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Apparently Aldi is one of Europe's biggest computer sellers these days, pushing the more conventional businesses we used to go to aside with their simplistic, no messing, no fuss approach to selling electrical equipment. I've had my Medion Akoya 6110 D for about 4 years now, buying it for less than £400 from my local branch of Aldi. I'd been tipped off by a friend whose IT-industry son had already bought one and rated it highly. I watched the weekly Aldi 'deals' mails and when this came up I grabbed it.
I'll have to be honest, it's far and away the biggest bill I've ever had in Aldi and at that time they didn't take credit cards so I had to move cash around to cover the payment.
I wanted a computer with a big memory (a terabyte) for storing thousands of photographs and I wanted one that was quiet - its predecessor was like an asthmatic old man in the corner of the room. It didn't need to be extraordinarily fast as our broadband is so slow that it would have been holding it back and I had no interest to play computer games. I also wanted to be able to buy JUST the box and not all the extras. I had a great widescreen monitor, I had a printer, I had a keyboard, speakers, mouse and all the rest and I just wanted the heart of the computer. The local recycling centre didn't need another load of cast off gizmos.
I've been using it regularly for the whole time I've had it without any problems. Unlike my many netbook computers, I've not even had an annoying attack of the nasty viruses (touch wood).
Out of the box it was easy to set up, easy to get started. We didn't need any IT-geeks to help us. Plug all your wires into whichever hole they fit into and get going. There are 4 USB ports on the back and two extras and two little round ones (headphones, microphone, whatever) on the front of the computer for easy access. It has a CD / DVD drive and a range of memory card slots.
I can't tell you exactly what sort of processor it has as I long ago 'filed' all the paperwork and quite honestly even if you wanted on, you'd be unlikely to be able to find it now that it's 4 years old. However, what I can tell you is that I'm very happy and I'd recommend that anyone who's been thinking 'Hmm, Aldi for computers? Is that a good idea' should put those doubts aside and give them a go. Aldi's complaints and returns policy is better than most UK retailers - I think 2 years guarantee is standard on electricals.
Weleda is a lovely company that was into 'natural' long before most of the rest of the beauty industry jumped on the bandwagon. They have impeccable credentials but their products can sometimes seem a bit 'dowdy' and old fashioned compared to their more techie competitors.
I was sent several sachets of the Weleda Calendula face cream a few months ago. If I remember correctly they came in one of my many beauty boxes but I forget precisely which. I had enough to try the product for about a week and it was very gentle and very pleasant, and I'd definitely want to buy a tube for those days when you just want something that's calming and gentle.
The product is sold as part of Weleda's baby products range and is priced at a very reasonable 7.95 for a 50 ml tube. Compared to just about every other face cream from Weleda, it's an absolute bargain.
I expected a thin, runny lotion but it's not like that at all. This is a rich, quite thick cream and it has a gentle, subtle scent of calendula daisies. I like it a lot. It's surprisingly indulgent and left my skin feeling soft and soothed. For a thick product it soaks in very quickly but leaves a slight tackiness on the skin.
It's 100% natural and 96% of the ingredients are organic. The ingredient list is a lot shorter than many and it includes sesame seed oil, sweet almond oil, lanolin, beeswax and calendula flower extract.
I tend towards buying more 'chemical' and more 'high tech' products than this but I still rather like it. It's comforting to know it's gentle enough for babies and so unlikely to give me any sensitivity issues.
If you want a basic, gentle and rich cream, this one is well worth a try.
My skin is doing pretty well for my age and I put that down to not smoking, eating well and the use of skin serums with hyaluronic acid. This clever ingredient can absorb more than a thousand times its own weight in water and it occurs in the human body in the joints, nerves, skin, hair and inside your eyeball. I look for this ingredient in skin care products such as the Nourish Relax Peptide Serum. I bought this for just 10.00 in the Debenhams online sale for a 30 ml bottle, down from 20.00.
Nourish is a UK-based company founded by cosmetic scientist Dr Pauline Hili and it’s quite a new company which has been selling skin care products since 2012. The range includes products for body and face using natural ingredients and “advanced bio-actives” to create effective but ethical recipes. As you’d expect, there are lots of things they don’t put in their products such as alcohol, synthetic colours, parabens, mineral oils and the usual stuff. They make recipes full of organic ingredients and plant extracts and avoid anything that would make the products unsuitable for vegetarians or vegans and of course they don’t test on animals.
