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JohnJoeSmith

JohnJoeSmith
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Member since: 29.04.2011

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      15.05.2012 20:23
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      Great set for the price. If you're looking for a workhorse set of bits look no further.

      As your days of DIY progress and you graduate to hanging doors or installing a wooden floor you'll quickly come to realise the importance of genuine tools, and few tools are more essential than a good set of drill bits and screwdriver heads.

      Bosch is a company which has been producing quality woodworking, metalworking and generic DIY equipment for as long as any of us can remember. Bosch tends to produce a good quality piece at a reasonable price, and while this may sound like the dream combination it does come with a caveat. If you plan on doing a large number of projects or work with tougher materials such as dense hardwoods you would be better suited to buying something from the Craftsman or Draper Pro ranges or another of the higher end companies.

      This set is a good all round package for the intermediate DIY enthusiast. The box contains 34 individual pieces, a number which is completely unintelligible unless you know what bits make up the list!

      5 x wood drill bits 4-8 mm

      These bits are you standard wood variety with a locater pin on the top, allowing for less slippage on the work surface. Few DIY projects require you to drill anything larger than 10mm in wood and so up to 8mm is plenty to start with. Quality is of the usual Bosch standard here and all bits have held up to being wiggled around to widen holes and being unceremoniously thrown to the ground in the middle of jobs.

      5 x HSS metal drill bits 2-5 mm

      Possibly the weakest of the bunch. Drilling metal is a specialist task and these bits are not really suited to anything harder than mild steel or greater than 1mm thick. Chances are however that if you're buying this set you're not drilling big holes in I-Beams!

      5 x masonry drill bits 5-8 mm

      Okay set, they feel a bit flimsy and I'd fear for them in my large DeWalt drill. They're also not the right shape for my SDS drill so I don't use them. They have stirred paint on occasion and worked out just fine.

      3 x socket wrenches 7/8/10 mm
      1 x adapter for socket wrench

      I wonder about the man who uses these to tighten nuts. You couldn't put much torque through the skinny necks without shearing them off, and why would you be torquing anything with a drill? Buy a ratchet set instead. I guess that they could be useful for flatpack furniture that had a lot of nuts in its construction?

      1 x magnetic universal holder

      Every man, woman and child should own one of these by law. These little lifesavers pop into your drill chuck at one end and have a hexagonal holder at the other. If you were unaware, nowadays every drill bit accessory comes with a hexagonal end, including the screwdriver bits in this set. This allows you to use parts from other companies with your drill without having to buy another holder. And it's magnetic, allowing you to work from all angles without dropping that tiny screwdriver bit.

      1 x countersink bit

      I already own a considerably better, albeit more expensive version of this so I've only used it once or twice. It's good enough for day to day use in joinery but keep it away from your furniture projects, it leaves a rather jagged finish which would be a real pain to sand out.

      12 screwdriver bits; Philipshead, Pozidrive, Straight and T (3 Sizes each, 4T's)

      All except for the "T" set regularly get use around my house and have stood up well to the task so far. As long as you use them with respect and don't jam them into anything and everything you'll be fine. They are made of a good quality metal though and will shear your standard wood screw without so much as a whimper if you press too hard however so take your time with them.

      Overall I'm pretty happy with this set, I received it as a gift form the OH for my birthday a while back and have been using it since. I already owned a lot of the equipment from it but it's always nice to have spares and an added bonus is having them all accessible in one location. The storage box is well made and comes in the classic green and red colours of BOSCH. I've dropped the box on my concrete floor more than once and it still closes properly, so I guess you can't get a better, albeit clumsy, recommendation than that!

      £10.99 on Amazon at the minute; a bargain!

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      • Dewalt D25323K / Power Drill / 23 Readings / 20 Ratings
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        15.05.2012 18:30
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        Steep but quality purchase

        If you've had the misfortune of drilling holes in concrete then you'll fall into one of two camps; those with the correct tools and those without. Incorrect tools require you to fight with the concrete in a battle of wills until it eventually gives way and allows you to pop in a few rawl-plugs. A proper drill with a good masonry bit and you'll zip around the job melting through the concrete as if it was pine.

        I would consider myself a serious DIY'er and so have over the years collected a few decent pieces of construction equipment. One of these is my DeWalt D25323 SDS Drill. I'll preface the rest of my review by saying that this piece of technology is complete overkill for the home DIY'er. Completely. Even building a house does not require you to purchase this drill! If you've read that and are still interested then read on my friend and I shall tell you a tale of mechanical wonder.

