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Sony is a Japanese multinational conglomerate company specialising primarily in electronics. It was ranked 87 in the Fortune Global 500 (a list of the top 500 global companies ranked by revenue) in 2012. Indirectly this was my reason for choosing this camera. I wanted a good camera that would be easy to use, hard wearing and delivery quality photos, but knew nothing about cameras. However, Sony has always served me well with audio equipment and I love my Sony TV so they seemed like a good way to go and I wasn't disappointed.
To begin with this camera is easy to use and has intuitive menu options. It also has an 'easy' mode that relieves you of the more expert decisions when you just want to take snap and an inbuilt gyro sensor that helps prevent blur. It also has excellent low-light capabilities. The pictures produced are very high quality showing up even the smallest details when I downloaded them onto my PC. Which I did using the very simple and very useful Wifi option (which, by the way, also works with smartphones).
Another added bonus is that it charges on the same charger as my phone without having to remove the battery, though the socket is behind a small door that looks a little flimsy to me, though with some careful use this has remained intact so far.
Overall this is an excellent compact camera that gives everything the casual photographer could want. Another winner for Sony. ..
Bosch is a German company founded in the late 19th century. It is the world's largest supplier of automotive components, but it also does household appliances and power tools amongst other things.
After the drum belt broke on my last machine the first thing I noticed with this one was how quietly it runs and how stable it is, even on a spin cycle. The drum is very big, I'm not too good at judging capacity, but it easily hold two sets of bedding.
Another huge plus for me and my rather messy household (I have a very active toddler and a very inactive teenager) is the speed of the washes. A standard wash at 40 degrees takes only 48 minutes and the quick wash performs a great job at a very speedy 15 minutes. There is also a digital countdown timer which comes in very handy. If you have the time (I use it overnight) there is also an eco-program that uses less water, good for the environment and good for your pocket if you're on a water meter.
When it first arrived I was a little concerned about the brief instructions, but soon discovered that it is very easy to use and the controls pretty much self explanatory.
In the world of washing machines this one in a Ninja - Super quiet and super speedy.
EAG was a German company established in the late 19th century, but unfortunately it eventually failed and became defunct in 1996. Electrolux bought the brand name and use it on some products while also licensing it to other companies, so you're never really sure what your getting.
This product is comfortable to use and is great performing on unfrozen meat, however the product description describes it as being able to cut through frozen meat and I found that near impossible. Also the lead is not very long so you have to have a good think about where you are going to use it.
On the plus side it easy to clean and looks great in the kitchen.
On the whole this product is no better than adequate to do the job. I would have given it more stars if it wasn't for the price and the boasts that it could do more. If you only need a knife of this standard then you are better off lowering your budget.
Braun is a German consumer products company originally owned by The Gillette Company. Braun is now a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, which acquired Gillette in 2005. In 2012, De'Longhi bought perpetual rights to manufacture Braun branded products from Procter & Gamble in the small appliance segment. Procter & Gamble continue to own the Braun brand.
From the outset the product looks much the same as any other electrical toothbrush, but it has a fair few little devices that put it above the rest. In the product description the Trizone heads offer 'powered bristles for hard-to-reach back teeth, stationary bristles for thorough surface cleaning and sweeping bristles for cleaning between the teeth'. For me they work wonderfully, leaving you feeling like you have just left the hygienist.
Based on the idea that you should clean your teeth for 2 minutes, Braun have devised an idea that you should brish each quadrant of your teeth for 30 second, with that in mind this toothbrush makes an audio signal every 30 seconds when you should move to the next quadrant. There is also another audible warning and a light to tell you when you are brushing too hard, which has done wonders to get me and my family into good habits.
Replacement heads cost £4+ each and need replacing every 6-8 weeks which is fairly steep when buying for a family, but then I've consoled myself with how much money I will be saving on dentist and hygienist bills. It is also compatible with older Oral-B heads.
