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Yay! It's that time of year again when these are out. The Lindt chocolate reindeer is a perfect little gift for yourself or someone else as a stocking filler. It's just the right size and has the right amount of chocolate for you not to start feeling sick near the end of eating it all in one sitting. This is a good thing as the chocolate isn't too sweet that you have to stop after your first bite, and its isn't so more-ish that you overdo it by eating a second one. From what I gather on the ingredient lists on the wrapper - it is suitable for veggies, has 30% cocoa and 14% milk solids (so its a sweet milk chocolate and not dark which has more cocoa), contains barley, lactose and traces of nuts in case you're sensitive to any of these. It comes very well presented and reasonable priced (£2 for 100G of chocolate from Tesco), not too cheap though for chocolate, but other chocolate doesn't come dressed as a nice trinket. The ribbon and bell are a great touch and the bell does give out a tiny ring once flicked.
Once you get to opening it, the chocolate itself is not too hard to break, its weak at the body and pretty thick and heavy at the base and head - the reindeer is not solid all the way through. If you put it in the fridge you will need a hammer to break it cold - or you'll have you stamp on it. Stand firm! It may be a cute reindeer but you must destroy it and eat it!!!
On a final note the main reason I like these is because I thought they were bunnies last xmas and kept on calling it a bunny, which annoyed a friend - to my huge entertainment. I'm just getting to finishing one off right now and I think eating it in two sittings or sharing it is best - it's the size of the palm of your hand and what I think is a full helping of chocolate.
The nVidia GeForce 8400 GS is a great little entry level card. Though it has been passed by two full generations of newer cards that fill the same entry level requirements (Ati 4450, 5450 and the GeForce 9400, 220 and low end 400 series). This card is still relatively competitively priced if all you want to do is play movies and enjoy some older games. It is fully supportive of direct x 10.0, and as such, had huge numbers sold as a cheap graphics solution for the early period when windows vista just came out. In 2007 I paid £38 for it.
The clock speed is around 450 MHz and it has 256 mb dedicated ddr2 ram memory operating at a standard 800 mhz speed. The memory is not speciality graphics memory (gddr2/3/4) which has greater speed and bandwidth. The memory is a rather poor 64 bit, meaning it isnt as accessible as faster more expensive cards. It has 16 shader pipelines or "graphics cores", a fraction of modern cards (480+ for nVidia). All in all, even if what I just wrote means nothing to you, they are fairly underwhelming numbers, but having said this, with low settings, it will run a decent game of UT3 offline. A feat for such a little card.
Fitting this into your PC should be a doddle, it requires no external power connectors and will not take up too much space on your pci express x16 slot. You fit it into the x16 slot (the black one (maybe blue or another colour sometimes) usually about 4-5 inches long. There do exist variations of this card, for instance a pci-express x1 slot card, which fits into any pci-e slot. These have been released a good two years after initial release circa 2008 - probably made to help what I would imagine as Dell/HP customers to use their only available pci-e x1 slot (I stupidly bought one of their dimension 3100 machines like this for £550 a while ago).
The Printed Circuit Board (PCB) as you can see does not take up much space, and can fit into low profile cases - bearing in mind the rear panel is full size - this makes it a bit pointless for a low profile PC unless you can trim the rear panel off. It has a small fan to dissipate the low amounts of heat the chip produces. Even though the chip gets quite hot, there is minimal transfer to other components as it so small. I have overclocked this card 25% without issue, having numerous 95 degrees Celsius plus warnings without incident in games - a great way to squeeze power out of the card. My card had DVI and VGA outputs, and managed to output to two independent screens perfectly fine.
For a card like this, and the comparable Ati 2400 card, you shouldn't expect the earth, or amazing visual quality. It will play 2005 games okay, and 2004 games well enough. Right now the extra couple of pounds would be well spent buying an entry level card from the current generation. If you decide to pick up one of these cards, it wont break your power supply or your bank account, and is a good upgrade from a similar time period integrated motherboard graphics (e.g. intel gma 3000).
Its a 5/5 for the price point considering what you got from it, but lets face it, like everything else computer hardware related, it barely escapes a 1/5 compared to 5 years later. Dont expect to SLi it, I tried it with my brothers card, it doesnt work.
I bought the Saitek x52 Pro flight control FCS as a little present for completing my 3rd year of an Aerospace Degree at university. As you can imagine, I'm a little more interested in flying and the science than most, but I'm by no means a pilot or a huge Flight Sim enthusiast.
