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I got this watch on my second anniversary and I felt like a child again. Not only was it the first gift I got from my wife, but boy it was and still is elegant and stylish. It came in a small little box that said Pulsar by Seiko. Although I am not very watch savy, I had known for some time that Seiko was Japanese brand that had a very good reputation indeed. My uncle had gifted my father a Seiko he had bought when he was in Japan - and my father's watch still runs to this day after 20 some years.
I digress, though this watch isn't a Seiko, you can bet that it still has quality. The two tone gold-titanium round case is complimented by a similar two-tone clasp bracelet - one which I might add is a bit on the thin side. No matter though as a local store was able to remove two links in order for it to fight my wrist.
The watch is remarkably light as it is titanium and is a delight to wear. It goes well with almost any look from casual to full out formal wear - even if you are suited and booted up for a special occasion. And thats why I love it. The fact that I can wear this every day and everywhere I go makes this gift all the more special.
Perhaps I should mention that the dial is very readable as the gold tone stands out from the white face and there is a small number indicating the date. But that to me isn't as important as how premium the watch actually feels.
I have no doubt that this will serve me well, not least for the fact that I do remember to take it off during the night, but also because it is by Seiko. It is an excellent gift for your loved one.
The Dreambox is essentially as its name implies. I got this box without doing the research and it resulted in a huge headache for me. I wasn't aware that I had to setup various plugins in order to view channels. Luckily I was able to draw on information online. These boxes come with its own operating systems and the one it came with to begin with was out dated and rather hard to work with.
Once I had done enough reading I decided to flash (which is legal) the operating system with a newer one from their official website. After that I had to spend a good few hours to figure out how to install the plugin to view channels.
As I learned how to get the basic functionality figured out, I wanted to try my Sky viewing card to view subscribed channels. Unfortunately, it just didn't work like that, I had to also install additional plugins in order for the box to read the Sky viewing card.
Great, so now I wanted to record and use the box like I would a Sky+ box. That too required more tinkering around and using additional tools in order get this feature working. Considering that there was no hard drive that came inside this box, I had to use an external USB device - which proved even more of a pain to configure. It had to be formatted and mounted onto the box before it could be used. However it did pretty much behave like a Sky+ box in the recording, playback, pause and rewind functions.
The other major headache was getting the electronic programming guide; I could never get that to work even though I had read, read and read some more about it. I just lost my patience and decided to use guides from the net instead of the box.
Once you do manage to get the box working to your liking, you can essentially use it as a media center as you can stream video to and from this box - for example if you want to watch a movie in another room on your iPad or if you have a movie on the computer you want to watch on the TV. There are also some amazing plugins for youtube and suchlike that allows you to search and watch youtube videos. There is also additional things like user interface skins that alters the look and feel of channel navigation.
Video playback is a lot sharper and brighter than a Sky+ box and I think for those who are familiar with these sort of boxes, it probably is entry level, but to me it was a whole lot of work and sometimes frustration.
I have been a Dreamweaver user since 2003 and although over the years I have shifted more towards hand coding everything, I still go back to Dreamweaver once in a while. I actually downloaded the trial version after having previously used Dreamweaver CS4.
It is essentially (from what my eye can tell) very much the same as the CS4 version although the user interface looks a little nicer.
In terms of usability, Dreamweaver is very straight forward as it is a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) web designer. Essentially it is very much like any word processing software in that whatever you type or element you add is exactly how it would turn out (in web pages).
Things like tables, AP divs, links, lists etc all can be created from the context menus. There is support for styelsheets for the more savy designer who wants more control over how the content looks but for the basics such as formatting text and adding links is very straight forward.
There is a persistent menu at the bottom which allows you to edit these things. However the problem I find (especially after having hand coded many sites) is that elements add unneeded HTML which can cause page load times to decrease. For example a simple unordered list can result in strange HTML.
For example for a normal unordered list I would type in item 1itemetc... if I were to hand code, whereas Dreamweaver would output (by selecting what items I want in a list) item 1item 2etc... - and as you can see it is a lot more code than what could have been achieved with fewer tags.
