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Taking a break from reviewing for a while (the 'update' on the other side just pushed me over the edge). I will check back to return rates every now and then.

Reviews written

since 08/12/2010


Panasonic RP-HJE120 09/02/2014

Low price doesn't mean low quality

Panasonic RP-HJE120 First off, let me say that I'm not 100% sure I should post here and not as a new product. My headphones are the Panasonic RP-HJE120E-K (not sure if the E-K on the end of the product number makes a different, the specs are exactly the same and they look the same except mine are black). I regularly listen to my ipod while out walking the dog. Over the last few years I have run through a string of earbuds ranging from dirt cheap to mid-range. They have all had their problems and most die after just a few months. For the past 8 months I have been using a pair of Panasonic RP-HJE120E-K Ergo Fit Ear Canal Headphones. I chose them because they had great reviews on Amazon and only cost £6 so I wouldn't be too put out if they weren't that good or didn't last long. I have been extremely pleased with these headphones. They have a rather unusual shape that sits in my ears very well unlike most earbuds. I can even go jogging with them not falling out. The rubbery bud part that goes in the ear is offset to one side of the hard plastic part where the cable is connected. I think this helps them stay anchored in my ears. There are two different sizes of durable, rubbery buds, which stay on the headphones well even when thrown in bags and pockets without care. The chord is a decent length at 117 cm; long enough to be functional but not long enough to get in the way. One minor niggle is that the connector is L shaped which pulls out of my ipod far easier that a standard straight plug if I ...

Magimix 11610/11613 14/12/2013

Best Buy of 2013

Magimix 11610/11613 Motivation I’ve made some good purchases this year. I’d have a hard time choosing between my Siemen’s tumble dryer, my Baavet wool pillow and my Magimix Blender for the best purchase of the year, but I think the blender might just scrape the win because it is both highly practical and extremely pleasurable to use. Why did I choose this blender? After having a horrible experience with a rather pricey Duronic BL1200 blender I did a LOT of research before settling on the Magimix 11610, 1.8L blender in black. The Amazon reviews were highly complementary and the Magimix received high praise on a number of raw food forums- I don’t follow a raw food diet but I figured if the Magimix can handle raw carrots and whole apples then it would be able to handle anything I would throw at it. The raw foodies seemed to think it was the next best thing to a Vitamix, which start at around £400 and are clearly excessive for my needs. Specs The Magimix 11610 has a powerful 1200W motor with 8 speed settings and 4 pre programmed settings for ice, smoothies, soups, and desserts. The square, 1.8L jug is made of heavy, heat resistant glass. It is easy to clean and fully disassembles for thorough cleaning. It comes with a specially made spatula that can be used while the blender is running. My experience One of the reasons I bought this blender was that it had the ability to remove the blade from the base. I've had a number of blenders over the years and find that the "auto clean" functions are ...

MyProtein Essential Whey 60 Unflavoured 31/10/2013

Fluffy but excellent value

MyProtein Essential Whey 60 Unflavoured Motivation As you might know from a few of my previous reviews, for the last year or so I have been making morning smoothies and adding a scoop of whey protein so help increase my morning protein intake in an easy, quick and tasty way. Until a few months ago I had been using MyProtein’s Goat Whey Protein (reviewed previously), but the last time I went to order it wasn’t listed. I called the company and they could not give me any information about when/if it would be available again. I decided to try both soya free options currently available. I have already reviewed the Impact Native Whey 95 (unflavoured). This review will focus on my other selection: Essential Whey 60. Why did I choose Essential Whey 60? Unlike most other protein powders, this product does not contain soy lecithin. Soy lecithin is used to make powders more mixable, but it contains phytosterols which have a mild estrogenic effect on the body. Since I use a form of natural birth control that relies, in part, on subtle changes due to the shifts in the balance of progesterone and estrogen in the body, I try to limit my soy intake (saving it for things like chocolate and the occasional stir fry or Chinese take away). Also my mum and brother are both highly allergic to soya so I try to limit my intake just in case eating too much might trigger a reaction in me. The next selling point for me was that the unflavoured version of this product contains only one ingredient: Undenatured Whey Protein Concentrate. ...