The Nourish skin care products may be quite technical but they seem to have put a lot of effort into trying to make them relatively understandable. Nourish group their skin care products into four ‘families’ depending on the issues being addressed. I've used the 'Protect’ range for dry skin, and ‘Relax’ products are for sensitive skin.
The serum contains some interesting ingredients such as carrot root powder, ginger root extract and lavender oil and the scent of lavender is pretty powerful. The powerful bioactives include Palmitoyl tripeptide-5 and sodium hyaluronate. The ingredients are 85% 'organic'
The product comes in a clear pump bottle with a label wrapped around it and the pump dispenses well.The label doesn’t go the whole way round the bottle which means you can easily see how much is left which is a small but significant improvement over the majority of products in pumps.
A little goes a long way and one ‘pump’ is enough to cover my face and a second will cover my neck. The serum feels slightly sticky and it smells wonderfully of lavender - a classic 'relaxation' ingredient. As it soaks in and dries, it gives a noticeable tightening effect on my skin but after a couple of minutes my skin is ready for a moisturiser to be applied.
I love serums, especially ones with hyaluronic acid, and if they smell wonderful it's a bonus. I like the practicality of the packaging which enables me to see how much is left and I prefer the pump format to the more typical ‘dropper’ bottle that many companies use.
We have two of these Genus DAB radios and have had them for about 8 years. We bought them at a time when digital radios were still quite expensive and I tracked the first down as a Christmas present for my husband who wanted an easy to use clock radio for the bedside. I recall it was pennies under 30 pounds at a time when the fancier brands were almost twice the price. He liked it so much he got another for the garage a year later.
It's a triangular shaped radio - a bit like a Toblerone in a tube - with a wide base and narrow peaked top. It's very stable which is important if you're flailing around trying to turn off an alarm. It's easy to tune to different stations and to set your favourites in the memor but most importantly for a radio alarm clock, it's really easy to set the time and to reset it.
Why do I mention this? At my flat where I stay during the week I have a swanky Pure clock radio. It wakes me exactly the same time every morning because I never figured out how to reset it. With the Genus my husband typically sets it for himself, gets up and then resets it for me. He's an expert and it takes him just seconds.
The sound quality is not as spectacular as some of the fancier branded radios but we are talk radio listeners rather than music fans and it's perfectly good enough for us. The sound is clear and crisp across a wide volume range.
The only annoyance - and it's a slight one - is that the display is quite bright and can annoy at night. We keep a postcard propped across it at night to cut out the glow.
I bought my Dr Weil eye serum as part of a box of mixed Origins 'top sellers' in the USA a few years ago and have recently used the Dr Andrew Weil Plantidote Mega-Mushroom Eye Serum.
According to Wikipedia Dr Andrew Weil is “ an American medical doctor, teacher, and best-selling author on holistic health. He is founder, professor, and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona”. I have no idea quite how Dr W got together with Origins but they do seem to be a good combination.
I wouldn’t buy this range again because it's designed for people with problem skin, particularly focusing on those with extreme sensitivity, redness, and even scarring from acne and similar conditions. I don’t have any of those problems but I still happily worked my way through a bottle of facial serum and I’m now slowly dragging myself through this eye serum but without any great sense of commitment to it.
Both products contain Dr Weil’s special ‘mega-mushroom’ blend which combines enough different mushrooms to make an interesting risotto. What this means is that the Mega Mushroom products are rather ‘mushroom’ coloured - an unattractive sludgy beigey brown. They also SMELL quite mushroomy which can be a bit off putting. Fortunately with the eye serum, I was already used to the Mega-Mush smell so I wasn’t too disturbed by it when I started to use it.
As well as the mushroom extracts, Dr W squeezes in some ginger, a dash of turmeric and holy basil and some grapeseed extract. It’s a very ‘culinary’ scent. What all these goodies are supposed to do is to calm overly sensitive skin and reduce puffiness under the yes. There’s also some yeast extract that should relieve dark circles.
My problem with this product is that I don’t have the problems it's trying to fix but if you do and you want an eye cream for sensitive skin that’s prone to redness, it may be worth a trip to your Origins counter to ask for a small sample.
My product is in a 15 ml green tube which stands on its cap to ensure that the product comes out easily when I squeeze the tube. I squeeze the tiniest possible blob onto a finger and dot it around my eye area - underneath first and then across the top. I don’t put it directly on my eye lids. It feels pleasant and cool but I don't know what else I should be expecting.
