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When I moved into my own place I only had a cheap and nasty kettle roughly around the same age as myself that was kindly passed down to me by my grandfather and the time came when it packed up and refused to do anything but sit on the work surface and look scummy and completely out of place. When deciding on a replacement it was a choice between a flash futuristic looking device that would cost the Earth or a cheap - gets the job done number and I opted for the latter with money being tight.
I bought the Philips HD4628 from Amazon using an online voucher from another review site adding the difference making the total cost including postage and shipping £27.94.
Available in 3 colours I opted for the plain white. Looking up will show you what the kettle looks like and to be honest there is nothing super duper about the kettle - it looks basic - it is basic - but it does what it is meant to do - boils water.
The kettle has a water level indictor up the side so it can't be overfilled and holds 1.7 litres of water which when fully filled takes approximately 4 minutes to completely boil from standing which is reasonable in my eyes.
The kettle is easy to fill as it has a large spout and this means that I don't even have to bother taking the lid off - the ultimate in lazy! In addition to this - the kettle has a scale filter - I'm not sure what it does and the water from the kettle tastes no different from the water that came out of my old kettle.
Overall I'm pleased with my buy and would recommend it as a nice basic kettle - if you have a flash kitchen this will look out of place and nasty to be honest but if you are just looking for something functional that won't leave you penniless - this is for you.
Toast has and will always continue to be part of my staple diet - its easy to make - cheap and a quick way to stop hunger pains for striking - especially when I have a hangover. I bought the Kenwood TT890 as the electric grill on my oven was poor and at £24.99 it seemed a bargin.
Well built the Kenwood TT890 comes in one colour - white and struck me as quite posibly the most basic toaster I had ever seen - the box contained the toaster and a very basic instruction manual - there is no warming basket that sits on the top and one isn't available to buy seperately.
The toaster will hold comfortably 4 slices of bread and is easy to operate - there are 9 heat settings and once done it automatically releases the bread to avoid it burning - unless thats how you like your toast. Toasting can be stoppe at any time by pressing the cancel button and that pretty much sums up everything there is to describe it.
Performance wise the TT890 makes up for its basic functions and lack of special details - the elements heat up very quickly and it takes approx 2 minutes to get bread a lovely golden brown.
As for flaws the only issue I have is that the crumb collection tray isn't easily removeable and is very fiddly - in the end I just turn the toaster upside down and shake it over the bin to remove crumbs.
I'm pleased with my purchase - its a good low cost toaster that does the job - and does it well.
I can tell that the weather is about to change - thats sunshine is on its way and the flowers are about to bloom into all their glory - my eyes start to itch - my nose runs and I generally feel like I've been punched in the head by Mike Tyson. Spring and Summer are not my favourite seasons - that was until I discovered Zirtek antihistamines which I bought for £2.17 from my local Boots store.
I chose Zirtek on the recommendation of the girl behind the counter as Piriton would react with my other medications and she swore blind that Zirtke was the fastest acting and best on the market.
The packet I bought contained 7 small tablets and an instruction leaflet that should be read before you take them - I did this and popped a pill into my mouth in a fit of desperation. It only took about an hour before my nose started to stop running and within 2 hours my eyes has stopped itching so they did work and they worked really fast which is a huge plus for me. After another few hours my eyes stopped stinging completely and the symptoms didn't start again until the following day.
I have now been using the tablets for 4 days and it feels like I've got my life back again - I can go out and walk around parks and garden centres without feeling like death warmed up and I also don't look like I've been crying for a week. Another plus point is that I have had no side effects to the tablets.
Zirtek can be used to treat hayfever, allergies such as dust or pet allergies and swellingh and redness of the skin and I would recommend them to all. These are fantastic and I will continue to take them for the rest of the summer.
Patented cyclone technology - you just can't beat it - or so Dyson say and I have to agree. When I moved into my new place the one thing I had completely forgotten about was a vacuum cleaner and this lead to much rushing around when I realised that my cough and wheezing was down to the amount of animal hair left by the previous owners. Not being well off enough to pay for new carpets I decided that I had to go forth and buy a Dyson - after all everyone I had spoken to raved about them.
I paid £223 for my DC08 from www.vacs4u.com and the picture above shows it off - it's small, compact and sits nicely in the storage space by the front door - something an upright cleaner wouldn't do.
