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The Sony BDP S370 is easily the most popular player on the consumer market right now. I work in Currys and these players are flying out the door more than any others. There are higher models of this similar range such as the S470, S570 and S770, but honestly they are not worth the extra unless you are seriously considering upgrading to 3D.
The S370 features the now-standard 2.0 Profile allowing you to connect to BD Live, as well as stream videos through numerous apps such as YouTube and LoveFilm. This is a nice addition from the predecessors but will require a fairly decent internet connection, otherwise you may get frustrating buffering issues. The player is not wireless like the aforementioned models so will required to be plugged into the router with an ethernet connection if you want to use the internet. Whether this is important is up to you; I personally stream videos very rarely, and BD Live has probably been used once! If you feel these features are significant then you may want to consider investing in the S570.
Loading times are quick and the machine is pleasingly quiet. I would say it's about on par with the PS3 as a Blu-Ray player and playback boasts brilliant picture and audio quality, as you would expect from Sony. If you have a Sony Bravia TV then the remote will also have both functions, which is a useful addition.
Overall, it's obvious why this player is so popular at the moment and is perfectly suited to someone new to Blu-Ray, looking for their first future proof player.
Paco Rabanne's One Million has to be the most original smelling fragrance I've used. Some argue that it is quite feminine, which admittedly is somewhat true, but not to any alarming extent! The scent is very sweet and pungent. You certainly don't need to spray a lot on to get the desired amount and it lasts for a significant period of time. I personally wouldn't call this a day fragrance as it's not light but has an almost spicy-leather scent; far more suited for night. Quite heavy and bold, but not overwhelming or uncomfortable. The balance is perfect.
What first attracted me to the fragrance, as I'm sure others also fell for the great marketing, was the design of a gold bar which stands out significantly. The majority of it is metal so feels heavy and looks (and smells) expensive. I also recommend getting the fragrance and body wash set because it is packaged in a large gold bar imitating the regular fragrance.
The regular 50ml version costs around £30 usually, which is a very fair price considering how long it will last you. Personally, I think this is the best fragrance currently on the market and haven't changed since discovering it.
The Sennheiser HD 238 headphones are designed for use on the go with a supra-aural, compact and portable-friendly build. They are, contradictorily, open back however, meaning that sound will leak. The positive from this is that, in my opinion, the sound is wider and airy rather than claustrophobic with no ambient noises. They are also extremely light and can be worn for extensive periods of time with minimal decline in comfort.
I was not expecting a great deal in the audio quality department from a pair of relatively entry level portables and they didn't blow me away, but were certainly impressive for their price tag. Lows are very low; and for me; too low. The bass occasionally overwhelms the entire song but can also be complimentary; take Dead Prez's 'Hip Hop' intro for example, which almost shook the headphones off my head. Bassheads, take note!
The highs are where these portables really shine. I was thoroughly pleased by their liveliness and crispness, adding to the effect of fairly noticeable instrument separation. The highs are admittedly not as precise as higher models, especially at higher volumes, but they serve the headphones well.
If you're looking for some comfortable portables with solid audio quality and a very affordable price tag then the 238s are most definitely a big contender and significantly out do their predecessor (the 228s).
First and foremost, I will jump straight into a huge benefit of the Sennheiser HD555s; the comfort. These are quite easily the most comfortable headphones I've ever owned or even worn. The padding is extremely plush and inviting, allowing you to wear them for hours on end without any discomfort whatsoever. The band is also not too tight, like the HD205s, providing a snug and agreeable fit.
Although important, I of course did not pick the 555s for this alone. The audio quality is far superior to previous products I've used. Looking back, I can't believe I used to listen to my iPod with the default Apple earphones! These are full size circumaural headphones and so fit around your ears rather than pressing into them - this not only gives a fantastic soundstage but again, adds to the outstanding comfort.
The 555s are open back. This essentially means that noise will leak, and it does. If this is a problem for you, e.g. you are purchasing them for use in the office, then I would most definitely recommend looking for closed headphones. However, you will most likely have to pay more to get the equivalent sound quality as the open 555s.