I won’t buy this eye serum again and I wouldn’t have bought it if it weren’t part of a 10-product ‘deal’. A small 15 ml bottle of this will cost you around £40 from the Origins website and for that sort of sum, I’d need it to work miracles.
As we age our hair changes not just in colour or in texture, but also in volume. Hair thinning happens not only for men but for women too, especially when they reach the years leading up to menopause. Plantur 39 is so called because they recommend you should start using it in your early 40s.
The packaging on the Plantur 39 products tells us that women’s hair roots are protected by the female hormone oestrogen but around 40 the levels of oestrogen start to drop and testosterone levels start to raise smf hair gets thinner and falls out more. According to Dr Wolff, the manufacturers, the way to stop this happening is to use caffeine products. They claim that the caffeine penetrates the hair follicle and somehow helps the scalp to hang on to the hairs.
Dr Wolff recommend we wash our hair every day with their shampoo and leave the product on for at least two minutes to give it a chance to do its magic. In the real world, you can’t always do that nor will it suit all hair types to do that. If that’s the case, they recommend that you apply the tonic direct to the scalp on the days when you don’t wash your hair (or don’t wash it for long enough). Even if you do wash every day, they still claim that applying this - though I’m unclear whether it should be to dry or wet hair - will encourage ‘vigorous hair growth’
A bottle of this costs around £7.50 for 200 ml from the site I use which is called Pharmacyfix.co.uk
The tonic is a thin, quite watery liquid that comes in a bottle with a nozzle dispenser. You should apply it direct to the scalp and then massage it into the scalp and leave it for a few minutes to dry before you style your hair in the usual way.
A couple of months ago I decided I really should give it another go but it seems to take more time than I can really spare in my daily routines. When I use it regularly, I have the impression that it might be helping a bit but not so much or so vigorously that I can manage to do it every day.
This product is apparently designed to be optimally effective for pre-menopausal and menopausal women and like many products, it’s quite hard to know whether it’s working or not because you can’t know how much worse it might have been if you’d not bothered.
I would suggest that if you can’t get on with the shampoo you could use the tonic every day and keep up your normal shampoo.
REN is not a brand I know well. I bought two so-called ‘Skincare Essentials’ Kits and a Sensitive Skin kit full of REN goodies from the website Achica.com. The Essentials kit contains a small - to be honest ridiculously tiny - pump bottle of REN Keep Young and Beautiful SH2C Serum.
Stockists in the UK are rather few and far between if you don’t want to buy online and the website claims you can find REN products in Liberty, Space NK, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and ASOS as well as some select independent retailers. At the prices they charge, you won’t find them in Poundland or Aldi.
The company claims to make very ‘natural’ products free from the usual (alleged) nasties. The product contains no parabens, sulphates, petrolatum, mineral oils, synthetic fragrance or colours, T.E.A., D.E.A, glycols, PEGs or ‘et al’.
The bioactives in the recipe include hexapeptides derived from yeast which are supposed to stimulate skin renewal and the production of skin-firming proteins. There are also native peptides which they claim are a ‘safe alternative to Botox’, glycosaminoglycans to provide long lasting hydration and (my personal favourite) Hyaluronic Acid which helps the skin to hold onto moisture and stay plump.
The scary fact is that this stuff costs £46 for a 30 ml pump bottle.
I was hoping for something special. I read a lot of online reviews which were distinctly ‘marmite’; people either loved it and claimed the wrinkles were disappearing in front of their eyes or that the serum gave them shocking break-outs of spots. In my case I can honestly say I was underwhelmed by the effects, not spotting anything good or anything bad either.
It’s a creamy yellow fluid that doesn’t pump out terribly well. Once you get it out of the pump, the liquid spreads very well and two small ‘squirts’ are enough to cover my face. The fragrance in this is apparently natural but it’s sadly not terribly pleasant. I find it smells a bit dirty and earthy which is usually a sign of argan oil but it doesn’t seem to include any.
My bottle gave me a week's worth of applications and now it’s almost done I’m not too sad because I really didn’t warm to the product. It left my skin feeling unpleasantly slightly tacky and rather tight. I try to let it sink in fully before applying one of the REN moisturisers on top.
REN claim this serum will make your skin look firmer and more ‘toned’, will reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles and give your skin a healthy glow. I can’t recognise any noticeable difference in my skin.
I can buy plenty of great serums stuffed with hyaluronic acid and peptides for a lot less.
These were an impulse buy in last November’s Black Friday deals. They have a regular price of around £150 but briefly appeared on offer for just £49.
