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    • Bosch KGN34X00GB / Fridge / 43 Readings / 42 Ratings
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      15.06.2007 23:31
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      Advantages

      • Reliability

      Disadvantages

      Great value for a quality appliance

      The Fridge/Freezer the most used and underrated appliance in the kitchen, and when faced with avenues of these white goods towering in rows in the likes of Curry’s or Comet it can be a monumental task to try to choose the best one for your needs and of course budget.

      My choice was somewhat easier as I had themed my kitchen around Bosch products, but even so Bosch had an amazing 29 models spread over their three trim levels; Clasixx, Exxcel, Logixx and Built-in.

      The brief from Mrs Scenic was a full height, half and half Fridge/Freezer. The nearest model that came close to that was the KGN 34X00.

      The KGN 34X00 falls into the Exxcel range which is one up from the basic range, I say full height at 182cm it just allows a top box to fit above to create a flush line with wall units, if you go for the KGN 39 models they come up at 200cm and would not fit under a standard top box in built-in units. You can also get a 55cm width model if you have 60cm units with end plates.

      So the day arrived for the Bosch to be put into its hole and the half acre of cardboard, polystyrene and endless pieces of tape to be disposed of, re-cycled of course.

      The thing that strikes you about the Bosch is its plain design, all of the controls are inside the fridge hidden behind the door out of the way of little fingers, but if you are less than 5ft 6in you may struggle to reach the controls. So what you have is a very plain looking fridge from the outside, and not a row of L.E.D’s and knobs that spoil the clean lines of the appliance.

      One thing I had not taken particular notice of were the bow fronted doors, which allowed much deeper storage in the fridge and a recess for pizzas in the freezer. Just one of the simple but clever design features on this appliance.

      As I mentioned the controls for the fridge and freezer are located inside, the fridge, and the fridge control is a simple turn knob mounted on the back wall of the fan unit. Being frost free the cooling in the fridge is by cool air passed around the fridge with a fan that circulates cooled air. In normal use the fan cuts in every 10 minutes or so and whilst it is audible it is not over noisy.

      The freezer controls are mounted on the header rail of the fridge and are concealed by the fridge door. There are a number of push buttons; one selects the freezer temperature on an LED display from -16oC to max -24oC, there is also a super freeze button which is recommended for freezing fresh produce over 2 kg in weight. The last button being the on/off switch, so the unit can be turned off with out the need to switch off at the plug.

      On this model the fridge is supplied with 3 shelves, one of which covers the two salad drawers. The top shelf house’s the chiller compartment and can rack, this area is cooler than the rest of the fridge and will store items at just over 0oC. The second shelf has an attachment for a bottle cooler rack and this can be interchanged with the can rack if desired.

      The door also has 3 racks, the top housing the egg tray and butter dish, which can be removed. The second rack allows enough room for smaller sauce bottles. The third rack allows full height bottles to be stored and we have found two 4 litre milk cartoons and two 2 litre water bottles will fit easily thanks to the bow shape of the door allowing much deeper storage than other makes.


      The freezer is arranged with three draws, two of which pull out on rails, the bottom draw is loose and not as deep due to the recess of the motor at the back of the unit. I should also mention the middle rack has a 26cm height so a good size turkey would fit.

      The bow shape of the door also gives extra storage options in the freezer door where a frozen pizza will fit or a couple of cool box cold packs can be stored.

      Overall we are very pleased with the appliance, the freezer is totally frost free and keeps a very uniform temperature throughout, the only niggle is a plastic overlap that does not allow the trays full height to be used, but this is to allow the necessary airflow around the freezer to be maintained.

      The fridge too impresses, the airflow around the unit maintains a much more stable temperature, the only drawback being any open food needs to be wrapped to maintain moisture as the effect of the fan does dry food out much more than models with the old type cold plate method, and indeed leave half an onion un-wrapped and the aroma will spread to everything very quickly.

      Other features worth mentioning;

      The linings and elements are all silver lined, which gives protection against bacteria and algae

      The unit is completely frost free and only uses one motor (compressor) using fan assisted airflow for more even distribution of cooled air

      Rated energy consumption, 358kWh per annum £25 approx to run.

      The unit can have door hinged left or right, I did not change the door opening but it looks like a two person job and the appliance needs to be leaned right over, so remember to leave the unit standing for at leased 12 hours if you do to let the oil settle in the motor.

      Door seals can be removed for cleaning

      So there we have it. A good quality fridge/freezer. A simple, but clever design and economical too.

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      • Bosch WAE24260 / Washing Machine / 50 Readings / 48 Ratings
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        31.05.2007 14:52
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        Advantages

        • "Ease of use"

        Disadvantages

        quality machine and great value for money

        Having read over 50 or so reviews on various household appliances in the last few months I came to the conclusion that the Washing Machine should be the benchmark by which I would make my purchasing decision for my new kitchen appliances. There is so much importance placed on the good old washer and if you get that right the rest of the appliances should be the same make. So based on my consumer research and the fact that I work with Bosch Automotive products everyday as well, Bosch seemed the right candidate to furnish my new kitchen with its labour saving devices.


        The Bosch WAE24260GB

        I am no stranger to using Bosch washing machines; I have used them in my last two houses and have given faultless service. So the main choice was which model to go for. Now Bosch have a current range of 16 machines, which to my mind seems a little bit of overkill, especially as most of the big electrical retailers will only stock 3 or 4 models and will special order for you, but you will pay top dollar for it and be given a 4-6 week delivery.

        In fact there is little to choose between most of the models apart from drum size, spin speed. Bosch arranges their models in three ranges: Classixx- basic; Exxcel- mid; and Logixx- high end. I choose the Exxcel range for the washer, fridge freezer and dishwasher as they were simple use, but had extra features which seemed practical for our needs and whoever may buy or rent the house when completed would see that quality products were used.

        In fact the WAE24260GB is not labelled as an Exxcel machine; the Bosch logo is in black and their logo is missing. The reason for this? Bosch sometimes produces a run of machines for specific suppliers, these being higher spec models at a much lower price. They also use sub contract assembly in the country the product is sold in, there by reducing labour costs. With this machine from what I have found out it was produced in Germany, but as a run out model before they launched their 2007 range, and this model is still available from some outlets. In fact the 2007 range differs only in a few details and the control panel and drum are very similar to this model.

        Life with the Bosch

        As you would expect from Bosch everything was well packed and present and correct. The transit packing and bolts securing the drum whilst in transit were easy to remove, and the instructions were easy to follow if a little was lost in translation in some places.

        It seems Bosch, like other Manufacturers have gone away from the wash number coding system. Instead the control dial is divided off into natural fibres (cottons) on one half and man made (easy care) on the other. In total there 15 programmes available
        5 for cottons, 6 for easy care and 4 additional functions

        Out of those programme choices the three main programmes we use are the cotton- stains, easy care normal and mixed load. These three programmes cover most of our washing needs and the beauty of the programmes is that once selected the default settings can be changed, so for example the easy care normal programme the temperature can be turned from its default setting of 40 oC down to 30 oC, the same applies to the spin speed. So by trail and error you can find a setting that suits your needs and with modern wash powders working at 30 oC you can take advantage of power savings of a cooler wash. It’s just a shame they don’t have a memory feature that you can apply for your favourite wash programme.

        So how about the results you ask? Well Mrs Scenic as some will know works in a kitchen and has a daily supply of greasy, stained uniforms to wash. My son (Mechboy) works for an Exhibition company and as you can imagine he brings home a weekly bag of washing covered in dirt, grease, paint and sometimes blood!

        The machine has a 6kg load which is on the small side compared with the 7-9kg machines coming onto the market, but for the average family I feel 6kg load is more than enough and remember washing machines work more efficiently fully loaded.

        The cotton programme does the job with the kitchen uniforms and used with a pre treater for the stubborn stuff she heads off for the kitchen with Ramsey like whites each night. The easy care intensive programme deals with my son’s mountain of sweat tops and jeans well. This machine seems to rinse better than our old one and it is rare to find any soap powder marks that were sometimes left by the old machine, indeed the clothes have a fresher feel to them and are easier to iron.

