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AJS (London) (London UK)

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Rapesco Stapler - X5-Mini Less Effort, White.
Rapesco Stapler - X5-Mini Less Effort, White.
Price: £4.15

5.0 out of 5 stars Tiny, convenient yet capable, 18 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The X5 Mini is probably the smallest stapler currently sold by Rapesco that accepts the standard 24/6 and 26/6 sizes. It will also accept the 24/6 Hard Wire staples in addition to the standard types. As well as this white version, other colours are available. As an indication of size, its box is of almost identical dimensions as that of Rapesco's 5000 26/6 staples.

Being as small as it is, it should theoretically require rather more affort to bind a certain number of paper sheets than a larger stapler, simply because there is far less of it. However, Rapesco also use an effort reduction system to lower the pressure required by about 60% which makes it far easier to use - the system is common to all X5 models regardless of size.

Although described by Rapesco as a desktop model, it can also be used hand-held and, in most instances probably will be. It will accept up to about 20 sheets of 80gsm paper stock and so should be able to cope with over 90% of the tasks likely ever to be encountered for domestic purposes, by a student and in the workplace. For the few remaining office jobs where a capacity of 20 sheets is too few, a larger desktop stapler can then be used where possible. As is, the X5 Mini is very inexpensive and one could be provided for every worker in an office without the combined cost being excessive.

In the event of any doubts about reliability, the stapler is backed by Rapesco's standard and very generous 15-year guarantee. Of several Rapesco staplers used, of different types and using different staple guages, problems have been very few and never yet a jam. If you want a really small and convenient stapler and one that you could easily carry around, this will fit your needs.

Russell Hobbs 21400 Mode Kettle, Black
Russell Hobbs 21400 Mode Kettle, Black
Offered by Slamtech Online
Price: £28.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good kettle that iilluminates when on, 17 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The "Russell Hobbs 21400 Mode Kettle, Black" which is also available in red is a fairly standard 1.7l capacity cordless jug kettle with a hinged lid for faster filling. There is a rounded V-shaped plastic-bodied filter element behind the spout that can be removed for regular cleaning and descaling in hard water areas such as the London area; the filter elements are constructed from a plastic film and consequently more fragile and more easily damaged by excessive scale build-up than those of a wire mesh. The heating element is hidden internally within the kettle and the power switch is placed conveniently below the handle, as is now common.

The kettle is plastic-bodied and Chinese-made, as are those from almost every other brand, and internally illuminated soft blue when on, which is evident at the spout which is otherwise a transluscent off-white shade and the area immediately surrounding three sides of the handle which is also marked in even cup numbers with its 1.7l capacity as the final marking - cups are normally considered as 240 or 250ml for most kettles so fairly easily converted to metric volumes if required.

While the kettle's body is the more or less standard jug shape, wider at the base and decreasing as it rises, the handle is unusual as it is completely rounded with no straight portions anywhere. Normally not a personal choice of styling, it allows a greater choice of hold position as it flows from the kettle's mid-height up towards the lid. Some consider the style to be possibly less secure in tha hand than a squarer, straighter style.

Boiling time is moderately fast and the kettle is not unduly loud once on the boil; one or two earlier kettles (not necessarily Russell Hobbs) were conversation stoppers when boiling as it was impossible to hear over them.

The body is single skinned and so will get quite hot in use and remain warm for quite some time afterwards. It is reasonably light when empty and quite easy to balance when pouring. Pricing is mid-high level and almost in-line with much of its competition from other brands. It is probably not unreasonable to state the obvious - this is far less well-made than was once expected from Russell Hobbs and probably will not provide the decade or more of use that older models often would; 2-3 years may be its limit which may explain its 'Up to 3-years' guarantee. Finally, as often, it may come down to colour choice, price, styling and brand allegiance when choosing this against others as there are too few points on which to distinguish it from many others.

