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I've had a Bosch GSR Li-2 Cordless Drill driver for several years now. Okay so the name isn't very snazzy but this device is aimed at the semi-professional / professional market. Bosch colour code their devices according to build quality and design.
Bosch power tools that are coloured green are aimed at consumers or mainstream DIY'ers. Although build quality is good the overall design, tolerances and components have been specified to keep costs low. Anecdotal evidence on the web suggest the design aim is for 20 hours use, this is based on the average DIY'er doing six hours continuous work per year. Now I have many green Bosch devices and I don't think one has broken yet.
Bosch blue power tools are the performance range, the components and design are aimed at the professional user that will expect to use the tool day in, day out for years. Of course it also means the Bosch blue range is more expensive. For example, anecdotal evidence on the web suggests the blue range can survive much higher drop tests than the green range.
So why did I buy a GSR 10.8V Li-2 as I'm not a professional tradesman? Well in short because I have learnt over the years to do a job right and easily requires the best tool for the job. Two main selling points attracted me to this drill:
- Compact size and weight; from nose to tip this drill / driver is 210mm long and weighs just over 1Kg, including battery (note to self, stop using the kitchen scales to weigh non-food stuff)
- The battery is Li-ion which means it is small, powerful, holds its charge and recharges quickly (45 minutes from flat until fully charged, 75% charge in 15 minutes)
I bought this because I wanted a drill driver for those awkward spaces, drilling above your head, drilling in cabinets, drilling between joists. All of these jobs, whether drilling or screw driving can be a major effort (or turn the air blue in my case). The Bosch GSR Li-2 appeared to fit the bill.
###Li-Ion over NiMH Battery Technology###
Without turning this into a science lesson older cordless drills use Nickel Metal Hydride and characteristically these are larger and heavier than the newer Lithium Ion batteries. From the perspective of power tools it basically means that for the same power Li-Ion batteries are much smaller, last longer between charging (up to twice as long), can be recharged more times (5 times more), don't suffer from "memory effect" where the battery thinks it is charged more than it actually is. The downside of Li-ion is they are significantly more expensive.
As this is a professional tool what do looks matter I hear you say? Well first impressions are that this is a quality piece of engineering. The body is a combination of heavy duty blue plastic, rubberised grips and metal. The chuck mechanism is very solid with positive clicks between each of the 20 torque settings. The chuck teeth are metal and the rotating mechanism to release or grip drills and bits is easy to use. Bits or drills are held securely in the teeth of the drill by rotating the chuck shaft with a twisting, tightening action.
The GSR 10.8 Li-2 sits very well in your hand, it is finely balanced and your hand naturally curls around the drill. The main weight is taken on top of the thumb and first finger and transferred into the hand, wrist and arm. The drill feels very natural sitting with the rubber grip in the webbing of your hand and your fingers curled around the vertical shaft, also rubberised, which houses the Li-Ion battery and graduated trigger. (If anyone makes any rude comments about this description I'll remind you this is supposed to be a serious review!)
Other controls are fairly minimal as this is a device where function rules over form. The directional control is next to the trigger and is pretty easy to push from one side or the other to change direction of rotation. On top of the drill is a speed control which is either one or two, former slow speeds, latter high speeds.
The drill is very easy and good to use. The torque controls allow very fine tuning so that the screw can be tightened to a set depth or tightness, drilling should be done without torque control which is the final setting on the torque collar. Changing bits and drills is pretty easy and fast with the keyless chuck that I've previously mentioned above. The final feature is a LED light that I've found more useful than I initially thought. As the device is designed to work in small confined areas, these are also likely to be dark so the LED light can be extremely helpful for locating the right area to drill or the screw.
I've had my GSR Li- 2 for several years and pretty much every time I do some DIY it is by my side, cosmetically it is scratched and a little dusty. However, the number of times I've dropped it onto concrete, soil, floorboards I'm impressed it still works let alone a few minor scratches. The drill is good for wood, metal, low / medium density block and small holes in brick. The screw driver is excellent as speed and torque can be finely tuned; forgot to mention the trigger allows for very gradual control over the screwing speed based on how hard you squeeze it. One thing to be aware of is that if you are spending this much on a drill/driver then get a high quality set of bits. Cheap bits will slip and chew up especially from a device that has as much torque as the GSR 10.8 Li-2
The Bosch GSR 10.8 Li-2 is an excellent piece of engineering that is invaluable for any serious DIY work. If you can justify the initial expense it will last a lifetime and prove exceptionally useful. I have no hesitation in recommending this product.