However for the novice who is just starting to learn to create web pages, Dreamweaver has all capabilities of creating splendid pages. There is even templates for various layouts - such as 2 column, 3 column, fluid etc for almost any type of page/site you wish to create.
There is also inbuilt FTP although I find the functionality lacking comparing a full fledged FTP software.
There are a range of printers available for Windows but what if your system is Linux? Not many printers have native Linux support and that can be a pain when you are looking for a printer for your next Ubuntu machine.
I have alongside my Windows 8 machine a Toshiba laptop running Ubuntu 14.04 and it just wouldn't work with my HP deskjet printer.
Many things are hard to install on Linux but this printer driver included was relatively simple - in fact very similar to installing on Windows. So it was very easy to setup.
The printer can be wired by USB serial or by LAN interface and if you want to use it on the network you want to use the LAN interface.
Be mindful of the fact that this is a duplex printer (can print on both sides of the sheet of paper) but it doesn't have scan or fax functionalities. It is simply a mono laser printer designed to produce decent quality prints (at around 1200 dots per inch) and at around 25 pages per minute.
I certainly found it to be fast for every day use - although it does require a second or two to warm up. But once it is in use it does produce fast prints. I haven't tested the exact number of pages per minute but I would guess it is definitely more than 15 ppm.
Also the included toner was very good and lasted many days of use. Further toners are cheap and I managed to replace it with one of those used (non Samsung) toner replacements which cost £27. The replacement toner is supposed to give 1000 pages but I found even when the toner is a bit low, you can get a few more pages out - although they look washed.
Definitely a good laser printer for the money and great support for those with Linux. However I forgot to mention it doesn't have wireless functionality so you have to be physically connected to the device in order to use it.
I was very much into photography many years back when pocket digital cameras were in fashion. I lost interest once I had sold it after just a month or two, but when I bought the Nikon D3100 I was in love with photography again.
The camera is pretty compact for a DSLR and over time I noticed it is a bit uncomfortable - even though there is rubberised padding to make a better grip. A lever on gives access to all the modes on the camera. These information as well the shooting information gets displayed on the lcd panel on the back of the camera which also acts like the viewfinder. Its a lot easier to use the LCD panel than the eye piece. Navigation between menu context is also easy.
Shooting is very good on this camera because the shutter speed is swift and the sound of clicking to take a picture is very satisfying. Pictures can be viewed immediately to see which one turned out well and considering the shutter speed - it allows for multiple pictures to be taken in quick succession.
Images produced or of great quality and printing the pictures results in an almost classical SLR photo - in fact I would say this camera produces sharper and brighter pictures because of its image processor.
The image processor also includes image stabilisation which is called the VR. It reduces a lot of the shakiness (especially of those who are serious coffee drinkers) and so helps the auto focus a lot more. The lens obviously allows for a greater manual focus and zooming and there are plenty of ISO modes to choose from. ISO 800 worked the best I think for most lighting conditions.
Unfortunately the camera doesn't a good enough video recording. Although it supports 1080p I don't think it stands up much to a camcorder and dare I say even the XPERIA Z2. However, having said that, I didn't buy the camera for recording videos and it is very capable of doing what it is primarily intended for - and that is to take brilliant pictures every time.
I picked up this laptop from DABS for £284.98 before a £10 discount was applied (September offer) which in my opinion is an absolute bargain. I looked around for other Intel Core i3 laptops at this price range and couldn't actually find one. As it is an i3 dual core CPU its actually a lot better then the Pentium and Celeron processors that are put in latops at this price range.
The laptop came with Windows 8.1 64bit preinstalled and just required a Microsoft account to setup a user. However I bypassed this by not connecting to a network and made a local account instead - which I think is a lot better than making a Microsoft account.
Straight away I could see that the laptop was fast. Programs loaded up quickly and normal activities like word, spreadsheets and web browsing is a breeze. The laptop is also very good on media playback as it can play 1080p without a stutter. The screen is also very good as it offers good brightness and contrast straight out of the box and viewing angles are very good - especially if you want to browse or watch a movie lying in your bed for example.
