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AsystoleUK

AsystoleUK
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Member since: 18.04.2010

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      18.08.2013 11:22
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      If you're a prolific reader, this is definitely worth considering.

      I remember first mentioning in passing, to my fiancée, that I really wanted a Kindle. I did a fair bit of reading, but found that I was often discouraged for two reasons, which I think will probably make me sound like a little bit of a freak.

      The first reason is my incredibly strange phobia of touching anything dry, like cardboard or the pages of a book when my hands haven't been moisturised. The feeling rips right through me! The second reason is that I just can't get comfortable with a book. I mostly read in bed, but trying to find a comfortable position whilst holding open a book is downright impossible, I find.

      The Kindle Paperwhite solved both of these issues, whilst also bringing much more to the table.

      Now, I didn't know a great deal about the Kindle machines before I got my (dry) hands on one, but I was very impressed by the miniature library and instantly set about buying numerous books that I had been waiting to buy. This is one of my favourite points about owning a Kindle. There were a number of titles that I wanted to read, but I kept forgetting about some of them - not any more. Now, if I see a book that I'm dying to read, I can just add it to my Amazon wish list, as the Kindle is tied directly to your Amazon account once you've linked it. Not only does this mean that you can have a catalogue of books ready to purchase once the one you're reading has been finished, but it also means that instead of running to the book store, all you need to do is hit 1 button and the book is instantly purchased and downloaded to your Kindle.

      This is where the next point comes in. I understand that there are a couple of different versions of the Kindle Paperwhite. You can either have a 3G version, which means that you can connect to the internet much like a smartphone in order to download your books, or you can have a WiFi version, which just allows you to connect to WiFi hotspots in or outside of your home. The latter type is the one that I have, but it's just fine. You will generally pay more for the 3G version and never have I found myself out in the middle of nowhere with no WiFi connection in sight and suddenly thought to myself 'Oh man, if only I had 3G so I could download a book right now'. When you are connected, though I can't speak specifically for the speed of 3G, your book is downloaded and ready to read within a matter of seconds after hitting the purchase button. So if you've finished a book, but you're not quite ready to drop off to sleep, you can just grab the sequel!

      This brings me onto my next point about reading in bed. It's fantastic. No more keeping the partner awake with a side lamp or having to stop reading because they want to go to sleep. The Kindle Paperwhite's inbuilt light is incredible and has a surprising scale between very dim and glaringly bright. At its lowest setting, you can still easily read, but it casts no glare so that anyone in the same room would still easily be able to drop off to sleep. Unfortunately this does mean that you can easily lose all track of time and read into the small hours of the morning, suddenly realising it's 3am and you have to work in 5 hours.

      Part of this is also down to how easy it is to get into a comfortable stupor whilst reading on the Kindle. I don't know about anyone else, but when I'm reading a traditional book, I can't lie on my back, because having both arms elevated to keep the book open gets painful very quickly. I prefer lying on my side to read, but keeping the pages open again is a fine and painful balancing act after more than a few minutes. However, with the Paperwhite, you can easily support its small frame with one hand and whether you're lay on your back or on your side, it's very easy to find a comfortable position. It helps that the Kindle is very light and generally ligher than most paperback novels, despite its incredible storage capacity.

      The Kindle Paperwhite can hold thousands of books. So far, I've only downloaded around 10, but taking into consideration the fact that these books are not forming a steady fort beside my bed, I find it much more convenient than owning the physical paperback copies. Another great advantage to this is that, although you might decide to have a spring clean of your Kindle library eventually and delete your back catalogue, you can easily share your Kindle with a partner or housemate so that they can read all of the same books. Plus, if you're a total neat freak, you don't have to worry about them folding over one of the pages as a bookmark (HOW DARE YOU).

      The battery life is extremely impressive. It lasts an enormous amount of time between charges. Keep in mind if you do buy one, that it will take a few full charges to see the machine's optimum battery life, as it has to Index the books you've purchased. Generally, whether using it often or not (I had exams and whatnot whilst owning mine at first), you will find that the battery lasts weeks between charges.

      The e-ink technology that the Kindle Paperwhite uses is very impressive and really makes for a very crisp and clear reading experience. The font on screen can be adjusted in size or even style to best suit the reader, a very useful tool for those who have less than perfect eyesight. The Paperwhite even has an inbuilt dictionary, so that unknown words can be highlighted for a definition. This is very useful, as even though I consider myself to have a decent vocabulary, I'm constantly finding new words, which is very useful as somebody who writes novels in their spare time.

      I find it very hard to think of anything negative to say about this Kindle. The one thing that comes to mind is that the charger must be connected to a computer when the battery needs charging. It doesn't come boxed with a wall adapter, so you only have the option of USB charging to begin with. However, I believe that you can couple this cable with an iPhone charger or something similar to wall-charge the Kindle, but it's something I would recommend reading into to make sure that you don't damage this wonderful piece of hardware.

      All in all, I love the concept of e-readers. I'm currently writing my first novel and have numerous other ideas in the pipeline, so I don't want the traditional publishing industry to succumb to e-publishing any time soon, as I'm a huge fan of traditional publishing too. However, for me, as a reader, the Kindle makes it far easier to enjoy this hobby.

