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Anewfoundglory82

Anewfoundglory82
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Member since: 06.04.2012

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      11.08.2012 08:31
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      Great-tasting premium cider, and my new favourite tipple!

      Having always been a fan of Cider and trying many brands over the years, I recently discovered Henry Westons and decided to give it a go. I noticed it had a slightly premium price, but considering the size of the bottle (500ml) and the fact that it is 8.2% I thought it sounded like a cider worthy of a trial.

      I settled down for a movie on the home cinema and grabbed my bottle of Westons from the fridge. A bottle opener is required to open this bottle, so I opened it and poured it into a glass. The whole bottle filled a pint glass to the top. I sat down and started the film, then took the first sip of my new tipple. The first thing that struck me was the full flavour. It was very rich and it tasted delicious, ice cold. however, it was not sickly or too sweet, which was good.

      I don't drink much; I've never been one to binge drink or even have multiple pints down the pub etc. so a pint of 8.2% is enough to get me a little tipsy! My beer of choice is Budweiser, and I sometimes get a box of 300ml bottles when they are on offer at the supermarket. I think they are about 4.5% or something, so one bottle of Westons is roughly the equivalent of 2 bottles of Bud, in terms of alcohol. For this reason, I would never drink more than one bottle of Westons at a time, which means it's not bad value. Conversely, if I only wanted a quick, refreshing alcoholic drink then I would probably choose to have one small bottle of Budweiser, so the Westons bottle would be too large and I'm not sure it would keep very well in the fridge, once opened.

      Henry Westons is a gorgeous drink, it's very flavoursome and not too sugary, comes in a large bottle with high (compared to other ciders) alcohol content and for a premium product is not badly priced. Koppaberg is similarly-priced and is rather yummy but has a much lower alcohol content, so if you wanted to get a bit wibbly you'd need more bottles, meaning you'd be spending twice as much money, or more, as you would on Westons.

      A bottle of Westons retails at around £2. I have bought it for £2.15 before, from Tesco, but the other day I saw it in Asda on offer for £1.56! And their normal price was only £1.75 I think, so I will get it from there from now on!

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      • Microsoft Kinect / Game Controller / 13 Readings / 12 Ratings
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        10.08.2012 17:17
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        Great family fun, but the novelty soon wears off..

        When Kinect was first rumoured (known at that time as Project Natal) I was so excited about the prospect and thought it sounded extremely promising. I waited, for what seemed like years, for the product to finally come to fruition and when Kinect finally launched I grabbed one, along with the bundled Kinect Adventures game.

        Set up was fairly straighforward, consisting of unpacking the box contents, connecting the Kinect sensor to a plug socket and also to the Xbox 360 via USB. The software on the Xbox will then take you through the setup of the sensor and get it up and running within a few minutes so you can start playing games with Kinect.

        The first thing that became apparent when using Kinect was that you need a LOT of space in front of your telly! For single player games you can make do with about 6-7' sqaure of space, but for 2 people to play together you'll need more like 8-10' square space in front of the Kinect bar. So relegate the large coffee table to the hall and part your sofas, because if you want to play Kinect games safely, you'll need more space than you likely have immediately available!

        Once you get set up and make room to play, the games can begin. Kinect adventures itself is filled with various fun mini-games (for want of a better word) that demonstrate the sensor well, and introduce you to the ways of Kinect and what it's capable of. The game isn't super impressive, but it is a lot of fun to play, and does a good job of showing off the new technology.

        The Kinect sensor itself is very impressive, constantly tracking your body and capturing even your smallest movements. It works really well and I found it more responsive than I assumed it would be. I was extremely impressed with the technology and how clever it was, along with how well it worked in general.

        In time, the novelty of Kinect wore off, since after the initial thrill of Kinect Adventures and Kinect Sports, there wasn't a great deal left for me. There were a few childish games that I was not interested in, but there was the promise of bigger and better games in the pipeline, with exciting ideas for how the sensor would enhance future big release titles. This never really happened, in my opinion, and even now I only have Kinect Sports Season 2 in addition to the older games, which is another good addition to the range but again, the novelty soon wears off. Ultimately, I am very disappointed with the progress of Kinect and the lack of big budget games enhanced for Kinect control. The technology is there, and it works a treat, but developers are not making use of it as they should be.

        One other issue is that, because the sensor relies on ambient light to help track body movements, you cannot play in a darkened room, or, for example, using a projector (as I would have liked) because for the projected image to look its best, I use it in the dark, but this is not very good for use with Kinect because the lack of light makes the sensor less reliable and not so responsive.

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      • Indesit FIMD13IX / Oven / 18 Readings / 17 Ratings
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        08.08.2012 21:42
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        A good quality double oven with plenty of space and a nice modern look

        My parents treated us to this oven shortly after we moved into our new home together and the old (1970's!) oven was showing signs of failure. We've been using it for a few months now and are really happy with it, so I thought I'd do a review.

        -- Design --
        The look of this oven is sleek and contemporary. It's looks and feels great, with a nice brushed metal panel at the top and to the handles, and black glass to the doors. I think this appliance would look good in most kitchens, although it may be a bit too modern-looking for some styles.

        -- Features --
        Available in this appliance are a grill (half and full), top (small, non-fan) oven and bottom (larger, fan) oven. I like that the grill can just operate in half mode if required, where only 2 of the 4 elements inside heat up, e.g. if you want to grill something for one person. Turn the dial one way for half grill and keep turning to adjust the power, or turn it the other way for full grill, then turn further to adjust the heat.

        The top oven is not fan, but it's very efficient and works very similar to the bottom (fan) oven. There is a single dial to turn it on and adjust the temperature up to 220 degrees, with a single shelf inside. I believe the sides of both ovens feature self-cleaning technology/surface, so they stay clean and do not get dark/dirty.

        The bottom oven has room for 2 or 3 shelves and has a single dial to switch it on and then adjust the temperature up to 240 degrees.

        One thing we have noticed is that the fan stays on for a long time after you finish cooking and turn the oven off. I'm guessing this is to cool it down quicker and maybe help it stay cleaner, instead of burning the inside of the oven by staying hot while empty. Sometimes the fan turns off after 10-20 minutes and then randomly comes back on again for another few minutes after a bit of a break. This can be slightly annoying and I wonder how much extra electric this is using.

        The top oven door is not clear, so when you are cooking you cannot see inside, which can be a nuisance. This is not a problem when grilling, as the door must be left open during this operation.
        The bottom over has a clear door and internal light, so you can see inside to check the progress of your cooking if necessary.

        The fan oven is quite noisy and when it's been on for a while it's a real feeling of silence when it finally turns off! This is true for most fan ovens, though, so I won't hold it against this model.