I found the laptop very able to handle a decent amount of gaming without any performance problems. I am a Dota 2 player and my desktop runs the game with max settings at full 120fps (the maximum limit). The laptop achieves around 40-60fps with medium settings which is actually very good considering that it is onboard graphics and does not have a dedicated graphics card inside.
Disappointing thing is that the laptop only has 4gb RAM - and although you don't notice it much, multitasking may become a problem in the long term. Also the laptop has no optical drive so you cant really watch DVDs or play audio cds. This isn't an issue for me as I use USB and external HD and I consider this a boost because it means that the laptop has a very slim profile and is 2kg which isn't really that bad to carry around.
I have had the phone since July and it has been the best phone I have used thus far. It has a large 5.2inch IPS LCD screen which produces great viewing angles and sharp, bright colours. Even with such a large screen the pixel density is great and you won't see any pixelation even when you zoom in to read text.
I was a little disappointed when I opened the packaging and there was no magnet charger included, but there were some fantastic headphones that have a great noise cancellation feature that only works with this handset. Essentially if you travel on the bus or train it blocks off background noise - its amazing on those long journeys.
Speaking of long journeys the 3200mAH battery is absolutely a solid performer. You can get more than a day out of it on heavy use and nigh on 4 days medium use (mostly phone calls). Comparing to my Galaxy S4 the Sony Xperia z2 wins on battery performance hands down.
The camera is just amazing. Auto mode pictures are crisp and clear and even night shot produces good results. However using the manual mode yields the best results and honestly I haven't seen a better camera on a phone. Video recording is also amazing as you get full 1080p HD and even 4k video. Unfortunately the 4k video recording is a bit buggy and I can't seem to record more than 5 minutes. That aside the full 1080p is without a flaw. There is image stabilization which reduces shake and roll even when walking (which the Galaxy S4 struggles with).
The dual speaker setup is also very clear for making and receiving phone calls but sometimes I think the audio sounds a bit thin.
Apparently this phone can be put under 1m of water although I have never tried it myself but if it is certified I think it would be a neat feature for taking the phone with you when you have a bath for example.
All in all this is a fantastic handset which runs on the Google Android operating system.
When one wants to build a pc system from the ground up the very foundation of a long lasting and healthy system is a good power supply unit.
There are plenty of cheap power supplies in the market and as such why would anyone want one that costs almost as much as some cpu? The simple answer is that for a healthy and durable system you need a power supply unit (psu) that isn''t likely to melt after the warranty has expired.
With that preface what sets the Seasonic psu apart is that although it is rated at 430w it actually performs much like a 600w psu and that too at over 80% efficiency.
Unlike the cheaper psu on the market this is actually built by the original equipment manufacturer (oem) Seasonic. The most important thing here is Seasonic are very well regarded and personally having used both the 430w and 520w units I can see exactly why.
However the 430w does lack a high amp rating on the most important part of a psu - the 12v rail. Even so because the Seasonic psu uses a single rail it is more than capable of even powering the latest intel haswell and and amd fx cpus.
This is ideal for a mid ranged gaming pc that has a single dedicated graphics card, a few hard drives and dvd/blue ray devices. My intel i3 build which was made 3 years ago used the Seasonic 430w psu and it is still working flawlessly cool and quiet like the first time I bought it.
I would highly recommend spending a little extra to get this psu instead of a cheaper make like CIT with psu rated at 600w. In the long run you will save more on energy due to the efficiency and reliability and the fact that Seasonic provides 5 year warranty more than makes up for the price.
What would you say to a CPU priced around Intel i5 range but performing like an intel i7? This question is especially pertinent to gamers who want that oomph factor to deliver solid gaming performance. I bought this part instead of an i5 3570k even though both could be bought for around 150. Purists would question my moving - considering that the i5 3570k is an unlocked cpu allowing for over clocking and the xeon 1240 is not.
However I was more interested in the fact that this is essentially an i7 processor without integrated graphics - meaning that although it cannot be over clocked, it can deliver hyperthreading for serious multi tasking; the intel i5 priced counterpart has no hyperthreading.