The one big downside is that it takes all day to charge (about 17 hours for a full charge) which is just impossible when my whole family is using it (especially when my son forgets to put it back on charge) so we are having to keep manual toothbrushes on standby! A couple of other minor negatives are that it is a little noisy and you'll need to buy yourself a 2-pin socket adapter if you don't have a shaver socket.
So in conclusion, this is a great toothbrush that does the job really well, but it is expensive and so are the replacement heads and the charge takes forever.
Panasonic is a Japanese multinational electronics company that was established in the early 20th century and most importantly for this review were the first company to release a bread maker in 1986.
And that experience really shows in this product. First off and most importantly it produces great bread with crispy crusts and nice soft insides. On average I reckon you end up paying around 50p for a decent loaf, much less than what you pay for a decent loaf in the supermarket or bakery.
It is a fairly large appliance for the average kitchen, but it does look good and cleans very easy. It also has a cool touch feature that means while the outsides do get warm there is no chance of any burning.
Another up side is a great selection of suggested recipes that comes with it providing some practical advice for an everyday loaf, but also some inspiration if you're feeling experimental. It's great to be able to use it straight away without having to go to the added expense of buying a recipe book. It can also make jam, but I haven't tried that yet.
The user interface in simple to use with actual English words as opposed to unfathomable symbols that you need to translate. It also has a display that keeps you informed of what stage in the baking process it is at.
But my favourite plus has to be the timer that allows you to set the start time. The entire process for making a loaf takes about 4 hours, but I set the timer to start while we are still in bed so that when the family wakes it's to the smell of freshly baked bread and then we have a tasty loaf ready for breakfast - Yummy! And don't worry it's relatively quiet so no-one is woken early.
There is one disadvantage though, which seems peculiar for such a well designed machine otherwise. The spring on the fruit and nut dispenser was very weak and resulted in the door opening by itself. I have solved this problem however on advice from another user, using the spring from a pen and it now works fine, but I don't expect to carrying out minor repairs on a brand new machine especially at that cost. So I'm afraid it has lost a star.
Tefal are a French cookware and small appliance manufacturer owned by Groupe SEB who also own Moulinex and Rowenta. They are best known for creating the non-stick cookware category.
The one big let down to this product is the instruction manual which could be a little more user friendly.
However, on the up side this is a rice cooker that is very easy to use due to several clever little design extras. The first of which I'd like to mention is the heavy lid and sturdy latch so that there is no spillage or bubbling over, though you do need to left the lid and give the rice a stir every so often in order to stop it burning.
I have never had a rice cooker before so I am not sure whether this is standard or not, but it has a great feature where you can set it to just keep the rice warm after you have cooked it, which makes it great for seconds. There are also some big lights to clearly indicate whether the rice is cooking or just being kept warm.
This cooker cooks rice to perfection and it doesn't seem to matter what type or quality of rice you use either. It's also quick and the outside really does remain cool so that there is no chance of burning yourself or anything else you have near it. The bowl is easy to remove for cleaning, though I have been advised it is better to hand wash than stick in the dishwasher to prevent damage.
If I was being picky and was feeling like a moan I would add that it doesn't look great as it has a slightly plastic look and it's huge so it takes up a lot of space in the kitchen and won't fit in any of my cupboards and there is no handle to transfer to the dining table, but over all it's a great appliance to have.
Swan are a British manufacturer establishes at the end of the 19th century. Their biggest claim to fame is, quite possibly, pioneering the first electrical element that could be immersed in water.
For this review I'll start with the good points, since that'll be quick. This steamer is larger enough that I can cook a full meal for my small family (3 adults and a toddler) all at once. It also looks nice and modern in the kitchen. I'm afraid that's it for the good sides.
