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The Nokia 8500 XpressMusic What is it Its a touch screen mobile/music/camera phone which is able store 16 gigabytes worth of music, it comes with 8 gigabytes of storage as standard and as it is a Nokia it already inherits with a reputation for reliability and robustness. The main features of this phone are it is able to organize your music collection and easily let you buy/add more music to it. It is able to take photographs and record videos and playback movies. It has built in speakers which allow you to listen to music without using headphones. The memory card type is "micro sd" which is readily available to purchase in a lot of internet or high street stores. It is also internet ready with a good built-in web browser. The phone itself is very comfortable to hold but it is not slim, the actual dimensions are 111 x 51.7 x 15.5 mm which means it is a but bulkier than other offerings on the market but don't let this put you off as it is still very light at 109g. The touch screen is approximately 2.75 inches and the resolution is 360x640 pixels with 16 millions colours so you can watch a movie while you are on the move or away from home. The camera has a Carl Zeiss Tessar 3.2 mega-pixel lens with led flash and red eye reduction. Out of the box You get the phone (mine was charged), a CD with software, music gift voucher for £20, usb cable, wrist strap with plectrum attached, headphones and remote control. I guess you are wondering what the plectrum is for? Well the phone comes with Guitar Hero loaded on it so you can use it for that if you wish but more usefully you can use the plectrum as a handy stylus for the touch-screen. The phone also comes with a proper stylus which is discreetly hidden in the back of the phone. The stylus is very useful for handwriting recognition with is one of the phones data input methods. Using it The phone feels sturdy and robust to use but it is not very heavy. You can use the tip of your nail to navigate between the screens but I found that if you use your finger and push too hard it does not respond very well. So be prepared to spend some time getting used to the touch-screen if you have not had this type of phone before. The phones touch screen automatically locks after a short period and has to be unlocked by a physical slider button on the right hand side of the phone. There are very few buttons on the phone itself, on the right hand side there is the slider button, two volume buttons and a camera button. The left hand side is buttonless but the memory card and sim card slots are located there. The top of the phone has the headphone jack, usb cable and charger sockets and the bottom of the phone has the concealed stylus. The menus are uncomplicated the use and there are some built in short-cuts to get to the application you want quickly. The phone comes with some instruction videos loaded on it which really explain how to use the phone correctly and get the best user experience. Phone & Text I really enjoy this phone for texting and talking. I have used the qwerty keyboard for entering text, the handwriting recognition software and the familiar text input method with the virtual keypad. They all work very well but I guess I prefer the qwerty keyboard with predictive text. Camera It has a 3.2 mega-pixel lens as explained further up but it is not going to replace your compact digital camera. I found it gives okay photos during the day but at night I found the led flash just was not powerful enough giving grainy under exposed images. GPS Absolutely great, It comes with OVI maps which works by connecting to the internet but you can also load Garmin XT onto this phone and it works perfectly. The only downside is it really drains the battery so if you are going any distance in the car you better use it on a charger. Radio Superb radio on this phone with RDS and auto frequency, The headphones that came with the phone were really uncomfortable so I used my trusty Sony ones, the sound quality was better and the radio reception was still as good. Music This is what this phone is about, you are able to navigate through your music collection easily by album, artist, etc. It supports loads of music formats and you can download music directly using your phones web browser from Nokia's OVI store. The software that you get in the box with your phone works okay if you use a PC with Windows to store your music collection, however if you have a Mac like I do there is a problem. The CD is very small so it will not fit into the auto-loaders that you get on a lot of macs. This is real pain so the only way I got it work was with an external CD-ROM drive. However once I got the software installed I was able to transfer music from itunes to it without any problems. The phone has great built-in speakers and I use it regularly throughout the house. The battery life is very good for listening to music, as a matter of fact you can use it for hours and hours and hours.......without recharging. Wifi This phone has a very good web browser and excellent wifi performance. It comes preloaded with iPlayer and it works very well. I can't say anything bad about this part of the phone it just works, well done Nokia. Overall.... This phone has provided me with a pleasant user experience and I must say I really like it. The small CD in the box really annoyed me as I needed the software to to connect the phone to my Mac. I did try it without the software loaded but the Mac did not detect the phone. Headphones could be better but that could be just a personal preference and I would not let that put you off. The phone is a bit fatter that other models on the market but you do get very good battery life.