With additional technologies geared towards multitasking - which I won''t get into - requires a decent enough motherboard that supports xeon processors on the 1155 socket. This is a server cpu and therefore designed to run cool and quiet and I found the stock cpu cooler to be more than adequate at keeping temperatures at a reasonable level.
I paired this with an asrock motherboard which immediately recognised the cpu without problem. Once my system was completed with a gtx 760 and 8gb ram along with 128GB ssd I loaded windows and set about getting some real world performance figures.
As mentioned this cpu has hyperthreading which an intel i5 does not - the xeon can be compared more to an amd fx 8350 at a similar price range; the amd has a similar technology to hyperthreading in essence 4 cores and 8 threads. But what about the xeon? Well it has 4 cores and 4 threads - but make no mistake it blows the amd fx away.
The system rig I designed as setup for those looking to stream their gaming. This processor undoubtedly delivers 60 fps at ultra high settings on battlefield 4 and whilst streaming through open broadcaster at full 1080p. Dota 2 likewise is smooth without a single noticeable drop or stutter at 100fps whilst in heavy battle and streaming all at the highest possible quality.
Meanwhile I was running 3 virtual machines in the background simulating a client server test setup.
Make no mistake this is a workhorse of a processor that ploughs through the field like a hot knife through butter.
If you aren''t looking to over clock and wish build an intel Ivybridge system this cpu has everything you could want - intel i7 performance for the price of an i5.
Modern Warfare 3 was a game I was very much looking forwards to; being a staunch fan of Modern Warfare 2. However, I was already left with a bitter taste thanks to Black Ops and I don't think I recovered.
Here I was thinking Modern Warfare 3 would bring forth the evolution of the series, but sadly, this wasn't the case. I cannot tell you how good or bad the storyline mode is, because that is what I skip, but I can tell you how poor the multiplayer is.
I must however say how thankful I am that unlike Black Ops, you can actually go into a game with your friend and still be on the same team. There are a couple of new guns but nothing that feels like it being the best to use. Killstreaks aren't ver imaginative and I would rather prefer Black Ops ones believe it or not.
The maps are very open; you can get taken down from anywhere as often enemies will end up spawning behind you. I find this utterly ridiculous especially when you are playing Domination mode. Getting flanked is all too common and even more common is the non stop grenades that get thrown. The maps are a bit larger than Black Ops but not as big as MW2 and as a result the grenade fest is just a game breaker for me.
Grenade Launching however has been toned down as Scavanger does not give you additional launchers. Nor does it give you additional claymores/grenades tec. Thankful for that, otherwise the constant grenading would be worsened tenfold.
Some of the old perks are removed and some renamed; some new ones are introduced which make zero sense.
In all seriousness, if you already have the game you probably binned it, otherwise if you are contemplating on buying, just don't.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab is a tablet computer running off Android and features a wide variety of technologies that sets it apart from the IPAD.
Firstly, the tablet is very light due to the plastic frame it is made with. Unfortunately, this also makes it feel rather cheap but there is absolutely no problem with the build quality. It comes with a 16GB built in memory and also supports up to 32GB microSD flash memory. If you buy the 32GB version, this gives you a total 64GB. However, 48GB combined is a decent amount of memory for a wide ranged of usage needs.
The best features of this tab is Bluetooth and Wi-Fi which allows you to roam around the house or in wi-fi hotspots and use the net for browsing, streaming and whatever else you may do. The Galaxy tab also comes with other highspeed mobile technologies like HSDPA but I don't use those as much due to the fact that its mostly used at home or office.
Samsung Galaxy tab comes with a 7inch screen that features a 1024x600 resolution which is very good; the colours are sharp and clear and the icons are of decent size. Android OS virtually the phone version with minor changes which includes Samsungs own apps.
Applications are easily available to download or buy due to the growing android app market. Many free apps are absolutely brilliant. In fact, the hit game Angry Birds can be played for free when you install Chrome on the tab. Obviously the apps aren't as robust or refined as the Apple iPad but there is always something that you are looking for.
