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I bought these hand-grips just a general exercise tool, rather than because of a specific need. I buy a lot of cheap sports equipment as I find it important keep your exercises varied to stop getting bored and also to ensure your body is tested rather than repeating old exercises/muscle memory. As these cost me £7, they fit perfectly into my plans.
The product consists of two strong metal springs, with a comfy foam padding. It is important that the foam is of a high quality as these grips are quite hard to repeatedly pull in and you would no doubt hurt your hand if you just had the spring.
I find myself doing this exercise when I am generally "lazing about" - I haven't found a way to work them into my workout routine as it feels a bit easy, just sitting there squeezing the grips, so instead I use them when I watch TV etc. This way I also can keep a rough eye on the time rather than focusing intensely on them.
I have found that, as expected, I can go for a lot longer now than I could when I started, but I also have a nice definition on my forearms, and I could be imagining it but I think I can also see some upper arm toning. Which, considering the environment I use them in, is quite impressive.
Overall, I don't think these are going to turn you into a muscle-man even with continuous use, but you will see definition in your arms, and also notice a practical improvement in your grip.
Having recently moved house we have had the obligatory house warmings and family visits. During these times, we like to ensure our guests can pass out comfortably at whatever ungodly hour they decide to go to sleep. Seeing as we don't have beds in the two spare bedrooms, and don't really have any intentions of getting bed in them as they will be used as office space/gym, we decided that airbeds would be a good purchase as you can store them easily and I know from camping trips when I was younger that you can get a good nights sleep on them.
So, having parted with just over £50 we departed Argos with two double air beds - not bad at all. It would have cost us a few more pounds to buy a pump, as there is not one included, but we already have an automatic one. I would recommend getting an electric pump as unless you have an enthusiastic nephew staying over you will find yourself pumping away for a good 15 minutes. Our electric pump is frustratingly noisy, but it does only take around 2 minutes to get a full airbed.
This product is a good size, I have never had anyone mention they are two small and I have some friends who, shall we say, enjoy their food! On that note, it is worth considering the weight of the people sleeping on the airbed - the heavier they are the less air you need in the bed.
Once you have pumped the bed up, there is a decent valve system in place to stop the air leaking out, and in my experience it works well. Although it worth remembering that the air leaving the pump will be warm and contracts in size as it cools, so you may wish to do a second quick pump up of the beds 20 minutes after first inflating them.
The beds are easy to drain of air when you decide that you want them emptied, and it is actually quite good fun laying on them as they deflate. They fold/roll up well and I can fit both in the same space I would use to fit two sets of bed sheets.
The dimensions of the bed are noted as (H)19cm, (W)137cm, (L)188cm.
Football is the most popular sport in the world ( I am pretty sure it is anyway!), it is widely played all over the world including in America, where it a hugely popular children's game.
One of the beauties of football is that lack of equipment you need to play it. Essentially you need something round, not too hard and smaller than a watermelon, a bit of ground and something to mark out the goals, such as the famous "jumpers for goalposts". Now whilst anything from a ball of screwed up carrier bags to a tennis ball can be used as the "football" you are much better advised to buy an actual football!
These days, it doesn't have to be a great expense - You can regularly pick up fairly low quality ones for just £2 from Lilywhites and similar sized sports stores. Whilst these are quite low quality (hard when inflated but lose pressure fairly quickly), they will still certainly be good enough for a kick about down the park for a few months.
The cheapest balls for kids, air-balls or air-benders, as we used to call them, don't seem as popular anymore. These could be bought very cheaply for down the beach and they were essentially just an inflated plastic ball - if you kicked them hard enough they would get a bump where you made contact, and they fly in a very unpredictable fashion. They were useless for any decent level of activity.
For a reasonable ball you will be looking to spend around £15, then you can get a big-name brands standard-range ball, but certainly good enough for your average Joe Blogs to do some headers and volleys down the park with his mates. They are perfectly good for use in "match" conditions against a random group of stranger too!
