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I moved to Telwest Digital Cable Television last year, after having had standard analogue cable for several years before. The service has had its ups and downs, but on the whole I'm pleased. The range of channels on offer, while nowhere near as concise as Sky Digital, is good. All of the major channels are available - Sky One, Sci Fi etc, along with the less-known things like "TV Travel Shop". Telewest have also recently added 'The Money Channel' to their lineup - one of my favourites from Sky. Indeed, they've added quite a few channels recently, bringing the total up to around 70-80. I understand that they're having problems with bandwidth, and intend to add lots more when they switch off the old analogue service; I'll believe this when I see this, however, as hundreds of new channels have been promised for the past year. The interactive part of the service is quite pathetic. Basically, it's a (slow) web browser with some web email and a few built in sites. If you've seen Sky's Open, you'll laugh at this. The remote control which you receive is quite good - better than the Sky Digital remote control in my opinion. A lot of the buttons don't work though - press the 'volume' button and you'll be greeted to a message telling you that this service is 'coming soon'. The movie channels, 'Front Row' are excellent. At £2.99, they're a little pricey, but the quality is pretty much the same as watching a DVD. There are usually 10-20 films on offer, with you able to choose when you watch the film. I've recently watched "The Green Mile" on there, and wasn't disappointed. There's a TV Guide button on the remote control, but its so slow and unreliable that it isn't really worth bothering with. You have to sit and watch the screen refresh each time you scroll down the channel list. Telewest also send out a
free magazine called 'Zap'. They obviously pick who to send it to out of a hat, as there's about a 50% chance of getting a copy each month. The magazine itself is nothing special, mainly full of more promises by Telewest. There aren't any TV listings which is a shame - I'm not sure why the digital TV providers stopped sending out free TV listings to their customers. The area the service really shines is in the picture quality. This is, hands down, the best out of OnDigital and Sky Digital. The picture is crisp and clear, and the colours are vibrant thanks to the box's support for RGB. There are never any visual artifacts left on screen when flicking through the channels. As a whole, this is a reasonably good service. You can get it for free with a few basic channels if you have a Telewest phone line, and the full package is good value at £22 per month with a phone line (and free local calls!). You get discounts on further Telewest services if you subscribe to Digital TV, also - I get a Cable Modem, Phone Line with free local calls, and Digital TV with all channels for £49 a month. If you're not bothered about having hundreds of useless channels to flick through, and just want the major ones with decent picture quality, you can't go wrong with Telewest Digital TV.
"What? I can order it ALL online? And delivery is free?" I asked a friend, bemused. I hadn't really been caught up in the online grocery shopping explosion - indeed, I actually thought services like these were only available around London and the big cities. I promptly fired up my web browser and toddled off to www.iceland.co.uk, not expecting my area to be listed. What a surprise I had when I found my local store delivered to my area. I believe Iceland boast 97% coverage of the UK, and I don't doubt this for one moment. ---- Site ---- The site itself was very friendly. I registered, logged in, and was greeted by an easy to understand user interface. I was still cynical, however, and tried typing a few things into the search box in order to judge exactly what they were willing to deliver. Imagine my surprise when I found they delivered practically everything that was part of my standard fortnightly shopping list! The whole thing is laid out categorically, and relevant products are easy to find. I can imagine how difficult it is to categories all the groceries a supermarket sells, so they must be commended on this. Everything is where you'd expect it to be, and they've implemented a useful colour scheme along the side - frozen foods in blue, fresh produce in orange, and processed/packaged foods in red. This may not seem like much, but little touches like this really do aid the overall experience. Upon choosing a category, you are shown a further listing of subcategories; for example, "Fry Chips", "Oven Chips" and "Micro Chips" along with a tempting graphic to the right. The 'terms and conditions' are shown to you immediatly upon logging in, and they're not written in pseudo-lawyer speak, either. "You can place your order 4 days in advance", "You can pay by visa, mastercard..." etc - this saves you the hassle of getting to the ti
