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As I was going to University I needed a laptop and I had coped with an old desktop PC running Windows XP for the last 5 years and my Grand-mother said she would pay for it, whatever the price. I was in for something special. At first I looked at MacBooks, but I disliked the keyboard and wasn't sure whether I wanted to use Mac OS. They are also very expensive and so I thought I'd stick to a Windows. I then looked at the Dell XPS 17 as the offer online was really good. However I had a problem with the payment being processed and their customer service was very unhelpful and rude especially as I was going to spend over £1000. That's how I turned to HP. I found the newest HP Envy 17 on their website and was very impressed so I went for that. I do not regret it one bit! I ordered it online and the Hewlett-Packard website was nice and clear. It had a Three-page PDF document with all the details and specifications. Paying for it was easy, and postage was included. I also found you could use discount coupons for this product. I did a Google search for 'HP coupon' and came across a lot of results. The one I found entitled me to a 10% discount so I was very happy. I paid £1200 pounds for the laptop, minus £120 with the coupon - therefore £1080; and the laptop is worth every penny. It arrived two days later via DHL and it was very well packed. It came in a big cardboard box with bubble wrap to reduce the chance of it being damaged if dropped. Inside this, there was a beautiful big black box with 'HP Envy 17' written on it, with polystyrene around it for added protection. I opened this black box and found the laptop in a lovely thin black material sleeve, again with 'HP Envy 17' on it. I took it out the sleeve, opened it up removed the black screen protector and there it was. It looked amazing. I honestly haven't seen a laptop with such a nice finish. Inside the box there were also a couple of leaflets, installation guides and the power cable. A 3D version of the laptop is also available but I didn't need it and didn't want to pay an extra £300 for it. Before buying it I had read many reviews. A lot of people were saying that at last HP had come up with a laptop to challenge the Apple MacBook. It has the looks and more processing power for a similar if not cheaper price. The grey aluminium and carbon relic finish on it is really amazing. It has patterns engraved on the back and below the keyboard. They are very simple but look quite nice. The keyboard is very good. The keys are black and there's a small space between each one. There's also a number pad and even enough space to have an extra inch of aluminium on either side. Most of the keys are square, except, obviously, for the space bar, the Enter key, the Shift keys, the Tab key, the Caps Lock key, and a couple of others. Another good thing about the keyboard is that it is backlit. This works very well, isn't too bright and can be turned on and off via the F5 key. One small thing which takes a little getting used to with this keyboard is that you need to use 'fn' to use the F keys at the top. It seems HP have decided that it is more useful to be able to change the volume, the brightness of the screen, turn the wireless on and off, or connect your laptop to a projector, than using the F keys. I think they are probably right, but if you are used to using shortcuts (such as F5 to refresh your browser) then just be aware you'll have to use fn+F5. But it honestly doesn't take long to get used to. Adding to the clean and simple design, there is only one 'button' on the laptop and that's the power button. It's about 1cm long by 2mm large and is silver. I think it looks very nice. The power button and a few of the keys (Caps lock, F9, F10) have a small white circle LED on them which tells you whether certain functions are active or not. F10 lets you turn the WiFi on or off. When it's on, the light is white and when it's off it turns orange. Same happens with F9 except this key controls sound. Finally on the front there's the black touch pad. It's a nice design and is fairly easy to use. There is only one button, the pad being separated by a white line in the shape of a T to tell you which side is right or left click. You can deactivate the pad by tapping the little LED in the top left. If it is off, the LED will be orange and if it's on the LED will simply be off. It is very smooth and fits in to the rest of the design nicely. There are no edges to the mouse pad; it fits in perfectly with the aluminium meaning the front of the laptop is completely smooth. On the back of the laptop there's the HP logo (bottom left if you're looking at it from the back). This lights up when the laptop is on. Now let's talk about the specs of the Envy 17. It comes with the latest Windows 7 Home Premium installed. It has a 2.0 GHz Intel Core i7-2630QM, which reaches 2.9 GHz with Turbo Boost, and a 6 MB L3 cache. This makes the Envy a seriously fast laptop and is well worth the investment. It also comes with 6 GB DDR3 of RAM, which means you can run lots of programs