        So to the other features. One thing I found was the dispenser draw was quite small, with some of our washes there can be up to four tablets which is a tight fit and in our old machine it would struggle to dissolve the tablets and would need a helping hand to disappear into the machine, but on this machine a good jet of water and the fact the draw is small the soap and softener dissolves without human intervention, only a small residue of conditioner is left behind and the soap draw remains very clean and unclogged unlike the old machine.

        The drum and door seal are well designed, with some machines I have used you tend to get a residue of soapy water that hangs around in the drum and around the door seal, but all the water in this machine is removed.

        I know noise can be a factor with washing machines and I would say this machine is in the middle bracket for noise, being slightly noisy on spin, but has a very smooth wash action hardly perceptible from the next room.

        This leads me nicely to the stats for this washer.

        It has an A+ energy rating
        A wash rating
        B spin rating

        Conclusion

        As I have mentioned above most of you will be running around in cars that are controlled and have fuel delivery systems made by Bosch. In my 20 years in the motor trade it is very rare that a Bosch component fails, it is usually where the unit is mated to the manufactures own systems where any problems lye. So I would wholeheartedly recommend Bosch on the reliability issue, as for the wash results I have no problem recommending its performance either. The only problem you will have is deciding which model to buy out of the vast range they produce, but my advice is keep it simple, at the end of the day how many different programmes do you use in your weekly washes.

        Our machine was purchased from Sainsbury’s kitchen appliances and this machine is not on their list anymore being replaced by the WAE 24162 a very similar spec. for £244.00.

        http://www.boschappliances.co.uk/products-range-wm.aspx

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        • Bosch SGS46E02 Exxcel / Dishwasher / 58 Readings / 54 Ratings
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          14.05.2007 23:28
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          5 Comments

          Advantages

          • Reliability

          Disadvantages

          A quality machine and value for money

          I have to admit this was the appliance out of the six recently bought for the new kitchen that has given me personally the greatest satisfaction.
          The old Dishwasher gave up heating the water just before Christmas and since then yours truly has been donning the rubber gloves and scrubbing the pots and pans.
          So it was a momentous day when the first load was put in the Bosch and I sat back and wasted fifteen minutes watching mindless soap opera.

          Why the Bosch SGS46E02GB

          I have worked in the motor trade for over 20 years and in that time I came to admire Bosch as a supplier of fuel injection systems, electrical controls and various other car components. They are reliable, have excellent after sales service and very approachable should a fault become a major problem, indeed it is Bosch who often sort out a product fix long before the car manufacturer has got to grips with it.

          So with that in mind it was a fairly easy choice to put Bosch on the shopping list. But which one?

          Bosch arranges their products rather like cars, they have three ranges; Classixx, Exxcel and Logixx being the top of the range with most of the built-in range also Logixx models. Like most things I buy I tend to go for the middle ground and won’t buy the cheapest or the most expensive. The excel range mostly have enhanced features or maybe wider programme choice, my philosophy of the less complicated, the less to go wrong steered me to this machine, which has all the programmes you’ll ever need, but it has more flexibility in loading having more adjustment of racks and containers.

          I went for a freestanding model, rather than built-in as the kitchen built around it was designed for flexibility, so the house could be sold with the appliances or not, and/or rented out with cheaper appliance fitted, and the price of built-in appliances is crazy anyway

          The SGS46E02GB sits at the bottom end of their mid range dishwashers and at £255 it fitted the budget nicely as I was planning on more like £300. A trip to Comet confirmed this had all the features we needed, but they were £30 adrift of Sainsbury’s Kitchen Appliances price, so they got the order.

          Life with the Bosch

          As you would expect from a Germany company the product comes well packed and well finished. Having purchased British and Italian products and found dents in the panels and bolts in the packaging it is refreshing to know that the Germans can be relied upon to supply their products that can be used straight away and not worry if that bolt in the bottom of the box means the motor will fall out on first use.

          The machine was indeed well packed and the interior racks and accessories took some time to remove the tape and polystyrene transit packing. Now one tip I have for installing Dishwashers is make sure you insulate them well. I have read a number of Dishwasher reviews whose reviewers have mentioned they were meant to be one of the less noisy machines, but they have not found them so. Dishwashers have their pumps mounted to the base frame, and although they are insulated to varying degrees, much of the noise is transmitted around the frame of the dishwasher. As most dishwashers will fit snugly into fitted kitchens the sound from your dishwasher will be transmitted through to the units and floor (especially wood floors). So when installing add some sticky backed foam pads on the sides of the machine and rubbers pads on the feet, this way you will not transmit the sound onto the floor or kitchen units which act as an amplifier, although make sure you leave a small ventilation gap between the top and your work surface. And lastly if you can give your Dishwasher and for that matter Washing Machine a separate drain pipe, rather than run it in with the sink waste as every time the washers empty water out, the noise comes straight up the sink plug and you get an unpleasant gurgling and spluttering of waste water.

          When first using the machine it is imperative to gauge the hardness of your water (your supplier will have details of the hardness rating) compare this to the instruction manual and adjust the machines salt capacity, even if you use 3 in 1 or higher detergent tablets in hard water areas you will need to add salt to the softener camber and your dishwashers life will be extended as well. Bosch machines are set up at 4 of a scale of 1 to 8 and the adjustments are made on the programme selector. Also the rinse aid chamber has a dial to adjust to water hardness to stop streaking when drying.
          If using all in one tablets the salt and rinse aid warning lights can be cancelled again on the programme selector following the instruction manual.

          So to loading the machine. The top rack on this machine is removable and is secured with quick release levers on the pull out rails. In its place a water spray jet can be fitted where the spray arm has been removed. This is great for washing large pans and baking trays.

          The top rack it self is arranged with 4 slopping cup and glass supports and 2 fold down top trays for larger cutlery items and a row of vertical pegs for small plates and bowls. Half of the pegs can be folded down as well as the glass supports for extra room if needed. The top rack has a neat trick, in that it can be raised or lowered dependant on your load requirements. The rack will drop by about three inches and run on the lower of the two sets of rollers. Two blue handles on the rack release the basket to sit on the lower set of rollers. This does however decrease the space in the bottom rack height wise, with plate size of 25cm fitting at lower setting and 34cm at higher setting. We use the top rack on its higher setting and mainly use it for cups, glasses and small pans.

          The bottom rack has similar adjustment on the back row of pegs allowing four different positions. The front rows of pegs are for larger plate and are fixed. It is here where the cutlery basket is located, again the basket can fit lengthways or widthways and has 2 pullout handles.

          Once you get the hang of the rack arrangements and loading you see a lot of thought has gone into the design of this machine and the flexibility of the racks and supports are great. We can get most of our baking trays and all of the set of pans will fit with ease. The washing up from a Sunday roast for 8 people went in with a bit of juggling and with a quick rinse in the sink to get the worst of the gravy off the plates there were no rejects come the end of the cycle, something our old Ariston would not have coped with both wash wise or space wise.

          There are basically five programmes with five different heat settings and a pre-rinse function. Each programme once selected shows the length of time, the wash temp. And drying temp and once happy with that after a few seconds the machine goes into its cycle, which can be changed at any time up to the drying cycle.

          The Dishwasher has a half load feature where less water and detergent is used, also drying time is cut.

          There is also a delay function where the wash cycle start can be delayed up to 19 hours, very useful for washing at night to take advantage of economy 7 tariff electricity.

          Overall I am very satisfied with this machine, the quality of the plates and cutlery is very good with tablets and using salt, rinse aid and powder you just have to get the salt setting right for a streak free finish. In hard water areas I would recommend using salt in the chamber as well as all in one tablet as I feel the tablets do not have enough salt action in them for really hard water. You can set the salt at low level and use the all in ones, this way you don’t use to much salt.