ll and realising you're unable to pay. The shopping basket is tucked away at the bottom of the screen, and is unintrusive. It lists the last five items purchased, with the option of viewing the entire basket available. This system works particularly well. The option is also available to hide your basket. The proverbial 'icing on the cake' is the ability to save as many shopping baskets as you need, so you can come back each time you need to shop, and recall all of last weeks groceries. Iceland have put a lot of effort into conveience, and it shows. All products have a description, and iceland have implemented a symbolic product identification scheme. You can easily see whether foods are microwaveable, healthy, vegetarian, new, or organic, without having to navigate further into the product description. Indeed, you can even do searches specifically for products matching these criteria - I'm sure the organic food buffs will love this. An outstanding, easy to use site. Simplicity is not something we see often on the web, and I'm glad for its use here. --------------- Pricing & Range --------------- There's not much to be said in this section. Basically, the products on offer are linked with your local store - everything which is available there is available online. For example, my local store doesn't have a fresh bread counter, so this option wasn't available on the website. This saves inconvenience later. Generally you can expect a huge range of standard groceries though - choose from five types of noodles, that obscure 'filtered' milk, fresh fruit and vegetables... most people would struggle to find something which wasn't available online in some form or other. Surprisingly, the prices are identical to those in store. They're probably linked to the same pricing database. Most other online grocers I've tried have sold all their products at recommended
retail price, but Iceland retain the same low prices as they have instore. The most incredible thing about the site is the fact that all of the nationwide special offers are available online. You'll be treated to offers ranging from "Buy One Get One Free", all the way to "Buy a Roast Chicken, and get Roast Potatoes and Carrots Free". This is where the big savings kick in, as other online grocers don't offer this kind of value. Your shopping online will cost exactly the same as what it would cost if you purchased it instore. -------- Ordering -------- After you've chosen your food, you're greeted with a summary of your order, and the total amount it comes to. You also have the option of saving and categorising it. A nice touch is the 'special instructions' box - its nice to know there's a real person looking at your order, and you're able to leave instructions for the packer or the delivery driver. There's also the option of accepting substitutions in case something isn't available. Moving on, you are now able to select a delivery time. The times available are all four days or more ahead of the current day, and deliveries are available from 8am to 8pm. This is a real bonus for people who work 9-5, as you can have food delivered when you get home. Finally, there's the payment options. Credit/Debit card is the only option, and I really can't blame them. I imagine Cash on Delivery would be far too much hassle with hoax orders etc. One more click, and your order is away! You can resume whatever you were doing, and be thankful for the hours you've saved through not having to go and shop! ------- Service ------- Once again, Iceland excel in this regard. With my first order, I was treated to a phone call from the nice lady who was packing my shopping, and she told me that they didn't have the full 60 cans
of coke I'd ordered in stock - I wasn't surprised, to be honest, but I really appreciated the call. She also asked if I was okay with an alternative flavour of pot noodle as they didn't have my favourite flavour in stock. I imagine the stock levels depend on your local store, but its nice that they actually ask you before making decisions. Taking my first order as an example again, the delivery driver arrived spot on time. He was very cheerful and helpful, and helped me get all my bags into the hallway. I was given my receipt along with a compliments slip and a sheet of paper outlining some of their offers. After moving my shopping to the kitchen, I began to check to see if anything had been missed out, but it hadn't - everything was there, and none of the packaging was smashed in any way (not that I would have minded much). Did I mention the delivery service is free? One of my worries was about the freshness of things like fruit and vegetables. However all of the fresh produce I had ordered was in date - most with 'best before' dates around a week in advance. If I'd have picked my fruit and veg up from a local supermarket, I'd have been hard pressed to beat the best before dates that I got from Iceland. ---------- Conclusion ---------- Overall Iceland Internet Shopping has been a very enjoyable experience for me. It's hard for me to find time to actually go out and shop, so a service like this is really useful. A well thought out, easy to navigate site, excellent customer service, and free delivery all add up to form a fantastic overall service which has impressed me no end. I'm seeing the Iceland Home Delivery vans on the roads a lot more these days, and I wish them all success. They have the highest UK-wide internet shopping coverage of all the supermarkets, and they've implemented it better than any other. Its nice to see somebody at the forefront of techn
ology - I believe Iceland were the first supermarket to start the internet shopping craze, and they've used their lead ahead of the competitors well. Well done Iceland!
