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Reviews Written by
Z. Herbert "solaan" (Bedfordshire, UK)

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Saint John Astro Captain Robot
Saint John Astro Captain Robot
Offered by Inspirations Gift Shop (UK)
Price: £24.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia Joy To Delight The Heart., 23 Aug. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Astro Captain is a vintage style, wind-up, tin-plate toy which is a working, walking robot. It is not a toy for children. It is a toy for the nostalgic adult. For me he hit the nostalgia button full on. He is great, from the style of paintwork, the smell out of the box and the key to wind him up, to the awkward, clumsy movement as he marches off across your desk.

He comes in a nicely printed silver and lime green box which captures the vintage feeling of this mechanical, 'old school' toy. For someone of the right generation and frame of mind, this will make an ideal present.

Astro Captain measures about 7cms across the front, 4.5cms from front to back and is 13cms tall. He comes with a large 5cms long key. The hole to wind him up is on his left side beneath him arm. His arm might need to be gently moved in order to get the key in the hole.

The robot walks with stiff legs and moves its arms back and to and that's it. No lights or fancy speech, just the grind of the clockwork motor as he stomps along. I am absolutely delighted with Astro Captain. He is perfect for me. One thing I like is that I am not afraid to play with him. The price of original collector pieces makes them too precious to touch but not Astro Captain! I'm happy to wind him up and have him lurch around my desk.

3M Portable Two in One Flip Chart and Dry Erase White Board Table Top Meeting Chart, 20 Sheets - 50 x 58cm
3M Portable Two in One Flip Chart and Dry Erase White Board Table Top Meeting Chart, 20 Sheets - 50 x 58cm
Price: £22.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Useful Dry Erase Surface Enhances The Easel., 23 Aug. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Post-it Table Top 2-in-1 Dry Erase and Flip Pad Easel the same length as A2 paper size but slightly wider. The pad has 20 sheets of paper. The cover sheet of the easel says that the pad is refillable with a Post-it Self Stick Wall Pad refill. The easel is relatively fragile and will not take abusive handling.

The easel folds flat. The cardboard used for the easel is single flute so it not very strong but it does mean that it is not heavy to carry. The whole thing is about the weight of a Sunday paper. The cardboard front cover of the pad folds back on itself to form the base of the easel. There is a Velcro pad at the top of the cover to stop it falling open when folded flat. On the back of the pad is the dry erase surface. This is a sheet of plastic that is stuck over the single flute card of the easel. The plastic is thicker than something like 'Fablon' so the surface is smooth to write on and not affected by the rippled surface of the cardboard. This dry erase surface has the added effect of making the easel feel more rigid than the Post-it Tabletop Easel which does not have the dry erase surface.

When the easel is folded into position, on its base are four, non-slip sticky pads that stop any sliding of the easel when placed on a table top. They are work well. On the one I received, one of the pads had been torn off but I was able to cut one of the remaining three in half and re-use the half pad.

The top 4cms of the notepad has Post-it non-permanent adhesive to allow sheets that are removed from the micro-perforated pad to be stuck to a wall or similar flat surface. Alternatively the sheets can be flipped over the easel in the conventional fashion. The easel is designed to be used in portrait mode. It is possible to turn the ease through 90 degrees and have it in landscape mode but you will need to use a mini bulldog clip or similar to secure the notepad pages from flopping down and creasing.

I used Pental Maxiflow Whiteboard Markers on the dry erase surface and they worked very well. On the notepad side I used Sharpie Flip Chart Markers which did not bleed through the paper. The whiteboard markers also work on the paper side without bleed-through. When writing on the easel there is a slight wobble of the board as you press on it which I did not find a problem.

The dry erase surface works well if you treat it with care. Care needs to be taken when rubbing clean the dry erase surface. It's important to support the back of the surface when pressing against the front otherwise you risk damaging the easel. Having the dry erase surface prolongs the useful life of the easel without the need for any refills so long as you take care of the cardboard. It is cardboard, not hardboard, so treat it carefully.

I tend to use the Microsoft Office Lens free app on my phone to capture any dry erase notes I make which has worked well for me. Alternatively you can transcribe the key points made on the dry erase surface to the more permanent notepad side. For a table top notepad easel the 2-in-1 pad works well. I prefer having the dry erase option as it is more versatile and allows for quick 'throw-away' notes to be made without using up the paper side.