The Pro version has better precision sensors, tighter stick force due to dual springs on the joystick, three LED colours (red, green and amber (red+green)), a tilted multifunction display (MFD) and comes in a more "professional looking" gunmetal black than the "toy" silver and blue LEDs of the standard version. I prefer the Blue LEDs though.
This Pro joystick has a plethora of hat switches, buttons, knobs and sliders - you wont need to go to the keyboard often if at all. The feel of the unit is very smooth and comfortable from the use of soft touch plastic. While it does feel like you're holding something substantial, the surface you contact is by all means a texture applied to plastic and not soft or hardwearing rubber as you may expect. There is some brushed black metal sheet on portions of the throttle lever and stick bases, but the rest is covered with your generic playstation controller like plastic - for so much money, thank god your hands rarely come into contact with the generic plastic parts.
The stick itself has a well lubricated and smooth metal cup, resulting in very smooth joystick movement, but bear in mind you will feel the occasional twang of the springs when moving the stick about. There is a variable hand rest for differing hand sizes, and the throttle lever has a side screw that adjusts the stiffness for the lever. Suction cups are provided to stick the unit to your desk, though the bases are heavy and only harsh movements will see you displace the controller when you're using it. For the paranoid or overly possessive, bolt holes are provided to secure the unit down just in case you let your drunk engineering friends come over to have a play and are worried about them stealing it (a better reason to bolt it to a desk would be if you use it in a school or training centre).
Coming to actually using the device, it works very well in FSX and IL2 Sturmovik 1942. You will definitely need to do some configuring though and devote a fair few minutes if not an hour or so for each application to adjust all the buttons to your comfort. As for the triple coloured LEDs, currently there only exists a software development kit (SDK) to change these colours in game - basically, don't expect flashing lights on an airflow stall warning in FSX if you haven't coded it in yourself - there may be others who have done this, but I haven't checked in the online community. Either way, for the case of the multicoloured LEDs and the slightly better viewing angle of the MFD, I would dismiss these from your reasoning for choosing this device over the standard and cheaper x52. The other points that separate the x52 pro from the x52 are more important - better stick accuracy and stiffness, and maybe the choice of colour.
In FSX I find using the stick and throttle to be great combination and more enjoyable than the keyboard, especially the throttle unit. However for very precise movements I feel the mouse yoke is better, but you can't really use a mouse in a plane. In IL2, you can actually shoot, and use the dual stage trigger button for something finally. Lots of fun, although there is a learning curve associated with IL2. I haven't played any other game with this controller; I don't think MS combat simulator 3 recognises the unit. I'm sure it would be fun in Tom Clancy's Hawx and other modern fighter games.
I flew a small plane a couple of times "just for a go" before getting this, and while its not like flying a plane, it does seem a more technical piece of kit than you would find in most small planes, barring the number panels and pedals (rudder and brakes) in a small plane. It is an electronic rather than mechanical control system after all. I would not get the rather ugly looking flight yoke or over priced force sticks, though the pedals from Saitek might be a future investment, especially if you play racing games on your PC. This unit has a twist-rudder control on the stick, which you can lock if using pedals.
The throttle unit has a mediocre mouse thumbstick, and click buttons to mimic mouse movement, so you don't need to move your hand to the mouse to use that. However, its not better than using a real mouse, and is quite slow in comparison. Pushing up the speed causes inaccuracy enough to have real problems clicking the start button in windows.
The MFD can display radio stack frequency settings and time/date/stopwatch as well as other in game data - but this looks like another "code in yourself" scenario with only real support for FSX.
Is it worth just over a hundred pounds, YES - if you have the cash to spare, is it £70 of improvement over lesser sticks, no - but they don't have a throttle unit.
Let me leave you with my real impressions of the unit:
I wouldn't trade it,
If you keep an open mind and are not frail enough to have a heart attack while listening to anything over 45 bpm, Pendulum might be for you - it was for me. Im a Muse fan, and I would have described myself as so if questioned "what type of music do you like", then go on to say Foo fighters and so on. Now I would say Pendulum before anything. When you need something a little more pacey from your music, or indeed go out the door with the mood "I am a god sent here to destroy you", this album and the previous two hit the spot quite well. Im not a huge fan of drum and bass or dubstep, but I strongly feel Pendulum bring something more to the genre, suited to Electronica and Rock lovers. Its more about the rocky and synthesized overtones than the plain underlying drum and bass beat.
