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Now 78, a collection of 42 'hit' tracks from the several months before it's release. As is usual for the Now That's What I Call Music series there's a very mixed bag of 'great' 'good' and 'you call that a hit?'
The track listing is included at the end of the review for reference as I feel it is important, however I personally feel that this particular album has a lot more 'you call that a hit's?' than 'great's Disc one and two have a decent mix each though rather than the good and bad being separated onto separate disks. The likes of Bruno Mars, Adele, Jessie J, Rhianna, Ke$ha and all the other big names that you would expect to appear on such a disk are there, some (such as Jessie J) appearing twice, and, in my mind, quite rightly so.
There are also some interesting surprise tracks to my mind on here. L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. by Noah & The Whale is a wonderful treat, rather than the usual Pop, Dance and RNB that fills most of these albums, this particular track is more...well I suppose Folk music, and provides a wonderful break to the normal style expected. This is also complemented by a number of 'calmer' songs such as Gold Forever by The Wanted and Rolling in the Deep from Adele.
The album also comes with a selection of lively uplifting songs, Do it Like a Dude, We R Who We R, E.T. and F***in Perfect are all great when you need a bit of an uplifting song to get you going in a morning.
Whilst I've commented that there's a lot of 'naff' on the CD I can honestly say that the quality of the good stuff more than makes up for the 'naff' and the album still has a place in my car's CD rack.
Bruno Mars - Grenade
Adele - Rolling In The Deep
Jessie J - Do It Like A Dude
Rihanna - S&M
Ke$ha - We R Who We R
The Wanted - Gold Forever
Matt Cardle - When We Collide
Take That - The Flood
Ellie Goulding - Your Song
JLS feat. Tinie Tempah - Eyes Wide Shut
David Guetta feat. Rihanna - Who's That Chick?
Taio Cruz feat. Travie McCoy - Higher
Chris Brown - Yeah 3X
Britney Spears - Hold It Against Me
Alexis Jordan - Happiness
Parade - Louder
Olly Murs - Thinking Of Me
Avril Lavigne - What The Hell
McFly feat. Taio Cruz - Shine A Light
Noah And The Whale - L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.
Comic Relief pts. Susan Boyle & Geraldine McQueen - I Know Him So Well
Jessie J - Price Tag
Chipmunk feat. Chris Brown - Champion
Wiz Khalifa - Black And Yellow
Rihanna feat. Drake - What's My Name?
The Black Eyed Peas - The Time (Dirty Bit)
Nicole Scherzinger - Poison
Enrique Iglesias feat. Ludacris & DJ Frank E - Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)
Cee Lo Green feat. Wiz Khalifa - Bright Lights Bigger City
Katy Perry feat. Kanye West - E.T.
P!nk - Perfect
Tinie Tempah feat. Ellie Goulding - Wonderman
Willow - Whip My Hair
Katy B feat. Ms Dynamite - Lights On
Martin Solveig feat. Dragonette - Hello
Flo Rida feat. Akon - Who Dat Girl
Far East Movement feat. Cataracs & Dev - Like A G6
Wretch 32 feat. L - Traktor
Aggro Santos feat. Kimberley Walsh - Like U Like
Devlin feat. Yasmin - Runaway
Tinchy Stryder feat. Melanie Fiona - Let It Rain
Chase & Status feat. Liam Bailey - Blind Faith
As someone with a decent milk intolerance I'm very picky about my Ice cream, it's something I enjoy but if I'm going to have it it had better be good.
Now Daisy Made is a small farm based business on the outskirts of Lincoln. The customer facing part of the business consists of a small to mid sized cafe with seating for somewhere in the region of sixty people with tables and comfortable chairs. At the counter there is always a range of a couple of dozen flavours of ice cream, involving the old favourites such as vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, but also more unusual flavours such as liquorice, turkish delight and apple - and while many of them come around quite frequently, you can count on finding something new on each visit, unless I suspect, you're a very frequent visitor indeed!
Outside there is a small children's play area with assorted small animals to watch and pet, along with seating and ample parking.
The ice cream itself is an absolute delight, made from the milk of cows kept on the farm, and made on site, it is very creamy rather than the more 'ice' based type that often comes out of a tub at the super market. As stated earlier there is a wide range of flavours available, and I've yet to find one I dislike (even peanut butter was an eye opener!) Cones range from 90p for a simple cone with scoop, upwards for waffle, chocolate coated cones with multiple scoops. The ice cream can also be bought in one or two litre tubs to take home, which are sold in insulated bags to make sure they get home well frozen. Also available are crisps, tea, coffee, soft drinks and cakes.
The only thing i've never found, is a dairy free ice cream. Maybe I've not looked hard enough.
The staff are always friendly and helpful, even on days when they are frankly rushed off their feet.
Overall a very pleasant experience, the best ice cream I've ever found and a pleasant afternoon out whatever the weather. If you're ever in town, make sure you get there. You'll regret it if you don't.
The mighty mouse is Apple's latest desktop mouse offering, and although it costs the best part of £50, it's a little bit special.
Keeping Apple's design ethic of keeping things minimal and simplistic the device offers a simple silver base on a couple of black rubber runners to avoid scratching the desk (I imagine anyway...) with a sleek white curved top, with a small grey apple logo towards the bottom (presumably as much as anything to help you figure out which way around you should hold it!)
The mouse contains only one physical button, which by default is set up to a left click. This somewhat harks back to the days of the iMac G3/G4 where Apple received much ridicule for it's one button mouse where you had to hold down control and click to perform a 'right mouse click' effect on your computer...you can still do this if you want, but frankly, why bother?
The Magic Mouse's surface is a multi touch interface, a little sister if you will, to the iPad and iPhone range of devices, and this is where the special part comes in.
Hold the mouse like you would any other mouse and click, either as a left click, or using your whole hand and you get a standard click.
Lift all but your right finger off and you get a right click.
Swipe up and down with your finger and you get a scroll wheel, swipe left and right and you get a scroll left and right.
Use two fingers to swipe left or right, and you get a 'Command and Left/Right' interface, essentially this provvides a 'forwards' or 'back' function in browsers and Finder. Very handy (Note - this changes in Lion to swipe between screen spaces instead).
Double tap with two fingers in Lion and you open up 'Mission Control' an at a glance view of all your programs and windows running at any given time.
Ultimately for a visually simplistic device you get a lot of options in there.
Now, power supply is a bit of a pig to me, with two batteries I seem to get about a week's use out of the mouse - now while I've had a lot worse in the past I find this to be a disappointment, I'd have hoped for twice that out of a device made specifically to work with Apple computers (this device does not work with other computers), still, something to improve on for the next version Apple!