SPEEDLINK Legatos Stereo Gaming Headset with Fold-Away Microphone - Black
SPEEDLINK Legatos Stereo Gaming Headset with Fold-Away Microphone - Black
Price: £14.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Suitable For A Younger Person., 20 Aug. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The SpeedLink Legatos stereo gaming headset is an attractively styled, all plastic headphones and mic set that looks good from a distance. They come in a solid box with an information guide in multiple languages.

The headset has a 1.8m fixed, flat style two-wire cable which is as thick as the old style, round, headphone two-wire cable. The headset connects to the computer using two, 3.5mm DIN plugs, one for the headphones and one for the mic. A lot of computers or laptops have a single, joint headphone and mic socket for which an adapter would be needed to use the headphones and mic of this headset at the same time. Such an adaptor is not supplied.

Although the inline volume adjuster looks as if it is a sliding touch control, it is not. The volume is adjusted using a thin, rotating disc on the side of the control similar to the rotating volume control on 1960s transistor radios. It's functional but a low-end solution and there is no way of knowing if it is fully turned up or down by looking at it.

Sound through the headphones is better than I thought it might be. They seem to cut out low level buzz. Audio recorded with the mic is clear with reasonably bass, although a little nasal sounding but is fine for its intended use. For gaming, Skype and similar types of communication the headphones and mic are fine once suitably adjusted in settings.

The omnidirectional mic is easy to position and can be rotated back to the headphones to put it out of the way.Care needs to taken to adjust the audio recording settings to get the best from the mic. I found that they recorded too quietly when left at default settings. If I increased the input levels to a decent speech recording level, a low background buzz was recorded. These headphones did not pick up that buzz in playback but better quality headphones did.

This is not a headset I would like to wear for a long period of time. The cushions of the earpieces are too small for my ears and press the top of my ears against my glasses frame which very quickly starts to feel uncomfortable. The headphones quickly get to feel hot in wear, which isn’t pleasant. Wearing them for only one session I found the earpieces to be a bit small and hot and I was pleased to take them off. This is a stylish, low-end headset that could suit casual gamers or VoIP communications. Maybe they are more suitably sized for a young person or child to use.

Vax TBTTV1T1 Cordless SlimVac Total Home Vacuum Cleaner, 0.6 Litre, 95 W, Graphite Silver/Rose Gold
Vax TBTTV1T1 Cordless SlimVac Total Home Vacuum Cleaner, 0.6 Litre, 95 W, Graphite Silver/Rose Gold
Price: £129.99

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Convenient Dust Zapper., 19 Aug. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Out of the box the Vax Cordless SlimVac handheld cleaner comes with five different tools, a wall mounting bracket with mounting screws, a charger, and extension tube, the lithium battery, an instruction manual in English and a bag that is large enough to hold all the tool heads and charger. The version I have is the 'gold' trim. This is an unobtrusive light, caramel brown colour with a slight metallic speckle and a satin finish, plastic trim. It is not a shiny gold nor metal.

The tools that are supplied are the powered head turbo brush with an easy to remove brush-bar so that any long hairs or threads can be cut free from the rotating brush; the 3-in-1 crevice tool with a clip-on dusting tool head which can be rotated to use a hard surface head (this is a particularly useful tool for all the odd jobs); a blue, silicone, ribbed end tool useful for picking up pet and human hair and working on the stairs; an "Up Top Tool" jointed dusting tool which allows you to twist the dusting head through 180 degrees to clean on top of high shelves or door frames; finally there is a hard floor tool for working on non-carpeted surfaces. The hard floor tool allows an air gap for the tool head so that it can be moved over a solid surface easily.

The SlimVac is activated by a trigger switch on the handle. On one side there is a right-thumb operated lever that will turn the SlimVac on without having to keep the trigger switch pressed on. This makes vacuuming for any length of time or with the extension tube much easier. The rotation of the brush on the powered head can be turned on and off by a separate switch on the main unit.

