- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
Bic. That's a name you've known all your life. And in a way, it's as memorable as McDonald's or Nintendo in its field. Bic pens are among the most popular pens sold and, I have to admit, among some of the best. A lot of the time, when I buy a pen, I tend to go for any old brand in the store, whatever's cheapest, I mean I never think twice about it, it's just a pen, but then I always come to regret it. Supermarket own brands and one pound store large packs always tend to break, run out of ink or simply stop rolling after a ridiculously small amount of time, and it really frustrates me. Then I have a change of heart and buy some Bics and wonder why I didn't in the first place. Even Jerry Seinfeld admits to having Bic pens to write every single episode of his sitcom. I don't know how much praise you can give to a simple writing utensil, but Bic's pens always do the job, an for a very long time, too. They last far longer than any other pen I have (how long I could never say because I tend to lose them or lend them to someone else before the ink runs out) and the roller at the end stops far less often than some of the other brands. I do a lot of writing, and now if I have to get pages of writing done without the colour changfing midway because whatever pen I had broke, I go for a Bic.
This is an interesting blast from the past. I was looking through some old things, and old computer parts I had lying around recently, to find something to replace my broken monitor in the two weeks it would take for them to look at it and not bothering to fix it, give me a new one. The LG Flatron L1780Q is a fun little monitor, I'll start off by saying. It's from a time when square resolutions were still considered normal, to an extent. I'm going to sum it up pretty quick - this is not a monitor you're likely to have as your main monitor, especially if you're buying it now (it's about four or five years old now). Of course its age is just in the resolution (it's a 17 inch at a max resolution of 1280 by 1024) and now it's still a decent monitor - doing exactly what it says on the tin. It connects with VGA as you'd expect and in its silver shell looks pretty decent. It doesn't feel cheap, although it lacks the slickness of LG's later monitors. There's nothing wrong with it, but there are dozens of better ones out now at probably the same price you'd see this one going for on Amazon or something. But if you come across one second hand it does make a great additional (second even third) monitor for a laptop, and small enough to fit in that corner of the desk you don't know what to put.
If you travel a lot, you've probably had the same problem as I have - sometimes it's just damn near impossible to get a good wifi signal and there are times when a smart phone simply isn't enough to work with. You need to work on something important on your computer and send it off. That or you just want to pointlessly browse the net while you're your sitting on the train. Either way, it's not always easy to get connected. And so we get the USB broadband stick. It's, at its core, a pretty good idea. Mobile broadband using cellphone towers - the exact same you get on your smart phone. If you have reception, you'll have good internet signal. I bought the TMobile Web and walk USb stick when I got my new laptop some time back, and somehow, as if they employ psychics or something, they rang me up (having been a customer for several years) and asked me if I needed something like this. I did, and they sent it off for me (I was somewhat tempted by their valued customer 3-month discount). And I have to say I was impressed for a while. Sure the speed was nothing compared to my home broadband, and the quality of images on sites were purposefully decreased in quality to reduce usage (I had a 3gb limit at the time) and for some reason I still haven't gotten an answer to I couldn't upload anything bigger than 64kb, but whatever. It worked and I managed to do what I wanted to on the go - download documents and pointlessly browse the net. Well, when it didn't cut off. But then the stick started to get loose, where the main body connects to the USB plug, and eventually it was so that I had to support it with another USB and some folder paper to get any kind of connection. I had it sent back and asked for another, only to have the same thing happen there, too. So what can I really say about this product? I mean, it does what it says, sure, but the quality of internet is by no means anything to be amazed by. It's good backup in case you really can't find any wifi (and the upload limits are a real pain sometimes), and that is if it doesn't break for no reason.