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      • Acer Aspire 5742Z / Laptop / 51 Readings / 35 Ratings
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        30.03.2011 23:20
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        For the price, this laptop competes well against its rivals.

        Specifications of my model.

        Processor
        * Intel Pentium processor P6100 2.0GHz,
        * 3MB L3 cache
        * Chipset: Intel HM55
        3GB RAM
        320GB 5400rpm
        DVD-Super Multi DL drive
        Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
        15.6" HD Acer CineCrystal LED LCD
        Integrated Intel HD Graphics
        Keyboard and Touchpad
        WLAN: Acer Nplify 802.11b/g/n
        6-cell Li-ion battery
        2 in 1 Card Reader
        1.3 megapixel webcam

        The 15.6" widescreen Acer Aspire 5742Z carries powerful processing capabilities, despite not featuring the new i-series processors. The slimlined design measures around an inch in width for convenience and a classy, professional body. Battery life is empowered by smart technology that manages power consumption and LED display to extend the batteries capabilities. A fully charged laptop affords me roughly 2 hours of continous use before the need to recharge.

        The 3GB of RAM in this model is easily enough for the casual user, supporting multiple applications simultaneously; It easily facilitates the numerous word documents, web pages and applications that I run consecutively whilst conducting research for my studies and completing reports. Additionally, I have experienced no trouble in managing flash based applications, basic flash and browser games, or media, be it audio or visual. The Intel HD integrated graphcis stand in place of a graphics card, though I have not personally tested the abilities of this as I have not used the system for serious gaming.

        (Upon testing the system's abiltity through system requirements lab, I have found that it is able to run games with low requirements, such as The Sims, however it could not run more demanding games such as Call of Duty, World in Conflict or Command and Conquer).

        The widescreen design of this model means that its design features a full size keyboard, with no minimisation of the outer numerical pad. The touchpad responds well and, as is common with newer models, allows multi-touch functionality such as zooming without the need for the keyboard. However one disadvantage that I have found with the keyboard display is that Caps Lock does not display an LED to signal whether it is turned on or off. A minor issue, however this can be annoying at times.

        The integrated webcam is a 1.3 megapixel camera, however it is of a much higher quality than other 1.3 MP models that I have used in the past. The quality is excellent for a webcam, especially an internal component, though it is very dependant on lighting. In low lighting the picture is harder to make out; but in adequate lighting, it is an excellent webcam.

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      • More +
        22.03.2011 18:56
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        Good University if you don't care about league tables. Lost stars for the location.

        My decision to come to Coventry University was made on the 30th of August 2009, days before the majority of undergraduates would be moving their lives to new cities and beginning their University careers. My unconditional offer to another University had fallen through for unfortunate reasons yet I was not willing to wait another year to get my degree, so I blindly searched through clearing for a place offering my course and chose Coventry.

        Coventry lies in the heart of the West Midlands, only a short journey away from Birmingham. The city itself is relatively small (in fact, from the bridge over the ring road outside my house, I can see from one side of the city to the other!) and the University campus is spread across the eastern side of the city centre, near to the ruins of the old cathedral.

        My own area of study, the languages and business department, lies just beyond a large courtyard, surrounded by the alumni and (one of the) student union buildings, and overshadowed by the ruins of the cathedral. Fountains spurt from the floor and trees line the paths down to the faculty buildings. Cobbled paths lead up through the ruins, past medieval buildings and foliage and into the shopping precinct. It really is the most beautiful part of the city, in my opinion. Unfortunately, it is the only part of the city I like, but i'll touch on that later.

        The other campus buildings are spread out around the same area of the city, with the Journalism and Media campus, Engineering departments and library and student center a little further south/south west of the city centre.

        Overall facilities at the University are quite good and suit all of my personal needs. There are various computer rooms throughout the campus buildings, with a large amount of computers in the library buildings too. They have recently been upgraded to Windows 7, and the Journalism and Media campus has Mac desktops, however the computers in the Business and English faculty are still running on Windows Vista. My only complaint about these facilities is that besides the language centre and fifth floor computer rooms, the other computer rooms are like hidden gems. If you can't find a computer when you need one, and don't know about the other well hidden rooms throughout the campus buildings, then you might be left without a computer (though this doesn't happen too often).

        Teaching is good at the University and the lecturers generally have a good grasp of their subject areas (this may sound obvious but I've seen such terrible teachers in the past). My lecturers so far all seem very willing to help and provide a range of resources and handouts through the University's learning system online.

        There are a range of cafés around the campus buildings - off the top of my head I can think of two in the Business and English department, two in the Journalism and Media department, two in the library and the recently renovated and (quite stylishly) redecorated student union café. The campus buildings are all very close to a huge range of local bars, newsagents and delis too so it is always to find somewhere to eat and drink, even in short gaps between lectures. Everything is very close together.

        Accomodation in the first year is generally in student halls or shared housing. Unfortunately from the second year onwards you have to find your own accomodation and I've not particularly had the best experience of this. A lot of the properties I have viewed in the city (most of them) are in bad condition. I've seen completely damp ridden, black stained walls where you could literally smell the damp in the air in several buildings and I could easily say that half of my friends have complained about damp in their accomodation. It seems a prevalent issue in the city, and the standard of housing doesn't seem to be very good.I hope I find somewhere better for my third year in October.