If you can afford the lot extra, then going for a premium ball is worth it (see my Adidas Terrestra Replique review). These days these can cost anywhere from around £50-£100, and are normally branded as an official tournament or league ball, such as the "Jabulani" from this years world cup. These balls are nicer to play with as they have extra padding, giving you a bit more control and curl whilst also not breaking your foot when you unleash a laces shot from 35 yards.
Overall, whilst all equipment can be improvised and you can still play football to an extent - if you can afford just the one piece of kit, make sure a football is top of your list!
Most people who I know that enjoy cooking have trouble making the perfect rice. Even people that are accomplished in the kitchen struggle here.
There are several methods people recommend, such as soaking rice for half an hour before cooking, adding 2 parts water to 1 part rice and cook with the lid on until all the water has gone etc. And some of these methods are improvements, but often the rice is still stuck together, rather than nice individual grains with a little bite.
That's where this rice comes in - it is brilliant. Really brilliant. Now I do complicate the cooking process slightly from just boiling the rice in a pan and then serving, but my method does not mean the rice takes any longer to prepare/cook...
I put on a large pan of salted water and when boiling put the rice in the pan, I also refill the kettle and boil it. Now about 2/3rds of the way through the 13-14 minute cooking time, I pour a lot of the water out of the pan, taking lots of starch with it. Then I top up the pan with the clean water out of the kettle and a touch more salt. Once the time is up, I put the rice in a colander and rinse with whatever water is left in the kettle.
The rice comes out perfect. Now I am not advocating this technique as the key behind the rice being great, but it certainly works with this brilliant rice from Tesco's - it is restaurant quality without a doubt, and is also very cheap - only a few pence extra than the normal basmati.
If you want top quality rice, that looks perfect, get this.
Ten whole years ago, I bought an Adidas Terrestra football - it was the official ball of the Euro 2000 tournament, but unlike the Jabulani of this years World Cup, it was not subject to huge criticism.
The ball is traditional in its look - it is made from many (32 I think) leather hexagons, but rather than having the famous 1 black hexagon surrounded by white hexagons, this has a dotted pattern, which leaves white circle shapes in the leather - some of these circles contain logos, such as the adidas logo or the word "Terrestra".
I did pay a fair amount for this at the time I bought it, around £35, which is quite a lot, but then whilst it is very tatty now, it is still in usable condition for a casual bit of footy in the garden. I have to pump it up quite a lot and some of the panels are fraying, but what do you expect after ten years playing on a mixture of grass, pavement and hard courts?!! I must admit it isn't the only ball I have used in that period, but it is definitely the longest lasting ball I have ever had.
It is a size 5 - the standard match ball size, and if you can find one, I suggest you buy it - although the chances now are probably quite slim.
There apparently comes a time in everyone's lives when they feel a need to start shredding - I think it was Michael McIntyre that pointed this out to me, and it seems my parents have reached that time.
Despite being fairly clueless about most forms of technology, they have decided that people even knowing your name and address will have catastrophic consequences (although isn't this all available in the phone book..?).
I decided that it was worth spending £15 on a shredder to quell their fears, so I ordered this shredder from Tesco's online site. Neither of them deal with a great amount of paperwork so I thought the five sheet limit wouldn't be a great hindrance.
The box contains two units - the mesh bin and the shredding head unit. You attach them together, very simply, and you are good to go.
The shredder operates quite quietly - I don't have a great deal of experience with them, but the one in my office is certainly noisier than this, although that can handle a great deal more in one go. It is also very safe - if you disconnect it from the basket it will power down so you can't test the toughness of your fingers.
On the downside, this struggles to live up to it's five-sheet billing, unless you store much sensitive information about yourself on tissues. The mesh basket also allows some of the smaller pieces of paper to fall out, meaning you will need to hoover around the area, especially when you pick it up to empty it. It also overheats if you use it for more than a couple of minutes, taking about ten minutes to cool back down to the level where it will function - fortunately, you can shred quite a lot in two minutes, so this won't come around often once you have down your initial "big shred".
The bits of shredded paper could potentially be big enough to retain useful information, but it would take a lot of sifting to find them, so I consider this suitable for all but hypersensitive information, which if you have any, you would probably be better of burning!