        DeWalt, as any serious DIY enthusiast knows is the upper echelon of the Black & Decker range and graces building sites around the country alongside Makita, Hitachi and Festool. Originally founded in 1936 by Raymond DeWalt, the inventor of the radial arm saw, they branched out beyond saws into other tools, and following their take-over by B&D in 1960 they had expanded to over 200 tools by 1992. Painted in iconic luminous yellow and black their tools tend to be made of high quality plastics and metals, leaving a product more than able for the rough and tumble of the building site. And far more than is needed for the home!

        Chances are if you've done any home improvements you've owned or borrowed a corded drill for the heavier tasks. Corded drills run directly from the mains and offer a constant power supply that is usually stronger and allows for more torque than battery driven models. As drill size increases it becomes increasingly difficult to produce a battery that can drive the heavy motor and still offer portability to the user. This typically tops out at about 18v which by all accounts allows for a powerful drill but is simply not up to the task of drilling through mass concrete. This drill is available in both 220V and 110V in case you plan on using it as a building contractor and so will be using a transformer on site. I own the 220V version as even as a power tool yuppie I have yet to succumb to buying my own transformer!

        According to the manufacturer this drill weighs 3.4kg and offers 3.4J of impact energy. Now I have no idea what this second number means the first refers to the fact that this is a heavy cumbersome tool. You won't be hanging pictures with this drill, and if you tried you'd quickly snap any bit smaller than 5mm. While the weight is a negative you'll fail to find any other similarly sized or powered drill weighing any less. I'm not sure what the industry standard for impact energies is but believe me, 3.4 of them is more than enough to rip through 3 inches of mass concrete without breaking much of a sweat. The drill can also be used without the hammer action if you plan on drilling info steel or wood. You'll need to get an SDS adapter chuck though if you want to use your regular drill bits, and as I said earlier, you'll probably snap anything smaller than 5mm.

        I'd feel I was reinventing the wheel if I went through the use of a power drill. Suffice to say, the handles are very comfortable and you can power the drill on without over stretching your fingers. Vibration is typically an issue with heavy duty drills and this is no exception. While DeWalt claim new anti-vibration technology I found my arms tiring relatively quicker if using the hammer action over the straight drill. Would this be any different with any other device? Hard to say and so probably isn't fair to use as a negative.

        Overall I'm very happy with my purchase of this drill. Is it over the top for the home DIY enthusiast? Definitely. Is it a high-quality piece of kit that will make your life easier on occasion? Definitely. At two hundred pounds on Amazon it's a steep but quality purchase. 4 stars, would have been five only the cost may be prohibitive for most.

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      • HP Office Paper / Network Accessory / 40 Readings / 37 Ratings
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        13.05.2012 18:22
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        Good product from a reputable company

        Chances are if that you've been alive in the last ten years then you've used a home printer. The same chance applies that you've tried to print something off said printer on cheap paper and ended up with a blurred mess. Not exactly the most professional looking CV and doesn't give the most appropriate first impression when applying for jobs!

        Modern inkjet printers are capable of creating very sharp images and borders, admittedly not up to scratch with laser or professional equipment but close enough for day to day use. One of the biggest limiting factors in the typical household is the paper used to print on. 500 pages can be picked up for close to one pound in Tesco or other high street retailers. These sheets are fine if the finished quality of your work is unimportant, e.g. notes for college or school, but fail quickly when trying to impress people with a CV or important letter.

        Enter HP Office paper. Okay, it's not Conqueror standard and won't suddenly get you a promotion in work but it's a start. Paper weight is roughly proportional to quality in most cases. Bargain basement products available in stationary shops weighs in between 50-70gram per square metre (gsm) all the way up to Conqueror at 100gsm. HP Office is 80gsm, a healthy medium between the two, leaving you with a page about the same weight as a letter you'd receive from your bank. While the weight is related to quality the finished surface of the HP paper is much less porous than that of bargain alternatives. This stops ink from your printer from soaking away in the paper, blurring the image. Instead you get a much sharper finish (hopefully).