After looking for a new phone for some time I decided that I would probably use like a camera phone so I chose this offering from LG. What is it The main features of this phone are it has a very powerful 8 mega-pixel camera/phone and it is entirely touch screen. It is fully multimedia ready and able to hold all your photos/videos/music (up to an amazing 32 gigabyte worth) on a micro sd memory card. The micro sd standard is very common and inexpensive so it will not make a deep dent in your wallet. The touch screen is 3 inches so it is very comfortable to hold and use in your hands. The resolution is 600x480 pixels with 16 millions colours which is stunning and makes viewing your photos and videos on the phone a very vivid experience. The phone itself is very slim and light with the total dimensions being 108.9 x 56.1 x 12.4mm and weighs a slight 102g. The camera has a Schneider-Kreuznach lens, this is apparently one of the best lens on the market for phones and easily comparable to high end lens fitted to Sony and Nokia camera phones. When the screen and camera are compared to the iPhone the screen is smaller but has better resolution, the camera though is in a different league, the iphone camera has a measly 3 mega-pixels. Out of the box When you first power on the phone after charging overnight it runs a wizard to set up the phone, this is your first experience of the user interface. The wizard just asks basic questions such as date and time, just enough to get you up and running with it. The touch screen is remarkably tactile and as this is my first touch screen phone I was told in the shop that it might take a day for so to get used to it. It did take a little while (few hours) to used to it but it was not an unpleasant experience in fact is I was surprised how easy it was to get used to using it and learning that you don't have to press very hard on the screen to get a response. The box does not have a lot in it. You get the phone obviously, charger, one pair of headphones, small CD-ROM with software, usb cable, a protective film for the screen and a manual. The protective film is easy to put on but make sure you do not cover the special proximity sensor. You don't get a case or anything to protect the phone so I bought one on ebay for a couple of pounds. The manual is well written and has a lot of information in it with a large section covering the advanced features of the camera. Using it It has LGs 3D user interface installed on it and it is very easy to operate. You have a virtual rotating cube which has four faces, each face has application icons which you touch to start. you choose a face by swiping your finger across the screen, the cube elegantly turns and presents a new side. You have the home face with lets you access everything on your phone. The second face is for communications this has phone, text and email applications. Then there is the contacts face which lets you quickly navigate through your favourite people. Lastly there is the multimedia face which contains all your favourite music, videos and photos. You can quickly exit an application and get back to the home face by just pressing the long button at the bottom of the screen at any time. Phone & Text Very simple to use, much easier than a normal mobile as the virtual number buttons are larger on the screen than the physical buttons on most mobiles. Texting is a pleasure as turning the phone to a landscape orientation gives a qwerty keyboard with optional T9 predictive texting. Navigating and picking contacts is also a breeze, you just touch the contacts button on the screen and scroll through them by swiping your finger along the screen. There are two volume buttons on the right edge of the phone to adjust the loudness and there is a discreet yet powerful speaker somewhere on the phone which lets you put the phone down go hands free. Camera There is an awful lot here, the camera sports auto focus, manual focus, face and smile recognition, image stabilisation, auto flash, red eye reduction and a raft of editing software. There are also various shot modes which are: Normal - This is the default. Continuous - Takes seven shots in quick succession. Smile - I tried this with my teenage daughter, I waited a long time as she thought I said "scowl". Beauty - Enables clear and bright close up photos of a person face. Art - Warm, cold, Black & White effects. There are also macro modes, sport modes and manual overrides for various automatic settings. There is also an intriguing intelligent shot mode which suggests that a complete duffer like I should be able to take a half decent photograph. The flash is done by a very bright and powerful led, I found it very hard to believe that an led could produce so much light, indeed it is just as good at blinding people as a good old fashioned one that you find in a standard camera. The manual says LG doubt if you will require any software on your pc to touch up photos. I believe them! There is an awful lot of features here. Video Recording