- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
I can't say I have been a big apple fan so far. I do have an ipod but have so far steered clear of owning an Iphone or an Ipad. I am not a big fan of touch screen technology so it didn't interest me too much. I have though recently been looking to purchase a tablet and wanted something cheap without all the frills. After looking online and reading a few reviews I found several favourable ones pointing me towards the Ipad Mini. Others under consideration were the Kindle Fire and Google Nexus. I decided to go with the Ipad Mini 16gb Wifi in white. I paid £249 on the John Lewis website. I decided to go with them as they also included a 3 year guarantee with the price.
The Ipad itself
Inside the box you obviously have the ipad itself which is white in colour with a glossy finish. The screen size is 7.9 inches with dimensions of 200 × 134.7 × 7.2 mm and it weighs a very slight 308g. It is very light when you pick it up. It is very easy to hold in just one hand. The Ipad mini is thinner and lighter than its main tablet rivals but boasts a bigger screen
Also in the box is a very basic instruction card with a link to see more information and user guide and another information leaflet which in keeping with the product itself are mini in size. You also have the usb cable/charger.You can use this to charge the device via the mains or via usb to a laptop or computer.USB connection also allows you to sync and transfer files, photos etc.
Technicals and features
The mini features a 1 GHz dual core processor. This is the wi-fi version but there is a wi-fi and 3g cellular version available at a slightly higher price. The memory is 512 mb ram. ) It also features a diagonal LED-backlit Multi-Touch display. The resolution is 1024 × 768 pixels. The camera is front-facing 1.2MP and rear-facing 5MP. The oprating system is currently ios7.0.4. There are four buttons and one switch on the iPad Mini which include a home button at the bottom which returns the user to the home screen, and three aluminum buttons on the right side and top: wake/sleep and volume up and volume down, plus a software-controlled switch.
The set up includes choosing things like language and setting up an Apple ID if you already do not have one. You then have to enter your wireless connection settings and then you are connected up to the internet and you can browse, download apps, play music/videos , take photos and explore the various other features.
Apps and software
The iPad Mini comes with several pre-installed applications, including Siri, Safari, Mail, Photos, Video, Music, iTunes, App Store, Maps, Notes, Calendar, Game Center, Photo Booth, and Contacts. You can sync up your ipad with your itunes so you can listen to your music. I have though chosen to use the Amazon Cloud player app. I purchase a lot of my music from Amazon so this seemed to be the better option for me. The music could be streamed so would not take up space on the device which at 16gb isn't very much.
There are a wide range of apps available via the app store.
I am not really a big ebooks fan but you can also read these on this device. There is an ibooks app as well as an app from Amazon available.
The home screen offers space for 26 apps - 20 on the main screen, with a further six squeezed together on the bottom row .
Another feature is facetime which allows you to have video calls via voice over IP (VOIP). This is kind of similar to Skype.
Siri is a great fun addition to the Ipad Mini which features also on various other apple devices. If you don't know what Siri is it is like a personal assistant on hand for you to answer questions, make recommendations and perform tasks. It works using voice commands.
The camera isn't the best feature of the ipad mini to say the least. This has seemed to always been the case. It is ok for taking spur of the moment / fun pictures but the quality is not too great with the 1.2mp front and 5mp rear camera.
With video it is slightly better with the Mini sporting 1080p on the back and 720p on the front. This allows for pretty good quality videos.
The battery life is excellent at around the 10 hour mark which seems to be more than adequate for most. This is likely to be lower on the 3g version.
The iPad Mini is in my opinion and probably many others the nicest-looking and most well built compact tablet on the market. For the higher price compared to the other two, arguably it should be. In terms of power and performance, there's not a lot to really separate it from the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD. When handing over money for an apple product or ithing you are paying for the research, design, craftsmanship and also brand association.
I didn't think I would become an Apple fanboy but this product has certainly converted me to an Apple product admirer if not a total fanboy. It is a fantastic product which I would highly recommend to those considering a purchase for a compact tablet. 5/5 stars from me.
Adam Richard Wiles is his real name but most people won't know him by that one. Calvin Harris is probably one of the most well recognised and known DJ/record producer/singer in the world, well at least the United Kingdom. He has released 3 albums so far and this is the third of those which was released in October 2012. I did like his songs but had yet to purchase a full album of his. I saw this album for sale as an mp3 download for £1.99 on Amazon so decided to purchase as it seemed a decent price for what had been a top selling album. This album is truly international with an array of stars featuring in the total of 15 tracks. Of the 15 tracks there were a whooping 8 singles which were all top 10 hits. He really squeezed the money out of this one it seems.
* 1. 'Green Valley'
* 2. 'Bounce' Feat. Kelis
* 3. 'Feel So Close'
* 4. 'We Found Love' Feat. Rihanna
* 5. 'We'll Be Coming Back' Feat. Example
* 6. 'Mansion'
* 7. 'Iron' Feat. Nicky Romero
* 8. 'I Need Your Love' Feat. Ellie Goulding
* 9. 'Drinking from the Bottle' Feat. Tinie Tempah
* 10. 'Sweet Nothing' Feat. Florence Welch
* 11. 'School'
* 12. 'Here 2 China' Feat. Dillon Francis & Dizzee Rascal
* 13. 'Let's Go' Feat. Ne-Yo
* 14. 'Awooga'
* 15. 'Thinking About You' Feat. Ayah Marar
Green Valley is a sort of intro with some decent sounds but nothing more- underwhelming first track. The album really gets started with Bounce featuring American singer Kelis. Catchy beats and the vocals of Kelis allow you to 'bounce' your head along/dance to this track.
Feel so close is the next track and was the second single off the album. A quite repetitive track but great beats yet again complement the lyrics. This track as well as the last one featuring Kelis reached number 2 in the Uk charts.
The next track features music megastar Rihanna. This was another successful track for Harris. Rihannas's vocals combine well with the high tempo beat. This has a real pop feel to it, maybe because of the feature artist and how much this song has been played on the radio.
The next track features a popular UK singer in the shape of Example. This has a lower tempo than the previous track and was/is a real popular summer anthem.
