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Reviews Written by
Tom Douglas (U.K.)
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Silicon Power 64GB USB 3.0  Black Retractable Flash Drive,Blaze B05 (SP064GBUF3B05V1K)
Silicon Power 64GB USB 3.0 Black Retractable Flash Drive,Blaze B05 (SP064GBUF3B05V1K)
Price: CDN$ 33.50
10 used & new from CDN$ 33.19

5.0 out of 5 stars A capless retractable USB 3 thumb drive, Feb. 22 2015
This is a *USB 3* flash drive, not USB 2, so shop carefully. And it is a very one good.

In terms of the technicals, it is fast and reliable. Works out of the box and keeps working. I have tested in on Win7, Win8 and my Smart TV with no problems.

The case is capless, which I like, with just a thumb slide needing to activate it. There is an anchor point at the other end, so that you can connect it to a strap or lanyard.

It looks good too, which doesn't necessarily matter, but the glossy plastic is tough too, and it doesn't damage easily.

Thumb drives are almost generic these days, but some are definitely better than others. This is clearly at the top end of the range.

Silicon Power Ultima U05 32GB USB 2 Flash Drive, Deep Blue (SP032GBUF2U05V1D)
Silicon Power Ultima U05 32GB USB 2 Flash Drive, Deep Blue (SP032GBUF2U05V1D)
Offered by Silicon Power Canada Deal Site
Price: CDN$ 33.99
7 used & new from CDN$ 17.09

5.0 out of 5 stars A capless USB 2.0 thumb drive, Feb. 22 2015
This is a *USB 2* flash drive, not USB 3, so shop carefully. And it is a very one good.

In terms of the technicals, it is fast and reliable. Works out of the box and keeps working.

The case is capless, which I like, with just a thumb slide needing to activate it. There is an anchor point at the other end, so that you can connect it to a strap or lanyard.

The plastic case is pretty tough - I subjected it to an unreasonable amount of abuse and all I managed to do was scuff it a little.

Thumb drives are almost generic these days, but some are definitely better than others. This is clearly at the top end of the range.

TaoTronics Water Resistant Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Shower Speaker (Bluetooth 3.0, Hands-Free, Built-in Mic, A2DP/AVRCP)
TaoTronics Water Resistant Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Shower Speaker (Bluetooth 3.0, Hands-Free, Built-in Mic, A2DP/AVRCP)
Offered by Sunvalleytek Canada
Price: CDN$ 49.99

5.0 out of 5 stars No compromise, Feb. 19 2015
Wow! This is seriously good. With a waterproof speaker you are going to have to accept some compromise – adding waterproofing means reducing sound quality.

But with this model TaoTronics have created a speaker which sounds as good as a regular Bluetooth speaker. Or rather, it is as good as a very good Bluetooth speaker.

Here are the key points:

Waterproof – yes; I placed it just above the waterline in my son’s bath and let him do his worst. The floor needed mopping; the speaker was still playing merrily

Suction – average; you will struggle on textures tiles, but with firm placement it will stay put

Sounds – excellent; clear and rich

Functionality – full Bluetooth connectivity, which means volume controls, skip tracks, pause, and call answering

Bluetooth – pairing is straightforward

Instructions – very clear and comprehensive.

Overall this is a real winner. Five stars.

Disclosure: I was sent this item to test and review by the distributor but was free to write an honest and unbiased review. Bottom line: yes, I would but this item; yes, I would recommend it to friends and family.

Bluetooth 3.0+ EDR Wireless Earphones Stereo Earbuds+ Microphone Handsfree IP119
Bluetooth 3.0+ EDR Wireless Earphones Stereo Earbuds+ Microphone Handsfree IP119

5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously good, Feb. 18 2015
Oh my, these are great! Bluetooth earbuds are great in theory, but there is a trade off to be done: lose the wire, gain some weight due to battery and transmitter. These buds from XCSOURCE make that trade-off not too painful.

Fit - I wanted these for running, so fit is absolutely vital, and the fit is very good. With three sets of rubber cups, plus the over-ear hook, I was able to get a really good fit, and then when my wife tested them, she was too. This matters a lot.

Weight - light enough that you doubt that they really are bluetooth; what they have is bulk rather than weight, and when you switch from wired buds, it seems like a very large step up in size, but that lasts just a couple of days and then they become the new normal. As you can see from the photos, they are not that large, but it just feels like they are initially.

Sounds - clear and rich; much better than I expected. As good as apple buds, but not as good as over-ear cup headphones, as you would expect.

Range - I haven't measured it, but certainly I can be the other side of a large lounge, or go to the bathroom from the bedroom and the quality is not affected

Functionality - includes a mic, so they have full functionality including call answering. Pairing was very easy.

Uses - as mentioned, I wanted these for running, but they have also proved invaluable for decorating, where a trailing wire would be a recipe for disaster. With these my phone is always safe.

Value - the current price is $27.99. That is amazing, as you would pay that for wired earbuds without bluetooth.

An easy five stars.

Disclosure: I was sent this item to test and review by the manufacturer, but was free to write an honest and unbiased review. Bottom line: yes, I would buy these; yes, I would recommend them to friends and family.

Acer GN246HL 24-Inch Widescreen Led Monitor, Full HD with Nvidia 3DLightboost
Acer GN246HL 24-Inch Widescreen Led Monitor, Full HD with Nvidia 3DLightboost
Offered by TechDepot Canada
Price: CDN$ 326.97
9 used & new from CDN$ 326.97

5.0 out of 5 stars A great gaming monitor, Feb. 12 2015
This is a very good digital monitor, with luscious bright colours, full HD, a fast 144Hz refresh rate with 1ms response and with full Nvidia 3D support. And it is big, at 24 inches, and if this is your first step up to 24", it will seem enormous.