          The medium programme takes care of most Sunday roasts, and have only used the intensive programme for dried on egg once and pan came up clean first go. Most washes we use are a quick wash which we set on the time function to do over night. There is a small residue of water on a quick wash as the drying temperature and time is reduced, but a small dribble of water is acceptable to me.

          The only programme I don’t use is the Eco setting. Tut, Tut I here you say. You would think that the Eco programme would be a shorter run, but in fact it runs for over 142 minutes which is as long as the intensive programme. The Eco part coming from the fact it uses half the amount of water and heats to 50 oC instead of 60 oC. But the results were poor with reduced drying and discoloured water left behind, whilst I am all for reducing my carbon footprint I think the quick wash is more suitable for reducing electricity consumption.

          Yes it is quiet enough to let it wash over night, other reviews have noted it as not a quiet as they were lead to understand, but read my advice above and you should have as nice quiet machine.

          Cleaning is easy on the machine, the filter is located at the front for ease of removal and once the screw is loosened the whole filter assembly is accessible. I run a finish cleaner bottle through every 4-6 weeks which keeps any grease and lime scale at bay

          Conclusion

          I am very pleased with the Dishwasher it has lived up to its name and price bracket and have no reservations in recommending it.

          For full specifications go to

          http://www.boschappliances.co.uk/index.aspx

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          • More +
            30.04.2007 22:57
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            7 Comments

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            Disadvantages

            A well appointed hotel and value for money

            It was about this time last year that I started looking for Hotels in the U.S.A. Having got the rough itinerary I set about looking for Hotels at our various stopping off points.

            To be honest Denver was one of the easiest searches, as after looking at a couple of downtown hotels I came across The Warwick Denver.

            ? The Website?

            I use Multimap.com to search the City Centres and use the hotel finder tool, which shows me the locations of hotels. I tend to look for sites slightly out of the main city centre, and after discounting the city centre four stars, I found this one a half a mile from the main street. The link clicks through to the Hotels website, and I must say it is one of the best hotel websites I have come across.

            The layout and functionality are as you would expect. But it is the level of detail in the facilities, location, local attractions, and pictures, which drew me in. A complete page of sights and activities all with web links. The whole site gives you an impression of quality and good service

            It is once you link to the main Warwick site that you realize this is a quality hotel group with sites across Europe and the U.S. A lot of thought has gone into their business, their website being first point of contact.

            The booking function was easy, but there is a huge amount of booking options. I went for the Internet saver booking, with the best available room on arrival. The good thing about American hotels is you get a straight price for the room. No price per person, B&B, DB&B.

            They also have this best available room, which is just like first come, first served. This may seem a gamble, but we were arriving in Denver at around 05.30am, so my plan was to head for the hotel, check-in, grab the best room available, even if we could not get in till later in the day, leave our bags with the concierge and head off for breakfast, and some sightseeing.

             Arrival >

            Well that was the plan. Thanks to Amtrak we arrived Union Station Denver 09.40am.
            We took a cab for the 5 minute trip up to the hotel, with a short "where everything is" tour from the driver.

            The hotel is a quite understated modern building in a street of similar condo's and apartment blocks, the streets surrounding the hotel seemed quiet and pleasant, with wide side walks lined with trees, a large grass margin to the road. We asked a local later about the wide sidewalks, and were told "come back in November, you'll see why". Of course Denver can get anything up to 4 foot of snow, and that's where they deposit it.

            The entrance to the hotel is again understated; two large doors lead into a wide lobby, with a long reception desk. The first impression is good. Marble floors, smart décor, and deep upholstered sofas and chairs.

            The lobby was busy, mainly with people checking out, but we were greeted well by the lady on reception that was busy compiling bills. I suggested if we could stow our bags and get a coffee. She got a porter to take our bags and seated us in a corner of reception, and coffee and pastries were bought for us (complimentary).

            Once she had cleared the throng of leavers, she came over and checked us in where we sat. I had been unwell on the train, suffering an increasing migraine, so it was nice for someone to take the time to help us. I really wanted to get into a room and try and sleep off this migraine, so our lady checked to see if there were any clean rooms.

            There were two rooms available, but were east facing, away from the city and the mountains. We could wait till about 11.00 to get a better room, but I needed to crash so we opted for the available room. This room was a double (twin double beds) and we could have them $150 a night. "Yes Please". Our bags were brought up to us, and I crashed.


            Zzzzzz the Room Zzzzzz

            Well, after 8 hours of the best sleep I had since I arrived in the US. I felt a million dollars. The whole morning had been somewhat of a blur, so I came to and explored the room.

            The first room to explore was the bathroom. Americans like their big bathrooms, and this was a bit special. Marble bath and sanitraryware, his and hers basins, gold taps and furniture. A lovely walk-in bath/shower. With the back wall completely mirrored.

            So after a refreshing shower, I checked out the room opposite was the case room, with a wardrobe and a wall mounted safe.

            The bedroom/living area is big. Two 5ft double beds with ample walk around room between them. Each have a bedside table, one with a phone, and one with alarm/radio.
            A large dressing table, with another phone and Wi Fi connection. Next to that is a double wardrobe.
            In the corner is the TV unit, with Mini Bar/ Fridge below.
            Two large armchairs completed the furnishing of this tasteful, well appointed room, which measured about 20 by 15 ft. A good size for their lower spec. room. The room was bright and airy, with full Patio windows opening out onto a balcony, and on a clear day you could probably see Omaha.


            ^ The Hotel in General ^

            It was Mrs Scenics turn to make herself glamorous for Denver, knowing this would take some time; I went off to explore the rest of the Hotel and facilities.

            We were on the 10th floor, which gave us a fairly good view, but I wanted to get higher and see the lay of the land. So off to the lift for the rooftop swimming pool.

            The late afternoon saw some younger guests swimming, but most had grabbed loungers, and sipped ice tea or cocktails from the bar. I got myself a juice and surveyed the city, Front Range, and Rocky Mountains beyond. The pool itself was not Olympic standard. It took up about half the roof space, with a bar and seating area another quarter.

            The next floor down was the luxury suites, for which you needed your room card to stop the lift. The one below that (15th) was the fitness centre. A well equipped gym, with the latest circuit training machines. Not many customers here and the chap running it looked a bit miffed when I made my excuses and turned tail.

            From there it was back to reception. I had not got a chance to check out the restaurant. Again it was busy with guests checking in, and returning from their days out.

            There is a small row of shops as you leave by the car park exit. One a gift shop, another useful items store (shampoos, razors etc) the third is an information bar, with details of tours, and local attractions. I found the restaurant, where we would dine the following night.


            ! Location, Location, Location!

            If arriving by Air at Denver International Airport you will find a 25 mile journey into downtown Denver. There is a shuttle bus which serves the Warwick and other hotels in the area, which charges $19 one way. The Taxi fare would be about $50-$60
            The journey in takes you passed most of the City and gives you some idea of where the local attractions are, and I would recommend one of the Day Tours up into the Rocky Mountains, which pick up from the Hotel.

            So many times I have booked a good hotel only to find the traffic noise appalling, or if as in New York you turn left outside the hotel you enter a no go area.

            We double checked with the doorman the way downtown, and were offered a lift in the hotel town car. We opted for a walk. As it turned out the two blocks across and one down were no problem, and we were soon in the 16th street mall, the main shopping and Eatery Street.
            Even at six in the evening it was still in the 80's, but Denver's main street is car free, and the free end to end bus is powered by electric, so it is a pleasant place to be. And we found a good restaurant and dined al fresco.

            The walk back to hotel felt safe, and Denver has a laid back, friendly nature about it. But the last two blocks are up a steep hill, so beware.

            A so to bed (don't forget to collect your mile high membership!) A peaceful night's sleep.