I wasn't too impressed by the next two tracks which are Mansion and Iron. Plenty of electronic beats and sounds but underwhelming content/lyrics. It is unsurprising then that these two tracks were not chosen as singles and seem to be nothing more than filler content on this album.
The next track is 'I need your love' featuring current UK Pop princess Ellie Goulding. She has a brilliant voice which is added to the electro pop style beats. This was another popular track which has been played over and over on radio and reached number 4 in the charts.
Rapper Tinie Tempah features on the following track entitled 'drinking from the bottle' . Another track which proved to be a big hit appealing to the party crowd.
Sweet Nothing features the wonderful vocals of Florence Welch from Florence and the machine. The song features a bouncy and ever building beat. This was another popular song and was also a number 1 hit for harris.
School is another instrumental style track which seems to be more filler content
Here 2 China features rapper Dizzee Rascal and I personally don't like it too much. It seems to be quite repetitive and the beat was more doing my head in than anything else.
Lets go is another single and the feature this time is American artist Neyo. Another high tempo beat with repetitive lyrics. This makes it pretty much like most of the other tracks/singles off this album.
Awooga is another filler style track.
Final song and single off the album is Thinking about you featuring Ayah who seems to be one of the low key features on this album. Average track with a slower tempo.
For the download price of £1.99 you get all the top hits and singles. There are a total of 9 with 'We found love' classing Harris as the feature artist. All 9 singles made it into the top 10 which was a new record for a single album. I probably wouldn't have bought this at a higher price as all the tracks are quite familiar and can seem to be quite repetitive and samey. They are though catchy and very popular. I will give this album overall 4 stars. It has some great tracks but also some filler content which lets it down. For the price definitely recommended.
Currently £1.99 for download version and £4.50 for the cd.
Together they have made more than 3250 appearances for United and won 26 trophies. This is their story..
Before I start this review I have to say that I have a strong hatred towards Manchester United football club. The first game I saw supporting my team Chelsea in 1994 was the FA Cup final which they won 4-0. Since then there have been times more recently where my team has overcome them and won trophies so my hatred is not as great but I still really love it when they lose.
I do also love to watch sports films and football films in particular. There haven't been many that have been great but Bend it like Beckham and the Damned United are a couple from recent memory. I had heard pretty good things about this film/documentary though and it had to be on my wishlist for Christmas. Having sat down to watch this earlier I feel ready to write a review.
This is probably for those who are not football fans who might not know about the achievements of six young lads who came together as 14 year olds and go on to achieve greatness, culminating in achieving a historic treble in 1999 (Premier League, FA Cup and Champions league). The film begins in the Nou Camp , Barcelona on May 26th 1999. This is probably the greatest moment in Manchester United's history. What unfolded there is to come later though as we are introduced to these young lads in 1992.
The six in question are David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Phil and Gary Neville. The film covers the period from 1992 to 1999. We are introduced to these characters and we see them together telling stories of when they were young and what was going on. One of these stories is the day that the young Paul Scholes is put into an industrial laundry drier at Old Trafford by team-mates as part of an initiation ceremony.The banter and true friendship shown in these sequences is great.
Interspersed between this though is match footage. First they win the FA Youth Cup together in 1992 beating Crystal Palace and do the same the following year overcoming Leeds United this time. They are then given their chance in the first team.
One game in particular stands out. This was the opening game of the 1995/96 season when Manchester United fielding these youngsters lost 3-1 away to Aston Villa. This match would infamously be remembered for Alan Hansen's remark on Match of the day that "you can't win anything with kids." That same season United won the double with those said kids and Hansen has never been able to live this down.
They go on to achieve great things but the unique treble in very dramatic circumstances which could grace any Hollywood movie was something quite special. They were 1-0 down going into injury time in the final against Bayern Munich and two very late goals win them the match and the historic achievement.
With the match footage and the six men together are also some events that happened during the time and music including the likes of Stone roses and Oasis. There is also some interviews with Tony Blair, who was prime minister during the heights of their success who seemed to use them to his political gain at times. Zinedine Zidane and Cantona provide the football perspective with Eric Harrison (Youth team coach at the time). Danny Boyle and Gary Mounfield from the stone roses provide the fan / popular culture perspective.
This is a film that is a must watch for Manchester United fans and football/sports fans in general. It also appeals to those who may not even like sport but connect to the friendship and stories of these quite inspirational men.
It is interesting to see the very different personalities. Gary and Phil Neville seem to be the ones not blessed with football ability compared to the others but worked hard and sacrificed in order to make it to the top. Gary seems to be the leader and the organizer of the pack. Then there is the cheeky Nicky Butt who was always in trouble and came from the same rough area where the television show Shameless is filmed. Scholes is the quiet one who rarely did interviews and was hardly ever in the papers other than for football reasons. Many great players who played with him and against him such as Zidane hail him as the greatest/most complete midfielder of his generation. You then have Beckham the brand, even then, he was not shy to do interviews and appear in public. Finally you have Ryan Giggs. I won't really talk about his recent indiscretions as I would probably call him something very nasty. His footballing ability is great though and he is still playing for Manchester United into his 40th year. A comment from Eric Cantona in the documentary was that he had stopped playing for 15 years but Giggs was still going strong and still in the first team.
I really enjoyed the footage of them sitting together and reminiscing like old friends. There probably could have been more of this to be fair as it gave a real insight into their characters.
The match footage is as expected and is nicely fitted in when the time is right. The director Gabe Turner has done a fantastic job with this film.
The inclusion of Tony Blair was slightly strange but I guess they also wanted to capture the political angle. We also hear briefly from Alex Ferguson but probably not enough for most people's liking. The inclusion of events and popular culture during the time also adds to its appeal.
This is not a technical film so there is no real discussion of tactics and formations and such so it appeals to those who are non football fans also. We will probably never see something like this happen again in football with six young lads coming through the youth ranks and achieving success on this scale.
Cynically you could say it is a brand exercise and done mainly for commercial reasons but there is more to this than just that. It is a part of it but not the main part.
I still hate the team but I did really love this film/documentary. Highly recommended.