        A brief personal comment on the city: I really truly do not like it, if i'm honest. Luckily I like the University, but the city is awful. It always seems very dirty and grey and you get the feeling that the council don't really care very much about the standards. The level of unemployment and homelessness seems rather high in Coventry and you see a fair few homeless individuals around. Also there seems to be a lot of visually displeasing people here. I'm not being offensive for no reason; the amount of people I see walking around wearing dirty clothing and drinking alcohol in the middle of the day, swearing and talking about drugs is alarmingly high in comparison to other cities I have lived in.

        Overall I think that it's a good University, despite not being very high on league tables, but if that sort of thing doesn't concern you then the actual Uni is good. However I definitely cannot recommend the city, and this aspect of University has actually made me look forward to the day I can leave and move back home, rather than these three years being the 'best time of my life' as many people describe University life.

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        • More +
          14.03.2011 15:25
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          An excellent FPS, bringing innovative ideas to the market.

          # # # Welcome to Bad Company. # # #

          This installment in the Battlefield: Bad Company series is the second game produced by DICE, the company that brought PC classics such as Battlefield: Vietnam, Battlefield 1943 and Battlefield 2 to the PC market (and which are still enjoyed to this day by an avid fanbase). The game addresses shortcomings from the first game in the series, and improves upon multiplayer, whilst still offering up a solid single player storyline.

          # # # Graphics and Sound. # # #

          Bad Company 2 boasts fantastic visuals reflected in the atmospheric effects, attention to detail in vehicles, weaponry and character animation and ballistics. In addition to this the sound in-game is incredible and was carefully recorded on location by the developers using real weaponry; this quality reflected in-game was clearly reflective of this effort.

          # # # Single Player. # # #

          The campaign follows Preston Marlowe, a member of the unconventional 'Bad Company', as they investigate an off-the-records mission. Cue the rag-tag neccessities of such a crew: the hard-ass, the captain so close to retirement, the nerd and the guy who just wants to blow everything up. The missions are varied and exciting making use of a range of gadgets and vehicles to annihilate the enemy and mostly every building in the company's path.

          # # # Multi-player. # # #

          At the beginning of a round, players get the choice of four different classes to play: Sniper, Engineer, Assault and Medic. Each of these classes gains experience separately, gaining their own unlockables exclusively. At the same time, the player levels up individually, unlocking different weapons from pistols to shotguns and assault rifles. These classes may use a combination of weaponry providing each part of their kit takes up a different 'slot'. For example, the assault soldier can use C4, like the sniper, but in such a case he would not be able to use the grenade launcher at the same time.

          Vehicles are possibly one of the finest aspects of the game that add something new to the same recycled forumla used by other games in the FPS genre. They vary greatly and include attack helicopters, tanks, APCs and even UAV drones with hellfire mounted missile launchers. These can be destroyed through a variety of means such as airstrikes called by a sniper, C4 charges, other vehicles or landminesplaced by an engineer (or even a grenade launcher if you have a massive stockpile of grenades handy!).

          Game modes vary between objective control, asset destruction squad deathmatches and onslaught, a mode in which players team up in a mode reminiscent of Gears of War's horde mode.

          # # # In Conclusion. # # #

          This game definitely brings some new elements to the market. The familiarity of vehicles as featured in the PC Battlefield 2 draws in nostalgic DICE fans looking for a graphically improved, console take on the old favourite, whilst offering newcomers something that other FPS games do not supply. The range of weaponry is extensive and impressive, with attention to detail; in addition there are a range of gadgets that enhance gameplay and once more bring new elements unseen in other FPS games which broaden the ability of each class.

          # # # Downloadable Content. # # #

          Since release, the game has been well supported by a variety of downloadable content, as with previous Battlefield games. There have been, to date, seven map packs that have added new maps to the multiplayer gameplay, whilst making existing maps available in game modes in which they were not previously playable.

          There has also been a Vietnam expansion pack released which adds a plethora of new content including numerous new weapons, new vehicles and new maps to play them on. These are not simple reskins of the same existing weapons, rather detailed degradation of older weapons to reflect the time period and condition of equipment in the Vietnam war.

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          30.12.2010 11:50
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          Good quality shadows however the presentation could be better.

          After reviewing several outlets for purchasing this palette, I had decided on a seller through ebay. High feedback was reassuring, and postage, despite taking a long time, was free. Overall I paid £20 for the product and packaging. Take care to examine a seller's feedback before committing to any purchase. There are some inevitable negatives labelled as damaged product or non-arrival but that is the risk you take ordering long distance on makeup products, and in the majority of cases the product will arrive okay.