Sara is a much more casual and manly boot than I would normally choose. They are saved from the risk of being a bit too like ‘bovver boots’ by being slim on both the foot and the leg. I wouldn’t want to look like I was too friendly with Doctor Marten.
I bought my boots in a colour called ‘Charcoal Black’ which is a non-shiny textured leather. The over-stitching on these is tan. They have a chunky ribbed sole that grips well. There is no heel on these - instead it’s a very low, gentle wedge that’s just 3 cm in thickness. At the back the gum rubber sole is cut into a shallow wedge. In length they reach to about 15 cm below the top of my knees. Obviously the length on other people will vary according to each person’s leg length. I’m five foot eight.
The boots have a zip up the inside of the calf and a strap over the front of the ankle which attaches through a branded brass buckle on the outside of the ankle. The lining of the boots is a very comfortable slightly sueded fabric with a design of flowers and flies in black and tan. This fabric prevents the boots from making your legs sweaty when it’s warmer outside. The insole is similarly patterned and is very soft and comfortable.
I’ve read a number of reviews of this model of Fly London boots from people who’ve bought them and then found that they couldn’t zip them up because they were too narrow on the calves. I suspect this can be more of a problem for shorter women who might find that the boots end at a wider part of their calf than for taller women. I don’t consider that I have particularly skinny calves but these fit really well. The boots do stretch a little the more you wear them as the leather relaxes so don’t panic if they are a little tight at first. They have a an elasticated ‘gusset’ at the top which will give you an extra centimeter or so of stretch which is handy if you want to wear them with skinny jeans tucked inside.
The other aspect of size that really matters is the foot. I am a narrow size 5.5-6 (or a Euro 39) and these fit absolutely perfectly in the 39 that I bought and were almost ‘snug’ when I first got them. I’d not recommend these for people who have wide feet or for people who want to wear really thick socks inside their boots.
I would not have bought the Signalex USB Vacuum Cleaner if it had been more than a pound but since it came from Poundland, that wasn't an issue. After a day when I sat on a long phone call in the office, poking away at the icky-encrusted keyboard on my desk, I decided it was time to crack out the keyboard vac and give it a blast. The next day at work we had a quiet afternoon and just about everyone had a go with it.
My desk keyboard is disgusting which is remarkable because I’m hardly ever in the office. Quite how it got so covered in disgustingness is one of life’s mysteries. I don’t eat my lunch at my desk, I don’t repeatedly sneeze, dribble or spit at it, yet there is a high chance that new life-forms are evolving in the fluff caught up in my keyboard. I suspect that someone switched my cleaner keyboard for this revolting monstrosity when I wasn’t there/
I cracked open the packaging and plugged my vac into the USB slot. The device switches on via a sliding switch on the top which has two positions – one turns on the light and the second position adds the vacuum. Perhaps some people like to vacuum their keyboard in the dark and need a bit of help; who knows? Two nozzles are provided – a rubbery flattened tube and a very soft brush which I’ve not tried. We practiced sucking bits of fluff off the desk surface and were underwhelmed. One passing colleague took a look and declared “That’s not exactly going to suck your face off, is it?” He was right.
I set to work on the keyboard thinking it was all rather lame. The flattened rubber head did fit quite well between the keys and whilst it wasn’t making much headway on the patches of stuck-on fluff, it was picking up something from beneath the keys. I had turned the keyboard over and given it a good bang on the table before I started but clearly there was still quite a lot of gunk hiding inside.
Despite thinking that nothing much was going on, when I opened the vac to see what was inside, I was quite impressed at the amount of fluff and dust it had gathered. I handed it around and five or six colleagues had a go. We were all amazed at how much stuff got sucked into this feeble-looking device.
Buy buy buy? (Or why? Why?why?)
Much to my surprise it was considerably better than I expected and easily worth the one hundred pennies I paid for it.
Boiled wool is described by Wikipedia as: “a special type of fabric..created by a mechanical process using water and agitation, shrinking knitted or woven wool or wool-blend fabrics, compressing and interlocking the fibers into a tighter felt-like mass”.
Basically, water and energy are used to pre-shrink woolen fabric into a really tight texture entirely unlike a standard woven or knitted wool. It’s really warm, the wind barely cuts through it, and it holds its shape like a densely woven fabric rather than a knit.