The DC08 like all Dyson's doesn't use vacuum cleaner bags; instead the entire collection barrel is removed and emptied directly into the bin. The DC08 is incredibly easy to use - it has an off/on switch, the barrel is easy to remove and is done by pressing only one button and filters are easy to access and change.
Instead of pushing the cleaner around, which is the norm with an upright cleaner, the telescopic pole is used to direct the suction and you simply drag the DC08 around behind you. The good points of this is that due to the wheels it couldn't be any easier to move around the room - stairs are a doddle due to the lightweight nature of the unit and the telescopic pole allows me to access areas that would normally require me to move furniture to reach.
Despite the knocks and scrapes it receives on a day-to-day basis the sturdy plastic coating has only scratched a little and there has been no damage that has actually affected the performance.
My DC08 came with a 5 year warranty and to date I haven't had to use this but I have spoken to the Dyson customer care line after a blockage in the telescopic pole - they were really helpful and talked me through how I could remove it without attaching lots of pipe cleaners together (a thought I seriously considered) and called back the following day to check that all was well.
Overall I wouldn't buy consider buying any other brand of vacuum cleaner in the future as my DC08 has added me to the legion of Dyson fans. After using it the first time I was shocked and overwhelmingly disgusted with the amount of hair - dust and fluff that was removed from the carpets as I moved around and over a week it became my new toy - yes I actually enjoyed hovering just to see how much was being sucked off the carpet. After a week or so my allergic reaction to the cat hair that had been left started to clear up.
The Dyson DC08 is an animal by name - animal by nature.
As part of my job I have to give presentations - something I fear and loathe. I lack the ability to exude confidence and I felt that this would hamper my progress. As an idea a colleague suggested that I borrow his digital camcorder - film myself giving a presentation and then work back through it looking at areas of my body language - speech and display that could be tweaked and improved. Being desperate I took him up on the challenge and borrowed his Canon MV 960 - I understand that when he bought it the retail price was £365 but when I finally came to purchasing my own after being dazzled I found it much cheaper at £265 from the Pixmania website.
Although I didn't do the filming on the first occasion - obviously I have now had the opportunity to take the camcorder on holiday with me - to family weddings and birthday celebrations and each time I found that the range of features has been out of this world although at first it is very fiddly to get to grips with what buttons do what - which switch setting relates to which feature and so on but a lengthy read of the comprehensive instruction manual should resolve these initial problems.
Weight wise the entire unit weighs just shy of 2 kg and fits perfectly into the palm of my hand - the adjustable strap attachment adds that little bit more security when wandering around filming - it isn't likely to fall from your grip.
First and foremost this is a camcorder and requires a memory card - this had to be bought separately - I purchased a 1GB card which will allow hours of filming and the storage of hundreds of still digital photographs. I haven't yet managed to fill the card and when it does finally start to reach maximum capacity the USB attachment and software makes transferring files to my laptop very easy.
So what does it do? Well it records digital quality films and filming could not be easier - the colour LCD viewfinder is pulled out to enable the cameraman to see what is being recorded. The LCD display is crystal clear and also shows the amount of memory left on the memory stick along with the current battery strength. Built in within the unit is a microphone that picks up a wasp farting 25 yards away it is that sensitive so wandering around family functions slating off big fat Aunt Sally under your breath isn't advisable unless you want to be written out of the family inheritance faster than you can say "Fat Fighters is what she needs" - Yes I did say this very quietly and yes it was picked up! Not good as I had used the x25 zoom feature to zoom in on her love handles! Oops!
Playback of films is simple - you can playback to the viewfinder or attach the unit to the TV or PC and the picture quality (depending on the cameraman/woman) is great thanks to the auto-focus function.
As well as recording films the viewfinder with the quick flip of a switch becomes the viewfinder for the digital camera and it allows for pictures to be taken in colour, black and white and sepia. All in all, the picture quality is awesome although because the unit is so long I have found that holding on using just one hand when suffering from the morning after the night before trembling hands causes a lot of blurring. The digital camera feature isn't the best, but if you are prepared to take your time the results are worth it.
A great digital camcorder that now won't cost the Earth.