Connection to your Mac is very straight forward, simply turn on your bluetooth and setup bluetooth devices and you're away. It really is that simple. The mouse tracking feels a little sluggish to me, but I like my mice fast, I just adjust it in system preferences and it works fine for me.
Whilst Apple have added to the mouse's multi touch capabilities with Lion it's also worth pointing out that third party developers have also created some unofficial tools out there that can detect three or finger touches allowing for a greater range of access using the mouse. Unfortunately I've yet to find anything that lets me perform a dual left and right click together - a necessity as a gamer so the mouse has limited use for me.
Ultimately a very clever mouse, but not a tool I couldn't live without. It's an excellent product, but just not for me.
As someone who bought his first Mac 5 years ago as an experiment - to see what it was like - I'm a relatively experienced Mac user, and this review is written as such.
The reasons for my purchase of this iMac were simple.
* I knew my existing Macbook Pro wasn't cutting it any more for my purposes, I needing something with more 'oompf'
* I found a good deal (at Comet incidentally)
* I no longer needed portability.
Now onto the review of the machine itself.
The machine, and the 'siblings' in the range pack Intel's i3 (or in the higher cases i5/i7) processors. These are dual core chips and some of the latest mobility range available from Intel. Now while I'm not the most technical person when it comes to such thing I would like to pass some observations.
Dual core processors essentially allow two streams of information to be dealt with at once, as opposed to the traditional one. The easiest way to explain this is to compare it to a leaky bucket (bear with me) whereby a single hole lets a small amount of water through at once, creating another whole however allows twice as much to come through. It's not impossible to overload (indeed, there are four, six and I believe eight core chips in production on bigger machines) but it does mean that you've got a good amount of data bandwidth available. My machine came with a 3.2Ghz processor as opposed to the 3.06 here, a minor difference as both will give you the ability to manage any everyday processing functions. In fact mine quite happily handles video encoding, programming, office programs, mail clients, twitter and iTunes - all running at once without too much hassle.
Of course backing up this processor is a healthy 4gb of RAM. RAM is vital for effective multi tasking in a computer. These days I would advise that nobody buys a computer with any less than 2gb. Modern operating systems require more and more RAM as they develop more advanced features, now it's a reasonably common knowledge fact that Mac's require less RAM than Windows to perform the same task equally, as the Unix based operating system that is Mac OS X is more efficient in these terms than it's Windows counterparts, so believe me when I say that with 4gb of RAM the machine is quite capable of holding it's own. As I type this review I've got iTunes streaming video to my AppleTV, Google Chrome running a couple of tabs, Twitter, Mail and a video encoding piece of software running with no slow down what so ever. Whilst the machine supports up to 16gb of RAM I would say that even running 8gb should secure you for any but the most intensive software tasks.
The machine comes with a standard Apple Slot loading 'Superdrive' - put simply it's a DVD burner/rewriter. Nothing flashy, but it's there. Also on the removable media front there is an SD slot on the side of the machine, tidily hidden next to the superdrive slot. A first on this generation of machine I do believe, but nice for the photographers.
Regarding ports, round the back there are four USB, one firewire, one ethernet and a minidisplay port adapter. These provide plenty of connectivity to devices or a second monitor. That said with the Wifi and Bluetooth built in you'll generally not need these for mice, keyboards or internet connections, unless you choose to break from the standard gear (more on that later) there are also audio in/out ports. The biggest trouble with all of these ports is that they're all around the back - nice aesthetically but a flaming nuisance when you're trying to insert a USB stick, USB hubs are a necessity if you ask me.
Regarding graphics ability the card included isn't 'high' end but is certainly on the 'mid to good' range for the size display included. The computer comes with a 21.5" screen throwing out an impressive display resolution of 1920 x 1080 which can display HD film at full resolution happily, as well as handling many games at medium to higher settings at native resolution. The gloss on the screen is lovely on the whole, but if you dare catch the sun on it you're going to have a hard time seeing anything. Apple's recent obsession with glossy displays is somewhat frustrating and to be honest, I'd rather at least have the option of a matte screen. Though given this is my biggest problem with the machine I'd have to say it's not a deal breaker.
The included bluetooth keyboard gives a decent battery life, lasting for about a fortnight of my typical use on 2 AA batteries, the only thing that I didn't like was the lack of a number pad as I used one regularly for programming, those I have quickly adapted to this. The 'Magic Mouse' included is something of an interesting beast though. It's got a nice, simple Apple-esque design to it, no visible buttons to it. What it does have though is multi touch capabilities, similar to that of the iPhone or iPod Touch. It contains only basic controls, but the ability to swipe your finger to go back a page in the browser for example is really nice. The only minor complaint here is that you can't have a left and right click at once which as a gamer can be frustrating, I simply use a different mouse but for most the included mouse will be quite ample I'm sure.
Of course with the hardware comes software. Mac OS X 10.6.x is included - known commonly as Snow Leopard. An evolution of a software line that has developed over a decade Snow Leopard is fast, minimalistic, efficient and secure. The unix code base makes it very hard to crack without a users explicit permission so viruses and malware whilst not impossible, are very rare and generally fall to user error rather than a security flaw.
Talking to Windows users? Consider the dock your start menu, finder your Windows Explorer, and system preferences your Control Panel. Beyond that there's not much to learn.
Included as standard is Apple's iLife suite of software. Put simply this includes iPhone (a Picasa like photo organisation suite), iMovie (powerful movie editting software), and Garageband (music creation and editing software) all of which give the user a good experience out of the box with a good range of tools at their disposal. Of course should you wish to run Microsoft Office or other 'PC' software you usually can, but you will likely need to purchase a different version to run (though certain games for example are Mac/PC compatible now, World of Warcraft being a prime example)
Software can be expensive for a Mac if not bought carefully, that said the Mac App Store (available on OS X 10.6.8 and higher - a free software update) contains easily purchasable software that you can download over the internet, and in case you're one of those who still avoids online purchasing, simply purchase an iTunes gift card at most high street retailers and use that to top up your account, it's really that simple - the only limitation is your bandwidth.
The built in iSight works nicely with Facetime - a video calling solution that can be used to call someone's iPhone or iPod Touch (4 or 4th Generation) for free, that said it's equally at home with Skype or many other VOIP programs. Take your pick.
Ranging from just under a thousand pounds the iMac's don't come cheap, that said with a new display included every time along with a solid, fast and tidy hardware set they're definitely offering value for money. Prices range up to around £1600 for a 27" model so pick carefully, the bigger machines house a bigger screen, but also more powerful hardware so but the best you can - remember as an all in one you're going to have a job upgrading much more than the RAM.
Whilst I'm sure I could ramble on about this machine for some considerable time more, I feel that to do so would be 'geeking out' so I'll leave it at that. The Advantages and Disadvantages below provide a good summary of the machines high and low points but ultimately, if you're looking for a new machine you could go a damn sight worse than an iMac.
