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Andrew "impulsive gadget buyer"

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SteelSeries Rival Optical Mouse (PC CD)
SteelSeries Rival Optical Mouse (PC CD)
Price: £44.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Loving the new updated Rival, 1 Mar. 2015

SteelSeries have been around for some time now and have become synonymous with high quality gaming gear for PC enthusiasts. Making some of the best hardware out there they also contuine to push the boundaries creating new product idea's at a time when others are battening down the hatchs. What really sets them part though is their continued investment in eSports and willingness to take on feedback to fine tune their products.

The SteelSeries Rival mouse I'm looking at today is their refreshed model. Whilst I have and love the black one you can also get gloss white. The Rival has one thing in particular that truly elevates it for gamers. The Pixart 3310 Optical Sensor, the current king amongst sensors, especially for gamers. To clear up any confusion here the sensor used to be made by Avago but they licensed it to Pixart. Having used a few mice now sporting this sensor it is immediately noticeable when I go back to laser or a lesser optical sensor. It simply is that good!

The Rival is firmly a right handed mouse and I am a bit of hybrid claw gripper and it felt immediately comfortable to me. Easy enough to claw yet enough loft to tickle my palm.

I've reviewed a number of mice recently and whilst they all have their merits the Rival is my current favourite. For me it is the perfect blend of everything. I've seen my accuracy in game increase and find it very comfortable for extended sessions.

What do you get?

The package, like other SteelSeries products is fairly minimalist sporting their familiar black and orange livery.

You get the mouse, a little leaflet directing you to download the accompanying software and an additional rubber nameplate bumper to adorn the back of your mouse. What's interesting here is should you be the proud owner of a 3D printer, or have access to one, you can download the necessary files and create your own nameplate. I love this little touch. Now if only someone would send me a MakerBot!

Whilst the mouse is plug and play the software allows full customisation whilst also updating the mouse firmware if needed.


One thing this mouse is certainly not short of is features. The buttons and lights are all confugruable with the option fo setting up multiple profiles for swapping between games and programmes. You can configure DPI, Acceleration and polling rates to truly make it your own.

Optical Sensor

- 50 to 6500 Adjustable CPI
- 1ms Response Rate / 1000Hz Polling Rate
- 200 Inches Per Second (IPS)
- 50Gs of Acceleration


- 6 Programmable Buttons
- 16.8M Color Illumination w. 2 Zones
- Soft-touch coating
- Injected rubber side grips
- Cable Texture: Soft Rubber Cable

SteelSeries Switches

- > 30 Million Click Durability

Size & Weight

- Weight: 128 grams (0.28 lbs)
- Height: 45 mm (1.8 in)
- Width: 70 mm (2.76 in)
- Length: 133 mm (5.23 in)
- Cable Length: 2m (6.5 ft.)

The Mouse

The mouse itself feels gorgeous in hand thanks to a rubberised coating and textured rubber side panels. The left and right mouse buttons are large and button clicks are reassuringly pleasant and feel responsive.

There is one button up top for adjusting DPI on the fly, though it should be mentioned you can switch between just two DPI settings. Perfect for me but I know some like a third to really lower DPI for sniper shots etc. The scroll wheel is also clickable and is repsosive and fluid but it should be noted there is no horizontal scroll on the wheel.

Before I go on to talk about the software it's worth noting that pretty much everything about this mouse can be remapped and customised. From the LED Wheel and logo lights to the buttons, everything can be changed to suit.

The mouse is not weight adjustable but in reality I found the weight to be finely tuned and balanced with no issues at all but that I guess comes down to personal preference. Having previously had a Logitech G500 I found, on reflection, that I hardly every fiddled with the weights, so it was no loss for me.

The cable is a smooth rubber one. I prefer the braided ones but they do tend to snag so smooth rubber is probably a sensible choice here.

Any mouse I have needs to be a good all-rounder. Yes I game a lot but I also code and do a little bit of design on the computer and I found the Rival handled all of this superbly, with tasks at hand benefiting from that sensor! It is very comfortable, even after several hours spent gaming/coding and just potching about I still found it comftable.

