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Reviews Written by
Chris Hoare "Chris" (UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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AUKEY USB C Hub HDMI Port , microSD & SD Card Slots , 3 USB 3.0 Ports and USB C Power Delivery Port USB Type C Hub for MacBook Pro 2016 , Samsung Galaxy S8 and More
AUKEY USB C Hub HDMI Port , microSD & SD Card Slots , 3 USB 3.0 Ports and USB C Power Delivery Port USB Type C Hub for MacBook Pro 2016 , Samsung Galaxy S8 and More
Offered by yueying
Price: £45.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Bridge between the world of tomorrow and the devices you have today, 14 Aug. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When apple switched over to USB-c for laptops there was an initial sticker shock at the price of the components in a market place devoid of native USBc devices. The Apple USBC - HDMI + USB3 adaptor dongle costs 69 pounds. The Aukey Usb C Hub which gives you a choice of HDMI, 3 USB sockets as well as a micro and sd card slot- and pass through USB-C (for power mainly) adaptor is cheaper. In terms of fit and finish the aluminium skin of the Aukey Hub feels ok; and the cable didn't pull when I yanked on it. I have a previous dongle that worked fine living in the depths of my bag for a couple of months; and I only stopped using it as this gave me an SD card reader which made the swap worthwhile.

Its not as compact as the apple dongle but it lives in the real world where you often need to use more than one usb device with your computer; something the good folks of Cupertino have forgotten. The hub isn't as quick as reading memory cards as my dedicated Lexar card readers; but for something I put in my bag it doesn't make a huge difference - in fact they were quicker reading 100 photos even when connected to the hub's usb socket. When I'm out and about its handy to have an sd card reading I can just plub in without carrying multiple devices.

The HDMI socket happily runs a monitor at 4k for hours on end and the case didn't get anything beyond warm. The USB sockets have worked with a variety of dongles and adaptors thrown at them; I have over the last year mostly switched my external drives over to usb-c at this point (replacing as they fill with photos and video) - plugging in an older Samsung 2Tb usb3 2.5" hard disk which is usb bus powered; this only worked when the device was powered using the pass through power (and you have to connect that before connecting the drive for it to work. With that caveat it still works fine.

The Aukey has found a place in my bag (it isn't as convenient as the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 docking station for use at home) It is a convenient bridge from apples world of tomorrow to the USB devices we all use today.


Oral-B Smart 6 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun - with New Li-Ion Battery (Ships with a UK 2 Pin Plug)
Oral-B Smart 6 Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun - with New Li-Ion Battery (Ships with a UK 2 Pin Plug)
Offered by Jobesam
Price: £93.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Great brush | Short Battery Life, 14 Aug. 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The ergonomics of the Braun Oral B brushes are generally very good. The Smart 6 doesn't move away from that; it has a single power button and a function switch button. The kit I received included a 3 heads; the excellent cross head, a whitening head and a sensitive head. The Cross head brush is for me the best brush for my teeth. The whitening brush has a rubber cap in the centre and works with the whitening mode on the brush to get you whiter teeth quicker. There are several modes that vary the speed of the brush heads rotation and pulsation to reduce the impact on your gums, or work with the whitening toothbrush head for whiter teeth. Also inside the box was a sturdy plastic case; this doesn't have any charging ability; if you require that you will need to get one of the more expensive models. Which brings me onto battery life; I reviewed the high end Braun 9000 series electric toothbrush last year. My main criticism was that the battery life was poor. The Smart 6 proudly totes that it now has a lithium battery; but somehow it still doesn't last one person much more than a week of twice a day brushing. Then you need to leave it overnight to recharge. I accept there is a motor draining the power but the battery life isn't enough to take a two week holiday without taking the power adaptor. I have really dragged out writing the review; and even drained the battery a few times to test it through. The battery lasts about 24 minutes; which with my 3 minute cycles is about 5-6 days.