You are quickly able to switch the camera into a decent video recorder. This is done by switching a on screen slider to an video recorder icon. This allows you to record at 720 x 480 pixels at 30 frames per second. What does this mean? Your recordings will be DVD quality when played back on your telly. There are also settings for Slow Motion and Timelapse recording but these are not explained in the manual and I have yet to try them out. Music Music is downloaded to your phone with the pc-suite software provided, It supports MS Windows including Vista but I don't know about Windows version 7. There is mac isync support as well but I have to get around to trying it. The device is not recognised in Linux yet but it might be an easy fix to get going. Music can be searched by album, artist and genre. The music and video formats it can playback are phenomenal, MP3, AAC, Ogg-vorbis, WMA and Dolby mobile surround sound for music/audio and for video DivX, Xvid, MP4 H.263, H.264 and WMV. Others are supported as well but I never use them. Connectivity Wifi HSDPA Bluetooth SMS for texting IMAP4, SMTP and POP3 for email Google maps It also has a built in web browser which is okay but I found it a wee bit slow. It allows 2 finger browsing like the iPhone (you can zoom in by spreading your fingers out and zoom out by closing them). I downloaded and installed the Opera Mini web browser which is much faster. The install is a little bit fiddly to get it working on full screen mode if someone wants to try it I can email the additional steps to get it working properly. The only downside to the web browsers are that adobe flash player is not supported. GPS It has a built in GPS receiver but no installed software apart from google maps. The downside of using google maps is you might incur a fee as you are required to connect to the internet to get it working. A suitable alternative to google maps is "We-Travel" which is entirely free, it works beautifully and does not require to connect to the internet. A small modification is required again to get it working in full-screen mode but it is documented on the website. Radio It includes a FM radio but it is a bit disappointing. You need to use the headphones provided by LG and they do not lend themselves to sporting activities such as running or cycling. I have tried using other headphones but they cause too much interference and noise. Overall.... Great camera touch phone with the emphasis on camera/video recorder and certainly I am very pleased with all the features that it offers, I found it easy to use and the clever user interface uncomplicates very complicated functions. It is not a smart phone but almost, there are a lot of applications that are included and you can download and buy more from the LG app store. I am a bit disappointed by the Radio but it may get fixed with the next firmware update. The battery life is good with standby time being about 3 days but if you use the multimedia functions then the phones battery drains much more quickly. I have not run out of battery yet. Price I took this out on a 18 month contract with Virgin, this included 300 minutes and unlimted texts for £18 a month. I also got 2 months free so the price is really a bit less. Hope you have found the review to be useful and not to boring.
The Predicament ------------------------- I have been with Virgin Mobile customer for 18 months now and coming to the end of a contact that included a decent mobile phone, 150 minutes of talk time and 150 texts for £12 a month. What do I do, stay, change go to another service provider, get another phone, feeling dizzy. My Experience So Far -------------------------------- On the whole the service has been very good, when I lost my phone at was able to talk to someone from Virgin very quickly and got the phone disabled. Luckily it turned up in lost property at my work that afternoon and I was able to get it switched back on just a easily with a phone call to their help desk. I also get a bill emailed to me every month and they text me when they refresh my allocation of minutes and texts. I have never been overcharged and the payments have always left my account on time. All this points to good service so why should I want to change. The Deal On Offer -------------------------- Anyway as I am coming to end of my contract I don't really need a new phone (although there are some very nice ones on offer). After consideration I have decided to go for a sim only rolling package. This allows me to keep my number and for £10 a month get 200 minutes and unlimited texts. I must admit it seems like a very good package and when I want a new phone I can easily change to a new fixed term contract. The sim only deal means you have to give a months notice when you want to change but I cannot see this being an issue. If you like gabbing on the phone you can get a whopping 600 minutes and unlimted texts for £15, that really does seem like a good deal to me. Hope you found the review helpful and thanks for reading.