        I've ran 2 reams of this paper through my Epson SX620 and haven't had a single jam or printer error. Now I have also ran a ream of tesco value paper in the same timeframe and that hasn't caused a problem either so take from my experience what you will. I have noticed a sharper finish and less "wetness" on the pages with the HP paper though.

        Where this paper falls down unfortunately is the price; Amazon is selling a 500 page ream for roughly £7, a big ask when Tesco have 500 pages for a quid! Luckily I bought mine when I bought my printer and was given a deal in the shop, buying 2500 pages for 15 pounds. Still more expensive than the Tesco version but the added quality and finish more than make up for it.

        All in all this is a great product and is from a reputable company with a long history of producing paper and printers. 5 Stars!

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          06.05.2012 12:57
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          Great product, cheap price but top notch quality.

          Thanks to some well timed bidding on eBay I had come into ownership of a 15" LCD computer monitor. Unfortunately I do not own a computer, instead only owning a lowly HP laptop. I tend to photoshop (try to at least!) my digital images and this was becoming a bit of a pain on my small laptop display. Now if only I could use my snazzy new monitor with my laptop... Enter the Belkin PC Monitor Cable.

          After flicking through DooYoo I found some good 5-Star reviews for this product, a trip to Amazon and one DooYoo voucher later I was in possession of a 2m VGA cable. Total cost was £5.30 including £2.00 delivery, not bad considering similar cables from imitation brands are available in PC World and Currys for double that price. Any price savvy consumer who has bought computer peripherals will be aware of Belkin, they seem to have a foot in every door in the computer industry. They make audio cables, xbox accessories right up to monitor cables, usually up to OEM standards and typically at a fraction of the cost.

          This monitor cable is no exception and comes out of the box ready to go in sturdy white rubber. It's hard to describe objectively but the cable feels well insulated and the connectors feel sturdy and weighty in your palm. There doesn't seem to be much penny pinching done here and they feel as good or better than the HP or Sony equivalent. Each connector comes with the usual thumb screws for security, my laptop lacks a connection for these but thankfully my monitor does. They are of the same high quality and allow very little play at the socket. My laptop lacking these connections actually works out as it allows me to connect and disconnect very quickly from the screen, and it also prevents me from forgetting it's attached and pulling the display off the desk when moving my laptop!

          A problem with cheaper analogue cables is patchy signal transmission, I'm no visiophile (visual audiophile?) but I can't see any deterioration in the display quality over my laptop screen. Maybe it would show up for HD films or such but seeing as I watch those on my TV via a HDMI cable it's of little consequence even if it did occur. For editing photos and running slide shows it works just fine so I guess it ticks all my boxes.

          As I said earlier, anyone who has bought after market computer parts will know Belkin and with good reason. Their parts and cables are of consistently high quality and low price, and nothing is new here. If you need a 2m VGA cable then you've come to the right place, hop on to Amazon and get one now. Five stars.

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          29.04.2012 23:59
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          Good purchase for a niche market.

          If you've ever found yourself with a spare laptop hard-drive then you might be interested in this enclosure. It allows you to connect a 2.5" drive to your laptop just like a normal portable hard-drive, usually at a fraction of the cost. If you go to Curry's you'll find that your textbook western digital portable hard-drive is nothing more than a fancy enclosure packaged with a WD stamp. Simply pop in the drive and you're ready to go!

          The Startech enclosure costs roughly fifteen pounds from Amazon and is approximately fifteen times the price of some Hong Kong productions available from eBay.co.uk. That said it is more than fifteen times better quality! It's built of solid anodised aluminium and feels quite weighty in your palm, not so much that it impedes portability just that it feels well built and sturdy. This is probably the biggest disadvantage for cheap imitations as they tend to be made of stamped materials and feel very flimsy in comparison.

          You have a choice between using eSata or USB2 connections and both sets of cables are included. While usb is slower you only need to use one cable as eSata requires the use of a usb power cable to operate. I managed 1Gbps with eSata (compared with rated 3Gbps) and 300Mbps with USB (rated at 480Mbps). Honestly both speeds are fast enough for me as I never really have to transfer large files in a hurry! If you move movies or TV series much then you might prefer eSata but you'll have to trade off the fact that you'll need two ports.

          Apparently the chassis is designed to dissipate heat effectively, emphasis on the word apparently. In this regard the Startech is no better than the Hong Kong offering. I found that strenuous use caused a significant build up in heat, making the enclosure uncomfortable to hold. While I didn't use a thermometer to measure, the cheap alternative feels exactly the same after half an hour. That being said, I've yet to be bothered by this and usually place it on the desk not my lap!