Using the tab to browse, email and carry out tasks like word proccessing is easy due to the touch screen being sensitive. However, it isn't as fine tuned as the iPad; sometimes you have to carry out more than one touch to carry out a task. On the whole though it is responsive enough to get things done.
The OS is very user friendly and has menus clearly sorted out to cater for various aspects of using the 48GB is a lot of space and you can store photos, documents videos and a good amount of them. Which reminds me, video playback is very decent and watching movies on the tab isn't a problem.
Android 2.2 is the standard OS it ships with, you can upgrade it by flashing the ROM (I've updated the review). Essential apps are Chrome (or you could run Firefox) for browsing, Thunderbird for emails, I also run BBC News app - these are all available for free. The best free app is Kindle. Not only does this allow you to buy books from Amazon, but you can also write and preview it if you wish to self publish on Amazon.
There are default social media apps for Facebook, Twitter and also apps for gmail. Also included is a media player, although I ended up installing VLC media player. Thats the great thing about the android platform is that there are so many good quality apps available for free.
As per the camera, its decent; nothing spectacular but it can record videos at 720p. I am not a fan of the cam but if you want to snap pictures on the go, it will take good pictures but don't expect amazing results.
Battery life is pretty average lasting a day or two between charges depending on how you use it. I do a lot of reading on the go and the tab has native support for PDF. Reading is easy on the eye due to the text being sharp and clear with the good amount of resolution.
Very pleased with the product, but the iPad is still king.
Gaming enthusiasts will be aware how important sound is to games espcially when it comes to first person shooters. Most computers have onboard sound cards but they aren't always good at picking up the little details of many games for example footsteps.
There are many expensive sound cards available that gamers will use, but to be honest, a mid ranged sound card can achieve a very good audio experience.
Asus aren't well known for making sound cards, but it is a brand that I know and trust, so I went for this mid ranged card as opposed to a Creative Soundblaster. The Xonar D boasts 24bit 192kHZ sound that has a decibel rating of 107. It also features a 7.1 channel surround sound. These are technical jargon that probably wont matter much, especially if like me, you use headsets.
So what are the requirements to use this sound card? Your motherboard probably already meets it - you will need a free PCI slot. On my system, in order to use it, I had to disable the onboard sound from the BIOS settings - this may not be required. It really depends on your BIOS so it helps to be aware of this.
Once the card is placed and the sound drivers are installed, load up your favourite game and you can immediately hear the difference. Sounds are much clearer, sharper and feel more accurate. Footsteps for example in MW3 feel as though they are actually in the real world and you can sense the direction easily. Not only does this enchance your awareness but it also helps you to be ready for that killshot or that flank. Your tactics can be changed simply with being able to hear out for things which would normally not be heard on an onboard sound device.
Many times I was even accused of cheating because I was always able to anticipate enemy movement and ready myself. As surprising as it may be, sound does make you a better gamer, especially with first person shooters.
In terms of other playback, well needless to say that everything is a lot clearer. I mean listening to music and comparing it to onboard sound you can pretty much make out the huge improvement in audio quality - especially if the music is high def. Similarly movie playback experience is also boosted.
The audio drivers come with a variety of features ranging from sound environment settings, equalizer and a plethora of other settings which is tiresome to write about.
Personally speaking, Asus here have a good sound card, although it still probably lacks compared to more expensive Creative cards.
Sapphire are the premeir AMD/ATI manufacturer and once again they haeve made an excellent card here. However this is actually a 6750 if you go by old naming format ATi used. With that said, what can you expect inside the package?
Sapphire box the card in a small packaging so I must give them props for using as little cardboard as possible. What you get inside is a smallish sized graphics card in an anti-static bag along with 2 DVI/VGA adapters, driver disc and a Crossfire cable.
The card is actually quite beautiful with a simple Sapphire logo in the middle of a large fan that sits atop the alluminium heatsink. It comes with 2 HDMI ports and a onventional DVI port. The dual HDMI ports allow you to use up to two monitors if you like using multi-displays.