N.B - the version I bought a few years ago included a canvass carry case, GSR 10.8v Li-2 drill and Li-Ion battery, Li-Ion charger, wood drills, metal drills and set of screw bits. All in all this was a very neat suite of products. The 10.8V battery fits in other Bosch Blue products with this voltage i.e. GLI 10.8V - LI Torch.
* Torque, max. (hard screwdriving applications) 30 Nm
* Torque, max. (soft screwdriving applications) 13 Nm
* No-load speed (1st gear/2nd gear) 0 - 350 / 1.300 rpm
* Chuck jaw width, min./max. 1 / 10 mm
* Battery voltage 10,8 V
* Weight incl. battery 0,95 kg
* Torque settings 20+1
* Length 169,0 mm
* Max. drilling diameter in wood 19 mm
* Max. drilling diameter in steel 10 mm
* Max. screw diameter 7 mm
* Multiple gears
* Forward/reverse operation
* LED Light
* Measured values determined according to EN 60745.
Total vibration values (vector sum of three directions)
Drilling in metal
* Vibration emission value ah 2,5 m/s²
* Uncertainty K 1,5 m/s²
* Vibration emission value ah 2,5 m/s²
* Uncertainty K 1,5 m/s²
Originally published on Ciao under my ID - Sussex_Paul
The Bosch HBA13B221B is a built-in, fan assisted electrical oven, the version I bought was white but I believe their is also a silver option available but this maybe more expensive. Our oven was purchased online from John Lewis (October 2010).
First of all I need to point out this is an initial review we have had the cooker for less than a month, I hope to update this review after about six months of ownership to include performance over time.
I guess this is a common story but we weren't looking to purchase a new cooker however our hand was forced when the previous Electrolux model decided to pack up. When I say pack up it did so in fairly spectacular fashion and in the middle of cooking the Sunday roast. All started well this particular Sunday evening, the Electrolux came up to temperature the oil was spitting nicely so in went the par-boiled spuds followed by the chicken. My attention turned to preparing the veg. I then heard a strange noise, a popping sound. I thought nothing of it as it was just one pop. A few minutes later another pop, strange I thought and this time realised it was coming from the oven. A few minutes later three successive pops, followed by darkness in the oven as well as the hob, then a gentle whiff of burning electrics. Thank goodness for circuit breakers or MCB! Although the oven and hob are on the same radial circuit straight from the consumer unit, the 13 amp fuse to the cooker didn't blow but the 32amp circuit breaker had tripped. The scenario isn't uncommon fuses need a sustained period above load to blow whereas as a MCB or even better an RCD protected circuit take a split second or milliseconds to trip.
Resetting the mini-circuit breaker allowed me to use the hob and the cooker did come back on but the fan was busted and the thermostat wasn't able to gauge the temperature without it. So chicken and potatoes had to be finished off in the microwave, yuck! I probably could have looked for a replacement fan but the oven was 10 years old, I'd already replaced the element a few months ago and the seals were shot. So the search for a new oven started.
The cost of the replacement cooker was a major factor as I said we weren't expecting to replace it so didn't want an all singing and dancing model. Just something reliable that would last. Time was also of the essence as the family needed feeding. I set myself a budget of £500 max and express delivery was essential.
If you don't know by now I am a huge fan of John Lewis, I am slightly bias having worked as a partner for both Waitrose & John Lewis. So off to www.johnlewis.com I went.
Looking at the models below £500 I narrowed my choice to Bosch, Neff and John Lewis' own brand. I checked here on Dooyoo and read a couple of review about John Lewis own brand that weren't very good so my choice was Bosch or Neff. Ultimately I'm a Bosch fan; I have Bosch power tools, Bosch washing machine, Bosch fridge, Bosch dishwasher, etc. The swinger was the fact this model was available as express delivery from John Lewis and was ultimately one of my favourite brands (won't buy Indesit, Hoover, Zanussi, etc.) and cost was low end of £400.