            *Breakfast*

            Breakfast is served in the Randolph restaurant, and you have the choice of a la carte, or buffet. One look at the buffet and we took that option. At $18 you get a self serve hot breakfast, or cereals, waffles, and fruit. Both were well displayed, and were delicious. If you go buffet you sit in a small side area, and help yourself to drinks and food.

            The a la carte is served in the main restaurant seating area, and you can sit outside on the veranda. The menu looks good, listing steak, poached salmon, and various skillets (pan fried).


            \ Evening Meal /

            Randolph Restaurant boasts the finest chefs, preparing fresh local produce, in a modern western style.

            The ambiance was good. We were seated by a pleasant woman, who asked which table we would like, stating that the jazz pianist would be starting in around 15 minutes; we opted for a table by a window, but preferred not to eat outside.

            The restaurant is not large, but there is spare capacity in one of the function rooms. The tables were nicely laid out, with enough space so that you would not be listening to your fellow diner's conversation. The tasteful use of décor and plants made it a pleasant place to be.

            Our waitress offered menus and wine list, with some recommendations from the chef. The menu was interesting without being too adventurous. A choice of about 10 starters, 15 mains, with a comprehensive wine list.

            After much mulling I ordered Lake Granby smoked salmon starter, and a rib-eye steak, with gratin potatoes, baby leaf salad.

            Mrs Scenic. Buffalo wings with 3 dip sauce and Halibut with baby new potatoes and herb and vegetable medley.

            Both were cooked well, and the portions were a sensible size for once. They were washed down with a Californian white and red.

            By now the jazz was humming, and the Bar was full with lively conversation. It seemed the locals also used the Bar and Restaurant which is always a good endorsement.

            We skipped desert, although very tempting, we hit the Bar and finished the night with a cocktail

            < Check Out<

            So after two nights it was time to leave. The Bill was as offered $150 per night. Our evening meal came to $105 dollars which for the standard of the food and service was excellent. Talking of service I always pay for meals separately in the U.S as you then ensure that your server gets the tip in full, not a percentage after the hotel take their bit.

            The check out was painless and credit to the hotel for their service and attention to detail, as the receptionist was very professional.

            $ Prices $

            There is a lot of flexibility with most US hotels, you can if on a budget, usually cut a deal with them, so the prices listed are approximate, and vary on time of year, method of booking, and room availability on the day.
            Standard rooms-King or Queen Bed or twin large doubles $115-$150

            Corner suite 2 rooms with King Bed, wet room $175-$220

            14th Floor executive room $299-$349

            These prices based around a 2 night stay in mid July.

            All rooms have:-

            Wi Fi internet access
            2 Telephones, with Voice mail
            Mini Bar
            Coffee Maker
            Iron and Ironing Board
            Cable TV, with Pay per View Movies
            In Room Safes

            Services available:-

            Town Car Service
            Valet Parking
            Business Centre
            Fitness Centre
            24hr Room Service
            Dry cleaning (same day)
            Year Round Open Air Swimming Pool

            The hotel has 219 rooms of which 21 are smoking rooms


            & Contact Information &

            The Warwick Denver Hotel
            1776 Grant Street
            Denver
            Colorado
            80203

            Tel: +1 303 861 2000 Fax +1 303 832 0320

            http://warwickdenver.com


            ~ Conclusion ~

            We had a very good experience in this hotel. I found it excellent value for money. The staff and facilities are well up to a four star standard.
            The Warwick Hotel chain has found a loyal customer, and future trips to Europe and the USA will feature one of their Hotels.

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            • Mc Vitie's Hobnobs Orange / Snacks / 58 Readings / 56 Ratings
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              24.04.2007 11:23
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              something new from my favorite biscuit range

              Not content with three varieties of Hobnob, Mc Vitie have jumped on the Kit Kat bandwagon of crossover products. Rather like breeding the perfect pig, snacking has entered the world of unions between our favorite flavours and brands to entice us even further to purchase thier products.

              On my lunchtime snack run down to Tesco's I did not even realise the pack of Hobnobs I had picked up was the new Hobnob Orange.

              So imagine my suprise to find my Nobs had gone Orange!
              Yes I hastily stored them away from the Salesmen in my office. They attack like a flock of seagulls whenever food is around. I needed to inspect the new snack in private or risk the whole pack being demolished in an instant.

              < The Pack>

              The pack colours are the same as the milk chocolate Hobnobs, being two colours of blue, but the word Hobnob is orange with a hint of orange peel each end.

              Available in the 300g pack (not seen double packs yet)


              < The Taste>

              Does anybody remember Jacobs Club Biscuits. Well the Orange flavour Clubs were my favorite. These Hobnobs remind me very much of that taste. The orange flavour milk chocolate mixes well with the Oatmeal biscuit, to give sweet,sharp, and ever so slight savoury flavour. I find a nice clean after taste as well. The problem comes when you've had 3 or 4, it leads on to 2 more, then just 1 more. Thats half the pack gone.

              < Price and Nutrition>

              The recommended retail price is £1.09 for the 300g pack. Tesco are selling at £1.04.

              Each biscuit contains:-

              calories 92
              fat 4.5g
              carbs 11.7g (sugar 6.2g)
              protein 1.3g
              fibre 0.9g
              salt 0.1g
              Suitable for vegetarians

              <Conclusion>

              In a world of crossover snack and confectionary, Orange Hobnobs make a refreshing addition to the range. But where will they go next. Maybe a White Chocolate Hobnob?

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              • Baumatic QF6SS / Oven / 38 Readings / 37 Ratings
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                17.04.2007 09:42
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                create an expensive look for under £100

                The world of cooker hoods can be a confusing and frustrating place to be. The choice is endless and the price you can pay is verging on the ridiculous.

                So what type of hood and how much to pay to complete my purchase of kitchen appliances?

                The brief from Mrs Scenic was a chimney hood. I did try to steer her toward the flat rear vented type, but she was having none of it. Now with chimney hoods you can pay anything up to £800 and on for the more expensive makes. Luckily I was in charge of the budget and anything over £150 was out of the running, so I was very pleased to see this Baumatic in the Homebase catalogue for £99.99. After playing around with kitchen unit combinations for about 2 hours I just tacked this hood onto the list and thought “job done”.

                Hindsight is a wonderful thing, if I had checked the spec’s of the hoods I was looking for I could have saved a whole lot of time and not had to drill a new hole in my kitchen wall for the vent. Having replaced the old rear vented hood with this chimney hood I discovered that the hole for venting had to be another 18 inches higher. “Yes dear its going to take a bit longer to finish I’ve got to make another hole in the wall, see right here.” The rule of thumb with a chimney hood is the motor sits at the base of the chimney and the vent outlet needs to be at least 8-12 inches above that.

                Having said all that chimney hoods are the vogue at the moment and the reason for this kitchen is to sell the house with updated and stylish fittings for a smallest budget to maximise profit. The Buamatic fits the bill on price and design, stainless steel looks good on any product and the clean simple lines fit just right in a modern kitchen.

                Once delivered I was slightly worried I had ordered or been sent the wrong model, the box it arrived in seemed far to small the house the appliance, but once opened it was clear they had done their homework on how to fit all the components into the smallest space. The item was well packed and a plastic film covered the stainless steel parts.

                N.B. Keep the plastic film on the hood until you have fitted it, as it protects the finish and if you have to paint the wall around it you don’t have to mask it all up again.

                So to the tricky bit, the installation. Here you have two choices; external venting or air recycling via carbon filters. I went for the external venting, having already had a hole in the wall, but I would recommend venting as having used a hood with carbon filters you are for ever changing filters and the cooking smell never really gets filtered unless you have the fan on lowest speed.

                I say tricky but it was really easy to install, except for making a new hole in the wall. The most important part is measuring the height at which you site the hood. Too low and the chimney will not reach the ceiling and you will hit your head while working around the hob. Too high and the extraction effect will be lost.

                The chimney has an adjustable top section to allow for height differences in ceilings, you need to decide before installation which method of extraction you are going for, vent or recycling. Once you are happy with the height it is just a case of careful measuring to drill and mount the brackets, fit the vent hose and mount on the wall, making sure the external vent hole is at least 10 inches above the neck of the hood.