Bonus-there is a making of footage which shows some backdrop and background to how the film was made. Interesting but not too great. It would have been nice to have some extra interviews with the players also but not to be.
Directed by Ben Turner
Produced by Leo Pearlman of F73 Productions
Starring David Beckham
Release dates * 1 December 2013
Running time 98 minutes
Currently available on Amazon for £10.
If I'd had done it for the money I'd have been a f***ing lawyer"
Ben Haggerty, better known by his alias Macklemore is a rapper hailing from Seattle in Washington. He has released a mix tape, three eps and two albums but none of these were released on a major record label. He has gained greater success and following after teaming up with producer and long time friend Ryan Lewis . The result of this was their debut studio album, The Heist. The album was released independently in October 2012.
The album itself
This album is classified in the genre of hip hop. Unlike a lot of modern hip hop it has thoughtful verses and lyrics and covers quite topical subject matter. It reached number 1 in the itunes chart upon release and sold 78000 copies in the first week of release.In this review I will outline some of the top/key tracks in my opinion and give an opinion of the album overall.
The opening track and introduction to the album is "ten thousand hours" where he outlines his struggles and the importance of hard work in being successful. The 10000 hours he mentions in this song is a reference from a book (Outliers) written by Malcom Gladwell in which he states the key to success in any field is to practice a specific task for around 10000 hours.
"Take that system, what did you expect?
Generation of kids choosing love over a desk
Put those hours in and look at what you get
Nothing that you can hold, but everything that it is"
The next two tracks are the most well known and the big hits of the album. Thrift shop is a track which describes Macklemore's interest in buying from stores selling second hand discounted clothing. It goes against the grain of most hip hop which is all about designer labels and following trends. He explained the meaning of the song in an interview :" Rappers talk about, oh I buy this and I buy that, and I spend this much money and I make it rain, and this type of champagne and painting the club, and this is the kind of record that's the exact opposite," It is about being frugal and saving money. There is a feature from a pretty unknown singer by the name of Wanz who sings the hook.
"I wear your granddads clothes,
I look incredible
I'm in this big a** coat
From the thrift shop down the road"
The song has proven to be a real hit and currently has well over 350 million hits on Youtube. The video is pretty funny as well and was filmed in a number of thrift shops in Seattle. It is a catchy song which appeals to the mainstream as well as the hip hop crowd.
Can't hold us is another top hit. The song combines the fast raps and verses of Macklemore with the strong vocals and chorus by relative newcomer Ray Dalton. This is another catchy track which you can nod your head and stomp your feet along to.
"Here we go back, this is the moment
Tonight is the night, we'll fight till it's over
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can't hold us
like the ceiling can't hold us"
Wings is another top track which addresses the issue of materialism and consumerism. He outlines his love of his Nike Air Jordans which he got when he was 7. He describes being able to touch the net and it being the best day of his life. Later he sees them as just another pair of shoes and insignificant after a friends cousin was murdered for their shoes. There is also a poignant chorus sung by a group of kids.
We want what we can't have, commodity makes us want it
So expensive, damn, I just got to flaunt it Got to show 'em, so exclusive, this that new sh**
A hundred dollars for a pair of shoes I would never hoop in . "
Make the money is another song outlining his struggles and also explaining how he is doing something he loves regardless of money. He states that he would have become a lawyer if he really wanted the money. He is content with spreading a message. He has shunned major music labels and the album was released independently .
"Make the money, don't make the money make you, change the game, don't let the game change you"
Same Love is a track which supports the idea of same sex marriage. The inspiration for this track came from his two uncles who were in a gay relationship. The lyrics by Macklemore are complemented well by the strong vocals of Mary Lambert. A track on the idea of legalising same sex marriage by a straight hip hop artist is certainly something refreshing. Macklemore explains that "Misogyny and homophobia are the two acceptable means of oppression in hip hop culture." This song was also performed on the Ellen Degeneres show which helped him gain a fair few more followers. This is a truly beautiful song and also has a very good video.
"If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
"Man, that's gay" gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we're saying."
Starting over is the penultimate track and is about him getting sober after drug addiction.
"If I can be an example of being sober, then I can be an example of starting over."
Macklemore is now 30 and has been around quite a while with quite limited mainstream success. He also has had trouble with drugs which almost curtailed his music career. Since 2010 his career has taken off and he seems thankful to be able to spread his message in this collaboration with Ryan Lewis. The production by Lewis is on point throughout the album. He gets to show this off on one particular track Bom Bom which is an instrumental with no lyrics .The guest singers on the tracks are also worth noting as they add to the quality of the album.
There are some fun party style tracks but also slightly more serious rap ballads. They are able to appeal to the mainstream with catchy beats (props to Lewis) and thoughtful lyrics. Macklemore doesn't tend to preach but instead tends to give his own point of view. He is a white rapper so comparisons can be made with Eminem. He is similar in some regards combining silly songs such as thrift shop to more serious ones such as wings and same love. From what I have heard he has the potential to be a big star but he will probably find it hard to emulate the huge success of Eminem. A collaboration between the two would be great. Regardless, this is a top album which I would recommend highly. The duo of Ryan Lewis and Macklemore have produced an album that provokes thought but also gives you music to dance to. It is classified as hip hop but it is also has a pop feel to it in places. My favourite tracks are Can't hold us, Same Love and Wings. I am going to give this album 5 stars despite there being a couple of slightly below par tracks, the majority are very good. It is definitely one of the (if not) the best album of 2012-13.
(Film only review)
Pat: You have poor social skills. You have a problem.
Tiffany: I have a problem? You say more inappropriate things than appropriate things.
This film has garnered a lot of attention from the Academy awards with eight nominations in total, including best picture and nominations in all four acting categories. I was interested in it as it tackles an issue which is quite sensitive in mental health which I have experience of myself. It is based on the book by the same name by Matthew Quick. The film is classed as a romantic comedy drama and stars Bradley Cooper (Hangover) and relative newcomer Jennifer Lawrence in the main roles. There is also a part played by Robert De Niro with supporting roles coming from the likes of comedian Chris Tucker and Julia Stiles. The film was released initially in September 2012.