For the price, I think this is good, but if you will be a heavy user I would get a bigger capacity shredder, so you don't have to spend so much time on this menial task.
Push ups are a great exercise for improving your core stability and also for building up your pecs and triceps. I think everyone knows how to do press ups, and if you don't you are best off looking up a video rather than me trying to explain through text alone.
These handles give two main benefits.
1 - They get your hands about 4 inches higher off the floor - this means that you can lower your body further, working out parts of the muscles that you usually can't as you would be resting on the floor. It is lifting through this part of the movement that you will find the hardest, mainly as you won't be used to lifting yourself with your arms so far back.
2 - The mean you can keep your wrists straight. Normally, your wrists will be bent to about 45 degrees which can cause discomfort and doesn't add anything to the effectiveness of the exercise. With these handles you can keep your wrists straight, removing this issue.
To give an indication of how much harder you have to work, when I bought these, I could knock out 40-50 decent press ups (i.e. going quite slow and lowering myself down till my chest hit an apple I placed on the floor - the apple was a substitute for a fist that a training partner would place on the floor to let you know you were dropping low enough). Using these handles, I got to 19 first time around.
I can definitely see a difference in muscle definition after using these for 3/4 times a week for 3 months.
They are easy to construct and dismantle, just using some wing nuts, and can be stored or taken with you without taking up hardly any room.
Overall a very good exercise aid, and at under a tenner, fantastically cheap for the benefits they give.
I have been doing martial arts for a few years and one of the most important elements is to have good cardio to help you get the energy levels to keep going. It is also important to have strong calf and ankle muscles which help you stay in your stance on the balls of your feet and also to improve your jumping.
Skipping is great for both these things. I try to skip every two or three days for up to half an hour, although if you are starting out, five to ten minutes will probably be enough to make you sweat and gasp for air.
I am 5'10" and find that some skipping ropes are just too long or too short. Being too long increase the chance of either you landing on the rope as it passes under you, or it catching the back of your ankles, which if you are skipping fast enough can be surprising painful after a few contacts. Being too short makes it pretty impossible to skip with. At 8 foot, this rope is probably slightly too short for me, but only by a fraction. A benefit of this reduced length is that I can skip indoors if necessary.
The handles are also nicely made with a padded grip. I have used old skipping ropes with tatty wooden handles before and they can cause some discomfort - it isn't painful enough to make you want to stop in itself, but it does give you another reason to want to stop. Well, you needn't worry with this skipping rope as the padding is very comfortable and seems to snugly fit your grip.
My main issue with this is that the "rope" isn't a rope, it is some kind of plastic/vinyl flexi-tube - it is a bit lightweight to get up a fast pace - so this rope is probably geared more towards beginner or slower paced but longer duration skips.
There are cheaper skipping ropes on the market, but at around £5 this isn't bad value - just make sure you get one that suits your needs.
When my friend was refurbishing his small gym he decided that he had no use for a rebounder (Reebok) and asked me if I wanted it. I decided to take it as I thought it would be a useful alternative CV workout. Plus the added bonus of, depending on the brand, saving anything from £25-£65 if I had decided to buy my own
Having had to dismantle it to take it home and then having to rebuild it again I can comment that it was very easy to do both, even though it wasn't brand new. All you have to do is (un)screw the legs - mine has six. The rest, which consists of the stretchy bouncy material you jump on, the springs that fold it to the frame and the padded covering which runs around the edge of the rebounder giving it a nice finish and also covering any potentially dangerous parts, is already pieced together.
The springs can occasionally get a bit noisy, but I have resolved this by using a dab of WD40. Apart from that it is a very low maintenance piece of kit. I keep mine outside in a sheltered bit of the garden, and occasionally wiping it down is the only other TLC I show it. It still looks in pretty decent condition after about 9 months out there.
The kit is only big enough for one person to use at a time, and it is for exercise rather than fun (in the way a full size trampoline is fun) - I would let any youngsters get on it unsupervised. But it is effective exercise - provided you are prepared to bounce for 20-30 minutes you will see the weight start to fall off and your legs and bum will tone up. You will probably need about 2 weeks to build up for a 20 minute session if you are not in the habit of exercising.