The singles "Withcraft" and "Watercolour" are great tracks, and if you are a casual listener, these can help ease you in to enjoy the heavier tracks like "Crush" and "The Fountain". Overall, I think the album Immersion is a little softer than In Silico and Hold Your Colour.
As always however, if a particular track has grabbed your attention, it might take a couple of listen throughs for you to fully appreciate the tracks. For me at least, this is how I came to love their music. Having said that, if drum and bass is completely against your musical religious belief, or you are a dnb purist with a singular appetite (for what I find is a bland monotonous beat), there's no point experimenting to see if you like what is on offer here, even when I say its a 5 star experience.
Many of the tracks are progressive and have some sort of fast and loud climax, and even as the play counts rack up in my media player, I'm still not getting tired of hearing the tracks. Repetitiveness is usually something that moves me on from a particular song at the time - but not this. Surprisingly I can play a Track from this album twice without yawning - a great feat and a half!
What you might not expect from a drum and bass group is also very provocative and well written lyrics, of course in keeping with the music. You won't find an enduring love song telling you the world is perfect, but rather the opposite. Verses revolve around an almost sorrow tone, with some sense of hope or urgency to change, later in the tracks. Rob Swires voice is perfect for this.
Make no mistake however; the tracks can reach a level of "audio violence". If you get angry at something, curl up your fists, or decide to go for a drive, Pendulum will almost always help you do something stupid, but at least you'll enjoy it more and have a perfect soundtrack from the occasion!
*Please dont listen to Pendulum in the car, you may run someone over*
Well, this wasn't a pleasurable first experience for me at pizza express (Cardiff). Although many friends recommend the restaurant and enjoy good service and food I didn't get either in my first visit to the chain. We were a group of eleven that came in to sit at a large bench table and we ordered drinks and food as usual. They do peroni gran riserva, which is probably the best beer I have tasted, so a massive thumbs up on this front, but it is expensive, £3.90 per 330 ml. The pizzas arrived one by one and eventually we all got served, while not speedily, we weren't left waiting for long. I ordered the pizza pollo pancetta pizza, which came to me last of all and was very thin compared to the other's pizzas, and also had a huge black charred spot on it the size of my fist. At first I thought ill try to suck it up and cut a quarter out and eat the rest, but the pizza was so badly burnt I couldn't cut it without a loud stabbing motion. To give you an idea how burnt it was I poked a hole though the charred part of the pizza which just crumbled away. I came to my sense and just asked the waiter to take it away, and for the price of £10.25 I would've been an idiot to "suck it up" and eat a pizza which any fool should have the common sense to realise that it never should have got brought out to me in the first place. It was too late to order a replacement, and I couldn't afford the time to just wait around or leave the others waiting for my food to be brought out to me. The only other problem with our group was that someone also had a wrong pizza brought out to them. You may think that the place was extraordinarily busy and that such mistakes would happen, but there was less that a third of the seats occupied, and you should not put seats in a restaurant if you cannot cater to that many people, let alone a third of that number. The staff were not overstressed. No freebies or special gestures were offered (or requested) for the burnt pizza, and we left paying the full bill minus my pizza and service charge, which is fair. Overall, a pretty humiliating and awkward non-meal. Everyone else said they enjoyed theirs and we cracked jokes about so it wasn't too bad - could you imagine if this happened on a date though?
They had a decent selection and I think are relatively overpriced for what they offer, you can get a better meal for somewhere else irrespective of my experiences. Don't avoid exploring this place on my account, but just so you know, they served me something which never should've left the kitchen in the hopes I would just deal with it, and I almost did... IT GETS NO STARS!
Let me first of all set the mood for the review, this game is brilliant.
Now we have that out of the way, lets move onto the different versions and the add-ons, as at this time of writing, many will have either bought them separately, or inclusively in the game of the year edition.
For some reason Bethesda like releasing a standard version like shown above, then charging an extortionate amount for add-on packs that last several hours, then release a very reasonably priced game of the year (GoTY) edition with almost all of the major add-ons included. The above standard version is the main bulk, you will spend hours enjoying yourself in the game world created in Oblivion, however, the time will come when you'll want to move on and see what the GoTY edition includes.
With Shivering Isle, you get to see a very flamboyant world and I must say, the add-on adds an extra quality feel to the game in terms of story and looks. The other main add on included in the GoTY edition is Knights of the Nine. While this too was a good added bit of story, you can really see that the developers just put in an extra few scenes and characters, whereas Shivering Isle really was another game world for you to explorer.