What can you say about a microwave oven? It's cooks food and it does it without being too complicated! There - review done! Alas this is Ciao and opinions dare not stop that short so here is my in-depth analysis of what I call my instant food zapper.
Most households nowadays have a microwave oven even if just to warm up meals faster than the conventional oven - to make the delicious microwave popcorn for evenings in front of the television or to actually do all there cooking. I am of course referring to the godsends that are microwave meals for single males. Also known as microwave meals for one.
As luck would have it as an associate of Sharp I qualify thanks to a few words in the right ears for their 30% staff discount when bought direct. I needed a reasonably priced microwave and with the discount plumped for the R249 model for only £34.99 - They usually sell for £49.99 so even without the discount it is still a model that I consider falls within the budget range.
The R249 comes in a choice of white - white or white and has a 800w power output making it considerably powerful and no lightweight when compared with other more expensive models from the same manufacturer or competitors. It looks rather stylish with it's curved edges and isn't that heavy that you will need two men to lift it onto the work surface.
As is standard with most microwave ovens this model has an LCD display that shows the power level - option selected and timer. What sets it apart is that when working it shows the time set and then also a countdown clock to show the time remaining. I'm not sure of the purpose but I've never seen another oven do this.
The cook and defrost features are all programmed via the touchpad and using it for the first time was very easy. As usual I didn't consult the instruction book and frankly didn't have to as it was that easy to work out. Consulting the instruction book for cooking times and required power levels is recommended though at some stage!
The oven is pre-programmed with options for defrosting chicken - pies and the like but I've never used this feature.
Overall I'm chuffed with my microwave - it cooks my ready to eat meals and makes the popcorn when required. The smooth coating is easy to wipe clean and the plate inside is removable to be washed as and when required making this one hell of a buy in my opinion. Even at £49.99 I can't see the need to spend more on any other model - this is all you need.
Say Sony, think quality, thats what I thought when I parted with £49.99 of my own - yes my own hard earned cash for the Micro Vault 4GB flashdrive. The amount of files I'm now moving and carrying around with me had got to the stage where I needed something reliable with a huge storage capacity so that I knew if I needed to store a massive powerpoint presentation to take on the road with me - I could with confidence. I ended up buying the Micro Vault from Amazon as it came in at about the same price as other different models but had a full 2 GB more storage and this got my juices flowing so to speak. 2 GB more - for the same price - bargain!
The flashdrive is nothing to write home about - it's very functional - and looks pretty much the same as very flashdrive I've ever seen - port at one end and thats it. The Micro Vault does though have a lock on it so you can't save to it by accident when it is in the locked position - a nice gimmick - but how many times have you saved a file by accident ? If you are like me - it never happens - I'm not that careless - nothing but a gimmick in my opinion - a pointless gimmick at that.
The Micro Vault works in the same way as all other flashdrives - it plugs into the computer USB port and its ready to go - that pretty much sums up the instruction manual! It is very slim so it is possible to have 2 seperate pieces of detachable hardware plugged up to USB ports that are located above and below each other. It isnt so chunky you can only use this one.
I had been using the Micro Vault for 2 months when it decided that it would wipe all my files - yep - thats right - I saved a presentation - doubled checked that it was there before leaving the office and went home for the night. The following day I arrived at a client meeting - plugged it into the laptop that had been prepared for me and nothing - every file had gone - huge - huge embarassment and one hell of a bollocking when I got back to work - after all - how do you try and blame an inanimate object?!?
It worked well for a few months but then went haywire and has now been replaced with another model - not Sony and certainly not another Micro Vault - stay well clear!
Smokers will always need to light their demon weed and I am no different - a disposable lighter will cost you about £1 and lasts on average about a month - that is unless you lose it which I tend to do when out on the town - you also run the risk of someone "borrowing" it never to see it return so I decided to purchase a Zippo lighter for £14.99 from Timpsons on impulse after being dazzled by the shiny chrome.
The lighter I have is plain chrome and is operated by opening the hinged lid. The basic components of the lighter are the shell, the lighting mechanism and the cotton wool that absorbs the lighter fluid that has to be replenished normally about once a month - this is easy to do - but can be dangerous if you spill any.
The main bonus of the Zippo is that it has a lifetime guarantee - if it breaks you can send it back and Zippo will either fix it or send you a new one - bonus! Personally I have never had any problems with my Zippo and as long as it has lighter fluid it never fails to light first time and even in the strongest of winds the flame doesn't go out.