        The LED display is clear and always displays the time, unless it is in operation with the timer set. During cooking, the timer is constantly displayed, counting down as expected. This is good in some ways, as it gives you a quick indication of the remaining cooking time at a glance, but it's annoying in others, as sometimes you'll want to see the time instead (I get used to glancing at the oven for the time when in the kitchen) but you'll just see the timer instead!
        To set the timer, all you need to do is press the button, adjust the timer with + and - buttons and then press the timer button again. Simples! The timer gives a loud 'beep-beep, beep-beep...' when it reaches zero.

        -- Summary --
        I like the Indesit double oven a lot - it's cooked everything well so far, is easy to operate and reliable. It's great being able to use both top and bottom ovens at once, for the extra space, e.g. when cooking a roast dinner! Yum :)

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        06.08.2012 13:05
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        Lots of fun and excitement for kids (and adults?!) who are into their racing cars

        My little boy has been getting more and more into cars since he was about 2 years old, and now he's 4 he has a big collection of Hot Wheels cars and prior to his birthday he expressed a lot of interest in the various track kits he kept seeing advertised on the TV!
        So, for his birthday we bought him a few Hot Wheels tracks, as we were sure they would keep him amused for many hours and therefore be good value for money.

        One of the tracks we purchased, was this 4-lane raceway. It's around 6' long and comprises 3 sections, which begin at the top with 4 lanes, then moving into 2, then into 1 single lane at the bottom. In two places on the track, there are yellow mechanisms which pop up to flick cars from the race and make the game more exciting (they are triggered when a faster car rides over a switch, thus sending the slower car flying to its doom).

        At the top of the 4-lane raceway you place 4 cars into their individual lanes and a yellow 'stopper' of plastic stops the cars from rolling down. It's then down to the operator to pull the lever in the middle, which lowers the bits of yellow plastic and allow the cars to roll down the lanes. Four cars, then two, then ultimately one car will reach the end of the track (theoretically the fastest car of the four).

        It's all over very quickly, as the cars do not take long to race down a 6' long slope, but it's exciting and quite fun. My little boy actually prefers to just connect the bottom end of the track to more orange track from other kits and send one car at a time from the top, using the raceway as a long slope for a car to race down, before rolling onto more track and possibly launching the start of another track such as a 'trick tracks' kit (which he also received for his birthday).

        I think the 4-lane raceway is quite good, but it's over too fast and it's a pain having to spend longer placing 4 cars in the top and resetting all of the yellow 'flippers' down the track, than the race itself lasts. The raceway is entirely plastic, but it's strong and seems very durable. It folds away nicely for (almost) flat storage and is quick and simple to set up (my Son likes to use it in the garden). Shop around and if you can get it for under £20 then I'd say it's worth it - my little boy loves it anyway, which is the main thing! :)

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          21.07.2012 21:31
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          Highly useful accessory, essential for anyone who uses an iPad and camera, or MIDI instruments etc

          I have had many iPads during the last few years, and in between owning each one, I've always kept hold of this little gadget. It costs around £20 usually, if you shop around and can serve many purposes.

          1: Using with an SD card
          Using the camera connector kit with SD card slot means you can plug an SD card straight into your iPad. This then brings up a view of all of the photos stored on the card (i.e. that were taken using your camera) and allows you to copy some/all of the pictures to the iPad, which can be very useful for editing and viewing. It's very quick and simple to do this and I found it very useful when I had my Nikon DSLR, as it allowed me to view the photos very clearly, straight from the camera.

          2: Using USB connection to a camera
          If you don't want to remove the memory card from your camera, you can simply use the USB part of the Apple Connector Kit to connect the iPad directly to the camera via its USB cable. This then allows you to copy the photographs to the iPad in much the same way as you would do from the SD card if you'd done things that way instead. Very handy.

          3: Using the USB connection with a MIDI keyboard or Audio Interface/Microphone
          Any budding musicians with an iPad will know that you can make great use of the USB connection on the Cam Connection Kit by plugging in various bits of music tech. For example, you can connect one of the high quality condenser mic's available, allowing you to record crystal clear vocals or acoustic guitar etc straight into the iPad. You can connect a multi-channel audio interface for (for example) 8 or 16-track simultaneous recording straight into the iPad using an app like Auria. You can connect a modern synthesiser to the iPad via the USB connection and control instruments in GarageBand and other Synth apps via the external MIDI keyboard, so you have physical keys to play and record with. It's amazing and works brilliantly, and it just keeps getting better..

          These possibilities really make the camera connection kit a great investment, and essential for any photographer or musician, in my opinion

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          21.07.2012 21:14
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          Great way of getting your 5-a-day, and brilliant for creating your own milkshakes etc!

          I'm a big fan of custom milk shakes, and my missus and I are both a bit partial to a nice healthy smoothie, so when I saw this for sale at Argos recently I decided it would be a good purchase for us, as we did not own a blender or anything similar already, and we wanted something we could use for this purpose, so the Smoothie 2 Go seemed ideal. It was priced at £25 and I had a £10 Argos voucher so it only cost me £15 at the time!

          The operation is simple - chuck in your chopped fruit, ice cream, milk, juice, frozen fruit etc (just don't go above the marked fill lines for frozen/fresh ingredients and you'll be fine) then attach the blender lid, turn upside down, give it a shake and then twist it into the base. Turn the dial on the front to the low setting first, for a few seconds to get things moving, then up to the high setting for around 20 seconds (depending on the contents of the smoothie and how 'smooth' you want it). It couldn't be simpler!

          The first time we used it, we threw in some chopped strawberries, raspberries and some fruit juice - the result was a wonderfully thick smoothie for two, that would have cost a fair few pounds at a smoothie bar. The next day I tried something a bit different - a threw in a load of chopped up strawberries, poured in some double cream, then added a couple of scoops of ice cream - WOW, strawberries and cream milkshake!! It was soooo good :)

          The machine comes with two containers, that can also be used as cups/flasks, as they have a water-tight closable lid that can be flipped open to pour the smoothie out from. I tried drinking form it, but it's very uncomfortable so it's better to pour it into a cup first. At least having two of these means you could actually make two large shakes very quickly and rush them out of the house or whatever if you needed to, and then serve them from the containers. It also saves you from having to wash the container between making two different flavours of shake/smoothie etc, which might have been an issue for some people. And of course if one of them is still in the dishwasher/washing-up bowl, then you've still got a clean one ready to use if you suddenly desire another quick smoothie!

          I have tried various things with this machine now, and it does everything we want/need it to, and does it well. Fancy an Oreo milkshake? Strawberries and cream? Blueberry and Jaffa Cake surprise?! Get creative and you'll be amazed at the results, I can't wait to try some more experiments with our new machine, and it's a great (and easy) way to get a few portions of your 5-a-day, too.

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          • TK Maxx / Highstreet Shopping / 31 Readings / 31 Ratings
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            02.07.2012 21:15
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            A great shop with huge diversity, take your time and visit often!

