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I had heard that this was the worse game of the Batman trilogy yet actually I have found it to be the most exciting and the most playable. Recently released I was expecting another frankly disappointing outing much like Arkham City, but the developers have played a real doosy here. The game is tighter, the graphics are smoother, the rendering smoother, and the neon kiddiesh look of the last game has been replaced with a more serious grown up gothic and grim look. I preferred this. The gameplay is the same, beat up mobs of thugs, except there are more boss battles here and with more believable characters, not the killer croc or other freakshows, but more human like - In this game Black mask pays 8 different assassins to try and kill Batman, one by one they are try to have a go and so you are guaranteed 8 boss battles, I especially like the the Bane and Longshot battles, but some are harder than others. I was a little disappointed that the great batman soundtrack of the second game has been replaced with a less inspiring soundtrack, its all a bit unremarkable really. I liked the smoother battle sequences and some great new additions have been added to the inventory and the batbelt, but the battles are more seamless, so its not just all the great gadgets that get your blood-pressure up. The best thing I thought was the inclusion of a more detailed cinematic detective mode, rather then just phasing in and out of special visual aids, you know go into a full interactive mode of deconstructing the crime and eliminating the possibilities, its all a bit like Minority report, and the cinematic sequences that you piece together are great looking and thrilling, my only complaint is that there was not enough of these sequences in the game. All your favourite Batman characters are all here, the Penguin, the Joker , Bane, and some others not so well known like Black Mask and the other assassins.
It may seem like an unusual thing to have, but ahand blender can be a handy piece of kit if you dont have an actual blender. My mum got us this as a present, but I was not sure rather ungratefully, if I would have preferred an actual stand up blender. I think your supposed to use this hand blender for softer foods and I have used it for mashing eggs, strawberries and bananas into shakes and protein drinks. I think she bought this, unusually from Robert Dyas, the Iron Monger and general kitchen utilities shop for a round £20. Its powerful enough to blend these softer and smaller items into a nice pulp that I can drink and add my protein powder to. The motor is actually 500 watts and purees mostly anything but diamonds and rocks easily. Like most small motor dynamos going at speed against resistance you can feel it getting hot the more and longer you use it, the handle never becomes too hot to handle , sorry for the pun, but you do feel it and I wondered if I was going to burn the motor out at first...so I only use it in short, sharp spurts. You also get a small plastic container for free with 500 ml capacity to catch the liquid or puree- this was another nice touch I felt. Its a robust hard plastic resin case, white colour and the metal infrastructure runs alongside the middle of the appliance. The motor is at the top and the steel blade at the bottom with a protective plastic case like a half sphere around it, stopping most ! of the splash and helping you to not chop off your fingers. You can detach the main body of the blender for cleaning or maintenance but I was a bit scared to put the thing into soapy hot water, it just doesnt feel right to put a mechanical and electrical devise fully in water- but obviously it is fully waterproof for cleaning purposes. The top of the main handle section is an on/off button, it has a safety feature so kiddies cannot take their fingers off by mistake, you depress the button and it stays depressed that 'arms' the blender- then secondly when you depress it further the blender will acutally start up. On the lower part of the button, there is a nitro feature, press this baby and the blender goes into overdrive, for those particularly troublesome substanses that simply refuse to play ball. This was a good feature I felt. The only issue I felt is that the power cable is a tad too short for a long armed person like myself, and so you do need to have lots of conveniently placed electrical sockets intersperced around your kitchen or you could find yourself blending near the cats dish or something. The blade and the plastic cup protector feature can be a bit of a pain to wash and get around, the blade has been slicing up my brillo pads allot and I am alittle concerned that as I try to get the conjealed food off of the steel blade it might have a nick in store for my fingers, but so far I have avoided injury. Inside the box you`ll get the blender, the protective cup, the instruction manual and a manufacturers warrenty.
