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We wanted a nice radio / CD player for our kitchen as we often like to listen to music whilst cooking and washing up. We spent ages looking around for a decent one before we finally came across the Pure Chronos CD Series II. The initial attraction to the radio was the look. It is triangular which is unusual for a cd player. The unit is available it black or white, classic colour which should go with any decor, so we decided to go for the black version.
The sound quality is excellent considering the size of it. The radio is DAB/FM and provides crystal clear music, however I believe this will depend on the area you live and the quality of signal you are able to get. We mainly use the player for CDs and again it works very well in this regard. The volume can we adjusted with a large knob on the front and can get to very loud levels. There are 8 other buttons on the front of the unit which control settings, menu, alarms etc. These are very rarely used as the player is very easy to use and does most things automatically. The main purpose is the ability to navigate between radio stations.
The player has a bright display that displays information about what you are listening to. It is also used to display the time when you are not listening to music. The player can also be used as an alarm clock, which whilst we have never used it, is quite a handy function. The display can be adjusted to various levels of brighness.
The unit claims to be eco friendly and has a reduced power setting which supposedly uses less energy than other cd players. The unit has a remote control which is also a nice feature if you wish to change the song without having to get up.
The unit has the capability to be connected to an ipod or mp3 player and act as speakers. The unit is very easy to set up, we managed to do so without the need of the instructions. Just took it out the box, plugged it in and started palying music!
We picked up the radio from amazon for around £80 but after a recent check i have seen it can purchased for only £70 which is a great price for such an excellent piece of kit.
The photocopier / printer is often one of the most important pieces of kit in an office. We had an old Sharp that went completely bonkers and had to be ditched. We decided it was time to condense all of out printing from 4 different printers down to just the one. Upon looking we discovered there is a ridiculous amount of choice out there and the average contract length for such machines are often around 5 years so you want to be sure it's the right machine for you before you jump right in a sign the contract. Companies will thrown incentives at you to choose them over the competition, I was even offered a free 32" JVC TV to go with one particular company, but do not be fooled and go with a company just for a good prize. We chose Danwood in the end as we has known them for years. We also managed to haggle the price down by over £100 to around £280 per quarter. This covers the lease of the machine and toner etc. You will have to pay a price per print which is also negotiable at the time the contact is signed, the costs do add up and it certainly is not a cheap piece of kit to own.
The brilliant thing about the Xerox is the variety of features it has. The machine prints in black and white and full colour on A3 and A4 paper. The print quality is amazing, with colours being bright and vivid and bing very little leakage or ink (although paper quality also affects this). The cost per print is always higher for the colour, around 8 times higher, so try to print in B&W where possible. The machine will photocopy All documents under A3 size. The speed and which it copies is fantastic. If you have a large 100 page document you just place it in the top slots and the entire document will automatically fed through and copied in not time at all. There is also the traditional method of placing one sheet at a time on the glass panel. The copies are very quick an such good quality it is difficult to tell the difference between the copy and the original. The scanning function is also brilliant. You can load up email addresses into the machines contact book and have scanned documents emailed directly to the accounts. This is very handy in a office environment.
The unit has the capability of have a use memory key plugged directly in and information extracted. Whilst we have not used this it is a nice feature to have. The machine is very easy to use and has a nice bright colour display. The display it touch screen which is a very nice feature. There is a key pad and several other buttons which are used to navigate between screen or to select special functions. The machine has an automatic sleep moed to save energy and will go to sleep after a few minutes but is very quick to 'wake up'.
The model has lots of additional extras which you can buy but we kept to the basic model. There are two paper feeder draws, one A4 and one A3 which both have a section for storing paper as well the and feeder section.
The toner is very easy to replace and lasts our office a few months each. The machine is on casters so can be moved around fairly easily but weighs a tone so would be difficult to get up or down stairs without special tools.
All in all the machine is fantastic. We have cut back from 4 printers and a scanner to just the one machine.