            -- In the Beginning --
            T K Maxx and I have a bit of a history. We go way back, to when the stores were relatively new and people didn't really know what to expect. In the days when they were stocking brands like Stussy, Evisu, Buddhist Punk, Old Glory, Ringspun Allstars T-shirts, Aquascutum, Burberry and others that I've since forgotten and not seen for years, I used to bulk-buy mens clothing and sell it for a small profit on eBay, to make a bit of cash to tide me over during my year out, after graduation. Sometimes I'd find something in clearance (man, I still love T K Maxx's clearance sections!) for about £5 and sell it for a big profit, which felt great and was really exciting at the time! Sadly, these days are long-gone, as the clothing market has devalued a lot and everyone knows T K Maxx exists, along with numerous other discount brand outlets.

            -- Little and Often --
            Ever since I first discovered T K, I have been a regular visitor. I find the store really works best if you have one local to you, that you are able to visit regularly. I try to browse my local branch at least every other weekend, because everything is always changing and new things are always available. Little and often is the preferred shopping technique here, as I find I am unlikely to come away with lots of items from a single visit, since there will rarely be more than a couple of things that I happen to like and are in my size, so I visit regularly to check what's new.

            -- Clothing --
            My local store has a large range of Mens, Womens and Children's clothing, stocking everything from underwear to T-shirts, suits to jumpers. If you look hard enough and take your time, you can usually find something that'll make you want to part with your cash! Part of the thrill of T K Maxx, for me, is in the searching, as it's exciting when you spend time looking through everything, and then finally discover something you love and is a real bargain (especially if it's in clearance -- although watch out, as sometimes clearance items are broken/damaged in some way and it's not always obvious, or written anywhere on the ticket etc!). However, for some people this shopping technique may be boring and annoying, causing shoppers to miss out on the bargains because they cannot be bothered to trawl through three whole isles of tightly-packed T-shirts, in the hope of finding one they might like.

            -- Home --
            In recent years, since moving out and starting a family of my own, I have started to find the home/furniture section of the store more appealing. They always have a great selection of quality/designer kitchenware, random coffee tables, side tables, arm chairs and bean bags (which I love to browse but have never yet actually purchased).
            They have an extensive range of photo frames, mirrors and clocks, some available at truly great prices and I have recently filled our entire home with some nice modern photo frames that I purchased from my local Maxx, which really enhance the walls and bring a smile to my face when I see the photos on display that I have taken of my Son over the last couple of years.
            The luxury/designer bed sheets, towels, pillows etc are useful and there are sometimes some really nice items there, if you're looking for that sort of thing, although due to it being high quality and/or designer, it might not be as cheap as you'd hope!

            -- Shoes --
            I regularly browse the shoe section of T K Maxx, not only for myself, but for my little boy, too. I went through a phase a few years ago (before I had a family of my own, and thus had more cash to spare!) when I would buy a new pair of shoes every month! I'm kind of glad the selection seems to have lost its appeal over the years, as I couldn't afford to keep feeding that habit these days! It's a shame they don't seem to get Converse hi-tops very often, or the kind of shoes that I prefer to wear now. It seems to be either Vans/DC skate shoes etc, or smart/suit shoes mostly nowadays, so I haven't bought any from there for some time.

            -- Misc --
            I sometimes enjoy looking at the odds and ends that Maxx have in the store -- such as toiletries, candles, electronics and accessories. They usually have a fairly good range of tools, too, such as screwdrivers, drill bits, sometimes drills and more. I bought a nice iPad 2 cover last year in clearance for £5, which was great value and should have cost £15. They regularly have batteries (and chargers), iPod and iPhone cases and covers, different types/styles of headphones and such, so it's worth having a good nose around the whole store on a regular basis if you want to take in everything it's got to offer (and you're not scared of finding something that might make your wallet a little lighter!)

            -- Conclusion --
            T K Maxx is great -- it's got such a diverse range of items -- something for everyone, and there are often some real bargains to be had. If you are patient and take your time looking amongst everything, and visit the store regularly to see what's new, then I really think you'll be rewarded. It's one of my favourite shops and I continue to visit mine at least twice a month. They have an elevator and customer toilets too, which is always handy, especially if you have children!

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              25.06.2012 11:36
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              Great speaker for the money. Very portable and sounds fantastic.

              Last year I was looking for a portable speaker for my iPhone -- something that could be taken away from the plug socket and used anywhere (such as in the garden, around the house etc). When I found this Logitech speaker on sale at my local Comet, after reading a few online reviews, I bought it (think it was £70).


              -- The Hardware and Design --
              I really like the style of the speaker -- it's got a nice sleekness to it, and it leans back slightly so the audio is aimed up at your ears if it's on the ground and you're sitting near it, or it's on the desk and you're sitting on a chair at the computer etc. It looks stylish in my opinion, and feels very robust. The stand that allows it to lean actually folds forward and clips down over the iDock connector, so it can be carried around easily and is quite light, although very solid-feeling for its price. Overall I am very impressed with the design and feel/quality of the speaker.

              There is a large rubber 'plug' at the back of the speaker, which you pull out to reveal the power input and also a line in, for connecting things that aren't compatible with the dock connector on top (e.g. computer, iPad, other MP3 player, TV -- anything really!)

              The buttons on the front of the device work well and are self-explanatory -- just a power on/off button, and volume up and down switches. They make a satisfying 'click' when pressed.


              -- The Audio Quality --
              The main reason I bought this speaker and not something even smaller (and why I checked reviews online first) was because of its audio quality/power. As you can see from the picture, this thing packs a total of 6 speakers into its tiny frame, mildly concealed by the black metal grill on the front. This baby has got all of your frequency range covered -- deep, punchy bass that totally belies the size of the unit; pleasant mid tones that are clear and well-balanced; and crisp highs that are not too harsh. I was very impressed when I started listening to the sound coming from this compact device.

              Even though the speakers are packed quite closely together, system unit does well at creating a good stereo image, although due to them being inside one unit, you'll have to be sitting directly in front of the speakers if you want to get the full stereo effect to your ears.. This is where separate speakers are better, because they can be positioned either side of, say, your computer monitor and deliver a wide stereo image. But that's not what this speaker is designed for, so to mark it down in this regard would be unfair.

              The sheer power and quality of the sound this dock produces, is very impressive -- and even when running off the rechargeable battery, only the volume suffers slightly and a tiny bit of the bass is removed. The speaker still goes pretty loud, but on the mains, this thing can fill a large room, so might be suitable for small parties etc if you just want to make playlists on your iPod and shove it in the dock all night. The speaker will recharge your iPod/phone at the same time (when connected to the mains) so you don't have to worry about running out of battery juice, either.


              -- The Remote --
              Included is a small remote control, with soft buttons for skipping forward/back through tracks and changing the volume up/down. There is also a pause/play button and two buttons for toggling repeat modes etc. At the bottom of the remote is a power button, so if your iDevice is docked in the speaker, you can start/stop music and skip tracks/change volume from across the room, which is very handy.