Why I bought it. Just used this toothbrush for the first time this morning. Wow it is very very good. I have been using a Colgate battery operated one until now and there is a large, nae huge difference. I remembered a review on the Gadget Show a while ago about electric toothbrushes and oral-b came out by far the best so now Sainburys has a special 50% discount on a large range of oral-b products I have decided to buy. What you get. You get the toothbrush, charging unit and two brush heads in the packaging along with an instruction manual with registration document which gives you an extra years warranty if you want it. If you do decide to register you do so on-line and it only takes a few minutes of you time, very easy indeed but you do need the code that is provided on a registration document so don't lose it. Initial set-up and charging. It is very easy to put the heads on and you can colour code them with a removable plastic ring so you don't mix them up with somebody else's who shares the toothbrush body. The charging unit connects to a shaver type socket and it needs a good charge for around 12 hours. The manual says you cannot overcharge it so don't worry about that but you should discharge it completely every six months. While it is charging the unit's led blinks green and changes to solid green once it is fully charged. The unit's led will turn red when it needs a recharge. Using the product. It is very easy to use, you just hold it gently onto each tooth and rub it up and down including your gum for a few seconds. The toothbrush stutters every 30 seconds when it is time to move onto another quadrant of your mouth. You can switch the toothbrush off up to 30 seconds if you need to and it will still remember how far you got through your cleaning cycle. If you press too hard against your teeth then the pulsation will cease and the sound changes. Cleaning is also very easy, you switch on the toothbrush and rinse it under the tap, then switch off and pull off the head and again. The handle can then be rinsed and dried. Don't worry about water getting in and damaging the handle as it is waterproof. The charging unit can be wiped clean with a damp cloth but it is not waterproof so take care. The result. I feel as if I have been to the hygienist and my teeth are visibly different I like red wine and drink a lot of tea (did I get the order correct). The manual says you may experience some bleeding for the first few days but I have not had that. I am very pleased and it is so much better than my previous toothbrush and it was a bargain at Sainburys. The result after 1 week of use. After using now for over 1 week I still think this toothbrush makes a remarkable job of cleaning teeth. After the initial 4 days I did not think there was any further improvement in the whiteness of my teeth however this could be because I am not using a whitening toothpaste. Having been on holiday this week I might have expected my teeth to become a bit more coloured as I have drunk more red wine, coffee, tea and fruit juice than I normally would have. My 8 year old son has started using it as well and he is managing fine, I think the timer feature helps him (and me as well) to concentrate on how long he is cleaning each part of his mouth. The manual says that younger children can use it but I really would not recommend it as the handle is quite big. Having read a few reviews on whitening toothpastes I am going to try one out and see if a I can get my teeth a bit whiter. The cost of the toothbrush was £23.99 from Sainsburys with a 50% discount so well worth the money. Thanks for reading.
The kitchen liquidiser decided to pop it's little clogs and left us with the prospect of buying a new one. We had a wander round John Lewis and a hand blender with all the attachments seemed like a good replacement for our single purpose liquidiser. We never purchased one from John lewis as we thought we would check out the super markets first. After John Lewis it was time to go to Sainburys and per chance they had a deal on a range of Breville blenders. Anyway after deliberation we opted for the VHB027 Hand Blender Set at £23, it was nicely discounted and seemed just what we needed. After we got it home it was time to get it out of the box and try it. The blender itself is quite light about 12 inches long and easy to clean. It has two buttons normal and turbo but no pulse. The chopper attachment is extremely sharp so be careful when you wash it my other half did not expect the blades to be quite so visceral and she cut her finger while washing it. It can hold and chop about 2 onions at a time along with other herbs with ease, chopping was something that the old liquidiser could not do and it is such a pleasure to not do it by hand. It takes a couple of short bursts of 2 seconds to end up with finely chopped onions without the tears. Can the blender blend? Yes it can. As the next experiment we decided to make Carrot and Coriander soup. My other half made the soup and gave the blender for me to try, I think she was scared after being bitten by the chopper. I dipped the blender into the bottom of the pan and gave it turbo action for about 30 seconds. The manual says you should rest the blender after 2 minutes of use to allow it to cool down. The cool down was not needed as after another two short 15 second blasts the soup was blended in the pan with only a little mess where it had splashed over the edge. Easy! Omelette with the whisk, I don't want to bore you but yes the whisk attachment works? I can confirm the result is nice fluffy omelettes with little fuss and effort. Overall we am very happy with blender and the attachments, it is great time saving gadget and very easy to clean and store, we keep it in the kitchen drawer with lots of room to spare. You get a years guarantee with with this blender and keep an eye out for deals as it was very heavily discounted when we bought it.
