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Sandford "Sandy" (Kent, UK)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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Panasonic ALL3 Wireless Speaker System (White)
Panasonic ALL3 Wireless Speaker System (White)
Price: £230.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Would be 5 stars for sound - but implementation drags rating down., 24 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Ok - Lets commence with the positives:

Excellent sound, good bass, loads of treble if you require and left / right separation (when selected) very good.

Nice looking units, this review for the white variant, however if used as a stereo pair the indicating lights for both variants are on the left hand side of each unit and consequently look odd when placed in the upright position.

Wi-Fi signal / reception and range far superior to recent similar Bluetooth speakers that I have tried.

So, they sound really good, and look and feel like a quality item and being a speaker - sounding good ticks many boxes!

However!

As others, here on Amazon and elsewhere have reported setting-up is somewhat strained, mostly as a result of the poor App (IOS in my case).

A very clunky interface that is clearly in desperate need of a version upgrade.

The units require a software upgrade immediately on unpacking; ensure you do it before attempting anything else - saves much time and anguish.

I can well understand reports of other non-techie buyers giving in frustration.

I selected this item via the Vine program so in the hope that i could stream my iTunes library that is connected to my iMac via external USB drive.

The accompanying publicity material indicates that playback source can be via Smartphone, Tablet, PC (MAC) or NAS drive.

Whilst i have managed to stream from iPhone 4s and iPad Air2 successfully, and from direct audio input - i am unable to ‘see’ my iTunes library - even tried connecting via ethernet.

I understand that this is the Panasonic response to the Sonos range, that i believe does what I require - hopefully forthcoming upgrades will provide a fix.

My only option now is to connect the USB drive to my Apple Airport Extreme Base and hope that the ‘App’ find it - i cannot do that at this time but will report the result in due course.


The Death's Head Chess Club
The Death's Head Chess Club
by John Donoghue
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

3.0 out of 5 stars The Potential For a Great Novel, 22 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This novel comes from an excellent idea and has an exceptionally strong foundation, but overall I personally found it a disappointing read. A novel as this should be engrossing and demand attention. It was frustrating never to really get any emotional hit from the writing, a pre-requisite for a novel such as this concerning the unimaginable horrors of the Holocaust. Sure, there are a few moments of real engagement, but they are sparse and short-lived. John Donoghue provides details of some truly horrific and disturbing events of this period, but my own emotional response didn't tally with other authors who have recounted similar events in their novels.

At times the whole experience doesn't feel particularly psychologically sound. The main characters, the Jew Emil and Sturmbannführer Bar couldn't be more separate and distinct at the beginning. Emil has decades of ingrained hatred towards the Nazis because of his experiences at the hands of the SS in Auschwitz, yet the issues between them are too simplistically dealt with as the novel develops. The sense that they all become like bosom pals by the end having dealt with such deeply profound and disturbing issues feels barely credible, although Paul Meissner, (aka Sturmbannführer Bar) is an intriguing construction by the author and has a lot going for him. It swings too easily from expressions of long seated hatred to a sense of complete forgiveness which lacked a sense of reality - too black and white and not nuanced emotionally. This leads for me to what seems a rush at the end to resolve everything, to try and square a circle and give a proper ending. My response would be more favourable if this had been left more open-ended in this respect.

One irritating feature is the amount of footnotes, which completely distracted me, as these are unnecessary in a novel. I admire and respect the author's knowledge and obvious depth of research on the subject of concentration camps of WW2, and he provides some very interesting and informative facts, but these should have been included as appendices, or as a separate chapter at the end.

I sense that the author has the ability to push this to a deeper level which it deserves, which I found frustrating. I never really engaged with the novel, which is a shame as this had the potential for something great, but it didn't really hit the spot for me.