Connection is via HDMI, dual-DVI or old-fashioned VGA.

I haven't tested the 3D, but everything else is excellent. Gaming is slick and super smooth, and Blu-ray gets the same benefit. As noted by another reviewer, the on-screen menu system is rubbish, but that seems to be a feature of the entire monitor industry.

The viewing angles are noticeably good, both horizontal and vertical. Can be wall-mounted, using VESA standard 100x100, but I have not tried this.

There is no height adjust, which is a shame.

Finally, price. It pays to shop around as there is always someone somewhere doing a deal. Just look out for the G246HL, ie the same product code except for the missing N. It is a different monitor with a lower spec

LEGO: City: The Mine
LEGO: City: The Mine
Offered by eMall
Price: CDN$ 169.99
8 used & new from CDN$ 169.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent multi-functional set, Feb. 12 2015
This review is from: LEGO: City: The Mine (Toy)
This is a very nice collection, which acts as a good playset once complete, with a tipper truck, mining machine, train, crane, working conveyor and a mine ore face. There is plenty to keep the industrious child entertained.

On the build side, there are five discrete elements - the tipper truck, the mining machine, the mine with ore face, the train with track and the crane. Each has its own little challenges, but never anything that would stump a 7 year old.

We have dismantled and rebuilt the three vehicles a couple of times already, but two parts of the mine, including crane, and the kind of thing you leave in its finished state.

In terms of age range, it is very accessible to 4-5 year olds as long as they have assistance with building, and its core age is probably 6-9.

As usual Lego included some spares of the smallest pieces, which is much appreciated.

Great set. Five stars.

LEGO City Coast Guard Helicopter
LEGO City Coast Guard Helicopter
Offered by eMall
Price: CDN$ 42.99
8 used & new from CDN$ 42.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A fun coastguard helicopter playset, Feb. 12 2015
Although he is a little below the target age range, my just-turned 4 year old loves this set.

It comprises a coast guard helicopter with three crew, catamaran with sailor and a great white shark. The shark is brilliant!

Build difficulty is moderate - a 7 year old will have no trouble; my son needed plenty of help. The finished model makes a nice playset, with the functioning winch, moving rotors and the fixed wheels allow it to scoot around on the floor.

Apart from the small boat and shark, the set is essentially a single large build, and as such it is the sort of set you leave built rather than regularly taking it apart and rebuilding. The accessories do make for good role play fun though, so it does get plenty of use.

The helicopters are a mainstay of Lego city (several police versions, airport cargo, fire and arctic base) and this is definitely one of the better ones.

LEGO Creator Sunset Speeder
LEGO Creator Sunset Speeder
Offered by Advanced Savings
Price: CDN$ 32.50
13 used & new from CDN$ 31.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A great vehicle set, Feb. 12 2015
This review is from: LEGO Creator Sunset Speeder (Toy)
Another excellent 3-in-1 creator set, which my 4 year old is really enjoying.

Our 3-in-1 sets get a lot more use than our Lego City sets - by having three different models there is a good incentive to dismantle and rebuild.

In terms of difficulty, my son need assistance but he is becoming able to do more and more by himself as time goes by. For solo building I think this is right for an adept 6 year old and definitely fine for 7 and 8.

The sports car, racing car and truck, are clearly quite similar, utilising the same bricks, but different enough for me to sneak in a bit of education - why are they the shape they are? and so on.

119 pieces and you can usually find it for under $30.

Silicon Power Rugged Armor A30 1TB Shockproof 2.5-Inch USB 3 External Portable Hard Drive, Black (SP010TBPHDA30S3K )
Silicon Power Rugged Armor A30 1TB Shockproof 2.5-Inch USB 3 External Portable Hard Drive, Black (SP010TBPHDA30S3K )
Price: CDN$ 79.99
12 used & new from CDN$ 79.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Tested on the driveways of England, Feb. 4 2015
About that drop test: the military standard MIL-STD-810G includes a whole range of stuff, but the one that most 'rugged' IT kit follows is "Method 516.6 - Shock", aka the drop test. For hardware of this size the test is to drop it from a height of 4 feet onto a concrete floor with 2 inches of plywood on top of it. There are 26 drops in the test - six faces, twelve edges and eight corners.

Which is all pretty straight forward. I decided to do my own drop test, out of an upstairs floor window onto a solid, but slightly uneven, concrete driveway. The height was around 12 feet. I only dropped it four times as my daughter (the dropper) was getting bored

The result: a bit of scuffing but no real damage to the case and it worked just as well after as before. Some of the other reviewing have done proper speed tests, so I didn't bother getting the stopwatch out, but it is plenty fast enough.

Verdict: a good fast 1TB drive, with the added benefit of being able to fall with grace.

Moleskine Classic Notebook, Large, Ruled, Red, Hard Cover (5 x 8.25)
Moleskine Classic Notebook, Large, Ruled, Red, Hard Cover (5 x 8.25)
by Moleskine
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 24.00
23 used & new from CDN$ 14.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Invest in your thoughts, Feb. 2 2015
Moleskine notebooks are very good quality - carry them around daily in the jumble of a large bag and while they get a bit battered they never fall apart. The spine is invincible.

They come at a price, but for that you get more than the notebook. You get the psychological impact of giving your notes importance.

When I open my Moleskine I am setting the tone for what I write. At work, which is where my red notebook resides, my team know that what goes on the book gets actioned.

You can't get that with a spiral bound notebook.

Invest in your thoughts.

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