For Christmas my Dad for a fancy Canon Digital SLR camera as he loves photography and is trying to properly 'get into it'. I could not afford anywhere near the price of the camera so instead got him a few accessories for it, including 2 memory cards. It is highly recommended to buy 2 smaller memory cards instead of one big one as it has been known that cards can break / go faulty thus loosing all your photos (so hence why its better to spread the over 2 cards). I came across the PNY Class 10 Professional 8GB SD Card (after being recommended the make by a friend and PC world workers). I was no way going to buy the card from PC World as they were well over charging prices. Once I got all the information I wanted from the guys at PC World, I went home and ordered from amazon.
The card came only a few days after ordering and was securely packaged. The card is well packaged and looks pretty good when boxed up. The card comes in a little storage plastic box (as most SD cards) which is securely fastened to apiece of card with all the advertising jargon on it.
The card is a standard SD card size and should work with most digital cameras. It works at 20MB/s (133X) which is apparently the optimum performance for SLR cameras. The memory card is ideal for capturing HD photos and videos. The card has a storage size of 8gb. Whilst now days crads can store 100's of gb's as mentioned earlier I am a bit weary of storing large amounts of photos and videos on just one card. As the camera is not used a huge amount we only have 2 cards and tend to use one for videos and one for photos which seems to work quite well (and due to the fact that an SLR camera needs a carry case etc its not extra effort to carry a spare card or two). The 8gb version will hold a decent amount of photos but it depends what quality the photo is that will determine just how many you can store on the card.
The card is very quick and allows photos to be saved almost instantly which is perfect for wildlife or 'action' photography which require lots of pictures to be taken quickly in order to capture the perfect moment.
I bought the card just before Christmas for only £8.50 which was a bargain compared to the £25 PC World was charging for the exact same make and model. However after just looking it can now be picked up for £7.25 from amazon or £19.99 in stores.
To top everything off the card comes with a 5-year warranty!!! Whilst this will not help recover lost photos and memories it shows the confidence PNY have in their product. We have had no problems to date with the card and it seems very reliable (after a fair amount of usage)
I am a massive fan of old school games, especially the like of Mario and Donkey Kong. When I heard that a new version was coming out for the wii I figured it was a must have. I went out and bought the game a few week after release and instantly was glad I did, becoming pretty addicted within the first couple of levels.
The new version is virtually identical to the original gameboy version. The original was a 2D, black and white side scrolling platform game. The new version is the same but with massively improved visuals. The game plays just like the original. You control Donkey Kong and have to run left to right across the screen collecting bananas and other puzzle pieces whilst avoiding random enemies which are out to try and stop you.
The game looks fantastic with bright, rich colours creating a brilliant levels.
The game can be played single or multi player. In co-op mode one person will take control of Donkey Kong whilst the other will be Diddy Kong. The game plays virtually the same in single and multi player with a few small additions being added for multi player.
There is a huge variety of levels. The game is split into 8 worlds, each with its own theme. You start off in the Jungle world but there is an ocean world (beach), volcanic world, ruins, cliff and more. . This provides a good level of variety and keeps the game fresh.
The game has held its value and still costs around the £35 mark. Whilst this is expensive the game is fantastic and has a lot of replay value
We needed a couple of small table lamps, one for our desk and the other for a bed side table. We didn't want to spend a fortune so decided to check out places like Argos and Tesco to see what they had available. Most of the lamps we saw were far too big for out needs, the smaller the better for us. We saw this pair of lamps in argos for about £10 (for the pair) and decided they looked like a pretty good deal.
We got the lamps home and unboxed them. The lamps come in two parts, the lamp base unit and the shade. They are well packaged in small card boxes. We decided to go for the cream however they are available in a variety of colours, including red, brown (chocolate), blue, purple etc. The lamp base is a smallish ceramic oval shape which looks nice. The lamp stand at just under 30cm which a perfect size for a bed side lamp. The shade is the same colour as the lamp and the overall look/style is great when the lamp is switched on or off.
There is a switch half way along the power cable which can be used to turn the lamp on and off which is handy. The power cable is a decent length, but you would not be able to put it across the other side of the room to a power socket. It is designed to be near a power socket. We use energy saving bulbs (7w I believe) which are not included (as with the majority of lamps that are for sale).
The lamps give off a nice level of light (although this also depends on the type of bulb you use) and again are perfect to use next to a bed for a reading light.
All in all I was very happy with our purchase. We have been using the lamps for around 6 months now and even though they were only £5ish each they have not failed us yet. We use them everyday and would certainly recommend them.