The GoGear vibe is a small, light and easy to use mp3 player, and first glance it might not seem like much, but it really does perform well. Let me explain a bit. It's built about four inches high, and one and a half wide, and out of light but pretty durable aluminium. It doesn't feel like it's going to break on you and certainly doesn't feel cheap in any way. It has seven buttons - your four typical direction buttons, a select/play-pause button, an options button and a back button, and with these you can easily and comfortably move around the player's many settings without too much trouble. Once you get into the pattern of how it works you'll be able to do it without even looking. Also, at the top are the volume buttons and underneath the headphone jack and the on-off-hold switch. It has a small screen, big enough to work our way around it, and see what song is playing, as well as album artwork, which I find to be a nice touch. Now, for contents. The GoGear vibe lets you not only listen to music (which it delivers at the best quality it can, with an interesting feature "FullSound" which tweaks the equalizers automatically each song to make each song sound as best it can), but also view videos, pictures and record sound. All of these functions are great and the video looks surprisingly good for such a small screen. But the music is the main focus. There's always something I'm particular about when I choose MP3 players (this one was actually a gift from someone else) and it's how it plays all its tracks. I particularly like the iPod in that it plays all tracks numerically in order of the artist. In this all tracks are played alphabetically, which means if you want to listen to another song by the same artist it's a bit more of a hassel. But a simple press of the options button lets you choose whether to listen to all songs, or just by that artist or album. If you're picky about which songs to play during shuffle mode, you'll find yourself frequently pressing buttons to change the playing order. No biggie though. As for its other options, it also comes with a sleep timer, and three themes, in case you get bored of your current background. All in all, it's a pretty decent quality player, and although it might not rival the iPod it's a great replacement or gift for someone who doesn't really want to fork over all that money.
Just a note, this review will most likely contain a couple of spoilers from the previous seasons, so don't read it unless you've seen them. It might also contain some season 4 ones, too. How I Met Your Mother is, in essence, about our main character Ted Mosby (played by Josh Radnor) who is always on the look for his Miss Right - the one who he will marry and have kids. Told as a story to his kids in the year 2030 the show flashes back to the present day where Ted is helped in his journey by recently married best friends Marshall and Lily (Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan), his old flame Robin (Cobie Smulders) and his womanising friend Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) This season continues where the third left off: with Ted asking his girlfriend Stella (played by Scrubs' Sarah Chalke) to marry him. When she agrees, Ted begins to realise he doesn't know a great deal about her. But what's worse, she even wants him to move in with her in his least favourite part of the world: New Jersey. Meanwhile, married Lily and Marshall are contemplating having children, Robin starts enjoying single life and Barney, well, Barney continues his chase of single girls around the country. Season 4 is one of my favourites so far. While the third I didn't like so much because it focused a lot of the Stella-Ted relationship, this one has a lot more single Ted, and his reactions to how his split-up with Stella went, going into more character depth. We also see a totally different side to Barney later on as the season progresses, especially after the events in Sandcastles in the Sand. It starts out strong and gets better and better with each episode. Some of my favourites include The Fight, As Fast As She Can, The Leap, Three Days of Snow and Happily Ever After. There are some very funny episodes, and some very touching ones too. Overall it's a great season, with some really strong episodes and a very sweet, very fitting finale.
Pick Up Sticks, also known as Mikado, used to be one of my favourite games as a child. I don't know why, really. Maybe it was the simplicity of the game, that you could play with anyone really because even if they didn't know the rules you could teach them within a few seconds. Toyday have released a set of this game, which you can pick up for under three pounds - not a bad price at all. For those of you who don't know the game - it's pretty simple. You start by dropping the sticks from their stack so they become one random assortment on the table. The aim of the game is to, as the title suggests, pick up the sticks but do so without making others move. A simple idea, but really good fun. The sticks you pick up, based on their colour, are worth more points, with one worth the most. You go until you make the sticks move or you disrupt the pile, and then it's your opponent's turn. The game ends when all sticks have been picked up, and you count out your points based on what sticks you have. This edition of the game comes in a really nice wooden box, for sturdy storage, and the sticks, unlike some other versions of the game, are nicely made out of wood. It gives the game a nice old fashioned charm to it. This set comes with forty one sticks, which may or may not be standard rules and comes with some instructions on points and gameplay, too. Overall, it's a pretty fun game. Very basic but a good timekiller and makes a change from board games. Very affordable, nicely made and designed, it's definitley worth having these in your games stock.