I was a big fan of Arkham Asylum, (read my review) - I had a few issues with lulls in the gameplay, i.e. when you expected to fly around a particularly strategic environment and work out the puzzle of how to get around and when you just seem to have to fight waves and waves of goons using the same tactics and moves. I was disappointed that in general this sequel did not seem to correct this problem. You still have the same problems trying to figure out how to get to a specific point or how to find a specific entry point. Its good at first but after a while it starts to get very boring. The same could be said for attacking the various goons, sure there are different types as with the first game that have different abilities and you have to attack them in different ways, but once the muscle memory kicks in you find yourself dispatching hundreds easily, without having to think about it and it gets boring. The sequel has improved many things, so I didn't completely cane it on the marks. Firstly I love the new soundtrack, it sounds more like a Hans Zimmer batman begins soundtrack then some composer with a synthesizer that they paid to make a bespoke soundtrack- if you time attacks properly , the music will kick in at the right time and it feels like your playing in the movies - brilliant. The environment is greatly improved, not just in terms of just graphics and rendering, the environment itself is bigger. I was a little peeved at being limited to stay within the boundaries of the Arkham Asylum in the first game, this is no longer the case, you now have a huge city to explore which in itself is part of Gotham city but also a sectioned off part of it to hold the criminal fraternity. The storyline is more complex and sometimes goes off on unnecessary tangents sometimes- Dr Strange is the main antagonist however you rarely hear from him - the Joker, the Penguin, Mr Freeze , Ra-Za-gul all make an appearance and some of the boss fights are good, but they are temporary pick me ups in enjoyment between long sessions of the same old stuff. The game has more bat combo`s which are a good inclusion, although obvious really, other then that there are a few new weapons, but nothing that deserves it own remarks. Over-all I think the developer did a good job of making the game look better, the gameplay smoother and game mechanics more sophisticated, however the same old - good beat em up, work out how to get there, boss fight - start over formula was starting to wear thin.
I watched this film recently as the trailer had perked my interest. It has been out for some time, since 2012, but I had not got round to watching it. Im a big fan of Rebecca Hall, I have seen her in quite a few films as a supporting actress, such as The Prestige, Frost vs Nixon and Iron Man 3 and thought that she had done a greatjob. I think that in a relatively small budget film such as this, she just about manages to keep my attention as the main character. She plays Florence Cathcart a women, who having lost her fiance in World War 1, is looking for answers to the question 'is there an afterlife and if so can we communicate with our loved ones?' But through her search and book wrtings she has found nothing but frauds and tricks played by criminals on the vulnerable, and throughthis she has developed a sceptism that it is all not true. The film is set just after World War 1 and many men have been lost,those young men that were sent to fight and came back are either physically scared, mentally scared or both. I think that this is merely a sub plot to explain some of the characters behavior but actually it serves as a good illustration of the years after The Great War and that it wasent all business back to usual. The main set is a beuatifal stately home, in the film set somewhere in the North of England. The home here doubles as a boys bording school. Cathcart is approached by the History master at the school played brilliantly by Dominic West. Therre have been sightings of a boy ghost at the school and one child had a heart attack through panic after sighting the ghost. Cathcart is requested to go tot he school to check out the claims. The film at this point gets quite slow as Florence is introduced to the boys, other school masters, the sinister grounds keeper and the matron with secrets to tell. Forence stes up her scientific instruments to detect and capture on camera the supposed ghost and various bumps in the night and boys will be boys play games make sure that there are one or two frights in the middle of the film, but all disappointingly turn out to be hoaxes. It isn`t until the boys go home for the end of term and only one boy remains (played wonderfully by Issac Hamptead Wrigh , he of Bran in Game of Thrones)- then you start to see glimpses of the 'Ghost' and the whole story unravels. I won`t spoil it but basically Florence Cathcart is connected to the Ghost and the school in more ways than just being there looking for a ghost. I think that the Direction is adequate of this 90 min horror, it is a horror, but a shallow one at that, my Mrs watched it and she cannot take any kind of jumpiness or gore so really it's a more of a thriller than a Horror I would say. Some great Autumnal shots of the house, but being in mostly one set it is a but limited. The period props and costumes are very good and the soundtrack is adequately scary to make you jump every now and then.