Bradley Cooper plays Pat Solitano who has just been released from a mental institution after being inside for eight months on a court order. The release is based on a few conditions including him moving back in with his parents Pat Snr (De Niro) and Dolores Solitano (Jacki Weaver). He has lost pretty much everything including his job as a teacher, his wife and his house. He is diagnosed as being bipolar after beating up the lover of his wife Nikki. Since this incident he receives a restraining order preventing him from reconciling with his wife. He aims to get back on track by seeing the silver linings in his life and also by being healthy. He doesn't believe in taking his medication due to how it makes him feel.
He is invited to a dinner by his best friend Ronnie who is married to Veronica (Julia Stiles). Her sister, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) is also there who has been recently widowed and is a recovering sex addict. She also has mental health issues. Pat wants to get his wife back and tries to do this through Tiffany. Tiffany agrees but only if he becomes her dance partner to take part in a dance competition.
This is a movie which tackles a sensitive and quite real issue in bipolar disorder. It does it though in a quite effective way. There are the predictable mood swings and the angry outbursts as well as some detachment from reality. Bradley Cooper plays one of his most serious roles and he does it very well. It is a serious role as he does have a serious illness but he is very funny also. You can connect to his character and the difficulties he faces as he tries to show his wife that he is doing well so he can win her back.
The support cast is fantastic and they all do a great job. This includes the likes of Pat's father played by De Niro who gives one of his best performances in recent times. Jennifer Lawrence is also great as the troubled young widow who is looking for a new outlet to move on from the death of her husband. She cements herself as one of the hottest actresses of the moment. Chris Tucker also plays a good cameo role as a fellow mental patient who appears from time to time to add a bit of fun.
The film is classed as a romantic comedy but it is unlike many others as it does not follow a clichéd script and dialogue. It is able to appeal to a wide audience and it is not a very typical rom com. It also blurs the lines between comedy and drama. It is quite long coming in at around the two hour mark and it does drag a little in parts but it also packs in a lot.The directing by David David O. Russell is also on point . This is easily one of the best films of 2012 and deserves the accolades it is getting. I would just about give it 5 stars overall.
Directed by: David O. Russell
Produced by: Bruce Cohen
Screenplay by: David O. Russell
Based on The Silver Linings Playbook by
Robert De Niro
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography: Masanobu Takayanagi
Editing by : Jay Cassidy
Running time: 122 minutes
M: Where the hell have you been?
James Bond: Enjoying death. 007 reporting for duty.
After four years Bond is back. After the quite unspectacular Quantum of Solace, comes Skyfall. With a great theme song sung by Adele, the movie has been a big hit so far at the box office. The movie is directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty). IS the 23rd Bond film in the 50th anniversary edition all that it's cracked up to be?
The film begins in Turkey with Bond (Daniel Craig) in pursuit of a man who has a hard drive with a list of MI6 agents. Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) has been sent to assist him. As they both tussle on top of a train , Eve is ordered to fire a shot by M (Judi Dench) which ends up hitting Bond. He is later declared missing, presumed as being dead. M later comes under fire from the government for losing the list and she is asked to retire. She refuses to do so and sets about on sorting the mess out. As she is about to return to MI6 there is an explosion which kills some MI6 employees. M is under threat and when Bond finds out about this he decides to return and is sent to find the villain who has caused the explosion and infiltrated MI6's computers.
This is a film with some breathtaking action sequences. It starts off at a frenetic pace with a car, motorbike and train chase. This sets the standard for what is to come. It also features some great acting from the likes of Craig , Judi Dench and also the villain, Silva played by Javier Bardem. Bardem plays the villain but has a sometimes comic and camp style which helps him appeal to the audience. There is also the return of characters Q(Ben Whishaw) and Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris ). The Bond girls are very contrasting played by Naomie Harris as a MI6 colleague and Bérénice Marlohe as a femme fatale . They are slightly underwhelming and they don't really get a lot of screen time also.There aren't a lot of gadgets as we come to expect from Bond films. Instead the focus is on the settings and characters.
The film has quite a few stunning settings including Shanghai, Macau, London and then towards the end in Scotland. Unlike many other Bond films quite a lot of the action takes place in the UK.The cinematography and visuals are quite stunning. The film is a long one coming in at well over 2 hours but it does not seem to drag on at all and there is a lot to pack in so the length is quite justifiable. Overall I would give it 4 stars overall.
Tim McKenzie aka Labrinth is a singer/songwriter/producer hailing from Hackney in London. He has produced for a number of artists and has earned a good reputation before deciding to have his own solo album. He came to prominence on Tinie Tempahs big hit pass out from early 2010 on which he both appeared as a guest artist and producer. This album features a number of hit singles and his music can be described as electro music with rnb and hip hop influences. He is the first artist in 6 years to be signed up to Simon Cowell's Syco label who isn't from a talent show. He was initially thought to be a producer but Cowell signed him as a solo act . Electronic earth is his debut studio album.
1 Climb On Board
2 ExplicitEarthquake (Full Version) [feat. Tinie Tempah]
3 Last Time
5 Express Yourself
6 Let the Sun Shine
7 Beneath Your Beautiful (feat. Emeli Sande)
9 Sweet Riot
The album begins with the track Climb on board which describes going to outer space in a spaceship.
" On my trip to outer space
In the middle of no where
So I say come follow me
Come follow me, come! "
It is a good if unspectacular opening to the album . The next track is earthquake which is one of the big hits off the album which has had plenty of radio airplay.
" I predict an earthquake up in here
!I predict an earthquake up in here"
he sings. This is a catchy track with an appearance from Tinie Tempah. They both work well together and they reached number 2 in the charts with this track. Last time is another single and it seems to be about journeying around the work.
"A world to be discovered
And now it's my turn to fly
Let this be the last time I say goodbye"
This track is heavily electro infused and features auto tune like a lot of the other tracks on the album. This is a good track. It reached number 4 in the charts in March 2012 shortly before the release of the album. It Treatment is another single and it features the lyrics.