I've written an overall opinion of Streetsonline, but I feel that Alphabetstreet in particular stand out from the rest of the Streetsonline sites. I assume that each of the streets sites have different staff working on them, as I've always found Alphabetstreet far superior to the (also excellent!) Gamesstreet and audiostreet. I've ordered some 50-60 books from Alphabetstreet, and delivery has always been incredibly fast. If I order while I'm at work, products are usually dispatched within an hour. Items on 1-3 days availability have always been dispatched the following day for me. Everything comes well packed, and invoices are always correct. The prices on Alphabetstreet are pretty standard, maybe 10% off the RRP. However, due to the free delivery they offer, prices are almost always lower than places like BOL, WHSmith and Amazon. There's a Which! Online affiliate link which gives you an additional 10% discount on all purchases, which is nice. They occasionally do "50% off top 10" offers which I'm quick to take advantage off, and a few months back they offered an additional 25% discount on every product for members for a weekend. Customer services are excellent, and although there aren't many automated features like cancellations, if you fill in the customer services form you'll usually receive a response within a couple of hours. I recently wanted to cancel something at 9pm, and filled in the form... I receieved a reply around 9:15pm - It would seem they have Customer Services working around the clock to satisfy customers. The site itself is nothing special. The search facility doesn't display prices when listing results which is annoying, and it lacks some of the nice features of amazon such as "Customers who purchased this also bought...". The categorical listings are broken down well, but are hardly ever updated. Most mainstream products have reviews, which is always nice
, as I usually have to visit DooYoo to read reviews before purchasing. :) I usually purchase a couple of books a fortnight from Alphabetstreet, and have never had a bad experience with them, unlike other online retailers. I suspect Alphabetstreet is the most popular site for Streetsonline, which would explain why they invest so much into customer care. All in all, one of the best online retailers around. Give Alphabetstreet a try - you won't be disappointed.
I finally gave in and bought Titan AE on DVD, despite the bad press I heard from some of the people I know online. I haven't regretted my purchase for one moment. This really is a fantastic film, with some breathtaking computer animation. As I was watching, I couldn't help but wonder how they came up with some of the 3d special effects. Each scene is rendered to perfection - the artists did an incredible job, and it shows. The plot seems pretty drab if you read the blurb on the case, but its actually very well thought out. The action never stops - There are some fantastic plot twists which really make you sit up and think. The voices really help the story along, and I think the director made the best choices he possibly could. Matt Damon is particularly astounding, along with whoever played Gune. I'd like to say more about the story, but its hard without giving too much away. Basically the Earth is destroyed and humanity's survival rests on the shoulders of one man - pretty standard fare, yes, but it works so well! The real shining point in this film for me is definately the music. I have the soundtrack on order at the moment, and I've never bought a soundtrack before. "Over my Head" is one of the best songs I've ever heard, and the DVD comes with the music video! Moving on to the extras, this is one of the better line ups I've seen on a DVD. For once they're well thought out and relevant - the music video was a welcome addition which encouraged me to buy the soundtrack, and the documentary is particularly interesting also, as it shows the entire production sequence. I also enjoyed watching the trailers for once, as they showcased some of the more spectacular visuals in the film. All in all this is a fantastic DVD and a bargain at £14.99 from Play247. Don't be put off if you haven't heard of it (I hadn't) - just get it! If we can produce more spectacular animation lik
e this in the western hemisphere, I'll never need to buy anime from Japan again!
The first time I used WH Smith online was way back in December 1999. I ordered a Madness CD, amongst other things. WH Smith sent them out one at a time, which was great. The only problem was that I received a 'Michael Palin's Ernest Hemingway Adventure' video in place of my Madness CD. How did they manage this? Was somebody playing a joke? I'll never know. I did contact customer services who promptly sent out my Madness CD and allowed me to 'keep' the video - it sits unwatched on my shelf to this day. I didn't use WH Smith online for another nine months or so; it takes a while to recover from a bad experience like that online. I've ordered a few rare books from them which amazon et al didn't have in stock, and all were dispatched pretty quickly - faster than amazon at least. Sadly, WHSmith suffer from the bane of all online retailers - postage charges! They're actually doing a temporary offer at the moment which offers free postage on orders over £25, and I've taken advantage of this. It ends soon, though. WHSmith Online actually run quite a few offers, most of which are very good. They range from the amazing 'Buy three DVDs, get the cheapest free', to 'Buy Batteries, Get a Free Torch'. They really put some thought into these offers, and the weekly newsletter isn't plastered with advertisements like some other e-tailers. The product range at WHSmith Online really is incredible, as you might have noticed with the 'Buy Batteries, Free Torch' offer. They sell Books, CDs, Music, Games, and some more obscure items like Stationery, Batteries, Magazines. Indeed, they even sell trips to the moon - no joke. This comes under their 'adventures' section which offers some incredible things like rally driving and scuba diving. The deals look good, and although I wouldn't buy anything from that section myself, I'd certainly recommend it to my friends as they all seem