I live in a particulalrly cold flat, its actually an old victorian mansion, its got very high ceilings, about 20 feet and like all old flats it takes absolutely ages to heat and also has all the heat retaining ability of an armoured vehicle. The windows are single pane and cant be changed to double glazing so its a real wind tunnel. Last winter, well it got pretty cold and so I purhased this halgoen lamp heater as additional heating to my central heating. I know it uses allot of electricity but it is a quick fix to an immediate problem. My mum and dad have this heater in their house and I was impressed at how powerful it was. I have seen allot of halogen heaters around in shops but when it comes to electronics I only buy top qulaity stuff at the more expensive end or only buy recommendations like in this case. First thing you notice is that it is very light, and the hard resin plastic case feels alittle clunky and badly made, to be honest I have seen and used a few halogen heaters and this tends to be the case with almost all of them. Inside the hard resin plastic casing you have a reflective back sheet I think it may be made of aluminium or perhaps very thin steel and 4 halogen filaments. There is a metal grill over the filaments so no little kiddies can touch the bright looking fun things. I thought that the casing might get too warm of melt, but it doesnt get too hot to handle, maybe a little, but if you have had it on and then you want to move it you only need to turn it off and leave it for 5 minutes to cool down enough to move it, its never absolutely boiling. The main heater componant is attached to a pivot at the bottom of the main stand, and this can oscillate and move the heat around nicely is a rough 180 degree range The pivot is attached to a hard resin plastic base that is oval shaped and roughtly the size of a rubgy ball. The dimensions for the heater are Height 64 cm and width 41 cm, depth 30.5 cm. There is a handle built into the top of the main unit so you can shift it around easily. It is fairly easy to operate, it has four plastic buttons at the top of the filament componant (the main section). There is one main button which is red and is the on/off button and then next to it there are three white buttons that basically control the amount of filaments that you want lit up, the more filaments that you put on the more heat it puts out. Each bulb that you switch on produces 400 watts of heat, so it goes up in increments of 400 up to 1600 watts power and I have found this to be more than adequete, but watch your energy bill. The halogen lamps give out a strong orange glow and I think this gives the pychological effect of making you feel even warmer. A great feature is the safety switch, once the base leaves the floor say if it has been knocked over , then a switch is released because of lack of weight on it and the heaters turn off striaght away. This is great if you have kids or pets that might knock it. It is fairly light at 3.5 Kgs, but this is fairly heavy considering some of the smaller hot air heaters out there. The heater only set me back £40 on Amazon and the instruction manual advises you which bulbs to buy should you need spare halogen bulbs for it, you can get these from most online stockists, but I have not had any need to do this so far.
I was a little dissapointed by this game initially. Its from the same developers as Heavy Rain and Alan Wake, both games I have produced reviews for so just look at my profile). Its got Ellen Page and Willam Defoe on it - a revolution in the gaming world now means that big time actors, and some little known actors are gettign great recognition by actually acting out all the cut scenes and movements of their characters. The characters are even rendered to look exactly like them. Both do a good job here although I was alittle annoyed by the constant crying the Ellen Page is required to do. The story centes around a gril called Jodie Holmes, Jodie has a very special talent, she is linked to an 'entity' called Aiden- who is invisable and can violently move things to protect Jodie. Its like having your very own poltergeist. So in this game the gameplay revolves around you controlling Jodie and anoyone else that Aiden possesses in 3rd person view, and Aiden in 1st person view. The game is also fairly short and there are allot of cut scenes, so of the combined 9 ours or so that you might play this game , you`ll probably only play about 7 of them. Its also frustrating as some of the cutscenes are very long and it sometimes feel more like you are watching a film then playing a game. There are some elements that the developers have gotten right, the fight sequences are smoother and easier to control, the voice acting is better, the sound effects especially when you are dealing with entities and violent fights with other character flow better. The plot, like Alan Wake and Heavy Rain is very good, strange at time and a little slow as you play Jodie at different time in here life and so you get to play a small child , a nervous teenager, then a frustrated young women and then Jodie in young adult life- this is a bit wierd as a gaming experience as you have to do things, like attending a party and trying to nervously fit in, that is well, a little off the norm- you make her choices and some of them are rather wet and sickly in places. The decisions that you make also effect the plot lines that the game takes, for example if you do not help someone earlier in the game, they do not help you later in the game therefore making it harder for you to beat it. The decisions all converge to various ending possibilities and just like Heavy Rain there are around 20 different endings. Graphics and rendering are fiarly good, the characters facial expressions and movements are very detailed and lifelike owing to the computerised green screen sets that the actors actually go through as it fhtey were acting on a stage. Other details such as cars and items are pretty good, but in trying very hard to be as realistic as possible rather then taking a more cartoonish or CGI route, the developers are still showing that technology is still limited in producing completely life-like movement and expression. The soundtrack is fairly good, suspenseful and action paked at times, quiter and more like background music at other times. Over-all this isnt a bad game, however the main drawback is the stunted gameplay, the boring tasks and the overkill on cutscenes- for a game that had this much marketing to try and compete with the like of this years hits such as GTA 5 and The last of us, it falls short of the mark.
