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nickbrown60

nickbrown60
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Member since: 19.02.2009

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    • Dualit 46201 / Toaster / 42 Readings / 41 Ratings
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      21.11.2012 22:51
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      A lovely toaster.

      Our last toaster was unfortunate enough to experience a fall from the kitchen counter, straight onto a tile floor and she was beyond repair, this accident actually started off a full kitchen renovation and we replaced all of our appliances to match our new colour scheme. After a good browsing session in John Lewis it was clear that we were committed to the Dualit range of kitchen appliances, they looked great on display, seemed to be of an excellent quality and Dualit is a name that we've always associated with quality appliances from family recommendations. We picked up the Dualit 46201 toaster for a rather reasonable £69 online; I can't quite remember where we ordered it however Amazon rings a bell in my head! The toaster was soon with us and it was easy to set up, we removed if from the box, pulled all of the protective polystyrene from the appliance and placed it on a level hard surface without any other appliances close by.... I'm telling slight lies here as our kettle is right next door to the toaster but that's what the manual recommends!


      ~~~ The look and features ~~~

      The Dualit 46201 is a lovely looking four slot toaster that looks very modern yet classic to fit in with almost any décor, our kitchen is a farmhouse kitchen but I'm sure that this toaster would settle into a modern kitchen just as nicely. Ours is mainly cream in colour with stainless steel panels on the sides of which give the toaster a classic / semi industrial look and it does the job nicely, I believe other colours are available too. The toaster is rather light to hold and I think it feels lighter than it looks, I was expecting it to be rather heavy but I was wrong... The lightness of the toaster doesn't seem to have affected the quality of the appliance as everything feels sturdy and well-built with great attention to detail. The toaster is rather basic with the usual two (Pull down) handles on the front, knobs to control the cooking time of the toast and of course the various buttons to work some of the toasters features.

      The Dualit is a rather basic looking toaster but it has some fantastically handy features built in which seem rather pointless until they become part of your day to day life. The toaster has the 'Peek & Pop®' feature which we now use daily; usually toasters do not allow the user to check the bread without popping the toast up and losing the heat from the element... The Dualit allows us to pop the bread up without stopping the toasting; I will talk about this feature a little later on. Other features are rather basic for a toaster of this price but it has defrost, a bagel toasting mode and high lift to remove small items from the toasting slot.


      ~~~ Using the toaster ~~~

      The toaster is very simple to use and it is exactly the same as any other normal 'non space-age' toaster, you simply pop the bread in and pull the handle down to begin toasting. The knobs on the front of the toaster are easy to use and they are very sensitive to the smallest of movement, it took us a while to figure out our perfect setting but number 5 out of 8 settings seems to cook our thick bread perfectly to our taste. The toasting is very quick due to the toasters high wattage and the toast is toasted evenly and almost to perfection when compared to our last toaster, we were happy with our last one so I can't even describe how happy we are with the results from this toaster!

      More on 'Peek & Pop®'...... Peek and pop is an interesting feature from Dualit that allows the user to view their toast and it's colour during the toasting cycle without disturbing the toaster in any way. Basically while the toast is cooking the handle can be lifted to view the bread without actually stopping the toasting process, it definitely helps us achieve the perfectly toasted bread that we eat each morning and the high lift feature lifts the bread high enough to judge whether its toasted to perfection or not. The high lift feature is very handy when toasting crumpets, pancakes or pop tarts and it prevents burns and accidents to entering fingers into the toasting slot.

      The toasting slots are rather wide at 36mm, this allows thick bread, crumpets and other thick but toast-able foods to be toasted with ease. The bagel feature is very nice, it toasts one side and heats the other to create the perfect bagel, we've tried this and it works very well!

      ~~~ Cleaning, maintenance etc. ~~~

      The toaster is very easy to clean and maintain and there is hardly any maintenance required apart from removing the crumbs every now and then. The toaster has a built in sealed drawer at the bottom of the toaster to catch any crumbs, this drawer is easy to pull out and crumbs hardly ever escape due to its sealed design. The side of the toaster can be lightly tapped to remove most crumbs that may be stuck on the inner walls and they simply fall down into the drawer, the rest of the toaster can be wiped down with a damp cloth and it seems to clean up nicely. The stainless steel on the side of the toaster is polished and obviously fingerprints seem attracted to this area, they are easily cleaned though.

      Dualit guarantee this toaster for a year against any material or workmanship problems, if they are found then they will either repair or replace the toaster at their discretion. I cannot comment on Dualit's customer service as our toaster is still working perfectly and I reckon it will continue for many years yet.

      ~~~ Overall opinion ~~~

      We are generally very pleased with our purchase and even though we bought the toaster for its nice looks we have been pleasantly surprised by its performance. The toaster boasts some great features, it's well designed and it toasts breads and other toast-able foods fantastically well and we simply cannot fault it. The purchase price was rather high and I slightly agree with what some other reviews say about the Dualit range, there probably are similar toasters around for half the price but this one works well, it looks fantastic and it has obviously been built to a very high quality.

      Thanks for reading,
      ©nickbrown60

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      • More +
        05.10.2012 15:55
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        A fantastic camcorder that's easy to use and very compact.

        I was searching for a small and effective video recorder for quite some time after filling my iPhone's memory to the max rendering it unusable; kindly a friend kindly offered me a Flip Video camera free of charge. The Flip F260 model typically costs the high price of £149 on Amazon, they seems quite hard to find as not many adverts for this model are on eBay however I'm sure that one of these could be picked up second hand for around £50 - £60. Toys-R-Us seem to have a good offer on at this time as I spotted them in store yesterday for the rather reasonable price of £68.

        ~~~ About theF260 Flip Camera ~~~

        The Flip Camera has been designed to be a simple and easy to use, portable camcorder that has everything needed to take a video, transfer and display the videos on-board. The camera has 2GB's of internal storage to take videos of up to 60 minutes in length in VGA quality, VGA is typically 0.3 megapixels so the quality is not designed to be perfect making this the perfect camera for amateur / family use. The Flip camera is powered by two AA batteries of which are not rechargeable however rechargeable batteries can be used if need be and they should last two full 60 minutes recording sessions unless they are cheap batteries of course! The camera has an on-board screen of which is small but effective measuring 1.5" and the quality is rather good, the overall dimensions of the camera are 4.17" in height, 2.16" wide and 1.25" deep so it's easy to store.

        ~~~ Setting the Flip Camera up for the first use ~~~

        This was very simple for me as my friend had already done it, I had a quick flick through the helpful instruction manual to confirm the process and it seemed very simple. Basically the setup required the insertion of the two AA batteries, the switch on the device using the on/off switch and simply setting the date and time up with the on-screen commands, simple! The Flip Camera is nicely designed and I find it very easy to hold and to use the buttons and sliding switches located around the edge of the camera.

        ~~~ Taking videos ~~~

        I really enjoy taking videos with this little camera due to the pure simplicity and ease of use. I use mine for taking videos while flying around in my microlight aircraft and obviously there's not much time to fuss around with tricky devices when I'm flying the machine so this camera is a godsend to me. I once used my iPhone for taking videos which were very clear and of a great quality however taking them was always a fuss with the touch screen and annoyingly slow camera app - the Flip Cam has changed my whole video taking experience.

        To take a video you simply grab the Flip Cam, slide the large On/Off button on the side of the camera, aim it at something you want to capture and press the red button on the small control panel on the front of the camera. The video capture starts as soon as the capture button is pressed and there is no noticeable delay in starting. There is a small screen on this camera that shows the user exactly what is being captured making it easy to navigate the camera around whatever is being captured. The camera can be zoomed at any time throughout a video by using the zoom toggles under the screen allowing the user to zoom in and focus on whatever they want while using the screen for accuracy. The zoom is not an optical zoom, it's digital only so quality is slightly affected by the amount of zoom used, it doesn't zoom very far only offering a 2X digital zoom, it's a respectable zoom but not amazing.

        The VGA video quality is not excellent but it's perfectly adequate for amateur videos, they will not be a professional quality but perfect for personal use and for sharing on YouTube etc. The lens is a CMOS type which apparently offers good performance over a variety of uses, the lens is quite exposed on the back of this camera and it's set out at the back.... This makes it easy to damage or scratch if the camera is not kept in a protective case and there is no cover offered for protection.

        ~~~ Transferring videos and watching on the TV ~~~

        Transferring videos to any computer is made incredibly easy with the Flip Cam as it has its own USB connection built in eliminating the need of messy wires as usually used with other cameras. On the side of the camera is a little switch that when flicked releases the USB connection from the side of the camera for instant connection to a laptop or computer. The device is simply plug-and-play and there are no discs involved in using the camera with a computer making it perfect for sharing videos while over friends' houses that might not have any camera software installed. Included in the box is a cable for use with the TV, this has a standard scart connection on the end and it plugs directly into the Flip Cam to show a video of choice on the large screen TV. This feature works very well and it's perfect for sharing the videos with family / friends.

        ~~~ Features ~~~

        The camera has Flip Share software built in which allows videos to be easily uploaded to websites such as YouTube, Facebook and other social media sites with ease. The software is easy to use and I've already used it on a few occasions with great success. The videos taken are in MPEG4 format which seems to be the standard with most camcorders these days so the compatibility with all computers is good. The camera does not have a flash light built in for night use however I must say that the low light videos that I have taken on my camera have been of an excellent quality due to its fast F2 lens.

        Still photos can be taken with this camera but only from a video, in other words you cannot whap this camera out and take a still shot, you can only steal still shots from videos that you have already taken which is a slight shame but it's a camcorder at the end of the day and it records well so I'm not complaining!

        ~~~ General quality, reliability etc. ~~~

        The build quality of this camera is generally very good, it appeared cheaply built to me at first until I held the unit and realised just how sturdy this little camera is. The camera is light and easy to hold and it does not make any strange creaking noises when squeezed like many other cameras I have used in the past. All buttons are of a good quality and the only concerns that I have with this camera are that the lens is very exposed that could possibly damage the lens and the cover on the back is not very well secured with a small catch holding it on, this can be easily deactivated causing the cover to slip off and the camera possibly departing your hands to fall on to a concrete floor - this has not happened yet but it is definitely a possibility!

        The lens quality is obviosuly very good and I don't have many complaints about the quality of recordings for this type of camera, the sound captured in videos is also of a good quality and the built in microphone seems to work well. The built in speaker is slightly quiet when heard during playback on the camera but I shall not complain too much as videos are supposed to be viewed on a computer or TV rather than the camera itself.

        ~~~ Overall opinion ~~~

        Overall I'm happy to recommend the Flip Cam to you and it really is a pleasure to use as it's just so easy to take good quality videos on a device that will happily fit in an average sized pocket. The unit is easy to use, provides good video quality at a good length and it easily connects to the computer or TV without any fuss or agro. The unit seems slightly over priced on Amazon so I'd definitely shop around if you are in need of a Flip Cam and I highly recommend it to you.