One sensor to rule them all

I mentioned at the start of the review that the Rival features the Pixart 3310 Optical Sensor. Now I am not normally one to get excited at the mention of optical sensors but since I have been gaming and involved around a few tech forums it is clear not only is optical the way forward for accuracy and zero acceleration, this particular one is the current king. And after a few weeks with the mouse it is easy to see why.

One of the key benefits of this sensor is zero acceleration. Loosely that means you have a one to one relationship with your mouse and it isn't compensating or trying to predict your movement which enhances accuracy and is ideal for FPS games (and conincidentally design work). The sensor also provides incremental DPI steps all the way up to 7000 and to adjust the lift off distance to suit. I do wish however that there was an LED indicator onboard to show which step your on.

I really can't speak highly enough of this sensor and the Rival is a true joy to use.

The Software

The software is not supplied in the box and you need to pop on over to the SteelSeries website to pick up the latest version which is fine, I mean who does discs anymore?

The software, SteelSeries Engine 3 is feature rich and laid out in a methodical way. On starting it up it detects which SteelSeries products you have and choosing one takes you to that devices menu.

Everything is customisable and it handles macro's very well. You can tune the DPI, Acceleration, Polling Rate or set anything you could think of with a mouse.

Firmware updates are also handled through SteelSeries Engine and on intiall setup I was prompted to update my Rival's Firmware which it did without fuss.


This mouse is a true joy to use and is one of the few pc accessories that gets it all but perfectly right for me.

The Rival is perfect for FPS gaming not to mention everything else and it is easy to see why some of the world's top CS:GO players use the Rival.

It is very well built and feels veery bit the premium mouse in hand and reassuringly it feels as though it will go the distance and handle some serious use.

An understated subtle elegance and high end features conspire to create a mouse that is final tuned whilst not in your face with it's presence. Always on hand to lend it's superior performance for you to get the job done better. It looks, feels and performs every bit the killer mouse and is now my first choice for everyday gaming and work.

Inateck Portable Hi-Fi Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Speaker with 15 Hour Rechargeable Battery and Precision Enhanced Bass - BTSP-10P
Inateck Portable Hi-Fi Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Speaker with 15 Hour Rechargeable Battery and Precision Enhanced Bass - BTSP-10P
Offered by Inateck
Price: £99.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Punching well above it's size, 1 Mar. 2015
Portable speakers are everywhere at the minute. So finding a good quality well made one can be quite a task. The Inateck BTSP-10P with enhanced bass though does just that.

Firstly, what do you get? The speaker comes well protected in quite subtle packaging and you get a charging cable, 3.5mm aux audio cable, pouch and instructions. Though anyone who’s ever paired a Bluetooth device should be instantly at home with the concept.

The design of the speaker itself is nice and it feels well built. As well as lending to the overall look the plastic design details on the front protects the two speakers. Whilst still very portable it features two speakers that pump out scaleable and detailed sound but more on that in a bit.

To the side you’ll find the power button, micro usb port for charging and an aux in for those unable to use Bluetooth/nfc. The Bluetooth featured is 4.0 which brings power savings extending the battery over older iterations of Bluetooth.

There’s a 2000 mAH battery for up to 15 hours play and it’s all finished off in a subtle matt black soft touch housing. Size wise it’s extremely portable and very capable so ideal for trips, holidays, the garden in summer etc.

Pairing my iPhone 6 to the device was simple and straight forward and a quick trip to the Deezer app and I was playing music in seconds. What immediately strikes you is just how good the audio is on this little beast. There’s a good range and plenty of bass. Whilst you probably wouldn’t run a house party of one it is easily everything most people would need to bring portable music into their lives. Vocals are clear and bass is surprisingly punchy for such a small unit.

Speaking of volume there are dedicated controls on the unit or you can do so from the paired device which gives great flexibility of control.

Overall this is one quality bit of kit that punches far beyond it’s size.