I saw the trailer for this film and thought it looked interesting enough, and I had heard brillant things about it on the release, it scored pretty high on the IMDB ratings, which are normally an accurate indicator of how good a film is. We went to see it and wasent dissapointed. Although the effects were in 3D they were very impressive and I think that if I had gone to see the film in 2D, they would still have been top notch. Allot of the filming prosess is obviously CGI, but its great quality and allot of the space capsule weighlessness must have been filmed in the 'vomet comet' technique as we have seen with other space films like Apollo 13. The film is further enhanced by its authenticity, the physics of the movements by the astronauts, the fact that for a time Sandra Bullocks character is sent spinning off into space, and obviously without an atmosphere or any gravitational force you just keep spinning, it made me feel quite sick to my stomuch, so you can get an idea of what the astronaut is going through. Plus a couple of times in the film there are great sequences that film external to the astronauts helment and then go inside it. The chatter becomes less computerised and radio-like, the breathing is allot louder and you start to really see the condensation from the breaths. Alfonso Cuaron does a fanstic job of direction and one cannot wonder if this Mexican director is just another in a long line of visionary 'foreign' directors who are slowly replacing a unimaginative bunch of American directors. The film focuses heavily on the feeling and atmospherics of being an astronaut thrown into a pretty crappy situation...but the plot is solid in terms of its main characters development. George Clloney rarely gives a bad performance or picks a crap film to star in and this is another hit, he does his job wonderfully as the captain America type astronaut commander, however he doesnt shout or get all patriotic, his thinking is calm, collected and sheer basic logic, as most space commanders would be. If you want America to save the day buy Armageddon instead. The astronauts pass from one space capsule, first an American space shuttle, then a Russin Soyez capsule and finally a Chinese capsule, and the main character is presented with problems that they can get around like being able to read Russian to activate the capsules boosters- as I should imagine most astronauts can do as most space componants are Russian relecs left over from the space race...to problems that are not so apparent, like NOT being able to read Chinese (not sure if it was mandarin or cantonese) - as most modern space componants are now Chinese of course. The soundtrack is spectacular, it has you biting your nails with suspense, jumping with fear and holding onto your seat as the fantastic re-entry sequence is played out - I for one will actaully buy the OST, its that good.
It recently won the golden joystick for the Game of the year and for good reason. I had been a fan of the GTA series, I remember playing the orignal GTA one and two on the playstation, with the birds eye view, and I thought it was great. By the time the had changed to a third person view with GTA 3 I was hooked. There has laways been allot of anticipation around the release of GTA games, this one has been no exception. The hype was palpible. As I played the first mission 'heist' I started to work out why. The plot is engaging, complex and funny.It revolves around 3 main characters, Michael, Franklin and everybodies favourite Trevor the nutcase, played wonderfully by Steven Ogg. The character actors have spent sometime perfecting these characters and you really get a sence that they must have spent ages perfecting the mannerisms. I also like Lazlo and Trevors buddy cletus with the lisp. The main draw of this game is the fact that it is so flexible, you can run, walk, drive, fly and pilot just about any vehicle that you see. In the story mode you get to use just about everything at one time or another from 747`s to attack jet, jetskis, quad bikes, pedal bikes, sports cards, classic cars, the list if endless and so are the possibilities. The other neat thing is that the planes and cars, although ot officially licensed are basically reneered in such a way as to look like cheap knock off copies of existing cars...a nice touch, this means although it doesnt have the 4 rings on it, you still feel like you have stolen someones Audi R8. The games physics engine is quite impressive, you can burst tyres, fall from planes, get into car accidents and roll the car and then have to crawl out of the wreckage- again another key ingredient is the fact that there are so many possibilities here- and there are stunt jumps to make too. As well as the large expance of cars and vehicles that you can use, there is also an impressive array of weaponary that you can fire, from pistols to assault shotguns to RPG`s, everything is here. You also end up using some vehicles as weapons such as a big tunnel drill, a road digger and various big vehicles like car transporters and tow trucks, its pretty nice. Overall this is an amazing game, if your not really into RPG`s then this may not be for you, but anyone with a mere liking of these sorts of games and especially GTA then you will absolutely love it.