        Thanks for reading,
        ©nickbrown60

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        • More +
          20.09.2012 23:50
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          A fantastic electric screwdriver for the general DIY'ers

          As sad as it sounds, an electric screwdriver is something that I've always dreamt of owning since being a small child! Many years ago I used to watch my father using his machine and they looked good fun and they always interested me (sad again!). About a year ago now I purchased lots of flat packed furniture to update my bedroom, this is when I realised that I simply could not go on it life without an electric screwdriver. I spotted the Black & Decker AS36LN electric screwdriver in a local timber and builders merchants for the very reasonable price of £36, a quick comparison on the iPhone confirmed that this was an excellent price so I grabbed the last one and fled home.


          *** About the AS36LN ***

          The unit is made by Black & Decker being assembled in China - as usual! The screwdriver is designed for general DIY use and it doesn't seem to be aimed at the trade with a rather low but powerful enough 3.6V built in battery. The screwdriver is battery powered and the internal batteries are fully rechargeable using the cradle provided with the driver making it a very portable and handy device. Included in the box are various screwdriver bits and a small storage tin to keep the whole lot in to prevent anything getting lost or broken in storage. The driver is a rather powerful device with many different torque settings to suit the type of materials being screwed and it ensures a snug fit of every screw into the material.

          *** Setting the screwdriver up for the first use ***

          This was rather easy as the unit came ready assembled in the box and it only required a full overnight charge to begin use. In the box I found the screwdriver, a charging cradle and plug, 10 various screwdriver bits and an instruction manual. I had a quick flick through the small instruction manual and it was perfectly easy to understand with pictures demonstrating certain features and functions. The screwdriver was easy to put on charge and I only had to drop the driver onto the cradle to begin charging, the cradle reminds me of a cordless phone making charging easy and convenient. The charging light went out overnight indicating that the screwdriver was fully charged and she was ready for use, the set-up was as easy as that....


          *** Using the screwdriver ***

          The first good point that I noticed about this screwdriver was how light and small it is, the driver is easy to hold and hard to drop as it's the perfect shape to grab on to and it has lots of rubber grip around the holding area preventing accidental slippages. The screwdriver is generally a very simple device to use and I did not require the instruction manual to begin screwing, there are very few buttons on the driver - only a forward / reverse button and the trigger to start her turning and that's it! To begin use you simply select the required screwdriver bit from the selection provided, pop it into the magnetic holder on the front of the screwdriver, insert it into the head of a screw and pull the trigger to start the screw turning. Every screw that I've screwed using this screwdriver has worked perfectly and the little motor inside this screwdriver has plenty of power to drive the screws into almost any type of timber, if the screwdriver begins to struggle I usually adjust the torque setting by turning the torque selector at the front of the screwdriver to a higher value, this feature works well and I have used it a lot for screwing delicate materials to prevent over torqueing.

          The screwdriver has a few nifty features that apparently make the device easy to use. One of these features is the retractable magnetic screw holder that pops out the front of the screwdriver just under the screw bit. I have tried using this feature and in all honesty I find it rather useless, maybe it's just me that cannot get the screw holder to actually hold a screw without it slipping upon touching the material that I'm screwing into? I find it much easier to hold the screw with my finger and slowly turn it in using the screwdriver than use this rather useless feature. The one feature that I absolutely love on this screwdriver is the extremely bright blue LED bulb fitted just above the screw bit, this illuminates the area being screwed and it's perfect to ensure an accurate screw location.

          The screwdriver has both a forward and a reverse gear built in so screws can be unscrewed as well as screwed in. The forward / backwards control is by two buttons either side of the handle just above the on/off trigger, it's easy to change the direction of the turn and it generally works very well indeed. All of the buttons and triggers on this screwdriver are of an excellent quality and they feel very robust. The unit feels very sturdy in use and it's easy to apply pressure to the screwdriver for some screws that need that extra boost to pop in.

          *** Reliability, maintenance etc. ***

          I have owned this screwdriver for roughly a year now and I've used it at least once a week for various tasks around the house. The screwdriver has yet to let me down and it's worked faultlessly for the whole time that I've owned it however Black & Decker supply this product with a reasonable 2 year guarantee against mechanical faults and manufacturing errors so I'm still covered! The device is very strong and robust and I have confirmed this by accidentally dropping it onto a concrete floor on numerous occasions, the poor little driver just bounces and she always makes a speedy recovery. The bit's provided are equally as strong and mine are all still fine after numerous uses, if they need replacing the driver takes the standard screwdriver bits so they are cheap and easy to get hold of.

          There is very little, if any maintenance to perform on this little screwdriver apart from charging it and keeping the beast clean. A full charge from a totally flat battery takes roughly eight hours to complete which isn't too bad for me as I'm not a regular user of a screwdriver, for someone doing lots of DIY work I'm guessing that eight hours is too long to wait and it could be very inconvenient as there are no easily removable batteries to use after a flat one.... For this reason I don't think this device is at all suitable for someone with loads of screws to screw! The 3.6V battery however is generally performing well in my screwdriver allowing up to 50 medium screws to be screwed on one charge - the battery is a Lithium-ion so it holds its charge nicely between charges.

          *** Any negatives? ***

          The only slightly negative I can think of is that the screwdriver does not have a variable speed trigger... The motor is either on or off and there is no in-between speed so a screw cannot be slowly inserted without stopping and starting the motor continuously. This is slightly annoying but I've soon gotten used to the problem and I've learnt to just live with it!


          *** My overall opinion ***

          This is a nice electric screwdriver that does everything it says on the tin with hardly any fuss. The device has plenty of power and some nice features to make the job slightly more interesting and apparently easier - apart from the extendable screw holder of which I think is a bit of a joke. This is the perfect electric screwdriver for the average DIY'er that's not too concerned about waiting on battery charges; it's strong, efficient and very reliable. Overall, I highly recommend this screwdriver and I don't regret buying it one bit!

          Thanks for reading,
          ©nickbrown60

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          • Gorenje RK60359OC-L / Fridge / 39 Readings / 38 Ratings
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            20.09.2012 00:08
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            We love this unit!

            This month has been very eventful with many of our electrical appliances blowing up, falling over or mysteriously ceasing to work for no apparent reason... Unfortunately our fridge was one of those appliances that refused to work any longer and a replacement was necessary. We came across the 'Gorenje RK60359OC' Cream coloured retro style fridge/freezer on appliancesdirect.co.uk for the reasonable price of £769.99 with next day delivery. The fridge / freezer combination seemed rather expensive when compared to some of the other makes and models listed on the website however they did not look as nice as the Gorenje, we wanted something retro looking and the Goreneje seemed to be the best looking of the selection.


            *** About the Gorenje RK60359OC ***

            The Gorenje RK60359OC is a retro styled fridge/freezer combination designed to look retro but affordable when compared to similar brands of such styling. The unit is designed to look retro on the outside with its rounded cream panels and chrome handles, but it certainly is not so retro on the inside offering all of the modern features that are to be expected of any modern fridge/freezer unit. The fridge has a generous 229L net capacity and the freezer a reasonable 92L with four glass shelves inside the fridge and two small and one larger drawer in the freezer. The unit is very energy efficient with an A++ rating, we have been trying to cut down our carbon footprint and we've done our little bit by buying this efficient beast also with its four star freezer rating.

            Fridge/freezer dimensions - Height - 1887mm, Width - 600mm and Depth - 640mm.


            *** Setting up the Gorenje fridge/freezer ***

            The unit came packed in a polystyrene case and wrapped in a strong plastic coating to prevent damage during transport, the unit was easy to unwrap and it was surprisingly light to move at only 77KG's requiring only two adults to move the unit with ease. Obviously it would have been a slight struggle with only one person moving however it's always a possibility! We were slightly worried about the type of plug fitted to this unit as appliancesdirect.co.uk stated at the time of ordering that the appliance could arrive fitted with a 2-pin European plug but to our surprise we had a good old 3-pin plug fitted to ours and she was ready to plug in to start chilling. A quick flick through the instruction manual confirmed that it had all of the information possibly required while setting up the appliance safely and efficiently.

            *** All about the fridge ***

            The fridge is situated at the top of this appliance and as usual the fridge is quite a bit larger than the freezer sitting underneath. With the door opened you are greeted with a nice and fresh looking inside compartment with four glass shelves, a vegetable storage drawer and the usual holders built into the door to hold bottles, jars etc... Oh and not forgetting the rack for storing up to four bottles of wine! We are not heavy drinkers so these racks come in handy for storing our flavored water bottles. The inside of the fridge is very roomy and there is plenty of room for all of our items to fit in snuggly without running the risk of items tumbling out after opening the fridge door. There is even a small egg rack built into the door that holds up to 15 medium sized eggs safely and securely.

            Everything inside the fridge is of an excellent quality; the glass shelves are very thick and perfectly strong enough to take the occasional dropping of a jam jar, the door shelves are very strong and do not bend and the drink rack is extremely strong - more than strong enough to support four wine bottles. The fridge has a built in light inside that turns on whenever the door is opened, it's very bright but not too bright creating a nice glow inside without the usual blinding of some fridges during midnight fridge raids (I'm known for them!)

            Fast cooling
            - The fridge has a fast cooling feature that apparently cools the food quicker than most to ensure a long life of goods stored inside. I'm sure that this fridge chills everything quicker than most fridges I've used in the past; I've tested this with yoghurts and fruit... They chill extremely fast so I reckon this 'Fast Cooling' system works rather well!

            Automatic defrost
            - I've never known of a fridge frosting up before, I thought it was freezers that did that? However - this fridge has a defrost feature built in so no maintenance is ever needed besides the usual wiping of the inner surfaces with a damp cloth.

            *** All about the freezer ***

            There is not much to write about the freezer as it's quite a bit smaller than the fridge with many less fancy features. Inside the freezer are three drawers, two small and one larger drawer with nothing but storage space inside but what more could one need? The freezer has been rated with four stars for its freezing efficiency and that is apparently a good rating and Gorenje seem to be proud of it. The only little feature that I can discuss inside the freezer is the ice tray, this is basically a little bottle that you fill up and shake around to fill the little ice wells inside - it's nothing fancy and it only makes ten small ice cubes but it's a nice little touch and a feature that we use.

            *** Quality, maintenance and cleaning ***

            The general quality of this appliance is absolutely fantastic and everything feels solid and well designed. The chrome handles are solid, the doors are solid and smooth to open, the drawers - shelves and other accessories are of a top notch quality and everything works as it should. The cream finish is fabulous and the unit is very durable and it seems hard to mark the finish, we've whacked it with the vacuum a few times by accident and there are no marks to our baby yet. The appliance came with a standard 5 year warranty which if you ask me - shows that the manufacturer has good faith in its products to offer such a good warranty.