          Overall I'm quite happy with my purchase, it feels like it'll last forever and that I could knock out an intruder with it at the same time. While it has a heftier price tag when compared with the cheap alternatives it'll last forever and you shouldn't have to buy another. Is it worth the money? If you have a leftover drive lying around then yes, otherwise consider a pre-made Western Digital model.

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        • Scarpa Helix / Sports Shoes / 51 Readings / 50 Ratings
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          21.04.2012 17:28
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          Good shoe, will serve the majority of climbers for the majority of their climbing careers.

          I've been climbing on and off for a number of years, progressing to leading E1/2 level climbs around the UK and Ireland. During this I've used the same pair of Red Chili shoes that aren't even made any more, that was until I left my shoes outside to dry and a neighbourhood dog/bear had their way with them. While I appreciated the new "speed holes" and having only one velcro strap I decided to upgrade my shoes. Following a special offer at my local climbing boutique I found myself strapping on a pair of size 9 Scarpa Reflexes.

          On initial inspection they look quite nice, a mix of grey and red suede with two strong velcro straps. I've never been a fan of laced up climbing shoes as I find it difficult to get a consistent tightness from climb to climb. If laces are your thing then you'll be glad to know that this pair are available with laces at no extra cost.

          For anyone who has climbed, you'll be aware of how tight some shoes can be and how this can leave you with two non-functioning stumps for feet at the end of a long day's climb. Fortunately Scarpa have kept the tightness of the toebox reasonably snug here and not too tight. These certainly aren't a top level technical shoe but they have enough of a point to get up any climbs I've been on. I've always been of the belief that the wearer's technical ability determined the climb, not the shoe. To cater for beginners Scarpa have also placed extra padding in the toe box, relieving the stress of placing all your weight on one or two toes. Does this reduce the ability to gain traction on the more sheer climbs? Up to E2 I haven't found this to be the case, and if you're climbing anything past that you probably don't read DooYoo for your climbing information!

          According to Scarpa the sole is made of a new SSR1.0 Rubber, now what is that I hear you ask? Frankly I have no idea. The shoe sticks to rock pretty well I've found, no better than my previous pair and definitely no worse. Again I'll refer you to your own ability here. These shoes won't be a band-aid for poor technique, or magically allow you to jump up through the grades, only putting in the hours on the climbing wall and rock face will give you that. They will however allow you to do that for 8 hours on a Saturday and not give you a limp for the rest of the weekend.

          What else is there to say about a product like this? They work well and are very comfortable as climbing shoes go so I guess that's a recommendation from me. Modern climbing shoes have progressed to a point where you could throw a dart at the display in a shop and probably hit a pair that will serve you well for 5/6 years. Scarpa are a great brand and have been making shoes for longer than most people have even been aware of climbing so you won't go far wrong with anything from their range.

          I'm happy with my Reflexes, and at £75.00 from Climbingworks.com why wouldn't I be?!

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          15.03.2012 20:26
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          Does its job very well, just doesn't set the world alight

          Being a connoisseur (or a hoarder!) of electrical items I've managed to collect a large amount of wires that now resemble medusa's head. Typically this isn't a big problem and you can usually, through brute force and ignorance, pull them free. One day however I managed to pull the socket off my DVD player much to my chagrin.

          After a sufficient amount of abuse from my girlfriend over not being able to watch The West Wing I decided to clean up the cables around the house. I originally tried to use the classic form of cable ties but I wasn't convinced by a permanent fixing of the wires, just in case I wanted to move my TV or some other appliance. A quick look through DooYoo and I settled on the Hama Hook and Loop Cable Ties. A three pack was sharply dispatched from Amazon for £4.50 and I set about taming Medusa!

          In contrast to normal cable ties where you pull the end through a ratchet like mechanism these ties are a simple friction lock. You push the cable through a loop on the other end and through a suitably tight fit it should stay nice and snug. They're nowhere near as secure as standard ties but unless you're rewiring your house you've no need for it. A few minutes after opening my package Medusa was tamed, and following re-wiring the DVD player I was able to sit down to an episode of the West Wing safe in the knowledge that my cables were organised (if you worry about that kind of thing!).