I have been using Tom Tom`s for some years and I love them, I do, I think they are one of the two finest inventions that have made my life a hell of allot easier in the last 10 years. The other invention being the MP3 player. Although I am a confident driver (a recipient of the ROSPA advanced driver award at 19 years old- I had to get it , my dad was fed up with me having accidents !), I used to hate driving anywhere I was not at least slightly acquinted with the road system. Tom Tom`s solved this problem for me and in so doing saved me time, petrol money and embarrasment in front of my peers. All for a £160, it sounds steep, but as I said the unit will pay for itself within 2 years or so on fuel effeciency, i.e not having to drive around to find out where your going. I used to own the Tom Tom smart, one of the first editions, but I have recently given this to my dad to help eleviate his own frustrations with our ever-changing road network, although he struggles to use it, not being the Nintendo generation, more the launching of the QE2 generation. So I bought this Tom Tom XL 2 IQ Routes Edition Europe 42 to replace it. Firstly, it is apparent that it is larger then my previous Tom Tom, which is about 5 years old. it has a 4.3 inch LCD screen, hence the XL in the title. This makes it a bit easier to see. Also it looks much better, my last TomTom was a bit bulky and the sucker at the back sometimes struggled to keep it in place if there was allot of moisture on the windscreen. I have not had this problem with this Tomtom as of yet as it is lighter, at a mere 189 grams. The Tomtom also has a gloss black finish to the plastic, rather then the matt finish I had on my last one. All the old menu`s are basically the same and as always it is pretty easy to navigate through them, you still pick the post code and or full address you are going to mark any waypoints down, you can also find alternative routes, although in the past I have found this to be second guessing the Tomtom and actually will only make your drive a bit longer. However, it is handy if you have checked say the AA route-planner before hand and can see problems with your intial route. The IQ routes system has been around for a while now, and what it does is basically update road information once you plug the unit into your PC and upate from the net, it also calculates distance vs speed and gives you an updated arrival time, it calculates the shortest route and reconfigures to any changes you make along the way. It can also give you the next best 4 ways of getting to your destination and the extra time it takes. As always, previous searchs are stored up to the last 15 or so, this saves you allot of time not having to re-enter previous addresses for the places you usually go to. You can also find other places of interest, say a petrol station or a landmark. The Tomtom is also updated to tell you when speed cameras are coming up. GPS quickfix means that the unit can find the nearest satallite even faster now, no more waiting in my car for 10 minutes whilst it sorted this out ! A new extra is that the unit also gives you a current and 5 day weather forecat for your route and destination, so you can compensate for wet/ icy roads etc. I have found this interesting but not that useful as when I go somewhere I usually have to get there no matter what and I do not have the flexibility to change my plans. You can change the language of the voice instruction and the volume, you can set the display brightness, or put it on night/ day mode, I always prefer night mode as it uses far less battery and it doesnt put glare into my eyes all the time. You can also select what country you wish to gets maps and directions of, this version has maps for most countries in Europe and the UK, I actually use it when I am going over to France to see friends and it saves me allot of time and effort. You can also add maps that you have bought for other countries from the TomTom online account system, although I have found this to be costly, a map for Australia that I bought cost £55 ! The maps work just as well over there as they do in the UK I have found. You can change the view of the map, from birds eye 2D to 3D first person view, I tend to use 3D view, but used the 2D for ages as I didnt know this options existed ha ! You also get a better rated 3 hours of battery life on day mode, on night mode I believe it is closer to 4 hours 30 mins. In the box you get a manual, a USB adapter for the updates and a car lighter charger.
If you have been lifting weights for a while then you know that you really need to have weight lifting gloves, preferable leather ones to make it easier on yourself when lifting. Leather gloves normally fit better, feel better and wear out slower. These gloves are no exception. I was lifting weights for a while without gloves and I did not really feel the pain in my hands, I liked feeling the barbell in my hands as I had some pl-eather gloves previously and all they did was to give me the feeling that the gloves were slipping and so was the bar bell, from my hands. So I did not use any gloves for a while, but I realised that the grip grating on the barbell was slowly shredding my hands, especially when I was lifting the heavier weights. Golds gym is a well known weight lifting brand, they have been around since the 70`s and were made famous by Arnold Schwazenegger wearing their muscle vests. Everyone knows the brands whether they lift or now. These gloves are fairly cheap, but you mostly pay for the brand at £10 a pair, you can get a non distinct pair for half the price. The leather and cotton mesh, which provides some ventilation, are all black and Golds Gym is ebroided onto the leather in disctinctive Gold cotton. The gloves have a short wrist look and a velcro strap and fits most hands as the cotton mesh allow the glove to stretch allot. The gloves provide you with less friction as they are another layer of 'skin' between you and the barbell, this means you do not have to worry about pain in your hand effecting your lift. They also have the dual benefit of absorbing sweat and I did notice when I did not have gloves I did notice that the sweat build up on the palms of the hand was an issue. The finger holes are pretty comfortable, my fingers fit well into the glove, the cross hand circumfrance is fine and does not feel too tight. But the leather does bite into the little bits of skin in between my finger as the reps get into the higher numbers. This is not painful it is only a slight nuisence for me and all I do to eliviate it is simply remove the gloves every 10 minutes or so for a few mintues just to give my fingers some respite. The rest of the glove has fingerless tips so you can pick up and take off weights from the barbell or pull and place weight machine pins easily.