            There is very little maintenance needed on this fridge/freezer, the unit self-defrosts which helps cut down the maintenance over many other fridge/freezers. The cleaning of the appliance is very simple and only a wipe over with a damp cloth every now and then is needed to keep the beast in tip-top condition. All of the shelves and accessories can be easily removed from the doors and chamber for easy washing by hand using a mild washing up solution.

            *** Our overall opinion ***

            We are very happy with this fridge/freezer so far, its retro styled, modern in a technology sense and it does the job of chilling our foods and drinks very well. The quality is generally fantastic throughout and everything is solid with no causes for concerns found during our use. The fridge definitely chills very quickly and food seems to last longer in the fridge when compared to our old fridge and it's very quiet compared to our old fridge. The price of the appliance does seem quite high when compared to other fridge/freezer units of a similar size but they certainly don't look as nice and I doubt that most will be of the same quality as the Gorenje. It's a fantastic fridge freezer at a high-ish but worthwhile price.

            Thanks for reading,
            ©nickbrown60

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            • More +
              18.09.2012 23:16
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              A fantastic product!

              After weeks of drooling over pictures and averts of the new Apple iPad, I decided that enough was enough and I did it, I pressed the 'Buy' button on the Network 3 website. It was a hard decision due to the high monthly costs but I knew from that moment that I would not regret the decision. Initially I could not decide whether to order the WiFi model or the 3G model (Or 4G as the new version is known), I fly light aircraft as a hobby and I already knew of many pilots using their iPads up in the sky as a GPS and for this to work a mobile network connection is required, so it was the new iPad 3 with WiFi and cellular connectivity for me! Network 3 were offering the new iPad with their 15GB usage plan for a rather reasonable price of £25 a month with an initial payment of £229 for the 32GB iPad itself, I thought this was a good deal after scouting around the internet looking for a better deal - of which I did not find!


              *** Information on the Apple iPad 3 ***

              Anyone who's used an iPhone to its full potential will know just how handy the device can be and the iPad is basically a larger version of it with a faster processor and some generally enhanced features. The iPad is a tablet computer that almost does everything needed from a computer. You can browse the internet; use the millions of apps available or even write reviews on Ciao! The iPad 3 is the latest version that boasts a retina display, speedier internet browsing and a few other benefits over the older model. The iPad is a nice size measuring 9.5 x 7.3" and it's very thin measuring 0.37" making it easy to hold and use with its 9.7" display making browsing and navigating easy. The iPad that I chose has a rather large 32GB memory for storing music, pictures, applications etc.

              *** Setting the iPad up ***

              This job was very easy and the hardest bit was actually getting into the box, the iPad was well packaged and perfectly protected from the battering of Royal Mails postal service. Once the box was opened I was greeted by the lovely looking device, a sim card and a wall charger.... Unfortunately I did not find any earphones inside my package and it seems that Apple do not include them with their iPads, unless Network 3 sneaked them out on entering my SIM card? Nevertheless, I carried on after the earphone issue and all that was required to get the iPad working was to hold the on/off button for a few seconds, answer a few questions that popped up on the screen and I was good to go, wow!


              *** Using the iPad ***

              The iPad is an absolute joy to use with its responsive touch screen. The new retina display is absolutely gorgeous making websites and images look much better than when viewed on most other devices. The screen responds perfectly to my fingers and it can be controlled with flicks, slides, taps, whacks or whatever I'm in the mood for. I did think that typing would be a challenge while using the on screen keyboard and it sure was at first, but after a few hours of typing away I knew the iPads keyboard perfectly well and it responds perfectly to any input, who needs buttons? Nearly all of the iPads controls are on screen apart from the main button on the bottom of the device that cancels everything on the screen, it's basically an escape all button to take you back to the main menu. The only other buttons on the device are the volume up/down on the side, a silent button to stop the iPad waking you in the night and the on/off button on the top, all of the other commands are done through the touch screen and they all work perfectly.

              The iPad has many features as standard such as two built in cameras, a built in speaker and even GPS receivers. The camera is rated at 5MP and it certainly takes some good quality photos showing great detail on the retina display. Photos are easily taken by opening the camera app and tapping the take button, there are plenty of apps available to edit and enhance photos with ease making it a fun yet useful device. I used my iPad to take my holiday photos while we were in Greece this summer, the beauty of the iPad is that a picture can be taken and uploaded to any social website or picture sharing website with ease allowing easy sharing without the usual plugging in of cameras to download pictures. The camera also takes videos of the same high quality and there is no length restriction that I have come across yet, with 32GB of internal memory there's a lot of recording to do. The inbuilt speaker is great for playing videos and music and although the sound is not perfect, it's certainly of a good quality and better than most I have heard in the past.

              This new iPad 3 has a built in dual core A5X chip that ensure speedy and reliable performance while preserving battery life. This iPad is super fast in every application and it has yet to crash on me, the web browsing is exceptionally fast and in all honesty, everything works perfectly! This device is faster than my laptop that cost over twice the price of this little iPad.

              *** App's etc. ***

              There are plenty of apps available for the iPad to keep the user entertained, I've used mine daily for almost 2 months and I'm still finding new apps and games that bring me joy! The most common are Facebook, Twitter, eBay, PayPal, Lloyds TSB, Tesco, Various Cinema's, BBC I player, Sky Go.... There are so many available that offer plenty of great features. The apps allow you to contact friends, watch TV, play any radio station, order food etc. I love the apps for pilots such as navigating, flight planning and general aviation information, not only is this device fun but it can also greatly help in day to day life for many people.

              My pilot navigation apps all work perfectly and the iPad can tell the altitude the aircraft is flying at, the groundspeed, the heading by using it's built in electronic compass and many other flight planning readings. My iPad has helped me find airfields that I didn't know existed making my flying more enjoyable and even less stressful. I have also bought a few apps for navigating on the roads, for 69p I have downloaded a full SatNav for use all around the UK and it works perfectly - just as good as any Garmin, TomTom or any other satnav around.

              *** Durability, battery life etc. ***

              The ipad's front screen area is all made of glass and this did worry me at first resulting in me running to the shops to buy a case for my new baby in case of an accident. The glass is obviously very strong as it's been bashed a few times with various objects due to my clumsy hands, I actually dropped my iPhone straight onto the iPad screen last week while texting someone while not concentrating, the banging noise was quite horrific to hear but my phone bounced straight off the screen without even leaving a mark so this glass must be toughened / strengthened in some way. The back of the iPad appears to be made from aluminum or some other kind of tough but thin metal, this has scratched very slightly on my device but it doesn't affect the use of the iPad in anyway. My screen is still 100% scratch free and it looks as good as new so I'm happy to say that the iPad is rather strong however I doubt that it would survive a fall onto a hard floor without some kind of protection, this would be pushing luck!

              Apple claim that the iPad will last around 10 hours of internet browsing on one full charge, obviously this is in perfect conditions, probably with the screen on the lowest brightness setting. I have never had 10 hours of browsing out of my device but I've got close, I generally find that the battery gives me 7 - 8 hours of browsing on low screen settings and I think this is a fabulous battery life for such a large screened device. A full charge generally takes about 4 - 5 hours and I do one of these about twice a week with daily use, the battery lasts longer than any laptop I've owned in the past. I use mine for watching TV, browsing the internet and various other battery draining tasks but it holds up very well.

              *** Is it easy to use? ***

              The iPad can be a bit daunting at first with all of the fancy buttons to press on screen. Anyone that can use an iPhone will be able to use an iPad with ease as they are very similar. The iPad is very much bigger than an iPhone which makes it much easier to use without the accidental pressing of the wrong buttons every now and then as I find with my iPhone. The menus are easy to navigate and they are nicely set out making the iPad a pleasure to use. The only slight complaint I have is that the device is quite hard to hold without a case fitted, I just can't figure out where to hold the device and I never felt comfortable using the device until I fitted a leather case. It would be nice if they made a slightly smaller iPad but I've heard rumours that a 7" version may be coming out in the next year or so? Time will tell!


              *** Overall opinion ***

              As you can probably tell, I love my iPad and I don't plan on parting with the beast anytime soon. It has almost replaced my laptop entirely and it's fantastic for reading and rating on Ciao. The web browsing never crashes, never gets slow and it has not let me down in any way yet. I highly recommend the iPad 3 and it's a device that I will continue to upgrade throughout the rest of my life as I simply could not live without it! It has replaced all of my music players, cameras and other media devices; it really is an all in one package. Thank you to Apple for designing such a stunning device.

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              • Samsung WB500 / Digital Camera / 50 Readings / 45 Ratings
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                16.09.2012 23:07
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                A super camera, I love it!

                I first came across the Samsung WB500 digital camera while browsing the shelves in Tesco for a new Satnav, I had saved for a new Satnav for a few months and strangely enough I came away that day with a camera instead of a Satnav.... That's exactly how weird I can be! The camera was priced at £229 at the time roughly two years ago - It's very much cheaper now at around £99, I couldn't resist picking it from the shelf due to its looks, the big lens did it for me as I had always wanted one of those 'Big lens' cameras which I believe are called SLR's? The Samsung WB500 looked to be an in-between of a normal digital camera and an SLR so I picked her up and left the store a happy boy.

                *** About the Samsung WB500 ***

                The WB500 is a nice looking digital camera fitted with a beastly Schneider Kreuznach 24mm Ultra Wide lens with a 10x optical zoom. The camera has a fair sized LCD screen at 2.7" and many features to improve and modify pictures taken. The camera is chunky but small enough to fit into a standard sized pocket with ease, has a built in but removable rechargeable battery that provides an excellent battery life compared to some other cameras with similar specs.

                *** Setting the camera up for the first use ***

                This was a very easy process with no headaches caused of any kind. Inside the box I found the camera, a charger, a 1GB memory card and an instruction manual, that was it.... No messing around - it was simply a plug and play job. The handbook recommended a full charge of three hours to be completed prior to first use but I'm impatient and went straight ahead with taking pictures. The instructions were very basic however all of the info possibly needed was inside the book along with a brief description of the cameras features.

                *** Ease of use ***

                The WB500 is very easy to use and I have not experienced any difficulty in using the camera throughout the many years of owning the beast. The camera is easy to hold and it is not slippery to hold like many of the new / slim styled cameras and the chances of dropping it are quite slim. It has a rubber grip on the front which provides excellent grip for the fingers during use, the hand strap is a very handy to have and it has prevented many smashing incidents while I take pictures in high areas.... I'm slightly clumsy when it comes to technology and I often drop my devices within a few months of owning them, the Samsung has survived two years with me so far so it must be good!

                The cameras menus are very easy to navigate and the buttons on the back of the camera are large enough to press without difficulty. The on/off button is easy to press but its inset to prevent accidental switch on's while storing in handbags or pockets to save battery life. The cameras menus are mainly navigated using the turning knob on the top of the camera, this is easy to turn and it's a joy to use. The camera is just designed for pure ease of use and I reckon that anyone could pick it up and instantly use it with no instructions needed.