Eyefi Mobi 8GB WiFi SDHC CARD + FREE 90 days Eyefi Cloud
Eyefi Mobi 8GB WiFi SDHC CARD + FREE 90 days Eyefi Cloud
Offered by Top-Tech-Outlet
Price: £29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Make dumb cameras smart, 28 Feb. 2015
Sometimes technology can be complicated to setup and often, even more complicated to use. Fortunately the Eye-Fi wireless SD card is neither of these- it is actually the opposite, it just works and simply supplies your camera with Wi-Fi. The Eye-Fi Mobi-8 gives you the ability to wirelessly send JPG and videos from your camera to any mobile device with the latest version of iOS or Android.

The setup could not be easier. Firstly I would recommend downloading the App for your phone or tablet from the app store- the app for Apple iOS devices is called Eyefi Mobi which is free. After installing the app it will ask you for an activation code, this is printed on the back of the SD card case (don’t lose this code) which will link the app to your SD card. The app will then install a wireless profile which allows your device to wirelessly communicate to the SD card in your camera. I then put the SD card in my camera and turned on the wireless. After taking some images my phone started downloading them from my camera. The card comes with a 3 month trial of cloud backup which works well and was easy to setup. It might have been nice if you could set it up to backup to another cloud storage provider like Dropbox or Microsoft One Drive.

The Eye- Fi will only copy JPG and video files not raw. This is ok, however if you simply shoot raw and JPG, the raw files just get left on the card for you to edit afterwards. I can see many benefits of having an SD Wi-FI card. On holiday I love shooting with my digital SLR, however one thing I miss is not being able to share my photos on social media during my holiday and having to wait until I get home and process my images. Now with the Eye-Fi card I can download the images straight to my phone and upload them to all of my social media sites for family and friends. This card I am sure will be useful for photographers who want to check their images on a bigger display before leaving a photo set.

Eye-Fi has a long list of compatible cameras that work with their SD card and if 8GB is not enough storage, they also do a 16GB version. Downloading from the card is relatively quick; however it will not keep up with the full burst rates of a high end camera, but does work well.

I was a little disappointed that I was unable to use the Eye-Fi card with my Kingston Technology USB 3.0 Media Reader. When I put the card in the reader it lit up as normal but did not recognise the SD card. By plugging the Eye-Fi SD card into my camera and using a USB cable it works fine. I emailed Eye-Fi who responded the following day saying that they would send me a SD card reader that will work with their SD cards free of charge.

I am mightily impressed with this level of customer service as I hadn’t mentioned that this was a review unit.

Since trying out the Eye-Fi card I have been really impressed and can’t stop talking about the benefits of a Wi-Fi SD card. If you think you don’t need one I challenge you to buy one, give it a try for a couple of days and I am sure you will not go back to normal SD cards.

Crucial CT500MX200SSD1 MX200 500 GB SATA 2.5-Inch Internal Solid State Drive with Adapter
Crucial CT500MX200SSD1 MX200 500 GB SATA 2.5-Inch Internal Solid State Drive with Adapter
Offered by Kikatek
Price: £174.76

5.0 out of 5 stars Consistently solid performance from Crucial, 28 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The MX200 is a mainstream drive and follows in the footsteps of a number of recent releases from Crucial and is the replacement model for the MX100.

Being an avid gamer who also dabbles in some coding and other projects I cannot enthuse enough about SSD's and their potential to increase productivity.

I've been on-board with SSD's since getting my very first 128gb SSD that cost a fortune (Crucial M4). Even then their benefits to me outweighed their cost and I truly believe these are the future.

What really impressed me making the move to SSD's and indeed using this drive is the impact on just about everything, and it is truly a game changer for personal computing.

Games have also started to see big benefits and I've personally seen loading times in Battlefield 3/4 drop considerably in comparison to a mechanical drive, the same goes for StarCraft 2.

Windows is ready to go in seconds rather than minutes thanks to SSD's, especially so with 8.1. And laptops are faster, run for longer and less prone to critical failure if knocked about.