In terms of features; the Braun when you get past the entry level models have similar functions - the differences are how you control them, the accessories and bluetooth. As I noted before the smart 6 has the separate control button which makes switching modes simple. The smart 6 also has bluetooth and so you can connect to your phone to monitor your brushing, It works in that it logs you have brushed your teeth; and despite dentists being proved wrong on the benefits of flossing it still suggests you do so, II have smart pretty much everything; but I haven't persevered with the app on my smartbrush. For family use Braun still haven't really solved the family use feature which would make this great for life with kids as the toothbrush could rat them out if they didn't brush long enough or properly. One thing the app is good for; is tracking what your dentists advice is about brushing (when they tell you to brush your X more) you can program targeted areas into the app and it reminds you to brush them each time you use it. The last of the accessories to go with the connect to your phone motif is the 9000 series came with a mirror suction mount to hold your phone; the smart 6 comes with a weighted rubberised white puck that holds your phone.

The braun brushes and the basic tooth cleaning modes are very good. I am not sure the app isn't technology trying to find a use. The sensitive and whitening modes have their uses; sensitive being good your tongue in conjunction with the included sensitive brush head. The battery life and charging are an issue; so I use a Braun brush at home twice.a day all the time and keep it on charge. When I pack a suitcase I take a Philips sonicare the battery life is no better but the usb recharging makes life so much simpler than even the braun 9000 series charging case.


Olympus TG-5 Tough Camera - Black
Olympus TG-5 Tough Camera - Black
Price: £399.00

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent video quality with lots of framerate and setting choices; very happy with still image quality too, 1 Aug. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have a collection of cameras, I have been blessed to get a few from the Vine review program and as digital cameras tend to improve measurably year to year I have tended to get new ones frequently. There are lots of sensor types in digital cameras; the TG-5 has one of the smaller sensors; my other recent cameras being of the 1" variety.

I am taking a holiday in September where diving and snorkeling will play a major part; and its distant enough that i likely wont be going back. To record my memories I wanted something with 4k video recording; as well as good stills capability. I could have gone with a gopro and zoomed with my flippers but the TG-5 (to a camera lover) is a more familiar object. There are lots of other benefits over the gopros like the TG5 has optical image stabilisation which works far better than digital stabilisation that sacrifices some resolution to reduce jitter doesn't have a fisheye lens so video and photos are less distorted, 4xzoom, at your fingers settings control and as i have a drawer of them that the TG5 uses SD cards rather than microsd was also a bonus.

Taking the camera out of the box the camera looks a bit transformers-esque and espises the retro looks of a lot of cameras at the mometn. There are a lot of lines and texture and material changes all over the camera. I got the black one the red looking a bit gaudey to me. The grip surfaces are textured though and it grips well in your hand so some of the lines take some getting used to. The camera is small (not tiny like a gopro; but small for someone used to using an SLR); it easily fits into one of my pockets. That small size does result in controls that are all small too. If you dive with gloves that will be a problem for you. There is a seperate dive case for the camera that allows you to dive deeper and has proper controls - but you might be better getting a 1" sensor and a bespoke case.

Using the Camera mode on the TG5 was a glorious surprise; the quality of the 12 megapixel images is really good (im guessing not going for 20 or more megapixels helped a lot here.) The photos arent compact camera good - they are good; nicely exposed even on auto settings and the overall images are sharp with nice color. The TG-5 is the first rugged compact I have used that can take raw photos; these give you the ultimate control for editing the photo after taking it and aren't compressed at all (so use more space to store) . You can adjust the ISO and up to 1600 (maybe 3200) the picture looks very good; at 3200 the subject and movement begin to have an impact.

If editing sounds like hard work the JPGs look really good - and the Olympus processing in the camera results in nice sharp images with surprisingly little noise even in shadows. The colors in the JPG's (example images attached from a cloudy day) show a camera with a good white balance choice and when there is a bright day the photos look a big jump ahead of the last rugged camera I have from a few years ago. There is less compression noise, less purple fringing in the contrasting areas and less noise all over the photo in bright and dark.