              -- In summary --
              The compact size, freedom of movement/portability and sleek design, coupled with the actual audio quality and power, make this speaker dock a very solid purchase. In addition, the ability to connect anything via the Line In on the back, means you are not excluded from the fun by not owning an iDevice. All in all, a great-sounding speaker for a reasonable price, with sound and power that is uncommon at this size/price-point.

              Please note: this speaker is not 'wireless' as in bluetooth. It is wireless in regards to being portable (it has a rechargeable battery inside so does not need to be plugged into the wall at all times) but the iPod/phone/device still needs to be connected to the dock for the audio to be heard. A new version of this speaker is now available which is truly wireless, and it has an extra light on the front, showing when a device is connected via bluetooth, for a genuine, totally wireless experience.

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            • Yamaha F-310 / Guitar / Bass Guitar / 20 Readings / 19 Ratings
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              23.06.2012 22:12
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              Amazing value, top quality acoustic guitar at a superb price. Grab one now!

              A couple of years back I owned a Taylor Big Baby acoustic. I loved that thing, it sounded so great for the money and considering the size of the body, it had so much character. I did not play it enough, however, and ended up selling it so I could afford a new iPad! I then borrowed an old acoustic from a friend, just to keep up with some practice every so often and write a couple of songs on. It was nothing compared to my Big Baby, but it did the job..

              So I finally got around to wanting my own acoustic again, something with a nice tone and slim neck, for song-writing etc, and started doing some research. After a while I found this Yamaha F310 that seemed amazing value for money, almost too good to be true! I listened to some examples on YouTube, looked at various prices online and decided that it was too good an opportunity to pass up, when I found it for sale at my local Argos store as a pack (including tuner, picks, strap, DVD etc) for £120! I took a chance and bought one..

              - First Impressions -
              Upon unpacking the guitar, I quickly decided that its looks definitely belied its price. The body is very clean, smooth and a lovely light wood colour on the front, complemented by the dark wood around the sides and back, with a black fingerplate. The neck is slim and smooth, strings a little rough but nice to play. I was immediately impressed with the instrument as a whole and felt that I really had got a bargain.

              - The Sound -
              After tuning the guitar and giving the strings a stretch, then tuning again (using the included electric tuner, which was a welcome addition to the pack and worked very well) I began playing one of my own songs that I had recently written. I was pleasantly surprised by the loud, but nicely-rounded tone the body was producing -- not too boomy or boxy, not too much high end -- just a really solid, bold, lovely rich tone, again totally belying the guitar's price.
              My Big Baby Taylor was gorgeous, but the tone was quite treble-heavy. I think a lot of people may actually prefer the tone of the Yamaha, as it's more rounded, bold and loud but without being harsh. In fact, it's so loud and clear compared to the cruddy old acoustic I had been practising with lately, that I had to use my fingers on the strings instead of the plectrum, as this gave a slightly softer and more mellow result, that I was more accustomed to. Using a pick steps up the crispness and loudness of this guitar even more, but it still doesn't sound harsh or nasty in any way.

              - Build Quality -
              The guitar feels solid, but is quite lightweight. It does feel like a high quality instrument, with good build quality and a nice finish. If I were to see it in a music shop, feel it and play it, I would assume it to have a retail price of somewhere around £300. You could easily fool people into thinking you paid a lot of money for this guitar, if you were so inclined and wanted to impress them or something! I find it impressive that this acoustic can look and sound so good for only £120 (or maybe slightly less if it's for the guitar only, without the accessories)

              - To Sum Up -
              I urge you to have a play on one of these! In fact, if you're in the market for a nice acoustic on a budget, then just buy one! You cannot go wrong at this price point, this is simply a bargain and a great example of brilliant value for money. Some guitars cost two or three times as much, and don't sound as good.

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              17.06.2012 09:39
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              Absolutely fantastic projector for the money - at £548 you can't go wrong - full HD looks incredible

              -- Introduction --
              I spent a long time thinking about getting a projector. I loved the idea of a huge image - like a cinema in my front room - but was not up-to-date with the current projector technology and was unsure of what they were capable of, especially at this price point. I did some research online and discovered this Optoma model (the HD200X) was considered a great pj for the price, being full HD and and abailable brand new from Tesco for £548.
              After selling a couple of things to raise some more cash, I took the plunge and ordered one, then picked it up 2 days later from my local Tesco store. I also bought a cheap blackout blind from Dunelm Mill, to use as a temporary screen while I saved up some more cash for a real screen!

              I was pleasantly surprised at how easy and quick it was to set this thing up. Due to me having a home cinema surround set-up in place already, all I needed to do was run an HDMI cable from the back of the blu-ray player/receiver, into the rear HDMI input on the projector. I popped a Lord of the Rings Blu-ray disc into my player and powered on the projector (after connecting it to the power outlet too, of course!)

              The HD200X has 2 HDMI inputs, as well as a component input and VGA, so you can connect several devices at once. However, if your surround system/receiver has several inputs, all you'll need is a single HDMI from your receiver to the HD200X.

              -- Full HD at 80" --
              Obviously I was only using a blackout blind as my screen, but the projector impressed me immediately. I had to darken my room as much as possible, to achieve the best contrast and brightness for the image (this is true for just about any projector, although a grey screen can help with this). I was blown away by the detail and crispness of the image, being full 1080p HD on an 80" scale (my TV is 50" so this was a huge leap).

              I had set the projector up on a table top, a few inches below the bottom of my 'screen' at a distance of about 9'. I had to zoom out fully on the HD200X to achieve a picture small enough for my 80" blind, so it's obvious that this model is capable of short throw projection, and should be able to give a brilliant, large image from as close as a few feet from the screen. I will be ordering a 110" screen soon, and mounting the HD200X on the ceiling, probably about 10' away. Viewing distance will be around 9' which will be simply awesome when watching full HD movies!

              Colours are vivid and really a joy to behold. When watching something like 'Up' or 'Cars' on Blu-ray, the image is just stunning - brilliant sharpness and detail, fantastic bold colours, bright and crisp whites and good (but not great) blacks. Basically, this thing rocks! You will not be disappointed by the image quality of the HD200X, for £550 it's a real bargain, considering you can use a £20 blackout blind as an 80" screen, and a 60" plasma TV costs at least £1000! Of course, a projector is not something to replace a television, though, so you can't really compare like for like, but for the price of a 60" TV, you could get this projector AND a good 42" HDTV!