What a fantastic printer this is.
I bought this printer what must be nearly 6 years ago now when I got my first job working at PC World. After some demonstrations from a Canon sales rep that was in store I was sold.
The printer contains five seperate inks, two black, cyan, magenta and yellow. The reasoning behind two black cartridges is that this allows the printer to store one black cartridge soley for text printing, useful if you print out photos by the dozen but don't want to be caught short when printing that important last minute letter.
The photo print quality is stunning, even by todays standards I'm thoroughly pleased by it, offering edge to edge printing on sizes up to A4 with speeds that won't dissapoint you. The text quality is similarly high offering sharp, crisp print outs with the added bonus of automatic duplex (back to back) printing so as not to waste paper. The printer also supplies some pretty decent printing software, though if you plug in you can plug and play without this stuff too.
Paper storage is brilliant with top and bottom loading allowing you to load 60% of a ream of paper at once means you could effectively use this as a laser alternative if you really wanted to as you can set the printer to automatically use both trays, or if like me you use it for photo and text printing? Load one with nice photo paper and one with copier paper, simply use the switch on the front to chose which to use, or go into print preferences.
Also on the front of this printer is a USB port for pictbridge compatible cameras allowing you to print without the need to use your computer at all if you want to.
The ink can be dear, but then which photo printer isn't? Look at the cost of ink and you'll never complain about the price of petrol again (£10 for 9ml or the sort? that's about £900 per litre ;-) ) Still you pay for good results I suppose and that's what you'll get from this, time after time.
This little beauty was my first ever MP3 player and boasts a rather impressive 30gb of storage. Connection to the computer is done through a standard mini USB cable which is rather nice as it avoids the proprietry formats used by brands such as Apple and their iPod range.
The device features a number of buttons and switches which sadly lack any intuitive control, you don't 'know' where your fingers belong like on an iPod, but ultimately it's not that important as they are all clearly labelled.
Menu scrolling is done through the use of a school wheel which is pushed in to confirm a selection, although rather clever it can actually be a little uncomfortable on your thumb if you use it a lot.
The sound quality isn't bad, this will depend on your headphones setup but I certainly have no complaints in this sense.
A nice advantage is that you can simply plug into a computer and use as an external hard drive should you need to, little or no setup required here.
Also one of the few ranges of MP3 players to feature removable batteries, although boasting up to 14 hours playback on one charge having a spare never hurts, and this is easily done by popping the front panel off and simply switching out.
Downsides include the lack of USB charging, you need a seperate plug to charge from which is rather inconvenient if you're on the go a lot of the time.
Also with the device being an early version of the Hard Disk Drive style MP3 players it can be prone to jumping if knocked or bumped, hardly a huge issue, particularly if you're coming up from CD or minidisk players, but if you're used to solid state devices such as flash based players it can be jarring.
I picked up this monitor a couple of years ago as a cheap monitor for my university set up. It cost me about £90 at the time so I'm surprised to see Amazon selling it at £104 now.
The monitor is very much a budget monitor to my mind, although presenting a perfectly reasonable 1440 x 900 pixel resolution (a little stretched on a 19" screen today, but 2 years ago very acceptable) the colour presentation always seems off and I can't get photos to look 'right' on it, same for videos where I know what the colour should look like, but they just don't for whatever reason.
The monitor features dual inputs at the back, both VGA and DVI, this is particularly handy if you're short of space, as a student I hooked my PC in through the DVI socket and my Xbox 360 through the VGA, there are also a set of rather tinny speakers built in which you can also (with a bit of jerry rigging) run a consoles audio through.
The screen still plods along quite happily today and is something I've quite happy with for what I spent on it, that said today there are better options for similar money and it might be worth looking at bigger names such as Samsung and LG for a little bit more.
You know something? I promised I wasn't going to get one of these, I really did. As an avid Mac addict I wanted one from day one, but convinced myself it was just a giant iPod touch.
As an iPhone developer I came up with a great idea for an application, trouble was there's not enough screen space on my iPhone for it, so the logical step was to look at the iPad, so I went into a local PC World store to see what it was like, and later that day I found myself journeying up to Meadowhall in Sheffield to find one, £529 lighter in my wallet I had my iPad, the 16gb, 3G model. Now let me explain why I love this little toy so much.
So let's look at the screen first - the screen is typical of Apple, it's glossy, it's bright and it's sharp. Sure it doesn't have the retina display of the rather gorgeous iPhone 4, but carrying a 9.7 inch screen size and 1024 x 768 resolution it's none too shabby either. The screen is surrounded by a minimal black border - if you've got an iPhone or iPod touch look above or below your screen and you'll see what I mean. Mounted at the 'bottom' (more on that later) is the Home button, one of only a few buttons on the device. The device auto orientates it's view depending on how you hold it, want to read a website in landscape instead of the 'default' portrait? Go for it, just turn the device and it'll do it for you - in fact it's actually a 'recommendation' (read requirement) that developers support all four orientations when they build an application for the device so it won't matter how you hold it. This is good, as an iPhone user I expected to find myself using the device in portrait most of the time, however as I've started using it I tend to find myself reading most of the time in landscape mode.
The build quality on this device is actually rather shocking, for the size of it you'd expect to find it to be thin, light, and subsequently feeling like it would fall apart in your hands. It does none of these.
Though the device is far from being a brick it has a weight that feels substantial in your hands and is actually quite a pleasure, it does mean that probably a good ninety per cent of the time you'll find yourself holding it in two hands, however all that said this isn't necessarily a bad thing as I suspect this is how it is expected to be used, the large keyboard certainly lends itself to that assumption as it's no longer a peck and tap style keyboard as on the iPhone/iPod touch platform.
The switches on the device (power, volume, orientation lock and home) are all solid and feel well constructed with nothing feeling overly loose or flimsy which is everything I would expect from Apple. The screen seems to be pretty robust as well as I've got no scratches yet which is more than I can say for my iPhone 3GS which has a number of little blemishes. One thing that is a little disappointing is that there is still a minute dust trapping gap between the glass front and the aluminium back, a necessity for construction and servicing I suspect but can still be a tad frustrating.
This category is so hard to answer. The beauty of the whole iOS platform is the App store meaning that anyone can pick up and write an app for the iPad or iPod touch platform with a little time and programming experience, however for the sake of this review I will primarily look at the pre supplied software by Apple, which is surprisingly good. A nice touch on the iPad is Apple have done away with the stock applications that get lumbered on their smaller devices such as stocks, weather and the like - we all know the sort, the applications that come preinstalled but we hide on the last page. This was very nice to see as honestly, I have no stocks, I want no stocks, I'm not likely to ever use that accursed stocks application. Still from the flip side, this does also lose marks as I'm sure that other people do use it, maybe Apple could think about putting them up in the app store for free for people to download?