                *** Picture quality ***

                The camera takes pictures at 10 megapixels which ensures a descent picture quality on various types of screens and prints. The quality of the photos is simply amazing in normal camera mode and the colours are beautiful compared to many cameras that I have used in the past. The images are crisp, clear and in my honest opinion - almost perfect, this does come at a cost though when using the 10mp setting, each picture has a file size of roughly 4mb's which takes up quite a lot of memory but the 1GB memory card still holds plenty of images and videos - the size of the images can easily be turned down in the cameras menu if need be.

                The main reason for buying this camera was for taking aerial shots, I fly microlight aircraft and I'm always asked to photo people's houses from above and this camera does it superbly. Before purchasing this camera I had tried many different makes and types of cameras to find one suitable for my hobby and not one really impressed me.... The first flight with my WB500 on board had me hooked as the pictures taken were fantastic, other cameras never caught the beauty of the world from above as I was seeing it through my eyes but the Samsung definitely does!

                The WB500 offers video recording as a standard feature and for as long as the memory card allows. The quality of videos is almost as good as the image quality and it never fails to amaze me whether they were taken in the day or in dark conditions. The video quality is apparently HD and the videos certainly do appear to be HD - the sound is also of an excellent quality when played through large speakers or the cameras inbuilt speaker.

                *** Features ***

                I won't list every single feature as there are simply too many but I will talk about some of the main ones.

                Beauty shot - This is my favorite feature of all time, basically it's for facial shots whether your with a group of friends, on your own or taking photos in a mirror -The beauty shot feature detects faces in images and improves the facial skin conditions to make the user look like a model! I can confirm that this feature works exceptionally well as I suffered from acne last year, I hated any pictures as my acne used to appear worse on camera than it actually was in real life - beauty shot fixed my skin and hid every single spot, every time! The best thing is that the pictures look natural taken in this mode and it does not make the people in the image look plastic etc. This is the perfect camera for acne sufferers!

                Night mode - This is a standard feature on most cameras these days but I can confirm that the mode works very well on this camera. The picture quality when flash is used is extremely good, even in a pitch black room! The flash is very good and it does not cause any blurring of images that some camera I've used in the past have done.

                Continuous shot - This feature allows you to press the shutter once and leave the camera take multiple images at once; this is very handy for taking pictures of fast moving objects such as planes at an airshow. This feature works fantastically well and it has never let me down.

                Super zoom - The optical zoom is amazing on this camera, 10x zoom without any noticeable quality issues... If you want to go further the digital zoom is almost as good allowing super shots from a distance.

                There are many other features that this camera offers and many are standard as you would get with any other camera such as - Red eye reduction, self-shot, self-timer, voice recorder etc. I have used almost every feature of this camera and they are all useful and they all work.

                *** Syncing with the computer ***

                The WB500 is all plug and play with Windows computers; I'm unsure about Apple's as I don't own one but I'm sure that it would be compatible! Transferring images and videos to my laptop is a breeze, I simply plug the USB cable into both the camera and PC and voila - the camera is instantly recognised and the images transfer using Windows standard software. It's all very easy and it works well with no installation discs required.

                *** Battery life, reliability and general quality ***

                The battery life is fantastic to say the least offering up to 270 shots on one charge, I have taken this camera on two week holidays on a few occasions and I usually get away with one charge throughout those full two weeks, this is with daily shots and the odd video taking session here and there. The charge generally takes three hours from fully empty and this is simply done by using the charger supplied, the charger has a charging light which glows red during charging and green when the unit is fully charged and I find this simple feature very handy!

                The camera is very solid and extremely well built; I have dropped it on a few occasions with only a few dents to tell the story. It's mainly made of plastic with some metal here and there to make it look pretty and finished in chrome, the camera is very reliable in every way and it has never let me down. It came with a manufacturers one year warranty and I've already double that period with no faults whatsoever with plenty of use to test its reliability.

                *** Overall opinion ***

                As you can probably tell, I love this camera! It's easy to use, very reliable and it takes fantastic shots while I fly around. It has never let me down and I would honestly recommend it to anyone, especially at the low price it's available at these days. Thank you Samsung for designing such a delightful camera!

                Thanks for reading
                ©nickbrown60

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                • Russell Hobbs 17880 / Iron / 40 Readings / 39 Ratings
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                  14.09.2012 20:04
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                  A powerful and effective iron.

                  Ironing has to be one of the most hated chores in our household and there is unfortunately no escaping it, unless we want to walk around looking like shriveled up prunes of course! This task calls for a good iron in a household with six family members needing clean clothes daily, this is where the Russell Hobbs 17880 steam generator iron came into our life. We had never owned a steam generator iron before and it was a new adventure for us, we didn't want to spend a fortune as after all we were not sure whether this type of iron would work for us so we purchased this at a reasonably cheap cost of £89 in Comet. It was on offer at the time of buying some months back and from looking around the various websites selling this model - the average price seems to be around the £100 mark.


                  *** Some information on the Russell Hobbs 17880 iron ***

                  The Russell Hobbs 17880 is a high pressured steam generating iron that produces up to five times the amount of steam as most conventional steam irons. It's rated at 2100 Watts so it's quite powerful and uses a fair amount of electricity during use compared to some smaller irons, the iron is designed to make ironing quicker and easier than a conventional iron so the energy use may actually decrease compared to some conventional irons of a similar wattage. The steam generator has a large 1 Litre water container which means less refilling compared to most conventional irons with smaller containers.

                  *** Setting the iron up for the first use ***

                  This was a very simple process with only some minor assembly required. The iron was well wrapped in the box and the instruction manual provided rather clear images of how to put the thing together without causing any stress. Once the iron was together with the reservoir filled to the MAX line it was as simple as plugging the iron in and waiting for it to warm up. There are two buttons on the irons base which control the steam flow from the base and the heat of the irons ceramic heat plate, we prefer to use both the irons plate and steam together as we find the results better than just either settings on their own but the option is there if they are ever needed on their own! From the first use we were impressed by how quickly the iron warmed up from cold, the average time from plug in to the ironing of the first garment is roughly two minutes.


                  *** Ironing with the 17880 ***

                  Now steam generating irons are supposed to make ironing easier and I can agree with that statement after experiencing this lovely machine. The ceramic plate glides over clothes with ease and the steam is very highly pressured at an apparent 5 bars of pressure, this sort of pressure blasts creases out of clothes and it generally makes ironing a breeze. The iron is very light to move around as unlike most steam irons, the steam generating components are all contained in the base unit - the water too! This has created a light iron that glides over clothes with ease unlike some of the heavier conventional types; the pressure of the steam also helps with the gliding actions so this could be a perfect iron for anyone with wrist / arm aches, pains or problems. The steam flow is controlled on the top of the iron by a standard button as found on most conventional steam irons, the button is easy to press and it's very responsive with the smallest of touches.
                  The iron has a temperature selector built into the unit to control the temperature of the hot plate; the markings on the dial are quite small and are hard to read so a bit of guess work is needed here but it certainly works well. The different temperature settings allow the irons to be used on many different types of materials without causing heat damage. The soleplate is actually nonstick and it seems to handle t-shirts with small designs stuck on with ease, many of our past irons have destroyed t-shirt designs whilst running over the rubber stick on type of designs but this iron seems to run over them without issues - I wouldn't recommend trying this though, maybe we've been lucky so far....


                  *** General maintenance etc. ***

                  This iron is generally very easy to maintain, apart from refilling the water container when its empty there's not much more to do unless you live in a hard water area. There is actually a filter built into the water container to help with the scale buildup caused by some areas water supplies, we have soft water and do not need to replace this filter as often as some - we've owned the iron for a good six months so far and it's still working well. If the steam output noticeably drops then it's time to replace the filter, they can be sourced from Russell Hobbs but I'm unsure of the price as we have not had to buy one. Apart from the filter change the only other maintenance is to descale the boiler; this sounds easy using vinegar as described in the manual.

                  *** Quality and reliability ***

                  The quality of the iron is generally very good, it feels solid, has nice and responsive buttons and it generally feels very well built. The generator base is quite heavy and feels solid with no strange noises heard after a shake test by myself and the same goes for the iron, it's generally a very solid piece of kit. All of the cables, pipes and connections feel extremely sturdy and I doubt that they'll ever break or leak. The iron base has a rubber seat to rest the iron on to cool down after use, this is very safe and the iron stays attached to the base even after a hard knock from passersby. The feet of the generator are rubber which stops any dangerous movements during use making this a safe and practical iron. We have used this iron almost daily for six months now and it still works perfectly like day one, the 12 month guarantee that's included has yet to be needed but it's always there for the next six months so we are not too worried at the moment.


                  *** Any disadvantages? ***

                  The only slight problem that I can think of is the noise that the generator creates during use. Every five minutes of so the generator pump kicks in and the noise is rather loud, loud enough to interrupt the watching of the TV during the ironing. The noise is a hard one to explain but it's an annoying noise that pulses for a good two minutes at a time and it does a good job of annoying everyone in the room that are trying to relax. This is obviously a minor problem but in my honest opinion I never expected an iron to make more than a hissing noise during use, this one is different though!

                  *** My overall opinion ***

                  I think this is an excellent iron that does the job well; it would be perfect if it wasn't for the loud pumping noise during use but this may not be a problem for some users that don't watch TV during an ironing session. The iron is well made, irons well and it definitely speeds up the ironing when compared to a conventional steam iron. I used to hate ironing before owning this beast and it has definitely changed the way I look at the sport, yes - Ironing is now seen as a sport in our household! I highly recommend this glorious product!

                  Thanks for reading
                  ©nickbrown60

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                  • Logitech Z 4 / PC Speaker / 63 Readings / 60 Ratings
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                    15.05.2012 23:38
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                    Fabulous speaker system!

                    I'm absolutely obsessed with music and I swear that it makes the world go round, obviously it doesn't but it is rather interesting to listen to and it always 'chills me out' at times. I'm fussy when it comes to music and I really do detest cheap sounding speakers and I must admit that I'm one happy boy for finding this 'Logitech Z4' speaker system in Tesco one evening, I paid roughly £69.99 but this was about two years ago now and I don't believe that they sell them anymore but these are easily obtained from eBay or other sites, mainly second hand for around £30-£40 - Bargain I'd say!

                    These were very easy to set up and in the box I found two free standing (Satellite) speakers, a subwoofer and a control panel with a standard audio jack adaptor to plug devices into the system. All I had to do was find a suitable location for the system to live (This should be a hard and stable surface to avoid vibration from the subwoofer); I plugged the speakers into the back of the subwoofer and plugged the system into a normal electric socket, job done! Setup was totally painless and the instruction manual was not at all needed however a quick flick through it confirmed that everything was there to help a user in need of assistance - it also had every language known to man in there. The best way to set up these speakers is to have the subwoofer placed under a desk or on the floor with the two satellite speakers placed next to a computer monitor or on a table, this provides a better all-round sound without the music or sound sounding 'too much'.