Myprotein Impact Native Whey 95 Unflavoured 17/09/2013

The Soya free Whey

Myprotein Impact Native Whey 95 Unflavoured Motivation I do best if I include protein in every meal. I find this relatively easy to do at lunch and dinner, but first thing in the morning there's only so much I can stomach (not to mention needing something quick so I'm not late for work). For the last year or so I have been making morning smoothies and adding a scoop of whey protein. Until a few months ago I had been using MyProtein’s Goat Whey Protein (reviewed previously), but the last time I went to order it wasn’t listed. I called the company and they could not give me any information about when/if it would be available again. I looked around for other options and selected MyProtein’s Unflavoured Impact Native Whey 95. Please note, this product also comes in chocolate, strawberry and vanilla varieties, but I have never bought them so my review will only relate to the unflavoured version. Why did I choose Impact Native Whey 95? Unlike most other protein powders, this product does not contain soya lecithin. Soy lecithin is used to make powders more mixable, but it contains phytosterols which have a mild estrogenic effect on the body. Since I use a form of natural birth control that relies, in part, on subtle changes due to the shifts in the balance of progesterone and estrogen in the body, I try to limit my soya intake (saving it for things like chocolate and the occasional stir fry or Chinese take away). Also my mum and brother are both highly allergic to soya so I try to limit my intake just in case eating too ...

HP LaserJet P2055d 09/09/2013

Fast, low cost printing of excellent quality

HP LaserJet P2055d Motivation I don’t normally allow advertising to sway my purchasing decisions, but a few years ago I was in dire need of a new printer and had little time to research it properly. I’ll admit that (in a moment of weakness) Kodak’s string of TV adverts highlighting the low cost of cartridges that was running at the time made me look at the Kodak 3250 All-in-One printer. It had generally good reviews on Amazon so I decided to buy it- a decision I bitterly regretted. Never, ever, ever have I had such a thirsty printer. The cartridges might be cheap, but it is a false economy when each cartridge only lasts a short time (I kept track once- 99 pages of text for a standard black cartridge). To make matters worse it frequently fed pages in crooked and often pulled several pages through at once making it impossible to print double sided unless you were willing to feed each page through individually. One day I decided enough was enough and I needed a better printer. After doing A LOT of research I decided on a HP P2055d laser printer. About the Printer The P2055d is only a black and white printer but that suits me just fine since the vast majority of my printing doesn’t require colour and I still have the Kodak printer for the rare occasions I need colour or scanning/copying. I was far more interested in the claimed 33 pages per minute and the automated double sided printing. The paper tray holds 250 sheets with an optional expansion tray allowing an additional 500 sheets. Speed I’m ...

Lami Safari Fountain Pen 06/09/2013

A workhorse of a fountain pen

Lami Safari Fountain Pen Motivation I work with primary school children (KS2). As the children are taught and encouraged to use ‘joined up writing’ at all times it is important that I do the same when marking books or writing on the board. Two years ago my school switched to Berol handwriting pens, which are quite possibly the worst handwriting pens I have ever used, and Staedtler Stick 430 M ballpoint pens, which are among the worst pens I have ever come across. After just a few weeks I had had enough and decided to buy a decent pen for school. I am a firm believer that a nice pen promotes better handwriting and I like fountain pens because of the smooth way they write and the vast array of ink available. I wanted a fairly inexpensive pen in case it was lost or damaged at school. I settled on a blue Lamy Safari fountain pen with an extra fine nib (I write fairly small and prefer a fine line). Lamy Safari Lamy is family owned German brand which still produces all their pens at their factory in Heidelberg, Germany. The Safari is a very good value pen at around £10-20 depending on the colour and nib width. It isn’t the best looking pen in the world, but it is excellent for day to day use. It has a tough ABS plastic barrel and a strong metal clip on the lid which actually stays in place whether I clip the pen onto a single sheet or a dozen. The nib is made of steel. The pen has indentions for your fingers making it an excellent pen for beginners as it encourages proper placement of your fingers ...