Cole & Mason Precision Grind 12 cm Windsor Black Gloss Beech Wood Salt & Pepper Mill Gift Set
Cole & Mason Precision Grind 12 cm Windsor Black Gloss Beech Wood Salt & Pepper Mill Gift Set
Price: £40.62

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent For The Discerning Customer, 21 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am quite a fan of Cole and Mason, as I find the design of their products aesthetically pleasing as well as superbly made. I am an owner of a pepper mill and a pestle and mortar by the company, and find handling and using them a pleasure.

The combination of salt and pepper mill is once again pleasing to the eye with the understated design and black colour which looks quite elegant and sleek as a pair on the dining table. They look understated, but are of obvious excellent quality. I have a sense that much goes into their design, and that time is taken up in getting things right for the discerning customer. I am not one for fancy packaging, but the box that these come in make them very suitable as a gift as well in how they are presented. I have no hesitation in giving this 5 stars.


Losing It
Losing It
by Helen Lederer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Dilemmas Of Everyday Life, 21 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Losing It (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a highly competent and tightly written novel, which often raises a titter and an occasional guffaw. One would expect a certain repartee to be evident between the characters from this well known comedienne, and it succeeds. Helen Lederer is an acute observer of people, and this ability really shines through to the point that I can hear the author actually reading the text.

Often laconic, there are some healthy doses of bright cynicism that anyone with a dry sense of humour can’t fail to appreciate. Anyone with the slightest sense of low self esteem or a deficit in assertiveness will sympathetically identify very much with the trials and tribulations of Millie’s often frenetic activities of daily living. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Monster iSport Victory In Ear Headphones - Black
Monster iSport Victory In Ear Headphones - Black
Price: £114.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Overall A Good Recommendation, 20 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I have recently been able to test these headphones quite intensely, having several hours to spend wearing them whilst on holiday. I was a bit sceptical about the concept of “wearing them in”, which they advise in the literature. It would have been helpful if the reasons for this were clarified more scientifically in the accompanying booklet, but as I understand it from talking with a friend that this is to do with the diaphragm in the headphones becoming more flexible and accommodating to differing sounds over a period of time. In the book it says around 8 hours before optimum performance is achieved, and I must say that there was a definite improvement after this period, achieving a general clear and mellow sound that I like. They certainly cope with my broad band of music content, which is general pop, classical, opera and jazz.

Overall I am very pleased with this product, and the one snag I was expecting, (the tangling of the leads) was not a problem, but I found that the volume control had no effect on my iPod, although I could pause a track if needed. A general recommendation then for these headphones.


Go-Cat Crunchy and Tender Kitten Chicken and Vegetables Dry Cat Food, 800 g, Pack of 4
Go-Cat Crunchy and Tender Kitten Chicken and Vegetables Dry Cat Food, 800 g, Pack of 4
Price: £12.60

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “ Yeah..the kittens will now have a chance to thrive”, 19 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
No cats own me, only dogs. However, this chance to help my dear neighbour Sue, who feeds what seems an overwhelming number of feral cats, twice a day religiously in our neighbourhood, precipitated me to gun for this free offer on this product.

Each morning before my neighbour goes to feed them, I walk my dog at 06:30 and see at least a dozen cats of varying sizes waiting outside a certain business premise - so quiet, all black and white (obviously inter-related) and looking for something to eat. It yanks at my heart every morning to see them all waiting, almost in line. Of course they are waiting for Sue to feed them, and I wonder what will happen when she isn”t there? I know I ‘m a woos, but it bothers me.

I am sure I can speak for these kittens that are waiting for food, and can say that they absolutely love this product…..What else can I say….? A complete thumbs up for those disadvantaged..


Bakers Dentacrunch Beef & Country Vegetables Dry Dog Food, 1 kg, Pack of 4
Bakers Dentacrunch Beef & Country Vegetables Dry Dog Food, 1 kg, Pack of 4
Price: £11.80

3.0 out of 5 stars Nutritionally Sound For Your Pet, 19 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Providing satisfactory nutrition for dogs and cats is a highly competitive environment these days, particularly as every brand bought in the supermarket has to come to EU standards - in other words any brand on sale is perfect for your pet and supplies all the nutritional requirements he/she needs. So, of course Bakers is a well known brand always in the supermarket, and I have fed products from Purina to all my dogs in the past without concern that they might be missing something.