All in all you can't beat a Zippo - they are expensive to buy but are worth it in the long run.
I bought my copy of Medal of Honour - Euorpean Assualt from Game for £12.97 as it was a pre-owned copy - normally a brand new copy costs £29.99.
With all of the other games in the Medal of Honour series of games as a first person shoot 'em up you take control of an allied soldier as he progresses through various missions - in European Assault you also have a fire team of 3 other soldiers who stick to your tail or can be controlled to assualt enemy positions.
The graphics to European Assault are fantastic - the soldiers are really well defined and move smoothly around the playing area - tracer fire is clear and direct to enable you to see where shots are landing and in turn where shots are coming from.
The backgrounds are really detailed with crates containing logo's and explosions leaving craters in the ground around you - the fact that bullets leave bulletholes in crates and buildings is a great source of amusement to me.
The sound effects also leave you thinking you are actually in battle with bullets zinging and whizzing past your head as you wander around. The dialogue and pre-mission briefings are also clear and easy to understand.
Each mission has a set of clear objectives to complete with 3 hidden objectives which have to be uncovered. I found that each mission took around an hour to complete properly and I still hadn't unlocked all the the bonus missions. The game allows you to fight in 4 of the battles of the second world war - St Nazaire - Battle of the Bulge - Stalingrad and North Africa. Each mission requires a great amount of thought to plan tactics which makes the game overall interesting and very absorbing.
The controls are very easy to pick up and with 4 different difficulty levels this game offers something for everyone who enjoys war games that involve lightening quick reactions and a little brain power.
All in all, European Assualt is another great game in the Medal of Honour series and I would recommend it to everyone with an X-Box - the gameplay is interesting and keeps you occupied - the missions take a while to master and the graphics add to the air of battle as you progress.
Go out of buy Medal of Honour - European Assualt it is a wonderful game - You should note however that due to the theme it isn't recommended to people under the age of 16. Having played the game I can't see why it has such a rating. It is violent but war tends to be but there is no foul language and it isn't overly graphic when you shoot people.
Like every man who doesn't want to look like Jesus I shave on a regular basis normally every 2 days and have done ever since a naive youngster entered the bathroom took a Bic razor in hand and proceeded to recreate Nightmare on Elm Street. To say my first experience of shaving was painful is an understatement and over the years I have avoided Bic but also tried electric shavers and other razors that have protective bars - safety systems etc in an effort never to coat my bathroom in blood again. In the mid 1990's I found Gilletee Sensor and moved onto the Mach 3 Turbo as soon as it arrived on the shelves.
The razor is shown above and I bought the exact product for £3.99 at Morrisons - this contained the stem, 2 blades and a stand to keep the razor in. The stem is the length of a toothbrush and has a rubber grip across a number of ridges that making holding it with or without wet hands a breeze. The blades are attached to the end and hey presto, you are ready to shave.
What sets the Mach 3 Turbo apart from others in my opinion is the sharpness of the 3 blades that sit in rows across the razor head - they stay sharp for weeks and the moisurising strip that lifts hair before the razor cuts whilst at the same time leaving a fine layer of cream that sooths - It's as though the razor just glides through my beard and I rarely cut myself unless I am really clumsy and have my attention drawn away to other things.
Mach 3 Turbo gives me a close shave, doesn't cut my face to bits and the blades last a long time. Even though replacement blades are expensive they are well worth the money and are the best out there. I have just upgraded to the Mach 3 M3 Power Nitro (the vibrating razor) and would say that the Mach 3 Turbo is better and slightly cheaper.
Wow, now what a nice looking camera I can hear you all saying whilst sitting back from your screens in a state of shock. Yes indeed, this is one hell of a camera. Not only is it fairly cheap in digital camera terms it also produces stunning pictures whether you are a novice or an aspiring David Bailey.
Being something of an Ebay vulture my Nikon Coolpix 2200 cost £85 for what was an unused gift but normally they sell for upwards of £130 in most shops.
As standard the 2200 incorporates a built in memory of 14.5MB that will store 25 pictures with ease. Now I know this doesn't sound like many, but when you consider that the software is very easy to install and download pictures I have found that I can clear the memory ready for my next adventure without running out of space. If you are click happy I would suggest purchasing an additional memory stick.