          I chose the Matte palette as I am not a fan of shimmery eye shadows. The pallette contains all of the colours I would ever need to use, and varying shades of the major / most popular colours. They are very vibrant colours and a highly pigmented. A little goes a long way, however they are quite stainable so you will need to scrub away with a makeup wipe to remove them! :)

          My particular pallette came with 'Coastal Scents' printed across the front of a shiny black plastic case, in attractive font. The case acquires small scratches all over the exterior, however this is always the case with any product that has this sort of finish (Xbox elite, black Nintendo Wii etc). This particular case also had a small mirror on the interior for makeup application, and came with two small makeup brushes. I would however recommend that you have your own set of brushes as those that usually come included in makeup sets are just for show and not usually very good quality.

          Although that said, the makeup applies easily if using fingers. If using a brush there is some powdering.

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          30.12.2010 11:34
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          Fantastic game for the price, entertaining multiplayer. Good for a laugh.

          Need for Speed is a game that feels vastly different in every installment. Constantly being developed by different development teams, it's always playing very differently to it's predecessors.

          So it comes as no surprise that the lastest game in the Need for Speed series feels completely different to the last. However when the development team responsible, Criterion Games, is the same team responsible for Burnout Paradise, you know that you're in for a game with much more of a freedom feel and a variety of high octane game modes.


          ### GAMEPLAY ###


          Welcome to Seacrest County, where illegal street racing is fast and brutal, and the only difference between them and the cops is a badge. The geography of the region is very sporadic and includes desert, forest, seaside and mountainous regions.

          Seacrest country spans over 100 miles of open road which can be freely explored in free drive, similar to Burnout Paradise. There is also a career mode. Players can now play as the cops and the career mode is available to both racer and cop, and each has its own path. There is no storyline or plot to speak of however events are much more easily found as the player chooses which they wish to participate in, rather than having to drive to the location as in Burnout.

          Objectives remain similar in the career. Racers much evade and escape the police, whilst the cops must aim to take out and bust the illegal racers.


          ### SPECIAL ABILITIES ###


          Both the cops and the racers have special abilities to aid in catching and eluding their rivals respectively.

          RACERS
          - Spike Strip - This damages the chasing vehicle is a strike is successful, though only a little. The real advantage is that it causes the car to spin and come to a halt, increasing the gap between you and your pursuer.

          - Jammer - Scrambles the electronics of the chasing vehicles and interrupts any EMP lock being targeted on the user. Prevents the chaser from using any abilities and shuts down their radar.

          - Turbo - A more powerful version of the turbo available to all players, this propels the racer at an incredible speed. Very useful for escaping the police that are closing in. Has a short time delay.

          - EMP - Slows down the targeted car and reverses their controls.


          COPS
          - Spike Strips - This damages the chasing vehicle is a strike is successful, though only a little. The real advantage is that it causes the car to spin and come to a halt, increasing the gap between you and your pursuer.

          - Helicopter - The chopper may lay down spike strips when upgraded, and always increases the search radius leaving racers on the radar.

          - Road Blocks - Constructs a blockade of police cars further down the race track. A head on smash will cause severe damage and slow down the racer greatly. Breaking through the small gap or smashing in between police cars may afford the racer an escape though.

          - EMP - Slows down the targeted car and reverses their controls.

          These abilities may be upgraded as player progress increases, allowing them to perform differently. For example the helicopter gains the ability to follow players into confined tunnel spaces and throw down spike strips.

          Both racers and cops have cars that are exclusive to that class, however they also share a large amount of cars. As a general rule, the cops are generally faster and more resilient than the racers, taking a lot more punishment to disable them.


          ### MULTIPLAYER ###


          - Online Modes:

          * Race - 8-player races, no Cops.
          * Hot Pursuit - 4 Racers vs 4 Cops.
          * Interceptor - 1 Racer vs 1 Cop, free-roam.

          On completion of matches players are awarded 'bounty'. This is dependant on actions performed during the events, and the outcome and placing in races. There are bonuses available for coming first, or taking down other players. This bounty system is how players level up, separately, as cop or racer, and gain access to new cars.


          One noteable addition to Multiplayer is a feature called Autolog. This lets you track your friends progress on events and their times, and allowing you to jump right in and try to beat them. If you succeed, it taunts your friends into attempting to take back their top times. It also allows you to challenge them to pursuits, where one person plays as the cop while the other plays as the fugitive who's on the run. It also keeps track of your progress in earning bounty as you play.


          Being a fan of arcade racers, I would greatly recommend this game for purchase. I personally do not like realistic sims as much as arcade racing games, so I found this rather refreshing. The reintroduction of the cops vs racers mode is fantastic and very entertaining.

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        • More +
          25.07.2010 09:44
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          One of the best console games I have played in recent years.

          ----------------------------------
          I almost feel ashamed for first hearing about Red Dead Redemption just weeks before its release; I hadn't been following it at all, however as soon as I looked at the teaser trailers and content information I knew that I absolutely had to have this game.
          ----------------------------------

          Overview:
          --------------

          Red Dead Redemption is Rockstar's latest open world action-adventure, with a new twist: it has cornered a previously tame market, the Western genre. Released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in May of 2010, it is the sequel to 2004 western shooter Red Dead Revolver, with a new storyline.

          Red Dead Redemption's story follows a former outlaw, John Marston as he tracks down members of his old gang. He does this at the hands of federal agents who have abducted his family in blackmail for John's help.