Luxebell® Knife Sharpener with 3 Stages: Emery, Wolfram Steel, Ceramic Notch for Sharpening, Solid ABS Body and Non-Slip Base (Black)
Luxebell® Knife Sharpener with 3 Stages: Emery, Wolfram Steel, Ceramic Notch for Sharpening, Solid ABS Body and Non-Slip Base (Black)
Offered by Simple Tek
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Incorrectly described on-site; for ceramic and some steel blades but not scissors or serrated blades, 16 Jun. 2016
While it certainly is not unusual to have a dual-slotted sharpener, three slots is less common and to utilise a different sharpening material in each is rare. However, the product description is at least misleading and erroneous and does not apply to this product in several respects.

It does have three slots but there are no emery blocks or boards in any slot for a very coarse corrective smoothing of nicks and damage to a blade. One is exclusively for ceramic blades, but omitted from the on-line description, and should not be used for any other. The other two contain a coarse tungsten (wolfram) standard opposed sharpening plates and a pair of fine ceramic rods, both correctly listed. The coarse segment is to remove any nicks or burrs from a blade and the fine is to produce the real cutting edge. Currently, no ceramic-bladed knives are used so that section cannot be currently assessed. The sharpener is not suitable for use with Japanese-style blades which are very shallow angle of sharpening on a single side and should only be used with European-style blades with the cutting edge divided across both sides.

There is an on-page statement to the effect that it will accept and sharpen serrated blades but the instructions and packaging say the reverse - serrated blades are not suited to this sharpener! Although not specifically mentioned in the original product description, scissors and similar tools are also not to be sharpened with this. Its English language instructions are less clear than they should be, with confusing statements and spelling errors galore; although knowledge of the other languages used is limited, greater attention appears to have been used for better accuracy and relevance. Its design is good with a handle of a reasonable length and intended to remove the fingers as far as possible from the blade being sharpened and any potential risk. There is a low ridge at the end of the handle and before the closest slot that helps ensure the fingers are kept at a safe distance and the handle is shaped with shallow finger grooves on its lower side for additional security.

Although a few dual-slotted knife sharpeners of differing brands have been used over time, some were specifically for straight-edge blades but others accepted serrated ones, too. There was no obvious differences between the different tools that would explain why some did but others did not accept serrated blades although some used (or appeared to use) tungsten rods in both slots and others ceramic in both. Only one other owned and used employs tungsten as its coarse and ceramic for fine.

Of the two segments intended for steel blades, only the ceramic tool is immediately useful as no knives have damage that requires remedy or removal - that was recently done on a single knife using another sharpener. The fine sharpener was used on a few knives, simply to refresh or improve their edges and did so effectively. As with any sharpener, the blades should be washed and dried with a clean cloth, or carefully with kitchen paper, before use to remove any remaining shards.

3M 70mm x 125mm Rubber Sanding Block - (Pack of 1)
3M 70mm x 125mm Rubber Sanding Block - (Pack of 1)
Price: £4.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Effective and easy to use; a good weight, 16 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Until very recently, the usual sanding block used has been an old off-cut of timber, often too thin or too narrow to be effective, that also had no means to secure the sandpaper. The '3M 70mm x 125mm Rubber Sanding Block' is repeatedly reusable and has a means to clip a suitably-sized piece of sandpaper to the block with three hidden 'pins' at each end . The covering flaps of rubber protects the fingers from those pins and helps secure the paper to the block. Its design is simple, but it actually delivers!

The rubber has the advantage of inherent weight which reduces the chance of it 'bouncing' while in use and provides a little flexibility which will be of great advantage when sanding rounded surfaces. The natural stiffness is also ideal when sanding on the straight. There are slots along both long sides for the thumb and finger tips which also helps improve grip and security in the hand.

The block is presumably sized to effectively match a quarter-sheet cut widthways of 3M's various grades and types of sandpaper or with any other brand of similar size. The benefits of this block are such that a timber off-cut is unlikely to ever again be used. It is sufficiently inexpensive to be very affordable.