Overall this is a reliable, effective, enjoyable piece of kit, which will help you reach your goals will a little dedication.
A reaction ball is a oddly shaped bit of rubber that is primarily designed to bounce in a random fashion. It is useful for helping people improve their reactions.
The "ball" is a bit smaller than palm sized, generally 6.5 cm across, although I have seen varying sizes. They all have the same appearance - It looks like a central ball with six domes spread evenly around it in the north, south, east, west and up and down positions. At my kickboxing class we sometimes use a reaction ball as part of a warm-up exercise. Two people stand a few feet apart and the person with the ball throws it downwards so that it bounces about halfway between them and the the person. The ball will bounce to an unpredictable height in an unpredictable direction and the person without the ball must attempt to catch it.
I said that the height it bounces is random, which is a semi-truth. This is in essence just a rubber ball so the laws of physics state it would not bounce much higher than you would expect from the power of your throw, but the difference is because sometimes it might pitch almost vertically straight back up (90 degrees), meaning it bounces higher but not as far than when it flies off at say 60 or 45 degrees.
Like practice with most things, it really does work at improving reactions - the first few times I used it I was bouncing it for myself and needed to throw it quite tentatively. Now I have been using one for months, the people in my gym can throw them at quite a pace and I have a decent chance of catching it.
They are very cheap - costing as little as £2.
I recommend to anyone interested in sports that need to improve their reactions, or even just for fun!
One of my younger cousins got her first mobile for her 11th birthday last week. She was very excited about it and wanted all manner of accessories to go with it. A list was expertly produced by her and I reviewed it looking at what to get - I recognised most of the items listed - a girly pink case, screen protectors, a girlier pinker case, spare charger etc. but also on the list was a mopod... A mopod?
I had no idea what a mopod was, and you probably don't either. Having since found out and purchased one I would hazard a guess that, unless you are also an eleven year old girl, you will be quite happy to stop reading the review here and continue not knowing, as they are, frankly, a bit naff!
Essentially a mopod is a device that can sense when a mobile phone is ringing/being text. When it does sense this, the character inside your mopod, of which there are many choices (penguins, kittens, spacemen, a tardis, princesses, birds, pandas + many more) will start to spin around and a red light will flash.
I could see this being useful if phones didn't have many customisable settings to enable you to have it on silent, loud, vibrating, back-lit etc. However as they do, I see these a pretty much a "cutesy" but fairly pointless accessory.
You don't have to connect the mopod to your phone for it to work - it will work up to about a meter from the phone, but you may wish to attach it to your phone (using the cord-hole if you have one), as if it is further away than that, there is no point in having it! If you don't have a way to attach it to your phone then you will have to remember to take it with you. If you do have a way to attach it to your phone, you then have another attachment to fit in your pocket or bag.
As for practical uses, I can't really think of any plausible situations where it would come in handy... You would essentially need to be in place where your phone had to be on silent, you couldn't be in physical contact with it to feel it vibrate, you also couldn't have it in your eyeline to see it light up upon ringing, but you COULD put a mopod somewhere visible that is also within a meter of the phone....... Hmmmmmmm.....
So, get one by all means if you want something that sole purpose is to be cute - they are fairly cheap - under a fiver, but they really are useless!
I have owned several WD passport drives. The reason being they are brilliant! Every time a new size comes out, I wait a couple of months for the price to drop and then pick myself up a bargain which also ensures I have my most prized files backed up in more than one place.
This 320GB cost me around £50 about 3 months back. It comes in quite a solid plastic casing, but not that impossible to open style! It is worth keeping the contents of this box as this contains details on your 3 year warranty which is included (although I have never had a passport drive break down on me).
The device itself is not much bigger than an iPhone, so it can easily fit into a jacket pocket. This gives you ease of transport, helps prevent you from leaving it somewhere like on a train, and is also quite subtle for the security conscious. It comes with a lead which has a USB connector at one end, and smaller plug at other end which fits into the drive. The lead is identical in appearance to that you would use to connect most digital camera to your PC, or your PS3 pads to the console.