The cooker was sensibly packaged, what I mean by this was enough packaging to protect the goods in transit but not OTT that it filled a bin with plastic. The packaging was polystyrene top and bottom inside cardboard with polythene wrap around the item. To strengthen and make the consignment rigid a number of timber planks were used (I've kept these as they could prove useful for many DIY tasks). It was easy to unpack, no razor edged plastic to slice fingers or unbreakable straps.
Once the polythene was removed I could access the inside of the cooker which is where the manual was located. It took only a few minutes to remove the packaging. The only real bulk was the polystyrene top and bottom.
I'd consider the oven to be standard size, that is the old Electrolux slid out and the new Bosch slipped in without any adjustments or fuss (the dimensions are H59.5 x W59.5 x D54.8cm).
As with most ovens the Bosch HBA13B221B doesn't come with a plug that you simply plug into a socket. Instead it should really be fitted by a professional electrician, my understanding is that Part P of Building Regulations that came into effect on 1st January 2005 means pretty much any work in the kitchen needs to be completed by a qualified electrician. The Bosch cooker is rated at around 3KW which means it is drawing almost 13Amps, not something to mess with.
The controls for the Bosch HBA13B221B are pretty simple with just two dials and a central LCD display. The dials rotate to the various settings, when in the off position they can be pushed in so that they are flush with the cooker fascia. When the cooker is in use the dials protrude and can't be recessed. The right hand dial controls the cooker or grill temperature, the left hand dial controls the cooker function, described in the next section. The central LCD panel is of good quality, the illumination is red, the clock and associated symbols are crisp. I am short-sighted but can clearly make out the clock from across the kitchen.
The cooker has four cooking functions which are described as follows:
- 3D hot air; Bosch's name for fan-assisted cooking
- Defrost; setting for defrosting food
- Full width variable grill; normal grill (the element does a pretty good job of going full width front to back and side-to-side
- Hot air grilling; uses the grill element which comes on and off along with the fan, specifically designed for roasting.
The four settings are controlled by the left hand dial, one final setting is for light only.
It is very easy to push the dial in from its default off recessed position so it pops out and can then rotate to the appropriate setting. The printed icons are very good and self explanatory. Rotating the dial is easy and positively locates between each of the settings.
The central LCD panel is touch sensitive; although most of the time you'll only use the dials. The LCD is used to set the clock, timer functions and child lock. The timer can be used to count down producing an audible signal upon reaching zero (it is distinct and easily recognised without being painfully high pitched or loud). The timer can also be used to turn the cooker on at a certain time in the future to start cooking. The safety lock allows you to lock out the controls so little fingers can't mess with your perfect soufflé.
Another feature that won me over to the Bosch was the internal capacity of 58 litres which was 8 litres more than that of John Lewis own brand. Although subsequent research on the Bosch website for this review it states 67 litres so I'm not certain which is correct. But none the less the cooker has a good internal capacity and I can get two standard Pyrex dishes side by side per shelf. Talking of shelves the cooker comes with 2 wire shelves and a grilling pan with internal wired stand (it does NOT include a handle for the grill pan). The side slots allow for 5 shelf positions, these positions are embossed into the metal of the door surround to make lining up the wire shelves easier (nice touch).
The internal cooker lining of the Bosch HBA13B221B is smooth enamel. The rear and top of the cooker are fabricated with catalytic liners. Catalytic liners should mean easier cleaning, heating the oven to maximum will turn any grease or food deposits on theses surfaces to carbon which will fall off the lining to the cooker floor for easy removal. As this is a first impression review I can't comment on how effective this is, although initial observations of the cooker internals are showing build up of cooking deposits on the non-catalytic surfaces but nothing obvious on the catalytic surfaces. Time will tell!
Finally the oven door. The door is full width with a good viewing from outside to the working area of the cooker. According to the Bosch web site the glass is heat reflecting. I have no reason to disbelieve this claim. The cooker is A-rated.
