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Reviews Written by
R. Stevens (Woking)

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Silentnight Reflex Latex Core Pillow, White
Silentnight Reflex Latex Core Pillow, White
Offered by Branded_Bedding
Price: £29.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice quality, firmer than expected, 22 Aug. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I didn’t know what to expect when I ordered this pillow. I was curious since we’d made the transition to a latex mattress a couple of years ago and it is a very pleasant thing to sleep on. What exactly the latex added to the pillow and why you would want it were questions not answered by the product description. Even when the pillow arrived the packaging revealed nothing about the pros and cons aside from suggesting that it was just to air out the pillow.
I had hoped that the pillow would be soft and simply not end up flat during the night (as happens with feather pillows). The packing rated it as ‘medium firm’ (5 on their scale of 1 to 10), but the first night I tried it it just felt hard, with practically no give. This was not just a question of the latex core, even the surrounding padding felt like there was little give. In the interest of this review, I gave a it a few more nights and it started to soften with use. I remains quite firm, but has lost some of the thickness, making it much more comfortable, to the point I don’t really notice it any more. It retains its shape though, the insides don’t appear to move at all when you fluff or shake it.
The materials are all very nice, from the Percale cotton cover to the ventilated sides you can tell this isn’t a supermarket brand pillow. It’s hypoallergenic, the interior is polyester hollowfibre and everything’s covered by a 2 year guarantee.
All-in-all this is a quality pillow. The benefits of the latex are poorly communicated and appear to be about the aeration rather than the support it gives, so I have to assume it is to help in hot weather. If this is a 5 on their 1 to 10 scale, I dread to imagine what 10 is. Maybe a brick? But it did achieve what I was hoping, I don’t wake up in the morning with a flattened pillow. In terms of quality, I can recommend this pillow, in terms of what you want to get out of it, I’m a bit lost.

Colgate ProClincal Pocket Pro USB Rechargable Electric Toothbrush
Colgate ProClincal Pocket Pro USB Rechargable Electric Toothbrush
Price: £43.32

5.0 out of 5 stars A great clean in a compact package, 11 Aug. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For electric brush users this is a great little package. It is compact and thanks to USB charging doesn’t need a lot of wires or anything. In my case I don’t even take the charger socket since I always have either my PC or a multi-USB charger with me on the go.

The ProClinical Pocket arrived just before my summer hols, so it has just had two weeks of intensive testing. The final result is a big thumbs up. I fully charged it before departure and it kept working on that charge until day 13, when it started turning off whenever I tried to turn it on. Without a charge indicator this is the only sign that the battery is empty.

The brush handle charges via the carry case, which uses an induction charger (i.e. no metal contacts) like most electric brushes these days. A practical and waterproof system, but not the fastest charging, took about 8 hours for the brush to fully charge again (I could have charged it daily, but wanted to see how long it would last). It is just a shame there’s nowhere in the case for the short (~10cm) USB lead, which has to travel loose and could get misplaced.

The ProClinical series only appear to support vibrating rather than rotating heads. The brushes themselves are surprisingly soft bristled, especially compared to a rotating head, but they vibrate at a higher speed. I was very satisfied with the clean, which felt equally as good as my full-size rotary brush. In fact, it feels much more like a traditional brush to use, with the benefit of the vibration. It also provides a standard 30 seconds per zone timer, briefly cutting the vibration every 30 seconds and then turning itself off after 2 minutes.

In fact, I’m often tempted to use this one in place of my larger, non-travel brush. It’s nicer to use, smaller and lighter and does the job just as well. If that isn’t a recommendation then I don’t know what is.

HoMedics Shiatsu 2-in-1 Back and Neck Massager
HoMedics Shiatsu 2-in-1 Back and Neck Massager
Price: £146.10

4.0 out of 5 stars Shiatsu heat is great, neck massage sacrifices shoulder blades, 2 Aug. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
After years of sitting on the fence trying to decide whether to get a massager for the home, we’ve finally got one. In the intervening time we’d tried many a shop-front demo, including chair covers and simple pillows. The general consensus was that heat was a good thing and that a lot of them seemed to pummel rather than massage.

