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I had Sky, i liked it, but by the time i reached the end of my contract I decided i'd try something else out.
We were with Tesco broadband at the time, so it seemed like a good idea to get a package deal, TV, broadband and phone calls all in one.
After debating keeping Sky for another 2 years we eventually went with BT. Unlimited Broadband up to 8mb, phone calls free in the evening, and also this BT Vision chap.
If i'm honest i don't really watch a lot of TV, it isn't my thing, however i figured this would be exciting, and probably get me into tv a little more.
The box is a freeview box, containing a 160gb hard drive. which is enough to store a LOT of content.
if you're in an area with good freeview reception you'll be able to get a lot of channels, and record as you normally would with any other freeview recorder, however there's an added string to this bow.
They put entire series on here, for instance 'The IT Crowd', a favourite of mine, they put series 1, 2 and 3 up.
This saved me going to HMV and paying £20 for the boxset.
There are a few good series on there, however there are some really awful ones, in particular these odd documentaries which appear to be from the 80s. bizarre.
The box comes with these wireless adaptors, called powerline adaptors. you plug them into an electrical socket near your box, and the other in an electrical socket near your router, connect cables to both and you somehow have wireless internet transmitting between the two.
This didn't work for me, it kept disconnecting and annoyed me a lot.
I plugged a physical ethernet cable into the box, and found i had even more errors.
Perhaps i had a duff box. But when you have to get up 4 times in an evening and unplug the box to reset it, wait 5 minutes for it to restart, rescan for all the channels, then finally resume your video, only to have lost your place.
It isn't the best.
Films are available On-Demand as well. at a very fair £4 for SD and i believe £5 for HD quality.
This is good. but when you have to reset the box and lose your place, it quickly feels like you've binned your money, other services like Apple TV doubtless share the same gremlins.
I got very quickly fed up of this service. Since the PS3 has all the major on demand channel's services available, and Play TV, this quickly became useless. I found nothing on the box i couldn't find for free elsewhere, without the headaches, and the monthly fee.
Overall. Avoid this crap, if you're an older person who has to get somebody to set this up for you, definitely avoid, you need to be able to get behind the tv and fix it yourself.
The dunlop green flash is a retro styled shoe that has the versatility to be worn with almost anything.
It works with jeans, shorts, i imagine somebody could even pull them off with a suit, if David Tennant can do it with Converse i can't see why not.
They are very comfortable, they look nice, and nowadays they can be found in a multitude of places. Topshop appear to have caught on to their appealing style, and since then a range of coloured versions have emerged onto the scene. Myself i prefer the originals, which come in green (my favourite) red and navy blue, the accents are coloured, not the bulk of the shoe, which always remains white.
The trouble with these shoes is, as with all white shoes that they stain very easily, and they are very difficult to restore to their former glory. after 2 machine washes my first pair sadly began to give up the ghost.
Luckily for me there are a lot of failing sports shops in my area, so these can be had for as little as £9.99 a pair. Topshop would probably charge you upwards of £30 for the same pair.
I bought about 5 pairs of these over time, eventually getting fed up and buying myself a pair of Converse Lo-Tops, which have suited me very well, and for £35 they have lasted about 4 pairs of the Dunlops.
I think if you just used them on tennis courts and for indoor sports, as they are (i imagine) intended. You would see a much longer durability, and ultimately get a lot more bang for your buck.
I did buy one of the topshop pairs, and notably they are chunkier, more similar to a skate shoe almost, and the soles are much tougher, so they've been sort of upgraded for the streets, so to speak.
Overall, they are nice. for their intended purpose i think they would be ideal. for wandering, especially if you walk a lot. I'd buy the topshop version, or don't bother.
The Canon Vixia/Legria HFR16 is currently sitting in Argos for £199.99. I bought mine with the intention of filming a few shorts, making the smallest of amateur films and basically using it as a stepping stone to get into all things digital and film-like.
I was in luck. My intention is to get that film-look everybody seems to crave. The professionals shoot in 24p, which is 24 progressive frames per second.
The HFR16 shoots in 25p, which is close enough to look awesome. You can shoot in 1080p. and in the right light, the picture is stunning. I've zoomed in on the smallest of things and it copes very well.
This IS a good camera..... however there are a few caveats.