So once you have taken it out of the box an appreciated the size and look, you try to fit it together and realise the trays and the spacer rings are made of a rather flimsy plastic and don't fit together very well. Next you open the instruction manual and discover that it contains very little useful information. There are several set timers for various foods, but there is not explanation for how these differ depending on what tray you put them in and no instructions on how to cook a complete meal. I am also yet to be able to fathom how to work the timer that allows you to delay the start of the cooking time. Not that any of this matters as the set timers for veg don't actually manage to cook the veg properly.
After that other down sides seem minor, but I'm going to tell you them anyway - It says on the bow that all parts are removable and dishwasher safe, but then recommends in the instruction manual that you do not put the trays in the dishwasher. And my last gripe, very minor though it may be, is that the timer is hard to see without a back light.
I've gone back to steaming my veg on the stove!
Phillips is a Dutch multinational electronics company established in 1891 most notable in my mind for first introducing the compact audio cassette in 1963. As a quick note on the company themselves they have a great reputation for customer service, with a website supplying the usual FAQs, but also 3 ways to contact them with an problem; a none too expensive phone line, email or best of all live chat - But how do they do with toasters?
Well the answer is quite simply mediocre if the HD 2647/20 is anything to go by.
To start with this model is a aesthetically a great design. It is surprisingly compact for a 4-slice toaster and the lack of shine to the outer shell means that there's very few smudges from handling. It's very easy to clean including a clever 'touch opening' for the crumb tray. It's also fast and has easy to use settings.
However, there are quite few heavy downsides. First up is that as a negative to its compactness is that there is very little room for anything thicker than an average slice of bread (in my sorry experience, no toasted crumpets). Secondly is that it tends to get hot to the touch very quickly. Thirdly, and most importantly is that is simply doesn't toast very well. Anything below the 4th setting is a complete waste of time and most frustratingly, if you try to toast anything less than 4 slices at a time the sides come out uneven. Then if you try to toast a second lot immediately after the first, prepare for complete cremation (though to be fair I have found that true of most toasters I have tried).
Based in Manchester, Russell Hobbs has an impressive history. During his time at Morphy Richards Russell helped to design a pop up toaster, electrical iron and hair dryer and after establishing his partnership with Hobbs they designed the world's first coffee percolator in 1952.
Starting off what is most important - This deep fat fryer makes fantastic chips! It heats up quickly and is so easy to use. Second on the pluses list is how easy it is to take apart and clean, even the oil holder. It also looks great in the kitchen and given that is fairly compact is built solidly and the instruction manual is clear enough to ne able to pick up and use quickly.
But here come the bad sides - Most annoying is the crazy short power cord which means you have to carefully position the fryer. There is also no filter, just holes in the top. The internal design is not very intuitive. When cooking the basket rests in only just under half the oil, resulting in what, for me, is quite a large amount of waste (and there is plenty of room to make a bigger one). When not cooking and allowing the food to drain, if you have filled the holder to the maximum, a small part of the basket remains in the oil. Another irritating point is the lack of an off button, you have to unplug it to order to stop it cooking. And my last, a little minor, bad point is that the timer is not only not very useful acting only as a reminder rather than actually stopping the cooking, but it also needs a battery - This has since been ditched in favour of the alarm on my phone.
It appears that I have written more on the downsides than the advantages, but I can only reiterate my first and most important point - This fryer makes great chips!
Phillips is a Dutch multinational electronics company established in 1891 most notable in my mind for first introducing the compact audio cassette in 1963. As a quick note on the company themselves they have a great reputation for customer service, with a website supplying the usual FAQs, but also 3 ways to contact them with an problem; a none too expensive phone line, email or best of all live chat - But how do they do with food processors?
Well pretty good is the answer. I bought this processor from Amazon for a great price and was really pleased with the results. It's lighter and more compact than most other options in it's category while remaining sturdy and comes with a vast range of versatile attachments that fit neatly into the bowl (all be it with a bit of wiggling and practice and without the spatula). The power cord also stores neatly in the base unit when not in use and so stores easy.