          The length is quoted at 200mm though you'll struggle to use that much as you require some extra length to lock the mechanism in place. I'd say you'll get about 170mm out of it which equates to about a usable radius of 50mm, more than enough cables for any person!

          These are a useful enough piece of kit if you own multiple devices though I can't see that many applications for them that a piece of coloured string or ribbon couldn't solve! Organising christmas tree lights and holding them in place for the remainder of the year might be a good plan, though I'll have to wait until next year to find out!

          Should you buy these ties? Probably, if you need to organise some wires or christmas tree lights. Will they rock your world? No, unless you're like Monica from Friends and are in love with cleaning! They do their job very well and for a very reasonable cost so I can't really fault them on what matters, I doubt anyone gets excited by cable ties! Five stars.

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        • Bionaire BAFE1507 / Fan / 43 Readings / 40 Ratings
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          14.02.2012 16:32
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          Good fan, will work well to keep you cool. Just watch the price.

          How many times have you sat in a stuffy office trying to work on a computer wishing for a breeze of fresh air? If you work in the average NHS hospital the answer is every day of the week! Unfortunately the budget for office fans is slim nowadays, leaving us with a group effort to purchase a fan for the ward office.

          Following a whip around one particularly hot and sticky morning we hit purchase on the Bionaire Box Fan from Amazon.co.uk for the paltry sum of £53.74 including delivery. I felt this was a bit expensive for a fan, but seeing as it was split between 8 staff it worked out to a reasonable contribution each. That being said, if I had to purchase a fan for my own home I'd be going with a cheaper model.

          The fan comes out of the box fully assembled and sits proudly on the floor, stretching about 12 inches across at its widest point and about 6 inches deep. Made of white glossy plastic it looks pretty good combined with the wave-effect grille. I'm not sure what type of plastic it is but it doesn't feel too brittle and I'm sure it'll last us a while yet. Perhaps the cost is related to the size as this isn't a small item, it's a large piece of office furniture. It currently sits curled up like the local cat under the main desk and is fairly unobstrusive. I'd imagine it'd stick out a bit if you didn't have a convenient desk to hide it under however.

          Using the fan is pretty simple, plug it in and press on and you're away. It has 3 separate speeds, slow, medium and fast. If you're on your own in the office slow is fine but as soon as more than one person is around then you need to bump it up. We've only ever gone as high as medium as high is just too noisy for us to work in for long periods. It's not going to damage your ears or anything, it's just a pain in the neck to listen to the constant whirring! Airflow is perfectly acceptable at medium as well so you aren't missing out by choosing it.

          The model we received also comes with what is called "Aroma Feature" which claims to fit most popular brands of scented oils (glade anyone?). I like the idea of this feature as I feel it would probably spread an aroma further than a standard plug in. Unfortunately scented oils aren't allowed on the ward so we've yet to use this function. Is it a selling point? Maybe. Would I buy it because of the "aroma feature"? No.

          Overall I'm quite pleased with our group purchase, the ward office is a nicer environment to work in now and you can do a half hours typing without needing a change of clothes! Would I buy this for my own home? I reckon so but I'd need a discount on the £53 pricetag, somewhere around £40 and I'd recommend it to everyone looking a bit hot under the collar.

          4/5, just misses out on price.

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          • Toshiba SD 2010 / DVD Player / 33 Readings / 32 Ratings
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            01.01.2012 23:52
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            Good little DVD player which does exactly that, plays DVDs

            While I mostly watch films on my laptop with a pair of earphones but sometimes there's a film where you need a big screen and some surround sound. When I received 2012 on DVD I knew it was time to invest in a DVD player to get the most out of it! I was a bit hesitant to spend big money on something I'd only use once every so often so after a bit of reading around online I decided to go with the Toshiba SD 2010. Toshiba have been making consumer electronics for as long as I can remember so I figured it would make a good choice! Through my own ineptitude I managed to order both the Toshiba SD 1010 and the 2010 when ordering through Amazon. Despite the extra few quid I had to spend on the extra DVD player the Toshiba is a steal at £29 including delivery. I'm not sure if this is an incredibly good price but I remember when the same piece of machinery would cost £200 so it feels like a great bargain!

