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DaveJMcW

DaveJMcW
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Member since: 11.02.2011

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    • Toshiba 32WLT66 / LCD TV / 7 Readings / 7 Ratings
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      08.07.2012 19:43

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      A good TV

      I bought this TV in 2006 for about £700. Of course, TV's have come down in price a lot since then, but this one is still going strong, and has a far better HD picture than my more recent Sony 32".
      The remote is easy to use, the TV design minimalist and unpretentious. Because it lacks the glossy finish of some Tv's, it's easy to keep clean. For a flat panel, the sound is quite good.

      Although the software seems a little slow, switching between HDMI sources is fairly quick. The tuning on this model also states which Transmitter you are receiving from (many these days just use a percentage bar graph). The tuner is also quite sensitive - something to bear in mind if you live in a fringe reception area.

      One oddity with this TV; since moving it from the lounge to my bedroom, I notice that at 3am every morning, the standby relay switch clicks, as if to switch the TV on, but the screen doesn't illuminate. The two led lights on the front light up. After about 5 minutes, it goes off. It's not a great problem unless you put it in your bedroom, where it may wake you up. A search online reveals this to be a not uncommon issue with this particular TV.

      So, a good all round TV that has so far stood the test of time - albeit with one unusual quirk.

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      08.07.2012 19:33

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      Great product

      I've had this toaster since 2001 - it came with a kettle as a set from Comet way back then, and it's still going strong now!
      As with anything metal and shiny in the kitchen, it's a devil to keep clean (who came up with that idea eh? someone who likes cleaning no doubt!), but it defrosts well, has a lift mechanism to retrieve crumpets, auto adjusts to the thickness of the bread, and a removable crumb tray too. It doesn't just look well made; it feels well made too.
      Sometimes I wonder whether it's maybe time to get rid and replace with a 4 slice, but as the saying goes, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'.

      On the downside, it does take a while to warm up, but apart from that, you really can't go far wrong with this Russell Hobbs toaster; it's unpretentious and, to coin a phrase from elsewhere, 'just works'.

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    • Nokia N97 / Smartphone / 2 Readings / 2 Ratings
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      08.07.2012 19:17

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      Spec isn't necessarily more important than usability

      Gosh when I got one of these in 2009, I thought it was a complete iPhone killer. Superior camera, battery life, it opened up like a laptop with a fold out keyboard had Iplayer. Wow!
      It was not to be. The touchscreen wasn't as intuitive as the iphones, it had an awkward to use interface, and everything had to be set up manually.
      Nokia still hadn't learnt the lesson; it's not the features, it's the usability that counts in the smartphone market.
      I promptly bought my Vodafone contract out, recouped most of the cost by selling this on ebay, took a loss, and bought an iphone 3GS. I've never looked back since!

      As a multimedia phone it is a perfectly functional, decent phone, but it fails to pull it together into a pleasing experience for the user. In my opinion, it was the moment Nokia realised it had lost the smartphone battle to Apple.

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    • Roland - XP-50 / DJ Equipment / 2 Readings / 2 Ratings
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      08.07.2012 19:03

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      A good all rounder

      I gigged my XP50 to death during the late 90's and early 2000's, and no wonder.
      It's basically like a JV1080 in workstation form. You could programme the sliders to act as filters, or volume control for dual layers.

      With 64 note polyphony, you could make some really big sequences. I used to route clock signals out to our drummers drum machine which he'd use as a click track or for extra percussion sounds.

      I thought the keyboard action was quite loose feeling for a so called 'pro' keyboard, but that's just me. Also, given the breadth of functionality and multitasking, it could've done with a bigger screen.

      That said, this machine ticked a lot of boxes for me and enabled me to model big brassy synth sounds alongside established acoustic Pianos and Rolands trademark string sounds.

      Although not my favourite synth, it's one I found the most versatile in an accessible way.

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    • Edirol FA-66 / Sound Card / 2 Readings / 2 Ratings
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      08.07.2012 18:46

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      Does the job nicely/

      I was recommended this sound card by a music shop, to whom I specifically asked for a card that will be rock solid and not prone to error.
      Well they weren't wrong. I've been using this for years both on PC's and mac and it is the most rock solid card I've ever used with Logic.
      The monitoring is first class, with barely noticable latency. This is a much harder review to write because when these soundcards work, you barely notice them, and therefore I find there is very little to say.
      I keep mine set up permanently at home, and use it primarily for recording bass and analog synths. The jacks take both xlr and balanced/unbalanced 1/4" jacks, and theres plenty of outputs here too.
      The build quality means this is quite a heavy unit for its size - a consideration if you run a portable studio setup.

      A sensible choice for the studio.