Ubuntu! what is it and should I use it? I know that is what I would think if I heard the word Ubuntu. Well it lets your laptop, netbook, desktop computer run a different set of software products that don't come from Microsoft. If you did try to install it on your computer, you could do so without any cost as it is free. Yes! Free, free, free! It founder is an extremely successful African entrepreneur called Mark Shuttleworth, he set up the Ubuntu project in In early 2004 which aimed to produce a free, high quality desktop OS for everybody. From their website you will find this statement "Ubuntu is and always will be free of charge. You do not pay any licensing fees. You can download, use and share Ubuntu with your friends, family, school or business for absolutely nothing". You can get Ubuntu by downloading it or filling in your details and requesting a copy of it to be sent to you, they pay for the expenses! To try it you will have to burn the media, stick it in your computer and and boot up from it. There is no need to worry about it overwriting anything on your computer as you can try it "live" running from the media you have booted from. Doing this will identify any hardware compatibility issues you might have, I have found that a lot of computers work without any intervention. If you do decide to install it properly on your computer be careful that you have a copy of any data you want kept saved on a memory stick or external hard drive as it may not be there after the installation. It is not Windows and needs nothing from windows to make it work, so don't expect any remnant of windows to remain. If you get this far you will be surprised by the speed of your computer, it is very well tuned operating system with and very advanced file system. The file system is the underlying way data and programs are stored on your computers hard drive. This file system is called ext3 and is very efficient, you will not need to defragment your hard drive as you have to with windows and you will find that accessing files is faster. It comes with an email client called Evolution, the Firefox web browser and the Open Office software suite installed installed as standard. Open Office can be compared to Microsoft Office and you can save files created in Open Office in the native Microsoft format so there is interoperability between the two products. It comes with media burning software and Multimedia capabilities but as Linux has lots of software available if you don't like what you have got try and google for an alternative. Installing software can be done from the Synaptic Package Manager which supports a desktop gui or command line interface. Much of the software comes from the GNU Project which was launched in January 1984 by Richard Stallman. Since then some of the software products are very mature and widely used. If you are interested in digital imaging, I would definitely recommend you download the GIMP (GNU Image manipulation program). If you have an older computer this is just getting a bit too slow, maybe try it with Ubuntu, it might just give it a new lease of life. Ubuntu is virus free so you don't need to worry about anti virus software and there are lots of very helpful support forums to turn to if you run into a problem. This review was written completely on Firefox running under Ubuntu on my laptop so you have here some proof that it works.
Being an owner of this toaster I can tell you I hate it. The last toaster I owned used to toast bread to a certain colour, ping the toast up and wait for you to collect the its offering. That is good toaster behaviour. This toaster has a mind of its own. Sometimes it works okay and the toast is done on one side at least, maybe even both sides on the odd occasion but most of the time it just does a random burn and pops the toast. My hatred of this toaster might be because it is faulty. When you look inside the machine at the toast being heated only one side of the heating element glows red, although both sides of the bread get heated. I have discovered the best way to use this toaster is to watch it like a hawk, don't let it out of your sight and when you think the toast is ready press the top button. The good points of this toaster are it is nice looking, has wide slots and a removable crumb tray which makes cleaning very easy. It is also very reliable and has not popped its clogs and went to "Silicon Heaven" although I can't wait for that to happen so I actually do have to replace it. In case you don't know what "Silicon Heaven" is, in the television series "Red Dwarf" it where all the toasters, calculators, etc, go when they die. I would get a replacement for this toaster but it is like a squeaky door, you put up with it until it gets unbearable. If you do decide to buy one of these toasters maybe your experience will be better than mine and you will have a less rebellious toaster.
Forget the shopping mall, go to costco! I have been a member of costco for about 7 years now, I know a lot of people gripe about the annual fee but really it is worth it. We are very lucky as the store is only about 4 miles away and a stones throw from our tesco so we tend to combine our shopping trips. If you are wondering what costco is? It is a membership only warehouse containing food, furniture, tools, kitchen stuff, wines, televisions, in fact anything. It refreshes it stock with the seasons, so you can expect ranges of clothing and sporting goods to change depending on the time of year. We buy all of our meats, chicken, fish, prawns and coffee almost without exception. This is because the quality and quantity is much better that what you will get in supermarket. It is true you will need to buy more of it but if you have access to a freezer, then you can store the excess. With televisions and computers you automatically get a five year guarantee without any additional cost. I have used this guarantee then when my television started playing up when it was about a year old, I took it back and got a full refund, which I immediately used to buy another. Another service I have used is the optician. I purchase all my contact lenses and solutions from them and it really saves a fortune. There is no way I would ever consider buying these items from Tesco with their 150%-200% markups for exactly the same product. The membership can pay for itself easily in one visit, in fact it is almost worth joining just to get new Michelin tyres on your car. There is not any way you can get kwick-fit, National or any other tyre reseller fitter to compete with price, I have tried. Other good things about costco, is the passport which offers big discounts on certain goods at a specified period and remember to keep an eye on end of line or end of season stock, there can be very big discounts to free up floor space. Almost forgot, at the end of a busy shopping trip there is always the cafe.