As I stated at the beginning of this review I have only had the Bosch HBA13B221B for around two weeks so the review is just my initial observation and assessment from the limited cooking we have done in it during this period. However, so far the cooker has lived up to our expectations. It warms up quickly, the controls are easy to use and understand (i.e. I don't need to refer to the manual every few minutes). The fan assisted (3D hot air as Bosch would have it) functions the same as any other fan assisted oven. The hot air grilling is a nice feature and works well for finishing off the roast potatoes giving a nice crisp finish (be careful though as leaving the cooker on this setting can quickly result in burnt food, point in case was Friday's fish & chips or burnt offerings as happened to the chips). We haven't used the timer or defrost functions.
I am very happy with the cooker and believe it is probably much more efficient than our old cooker as heat doesn't leak. Time will tell how it performs but as this is made by Bosch I don't expect any problems in the short-term. As such based on my initial opinion this is a good basic cooker from a renowned manufacturer at a good price point; therefore I would recommend this product.
* Control panel height 115mm
* Single display window
* Standard control dials
* Touch control
* Straight bar handle
* Black handle fixing blocks
* Full width door with side strip design
* Drop down door
- Electronic clock timer
- Automatic on/off programmer
- 2 retractable control dials
- 1 interior light
- Safety lock
- Smooth enamelled oven interior
- Easy fit shelf support rails
- 5 shelf positions
- Catalytic roof and back liners
- Full glass inner door
- Heat reflective glass
Four cooking functions:
- 3D hot air
- Full width variable grill
- Hot air grilling
- Oven capacity: 67 litres
- A energy class
- Full width enamelled pan
- Wire pan insert
- 2 wire shelves
- Cook book
Cross posted on Ciao! as Sussex_Paul
I have stayed at a number of Best Western Hotels either on my own for business or with the rest of the family. I have a loyalty card with the company so naturally when we needed to find an overnight location to break up our travels to the West Country from Sussex we looked for a Best Western hotel. An additional advantage of the chain is that many of the hotels accept dogs which means we can travel with our Golden Retriever.
Booking was easy and we determined that the hotel had a dog friendly policy from the Best Western icon keys. Of course all of this was done online through the main company web portal. We booked a double room for my wife and I, then a twin for the our two children (aged 15 and 9).
The hotel is advertised as being in Portsmouth, but it is actually in Southsea and the quickest road link gives the distance at almost 3 miles or 10 minute drive. The hotel overlooks the Southsea pier and has an impressive facade.
The Best Western description for the Royal Beach Hotel, does comment that parking is limited to 60 spaces. I think this figure is optimistic and requires everyone to park perfectly, they don't. Additionally the route into the rear car-park has very low headroom. I don't think a 4x4 would get in, we just made it through in a normal estate with low-profile roofrack. Other parking in the area is very hit and miss and you could end up having a long walk from your car to the hotel.
Walking into the hotel is either through a narrow corridor up some steps from the rear car-park or through the main entrance at the front which has a long metallic ramp. The ramp is quite wide so even able bodied people tend to use it to enter and exit the reception. On entering you quickly realise that in its day this was probably quite a majestic hotel but it is now very dated, tired and dull.
Checking-in was pretty pain free and we didn't have to queue. The receptionist was friendly, efficient and polite.
Our rooms were on the first floor. A small, old housekeeping lift can be used with a bit of a track from reception. It would appear the main customer lift is being updated. At least we assumed this was the reason for the chipboard hoarding covering up the area where we would expect the main lift to be located.The internal decor for the halls is old, tired and needing significant modernisation. Carpets are well trodden and grimy, doors are ill fitting and functional rather than attractive. Lighting is very poor and gives the halls a cold unappealing feeling.
It was at this point we realised our double room was a significant distance from our childrens. To be fair although we made the bookings together we had not requested adjoining rooms, but with the occupants obviously part of the same family it would have made sense. After returning to reception to request closer rooms the receptionist was very helpful and managed to swap our room for the adjoining room to our children (they had walk through doors which is another reason we were uncomfortable with the original arrangements).Both rooms were again consistent with the rest of the hotel, decor was from the 70's and furniture looked like cheap second-hand rejects. Doors were missing to the wardrobe. Bathrooms were clean as normal cleaning would allow but the bath / shower was showing signs of mould due to the age of the tiles, fittings, grout and sealant.
In the morning on our way down to breakfast we were greeted with a strong smell of fibre glass resin. Not sure where it was coming from but we had seen a maintenance man the day before so assumed it was some work going on somewhere (surprising as it was Saturday morning). On the walk downstairs we went passed a sofa which someone had written "clean me" in the dust that had obviously being building up for days if not weeks.