Having this HoMedics massager for a month now, it is easier to evaluate previous trials. First, the way you sit on the massager has a huge impact on the experience, even a slight difference in posture can change what you experience from gentle kneading to vigorous pounding. It therefore goes without saying that the chair you install the massager on also has an impact. Generally I prefer the couch, which seems to have the right combination of softness and recline.

The heat function is subtle, but wonderful. It works best on bare skin, as even a T-shirt dulls the effect quite a lot. I’d recommend getting a massager with a heat function if you can stretch your budget for it, the effect is very relaxing.

The neck massage is less convincing. Though it is height adjustable, I find the highest setting just that little too low for comfort (I’m 5’11/181cm tall). Another drawback is that having the neck mechanism above the lower back one limits how high the back massage can go, which is just below the shoulder blades in my case.

The remote control is easy to understand and use and the power cable is long enough to reach from socket to chair even if the two aren’t located very close to each other. The holder for the remote isn’t great and it tends to slip out and fall to the floor at even the slightest displacement of the machine.

Overall this is a very nice machine, as good as any we’ve tried before and still convincing after a month’s use. It can’t replace a trained human in terms of relaxation, but at least it is always there and ready.

Rapesco Z T-Duo Staple Tacker with 300 Staples, Uses Staples 13 and 53/4-8 mm - Blue/Silver
Rapesco Z T-Duo Staple Tacker with 300 Staples, Uses Staples 13 and 53/4-8 mm - Blue/Silver
Price: £13.54

5.0 out of 5 stars Small and very capable staple gun, 15 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The T-Duo is very nicely designed. That you can stow the handle to make it smaller when storing it is just great. The stapler is smaller than you'd think in the first place, which is hard to appreciate looking at the photos, so with the handle folded down it is very compact.

Staple loading is extremely easy, with the holder opening completely and easily (with not awkward clips to undo) to accept the staples. Everything else works as you would expect. Another nice feature is a little guide block that fixes under the stapler for tacking around the edge of a board and putting the staples at the same distance from the edge. It is simple and effective. The only downside is that this little block is not somehow stored in the body of the stapler. If you clip it on when putting the stapler away, then the stapler can no longer lie flat, but don't clip it on and you might lose it amongst drawer junk.

The body and handle feel a little fragile (thin, brittle plastic), otherwise a great little article.

Melissa & Doug - 18960 - Upright Piano
Melissa & Doug - 18960 - Upright Piano
Price: £59.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Looks great, sounds average, 15 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Based on looks alone this little piano would get 5 stars. However, when we received it I initially thought it needed tuning. The best way to describe to sound is 'plinky plonky'. The black keys sound the worst, but they're never actually included in any of the tunes in the song book.

The top of the piano is easily removed using an allen key like you get with IKEA furniture. Inside there's a metal harp bolted to the back of the piano, which is struck by flimsy plastic hammers attached to the keys. No tuning appears possible. Understanding how the keys strike the 'strings' actually helps get a slightly better sound, you need to give the keys a hard prod, rather than just a press, so the hammer hits more solidly.

After a few days the piano doesn't sound as bad as it did initially and I wonder how much expectations are influenced by the look. In your head it should sound as good as it looks. The songs are quite easy to play, but require some thought when transitioning between the octaves (yep, kids, there are two A's, B's etc). Electronic keyboards that light the key to be played are easier, but provide less teaching in the long run.

Build quality is good aside from the strip of letters above the keys. Not only is it only glued at the ends, it is badly glued, leaving the center part drooping, ready to be ripped off by curious little fingers. As mentioned before, the key action inside the piano looks flimsy too, but should survive normal use.