Ruffwear Palisades Dog Pack 11/08/2013

Crowd Pleaser

Ruffwear Palisades Dog Pack Motivation If you have read many of my reviews you will know I have a beautiful Alaskan Malamute dog. For his first birthday we bought him a Ruffwear Palisades Dog Rucksack. He is now 3 and a half years old (so we have used it for over 2 years) and are currently on a walking holiday in Switzerland and using the pack every day so it seemed like an appropriate time to finally write a review for it. Ruffwear Ruffwear is an American company that specializes in high quality dog gear including harnesses, dog packs, lifejackets, dog boots, collars, leads, beds and toys. I have seen lots of different dog rucksacks but the Ruffwear ones are by far the best on the market. They are extremely well made and designed (many other brands can cause chaffing, hot spots or joint pain from poor weight distribution). In addition, Ruffwear packs are the most stylish. They are the Black Diamond of dog gear- stylish, well made, but expensive. Palisades Dog Pack The Palisades rucksacks are the largest of Ruffwear’s line of dog packs and designed for multi-day adventures. The pack’s harness is well designed and has never caused chaffing and seems to sit very comfortably on our dog. It is fairly easy to put on by slipping it over his head, placing one leg through the straps, then fastening 2 strong plastic clasps. The straps are adjustable at several points to ensure a good fit and there are fleece pads around the belly straps to make it comfortable for the dog and prevent chaffing. There’s a strong ...

Artline 2-in-1 Whiteboard Pens 05/08/2013

Disappointing fine tip whiteboard pens

Artline 2-in-1 Whiteboard Pens Motivation In addition to working in a primary school, I work as a private mathematics tutor. Instead of wasting loads of paper I frequently use small whiteboards during my lessons. I like to have a variety of colours to highlight different aspects of the problems (and because many of the kids enjoy it more than just using black all the time). In the past I have used Berol Fine tip drywipe pens (which were excellent), but they stopped making the coloured ones so I had to find another brand. I saw a pack of 8 assorted colour Artline 2-in-1 fine tip drywipe pens on Amazon for a reasonable price so decided to give them a try. What you get This pack includes 8 double sided pens (black, red, blue, green, brown, orange, purple, and pink). One side has a 0.4mm polyacetal resin tip and the other side has a 1.0mm acrylic fibre tip. In practical terms, this means that the thin side is considerably thinner than most medium width handwriting pens (which tend to be about 0.6mm) while the thick side is slightly thinner than the Berol fine tip, 1.2mm, I used previously. My thoughts The thicker (1.0mm) side is a nice width for small whiteboards and the colours are all useable (no yellow) and vibrant. However, that's where the positives end. The thin side of these pens are simply too thin to be useful, even on small whiteboards. They leave such thin lines that they are extremely pale and hard to read. To make matters worse, they dry up extremely easily (even when care is taken to ...

Canadog Deluxe Dog Walking Belt with Pocket and Bottle Holder 28/06/2013

Hands free dog walking

Canadog Deluxe Dog Walking Belt with Pocket and Bottle Holder Motivation If you have read any of my recent reviews you will know that I broke my right hand and hurt my left shoulder about 5 weeks ago. These two injuries made it incredibly difficult to walk my 3 year old Alaskan Malamute (very large, strong dog with a high prey drive who needs a LOT of exercise). I couldn't hold the lead with my broken hand and my left shoulder would not have had the strength to hold my dog if he saw a cat/rabbit/whatever and lunged at it. I decided to invest in a dog walking belt. After a bit of research I settled on the Canadog Deluxe Walking Belt with Pocket and Bottle Holder. About the Belt The Deluxe Walking Belt is 4 ½" (11cm) wide and can be adjusted to fit hips 30"- 48" (76-122cm). It is padded and fleece lined for comfort with a durable, water resistant outer shell for use in any weather. The wide width helps distribute any pressure evenly, thus protecting and supporting your back. The belt has 2 nickel plated D rings to attach the dog(s) to. You need to attach the dog to both rings or the force will not be distributed evenly through the belt. The easiest way to do this is to use a climbing carabineer (not included, but available as an add on option at additional cost). The belt has a small pocket, but it isn't big enough to hold more than a few poo bags, a key or perhaps a small phone (it's not big enough to hold a smartphone). There are also straps to hold a water bottle, but I find a 500ml plastic bottle slightly too big to be ...