to be pretty well thought out. The site itself is quite well laid out and easy on the eyes. The categorical listing system is useless, as is the case with many other e-tailers. As an example, click 'Sci Fi' in the books section, and you get a list of every single Sci Fi book ever published. On Amazon, you'd get the section further broken down with top 20's, interviews and offers - why can't anybody else offer this? The search function is quite detailed, and the results are always appropriate. It's certainly not as detailed as the Amazon search, but then its not as bad as some of the poorer search systems like Streetsonline. Taking books as an example, you can search by ISBN, Title, Author and Publisher. Pricing is quite reasonable for books and music. However, if you have to pay delivery on top of the standard prices, they often end up being the same price as the high street - maybe they should consider extending the 'free postage over £25' offer? DVDs and Games (PC in particular) are particularly overpriced, being identical to their instore prices in most cases. I imagine the margins on these items must be very slim, as most e-tailers price these items quite high. Customer Service at WHSmith earns them an extra star. They actually answer the phone, and always respond to emails politely. Not as fast as Streetsonline, but its nice to actually get a response, unlike certain places I've ordered from. The Customer Service staff seem very friendly and eager to help. I have no complaints about this area of their service. The actual details section for each product is quite poor. Approximately 50-60% of the products on their site have no descriptions whatsoever, and the review system they have in place seems to be unused; I've only ever come across a couple of reader reviews in all my visits to their site. Oh well, I suppose thats what DooYoo is for! Products are usually dispatche
d within 12 hours. They arrive fairly quickly, and are always packed well. I've never had anything lost in the post with them, and apart from the incident I mentioned at the start, there have been no problems - I imagine this was because they were just getting started at the time, anyway. Overall, a fairly decent store. It's one I always check when I'm planning on buying from, and wouldn't hesitate to order from. There are some problems with the site itself, and it doesn't look as polished as places like Amazon, but they look like they have a bright future ahead. This is certainly one of the better attempts at moving a high street outlet online. Well done WHSmith!
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The Samsung 511... what could possibly go wrong with a DVD player from a reasonably good manufacturer like Samsung? A lot, I'm afraid. I swapped this player twice and still had problems. Maybe it was a bad batch; I'll never know. First of all, the player seemed to overheat after about 30 minutes. "Don't put is on top of anything else", I was told - hands up who keeps their Audio/Visual equipment stacked up in a cabinet? Overheating is just not the kind of problem one expects. The unit plays MP3s, apparently. This seems like a great feature until you realise it doesn't read CDR's - are we supposed to be buying MP3s in the shops or something now? What a useless feature. The laser itself doesn't seem to be up to much - it struggled with DVDs with even the slightest scratches on which my LG 3200E had no problems with. Maybe I expect too much from a player? I just wanted it to work. I'm not really that bothered about picture quality and sound, and all cues to Samsung on providing very high picture quality on a unit this cheap. The sound was also quite good. The player itself seemed to be very light and the front of it was kind of drab to say the least. It was a nice silver, however, and the remote was also impressive. It has RGB/S-Video SCART outputs (doesn't come with a SCART lead though), and standard composite AV outputs. It also outputs Dolby Digital 5.1; I don't think it outputted DTS but I'm not sure. Not a particularly impressive player in my opinion. Maybe I'd think differently if there weren't excellent players like the LG3200E around to compare it with. I really wouldn't recommend this player even if you're planning to keep it well away from your other AV equipment. The LG offers so much more, and excellent sound to boot. Anybody who has had no problems with their 511's feel free to comment on this opinion. Thanks for reading. :)
Being the proud owner of every single David Gemmell book, I'd like to think I'm qualified to write an opinion on him - "The Finest Living Writer of Heroic Fantasy". 'Legend' was the book which got me into books, and Gemmell really excelled himself even with his first novel. The Drenai series - perhaps his best - have built upon the elements from this first novel, yet are all readable as standalone novels. Looking at my bookshelf to the left of me, I can visualise each and every one of the main characters from Gemmell's books. His characterisation is truly masterful, and one cannot help but feel for the often reluctant heroes who often shift between many shades of grey. Gemmell has stated that he gains his inspiration for characters from real people; perhaps this is what makes them so believable. I won't refer to any specific characters as I don't want to ruin any of the surprises in store for anybody who gives Gemmell a try. The prose in the books is often fast and to the point - no long flowery descriptions here. This is, perhaps, what makes the books so gripping. I'm amazed at how much he fits into a standard 300 page book; plots, intrigue, war... they're all there. Okay, there are a few small things which irritate me about Gemmell. Most people probably won't notice, but when one reads a Gemmell marathon of ten-twenty books in a row, you begin to notice. The fact that he (in his own words) "Writes everything out of the top of his head" shows in some of the almost cliched sequences which seem to be in every book - a character telling another how to cook a rabbit in clay is one example. There are many others, all of which seem to crop up in most of his books. Perhaps he does this to make each book read on his own? I don't know, but its not particularly annoying. In short, I recommend you give Gemmell a try if you're sick of 1000+ page Robert Jordan marat
hons, or simply if you want something new to read for a change. Start with either 'Legend', or 'Sword in the Storm' - the beginnings of some of his better series.