We have recently has a new batch of phones delivered and set up in the office. The mitel 5312 IP phones seems to be pretty common amongst offices (it's the batch that BT tend to recommend) but is not a practical phone for home use.
The first thing you notice about the phone is that there are a lot of buttons and the face of the unit its pretty big yet I feel it looks quite good. The phone takes a bit of getting used to as it has such a huge range of functions. We had a guy who set the phones up give us an explanation of the basic functions and I would recommend you do the same if you purchase these phones.
The unit has the standard number buttons as well at 10 special function buttons. There are also 12 other buttons which are used access other lines or extensions. There are the basic functions such as hold, redial, volume control, voicemail etc. There are pretty much standard on all office phones. However the MItel has additional features which makes it stand out from our previous phones. There is night service activation mode which allows the phone to automatically play prerecorded message to anyone that calls and diverts them straight to the voicemail box, which is very handy to set during breaks such as Christmas. There is also a call forward button which allows all calls to automatically be diverted to a mobile of different number, which has also proved very useful.
The phone has a large screen which constantly displays the time and date and has a blue back light. When someone calls their number is displayed on the screen which I find very useful. It is also very handy for if a call is missed or you forgot to take someone's number as you can scroll back through the call history and recover it (just like a mobile). You are able to create and address book so when someone calls their name will appear on the screen, but we have not tried to set this up yet so cannot comment on its reliability or usability. I have been informed that the phones can be used for VOIP (calls made via the internet) but have no idea how this works, we use it as a normal, everyday phone.
Once of the huge benefits of the phone is that you do not need a separate power connection. The power and the connection is made through the same LAN cable which makes it easy to move about and it cuts back on the amount of wires scattered under the desk.
The sound quality is very good in general (obviously the other end also has an impact on this) and the volume of the call can be altered which is handy as some people are painfully quiet on the phone. However this is common place on most phones so nothing to get particularly excited about.
The headpiece of the phone is a good size and fits well in the hand. The cable is a bit short but for me this is a good thing as means less clutter on my desk.
This is a great phone for the office. I have only covered basic functions but we only use it as a basic phone. We pay monthly for the phones so cannot give you an exact price but deals can be made, especially with BT who we went through.
After my girlfriend and I moved into our flat we decided to get a few lamps for the living room as there was only one main lighting unit which did not provide adequate lighting for the entire room, especially when reading etc. We went to argos and wanted something cheap and cheerful that worked well. We saw the argos value floor lamps and thought we would give them a go.
We bought 2 for £11.99 which was an incredible price. The lamps come in a fairly small box considering their size and do require a bit of assembly. The main pole is split into five sections which screw together fairly easily. The pole then screws into a pretty heavy base which is pretty good quality. The 'shade' then sits on the top, finishing the unit off quite nicely.
We use energy saving bulbs in the lamp which provide a decent level of light but not as good as a traditional bulb (which most people would agree with) but as they are better for the environment and last around 5 or so years they are worth the compromise. The lamp had a UK plug which is attached to a pretty short cable. It is not a problem for us as we wanted to place them near power sockets anyway but it could be an issue if you wanted to place them a distance away. Along the cable is a switch which allows the light to be turned off/on. This is handy as it means you can leave the lamps plugged in but can switch it off when its not needed. The pole also has a clip which you can clip with wire to the pole, keeping it looking neat and tidy.
As stated the lamps work very well and look okay but the pole is not very sturdy. It tends to lean to one side and this is probably down to the height and the fact that the pole is so skinny. The lamp stands at about 6ft give of take which is a nice height but does mean it's a bit 'wobbly'.
All in all you get what you pay for with these lamps. They look nice and work well but up close you can tell they are a bit cheap.
I recently bought House of the Dead for the wii as it's a great old school game I remember playing when I was a kid. To go with the game I wanted to get a plastic gun case to use in conjunction with the wii remote.
The main purpose of the gun it to case the official wii remote and allow the game to be played like an official arcade version. It is like the wii steering wheel in the sense that it is to be used in addition to the wii remote and is only on certain games.