When playing with the settings the video modes choices surprised me; when I bought it I was looking for 4k video in a compact rugged camera. The TG5 does this well at 25 or 30 frames per second using 102Mbs to record the file so it doesn't eat your memory cards either. You can take 1080p at 25,30, 50 or 60. I haven't tried it but looking at the settings you can take short 120fps to full HD slow motion video too. The video quality at 4k is acceptable; though the built in microphones pick up a LOT of external noise and playing with test video i had to drop the audio considerably. There are also timelapse modes that will output 4k Timelapse video (taking 5fps)

At the time of writing I havent managed to drain the battery down so can't comment fully on its battery life. Learning the controls walking around Leicester I took 130 photos and about 15 minutes of video at various settings and came home with half the battery left so it seems pretty good for most purposes. Being able to recharge it from a phone battery charger is a big plus and likely stops you needing a second battery for most occasions.

I think after a rave review my intiial rating of 4* is probably unfair; and for what it is the camera is a huge step forward from the pentax this replaces. I wish someone made a compact rugged 1" camera so i can use it in yet lower light. For the reefs that await this is just the ticket though.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 14, 2017 1:57 PM BST


Panasonic ER-GB52 Wet&Dry Beard and Body Trimmer (19x cutting lenghts, Body attachment)
Panasonic ER-GB52 Wet&Dry Beard and Body Trimmer (19x cutting lenghts, Body attachment)
Price: £49.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The cutting keeps going till the battery runs down with pulling, 30 July 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Panasonic Wet and Dry ER-GB52 clippers are excellent. In the box you get the rechargeable clippers; with two heads - one rounded which is great for manscaping, the other is pointed which is better on your bear or scalp as it lifts your hair. Both have the same depth and are adjusted by an easy to use and understand control system - your turn a dial and get a hair length between 1 and 10 millimetres in 1/2 mm intervals. This is far simpler to understand than clipper length 1 or 2 or 3. There is only one other control the power button. In the hand its helped by a grippy rubberised section; which is handy if you use the trimmer in the shower. Most importantly regardless of where you use them the clippers didn't pull hair in use.

The manual suggests you lubricate the blades after each use; and a small bottle of mineral oil is provided to help with this; along with a small brush to Clean them - it helps you can remove the clipper head and just run under a tap though. Once used you can dock in the recharger - unbelievably it takes 8 hours to fully charge it.

For trimming beards, the hair on your head or /man/scaping the clippers are great. The cutting keeps going till the battery runs down with pulling. Its just infuriating they need so long to recharge.


Nokia Body Cardio - Heart Health & Body Composition Wi-Fi Scale, white
Nokia Body Cardio - Heart Health & Body Composition Wi-Fi Scale, white
Price: £149.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Reliable connected health scales, 30 July 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I recently tried the cheaper Nokia Health BMI scale which is 1/3 the price of the Body Cardio. Both products were previously sold by Withings; which was taken over by Nokia. The take over has seen Nokia Health relaunch all the products; along with the app - and in the process they broke the app. Something at the time of writing this review they have restore the functionality for everything I use.

Both the BMI and Body scales use the same app Nokia Health app. The app requires registration and stores data in the cloud. The scales connect to your wifi; something you need to do in registration - they can't cope with complex passwords so I ended up testing the body cardio and the BMI on a guest network on my home wifi. The wifi connection is great; it downloads data from your activity log to report your previous days steps; as well as giving you a weather report (i.e. do you need to take an umbrella or wear a coat today.)

The Nokia Health BMI is a great value connected scale that lets you see your weight over time. Regular weight measurement is considered one of the key ways to maintain or work towards a healthy weight. The BMI will do that for you. The Body Cardio goes further; through your bare feet the scales measure your bodies water and fat composition. They also take your pulse; and in this case measure your pulse wave velocity. A few years ago I reviewed a tithings pulse wave velocity and had issues with the readings; the Nokia Cardio version is much more stable - my measurements are close or the same day to day which makes me think they have the technology for this down now. Pulse Wave Velocity is considered a reliable measurement of circulatory health.