I have one of these dishwashers and I must admit the last review scared the death out of me. It was bought from our local Currys store when the door hinge went on our aging Candy machine. The things that it attracted me to this dishwasher was; It was "A" rated for Energy, We liked the silver finish, it has enough space to do our dishes, pots, pans, etc and one of the plate racks can be folded down to make space for some big items. I needed this dishwasher right away, so it got loaded into the car and off I went home to do the installation. The instructions say it must be connected to the cold water supply. I did a bit of research on this and decided to connect it to my hot water supply. Why? I did this because it is more efficient and my hot water is not at a temperature when it would break the machine. Do that at your own risk, I was prepared to take the risk and my machine is operating fine. Anyway I connected the drain hose and the hot water supply hose and slid the machine into the standard sized gap in my kitchen and switched it on. Nothing happened, after a quick look at the manual I opened the door and found the power button on the top. I had not spotted it before but it is fairly obvious so my fault. I then had to adjust the setting for salt before use but this is very well explained in the manual and is not difficult. It is pretty easy to load and the top tray can be quickly adjusted lower or higher, anyway I loaded it up and then had to decide on a program! There are 7 programmes; 3 in 1, strong, normal, economy, rinse, glass and soak. I had bought some 3 in 1 tablets so I gave that a whirl. It takes ages, almost 3 hours....I don't buy 3 in tablets any more. Well it has not leaked or malfunctioned in any way, cleans the dishes well and I still have it connected to the hot water supply. The only bad thing I can say is it takes ages to do the 3 in 1 wash but it not that big a deal. One useful feature is during operation it counts down the time until it is finished. It copes with heavily soiled dishes with ease and the folding plate rack is really useful as it allows frying pans, woks, baking trays to be loaded with ease.
I have owned these speakers for over a year now and they are still going strong. I paid £40 for them from Ebuyer, they arrived a couple of days later and I was very, very pleased. I had previously bought a pair of Sony speakers for about £30 but the sound quality was terrible, so they got put back to the shop pronto. First of all, the woofer is big and tall about the size of a shoebox. It is very loud, I cannot over state how much bass this little beast can put out, I never have the bass turned up, it is just too loud. I use this speaker to stand my Pinnacle Soundbridge on as it is just a perfect size (the Soundbridge is a streaming wireless sound device). The two satellite speakers are very flat and can tilt to direct sound. They take up little room and are about the size of a of an upside down pint glass. Speakers do not have to be big these days to fill a room with quality sound and these are a good example of this. One speaker has controls on it, volume + and - and a headphone socket, if you press both buttons together it puts the speaker system into standby mode. To fully control the system you need to use the small remote control that comes with the system. It allows you to adjust treble, bass, volume and there is a reset to defaults button as well. The remote also has a loud button (for the hard of hearing I think) and a standby button as well. Having tried the loud button briefly when the neighbours were out, I can only say that feeling your stomach vibrating is a weird experience. Anyway for music these speakers are very good and I imagine for gaming you would be totally immersed in sound. The speakers remember their settings between power cycles so you don't have to keep setting them up. There are no displays showing the settings for bass and treble, so if you get you bass and treble mixed up you can press the default button and re-adjust from there. I have done this a few times and this button is very useful. The finish of the satellite speakers is very pleasing metallic silver and they are heavy enough to remain in their place and not vibrate off, when you strut your stuff. All in all a bargain!