There are a few negative reviews on the product, and I do admit I can see why. I was given this as a present by a friend who didn't know me and didn't know I disliked Family Guy. After using it a few times at the party, I gave it to one of my friends who is a much bigger fan of the show. This product is a bottle opener shaped like the Family Guy character Brian the dog. By itself, the product is pretty decent, I have to admit. I mean, it does exactly what it says it will. It's also a fridge magnet so when you're done with it you can pop it back on the fridge to not lose it anywhere, and always have it close by. For that it's pretty good. I mean it's just a bottle opener - nothing special. The plastic modeling on the body is pretty decent too, and is shaped and made to look like the character. It is about 5 to 6 inches in height and made of cheap-feeling but durable plastic. You know that when you open a bottle you don't run risk of breaking the thing in two. What really gets me about this is the gimmick. The bottle opener plays one of five (count 'em, five) quotes from the character every time a bottle is opened. For those of you who don't know, Brian the intelligent character in a show full of idiots, so you know you're getting some pretty cool quotes. The problem is that this gets really, really boring incredibly quickly. Five beers later you've played all of those quotes (Which are alright but not worth hearing a dozen times over) and you know that every time you open it you'll have to hear him go on. After a while we were just using the key chain opener one of my friends had. So what to say about this? It makes a good novelty gift, but in thought only. After a while it kind of gets boring, and probably best left on the fridge.
I recently changed a lot of things in the small, squashed kitchen in my apartment: the pots and pans, the cutlery, plates and a fair few of the appliances. My flatmate and I were looking online and in shops for some really nice looking appliances and came across the Morphy Richards red pyramid kettle. It cost just over forty pounds (almost fifty on the manufacturers' website), but we felt we could splash out a bit on things like this, having spent the last few years with the cheapest ones we could get. And it was worth it, I have to say. The first thing to note about this is the colour. Much like the photograph, the kettle comes in a rather shiny and elegant red colour (although others are available) which looks really good. It's shaped a lot like one of the older stove kettles, despite being a corded kettle (cordless from the base). It has a maximum capacity of 1.5 liters, enough for a good teapot of tea and comes with a number of your usual kettle-type functions, such as automatic switch off (when boiled and when there's not enough water), illuminated buttons and switches and also boasts a removeable limescale filter which makes cleaning a lot easier. It boils at a good speed and isn't as loud as some other kettles I've used. It's not the easiest kettle to use, with it's handle at the top and its spout just underneath, but after you spill boiling hot water everywhere the first few times you get used to it. I think the biggest selling point of this is its stylish retro look and colour, something that's hard to find in appliances and so while it is certainly not the best one around for everyone, if you have the money to spend on it, it's certainly worth getting.
I love money. Well, that might not be true, actually. It might even be more true to say that I dislike money so much that I have to get rid of it and spend it on something else as soon as I get any. Saving has never really been my strong point, because I love buying things too much and many times has a piggy bank or an old jar been emptied because of a desperate need to buy something completely useless. Well, this is where this cool little gadget comes in handy. The ATM Savings Bank Money Box is designed to look exactly like your typical hole in wall ATM machine. It stands a good 25 odd centimetres tall and 15cm wide. It features a small screen that tells you how much you have on your account. Using it is pretty simple: you slide coins and notes into the machine (it can recognise both nicely and counts the amount you put in), and you are given a "bank card" which you have to use to get to the money, in conjunction with your 4 digit pin, very much like an ordinary bank system. The system has a built in clock and calendar which serves almost no purpose, and also lets you set your own savings target, which I have currently quite high. There is something about the machine though which makes me not want to take out the money, unlike a usual jar or book to slide notes in, and I have found I save more with it, probably because it just looks cool and it's slightly more complicated to get it out. It requires, annoyingly, 3 AA batteries which means you'll always have one lying about uselessly, but that's hardly an issue and overall the machine is very cool and does exactly what it says. It costs about 20 pounds and makes a pretty nice gift.
Kettles. I owe a lot to kettles. Without them I wouldn't be having a cup of tea every few hours, which, to me, is an incredibly important part of the day. I mean I could of course make tea without a kettle, but there's something altogether discouraging when it comes to waiting daftly in front of a stove until the saucepan of water shows any sign of bubbling. No, I take my tea seriously, and it wouldn't be the same without a good kettle. Unfortunately, I'm also a very cheap man. When I was out hunting for kettles (well, I say hunting) and other appliances, I was browsing through a Currys, looking at the different sorts, wondering what the bright neon-lit one was exactly for, when I came across the Matsui one, going for a very decent price of 15 pounds. A decent, or rather average sized kettle, it can hold up to 1.7 liters of water. It doesn't take up a lot of space at all, and can be tucked away nicely in a corner of a kitchen. It's made of stainless steel or rather has a stainless steel finish and looks pretty good overall. The handle is well placed and it's not in the least bit awkward to serve. The kettle is wireless, in the way kettles are, and you place it on the base like you normally would. One minor problem I had was the cable from the base to the wall was incredibly short, meaning you have to place it close to a socket. Boiling time is fast, averaging between one and three minutes depending on how much water there is. It's pretty loud admittedly, but it's never that much of a problem, as boiling times are never that long anyway. Overall, what can I say, it's a kettle, plain and simple. But compared to your typically square white plastic kettle, it looks very good. It's comfortable and practical, easy to use and overall works very well. It's been two years and it works just as well as it did when I first got it.