We didn't eat in the restaurant for the evening meal nor did we use the hotel bar. However, we did go down for breakfast in the morning. On arrival we had a shortish wait before what appeared to be the only member of staff in the restaurant came across to greet us. She said we hadn't booked breakfast and I said we had changed our mind and could it be added to the bill. She seemed surprised but showed us to a table. The restaurant was between a third and a half full, a number of tables need to be cleared from previous occupants. Although we shown to our table we were not asked if we wanted tea or coffee, nor was the room layout explained. We took it upon ourselves to discover the juices and food. The orange juice dispenser had completely run out and there were no glasses to be found anywhere. A couple of other people were looking bermused before we managed to track down the same lady who still appeared to be the only one in the room. She handed out a couple of wine glasses which I made do with. I only have cereal so found a bowl and a small selection of cereals, there didn't appear to be a bin so a number of empty packets were on the table.My wife went with the children to investigate the hot buffet. On returning it was evident from her that the selection was small and a number of items had run out. We decided not to try and track down the only member of staff but just get on and finish so we could checkout and leave. Although magically at this point two further members of staff appeared. I manged to get the attention of one of them and ask for some coffee. The young lady seemed surprised that we hadn't been offered tea or coffee earlier and was apologetic. Unfortunately the coffee then took a further five minutes to appear, we'd almost given up and walked out.
Checkout process was at least fairly painless and we took the time to fill out a comments form, both for the effort the original receptionist went to and our overall experience.
After our weeks holiday we returned to discover a letter from the hotel from the general manager. I can only say the general tone was aggresive and dismissive. No mention was made of our compliments only the points we had raised around breakfast (well actually he was talking about dinner as the comment form mentioned evening dinner but we had crossed this out and described breakfast.)
Then after another week I was asked to complete an online survey about our stay. I again took the time to complete the survey and then added further comments at the end. Amazingly a week letter and another letter from the general manager, again the tone was aggresive and challenged what we had experienced. If your customer takes the time to give you feedback good, or bad about their experience and impressions you don't then attack them for doing so. As it stands we have written a letter to the Operations Director of Best Western.
The hotel has a lovely facade but don't be fooled. Inside the hotel is very dated, the decoration is from the 70's and the whole interior needs a huge investment to make the inside as good as the outside. Our experience of service was mixed: the receptionist was very helpful but the restaurant was awful. If the hotel is in the early stages of being updated (this may explain the dust and dirt) then it shouldn't be charging normal high prices. We paid almost £180 for the two rooms (excluding breakfast) which was above what we normally would pay but this was supposed to the start to our holiday. Compare this with a family room in a Premier Inn and we'd have got better service and experience. Don't stay at this hotel.
NB - the above review is also on Ciao under by ID Sussex_Paul
##Updated - 13/10/10 - see note at bottom##
The Pure Highway is a Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) tuner that has been designed for use in a car. Installation is simple and needs no wiring into the vehicle dash as the Pure Highway "broadcasts" the received DAB channel over a low power FM transmitter so that it can be picked up by your own car stereo. In the box as well as the main Pure Highway unit is an in-car power adaptor (plugs into the cigarette lighter socket), windscreen aerial and flexible mount. More about the aerial in a minute.
Okay why bother with DAB when you could make do with the existing FM or LW, after all their are more than enough channels already? Good point and well made. In fact the overcrowding of the air waves is the reason our TVs will be going digital by 2012. The same is also being muted for analogue radio, the timeframe for the switching off of FM could be as soon as 2015. Okay but that is five years away I hear you say. Tough crowd.
Another feature of DAB is that you can listen to channels that are not available on FM, now this can get a bit confusing. The easy area are the national BBC DAB channels are available across the country on the same frequency. Now we start getting a bit more confusing, local BBC radio stations are available on local DAB transmitters. As for commercial radio it gets quite complicated, some stations are national and on the same frequency across the country (e.g. the new name for Virgin radio, Absolute Radio, falls into this category), other stations are semi-national but can be on different frequencies as you move from one transmitter to another (or not at all). Such an example is XFM predominantly a London and Manchester FM station it is available on many DAB transmitters but not all and the frequency varies from one to another. Then finally you have commercial local DAB stations and these, as the name suggests, are available only on local transmitters.