The reason I love boiled wool jackets is that they are as comfortable as a cardigan, and as smart as a tailored jacket. Boiled wool jackets are never widely available and all the ones I’ve had come from my favourite store EAST. I've had half a dozen of these jackets, three of them in the blazer style listed here.
East change the style slightly each year. The 2013 East Blazer in the photo is cut a little shorter and tighter than others that I’ve owned. The 2012 version of this was both longer and thicker and cut in a less tailored style. I have the 2013 in black, light green and dark wine. They retail at around £90 but I only buy from the outlet shop or when there's a sale online. The most I've paid is £70.
The jacket has four buttons at the front and quite wide lapels. There are two buttons on each cuff but they are just for show. There are two patch pockets on the front and each is lined. There are gentle ‘darts’ at the front but they don’t shape the jacket very much. When turned inside out, all of the seams are properly finished off with satin trim in the same colour as the jacket.
Caring for boiled wool is quite easy if you can avoid getting it dirty. It doesn't crumple much but a quick iron sorts it out if it does. They do tend to 'pill' especially in the armpits and this needs picking off every few months. The care instructions on this one say it can be hand-washed in cool water with a mild detergent but you mustn’t soak it, wring it, or wash it right-side-out. Then you have to reshape it while damp, dry it flat and ……. oh so many other tricky things that will leave you reluctant to go out in the rain, let alone wash the darned thing. Send these jackets to the dry cleaner to avoid the stress.
I have had this Radley purse for nearly two years now though there's nothing about its appearance that would suggest it wasn't brand new. The quality of Radley leather goods is always dependable and if this should ever get old and battered, I would but another in a flash. In fact it's almost sad that they're so well built as it means I don't have an excuse to buy another very often.
When I bought this I was looking for a purse with a zip around closure with enough slim compartments inside to hold a few cards, a few notes and a handful of change. My Blair purse is smaller than that shown in the listing but since I requested the listing for the general Blair purse range, I still plan to post this even if the picture is of the very large variant. It was available in several colours and I chose the dark blue for which I paid 20 pounds, knocked down from the original 40.
The dimensions of mine are roughly 11 cm long, 8.5 cm wide and around 2 cm thick if it’s not stuffed too full.
For a Radley purse it’s remarkably plain – none of the appliquéd little leather doggies or flowers or other cutesy designs for which Radley is so recognised. This is a surprisingly grown-up choice for me in simple dark blue leather. On the front of the purse is a small silver metal dog with ‘RADLEY’ embossed on it and underneath the words RADLEY and LONDON are embossed into the leather. On the back of the purse is a transparent window pocket, suitable for keeping your bus pass, work security pass or a photo of your favourite pet. This is lined with a silky fabric with the Radley dog design.
Unzip it and the purse opens like a concertina. Inside there are slots for credit or other cards – three on each side. A very narrow central pocket lined with doggy fabric could hold another card or be a useful place to store receipts. Either side there are two larger areas and I use one for notes and the other for coins.
Two years on, the purse looks great, the zip is still strong and showing no signs of weakness and the high quality leather is still unscuffed and undamaged.
The Blair is a smart, understated but undeniably classy little purse for which I’m not surprised at the high list price. However, I’m very happy to have been able to snap mine up for a lot less. It’s still not exactly cheap, but I expect to get many years use from it.
As Caudalie products go, the SOS Morning Eye Rescue looks like a bit of a bargain at £18 for a 15ml tube but it would still be hard to call it ‘cheap’. This French brand has near iconic status in its home country but it’s still struggling to really establish itself over here. My sample tubes of the eye cream were bought via the website latestinbeauty.com and despite using this for some time, I’m struggling to be really ‘moved’ by the product.
The claims on this one include that it soothes and quenches the eye area to leave the eye ‘contours’ looking naturally glowing, fresh and well rested – in effect, like a good night’s sleep in a tube. It can be used both morning and night - which is odd given the name - and is fragrance free, oil free and has been tested as safe by ophthalmologists. It should allegedly work with all skin types but is particularly good for those with sensitive skin.
On applying it to my eye area, it has a gentle, slightly cooling effect and it soaks in quickly despite being quite a thick cream. As for it making any visible difference to the look of my eye contour, I honestly can’t claim that I can see that it has any impact.
As eye creams go it’s pleasant enough but I’m not convinced that it’s anything particular special. If you can get a small tube to try it out, it’s well worth a go but I wouldn’t consider buying a full sized tube. I do however, recommend the Polyphenol eye cream from the same Caudalie brand as that is rather special.