I was looking at the HFR100 previously, had i done my research more thoroughly i would have known that the HFR16 doesn't include an external mic socket. so you are stuck with the camera's inbuilt mic. If you intend to shoot interviews with this, or amateur productions you're going to be limited in terms of audio quality. you'll pick up wind, echo from corridors and other ambient noise. not cool.
On the Plus side. for the same money, and if you don't need the external mic... This comes with 8gb internal memory. which is a real godsend should you be limited on SD card space.
The interface is VERY easy to use, and anybody with a basic grasp of camera terms can quickly adjust things to their personal tastes.
The camera itself is light, it looks premium, in shiny black with little chrome bits and shiny silver buttons. The only other gripe, which is similar with a lot of canon models is if you're mounted on a tripod you need to unscrew the camera to access the battery and SD card. Not so handy, but not the end of the world.
I have purchased an extra battery for my camera, the battery life is good, but it pays to have a charged spare on hand. These can be snatched on Amazon for as little as £5.99 and work as well as the canon replacements, which are more then 10 times as expensive.
I'd advise getting a case as well. It pains me to think of my camera getting scuffed, or even dirty.
A lot of people criticise the low light recording quality, and while i'm of similar opinion, this isn't a professional camcorder. If you buy it and find that out. research more. I went in knowing this, and i adjust my filming to suit it. When i want to film low light i'll buy a better camcorder. or mount adequate lights to compensate.
Overall for £200 you're getting a very capable, smart looking camcorder, which is more than adequate for shooting holiday videos (did i mention it takes stills as well?)
You'll be hard pushed to get something as good for the money, but if you buy one shop around. Currys and the like sell the lower models for upwards of £300. go in with caution and you'll come out smiling :)
Xbox 360/Games For Windows Controller
This is basically an xbox 360 controller, no difference at all. I'm not going to focus on that, if you want that console experience on your gaming pc this is the answer.
People playing shooting games on PC generally prefer the keyboard and mouse, but for things like driving games (dirt3 for example) the keyboard is not your best ally.
I found that playing modern warfare 2 on pc had me at a distinct disadvantage using the controller. Keyboard users are faster and the mouse is a lot more sensitive.
But ultimately it comes down to taste. As a seasoned ps3 player I struggled to get to grips with mouse aiming. Whereas the xbox controller was almost immediately a perfect solution.
If you are familiar with the layout, expect nothing new. There's a quick release connector near the USB connector so if you yank it it won't pull your computer along with you, which is a nice touch.
Another plus is of course that you have an xbox controller to take to your friend's place for that all night forza session.
Overall of it's a casual item I'd consider going second hand, used xbox controllers are now around £10. A toothbrush and some all purpose cleaner will get rid of any gak from previous owners and get it looking brand new :)
Whatever you do don't just hunt for a Games For Windows device. If you see a normal 360 controller cheap it is the identical product. DO NOT OVERPAY.
There's a substantial cable (9ft if I recall!) so it isn't worth going wireless and paying the extra for a receiver as well, then cost in batteries which the wireless ones munch.
Overall this is great. On certain games it is plug and play. (dirt3, left4dead, portal 2 and many more)
I have previously reviewed the iPhone 4, and the MacBook Pro. Now comes the turn of Apple's latest tablet, the iPad 2.
Running the new dual core A5 processor and sporting 512mb of ram the iPad 2 is twice as powerful as it's predecessor. Combine that with an estimated 9x increase in graphics power and you're holding a very capable machine.
It is thinner than the iPhone 4. And 33% thinner than the original iPad.
Using the device you immediately feel at home, movement through the home screens is fluid, it opens apps with ease and doesn't keep you waiting.
One thing i should definitely mention is the speaker. using the iPhone 4 i always have to plug speakers in or put it against something flat to echo the sound around a bit more, the iPad 2's speaker is immense. you could have it on a table during a barbeque and it would happily contend with general chatter. it is very good.
Upon turning the iPad 2 on and activating it I immediately went to the app store to download some of my already purchased apps, I must say that iPhone only apps look a little rubbish on the larger screen. You can run them at original size or double them up to fullscreen at the expense of them looking pixellated and frankly rubbish.
However the more I looked I found that there were iPad specific apps for most of the thngs I wanted. iMovie for instance which I downloaded to iPhone automatically downloaded the iPad version. It's a shame this isn't true of games like angry birds, which leapt up to £5 for the upscaled hd version. I don't want to pay twice for a game I already own.
Of course if you go on YouTube you'll see the VS videos, The EEPad, TouchPad, Blackberry Playbook, There are millions....