"(Whooah) out of my mind (out of my mind)
Rocking chair, mental asylum (asylum)." This was the worst performing single off the album and missed the top 40. It is pretty average track and the lyrics are quite poor but the chorus is quite catchy. Express yourself is yet another single with the lyrics
"So whatever you do do do lord lord lord
do it good (yeah)
Express yourself" This is another pretty decent track.
Let the sun shine is one of the most well known songs and it was also the first single off the album which reached number 3 in the charts in September 2010. This is a good up tempo song and the lyrics work well with the beat. Beneath your beautiful is the love song in the album which features Emeli Sande (another top British artist). He is able to showcase his singing ability in this one and this is a top track which gave Labrinth his first number one single. Sundown is a pretty mediocre track which didn't impress too much. Sweet riot seems to be smewhat about the riots from last year. Another pretty mediocre track. Vultures is a good track to finish the album off on.
There are a number of big hits on this album with a total of 6 singles from 10 tracks which makes it like a greatest hits album. There are quite a few top tracks which are catchy but also some quite mediocre/poor ones. I would give this album 3.5 stars if I could but if I had to choose I would give it 4 stars as it has more hits than misses. The top tracks for me are Earthquake, Let the sunshine,last time and Beneath your beautiful.
My first entry into the smart phone market was the Blackberry Bold 9700. After my contract was due for upgrade I decided on a blackberry model again. This time it was the Bold 9900. Currently it is available from around £20 a month on contract or just over £350 if you want the sim free pay as you go version. My main uses for the phone was for email and messaging rather than heavy use of applications so this seemed to be the ideal choice.
The Phone itself
The phone is the slimmest of the Blackberry's currently available on the market and measures 115 x 66 x 10.5 mm. It is 10g lighter than the iPhone 4s. It is the first Blackberry to offer both the qwerty keyboard and also touch screen capability.You can swipe,pinch and zoom with the Liquid Graphics touch screen. The leatherette back of the 9700 has been replaced by a carbon fibre panel. It also features a 1.2 ghz processor. Both the CPU and the graphics processing have been improved considerably from previous BlackBerry devices. It also features 8GB of onboard memory which is plenty to store all your music, pictures and videos and it can be upgraded up to 32gb. There is 720p HD video recording also. The keyboard is easy to use and is one of the top features of a Blackbery bold phone. It is slightly wider than previous versions which makes typing more smooth.
On the right side of the phone you have volume buttons which flank a play/pause button and a camera button. On the left side is the micro usb socket used for charging and a headphone port. The screen size is 2.8in from corner to corner which is smaller than the likes of the Samsung galaxy s phones and even slide phones like the Torch 9800. RIM has increased the resolution so you get 640 x 480 pixels which is in comparison to 480 x 360 on older models.
The BlackBerry 9900 runs BlackBerry 7 OS which although being slightly superior to OS 6 is not a big change.
Web browsing with the touch screen is a nice touch. Performance is generally good and the speed of loading pages is slightly faster than previous versions.
The camera is only 5 megapixels which is a bit of a let down compared to other phones which have 8.The battery life is also quite poor and the phone needs to be recharged quite often which is another disadvantage. The apps are also quite limited with the Blackberry app world accessed from the menu. The apps are not the main selling point for Blackberry users so is kind of understandable that it pales in comparison to the likes of the iphone and other android devices. It also doesn't feature flash video.
This is the best Blackberry that Rim has produced so far and it features a lot of positives such as combining the qwerty keyboard with a touch screen and a faster processor and updated operating system. It also has negatives such as the 5 megappixel camera and the battery life. Overall though I would give this phone 4 out of 5 stars.
Fifa from ea sports has been the top dog in the football gaming world for the past few seasons and this year seems to be no different with record sales taking it to the top of the gaming chart. It has all the licences which mean there is the true authenticity with 30 leagues, 500 clubs and over 15,000 players. I have been a Fifa fan for a long time since Fifa 96. Although I have tried Pro Evolution soccer in the past, I have been back to Fifa for the past few years. So is it any different from the previous version and is it worth the purchase? Read on to find out.
On the surface it is still the same game as last year with a few tweaks to gameplay. These include attacking intelligence which allows attackers to make more clever runs for example. Complete dribbling which is inspired by cover star Lionel Messi is another new feature. It allows you to use precise dribble touches which are also combined with true 360 degree mobility when in 1v1 situations especially. First touch control is another feature which means that there is more difficulty in controlling poor passes and overall there are fewer perfect touches. The player impact engine also allows for more physical play as defenders hustle for the ball. The tactical free kicks are also a new feature with up to 3 players around the ball. You can have dummy runs and passing options. There are also a number of new skill games at bronze, silver and gold level which aim to improve your fundamental fifa skills such as passing, shooting and dribbling.
There are a number of different game modes both for online and offline play which are mostly the same as last year. These include career mode, be a pro , ultimate team and head to head seasons. The EAS FC mode allows you to enter challenges based on games in real life and earn points for your favourite club in the game. Ultimate team is one of the most favoured modes by many which allows you to create your own dream team starting from scratch with quite poor players and building up a team of world beaters as you look to improve both the overall skill level and chemistry of the team. You collect coins as you play and win games and use these to buy new players to improve your squad. It takes you back to the days of collecting football stickers as you try and get the top and rarer players. The head to head seasons mode gives you 10 games in a season and if you get above a certain amount of points you can get promoted. On the flip side if you do not get enough points you get relegated. Your aim is to work your way up from division 10 to 1. Every time a game is played points are earned, which can then be used to unlock rewards like kits, celebrations, and attribute boosts. Online play is good but server crashes and freezing are again issues.
There is also a Playstation move mode which allows you to use motion sense technology to control what happens on the pitch. As I don't have a move controller I cannot comment on how good this mode actually is.
There is the slick television or sky sports style visuals with the graphics similar to Fifa 12. Commentary is similar to previous versions with Martin Tyler and Alan smith. Geoff Shreeves also provides commentary on injuries as they happen on the pitch which is a new feature and the presentation is almost the same as what you get on television watching a live game.