Prestige Dakota Jug Kettle 16/06/2013

A decent kettle at a good price.

Prestige Dakota Jug Kettle Motivation After a poor experience with a very expensive Morphy Richards kettle I switched to buying dirt cheap value kettles. I went through a string of different brands’ budget kettles but each one died after about 6 months. I decided to switch to something mid-range. I wanted a not too expensive kettle that would last a few years. After reading loads of reviews I settled on the Prestige Dakota Jug Kettle which cost me a little over £20 (at the time) and came with a two year guarantee. Features Like most kettles, this one holds up to 1.7L of water and has an automatic boil-dry safety cut out. It has a 3000W concealed element. After my budget kettles I realize how much I appreciate having a concealed element since I live in a hard water area- the lime scale builds up much slower and needs to be descaled less frequently than an exposed element. This kettle has a 360 degree swivel base (meaning you can place the kettle on facing any way) and the base is non-slip so it doesn’t migrate across your worktop. There is space inside the base to wrap excess cord, but since the cord is relatively short (75cm) I don’t see this as a terribly useful feature. There are water level gauges on both sides of the kettle making them easy to see, but they only mark the minimum level, 1L, and the maximum (1.7L). A few more level markings would have been nice. The gauges glow blue when the kettle is switched on. What I like about the Prestige Dakota Kettle I have this kettle in black with blue ...

Panasonic KXTCA60 Headset 12/06/2013


Panasonic KXTCA60 Headset Motivation I like to multitask and do chores like ironing or dishes while I talk on the phone with my mom, brother and best friend back in the States. A headset makes doing so infinitely easier. It also makes waiting on hold for long periods more bearable. The past 3 weeks I have been using my phone even more as I find holding the phone difficult with my broken right hand and raising the phone to my ear puts strain on my injured left shoulder. My phone has a single 2.5mm jack so I was limited in my headset options (although this seems standard for landline phones most headsets have 3.5mm jacks more common on computers). I ended up buying a Panasonic KXTCA60 headset even though it wasn’t exactly what I wanted- it was the best I could find for a reasonable price and Panasonic is generally a fairly good brand. About the headset As I mentioned earlier, the Panasonic KXTCA60 has a single 2.5mm chord which is 120cm (4ft) long. It has a lapel clip to keep the chord in place and reduce noise. There is a padded speaker for one ear and a moveable microphone arm on the same side (the headset can be turned to be worn over either ear). The headset is adjustable, but even on the smallest setting I find it too big for my (small side of average for a women’s) head. For this reason I don’t think it would work well for a child. I have been quite disappointed with this headset. Frankly, I expected better from a brand like Panasonic. The speaker is not particularly clear and makes a lot of ...

Rolson 9 LED Torch 29/05/2013

An absolute bargain!

Rolson 9 LED Torch Why did I buy these torches I like to have a few small torches scattered around the house and car so that one is always near to hand when one is needed. With that in mind I couldn’t resist buying a 3 pack of these Rolson 9 LED torches off Amazon when I saw them for under a fiver (batteries and shipping included). Size, Appearance and Weight These torches come in black and silver and are about 8.5cm long with a 2.5 cm diameter. They are made of aluminium with the top and bottom thirds textured to improve grip while the middle third is smooth. The rubber on/off button is large and takes up the whole of the back end (which makes it easy to hold without accidentally switching on or off but does mean you can’t stand it on its back end). They are easy to turn on/off without being so sensitive that you risk accidentally pressing it when you don’t mean to do so. These aren’t the lightest torches in the world, but the majority of the weight comes from the 3 AAA batteries each uses (included); at about 60g, they are perfectly fine for everything except super lightweight backpacking. If I need both hands, I have no problem holding one of these torches in my mouth for a few minutes. Do they work? Yes. The 9 LED bulbs give excellent illumination. The light is nice and white. They aren’t brilliant for longer distances (more than about 4m), but what do you expect for such a low price? Do they last? I’ve had mine for over a year and haven’t had a single problem with any of them ...