          Metacritic and GameRankings have awarded an average score of 95% to Red Dead Redemption; this places this game as the highest ranking game across both of the websites. Reviews reflected this score crediting the game's incredible visuals, storyline and free roam.

          -------------------
          Single Player:
          -------------------

          So the story follows a former outlaw, John Marston as he tracks down his old former gang members for the government. The story actually begins with a rather excellent FMV of John trying the direct approach to confronting the gang at their hideout, which is less than successful. We learn that his brother is in fact one of the members of his previous gang.

          This FMV introduces us to our our first contacts within the West who provide the initial 'missions' and a gentle introduction into the environment, subtly disguising horse riding and firearm training as entertaining tasks for the farmhand with whom you are staying.

          The story soon advances introducing us to a plethora of colourful characters illustrating the diversity of society living in the Wild West; the drunk, the clinically insane and the traitorous. Despite their personality pitfalls, these characters help to advance the story and, after satisfying their personal wants and needs, aid us in a standoff with the gang's hideout. Fortunately this is not the end of the story, as we discover there is more to the story and are led across the border (on a rather flimsy raft!) to Mexico.

          The range of missions available are quite varied and interesting and a far cry from the sort of things you would expect in Rockstar's Grand Theft series. Sure there are still hitman missions, however the option of riding horseback after your target, lassoing him and riding him to the county jail is a welcome addition rather than just blasting him in the face with a semi-automatic.

          Introduction to weaponry is implemented well, with blacksmiths selling a larger range of guns as the game progresses, and the chance to discover new guns in gang hideouts. The same applies to horses, with general stores selling deeds allowing you to purchase and ride much faster steeds which will prove very useful for faster travel.

          There is a karma system in Red Dead Redemption that sees you branded with either positive or negative honour for your actions within the world. Such examples of events that can affect this standing are killing or capturing thieves that have stolen from a shop (random events that will happen in your close proximity) and returning the money; this would provide a positive honour standing. However you may choose to kill the thief and steal the money for yourself, giving negative honour gain. 'Fame' is another statistic that increases with actions such as completing main story plots and eventually leads to law enforcement turning a blind eye and shopkeepers giving you discounts on their goods.

          -----------------
          Multiplayer:
          -----------------

          My personal favourite aspect of this game is actually the Multiplayer game 'lobby'. This is essentially just a free roaming mode in the entire sandbox open world where you may kill other players, instigate wanted levels and gain a bounty, raid gang hideouts, hunt wildlife and basically just do whatever you want. You may level up by gaining exp in this mode which gives way to new weaponry. This ramping up in levels does actually provide you with a tactical advantage over the lower level players, as some of the guns you obtain become incredibly powerful, however the advantage is never too unfair.

          There are also game modes that can be started from the free roam menu by selecting the option from the menu, or travelling to a starting point if you want to play that particular section of the map in the game mode rather than a random assignment.

          Some of the game modes in Red Dead Redemption include variations of capture the flag, deathmatch free for all and team deathmatch.

          --------------------------------

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          • Sony Ericsson W995 / Mobile Phone / 18 Readings / 16 Ratings
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            24.07.2010 11:04
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            A good phone for media.

            I picked up my Sony Ericsson W995 in June of 2009, signing on for a 2 year contract with Orange. It had only just been released as one of the newest models, and having never had a contract phone before, nor a very good model, I decided to choose the W995.

            I forked out for Orange care in addition to my monthly bill because at the time the model was valued at about £350, and I was paranoid about losing or breaking it and being down such a large sum of money.

            The W995 is marketed as a media-friendly phone. Sony Ericsson are well known for releasing phones under three of their mainstream categories. These either focus on the music and video aspect, the camera and motion capture hardware, or a combination of both.

            The W995 falls into the latter, combining high quality speakers with an 8 megapixel camera.

            I do not use my phone to listen to music, as I have an mp3 player, however I have used the phone to access youtube and watch music videos and have listened to music on occasion when forgetting to charge my music player. From even such sparing use of the speakers, It is easy to see that the sound is clear and sharp. The phone even comes with sleek external speakers that can be attached if listening to music with a group of friends.

            I have used the camera extensively and love the quality of both picture and video captured by the W995. Video playback is excellent on this model, and due to a super-sensitive microphone, the audio playback is incredibly loud and clear even at low volumes. The picture is excellent and not a far cry from High Definition recording. Photos come out clear and transfer well to a computer, however I have noticed some stretching on the photos. As far as I am aware, the camera does not have anti-shake software, but I have captured photos from slow moving vehicles in the past and still obtained relatively good shots.

            Where the phone lost quality marks on my review was due to my phone ceasing to work after around 8-10 months of use. I find it hard to wake up in the morning so I set multiple alarms. Numerous times during use of the phones alarm, I would set 3-4 rolling alarms in the morning with a 20 minute gap between them. Quite often the phone began to freeze when the alarms backed up, and I could not reboot it without removing the battery. Eventually this killed the phone and I had to have a replacement sent (thank god for Orange care).

            I have also deducted marks due to the flimsy nature of the battery case. Often if you drop your phone a tiny distance, the back panel flies off easily (despite being relatively secure in general).