Above all, the clarity is what stood out the most for me. I was pleased they were not too bass-heavy and overall, they are certainly generous value for money when entering the audiophile market. One additional note I will add is that if you want to further improve the soundstage, there is a mod to essentially upgrade these to its older brother; the 595s.
As many advantages as Sony's DualShock 3 controller boasts, it unfortunately has just as many disadvantages, if not more.
The pad is noticeably light and thus comfortable to hold for extended periods of time. The surface also has a soft-touch coat which is non-slip and extremely smooth. The most attractive feature however is the very responsive D-Pad. Each button is separated well and once pushed, it seems solid and reliable.
In the bottom centre is the PS button which is basically Sony's Xbox Guide button from the 360. It allows you to open up the dashboard to view messages, your profile, settings, friends (if you're connected to PSN) and so forth. If held down you can choose to turn the controller or console off and this can also be used to turn the PS3 on.
The two stark disappointments in design are the triggers and analog sticks. Both are convex causing consistent slipping and the need for additional accessories such as 'Real Trigger' attachments and "FPS Freeks'. Microsoft chose a concave design which is far superior - there is no slipping and it certainly adds to a more enjoyable experience in trigger-heavy games such as shooters and racers. Furthermore, I personally do not like having parallel analog sticks and would prefer the D-Pad and left analog stick to be switched over.
Overall, the DualShock 3 has some great features such as vibration combined with the SIXAXIS function, however, the cons outlined above overshadowed them in my opinion and caused continued discomfort. If you don't mind parallel sticks and convex designs are not a big deal then you may very well find the pad pleasant.
To date the Xbox 360 controller holds, in my opinion at the very least, the most superior design. Owning both a PS3 and a 360 the differences in the controllers have become starkly apparent, with Microsoft's subtle alterations proving to be worthwhile.
Let's commence with the layout. Microsoft place the left analog stick in the top left, above the D-Pad. The sticks are therefore not parallel providing an extremely comfortable grip. The surfaces of the analog sticks are concave as well as including four rubber grips to further support your thumbs. Logically, the triggers are also concave allowing your fingers to rest without slipping.
In the top centre is the ever-important Guide button. When pressed, it opens a window allowing for a variety of different options - essentially, it is a control panel for the 360. From there you can go to your friends list, change settings, edit your profile, view your achievements, redeem codes and so on. Furthermore, the button also acts as an indicator. If you are player one, a light in the top left quadrant will light up; if player two, you will be in the top right quadrant. If your battery is low, all four quadrants will flash intermittently as an easily noticeable reminder.
Above all, the shape and weight of the controller is fundamental to its success. Rather than trying to slim it down, or decrease too much weight, Microsoft provided a "solid" feel. It fills the curves of your hands perfectly, while not seeming flimsy.
The controllers are available in both wireless and wired as well as a huge range of colours and designs such as Halo Reach, Fable III and Call of Duty themed ones, to name a few. It's worth mentioning that wireless ones obvoiusly need a battery pack on the back, whereas the wired ones do not. Hence, the wired controllers are arguably more comfortable as there is nothing blocking your fingers at the back.
As far as I'm aware the iPod Classic range holds the title for most memory with both 80GB and 160GB versions available.
Compared to the Touch and Nano models, the Classic is notably thicker and approximately 40g heavier than the Fourth Generation Touch. However, whether this is a disadvantage depends on your preferences. If memory size is of upmost important (as it is for myself) then opting for a Touch could be a bleak move due to the very limited storage space. Therefore, the sacrifice of a larger player may be bearable. I personally like the sturdiness of the model; the build quality feels high and it's comfortable to hold.
The Classic has the Cover Flow feature which, instead of scrolling down a list of text, means you can flick through album covers. When you choose an album it reverses and displays the track list. This is a stylish addition and operates smoothly with the scroll wheel.
I'm not entirely certain what the general consensus is regarding the reliability of Apple products, but my experience with the Classic 80GB has been thoroughly pleasant. Mine is three years old now and working as flawlessly as it did on first arrival. I do, however, recommend buying a silicone skin to protect the mirrored surface on the back from damage and of course to prevent any fall damage. The new matte texture finish (including the scroll wheel) in black or silver was a very appreciated change, instead of the gloss from previous generations that were highly susceptible to scratching.