Finally, the piano is not as big as you'd imagine. Forget getting a little stool, it is easier for our 3 year old to kneel in front of it.

In the end this isn't a bad piano for the price, it looks awesome, but only sounds average.

Offered by Extreme Auto Accessories
Price: £11.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't get the ones pictured, 6 July 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The wipers that arrived are not the ones pictured. Instead of the more modern Aero items pictured (which were the type I wanted), I received the classic, frame sprung items. They were 19" and there were three of them, but otherwise not at all what I was expecting. They went on because the old ones were smearing too much and the MOT was due, but not at all happy with the misrepresentation of the seller, whose blurb talks about getting the 'latest technology'.

I didn't even get a note from them along with the blades apologizing for the difference, which is poor customer relations if ever I saw it.

One of the blades wouldn't 'click' into place (which given its age might be my car's fault), but the others went on OK. No problems with the wiping either. Lucky I wasn't that set on the look...

Oral-B Smart Series 4000 Sensi Clean Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Oral-B Smart Series 4000 Sensi Clean Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Powered by Braun
Price: £119.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good brush, BlueTooth’s just a gimmick, 1 July 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is my first foray into electric toothbrush ownership after years of wondering whether they’re not just an indulgence over making your arm work. But with age tooth care become more of a factor and I wanted to give it a go. I’m also a gadget geek, so seeing a toothbrush with BlueTooth and an associated app I just had to try it.

First reaction is that the toothbrush’s handle seems huge - even with familiarity it still seems oversized. To use it is simple enough; a single press on the power button starts the normal program, subsequent pushes go through the other ones until you get to off. A long push when the brush is running switches it off directly. The idea is that you brush the quadrants of your mouth for 30 seconds each, after running for 30s the brush briefly cuts the vibration to let you know you should be done. After 2 minutes a slightly different vibration lets you know you’ve finished.

It take a small amount of practice to cover all of your teeth in the allocated time - sometimes you’ve not finished after 30 seconds, sometimes you’re done at 25. I had though the app would provide more help in getting this right, highlighting teeth and showing how long to stay on each one, but it isn’t that useful. It basically shows you a timer, which is not much more helpful than the built in timer.

If you put too much pressure on your teeth and surprisingly bright, red light comes on on the handle. Even brushing your teeth with your eyes closed you know when the light comes on, which shows it works well.

If do find that my teeth feel a little cleaner using an electric brush, not because I brush for longer, but because the brushing it that bit more effective. I also use less tooth paste since the head can’t hold much. The sensation is not disturbing for me (my wife hates the buzz against her teeth) and the routine is easy to fall into. Cleaning isn’t too much of a challenge and the stand has a provision the hold the brush heads for a family of four.

All in all I like this brush, but given the choice I wouldn’t bother with the BlueTooth and app unless my dentist recommended it (there is a section in the app for professionally provided brushing advice). The brush does track your usage and show you how reliably you brush, but if you’re like me, brushing every day like clockwork, that information is pretty redundant. If the app was better and provided better features, or even just more gamification (it awards you achievements, which could be fun for kids) I’d think it was worth it. But the app basically duplicates a feature the brush has built in, which is just a wasted opportunity. Maybe it’ll get better in an update.

The Buzz Doorway Insect Curtain
The Buzz Doorway Insect Curtain
Offered by Goods Wholesale Ltd
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Does the job - feels solid, 25 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We had an insect screen before this one, since we live in a reclaimed marsh that, despite being generally dry, is a great breeding ground for mosquitos. That one attached to the frame of the door using double sided Velcro, so it could be removed when not needed. However, with the sun on the conservatory it just transpired that the Velcro’s backing adhesive dried out and the thing kept falling down.

The Buzz insect curtain does not have this issue because you have to screw the mounting bar to the door frame. This is fine when you’re the home owner, probably not ideal if you are renting. You could use a temporary, glue based solution, but I’d expect it to start coming unstuck quite quickly since this type of screen actually solicits quite heavy use. People pushing through with boxes or furniture tend to snag and pull on the screens, which area already quite heavy (to avoid them blowing around). Maybe worth a try though. Then again, you might have something above your door to screw in to that’s easier to repair, but if that is the case you’ll need your own screws and wall plugs.

