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Strong photo-journalism combined with quality writing are the key components of Focus magazine. The magazine heartland is science and technology, but Focus covers a variety of topics from history to genetics, and archaeology to the great outdoors.
Cost for 12 months subs: £35.40

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    11 Reviews
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      07.11.2012 16:10
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      It covers the natural world, the solar system and beyond!

      My friend, Jill and I have a reciprocal agreement whereby we exchange magazines each month after we've read them. She gets my Essentials, Style at Home and Gardeners' World and I get her House Beautiful, Choice and BBC Focus magazines. The first two of these magazines are easy reading but I was a bit taken aback by Focus in the beginning as I'm a complete science numpty. However, once I began to read it, this magazine proved to be an absolute revelation and I now look forward to reading it each month.

      BBC Focus is a month glossy magazine which covers all aspects of science and nature not only on our own planet or even within our solar system but like Buzz Lightyear takes the reader to infinity and beyond. The magazine currently retails at £3.99 per issue although there is a 32% price reduction if readers take out a subscription.

      The format for Focus is similar to most glossy monthlies, or at least it is now as it has recently undergone a bit of a style makeover. Like many other magazines, Focus begins with an editorial and contents page all neatly divided into sections: On the Cover, Discoveries, Features, Tech Hub, To Do List; all of which makes navigating the articles pretty easy in order to dip in and out. Personally, however, I tend to start at the beginning and work my way through, skimming over those articles which are way beyond the grasp of my feeble brain. There is the obligatory letters page and recently published scientific books, too, and as one would expect from a BBC publication, quite a bit about upcoming TV programmes including an interview with Dara O'Brien about his new science series.

      There is such a diversity of subject matter within the natural world covered in this magazine that I doubt there are many people who wouldn't find something to engage their interest. As a schoolgirl going into physics and chemistry lessons was just like walking into a fog and I never fully grasped any of the concepts my teachers tried to impart. Reading this magazine, however, has shown me that physics and chemistry aren't exclusively for brainboxes and also that these subjects can be interesting and that they are very relevant to all our lives.

      The November issue of the magazine covers many scientific disciplines such as excavating the remains of our prehistoric origins from the floor of the North Sea and revealing information of life before Britain was separated from the rest of the European landmass; the ultimate spy - not James Bond but in the shape of a supercomputer; and, even more sci-fi, the plans to mine asteroids as the world's natural resources run out.

      Many of the articles in the magazine demonstrate over and over again just how interconnected the natural world is. For instance, the current issue includes an article about some current research being undertaken using sea squirts from the Great Barrier Reef. These sea squirts produce a molecule which can take on two different forms and scientists from Aberdeen University hope to be able to produce a molecule which will replace the silicon atoms currently used in transistors, research which should aid the building of smaller, faster computers.

      It isn't only the feature articles which make this magazine so fascinating but also the little snippets of information dotted throughout as well as the stunning photography. In fact, the November issue surpasses itself with not only a beautiful photograph of a lake edge in Southern France showing deep red water and salt encrusted reeds, caused by the abundance of salt-loving organisms in the water, but also an absolutely stunning photograph showing the anus of a sea urchin and it's far more aesthetically pleasing than any human possesses, I can tell you!

      Now I can't pretend to understand every single word in this magazine as there are some articles which go way over my head. These tend to be the ones dealing with big scientific theories such as high end biology (DNA and the like) and nuclear physics and even when explained in pure layman's terms, it's still a struggle for me. However, there is so much else which is more accessible and which makes this well worth reading.

      I've already touched on the article about digging up our past from beneath the sea and I found reading about this particularly fascinating. It's hard to imagine that until as recently as about 8,000 years ago, our ancestors were hunting mammoths in the area we now know as the North Sea and which scientists are now calling Doggerland but diving teams have not only unearthed a complete mammoth skeleton but also the bones of early man and some obviously man made structures, all of which give us much more information about our past and the cataclysmic cause of our separation from other lands.