Of course, there are pets that are fussy with food, which the producers of premium products thrive on. Fortunately for me, my golden retriever Callum is tolerant to anything, never suffering from a change of food brand, even at short notice. I normally feed him from food bought at Lidl or Aldi - he is perfectly happy with the “Orlando” range at Lidl, and “Earls” in Aldi, which he wolfs down.

Needless to say Callum has eaten this product with no side effects whatsoever. The new “Dentacrunch” label is a bit disingenuous for those of us pet owners who regard teeth care is an essential part of caring for our animals, but another hanger for the manufacturer to entice our purchasing power.

This product is fine, but at the end of the day I am not sure how many changes to nutrition they can do without being so blatantly obvious about wanting our money. I think many of us are now getting wise to the so-called psychology of the selling medium and rely on pure common sense.


iPhone Portable Genius
iPhone Portable Genius
by Paul McFedries
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.58

5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful guide to the features of IOS8, 18 Mar. 2015
This review is from: iPhone Portable Genius (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Although detailed as a comprehensive guide to using IOS 8 on iPhone models from 5c+, in reality I find it more a guide to IOS and has consequently been extremely useful in maximising use of my (ancient) iPhone 4s and my IPad Air2.

The majority of the 330+ pages refer to IOS and are consequently useful for any iPad / iPhone capable of using IOS8.

The volume is written using a casual, well laid out style; individual options are well documented together with excellent graphics illustrating each step-by-step instruction.

Seasoned users may well ask the necessity for such a book, where Apple devices are renowned for their usability 'out of the box'. But what I find useful are the myriad of small tips of functionality that I would otherwise be ignorant of!

In summary, if you own an iPhone - you almost certainly know how to turn it on, make a call and take a photo; this excellent guide simply adds to your knowledge bank!


NETGEAR D6100-100UKS AC1200 Dual Band Wireless ADSL2+ Modem Router for Phone Line Connections
NETGEAR D6100-100UKS AC1200 Dual Band Wireless ADSL2+ Modem Router for Phone Line Connections
Price: £79.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Futureproof with one minor caveat., 9 Mar. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Rather than start this review with notes of praise, I thought I would just mention the only downside to this model - that is the provision of only 2 Ethernet ports as opposed to the 4 preivously too be found on my previous Netgear, Belkin and Thomson Routers, not really a problem if like me you have an addition switch connected - 2s ok 4 better.
The omission of the extra ports does however leave space for a dedicated Fibre modem to be connected - so although not much use for me in a very rural area yet it does future-proof me.
Set-up was extremely easy, fully automated- the only input required was my PlusNet username/password. Wi-Fi signal throughout our home shows full 5 bars - excellent coverage in every room. Unlike many previous Netgear and other routers this model features a vertical look as opposed to the more traditional horizontal, but it looks smart.
A very smart, future proof router that ticks nearly all my boxes!
Recommended.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 11, 2015 3:50 PM GMT


The Way Things Were
The Way Things Were
by Aatish Taseer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.54

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather tortuous for me... but with some impressive writing, 28 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Way Things Were (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I’m afraid that this novel did not hit the spot for me. I don’t like giving a 2 star rating, as there is some excellent writing which I did appreciate, and I am sure others will rate it at 4 stars or higher. I could’t relax into the narrative, and I decided to give up a ⅓ of the way through. A novel that certainly demands much attention and concentration - perhaps a different time I would have felt different about it. The focus on some aspects of Indian history, the paradoxes evident within its vast culture did make me shamefully realise how little I know of this country and its heritage - also a tantalising glimpse into the Sanskrit language itself with its obvious powerful influence.

So, a paradox for me is that I would suggest others give it a try, even though I felt unable to finish it with a rather poor rating. The writing is strong from an author who has clear talent.


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