I looked into it a lot, and some of the alternatives actually weren't much cheaper, but i felt they offered less in terms of quality, size/weight and overall satisfaction.
I did not want to get home with a Touchpad and hate myself for making the wrong choice.....
Flash support is still missing. If this is a deal breaker but you love the iPad, get the Skyfire web browser app. It's £2.99 and gives you flash support. Sorted! (I have since read that adobe are working on a similar solution to this issue, their own solution will be somewhat similar to Skyfire, but i assume it will be built to work with Apple's Safari web browser.
They claim the battery life is 10 hours. I can confirm that it lasts a LONG time. I used to watch things on my laptop, now i stream them from my laptop to my iPad, I would say on half brightness, General use, web browsing and
I managed to get a decent gel case and some screen protectors from amazon for about £10, it goes without saying that if you spend this sort of money you want to protect your investment. A must.
(I since further invested in a small messenger bag, which is iPad sized, saves me carrying my larger laptop bag on train journeys and stuff.)
I debated VERY strongly over getting an original iPad and saving some money, but I heard that a lot of future apps will be built around the faster technology, this is a very good reason to buy new if you can afford it. In terms of buying used units I wouldn't bother. They appear to hold their value and I found a lot of people trying to sell used units for more than brand new retail prices.
On the subject of 3G vs WiFi only it depends on your usage. I'm editing this right now on my iPhone via 3G, that alone is reason enough for me not to spend the extra £100 for 3G, as well as additional data costs. My friend however didn't have an iPhone but had a 3G iPad 1, he made great use of it, but I don't think you'll ever really need both.
Personally my iPad is staying at home as a toy, I would take it on train journeys or long car trips, but even if I did need 3G I could use my phone as a hotspot using a jailbreak app (MyWi) and do it that way. There's generally nothing I immediately need 3G on the iPad for that the iPhone can't take care of.
On the hot topic of jailbreaking....
I will be jailbreaking my device when I can (a) figure out how to downgrade the firmware, or (b) they release a new jailbreak for iOS 4.3.5.
If you plan to jailbreak now try and get one with firmware 4.3.3 then go to www.jailbreakme.com and download Cydia in safari on your device.
I do not advocate piracy, I merely like to tweak my devices :)
Anyway. Overall it's cracking. Everything I wanted and more. 5/5
We are regular visitors to the Hungry Horse in Yeovil, Somerset.
Their menu offers something of a bargain meal out with friends, while maintaining fairly good food quality.
The menu consists of a bit of everything really, steak, chicken, roasts on a Sunday, curry, surf and turf, salads, wraps, garlic bread, pasta.
I usually opt for the surf and turf, which comprises of steak, a chicken breast, peas, chips, several pieces of scampi and some tartar sauce.
This comes in at around £8 and the last 4 times i've had it, the steak has been perfect, the chicken tender, the chips warm and most importantly fresh, and the overall experience very good.
Sometimes we have had to complain, missing items, steak over/underdone etc, but on the whole it is very busy, and they do generally get it right.
The food ordering system is a little flawed because it takes place at the side of the bar. unlike Wetherspoons where you can order food with drinks from any cashier.
It used to be that you couldn't order drinks with food, so ended up queuing twice. this is no longer the case. you now order both at the food line.
Overall they are good at what they do. They often offer 2 meals for £8 and other chain style deals. which are affordable, and worth the money.
Staff are generally very friendly, helpful and pleasant, and they have free WiFi on site. so you can hook up while you wait for your food should you want to.
I imagine during the day when quiet it might be nice to sit in there with a coffee and write on a laptop, or perhaps browse the internet. I don't think i would, it isn't Costa or Starbucks, but some people might enjoy that aspect of it.
I've had a few PS3s. A release day 60gb, a 40gb, a 120gb slim (admittedly only for a couple of days) and now my own 160gb slim. Now i've lived with a slim for a while i'm happy to say i'm enjoying it a lot.
It runs quietly. 30% quieter than the 'fat' PS3s of old.
It uses less power: 30% less power in fact.
It has a proper 'on' button. something i'm happy with.
It has a matte finish, it looks better, and it doesn't act like a magnet for dust.
Not only the above, but it is smaller, when you pic it up it isn't a struggle. you can hold it in one hand.
Another VERY important point of course is that it is free from the yellow light of death that seems to be plaguing the older PS3 consoles. it runs cooler.