            Out of the box the first thing that came into my head was "wow, this feels a bit cheap". I guess I should have expected this from such a low cost option but I guess I was hoping against hope for a sly bargain. The player itself is easy to set up, plug it into a socket and a hook up a SCART lead and you're set. There's also Co-ax and composite connections if you're that way inclined. A HDMI slot would have been a good addition but you can't have everything. A nice bonus is the USB port which allows you to play videos, images and music from a disc key. When I say nice bonus I mean a nice selling point. I don't use it personally as my laptop has a HDMI output and it's simpler for me just to use that. Good trick though if you've friends with movies though.

            I'm not up on my video qualities enough to comment on how good the player is in this respect but suffice to say you won't be disappointed and the video seems just as good as any other I've seen. I'm sure anyone with a keen interest in movies will pick holes with it but I got through a season of the West Wing just fine!

            Using the DVD player is very simple, despite the complicated looking controller. Admittedly I only put DVDs in and press play so I'm probably not the best judge of functionality. That being said I can put in a movie and get it playing without too many swear words so that has to count for something!

            Overall I'm quite pleased with this DVD player, even if I had to buy two of them to get it!

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            • Powerball Neon Pro / Fitness / 38 Readings / 35 Ratings
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              31.12.2011 14:46
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              A good laugh and may just improve your grip strength

              After reading a few reviews on here about how one of these devices could improve my squash game I decided to order one off Amazon for £15 + Free delivery. I figured if I could stop getting arm cramps after a game it might be worth the few quid!

              The powerball is a simple enough concept, you jump start a gyroscope contained inside the plastic ball and using a combination of stirring movements you attempt to keep it spinning and hopefully increase it's speed. I'll be the first to admit that this sounded ridiculous to me and that I was only convinced to buy one since I had a leftover dooyoo voucher in my inbox!

              Was I proved wrong? Yes and no. It is a ridiculous concept, but I don't have cramps in my arms after playing squash anymore. It's hard to quantify whether or not this was down to the powerball or to an increase in my frequency of squash games. Using the powerball is great fun though, there's something oddly compelling about shaking the thing around, no matter much it looks like a derogatory hand motion. It is very tough on the arms and I produced an embarrassing ~9000 rpm when I first tried the thing!

              Build quality is very high, a surprising find for a £15 product. I'm not an expert on plastics but I can tell it's made of a particularly high grade material, albeit brittle feeling at times. It feels good and solid in your palm, I was never worried about it breaking when I was using it. Other reviews have noted that it breaks easily on dropping it, I guess this is a trade-off between sturdiness and brittleness. Just don't drop it and you'll do just fine!

              Overall I'm happy enough with my purchase, if nothing else it was a nice distraction for a few weeks and hey, maybe it did improve my squash game!

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              27.11.2011 16:26
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              Good entry level HR monitor that should be in everyone's gear bag

              Anyone who is serious about getting fit and losing weight has to keep on top of a couple of things, their calories and their heart rate during workouts. Keeping an eye on your heart rate allows you to train at the correct intensity and hopefully burn the most calories and the most fat! Back when I was training for BJJ competitions my coach would have me wear a heart rate monitor during workouts so he could see how well my fitness was improving and whether or not the training was working.

              While he used a more expensive model that can connect to a computer I decided to buy myself one so that I could hopefully improve my own sessions. Looking around online and talking to a few personal trainers the name "Polar" kept cropping up so I logged onto Amazon and ordered a Polar FT1 Heart Rate Monitor for £32 delivered. Out of the box it's quite an attractive piece, it has a black plastic strap with a translucent silver face. It looks quite futuristic and fits in well with most gym equipment! As well as the wrist-watch you also get a chest strap which you can attach to increase the accuracy of the heart reading.

              Using the monitor is very simple. After resetting the display you just need to pop on the chest band and wrist-watch and away you go. Measuring my own radial pulse against the meter showed it was accurate to around +/- 5 beats per minute. A quick button press at the beginning of your workout starts the recording and another quick press stops it. Unfortunately this watch can only record one workout at a time and any new recording will erase the last. It will give you your peak HR and your average HR over the course of the workout, useful information to jot down and compare over time to see if you're getting any fitter! It'd be nice if you could connect this model to a computer to download the information properly but that tends to be a feature of premium-level products and for £32 I can't really complain!

              Overall I'm quite happy I purchased this model, it works very well and should last me a long long time. It's not very feature heavy and the capacity to only store one set of data can be infuriating at the best of times! I think 4 stars is a solid grading for this product, it's good and works well but a couple of niggles pull it back.