There isn't a lot new in this game compared to the previous version. There are some minor tweaks but nothing entirely ground breaking. If you want the latest squads and rosters then you will have to buy the new version. The online features also give it an edge over Pro Evo. Overall I would give this game 4 out of 5 stars as although very good, it isn't that much different from Fifa 12.
Our version of events is the debut album by Scottish music artist Emeli Sande. She is one of the hottest British acts around at the moment. Hailing from Aberdeenshire, she was studying a degree in medicine at the University of Glasgow before giving this up to pursue a career in music. This has so far proved to be a big success. She won the Brit award for the Critics choice earlier in 2012 following in the footsteps of Adele and Jessie J. She has also written for a number of artists including Cheryl Cole , Susan Boyle, Tinie Tempah and Chipmunk to name a few. She came to prominence with her single Heaven and also a feature on Read all about it with Professor Green which was a number 1 hit.
The album was initially released back in February 2012 on the virgin record label and debuted at number 1 in the Uk album chart.
* 1. Heaven
* 2. My Kind Of Love
* 3. Where I Sleep
* 4. Mountains
* 5. Clown
* 6. Daddy-Feat. Naughty Boy
* 7. Maybe
* 8. Suitcase
* 9. Breaking The Law
* 10. Next To Me
* 11. River
* 12. Lifetime
* 13. Hope
* 14. Read All About It, Part III
The album opens with the big hit 'Heaven'. This is a top track with a nice beat which works well with Sande's great voice.
"Oh heaven oh heaven, I wake with good intentions
But the day it always last so long."5/5
Another top track is My Kind of love which features some heartfelt and poignant lyrics. Much slower in pace compared to heaven.
"When you thought it could ever get this tough
That's when you feel my kind of love."4.5/5
Where I sleep is another slow tune which is relatively short track at just over two minutes long.
"In a world that's breaking , where nothing is for keeps
Oh this is us , This is love and this is where I sleep." 3.5/5
'Mountains' is the next track which is a really slow tempo ballad which doesn't really impress much. One of the low points on the album for me. 2.5/5
Clown is another slow paced ballad but this is a slightly better track then the last one. 3.5/5
Daddy (feat Naughty Boy) was the second single off the album and is another top track . A bit of a faster tempo and a more upbeat feel make this one of the top songs off the album. 4.5/5
Maybe takes the tempo down again and is about trying to make a relationship work .This is another pretty decent track but not quite at the levels of heaven and others.
"Maybe you could stay a bit longer
I could try a bit harder
We could make this work"4/5
Suitcase is an emotional song with some good lyrics. Pretty good but again nothing special here. 3.5/5
Breaking the law-another slow song with an acoustic guitar backdrop. 3.5/5
Next to me- Finally another slightly upbeat and higher temp song which was another one of the singles. Another top track. 4.5/5
River is another slow tempo track.3.5/5
Lifetime is another slightly more up tempo number which is quite soulful.4/5
We finally come to Read all about it (pt III). This is another high point on the album with some great lyrics. It's a slightly more sombre version of the number 1 hit. 4.5/5
This is not quite a classic album from Emeli Sande but there are quite a few top tracks. The highlights include Heaven, read all about (pt III), next to me, Daddy and My kind of love. If I had to choose a rating for this album it would just about be 4 stars. It was between 3 and four but there are enough top tracks to give it 4 stars. There are probably a few too many ballads and not enough up tempo tracks which could have got this album a higher rating. She is still one of the voices of 2012 and she seems to have a promising career ahead.
The album is currently available from Amazon for £7.49.
1.No Introduction (Produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League)
2. Loco-Motive feat. Large Professor (Produced by No I.D.)
3. A Queens Story (Produced by Salaam Remi)
4. Accident Murderers feat. Rick Ross (Produced by No I.D.)
5. Daughters (Produced by No I.D.)
6. Reach Out feat. Mary J. Blige (Produced by Salaam Remi, Rodney Jerkins, DJ Hot Day & Nas)
7. World's An Addiction feat. Anthony Hamilton (Produced by Salaam Remi)
8. Summer On Smash feat. Miguel & Swizz Beatz (Produced by Swizz Beatz)
9. You Wouldn't Understand feat. Victoria Monet (Produced by Buckwild)
10. Back When (Produced by No I.D.)
11. The Don (Produced by Salaam Remi, Heavy D & Da Internz)
12. Stay (Produced by No I.D.)
13. Cherry Wine feat. Amy Winehouse (Produced by Salaam Remi)
14. Bye Baby (Produced by Salaam Remi & 40)
Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones or as he is better known, Nas announced himself to the music world with his critically acclaimed debut 'Illmatic' album which was released when he was just 21 years old. Since then he has produced music of a good standard but not always up to the heights of his debut album. He is known as an insightful storyteller. 'Life is good' is his 10th studio album and was released in July 2012. This is his first album as a solo artist for 4 years, although he did collaborate with Damien Marley on 'Distant relatives' in 2010.
Nas is now much older (38) and this album contains a lot of personal subject matter. This includes his bitter divorce from singer Kelis, tax issues with the IRS and also dealing with a daughter who is growing up.
When Kelis left him, she took everything she owned, except her green wedding dress which he is shown with on the cover of the album. He is shown relaxing on a black leather couch in a sharp white suit with his hand supporting his chin with the dress draped across his lap . This is in sharp contrast to his first album which featured a photo of the rapper as a 7-year-old against a backdrop of New York housing projects.
He explains that "This album talks about life, love and money. It talks about the fact that marriage is expensive. Life Is Good represents the most beautiful, dramatic and heavy moments in my life."