I have owned this phone on contract for over a year now on an excellent Virgin Mobile contract. The contract costs me £12 a month which includes 150 minutes of talk time and 150 texts. The main reason I picked this phone over the other phones that were on offer was because it was lightweight, slim, and had a good mp3 player with radio. If you are looking at Sony phones, if the model begins with a W ie W910i, then it means it is a walkman phone so don't expect a great camera. In saying that this phone comes with a 2 mega pixel camera which I have used a lot of times and the quality is acceptable. The sound quality is very good but only if you ditch the rubbish headphones it comes with. When I first listened to it I thought the sound quality was a bit of a let down, really dull and not clear. I had a pair of Sony headphones that I use for cycling to work and as soon as I tried them out on the phone it sprang into life. The phone itself is easy to use, slide it open and the keypad is visible. The keys are bit close together so people with big hands may not like it. There are some buttons on the edge of the phone which is not really a good design feature. These include the volume buttons, power, camera and walkman button. It has a shake feature that Sony make a big deal of, you hold down the walkman button and shake the phone to skip a track, it is a bit naff and I never use it. Playing music and listening to the radio is easy and can all be done without sliding open the phone. There is a big central control button that allows you to skip tracks, pause, resume play and browse you music. There are 6 other buttons on the face of the phone, which lets you dial, hangup, delete, access a shortcuts menu and go on the internet. I do not like the internet button, I cannot disable it but I also think it is a Virgin Mobile feature. I think this button will operate differently with another service supplier. My phone came with a 1Gb sim card, you can easily upgrade this if you want as it just slots in the side of the phone. The screen is good and flips from vertical to horizontal depending on how you hold it. You can preview photos and watch your movies and look at your music artwork as it is playing. My contract is coming to end now so I will looking for a new deal, there is a new model that has been released but I might go for a sim only contract as this phone has nothing wrong with it. It has crashed (hung) only once in a full year of operation and the battery still gives 4 to 5 days of standby time. If you do buy this phone, I don't think you will be disappointed.
I thought I would give bread making a go. I bought one of these premixed bread recipes and my son and I got down to kneading. It ain't for the faint hearted, it takes ages, it is very messy and the dough is difficult to clean. However we did make nice bread, so much so I really wanted fresh bread without the hassle. I looked at breadmakers and thought I did not really want to spend £100 on something that might not work too well and which may be may be a fad for a lttle while. I noticed Argos had a stainless cookworks breadmaker reduced to £29, I bought it and went home to try it out. The first bread was a disaster I had added too much water (my fault), my second attempt was great. I have now tried breads from the recipe book that comes with the bread maker and I have also bought the supermarket premixes as well. There is no mess and all the effort of kneading and proving the bread is removed. Most of the supermarket premixes are really easy, just add packet contents, then add water, this takes three minutes tops! Simples. The machine itself is really easy to use with 12 preset programs which you just select from a single menu button. It allows you to make quick breads in about one hour and sandwich loafs in about 3 hours. You can delay the operation of the breadmaker so you can have it baking through the night, delivering its fresh bread in the morning. You set the baking programme from six buttons on the front of the breadmaker, they are dead easy to use and uncomplicated and also easy to clean. Cleaning is very easy you will find that the bread pan just needs a quick soak in soapy water to remove any remains from baking, there is no need for anything to be scoured or put in the dishwasher. The rest of it just needs a wipe down with hot soapy water. The breadmaker is a little heavy and bulky but it does have a fold away carry handle, which is unobtrusive when not in use. I would not like this machine to be any lighter as I think it would go walkies along the work top when it is in the middle of the kneading process. If you have a kitchen with a lack of work space then this item would take up a fair amount of work room, if you could stow it away somewhere when not in use then it would probably be okay as it is very portable. After one month I am still using it and I am using it for pizza doughs as well, I have not made cakes or preserves yet and I don't know if I will but I am converted to baking home make bread. I have noticed there is a very similar if not identical breadmaker for sale in Tesco for £29 so if you don't have an Argos nearby you might get it from Tesco. As I said already I have the stainless steel version of the machine and it looks okay in the kitchen but I tend to put it away in the cupboard after use as it is pretty big. When you first get it remember to burn off the oil as it really does smell. If this breadmaker lasts a year then I will be more than happy as it has given me an opportunity to experience fresh bread every day with no hassle and I will probably go for something a bit more expert now I am a convert. If I had not got this breadmaker, I had considered the Jamie Oliver method of using terracotta plant pots to bake oven fresh bread. I never have as yet, but I must admit I am still a little curious.