            You can now pick up the W995 for much cheaper, though I would advise shopping around due to a large fluctuation in prices depending on retailer.

            Overall I would not recommend this phone for purchase at this point in time because there are far better models out there that can do the same and more, however it is still a good phone.

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            21.07.2010 15:06
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            Probably worth a rental or picking up second hand, but not a great deal has changed.

            Summary
            --------------------

            Crackdown 2 is the sequel to the popular original Crackdown. It takes place in the same city as its predecessor, however time has advanced and the map is different to the first, with technology also having changed.

            The progression of the game's story continues from the events of the first game. The repercussions of the agency's actions from the first game caused a catastrophic reaction that almost destroys pacific city. A containment of super-strong individuals infected with an aggressive virus that can be transmitted to their victims is accidentally released and plagues the city.

            Time has progressed by a decade and, due to terrorist activity, the agency's efforts into cleansing the city have been halted. The culmination of terrorist attacks and mutant activity has forced the agency back into their compound in the center of the city.

            You play as a new agent who has just been 'created' after the agency successfully restarts their agency programme (having been disabled by the terrorists). Terrorists pose the daytime threat to the player, whilst the infected individuals emerge at night to pose a different kind of threat to the player.

            Character progression sees the same system that was present in the first game. Around the city there are hundreds of coloured orbs, each corresponding to a certain upgradeable attribute. These increase the character's Agility, Strength, Firearms, Explosives and Driving skills separately once enough have been collected. They are given to the player for carrying out certain requirements pertaining to the skill.


            Xbox Live
            ----------------------------

            Four players can play cooperatively online in Crackdown 2, carrying out different missions at the same time (as opposed to the original where only two players could carry out the same mission at the same time). There is also a competitive coop mode. There is also a sixteen player free-for-all game mode which sees players fighting against each other competitively.

            --------------------------------

            A demo for Crackdown 2 was released on June the 21st on the Live Marketplace. Post-release this means that gamers can test the game before deciding to purchase it, without the need for rental, as long as the demo is hosted.

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            • Benefit Lemon Aid / Make Up / 21 Readings / 19 Ratings
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              21.07.2010 14:31
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              Good value for money and very effective.

              Lemon Aid is a concealing product by BeneFit Cosmetics for smoothing and evening skin tone around the eyes.

              Now I will admit, I am a male; however this is a fantastic product and the first makeup product that I have chosen to use.

              I have quite dark marks under my eyes and have never really attempted to correct this, however when my partner bought Lemon Aid for the first time I allowed her to test it on myself and was surprised with the results. The dark bags disappeared almost entirely, when used with a powder and it wasn't even remotely obvious that I was wearing anything, despite my relatively pale complexion. It is very effective at concealing dark shadows or redness under the eyes.

              The product has a slightly waxy texture to touch but applies evenly very easily without leaving your skin feeling suffocated or shiny. It comes in a small flip-lip container, the product contained within one side and a small mirror in the other.

              Unfortunately the hinge on my container broke quite soon after obtaining the product, but I do believe this was owing to somebody else using the product in my house and not admitting it rather than the product design!

              Lemon aid is easily applied with the fingers and works well with other makeup products. Eyeshadow and eyeliner can easily be blended over the surface of Lemon aid meaning that it is fantastic for those who use small amounts of makeup. In addition to this it makes an excellent primer - this saves you having to buy the primer separately so you effectively have a product that can do two jobs in one, and your makeup has much more staying power.

              The only minor issue you need to be careful with is that occasionally Lemon aid can cling to your eyelashes easily and this is quite visible if you do not make sure to remove the excess from your eyes.

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              • More +
                05.06.2010 17:59
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                For less than £30 you will find a lot of entertainment in this title.

                Summary.
                ------------------------

                The third game in the series, Fallout 3 is set roughly 30 years after its predecessor. It is now in full 3D and relates to the same world as the previous games however it is set in and around post-apocalyptic Washington DC.

                The Game of the Year Edition features all five pieces of downloadable content that shipped after the game's release: Operation: Anchorage, The Pitt, Broken Steel, Point Lookout and Mothership Zeta.

                Plot.
                ---------------------------------------------

                In Fallout 3 you play as a young man/woman who ventures out of the safety of his home in Vault 101 to persue his/her father into the wasteland after his disappearance. This departure gives way to the vast and desolate wastelands of a post-apocalyptic Washington DC, infested with mutants, raiders and robots.

                The story brings our hero to the largest settlement in the wasteland relativly early in the game, named Megaton (built around an undetonated atomic bomb). We are updated with information about the hero's father here and additional to this are the side quests offered from here onwards. You are then given freedom to either persue the main storyline or venture out to explore and/or complete side quests.

                Between the main plot and subquests, the scope of the game is massive and offers an incredibly large amount of playtime and objectives to complete, and an enormous area to explore.

                Aspects of Gameplay.
                ---------------------------------------------

                Fallout 3 feels closer in similarity to the Oblivion series than the previous Fallout games. Our hero explores the wastelands from a first person perspective, however a third person viewpoint may also be used (however from a personal and general opinion the third person viewpoint affords a lower appreciation of the game).