So the above should be super clear? No? How about clear as mud then? Okay to sort out this mess I suggest checking out the following link:
To be honest it doesn't really matter about this confusion because with DAB you don't manually tune stations you scan automatically. Once the scan completes the stations are all named and sorted alphabetically.
##############Other Perceived Benefits of DAB############
- Efficient use of the available radio frequencies, means more stations can be broadcast and appeal to smaller more specific audiences
- No hissing or crackling, you either receive the station or you don't. In my experience this element seems oversold as DAB can "bubble" when signal strength is low
- DAB can be paused or rewound by saving the broadcast on the device, bit like Sky Plus
- Reception quality in theory should be better but broadcasters seem to have a tendency to cram more stations into a frequency channel by dropping the bit-rate, this means the sound can be worse than FM and in some case mono only
#################Pure the Manufacturer###############
Pure have made a name for themselves producing DAB devices, they are often first to market with new devices as well as cutting edge styling. Pure have a range of devices to satisfy different usage such as portable, bedside, in-car radios, boom boxes and mini Hi-Fi's
It is about time I got back to the specifics of the item being reviewed. The Pure Highway is aimed specifically at the in-car market and is designed to be easily installed.
- First fit the internal windscreen aerial, it is self-adhesive and should be fitted on the passengers side of the car to avoid blocking the drivers field of vision. The cables can be run down the pillar between the windscreen glass and trim, then along the front of the windscreen between glass and dash.
- Attach the magnetic holding arm to the windscreen. It is a suction affair so the windscreen needs to be dry and clean. Again position it so it doesn't obscure the drivers view. The arm of the holder is bendy but firm so it can be shaped to present the Pure Highway unit in way to ease operation, but not sag whilst driving
- Fit the aerial lead into the socket of the Pure Highway and attach the Pure Highway to the magnetic mount. You can optionally use a 3.5mm jack to connect the Highway to the Aux port of you in-car stereo if you prefer. The 3.5mm jack and optional batteries can allow the Highway to be used as portable device with headphones
- Insert the mini USB connector into the Pure Highway (doubles as a power supply socket and method for updating the firmware from a PC). The other end needs to go into the vehicles 12/24v supply which will be the cigarette lighter
Now everything is installed securely we can go about tuning the device.
- Press the central tune button next to the LCD screen
- Wait for about 60 seconds whilst the Highway scans for DAB stations (the display screen shows a progress bar and incrementing count of stations found)
- After the DAB scan completes the Highway will move on to scan the FM frequency range to detect an unused frequency that won't suffer cross-talk.
- The display on the Pure Highway shows the FM frequency it has determined as appropriate and advises you tune your in-car radio to the FM frequency shown.
You now scroll through the DAB stations the unit has found, you do so by rotating the large control next to the display screen. Once you find a station you like (remember DAB only displays station names you are not re-seeking across the frequency range) you can select the station by pressing the inner part of the circular control or if you want, assign it to a preset button by pressing and holding one of the four preset buttons on the top of the unit. Note this clears the existing preset channels that were set at the factory. The last button of the four allows access to another 16 presets which are accessed via the rotating control dial
First off I found the internal windscreen aerial awful, this maybe because my car had a special windscreen which can significantly attenuate the DAB signal. Before throwing it away I read a few forum posts by others that recommended using an external aerial. I ended up buying an optional external aerial (think it may have been the Pure aerial @ £19) that had a magnetic base and fixed to the external roof of the car, a long lead came into the car. The supplied internal aerial was thrown away. The difference was huge the unit worked with all the stations available in my area (check yours higher up in the review, I have highlighted the link in bold).
The unit is easy to install, although I left it in my centre console rather than bother with the magnetic attaching arm. Reception by the car radio was great and DAB quality overall is good with the external aerial. I listen daily to Absolute FM which is broadcast nationally on the same frequency or XFM which is on two different frequencies as I travel the 40 miles to work. Quality is good and I simply wouldn't be able to listen to them on FM in my area
If you go on a long journey you may have to retune the internal FM transmitter as other radio stations come close to the prviously chosen frequency. It is just a single press of a button called '''quickSCAN'''. Retuning you car radio maybe a bit more of a hassle. As I've explained earlier the number of DAB stations available depends where you live, so if you travel a long distance you may want to or have to retune the DAB stations, again select Menu button on top of the device and scan.
