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I should warn you that this review is essentially a comparison between the Zenbook and the MacBook Air. Being a MacBook owner (albeit one who is not loyal to the Mac operating system, despite liking it a lot) my first instinct was to make that comparison, and I was rather surprised to find that the Zenbook did pretty well.
The main advantages of the MacBook Air are its light weight, strong build quality, long battery life, and easy to use operating system. So how does the Zenbook size up on these counts?
Firstly, I should note that while being light-weight, the Zenbook definitely heavier than the MacBook Air. This is because some compromises have been made to give users far more disk space compared to the Air. It has two disks - one big 'normal' hard drive, so you have plenty of space for all your stuff, together with a small fast solid-state drive (SSD) which Windows uses to speed things up (e.g. the machine comes out of hibernation very quickly).
Build quality is very good and feels solid. However, when looking closely at the casing, and things like the placing of the rubber lining around the screen, it is clear that the attention to detail and factory quality control isn't comparable to Apple's. The keyboard is excellent and feels good, and is also backlit (you can adjust the brightness of the lighting). The trackpad is also superb and has some of the same gestures you may be used to on the Mac.
Battery life is great and comparable to the MacBook Air. There is a 'performance mode' - where it wakes up immediately from sleep - that uses more power, and a 'battery-saving mode' - where it saves state to the SSD. In battery-saving mode the time taken to 'wake up' was hardly noticeable, so you can keep it in this mode all the time.
Windows 8 and the 'Metro' interface is a pleasure to use. Everything 'just works' and it's very easy to get things done. The Social app that integrates your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc into one feed works very well and is very quick to set up. The Mail app seems less featured than the Mail app on Mac, but does most things you need to do. Things like voice search work well. The Windows Store works superbly, apps install with one step and is again a pleasure to use. The Update process has been refined so it largely operates in-the-background and much less intrusively than on previous Windows versions, and doesn't require immediate restarts.
The most annoying niggle is the one with the trackpad's special gestures, the most important of which is the two-fingered one used for scrolling - every now and then, after waking up from standby, the trackpad does not respond to any gestures (but basic movements & clicking works). I don't know if this is a driver problem but it shouldn't matter - in 2013 and with Windows 8, this is a basic feature and not an extra, and it should be completely reliable. I couldn't figure out a way of getting gestures back except by restarting Windows. I have never had such a problem on the Mac.
There are some smaller niggles too which Asus could've easily avoided - Asus has McAfee anti-virus software installed as standard, which prompts you to buy a subscription after a 1-month trial. This is completely unnecessary as Windows 8 has its own perfectly good anti-virus built-in. I had to manually uninstall McAfee. The Asus software update seems to happen independently of the Windows Updates, which prompted an intrusive request to restart the machine. But thankfully this happened just once. Also there is supposed to be (according to the included documentation) a wired Ethernet adapter included in the box, which wasn't there. Most people won't need this anyway, and Apple doesn't include one with the MacBook Air (if you're going to buy a super-portable machine like this, you're unlikely to want to hard-wire it into a box for internet). But it still shows a slight lack of attention to detail by Asus to say something's there when it isn't.
All-in-all, this is a great machine with a great operating system, and at the current price point decent value for money.
(This review has already been posted on Amazon, under my account M. Marikar)
This plush fire man sam was bought for my 2nd boy as a present when he was nearly 2 years old, but all of them do play with it from time to time (age 4, 2 and 1). At first we were unsure how to activate the sound on it as it is not done by pressing the stomach as with many such plush characters, so mistakenly thought may be it's faulty! But once we realised it was activated by pressing the hand, and got it working, then it had a lot more appeal.
This fire man sam is a medium size and with plenty of detailing on his clothes and a velcroe on the hat which can be fastened and unfastened. It sings the very catchy theme song when you press his hand, along with various other phrases such as "What's the emergency!" "We're on our way!" "A good fire man is never off duty!" The sound quality is clear and not too muffled or tinny which can be a complaint with some of these kind of toys. The batteries are also lasting well and have not had to be replaced yet, in over a year.