Baylis & Harding Beauticology Hand Wash 500 ml, Donut Frosted Sprinkles
Baylis & Harding Beauticology Hand Wash 500 ml, Donut Frosted Sprinkles
Price: £2.15

5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasing and unusual fragrance, effective, 15 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Baylis & Harding are a premium brand and their hand wash is also a top-line product.

Although most similar hand washes will depend upon a limited range of fragrances with citrus, florals and fruits being the most common, B & H have chosen the very unusual 'bakery' concept for their latest range with 'Iced Donuts' being the theme here. Although it would not be a personal choice if it were to be used solely for personal use, the fragrance is not sufficiently unusual or objectionable to ever use it. Afterr a short period, the residual fragrance is essentially that of coconut, whether actually present as an oil or not.

This is not an especially 'soapy' hand wash as it has almost no lather. Some may find that quite desirable. As well as achieving it s intended role as a cleanser, it also leaves the hands well moisturised, probably again due to the oils and other ingredients it uses. Although coming at a small premium, the price is not unreasonable. It is supplied as a large and heavy 500ml pump dispenser, probably far too heavy to carry from one place of use to another. It would have a place in the home but may also be useful to have available at work, although a smaller size may be more appropriate. Supplied locked, were it to be carried, it is easily re-lockable to prevent leakage.

Pilot Cocoon Fountain Pen - Fine Nib - Titanium Body
Pilot Cocoon Fountain Pen - Fine Nib - Titanium Body
Price: £24.76

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent pen for teen and older students; meagre ink use, 15 Jun. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Pilot Cocoon fountain pen is essentially identical to the brand's Metropolitan, other than offering a wider choice of colours and some minor detail changes. Pilot's MR series is another variant of the Metropolitan but in a variety of colours and patterns that may be attractive to a different group of users. A Fine nib is fitted as standard to better suit the Japanese home market where it is normally sold rather than Medium as fitted on the export only Metropolitan; the Cocoon is also slightly the more expensive although the differences are minor. The Titanium colour is a fairly neutral grey, with no brownish tones as the illustration may suggest.

The pen is capable of accepting either of Pilot's standard fill converters, the press-bar CON-20 or the screw piston CON-50, or Pilot's ink cartridges. Some suppliers may include a CON-20 as part of a package deal but a single ink cartridge is commonly included. Despite its fairly low price, the Cocoon is not a starter pen but could be an upgrade from one. The nib is steel and quite hard but a smooth and satisfying writer as Pilot's nibs always are. Constructed of ABS and therefore sufficiently strong for a lengthy working life in a good length with a low weight and comfortable width and thus probably benefitting younger users. Its fine nib, an effective Extra-Fine by Western standards, is especially frugal with ink compared with a typical medium but it is not a 'dry' writer.

Many pens with similar Fine nibs are specifically purchased for use at exam times for their inherent clarity of writing but could also be ideal for normal student note-taking due to the nib's specific characteristics that will help extend the period between refills. The finer nib may also help minimise or prevent bleed-through from one side of the paper to the other. The Cocoon could easily see its owner through many years of use and then possibly be upgraded to something more business-like upon gaining advancement or promotion.

ROCCAT - Kova Pure Performance Gaming Mouse (7000 DPI, Left/Right-Hand, 12 Programmable Mouse Buttons) grey/black
ROCCAT - Kova Pure Performance Gaming Mouse (7000 DPI, Left/Right-Hand, 12 Programmable Mouse Buttons) grey/black
Price: £31.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Adequate but not outstanding, low DPI and weight are concerns, 14 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The 'ROCCAT - Kova Pure Performance Gaming Mouse (7000 DPI, LeftRight-Hand, 12 Programmable Mouse Buttons) black' is, but only in some respects, the more advanced and more fully-featured of the two ambidextrous gaming mice from this growing European brand. It is slightly the more expensive of the two while still competetively priced and attempting to out-do the competition with features. However, it lacks the additional configurability of the Kiro's interchangeable side panels, some of which include additional function switches. There are several more advanced right-hand only Roccat models.