The producers of the album include the likes of No I.D. and Swizz Beatz,
No introduction- this is a good opening track to the album and is a kind of reintroduction to Nas. He goes through some of his upbringing and some of his misdemeanours such as "15, I got a gun, 16, I robbed a train." 4.5/5
Locomotive- He continues his storytelling from illmatic on this track with a pumping beat which sounds like a train rattling along." I know you think my life is good cause my diamond piece
But my life been good since I started finding peace" is one of the best lines from this song. 4.5/5
A Queens story This is about his hometown and he raps 'Brooklyn keep on taking it
Manhattan keep on making it Trying to leave Queens out. He is repping queens in this song. 4/5
Accident murderers-this track shows Nas' grittier side and the consequences of stray bullets. "These two different personalities had to collide/N***as could not aim and innocent n***as died." Rick Ross features on this track showcasing the rags to riches story. 4/5
Daughters-. Nas opens up in this track about the highs and lows of his relationship with his daughter, Destiny Jones.Lyrics include" One day she's ya little princess, next day she talking boy business
What is this? And "It ain't easy to raise a girl as a single man
Nah, the way mothers feel for they sons, how fathers feel for they daughters" This is the latest single from the album. 4/5
Reach out-another big collaboration this time with Mary J Blige. This song has a decent backbeat and works well with Mary's great voice. This is a funky track as Nas' lyrics intertwine with Marys soulful voice. "When I was young they called me Olu's son
Now he's Nas father, I was the good seed
He was the wise gardener" Nas raps in this one4.5/5
Worlds an addiction-Another collaboration and this time it is Anthony Hamilton who provides his voice. In this song they are talking about obsession/addictions in the world such as drugs and money and the negative effects of these. Hamilton sings "The world is an addiction
Serving up a fix
The world is an addiction
It's way too much for me." 4/5
Summer on smash- this track seems to be a bit out of place on this album. It seems to be a track made for radio play with beats from swiss beatz. Low point on the album for me. 2/5
You wouldn't understand-The tempo is lowered for this track and this is a mellow track with vocals also provided by Victoria Monet.4/5
Back when-this is a song about his early days and how it all got started.Another solid track.4/5
The don- In this song the lyrics are about the difficulties of poverty inside disadvantaged societies and other issues such as weapon and drug problems. Another one of the singles off the album. 3/5
Stay-another smooth track with jazz style backdrop. 3.5/5
Cherry Wine"--this features the recently deceased Amy Winehouse and is another top track from the album. Winehouse' beautiful voice works well with the lyrics of Nas. In the song he fantasizes about his dream girl . "You're the woman I need, but where is she."4/5
Bye baby- In this song Nas is coming to terms with his failed marriage and also the good and bad things that came about from it. It is written like he is directly talking to his now ex wife.
"Bye baby, I guess you know why I walked away
When we walked to the altar that was an awesome day."4/5
This album is able to show Nas at his best with some top tracks. It is not quite a classic but is a solid showing from the queens rapper. Nas is back but really it is like he never left. He is able to turn some of his recent pain into progression and pieces it all together with 'Life is good.' This is a socially conscious album and has a lot of personal subject matter. There are some top tracks including No introduction, Loco-motive and Accident murderers. The first 5 tracks get the album off to a good start but he falters a bit with summer on smash and a couple of others towards the end. Nas had an album entitled 'Hip Hop is dead'. With him still around, it is still well and truly alive. Overall I would give the album a solid 4/5 dooyoo stars.
Pretty much everyone knows who American rapper Eminem is. He is at the forefront of rap and is considered by many to be one of the greatest ever in his genre. The Marshall Mathers Lp was his sophomore studio album and was released back in the year 2000.
1. "Public Service Announcement 2000" (skit performed by Eminem & Jeff Bass)
2. "Kill You"
3. "Stan" (featuring Dido)
4. "Paul" (skit performed by Paul Rosenberg)
5. "Who Knew"
6. "Steve Berman" (skit performed by Eminem & Steve Berman)
7. "The Way I Am"
8. "The Real Slim Shady"
9. "Remember Me?" (featuring RBX & Sticky Fingaz)
10. "I'm Back"
11. "Marshall Mathers"
12. "Ken Kaniff" (skit)
13. "Drug Ballad" (featuring Dina Rae)
14. "Amityville" (featuring Bizarre)
15. "B***h Please II" (featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit & Nate Dogg)
17. "Under the Influence" (featuring D12)
The cd begins with a public service announcement which states that slim shady does not give a f**k what you think. We can hear straight away why we have the parental advisory sticker on the front of the cd. The first real track is 'kill you' in which he gives an insight into his upbringing if you call it that and his anger and hate towards his mother. Stan is track about a stalker style super fan who writes to him and doesn't get a reply until it's too late. The chorus by Dido (sampled from Thank You), works well with the lyrics from Eminem to produce a top tune which became a hit.
'Who knew' is another top song as he raps "I don't do black music, I don't do white music,I make fight music, for high school kids I put lives at risk, when I drive like thisI put wives at risk with a knife like this." It is a bit about his perceived influence on kids and he his hitting back at those that say his music is negatively affecting those of the younger generation. He also raps about how he didn't really know that he would become this big star.
"Cause I never knew I, knew I would get this big
I never knew I, knew I'd effect this kid"
'The way I am' was another single and is a more serious track in which he shows his angst and frustration towards media executives, bosses and fans who expect him to be at the top of the charts and be good towards them all the time by signing autographs and such. He raps "I'm tired of all you, I don't mean to be mean but it's all I can be
It's just me. "
The real slim shady is one of the most well known tracks of the album. It is a catchy song which was another big hit. He also insults many celebrities in this song. He says that other people can try to imitate him but there is only one real slim shady (himself).
The next top and controversial track of the album is Kim which features his love and hate for his now ex wife. He imitates Kim's voice so she is in effect appearing on the track. This track is not on the clean version and for good reason. The song portrays Eminem murdering Kim.
I also liked the track criminal which is the final song on the album and it has some comedy elements to it. He talks about how what he says in a record doesn't mean he would do it in real life.
This is a top album from Eminem. The skits on it don't actually add much to the album but the rest of the tracks and the ones mentioned above in particular are top quality and helps this album get into the realms of greatness. Rolling Stone placed the album at number 7 on its list of the best albums of the 2000s. It also won a grammy for best rap album and deservedly so. I would give it 5/5 stars.