The picture Dooyoo has gives you a feel for the look. Its stylish but is it functional?
Well yes it is. Pictures are made up from 2 million pixels and this is more than enough and all of the pictures I have produced using this camera are of a top quality. The optical zoom is handy but only to a distance of 30 metres before the picture becomes bitty. The auto focus is very quick when called upon as well and there doesn't seem to be any delay between pressing the button and the picture being taken meaning that people don't have the opportunity to move and cause a smearing effect in the picture.
Any problems with the 2200? Yes - the number of batteries it drains through and the flash.
The flash is very dull and any sort of dark light or setting means that you are guaranteed to have shadows and partially obscured prints if you know what I mean. In addition to this I always ensure that I have a spare set of batteries. Using the 2200 for more than an hour will completely drain the batteries.
Overall I am glad I bought the 2200. The flash is a bit of a problem when taking pictures on a night out, but for £85 I have a dinky little digital camera that does what it says on the tin. It takes good pictures and I would say this is probably for the newcomer to the photography scene rather than for any sort of professional use.
Yet another purchase from Game - this time I actually paid £22.99 for Mafia a few weeks after reading a review of the new Godfather game to be released for the X-Box 360. Being a big fan of the Gangsters PC game I decided it was time to fall back to my Italian roots, take the oath and extort some cash from the poor citizens of Chicago. Lets roll!!
The basic plot to the game is that you are a poor old taxi driver, cornered into helping two mafia guys escape a hit - following the completion of this first mission you are drawn deeper and deeper into their seedy underworld. Sounds great so far!
First impressions are that the game could have been so much more! The missions of which there are 10 seem very similar all the way through. 5 of them involve driving your taxi at high speed to either escape the police, a rival firm or to deliver packages. Ooooo, exciting - not. If I wanted to buy a driving game I would have bought Grand Theft Auto!! The remaining missions involve wandering around the streets extorting money and goods from various people by putting the frighteners on them.
The game falls down in a number of areas. The graphics are very early 1990's with backdrops that seem to run over and over in the same way as a Scooby Doo cartoon! The characters have as much detail as a blank piece of A4 paper and did nothing for me whilst playing.
The sound is poor - the taxi engine sounds like a cat being strangled over and over and not like a car engine at all. The dialogue between missions is basic, hard to hear and understand and very time is spent building up some sort of story to give you the vibe that you are a gangster.
There are 3 difficulty levels all of which are very easy to complete. I had the game 2 days and completed it on the hardest difficulty level and felt completely robbed and while actually playing I was bored out of my mind - pure stubborness was the only reason I continued to play.
The controls are easy to pick up - after all how hard is to learn go - brake - handbrake?!?
Dull - dull - dull and a complete waste of money. This game is poo and not recommended at all. If you are sick enough to want to buy this I wouldn't suggest you do so for anyone under the age of 15 due to the liberal use of foul language and adult themes.
I'm an X-Box owner and prior to buying a new DVD player recently wanted to use my X-Box for this purpose being aware that any attachments of remote control was required to actually utilise this function. I had rather bizarrely convinced myself that the X-Box would be similar to the PS2 and that the control pad could be used to select DVD features - I was wrong - So very wrong.
The remote and receiver are sold as a package. When the X-Box was first released prices ranged from £15 - £30 but I bought mine from a supermarket DVD section for £12.99. They can be bought on Ebay and other online sites but I wanted to be assured that it would work first time and that it would have a warranty - The pack comes with a 1 year Microsoft warranty.
The receiver is curved and slots into a control pad port at the front of the X-Box and once 2 x AAA batteries are inserted into the remote you are ready to play. The X-Box detects the receiver automatically and once a DVD is placed in the disk drive it loads up nearly instantaneously.
The remote looks the business - It is grooved making it easy to grip and made from ridged black moulded plastic that seems durable. The buttons glow in the dark very faintly and to be honest I can't see it in a pitch-black room. Dooyoo have a picture of the remote so an in-depth description of what buttons is has isn't required in my opinion. Basically it has features that are shown on nearly every DVD remote control - directional arrows - play - pause - stop - menu - title - select - subtitles - audio - angles - settings.