The unit it well designed and allows for the wii remote to be clipped in and removed very easily. The case holds the remote very securely and I have never experienced the remote falling out. The main remote clips onto the body of the gun with the nun-chuck being secured to the handle. The trigger works well and never fails to hit the correct button on the remote giving a reliable response.
The gun is not essential to play these sort of first person shooters but I would recommend getting one as it makes playing the gun a lot more fun. There is a huge variety of games available on the wii that are compatible with the gun so you will not be restricted to just the one game, and if this is the sort of genre you enjoy playing than it's a no brainer.
I managed to pick up the gun for only £4.99 as it was half price in a sale at Gamestation. For that price I am glad I got it. Despite me liking the unit I have only actually used it a hand full of times as I do not play the wii too often but non the less am glad I got it.
I bought it in white (despite having a black consol and remote) as it was the only colour they had in stock. I believe it ids also available in black as well as other colours. If this particular unit is not available there are dozens to choose from, all of which do virtually the same thing.
With Skype becoming ever popular I decided it was time to jump on the wagon and get Skype. I have used it several times at home and have to admit it is pretty cool, especially when using it to call people abroad and can even be used on smart phones. Anyway....we recently created an account at work so we could save costs when calling some colleagues abroad and hence the purchase of the Sennheiser PC36 Headset.
We ordered the headset from Amazon for £26.00 with free delivery, which I thought was a bargain, especially considering Senheiser is such a great brand. Having just checked now on Amazon I can see the headset has almost doubled in price to £49, so feel pretty happy with the price I managed to get it for. The headphones cam promptly and were well packaged. Upon opening the package you can see there is an installation disk, some leaflets and the headset itself. Being a bloke I didn't bother reading how to set anything up and just went right ahead and plugged it in, ignoring the disk an manuals. As it turns out the set up in surprisingly easy, as you would assume it should be, being advertised as a plug and play device. The set works well with Macs and PCs which is very handy and Apple can often be funny with hardware and software that isn't their own.
The first time the headset was used was for a Skype call and it worked brilliantly. The sound quality was great and the moth piece is well positioned. The set is light weight and comfortable to will be suitable for any long conversations. The head band can be adjusted to fit accordingly.
Whilst the headset works perfectly and is a practical device I don't believe it's the best looking on the market. It does not look expensive but I am not bother by the aesthetics, it's a practical tool rather than a fashion accessory (never mind the fact it will never be used outside the office)
Whilst I use the headset for Skype it can be used for a multitude of other functions, such as watching youtube videos or listening to music i.e. as a regular set of headphones. Whilst I have not tried it I also believe it can be used for gaming, allowing you to talk to other players.
After buying this product I will definitely look at Sennheiser again in the future for any new headphone purchases. I am very happy with the product and to top everything off it comes with a 2 year warranty, which will probably never be used but it's a nice thing to have and shows the companies confidence in their product. I would recommend this product, however I feel £50 is quite pricey for a product that has fairly limited uses.
I am a huge Stephen King fan and don't think he has written a single bad book (and he has written A LOT). My addiction to SK started when I read the Dark Tower series, which is truly one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written! Since then I have been building a huge collection. I bought IT and never got around to reading it until recently, which is odd as its one of his better known books and has got great reviews. I decided to give it a read, seeing if it would live up to the hype.
The story (without giving too much away) focuses on 7 children and their fight against a murderous clown called Pennywise (well I will say clown but is it?!?!?) in a town called Derry Maine. The book tells the story of their childhood and also flashes forward to when they are grown up and called back to fight the clown once more after the suicide of one of the gang. Whilst the main focus of the book is the murderous creature, and it is marketed as a horror, the book could also be seen as being a tale of childhood friendship and adventure.
The story line is so in depth that it makes you feel part of the gang. The characters are superbly described and each has their own detailed personality, which you come to know and like.
The book is a beast at well over 1000 pages. Despite its length I felt the book was over too quickly! It has such a compelling story line and such amazing character development that I was disappointed when I finished it. I decided to buy the DVD as was intrigued as to how it would come across on film and not surprisingly was disappointed. The film misses out huge amounts of the book (understandably) but I just did not enjoy it. I have heard rumors that there is a remake in the pipeline which could be interesting.
This is still not my favorite Stephen King novel, that title will remain with the Dark Tower, but this is a close second. If you have not read it I implore you to as it is such a fantastic read.