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    • Apple MacBook Pro MC700B/A / Laptop / 3 Readings / 2 Ratings
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      08.07.2012 18:33

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      Slightly underwhelmed

      From the moment I bought a white macbook in 2008, I was a convert to Apples whole way of doing computing. Everything seemed faster, less complex and more logical than my PC experience. I've almost forgotten what defragging is.
      So when I found I needed more power for my Music writing, I decided to go mad and get a macbook pro. I have to say this computer seems considerably slower than my white macbook. I get the spinning wheel an awful lot when web browsing. Ironically, it is fine for high end stuff like running Logic and orchestral plug ins, editing in iMovie - but it seems to struggle in day to day computer operations. I've even upped the memory to 8gb, reinstalled OSX, taken it to the Apple store.

      The computer just seems sluggish. Don't get me wrong, it's still better than any PC I've used, but for the money I spent, and because it's Apple, I expect better.

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    • Pure Digital Oasis / Portable Radio / 1 Reading / 1 Rating
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      08.07.2012 18:13

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      Excellent radio.

      This is an absolutely smashing DAB radio. It's big, strong, unashamedly bulky, and consequently has a big sound, and an amazingly sensitive tuner. Put it this way, I live in south Birmingham and can receive BBC Radio Nottingham and Leicester, from the short 'rubber duck' style aerial ( which unscrews and can be stored in the back if you need to carry it anywhere.
      The battery lasts absolutely ages, and it can also be used as an amplifier for your mp3 player. It's waterproof (though I wouldn't stick it under the shower!) and is structured by a metal cube which makes it feel like it could withstand a direct hit!
      In addition, it has presets for your favourite stations, and a headphone socket (the sockets by the way have hinged rubber gromits for keeping out moisture).

      All in all, if you need a radio to use in a damp environment, be it a bathroom, camping or a garden shed, I can unreservedly recommend this excellent DAB Radio from Pure.

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    • Pure Tempus-1 / Portable Radio / 2 Readings / 2 Ratings
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      08.07.2012 17:59

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      High quality clock radio solution

      This is a nice piece of design. If you want a decent DAB clock radio with useful features, a sensitive tuner, and a nice blend of tradition and innovation, this product is for you.

      I love the blue display - easy to read, but it need not keep you awake at night as it goes into standby. If you want to check the time, just tap the handle. If you want the alarm to go into snooze mode (don't we all?!), tap the handle.
      The dual alarm is clever because if there are two of you, you can both wake up to different stations - or perhaps set it so that you wake up to five live during the week, and some relaxing music at the weekend - alternatively, you can be woken with a simple buzzer. You don't have to wake up to the same station you went to sleep to.

      Also, if you live in a fringe reception area, it may interest you to know that the aerial unscrews to leave an F-type aerial socket where you can connect a roof aerial.

      Not cheap, but then you get what you pay for.

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    • Technics SL-PG 490 / CD Player / 3 Readings / 2 Ratings
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      08.07.2012 17:40
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      Reliable quality

      I've had this for 12 years, and used it for sampling from in my studio, via the optical output. Nowadays it sits in my separates system, and I simply use the phono outs instead.
      I've never know it skip a track, and it often plays CD's that wouldn't work on other players.
      Design wise, it still looks modern even today, with grey matt plastics and blacked out displays; both the unit and the remote have a pleasing minimalism about them, with firm to press buttons.

      The display is LED, and the player operates very quietly- the drawer is particularly quiet when opening, and moves in a smooth, almost hydraulic manner. The front mounted 1/4" headphone socket has its own level control for easy monitoring.

      So whether using in a studio as a reliable audio source, or in a home separates system, this reliable and stylish CD player will make a quality addition to your set up.

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      08.07.2012 17:20
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      Potentially excellent product let down by poor wifi performance

      As a concept, the idea of being able to back everything up in the background without actually having to do anything is an excellent one. To this end, the Time capsule does its job very well. Being able to look back a year ago for a file you may have deleted is also a very useful one. And its all done so seamlessly thanks to the Time machine interface on OSX.

      So having everything backed up for you automatically is a good thing.

      But! (you knew there was a but coming!)

      The other function of the Time Capsule is as a wireless router, and its range is frankly SHOCKING. It has by far the worst range of any modem I've ever used - and I've used a few. No, it isn't because I'm using 5ghz and my walls are too thick; the Virgin Superhub also uses this band and I can still get reception in my study at the rear of the house.

      So, you can only back up when in range of this router - and in my modest home this range would appear to be little more than 20-30ft through walls and floors.
      When in range, the data throughput is more than fine - in fact on speedtest it outperforms the superhub.

      So, this is a good product let down by poor wifi range. Buy by all means, but don't rely on it as your sole router if using more than 25 ft from the Capsule.
      For what it does, it ought to get a 5 star rating. Fancy the boys and girls at Apple getting such a basic wrong.