                    *** A bit about the Logitech Z4 system ***

                    This is a rather nice looking speaker system that can be used with computers, iPods and any other devices with a standard 3.5mm stereo jack output. Most devices around have this output today and if they don't, there's always an adaptor available to create one. The system has an overall power of 80Watts which is pretty reasonable for a small computer sound system; this is mainly the power from the subwoofer as the free standing speakers are only rated at 8.5Watts each. It has a control panel that attaches to the system which has a large volume knob and a smaller knob to control the power of the bass - this subwoofer is pretty large and it is designed to give great bass, just how the user wants it.


                    *** Using the speakers ***

                    I first used my speakers with my iPhone and oh boy, did I have a surprise when I started playing some of my banging tunes! The speakers input wire is very long and it was the perfect length to reach from under my desk to the top of it, with me standing with my iPhone dancing around like an idiot. To start the music I simply plugged the cable into my iPhone, turned on the speakers by using the on/off button on the control panel and I pressed play on my iPhone, job done and I was instantly impressed with the quality and volume. To my surprise I had the speakers set to half volume when I first turned it on, I thought it was full until I turned the volume knob and I was greeted with perfect sound at a very loud volume.

                    I have now owned these speakers for two years and I'm pleased to say that I'm still very impressed with the sound and performance. The volume is easily controlled using the control pad's large knob and the volume control is very precise. I have got caught out a few times with the system as it took me a while to figure out that the overall volume is controlled by using both the speaker's volume control and the volume control of the device plugged into the system. For example, if you want full volume while using an iPhone, the volume must be selected to full on the speakers control panel and the volume must also be set to maximum using the volume control on the iPhone - this also applies to the volume while using a computer with the system, it's definitely not rocket science and it's easy to get the hang of after a few uses.

                    The sound from these speakers is absolutely amazing, vocals are crisp, I hear noises in songs that I've never heard before and the bass is absolutely amazing! If you like bass, these speakers are for you as they amplify the bass in songs amazingly but it's no big deal if you don't like bass as the bass volume is fully controllable. For such a small set of speakers I must say that I'm absolutely amazed by the quality and the overall volume that they give out, it's simply amazing. I have used these with my laptop on a few occasions for watching movies and the effects work very well with them, you can almost make them a slight surround system with a bit of arranging around the room as the satellite speakers have rather long wires, the bass in movies is just as good as when playing songs and this definitely helps the experience.

                    *** Design and durability ***

                    This system is designed very well and even though they are not the prettiest looking speakers around, they are definitely practically designed! I have had these speakers set up in various locations around my bedroom and I've never spotted a design fault. The small satellite speakers are nice looking with three speakers on the front, they have very effective legs and it takes a good whack to actually knock them over, I have knocked them off the desk on a few occasions and they have never come to any harm and they still look new after two years of use. The subwoofer speaker could be described as slightly 'clumbsy' but that's my opinion and others may think differently, the subwoofer is also quite heavy but this is still not a concern in my eyes as I don't move it very often!

                    This system makes a fantastic addition to any computer as it can easily become the main audio device as its sound is simply amazing. The speakers are a perfect size to sit next to a PC monitor and I guarantee that the sound will impress, there are obviously better available but for the price I'd say that this is a very competitive system for any standard user of a computer.

                    *** Overall sound quality and any problems? ***

                    The quality, as I mentioned above is absolutely amazing. Songs played through this speaker system are perfect and I hear things in songs that I have never noticed before when using headphones. The sound does not distort at all, even at high volume and believe me, that is high! The bass can be very loud, if you have the bass knob set to full and this can sometimes upset people, my mother often screams up the stairs for me to 'turn the bass down' - her opinion is that the sound is fine but the bass is too loud, even on the medium setting. I don't notice the bass too much when I'm in the room but the rest of the house and even the neighbours can hear it so it must be quite an effective feature.

                    I have generally not experienced any problems with this speaker system over the two years that I have owned it, it has never let me down and I expect it to last very much longer. My only slight complaint would be that the bass is too much but I'm only complaining as I get shouted at for it! I like the bass and it certainly makes my songs sound that little bit more interesting.

                    *** Overall opinion ***

                    I can 100% recommend this system to you as I'm still very happy with it after a whole two years of almost constant use, the sound is crisp, not affected by volume and the bass is amazing. They work fabulously as permanent PC speakers and they also work great with iPods and other devices with the standard 3.5mm jack connection. They have never let me down and they continue to work very well, I believe that I will have another good few years before a replacement is necessary for my lovely Z4 speaker system - they did come with a one year warranty but my time is up now!

                    Thanks for reading
                    ©nickbrown60

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                    • More +
                      29.04.2012 23:44
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                      A lovely vacuum

                      Our much loved Vax upright vacuum had unfortunately passed away last week, no fault of its own as there was a slight stair falling incident that made it unusable. We were fed up of using an upright cleaner in all honesty and that good old 'accidental dropping down the stairs' trick definitely came in handy resulting in us now owning a lovely and shiny Henry in the household. Our idea was to buy something rugged with good suction power without a huge price tag, this was obviously a Henry vacuum and we picked this little beauty up in Homebase for a rather reasonable £99 which seems to be cheaper than all of the other shops that we also checked in the area. We have owned a few of these cleaners in the past so we knew they were good, however I'm sure that we paid a little less than the prices we viewed last week on similar models from not so long ago - inflation!


                      *** About the Henry vacuum ***

                      The Henry vacuum is a very basic cleaner that basically, works! From reading on Wikipedia I discovered that the Henry is manufactured by a company called 'Numatic', in Chard, Somerset in England which makes me feel proud of myself for buying a UK product, which is rare these days. Apparently over 7 million of these cleaners have been sold since 1981, all over the world which shows the success of the company and the product.

                      The Henry vacuum is very basic, it's basically a tub with a 1200 Watt motor on top and they are separated by a large filter. Inside the tub is a cloth bag that is not reusable but reusable types can be purchased from eBay at very reasonable costs. From memory, we used to use our old Henry vacuum without a dust bag installed but I cannot see any recommendation of this in the instruction booklet that came with our new model. The cleaner has a long hose with sturdy metal tubes and a good quality floor nozzle for reliable cleaning, everything is strong and robust on the Henry and it's been that way since the early models.


                      *** Opening the box and setting up ***

                      Luckily, the Henry vacuum is very simple and setting him up ready for the first cleaning was easy. The box was not too large and it fitted in our boot without any issues, inside we found;

                      The vacuum unit (Henry)
                      The hose
                      A floor tool
                      Various small attachments
                      3 x spare dust bags (And an extra one already installed in the machine)
                      And of course, the instruction manual.

                      The dust bag was already inserted in the machine and all we had to do was, screw the hose on (Henry's nose), pop the metal tubes together and attach the floor nozzle and he was good to go. Henry's lead is stored in his hat and this is easily removed by pulling on the plug, we noticed how long the lead was straight away as we kept pulling, pulling and pulling until we were at the other end of the house. We plugged him in and flicked the on switch ready for cleaning.

                      We did have a quick flick through the instruction manual before the first clean, this was totally unnecessary as the cleaner is so simple to use. There are hardly any words in the manual however all actions are clearly shown in coloured images with arrows and short words here and there.


                      *** Cleaning with Henry ***

                      The first thing that is noticed when turning on the new style Henry vacuum cleaner is the very quiet motor and the rather large suction. Our Henry has an eco-mode which works automatically, basically the Henry has two motor speeds - High and low, the vacuum always starts on the low power setting which provides excellent suction and low noise, if the low power is not enough for you cleaning task then you can flick the high button and the motor will go to full speed with excellent suction power without too much of a noise increase, even on high power the Henry is very quiet. We started our cleaning by keeping Henry on the low power setting as it was obvious that there was plenty of suction for picking up dirt from our medium pile carpets.

                      The cleaner is rather easy to push over our carpets on the low setting; we do struggle slightly while using the high power setting so we save that for the hard floors and our low pile mats. The cleaner effortlessly picks up pet hair, sand, bird seed and other nasty's that are dragged into our household with many pets and humans entering and exiting all day long. Most of the dirt is picked up in one pass but on stubborn hairs a few scrubs are needed to pick the mess up but Henry always gets it in the end! The hose being long allows easy cleaning and the cleaner effortlessly moves around the house with light tugs, we have noticed on a few occasions that Henry gets stuck at some corners resulting in us tugging hard on the hose and him coming flying around the corner in an upside down position, I'm not sure if this is a common problem or not - maybe it's just our corners and door frames that get Henry flipping.

                      The Henry comes with basic small tools to help with cleaning stairs, upholstery etc. There is a stair cleaning tool with a clip on scrubbing brush, a dusting brush, a crevice tool and a small adaptor for using the tools with Henry's black hose without the metal extensions fitted. All of the tools feel of a rather good quality and they are very sturdy without any bits to snap off like some brands. We have used all of the tools and they work fabulously even though they are basic, our only slight issue with these is that there is no place to store these tools on the machine - there is a small clip on the back which can hold one tool of the users choice but this is not always enough for an average cleaning session and we have already lost one tool in under a week due to the lack of storage, not ideal.

                      The suction is absolutely immense and in all honesty, it seems to be the strongest sucking vacuum that we have ever owned. The suction is great using all of the tools and the low power setting is often creates enough suction for all tasks around the house whilst saving energy that would have once been wasted.


                      *** General design and ease of use ***

                      The Henry is generally well designed but in my opinion, there are a few small problems that I reckon should be sorted to make the unit easier to use. The hose is long, which is fabulous but then there is the storage problem. Most cylinder vacuum cleaners have a hook to hold the cleaner head and hose up during storage, the Henry does not and he also does not have telescopic wand so every piece of the Henry needs to be disassembled to allow easy storage - otherwise he ends up in a bit of a mess.

                      The main problem is the tool storage; the Henry only has one small clip for holding tools which allows the user to pick one tool of their choice to be carried around on the machine. Sometimes, one tool is not enough and we have encountered this problem already and it is annoying having to search the house to find the tool that you need to finish the job. Not only is this annoying but it seems slight daft to me, after many years of manufacturing these cleaners - why have they not designed a tool holder of some description? Apart from those small problems, I find the vacuum easy to use and it is certainly very durable. The Henry vacuum can take a battering and it is very strong all round, this is probably why you see a lot of these cleaners being used in semi commercial properties - walking through Swansea Town in the afternoon I see loads of these smiling vacuums in shops which shows just how popular they are.