The Buzz curtain also isn’t quite as ‘clever’ as our previous one, which used magnets to snap the two sides of the screen together once you’d gone through, but that might not be a bad thing. There’s less to hook on to and simpler tends to last longer.

Basically it does the job and is solidly built, so in my book that makes it a good buy (unless you don’t want to make holes in your PVC).

Schwarzkopf got2b Beach Matt Surfer Look Matt Paste 100 ml - Pack of 6
Schwarzkopf got2b Beach Matt Surfer Look Matt Paste 100 ml - Pack of 6
Price: £17.16

5.0 out of 5 stars Good hold and texture, 15 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Back in the day hair gel needed to be wet-look, now it has to be matt and there are a lot of products out there to chose from. I’ve used a few matt pastes over the years and I have to admit that this is probably one of, if not the, best I’ve tried.

I’d used a different got2b paste before and liked it, but then I tried a few other brands and never worked my way back to it. Trying it again has reinforced my appreciation for Schwarzkopf’s product line.

The main thing I like about this paste is that, once applied, it no longer feels even a little sticky, even if you get caught in the rain. The hold is strong enough, yet remains adjustable (I have a terrible habit of grabbing my hair while thinking, so fixes are often required). A couple of nights of sleeping with it in my hair doesn’t leave me feeling like I absolutely have to wash my hair, nor leaving me looking like a worn out toilet brush without adding more.

Another, fairly stupid, thing I like is the little metal can the paste comes in. It’s practical, a good size, can be carried onto a plane and looks pretty cool.

I don’t know how many people would want to get a pack of 6 of these, it takes me about 4 months to get through one, but it certainly gives better value for money.

I’ve also been using L’Oriel's Studio Line Matt and Messy paste L'Oreal Studio Line Matt Messy Rough Paste 150ml Case of 4 recently, which is another good option (though the tube I have is too big for carry on). I do have a slight preference for this paste though.

Nivea Sun Sunshine Holiday Skincare Bag, Travel Set - 4-Piece
Nivea Sun Sunshine Holiday Skincare Bag, Travel Set - 4-Piece
Price: £13.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Good selection of products and reasonable price, 15 Jun. 2016
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a great kit for a single person or a couple off to grab a tan. The SPF ratings on the creams are high to moderate and there's the shower moisturiser for those that overdo it a little. As such it is a great little kit (though not at all manly looking). There’s nothing over 30 SPF and no kid products, but there’s room in the bag for them if purchased separately.

Nivea have always been one of the premiere brands for sun creams and they maintain their standards here. When they say ‘non-greasy’ then that is the case - though, who isn’t these days?
The cream disappears into your skin almost instantly and claims immediate protection, as does the spray, and both promise resistance to getting wet.

My wife is a fan of Nivea’s in-shower moisturisers, claiming they’re very effective and very convenient. I’ve never tried them personally, but she is totally sold.

The little bag that all the products come in is everything you’d expect. A little cheap-looking, but colourful and effective. Both the inside and outside surfaces are plastic, though the internal lining is soft touch. It will resist splashes and sand and the occasional internal spilling of products. There’s plenty of room inside to add extra toiletries and even some sunglasses. It lacks a handle, but you’d generally have a beach bag to put it in in any case.

Comparing pricing, the 4 products supplied in the pouch retail at £17 (Amazon prices) while at the time of writing this set retails at £19. So a £2 supplement for the pouch, which is fair. I honestly can’t imagine ever giving this as a gift to someone (except maybe a teenage daughter), so it comes down to whether you fancy the bag for a couple of quid. A quick search of Amazon didn’t find any alternatives at anything close to that, so if you like it, go for it.

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