                If you go for the recycling option the carbon filters are mounted on each end of the motor and air is ducted up the chimney and out through the grilles on the chimney sides.

                So your hood is up on the wall looking good does it do the job?
                Well yes, it is quieter than the old hood and seems to extract more air. The fan has three speeds and on the low speed it is enough to clear steam and condensation. Second speed will suffice for most uses unless you’ve got a real humdinger curry or fry up on the hob, then high speed is needed.

                With this model you get two lights with normal tungsten bulbs, the light is good but with halogen lights in the kitchen they are a bit superfluous.

                The only maintenance in this extraction mode is to remove the grease filters to clean, and the amount of time between clean rather depends on how you cook.
                With the recycling mode the carbon filters are recommended to be changed every three months, again a simple task accessed by removing the grease filters.

                So we have our chimney hood for under a £100 it looks stylish, works well, I only wish we had chosen Baumatic oven and hob now, but that’s another story.

                Technical bits:-

                Air extraction: 500m3/hr slightly less on recirc mode

                Width (canopy) 600mm
                Depth (canopy) 500mm
                Height (adjustable) 700mm to 1040mm

                Chimney section 165mm x 222mm

                Minimum distance above hob 700mm

                It is advisable not to fit above radiant hobs

                www.baumatic.co.uk

                0118 9336 900

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                • rohan.co.uk / Online Shop / 38 Readings / 34 Ratings
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                  09.04.2007 21:03
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                  quality, high performance clothing, but at a price.

                  Rohan, not a name synonymous with high street fashion, but if like me, you travel, hike, mountain bike or whatever else in the great outdoors, you may have heard of this brand of specialist clothing. And if you have not, then you may be surprised by what you read.

                  WHAT THEY DO

                  Rohan produce a range of outdoor clothing. Not your G suits or thermal artic exploration stuff, but lightweight high quality clothes, ideal for the seasoned traveller, in any climate and activity.

                  HISTORY

                  The company was formed in 1975. There vision to change the way clothes designed for travel and leisure. They adopted a back to basic philosophy, with the design and fabrics used. They also talked to their potential customers. With all this in mind Rohan set out to be the leading brand in performance clothing.


                  MY EXPERIENCE

                  I first became aware of Rohan back in the eighties, when looking for suitable clothes for travelling light on a hiking/mountain biking trip in France. I was looking for something you could wear every day, and something that would be hardwearing enough for leisure activities, providing comfort, and durability.

                  So I was kitted out with trousers, shirts, windbreaker, tee shirts, and shorts. At not much change out £300, you might think that you could get similar items at a third of the price. But it is the design and materials used that make the difference, each item of clothing is given a specification that would surpass cheaper clothing.

                  For example a pair of Goa trousers will give you sungaurd protection of a SPF 40+, wind guard protection that eliminates any wind chill. I could go on, but the most important for me was the SPF factor. Both my father and two of my brothers have suffered skin cancer, and being a fair skinned creature, covered in moles, this range of clothing is a godsend. Most people you see out in sun, never think about using any sun protection in their day to day life. The suntan lotion just coming out on the beach or lying in the garden, but most of our skin damage is caused doing the normal everyday things, and even ten minutes in strong sunlight starts the burning process. So you will find me in a Rohan product most times when the sun does shine and on cloudy days of course.

                  The other thing to take into account is I still have that pair of trousers and various shirts I bought back in the eighties, still wearable, still looking well. So while paying a premium for the clothes, I think they have paid for themselves in performance and longevity.

                  THE RANGE

                  The main range is divided between Men's, Women's, and Accesories. They then sub divide the range by climate to be used in, and activity undertaken. In the Men's range you can find hardwearing hill walking and trekking gear, but also casual travelling clothes, and lightweight business suits.

                  In the Women's range you will find the same wide range of clothing, which ladies is quite stylish. They even have odour eliminating underwear.

                  The accessories range from Eagle Creek pack-it systems, through clothes washing liquids, inflatable pillows, cutlery, food and water storage, plug adaptors, medical kits, insect repellents, and water purification tablets.

                  New for this year Rohan have introduced a range of Sandals, again in various styles and applications.

                  So Rohan might not be what most people would call high fashion, but they do make high quality clothing, and modern designs, with pleasant colours, and patterns.


                  OUTLETS

                  There are a small number of Rohan stand alone stores, but most outlets are shop in shop (Blacks, John Lewis etc) or stockists. In fact any good outdoor/ sports shops stock Rohan products.

                  They also operate a phone order service.

                  But the easiest way to shop I find is by internet. Their site is a joy to use. The search options are amazing.

                  Say for example you want trousers. Enter the item in the search. It then gives you options for which climate you will use them, and what activity use are going to need them for. Once you make a selection it then lists the materials used. The sun guard, wind guard, heat guard, drying time, and security e.g. hidden pockets, zip pockets. It even gives weight, and packed size.

                  The website also has a service section giving details of guarantee, listings of international sizes, delivery information, returns, repairs and payment.

                  Rohan offer a no quibble guarantee, supported by a dedicated repair service.

                  Orders are processed by the normal shopping bag method used by most on line clothing suppliers.

                  Delivery is within 2 days of order processed at a cost of £3.95 by "signed for" courier

                  PRICES

                  We are not talking George at Asda, or Cherokee Tescos here. A pair of trousers will cost £49.00 upwards, Polo shirt £35.00. But balance that with the performance and specification of these garments, the prices seem reasonable.

                  CONCLUSION

                  If you want high quality, high performance clothing, which is well designed, and long lasting, this maybe for you. And don't forget in years to come I'll bet all clothing will be sold with its SPF sun guard factor, as our poor old planet heats up!

                  CONTACTS

                  http://www.rohan.co.uk

                  0870 601 2244 fax 01908 211 209

                  Rohan Designs
                  30 Maryland Road
                  Tongwell
                  Milton Keynes
                  MK15 8HN

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                  • More +
                    30.03.2007 10:43
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                    A mid range shaver that gives a good shave

                    I think I heard somewhere a man will spend 6 or was it 8 years of his life shaving. A sobering thought especially as I could spend that extra time in bed getting some much needed beauty sleep. But the fact is us men and women for that matter spend a huge amount of time removing unwanted hair, and finding the fast and effective means to do that is always our goal. I have had the task of the daily beard removal for over 30 years. I remember at the tender age of 15 borrowing my brothers shaving foam and a blunt BIC razor and tearing my furry face to pieces on it.

                    My Shaving History
                    =============

                    Oh how I suffered in those early days wishing I had never put blade to bum fluff. In reality I could have got away with another year before needing to shave, but vanity and bravado got the better of me and I paid the price.

                    Back in the 70’s shaving technology was not the greatest and anyone with sensitive skin with lots of moles and whose bread grew at an incredible rate was not well catered for. I tried wet shaving for nearly 4 years in that time removing the tops off 3 moles and having permanent shaving rash. The offerings from Gillette and Wilkinson Sword were facial torture for me so it was then I sneaked a go on my Dads Philishave. He had bought this shaver was back in the 60’s and hardly used it, and after a while it seemed an acceptable alternative to the daily trials of wet shaving. But it needed constant cleaning and replacement of blades. I soon gave up on it and went back to wet shaving again.

                    It was on my 21st birthday that I was given a Braun foil razor. I eagerly unboxed it, charged it and disappeared into the bathroom for what I thought would be the ultimate shave. But to my dismay this foil system did not suit me, I found it tugged at the hairs rather than lopping them off like the rotary blade would. The result was very sore skin and very patchy appearance. The big problem I have is some of my beard grows out sideways and is very difficult to pick up by any type of razor; the foil razor just accentuated this problem.