                      *** Maintenance and emptying the Henry ***

                      The Henry is virtually maintenance free apart from having to empty him every once in a while. The dust bags are rather huge with a capacity of 9 litres and they are very reasonable in cost. We picked up a pack of 10 bags from Homebase for £8.19 but I'm sure that you could get them cheaper if you search around. Henry bags really do last a very long time and from our past machines with daily use we were replacing the bags once a month and they probably could have gone on for longer. The main reason for changing bags is mainly the smell, unfortunately the design of the vacuum without having odour filters in this model guarantees that there's a slight doggy smell that lingers around the machine after a two week vacuuming on the same bag. Other than that, the cleaner maintains its suction very well allowing a bag to be filled right to the top without losing too much of its performance. The bag is easy to remove unless it is very full and it can get heavy!
                      The very large filter that is contained inside the tub is very easy to clean, I simply bash it against a wall outside when the time comes to empty the bag. I believe that this can be washed every now and then but we just remove the dust and spray some Febreeze on it to keep the cleaner smelling fresh.

                      *** Overall opinion ***

                      I believe that this vacuum is probably one of the best bagged cleaners that you can get in the price range apart from a few annoying little design problems. It sucks extremely well and it seems quite economical in use, it hardly ever needs emptying and the machine is very rugged with great looks. I highly recommend this vacuum and it gets 4 stars from me.
                      Thanks for reading,

                      Alsoooo on CIAO!!
                      ©nickbrown60

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                      • More +
                        13.04.2012 22:13
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                        This is a fabulous washing up liquid that seems thicker and of a better quality than most brands

                        We seem to go through washing up liquid very quickly in our household so we always try to buy the cheapest available, this usually being from Lidl's for a rather reasonable 24p but it was time for a change last week. A small shopping trip to Asda brought this fabulous looking 'Mandarin & Mango washing up liquid', into our life for a very reasonable 88 pence. I'm not sure if this price was an offer or not but it seems to be the standard price on Asda's website and it appears quite a reasonable price for a large 740ml bottle.


                        ~~~ A bit about the Mandarin and Mango Washing Up Liquid ~~~


                        The liquid is a nice orange colour and it is held in a transparent bottle with a good quality snap on/off lid which is easy to open. The liquid is described on the bottle to be a 'Grease busting', liquid with a Mandarin and Mango scent which I must say, is very nice indeed! The liquid is a grease busting formulation that is bursting with bubbles to leave your dishes sparkling clean, lovely!


                        ~~~ Using the product ~~~


                        This is obviously not rocket science, you simply fill the washing up bowl with warm water and add a small amount of the concentrated liquid to your requirements and get washing. From the first use it was obvious that spending the slight extra price over the normal Lidl's cheap product that we were buying was well worth it, we used quarter as much as we would have usually but the thick and lovely orange liquid filled the bowl with bubbles and it started working straight away while giving off the fabulous scent.



                        Our first challenge for this liquid was a rather dirty frying pan that I had accidentally left on while making a bacon sandwich, not a good combination in all honesty and the stuff was stuck on rather badly. In went the liquid and some warm water, a quick wipe with a sponge and the pan came up clean without too much scrubbing at all which impressed us so we carried on leaving the dishwasher have a break. All of our dishes cleaned up fabulously and the glasses were shining, I'm convinced that washing by hand is much more effective than using a dishwasher and it seems to be quicker when you take loading / unloading into consideration.


                        ~~~ The smell and ease of use ~~~


                        The Mandarin and Mango scent is in all honest, rather divine! I love the smell and so do the rest of the family, it fills the kitchen during our dish washing sessions and even though the scent is rather artificial straight from the container, it smells rather natural when diluted and warm. The Lidl's washing up liquid that we once owned used to leave our hands feeling very dry as we are naughty and do not bother using rubber gloves for washing dishes by hand, this product leaves our hands soft and our skin is looking rather normal after a few weeks of use and needless to say that the Lidl's liquid has been removed from our household and replaced by this beauty!


                        ~~~ Overall opinion ~~~


                        The liquid looks and smell divine and it is a rather reasonable cost when you consider that it's a 740ml bottle for only 88 pence and that you have to use so little to get positive results. The liquid is not harsh on our hands and it is generally a very pleasant product to use and I highly recommend this!


                        Thanks for reading.

                        ©nickbrown60

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                        • Hoover DM6185T / Vacuum Cleaner / 61 Readings / 58 Ratings
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                          18.03.2012 23:08
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                          An okay vacuum cleaner - not the best

                          In our house we always seem to keep a spare vacuum in case of a sudden breakage of our main cleaner. Last month our vacuum fell down the stairs and it broke into two rather large pieces, this event was a shame but we had a chance to use this Hoover DM6185 which was our spare that lay in the cupboard, almost unused. We bought this roughly two years ago at £129 in Comet which seemed a slightly reasonable price at the time; we had one a few years back that looked exactly the same as this known as the Hoover Purepower however it was a bagged version... Our experience of this one was horrendous so I'm not sure what came over the parents when they chose the new bagless version of the cleaner, I guess they believed that things could only get better compared with the last one.

                          ~~~ About the Hoover DM6185 vacuum cleaner ~~~

                          This vacuum is basically a bagless version of the Hoover Purepower that has been out years. It is an upright vacuum that boasts 'Hoovers' slightly new dust manager technology which offers efficient bagless cleaning (Apparently) and the vacuum holds its suction longer than the bagged versions. It has a long reach hose and it roughly reaches to the top of a standard staircase and it prevents toppling over by using Hoover's stair cleaning stabiliser technology that I shall talk about slightly later on in this review!

                          ~~ Opening the box and setting the beast up ~~

                          The box was a manageable size and it fitted into our Smart car with ease - success! Inside we found;

                          *The cleaner body
                          *A handle
                          *A hose
                          *A few standard cleaning tools
                          *A spinning turbo brush
                          And the usual instruction booklets.

                          Setting this thing up was a rather simple process, the handle simply slid onto the main body and we inserted the two little flat head screws and tightened. The hose was simple to fit by twisting into the cleaner and wrapping it around its holders and the tools were stored on the back of the cleaner - job done, she was ready for use.

                          ~~~ Cleaning performance ~~~

                          We are rather impressed by the cleaning performance of this vacuum cleaner and it has so far done a very good job of cleaning up most messes that we've thrown at it. To clean carpet you simply select the carpet height using the height selector on the floor cleaning head and lower the vacuum by pressing the small button on the side and pulling the handle back - The first thing that we noticed was how hard the floor button was to press and this certainly needs a good bit of pressure to actually disengage the lock mechanism. Our carpets are rather thick but we always use vacuum cleaners on the lowest setting possible, the Hoovers lowest height setting is called 'Intensive clean' and guess what? That's the setting we use! The cleaner is easy to push even on this setting and the power of the brush and suction can be felt and dirt is lifted with ease. The machine is designed for pet use and it lifts dog hair from our carpets with ease without the usual dumping of hair in certain places that some cleaners seem to do. We have used this on a few different carpets and rugs in our house and the performance seems to be equal with all surfaces.

                          The cleaner is also suitable for cleaning hard floors and there is a setting for this. Usually we find that upright cleaners tend to spit dirt and sand from the brushes underneath while cleaning hard floors but we have not noticed this with the Hoover vacuum and all of the dirt that is run over seems to be picked up quickly and efficiently - unless it spits it out so fast that we do not notice! But jokes aside it does clean hard floors very well. We have used this on wood and tile floors and it cleans them easily without damaging the surface and it cleans the edges perfectly on hard floors. Unfortunately the edge cleaning does not seem very effective on carpeted floors and it is a slight let down.

                          The hose on this vacuum is very long and it reaches to the top of our stairs with ease allowing easy cleaning with the many tools included with this cleaner. There is a stair cleaning attachment, a dusting brush, a power spinning brush and the usual extension tube with a crevice tool built in. All of the tools are of an excellent quality and they feel very strong and robust, we are a rather heavy handed family but these tools live on in our household and I doubt that they will ever break. The suction from the cleaner is very good and the 1800 watt motor seems to create a very good suction but it does weaken over time - see the dust manager section of this review for the reason etc. The cleaner has a stair stabiliser built in that basically holds the cleaner upright while cleaning the stairs but in all honesty, it's rather useless. Our stabiliser did not last long as it snapped off but when it was actually fastened to the cleaner is was still of no use as the cleaner still topples over with the slightest tug on the hose - not a major problem but it is annoying.

                          ~~~ Ease of use ~~~

                          Generally this cleaner is very easy to use apart from a few minor things that could be improved to up its ease of use so to say... The button for lowering the handle to clean is rather hard to push and I guess that there is a technique to it and the hose does take a while to wrap around the back of the cleaner but apart from this, it is rather simple to use. The on button is just below the handle on the front of the cleaner and it is very easy to press and to find, some cleaners on/off buttons are located in very random locations which can be annoying in a way that they can be knocked on and off by accident - this is designed well and it is hard to accidentally knock the button during use. The vacuum is rather short and of course there is no adjustable handle so if you're tall like me it can be slightly hard to use unless you stoop down. I'm not saying that this cleaner is designed for extremely short people but it is shorter than most vacuum that I have used in the past.

                          ~~~ Cyclonic dust manager technology ~~~

                          Now I think here that Hoover is somehow trying to compete with the Dyson technology but unfortunately it is not quite as good as that. The unit is basically a tub with a capacity of just over 2 litres and it has a very strange shape cyclone inside with a filter that clips onto the top. There's no doubt from me that the suction does last a little bit longer than the bagged version we once owned and it seems quite efficient but I do find that the suction is either all or nothing. As soon as we notice the cleaner is losing suction it seems to get worse and worse with very light use after first noticing. After removing the half full container from the machine and checking the filters it seems that dirt starts sticking to the filter before the tub has been filled to the max line, this can be very annoying and the tub is hard to put back together as there are quite a few parts to it but now that we are used to doing it things are easier. After a few weeks of daily use we have noticed that loads of dirt has escaped from the dust manager system and it certainly does not seem as efficient as a normal dust bag.

                          Emptying the dust manager system is slightly annoying and it's not a job that I look forward to doing. Some bagless vacuums have the feature that allows the dirt tub to be placed over a bin and a button allows the dirt to drop straight into the bin, unfortunately this does not. The top filter has to be removed from the tub which is usually covered in dirt that falls everywhere, once this is out the cyclone is removed which results in more dust falling out and then the contents of the dirt tub is emptied. The filters are washable and I find that this has to be done every 2 - 3 emptying sessions as the filters clog resulting in lower performance and the vacuum over heats, the emptying routine has to be done outside as dirt fly's everywhere and it is not a pleasant experience.

                          ~~~ Any negatives? ~~~

                          We once owned the bagged version of this cleaner a few years ago and we were disappointed, unfortunately many of the problems from the last cleaner have been experienced with this one. A wheel has fallen off, the mechanism that hold the vacuum upright has broken and the hoover sometimes over heats even though we have cleaned the filters etc. They are not major problems and I guess if we took more care of the machine that they probably would not happen as often but we have never had a wheel fall off a vacuum before except from the other Hoover that we owned... Seems a common fault but I may be wrong.

                          ~~~ Overall opinion ~~~

                          This is a rather good vacuum that has strong suction and it cleans very well. It handles pet hair and general dirt with ease and it seems to float over carpets easily with little pushing required and it picks up lots of dirt. There are a few things that let these cleaners down, mainly the quick loss of suction when the unit is over half full and the slight reliability problems but if you can pick one of these up for under £50 from eBay or somewhere I'd say that you've had a good buy, however I certainly would not pay what we paid for this now.