It is pretty much a plug and play device. I think you can install some WD software onto PCs you use it on, but I always just use folder view and drag and drop files in and out of the device. It is USB 2 so the file transfers are lightening quick, which is a bonus as you have a lot of space to fill on these.
Passport drives are powered by the computer so there is no need to find a plug socket as there is with some of the larger external hard drives.
Overall, I recommend these to all my mates that need a sizable hard drive.
In my line of work I can often be idle whilst waiting for people to complete tasks that I will then review. There is no point in me trying to help them as they are far more technical than I am and I would just be nuisance!
Hence, I am often sat at my desk with nothing better to do than twiddle my thumbs and update my Fantasy Football team and read the BBC website. The bosses would frown upon such activates - despite there being quite clear evidence they do the same. So I decided to get this Targus Privacy Screen under the guise of it being an eyesight saving glare reducer.
It fits snugly on the screen and there are some tabs included that you can mount on each side of your monitor to keep it from falling off. I don't use these as I find the static (at least I think it is the static) keeps the privacy screen in place and it is also easier to remove without the tabs holding it in.
It does actually reduce glare, which is a bonus for me as my eyes are not the greatest. But more importantly for the product it is very useful as a privacy screen. This basically means that if you are directly in line with the screen you can see whatever is being displayed, however the more of an angle you get to the screen, the less the image on the screen is clear, until eventually it just appears as though the monitor isn't even on. This is useful for prying eyes that may be checking up on you.
I don't know what the conventional norms are here, but I would say that when you are facing a screen you are at 90 degrees to it. You only have to move by about 5 degrees to notice the screen starting to black out, and by about 20 degrees it is completely blacked out and no one in that position would have a chance of seeing anything.
This screen would obviously be useful if you have sensitive document you wish to keep private, rather than just trying to sneak a few minutes of the web.
So, it does exactly what you want it to - you would want it any more sensitive or you would have to sit dead still to see your own screen.
Spud guns were part of life growing up - mainly because you could shoot anything without actually hurting anyone, so when I saw this £4 opportunity to relive some of my youth, I seized it with both soon-to-be-gripping-potato hands.
This spud gun is in the classic red of the spud guns when I was a kid. It has an attachment as they did back then for making it into a water pistol, although this wont be replacing any of your proper water pistols any time soon.
There is also a new feature - little soft rubber "bullets" which I guess you can use if you can't find a spud or don't want to leave rotting vegetation all over the house.
To use, you simply push the nozzle at the end of the barrel into a potato, it will slice into it, then when you pull the potato off you should have a potato "cork" left in the gun - then fire as you would normally fire a gun and it shoots out.
Now these things only fire a few metres and you would be very unlucky to actually hurt someone even in the very unlikely event you hit them in a place you wouldn't sensibly aim for, such as the eye, provided you were not a point blank range. These are not the most accurate of weapons so this is probably a good thing!
Overall, a good laugh for a few minutes as an adult and I am sure a lot more for kids.
Despite it's fairly non-masculine name, this "princess" Popcorn making device is one that I am not embarrassed to have in the house.
Using it couldn't be simpler. You simply pour up to the maximum amount of popcorn kernels (there is a measure for this) into the machine and turn it on. The body of the machine raises vertically but turns downwards at the top (like an upside-down J). This end part of the machine is where the popcorn will fly out once it is cooked.
The process essentially just super heats the kernels - there is no use of fat/oil/butter etc. When they pop (After about 2-3 mins), they can fly out at quite a speed and can also be surprisingly hot, so make sure you have a large bowl waiting to catch the popcorn and that you also pay a bit of caution to not letting anyone get too close to the machine or try to eat the popcorn instantly.
The main problem with the popcorn is that it is just plain popcorn. You can melt butter and put it on top, you can stir in a bit of maple or golden syrup, but the flavour/texture is not the same as that of cinema popcorn. You do not add the your choice of flavouring to the machine during cooking as this is one way to start a fire! On the plus side it is healthier.
Overall this is a good appliance, but doesn't do anything special to make it worth the money it is advertised for here, you can get them cheaper online - if you can't find this cheaper, I suggest you just get a cheaper model as it will most likely have the same results.