                    Around this time I purchased a small Philishave 2 head shaver. Spending a lot of time on the road meant the need for a small battery operated shaver and at last I had found the answer to my prayers, a shaver that did not upset my skin, did a reasonable job on the beard and rode over the moles as if they were not there. But I still needed to shave 3 times a day to look at my best; I would have 5 o’clock shadow by 11 o’clock in the morning. I still needed something that would get closer without tearing my face to pieces.

                    I bought a 3 head Philishave which was to be my trusty shaving tool for the next 15 years, still needing to shave twice a day, but the 3 heads worked so much better although never quite getting the same result as a wet shave. So after a couple more Philishaves we come to the HQ 8160.

                    The HQ 8160 Speed XL
                    ================

                    Philips latest range of electric shavers bring multi blade technology to rotary blade shaving, by arranging more blades within each rotor the result is 50% more shaving surface, hence the speed aspect. By adding more slots and micro holes the heads give a closer shave which deal with tricky hairs more efficiently.
                    The top 11 shavers in the range now feature the Speed XL shaving heads, and I must admit the range of 29 dry skins and cool skin (wet) can leave one a little spoilt for choice.

                    The HQ 8160 sits in the middle of the Speed XL range. There is little to choose in the specification apart from the HQ 8170 which features the jet cleaning system and the entry HQ 8100 which is mains only.

                    My initial search for the replacement shaver was in the £40-£50 bracket where you can find a very capable 3 head shaver, but I must admit I was swayed by the TV advertising just before Christmas and while in my local Comet I checked out the XL range. Most other Electrical retailers don’t stock the full range of Philips shavers but Comet stock the Speed XL the HQ 8150, HQ 8160 and HQ 8170 then jump to the Smart Touch range HQ 9190. On price alone the HQ 8150 comes in at just under the £100 mark rising to £140 for the HQ 8170. The Smart Touch range start at around £200 upwards and I think for the features it has it is hard to justify £200 for a shaver.

                    My choice was also limited by available stock, the HQ 8160 (£119.67) the only one available and leaving things till the last minute as always I was due to go away for Christmas and needed to purchase that day. But it did fit my criteria in that it was re-chargeable or mains and had over 50 minutes shaving life from a 60 minute charge, where as the cheaper HQ 8150 did not have the quick charge feature and low battery warning.

                    Life with the HQ 8160
                    ================

                    Once home with my new toy it was straight out of the box and assemble the charger dock and get it on charge, but to my surprise the shaver is pre-charged and so a quick wiz over the beard was called for. The first impressions were good, the second surprise was how quite it is, the rotors seem to turn a lot slower than previous shavers I’d used. But it was undeniably a closer shave, and over the next week it proved to be very good, but your skin does have to get used to the closeness and washing your face after shaving does smart a bit until your skin settles down again.

                    The instruction booklet looks quite daunting at first look, but in fact only 15 pages most of which are illustrations, the remainder is the same but in 9 other languages.
                    The other contents of the box are the charging dock, a neat carrying case which is preformed to the shape of the shaver with a zip up cover, and last but not least a cleaning brush.

                    So off for Christmas and after the 10th day of use the charge indication on the front was showing 2 bars, so once home it was time to get it on charge.

                    The charging dock is easy to use, the lead that you would use for mains shaving plugs into the base of the dock. Here it is worth mentioning that the lead has the 2 pin shaver plug on it and if like us space in your bathroom is at a premium or your point is close to water I would recommend you buy a 3 pin mains to shaver adaptor and charge it away from the bathroom.

                    The charging time was spot on; in just over the hour the 5 green charge lights came up indicating a full battery. The shaver will show a red light at the base while charging and once the battery is below 20% the bottom light will flash. If you carry on the shaver will stop once the power is not enough to run the shaver at the correct speed, so none of the problems associated with other battery shavers where they get slower and slower and start eating flesh.

                    So once re-charged a closer inspection of the new toy was needed. The body of the unit falls nicely to hand, the on/off button sits just where your thumb rests on the body, this can be tricky until you get used to it as you tend to press your thumb down as you move the shaver over your face, and I did end up switching it off mid shave until I got used to it. The switch has a blue back light to it when switched on. Below the switch are the charge lights arranged in 5 descending bands, and now on its 3rd charge I would say about 40-50 minutes of shaving time is available from one charge.

                    The body of the shaver is finished in a nice dark blue colour with aluminium grip and rotor head surround. A small button on the front opens the hair chamber which is large enough to allow weekly cleaning.

                    The trimmer is located on the back of the shaver and is released by pushing down a retaining clip. It has a useful width and small saw action teeth witch deal with my sideburns adequately.

                    The shaving head is arranged in the normal triangular head with each rotor independently sprung, but the whole head is sprung so the heads can move inwards and back to allow for much closer contact around the jaw and neck areas. The blades are arranged on rotors at different levels so that one blade lifts the other cuts and the arrangement of the concentric blades allows much more cutting area. The whole unit is held in place by a quick release clip inside the head for cleaning.

                    One thing I found a bit strange was the ability the clean the shaver under the tap, having never had a wet/dry shaver before it seemed alien to be introducing water to an electrical shaver. But the instruction clearly states that rinsing under the tap daily is the way to clean the shaver. But of course not while connected to the mains lead!

                    I have washed the shaver under the tap, but I prefer to give it a flick round with the brush as the other method means the shaver cannot be used for a few hours whilst it dries out. Here I must point out not to use it wet or have a wet face when using it.

                    The instructions state that the shaving heads only need to be removed for cleaning every 6 months, again this seemed alien to me as all my other shavers needed stripping down every month to clean the blades and guards, but looking at the shavings in the housing it would appear that the blades cut very finely and therefore need less cleaning, and I’m not about to complain about that. One thing of note is if removing the rotor heads and guards they are matched pairs, so do not mix up the rotors and guards when re-assembling.

                    Conclusion
                    ========

                    I have now been using the shaver for 8 weeks and have found it to be very good. Most days I can get away with one shave and the beards growth has become more even, if a little more thickly as the closer shave encourages stronger growth and indeed if I miss a day’s shave the stubble is pronounced and spiky to the touch.

                    The lower speed and quieter operation feels nicer on the skin and while shaving you don’t get that tugging sensation as with other rotary blade or foil shavers. But flat lying hairs do need a couple of passes to be captured in the heads.

                    The mild irritation first suffered has gone though, and this was mentioned in the instruction booklet that your skin would feel different until accustomed to the new shaver.

                    So life with the HQ 8160 is good. Less time spent shaving. Less time spent cleaning. No lopped moles or shaving rash. This shaver may have just shaved a year off my life, shaving life that is.

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                    • Samsung LE-26R41B / LCD TV / 36 Readings / 32 Ratings
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                      26.03.2007 23:15
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                      one of the better LCD screens available

                      My history with TV’s has been a somewhat lucky story, having been either given or inheriting them, and in truth the last TV set I bought was back in 1986.

                      So the technology and the media have changed immensely since then. So last year moving to a new house we soon discovered that the aerial on our chimney was facing the wrong way and in danger of falling off complete. So the decision to go digital and satellite was taken, and a trip to Comet made quickly so the normality of viewing life was restored to the Scenic household.

                      Comet in Harlow is one of those new superstores and the choice facing us was endless with row upon row of boxes staring us in the face. We were fortunate that a helpful chap was willing to help narrow the choice after we mentioned the set up we needed.
                      His advice was good and to keep up with future technology it was decided to go for an LCD screen with HD capability to match the Sky digital box. Now I should state that at the moment we do not have the HD box or an HD DVD, but this is coming over the next year, so the TV is used on the present normal system until Sky decide to reduce the price of HD box and subscription.

                      So with this reduced choice it was all down to picture quality really and the only ones that came near were the LG and Samsung having much sharper picture and more natural colour. In the end we went for the Samsung on the basis its picture was good and the design looked right with the stand available with it. We opted for the 26 inch screen as we did not want the set to over power the room and also we felt the smaller screen had better picture quality which to me was more important than having a huge box taking up half the living space.