              Ambient light is a bit of an issue, as with all but the most expensive projectors (which cost thousands of pounds and are still not 100% perfect). As long as you can have the room dark enough, by using blackout blinds and having darker walls if possible, then the image will have good contrast and acceptable black levels. However, using this pj in daylight is not really an option, as the image will be far too light and washed out. But then, who does that anyway?! In my opinion, a projector is for enjoying movies on, for a real 'home cinema' experience. I only use mine in the evenings, with the curtains closed and the lights off. In these conditions, the HD200X really shines, and every time I start watching a film through it, I sit there in awe for the first few minutes, and at multiple times throughout the film, due to the clarity of the 1080p image - it gives my blu-ray collection a whole new lease of life, as I want to re-watch all of my movies! And then watch them again when I get the proper, 110" screen!

              -- The 'Rainbow' Effect --
              As with most (if not all) DLP projectors, there is a visual quirk known as the Rainbow Effect, or 'RBE'. It is present with the HD200X, but I did not notice it myself until my other half pointed it out! The effect consists of a sudden flash of colours, like a vertical rainbow down the screen, usually when moving your eyes across the picture quickly, and usually more prevalent in contrasty scenes. As I said, I did not notice it at first, but my girlfriend did. After some online reading, I discovered that the effect usually lessens as 1) the pj bulb gets older and dims slightly after 100 hours or so, and 2) you become accustomed to the effect and your brain blocks it out and you don't notice it any more!
              I honestly don't see the effect any more, after only a few hours of viewing, and did not really see it in the first place, anyway! I really don't think it will bother anyone, and if they do notice it at first, the effect should wear off after a few viewings.

              -- Audio --
              I do recommend having a home cinema/surround sound system in place if you want to use a projector, since it really enhances and completes the home cinema experience. The projector has no speakers, so there is no way to hear the audio from a film, unless you have some kind of sound system in place for the audio to go to. My home cinema system is currently only a Sony BDV-E380, which Tesco also had on sale at the time. I will give that a review soon, but it's a great system for the money and works well with my Panasonic TV and Optoma HD200X projector.

              -- Adjustments and Settings --
              There are lots of settings on the projector, not only for zooming in and out and focussing, but also for the picture, to tailor the image to your needs. It's worth fiddling with the contrast (don't put it too high), brightness, colour etc or looking online for the optimal settings, as it can enhance the picture and make the movie even more impressive! The settings may need adjusting after a hundred hours or so, as the bulb burns in and settles down a bit. Of course, the image can be inverted so it's the correct way up when the pj is mounted upside-down on the ceiling, and there are some built-in scene modes for things like 'cinema', 'photo' and 'bright', but I stick to the user mode and make my own adjustments.

              -- Fan Noise --
              The fan in the HD200X is pretty quiet. I have only ever noticed it during very quiet scenes, when there was next to no sound coming from the surround system, and that was when the projector was sitting on a table right next to me! I have no other PJ's to compare it to, but I am happy with the fan noise, and I'm sure I will never notice it at all once it's mounted on the ceiling, above and behind me. The projector does get very hot though, at the front where the lamp is, so I'm not sure if the fan can keep up, after a couple of hours' viewing!

              -- Conclusion --
              The HD200X is a superb projector for the money. As I said earlier, for £548 you can't go wrong, when things looks this good. Full HD images look absolutely stunning at 80" (and I'm sure they'll be just as good at 110" too!) with wonderful colours, pristine detail and smooth motion. I am very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the HD200X and highly recommend it to any movie fan! If you can't afford an expensive screen (I recommend a grey one if you aren't viewing in a very dark room and want better blacks) then just get a large, white, blackout blind from Dunelm or Ikea ;)

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                03.05.2012 19:48
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                Brilliant fun, superb macro lens. Opens up a whole new world for your iPhone camera!

                -- Overview --
                I discovered this lens system for iPhone 4/4S by accident, when looking at iPhone camera reviews and accessories. I watched a few videos on YouTube and saw some example shots online, showing people using the Olloclip lens to take wideangle/fisheye and macro shots with their iPhone. I have a keen interest in macro photography, so immediately my interest was piqued!

                -- Hardware --
                The Olloclip 3-in-1 lens system is one single accessory that contains 3 different lenses, which fits neatly over the top corner of your iPhone 4/4S. On one side there is a fisheye lens, and on the other end is wideangle. But the killer feature, for me, is the macro lens that is hidden beneath the wideangle. Unscrew this wide lens and a 10x magnification macro lens is revealed!
                The lens comes complete with lens caps fitted to either end, and a soft pouch to carry the lens around in. I do recommend keeping the lens in this pouch, since the area between the lenses (where the iPhone fits in) is open and the inside of the lenses is therefore exposed. For this reason, you'll want to keep the whole lens accessory away from dust and dirt, so you do not want to just throw it into your bag or pocked 'as-is'. Keep it in the pouch and it'll save dust etc. from getting onto the lenses. Maybe a quick blast from a compressed air duster every so often would be a good idea.

                -- Wideangle --
                The wideangle element of the 3-in-1 lens system is pretty good. Photographs are distorted slightly around the edges, particularly in the corners, but overall image quality is good. I think the extra ground covered in the photo makes the slight distortion a worthwhile trade-off, particularly if you are indoors and want to fit more of the room into a shot, or a sweeping landscape etc.

                -- Fisheye --
                The Fisheye lens in the Olloclip is great fun, giving your iPhone a super wide field of view. With photography, the image is greatly distorted around the edges, making the picture into more of a circular shape, but the amount you can fit into one picture makes it very useful. Some people will enjoy the effect, whereas others might find it more of a novelty, or wish for less barrel distortion.
                When shooting HD video, though, the fisheye lens is even more impressive, since the focal length is shorter during video recording, so the barrel distortion effect is lessened greatly. This achieves a very wide field of view during video capture, offering the iPhoneographer a very useful way of fitting an entire room, or super-wide landscape, into one shot, instead of having to pan around a lot. This is great fun to use!

                -- Macro --
                This is the main reason for buying this lens, in my opinion. I love macro photography, and have experiment with several different methods of capturing extreme close-ups in the past. I have used 'super macro mode' on compact cameras, a DSLR with extension tubes, and a bridge camera with a macro converter fitted to its lens. In my opinion, the iPhone 4S with Olloclip macro lens, is the best solution for extra close-up shots. The sheer convenience of always having the iPhone in my pocket, means it is, by default, the best camera I have ever owned. I can (and do) achieve DSLR-like results from my iPhone, by having it with me at all times, and editing my photos with various awesome iOS apps. like Big Lens, Snapseed and Lensflare.
                I realise that a DSLR with a proper 1:1 macro lens would offer a superior macro performance and much image quality, but even an entry-level camera such as the Nikon D3100, with a Tamron 90mm Macro lens, would set you back around £700 (or over £500 used) and then you have to carry around a fairly large camera, with a large lens fitted to it! The iPhone 4S is tiny, light, and always with me. And the Olloclip weighs next-to-nothing and only costs £50-60.
                The image quality from the macro lens is excellent, with some loss in quality and mild distortion around the edges, but the sheer convenience and fun of having this lens on my iPhone makes it the best accessory I have ever owned! It is capable of superb shots, and really opens up your iPhoneography to an area of photography that would just not be possible, without this lens system.