                The combat system now features something called V.A.T.S (Vault Assisted Targeting System) which freezes the action in first person, focusing upon the target enemy. From here you can then choose specific body parts to target and are given a chance to hit and approximate damage. Additional to this are the effects that can result from this, for example: fully disabling an enemies legs can result in slower movement.

                There is a Karma system within Fallout 3 that reacts to actions you perform and grants you a standing based upon these actions (in laymens terms, the 'good guy' or 'bad guy'). Actions such as murder and theft will afford you a lower karma rank. Karma Levels range from Very Evil to Very Good. This standing can influence certain aspects of the game and award you with items for having positive karma. It can also effect the followers you gain whilst playing through the story with good, bad and neutral ranked players all receiving different aquaintances.

                There are two 'categories' of statistics that the player can influence within Fallout 3. The first is the SPECIAL system. This stands for:
                Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck.

                And skills:
                Barter, Big Guns, Energy Weapons, Explosives, Lockpick, Medicine, Melee Weapon, Repair, Science, Small Guns, Sneak, Speech and Unarmed.

                A further aspect of leveling your character is the Perks system. This grants you 1 perk every level which you may choose from that influence your character and gameplay for the rest of the game.

                Weapons.
                ---------------------------------------------

                Weapons variety immensely from simple melee weapons to pistols to rifles to nuclear warhead launchers, and landmines made from bottlecaps as fragmentation.

                Ammunition for these guns vary too and you must be strategic as often you can find extremely tough enemies that may take a decent chunk out of your ammo supply.



                Overall I would recommend this game to any fans of the RPG genre. It is amongst the best RPGs I have had the fortune of playing and will give you your money's worth easily. For only around £27 (time of review publication) you will get hours and hours of play from this game. Buy it.

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              • Samsung N130 / Netbook / 13 Readings / 13 Ratings
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                26.04.2010 13:19
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                Outdated by newer models in the N series, however it still holds its own as an affordable netbook.

                Summary.
                ------------------------

                The Samsung N130 has been outdated by newer models in the N series, however it still holds its own as a very powerful and affordable netbook.

                Available at a little over £200 from Amazon (new) you may first be struck by the high number of praising reviews offered by past customers on Amazon. Holding 73 customer reviews, with 68 being 4 star rated or higher I can confidently say that I agree with the majority and recommend this netbook with high regards.


                Appearance and design.
                ---------------------------------------------

                Weighing in at just 1.3KG this netbook is very easy to transport between the home and office, place of study and everywhere inbetween. Unlike the traditional 15.6 inch lapops, you will instantly notice that the netbook feels very durable without sacrificing a transportable lightweight feel.

                The exerior is matte black repelling scratches and fingerprints far easier than if the case was glossy (déja-vu of the Playstation 3 release models and newer slimline versions here).


                Performance.
                -------------------------------

                A generous 10.1 inch LCD screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio ensure you can enjoy navigating the internet, completing work projects or even playing low requirement (yet highly addictive!) flash games on websites such as facebook. Listening to music or watching videos on youtube should also come easily to this netbook.

                Battery life on this beauty is very impressive compared to systems I have utilised in the past. I have come to expect a good 4 to 6 hours worth of battery life before having to plug in thus far (from full charge, surfing the internet and doing some microsoft-office related work).

                The N130 is a very quiet machine and even after extended use I have not noticed the exterior reaching uncomfortable temperatures. The fans do an excellent job of keeping the system cool, and do not produce a very high level of noise at all.


                Gripes.
                --------------

                My only problem with this model is that the audio is not incredible, but for the size and price I can hardly complain.


                Recommended additional purchases.
                --------------------------------------------------------

                * Decent pair of headphones or earphones for personal use (and to offset the slightly disappointing audio)

                * Carrying case (optional - would fit into a backpack however you risk scratches or bums even with the matte finish)

                * Upgrade ram from 1GB to 2GB. Instructions are available online and on a netbook this is very straightforward and not very expensive for the large performance increase you will gain (though keep in mind this may void your warranty).


                Conclusion.
                ----------------------

                I'm very happy with this purchase. For the low price of £200 I have a fantastic little netbook that I can virtually take anywhere, which is perfect for an internet addict such as myself. The fact it is a Samsung only further compounds my opinion that this is a great purchase. I own numerous Samsung products (including my HD LCD TV - 32 inch) and love the value for money and quality of build.

                If you need a netbook you should strongly consider this.

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              • More +
                25.04.2010 14:01
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                • Reliability

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                Do not let the extra features bias your opinion

                I'd been looking to upgrade my ancient Creative Zen mp3 player to an ipod and decided upon a 16gb nano after reading numerous reviews all praising the model, which is an upgrade on the previous older model, adding a radio, motion video capture and audio recording feature.

                For those of you looking for an upgrade I will summarise the advantages of this product:

                * The addition of a functioning FM radio not present in older nano models
                * Motion capture good quality, keeping in mind the device is primarily a music player
                * Larger storage space (16GB) than previous nano models
                * 10% increase in LCD screen size on previous nano models
                * Subsequently a 20% increase in menu display size
                * Large variety of colours all applied to a conveniently miniscule design
                * Voice recording (audio capture)


                The nano comes in a wide range of glossy colours all blanketing a smooth aluminium body. The LCD screen measuring 2 inches in previous nano models has increased by 10% now measuring 2.2 inches. This may sound like a negligible increase, however in such a small model it is a very welcome upgrade. Despite the screen size increase, the menus have not changed in style. There are however additional options to accomodate for the new audio and video capture features and the FM radio.