If you're looking for an all-round media device to additionally watch videos, upload photos and play games, rather than solely play music, then the Classic is likely not the right decision. If you're a little unimpressed by apps and movies on a portable audio device, like myself, then the Classic is right down your street. This is a music player - it has endless memory, a durable design and music-focused features. In my opinion, this (and the 160GB model) are the most capable on the market for that job.
I first picked up a copy of The Queen Is Dead at the innocent age of 15 and still own that same compact disc to this day. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that purchase would rapidly dilute all other bands' attractiveness; throwing them in the background for one year shy of a decade in what can only be described as a (healthy) borderline obsession.
Succeeding their sole Number One UK album, Meat Is Murder, and the ever intriguing introduction, their eponymously named debut, The Queen Is Dead had nothing short of a mountain to climb. Somehow, not only did the four match their predecessors in sheer brilliance but also surpassed them.
The opening title track starts with a soundbite from The L-Shaped Room before a scathing Morrissey haunts the track with his groaning bitterness, reminding us that life is long when you're lonely between rushed and excited guitar from Marr and a lengthy (yet absorbing) outro - preparing us for the catchy and bouncing bassline of "Frankly, Mr Shankly". Peppered with witty insults towards the music industry he wants to make his dent in and stepping into the controversial, but for some agreeable, territrory of religion with the unforgettable "I'd rather be famous than righteous or holy, any day, any day, any day".
The album jumps from one outstanding gem to another. Marr's delicate riffs consistently and flawlessly complementing Morrissey's vocals. An apt example being one of my undoubted favourites; "Cemetry Gates" (yes that is a mistake from the Moz Father!). Surprisingly from it's title; the track is immediately alive and jaunty, unveiling a cleverly paradoxical message to its keen listeners. Rourke really shines here and holds the rhythm together throughout with a simple and intermittent bassline.
Morrissey continues his (in)famous combination of cruel but kind with "Bigmouth Strikes Again", Marr strums a dainty jingle in the background with vocals prominent above all, and Joyce puts his stamp on the song with appropriately balanced flare.
The penultimate track on the list, and arguably their most renowned, is a sweeping, unhurried venture into the familiar yet strangely oxymoronic depths of love. Morrissey profoundly claims in powerful and forlorn vocals the privilege to "die by your side" which if anything, certainly proves his vocal abilities, let alone his innate lyrical aptitude.
Morose, nostalgic, enthralling, cynical, blissful and sharp-witted; The Queen Is Dead truly captures every emotion, frequently juxtaposing, and exhibiting the musical prowess of this ever-influential band in a ten-track magnum opus.
The Sennheiser HD 205 headphones were my second purchase from the Sennheiser audio range; the first being the exceptionally modestly priced CX 500 earphones.
First and foremost I will address the unanimous complaint amongst owners of these headphones; the size. If you have a larger than average (or possibly just average) sized head then these may unfortunately feel a little too snug for comfort. I assume my head is a little under average in size because they are extremely pleasant to wear - even for extended periods of music listening or video game playing. Two tricks I have come across are to either use an object, such as a stack of appropriately sized books to help stretch out the headphone band or, a more long-term but inevitably more risky solution of warming the band whilst simultaneously stretching to the desired size.
These are closed back headphones which therefore reduce ambient noise and also prevent you from becoming a disturbance to those around you (especially useful for use in the office). For the price, like the aforementioned CX 500s, the sound quality is surprisingly high. Combined with low distortion, music is seldom, if ever, interrupted. I personally felt the bass was fairly heavy, so may suit the Dub Step and Hip Hop listeners amongst us, but trebles are equally crisp-clear and the fantastic "3D" sound is immersive... and addictive! Feeling like you're in the recording studio rather than barely hearing what's coming through your Apple earphones is an upgrade everyone should indulge in.
The HD 205s actually feel more sturdy and less prone to damage than my HD 555s. Although a far lower price, the build quality is reassuring, most definitely for those who use headphones frequently on the go.
Overall, it's pleasingly difficult to fault Sennheiser (as per usual) with the 205s. For this price range, they are an incredibly generous offering and one that should be snapped up by any headphone-searching consumers out there.