I’ve previously reviewed two other Caudalie serums and it’s fair to say I wasn’t exactly knocked out by either of them. I know people rave about this French company but I’ve had more bad than good from them. However, with several more products in my box of goodies, I’m not ready to give up on them completely just yet. I bought several sets of small product samples of their ranges through the website ‘latestinbeauty’ and have found the tiny little tubes are ideal for popping into my wash bag when I’m travelling for work.
The SOS Thirst Quenching Serum should be ideal for my slightly dry skin as I like indulgent and highly moisturising products. I also appreciate that this is much better value than the Vinoperfect product I reviewed recently. The SOS sells for 29 GBP for a 30 ml bottle compared to the Vinoperfect at 45 for the same size.
The SOS comes out of the tube with a lot of control so I’m able to use very tiny blobs and the serum spreads astonishingly well. The cliché ‘a little goes a long way’ is one that I over-use in my beauty reviews but it’s very true with this product. It gives an instant cooling feeling on the skin, soaks in quickly and leaves my skin feeling refreshed without being sticky or tacky to the touch.
Looking to the ingredient list, I’m happy to see that it includes a small amount of hyaluronic acid since this is one of my ‘look for’ ingredients in skin care products and I find it very effective.
My sample tubes were very small and I only got a few days use out of them but I really rather liked this product and would buy it if I were to find it available on a good offer.
I was not impressed by the other Caudalie serum that I have tried which probably explains why my bottle of Caudalie Vinoperfect radiance serum sat on my shelf for a long time before I finally cracked it open to give it a go. My complaint about the other – the polyphenol serum that I reviewed last year – was that it felt very thin and watery and gave no noticeable impact on my skin. I tried to be open minded about trying the new one.
The serum comes in a small glass bottle with a dropper. Mine is a 10 ml bottle and I suspect I probably got it in a mixed box set from Latestinbeauty which is where most of my Caudalie products have come from over the years. I haven’t had a 30 ml full sized serum bottle but I can only hope that the droppers are better when you are paying full price as the 10 ml bottle droppers tend to pick up more serum on their outside than on the inside.
Caudalie specialise in ingredients extracted from grapes and I assume that’s why this is called Vinoperfect. The claims for this particular serum are that it will correct and prevent dark spots, even skin tone and boost the radiance of your skin because it contains something called ‘Viniferine’. Whilst I am of an age when my peers seem to be concerned about so-called ‘age spots’, I have been a freckled person all my life and don’t seem to have really switched on to the whole age spot ‘vibe’ at all. I don’t think I have them and if I did, I’d probably not spot them through the freckles. I guess it’s all about perspective. Aside from the sun spots, it’s also supposed to tackle acne marks and scars and fortunately I don’t have those either.
This product is quite thin and runny and a few drops are plenty enough to cover your whole face and neck so even a small bottle gives a good chance to see how it performs. It spreads well and soaks in fast but I find it leaves my skin feeling slightly sticky and that’s not entirely pleasant. It should be used under moisturiser and if you slap something else on top soon after applying, you might not notice the tackiness but I don’t much like it. I think it would be better as a summer serum when you may not want something richer or more indulgent but for me it’s a product that’s not really exciting me.
I've had my Hotpoint WMUD962P for over a year and a half and I love it. It has masses of features I never use and plenty that make my life both easier and much cheaper than it was with my previous washer.
For a start it has a massive drum that takes up to 8 kg of washing and consequently, most weeks our household of two people does a light wash for undies and bedding and a dark wash for everything else. This compares really well to previously doing almost twice as many washes.
It has a fabulous fast wash which means that most of what we clean is done on 45 minute cycles. I have a 40 degree, 45 minute wash with a 1600 rpm spin set in the washer's 'memory' and it's foolproof - even my husband can figure out how to do that. On the rare occasions when I need to do something special - a delicates wash, a heavy wash, or last week when I got oil all over my coat - it's easy to reset the system.
The 1600 rpm that I use means that the washing comes out of the machine already well squished and dries very quickly. About 6 months after getting the washing machine, our tumble dryer broke down. We bought another and we've never actually plugged it in because the laundry dries well in our utility room just hanging from the wall-hangers.
Almost everything about this machine is intuitive. I did read the manual - sort of - but only because I was obliged to as part of the testing regime. I think filed it and forgot it. Everything I do now, I work out as I go along. It's a very easy machine to use, and thanks to the fast wash programme, a very cheap one as well.
If my machine broke down, I'd buy it again. That's how good it is.