The bottom of his feet are sturdy and stable so he is fine to be stored standing up for example on a shelf or window sill.
The texture is like cloth, not extremely soft so would not say it is the best one to be snuggled in bed or used as a cuddly toy but more for playing and acting out stories. I'm not saying it has a rough feel but it is not like a furry or soft plushy type of texture at all.
My youngest is the one who really enjoys this at the moment, as he finds it very funny to hear the song coming out and he will dance to it. It is a good toy for young children, especially big fans of fireman sam. Mine are not massive fans, they like him but not crazy about it but they do enjoy playing with this one from time to time, and I wouldnt say the sounds are too annoying for the parent. The volume level is okay, not too loud not too soft and muffled.
I find it can be tricky at times with men, as many of the ideas found in the christmas gift section of stores will be quite boring and unadventurous or tacky, so it is not easy to buy for men on a budget.
If you want to splash out it will be much easier as you can get any of the new gadgets like Amazon Kindle Fire, or any other tablet, a big HD telly if they love to watch action or sports or anything else! Also good quality watches or good quality jumper can be an option to consider if they are the type who appreciates that.
Other options could be good quality food items or drink if there is something they love or restaurant gifts cards or a membership such as taste card.
Even a magazine subscription, which is a more typically female idea, can be used for men if they are interested in having a regular copy of the New Scientist or whatever else!!
Cinema vouchers could be another suggestion.
Some of the toiletery sets may be good quality and some may be tacky so have a look and if there is a nice one then it can be an option, for a man who does like a good scent. Others may be underwhelmed if you just give a set which they dont like.
There is wide range of novelty gifts available. Only you yourself could say if this will be appropriate for the man in your life. Some are suitable for those "child at heart" such as remote control cars or gizmos, or simply time waster items or novelty for the office or you can go down the slightly more "crude" route if this will not be open in front of the grandma on christmas morning!!! lol.
I often find console games is a good option for my own husband, because I see he does get a lot of enjoyment playing them and it will be used and not wasted. A good dvd or blu ray is another good option, especially tv box sets - I could recommend series like 24, House, Homeland series 1 or Nikita series 1 if they enjoy these and have not seen it already.
Even though they are tricky to buy, as explained you will be able to find something if you have a think. Not o close relatives like a distant male cousin etc will be a lot trickier! especially on a tight budget. You might as well just get something like a chocolate snow man from thornton, does the job and has a christmas theme, They can always re gift it if they dont like it lol!
If they like do like any celeb like tulisa or nicole, you can get their book or calender if you are happy to encourage this.
Merry christmas happy shopping ;)
While my husband was at the supermarket earlier I suddenly had the brainwave - what about mince pies!! I eagerly phoned him and mentioned it, and he came back with a couple of packets of these as they been on 2 for 1 in our usual supermarket, Tescos.
As all the Christmas lights are out and seeing the Christmas adverts on TV, it had really put me in the mood for a mince pie which I must admit is my favourite snack of the festive season.
SO! What about this brand of mince pies? As we all probably know, Mr Kiplings is what I would say is the market leader of baked goods, especially pies which you find in the supermarket so they could be expected to be the best.
Each pie in the packet was delicious (no I haven't eaten them all by myself but the packet was eagerly finished by willing family members within a couple of hours) and each one contains moist mincemeat with raisins, spices, and various fruit purees and peels as we would expect. The pastry is a well made and nicely shaped fluted butter pastry with a slight leaf design on the top and the cardboard packaging is red and green with a very festive look. They do look shop made and each identical so there is no way you can pass these off as home made, if you were hoping to go down that route in an emergency! (such as surprise visit by the mother in law lol)
The only downside was the small problem that sometimes when removing a pie from the foil casing, it can get stuck or the lid begins to crumble disappointingly which causes some mess and crumbs and puts a slight dampener on the experience, although the pie remains delicious.
