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I got my Zune 30GB second hand back in February for about £80 off eBay and i was very happy with it, it was great to be able to store all my music on one device, the Zune 30 is built like a brick and is quite but i like the look of it and feel of the button and i also very much like the fact that it has a ZIP hard drive inside and not flash memory.
The Zune software and firmware
The Zune comes with its own software which you use to sync your music to your player and it's a great peace of software it looks lovely and is nice and simple to use and so is the firmware it's very clear to the user and is laid out very well.
The device has five buttons in a circle up, down left and right and select they work fine but it's not the best navigation system that I've used but it does the job , the screen is good and has a hard plastic over that can take a beating and is overall a very robust mp3 player. But not without its problems, last month the hard drive started to fail and I've since had to replace it costing me £26 and everything worked fine again for a week but now the headphone jack is playing up and does not play sound intro the right ear unless i push down hard on it, it might be due to be when i took it apart but pretty sure it's not so I'm going to try some fixes that people at mentioned online. But when you consider that it's a second hard device and three years old it's not done to badly and I'm not going to give up on it yet and will try to resolve the headphone jack problem. I would recommend holding out until the Zune HD comes out which looks very good indeed.
I got a Microsoft Media Center remote about two years back and I've been using it since Windows XP Media Center and it's a great remote. You get the Remote and two AA batteries that I've only had to change three times! With an IR receiver that's USB.
This remote controls Windows Media Center and i use it just about every day when i watch TV on my PC and means I can open Windows Media Center and pick channel's from the comfort of my own bed and it did come in great use after a operation on my knee leaving me stuck in bed for weeks while recovering and it saved me a lot of Hassel and it never let me down so far in the two years I've been using it. I'm now running Windows 7 and it works great with Windows 7 Meda Center and it also worked on Windows Vista also. The remote as a Windows Media Center button that will start up Media Center for you and you can navigate with the arrow keys of the remote there are also shortcut keys like Recorded TV Guide Live TV and DVD menu. This is a very robust remote and I'm sure I'll be using this for another two years unless Microsoft comes out would an updated remote. Highly recommend
After using the same optical mouse now for about 5 years i decided to have a change and i got myself the Microsoft Intelli Mouse Explorer 3, and i have to say I've been pleasantly surprised. It cost me £18 and came with the usually driver disc that i just chuck away and go online to get the newest software and the software just gave me the option to change that the two function buttons do on the mouse but i was happy how they were so I've had not use for it. The mouse has your normal two buttons and wheel and also has two extra buttons that work as back and forward in IE and i use that a fair bit , I've found the shape is taking abit of getting use to but i guess after using the same mouse for five years it might. The mouse is very responsive and fits well in my hand but i would of liked it if the wheel and buttons were not as loud but i guess i can't have everything now can I , overall this is a good mouse and its nice and cheap would recommend for a replacement if you're looking for one.
I've now been running Windows 7 since the 6th of August when it came out on TechNet and before that i was testing the beta a RC of Windows and I've been very impressed with its and to put it basically its vista done right from the start and without the longhorn fiasco.
The first impression i got of Windows 7 was that it was fast a clean with its UI and start menu design i was very impressed from the presentation even at the beta stages and now after using the final RTM (Release to Manufacturing) and i can say without a doubt that it far sepsis vista.
The installation took 20 minutes in all from DVD, everything went hunky-dory on both my desktop and laptop i was very impressed with the laptop installation as all my drives were install with vista i had to install my fingerprint reader drivers myself with windows 7 nothing had to be done but i did install the lasts Realtek HD drivers and Ati drivers. The boot time was a tad fast then vista after a clean install and during boot you are shown an lovely animation of the windows flag a far more aesthetically pleasing view then the boring scrolling bar you would see in Windows Vista .
Some new features of Windows 7
When you Press WINDOWS KEY + LEFT it will snap the window to the left side of the screen and if you press WINDOWS KEY + RIGHT it will snap the window to the right side of the screen and WINDOWS KEY + UP to maximise the window, you can also drag the window to the sides of the screen for the same effect, this feature is great I've used it just about every day it's such a small thing but so useful and i find if I'm ever on a Vista or XP machine and drag a window to the left side of the screen expecting something to happen and when i realise how much i miss it.
Windows Gadgets replaces the old Windows Sidebar that comes in Windows Vista and would give you a sidebar to house gadgets in and it was pretty good but it would eat up a fair bit of your desktop and with Windows Gadgets this is no longer the case, you can just place your gadgets anywhere on your desktop. Sadly Microsoft only added one new gadget to windows 7 and that's the Media Center and they left out the Stocks gadget, i don't use either of them but i think it would have been nice if Microsoft included some more to ship with. But overall it's a great improvement over Windows Sidebar.
It does what it says it allows you to "peek" at your desktop windows, with Aero Peek you can ether preview your desktop in which you move your mouse to the bottom left of the taskbar and hover over the "show desktop" pane and it will be shown a see-through outline of all your windows i find this every useful to view desktop gadgets like the weather gadget. This other option is the full screen window preview in which you hover your mouse over a taskbar button and your see open applications show in thumbnails move your mouse over one of these to see the full preview the window in full this will show you the main window you want to see and the outlines of the other windows behind it.
Microsoft for the first time since Windows 95 have redesigned the taskbar, it has been made a bit thicker and now groups icons by applications which makes your workspace far less cluttered and one of the new elements i do like very much is the new Inline progress bars that show you the progress of your copying inside the icon, tray notification area has been upgraded and much tidier. I think for some users it might take some time to get use to the redesign but i think most will love it others maybe not but don't fear you can change the behaviour to act like windows vista's taskbar if you so choose.
Windows 7 has been made with touch devises like new touchscreens and tablets in mind and it takes full advantage of it and has tool built in to make the best use of touch devises sadly i don't have any form of touch device to test but I'm look forward to trying out one if i can get my hands on a touch screen at some point
If you've been using Windows XP and avoided Vista due to the bad press this is the upgrade you've been waiting for and if your using Windows vista i highly recommend you upgrade to Windows 7 you won't regret it i promise you.
I got myself a MDA Vario III (also known as HTC TyTN II) back in August for £115 off amazon second hand after my old MDA Vario I stopped working. The Vario III is a great device and my best smartphone to date.
The phone as everything you could ever need, Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), 3.1 megapixel rear-facing camera and 0.3 megapixel front-facing camera for video calling and built in GPS and a slide out QWERTY keyboard that's great for texting, the keyboard also tilts so you can use it on a desk like a kind of laptop but I've not found it useful.
After using this phone for about a month now I've found it very reliable, the battery life last about 3 days sometimes 2 if I've been using the camera a lot and I've since brought an extra battery just in case only £7 off eBay not bad if you ask me and well worth it. The phone is powered by Windows Mobile it came with Windows Mobile 6.1 and I've since upgraded to 6.5 with a custom rom witch is great, if you don't like the OS that your using you can look for others that people have made and i find them far better than the one Vodafone shipped with it but saying that there was nothing wrong with it i just wanted a change. So far I've not found any problems with the phone everything as work fine with no trouble though it would of been nice if it had a headphone jack port instead i had to buy a mini usb to 3.5 headphone jack cable was only £2 but still an extra thing to buy . I found myself quite surprised how little i use the stylist I found that using just my finger and the four navigation buttons good enough.
If you're looking for a cheap well rounded smartphone The MDA Vario III is well worth a look into.