Included in the tiny little box is the SSD and a spacer and a copy of Acronis True Image to clone your drive over. Albeit a highly nobbled version.
If you intend on cloning your current drive over I recommend Macrium Reflect Free that I use personally and it is a fantastic piece of software. On that note if you are cloning from a laptop or simliar you can use an external caddy or a usb to sata cable that are easy to find online.

The MX200 uses Multi Level Cell Flash Memory and a Marvell controller. When talking about SSD's they predominantly use MLC such as this one, Single Level Cell (SLC) or Toggle Level Cell (TLC).

All that sounds a little confusing but I'll try and clear it up.

SLC memory as the name suggests writes a single bit of information to the memory cell where as MLC writes two and TLC three. Historically SLC used to be faster, last longer and was the go to choice on the enterprise side of things. However that has started to change of late. Improvements in firmware and TRIM implementations have meant MLC is much more reliable, not to mention you can get higher density drives and thus lower cost ones. This is especially pertinent as manufacturers shift to smaller dies sizes thus increasing capacities and yields.

I order to boost performance the MX200 uses tiered caching. Essentially what Crucial have done here is skimmed the top of it's main flash and called it Dynamic Write Acceleration. As you write to the drive in often little bits of information it passes through the DRAM into the DWA Cache. As the DRAM is clear it can accept more while the DWA Cache then writes down to the main NAND storage, thus increasing throughput, especially for smaller files that some SSD's struggle with.

Performance wise I achieved close to the rated transfer speeds. I’m using some pretty high end hardware so speeds will vary depending on setup and application.

I have been incredibly impressed with this drive and over the years Crucial as a whole. Performance is top of the range and the key thing for me is consistency. It performs exceptionally well and continues to do so without any fluctuation or deviance in doing so. My games are faster and my PC is lightning quick and I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending this drive to enthusiasts and everyone in between who wants the best performance possible from a long standing expert in flash memory.

Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Men's Razor with Flexball Technology
Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power Men's Razor with Flexball Technology
Offered by UK Pharmacy Direct
Price: £13.66

4.0 out of 5 stars Fusion evolved, 27 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I regularly use the fusion when I am after a quick shave. Although I have been known to alternate between this and my DE shaving kit.

First off it is a really good evolution of a tried and trusted format. The vibrations help agitate your hairs for an optimum shave whilst the new ball feature gives a really good degree of flexibility around your face.

It is comfortable to hold and manoeuvre and well, the results are good as I have come to expect from Gillette over the years. IN fact as far as the cartridge systems go Gillette is my preferred choice.

The reason I've dropped a star is because Gillette infuriate me with their price gouging on the cartridges.

Spontex Microfibre Cleaning Cloths (Pack of 8, Total 32 Cloths)
Spontex Microfibre Cleaning Cloths (Pack of 8, Total 32 Cloths)
Price: £16.27

5.0 out of 5 stars Premium fibres, 27 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Over the last couple of years I've had many microfiber cloths and to date these are the best of the bunch.

It's a great value pack and I like the colour coding as it means I can keep certain colours for certain areas.

The cloths themselves are of a great quality and well made. They feel as though they will last, however time will tell.

The applications for these are endless and I use them all around the home and outside. They keep my phone and tablet screens tip top and they work great on windows too.

If you are after a set of microfiber cloths I can wholeheartedly recommend these.

Lenken [Apple MFi Certified] Lightning to USB Data Sync & Charging Cable 3.3 ft long for iPhone 6 / 6 Plus 5s 5c 5 iPad 4 iPad Air & mini 1 2 3 iPod Nano & Touch. Approved 8 Pin Connector, Light and Heavy Duty Metal Housing and Braided Cord. Premium Quality.
Lenken [Apple MFi Certified] Lightning to USB Data Sync & Charging Cable 3.3 ft long for iPhone 6 / 6 Plus 5s 5c 5 iPad 4 iPad Air & mini 1 2 3 iPod Nano & Touch. Approved 8 Pin Connector, Light and Heavy Duty Metal Housing and Braided Cord. Premium Quality.
Offered by Lenken Techware EU
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good cable that stands out, 23 Feb. 2015
Lightning cables aren’t made equal. Often the very cheap ones will allow charging only or you’ll be bombarded by messages on your phone telling you the cable is not supported or worst it’ll just fall apart or ruin your beloved phone.