at the same time without everything becoming slow. If you need more RAM, it can be expanded to 8GB. It has a fast (7200 rpm) 750GB SATA hard drive which is loads to store all your music, pictures and documents. The 17.3 inch (43.9 cm) screen is available as either HD+ (1600×900 resolution) or full HD 1080p (1920×1080 resolution). I chose the Full HD resolution and do not regret it at all. It makes things look slightly smaller but therefore gives you more space on the desktop. It takes a few days to get used to the font size but now I find it hard going back to smaller resolutions: the writing looks so big! The AMD Radeon HD 6850M graphics are very good and help get the most out of the Full HD screen. It comes with Bluetooth which can always be useful for transferring things from a mobile device for example. The Envy also has a 2 megapixel HD webcam which you can play about with using the CyberLink YouCam software installed on the laptop or use to chat to your friends and family on Skype, MSN, etc... It is very good quality and is a nice addition to the high specs of the Envy and works well even in low light. I have a 6-cell battery and the battery life isn't bad I think; better than other laptops I have used but by no means the best. You can watch an average-length film (2 hours) on it without having to plug it in half-way through. With a 9-cell battery you will get a much better battery life, so get it if you can. However, I don't usually use the laptop without it being connected to the mains and I don't think this is the laptop for you if you want to carry it around all the time. The HP Envy comes with many different ports for memory cards, etc. This includes, on the left: a headphone-output, headphone-out/microphone-in, a USB 3.0 port (for very fast file transfer, although you need compatible devices), an eSATA port/USB 2.0 port, an HDMI port (so you can connect your laptop to your HD TV, or Blu-Ray player), a Mini display port, an RJ45 (Ethernet) port (for your internet connection if you don't use WiFi), a VGA port. On the right hand side there are 2 USB2.0 ports, an SD.MS/Pro.MMC.XD port (a single slot for 5 different types of memory card) and a CD/DVD/Optional Blu-Ray player. I opted for the Blu-Ray player and I am satisfied with it. It is very nicely designed and doesn't pop out like a lot of CD drives do. It is simply a slot where you put the disk in. The eject button is at the top right of the number pad and just looks like a regular key. The power cable plugs into the right hand side of the laptop. The front side has two speakers (one on the left, one on the right) and two LEDs. Performance-wise it is fantastic and isn't noisy at all. The boot-up speed is relatively fast. It usually takes 30 to 35 seconds to fully boot up (from when I press the power button, to when I can actually use it). I can run lots of memory-demanding programs such as Firefox, Photoshop, iTunes, iPlayer and Skype all at the same time without any problem at all. This is a big change after having used a PC with an Intel Pentium 4 with 2 GB or RAM. If you are still wondering whether to pay the extra money for an Intel i7 processor with 6 or 8 GB of RAM whatever the laptop, don't hesitate any longer. It is definitely worth the money. The graphics are very good. The 1080p screen does its job very well. It is a shiny LCD which I think gives a little more depth to certain colours. It is surrounded by a half-inch shiny black margin left, right and bottom (with the HP logo), and a one inch margin at the top (with the Beats audio and Envy 17 logos). Blu-Ray discs look amazing on it. You really notice the difference compared to a DVD and if you haven't watched a Blu-Ray before, then I strongly suggest you do. HP do however recommend you close all other programs and connect the laptop to a power supply before watching a Blu-Ray, so bear that in mind. The graphics card is good and you can play high specs-demanding games on the Envy without any problem, although this isn't really what I use it for. HP is very proud of its 'Beats audio' system developed Dr. Dre and HP engineers, and has the logo at the top left of the screen, and next to the left speaker. It isn't bad at all for a laptop. It's the best quality I've heard for sure, but nothing like real speakers. You get a good depth of sound, with the bass coming through better than you would expect. With headphones it is good. Personally I connect an amplifier to the laptop and run a pair of AKG K240 Sextett headphones through that, and it is simply amazing. The integrated microphone is surprisingly good and I use it to talk to my family on Skype. I found the installation process very easy. I just followed the guide and backed up Windows 7 on my external hard drive. I was then guided through the configuration of Microsoft Security Essentials anti-virus software, which was pre-installed. I am happy with it, as it doesn't pop up every couple of hours like many other anti-virus programs. The Envy 17 also came with other programs such as Adobe Photoshop (and Premiere) Elements. Of course these are not match for the