Finally, the limited edition came in a double DVD thickness digipack with the usual collectors edition stuff you don't need (some pics, background reading and an extra DVD), and a very heavy, plastic coated "Septim" gold coin.
So those are the three editions and the major add-on packs, I have at one point in time owned all three on different platforms - Try to get the GoTY Edition. The limited edition isn't worth it.
Oblivion includes a much more in-depth character customisation screen than Morrowind, or most other current day RPGs. This allows you to create some very unique character faces, but I can't help but wonder, a lot of these settings range across the very extremes of what you would select. For instance you could apply a really small nose or a massive pointy nose. This leads to some strangely shaped faces when you press the "randomize" button, anything from a thin sausage face to a fat melon face can be given. I would have rather the developers keep to much more natural constraints or given a set of face models within realistic proportions. Either way, you will spend some time at the very beginning of your game playing around with these settings.
For skill customisation, this game takes you through a tutorial level which can suggest a character class for you. This isn't very reliable, as the tutorial can be quite different to what you would play like in the rest of the game, and it is best to choose and develop your own character, not one that was given or suggested to you - it is a fantasy game after all.
Oblivion will immediately introduce you to the main storyline, which is a fantastic one. You'll notice voices from Sean Bean and Patrick Stewart as major characters in the game. The game world is very complex and it is deeply attached to a history and timeline, which can be explored through conversations and texts in-game. However, it isn't limitless, and considering the time investment required to complete this game (can be in the 100 hours range), the characters will start to say the same things, which breaks the illusion a little.
The "radiant" AI is quite good. Nothing compared what you could apparently do in the early trailers, but the level of interaction with the NPCs walking around the cities is quite involved. The AI is patchy however, and there will be many times where you will wonder why a character is doing something it shouldn't, mostly in random fights. Also the creators in an effort to display or showcase the AI have included some BS quests. Early on you may wonder why you have been told to follow someone going about their daily chores - which subsequently are the most boring chores to watch (repeatedly moving hand to mouth to eat for 15 minutes followed by walking to a field and raking the hay for another 15 minutes). The radiant AI is really just the characters doing such activities every day. I just feel more could have been done to create unique non-quest related and memorable encounters.
Moving onto the graphics, well, they were amazing to begin with, but can look a bit dated now. My advice would be to try to enable HDR - the surreal glowing effect you see from lights, and try to force anti-aliasing through your graphics card driver software to smooth out jagged lines, as the game will not support both HDR and AA in its settings at the same time. This can hopefully make better use of newer hardware.
The soundtrack... gets repetitive. You will recognise a familiar sounding tune if you have played Morrowind for the title screen, and the music itself is fitting and well prepared. As there are very few tracks available - triggered by cues such as if you are being attacked, are underground in a cave or are in the open, you will quickly recognise what's happening to you from the background music, but it really is just a very few number tracks for such a long game.
Having played on the PC, with the use of the command console if something should go wrong, and of course having visited the elder scrolls nexus modding site to download some community created mod content, I can only now recommend this game for the PC. Something eventually may go wrong in your game - maybe hours since you last saved, and the piece of mind having the console there to help you fix bugs with easy commands is an absolute necessity not available on the Xbox 360 or PS3 versions. Also of course, on the PC you have access to free and hugely varied online community modifications which you can download and browse at you leisure, adding an unparalleled level of development and depth, far exceeding Bethesda's effort.
This Game Gets 10/10
Some good closing statements would be: "You must like RPGs to play", or "Requires a hefty time investment", but the most important thing I can divulge, on the PC anyway, is that hours are wasted early on in the game walking very slowly to destinations, I cannot highly recommend you "tweak" the game on the PC to allow you to walk at normal speed - the way I see it, the developers do not have the right to quote extended game playing time due to restricting you movement speed in-game. Oh and you should try to get to grips with how to mod the game, you wont regret it.
For shared accommodation, and with a fairly speedy and high bandwidth broadband line, our house of friends collectively decided to get this router as we believed the advertised 300 Mbps wireless-N draft and 100Mbps "Fast Ethernet" wired technology would be capable of serving 6 wireless devices at once. We were mistaken. Although this router can more than handle one or two connections giving a clear line to the net down our VM line, once a couple of users connected, the whole thing slowed down, and this was not alleviated by some of us moving to the wired connection temporarily. This lead me to believe that this is a problem with the router's ability to handle several data streams rather than brute force speed through one connection. Many of you might be thinking that, through a shared connection or at busy times, file sharing among a user or heavy traffic on the street might slow down the speed, but let me assure you, the same problems existed at off-peak times and when no torrent activity was present. More "annoying" then anything else, the router required frequent restarts which helped sometimes, and occasionally a cold reboot to factory settings to get things up and running again... as the resident techie, I was not happy.