This is the second time I have had to 'sit through', yes I said sit through a Katheryn Bigalow film, see my review of The Hurt Locker - I saw the trailer for this film and thought the subject matter looked interesting- i.e the CIA`s hunt for and the Navy Seals operation to capture Osama Bin Laden. I was right in a way, the subject matter is interesting, the style is the same...damn boring and that is fully on the shoulders of KB. The effects, the plot and the acting from the main cast of Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain and Kyle Chandler is solid. Chastain epspecially does a solid job, I also saw Jason Clarke in White House down and thought he was fairly good in that, hge was much better in this. So the character acting is spot on. Buit the direction is awful. Again, the film is 30 mins too long, there are definately long sections of scenes that could have been cut, or scenss that just had no relevance, like watching the main character get up in the morning ! The film has long sections without dialogue where the viewer is supposed to feeling what the character is but it is just too long, coupled with the fact that there are long tracts of the film that does not have any soundtrack whatsoever, not even instrumental soundtracks, just nothing, especially during the Navy Seal operation, it was just silent, OK so it simulates the fact that there was noise and light discipline etc etc, but its not cinema entertainment, that bores the viewer- if I wanted to work in silence I would join the Navy Seals ! I dont know how this got a respectable on the low side 7.4 on IMDB- I think media student critics love her style- the takings at the box office tell you what the general viewing public think. It should have more of a soundtrack, be 30-40 minutes shorter and not have long tracts without any dialogue at all.
I bought this microwave some months ago, more out of habit when I went into my local Sainsbury`s centre I knew I needed a new microwave and I was drawn to the steel look of this microwave. I thought it looked futuristic and pretty good qaulity considering it is just Sainsburys. I like to keep things looking futuristic in my kitchen and it tends to stick to the look of the room. Unfortunately the same thing that attracted me to this microwave is also the one thing that annoys the hell out of me for it. I bought mine for £69 which is a snip off of the usual cost of £80. This is handy because it will cost me a fortune to try and clean the thing. The main case is made from shiny stainless steel all the way around and like all stainless steel it stains badly. I mention this first as it is easily the most anoying feature of this microwave and also the thing that attracted me to it in the fist place. You do have to constantly have to wipe the outside of the microwave down, all the time. Inside it is fairly bland grey metal, but it is easy to wipe down and keep clean, for me that is the main thing. I prefer the controls on this microwave are mostly manual, there is a dial wheel to change up or change down the timer, the settings for the different types of food, of which you can select seven different types. Its very easy to use the control wheel , simply turn it to what kind of food you want to select, say meat or fish or reheat and obviously there is a defrost feature, which defrosts by weight of the object, and then you select time using the touch buttons and then turn the control wheel around to set the level of time you want to keep the food in. There is an interval function on the microwave so you can have the timer set on intervals and it will ring off, you can take the food out and stir and it will automatically come back on for the next interval at the same time as before....but I have not worked out how to use it yet. You can also just keep pressing the 'quick start' button to start cooking straight away and not have to proagramme in everything. So you manually add the time in at 1 minute or 30 second increments. This is undoubtadly a helpful feature though. You know when your food is ready there is a fairly loud beep. The manual is fairly self explanatory and easy to get through if you cannot be bothered to go through the dial yourself and work it out. There is also a keypad lock feature, so you dont have to worry about kids mucking around with the microwave, however that is not really a problem for me as I do not have any kids. It is a powerful piece of equipment at 800 watts, so that should be enough power to cook anoything that you want to...maybe whole chickens and big pieces of meat and fish might take a while. It is fairly quiet too, whilst it is running through a timer, but the beep is pretty loud. It certainly does not make such a loud whirling noise as my last cheaper microwave used to have. The microwave is of normal size at 20 litres capacity, you could probably get a small chicken in there, but should not attempt anything larger than that. My mum gave us some bigger sunday roast plates and these do not fit inside the microwave unfortunately. Dimensions measure in at 29 cm x 46 cm x 33.5 cm, with a turntable of 24.5 cm in diameter.