real Photoshop, but will do most of the things you need to do unless you use Photoshop for a living. It also has CyberLink YouCam for the webcam and CyberLink PowerDVD 10, for playing DVDs and Blu-Ray discs. There are other HP programs which come installed but most of these aren't ones I use - and they don't get in my way at all, so that's good. Portability wise, I guess it's what you would expect from a 17 inch laptop: not great and heavy. It is about 3.5 kilograms. But I didn't buy the laptop to carry it around. If I wanted to do that, I'd have bought a 13 inch which is probably the best you'll get if you want both portability and usability. However, I have used it to watch iPlayer in bed and it wasn't a problem. I have noticed a few minor issues. One day the drivers for the CD/DVD drive stopped working and it took me a while to get the issue sorted. In the end I found a help page on the Microsoft website and it worked a treat. I haven't had the problem since. Another thing is that sometimes the laptop gets quite hot, especially on the left where the fan is. It is fine when the fan isn't obstructed though. I use a couple of polystyrene squares to elevate the laptop at the back and let air flow underneath it. You could also put a book or piece of plastic or wood underneath it. Overall I think this laptop is well worth the investment and is one of the best around available to the public. Really top-notch quality and a great desktop replacement!
I was given a SanDisk Cruzer Blade 4GB USB key for my birthday and I have been very happy with it. It has never gone wrong. I have never lost any files through not removing it safely, or through my computer crashing, etc. I have also had no problem whatsoever with viruses. The key is small and fits in your pocket no problem at all! I think it is even a bit too small, because I sometimes lose it - but you have to make compromises, small and easier to lose or easy to find and very chunky. I'd rather go for the first option. This USB key has gone through the washing machine 3 times now (after I left it in my pocket) and it still works perfectly! I thought I'd have lost all my files, but that wasn't the case and so I was amazed. It comes in many different colours which is good. It is very light, only a few grams, and the fact it is plastic doesn't make it look silly. It is actually quite discrete. It is only 4GB, but this is more than enough if you are only dealing with documents or pictures. I would recommend it to anyone who may be scared reliability of USBs may be an issue; this USB key is very reliable.
Minstrels are my absolute favourite sweets. I find I usually can't open a packet without eating all the minstrels in it. They come in an easy-to-open plastic packet. The bigger packs usually have a piece of sticky tape so you can reseal them. First of all when you open the packet, you get this wonderful smell of chocolate. I am by no means a big chocolate fan, but this smells just gets me excited every time. The sweets themselves, are kind of circle buttons, about 0.5 centimetres thick. They are coated in a lovely chocolaty coating, which tastes absolutely amazing. Underneath this is a nice sweet and creamy milk chocolate. It is sweeter than regular milk chocolate and this is probably why I like it more. I often just let the minstrels melt on my tongue as it means the taste stays there for longer. One thing to consider is the price. I find them quite expensive (I usually buy the 290g pack and it is around £2.70). This doesn't put me off though, as they just taste amazing. If you haven't tried them before, even if you're not a great fan of chocolate, go ahead and try them because they just seem to be in a league of their own. If they are on special offer, they're a must-have. Definitely recommend them!
My hair tends to get very greasy and my hairdresser recommended I use a shampoo specially designed 'for greasy hair'. That's why I chose Head & Shoulders citrus fresh. I feel very uncomfortable when my hair is greasy and have to wash it every day for it to look good. This shampoo does exactly what it says on the bottle: it makes your oily looking hair look more natural again. I also think citrus fresh smells really good. Not too strong as some shampoos do, but strong enough so that it leaves your hair smelling nice and fresh, and lemony. It is also good for people who have problems with dandruff. It apparently really helps. If you get it in your eyes, it does sting quite a lot (more than some other shampoos I have tried) so I'm always careful not to let it get anywhere near them. I buy it from the supermarket and it costs me just under £2.50 for a 250ml bottle which I think is reasonable seeing as it usually lasts me around 6 weeks (about 45 washes). The bottle itself is quite a nice shape. Fairly simple and it fits in your hand nicely. I do however find the top a little hard to open but I guess that's so it doesn't spill when it falls over. If you have greasy hair or dandruff problems I would definitely recommend it, and even if you don't, it will always leave your hair clean and smelling great.