It is broadly similar in size and general styling to the lower-priced and lesser-featured Roccat Kiro, and has four additional programmable buttons and a higher resolution engine starting at 3500DPI at its default setting but increasing to 7000DPI (2000/4000 for the Kiro) when Overdrive is enabled; 8000DPI is a more usual setting and often considered the minimum required for serious gaming. Although there are default functions set for the buttons that allow good functionality out-of-the-box, it requires a download and installation of the SWARM software to re-program them, as does Overdrive and Easy-Shift. With Easy-Shift, a further 10 functions can be available. Although currently not gaming, the mouse was used for general computing and found sufficiently comfortable although not outstanding. Its top portions, the prime mouse buttons included, are coated with a soft-touch rubbery material that is claimed to reduce perspiration during extended periods of use that works moderately well.

The scroll wheel is single function and some switches are individual, others are rockers with alternate functions ascribed to each side. There is internal illumination with a claimed 16.8 million colours available but there is too little visible variation from its LED(s) to provide more than a few dozen at best although only via SWARM. The Kova's cable is woven, as many will probably expect for a gaming product.

While the mouse feels fairly robust it is lightweight and lacks the reassuring weight that some of the better-known gaming models mostly offer. There isn't a metal sub-frame or the ability to add, remove or re-distribute internal weights to adjust the mouse's behaviour which is common at the mid- to upper-level. The SWARM software has a reputation for being buggy and some versions had caused issues when installed. An email to their Tech Support sent several months ago when first experiencing issues remains unanswered!

Although clearly intended to provide a real alternative to the offerings from longer-established gaming brands (Razer, Corsair and Logitech among them), Roccat appear to believe that adding functions will win customers but they may be over-reaching with a consequent reduction in build quality as they attempt to meet a price point. Its low 3500DPI native resolution may not satisfy serious gamers. Further, concerns about Roccat's ability or willingness to properly support their products and users may direct potential purchasers to other brands. Roccat have strong competition but, to date, none of their products seen and used (three mice, one keyboard) had sufficiently convinced - the keyboard least of all - in regards to build quality, design, implementation or other usage-related aspects to justify an automatic recommendation.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 1, 2016 10:45 AM BST

Parker Jotter Portobel Purple Chrome Trim Ball Pen Medium Nib - Gift Boxed
Parker Jotter Portobel Purple Chrome Trim Ball Pen Medium Nib - Gift Boxed
Price: £13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A classic design still going strong; excellent value and functionality, 14 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The Parker Jotter series of pens which also includes (or previously did) fountain pens, rollerballs and mechanical pencils is the backbone of their range and has been available in one form or another for many years. They are inexpensive workhorses while very functional and without those elements of design or construction that add to their cost without adding to functionality.

The Parker Jotter Portobel Purple Chrome Trim Ball Pen Medium Nib is one of the more recent versions and newer colours of this classic ballpoint, a much earlier example of which was my long time work ballpoint used primarily to sign or complete multi-part document sets, and occasionally certain invoice and credit note sets, that incorporated pressure-sensitive copy-producing technology and where a ballpoint was the only effective writing tool.

The barrel is plastic but sufficiently rugged, if other pens from the brand and of far greater vintage can be used for comparison. My old Jotter is still going strong although with more than a few scratches that accumulated over time. Although normally supplied with a medium-tipped 0.7mm refill, Parker also offer a fine point (0.5mm) refill but some can be found in a broader 1mm tip should you need one. The Parker refills are a common design and often copied and used by several other brands; they are therefore very easily available (both Parker's and copies) when required which, even with considerable use, may not be for some months.

The writing point ejects and retracts at the press of the top button, a now classic design that is also much copied. The pen offers good value and could potentially last a lifetime if well treated. The pen is that often given by a certain insurer when you take out one of their life policies.