                -- In Summary --
                As you can tell - I love the Olloclip. I have not used the fisheye or wideangle lenses all that much, but I use the macro lens extensively. It's a huge amount of fun, and capable of some awesome results. The working distance (from end of lens to subject) is only around 12mm or so, which makes it quite a challenge to use at first, but I'm used to working that way now and it only really poses a problem if I am trying to photograph something like a wasp or ant, which would usually fly/run away when I get close enough to shoot a portrait of its face!
                The distortion around the edges of the pictures taken with these lenses, is sometimes slightly annoying, but is a very small price to pay when you are getting such good macro shots with your iPhone. It does not really do anything to detract from the shot itself, and can usually be cropped out, meaning you can lose the edge-distortion from the image, AND get even closer to the subject in the photo.
                I was slightly reluctant to spend £60 on this to start with, but being into photography so mach and loving macro shots especially, I decided it was worth the risk. I have since sold my DSLR and compact camera, as they were a pain to carry around with me, whereas my iPhone (and usually Olloclip) is always in my pocket! Now all I need is a decent telephoto iPhone lens...

                I am not sure if I am allowed to link to my Flickr account from here, but if you're interested to see the results of the macro lens, let me know and I'll link you to my Flickr so you can see what it's capable of! :)

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                29.04.2012 20:59
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                Very useful for certain tasks, makes it quick and simple to remove dust/fluff safely from gadgets!

                I saw this stuff at a super-cheap price a few weeks ago and, having never tried it before, bought a can to keep by for when I wanted to give something electrical/hard to dust, a really good blast. Fast-forward a few weeks and I'm very glad I purchased this when I did!

                Basically, I got a tiny amount of water inside my iPhone's headphone socket without realising, and the phone started reporting that I had headphones plugged in, when in fact I actually didn't. After blowing into the headphone socket, plugging headphones in and out, and resetting the phone in case it was a software fault, I suddenly remembered the air duster I had purchased recently.

                I attached the straw to the nozzle on the can, and inserted the tip into the phone's headphone socket. I gave a who blast to begin with, as I was worried about damaging the socket somehow, although the concentrated blast of air did note really feel too powerful, when I felt it with my finger. I noticed a tiny amount of water spray back out of the headphone socket, so I wiped it away and gave it another blast. Two seconds later, my phone was back to normal again, with a perfect headphone socket and has been fine ever since!

                I have since used the air duster on my computer keyboard, iPhone and iPad dock connector ports, and various other electrical bits. It's a great way to keep dust, crumbs and fluff out of your beloved gadgets, and works very well.

                I would recommend keeping a can of this stuff in the drawer, as you never know when it might come in handy! At full price, I'd say it is far too expensive, but if you can get a cheaper alternative, or find it on sale (mine was only £1!) then it's a great buy.

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                  19.04.2012 23:19
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                  It doesn't get any better than this -- if you've not payed these games, BUY THIS NOW!

                  I figure the best way to review this title will be to review each of the games in their own right (since the games are essentially the same now as they were when first released on the PlayStation 2) and then add a paragraph at the end that sums up the package as a whole and the updated package as it stands now on PlayStation 3, in HD form. So, on we go...

                  -ICO-

                  Background:
                  I sadly missed out on this game the first time around, when it was released in 2002, only to discover it 2-3 years later and find out that it was only available as a used game and was fetching around £50-60 per copy! I held off from purchasing it and thankfully it was re-released in 2006, and for only £20 too! I snapped it up and popped the eagerly-awaited disc into my PS2. What followed was one of the best gaming experiences of my life..

                  Ico was very different to any other game I had played (and still is to this day). It somehow manages to grab you in such an enchanting and magical way, and pull you into its world, forcing you to become emotionally attached to surrounding but slightly surreal beauty, and the lead female characted - Yorda.

                  Gameplay:
                  You play the role of a young boy (Ico) who has been falsely imprisoned in a large, seemingly-barren castle grounds, with only a long bridge connecting the castle and surrounding area to the mainland. Being stranded on this deserted land, Ico sets out to find a way to escape. Along the way, he meets a beautiful but strange girl, named Yorda. He makes it his mission to rescue her, and protect her as he searches for a way out.
                  On their journey, they encounter weird 'shadow' creatures that are made of darkness, who try to grab Yorda and take her back into the dark with them. As Ico, you must fend off these creatures and keep Yorda safe. Ico has only a stick at first, later followed by a sword, as his only available means of attack. This keeps things simple but can also prove frustrating occasionally, as multiple shadow creatures try to pull Yorda away from you and you have to mash the attack button to swipe at them with a big stick! This is probably the ONLY negative comment I would make about this game though, so it can't be bad ;)
                  I will not go into further plot details here, as I do not want to include any spoilers for those of you who may be picking up this game for the first time!

                  The main part of the game, in your quest to escape to freedom with Yorda, is the puzzles that you encounter on your journey. Some of these are fairly simple, such as moving a block from one place to another, to gain extra height and climb through a window. But others are quite tricky and require some thought. They are never frustratingly difficult or obscure though, and the game is so engrossing and engaging (not to mention beautiful) that you won't mind spending some time exploring and figuring out how to progress to the next part of the castle/grounds. Of course, you have to get Yorda out too, and puzzles often involve you wondering off alone to find a solution, thus allowing Yorda to follow you again because she was unable to reach the area that Ico could reach by himself (she is not as athletic or as strong as Ico!).

                  I find it a brilliant and touching element to the game, the way you are required to hold Yorda's hand to lead her around. If you let go of the trigger on the controller, you let go of Yorda's hand and she wanders by herself (though never usually very far). The dual shock pad rumbles lightly as you run along, tugging at Yorda's arm, giving you a real sense of attachment and further emotional involvement. Fantastic.

                  Puzzles require you to climb, search, leap, shimmy and swim your way to freedom, and the gaming world is one of the most beautiful and enchanting I have ever experienced. It's hard to explain, but it's emotional and wonderful, not to mention quite unique.

                  Soundtrack:
                  Wow. Just, wow. Inspirational is not a term I use lightly, yet this is one of those moments when it doesn't even do the audio justice. This is the only game soundtrack I have actually purchased on CD. The main themes in the game are wonderful and fit the game perfectly, enhancing the experience and heightening the sense of emotional attachment to the surroundings and lead characters. The incidental score is atmospheric and haunting, again fitting perfectly with the game, but it's the sheer lack of music that enhances parts of the game even further. When there is nothing but the sound of birdsong and flowing water, interrupted only by Ico's energetic grunts or Yorda's call for attention. Knowing when to use music and when to just have ambient audio is very important, and this game has got it just right.
                  The main theme song at the end of the game (entitled 'You Were There') is simply awesome, and will no doubt bring a tear to your eye as it plays out the end of the Journey for Ico and Yorda. Never before have I felt so emotional during a game's ending sequence. "Please don't let this be the end!" I was saying to myself, as I completed the game for the first time.
                  Almost forgot to add: The theme music that plays when saving your game (which you do by sitting on a randomly-placed sofa!) is truly amazing. It fills me with emotion when I listen to it now, because it causes all of the wonderful Ico memories to come flooding back.