The other preincluded apps have been given an iPad overhaul and look stunning, graphically there's such attention to detail and Apple have really tried to make this look less like a computer and more like something you might use ever day, the calendar looks like a large filofax, the contacts book is similar.
App Store and iTunes have been given an overhaul to allow for the greater screen space, they just show more information, larger screenshots and so forth.
The iPod application is one that constantly bugs me however, now bear with me, this is going to be fussy....the iPod app looks like iTunes, not iPad iTunes, Desktop iTunes.
Where's the problem you're asking, well to be honest there's not, except I expect to find my videos in here too - it's the one part of the whole set up that's not that intuitive, instead videos are linked under a seperate Videos app. Hardly a huge deal but a tad annoying none the less. Something to think above for the future please Apple?
**Other little bits**
I love the battery life, Apple estimate 10 hours - I suspect that's about right, it rarely needs a boost even through a heavy day's use from the wife and myself.
Wireless is my one big niggle, it constantly drops on my home network and Apple can't seem to figure out quite why, I'm working on it but it's hardly reliable in that sense right now, the 3G signal however seems pretty damned good (I'm with Orange as a provider)
That said the wireless is b/g/n compatible, what this means is if you have compatible router and want to sit at the bottom of your garden, you can do it.
Syncing is done through iTunes, and if you've ever owned an iPod before you'll know instantly what you're doing, and if you haven't it's still pretty straight forwards to get used to.
Overall the device is wonderful, a large iPod? Well if that's what you want to see it for, go for it - but honestly, this device has so much more to offer than that if you explore it a bit more fully, the App store has thousands of options, and if you can honestly play Plants Vs Zombies without falling in love with this device then you're a stronger person than I am (go in PC World, Comet, Apple Store and try it. I dare you)
This is one of those shows that I've seen adverts for, heard people talk about and thought 'what a load of ****' however one slow day I decided that there was little better to do so got on youtube and started looking around a bit more on it, and I can officially say I'm now hooked, a Gleek if you will (a GLee gEEK as it were) The show has definite tastes of Grease about it but thoroughly updated for the modern high school student's experience, at least I guess it is! Been a few years now since I was in high school.
The show focuses on a gorup of social outcasts who audition for the schools show choir which down and out teacher Mr Shuster has taken it upon himself to revitalise.. Without giving too much of the plot away, as it does take some very interesting twists and turns throughout the first season, the show covers elements such as social standing, sexuality, teenage sex and pregnancy, adultery and many more besides.
The cast of the show is varied and covers all the 'demographic must haves' black, white, asian, disabled, male, female but to be honest, they're actually handled remarkably sensitively on the whole, the only exception to this sensitive approach is dynamic cheerleader coach Sue Sylvester. Now this woman is someone who at first glance you will absolutely despise, and I think that's perhaps the way this is intended, she is frequently bumping heads with Mr Shuster and his little followers, however as the series progresses it becomes clear that she is actually quite a caring person, and there are some scenes in the first season where Sue's actions will actually make you shed a tear or two.
The show's a hit, love it or hate it, it has been renewed for it's second and third seasons while only half way through it's first run, almost unheard of. Glee - get used to it, it's going to be around a while.
I have to say it's been nice to read some positive reviews on here as the encounters I have had with LoveFilm have been nothing short of dire.
We started with lovefilm owing to a free amazon voucher offer that came in an Amazon delivery, the idea of a couple of weeks free trial was definitely appealing. We took the trial and enjoyed the service then at the end of the two weeks rang to cancel the trial. Unfortunately due to leaving it too late we were already committed to another month, ok my fault for not reading the small print fully so I sucked it up and got on. Is phone call was sadly very frustrating, having a very weak line and a call centre staff member without an accent so heavy that it was nigh on impossible t understand the conversation.
Anyway over the coming month I was hugely dissapointed with the service quality. DVD's were often slow to arrive, and overall a quarter of those that did had faults of one form or another in a couple of cases rendering them unwatchable, now I do appreciate that with this sort of arrangement that this is unavoidable but I felt this ratio was particularly high, and when I reported it he time to get a replacement disk out was quite painfully slow, taking nearly a week.
Also of note is that there is no automated system to supply additional return envelopes for faulty disks so you have to request them which means that you could potentially go over the next renewal date while waiting...cunning.
Owing to all this I decided to take a payment holiday, these are a nifty feature which allow you to pause your subscription for up to twelve weeks, twice a year so you needn't pay when you don't want disks.
Towards the end of my holiday I decided to ring and cancel the account, his is where I really got annoyed, when I rang I was informed that my months payment had been taken and I might as well wait until September and 'save' some money, as I was on a holiday this should never have been the case which I attempted to explain to the again foreign sounding gentleman on the other end who repeatedly attempted to convince me that I had cancelled my holiday on that day. After several denials of is on my part I asked to speak to the manager where the line went silent for a couple of minutes before another man came on who was actually rather helpful and I formed me that he had cancelled my account and returned the charges. The result waits to be seen.
On a different note the email support has been quite good which I used to chase the amazon voucher and although a little slow they were much more communicative resulting in my free voucher.
Overall an experience I wish I hadn't tried, free was not worth the hassle, I've tried blockbuster online rental in the past and been very impressed, if I go back to online rentals it will most certainly be with them.
Well I'm of mixed opinions on this one. I bought this drive for two major reasons.
Price - the drive is actually really well priced for what it is, it may not be the best price out on the market but that ties us into reason two.
Brand - Seagate is a good branded hard drive, and a name of which I trust.
Now to the performance.
Transfer rates - transfers run over USB 2.0 much as you might expect, it does the job and is actually very fast, I've been really pleased on the whole and have no major complaints in this department - what is a bit distressing from my perspective though is sometimes when I boot up I find that the drive doesn't automatically mount under Windows 7, I've not much looked into reasons but unplugging the drive's power and plugging it back in tends to work well on the whole.
Style: Simple black box, it's really nice to look at on the desktop, at least as far as hard drives go.
Warranty: The drive comes with a 2 year limited warranty - I've not put this to the test yet but it beats the one year most come with, would be nice to see three though - why? Just feels a better number.
Power: The drive comes with power saving technologies it seems as after a period of inactivity it shuts down automatically which is a nice to those of us who are power concious.
You know I'm actually shocked by this one...
I borrowed this from my brother for 'something to watch.' I've always been a bit of a superhero geek but for some reason Batman's failed to grab my attention in any form comics, TV, film, so it was obviosuly quite a slow day when I put this into my blu-ray player this Sunday.