Lonsdale Essentials Year 7 KS3 Mathematics Workbook - Fiona Mapp 21/05/2013

Top quality KS3 Maths Workbook

Lonsdale Essentials Year 7 KS3 Mathematics Workbook - Fiona Mapp Motivation In addition to working part time at a local primary school, I am a private mathematics tutor for all ages (KS1 right through to adults). I have a number of different workbooks to use during my lessons and Lonsdale Essentials KS3 Mathematics Workbooks are among my favourites. This review will focus on the Year 7 book. Contents and Layout Like most academic study guides/workbooks, this book is organized by topic. It covers Numbers (place value, ordering numbers, rounding, adding and subtraction, Multiplication and Division, Fractions, Decimals, Negative Numbers, Percentages, Ration, Number Patterns, basic Algebra and Equations, Coordinates and Graphs, Shapes (2D & 3D), Angles, Measures and Measurements (time, metric and imperial units), Perimeter, Area, Volume, Handling Data (tally charts, frequency, pie charts, line graphs, bar graphs), Averages and Probability. Each section has 2-4 pages of questions ranging from level 4 to 6 in difficulty. The section starts with the easier (level 4) questions and works up to the more difficult ones. The level of each question is clearly marked which is extremely helpful as I can instantly find the right level questions for my students (very helpful when working with a wide range of different ability students). The book also clearly marks questions where a calculator may be used. I imagine this would be extremely helpful to parents and students reviewing on their own as the exams have both calculator and non-calculator ...

Lakeland Dermaluxe Washing Up Gloves 10/04/2013

Save your hands

Lakeland Dermaluxe Washing Up Gloves Motivation I don’t own a dishwasher but make most of our meals at home from scratch so I have quite a few dishes to do by hand every day. My dry, sensitive skin pretty much demands I use dish gloves unless I’m just washing one or two things. For a long time I made do with the gloves I could pick up at the supermarket (not the value ones, the best I could find) but inevitably they would split after a week or two. I tried loads of different brands/types but none seemed very good. They just couldn’t cope with my long nails and hot dish water. About a year ago I decided I’d had enough and spent some time researching dish gloves on the internet. I found some good things about Lakeland Dermalux washing up gloves and decided to give them a try. Look and Feel These latex free gloves are white and considerably thicker than your average supermarket washing up gloves. They have a lovely, soft lining which makes them stronger and means you can use very, very hot water without the heat becoming unbearable. My fingers have excellent mobility in these gloves, despite the thickness. In the first week or two I had to be a little extra careful because the gloves are a hair less grippy than some cheaper brands, but as soon as I adjusted to the difference I haven’t had a problem with dishes slipping out of my grasp. Do They Last? YES! I am pleased to say that these gloves last considerably better than any other brand I have tried here in the UK. I can easily wear the same gloves for two or ...

Reliance Medical Reliject Pre Injection wipes 12/03/2013

A decent middle ground

Reliance Medical Reliject Pre Injection wipes Motivation As I mentioned in previous reviews, just over a year ago I switched from the pill to a natural form of birth control called Sympto-Thermal Method or Fertility Awareness Method. One aspect of this method is charting my basal body temperature every morning, which obviously means I need to clean my thermometer every day. The leaflet in one of my thermometers recommended using 70% Isopropyl Alcohol. I find the easiest way to do this is with individually wrapped alcohol swabs (often called pre-injection swabs in this country). This review will focus on Reliject pre-injection wipes. Look, Feel & Smell These 70% Isopropyl Alcohol Swabs come in a small cardboard box containing 100 individually wrapped swabs. The 5cm x 5cm packets are teal and blue and look slightly more interesting than the run of the mill packaging used by most other brands (UHS, Sterets, etc.). Like other brands the packets are foil lined to ensure the wipes stay moist. They are easy to rip open without tearing the wipe inside. The wipes themselves are soft, flexible and measure 3.1 cm x 6.2 cm making them much more practical than the tiny Sterets swabs I reviewed recently. These wipes carry a definite alcohol scent but don’t smell nearly as bad as the Uhs brand wipes, perhaps because these are slightly less saturated (they are nice and moist, but not so moist you’re afraid they might drip). Uses As the name pre-injection swab suggests, these wipes can be used to clean skin prior to an injection. I ...
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