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      • Dyson DC04 / Vacuum Cleaner / 4 Readings / 3 Ratings
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        08.07.2012 16:53

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        Longevity and quality

        I've had this vac since I bought my first house, in 2001, and it still works fine. I've had to change the drive belt a couple of times inevitably, but that's a straightforward job, as is replacing the hose. The main thing is, it still has the same decent level of suction it had when I first bought it. It's great for pulling up pet hair, and if you ever get a blockage, it's really easy to fix.
        The hose extends very far indeed, so you can leave the vac at the bottom of the stairs and reach the top just with the wand (unless you live in Blenheim Palace, obviously!).

        The tools are excellent,and are stored on the main body of the vac.

        All in all, this review should show that there is longevity in Dyson products, and that you they are worth the extra cost. If and when this eventually gives up the ghost, I will not hesitate in choosing another Dyson.

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      • More +
        08.07.2012 16:40

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        The best Freesat HD box - possibly

        What I like about this box is that it feels fast. Quick access to channels. The on screen display is crystal clear and informative, the EPG easy to use and understand.
        Picture quality is excellent, as you'd expect from an HD box. Going into non-freesat mode gives you access to SkyNews and other FTA channels that do not appear in the Freesat EPG.

        Whats more, if you plug the box into your router, you can watch BBC iPlayer on the box too.
        A small niggle - the remote looks rather 90's, and doesn't match the look and feel of the box. It's purely an aesthetic thing. The main thing is, it works better than any other FreesatHD box I've tried.

        This is a well designed box from a manufacturer who are growing in prominence in the consumer market.
        The Humax Foxsat HD is ideal for adding HD and extra channels to your TV and is well worth the money.

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      • Panasonic DMR-ES10EG-S / DVD Recorder / 4 Readings / 4 Ratings
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        08.07.2012 15:07

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        Worth considering second hand

        This DVD recorder has lasted over 7 years so far, and still works fine. I find Panasonic gear pretty dependable on the whole and this is no exception. The build quality is such that it feels like it will continue to last.
        The inbuilt on screen menus when burning discs are intuitive and simple to use, and as a player, it seems to even play scratched discs that won't work on my laptop or Sony PVR downstairs.

        For connecting camcorders, the connectors are hidden behind the front flap - it's ideal for this use and that's primarily why I bought it - to record from camcorders onto DVD. I also bought it as a replacement for my VHS video recorder - I burned my videos onto DVD and thus uncluttered the lounge cupboard from tapes.

        It also has a neat, concisely laid out remote control, with enough buttons for quick access while not appearing too cluttered. No HDMI as it is too old, but otherwise, a smashing bit of kit.
        Recommended.

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      • Apple iPhone 4 32 GB / Smartphone / 3 Readings / 2 Ratings
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        08.07.2012 14:58

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        The rolls royce of smartphones

        The thing with the iPhone range - at any stage of their evolution, there were other phones that on paper were higher spec. Better camera, longer battery life, larger memory, sometimes a bigger screen.

        What Apple do best is take complex features, and make them accessible to the ordinary man or woman in the street, in a smooth, glitch free way.
        As someone who travels a lot, the iPhone 4 is a wonderful device that keeps me entertained through music, video and books, keeps me in touch via Skype (no more lugging the laptop round web cafes), keeps me from getting lost in strange cities via Maps, serves as my alarm clock, my diary and my computer.
        It has quite simply become indispensible to my way of living.

        Yes, other companies also offer these features now - but nobody does it to such quality, with such a smooth intuitive user interface as apple.

        Thoroughly recommended.

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      • Apple TV MC572B/A / Receiver / 2 Readings / 2 Ratings
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        08.07.2012 14:14

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        Cracking little device

        I love Apple TV. Is it pricey? Yes. Are there cheaper ways of doing what it does? Of course. But nobody packages it together in such a simple, uncluttered way the way Apple does.
        Basically, Apple TV:
        -brings internet connectivity to your TV, via HDMI.
        - allows you to view your apple products and iTunes content via your TV.

        Apple TV connects to your network either wirelessly via it's bulit in wifi, or through the ethernet cable (I use the latter for reliable streaming).

        YOu can rent HD films from Apple (though they tend to be pricey at around £4.50 a go), or alternatively you can use it to watch netflix - something I do an awful lot. Watching YouTube also goes from being a solitary pursuit hunched over a laptop, to something everyone can enjoy together in the lounge on the big screen

        Because you can view your iOS device on it, you can also use the BBC iPlayer via AirPlay. Apparently this will also be coming to Apple computers in the forthcoming Mountain Lion OSX Upgrade.

        And lets not forget the beautiful, elegantly designed apple remote. (incidentally, you can also download an app for you iOS device that will control the AppleTV as well). This can also be used to control your macbook.

        Although there is much more to be said about appleTV, I hope this has given you a real world insight into how it might be useful to you at home.

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