Mr Kipling is a premium brand (as supermarkets go) and while they are on offer its definitely worth it for a great mince pie to get you in the mood but I will be interested in comparing and contrasting with all the brands available throughout the festive season and I will find out whether it is worth it or better to go with even the value brands to save a few pennies or will we lose out on taste.
Overall if you are in the supermarket and fancy a lovely mince pie then why not! The calories is 253 calories per pie so make sure you don't eat 3 like I did!!!
When finding nemo originally came out almost 10 years ago I was eager to watch it myself as I had heard great things about it even from adults enjoying the movie. I have to admit I cried immediately on the opening scene, as nemo's mum is tragically eaten by a shark and so are all of the children except one - nemo. This is quite heart wrenching but it goes on to become an up lifting movie.
I do think this scene is a bit distressing for young children. As I recently gave it to my 4 year old to watch, he kept asking all the way through about "but where's the mum gone?" I didnt have the heart to actually explain the mum had been eaten so just kept saying she must have nipped out!!
The tale is all about the dad Marlin on his quest to be reunited with his only son and only relative nemo, after he boldly swims away during school and ends up captured by a diver and ultimately placed into a fish tank in the dentists office in Australia!
It has many quirky characters, most notably Dory the blue fish with a friendly character but bad memory. Some may say dory is a little irritating and I would slightly agree but the chracters of nemo and his dad are truly heart warming.
I was glad to see my son enjoying this movie so much after I enjoyed it myself many years back, so its really proved value for money. At first viewing he was very scared, due to the shark scenes but then he became comfortable and really enjoyed it, and started to ask for nemo items so we got him a nemo plush toy which he became really attached to.
Disney always deliver with a great movie and this was no different. Colourful, exciting story for children, memorable characters, and a great picture well produced. - everything is delivered.
I had been meaning to watch this movie for ages so I was glad when I saw it at a really good price in marks and spencers a while back. I got the blu ray and kept it for my boys til Eid as a present. We all sat down and watched it together and it kept their attention throughout. They are 4, 2 and 1 year old so sometimes full movies can leave their attention wandering half way through but this did seem to keep them quite gripped, and not to mention I loved it myself!
As most people are probably aware, this is a sequal to the original Disney pixar Toy story movie, and also toy story 2, which feature the well known and loved characters of Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Mr Potato head and many more. In this movie there are a couple of new additions such as Lotso the purple plush teddy who is found in the day care centre. I loved this character as his lovely soft plush looks really showed juxtaposition with his bitter outlook on life - quite a nice move, and at least its not too bland a movie with everything "nice" and no 3 dimensional characters.
Some of the scenes can be a little scary for the more sensitive children, and at some points while watching my husband said are you sure this is a U rated and not PG as he found it a bit scary for the children - for example the toys being urged towards the fire in the rubbish dump.
This movie is enjoyed by adults too as it shows the boy "andy" growing up and moving to college, hence why he does not need his toys any more. Many mums I know said they have even cried during some of these scenes as it is emotional to think about, the boy growing up and leaving his toys behind. but it is all tastefully done.
The blu ray quality is second to none, very sharp picture and was great on our large screen.
I would recommend this for adults and children alike, I have watched it again since getting it and enjoyed it again each time. There are also jokes in there suited to adults humour for example the barbie doll suddenly coming out with some intellectual comments about democracy, which is of course "unexpected" so challenges stereotypes
I would not say these wipes are awful at all but if you compare them to the equivilent pampers wipes (pampers sensitive) then to be they don't really compare too well.
These wipes are quite thick, but still sometimes they can tear when being removed from the packet and are not quite as strong as you would expect.
They have an embossed texture to them and do not have any over powering fragrance, and are moist enough and do an okay job so they are a reasonable wipe and when I have bought them they have done the job fine but I do find myself noticing that they are not quite as good and sturdy as the pampers wipes.
