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Reviews Written by
G. Lewis "mgjjl" (Wales, UK)

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AmazonBasics Slim Case for iPhone 7 Plus (Black)
AmazonBasics Slim Case for iPhone 7 Plus (Black)
Price: £7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bargain protection, 29 Oct. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Well, I have to say I'm quite impressed with the quality of this AmazonBasics case for my iPhone 7 Plus. For comparison I also have the Apple Silicone Back Cover Case for iPhone 7 - Black. This one hadn't arrived yet when my phone did and I panicked and picked up a case at the store. Aside from a different finish, with the Apple silicone case offering a sort-of suede-like feel with a subtle logo and the Amazon version feeling like a cheap leather wallet, it fits just as well.

The buttons all work fine; the fit around the camera is good; and the inside is lined with felt. It also has no logo on the outside for a clean look.

It feels like a quality product and were it not for the subtle "Amazon Basics" logo on the inside it would pass for something a little more upmarket. The big difference here is that the Apple version is £40 in the Apple store and this is under £10.

If I was going to nitpick, I'd say that the outer finish is a little more slippery than the Apple case, but it is by no means a bar of soap. It's a good option for keeping your iPhone scratch-free.

Garmin Edge 1000 GPS Bike Computer - Black
Garmin Edge 1000 GPS Bike Computer - Black
Offered by Farmaweb s.r.l.
Price: £369.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For when the smartphone no longer does the job..., 5 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you spend enough time riding, you reach a point where using your phone to track your activities will no longer cut it. My iPhone limits me to rides of around 50km before the battery is starting to get into single figures and any longer you risk not just losing your Strava bragging rights, but also your ability to call home. I managed quite well with my phone and a Wahoo RFLKT for a while though, but a 200Km Audax that I was booked onto forced an upgrade to something more purpose-built.

The thing about Audax rides is that the route is largely up to you, you just have to visit the "controls" along the way. There are no marshals and no routes marked out, so you have to find your way. So, I went for what seemed like the best option, Garmin's flagship Edge 1000. I was tempted by the 800, but when you factor in maps, which are included on the Edge 1000 but an add-on for the 800, the price difference isn't that great. I was glad I did, but for a whole day in the saddle (my last Audax was a 8am start and 9pm finish), you're going to need an extra battery. More on that later...

First of all, the Edge 1000 does a lot --it tracks a mind-boggling amount of information, especially if you pair it with speed & cadence sensors, a heart-rate monitor, power meters etc. It also tracks temperature, speed, distance, altitude (with a barometric altimeter), it has GPS & GLONASS (the Russian alternative to GPS) and finds satellites very quickly. You can also connect your Garmin Connect and Strava accounts to upload your rides to Strava automatically. If you are a Strava Premium subscriber you get live segments too.

Mapping works pretty well, but it can be a little hard to read the directional arrows on a bumpy road and there's no voice readout, just beeps. However, the beeps are either on or off --this includes the beeps for everything else, such as when you stop at traffic lights, start moving again. The beeps are incredibly annoying, but if you want an audible cue for when to make a turn, you'll need to turn them on.

It has been well documented, but the Edge 1000 battery isn't very good at all. It can be improved by turning WiFi, Bluetooth and the extras off, but it's still not going to last you all day. What I do is put an [Fastest Portable Charger] Anker PowerCore 15600 - Super High Capacity Battery Pack 15600mAh Power Bank with Most Powerful 4.8A Output, PowerIQ Technology for iPhone, iPad and Samsung Galaxy and More Apple and non-Apple Devices (Black) in my seat post bag and run a USB cable along my top tube and into the back of the Garmin. It keeps me going on long rides pretty well.

I've found the Edge's firmware to be pretty stable and it has only stalled on me once. It did however recover my progress pretty well. Overall, the device has its faults, but I really like it and it has proved to be a very useful training aid and I'm not filled with buyers remorse, despite it being nearly as expensive as my iPhone.

If I could share one tip, it would be that Garmin's own add-on sensors aren't up to much --Wahoo do ANT+ HRM and Speed/Cadence sensors which I've found to be excellent.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 12, 2016 8:23 PM BST

Philips Sonicare HX8911/04 HealthyWhite+ Electric toothbrush
Philips Sonicare HX8911/04 HealthyWhite+ Electric toothbrush
Price: £69.99

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like an angry wasp, for your teeth..., 5 Oct. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Whilst I've had some experience with electric toothbrushes, I must admit that it's a gadget I never really saw much of a need for. However, good fortune landed me with, as it turns out, quite a high-end electric toothbrush and it think I may have changed my mind.