Two words (or is it one hyphenated?) awe-struck.
The film starts out on a fairly small stage - now I warn here that there may be a few spoilers but I'll keep it fairly light so hopefully I won't give the plot away for those who haven't seen it yet.
The opening scene shows us a group of masked robbers hijacking a bank, ending with them all stabbing each other in the back as per orders from the mysterious 'Joker'. Of particular note during this scene is where the bank teller comes at the robbers with a shotgun from under his desk, that did make me laugh, and then wonder why we don't see this more often...still sides aside this results in us getting our first encounter with the Joker who makes his escape in a school bus straight into rush hour. Clearly this guy's a bit clever...
Now without spoiling the rest of the plot the bank was a mob bank run by the local mafia types that the Joker's decided should be doing his bidding. Now naturally our local vigilante isn't going to stand for this and ends up getting involved, and actually has circles run around him for a good part of the film, it's a wonderful blend of action sequences and some out and out clever moments - seriously, whoever wrote this film should actually be locked up as they have real potential to cause serious damage to someone! Some of the Joker's plots are out and out fiendish and actually give some real 'edge of the seat' moments where you're wondering what's going to happen - none of which I shall bring up as I really do feel it would spoil the suspense of the movie.
Suffice to say it's a small twist of an ending, though maybe for those more familiar with the Batman mythology it's less so - I don't know. Either way it's a stellar film from start to finish and I shall make sure to pick up Batman Begins at some point soon to see if that matches this in quality. A* all the way through - well done.
Now one sad little piece I'll put in at the end here is that it was a shame that the Joker was left open for a sequel as the actor who played him was found dead not long afterwards meaning this will sadly never happen but what a stunning end to a career and life. Congratulations.
The Skypephone is the product of mobile network 3's handset team. The aim of the handset though not officially advertised, is clearly to help promote the network's recent(ish) scheme of offering free Skype coverage.
Well although this review is focused primarily on the phone with a contract it's worth me pointing out that it is also available on Pay as you Go at a current price (2nd August) of £39.99.
On contract it becomes a little bit more complicated as Three don't sell you your handset up front and instead incorporate it into the monthly bill that is your tariff but as it was put to us, it was free on a £15 'mix and match' or more tariff essentially making it a sort of budget handset.
Our £18 a month contact that we took the phone on offers a great deal for us.
Free Live Messenger, eBay and 3 to 3 calls (300 minutes a month, the same as five hours).
500 Minutes or Texts - this was valuable to my wife, who for the life of her won't/can't/forgets to respond to almost any text message sent to her - how it works is simple, for your £18 a month you essentially get 500 units, each text costs 1 unit, and each minute of calling costs 1 unit. This means you can have 500 texts a month, or 500 minutes, or 300 minutes and 200 texts, or any other combination - easy enough right? Yep.
Voicemail is of course included as a freebie.
The software included is fairly standard for a mobile device these days, obviously calling texting and MMS features are included, as is camera software. All of this seems rather robust and we had no complaints with any of it on the whole, the phone book was a little slow on initial load up but this tends to be the case with almost all phones so is hardly S2 specific.
Skype comes preloaded onto the phone which is perhaps a bit of an obvious statement as the phone is branded as a Skypephone, now this is where the really clever things start.
Create yourself a free skype account either on the phone or as is perhaps easier, on your computer - not that that's a fault with the phone, just a fact of mobile internet vs computer internet.
Once your account is created you can add friends and family through their skype usernames, this then enables you to send either chat messages (like a desktop instant messaging client) or call them to speak to them as a normal phone call.
That probably comes out a lot more garbled than it really is but Skype allows you to call anyone with a Skype account, either another 3 user or someone with Skype on their computer for free, this can be a real money saver, or a neat gimick, depending what you make of it. Personally the wife and I use it when we can to save a few minutes here and there but still generally call each other over the standard phone network's when we need each other in a hurry, this isn't any huge problem with Skype, it's simply that we don't tend to keep skype on on the computers. Perhaps where it is more useful is for people calling the mobile for example those who would rather not pay the thirty or fourty pence a minute that someone such as BT charge to dial from a residential line can just plug their microphone into their PC and click on the phone owner's username to call them completely for free.
It's a bit of a mish mash of a service, but it's for free and as Skype seems to be becoming a bit more mainstream these days it's something that will almost certainly develop over the coming few years into a real cornerstone of the market. Perhaps it's also worthy of note here that you do need a decent Network coverage to talk on skype but the requirements are fairly minimal.
Well having just come off of a rather expensive Vodafone contract this felt like very good value for my wife, cutting her bill in half per month and keeping the same number of minutes was a real deal. The only thing we really miss is the 'Stop the Clock' feature that Vodafone have, that said the free Skype service is brilliant but we've already covered that for the most part.
In spite of it's budget pricing the S2 does feel a very well constructed handset, it comes in a 'candybar' style, essentially meaning it's a normal phone, not a flipper, not a slider, nor anything else weird and wonderful, just a phone. This lack of movable parts actually makes the phone feel very robust and sturdy something that can easily be overlooked in today's world of all singing gadgets - not that there's anything wrong with gadgets and what have you but sometimes solid construction can be just as important.
The keys on the keypad are small and slim with a chrome finish but in spite of this seemingly fiddly layout they are actually well enough spaced that you wouldn't know how small they are and rather feel like they are 'normal' shaped buttons that you would expect on a phone from a few years ago. This is a real bonus given that in todays world keys are getting smaller and more fiddly, or on occasion touchscreen and therefore losing the tactile sensation that comes with real keys.
The screen is bright and clear, offering a good view of whatever you should happen to have on screen at the time which is of course a definite bonus especially as the camera packed in the phone is halfway decent at actually taking photos as opposed to drunken night snapshots, it's not state of the art by any means but it's not terrible either - take that for what you will, I always view mobile phone cameras as being a bit naff, I would still rather carry a seperate point and shoot with me given the choice as I believe that even the best phone camera still has a long way to go in terms of quality. The screen is highly scratch resistant and withstood being kept in pockets full of keys and loose change, as in fact did the rest of the phone now that I think about it which is nice as although I don't consider phones a fashion accessory it is nice if they're not covered in scratches.
Now here's where the phone really let itself down. I suppose the first thing I should state that this is all a case of being 'in our experience' and 'your mileage may vary' as the staff in the shop repeatedly told us how good the phone is, but for some reason the two that we owned weren't.