We get through a lot of wipes in our house with 3 young children aged 3 and under. The wipes are used for nappy changing and also cleaning faces and hands and sometimes I do take a couple here and there to just wipe down surfaces if I don't have the antibacterial wipes packet to hand, or to remove felt tip pen or crayon from the table after my toddlers have been doing colouring in. So they are quite a multi purpose wipe.
I have to say I absolutely love the packaging of these as the baby picture on it is so cute, and the colours are nice and the pack just looks lovely but I do wish it was quite as efficient a wipe as the pampers one as this is what prevents me buying it as a first choice. I do still buy it when I see it on a special offer or for a very good price, as although it is not my favourite it is still an okay brand of wipes.
We have had no problems with bad reactions, reddening of skin or irritation using these wipes so I feel the claims of being good for sensitive skin and pure like water, are all quite true.
We tested these for netmums, although I had tried them in the past in the mini boxes as part of the cereal mix and match packs which you can get but had not had a whole packet of them before. I always did like them myself as part of the multi packs, but was interested to see whether my boys would like it or not as they can be quite picky about cereal.
My 3 year old seemed to really really love them! I was suprised how much he liked it as normally he tries new cereals once then goes off them, but he was finishing the whole bowl of it and asking for it every day until the packet ran out and then we had to buy more!
With the testing pack it was suggested to talk to the children about which shapes are in the cereal, which I admit I have not really done as it can be a bit of a rush getting everything done at breakfast time but it seems like that is supposed to be an educational aspect to the cereal, so could be a positive for those who wish to get learning into every moment of the daily routine?!
My 2 yr old didn't want to try it at all and he stuck to his weetabix but that is typical for him, he doesn't like to try other cereals much
I liked it myself,more than coco pops and those kind of cereals. It is quite sweet and aimed at children, which is why I have compared it to those types of cereal. I would not really call it a healthy choice but it is enjoyable to eat, and I would get a pack now and again not to have every single day as a habit. Although they are marketed as being healthy because of the "multigrains" it does have a lot of sugar in it, but then so do most cereals especially those marked as being fun or for children.
If I was to say the taste is most similar to any other cereal I think it would be cheerios.
Some of these comments have also been posted on netmums with the name Anna c
Like a lot of Ikea items, this is a great bargain. At 15.99 it is a lot cheaper than many of the other children's easels you see around, and it is a good quality item made of durable wood and has been very long lasting for us.
We have had this item for about 3 years now and even used to keep it out in the garden (but under a roof so open to the wind and elements but not heavy rain) for about a year, due to not having much space in the home we were in at the time and it still looks as good as new, after a bit of a clean - it had not been damaged by the weather at all.
This easel has 2 sides - one is blackboard and one is a magnetic surface, which can be used for painting by attaching large peice of paper to it with a magnet or it can be used as a magnet board which is what we mainly use it for. It is a great surface for the children to play with all the magnet letters, numbers and other various magnets which we have, as it is a big surface and much more convenient than having them play with those things on the fridge or radiators. We currently have this open and set up all the time in the kids play room and it gets played with several times a day by both my 3 year old and 2 year old.
They have not been as interested in the chalk side but that gets played with now and again.
The easel is easy to fold for storage, although we have it up all the time but I have flattened it and opened it several times in the past with no problems, it is still quite large when flattened but becomes narrow so you can store it down any little gaps.
The only small complaint about this is that it has the tray area only on one side, so if you have it turned to the chalkboard side, then the tray is on the other side which is not too convenient as it would have better handier to have it available on both sides, to easily hold the chalks but I don't think this is a big issue and for the price can not complain!
I got this Red Kite travel cot from Asda when I had my 2nd son, intending to use it more as a playpen if I needed somewhere to put the baby down safe from my toddler if I was busy cooking or whatever else, and I still use it now for my 3rd baby in a similar way just to keep him contained for 5 mins now and then or for him to have his own separate area to play with his baby toys.