      The article about mining asteroids is equally interesting and it's amazing to think that there are resources in our solar system worth billions of pounds just there for the taking, once we master the technology. In my time I've read science fiction which centred around mining in space but who knew it would ever be within the realms of possibility?

      There's a pretty good balance between articles and advertising here with roughly only 10% of the magazine's 122 pages being devoted to advertising, most of which has some kind of scientific base.

      If I have one criticism about BBC Focus magazine it's the cost. I really feel that £3.99 is far too much to expect anyone to pay for a monthly magazine. Although the articles are erudite and many written by leading scientists, I can't really see how the BBC can justify asking this price. The quality of paper is top grade but with the exception of some of the photographs, it could quite easily be printed on a lower grade paper without it being detrimental to the quality of the magazine as a whole.

      All that being said, I can highly recommend this magazine. I feel it would appeal to anyone interested in the natural world, and it isn't just for adults either. I think if I can understand most of the concepts presented here, then any reasonably educated child should be able to as well. In fact, I think it would be positively beneficial reading for any student of science.

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        05.02.2012 22:22
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        A science and technology magazine aimed at non-experts.

        I've been interested in science since I was a young kid harping at my mum and dad to buy me a microscope and a telescope. I never got the microscope or the telescope but I did get treated to the odd copy of Focus and it is a magazine that I still have a special place in my heart for.

        It currently retails for around £4, if I remember correctly, but as I have a subscription, I save a fortune on the cover price. Subscription prices vary depending on current promotions and on which subscription website you buy it from, but expect to pay about £16 for a 6 month subscription or £30 for a year. There are quite often special deals on where you receive a free gift with your subscription if you subscribe directly from Focus, so it is worth a look around to see what you can get. If you just want to buy a single issue to try out, then you can find it in most WH Smith shops and my local large Tesco Extra also sells it.

        Focus is a BBC Magazine which is something I'm sure it wasn't when I was a child. This means that now a lot of the articles are linked to programmes that are currently on the BBC. Sometimes, this is great. For example, a lot of the Physics programmes on the BBC are explained in greater detail in the magazine but at other times the links are tenuous. For example, a recent article on the science of deduction linked to the BBC production of Sherlock Holmes.

        The magazine itself if written and researched by bona fide scientists and their credentials are given throughout the magazine but it is written for an audience that are not necessarily scientists themselves. It is by no means overly simplistic but it does assume a limited degree of knowledge. For me, this is great, as I'm not a scientist but for a scientist, it would perhaps be frustrating at times. Even, however, for a scientist, the range of articles is so wide that I doubt they'd feel constantly patronised. They may be a Chemist and be bored by the articles about Chemistry but might find some of the articles of Space Science or Physics relatively illuminating.

        The nice thing about Focus is the News in Brief pages that give a quick lowdown on new scientific discoveries in various different fields. This helps a layman like me keep vaguely abreast of what's going on in the world of science without needing to bog myself down in hundreds of academic journals. There are also longer articles on specific and various topics. These articles are interesting but are something held back a bit by pictures or side panels interupting the flow of the actual article.

        There is also a section for readers to write in questions (similar to that found in New Scientist) and experts will answer them. For tech heads, there is a technology section where a tech product such as cameras, TVs or telescopes will be reviewed in depth.

        There are also book reviews, game reviews and discussion of internet sites and apps that are interesting or useful. In addition there is a bit of commentary of various issues written by experts in the field, getting a chance to stand on their soap boxes for a while.

        The truly nice thing about Focus is that you never know what you're going to get. One minute you can be reading about possible alternatives to the Space Shuttle, the next minute you can be reading about super high tech cities being built and then you can find yourself reading about the psychology of horror and why we jump out of our seats at scary movies.

        It is a lot more accessible than New Scientist and it is specifically designed to be this way. However, the close links with what's on TV can be frustrating at times but it is still definately worth a read for anyone with any kind of interest in science and technology.