The machine has a 22V lithium battery which gives around 24 minutes of cleaning time. The very first time you charge the battery, they suggest that you charge it for 8 hours. In a small flat, bedsit or small house, the SlimVac could meet all your vacuuming needs. If you have a lot of flat carpeted areas that take longer than 20 minutes to vacuum around then the battery life may struggle to last the job. Recharging a depleted battery takes about 5 hours.

The balance of the machine makes it heavy to hold for any length of time when not using the extension tube. This is because the lithium battery is just in front of the hand and puts a turning force on the wrist. With the extension tube fitted the bulk of the weight is rested on the floor through the tube and tool head. When using it handheld for quick pick-up jobs the weight is not a problem.

The cleaner without the extension tube looks like a cross between a 1930s Flash Gordon ray gun and an electric paint sprayer. The cleaner with the extension tube fitted is not self standing. You need to lean it up or lay it down if stopping and starting when cleaning. Care needs to be taken that it doesn't slide and fall to the floor when leaning it against something.

The small dust collector is easy to empty without removing it from the cleaner. There is a simple clip that is pressed to release the bottom of the collector and empty straight into a bin. The collector can also be removed to access the dust filter and separator for cleaning. Again, this is simple to do. There is also a post-motor filter that needs cleaning every three months or so which is also easy to access and clean.

The cleaner is stored using the supplied wall mounted bracket. Two large screws and standard wall plugs are supplied to fix this in place. If you are wanting easy access to the cleaner you need to fit the wall bracket because the SlimVac is not free standing and it is awkward to store with the extension tube fitted.

The SlimVac has a powerful suction for a small machine. It is excellent for doing stairs and I find it very useful for doing the car. In use, it is noisier than I was expecting although it is not loud. The SlimVac can be a second, on-the-spot cleaner for instant karma on dry spills and crumbs in the kitchen or to clean awkward locations. I am pleased that they include a simple bag that is large enough to include all the tool heads because you do need something to keep all the bits conveniently to hand and together.

For me the SlimVac is a neat and powerful machine. It has wide variety of cleaning tools and a useful bag to keep them in. I found it inconvenient that you need to screw-mount the storage holder; another negative for me is that the SlimVac is not free standing with the extension tube fitted; the twisting weight, caused by the battery position when using it handheld, hurts and tires my wrist which has not regained full strength since breaking it. In terms of the results that the SlimVac achieves, I am delighted.

BLOOM Sunrise Matcha (30g)
BLOOM Sunrise Matcha (30g)
Offered by Superfooduk
Price: £18.31

5.0 out of 5 stars A Clean Tasting Grapefruit Matcha, 18 Aug. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This matcha green tea is from Japan. The mix is 90% matcha plus 10% natural grapefruit flavouring. Attached to the side of the jar is a little serving spatula, four scoops of which make one serving. The 30g jar has enough for approximately 30 servings.

The powdered, light green matcha has a fresh, clean grapefruit aroma in the jar. The grapefruit flavour is less noticeable in the drink than the aroma from the jar would suggest, although it has a good mouth loyalty. It is not as harsh a grapefruit flavour as some of the citric green tea teabags I've had. I learnt to avoid those so I was hesitant to try this. I am pleased that I have tried this matcha because it is far nicer.

To make tea you use about 1g (4 of the little scoops) of matcha to 100mls of hot but not boiling water, around 80C, then whisk to create frothy top. The tea tastes very refreshing and light, and not at all shallow or flat. Once the tea is made, you can chill it if you wish by pouring it over ice, or make it up stronger and when cold dilute it with added cold water to make an iced tea.

The suppliers also suggest adding the matcha to smoothies, ice cream or salads amongst other things, rather than just using it to make tea. I've tried it with plain, natural yoghurt and it's delicious. The grapefruit flavour is much more pronounced in yoghurt and the matcha turns the yoghurt a lovely mint green. I am much more pleased with this matcha tea than I anticipated; it is very good indeed.

Post-it Table Top Meeting Chart 563R - 20 Self-Adhesive Sheets 508 x 584mm
Post-it Table Top Meeting Chart 563R - 20 Self-Adhesive Sheets 508 x 584mm
Price: £15.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A2 Sized Post-it Notes With Built-in Stand., 17 Aug. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
On first sight I thought these must be the world's largest Post-it Notes; certainly they are the largest Post-it Notes that I have ever seen. The whole stand is the size of an oversized A2 sheet of paper in both height and width. The easel and pad sit in portrait alignment only. There are two holes cut into the top of the easel to allow it to be mounted on a full sized flipchart easel. Some care does need to be taken in handling the cardboard easel because it is only a single flute card and can easily be crushed or bent.