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I bought my LG3200E after getting sick of my Samsung 511 overheating, and I haven't looked back. With prices ranging from £130 (Toys R Us) to £150 with 3 free DVDs (Comet), you really can't go wrong. LG are quite a decent brand, as they design and manufacture all of their own electrical goods. This player was bought on recommendation as a result of this. The unit itself is platinum, which looks very sleek and stylish. The remote control is one of the best I've seen in this price range, and is extremely well thought out giving access to all of the more important functions (menu, pause, stop etc) without even having to move ones fingers. Picture quality is fairly good. It doesn't state that it offers RGB on the box, but I assume it does as I plugged it into the RGB scart socket on my TV, switched to 'component RGB' and saw an enormous improvement. You can also connect via s-video or composite av connectors, so there should be no problems with connecting it to your TV. One thing to note is that the player doesn't come with a scart connector; if you have cable digital you should be able to use the lead that comes with your digibox with the LG player - it works great! The area where this player really shines is the sound. I've tried various combinations - standard two speaker stereo, dolby 5.1, and headphones, and all have been fantastic. Indeed, I actually prefer listening through headphones. The player doesn't come with a headphone socket, but you should be able to put the phono outputs through an amp or stereo for a great headphone experience. There are no onboard decoders (The LG3350 is a good buy for built in dolby 5.1), but there are DTS and Dolby 5.1 outputs which are useful if you already have a decoder. The layer change is barely noticeable, and the player can easily be hacked via the remote to multiregion. A bonus is that if you change it to region 1 for RCE disks, it still plays r
egion 2 without needing to be hacked again. The range of features is also fairly impressive - fast forward goes up to X16, and the A-B loop option is really useful when you're trying to get picture/sound right. One further bonus is the one year swapout warranty which LG offer - any problems, you just give them a call and they send somebody round with a new player within 48 hours. This is the sort of after sales support which builds brand loyalty. Overall this is an outstanding DVD player and one which I have no regrets about buying. My parents have now also bought one, along with several of my friends. Highly recommended.
Amazon.co.uk is the best designed online store, hands down. This is a simple fact which amazon seem to be aware of, as they are constantly improving their site. Of course, a good site does not inspire customer loyalty on its own. I always check prices before purchasing, and amazon's extravagant delivery charges usually put me off unless I'm making a large order. I wouldn't complain if they put their standard prices up and ditched the delivery charge, but it doesn't look like this is happening anytime soon. I'm assuming that amazon really do mean 'postage and packing' in that they use this cost to subsidise their warehouse staff; good business sense, but the online market is too competitive for this. I tend to just look for what I want on amazon, read the reviews and 'similar products', then buy elsewhere. The product range on amazon is excellent, and its a nice touch being able to order US editions of books. They offer books, cd's, dvd's, games, and an excellent 'ZShops' system which seems to very well planned. Products are dispatched reasonably quickly, but not as fast as I'd like. They often take two-three days to be sent out. Upon being sent they usually arrive quickly, although I wish amazon would offer more shipping options than standard 'first class'. Customer Services are a mixed bag. I've had to wait several days for a response in the past, and this just can't compete with the speedy streetsonline customer services. One bonus to amazon is that one doesn't have to contact customer services often due to the excellent account administration panel. Overall amazon is an excellent store, and certainly one which looks like it will be around for years to come. I don't order from them often due to the delivery charges, but they're usually the first place I recommend to friends due to the easy to use site.