                      So the Samsung LE26R41BDX was ordered and delivered a week later, but not having the Sky connected till two days later meant it being set up on the DVD only. Mrs Scenic had been given the run down of the set by the Comet installer, but as with me the technology involved in modern electronics washes straight over me, but over the next week we did get to grips with the complexities of the TV and Sky system, but I admit to not having fully read the handbook that came with the set, I have enough trouble keeping up with Car technology and I do that for a living. How ever I have managed to work out the basics of the remote and the various menus therein and as this is the first review of this set I will drop in some more technical details at the bottom so most of you can skip it.

                      Usability

                      If you do take the set home and plug it in first time there is a five minute setup process which takes you though the various features on the set. As it has in built free view (not applicable to us) the channels are preset. We connected it to the DVD and watched a couple of films on it. I also played around with the remote to see what was what.

                      The remote that goes with this set at first glance a bit of a hand full, apart from the normal channel buttons it features a menu selection set up around a circular enter button, around this are up, down and side to side navigation buttons. Once in the menu you are given 4 on screen sub menus; TV settings, audio, USB setting and advanced features.

                      The bottom section of the remote slides down to reveal another set of buttons for these advanced settings, and I have to say I have not played about with these.

                      On the set itself are basic control buttons for menu, volume, and source, should your remote get lost or chewed by the dog. On the back of the set are the normal scart connections and audio feeds for home cinema etc.

                      As I have stated I am your typical technophobe having grown up in an era when 12 pennies made a shilling and men didn’t use moisturisers. But even I can do the basics on this set and to be honest the factory settings are pretty near perfect anyway.

                      It is connectable to both PC and Games systems and with X Box using HD graphics this would be an ideal companion with screen size suiting to X box output.

                      The other advantage is its slim line profile which lends itself to wall mounting.

                      The Picture and Sound

                      It is interesting to compare the picture with other formats, my Brother-in-Law has a big 42in flat screen (non LCD) which has very good picture quality, but seems a little cloudy compared to LCD. One of our friends has recently got plasma set, again very good, but the brightness and contrast seem to change constantly, and as the picture cuts from scene to scene it seems the set is constantly re-adjusting itself. We did have a similar problem with ours until I discovered it has a brightness sensor that adjusts to the light in the room and the picture being shown on screen, the set seemed to flicker and adjust all the time, by turning this feature off the picture although slightly brighter does not go light and dark and jump about.

                      Overall I still find the LCD screen to have a sharper, crisp image. Only older VT films seem to cause a blurry image, like the low budget “true movies” filmed in the 70’s and 80’s you can get a lot of distortion as the modern technology tries to cope with the poor film quality. But modern digital programming produces brilliant results. But again its all down to personal taste, we have people over who don’t rate the picture at all, and others who rave over it and have gone out and got LCD sets themselves.

                      Also worth a mention is the sound, which looking at the set you would imagine the tiny speakers would not be man enough to produce the sound. But they are very good and produce a good stereo sound with quite deep bass and clear treble, although it must be said that home cinema kit is the only way to get the most from ni-cam stereo.

                      The Technical Bit


                      • XGA 1366 x 768 Resolution
                      • HDMI Input Connection
                      • Component video input (YPbPr) accepting 720P & 1080i input
                      • Box Dimensions: Length 77cm Width 25cm Height 64cm
                      • HD ready
                      • 800:1 Contrast ratio
                      • DNIe picture enhancement
                      • PC input - D-Sub, PC Audio In
                      • Nicam stereo
                      • SRS TruSurround XT
                      • IDTV - Freeview Digital Tuner
                      • 16:9 Sscreen
                      • Viewing angle 170 x 170 Degrees
                      • Brightness sensor
                      • HDMi Input
                      • 2 x SCARTs, 1 x component in, 1 x video in
                      • 1 x S-Video in, Headphone out
                      • Power supply built in.


                      So there you have it, I did pinch a bit of this, but hope it satisfies you technophiles.
                      The Price

                      The set cost us just short of £800. Having done a quick search this model has been superseded , but with almost identical spec’s which is the LE26R74BDX this retails at around £600 which shows just how much the technology has cheapened in a year.

                      Conclusion

                      Would I buy another Samsung? Yes. Would I buy another LCD TV? Yes

                      But the problem here is so much personal choice, what I may find excellent picture quality, you might not. And I suppose that when I am in Curry’s or Comet next time it will all be about personal choice regardless of price. But for now the Samsung wins for me.

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                      • Friday Night Lights (DVD) / DVD / 57 Readings / 54 Ratings
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                        21.03.2007 12:01
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                        A very good take on small town America

                        Friday nights in the provincial America are famous for two things. One, even from space America is brighter on Friday nights in the fall (autumn). And two energy consumption in those small towns drops by anything up to 50%.

                        The reason for these phenomena’s the Friday night football game. Arrive in any mid-west or south west town on a Friday night from September onwards and you will find 90% of the population will be at the football game. These high school stadiums light up with blazing flood lights and the roar of the expectant crowd.

                        I did experience this at first hand last year on a road trip through the south west. Reaching the New Mexico town of Clovis in the early evening I could have been in downtown Vegas, but an hour after booking into the motel and heading out for something to eat, the town was deserted, most business’s were closed. This was Friday Night lights. Everybody’s at the game.

                        To say Americans take their football seriously is an understatement, and junior league football is like a religion in these towns, so it was very interesting to find this film, not only to see if it captured the spirit of the game, but to see how one of my favourite rock bands also came to do the soundtrack for it.

                        The Ingredients
                        ===========

                        Produced by Brian Grazer of 8 mile fame, and directed by Peter Berg who worked on Welcome to the Jungle, it has the promise of good things, and casting Billy Bob Thornton in the lead not much could go wrong, or could it.

                        The Story
                        =======

                        Well there is no plot to give away. This is the story of the Permian High Panthers 1988 Football season, and follows the mood and expectations of a small Texan town called Odessa.

                        In particular we follow the lives of the Head Coach Gains (B B Thornton) and six of the main players in the team.

                        We pick up the story as our young hero’s assemble for pre season training. We learn about the dynamics of the team very quickly as this year Coach Gains has to pin all his hopes on one star player, the rest of his team are somewhat lacking in stature and technique, and the town leaders are keen to remind Gains of his job and the fact that the “Mojo’s” are the most successful team in Texas. As the film unfolds we get to learn about our Team. Their personalities; their families and the fragile society that exists in this small oil town in the south west of Texas.

                        The film is interspersed with football action as the team progresses through the season, and off field action. The team suffer a major set back after the first couple of games, but re group and gain strength from their loss and soon find them in the final of the state play off. By now we have learned the issues that affect our young stars, the coach and this must win game is the normal edge of the seat thriller. Will they win?

                        My Opinion
                        =========

                        I think whether of not you like or know anything about American football you who find this film entertaining. The pedigree of the director and producer and of course Billy Bob Thornton makes this film engaging but not great. “BB” acts his way through the film with unconsummated ease, and his portray of coach Gains makes the film.

                        The clever way the players lives are inter twinned with their team is also worth mention. You get to learn a little of all their lives away from the football field, but not so much as to deflect from the whole reason of the film which is the team and their season.

                        The film gives a good insight into small town life in where most holidaymakers would pass by (or mainly fly over) although set in 1988 to which the film and settings are true too, nothing much has changed. Football is the be all and end all of these towns. For the young men it is seen as their rite of passage, to the townsfolk it is their badge of honour. And when your main view is mile after mile of barren plain with only the nodding donkeys of the oil fields to break the peace, football is one of the routes out of this dead end town.

                        By now you are probably thinking this film has little to offer and it’s just another American sports hero film, but there are some stand out performances from BB Thornton and Lucas Black who plays the quarterback captain of the team. Thornton you would imagine would play a hard hitting, no excuses coach with one remit only to win. But our coach comes across as a passive figure, a brooding and thoughtful man, who develops an almost father and son relationship with the fatherless quarterback (Lucas Black) who struggles to look after his ill mother. These more tender moments are cut together with explosive football action as the film moves off again in pseudo documentary style.