One thing that is good is the zoom button that allows you to surprisingly zoom into the picture to up to 10 times magnification and use the directional arrows to move around the picture.
The remote can also be used with a few X-Box games such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire, where the directional arrows and select button are used to select answers.
This is a very functional piece of kit, unfortunately there are no other models out there so if you want to watch DVD's on your X-Box this is the only device you can use and I would recommend it. The only problem I have found with this is that the buttons aren't as responsive as I would like and have to be pressed really hard at times even when the batteries are brand new to get it to register. This isn't due to distance between the remote and the X-Box.
If you've got an X-Box - Buy the remote and receiver.
Before moving into my new place and purchasing a new DVD player my PS2 sat by the side of my TV and served me brilliantly as a DVD player - with the control doing a great job as a remote control - It started - stopped - skipped scenes and would fast forward. Everything I could possibly need. Strangely without mentioning anything I father presented the PS2 remote control as a Christmas present - He must have been stuck for ideas - thats all I can think - but I tried it out and over time I realised what a con the whole thing was.
The remote requires 2 x AA batteries to function and the software that comes with it has to be saved to the PS2 memory card - staggeringly the drivers use up nearly a quarter of a memory card!! Now if you save quite a lot of games to the memory card you'll find that you have to delete some of them to make room.
The remote has the usual remote control features that are standard across DVD remotes worldwide - play - pause - stop - fast forward - skip chapters - menu - display - subtitles. There is no zoom option unlike the X-Box remote and comes across as quite basic - It has nothing that makes it stand out as a piece of kit you really do need to own if you have a PS2.
Available for £10 this is an unnecessary purchase if every there was one. It basically does what can be done via the control pad that comes with the PS2 - the only difference being that you can move around the room freely using the remote which isn't possible at any distance with the control pad but in all honesty - how many of use wander around the room while watching a DVD?!?
A pointless product and had it not been a gift I would never have dreamt of owning one - DO NOT BOTHER BUYING!!
I was always a big fan of the Gran Tourismo series of games for the Playstation and after buying Need for Speed for the X-Box I was left feeling robbed, lonely in fact that I didn't have a racing game that was just that - a racing game. That was until I picked up a copy of Forza Motorsport for £12.99 second hand in Game. A first hand copy still sells for in excess of £30.
Mirror, signal and go go go. Forza Motorsport is a racing game. Select your car, play with it in the garage, upgrade parts and then you are ready to race.
The more races you win, the more cash you attain making further upgrades available. You also have the ability to win cars by completing a series of races which you can then sell. There are in excess of 100 cars to choose from.
The graphics are smooth and fluid, even when travelling at high speeds the detail of the backgrounds races along without a break in the picture. The cars themselves are very detailed, you can change paint colours, add wings, fins and sponsor logos to personalise.
One thing that really appeals to me is that when you crash instead of having an indestructible car it actual dents, the chasis may crack, wings show damage, windows smash - awesome!
Fit a turbo to your car and listen to it whistle - guaranteed to get every boy racer aroused. Gun the engine and listen to it roar and screech around corners. When crashing you hear the crunch of metal on safety barriers and the smashing of windows. They are so lifelike you will think someone has decided to put a brick through your living room window.
Getting to grips with the controls takes minutes rather than hours. Forza Motorsport is one of those games where you can't go around the track constantly accelerating. There is a skill to the driving and knowing the potential of your car. If you soup your car up too much you'll struggle to control it at tight corners - I find the fact that cars have something of an upknown upgrade threshold exciting - seeing how far I can push it until the car is basically undrivable!!
I have owned Forza Motorsport for months and still have come nowhere near completing the endless selection of competitions and tracks - I still find myself going back to the first easiest track just to fire my petrol fuelled bullet around the course for cheap laughs - This is a game you will return to time and time again and the two player head to head makes playing against friends extra competative.
Realistic sound effects
Upgrade basic of cars into supercharged monsters
Crashes result in loss of performance
Plenty of tracks
Awesome range of cars
Decent range of difficulty levels
None whatsoever, this game knocks the spots off the competition and is much much better than any other pure racing game available for the X-Box.
This is a must have for every petrol head with an X-Box. Go and buy this now - You'll find that you lose your social life and days of your life building the fastest, meanest car your imagination and garage can handle.