We have padded it out with a thick soft playmat at the bottom as the base is quite thin if you just leave it with the very thin mattress peice that comes with it, and it looks much nicer comfier and more colourful if you padd it out a bit although it can still do the job without adding these extras.
I don't really use it as a travel cot for sleeping although both my 2nd and 3rd boys have each had a little nap in it now and again, and have been comfy enough.
This is quite a strong and well made item, and has managed to cope well with my toddlers jumping around next to it and even climbing on it sometimes! The sides are made of mesh so are see-through which means the baby can see out to whats happening in the room, and you can easily see in to keep an eye on them playing. The holes are very small so toddlers can not shove little things through them! although unfortunately mine have managed to make a small hole in it but that is after 2 and half years and it is not a big hole at all so I don't think that really shows bad quality, as it is more like natural wear and tear.
The problem I did have with this travel cot is that I don't find it very easy to put up and down, and have been quite confused at times trying to get it back up after collapsing it, and having some real difficulty as it did not seem to be very intuitive but we keep it up all the time as a baby play area since we have space, so that is not too much of a problem. If you were thinking of putting it up and down regularly, I think it could get a bit annoying or inconvenient.
The price I paid was very reasonable, not more than 20 pounds and these red kite products sometimes come up in Asda baby events, and seem to be a very reasonably priced range on the whole.
I am happy with this travelcot / playpen, and it has served me well so would recommend
We tested this game out for Izzi wizzi kids playfest and I have made a video review of it here:
but I will write a bit about it as well!
It is a simple game for children age 3 to 6 years and it is very well made as I have come to expect from Orchard toys - a brand I do rate quite highly.
It is a simple lotto game and it consists of 4 boards and then 4 sets of 9 animal cards, for each habitat. The game is based on different environments and the children learn about which animals belong in each habibat, so I felt it is much more educational than just the basic animal games you come across and it does have some quite advanced and specific animals in there too.
The way you play is just like any typical bingo or lotto game, or you can play it as a memory game, or a simple sorting game, and my 3 year old has made up his own rules for it too so it is quite an adaptable game which you can get a lot of play out of.
Animals is not one of my boy's main interests but it did still grip their attention and they have enjoyed it, I quite enjoyed playing it myself and I would recommend anything from Orchard toys as their products are always of a good quality.
I got this from Amazon vine a couple of months back and it is quite different than any books I have seen.
It is like a set of masks joined together into a book, rather than being a story. There are very few words in the books, just a couple of phrases on each page like "I'm a proud pirate - ahoy there!" or "I'm a wicked witch - cackle cackle!"
It includes 4 masks which are a robot, superhero, witch and pirate so I would say its slightly more suited to boys generally but some girls may still like it.
The quality is good, the book is strong and thick cardboard and the holes for the eyes and handles of the mask are well placed and easy to use for the child. The pictures are very bright and nice.
My 3 year old found this book fun and very funny to play with, so I was happy with it. However some of the "pop up" peices have been torn off due to my little one, which is a shame so I would say it is one to keep away from the younger siblings and I would not recommend this really for a child under 2 years, as it is likely to be ripped.
There is not really much to it as it is only 4 masks and a simple idea, but it works well for what it is. We keep it with the dressing up things rather than in the book shelf as its really more of a "masks kit" than a story book.
I would recommend it overall as the retail price is under 4 pounds so really for that price you can not go wrong, if you have a child who enjoys masks and dressing up. There are also different versions in the same series like "on the farm" so you can choose the theme your child would prefer.
I have also reviewed this on Amazon with the name M. Marikar
I have been using these Tommee Tippee nappy bins since I had my eldest nearly 4 years ago and have used it with all my 3 children. I have also tried other nappy bins such as korbel but I would recommend Tommee Tippee as the best one to go for, as it does not smell whereas some nappy bins don't hide the nappy smell that much.
These bins are very convenient, especially if you live in a flat without easy access to the outside bin (which we used to do) or do not have wheely bins in your area (which is our situation at the moment) or other such reasons.
