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Chris Hoare "Chris" (UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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AUTOPKIO Portable Mini Folding Lightbox Studio with LED Light, Photography Lighting Tent Kit, 22.6 * 23 * 24cm / 8.89 x 9.05 x 9.45 inch (S)
AUTOPKIO Portable Mini Folding Lightbox Studio with LED Light, Photography Lighting Tent Kit, 22.6 * 23 * 24cm / 8.89 x 9.05 x 9.45 inch (S)
Offered by AUTOPkio
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Small, Compact portal lightbox with bright LEDs, 21 Feb. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The autopkio lightbox is a great starter lightbox. Its super compact; but unlike larger light boxes uses a built in LED strip to remove the need for external halogen lights. Im not a professional photographer so could never justify getting proper lighting and a stage for taking photos in my flat. But for taking photos for reviews or insurance purposes the AUTOPKIO for me is a nice compromise on size and features.

A compromise; the light strip doesn't have any power adaptor supplied with it; there is a USB to micro USB cable to connect it to an existing USB power bank or usb power socket (e.g. your phone charger). The walls are a rigid plastic and hold together with magnets. It all folds up into a tight mesh bag for storage. The folded up storage of the unit meant on each use I have had to fold back to the joints in order to have the walls be straight on all sides to. The magnets that are supposed to hold it in place weren't strong enough to stop it bowing inwards.

Autopkio provide two soft foam inserts to display your products on; one white as used in the photo below and the other a nice black which will make jewelry pop out. The box is a large enough that using a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera I can get nice well lit photos of my products. The white light of the LED doesn't come over as too warm or cold; its a nice pure white. The white balance on auto on my canon did a great job with the led.

I first used it to take photos for a recent review of the Linksys Velop; and i have reattached those images below; the comparison velop to amazon echo shows the LED's lighting the scene; the second showing the connectors on the VELOP shows the nice lighting and the benefit of the white out background.

I have a much larger lightbox; but the hassle of clearing space and setting it up and dismantling the lights it never lived up to its potential in my hands. The autopkio's compact size and easy to setup with a single integrated LED to light the scene saves time. If you are taking photos for reviews or eBay listings of smaller products or want a simple lightbox to get start getting into product photography its great starter kit; for the low price I can't complain.
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Anywhere Sim with £20 Credit
Anywhere Sim with £20 Credit
Price: £20.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Anywhere sim is a great second number sim for high coverage or those living with poor signals at home, 21 Feb. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The anywhere sim is the sim uk travelers have been longing for. Leverging the network coverage of the four major networks. The technology works to; anyone who uses the national rail network knows that the signal vaporises as your journey meanders slowly around the country. Using the Anywhere sim my phone always had at least the same signal as my Vodafone; and frequently had more signal. The phone stayed on "network" without any intervention from me.

The downside to this coverage is the cost of using it; a £20 top up is only valid for 60 days; the usage charges are also much higher than single carrier pay as you go cards. For my usage profile this makes the anywhere sim an access all areas card - my normal monthly data usage would average around £125 a month at the current rate of 10p per megabyte; with calls cost 10p a minute and texts 5p.

Getting the sim going was relatively simple; i called the number on the chip to register the number. Then put the sim into my phone and the phone signal worked immediately. Setting up data required me to change the APN which a quick google helped me do. After that my phone just kept going. The network offers sms, calls, data, 2g, 3g and 4g as well as voicemail; though it doesn't support mms (though I'm not sure who uses it in the age of WhatsApp, iMessage and allo. To use the sim you will need a sim free phone.

The efficient roaming between networks defiantly gives a more reliable signal than sitting on one network alone; though i havent tried making calls as I jump cells on the train. In my mind given the high usage charges and relatively short life of the credit (just 60 days on a 20 pound topup) this feels like is a niche card; that said if you travel a lot and want customers to have a better chance of getting in touch you could redirect your calls from your main mobile as you get in the car or on the train and receive calls with more reliability.


Linksys Velop Tri-Band AC4400 Modular True Whole Home Wi-Fi Mesh System (Works with Amazon Alexa) - Pack of 2
Linksys Velop Tri-Band AC4400 Modular True Whole Home Wi-Fi Mesh System (Works with Amazon Alexa) - Pack of 2
Price: £349.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy to setup, great speed and coverage; but software functionality gaps leave a sour taste., 20 Feb. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have come to the Linksys velop from the 6 antenna Spider lookup WRT1900. Both represent Linksys thoughts on how to get the widest wifi coverage; but it’s a take from two angles. Velop is a Mesh system; where you can add lots of nodes around the house. Mesh networks are a super advanced version of extender networks; where each extra node you put into your house / office talks to all the others for increased network capacity. Traditionally these were complex to setup; with Velop adding an extra node is as simple as clicking a button on the app. The biggest benefit to the end users is you have a single network around the house without having to juggle between connecting to the first floor repeater separately.