I am a massive fan of apocalyptic films, weather they be zombies and vampires or man made disasters. From the trailers contagion looked like a pretty decent film concerning man kinds fight against a deadly and very contagious disease, something that everyone has a slight fear of.
The film has an incredible cast, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishbourne, Matt Damon, to name just a few. I found the acting to be very good. There was no oscar worthy performances but I found the characters believable.
The film focuses on several different people and how they are affected by the outbreak of a deadly virus that sweeps the globe. There story is nothing new but its an interesting topic and the way contagion is shot, very realistic. The film is set over a year or so period starting with day 2 of the outbreak (I found this a great way to start the film and has a great impact at the end but I will not say any more to avoid giving away anything). There is not much more to describe to be honest as the idea is simple.
The characters range from an average family man and his daughter, whose wife is the carrier of the disease to the response team who are in charge of containing the disease and dealing with the media. The film is quite scary in a sense that its very realistic and makes you think about how people will react if/when this happens.
The film has some 'twists' and some unexpected things happen (again keeping it brief as do not want to spoil it for anyone who has not seen it).
The film got some pretty bad reviews all in all. I tend to find IMBD quite accurate and they gave the film a decent 6.8 / 10. Whilst it was not film of the year I would rate the film around a 7 / 10. It has a great cast and decent story line that made me have a good think after the credits rolled but having said that im glad I did not pay to see it at the cinema. Definitely one for DVD.
My girlfriend and I have recently rented a flat. Its fully furnished the hoover it came with is absolutely rubbish so we decided to buy one ourselves. We were pretty short of cash as obviously moving was very expensive so we wanted to get a hoover as cheap as possible but that would actually work. We went round all the normal shops to try and find one. We went into Currys and came across the LOGIK L16VB10.
The first thing that attracted us was the price. At only £35 we thought it was a bargain, especially compared to other hoovers which can reach up to £300 +. Upon reading the spec we decided it would do the job well enough. It is 1600 w which sounded pretty powerful at the time of buying. The hooveris pretty well packaged and once we opened it up found it looked pretty nice too. The hoover is fairly small and light weight which makes it perfect for manouvering around the flat and especially makes it easy to store.
The hoover is great for general use. It has powerful suction and is ideal for a one bed flat. However it is not amazing at collecting smaller dust particles and will not suffice for a large house.
Old-fashioned hoovers that require bags were a no go area for us as the bags can often be fairly expensive to replace. The LOGIK L16VB10 is completely bagless which makes it very easy to empty out and means that we have no extra costs. It has two large wheels which makes for easy movement. I was also pleasantly surprised how quiet the hoover is. There is nothing more annoying than a really loud hoover, but with the Logik it seems fairly quiet compared to others I have used.
The unit has a decent length power cable, again allowing for easy use. It has two large buttons, one for power and the other to suck the cord back into the unit, which I find much better to use instead of having to manually wind the cord back up. The main suction unit is a pole with one of those bendy pipes (if that makes sense). The end can be changed with a variety of different attachments to use for different areas of cleaning i.e. getting down the back of the sofa. I like the flexibility of the hoover head and find it much better to use compared to the fixed units that can only go forward and backwards and have the flexible as an extra attachment.
We have only used it on carpet to cannot comment on the performance on wooden or laminate flooring.
All in all the hoover has been a great buy. It has been very reliable (so far) and apart from really small bits it does a great job of sucking up the dirt. I feel you will struggle to find such a great machine for such a low price. We bought ours from Currys but I believe it is available from all the shops like Comet and Tesco.
I think that the majority of people have heard of angry birds, though may not be too sure exactly what it is. Angry birds is a simple game that can be downloaded to your iphone or android phone (I will be reviewing the Android version which I have installed on my Samsung Galaxy S2). The game is probably the most popular game on mobile phones, proving that simplicity is often best. The game has even reached national news in its successfulness.
As I am running the version on android I was able to download for free but I believe the iphone version charges 69p. The games storyline (if you can call it that) focuses around a group of birds who have had their eggs stolen by some pigs and their struggle to get the eggs back (all very dramatic stuff). The animation are quite funny and the characters look great. The aim of the game is to launch your birds from a giant catapult and try to demolish the pigs bases and explode the pigs by hitting them. There are a variety of birds each with their own special abilities such as exploding or dropping egg bombs which adds some variety to the game.