To use the nappy wrapper, you place the used nappy into the bin, push it down and then turn to "wrap" the nappy which locks in any smell. This is very easy to do. It is also easy to empty and to replace the cassettes, and can be done very quickly.
I have heard some parents saying they don't find these very useful and prefer just to put nappies into nappy sack and in the kitchen bin but that is hardly very hygenic! and running out to the outside bin every time can be difficult, if you have small toddlers who will want to run out after you then that is not too convenient.
Some people use this without the refill cassettes to save money, but that will negate the whole purpose of the bin so I would not recommend that at all, as it will not lock away the smell without the proper cassettes, so do factor in that cost when choosing to buy it. Overall I would say it is worth it and I do recommend it.
I have also posted this review on Amazon on the name M. Marikar
I have been lucky to get the chance to try out these Fairy Platinum dishwasher tablets for Savvy Circle.
I have to admit our dishwasher is not the most reliable, as it is quite an old one which has been built into the kitchen and was already here when we bought the house. Due to that, I tend to find that the cheapest or unbranded types of dishwasher tablet do not really do a full job and previously I have had to resort to giving dishes an extra wash when taking out from the dishwasher - which defeats the purpose of even having one!
However, as Fairy is a brand that I really trust to do a good job I thought I would give them a try to see if it improves the state of my dishes in the dish washer!
These are quite an advanced tablet with 14 functions including tough stain removal, tea stain removal and liquid and powder detergents. It is an all in one tablet so no need to use anything else, which is great as it makes life easier. You also don't have to unwrap the tablet, you just put it straight in and the outer plastic will just dissove, which I prefer much more than the unwrapping kind.
These tablets are even said to help prevent grease build up on dishwasher parts such as the drainage system, filters and spray arms which I am quite pleased about because like I said our dishwasher is not the newest so it needs all the help it can get!
My dishes are coming out cleaner with these so I am not having to take them out and clean them again afterwards, which is great because I can actually rely on the dishwasher to get the job done!
I definitely find them better than cheaper dishwasher tablets, so I think I will stick to Fairy in future and would recommend them.
I've also posted this on Amazon with the name M. Marikar
I got these boots about 3 months ago as I had got sick of wearing trainers most of the time, as I used to do.
I wanted something that looked a bit nicer and better presented than the trainers but still comfortable as I have to walk a lot.
I will describe the shoes as the dooyoo picture doesn't seem to be showing up (unless that is just me that can't see it) - They are a plain black short boot, ankle length, with a medium-low size heel of 7cm and a slightly pointed toe. The upper is a suede leather and it just has a bit of stitching on it, otherwise it is totally plain black. It has a small zip on the side so you can put your foot into it.
I found these shoes very practical as they are comfy, and the heel is not too high when you have to walk around a lot, but they do not look as boringly practical as trainers - it looks as though you have made slightly more effort and does make your outfit look better.
I am in between two sizes with shoes and I went for the bigger of the two with these, so if you are in between you would have to try them and see rather than just guessing your regular size, as you never know.
I paid 70 pounds full price for them from the Aldo shop in Uxbridge, which although it is not cheap I was happy to pay as I had not found any other shoes which I liked through my whole days shopping trip in the Chimes Centre there in Uxbridge - other shoes which were nice looking had too much of a heel to be comfy, and the flat shoes are not really my cup of tea as I never find them too comfy either as sometimes they can be a bit "flimsy"
I had not been in Aldo before but I found the costumer service good so I would go back in there again.
However, to the slightly disappointing aspect - I have not had these shoes very long but already the sole and heel is wearing out! I would have really expected them to last longer. I am going to buy them again and see if the 2nd pair lasts longer as they are now on sale for 37.49 on the website so I feel its worth another try for that price as I was very happy with them when I bought them.
I have given 4 stars as I had to reduce one star for the lack of longevity as I did really expect a bit more, but they are otherwise really good