Simplicity Good;
Setting it up is a breeze. Before you start you need an Apple iOS or Google Android smartphone or tablet and the linksys app - and that requires you to setup a linksys account. If you don’t have a tablet / smartphone this isn't the router for you; there is no web interface. Linksys have made setup very simple; you plug in the first Velop node near your wifi modem (you need to be running on a cable, adsl or fibre modem to use Velop) using the supplied ethernet cable or the one you already have. You fire up the app and it steps you through the setup process; using the app and a color flashing LED on the device itself. In less than 10 minutes and a couple of base station reboots (and one of my modem) I had my first node running and working internet; once you have completed the initial setup the app asks if you have others - you go to the next node if you have one; power it on and 5 minutes later my ground floor had a running a meshed Velop node . The app and Velop transmitter work out if the location works - too far away and suggest you move it closer to the first station. Once the second node as configured I had wifi coverage around my house - I had this pretty much as before; but the signal strength was much stronger everywhere. The most complex thing in the setup process was choosing a wifi password.

Does The Mesh Work?
I had been using a power over ethernet to get network connectivity to my living room media devices; as I found that wifi using the WRT1900 just wasn’t good enough for reliably streaming 4k. With Velop coverage in the right place you cant stop the signal; and Netflix and Amazon Prime 4k both stream happily for hours on end without buffering.

Simplicity Bad.
Simplicity in Velop has left holes in functionality; my hope is that this is a version 1 of the app still and they have rushed to get it to market. What is missing; from what is a very high end home network device is that there aren't the advanced features you might be used to - there is no VPN, there is no dmz - there isnt a USB socket so you cant plug a printer or disk into it. Each of the nodes has two ethernet sockets; so if you have a number of ethernet devices you may need a separate switch; which diminshes the benefit of the minimalist design.

Worse some of the basics are missing; you cant change the IP address range ; the parental controls are limited to enabling and disabling a devices web access (without any time parameters) - if you want to block apps you need to know the app addresses as well as the website which makes configuring it far too complex. These aren't just power user features and given their standard routers have them I'm puzzled as to why they are missing on Velop.

Top Speed
The WRT1900 had a next to the router top speed of a gigabit. Velop is limited to 867mb/s. The speed on Velop is more consistent as you move around the network than running with a single router. If you have gigabit fibre to the home this isn't the system for you as you will lose over 10% of the bandwidth you are paying for.

Running;
Once up and running the Velop network has been reliable; I have set my network to copy huge amounts of data between devices and the speed has remained strong whilst running. Even whilst running large network copying I was still able to stream 4k to my living room tv; so the system has lots of bandwidth even between multiple devices.

Conclusion
Simplicity or time to market were clearly Linksys goal in shipping Velop in early 2017. As a Mesh network extending around the house and fixing coverage blackspots it’s a definite winner - and the modems are small white discrete blocks rather than the black spider I was using before - the speed is consistent around the house. Overall Velop isnt yet complete; if you don’t have children and want something easy to setup it’s a great system; if you need a vpn or want to stop your kids using Facebook at 10pm you need to look elsewhere.
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Cetaphil 236 ml Oily Skin Cleanser
Cetaphil 236 ml Oily Skin Cleanser
Price: £7.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy on easy off; my face felt a little too dry afterwards though, 16 Feb. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have been a big fan of Cetaphil moisturizers and a Cetaphil shower lotion in the past. I have very sensitive skin and Cetaphil has quickly earned its place amongst the small stable of brands that i have found safe to work with my skin.My face however is one place that isn't dry and isn't especially sensitive. The cetaphil oily skin cleanser doesn't claim to be for sensitive skin only that it washes off cleanly (And in my experience it does.)

I used the oily skin cleanser; replacing my normal skin safe products, in conjunction with a phillips swirling skin brush which gets it in deep and does a good job of cleaning my skin. A small amount of the clear gel goes a long way even when using the electric brush. The oily skin cleanser hasn't caused any reaction after two weeks of solid use; i find that it does a great job getting the daily oil, sweat and pollution off my face. It did leave the skin on my face feeling drier than i would like; maybe my skin isn't oily enough, but i knocked a star off for that.

If you have super sensitive skin I would try a different product; there are perfumes hiding in the clear gel.


AmazonBasics Everyday Fitted Sheet, King - White
AmazonBasics Everyday Fitted Sheet, King - White
Price: £14.49

5.0 out of 5 stars The fitted sheet that stays in place., 7 Feb. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Amazon basics sheets are great day to day sheets. They wear and wash well; there is a good variety of colours - that hold in the wash. I particularly like that the fitted sheets have all around elastic and not just in the corners - this keeps the sheets attached to the bed really well.

They might not be 5000 thread count but they are plenty soft enough for me.


Simple Solution 6x Layer All Day Premium Dog Pads, 58 x 60cm, Lavender Scent
Simple Solution 6x Layer All Day Premium Dog Pads, 58 x 60cm, Lavender Scent
Offered by Toy and Gift Shop
Price: £22.84

5.0 out of 5 stars less cleaning under the pad, 7 Feb. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Simple Solution 6x pads are a step up from the pads we have been using for our new puppy. The quilt like pads are very absorbent and liquids are drawn in quickly. Unlike cheaper pads we have tried; or newspaper there isn't any leakage under the pad; so no more mopping the floor when you change pads. The Lavender scent does its best to hide doggy urine smell. The lavender is thankfully not over powering; though opening the box can be at first, but it doesn't perfume the room which I like. At about 60cm x 60cm they are a good size for a puppy. With 50 pads in the box; they come out at 50p each which seems reasonable.