I decided to check out dominos.co.uk a couple of weeks back, having spent some hundreds of pounds on phone orders. I was greeted by a non-intrusive flash intro - if there's one thing I hate about websites, its long flash intros with no skip options. The site itself offered the standard fare; games, corporate information, menus... what interested me was the 'online order' option which I didn't know existed. I promptly tried to sign up, only to find that my postcode "wasnt in my stores delivery area" - I knew this to be wrong, as I'd ordered before. I emailed Dominos, and was surprised to receive a polite response the next morning asking for my full address. The lady who emailed me phoned my local store, confirmed I was in the delivery area, and has now added me to the database. I really appreciate excellent customer service like this. I've now made a couple of orders and have been impressed. Delivery has been fast, often within thirty minutes, and I don't have to sit through an hour of engaged tones while trying to order (my local store is often busy!) The latest 'free dime bar' offer is also a nice touch. Pizzas themselves are excellent quality, albeit expensive. The small one is usually enough for me. The mini doughnuts are also excellent. I've tried the chicken strippers, and while tasty, they're far too expensive for what one actually gets. I have yet to find a pizza delivery firm which can compare to Dominos excellent pizza. I suspect its the 100% Mozzarella which domins use. Even making my own pizzas can't compare. I now order a couple of pizzas a week through dominos.co.uk. If your postcode is rejected, fire off an email to them and I'm sure they'll add you. As an aside, I've read the comments about the owner of dominos funding various activities, and find this alarming, but on the other hand Dominos is a franchise and buying from them k
eeps people in jobs. :)
Like many, I was stuck with a horrible software modem for a long time - I blamed my phoneline, my settings - everything, never considering that my modem could be to blame. Needless to say, once 'softmodems' started getting mainstream attention, I decided I needed a new modem. I did a little research, and found that the general consensus amongst online gamers was that this was the best modem on the market. I wasn't disappointed. I've seen download speeds in the region of 5.8-6.0k/sec on my cable line, and occasional sub-100ms pings with minimal packetloss during online gameplay. Anybody who is disgruntled with their internal software modem, I highly recommend you consider purchasing this modem - while not particularly cheap, you won't regret the purchase. Online gamers especially take note!
The whole concept of 100% initially amused me, but I decided to watch it a couple of times. Basically, the show takes a typical game show (three contestants, questions, prizes etc), removes all the glamour, the audience, and the presenter. What we're left with is quite a unique product - repetitive, but still remarkably compulsive. The shows simplicity is probably what makes it what it is. The whole environment seems very 'artificial', but I suppose this goes with the presenters droning voice. This really isn't an issue though - the game is fun and fast, and its interesting to try the questions at home. The show is on daily, yet the selection of questions remains different each time. One other point to note is that the producers like a joke now and then. For example, on Halloween, one of the contestants gradually morphed into a werewolf as the show went on - this left me in a fit of laughter, as the game went on regardless with no change. A spin-off show, 100% sex, has also come about; not surprising considering Channel 5's track record. To be perfectly honest, I'd rather watch 100% than something like 'Price is Right'. The game itself is as simple as it gets, but still keeps you coming back for more.
I've been with Cableinet/Blueyonder since March 2000 - read my opinion on Surfunlimited on ciao.com for details on the dial-up side of things. Anyway, I upgraded to a Cable Modem in November 2000. There were a few teething problems initially to say the least - the installer left with the modem not working, and told me it just took a while to register with their servers. I contacted customer services a few hours later, and got through to a very helpful person - I work in IT myself, and was pleased that he wasn't patronising. He admitted the problem was their fault. It turned out that the installer hadn't registered my MAC address properly. This was fixed while I was on the phone. I've now had my cable modem just over six months, and I'm impressed. At £33 a month its fairly cheap compared to what I've paid in the past for regular dial-up access. Downloads are generally in the region of 35-45kb/s which isn't bad, albeit lower than what Telewest claim. Uptime is high, and the only problem I've had has been recently (19th-20th April) when the network in my area was down - two days downtime in six months isn't bad, really. Games are excellent with the Cable Modem; I ping between 30 and 50ms which really helps. Packetloss is 0%, and Blueyonder run their own game servers although they're rarely used. They also have an FTP service which lets you download the latest patches and things at incredible speeds thanks to the webcache. Additional services are also excellent - Newsgroup access is particularly impressive, as Customer Support add requested groups with minimum hassle. Email has been 100% - I check it on my work machine as well, and I've never had any problems. Overall, I've been impressed with my Cable Modem. Its a great investment for any heavy internet user. If you play games, or download a lot, I'd definately recommend one to you.