I needed a new iron after my last one died a death on me after a few years of abuse. Breville have been making appliances for the kitchen and househaold for some time and everyone should be aware of their brand and know that generally means good value. I bought this Breville model VIN209, 2400 watt steam iron. Like all steam irons it is made of hard plastic resin on the handle side of blue and white plastic. The handle is grey and black and it matchs the ceramic soleplate. Also their is a dial where you can select from the diffrerent symbols, each one performs a different function. They allow you to perform many more functions then I have had preciously on other irons...so you have self clean, which I do not really know how this works and it seems to use steam to shock steam to clean the inside of the soleplate, which I assume is having a positive effect, except I have only had the iron for a few months and it is too early to tell if it is making a difference. In the past my irons have clogged up with limescale. You also have a vertical steam clean ability to steam clean things that you cannot clean on the ironing board like curtains or large duvet covers. The iron also has an anti-scale feature to stop lime scale from building up and an anti drip feature which is great. I used to get lots of big drip, lime scale infested water and actually stain my work shirts...I do not have this problem at all. You can also give the garment a 100g steam shot. This is great because I have some 100% cotton shirts and the best way to iron these is to do so when it is just drying off out of the washing machine. If you leave these garments too long you need a drill hammer to get the creases out. So having this steam shot is a big advantage because it saturates the area with steam and you can iron the bugger out. Normally you get 40 grams of steam per minute which should give you around 10-15 minutes of water per one full water reservoir. The soleplate is small and a great design that allows you to glide over the clothes and works very well with the garments. I have ironed some synthetic garments and so far I have had no catches or plastic melts on the sole plate , it is still so clean you could eat your dinner off of it. The dial also has a dial readout from '0' to full steam, and it is easy to use and in an ergonomic placement. You can use it with your thumb whilst you are holding the steam iron and this is a very comfortable way to operate this basic function. The handle grip itself is rubber and very comfortable. This is the first time that I have had rubber on a handle and it makes long sessions ironing doable. Another issue that I have had before is that the cords that I have had in the past, the cords were either too short or too long and they wrap around itself too easily and coil up...this iron has a 2.5m cord which is a good length and it doesnt seem to coil up as much as I have had with other irons. I do not need to pull the cord all the time to fit over bigger covers and bigger garments. The iron can hold 250ml of water in the tank situated behind the sole plate and there and the iron comes with a measured water beaker. I have found it easier to fill the water tank, with hardly any drippage. The cover to the water reservoir has a good clip which is stable enough to clip on and stay on. In the past these clips have broken off of other cheaper irons that I have owned. It holds tap water, but I am always cautious of gettign too much limescale in the tank. The water tank itself has clearly marked measurement on the outside in coloured plastic and also etched into the plastic of the tank, so even if the coloured plastic is wiped off with time then the etched numbers on the plastic. You obviosuly get a simple and clear instruction manual included in the box with the steam iron. I have used it to work out what the various features do and how to work them properly. Dimensions: Height 140 mm , Depth 120 mm Width 296 mm. The weight of the steam iron is 1.15 Kilograms and this is quite light for an iron. I bought this steam iron for £24 from Robert Dyas, the iron monger.
The mini Hifi market has been getting pretty swamped the last 5 years or so with many manufacturers from the Hi End- for example, Bang and Olufson and Bose to the lower end like Bush and I thought, Gear 4. I saw this speaker to buy in HMV as they stock allot of Gear4 stuff of various spec and price, but this seemed to be very popular as a teenager was buying one just as I was looking at them on the shelf and I asked him if he knew if they we any good, he siad that his mate had had one at a house party and he was impressed with the level of the base able to hold the heavier stuff and not get all fuzzy like the cheaper products tend to do, and he said it was not very tinny either with a high treble level set or complete lack of base in the speakers. At that point I decided to get one for my kitchen. I wanted to get a cheapy speaker for my kitchen come dance area when I have the occasional house party. I had previously bought a very neat B&O Zeppelin and I had found some of my friends playing with it and trying to put in their Ipod whilst holding drinks dangerously close to it, I didnt want any drink going over my £500 stereo system! So I wanted something, cheap, sturdy and good enough to create a good noise at all levels of volume. I bought the Gear4 House Party 4. From what I understand, Gear4 have been making these unit sfor sometime, I remember seeing past Gear4`s in HMV or catelogues and I thought previous models looked a bit cheap and nasty and I wondered at the sound quality. This speaker is pretty robust and I was surprised at how heavy and well built it felt in the hand. It weighs 1.3 Kgs. I have had cheaper speakers in the past like Bush and they were frankly, crap. I was hoping this speaker would not turn out to be the same. The speaker is black in colour on the plastic resin and has a black mesh on the front to protect the speakers. The speaker has a silver resin trim which I think cheaper