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              26.11.2011 14:47
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              Fantastic job, every gym goer should have one.

              If you've read some of my reviews you'll know that I work as an Orthopaedic Surgeon and have a big interest in health and fitness. Anyone who has worked out will know the dreaded feeling of muscle soreness the day following the gym, the struggle to climb stairs and to pull yourself out of chairs seems insurmountable! While this pain is due to a complex multi-factorial process with many factors which you can't control you can take charge of at least one aspect. Each of the muscles in your body is covered with a thin layer of fibrous tissue known as fascia, and through exercise you can damage this fascia. The layer heals very quickly and isn't usually a problem. The kicker here though is that when the tissue heals it can sometimes "stick" to the muscle underneath. This causes the familiar pain and stiffness the next day and is a royal pain in the backside, sometimes literally. Where this massage ball comes in handy is to break up these spots which have "stuck". It's not a miracle cure but it certainly helps make you feel more human the next day!

              The ball itself is available on Amazon.co.uk for around £3 from a variety of sellers, and you'd be best to order a couple of them. Stick one in your gym bag and one in your desk at work and you'll never be too far from a quick massage if your muscle act up. Out of the box the ball is around 7cm across, though other diameters are available, and is made of a tough non-gloss purple plastic. It looks like a prop from Star Trek episode or something you'd see in the Barrier Reef, this may be a bonus to some people or a huge disadvantage if you don't like people looking at you funny!

              Using the ball is very simple, you just need to roll it into the affected muscles along their length for a few minutes until they feel better. It does require a bit of weight behind it to get the desired affect so you're best off lying on the ball or having someone else do it. Usually I place it under my back and roll myself around on it. Stretching of the muscle fascia and other associated tissues causes a release of endorphins (those things in your brain that make you feel great) and nearly immediately reduces the pain associated with muscles. A caveat here is that while you may feel fantastic initially, it won't last forever and will require you to massage yourself again. It simply speeds up the process, not bypasses it completely.

              I should mention that while the post-massage endorphins feel great, the massage itself can be excruciatingly painful, particularly if you're very sore to begin with. Go light and know your own boundaries, you'll soon build up a nice tolerance to the pain and you'll see some real benefits.

              It's hard to fault this product really, it's only a few quid and provided you can put up with a bit of pain it works fantastically. It does look funny however and I've gotten some strange looks in my office while I was using it on my hamstrings before a long surgery. That being said it is a great focal point for conversation and I've happily recommended it to many friends and patients, if even just for the funny looks in the gym!

              5 stars, hard to fault something that works great and is as cheap as a pint of bitter!

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              • Philips AJB 1002 / Portable Radio / 35 Readings / 33 Ratings
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                25.11.2011 23:46
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                Great radio, crap alarm!

                When your work day starts at 6:45am you need to be up bright and early, and some days even before it's bright! With this in mind it is of the utmost importance that you have a good alarm clock. A mobile phone simply doesn't cut it, I don't know what it is but with a mobile phone alarm I always manage to press sleep 15 times before getting out of bed. Luckily my girlfriend was nice enough to spot this problem and bought me a proper alarm clock, a Philips AJB1002 Clock Radio.

                The words "clock radio" conjure up images of old contraptions my father owned but nowadays it means something completely different. Out of the box you are greeted by a silver, almost mirror like finish and a glossy black display. I have to admit that it is a very attractive product and looks great on my nightstand. The time, date and radio station title are displayed in crisp grey lettering, which is very easy to read and with the adjustable brightness is not too harsh on your eyes at 5:30am! Pricing is very competitive too with models available on Amazon for £29, and about £40 in a brick and mortar shop.

                Unfortunately that is about where the positives end. The user interface on this alarm is possibly the most infuriating piece of engineering I have ever encountered. Every time the clock is turned on it resets back to DAB mode, while I do listen to DAB more than FM it is very annoying that it can't just recall the last listened to station. Similarly if I want to listen to the radio a small bit before going to sleep it tkes about 20 different button pushes to get it all set up at the right volume and brightness. Maybe all clock radios require this amount of work but my god I am not able for that at 5:30 in the morning!

                On a more positive note, the radio reception isn't bad at all. I have a larger set-top radio in my living room and the Philips can pick up just as many stations. Sound quality is decent enough as well, a bit light on the bass but the higher notes are clear without much distortion. It would probably make a real audiophile cringe but it's more than good enough for my uncultured ears!