Yes, seven years after the first Pokemon game came out on the old Gameboy colour, the franchise is still going strong, with a little bit of a revamp in the story. Pokemon Ruby takes place on another area of ... Japan, apparently, in the fictional are of Hoenn - a place teeming with all kinds of new and undiscovered Pokemon. You play as either Boy or Girl (whose name you can customise). These characters are different to the ones from earlier games, and the female you might recognise (if you watch the show at all), as Misty's replacement May. The plot is fairly typical for a Pokemon game. For anyone who's ever played one, you'll know what it's going to be about. You are a ten year old trainer, who goes out one day into the Pokemon world and become a trainer. In usual Pokemon style, you bid farewell to your parents and every personal possession of yours to roam the wilderness and make monsters battle each other for fun. Of course, problems arise in the form of Team Magma - an evil organisation who wants to summon the legendary Pokemon (why are there so many legendary Pokemon?) Groudon and ... I don't know, do fairly evil things like dry up the oceans. Their reasons behind doing this are fairly fuzzy, but then again you never asked yourself why Team Rocket was so bent on getting Ash's Pikachu. So what makes this version of the game much different to other ones? Well, gameplay is pretty much the same: you roam around the land, wandering through forests and deserts and so on catching and battling wild pokemon. There are various towns and cities scattered about, each with shops to buy healing items and pokeballs as well as Pokemon Centres which help heal your creatures. Battles are pretty standard, as you expect, and works in traditional turn-based style, with each Pokemon battling it out using their various skills to win. There are loads of moves, and some you can teach them, and if you level it enough, your pokemon might "evolve", which turns it into a more powerful form of its original self. That's the basic gist of the gameplay. Don't get me wrong, there's a fair more to it than that and the Pokemon you choose can have a huge impact on the way your battles turn out (due to type attributes and so on). There's lots to learn and it's great fun all the while. There are also some cool side-quests and mini games like the slot machines and "breeding" Pokemon. Graphics and sound are huge improvements over previous Poke-games on handheld systems, using the GBA's capabilities to the max. There's also a cool in built clock that you set at the start of the game, and goes even when you're not playing, and there are some cool extra things that change depending on what day it is. The game also boasts multi-player, where you can battle your friends connecting via GBA cables. A cool addition is a 2 on 2 battle, which is a great deal of fun. Overall, this is a very good game and even with DS Pokemon games out, this is still very fun to play now. It's simple so good graphics aren't necessarily that important, but the game is so vast and huge that you can play for hours without noticing time pass. Fantastic fun.
Back in the early 2000s, this was one of my favourite consoles. I remember having played with classic Gameboys and their colour counterparts but never quite liking them. Even though they were both a huge step forward in the handheld gaming industry I never quite felt that I was really getting into the game much. But then this beaut came out. I didn't get one until a few years after its initial release, but it was still going strong then. And how to describe it? It was the best handheld console I'd tried and I absolutely loved it. The console featured a 2.9 inch screen, going at a resolution of 240 × 160 pixels. Nothing extraordinary, but the in game graphics of most games were really quite sophisticated for such a small screen, at the time. While the Gameboy Colour had only a very limited capacity for colours, the GBA held so many more. The device fit neatly into both hands, designed more like a classic controller, unlike the phone-like appearance of the other two. On the left you had the directional pad, start and select while on the right you had your A and B buttons. There was also the addition to L and R buttons for added functionality. The console had (although games are becoming hard to find, even second hand) a huge array of games, with a GBA version for almost every PS2 or Xbox game released and although a lot of the time they were not nearly as good as the console versions (see Lord of the Rings or Dragonball games) they had a sort of quaint charm about them. Sure, looking at it now, it falters in comparison to the PSP or the DS, graphics and sound-wise. I think, for a while, it was definitely my favourite console. You could bring it anywhere and the huge range of games that came in tiny cartridges (the last one to do so) meant you could take a few with you everywhere you went. It also came with a ridiculous amount of accessories from TV show episodes that came in cartridges, to actual TV tuners. If there were any problems with it, despite its limited capacity in graphics and sound, it was that the thing didn't come with a backlight. A strange decision on Nintendo's behalf which was fixed in the SP GBAs that were released some time later.