Another plus is that it is really simple to clean with most of the attachments fitting neatly into a dishwasher. It also has rubber suckers on the bottom meaning it stays in place with no danger of tipping.
So all good so far - The one big downside is the instruction leaflet which for me might as well be written in Russian. That said the control set up is pretty simple to work out so it's not all bad, there are some attachments that remain a mystery to me however. If I was being picky I'd also like more speed options than the mere two provided.
In conclusion this is a great buy. There are probably better processors out there, but for the money you're not going to get any better than this. I've made soups, sauces, smoothies, humous, mousses and burgers and all went well and I am sure there are many more things for me to try out ahead.
Phillips is a Dutch multinational electronics company established in 1891 most notable in my mind for first introducing the compact audio cassette in 1963. As a quick note on the company themselves they have a great reputation for customer service, with a website supplying the usual FAQs, but also 3 ways to contact them with an problem; a none too expensive phone line, email or best of all live chat - But how do they do with blenders?
Well as anyone who has read my reviews before knows, I'm a bit of a Philips fan and this one doesn't disappoint. As always it looks great in the kitchen, is light, but sturdy and comes with some nifty storage solutions - When not in use the power cord stores under the base unit and the jug turns upside down over the top (handy now that it's taken a bit of a backseat to my processor). We bought this to make purees for my daughter when I first started weaning and it stood up a gruelling schedule of a variety of fruit, veg and meats several times a week, it was still going strong when it was sadly consigned to the back of the cupboard.
Other good points include the simplicity of use and even better the simplicity of the cleaning. Also the wide neck makes it easy to pour things in, even from a saucepan and again there's the suction cup feet that stop it from tipping.
The one downside I can find is that it is a little loud, but I have two-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son so nothing compares to them.
This is definitely another hit for Philips, just have a think about an all singing and dancing processor before you spend the money.
Cuisinart is an American company founded about 40ish years ago. They mainly sell in the US and Canada, but have a few outlets in the UK.
We bought this toasty maker a a bit of a treat for ourselves so we spent a little more than we usually would, but were sadly disappointed. On first impressions this product is solidly built and looks like a great piece of kit in the kitchen, but appearances can be deceiving. Some of the finer, but all too important details, such as the locking handle and control knobs are very fragile. I've even read in other reviews that the handle has completely broken off. A definite plus side is the removable plates that are easy to remove and can be washed in the dishwasher - fantastic! - But yet again the clips that hold them in place are rather flimsy and don't look like they're going to last long.
And the disappointments don't end there. It's very slow to heat up, taking around 10 minutes, not great for the quick snack I was hoping for. But worst of all is the size of the plates themselves. With your average sliced loaf they fit perfectly top to bottom, but they are square, meaning they are far too wide and don't seal at the sides. So we had melted cheese leaking all over the place which in turn started to spoil the non-stick coating. I can only assume that this is due to it being an American design - Do American's have different shaped bread?
All that being said, now that we have found a baker that has a loaf that fits we have found a way round the problems and it is great for those deep fill sandwiches and browns nicely and evenly. The problem is we weren't looking for something we would have to go on a special shopping trip in advance to buy the ingredients to use, we were after something we could use to make a quick tasty snack whenever we felt like it.
My advice is if you're a gourmet toasty maker and like to put the extra effort in then this will do the job (as long as you're prepared to be gentle with the controls), but if you want a quick, yummy snack that quick and easy to prepare you'd be better off going for a cheaper model, from an English designer.
I bought this product with images of me as a super mum creating healthy fruit cocktails for my family, this juicer just did not fit in with my dreams at all!
Their website says, and I quote "AT265 makes light work of juicing the hardest of fruits including apples, pears, pineapples, oranges, grapefruit and coconut.", but light work is not the deal here at all. Apart from being very noisey, the pulp from the fruit is flung against the sides meaning that you have to stop every few seconds to knock it back into the middle and resulting in very little juice actually being produced and if you are planning to juice large quantities (such as a solitary glass of apple juice) the pulp needs to be regularly removed.