ROCCAT - Kiro Modular Ambidextrous Gaming Mouse (4000 DPI, Left/Right-Hand, Expandable Design) black
ROCCAT - Kiro Modular Ambidextrous Gaming Mouse (4000 DPI, Left/Right-Hand, Expandable Design) black
Price: £34.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uninspiring construction, unreliable software and poor support. Excessive packaging, 13 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The 'ROCCAT - Kiro Modular Ambidextrous Gaming Mouse (4000 DPI, Left/Right-Hand, Expandable Design) black' is at the lower end of their current range. They vary in price, features and adaptability but this is one of only two that uses interchangeable side panels to provide for left- or right-handed users with some modification to the shape also possible. Although four such panels are provided, two fitted and two spare, you can use the basic design to redesign and 3D-print your own custom ones with functional but purpose-suiting switch buttons. Those expecting that its cable has the 'normal' woven gaming covering rather than solid plastic will be disappointed.

The mouse is 100% functional out-of-the-box with pre-assigned functions for each button. With the SWARM driver software downloaded and installed, additional functionality is available and personal configuration possible. The top DPI rating for this mouse is only 4000 with overdrive engaged (2000 otherwise), rather short of the more common 8000 setting that many gamers consider to be the minimum desirable for serious gaming but this is probably intended for the part-time, occasional gamer rather than the individual who gaming sessions may typically be of several hours.

The Kiro shares one property with another previously used - it has very little weight! Serious gaming mice may have a substantial metal sub-frame or use optional weights internally to adjust behaviour to suit. This offers neither and that will be of concern to those who may be considering updating or upgrading their existing mouse. Probably, this will be less of an upgrade than a downgrade.

The SWARM software recognises the connected mouse and only offers possible features, one of which is the claimed potential for 16.8 million different colours for its internal illumination. While the colours are infinitely adjustable on-screen, the number perceived is probably no more than a few dozen at most, but more than sufficient for the purpose. The illumination is mostly decorative and otherwise non-essential. In the past, SWARM has been found buggy and its reliability remains a personal concern having experienced the issues first-hand and for other users whether with a Roccat mouse or keyboard and probably regardless of model.

The mouse offers moderate value for money and will probably suit the occasional gamer, far less the intensive gamer, while providing usability when not gaming when its dual DPI rates can be used to best effect but its low weight may be an issue. Its indifferent software and potential issues with their Tech Support - a response is still awaited to a query raised many months ago - plus less than outstanding features and a 'cheap' appearance may force buyers to look to other brands. Packaging is probably more appropriate to a far more expensive product and over-enthusiastic with rather too many difficult-to-remove security seals employed. The packaging design was also rather elaborate and excessive, requiring several minutes to unpack the product.

Roccat is a European brand who may be attempting to establish themselves against more established and probably better-regarded gaming brands. Whether or not they succeed depends upon the quality of their products and customer confidence - both are lacking to some degree and the build quality in this instance is uninspiring at best; several mice at half the price appear better-built! Its pricing is moderate and Roccat may be attempting to deliver more features per £ than is reasonably possible and without compromising elsewhere; they did not succeed!

Rapesco P20 Shimma Half Strip Stapler uses Staples 26 and 24/6 mm with 20 Sheet Capacity - White
Rapesco P20 Shimma Half Strip Stapler uses Staples 26 and 24/6 mm with 20 Sheet Capacity - White
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars A good all-rounder that is also very affordable and reliable, 13 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A lightweight hand-usable or desktop stapler using the common 24/6 and 26/6 sizes of staple. It is a top loader and accepts the usual half-strip common to the mid-sized staplers of which there are many, from Rapesco and other brands.

Very affordable, and offering both closed and open stapling by rotating the anvil to suit, it could be both a personal and an office machine. Also, being lightweight and reasonably small (there are smaller) it could be easily carried between locations by a student in a backpack or small bag in which you may also carry a textbook, notepad, pens etc.

It allows up to 20 sheets of 80gsm paper to be bundled at a time, sufficient for a high percentage of probable needs leaving a few possible tasks involving higher sheet numbers either to a heavy duty stapler or alternative binding methods that may be suitable or available. Experience with other Rapesco staplers and similar products has shown them to be less prone to jamming that was previously experienced with other brands. Although usually easily cleared, jams are best avoided.

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