The easel is made from a single flute cardboard similar to that used in Amazon boxes. The card is indented to make to folds easy to do. There is a carry handle cut into the card stand with a fold over tab to stop the card edge cutting into one's hand if needing to carry the pad any distance. The tab also holds the front flap of the easel closed. The front cover of the easel folds back on itself to form a wedge. The pad on its card support then swings forward and slots into a pre-cut notch. Once in place the easel stands securely. The part of the stand that sits on the table has four lines of non-slip 'glue' circles. These are not sticky but stop the stand from sliding on a desk surface when writing on the pad.

The pad of twenty sheets is stapled into the cardboard display easel. The sheets themselves are an A2 height and slightly wider than an A2. The sheets are of bleed resistant paper and work well with dry board marker pens. I haven't used spirit based pens which tend to be more penetrative of paper. The top of each sheet is perforated to allow it to be easily removed from the pad. The top 4cms of each sheet (along the narrow edge) has the famous Post-it adhesive to allow the notes to be temporarily stuck to a wall when removed from the pad.

There is a wobbliness to the stand when writing on it which is not dissimilar to lighter weight flipchart or drywrite easels. It is easy to write on. The whole easel pad is very light in weight. It's no heavier than carrying a Sunday paper.

Whilst the easel pad is not designed to be refilled but I see nothing to stop you clipping standard A2 sheets to the easel and continuing to use the desk stand once all the Post-it sheets have been removed. This is a lightweight easel that is easy to carry and works well when needing to discuss and present ideas in a limited-space environment.

3M ReMount Spray Adhesive - Repositionable - 400ml
3M ReMount Spray Adhesive - Repositionable - 400ml
Price: £19.78

5.0 out of 5 stars The Designer's Friend., 16 Aug. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
3M Re Mount along with their permanent alternative have long been the industrial standard for spray glue in the design world. The Re Mount version is used when you want to be able to remove or reposition an item, such as using a mask when paint spraying or stencilling, or when laying out a collage to try different arrangements.

It is important to work in a well ventilated area with no breezes that could blow the glue vapour off target. This is especially important when doing a lot of glue spraying. From experience I have found that, for repeated use, it's always good to invert the can and spray out any remaining glue in the nozzle once the current job is finished, even though it feels like you're wasting product. There is nothing worse than coming back to a blocked nozzle, which can be the result if you don't clear out the glue.

When carefully and evenly applied, along with ensuring that everything is clean and dust-free, the remountable glue works excellently.

Command Large Mounting Refill Strips (6 Packs each containing 6 Strips)
Command Large Mounting Refill Strips (6 Packs each containing 6 Strips)
Price: £22.74

5.0 out of 5 stars If You Remove A Hook You Will Need A Refill Strip., 15 Aug. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Note: For the purpose of this review I was sent a single packet of six large refill strips. I believe that the Amazon offer is for six blister packets, each packet containing six large refill strips.

Each blister packet contains six large refill strips designed to be used with the Command system of hooks and hanging devices. There are three pairs of strips which are easily separated. So whilst it looks like there are only three strips in the packet, there are six individual strips. There are installation instructions in English and Spanish on the back of the packet.

The strips are very quick to apply and install but they need at least an hour to come to full bonding strength. The damage-free hanging strips work well. They are simple to remove by pulling which stretches the strip away from the surfaces and leave no residue.

Each strip has a single use and is not reusable. So if you move any of your Command hooks then you will need at least one packet of refill strips.

I have been very pleased with the Command Hook system. I have found that once in place they take the weight stated. They remain in place until you choose to remove them and they do remove cleanly.

Russell Hobbs 22220 Mini Chopper, 130 W, White
Russell Hobbs 22220 Mini Chopper, 130 W, White
Price: £16.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Compact, Attractive and Effective., 14 Aug. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Mini Chopper comes with a one double-bladed cutter and a removable, lidded bowl. It is fitted with a 13A UK 3-pin plug for the 70W motor. The powerflex measures 1.2m. The Chopper has a two year guarantee which can be extended to three years if you register it online with Russell Hobbs. There is an eight-page instruction booklet in English that includes five simple recipes.