                  Longevity:
                  Ico is, unfortunately, a reasonably short game. But then again, anything this brilliant would feel too short! If you're expecting epic gaming for 40+ hours then you'll be hugely disappointed. Ico might take you around 12 hours or so at most, during your first play-through, lowering to maybe 8 hours or so for each subsequent completion. However, it does not feel overwhelmingly short, since the game is well-paced and enjoyable all the way through and feels 'complete' when you reach the end. You are ready for the ending when it arrives, even though you still wish the journey could go on for longer. It feels right.


                  -Shadow of the Colossus-

                  Background:
                  SotC was released on PlayStation 2 in 2006, about the same time as the re-release of Ico. Colossus was considered to be a sequel of sorts, as it was made by 'Team Ico' (a sub-team of Sony Computer Entertainment). Although it is not actually related to Ico in the way one might typically consider a sequel to be, it does share many similarities. For example, the visual/graphical style is extremely similar, and feels very different to other video games. The atmosphere and emotion felt within the game is similar to Ico - the game is obviously created by the same amazing folks that brought us Ico, and that is a big deal.

                  Gameplay:
                  Shadow of the Colossus introduces the player to a lead character known as Wander. He takes it upon himself to awaken a princess called Mono, but to achieve this he must slay sixteen huge 'creatures' known as the Colossi, in order to restore life to Mono. Wander rides his horse, Agro, around the barren but beautiful (sound familiar?) landscape, in search of these beings, armed with a sword and bow.

                  Each Colossi is a different beast, and has its own weak points. After being given a clue from a voice in the sky, as to the next monster's whereabouts, You must set off in search of the being, and kill it. Wander can hold his sword high in order to reflect the Sun's rays, and by moving the sword around, the rays will concentrate into a beam in order to show you the direction in which to travel, to find the current colossi.

                  Reaching a Colossus can involve lots of climbing, leaping and swimming (familiar again?) but never usually takes very long. When you reach the giant, you must try and discover its weakness and get to it. Your sword can be used again, this time to focus the Sun's rays and reveal the weak spots on the Colossi. You must then climb up onto the beast and hold on tight! Holding the trigger on the controller will allow you to hold on tight to ledges and fur, but your grip meter will deplete and eventually you will let go and fall, if you don't get to a resting point where you can release the trigger and thus allow the meter the recharge.

                  The moment you grab onto a Colossus and began your ascension, the main theme music kicks in. This is very powerful and really adds tension and excitement to the experience. The giant will do his best to rid himself of his new 'visitor', by shaking and flailing, causing you to fly off and fall from a great height if you don't hold on tight! If you hang on, you'll be flung about until the Colossus pauses for a moment, giving you time to continue onward towards the point that you need to attack. It is then your objective to stab away at certain areas of the monster, indicated by a glowing symbol on its body. Once you empty the giant's health meter, everything slows down and the music stops, as you watch the Colossus fall to its demise in slow-motion. It is a moving and powerful moment, and one that you won't tire of seeing sixteen times.

                  The Colossi are the puzzles in the game. There are no other enemies or real puzzles within the game, so everything is focussed on the giant beings and how to defeat them. I won't give too much away here, but each Colossus is very different and feels unique. It is hugely entertaining and satisfying, trying to work out how and where to attack each one, and you can't help but feel slightly sad sometimes, after defeating one, since most of them do not go out of their way to attack you -- they mind their own business for the most part, only to be disturbed by you on your quest to bring Mono back from the dead.

                  Riding Agro feels great, and the controls are spot on. The sense of speed is excellent but sometimes the camera can get annoying, especially during the battles in when you need to stay on your horse. This is the only negative point I can make about this game.

                  Soundtrack:
                  The score for this game is, again, brilliant. It's not quite as memorable for me as Ico's, but is still powerful, atmospheric and emotional, and it certainly enhances and compliments the game perfectly. The theme that plays during Colossi battles, once you have mounted them, is truly outstanding and definitely the highlight of the audio, as it gives you such a great sense of achievement and really encourages you to climb the beast and finish him. It gives the moment a real sense of emotion and passion, while at the same time sounding triumphant.

                  Longevity:
                  Shadow of the Colossus takes around 12 hours or so to complete, give or take a couple of hours depending on how long it takes you to defeat each Colossus. Some may require multiple attempts, or you may get lost for an hour trying to find a giant's hiding place. I think the game is long enough, and certainly slaying 16 unique beasts feels like a real achievement. If you're into your games and have the time, you could complete it in a few sessions, but that just means you get to play through it again quicker, on the harder difficulty setting ;)


                  -The HD Collection-

                  This package as a whole is probably the best value gaming experience you could hope to own, for the overall quality of the titles themselves and the wonder and emotion that you will discover within. Both games looks better than ever, due to their upgraded HD visuals, and the amazing soundtracks are enhanced by the high quality Audio. Ico and SotC are two of the best games I have ever played. They are, in my opinion (and in the opinion of many others) two of the best games ever created and among the best gaming experiences one could ever have the pleasure of being a part of. Yes, I am crazy about both of these games, I have not felt this passionate about a video game since Metal Gear Solid on PS1, and I doubt I will feel the same way again until The Last Guardian comes to PS3 later this year (or possibly 2013), which will be the third game in the 'Team Ico' releases. It will be worth the wait.

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                    14.04.2012 23:18
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                    Top quality fun, very entertaining and high quality package overall. Play it!

                    I'm a huge fan of Mario, always eager to play the next instalment in the franchise, and this one was definitely eagerly awaited, when I received it for Christmas.

                    As it happens, this is actually my favourite handheld Mario title to date. The game feels packed with innovation and excitement, brilliantly-designed levels, new challenges and power-ups.

                    3D Land (most of the time):
                    The 3D in Super Mario 3D Land works very well. I love the extra dimension it gives the game, but conversely it can also have a negative affect on the gameplay, because of the narrow 'sweet spot' in which the 3D effect is at its best and truly engrossing. When the console is moved around/tilted to one side etc. the 3D effect is lost or distorted, and it can be very annoying, especially when you're in the midst of a boss fight or a tricky part of a challenging level! This leaves me with a dilemma: switch the 3D off (at least for that part of the game), or put up with the annoying distorted visuals and semi-3D-weirdness as I struggle to achieve whatever it is I am trying to do at that moment in time. Usually I end up doing the former, but only very reluctantly, as it makes me feel cheated because I am missing out on the main 'feature' of the latest Nintendo console. And this then leads me to think "I wish these 3DS games would also be released in 2D on the regular DS system, because then I wouldn't need a 3DS to play them!" Anyway, I am digressing and this is not a problem that is only unique to this particular game..