I always wanted an iPhone, so a few months ago I decided to buy one. I was not disappointed! As an existing O2 customer I paid a reasonable £150 for the phone itself and I pay £25 a month. At first I disliked the shape of the phone. I thought it looked chunkier than its predecessors, the iPhones 3G and 3GS. However, having had it for a while, I think it looks just as good as the other Apple phones. It is good to see Apple have kept the simple design: one button at the front, which brings you back to the main menu, a button at the top which locks the phone and turn it off when you hold it in, a switch to put the phone into silent mode, and a touch screen. The design for the volume button has slightly changed. It is now two separate little round buttons, which I think are easier to use. And of course it still has an audio input for headphones of speakers and a place to plug in the white cable (supplied) to synchronize or charge it. Thanks to this design, I find it quite easy to use. It feels nice when you are holding it, not too big, but not too small either. The screen is very good quality, and pictures look great on it. The finish is also nice. I got the black version and it is nice and shiny. I strongly recommend you get a case for it otherwise it will get scratched, and scratches are quite noticeable on the black iPhone. I would also recommend you buy a film to protect the touch screen and front of the phone from scratches. It is a lot faster than the 3G, and quite a bit faster than the 3GS. This helps when you are running games for example, as on the iPhone 3G, I noticed some games froze quite often. It also seems to be quite reliable: in the time I have had it, it hasn't crashed a single time. It doesn't seem to get too warm either, a problem I noticed with older iPhones. When I bought it, the phone had iOS4 installed on it, but since then Apple has released new software called iOS5. I upgraded and I must admit this does not add many new exciting features to the phone. The 5 megapixel camera does not disappoint. It lets you take good pictures and 720p HD video. A big improvement compared to the 3GS is the flash. This means you can finally take pictures in the dark. It also has an HDR feature, which is useful in low light when you don't want to use flash. The flash is also used by some of the applications available for the iPhone 4, such as torches and heart rate monitors. The speakers are not bad at all for a phone and the headphones provided with the phone are also good. It's nice not having to carry around a phone and an iPod: you now have both in one device, and 16GB is enough for over a thousand songs! It's also great having access to the hundreds of thousands of applications, which you can download from the App Store. The iPhone comes preloaded with some basic apps such as Mail, Calendar, YouTube, Maps, etc. As a phone I have been very satisfied with it. The speaker and microphone are good quality and let you have a conversation without having to consistently ask other people to repeat things again. Sending and receiving texts is easy and it came preset when I bought the phone so I could start sending texts immediately! It is also fairly simple setting up your phone to receive your emails, and there are many guides to help you through this on the internet. Browsing the internet is made very easy. If your contract with your operator allows it, you can access the internet from most places in the UK. When you have access to 3G, the internet is much faster but the battery does not last as long. Unfortunately, there are I believe a few drawbacks. You can't use your old standard SIM card; you need to get a new smaller micro SIM card. This is quite annoying, and means you have to go online and activate your new SIM and deactivate the old one. The process can take up to 24 hours. Another problem I have come across is the touch screen keyboard. Unless you tilt the phone 90 degrees, it is quite hard typing as the keys are very small. You often end up writing the wrong word and have to go back to correct things all the time. I think the battery life is adequate but by no means exceptional. I seem to have to charge it daily (I used to charge my old phone once or twice a week) but this is probably because I use it for games and browsing. Also it is quite expensive, but it really is worth it. Recently Apple released the new iPhone 4S. From what I have seen, the 4S is slightly faster and has a better camera but I don't think it's worth spending the extra money on. Its release has brought down iPhone 4 prices, which is another reason to buy this phone. Overall the iPhone 4 is an amazing piece of technology, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking to buy a new phone.