The fact that they hold liquids without slipping under the pads and to the floor and reducing the clean up makes these 5* for me.


Umbra 118140 746 Rimw Piece 2 in 1 Modern Wall/Standing/Desk Clock - Walnut
Umbra 118140 746 Rimw Piece 2 in 1 Modern Wall/Standing/Desk Clock - Walnut
Price: £40.30

3.0 out of 5 stars Clean Modern looking clock, 5 Feb. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Taking the Umbra Walnut Wall / Stand mounted clock the my first surprise is that is is very light weight; quoted at just under 550gm. My expectation of a clock at this price point would be it would have more weight. Some of the weight is saved by having an open clock face; so there is no glass adding to the weight - or protecting the face from dust. The box also has another surprise; like a ghost from christmas past - the battery is not included. So task one was finding a single AA to put into the clock. The mechanism at the back of the clock is protected; a dark cover slides off over the back; where you insert the battery and the red thumbwheel you use to set the time. Once the clock is powered there is immediate relief; its not a super sized swatch - the mechanism is silent. It also keeps time fairly well; not even losing a minute over the last couple of weeks of use.

This clock is as much about the look as it is the time; and the clock does look nice and modern; the nicely polished silver hands contrasting with the dark face. The wooden veneer fits in well with living room's heavy natural wood decor. In the box you get a stand that slides onto the The dark face has nice clear silver numbers that make it easy to read. As the photo below highlights one thing i discovered is the numbers allow light in from the back which is a nice look; and one I have subsequently created using LED lights inside the clock; this makes the face stand nicely in the dark.

As a stand mounted clock; or a light weight wall mounted clock the Umbra clock is a nice for my living room and keeps the time well for an analog unconnected clock. Its a mid range price clock; and I do feel its feels flimsy; its not something i hold in my hands every day so i have only docked a single star for it; the battery costing the other star.
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AmazonBasics USB-C to to Micro B 3.0 Cable - 3 feet (0.9 Meters) - Black
AmazonBasics USB-C to to Micro B 3.0 Cable - 3 feet (0.9 Meters) - Black

5.0 out of 5 stars One less dongle for older USB3 devices., 25 Jan. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The AmazonBasics USB-C to to Micro B 3.0 Cable is another far from Basics Amazon Basics wire. The wire is flexible but substantial; about 1/2cm a cm thick. The connectors have about a centimeter of strain relief. The connectors themselves feel far like solid plastic; they are nicely rounded to make it easier to grip them.

I requested it for review to use it to connect to my Canon 5ds and a samsung external hard drive both of which have the USB3 connector; but came with the old square USB connectors for the computer end; which apple kindly deprecated off my latest computer...

The Cable is rated as superfast SS10; sadly neither of my existing devices support 10gb/s SS10 allows for. In the case of the camera that is a crying shame when images are about 50 megabytes each. The cable works fine with my camera; and at 0.9 m is the perfect length for a lot of accessories. Because my devices aren't SS10 quoting speeds isn't really fair; it isn't performing any slower than the USB 3 cables - i can edit 4k video on the samsing SSD drive without noticing buffering which is all i can ask for. That is the same as before; and the amazon basics cable is cheaper than getting another dongle and takes one more thing from my bag. 5*


COZOO 3-Ports USB 3.0 Hub with Driver-Free RJ45 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Adapter Converter LAN Wired Network Adapter Unibody Aluminum , Built-in 6" USB 3.0 Cable (USB 3.0 HUB + Ehthernet Port)
COZOO 3-Ports USB 3.0 Hub with Driver-Free RJ45 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Adapter Converter LAN Wired Network Adapter Unibody Aluminum , Built-in 6" USB 3.0 Cable (USB 3.0 HUB + Ehthernet Port)
Offered by COZOO UK
Price: £40.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Easy way to extra ports, 23 Jan. 2017
The Cozoo USB 3 hub and network socket is a great alternative to apples pricy Thunderbolt 2 network adaptors. The body of the device is a solid metal; which keeps it safe in my bag. The network socket works well without drivers; and for those places that don't believe in wireless networks (and i still come across them at work) it gives a reliable network socket. The 3 USB sockets are widely spaces letting you plug in the bulkiest devices and still have access to the next socket.


Landisun Value Pack For Silk Skinny Tie Bow Tie Hanky, HD002 Black white, Adjustable
Landisun Value Pack For Silk Skinny Tie Bow Tie Hanky, HD002 Black white, Adjustable
Offered by Landisun
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fast delivery for your emergency bow tie needs, 23 Jan. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Landisun bow tie looks pretty good done up and better undone (isnt that the point of a manual bow tie.) It can be very long; and has a Metal T piece to adjust its length if its too short or long for you. The handkerchief was a bit too shiny for my tastes. Delivered by Prime was important; as two days out from an event i couldn't find my old tie.


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