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        14.07.2009 19:05
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        Since I've had no problems with the actual magazine or subsciption deal, I can still recommend Focus

        My opinion of this publication is a tad 'wishy washy' as I love the magazine but absolutely adhore the service from the company and it's been quite a problem for me, and with other (perhaps better) science publications on the market which offer far more I find it hard to recommend this magazine.

        As I said, I do love this magazine. I'm not a huge science fan but this magazine manages to cater to my minor interest in the subject while providing me with such in depth knowledge in areas I'd never have really thought about before. Each magazine seems to have a pattern of interest which it follows (such as the July issue having lots of articles regarding space exploration) as well as random articles on the cutting edge of science and facts and figures in various areas of science. And the journalism is pretty good too.

        When comparing a subscription to this magazine magazine with another science publication like newscientist, Focus pales in comparison due to not being cutting edge and properly available online. Sure I'm buying a magazine, a physical publication, but these days I do expect it to come with an online aspect, such as the extra articles available with a subscription to newscientist online (and perhaps an archive of past articles online too).

        The problem I have with service in regards to this magazine refers to my ordering of back issues via telephone and by later ringing up to track their whereabouts. It's not exactly a free or cheap number (though due to me not being on BT I don't know the exact cost) and I was incredibly annoyed to be kept on the phone for ages when the advisor had to run around trying to find out the month of the issues I wanted even though I'd given her the proper numbers straight off the website. But in the end I order the issues and the woman was helpful enough. Then after around 15 working days I still had not received them. When I used the same number to ring up and query it I found that (after once again being kept 'on hold' for ages) that the number is no longer value and that company no longer deals with the magazine. It's been a lot of hassle for essentially an incredibly easy process which I then had to just blatantly cancel in the end out of frustration. How they can just lose an order I don't know, it's not exactly a great image to set for the company though.



        But I did get a subscription online from the BBC with a deal of 6 magazines for around £15. And I still think it's great value for money as each magazine is more than worth approx. £2.50, and it's delivered straight to my door! ...even if they've failed in other areas.

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        12.06.2009 14:56
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        One of the best magazines on the market

        Now I have been a fan of Focus magazine since it originally came out back in 1992. So much so that I have every edition!

        It has undergone a number of restyles over the years but it always manges to present the material in an easily digestible format. The main core is science and technology matters, but it is not written in a dry format that you would expect from New Scientist magazine. The topics covered range from engineering, biology, space technology, computing, social sciences, physiology, psychology, nature and the environment.

        It is an excellent way for young teens and older to get interested in the sciences, whilst allowing the rest of us to expand our knowledge of the world about us. The articles carefully explain the science behind the topic without overwhelming you in mathematics and techno-speak. Where it is necessary they do include a glossary to full explain important terms.

        There are regular sections that explain questions you never thought about like 'can birds fly upside down?'. There are technology reviews about the latest gadgets you can buy, together with film, book and game reviews.

        The magazine gives a balanced view of the arguments and is neither pro or anti any topic, but allows the reader to make up their own mind.

        In summary it is a very interesting read and I always look forward to the next edition.

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          02.02.2009 12:52
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          A great science magazine - you wont be dissapointed.

          With BBC's Focus Magazine you get all that's new and exciting in science, technology and the natural world. With brilliant illustrations and stunning photography it easy to get immersed in the Uk's number 1 science magazine.

          The first section is called "Agenda" this deals with recent scientific issues which have been in the news this month, its a great way to catch up with the tech news.

          The Q&A section of the magazine deals with relevant scientific questions, the kind that you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask. The replies are always very informative and usually include a nice diagram to help explain the theory.

          Towards the end of the magazine is "The Guide" this is the techie part. It's nice to get to the end of the magazine and have a little rest from all the science with a few gadget reviews! Each month there is a review topic such as Laptops,Hoovers or Coffee machines, this variety really makes the magazine a good buy. I often find my mag goes missing and it turns up in the most unlikeliest persons hands!


