out of 5 stars Word for Word, 24 Mar. 2015
The product title says it all: ‘Bluefinger High Capacity Power Bank, 13000mAh, Safe, Clear and Portable suitable for Mobile Phones, iPhone, iPad, Cameras, Htc, Samsung, Blackberry, Nokia, Psp/ndsl, and mp3/mp4 Players. I agree with every word of this description, and I endorse it as a 5-star device.

Essentially it is a neat looking and robust portable battery size 2¾ x 4¾ x ¾ inches for charging a variety of 5V devices such as tablets, mobile phones etc. and it is itself easily rechargeable. There are 2 USB charging connections each 2.0A and a micro port to charge the device with cable provided. It has a good capacity at 13000mAh and there are 4 LED lights to indicate battery strength. Turning on is via a press switch in the top corner, and further pressing lights up a LED torch. Battery life will depend on usage but mine is still showing the 4 LED indicators after a few trials of various pieces of hardware. I understand Blue Finger sometimes sell the power banks together with earphones, but it should be noted the scope of hardware to be charged is massive. Finally it comes complete with an attractive protective draw-cord pouch.


Limonov
Limonov
by Emmanuel Carrere
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Puzzling Personality, 23 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Limonov (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The author, Emmanuel Carrère, is a French writer and film director, and much of his work focuses on delving into identities, exploring events, and developing stories. For writing ‘Limonov’ he spent time with Eduard Limonov and researched his life to produce what appears as a biography, yet Carrère’s sub-title identifies it as ‘A Novel’. Narrative commences with reference to the murder of journalist and political activist Anna Politkovskaya, when Carrère was sent to Moscow to cover this and to investigate Putin’s Russia as he had already travelled to the country and had produced articles and filmed a documentary. The story of Eduard Limonov presented a golden opportunity to exploit Carrère’s ability to expose aspects of Russian history, society and politics via a single individual.

Eduard Limonov is a complex and charismatic character living a chequered career from a criminal background to something of an idol, and he never quite fits in as he exists as both socialite and loner. Importance stems from the man’s stance as a dissident and political activist. Limonov was himself a writer with his first book ‘It’s Me, Eddie’ being highly controversial, and followed in cynical vein by various commentaries on Russia. These are employed extensively by Emmanuel Carrère who provides insights to the developments in Russia from World War II to 2009, with reference to a host of individuals back to Stalin, plus a few hate figures such as Solzhenitsyn, but for me I particularly appreciated attention given to the Yeltsin, Gorbachev and Putin influences. Readers will soon become aware of how Limonov shifts allegiances at various times and it is often difficult to know what he stands for and what he is against.

I enjoyed the commentary on post-Soviet Russia, but in battling through the book ‘Limonov’ I came to dislike the man Limonov for his vulgarity and sexual encounters, and this turned to despair at his involvement in the Balkans war. I ended up being confused over whether Eduard Limonov was a hero or belonged to the dregs of society. He latches on to individuals and groups, cultivating a fiery reputation with an obsession to become famous. Emmanuel Carrère intertwines his own career with that of his subject, but where Limonov was self-centred, Carrèr is a liberal spectator. I wonder what Eduard Limonov thinks of the book - how true a biography is the novel?


Bluefinger Adjustable Handheld Wireless Bluetooth Mobile Phone & Camera Selfie stick Monopod Built-in Remote Shutter Button 235mm-1005mm, for Android and Iphone Orange.
Bluefinger Adjustable Handheld Wireless Bluetooth Mobile Phone & Camera Selfie stick Monopod Built-in Remote Shutter Button 235mm-1005mm, for Android and Iphone Orange.

5.0 out of 5 stars Super Selfies, 22 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This ‘Blue Finger Wireless Monopod’ is well constructed with telescopic steel pole, rubber grip and plastic mountings. It is specially designed for the iPhone (iOS4.0) or Android mobile phone (3.0), but could be adjusted to take others even though all electronics may not be available. There is no User Manual - but instructions on the packaging are straightforward with step by step guidance. Care is required in securely clamping the mobile phone camera, and a rubber clamp is provided to prevent dislodging. Battery life depends on usage but product information quotes charging time of 1 hour and standby time of 100 hours.

The device needs to be charged - incorporated at the base of the pole is an on/off switch together with a micro-slot for charging via cable provided. There is a swivel bracket to take the camera phone clamp at the top of the pole which extends from about 24cm to over a metre. The easy-grip rubber handle incorporates a press button for taking photographs or videos once the camera phone is fitted and has registered compatible pairing via Bluetooth. After that - it’s simple - and there are so many ways for it to be used - including super selfies. This ‘Blue Finger Wireless Monopod’ is totally fit for purpose and fully deserves a 5-star rating.


Smart Weigh Digital Pro Pocket Scale with Back-lit LCD Display, Hold Feature and 2000 x 0.1g Capacity
Smart Weigh Digital Pro Pocket Scale with Back-lit LCD Display, Hold Feature and 2000 x 0.1g Capacity
Offered by Five Star
Price: £24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Super Scales, 22 Mar. 2015
The ‘Smart Weigh Pro Pocket Scale’ is a precision device and if used with care on a firm surface avoiding vibration and with objects for weighing placed carefully on the platform it will give exact results. After installing the battery and switching on there was a pause before ‘0.0’ was displayed on the LCD screen, and then on checking with objects of known weight it was clear that no calibration was necessary - though this would be straightforward as described in the accompanying easy to understand instruction manual.

The scales are limited in size so easily portable, but the platform is just short of 4 inches x 4 inches, and it weighs up to almost 4½ lbs with an accuracy claimed as one hundredth of an ounce. Alternative weight units are available, with the display reverting to previous units when next switching on. The scales incorporate a useful tare feature to take account of packaging, with easy shifting to operate and to return to normal weighing mode when required. Also there is a counting function to allow multiples of items to be weighed and amounts calculated. The ‘Smart Weigh Pro Pocket Scale’ is well made and with careful use should give excellent 5-star service.


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