The router has the standard set of configurations available to you when you call up its settings page from a computer, such as admin password, firewall settings, logs of traffic, security, DMZ for a computer out of the router firewall, port forwarding etc. It does however state QOS is supported and has a help section for QOS, however for the firmware version I had, there was no QOS settings tab - it was either meant to be included in a later firmware update or was forgotten.
We could not really test the wireless N speed, as kicking everyone off for a single file transfer would've made me very unpopular, and the outside connection to the internet was only 20 Mbps, but it did reach 8 MBps once (64 Mbps) between a wireless N and a wired computer - not really a test of the N capability, but shows this router should handle above G speeds between at least two computers. As for the triple antennae, this worked well, as everyone got a minimum of 4 bars most of the time (good for a 3 storey terraced house - max two walls to get through) - its just a shame we bought this when the N draft standard was quite new, where we should have been looking for a very good and proven wireless G mimo router. Don't buy for a shared connection.
I received this dell laptop as a work laptop from my new job, I was ecstatic. Firstly let me comment on the spec of what im reviewing, as dell's standard customisation can leave two similar model looking very different. I have the pentium dual 2.3 ghz model with integrated graphics, and windows 7. This laptop is fast, quite fast - applications such as office and browsers take seconds to load, you are never waiting very long for something to pop up on your screen and with 4 gb of memory, albeit not the fastest memory available, it will let you carry on doing what you want with the laptop without slowdown. Perfect for productivity and general use.
The physical appearance itself is very sleek, with piano black polished plastic being the chosen finish for the opened up laptop. A more matt look with the chrome dell logo on the lid is visible on the reverse side of the lid when closed. The screen itself is capable of being very bright - it does say its an LED screen, so you get all the benefit from energy saving and colour accuracy that this affords. However, I have to say, while putting a glossy screen on a laptop does make the screen more tough and look better when its off (matching the glossy plastic surrounding it), I cant see the benefit here as everytime I go into a lit room or my office, which has those things that offices do - called windows, I get the most horrendous glare from it.
For the more techie/bored/gamer (I am) this model contain the intel media accelerator 4500 gfx chip, which is absolute rubbish when it comes to games and graphics intensive software made in the last 6 years. For a work and productivity laptop, who can complain.
The mousepad isnt too great, it feels a little sluggish and not too accurate when you put the cursor speed up, I have already got a mouse for it, you will probably too. The keypad is good, the action is good, but nothing special you wont see in other laptops. The ports available, it has 3 usb slots, too few - I believe productivity laptops actually need usb ports far more than the bleeding edge gaming and performance laptops, and extremely annoyingly, the two usb slots of the left next to the power socket hole actually are obstructed by the power lead in - if you connect any usb device that doesnt have a flush connector (eg: my sandisk cruzer wont fit unless I take the power cable out, but my mouse usb has no problem because its not as fat). There is also the standard vga out for hooking up a second screen (though with the intel 4500 gfx you should expect too much), and there is a fairly handy SD card reader at the front of the laptop near the mousepad. Other than that and the dvd-rw drive, its pretty flush around all ends.
For noise, its very very quiet. The Dell Inspiron 1545 uses almost passive cooling at lower workloads which means it just gives off its heat, and only turns its fan on when you kick it into gear (with say a HD movie). This works well, as there isnt any noticeable heat on the keypad when the fan is off, assuring me the internal parts arent being fried - of course the experience will change with different procesor choices.
Although I was given this laptop, I feel for the price of £450 it sits between the entry level of the £350-400 laptops and just where the offerings get tasty at £550. I know its not a light statement, but for an extra £120, an upgrade to a better i3 dual core (and hyperthreaded) processor, faster memory (not more though) and a dedicated gfx card (ati HD5650 mobile) and a slightly larger 500 gb hdd opposed to the included 320 gb, would be worth it. As I say though, that would make it more than just a fast productivity laptop.
I give it 7/10, I dont really like Dell and their computers from cheap parts business model (the guys singing lolli-pop lilli-pop did not make this laptop - its made in china), but this ones alright - thumbs up.
This is a very good fighter like the others in the series, great graphics great animation great interface. However it has to be said that if you are going to go online youre going to have to know every move on every character and how to counter (which i cant figure out out how to do effectively).