          The magazine is sold for just under £4 which does seem quite expensive, but hey noone can put a price on the knowledge inside! The magazine is set out very clearly so its suitable for all ages you can skip from page to page easily just picking out the things that interest you. I tend to skip through and find the bits that appeal to me and then go back and read the rest in detail.
          So why not give it a try? Have a little focus.

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          29.11.2008 14:21
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          Enough science to amaze you, not enough to lose you in jargon.

          Up until my GCSEs I loved science, even telling one of my primary school teachers I was going to be an inventor! I needed to know how things worked and why. Like Bill Bryson, I was irrationally concerned with the thought that when a plug is removed from a socket, what stops the electricity leaking out?

          GCSEs have a habit of killing enthusiasm and inspiration - not the teachers' fault, just the tune they have to dance to. With an inability to understand molecular equations, I lost interest in Chemistry, and the only thing I accomplished in Physics was making a pair of roller-skates out of wires from the electronics kit and wooden trucks used to measure velocity.

          I got my fix from Tomorrow's World. This was science I could and wanted to understand - glimpses of a future I wanted to embrace, with driver-free cars celebrated alongside robotic bottle-openers that didn't work. Then, in 2003, to the BBC's shame, they scrapped it. No more science for me, not unless I wanted dry or doom-laden 60-minute lectures. The closest I got was hearing Tom Lehrer's song about the periodic table.

          Then the little boffin inside my head was resuscitated on a train journey, when I discovered Focus magazine, promising me Science, Technology and Future. As an aside, every time you take a long train journey buy a magazine you haven't read before. As well as Focus, I have found Writing magazine, Total Film and the Fortean Times this way, informing me of the useful, amazing or plain weird.

          Focus is a monthly magazine, available from WH Smiths and other newsagents for £3.60. It is an excellent magazine for many reasons. First, it never covers a subject in too much detail, preventing you getting bogged down in dry knowledge and pure science. As with my GCSE studies, such material leaves me floundering and I quickly lose interest. When I want to explore a subject further, I can refer to web links provided for many of the articles.

          Each issue covers many topics, some as extended articles, others as no more than a paragraph in a text box. Sometimes whole issues are shaped around a common theme, such as modern crime detection, but each article will look at a different aspect in a different way, meaning my curiosity is fuelled rather than smothered.

          The quality of the magazine is superb, printed on glossy paper with amazing pictures. Photography is as important as the articles and each issue has a few pages at the front just for incredible pictures. These could range from a space-eye view of the Great Wall of China to a close-up of the crawler that carries Space Shuttles. Considerable care is obviously given to the selection of the pictures used with stunning photography being complemented by simple yet informative diagrams.

          Memorable features I have read include the science of the supernatural, the ten most secure buildings in the world, how much of science fiction is achievable and what would happen if the human race vanished over night. Focus is very good at matching its content to the scientific interests and issues of the time. Endorsed by the BBC, the magazine provides listings of upcoming television and radio programs with a degree of scientific interest. There are similar listings for websites, software and books. These are all given a rating out of five.

          Having the science of global warming or the next generation of exercise products explained to me in bite-size portions satisfies my curiosity and keeps me looking for the keys to the universe, on my terms.

          I was always told that a good teacher makes you more inquisitive rather than merely answering the questions you already have. My biology teacher didn't stick to the syllabus, he thought it was boring and there was more amazing stuff out there. Through him I learnt about Shackleton, how rifles work and how to spin a cricket ball - only got a D for GCSE, but I still remember what he taught me.

          Focus magazine does this for me and, until they bring back Tomorrow's World, it's the best thing out there. HINT, HINT!