The game is excellent, offering huge amount of replay value. There are hundreds of levels to work through and each one can be played over and over, trying to beat your personal best score. The graphics are great with vivd colours and nice backgrounds. It runs very smoothly with no lag on my SG2.
Since the original release there have been several follow up releases, including Angry Birds Rio and very recently Angry Birds in Space. I have player Rio and found it very similar to the original and have recently downloaded Space but have not played it yet. From the look of the screen shots Angry Birds in space looks like it will offer something very different and looks great fun.
Considering the game is free I take my hat off to the developers. It is such an addictive game and is great to kill time on the train or waiting in line at the post office (which I find myself having to do more and more!)
My girlfriend and I really want a puppy but a busy life means we don't have the time for one just yet. We decided to get tropical fish instead as they would need far less work. We started off with a 30 ltr aqua cube tank which was a great starter kit, but as anyone with tropical fish knows, they become quite addictive. We found ourselves buying more fish which grew quicker than expected. We decided to buy the 60 ltr tank as an upgrade and it has been fantastic.
The tank is 60 ltr, 60cm x 30 cm x 35 cm which is a good size for a mid level tank. The tank itself is made from a thick glass which I prefer to the equivalent plastic tanks. The tank is housed in a plastic frame which gives it a nice finish and you can choose to have either a black of silver frame. The lid of the tank is well designed as there is a sub lid which allows for the fish to be fed or the tank to be cleaned without having to remove the entire top. You will need a very strong stand to place the tank as when it is full of water it weight a ton, so a flat, solid surface is essential.
The tank is a great set up for beginners as it comes with everything you need to run the tank. The filter is excellent quality and replacement filter pads can be picked up fairly cheaply from ebay. The set comes with basic chemicals you need to treat the tap water as well as stress coat for the fish as well as some food. The chemicals will need to be replaced as used every time you change the water (around 20% every week). The lid has a built in light (and comes with a bulb) which makes the tank look great, especially in the dark. The set also comes with a heater, but I would recommend buying a second to have as a spare in case it breaks.
It is hard to say how many fish it will hold as it depends on what type of wish you wish to keep. However it is safe to say you will be able to have a few decent sized fish in the tank. I have 2 angel fish, a few tetras, a Plecco and a snail.
I bought the tank for around £80 which is great value for everything that you get. It can be picked up from Pets at Home or many independent pet shops.
Mt mum is a massive reader (so am I ) but can sometimes have difficulty reading in low level lighting, mainly when reading before bed. I decided to buy her the XtraFlex SUPER L.E.D light with the hope that I may make reading slightly easier. After seeing how much use she got from it I decided to buy myself one as my bed side lamp gives off terrible levels of light (thanks energy saving light bulbs) and I often find my eyes hurting after reading for a fairly short period of time.
The product comes well packaged and fully protected so no need to worry about it getting damaged in transit. The light itself has a fairly large base with a long neck. The neck is made of that fully flexible material which allows the light to be turned, twisted and screwed into almost any position (and stay there) which is perfect for a reading light. I would say the neck when fully stretched out would be around 20-25cm, again the ideal size. Whilst the base is fairly large it allows the light to be powered from 3 AAA batteries. This is another massive benefit of the product. Whilst smaller lights are available they require watch type batteries to power them. With the XtraFlex batteries can be replaced easily and cheaply (although they have not had to be changed just yet). The base can be clipped to the book or placed on the side, depending on your reading angle. The light does not weigh much, even with 3 batteries, but needs a decent amount of book to clip onto.
The light can be picked up for under £10, which seems pretty average for the type of product.
The light itself is amazingly bright for such a small little thing, but that is expected with LED lighting. It certainly helps with night time reading. However despite the fact that the light works perfectly I rarely find myself using it. I cannot say why exactly but after a few uses I just got fed up with it and it has taken residence at the back of my drawer.
The light could be used for other uses I suppose, if you tinker with small gadgets that needs light in small spaces, music reading light or even night fisherman I suppose, but for me its probably never going to be used again.