There are some stupidly hard tasks and combos DOA4 asks of you, but if youre like me and stick to the easy combos you CAN COMPLETE everything on single player, despite other people moaning about it. Its not that hard when you get used to it. It IS stressful however when you come back to it after a while and you forget all the good combos for each character, just remember yor new tv and xbox 360 costs a lot of money and you DONT want to hit it, ive bought a stress ball to stop me doing this (ive also got a smiley face cushion that i punch aswell). Leave your hardware alone when playing any fighter.
This is the original staple fighter for the Xbox 360, and even after years, I still come back to play it now and again with friends, the Tag team and getting the last hit in is great fun. The online community has dried up quite fast and is almost non-existent, but as mentioned earlier, I never saw it as the selling point of this game, or in fact very fun to play online. It is in many respects though, a very standard fighter with unlockables and competition ladder single player modes, it would have been nice to see something along the lines of the Mortal Kombat free roaming worlds, though, i suppose thats what Ninja Gaiden fills in for. Eye candy is a word that would describe this game well.
I have had the Samsung Galaxy S on Orange for about a Week now. As I've moved to a new residence and was without internet, this seemed a perfect opportunity to test out how one could rely on this phone only for communication. All in all, I love the Android OS. The Galaxy S has support for 2.1, but I'm finding it difficult to find an update to froyo (2.2) without rooting (or modding) the phones software. Im not sure if samsung is dedicated to support this phone as much as HTC are to the desire, or Apple to the Iphone, or Google to the Nexus One, else an update would be out there and easy to find already. The touch screen is fast, smooth and with few bugs, but bear in mind that bugs do exist (sometimes the wallpaper doesnt rotate properly) - nothing major though and fairly rare.
Of course with the 1 ghz samsung processor and androids browser, internet surfing from the phone is great, and the Mobile AP function hidden in the settings does indeed allow you to use the phone as a wifi tether to connect your laptop or PC to 3G internet out of the box. You will have to install samsung kies (the computer software for this phone) to make use of usb tethering and some other nifty stuff including updates (froyo some time in November), though I wasnt impressed that samsung kies can only be downloaded from their website and is well over 100 MB (impractical for phone internet). Though I did indeed download this massive file from the phones 3G/HDSPA connection and im pleased to say, it was a fast and smooth process, so long as you have signal... an important thing to remember - you will only enjoy this phone with signal!
You can select 4 options on how the Galaxy S behaves to connect this phone via USB, (Sumsung Kies, Mass Storage Device, PC Internet and Media Player). All provide a different interface to your PC, but i would rather have prefered a one-in-all solution compared to manual selection.
A huge bonus I've found is the SWYPE interface, not only because it usually guesses your words correctly, but it does this from relatively inaccurate finger tracing over the touch screen keypad. This is such a huge bonus because if you on the bus, in a car as a passenger or on a bad train you will mistype much less. However I've found the keypad popup, which takes about half the screen, gets in the way sometimes. Also I have to say, copy, paste and other such text highlighting fucntions could be much improved, but they do work if you have a steady finger and patience - Put it this way, I found it easier retyping in SWYPE rather that cutting and pasting one or two words in the browser.
As for other functions, the email, texting and calling abilities are all fantastic once you figure them out. This is a truly great smartphone. One thing I didnt like is the wiz "Iphone Clone" menu. I agree there needs to be icons you can press on a touch screen phone, but I think a different implementation would have been better, after all, one of the reasons I bought this phone is not because of its Iphone likeness, it deserves its own style and is good enough for samsung to try something different. (Theres probably an mod to change how this looks on android marketplace).
Next, the screen, is the best mobile screen I have seen, for brightness and sharpness. I cant really tell the difference between the quality of this 4 inch beauty and the smaller but more pixeled Iphone 4's screen. Super amoled here means better brightness, Retina display over there means some more pixels in a tighter place - but they are both just marketing phrases past the actual details. HD playback is very sharp also, as are the pictures, though you will notice that zooming in with pictures makes them grainy almost immediately. The touch focus on the camera is nice, and the exposure compensation is good, but no where near makes up for lack of a flash. This phone can do 1280x720 video recording with 5.1 surround sound compatibilty (HD 720P) and the clarity of the picture is amazing for a phone.
Surfing pages and finger pinch zooming is a must for such a useful and large screen, you can read pages in quite some detail in lower zoom, but clicking links will need a good zoom in. I havent seen adobe flash support out of the box, so most video online wont work. I can open up 8 windows on the browser without issue.