                In terms of the newest features, the FM radio is good quality and has no trouble picking up signal from the most well known stations that I tested. The audio quality is good and I experinced no distortion or breaking. I cannot however praise the video capture feature. This is the biggest letdown for the nano in my opinion. Video capture resolution is 640x480 (VGA) and I am of the belief that if you don't do something properly, it's not worth doing. Obviously one cannot expect an incredible resolution from such a tiny model, however I believe that the resolution offered defeats the point in having motion capture on the nano. Anything I deemed worthy of recording would look abysmal in such a low resolution.

                For a music player I am definitely not disappointed, however I feel that the addition of a subpar camera makes it feel a little less sophisticated.

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              • More +
                19.04.2010 01:23
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                Pokémon gold is given a makeover with new graphics and features.

                Pokémon HeartGold is a remake of the original Pokemon Gold, also based within the region of Johto. There are a number of adaptations to graphics and gameplay to bring the game up to a standard more befitting of the increased capabilities of the Nintendo DS as opposed to the older Game Boy systems.

                The game throws you quickly into the action offering you a nostalgic choice of either Totodile, Chikorita or Cyndaquil, and naming your antagonist and protagonist. One of the first things you will (hopefully!) notice is the graphical overhaul upon venturing off into Johto, as well as some familiar faces among the tall grass.

                The original 8 gym leaders (and the elite four) are present and waiting to battle you throughout HeartGold, and that's not even the end of it. Upon defeating them you unlock Kanto region from the Red and Blue games to explore, including their respective gym leaders giving you even more to complete. This all adds up to a lot of gameplay hours, not even counting the enormous number of pokemon to catch, including a large number of legendarys.

                Another cool addition is that the leading pokemon in your team will now follow you around the world as you explore (with pretty nifty graphics) and you can interact with them to assess their mood and happiness as well as receive items they may have picked up along the way.

                Pokemon HeartGold makes excellent use of the DS stylus. The regular directional controls plus four face buttons comprise the character control and interaction, however this is all portrayed on the upper screen, with the lower display containing your pokégear which can be accessed with the stylus without much interruption to gameplay or the claustrophobic feel of an obstructive menu system. Not only this, but the stylus is also used to its best ability in a new series of mini games called the pokéathlon, reminiscent of wii sports, some of which are rather challenging.

                One final mention is the excellent pokéwalker that comes with the game. This allows you to transfer a pokémon into the device and put it in your pocket where it basically functions as a pedometer, except turning your steps into "watts". Watts can be used on the device itself to play a minigame and discover items or catch pokemon you may not see in the game itself. At the end of a journey you can then transfer said items and pokémon onto the game cartridge and use them in the game itself, as well as unlocking new zones on the pokéwalker with the spare watts transferred.

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              • More +
                19.04.2010 01:21
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                Pokémon silver is given a makeover with new graphics and features.

                Pokémon SoulSilver is a remake of the original Pokemon Silver, also based within the region of Johto. There are a number of adaptations to graphics and gameplay to bring the game up to a standard more befitting of the increased capabilities of the Nintendo DS as opposed to the older Game Boy systems.

                The game throws you quickly into the action offering you a nostalgic choice of either Totodile, Chikorita or Cyndaquil, and naming your antagonist and protagonist. One of the first things you will (hopefully!) notice is the graphical overhaul upon venturing off into Johto, as well as some familiar faces among the tall grass.

                The original 8 gym leaders (and the elite four) are present and waiting to battle you throughout SoulSilver, and that's not even the end of it. Upon defeating them you unlock Kanto region from the Red and Blue games to explore, including their respective gym leaders giving you even more to complete. This all adds up to a lot of gameplay hours, not even counting the enormous number of pokemon to catch, including a large number of legendarys.

                Another cool addition is that the leading pokemon in your team will now follow you around the world as you explore (with pretty nifty graphics) and you can interact with them to assess their mood and happiness as well as receive items they may have picked up along the way.

                Pokemon SoulSilver makes excellent use of the DS stylus. The regular directional controls plus four face buttons comprise the character control and interaction, however this is all portrayed on the upper screen, with the lower display containing your pokégear which can be accessed with the stylus without much interruption to gameplay or the claustrophobic feel of an obstructive menu system. Not only this, but the stylus is also used to its best ability in a new series of mini games called the pokéathlon, reminiscent of wii sports, some of which are rather challenging.

                One final mention is the excellent pokéwalker that comes with the game. This allows you to transfer a pokémon into the device and put it in your pocket where it basically functions as a pedometer, except turning your steps into "watts". Watts can be used on the device itself to play a minigame and discover items or catch pokemon you may not see in the game itself. At the end of a journey you can then transfer said items and pokémon onto the game cartridge and use them in the game itself, as well as unlocking new zones on the pokéwalker with the spare watts transferred.

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