                This item is a tough one to summarise, it looks well, and sounds great but it requires you to have an engineering degree to set an alarm. For a radio it is sensational and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone, for a clock radio I'd only recommend it to someone as an April Fools joke. So there you have it in simple terms, no if only using the bloody thing was as easy.

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                • More +
                  16.11.2011 22:13
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                  Great for light use, just keep it away from footballs.

                  One of my hobbies outside of work is carpentry, I'm a big fan of taking a few planks of wood and making them into something. Typically this something is nothing more than a towel rack but my interest still stands. With an interest in woodwork comes an array of very shiny, very heavy tools. My mother currently drives a Citroen Xsara Picasso, a nice family style car which comes with a highly useful folding boot cart. Unbeknownst to myself there is a burgeoning market out there for these machines and several manufacturers make their own models. My weapon of choice for carrying my routers and drills is the Rolson Tools 68900 Folding Boot Cart.

                  I picked this baby up at my local tool supplier for what I know realise is an outrageous price of £24.99. A quick look online puts the same item at £13.19 + Free Delivery on Amazon.co.uk. Go figure the one time I buy offline I get shafted for twice the price!

                  The cart itself is made of a lightweight plastic and is rated to carry up to 25kg. While the plastic construction means it's nice and simple to wheel about, it is rather flimsy. I've already cracked one of the side panels of mine with a mis-aimed kick at a football. I'd doubt the target audience of housewives carrying their shopping home will have this problem however! Attached to the basket are two rubber coated aluminium wheels which are fixed in one direction, very similar to a suitcase. The long aluminium handle extends up and down easily, allowing you to reduce the size of the basket quickly. Speaking of size; fully extended the cart measures 380 x 330 x 360mm and folded up it stays the same height and width but becomes around 100mm thick. It's quite the disappearing act and makes the cart very easy to fit in your boot or under the stairs.

                  Overall I'm happy with the cart, it's useful for me if I'm taking my tools over to my parents house to fix a chair or hang a door as they can get quite heavy and it allows me to simply wheel the contents up to the front door. I'm concerned about the flimsy plastic though as I can only imagine that there's going to be more footballs in my life and a lot more of me kicking them at things.

                  So yes, it's a good product that does as advertised. Is it strong enough to be rough-housed? No. Is that a fault of the product or a fault of mine? Hard to tell really, it's only £13.19, buy one and figure it out for yourself!

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                  • Fellowes P35C / Shredder / 45 Readings / 42 Ratings
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                    14.11.2011 21:05
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                    Great shredder if you need one

                    I never really read into the phenomenon of identity theft, it always seemed like one of those far fetched story-lines on a spy show or something. Then one day at work I received a phonecall from my bank asking me if I was trying to rent a car in southern Portugal and whether I was aware that my credit limit would not extend to cover the cost of the fourteen day lease. On my way home that evening I stopped into Currys and bought myself a shredder!

                    Now purchasing things in a rush and in a panic is never a recipe for success. Typically you'll end up at home wondering why you bought the item and how on Earth you're ever going to use it. Thankfully this was not the case with my new Fellowes P35C shredder.

                    First off is it's small size, the shredder itself is only about 10 inches wide and 12 inches high. It fits snugly under my desk at home and doesn't take up a huge spot, always a bonus. Next up is the ease of operation, I was worried that shredding documents would be a highly technical operation requiring the utmost concentration. Instead I simply plugged it in, turned it on and pushed my latest visa bill straight throught the slot. Not exactly the James Bond moment I had pictured...

                    Shredding items is particularly easy and the machine has been able to take my usual load of 8 or so pages without so much as a shudder. I've yet to jam it but simply sliding the toggle to reverse should fix this quite quickly. Coming back to my opening anecdote about losing my credit card details I was quite glad to find that this machine comes with a card shredding option. This feature is quite addictive and I had to stop myself after I had shredded my library card and old work badge.

                    Thankfully I don't have to worry about little fingers getting jammed in my shredder but Fellowes have thought of this by including a safety lock which stops anyone turning the machine on and in turn getting themselves shredded!

                    Overall this is a great shredder, a purchase which is unfortunately becoming more and more necessary for people nowadays. 5 Stars.

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