Of course there are many things to say about this phone, a good music player, great for watching videos and movie in a portable device, but hopefully I've covered most of the good. Unfortunately, there is some bad. The battery life quickly dissipates, one day of heavy use is likely to dry it up, but there is a usb charger given in case you wish to hook it up to your laptop for some power. There is also a very good task manager that lets you stop background applications that can consume battery life. One very annoying issue is the need for some sort of unlock gesture for when this phone sleeps automatically, which is often and many times while in use, though you can change the settings - I prefer to save battery life, but I dont really prefer swiping the screen or entering my unlock pattern every time the screen goes dim and then black where i havent manually locked it myself.
Another worrying issue is that Google, Apple and HTC have commitment to their products, Im not that confident how much development we will see on this phone from Samsung if they decide to just focus on the Galaxy Tab, only time will tell - for now their development is OK, and you can always install your own things. The Galaxy S is fairly large, but quite thin, so you can indeed fit it inside your jean pocket, though you may want to get a cover, as Im sure over time scratches and blemishes will appear on the plastic back and screen, the HTC Desire "feels" better to hold. When you do Hold the Galaxy S, it feels like a mini tablet pc, rather than a blackberry, which is a good thing for me.
I like it, I love it, I am going to give this 5 Stars, but would not argue with those giving it a 4, as some of the bad points, however minor, are still bad for such an expensive (though not overpriced) phone. I think, so long as your heart is not set on another phone, you will be pleased with this one, FYI - my heart was set on this phone and im pleased with it!
P.S. I also got a £20 Samsung Movies voucher included, the downloadable films come with digital rights management and are for windows media player, but it got me 2 quality movies - Shutter Island and Gran Torino. The drm doesnt work on one of them though (DVD res version of Shutter Island) but mobile resolution of both movies is good.
I have had this mousemat for a while now and its still great. I used to have an old dell mouse (Dell are rubbish dont buy Dell btw). Anyway, when this mat was new it had a great grip and traction on the track ball in the dell mouse. The many dimpled surface has worn a bit but it still grips the track ball as well as it ever did.
I upgraded to a laser mouse about a year ago, as that works perfectly as well, no problems whatsoever. I cant really comment on optical mice, but from my experience most of them felt cheap and jumped to the end of the screen a lot from subtle movements anyway.
As for the wristrest itselt, its amazingly squidgey, you'll be poking fun at it for ages, though this was my first gel rest. Something that is annoying is that others who sit at your desk will try to pop it open so the gel oozes out, this hasnt happed though despite great efforts from various people. The rest is on the firm side and of course plastic coated rather than the softer fabric coated belkin gel rests.
Another fantasic thing about it is that the underside of the mat is made from sticky squidgey rubber that will adhere to any flat surface, so it wont move about while your using it. This can lead to the eventualy build up of dust and debris on the underside, but you can rinse it off... its all plastic.
For me its great, makes my pc seem 100 pounds more expensive due to its professional look. Be warned however, if you need a large mat or use your mouse in large turning circle movements this will not suffice, and it will not replace a gaming mat, which arent comfortable at all but ensure you wont run the mouse off the mat easily. But im a gamer dabbling in the old Oblivion and UT3 goodness and i have not a problem with it...BUY IT.
I find the Samsung Spinpoint F1 to be a fast and well perfoming hard drive. The drive noise isnt very noticable unless you seek it out and generally I am pleased with the speed and reliability of the drive. I have done numerous checks using tools on this terabyte hard disk (931 in reality if we count gigibytes) and they have all come back stating that the disk is healthy and in good shape. Temperatures are a little high for a hard drive, but for a performance product you should expect a little heat. Technical reviews praise the F1s speed, seek times and overall throughput. I havent really noticed a time when I had to wait for the disk to spin up considering that this drive is not the one my OS is installed on. The 931 GB of storage is huge and I still have 750 GB remaining after a year so I should be happy.
However, of course, I have heard the horror stories from other purchasers - which no doubt forced samsung to usher in the more reliable and probably faster F3 spinpoint 1TB drive. I am now waiting for this hard drive to fail, and when it does, I can look forward to binning it or sending it to a repair centre situated above a barber shop which samsung have decided to throw the responsibility to. As soon as I can, and as soon as is needed (when I actually do work that hasnt been back up), I will be buying another drive to replace the F1.