I loved the Withings system; the app when I started years ago was basic - its now a rich application that collects data; allows you to share it with your health professionals or view trends and graphs over time to reflect on your health beyond the day to day. I have tried a number of different scales; the readings are all in the same ball park- the Nokia health app makes the products stand out.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 4, 2017 8:07 PM BST


Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Docking Station with 1 m Active Cable, Connects Up to 8 Devices, Multiple USB-C and USB Slots, Supports Single 5K/Dual 4K Displays, Compatible with Mac Only - Aluminium
Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Docking Station with 1 m Active Cable, Connects Up to 8 Devices, Multiple USB-C and USB Slots, Supports Single 5K/Dual 4K Displays, Compatible with Mac Only - Aluminium
Price: £299.99

5.0 out of 5 stars USB-C Delivers the Holy Grail for Docking Stations; just one cable., 24 July 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Apple's obsession with ever slimmer devices has lead to the current laptop models adopting the round combined thunderbolt 3 and USB-C connectors replacing the older USB square and DisplayPort style connectors. I used the Belkin Thunderbolt 2 Express Dock as my daily connection from my older notebook to screens, drives and speakers - loving that connecting my computer up was two cables and I was done when I got to the office. With the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 docking station; thanks to the power delivery of USB-C, its just one cable. The Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express docking station has enough power in its (external powerbrick) design to charge even my 15" discreet graphics MacBook Pro at 85W. Another huge bonus; the cable is in the box the older thunderbolt 2 cables were Santa'ed out of the box. Given that apple don't supply cables when you buy their secondary power adaptors this for me was a huge deal.

The slim aluminium case adds several ports to your MacBook - a front facing USB 3 (SS speed) and a combined headphone / mic port. On the back are two more USB3 SS ports, a gigabit ethernet, two USB-C connectors (one of which will connect to your computer) a power socket and weirdly a full size DisplayPort. I would have thought most Mac users would have been better supplied with a Mini DisplayPort or HDMI.

Having a DisplayPort and USB3 does mean you can drive two monitors off the unit; up to 4k each. It won't drive the 5k Display though. Used to power my shiny new Sandisk extreme 900 USB3 external ssd the performance running through the belking compared to direct was for all intents and purposes spot on. In the dock I got 559.6MB/s write versus 566.8 connected direct; for read it was 862.2 v 877.2. Im not sure there are many tasks that such a small difference will impact.

The power brick is pretty big; but at 175W it has the reserves to power your laptop as well as devices connected to it; the Thunderbolt 3 Express happily charging two phones and my laptop at the same time. I do miss the pass through channel under the unit that the thunderbolt 2 docking station had though; it let you keep the wires more tidy.

The box has everything you need to connect to your Thunderbolt 3/USB-C equipped MacBook and restore the legacy connections apple have taken away andI can't be happier than I am with the Thunderbolt 3 dock. If belkin ever were to ask me what to add to the unit I would love a high speed car reader and some slots to rest my phone in whilst they charge; but that aside It is compact on your desk; the shiny silver matches my traditional MacBook Pro (if you have a space grey it will be several shades lighter.) It ticks the boxes that frustrated me with all previous docking stations - its just one cable to connect (unless you have the 5k display.)


Nokia Body - BMI Wi-Fi Scale, black
Nokia Body - BMI Wi-Fi Scale, black
Price: £59.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality entry level "smart" scales, 18 July 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I first bought and have been using Withings' scales since 2011. I know this as the app has a history spanning almost 6 years. Over that time I have grown accustomed to the Withings Health Mate app; and my device collection has grown so that that it knew quite a lot about me. Whats left of Nokia recently bought Withings and have relaunched all the withings products under the Nokia name. As a long term user my relationship with Withings was strong when Nokia bought them; I really liked their mobile app. It worked well; had good features for encouraging activity and had a good selection of devices for monitoring your health and general lifestyle (activity, sleep, blood pressure and weight/ heart health.) On rebranding the app Nokia broke it spectacularly; that was several weeks ago at the time of writing and now the app is pretty much back on track.

The look of the scales is a sleek black (you can get it in white to go with your bathroom if you like; and they have a nice clear screen to view the measurements.