                          Thanks for reading.

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                          • Kenwood SJ666 / Kettle / 107 Readings / 102 Ratings
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                            19.02.2012 21:30
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                            A fantastic kettle, pricey but worth it!

                            Just over a year ago there was a horrendous kettle incident in our home that resulted in us having to find a new water boiling device, I dropped it! After searching around and finally deciding that we would not go with a budget kettle we found this Kenwood SJ666 kettle in Comet for a reasonable price of £39.99. This seemed a very good price at the time as it is a stainless steel 3000 Watt cordless kettle with the new fancy illuminating light feature that illuminates the clear window on the side of the kettle either red or blue depending on its status of which I will explain later. The kettle can be bought from Amazon for £48.40 at the moment but it seems to have some terrible reviews on that site... My experience has not been too bad at all.

                            ~~~ About the Kenwood SJ666 ~~~

                            The SJ666 is a lovely looking kettle being made from stainless steel and some black plastic bits here and there on the handle and the base. It is fairly large with a 1.7L water capacity to allow up to 8 cups of water to be boiled safely, it is rather heavy at 1.6kg's for anyone that would like to know but it is easy to hold with its rather large handle making it safe and easy to use. The biggest feature of this kettle is the 2 stage illuminating light to show the status of the kettle, it glows red when it is boiling and it glows blue when the kettle in in standby mode, the light glows through the transparent plastic window on the front that shows the water level. The kettle sits nicely on its base which makes it wireless for ease of use but this seems rather standard on every other kettle these days...

                            ~~~ Using the kettle ~~~

                            From memory it was easy to set the kettle up, we simply removed it from the box and plugged the base in, sat the kettle on the base and voila - ready for use! As with any new kettle we boiled it a good few times before actually drinking the water as you never know what kind of manufacturing chemicals can be left inside - Saying that, we did notice that our first few drinks tasted a bit funny (Almost like a metal taste which was very much like the taste you get from sucking a spoon) so I recommend a good few boiling sessions before use!

                            The kettle has a filter inside the spout to stop any large bits falling into drinks, for this reason the kettle should be filled through the top lid which is of a good quality but it is hard to remove. We had trouble removing this on the first use but over the year that we have owned the kettle I think it has loosened enough to allow easy enough removal without too much shouting, it doesn't help that the handle to remove the lid is very small and I suppose that it would be very much easier with a slightly bigger handle on it.

                            To boil the kettle you simply pop it on the base station (obviously filled with water) and flick the switch, the kettle window glows red as the kettle boils and it does this very quickly. Out of the entire array of kettles that we have owned I would say that this is definitely the best performing and it is rather quick to boil. It has a power of 3kw which definitely helps with the great performance and it should hopefully save an extremely small amount of electricity a year compared to our older model.

                            ~~~ About the kettles main feature, the illuminating light ~~~

                            Now this is a feature that I truly believe we could all live without but it can be handy at times. Basically there are windows on both sides of the kettle that show the water level, these illuminate to show the kettles status. When the kettle is in standby mode the window lights up blue but when boiling it lights up red. The light is rather bright and if the kettle is in a dark room it shows up extremely well and it would work nicely as a night light. It can be handy to confirm that you have actually pressed the boil switch when rushing around the kitchen but apart from this the feature is completely pointless other than for decoration. From looking at the Amazon reviews of this kettle it appears that this light feature is very unreliable and fails often but I can confirm that ours has been perfect, we have never unplugged this kettle in the whole 14 months that we have owned it and the lights still work perfectly.

                            ~~~ Keeping the kettle clean ~~~

                            The kettle is made from polished stainless steel so obviously as with any other polished steel products you will find stick finger marks a nuisance. Luckily these do not happen too often with this kettle as the handle is made from black plastic and we do not touch the actual kettle body all that often. The marks can be easily removed with a bit of elbow grease and some mild cleaner, we wipe ours down every now and then and it still looks like new. The base of the kettle attracts most of the dirt as it is low down on the counter but this is easily cleaned with a damp cloth.

                            ~~~ General quality, any problems? ~~~

                            The kettle is built very well and it feels very sturdy both with and without water inside. The kettle is rather heavy to hold which could be a problem with some people with weak wrists or other health problems but the weight definitely gives the kettle a quality feel. Every part of the kettle is of an excellent quality; even the base is very heavy with a good look of quality about it. The inside of the kettle has a concealed element which makes the inside look very nice and it is extremely easy to clean, we have not got any lime scale built up in ours but would guess that it would be easy to clean if we did.

                            We use this kettle daily and as a family of six who love their cups of tea and the odd pot noodle I think that it has done very well. It is boiled at least 10 times a day and there have been no leaks or any annoyances in the whole time that we have used it, this has not been the case with many other kettles that we have owned in the past. The only slight niggle that I have with this kettle is that it has a slight tendency of tipping forward when lifted by the handle when it is under half full. This is not too bad of a problem and I will not knock any stars off for it as it is minor but it just needs some more back pressure when lifting to prevent it from happening as it could be slightly dangerous and result in burning toes.... When the kettle is above half full it is not all that noticeable, a bit of a mystery!

                            ~~~ Overall opinion ~~~

                            We generally love this kettle and I reckon that it will last very much longer and it still looks and works like new. The light feature is nice although it is rather pointless, it boils quickly and quietly and it looks the part in the kitchen - I cannot complain at all. It is a very nice kettle at a rather reasonable cost, it sounds quite expensive but it is definitely up to the quality standards that you would expect at a price like that. Highly recommended!

                            Thanks for reading,
                            ©nickbrown60

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                              18.02.2012 21:11
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                              A fantastic product that is needed in every household!

                              Last year while browsing a local builders merchant (As you do...) I came across this 200ml bottle of 'Sticky Stuff Remover', which instantly stood out to me on the shelf with its fancy list of uses printed all over the bottle in a nice and colourful way. I picked it up after reading all of the products fabulous uses and paid £4.95 which I must say - sounded rather pricey at first for a small bottle but I was soon going to experience what a true bargain this product is.

                              ~~~ What is Stciky Stuff Remover and who makes it? ~~~

                              Sticky Stuff remover is a solution made for removing sticky stuff, obviously! It comes in a variety of cans and bottle sizes depending on how much sticky stuff you want to remove and a whether you want to spray or wipe and it is made by De.Solv.It in the UK. I picked the wipe version as I do not like breathing in sprays and I try to avoid it - especially with products like this one. The solution however is made to be powerful yet safe to use on many surfaces around the home, office or wherever you may be (It's probably possible to carry a bottle around in your handbag if you really feel the need due to its small size). Sticky Stuff can remove many sticky things from a huge amount of surfaces such as oil, chewing gum, sticky label residue, tar and even grime... It basically removes almost anything that is sticky.

                              ~~~ Using the product ~~~

                              The container is very easy to use and it is strong, I have dropped the bottle many times in the year that I have owned it and no cracks have developed yet. The cap is a safety cap to prevent children from entering, it's the push down and turn type of lid as seen on some medicine bottles, when off there is simply a little hole that lets the Sticky Stuff Remover free from the bottle. The instructions for most stains are on the back of the bottle and they are very detailed and clear to understand, almost everything that you could possibly want to know is on the back.

                              With this liquid version you have to use a dry cloth and basically soak the area of treatment with sticky stuff remover and leave it to do 'its thing' for roughly 5 - 7 minutes as stated on the bottle. When the sticky stuff has broken down the sticky mess it should be easily removed with the cloth and maybe a scraper leaving behind a surface free from sticky stuff. I find that only very sticky messes such as oil and crayon have to be left to break down for that time, easy messes such as label residues usually come straight off and onto the cloth without much scrubbing at all. I have tried removing many different types of sticky messes over the time that I have owned this bottle and it has succeeded with every single one. In some ways it has saved me money by removing sticky stuff from items that I would have just replaced such as the time I sat on a toffee and it melted to my rear end... I thought new trousers were the only option but nope, it did a fabulous job without damaging the fabric.

                              I do find that some very glossy stickers with a smooth surface can be hard to remove but this is stated on the bottle itself. A glossy sticker that basically will not absorb the Sticky Stuff Remover liquid needs to be scraped as much as possible and then treated. This can be a pain but it's worth it for the end result, I usually use sandpaper to remove some of the glossy layer and then soak it with the remover for best results. I find that this rule has worked better with every sticky mess that I have cleaned, I clean as much mess up as I can myself and then use the liquid as a final touch.

                              ~~~ What surface can it be used on? ~~~

                              This remover can be used on many different surfaces and the main safe options being, china, glass, fabric, paintwork, even skin and hair! I have tested it on all of these surfaces and I have yet to experience any damage from use, it has worked perfectly at removing extremely sticky stuff from the surfaces without any residue being left at all. I removed chewing gum from my hair, paint from my hands and even removing gum from the sofa - whoops!

                              It is however recommended that the liquid is tested on a hidden area to confirm that no damage will be done on the surface of use. It is stated on the back of the bottle that it should not be used on silk, leather, suede, polystyrene or rubber/foam backed carpets. I must admit that I have used this on leather and It had no problems at all but please test this at your own risk as I don't want to be shouted at for any damage caused ;)


                              ~~~ Safety ~~~

                              Sticky stuff remover is rather safe as it can be used on skin and hair but there are a few warnings on the back as with most products of this nature. It contains Aliphatic Hydrocarbons which can be harmful if swallowed as it can damage your lungs, the best advice I can give here is do not swallow it! It is tempting as the product smells lovely to me; it has a citrus scent which is very much like an orange and lime mix if that makes any sense? I find that the smell lingers on my hands for ages after use even with a good rinse after use. The smell at times can make my eyes water and sting if I get close but this is the same with most cleaning products that I have used in the past.

                              ~~~ Overall opinion and some information ~~~

                              I generally feel that this is an absolutely fantastic product that does everything that it promises. I have used this weekly for a year and I'm still on my first bottle with at least half of it left so I have another year free of Sticky Stuff. I originally thought that it was an expensive purchase for the amount in the bottle but it is very effective resulting in a very little amount being needed to remove most sticky messes. It removes plenty of sticky stains, I have tested it on tar on the car paint and it removed it perfectly without damaging the paint underneath. We also use it for removing wax after a small candle spillage - they seem to happen very often in our home. Generally a fabulous product that I recommend everyone having in the household as it is almost a lifesaver!

                              Website: www.desolvitshop.co.uk/products/stain-removers/

                              Thanks for reading
                              ©nickbrown60

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                              • Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo / Hair Care / 79 Readings / 73 Ratings
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                                16.02.2012 20:17
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                                A great product that seems to work.