Essentially the problem comes that the phone loves to turn itself off, it didn't seem to matter what we were doing with it - talking, texting,or even charging it. It would just turn off for no evident reason. Now whilst this may not sound like the end of the world it was certainly a concern for us, as my wife uses her phone alarm to get up for work at stupid o'clock in the morning. We took it back into the store, somewhere in the region of 15 days after purchase, just a little over the 'cooling off' period that comes with a typical contact these days within which you may change your mind for whatever reason. The staff apologised and told us that this was a rather unusual situation and that the phone was well known for being reliable, but after we insisted our case we were told that we could have the phone sent away for diagnostics and the like. Obviously this wasn't to our liking after a little over two weeks of having a shiny new phone with shiny new monthly contract we were unkeen to pay for something we couldn't use. We pressed our point and the manager (or perhaps supervisor) in the 3 store offered to do a 'good will' exchange, after mumbling something about what good will really meant we took the exchange and went home 'reasonably' happy with the situation.
Sadly a couple of weeks later the new phone started doing the same trick, around ten days I think it was as it falls, so sadly we had to go in and push our point again, this time in a few less discreet voices in front of some other customers - I don't like making a scene but when I'm being told that this phone is perfectly reliable when it's the second one that I've had with the same error we couldn't help but feel a bit put off - eventually we managed to get the staff to offer us an exchange to a similar model of the Inq1 thus ending our experience with the Skypephone S2. The end result is we're not sure if this was a hardware, software or user fault, but it is something that I feel is well worth reminding people about if they are considering purchase of this otherwise brilliant little device.
Well sad as it is I'm a bit of a technology geek. I've owned in the last five years countless MP3's and iPod's as I seem to end up wanting the latest and greatest each time. It's a character flaw, but it does put me in an interesting position to be able to write reviews from!
I'll start my review by pointing out that the item is no longer available from Apple as it is a couple of years out of date. This was the second version of Apple's iPod Nano device. The device was a successor to the iPod Mini range that was a rather huge success and became one of Apple's best selling devices at the time.
--History of the device--
Apple entered the portable music market in 2001. Not the first to make a portable music device, but Apple considered the existing devices to be big, clunky and generally a bit useless - which from a non-biased point of view may be a little harsh as there were certainly other 'decent' contenders on the market at the time but Apple, as usual, wanted to do one better.
The first iPod was a rather chunky device, containing a five gigabyte hard disk drive. The hard disk drive at the time being the only remotely affordable way of offering such a capacity as the now 'standardish' storage format of flash chip memory was still much in it's infancy. The iPod however contained clear menus, a solid user interface and perhaps more importantly? looked good.
--The birth of the Nano--
The first iPod Nano was released in 2005 and was the first iPod to ever contain flash memory. It contained either 2gb or 4gb (and later a budget 1gb version). Flash memory was still rather expensive at the time and therefore a 4gb Nano cost more than a 30gb iPod (what is now an iPod classic - a hard drive based iPod)
Flash however did have several advantages. The first is that it is significantly smaller than a hard disk drive. Whereas a hard disk might be a couple of inches long and a few eights of an inch thick, a flash chip is small enough to fit on a finger nail and only millimeters thick. This allowed Apple to downsize the iPod considerably, the iPod Nano at the time of release could easily be fitted three or four times into the standard iPod of the time and was considerably lighter.
Another little advantage that came with this new iPod's flash memory system was the fact that Flash memory is a solid state memory format, whereas a hard drive has moving parts. Now while this may sound like a geeks moment it's worth pointing out that moving parts on a hard drive is similar to your old CD Walkman whereby if you gave it a jolt the laser reading the disk misread and made your music skip or jump. This same fault would sometimes happen with the hard disk drive based iPods, whereas due to the lack of moving parts the Nano could be bounced, thrown, juggled around and not skip once - a real advantage for those on the move or those who wanted to use an iPod while on a physical workout.
Flash memory also draws less power, I would imagine due to it's lack of movement but I actually don't know the technical reason for it. Ultimatley it means that a Nano offers hours longer music playback than a solid state alternative.
Now my previous iPod to my Nano was a hard disk based iPod and whilst I have to say I rarely noticed the skipping it was there, I'm not the most active person but it bugged me when I did. The change to flash was a bit of a no-brainer to me, longer battery life, no skipping and smaller size all came together to make this a very appealing deal.
This particular model of Nano saw the return of the anodized aluminium cases that were originally present on the iPod Mini. These were removed from the original nano in favour of a soft plastic black and white casing that whilst attractive looking was prone to scratching and damage, often blemishing the screen.
This model of iPod replaced the plastic with a matt coloured metal casing that proved particularly scratch resistant, as did the screen on the machine. The device has spent many years in my bags, pockets and other containers with keys, pens, change and goodness knows what else and came out with at most a couple of scratches to the edges where the metal surround met switches. In fact to do any serious damage to the case it took my wife treading it into our gravel drive way and scraping it across (long story) and even then the screen did not break but instead received a deep scratch.
Markings wise the case contains the normal iPod scroll wheel that houses most of your controls, play, skip, volume and many more. This wheel is white which provides a contrast to the coloured casing that makes the most of the iPod. On the back of the case are a few technical details, the Apple logo and name, as well as a small symbol showing you the capacity of your model. The bottom of the iPod contains your headphone jack and the dock connector both of which are fairly standard, the dock connector allowing you to connect any number of accessories to it such as speakers, remote control headphones, radio adapters, and probably many more I've not thought of. The top simply consists of a hold button to prevent accidental knocking of the controls while you use it, a very useful function indeed.
Colours varied through the life of the device, my own is a rather bold blue which I love, but other half a dozen were produced other the devices life span and if you're thinking of picking one up second hand it's worth looking around for the right one.
The iPod Nano gives a full set of music playback features, it's fair to say that none of these are particularly revolutionary but are solidly implemented. The standard shuffle and repeat functions are there and can be switched on and off as you wish.
Now the music menu system is what, to me, makes an iPod an iPod - even more than the beautiful design and the click wheel. The music menu system first of all lets you use playlists that can be synched from your iTunes playlist or creating playlists whilst out on the move by the press of a few buttons. This can be great if you sometimes want to listen to a small group of songs, I for example keep the songs that were sung at my wedding on a playlist so that if I ever want to hear them I may do so without skipping through several others. Playlists are listed alphabetically and can be played either in order or shuffled depending on which you choose. Scrolling up and down the list is done by moving your finger around the wheel and selections are made by pushing the coloured circle in the center.
You can also select to play songs by a particular artist, so if you have just put say...Mika's new album onto your device and want to listen to it you can scroll through artists to find Mika, and then select either all albums, or his most recent. It's such a simple system that we take for granted on a desktop computer but on a mobile device is really smartly implemented and something that I know I've come to take for granted.