I've really enjoyed the Pure Highway and for <£80 it is has been well worth the money. That is until a few weeks ago when it died and now simply won't come back to life. I've had it around 2 years so it is probably out of warranty, I haven't checked. This is the reason for the '''satisfactory''' rather than '''good''' rating.
* Line-in allows you to connect an external device like an iPod and use the FM transmitter to your car radio
* ReVu; Pure's name for the ability to pause and rewind the DAB station
* Headphone output for portable use (requires 2xAA batteries not included)
* USB upgradable
* Line-out; can feed the Aux port of your stereo rather than use the FM method
* Scrolling text; same as radio text on FM stations but more widely used by DAB stations
N.B sample article published by me on Ciao
##Update - 13/10/10##
Since writing this article I have discovered the problem with the device was related to the in-car, cigarette charger. Replacing this with a USB cable and USB socket in-car cigarette charger means the Pure Highway is once again working. Based on this I upgraded my rating from 3stars to 4 stars and changed the review title.
Additionally two firmware updates have been released by PURE, which improve overall performance. Unfortunately the install on non-Windows XP machines is problematic and I have written a solution at my blog; http://www.lexfordparc.co.uk
The Delonghi Magnifica that I purchased has been in daily service now for probably three years. In the past we have bought cheaper coffee makers but never really used them, mainly because of the fuss around filling the coffee in the holder, patting it down, making one cup of coffee then cleaning it. Even after this effort you still have the hassle of heating and frothing the milk. However this is not the case for the Delonghi as it falls into the category of a Super Automatic, more about this in a second, however this grand sounding name also means a grand price tag. Three years ago when we purchased the machine it was on sale for just shy of £600 at John Lewis Bluewater.
How does it work?
The way the Delonghi works is very simple you can either use pre ground coffee or coffee beans. The latter is preferable if you enjoy coffee as the beans stay in better condition and you ground at the point you are ready for a brew. The Delonghi hopper can take around 200g of coffee beans which for us lasts about 10 days. If you buy a 250g pack then reseal the excess and place them in the fridge, apparently coffee beans should be used within 2 weeks or 1 month if they are in the original packaging and stored in a fridge. If you decide to go the ground coffee route then you'll need to press one of the buttons on the front of the machine which bypasses the grinding mechanism used for beans.
Add Some Water
Okay so the hopper is loaded where's my coffee? Patients! As well as coffee you need water which you can pour into a 1litre reservoir to the side of the machine. The machine will let you know when it is out of water (unfortunately it only does this when it has run-out not when you it is about to run-out and you've started making a cup). So we have coffee and water, just place one or two cups / mugs under the nozzles. Now turn the machine on. After about a minute hot water will come out of the nozzles and into your cup or mug. The indicator lights above the single or double mugs will have been flashing whilst the machine wamrs up and exples the intial bust of cold then hot water. Place the cup(s) (I'm going to use cup to describe cup or mug from now on) on top of the coffee machine on the silver plate. The silver plate is heated and sits about the internal water boiler. By doing this you will warm you cups so that your fresh brew doesn't go instantly cold because the cups are bone cold. Whilst you are waiting tip some milk into a metal jug or any other receptacle you have to hand.
The machine is very simple to use and only has a few knobs on the front. These knobs determine the amount of coffee (think espresso cup to mug size) and the strength of the coffee weak to strong (varies the amount of coffee ground). So make your choice. At this point the coffee cups should at leats be warm (the longer you can leave them to warm up the better). Now throw away the water that was dispensed when the machine was turned on. Place the cup(s) back under the nozzles and if necessary move the nozzle assemebly up and down so that it is close to the top of the cup. Now if you have one cup press the button underneth the 1 cup symbol and if you want two cups press the button under the two cup symbol, did I mention it was simple to use!