companies use silver to attain a modern look but I sometimes think it just makes it look cheaper and if you actually rub the silver off harshly you can actually see the black plastic underneath, it is a great indicator of quality. Although I have not tried to do this with this speaker. It has a curvature design with a high gloss plastic resin finish. You can combine any Ipod, Ipad or Iphone to the speaker at the bottom of the speaker and it will click on easily and stay on. You have to apply some pressure to take it off of the speaker so you do not have to worry about it falling off by mistake. You do have to make sure tht the Ipod is on straight and true otherwise it will either feel wobbly as all the pins are not in properly or the music is muffled. The main button control is behind the mesh on the top of the speaker, the buttons helpfully light up blue so if you have the lights off you can still see what you are hitting and the main LED read out is red and glows up so you know the volume which is operated by a standard rotary dial, which I prefer to constantly pressing buttons all the time. When an Ipod is attached or when you are listening to the radio - oh yes it picks up FM too ! There is a small pink cable at the back that acts as an antenna as you would find with any radio- shame is doesnt pick up digital though, but I suppose that would increase the cost. You can also connect a 3.5 mm audio line, or headphones into the unit. You get a neat little remote control with it, its pretty small and flat and I find it a bit hard to press the right button as it is so small my fingers are a little to big for it. Again I think they tried to make the speaker look more expensive than it is and failed a bit on the design front. You also have a mains adapter the cable is pretty robust at either end, this is sometimes a problem with cheaper makes in that the cable seperates from the plug at the connection end because the plastic is too frail to be wrapped up. The Ipod dock als acts as a charger, once you plug the radio in it will play the music and charge your Ipod or Iphone as well which is a neat little extra, but to be expected I think. You also have a 12/24 hr LED clock on the unit which has a settable buzzer alarm or you can have the rado come on at that point, its up to you. I payed £40 for this House Party 4 unit in HMV. I think this is a fair prce for what you are getting.
After utterly destroying my toaster through over use I needed to get another quickly. I knew that I nneded something stylish to fit with my kitchen and something I could use daily and it would consistenty toast the bread real nice like - I make allot of toast. I have bought cheaper toasters in the past and I have been stung, springs would wear out on me and toast would either pop up too quickly producing less then brown bread or they spring mechanism would not spring up on time and it wold burn the toast. Also cheaper toasters are not really concerned with design and they were harder to clean, so I knew that I wanted something very new, very stylish and maybe a bit pricey. So I decided on Dualit as my ma has one of these toasters and I was impressed with it when she made me a cheese toasty. Dualit toasters are expensive I think, but like most top class in field mechandise, you pay the extra money, partly for the brand (in this case I dont think my friends would be particularly impressed with a toaster, not unless NASA made it, and I am not out to impress them anyway), so I was buying this for the longevity and the quality it would no doubt give me. I am glad to say that so far I have not been let down. This toaster is of classic 1950`s American kitchen style, I might go well with a SMEG refrigerator. It is of robust hard resin plastic and stainless steel construction. More expensive toasters might have more steel on the surfaces, but in my experience, totally stainless steel construction on kitchen appliances normally mean that you burn yourself allot more, all for the sake of fashion. You have only two toaster slots for one piece of bread each and a toasty cage that you place the sandwich in, lock it in and place the cage in the slot. I have never had this feature on another toaster before, but then again I never paid so much for a toaster before. I found the process of using the toaster cage very simple and easy to use and much easier then either using a grill, the favourite of the older, more patient people and also easier to slam two pieces of toast into cheese or whatever, the bonus is that the combo kind of moulds the two pieces of bread together at the edges and over the filling, not quite as good as a dedicated toaster maker, but still pretty good. Its just faster and easier. The 2 slots and the toaster cage represent the 2 + 1 in the name of the product. As well as the timer dial, you also have a power dial where you can select the power of the heat. The toaster is stainless steel, but with every product I have ever owned made from this, it obviously needs cleaning every now and again. I find a quick wash down with a cloth and soapy water does the trick, then you can buff it with a clean polish cloth to get its shine back. There is a metal retractable tray for the crumbs at the bottom of the toaster and this needs to be emptied and cleaed and the toaster given a good shake to dislodge crumbes every now and again. The mechanism is easy to use. The toaster does it job well, it toasts to the time set by the dial and evenly, very important. So far I have had the toaster for 4 months and the fillament warms up quickly and evenly, so far I dont think that any part of this toaster will need to be replaced after a long period of time. The toast pops up when the dial time is up and it doesnt make the bread fly across the work surface. I havent tried to toast anything other then bread at the moment, so I cannot comment in that regard but my Mrs might try some other bread products soon. I paid £180 for the toaster through Amazon, thats allot, but I take pride in my kitchen.