                        It is hard to take in the amount of pressure these 17 year olds have to absorb, and I think it is to a British person somewhat bazaar how much is placed on the boys in what is only really school team football. But true enough the schools budget suffers at the hand of the sports stadium, which would put most division 2 football clubs to shame, and the head coach earns more than the school principle, so great is the will to win.

                        Of course the film does gloss’s up some of the season in question, but the results and the final are true to that season. The Result, well you'll have to watch the film.

                        The film ends with coach Gains removing the name plates from his roster board and we get to see what happened to our young hero’s in the future.

                        Conclusion
                        ========

                        This film is a faithful portrayal of small town, junior league football. It is convincing through the actors and the storyline and is well worth a rental and a couple of hours of your time.

                        Don’t think you will learn much about the rules and plays, as I still don’t understand how the game works.

                        Special mention for the sound track by "Explosions in the Sky". A Texan four piece post-rock outfit. Their music blends perfectly with the rise and fall of the emotions in this film, especially with the game scenes.

                        The Stats.
                        =======

                        Classification 12

                        Run Time 113 minutes

                        Extras:- Deleted Scenes; Interview with Peter Berg (Producer); Commentary with Buzz Bissinger (Writer) and Peter Berg; Feature on the “Real” Permian Panthers; On stage with Tim Mc Graw: Player Cam

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                        • Brita Acclario / Kettle / 68 Readings / 67 Ratings
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                          13.03.2007 13:22
                          Very helpful
                          (Rating)
                          7 Comments

                          Advantages

                          Disadvantages

                          A good kettle fof those who suffer hard water.

                          My history with kettles is a bitter sweet one. Think of it in its basic form; a jug with a heating element in it. But this kitchen appliance has caused me much pain and pleasure.

                          About eight years ago my father came to live with us, we between us had three kettles, by the time three months were out we were on the forth. One melted, another fused, and the third boiled dry and refused to ever heat up again.

                          Well Dad was very fit and active, but refused to give up on trying looking after himself, so he would make his own tea. But he is very forgetful and would try to boil it with no water in or spill water in the cord connection. We finally had to get full time care for him when he left the gas on without lighting the hob, nearly blowing the house up.

                          So one of the purchases after he moved out was a decent kettle. It is funny how a purchase of a everyday household item can give so much pleasure, but that kettle was like a symbol to me of a freedom, mainly of my sanity, and peace of mind that Dad was in a safe place, and we would not come home to find the front door wide open or worse, a big hole where our house once stood.

                          MY FIRST BRITA

                          The first Brita in the Scenic household was the water filter jug. After suffering a forth bout of kidney stones I was desperate to stop anything that might add to the problem.

                          Our water is one of the hardest in the country, and you only have to look at a kettle element to see that it attracts carbonates better than a copy Nuts attracts a group of teenagers. So anything that came out the tap went through the Brita, then in the glass or the kettle.

                          It was while visiting friends I noticed their kettle, and on closer inspection noticed the Brita logo. They were very pleased with it, and so one was ordered for us.

                          This model was the previous one to the acclario, being very similar in design, and early signs were this was a good kettle, and it served us well for three years, but it did start to leak from the base, and the pouring lip became encrusted with lime scale, so that water would run down the body of the jug, and onto your feet if not careful.

                          So when it came time for replacement I was somewhat in two minds about ordering a new one. A search on Amazon found the acclario, and reading the reviews on there showed very different views, some hated it, said it leaked, and did not pour properly.
                          Others gave it great praise, thoroughly recommending it. So with gritted teeth I hit the “Add to basket” button, and four days later we were the proud owners of the Brita Acclario kettle.

                          THE ACCLARIO


                          Out of the box it looks identical to the old model, but there were a few detail changes, which would prove to be a great improvement.

                          The kettle is about 8 inches in diameter and sits about fifteen inches high on it’s base, being cordless it mounts the power point on a central circular peg, this I have found is the more suitable solution for cordless kettles, as you tend to fumble around to get side mounted power points, the Brita has a slightly recessed base to allow it to locate the power point.

                          The materials used have improved. The clear plastic body appears a different substance, as the water forms droplets on the side, rather than the old kettle where after a while a scummy film would develop. The lid and base also have a smoother texture; on the old model lime scale would form on these surfaces. The other slight change is the angle of the pouring lip, which is narrower and allows better pouring.

                          A nice touch with the power cable is that you can set the length from the base to the power socket, the excess cable being wound into the base out of the way, very good safety feature, and how many times have I caught other kitchen utensils in the kettle cable, risking an upset kettle.

                          So how you ask does this kettle filter the water? Well the kettle incorporates the normal Brita filter cartridge, and in effect you have two chambers the lid is not removable, but twists to allow the kettle to be filled from the top, this top chamber holds about eight cups worth of water (1 litre). This water then runs through the filter into the lower, boiling chamber which holds about 12 cup worth (2 litre).

                          SETTING UP

                          The first time you set up your Brita you may find the process a bit laborious, but in time a filter change takes 10- 15 minutes. I find it a good idea to soak the filter for as long as possible, as this activates the carbon in the filter and eliminates any carbon dust residue from the casing. I leave it in a jug of fresh cold water for about any hour, that way you can then just whip out the old filter and pop the new one in at the same time. You will need to fill the top chamber and let the water run through twice; this activates the filter fully before use. Once the new filter is watered in then reset the memo indicator on the lid. This counts down the four weeks which is the normal life of the filter. Then enjoy boiling water without a scummy layer on top.

                          EVERYDAY USE

                          I find that if you fill the bottom chamber to about 6 cups (which is marked on the side of the kettle) this is the most economical way to use it. When you have used the kettle just top up again with about half the top chamber full, this will then run into the boiling chamber and will be heated by the latent heat from the element. Whilst on the subject of the element, it is not an exposed unit, but sits under a brushed stainless steel base, this not only looks better but stays a lot cleaner, and you can tell if your filter needs changing if you see slight calcium deposits forming. Our filters last about three weeks, although Brita state that some will last up to four weeks or more, dependant on the hardness of your water . It is a good idea to clean the kettle with a damp cloth when changing filter to help stop deposits forming.

                          The switch is at the top of the handle, and can only be operated if the flap covering it is open, once you slide this flap up it stops any water being released into the lower chamber so that boiling water cannot be released back into the filter thus damaging it.
                          The switch is a two button one “ON” one “OFF”. The kettle features and anti boil dry feature. With about 6 cups worth of water the kettle will boil in under a minute, less if the water was released after using, as mentioned above.

                          The kettle is light and well balanced, but care is needed if just filled from the tap as it becomes a little top heavy.

                          FACTS AND FIGURES

                          Brita offer a full 30 day money back guarantee. And the kettle is guaranteed for two years.

                          The filters are available in single, three, or twelve packs (although I have not seen any twelve packs for a while) I buy mine from Amazon at £4.97 for a three pack.
                          The kettle was also bought from Amazon for £49.98 but has been recently reduced to £39.99 that includes free postage on a three day delivery.

                          They are available in White, Silver, and our one which is Graphite
                          N.B. the white one on Amazon is £49.98

                          I have seen some advertised at £35.00 but since my initial price check at the end of May it seems prices have changed again, with Amazon the cheapest at the moment

                          The filters are recyclable and there is a freepost address with the instructions or on filter packs.

                          CONCLUSION

                          Some of you reading this will think that this is an expensive way to boil water, but believe me if you saw our water run fresh out of the tap you would realise why we do it. I believe you would get at least 3 years use from it, and after my initial concerns over the previous model we have had no problems with this one.

                          You can definitely taste and see the difference in Tea and Hot drinks using this kettle, there is no chalky layer on the surface of Tea, and I would use this in soft water areas as well due to the fact the filter removes metals and minerals found in this type of water.

                          Another one chalked for Brita

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