The unit measures just under 20cms wide, 15cms high and 12cms deep. It is a small, hand-sized unit. There are four non-slip, silicone feet on the base. Whilst designed to be used on a flat surface, the unit is small enough to pick up and give a shake between cutting operations. There is a large press-button to operate the cutter. The green of the large button against the white of the unit gives the Mini Chopper a fresh, attractive look.

The Mini Chopper is very sturdy and comfortable to control. There are no sharp or rough edges with the exception of the blades, with which great care must be taken especially when cleaning. One thing I like about the stainless steel blades is that they do not wrap around the blade unit but are parallel to each other. I find this arrangement much safer when washing the blades.

The bowl, lid and blade unit can be hand washed. The base unit with the motor should only be wiped over. The instruction manual says the parts need to be hand washed but the box says they are dishwasher safe. I don't have a dishwasher (other than myself) so I cannot test this. The only awkward part to clean is the hollow support column of the blade unit.

The bowl locks in place by two tabs. It is removed from the base with a simple twist. To operate the chopper, a tab on the lid needs to be rotated and clicked in place under the green button to release the safety lock. This enables the green button to be depressed and works the single speed chopper.

Whilst the speed of the blade is not as fast as some hand-held 'blitzer' style choppers I've used, I prefer this slower speed. It gives more control to the amount of chopping. The combination of the slower speed and height separation of the blades means that the contents can be finely chopped rather than pulverised. If you want a puree then you chop for longer. It is effective for cutting herbs,fruit and vegetables that can be easily cut with a kitchen knife.

I have found the unit nice to operate and is ideal if, like me, you need finely chopped, rather than mushed, fresh herbs and vegetables for your cooking. One of the joys of cooking is that moment the Mini Chopper gives you when you open the lid on some freshly chopped herbs in your own kitchen.

Busy B A5 2017 "Stripe Design" Busy Life Diary - Purple/Pink/Lilac/Green/Blue/Navy/Vream
Busy B A5 2017 "Stripe Design" Busy Life Diary - Purple/Pink/Lilac/Green/Blue/Navy/Vream
Price: £9.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Handbag Size, Neat And Useful., 13 Aug. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Whilst smaller than A5, this diary is big enough to be able to see and small enough to fit into my handbag. The hardback, matte-laminated cover looks smart and discreet and the colours are not shouty. The cover has nicely rounded corners so the diary won’t catch on anything and won’t get dog-eared with use. There is a 5mm elastic closure to keep the diary shut and a matching elastic pen-sleeve at the opening side. This sleeve is a bit small for a standard ball-point pen. The bookmark is 6mm grosgrain ribbon in a slightly darker tone than the elastic. A couple of romance cards are included, giving some ‘background’ to the concept of the design.

Opening the diary, one finds the same faded plum tones used throughout. They are easier on the eye than stark white; the main font is easy to read. The book is well made with good quality paper, and the pages are stitched, not just glued.

The first pages are, as is usual, for personal details and ‘useful’ telephone numbers; these are followed by a month-to-page overview of the year, set as landscape. The diary pages begin with 19th December 2016, which is a sensible arrangement. The year is divided into quarters, each starting with a double-spread reminder page and a pocket for loose notes.
Each double page shows the same week on both faces with a reminder strip at the outer edges. The diary finishes with six pages for notes and three pages for contacts. A concealed pocket on the inside back cover is a neat place to hold a few Post-its or, as is suggested, some Busy-B sticky notes.

I like this diary and I think it will be very useful. I can do without all the inspirational blurb on the romance cards but they are easily removed and discarded. Overall the diary is a little bit too mumsy in its layout for me and I don’t like the rounded, girly font used for the months and headers. The graphic design is a taste too, ‘two adorable children and an AMAZing husband’ and certainly has a specific target customer in mind. That said, the diary is well made, has a visually quiet cover and well thought-out. The paper is pleasant to write on and there’s room for all my appointments and mind-joggers. It also fits easily into my handbag - what more can I ask?

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