I CAN possibly recommend this hard drive for RAID mirroring with another similar terabyte hdd for a degree of redundancy in case one of the drives fail (some redundancy in this case is better than none), or keeping it on as a spare or to play games from. I CANNOT recommend you stripe this hdd, or you buy two for this purpose no matter how cheap they get. My confidence that this thing wont give me a massive headache, and probably cost me my job had I relied on its apparent reliability, well that confidence is shattered!
The Shakoon Silent Eagle 1000 is truly silent fan. Thats because its a 80 mm fan rotating at less than 1000 rpm. The amount of air this fan pushes out leaves a lot to be desired. For the price, which I believe to be expensive for what it does, this product seems over engineered. The golf ball style texture on the admittedly good quality blades and the flanged inlets seem a bit useless for a fan which essentially achieves its unique selling point of silence because it spins very slowly. The faster 2000 version may be a better buy. So far i have only seen use for this fan in parts of my PC where there might be recirculating air, or to stop flow of air in the wrong direction on the rear exhaust vent. You can feel a slight breeze coming out from the fan when flow is not obstructed (think about exhaling slowly), but its pretty much useless for any type of active cooling. It will need to be supplemented with more powerful fans. Nonetheless it may have its uses such as providing some air over passively cooled components which are silent anyway, but for most people, buying a more powerful (and probably cheaper) fan and using a fan speed controller to get the noise down might be a better option.
The Asus Xonar D2/D2X (the X is for the pci express x1 flavour) is a fantastic audio card. Many people wonder what an add in audio card gets you, and what is meant by clearer audio. Put it this way, when I put my D2X in my pc and connected up a decent set of Altec Lansing speakers I immediatedly noticed more from my music and games. I recognised beats and patterns in the lows coming from the subwoofer which I had not noticed with onboard audio, and a less distorted treble and midrange. Another thing I notice is that the audio can now be louder but still be more accurate than before. An audio card now wont give you a noticeable increase in framerates in games, as the CPU can do most of the job. However, this card features full hardware Open AL and creative EAX emulation for better audio effects in games. Also with the driver software you can tweak many settings including microphone echo reduction, voice masking, changing LFE crossover frequency, which speakers to direct bass to, and enabling a good karaoke mode as well as the usual equaliser and effects settings.
The card does 24-bit 192kHz audio and has 118 dB signal to noise - pretty high end specs and high end capability, but of course, im not an audio robot with an oscilloscope, so cant really describe what this means. Except...It is a lot better than my on board audio and it allows me to play around with my audio settings more to get a better sound out of my speakers.
The bundled software with this card ranges a few trail software suites such as Albeton and Cakewalk. For the most part, you can bin these once the novelty of figuring out what they do is gone - if your a professional musician that uses a computer you probably have what the trial software offers, or already know what little you can learn from them without the full versions. The PowerDVD disc is handy if you dont have a decoder already. The box comes with a LOT of cables. The audio sockets also light up different colours which look great and can help with finding the holes to put you jacks in - common problem we all have. Overall im happy with the £95 purchase.
Just a word of warning, this card has trouble fitting in the top most pci-express x1 slot on most motherboards for the D2X version. If you are looking to buy this card, or upgrade motherboard after you buy one, then EXPLICITLY check for clearance of the memory module or other obstruction from the slot you want to fit this card in. In many cases the floppy disk power lead it needs will get in the way or the card will hit your memory module.
This Asus ATi 4850 512 MB gfx card is a solid performer in the upper mid range of 4000 series cards. It can play all of the newest games as of 2009, with most at respectable framerates even with higher detail. You'll notice that, however, because of the memory - very high resolutions and textures will result in a performance hit. So far I've only experienced this playing games with extensive modding and customisation though (Oblivion/Fallout 3/UT3). If you are thinking of buying this card it is worth mentioning that is comes "highly strung" out of the box and runs quite hot. Headroom for overclocking isnt great, and add-in card manufacturers like ASUS have added bigger fans and heatsinks out of necessity, rather than to allow greater headroom for overclockers. This cards runs at 74 C in my micro atx case at load (usually playing fallout 3 at 1080p and 4x AA with no OC).
As for the drivers and software, Catalyst Control Centre can be downloaded easily and updated every few months if need be from the ATi website. There are in built overclocking options (10% is the best i can get without corruption), but more importantly there is a manual fan speed slider to give you more cooling or a quieter fan as you see fit. You can also use the profile creator to store settings for when you play different games and change profile from the tray icon. As for the next generation of cards, unless power consumption is important, i wouldnt swap this for anything less than the 5850.