Taking the BMI scale out of the delightful packaging you need to remove its protective film cover; there are 4 feet you need to attach (these have an adhesive to hold them onto the scale.) Once the feet are attached; download the Nokia Health Mate app onto your smart phone or tablet - when you are ready pull the battery tab from the 4 aaa batteries (the battery life on my original version was at least a year so teh claim to 18 months is likley accurate.) On removal of the tab the Health mate app should detect the scale over bluetooth and will procede to help you set it up. If it didnt see it there is a connect button on the back of the scales to restart the connection process. Once linked to your app the scales use wifi to transmit data to the cloud for use by the app. If you have a complex wifi password it may not connect to it - I reported this as a bug to Withings a year ago its evidently not yet fixed. In my case i have setup my routers guest hotspot with a simpler password and using amazon alexa power that on and off when using my scales. Hardly a robust solution but it saves me making my home wifi password simpler.

As a long term user there are things about the scales I have watched evolve - as evidence is regular use encourages weight loss i have found the pictographic information that is shown after taking a reading useful - it tells me how many steps I did the day before; along with a weather report for the day ahead.Simple things but handy to know at the start of the day. In combination with the app that shows a huge history of readings that quickly builds up with regular use you can make life choices to suit your goals.

The Nokia BMI WiFi Scales are the most basic scales in the range; they take your old analog scales and bring them into the app enabled age. They take your weight and transmit it to the cloud for view on the web or app (and you can share with your health professional if you desire.) The more expensive scales can take heart rate readings which can be useful as its a reading taken at the same time every day. The BMI scales are at least half the original price i paid 6 years ago; at the time they were a considered purchase; the gain for the cost over manual measurements was not easily quantified. At this price the benefits from the app (despite its recent flakiness i didn't lose any historic data); and the clear weight history it can convey make it a great choice.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 9, 2017 10:24 PM BST


Tom Clancy Point of Contact: Jack Ryan Jr., Book 4
Tom Clancy Point of Contact: Jack Ryan Jr., Book 4
Offered by Audible Ltd

1.0 out of 5 stars The tale of a man struggling to put a usb thumb drive into a computer, 5 July 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I had a running joke at work whilst reading Point of Contact that I was suffering through hundreds of pages of book about a man struggling to plug in a usb thumb drive (and sadly I wasn't using a metaphor.) I was covering for a book that feels trite and has very wooden secondary characters.

I made it to the end; which gave me yet more to wax lyrical over. It turns out cyberwar isn't as exciting to read (or listen) about as stealing nuclear submarines; someone ought to have questioned thing before it made it a 13 hour long book . 1*


HyperX HX-MPFS-XL FURY S Pro Gaming Mouse Pad - Extra Large
HyperX HX-MPFS-XL FURY S Pro Gaming Mouse Pad - Extra Large
Price: £35.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Care and Quality shines through, 5 July 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Without opening the box you can tell the HyperX (crazily long name) Mouse Pad is a quality product. Remove it from the box and as you lay it out its clear its well made too. There is a thickness and weight to the pad (4mm) that makes it a more substantial than other pad. The extra thickness isn't really noticeable in use and seamlessly stitched edge keeps things comfortable for your wrist..

The Fury S has a rubber base which (with the extra weight) helps it grip your desk well and doesn't move around under frantic use. The surface is very to the touch and allows the mouse to glide with ease, precision and minimal resistance. As with a lot of mouse pads the logo does prevent you from rotating the pad.

The X Large size made a surprising difference at play. That said the HyperX is a step up in price from my previous gaming pad (though it is aboutt 30% larger than that one) compared to other pads I have tried the Fury S shows care and quality in its design; and the surface lends performance to your mouse.


Pentel 1.0mm Energel Retractable Gel Rollerball Pen - Black
Pentel 1.0mm Energel Retractable Gel Rollerball Pen - Black
Price: £11.92

4.0 out of 5 stars Comfortable, light - a Good note taking pen, 5 July 2017
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The pentel 1mm Energel pens are a nice write note taking pen. They have a fatter tip than the 0.5mm Pilot V5 pen i normally use; which makes the pilot better for diagrams but general writing tasks the Energel looks better for my handwriting. The Energel though has a nice grip and a light weight which makes writing notes for a while a breeze. I have taken them on a couple of fights without leaks. One of the 10 had a broken click mechanism which I dinged a star for quality control.


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