A watched kettle never boils is the saying and if you are standing next to the machine waiting for your brew it can seem to take forever. But realistically you'll have your brew after about minute. If you want more in your cup you can press the one / two cup button within 3 seconds of the machine stopping and it will add more coffee until you release the button. Next you'll probably want to froth some coffee, so put the cups back on top of the machine on the heater plate so the cups and coffee stay warm. Now that's done, you press one final button which is for the steamer. The steamer is a pull out extension, make sure you pull it out by the plastic attachments rather than the metal piping at the top, why well lets just say you'll only do this once! (it's very hot). When the steamer is up to temperature and ready the ligh above the button stays on and stops flashing.
Steaming the Milk
The Delonghi is semi-automatic you have to froth / steam the milk yourself, you can get fully automatic machines but these are even more expensive. To be honest frothing the job isn't a big chore although it is an art and I don't often get it just right. So instead of a frothy latte it is more like hot milk. To start the process you just turn one large dial anti-clockwise and the steam comes out and into the milk, gently move the jug down so the steam causes that typical frothing sound, i.e the end of the steamer is just in the milk and you have a nice turbulant layer of milk which is expanding up the jug. Once you are happy or you can't wait any longer pour the milk into the coffee.
The End Result
Another saying is rubbish in, rubbish out and this is true with coffee. The Delonghi can't make cheap or gone off coffee beans taste wonderful. However, if you buy quality beans, look after them and use fresh water the Delonghi will make a gorgeous cup of coffee with very little hassle. As I said before we've had coffee machines before and after a few uses they have stayed in the corner gathering dust. It is not the case with ourDelonghi Magnifica we use the coffee machine everyday, or at the weekend a number of times a day.
Cleaning & Maintenance
From the description this may sound like a complicated machine that needs lots of cleaning and looking after, but this is simply not the case. The drip tray needs emptying once a week as does the spent coffee hopper. If you forget or make more coffee than normal a light will come on to tell you the spent coffee hopper is full, at this point you must empty the hopper as the machine won't make anymore coffee until it is emptied. The coffee comes into the hopper in attractive compact discs that shouldn't be thrown away but added to your compost bin. A quick rinse of the drip tray and hopper and the machine is ready to go.
Every month to two months the machine will need a more throrough clean, you will know when it is time as another light will come on (you can still make coffee). The machine has a cleaning sequence which ensures coffee doesn't build up in the machine and that the tubes and boiler don't scale up. You need special coffee machine cleaner; it is mildly acidic (possibly citirc or acetic) and can be bought online or from speciality shops. The cleaner is either in powder or liquid form but either way is added to the the water reservoir. You also need to clean the internals of the machine with a fork to move dried coffee then vaccum out and wipe round with a cloth. The main diffuser unit needs to be taken out and cleaned, it isn't difficult or time consuming and is well explained in the instructoion manual. Once you've cleaned and dried the internal bits reassemble. Now you need to press the flashing cleaning button for 5 seconds and the cleaning programme will commence. Place a 1litre jug under the milk frother (also needs cleaning at the same time as everything else as dried milk builds up over time) turn the dial as if you were frothing milk. You can now leave the machine whilst it goes through a sequence of drawing the cleaning solution through the machine and into the jug. The whole process takes about 30 minutes.Once complete empty the cleaning fluid from the jug and clean out the water reservoir, fill the reservoir with clean water and put the 1litre jug back under the steam outlet. The fresh water will now rinse out the machine, once complete the cleaning light goes out and you are ready for coffee again.
After Sales Support
Once additional point to note is the after sales care provided by Delonghi. After about 18 months to two years of use our coffee machine broke, the piston seems to have got stuck and slipped off its gearing. I wasn't very optomistic of any help but called Delonghi. I was asked for the machine serial number and the problem. I gave both and to my surprise they said it was still in warranty and if I could package it up safely they would send a courier to collect it. After 10 days the machine was returned fully operational and again by courier with a time convenient to us. To me this was very good customer care, I was very happy and impressed. Ultimately when this machine finally succumbs I'll definitely be considering another model by Delonghi
In case you hadn't already realised it I love the Delonghi Magnifica. The taste of fresh brewed coffee every morning is wonderful. The aroma is also very pleasant. Everyone that visits always wants a "proper" coffee. As I said we've tried coffee machines before but this is so easy to use and maintain we use it every single day. Highly recommend this machine
N.B originally written by me (Sussex_Paul) on Ciao