Now, being of the Sonicare line, this particular toothbrush works a little differently to others I've used. Rather than having a rotating head or one that waggles a tough plastic scrubber across your teeth, this one vibrates the whole head at quite an alarming frequency. This has two notable effects --it is really quite loud & high pitched, unsettling my cats in the next room, but it also sends a shock through your head if you let it catch your opposing jaw when brushing your molars!

Fortunately, this is something you get the hang of and after a while I stopped making myself jump out of my skin. It is worth persevering with though, as I've found my teeth to be much cleaner and my mouth more fresh after using it for a month or two.

I've also been quite impressed with the battery life of the Sonicare. It has a two-minute timer, meaning that you have a set time to get around your whole mouth, but this also means you'll likely get close to a month out of a full charge.

Wahoo Fitness RFLKT Bike Computer for iPhone and Android
Wahoo Fitness RFLKT Bike Computer for iPhone and Android

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, but a few issues to work through..., 29 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I had reasonably high hopes for the RFLKT. I was already using a Wahoo Speed & Cadence sensor on the bike and thought I'd stick with them and use my iPhone to do the heavy lifting as I rode around. For the most part, it does a pretty good job and is reasonably customisable, is weather-proof and doesn't stick out like a saw thumb on my stem.

However, even with a Speed & Cadence sensor, there's a bit of a delay between your activities and the display updating. It's subtle, but you will notice it. Also, you require a good app to display your vitals while you ride and unfortunately, Strava support is rather poor. I've tried many cycling apps and found that Wahoo's own Fitness app provides the most comprehensive range of customisation options and also lets you share to Strava. However, on an iPhone 5S or older, your ride range is going to be quite limited and I drained the battery of my 5S from full to empty in around 50 miles. With the 6 or 6 Plus you can expect to ride for longer without needing a recharge and the Wahoo will let you know how much battery your phone has left.

Sadly, it won't tell you how much battery IT has left. It will just die suddenly after around 4 months and you'll need a tiny Phillips screwdriver to replace the CR2450 battery, which you probably won't have with you on a ride. Still, if you keep your rides short and local, it's not a bad little device, and I like the concept, it's just that there are a few kinks to work out.

You'll also have to weigh up the need to record your ride with the ability to call home if you get stuck somewhere with bike issues!

Moleskine Large Ruled Hard Evernote Notebook - Black
Moleskine Large Ruled Hard Evernote Notebook - Black

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 months of Evernote Premium and a quality notebook for a bargain price..., 29 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've been racking my brain trying to work out how the economics of these Moleskine Evernote books work. It's around £15 for the book, but that includes three months of Evernote Premium, which is around £5 per month, perhaps slightly less. So, £15 for three months of Premium and a very cheap if not free book!?

It sure is a nice book too. It's of your typical Moleskine quality, but with a pouch at the back to store the stickers that you can use to tag your handwritten notes before scanning into the app. The front is embossed with an Evernote logo and the lines inside are dotted for easy scanning into Evernote. It's an all-round classy package and a bargain if you are already paying for Premium.

If I had to nitpick at all, I'd say "large" is a little misleading as it's around A5 size and the lines are a little close together for my ungainly handwriting. Even so, I'll be buying another in a couple of months!

Topeak Explorer 29er Tubular Rack with Disc Mount - Black
Topeak Explorer 29er Tubular Rack with Disc Mount - Black
Offered by das-sportgeschäft
Price: £37.08

4.0 out of 5 stars but you can do a lot worse than the Topeka Explorer 29er, 24 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There are not many 29er panniers out there, but you can do a lot worse than the Topeka Explorer 29er. It's well made and as long as you have mounting points on your bike, it's pretty easy to fit.

I had no seat-stay mounting points on my bike, but had mounting holes near the wheels. Fortunately, you can buy a seat-post clamp with the right carrier bosses for about £10, such as the "Acor Seat Post Clamp With Carrier Bosses". Once installed, it's pretty solid and if you have a Topeak MTX bag, it's really easy to live with.

No complaints.