If you want a device that can receive streamed music wirelessly with a small footprint then it ticks the boxes. I got this little box thinking it was the same as the ROKU soundbridge. It is not the same, there are some big differences but if you are not prepared to pay for a ROKU, then this is a cheaper alternative. I have all my music on a computer (apple mac), it is in my living room but sometimes I want to listen to music in the conservatory. There is no prospect of running speaker wires there so I need a wireless solution. My first venture into wireless music was a Netgear MP101 device which worked 80% of the time but stalled during playback and was a unreliable. I read about the ROKU devices which seemed seemed really good but then I came across the pinnacle Sound Bridge, I bought it and took it home for a whirl. Must admit I thought it was compatible with iTunes when I bought it, It can play your itunes library okay but only with a 3rd party piece of software called firefly. I loaded the software and configured it to share out my library. After many hours of playing it has never stalled, stuttered or failed, it has just worked out of the box. Configuring the software was pretty easy and I think that most people will find setting it up quite easy. It is just a matter of filling in the forms that are presented on your setup screen. The sound quality is pretty good for the price, It is not as good as my main system but then it was never intended as a replacement. There is about 30ft between my wireless router and the Sound Bridge but there are never any connectivity problems. The screen is a bit small but you can see all the song information and you can browse your music library. It does take a bit of time to get used to using the remote to browse your library but you do get the hang of it pretty quickly. Radio......You don't need to have a computer turned on to listen to music! This device can have your favourite internet radio stations preset on it. I like this feature and it allows you to discover new music from all around the world. Overall I like this music device and maybe I will upgrade to a full blown ROKU gadget sometime in the future, the main reason for this is being because it will just work out of the box with iTunes. As a budget wireless streaming receiver the Sound Bridge is still value for money and it does its job well.
I really like this TV but it does have some annoying features. I have have had it for a year now and there has been no problems at all. Out the box it was very easy to set up, you need the remote control to enter information about where you live, your language that you would like displayed and then it does an auto-tune. After it tuned all the channels, I used the guide, it is okay but not brilliant. The reason I am saying this is because a significant proportion of the screen is taken up buy two large boxes on the left hand side which have the text "VIERA" in them. When I first got the TV these boxes were used for advertising but I am guessing that this venture was not really paying its way and now they just take up space stop you from seeing more scheduled programs on the guide. The picture quality is vivid, sharp and fast motion events are perfect to view. The colour has good depth and resolution is great, I use it a lot for looking at photos and it does have a convenient SD card slot. The sound quality of this television is very good and there is a setup routine to help you get the most out of it. I have an Apple Mac mini connected to this television via HDMI and it is used for Itunes and playing movies a great deal. If you are connecting a mac to it, with macos 10.5 (leopard) the screen was recognised straight away and it required very little tweeking to get a perfectly calibrated screen. I did get a bit frustrated with it during a particularly annoying week of frequent freeview channel updates, this was because my custom channel lists were lost on every occasion. It was easy to redo the lists but none the less a pain to go through the process again and again. In summary a great TV which would look great in any room but it does have a couple of annoying features.
This laptop was bought to be a work from home computer with enough power to enable a few applications to be open at once (email, spreadsheet, word processing, etc) and have a large enough screen to be usable. It wins on all these counts. It has a bright sharp screen and its keyboard is very usable. It is just the right size to sit on the kitchen table and it is fairly silent most of the time. When you want to use if for leisure purposes the 17 inch screen hits the mark as it is still small enough to move it around the house and browse the internet on the arm of your sofa. It has all the standard features like usb, SD memory card reader, ethernet, 56k internal modem, DVD writer, keyboard PS2 socket, VGA output for an external monitor but no DVI digital output (this means you cannot watch HD content on your telly). The Altec Lansing speakers on this laptop are really impressive, they can be turned up quite loud and the distortion and vibration is minimal, all my previous laptops have been a real let down sound wise. What I did not like about this computer was you had to burn your own restore disks (there is a recovery partition you can boot from in case your machine gets messed up), if you want you can buy a set of disks to perform a factory restore from HP. There was a lot of software included and it was able to be used just straight out of the box. It come with Windows Vista but I have been dual booting it into Ubuntu Linux which I use for work purposes and it has been completely compatible with no problems, now I tend to use linux most of the time. When I used Vista I was impressed with the amount of free games which kept the children entertained for a while. Overall a good all round laptop suitable for office and home use. It is just a little large and heavy for being a true mobile laptop for a people on the move. Battery life lasts for about an 1.5 hours under normal use. If you do take it out with you on the road you will probably need a new bag as it definitely foes not fit in my old targus bag.