Twister - the always appropriate game for parties, ladies and gentlemen. Game giant Milton Bradley's full-fun full-bodied game has been a personal favourite of mine for years. Twister is a group game - that is to say the more people you have the better and more fun it is to play, although four players on the mat seems to be the best number and any more makes it quite tight. The game is played on a plastic mat which you spread across the floor - this mat you could consider your board. It has four rows of large circles, each with four colours - red, blue, yellow and green. The game begins with one player (not actively involved in the game), spinning the "die" of the game, which is an arrow on a bit of square card. This spinner, divided into four sections (left and right hand and feet, and then further into the four colours). Depending on where the arrow lands (the caller will say something like "right foot green"), the player whose turn it is must try to put the right body part on the right colour, in this case, their right foot on any green circle. The game continues in this fashion until someone falls over, or their knees or elbows touch the mat. The winner is the person who can play the game the longest without falling over. If you've never played it before it is great fun and always a lot of laughs. It's a pretty physical kind of game, too, which requires being able to twist (thus the name) in all kinds of positions to get to the right circle. Let's not forget all the great variations - drunk Twister and bikini Twister being just a couple.
It's hard to find people who really play board games any more. At least not as much as they used to and I don't really blame them, to be honest, what with video games and the internet where you can, within minutes have access to basically every film or television show ever created. Nonetheless, there comes the time when, with a group of friends or with my girlfriend, we think bugger it to all of that and bring out your classic fun-times board game. Guess Who is one of our favourites in all of this, mainly because of its simplicity or the fact that you can play about a hundred games in fifteen minutes For those of you unfamiliar with the game, Guess Who begins with each player being given a card with a cartoon head filled with all kinds (or lack of) distinguishing features. The two players then take it in turns to ask each other questions based on appearance, before eliminating all the people who don't fit the description. So player 1 might ask player 2 if the person on his card has a moustache (or is, in fact, male), and if player 2 says that he does, player 1 then knocks down all the people on his playing board without 'staches, narrowing the search down bit by bit until a player is left with only one person left on their playing field, and can correctly guess who the other person had. A simple game, really, with few rules that can be learned in minutes. All the best board games are simple, in my opinion, and can be played without first having to establish all kinds of "local" rules (I'm looking at you, Monopoly). I guess if there's anything wrong with this game is that does seem to get a bit tiresome after a while. You find yourself doing the same strategies (of such a word can be used) and after some games, you want to move onto something else. However, it's a very fun game and a great way to kill the time
I'm a big fan of beat em up and fighting games. From Street Fighter to Tekken to King of Fighters and Mortal Kombat, I can't get enough. And so when I was browsing through some cheap PS2 games to pick and play over the summer when I'd be going home and wouldn't have my Playstation 3 on me, I found this one. I had never heard of Virtua Fighter before. The fact there had been three before it (and one after) had gone right over my head but apparently it was quite a big hit. I picked it up and started playing. I'm a bit in two minds about this game. While, in its heart it works just fine as a fighting beat em up game, with some pretty cool moves and characters, I never got into it a lot. Maybe it was because this was the fourth game in a season or something, but to me there wasn't really that much of a story. So you start out with an Arcade Mode that has some sort of story, and you play as different characters entering the tournament. It's all pretty straightforward stuff and if you've ever played a fighting game you'll know what it's all about. There's also the typical choice between characters and vs modes and so on, as well as multiplayer and it's all very standard. The thing about this game though that kind of got to me was that there was really nothing all that special about it. Mortal Kombat has its very violent end moves and its rather twisted stories, Tekken has a very nice continual plot through all its games and some very cool characters, but Virtua Fighter 4 kind of has nothing. The characters are pretty ordinary and the plot's a bit "meh". I think it's the same thing that stopped me from buying any Street Fighter game after number 2. All in all, though, there's nothing particularly wrong with the game. I you're looking for a some good fighting action, this is perfect. It's easy to learn and there is a good range of fighting moves and characters, with individual styles to choose from. Not a bad game at all