Finding Vivian Maier [DVD]
Finding Vivian Maier [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Maloof

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Finding what didn't want to be found..., 24 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Finding Vivian Maier [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Vivian Maier's story is quite something. The secretive nanny who made a splash on the photography scene shortly after her death was, unbeknownst to everyone who knew her, a very talented photographer. However, it wasn't until her belongings were acquired at an auction by John Maloof, Ron Slattery and Randy Prow that anyone had any idea what an enormous collection of stunning images she had to her name.

Finding Vivian Maier is John Maloof's attempt at piecing together Maier's mysterious past. It features interviews with people who employed her as her nanny as well as a few friends.

It explores the lengths to which she went to keep people guessing. Using different names with different people; obsessively keeping the bedroom door locked etc.

It also explores some of the issues inherent in posthumously publishing the works of artists who did not curate their own work. As a photographer myself, what I would consider worth publishing may be entirely different to what a 3rd party would publish on my behalf. However, the decision has been taken out of Maier's hands and some people are understandably uneasy about that.

What isn't so good about Finding Vivian Maier is that it explores some of the darker parts of Maier's personality; the issues she had with other people and her hoarding. This feels invasive and a little disrespectful to someone who is no longer around to put forward their own side of the story.

Everyone has their own story and everyone has their own demons. If you're lucky, your demons die with you, they don't find their way into a documentary. In Maier's case it makes for a pretty sad tale of someone who clearly had mental health issues and who died alone because the people around her struggled to see through those issues.

I'm a fan of Maier's work and I love looking through the photographs that have been published. However, you can know too much about people and that risks taking the shine off their work. Maloof could have perhaps left out a few clips from people who appeared to have an axe to grind and it would have made for a far more respectful documentary.

Breville VDF105 Halo Plus Health Fryer - White/Green
Breville VDF105 Halo Plus Health Fryer - White/Green
Price: £79.00

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Weird on the outside, funky on the inside, 4 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The halo fryer is a brilliant piece of kit to have in your kitchen. If you ignore the extreme neon green motorcyle-helmet styling, it is simple to use and much healthier than a traditional fryer. Is has heat sources above and below which means in addition to chips and potato products, you can also cook chicken, fish and meats using the grill function.

I have tried a few of the recipes from the cookbook which comes with the fryer and have so far had a 100% success rate. The chips were fluffy inside, crispy on the outside and the Cajun potatoes were spicy and nicely crunchy. I also tried grilling some chicken which was done in 20 minutes and was still juicy.

Overall, very impressed, but the lid can be a little fiddly.

Phottix GEO One GPS Module for Nikon Geotagging for Nikon D2X D2Xs D2Hs D3s D3 D3X D700 D300 D300s D200 D5000 D90 Similar to Nikon GP-1
Phottix GEO One GPS Module for Nikon Geotagging for Nikon D2X D2Xs D2Hs D3s D3 D3X D700 D300 D300s D200 D5000 D90 Similar to Nikon GP-1

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bargain-tastic, 23 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having been left disappointed by the Opteka I decided to take the next step up in the GPS unit stakes and went for the Phottix. So far I've been very impressed with the Geo One's accuracy; the speed at which it gets a GPS lock outdoors and how it doesn't seem to thrash my battery that badly. GPS lock indoors is another matter --it needs to be outdoors.

I'm also impressed with the build quality, although the cable for my D7000 could do with a right-angled connector, as it does stick out quite a bit. Time will tell whether the unit or that cable stand the test of time, but if I get a year out of it I'll be happy.

Contrary to the description, it does work on more recent bodies --the square connector for D7000 and newer is included, as is the cable for D4 & D800 bodies, they just haven't updated the description or the packaging.

The manual for the Phottix is virtually identical to the Nikon GP-1 one and the quoted specifications are too. If you are looking at the Nikon unit, buy the Phottix instead, it's less than half the price.

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-56
Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-56
by Anne Applebaum
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Useful research material, 15 May 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A well researched and expansive collection, showing the development of communism in Eastern Europe. A great book for research or if you want to learn more about the birth of communism outside of the USSR. Very interesting subject, however the author does have a habit of labouring over small details and occasionally assuming too little of the reader. It is unlikely you would pick up a book of this nature without an interest and some background knowledge of the subject and I sometimes felt like the book was more of a lecture than an informative script. This aside, I enjoyed the book and think it is worth reading - just be prepared to skip the occasional paragraph!

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