Other searching options include browsing by song title and album title, both implemented with similar finesse. It's also worth pointing out that you can 'search' for a song, say if you remember you've got a song with the word 'ball' in the title you can search 'ball' for all songs containing that word (not in the lyrics - that's not included). This is a tad tedious as typing by scrolling through the alphabet with the wheel is tedious at best, but if you're desperate? Well it works, let's go that far shall we?
A nice little point is that when playing back your music you can see album artwork on your device alongside the songs details, that is if you have artwork in iTunes obviously. It's a nice touch but not a dealbreaker. You can also whilst listening rate your music using a rating of between one and five stars which then synchronises back with your iTunes library - a nice little idea.
Like the earlier Nano and the colour screened iPods the 2G nano has photo storage capabilities. These have to be synced from the library on your computer, on your Mac this comes from iPhoto...on Windows I'm actually not sure - sorry! The photos are well stored with a similarly intuitive menu system but sadly due to the nano's diminutive size the photos are so small it's hardly worth putting them on. I guess if you want to carry your photos with you just in case then it's nice, but as a portable photo album it's not worth it, most mobile phones outdo this device for photo viewing. What is nice is that you can opt to store full resolution versions of the photos on your device, whilst this doesn't improve display of them it does mean that via use of the iPod's optional disk mode (a setting that lets you use the iPod as a USB flash drive via use of the included dock connecting cable) you can pull them up on any PC or Mac. This can be a bit more useful and almost makes it worth doing. I hate to say iut but I can't help but feel that Apple put this facility in simply because they felt they had to - once you've put a feature in it's hard to take it out again so to speak.
The nano comes with some rather handy little extra features too. The first of these is an alarm. This can either be played through the internal speaker in which case all you get is a rather quiet beep, quite disappointing, but perhaps useful if you just need a reminder. If you'd rather you can set up the iPod with some external speakers and program it to play from a particular playlist instead, in this mode it's a lot more useful and can be used as an effective alarm clock.
A sleep timer is also included, so if as for me you like to fall asleep to music sometimes you can set a certain time to shut off after to avoid wasting your battery life overnight.
A stopwatch and security lock are also involved but are features that I have never really found an indepth use for, the stopwatch does have a lap timer which is useful I suppose but in my life I actually rarely need a stopwatch and I don't exactly keep anything worth hiding on my iPod so I feel security is not an issue.
The iPod contains some simple games, a music quiz where you have to identify the music playing from a selection, scoring points for the quicker identifications. Also included are standard mobile phone fodder such as solitaire...which strangely Apple have yet to include on the desktop operating system...just saying!
Sadly the iPod comes with Apple's standard earbuds, these are love them or hate them I'm afraid, and I hate them. They fall out of my ear, offer minimal sound isolation and frankly offer poor sound quality.
Also included is a standard issue iPod USB cable to sync and charge from your computer, but if you want to charge from the mains you'll need to shell out for a separate wall adaptor.
--Current day use?--
Overall the 2G iPod Nano is still a very solid device, I've been using mine for many years and it still performs admirably. It syncs seamlessly with iTunes, something that I still value greatly and although I now use my iPhone as my primary MP3 player the nano lives in my glove box to plug into my car stereo when we're driving.
As for pricing? I paid around £120 when I first bought the device, but I think being reasonable as you can now get an 8gb video capable iPod for £107 it's perhaps reasonable to look in the £60-70 for one in decent condition as bar the capacity and the lack of video playback the device is still very capable, with physical damage I'd expect this price to drop a little. These aren't official prices of any sort, but I'd say that it would offer good value for money.
If you're after a cheap iPod this is definitely worth considering, it may not have the video playback of the newer models but it's certainly a bargain on the second hand market at the minute.
Resident Evillll 5.
I first got into the resident Evil series some years ago now with Resident Evil 2 on the original Sony Playstation. I'm not sure why I ended up playing the game in the first place as frankly as a child I was easily scared and playing it close to bed time did give me a few nervous late night wanderings of the landing at my parents house, but play it I did - and loved it. I have to presume I was about 13 at the time due to having the early non-dualshock edition of the game so I was well below the game's certification age.
Anyway that's ancient history now, but something about the adventures of Leon and Claire got me into the series and I've since owned a good number of the series on various platforms, with the only 'core' game I've missed being the gamecube release of Resident Evil Zero, a prequel to the 'original game'.
This history perhaps gives you a bit of a background as to why I was so excited at the thought of Resident Evil 5. RE5 is the first Resident Evil experience on the latest 'High Definition' generation of consoles and follows directly in the footsteps on Resident Evil 4 in a number of ways
The game takes the form of an over the shoulder shooter as it's predecessor did. This was a stark difference from most previous RE games where the emphasis was firmly on puzzle solving and enemy avoidance, trying as it were, to escape from Racoon City (or in later games infiltrating/escaping various Umbrella facilities).
Whilst there is still some puzzle solving in the game it is far diminished os that now when you come across a puzzle you tend to think 'oh a puzzle....ummm ok' as opposed to thinking 'Damn, a moon crest again? Seriously....darn it.' Personally I feel that the balance has shifted a little too far this time, although I love the extra shooting emphasis on the newer games I would have liked a bit more of a push on the puzzles again, something to make me think a bit more again. It's not to say that puzzles in the game are 'easy' but they certainly do not challenge most minds most of the time.
So what does the gameplay offer?
I shan't say much so as to not spoil but the game feels like it ties up a lot of loose ends from around the series over the last 13 years, bringing back familiar names, places and ideas.
We have Las Plagas zombies again as in RE4 rather than the Virus based zombies in RE1,2,3,0. This isn't a bad thing but I do miss hearing about the T/G Virus sometimes.
Overall? The story makes sense and I think that's the most important thing, it may not be the most exciting, it may not end logically (don't ask!) but it's solid throughout and makes this a worth addition to the Resident Evil Series as a whole.
The main character within the game is Chris Redfield, veteran of, amongst others - Resident Evil 1. Alongside him is his partner in the BSAA Sheva Alomar, an exotic African woman who is partnered with Chris to allay local's fears of American involvement in the local affairs.
Now from a gameplay point of view this gives a few options.
The first is that you play the game with Sheva played by a computer AI. This has actually been done really well and Sheva plays rather intelligently, engaging enemies with a bit of common sense, even if she will tend towards using her handgun instead of a more suitable weapon (for example 'sniping' zombies from afar using a handgun instead of a rifle). That said the partner controls are quite well done, allowing you to allocate item pick ups to yourself or your partner and performing a few cooperative moves such as jumps, door openings, rescuing your partner from a zombies grips. You can also exchange items with your partner at most points in the game. AI control also allows you to get the full story as well, as Sheva often offers little tidbits that are scripted in that you can miss if a human controls her.
The second, third, and fourth options both involve a human partner, either via system link, split screen or Xbox Live.