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            15.06.2001 01:09
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            Focus is the magazine that allows you to discover the world around you – lots of science, technology and discovery articles. I have been reading this magazine for several years now, having become a subscriber, and I must say it is one of the most interesting magazines around. You don’t just need to be interested in science, as it is far more than that. It is all about the world today and is the magazine equivalent of a few hours on the Discovery Channel. Basically, the magazine splits its articles into five themes: science, technology, nature, adventure and culture, and within each theme each issue will have several articles of a very diverse nature: each magazine really is completely different from the previous one. No constant recycling of the same old information here. If we take the latest issue, July 2001 for instance, we have the main story on Tutankhamun’s tomb and the adventures leading up to Carter’s discovery. In nature we have articles on the volcanoes in Hawaii and how the Galapagos islands are recovering from oil spills. In technology there is articles on how tunnels are constructed in different places, and a special report on aviation and the latest technologies. There are adventure articles on climbing dams in the Alps. In science we have the life of the psychologist Jung, what exactly antimatter is and what it can be used for and finally the devastating impact of the disease sleeping sickness. Finally there are culture articles on strange ground drawings made 2000 years ago in Peru, and what they mean, how CFC smuggling is the latest craze and how our system of banks came to be. Now if that isn’t diverse enough to cater for everyone I don’t know what is! There are some regular features, such as letters page, latest news and inventions, as well as reviews of books, computer games and DVDs. My favourite section is the Question and Answer section, where readers can send in their pro
            bing questions for the editors to answer. For instance, in this month’s issue, find out why the hair on your head keeps on growing whilst the hair on your arms doesn’t. Ponder! The articles are sensibly pitched at the intelligent layman. You aren’t taught to suck eggs, whilst at the same time you do not need a degree in physics to understand what is going on. There are lots of lavish photos and diagrams to accompany the articles. The best part of the magazine is the almost complete lack of adverts. Out of 122 pages there are only a dozen pages of adverts, mostly at the end of the magazine, and some of these are for subscriptions. How they do it and still make the price of the magazine only £2.95 I do not know, but this magazine is definitely a breath of fresh air in the otherwise dull world of magazines.

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            27.05.2001 09:20
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            BBC took it over, now it's one big ad for Auntie.

            Focus is written with the intelligent general reader in mind. Less dense than, say, the New Scientist but far from lowbrow, I`ve been reading this magazine for some years now.

            If anything Focus is a bit of a misnomer. It covers science and technology as well as history, geography, psychology, and anything else they feel like throwing in. What it doesn`t do is remain focused on any one subject. Unfocus would have been more accurate, although a title like that probably wouldn`t have sold as many copies.

            At around 120 pages with few adverts it always takes me a few days to get through. The articles are usually well written and bring up vital issues that the TV and print news don`t have space for.

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              25.01.2001 05:45

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              I have read Focus for a number of years now. I have always had an interest in science and technology, and this magazine covers both of these subjects, as well as many others - health, gagetry, world cultures, ethics, astronomy,even sex - most things you can think of. Well written, informaative articles are accompanied by quality photography. Unlike most magazines it does not feature adverts on every other page - meaning you don't need a JCB to pick it up. I recommend this magazine to anyone who likes to be interlectually stimulated without having wade through 'A Brief History of Time' to do so.

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              08.11.2000 19:26
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              At first Focus magazine is very hard to describe, its not soley a Science mag. Its more a general knowledge publication with pieces of Science/technology, history, nature, politics and every now and again sport e.g F1. The best thing about the magazine is that you don't have to be technically minded to enjoy reading it everything is well explained and ample diagrams are given when needed. What I feel the publishers excel at is the picture special they have at the beginning every month, some of the pictures they show are breathtaking. The question and answer section is equally impressive where readers of all ages from school kids to pensioners pose questions to be answersed such as Q.How many people die on the planet each year? to what is the sharpest object ever made. All questions are answered fully and in great detail. All in all it is a great read and very informative.

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              12.09.2000 04:23
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              This is a top quality magazine about science and technology, which is easy to read for anyone. As well as the latest scientific stories it is also full of reviews of the latest gadgets, with not too many advertisements. There are plenty of high quality photographs to accompany each article along with a section dedicated to questions and answers. Focus magazine is a very enjoyable read for old and young alike. I find it a very informative monthly magazine which I would recommend to anyone.

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