Overall this is not a huge update. Sony have done what they always do and slimmed it down. That it runs more quietly and uses less power is an advantage, and if you don't have a PS3 you should buy a slim. however if you're sitting on an 80gb 'fat' PS3. i wouldn't zoom down to HMV and trade in just yet.
however if you're sitting on a 60gb or 40gb. i'd get shot of them before they overheat and die.
Having just paid £1400 for my Macbook Pro, i wasn't entirely happy to just pop it in the back of my bag. I needed full protection, something i could trust. and then this came up in search results.
The STM Small Loft is a stylish way to carry something you love.
It comes in what i'd describe as urban colours, cool colours that don't stand out, and most importantly don't say "I'm carrying a laptop" (think of the traditional 'laptop bag' and you don't associate it with style).
This bag has room not only for My Macbook. There's enough space in the compartment in front for A4 size books. there's also a snap on keyring which clips to the bag under the flap. so you can keep your keys handy, or release them and have them in your pocket.
It has multiple pockets, which can hold pens, smaller books, dvds, games, mine can hold a small midi keyboard, portable hard drive, usb flash drives etc.
This is an ideal bag for students, people who use laptops for work, and just casual users who perhaps want to take their laptop to a friend's house safely and while looking good.
My Bag cost £35. i've dropped it once. and it saved my macbook from any damage. the material is durable and tough. no damage to either already makes this a worthwhile purchase.
The 2011 Macbook Pro. I took the plunge and ordered this in February just after release. I was on the hunt for a replacement for my Core2 Duo Desktop which was fading into the background.
As you'd expect this machine runs like a slippery eel covered in KY jelly down a drainpipe. It is lightning fast.
The new Intel Sandy Bridge processor really kicks off, and applications run smoothly, the machine boots in under a minute, and shuts down almost instantly. I run adobe after effects, premiere, final cut, logic studio and other media production programs with ease. I can honestly say it runs like a dream.
The Intel Thunderbolt port is currently not really a huge thing, however displays are becoming available, and Thunderbolt hard drives offering VERY high speed date transfers will be more and more readily available. The future of storage?
This machine has the Intel HD3000 Graphics as opposed to last year's Nvidia chipset. While people will moan and groan it isn't that bad. I'm able to play Dirt3 in bootcamp just fine. Portal 2 runs smoothly. Crysis 2 was a little jolty to be fair, but overall it isn't a gaming machine. if you're after a performance machine in that field consider Alienware.
This thing is nice. Unibody aluminium chassis. glass touchpad. it looks good, feels good, and is good to use. i can't really say anymore than that. The keyboard is very comfortable. Apple also offer various mice if you prefer to use a mouse. i just use a cheap trust mouse for audio/video editing, but i'm considering the apple magic mouse.
As i'm sure you're aware Macs are used by many graphic designers, used in music studios, used for special effects in films, and many other things.
There are a LOT of applications available, via the mac app store, and online. companies like Propellerhead, Steinberg, Adobe and many others offer media production software for macs, which are pricey, but very, very good.
Overall if you're debating the mac vs pc issue and aren't sure i can end by telling you that i now find windows 7 to be clunky and odd. OSX Lion runs smoothly, and once you get used to it you won't want to go back.
And if you do...... just make a bootcamp partition and install windows anyway. You can't lose.
Having previously owned an original iPhone and an iPhone 3g. This was an obvious step up for me. The iPhone 4's A4 processor, Retina display and sleek new design make it a much more attractive purchase. I got mine on contract, negating the enormous price tag. If i had been on PAYG I doubt i would have outlayed the £600 Orange were charging for a sim free unit.
The phone features a front facing camera which can be used for FaceTime video calls to Macbooks, Ipad 2s, Other iphone 4s. potentially Skype calls as well. This feature uses WiFi and is free of charge. so a lovely tipple for Apple customers there.
The retina display is crisp, bright and looks wonderful. Combine that with the upgraded ram and faster processor and you've got the ultimate package in a phone.
I'm sure you've read that the biggest downfall of the iPhone 4 is the 'signal issue'.
I can confirm that using a snap on back cover i've had no such problems, and the phone picks up signal in places where normal phones can get signal, and loses signal in the places where normal phones lose signal.
This is not a reason not to buy the iPhone.
Overall this is a peach. and until the iPhone 5 comes out and blows us away again, this is, and still will be, a very very capable smartphone.