These all play pretty similarly. System Link and Xbox Live (Requiring a gold account) both give you control of a single character, allocating the other to the other player, who you control is dependent on whether you host or join a game and both characters are similar, a few different weapon options, a few route options but nothing significant making both characters fairly even to play. The only major difference is a left/right thing - with Chris appearing on the left side of the screen, and Sheva on the right. It sounds minor but it actually takes some getting used to. PLaying with a human AI makes a bigger difference to the story telling as the characters interact a bit less but this doesn't actually impact hugely, you miss a few hints, a few side stories but none of it massive.
The split screen is sadly a bit of a let down the split is a horizontal split, one player on top, one on the bottom, however the problem here is that it doesn't use the whole of the top or the bottom, instead using about two thirds of each. This sadly makes pictures look quite small even on a reasonable sized TV (32" here) so I wouldn't suggest this on anything smaller.
How do I play? I play on System Link with my wife. The reasoning for this is simple, the split screen is horrendous, it really spoils the graphical beauty of the game, and playing on Xbox Live usually resulted in some twelve year old boy calling me a 'noob' everytime they ran into a hoard of zombies they couldn't handle and thus dying.
The game is adorned with ammunition all over the place, you're rarely short of a bullet to pop into an enemy's head which is useful given the new shooting/action emphasis of the games since RE4.
Sadly Chris isn't any better at shooting than he was the first time he took on Wesker back in the Mansion at Racoon City. Sure he has a wider range of guns, a laser sight, but he still can't move an shoot, and sadly that hampers the game as a shooter, it sounds crazy, and after thirteen years of the series it is too! Sure this isn't a run and gun game, but if there's a monster chasing me from behind and a horde of zombies in front of me, I'd love to be able to charge at them, fire a few bullets to clear a way through and keep running, a good survival tactic, well at least above 'I'd best stand here, take aim, shoot and hope the guy behind me doesn't catch up.'
Zombie body parts are reactive to shots, this isn't new but it's nice that you can take a zombie down by kneecapping him, or make him drop his weapon by shooting his arm out.
- Bonus Modes-
There are as always bonus modes to this Resident Evil. Although I suspect I haven't found everything yet, the main one however is Mercanaries. This sadly has been dumbed down since it's first appearance in Resident Evil 3. There it was an objective based, city escaping, mad brawl - something that was great to play. This time it's more of a 'shoot as many zombie heads as you can in two minutes' game. Which whilst fun, isn't quite as satisfying.
Whilst not technically a bonus mode, it's worth saying that there are loads of unlockables, alternate costumes, bottle cap figures, extra weapons, unlimited ammo and more besides. These are all completely unnecessary to the overall game but do add a bit of fun to it all. Just as a side note the host in a multiplayer game can choose whether or not to allow unlimited ammo weapons which means that the playing field can be kept level.
These aren't your average Zombies...in all fairness they're not really Zombies at all anymore, they're Majini - faster, smarter, and better armed - you start the game fighting some fairly bland, slow witted sorts who snack on the occasional human but by games end you'll be running for your bullet proof vest, but I shan't say too much more.
Some familiar faces make a hi-def revamp, such as the Licker Beta, the Tyrant and the mutant dogs, also it's worth noting that the brains behind the whole situation is familiar to series fans.
The Bosses are typically resident evil - whilst you can expend dozens of clips to kill each one, there's usually a smarter way, the environment around can make a huge difference, exploding drums, proximity mines, furnaces - or simply reading a nearby file for a clue as to vulnerabilities - it's a mixed bag, but some of the...grander bosses can be a thrilling fight and very emotional, and you'll get what I mean when you fight them, it's a big spoiler which I won't spill.
Graphically the game is a real beauty - the game moves from the traditional dark and dingy of past games and into the sunlight, which while sounding less scary doesn't really matter, the enemy are that much quicker you'll still get a good fright.
The hi definition move from PS2 to PS3 is, I would say, less noticable than that from PS1 to PS2, I can't quite figure how to explain this but when the model you're looking at is a horde of rotting flesh, does it really matter how sharp the image is? I don't know, it's not that they're not impressive, it's just less noticable. That said the environments are a lot more immersive, better lit, more dust, more dirt, little things that make it more believable, I'd hate to guess the technological implications of all this but I suspect it's something to do with how many particles can be generated at once or something! Either way it looks cracking. Add to that that when characters talk their lips are synced whilst in actual gameplay, a small touch some will probably notice and some will probably never tell. My personal favourite are the occasional smoking barrels on my shotgun, love it! I'm sure there are other nice touches I've not noticed and I'd love to hear some in the comments section.
Downloadable Content. Since release Xbox have released an expanded multiplayer mode to download, but as I don't currently have a Gold account which is needed for it, I can't pass comment - but it's there, and I believe free so go for it if you do.
A big bug bear of mine in games this is, I hate waiting hours for a game to load, fortunately with RE5 I don't have to - load times are so quick I don't get chance to read the text displayed on screen (background to the resident evil saga) between scenes. Fortunately this is available elsewhere on the disk but it does make me wonder why they bothered to put it there, bit silly if you ask me! Still, nobody did....sob.... :'-(
I don't load games onto my Xbox but I suspect load times would be near non-existant if you installed it to your Hard Disk so if you're even fussier than me this may be worth considering.
--Value for Money--
As I've been a bit strapped for cash I waited for a price drop before buying and paid £25 for my copy, and being honest I'm glad I did - good value as it may be I feel that the full RRP of £39.99 would be a bit much, although quality the game lacks quantity and can be quite short for an enthusiastic player, I'd hazard a guess if I had nothing else on and my wife would stick with me in coop it could be done casually in a weekend, but the bonus modes add to this. I'm replaying now trying to unlock everything, bonus modes, graphics filters (not as fun as they sound, allow you to play in Black and white or sepia as 'horror modes'), figurines, unlimited ammunition...It's got legs for the obsessive player, the achievement collector or the plain nutter, but if you're the type of player that just plays the single player I'd wait a little longer still if I were you.
The game is pretty cool, it's pretty, has a nice mix of puzzles and shooting, and has plenty to unlock. The gameplay will be a huge hit with fans of Resident Evil 4, but if you didn't like RE4 and preferred the older slower paced games from the PS1 then steer clear.
Fortunately there are demoes available on the Marketplace so if in doubt try them first, they give a reasonable demonstration of the game and I feel offer a good indicator, both from early on in the game, including my much maligned split screen mode.
Overall I think I'd split down as follows.
Single Player Experience: 8
Game Length: 7 - Still needs to be longer, felt shorter than the earlier games.
Game Life: 9 - Loads to unlock and collect.
Sound: 8 - High quality but sometimes the acting feels a little wooden.
A solid game, but sometimes a little lacking overall.