                    Level Design/Graphics:
                    The level design in SM3DL is brilliant. I have enjoyed every single level, playing through them multiple times to find the star coins and any other hidden secrets I can find. I get bored with games fairly quickly, so it's testament to the game that I actually bothered to replay all of the levels and spend so much time trying to discover everything the game has to offer.
                    There is some very clever level design, that makes great use of the 3D visuals, and most of the time (when you're not wiggling the console around, trying to do something tricky) is looks fantastic. The graphics are really rich, sharp and colourful with plenty of detail where it needs to be. It's a welcome change to the more 'serious' games that I own, and still feels fresh this time around, even this far into the series of Mario platformers.

                    Audio/Soundtrack:
                    The music is top quality as always, really fun and funky, with some classic old themes remixed, which I love. No complaints here. It also sounds great when turned up loud on the 3DS, as the console's speakers are really quite good. Sound effects are great too, with the usual Mario sounds and short phrases adding to the overall gaming experience.

                    Longevity:
                    I think SM3DL is a reasonably-sized game. There are plenty of levels to explore, and replay value is high, as it's fun and challenging to find all of the hidden star coins etc. This has been in my collection for a few months and even after completing it I still go back and replay some of my favourite levels, as the game is great fun and the 3D really enhances the game, for the most part.

                    Controls:
                    As you'd expect, this is an easy game to control and is perfectly suited to the 3DS system. The controls work perfectly and feel comfortable. As usual (for me at least, as I have quite large hands) it can become uncomfortable during long play sessions, but a quick break is all that's needed, or you can just save the game quickly and easily, and resume at a later time.

                    In Summary:
                    Super Mario 3D Land is a very well-produced game. It feels like a polished, complete and attractive package, with great graphics, innovative and interesting level design, lively and entertaining gameplay, a superb soundtrack and great use of the 3D feature. I find the game great fun to play, rewarding, challenging but not too frustrating, and very high quality overall.

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                    14.04.2012 10:57
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                    OK for die-hard MGS fans maybe, but too many quirks and issues make it a disappointing release :(

                    I waited a long time for this game. I have loved the Metal Gear games since playing the Metal Gear Solid on the original Playstation. I got a demo of it on a disc with a Playstation magazine and I spent hours and hours playing and re-playing the first part of the game, repeatedly, as I loved it so much and found it so different to anything I had played prior to this moment. The game was a revelation to me and I eagerly awaited the full game release, saving my pocket money so I could afford to buy it ASAP!

                    Since then, I have owned and played all of the main MGS games on PS2/PS3 and thoroughly enjoyed every one of them. Needless to say, when I discovered one was coming to my new Nintendo 3DS system, I was very excited. I suppose I only set myself up to be disappointed, because of the excitement, anticipation and hype I allowed myself to feel, leading up to the game's release date.

                    So, on to the game itself..

                    Controls:
                    It starts off very well, the usual Konami flair and cinematic intro, setting up the player for something special and building the gamer's tension and excitement as they set off on a new, top secret mission full of stealthy espionage. So far, so good.

                    Unfortunately, after playing for a short time, things start to get a little frustrating, due mainly to the controls and the 3DS hardware. This is a game that requires good timing, patience, and a comfortable controller. I found the game very hard to play with the standard 3DS combination of a single analogue stick and 4 buttons. For this reason, I used the optional Circle Pad Pro attachment, which gave me dual analogue sticks and a couple of extra triggers. This felt great at first, but soon grew tiresome as I realised my hands are just too large to hold the 3DS comfortably for any real length of time, even with the Cirle Pad Pro. Trying to use the actual controls (especially the triggers) became very annoying and uncomfortable after a short while, and I yearned for a lovely dual shock controller instead.

                    Gameplay:
                    Again, the game sets itself up well, with the promise that the player is in for a real treat. Unfortunately, again, the game is flawed. It's not a total deal-breaker, but it bugged me enough to not play more than half the game. MGS 3DS feels like a rushed release. It does not take long to realise its short-comings, when there are regular, ugly graphical elements and textures, camera issues and bugs. These little annoyances really ruined the gaming experience for me, and that's just unacceptable with a game of this ilk. These games, for me, are about becoming engrossed, feeling a part of the story and BEING Solid Snake. On the 3DS, this just did not feel possible. I suppose this is due, in part, to the size of the 3DS display, compared to playing on a large TV, but you can't argue with the fact that gameplay issues, jagged textures and a general feeling of a lack of attention to detail, really ruin what could have been a brilliant game. And, of course, the control issues and discomfort of longer gaming sessions on the 3DS, even with the Circle Pad attachment, which costs another £15 on top of the game.

                    The AI is a bit hit or miss, but it's not something to complain about too much. Sometimes you are spotted when you were certain that you were totally hidden, and other times you can be right next to someone and they won't even bat an eyelid!

                    What I DID Like:
                    The new touches made to the original release, to take advantage of the Nintendo hardware, are quite nice, and usually work well. The 3D is, as usual, very good and does do at least a little to help you feel more 'involved'.
                    The way Snake can crawl through the grass in 1st person is fun and exciting at first, but can also be annoying when ugly pixelated blades of grass are stopping you from seeing what you need to see, and I'd you move around too much to try and get a proper look, you're spotted and you feel like a complete stealth failure.
                    The camera implementation is quite cool with this title, allowing the player to photograph a texture or pattern and use it as your camouflage outfit in the game, prompting you to try and find the best texture to make you as invisible as possible in different situations. This is fun and works pretty well!

                    The story is good, as you'd already know anyway if you played Metal Gear Solid 3 on PS2. It's a great game but unfortunately this release is flawed and although it's not just a quick port, it certainly feels like one. And a rushed one at that.

                    In summary:
                    This game is a tough one to review. It has good points, but also lots of bad ones. There are moments of excitement and genuine pleasure while playing through, but control issues and gameplay problems present it from being what it could, and should, have been. I waited. Long time for this release and feel generally disappointed. So far I have only played about half - two thirds of the game, due to the issues mentioned above. It's a real shame, but if I were to recommend a Metal Gear Solod game to someone, it wouldn't be this one. Youd be much better off spending your money on the MGS HD collection for PS3/X360, as you're getting WAY more content for your money, and the games are much nicer to play, and easier to control.
                    However, if you don't have large hands, or an HD games console, then the 3DS version might be for you! If you aren't put off by a few quirks then the game can still be enjoyed and does offer some entertainment. Just not enough for me, personally.

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