Typically the card is a dual slot cooling solution so does take up a bit of space but in terms of its length, it is quite small compared to larger and more powerful cards. What sort of system can you expect to use it in? Well that really depends on how much gaming and what sort of media needs you have.
In terms of its gaming performance, it will handle Battlefield 3 and MW3, but around the 40fps mark. That isn't so bad however it does mean you really can't crank up the details in terms of anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering. However I daresay that this card will be ideal for the upcoming Valve game Counter Strike Global Offensive - and that is because this card handles Source engine games beautifully. CS GO is a modified Source engine game currently in beta and will be hitting the shelves soon. CS gamers will find that the card can manage around 50 to 60FPS. I've only managed to play against bots in a 5v5 scenario, however the servers will support more than 32 players and I can't tell at this time how that will affect performance.
The 512GB of RAM is sufficient to handle hi-res textures and this would also make the card very good for Guild Wars 2 which is also coming soon. In terms of its thermal output - it is very good and sits between 40 to 50 degrees. It is also very good on the ear as it is barely audible. Sapphire always manage to somehow make cards that are quiet.
Modern generations f graphics cards render color and graphics similarly so nothing worthy of mention there. So for a sub £90 card, this actually is a very good performer and is ideal for light gamers or if you just need a little more oomph to do a bit of rendering and what not.
I've had this E7 for quite a while but I recently sold it off. The phone resembles the first generation of Xperia by Sony. When I first used the phone the spring mechanism to pull out the touch screen and reveal the keypad it felt really solidly made. However over time the spring mechanism doesn't really feel like it did the first time. Over time it has developed a score/scratch where the spring load mechanism meets the back panel of the screen.
E7 is quite a bulky phone and is one of the things to be disliked about the phone since the depth is quite substantial making the phone really thick compared to many other smartphones around at the time.
Anyways the E7 uses Symbian OS and its practically teh same as the other and older phones by Nokia which is always good. The learning curve of using the phone isn't so big so you are instantly familiar with user menus, settings and various phone items.
The screen is quite good and is responsive but I felt that at times that it wasn't registering my touch very well. It is quite large but the viewing angle isn't that good especially in direct sunlight. For a small resolution the colours are pretty good and vibrant.
There are the usual applications that come with Symbian phones as well as some new Nokia apps like Nokias navigation app but the main problem with the phone is the lack of apps compared to an Android phone. However if you use the phone for calling and doing a little browsing, emailing etc then this is perfectly a fine phone.
Sound quality is very good for on both fronts. And the 8mpx camera along with its LED flash light performs well; although the pictures aren't that great but its not what I used the phone for.
One of the unique features about the phone is the HDMI port which I don't know why Nokia bothered with. Till date I haven't bothered using this and I can't figure out why I would. The other ports however are very handy such as the standard full size audio jack.
The power button is large for thumb or finger and acts as a unlock button when the screen is locked. Pressing it long enough of course brings the phone to shut down or to switch on.
For me the outstanding quality of the phone is the candybar look with a solid sense of build quality behind it. However I when it comes to slider phones, I still prefer the Xperia.
I drove this car when I was getting my license and I will always remember it as a good car. The thing about the Rover 600 is that the bodywork and chassis is a Honda and the engine is Rover.
It was actually built in the UK Honda plant. This may be a reason as to why it felt good. I mean the interior has a bit of wood and is a bit class in that regards. There are electric windows with auto toggles and locks next to the gear box.
The being a 2 litre engine felt good to drive as the pick up was a satisfactory one. Gear changes were equally pleasing and the gearstick was also very decent especially compared to the Rover 400. Rear leg room isn't particularly pleasing as it does feel a little cramped for space but the boot size sufficiently large for those trips to the airport.
Overall the car was very god as it drove well on normal roads and the highway but unfortunately the car failed on the head gasket. The Rover 600 was known for faulty head gaskets and we were affected by this too. Finding a replacement was nigh on impossible so a trade in was the best thing to do.
If it wasn't for the head gasket, I wouldn't mind still driving this car.