                                Last year I had my hair styled and I was slightly concerned when I looked in the mirror. There was nothing wrong with the hairstyle that I had chosen but good gosh, I could see right through to my scalp! EEK! This was obviously a huge worry to me and I walked around wearing a very strange hat that I found in the deepest, darkest corner of a cupboard until it grew back slightly. Once my hair was slightly more publically acceptable I wandered to Tesco to pick up a bottle of this 'Alpecin Caffiene Shampoo', manufactured by Dr Wolff-Research.... I thought that It had to be worth a try but I had my doubts as to whether it would work as my hair was thinned by acne medication rather than the normal male pattern baldness. I paid roughly £4.50 for this in Tesco which initially seemed rather expensive until I started using the shampoo and realised how far a bottle goes.

                                ~~~ What is 'Alpecin Shampoo?' ~~~

                                Alpecin is a Shampoo made in Germany that contains a patented skin activator with caffeine to aid with hair growth and health. It stimulates hair growth at the roots to energise the hair and to prevent hair loss. Although it is not stated on the bottle I think that this shampoo is mainly aimed at men with pattern baldness and general thinning of the hair as it seems to be a big problem in the man world, this does not mean that women cannot use this product though! Anyone with thinning hair can enjoy the energising effects of this caffeine shampoo - The formula is known as C1.

                                ~~~ Using the shampoo ~~~

                                The shampoo comes in a very manly shaped and styled bottle that is very easy to hold, it is not slippery in the hand which prevents the usual hassle of dropping the bottle in the shower. The cap is easy to open and it feels very strong with a slight pull needed to remove the pop top after you have read the instructions on the back obviously. The recommendation is to massage into the hair and scalp and leave on the scalp for 2 minutes for the caffeine to be absorbed to experience the maximum results, there is no conditioner in this product which creates more grip after washing and I find that no conditioner is required after rinsing.

                                I tend to leave this product on for a tad longer than they recommend on the back of the bottle. I read on the bottle that the longer you leave this on the scalp the more caffeine that will be absorbed, this is pretty much written on the back of the bottle so I cannot see there being any health problems if you leave it longer. I leave it on for the whole time that I stand in the shower which is a good 20 minutes and I quite enjoy the tingling feeling that I get from using this shampoo - hence why I don't wash it off for a while ;) Once I'm ready to wash the shampoo off I find that it comes out easily and that conditioner is not at all needed after washing. The first time that I used this shampoo was rather horrific and I remember having one of the worst hair days of my life - luckily after a second wash with the same shampoo my hair was once again easy to style and almost back to normal.

                                ~~~ How long does it last? And various other information ~~~

                                I find that with daily use the shampoo lasts me roughly 3 weeks, I only have to use a small amount to cover my whole head as the shampoo lathers up lovely and it covers my whole head with ease. I use a blob about the same size as a pound coin but I could probably get away with a bit less however I want to get the full effects from this caffeine stuff. The lather is fantastic and it feels very rich which I reckon is good on the scalp and makes the whole caffeine massaging technique that I found on the internet a lot easier to do. Once washed off my hair feels fantastic and it is very manageable.

                                My favorite thing about this shampoo is the delightful smell that it gives off during use; I can only explain it as a red-bull sort of smell and I can only relate to the scent as caffeine. Maybe I'm addicted to caffeine as I cannot go a day without sniffing this stuff whenever I venture into the bathroom as the smell is so divine. I find that the scent fills the bathroom and I can clearly smell it a long while after my shower. The shampoo is blue in colour which is rather strange for a shampoo, it's almost and electric blue colour but the lather soon turns white when you rub it in. I have noticed that the product can stain the white shower bottom if it falls straight from the bottle and dries onto the shower tray, this is easily removable with a slight scrubbing but I recommend you to be careful if you have a fancy bath or something.

                                ~~~ Results..... Does it work? ~~~

                                Now I must admit that I was very skeptical at first, I have used this shampoo for about 3 months now and I have started to notice a difference. My hair appears to be thicker in the mirror and it feels thicker when I run my hands through it. I have since had a slightly shorter than normal hairstyle and I cannot see through to my scalp any more thank goodness! I used to experience quite a few hairs dropping out throughout the day in work and of course the dreaded awakening in the morning on a white pillow case seeing it covered with hair... Not good - I can quite honestly say that I have not noticed any hairs dropping out throughout the day after using this shampoo and my pillows are now still white in the morning! My hair looks generally healthier and my scalp feels exactly the same as before except for it being slightly tingly throughout the day - must be the caffeine!

                                ~~~ My overall opinion ~~~

                                I must say that I am generally impressed with this shampoo and I was wrong to have ever doubted its effectiveness, after all it is made by true scientists! The lather that it creates is fantastic and it is a very high quality feeling shampoo during use, I no longer have to use conditioner which I guess pays for this shampoo over and over again every month. I have used this for 3 months straight and I will not consider stopping.....

                                I think I'm addicted!!

                                Thanks for reading,
                                ©nickbrown60

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                                  14.02.2012 21:04
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                                  A fantastic pack of floss picks, the best!

                                  Oral hygiene and care are the two most important things in my life. As strange as that sounds it's probably only slightly true but I can get obsessed at times, I often find myself evaluating meals and their acid content before eating to protect my enamel but these 'DenTek Comfort Clean mint' floss picks definitely help me look after my teeth and gums easily, very much more easier than using normal floss from a roll.

                                  ~~~ Some info on flossing ~~~

                                  I had a long chat with my dentist last month about flossing and I picked up some interesting facts from him, after he informed me that I should floss more often and all of that malarkey I asked him how many of his patients actually flossed often enough, to my surprise he said only roughly 10% of his patients flossed correctly and even more to my surprise that over 50% of his patients admitted to not flossing at all! Woops. In all honesty until the end of school I had never heard of flossing before and I'm pretty glad that I did eventually hear about it as I rather enjoy the sport now! Hehe.

                                  Flossing breaks down the plague layer around and between teeth which controls bacteria and other smelly things within our human mouths. As plaque breaks down the bacteria gives off acid and apparently other nasty smelly gasses that can cause bad breath and a generally poor mouth environment. The acid given off by bacteria can erode your enamel between teeth causing cavities which can cause rather large and annoying trips to the dentist..... That's enough to get me flossing ten times a day! Floss also offers huge help with gum care that I will talk about slightly later on.

                                  ~~~ DenTek comfort floss picks ~~~

                                  I picked my first pack of these up from Tesco last month and forked out a rather hefty £3.05 which I must be honest, seemed slightly high for floss. There are 90 in a pack and with daily flossing I usually use two, one for the upper teeth and one for the lower so they last over a month. I'd say that is a pretty good price considering I'm only paying that small monthly price to look after my teeth. They come in a nice and modern looking transparent bag that boasts some of the floss picks features and benefits.

                                  The floss picks are nicely designed; they are about 2 inches in length and have coated floss held between the rounded ends to make access to hard to reach teeth easy. The back of the rounded edge has a 'tongue cleaner' that is used to remove bacteria from your tongue after flossing. The handle is textured so it's easy to hold and also acts as a textured tooth pick for removing any nasty stuck particles that may be between your teeth to ensure a perfectly clean mouth.

                                  To use the floss picks you simply brush your teeth normally first, then take a floss pick from the pack and get flossing. I just slide the floss between each tooth and occasionally move them up and down to ensure total coverage between teeth. The floss is rather thin but I find it extremely strong, my teeth are unfortunately extremely close together and some floss can be hard to get between each tooth but I have absolutely no problems when using these. I once used Colgate expanding floss and I should have thought about the consequences before using it, I slid it between my teeth and it expanded.... DUH! I had huge problems getting it out but I have had no problems like this with the DenTek Floss picks.

                                  ~~~ Features ~~~

                                  Advanced Fluoride Coating - The floss on these picks is luckily coated with fluoride of which plays a very important role in keeping your teeth healthy. Fluoride helps re-mineralise the surface of the enamel after acid attack to prevent cavities and other dental problems. The picks allow the Fluoride to be distributed between the teeth and even below the gum line while flossing, the normal toothbrush does not get into these little nooks and crannies hidden in your mouth so unfortunately some areas can get missed if you do not floss. I find that after flossing one set of my teeth that the floss becomes transparent which tells me that the coating wears off rather quickly; this is the main reason that I use two picks per flossing session to ensure my upper and lower teeth both have a splash of fluoride to keep them healthy. The coating on the floss has a mint flavour that can be noticed if you actually lick the floss a few times but during flossing it is hardly noticeable so I find that quite a useless feature unless you regularly lick floss.

                                  Textured pick - The textured pick is designed to remove particles from between the teeth (Just like a tooth pick really). It can also be used to stimulate the gums and removing food from the gum line. I personally never use the textured pick as my teeth are too close together; if my teeth were slightly further apart then I guess that it would be a rather handy feature.

                                  Tongue cleaner - This is very handy but I do find it quite hard to use due to the rather small design of the picks. The tongue cleaner is rather sharp and I do find that they hurt my tongue slightly but I guess that is a good thing to ensure it is clean and well scraped. Over time I have gotten used to the sensation of the tongue cleaner and I find it rather effective but it is hard to get the pick to the back of my tongue, maybe I have a large mouth?

                                  ~~~ Gum advantages and general ease of use ~~~

                                  The floss picks have a huge impact on the health of your gums during use. If you gum seal is not tight it is very common to have plague build up below the gum line that can cause gum disease and generally unhealthy gums. The floss is thin and easily slips between the teeth and the gums to ensure that plaque and bad bacteria is removed to keep the area clean. My gums used to bleed ever so slightly while brushing hard but after using these I have had no problems at all, no bleeding and generally healthy gums. I have been using Corsodyl products along with these picks so it could be a mixture of the few products that have helped but I seriously believe that these have had a huge impact on the health of my gums.

                                  I find the picks extremely easy to use and very much easier than normal floss. Before I started flossing every day I used to use normal floss (The type on a roll) every once in a while but never religiously. I found that stuff extremely hard to get around my teeth and it was very often that I had my whole hand in my mouth to just about reach my back teeth. This obviously is not a good idea and probably causes wrinkles due to the pure wide opening needed to reach the back of my mouth. These DenTek picks reach the back of my mouth with ease without the wide opening so I guess that they also reduce the chance of wrinkles ;) Just my theory!

                                  ~~~ Overall opinion ~~~

                                  I have been using these picks for over a month now and I have eventually found out how to fully control them to clean around all of my teeth. I can floss all of my teeth with ease with the thin but very strong floss, it is very rare that I break the floss and this only usually happens if I am in a rush to get somewhere and I get slightly heavy handed with them. The plastic is perfect for the purpose as it is slightly flexible but strong and I have never managed to break the body of the floss picks, they are built very well. I truly believe that these have helped my teeth over the month that I have used them and I have full trust that these picks are keeping my mouth healthy and clean. I'm now a regular customer of DenTeks and I will be for many years, flossing is suddenly a whole lot easier!

                                  Thanks for reading
                                  ©nickbrown60

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