This cable is MFI certified meaning it’s certified by Apple and it both charges AND syncs. The cable itself is well built and very much akin to the one that came with my phone. The plugs and connectors are sturdy and it has subtle Lenken branding on the lightning end and the American flag on the other which looks understated and elegant. Importantly the connectors are quite slim so you should have no compatibility problems with cases etc BUT it is always best to check first if you can.

What’s good about this cable is the elegant design and finish of the cable and plugs. Using an aluminium and plastic combo the cable looks fantastic and really premium without being too heavy.

It charges and syncs my phone just fine and had no problems at all using my high power Arctic charger. It’s a very well made third party cable that performs just like the Apple one but is better value for money.

Overall this is a very good value premium cable that works extremely well. I highly recommend this as an alternative to the overpriced Apple one and I’m confident the solid construction should endure much better thaan the basic Apple one.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 25, 2015 8:01 PM GMT

Kärcher SC5 Continuous Steam Cleaner, 2300 Watt, 3.5 Bar, Yellow
Kärcher SC5 Continuous Steam Cleaner, 2300 Watt, 3.5 Bar, Yellow
Price: £385.02

4.0 out of 5 stars Overkill in the home?, 23 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This Karcher is unlike any of my previous wand style steamers and is more akin in size and shape to a cylinder vacuum.

What you get though is an extremely powerful and capable steamer. Much is made of their twin tanks which allow you to load up a fair amount of water. With a large element and 2300 watts of power this is quite literally a beast and produces continuous and powerful steam. Not to mention a jet of hot water for stubborn areas or rinsing some grot away in the shower.

You get a range of accessories to tackle pretty much most jobs but I feel given the premium more pads should have been included. That said now that the unit is available accessories such as additional pads are easily bought from Amazon (though they command a premium).

In use the steamer is incredibly good but to be honest I can’t say I noticed an improvement over my stick style steamer that cost just 10% of this one. That said the tools were great for the bathroom and made light work of the oven. Steam can be adjusted to suit the surface too preventing damage to more delicate areas.

It is however very versatile and can be used as an iron by purchasing the Karcher iron separately and unplugging the hose and hooking the iron up which makes it very handy and potentially a space saver.

I can’t help but think that whilst this is an extremely good cleaner its just too big for everyday use. Great if you going to blast all yours floors and other areas but too big just to tackle a quick spot. I also feel it could have included more pads.

Zoggs Kids George Pig Surf Rider Inflatable Body Board - Blue, 2-6 Years
Zoggs Kids George Pig Surf Rider Inflatable Body Board - Blue, 2-6 Years
Price: £15.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A big hit for us, 20 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My lo loves the water and I attribute this to getting him started with Water Babies at a very early age. He has a variety of inflatable toys for the pool but this is now his current favourite.

It's well built and you can feel the quality in the construction which is very reassuring, as is being from a reputable brand. It's nice and coulorful with friendly George on it to make ti fun and appealing.

My LO loves holding onto the handles and looking through the view port as I go under the water, Not only is it the kind of product that will grow with your little one but it feel's such quality that it will actually last long enough to do so.

A big hit for us.

Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Puppy
Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Puppy
Price: £16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Really lovely toy, 18 Feb. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a fantastic toy, such as I’ve come to expect form Fisher Price to be honest.

It’s colourful and well-built and feels as though it’ll take the rough with the smooth during playtime.

There are 3 stages depending on your lo’s age and his hands/feet etc are clearly labelled for learning. Pressing them rewards your lo with songs and phrases about the various body parts. This changes depending on level 1,2 or 3 to encourage your lo’s development.

The various parts are easily activated and he’s not to heavy to be carried around reasonably easily depending on stage.

A bright, colourful and friendly toy that my lo took an instant shine to. Great fun.

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