There is also no separate collection bowl for the juice so any waste needs to be removed by hand. On the plus side it is easy to clean, but thank goodness since it makes so much mess in the process. Far from the kitchen goddess I pictures my self as I ended up with apple pulp up to my elbows and my 2-year-old daughter in fits of laughter at my frustrations. Back to a rolling pin and a bucket I think.
I love this product so you'll have to excuse me if this review ends up sounding like a bit of an advertisement.
George Foreman Grills
George Foreman is a retired 64 year-old professional boxer. In 1977 he retired from boxing after suffering from exhaustion and heat stroke and becoming a born-again Christian. 10 years later he returned stating he reasons as to raise money for youth centre and to fight Mike Tyson. A further 2 years down the line and Foreman had sold his name and face to advertise almost everything you can imagine. Turning his foreboding heavyweight boxing persona into that of a family friendly loveable giant. He was also experiencing some success, winning a string of fights, including an impressive 3-round victory over Bert Cooper. He claimed his come back success was due to healthy eating which made him an ideal candidate as a Spokesman for Kenwood's new fat-reducing grills (the design of which he had some influence over). The resulting sales rose to over 100 million units in a little over 15 years. Although Foreman has never confirmed exactly how much he has earned from the endorsement, it is known that prior to being bought out in 1999 he was receiving about 40% of the profits on each grill sold earning him a whopping $4.5 million a month in payouts at its peak.
So we can gain from all this that the grills are very popular, but has little to do with its name-sake. They are wonderfully easy to use. Created with the idea that being healthy doesn't need to be difficult they feel very instinctive to use and create some beautifully tasting meals without the aggravation. Most models feature a drip tray for the fat which is truly disgusting and will put you off cooking in any other way forever.
So What Differs Here
For me the greatest difference is this model is it's shape. It is long, but narrow, so that you keep the size, but it fits neatly into the corner on my kitchen worktop. It also has grills on both the lid and at the bottom so there is no need to flip. There's a rather neat 'floating hinge' too that allows you to cooking thicker portions.
And the Downsides
The greatest disadvantage is the cleaning, but only because you have to deal with that tray of fat - Yuk!! the plates in this particular model cannot be removed either for cleaning, but nonetheless cleaning with a damp cloth is not difficult and the non-stick material makes hard to remove debris very rare. If I was being picky I's also like a variable temperature control which isn't available on this model.
At first look this lap top is not much - it's a little too chunky for my liking and the matt black finish not only lacks inspiration, but started to look grubby pretty quickly, but then looks aren't everything.
The real advantage of this system is what you get for the price, at around the £350 mark the 1TB hard drive gives plenty of space for media and software, the display is high quality (with no glare in my experience) and the graphics are pretty good, being able to run most of the older games I have and a few of the older ones if you drop down the resolution. It also has a DVD-RW to set it apart from other lap tops in this price band.
The keyboard is a little cramped, but is usable though you need to use the function key quite a bit for functions such as print screen and the space bar is tiny. The touchpad, though responsive is positioned a little further to the left than I am used to. The result is something that feels less than intuitive to begin with and takes a bit of getting used to, but given that time it is fine. I did end up buying a mouse however.
Over all you are getting a little better than what you pay for with this machine, but if you have the money I would go for something with a bit more umph.
Specs (Taken from Toshiba.co.uk)
Windows 8 64-bit (pre-installed)
Intel® Pentium® 2020M processor
Toshiba HD non-reflective High Brightness display with 16 : 9 aspect ratio and LED backlighting
Matt black finish with hairline pattern, black keyboard
4,096 (1x) MB
DDR3 RAM (1,600 MHz)
Intel® HD Graphics
maximum life : up to 3h30min (Mobile MarkTM 2012)
weight : starting at 2.3 kg
W x D x H : 380.0 x 242.0 x 30.8 (front) / 33.35 (rear) mm