The London 2012 Olympics is finally here and I am sure many of you are excited. If you haven't been selected to take part in an event and haven't got a ticket, there is the option of this video game. This is the officially endorsed video game of the London 2012 Olympics. The game is available for the Pc, Xbox and Playstation but the version I will be reviewing will be the PS3 version. The game was released at the end of June just before the Olympics began. It was produced by Sega studios. The current retail price is just over the £30 mark but this will probably reduce after the Olympics. That is if you are prepared to wait. So can this game get the gold or is it left trailing behind in last place? Read on to find out.
The game itself
You have the choice of representing a total of 30 nations.
The game features a total of 49 events in 13 different sports and across different categories such as track and field, aquatics, shooting, archery as well as quite a few others ranging from beach volleyball to weightlifting. A number of notable events are not in the game including the likes of fighting sports such as boxing and judo. Also team sports are omitted so there is no football, basketball or hockey. There's long jump and triple jump, but no pole vault. There is the 100m, 200m and 400m races, but there is no 1500m which might have had a more tactical element to it. There is also no relay events which seemed quite surprising. There is only one cycling event also but something as trivial as trampolining is included.
The athletes in the game, although being well presented in terms of graphics are not athletes from real life but ones created for the game. This is a slight disappointment as it would have been a bit more fun and true to life if competing with the likes of Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis and co.
The venues such as the Olympic stadium, velodrome, aquatics centre, Lords cricket ground and others are recreated in pristine fashion and look good on screen.
There is a slick television style presentation with all the graphics and logos appearing on screen as well as results which come up on screen after each round of an event. It all looks like you are watching the real thing despite not having the real athletes.
The commentary is provided by BBC reporter Seth Bennett and ex-athlete Allison Curbishley .It is dynamic in nature and is certainly more engaging then in a lot of sports games. There is also the quite realistic crowd sounds.
The controls are not just about button bashing but also tapping the right buttons and sticks (left and right analogue) at the right time. In the 100m you don't just bash the x button as much as you can but try to get to an optimum speed and pace. In the 110m hurdles it is about tapping the x button repeatedly to run and then pushing the left stick at the right time to clear each hurdle. Some events also require you to jump(long jump/triple jump) or throw (javelin/discus) at an optimal angle which is also again about timing. The controls are not overly difficult and with a bit of practice you can get the hang of it pretty quickly. There are handy tutorials which walk you through the controls for each event.
Motion controls are also available with the Playstation move. They are added as an extra for those interested in them. As I don't have the Playstation Move controller I can't comment on how good this aspect of the game is but some events such as Archery can be played with the motion controller.
This is a single player mode which allows you to represent a nation and take part in two events each day starting with a qualifying round then to the finals where you try to win medals.
This mode allows you to put together a list of up to 9 events for 1-4 players to take on together. You can choose to play as an individual or in a team.
You select an event and the number of players then choose whether to have cpu opponents or not. You can also choose to use the ps move controller in this mode.
There is both the option to play casually and competitively in online mode.
This is a pretty fun game to play and is quite easily accessible by young and old. It also looks the part. It does not seem to have a lot of lasting appeal though. The single player modes are certainly limited in terms of how much depth there is so you may not be playing for months and years to come. The omission of certain events is also a disadvantage as well as not having the real athletes. If you are in the midst of Olympic fever though, this game can certainly satisfy. It is probably the best Olympic game to date but that isn't enough to get it top marks and a gold medal. It does though get a solid 3/5 stars from me.
Contagion is an apocalyptic style film about the spread of a deadly virus across the world. It features an all star cast including Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne and Matt Damon. It was released in September 2011.
The film begins on day 2 where we see Beth (Gwyneth Paltrow) who has contracted the flu like virus after visiting Hong Kong on a business trip. She has a seizure and is taken to hospital where she later dies. Shortly after this her son is taken home from school after feeling ill and he also dies from the killer virus. This is all shown in the trailer so is not a big spoiler. Her husband, Mitch (Matt Damon) is later taken into isolation but he is found to be immune. What follows is a race against time to find a cure/vaccine before the virus infects the population at large . The film moves around various locations around the world showing victims, scientists and investigators and how the pandemic is affecting them . Also shown is the chaos that ensues such as looting and burglary as more and more people contract the virus.
There are a number of key characters in the film who each have different roles.
Mitch played by Matt Damon is one of the human and non scientific characters. He has lost his son and wife and he is also trying to protect his daughter from contracting the virus.
Marion Cotillard as Dr. Leonora Orantes is out to try and find the origins of the virus.
Laurence Fishburne and Kate Winslet also play doctors in the film trying to keep calm under pressure.
Jude Law plays a blogger/conspiracy theorist who believes that the government and other organisations are not telling the full story. He also believes in a herbal remedy as a cure for the virus.
This is a film with a very interesting premise. It is a 'what if' scenario of what would happen if everyone we came into contact with could kill us. The pandemic and fear/panic that ensues seems pretty true to life. The portrayal of death is quite unnerving. The acting is pretty good from the main characters, although the character development is a bit weak. There aren't any real big action sequences like in some disaster films. It is more about the virus and the spread of it and general consequences of it. The film is slow paced and this is not good in terms of keeping you interested. There is a lot of scientific jargon also thrown around for good measure which may interest those who are interested in that kind of thing but those after big action will be left disappointed.
Overall I thought this was a watchable film with some interesting content but it also felt like there was something big missing in it. I felt at the end there could have been a bit more action or a more satisfactory conclusion as well as developing some of the characters a bit more. At the end I was left a little disappointed. I would give it between 3 and 4 stars but if I had to choose it would be 3 stars.
Richmond Park covers an area of 2500 acres and is the largest of the royal parks in London. It is also the largest enclosed space in London.The Park is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve. The park is well known for its deer which inhabits it. There are around 650 in total (red and fallow). There is plenty to do either on foot, by car or on a bike. The park is open from 7am in the summer and 7.30am in the winter. It closes at dusk all year round.
The park itself
When visiting the park we entered via the Roehampton Gate. There are quite a few different entrances on different sides of the park with various (6) car parks also. The park is in close proximity to Richmond, Ham, Kingston upon Thames, Wimbledon, Roehampton and East Sheen. There is also access via various public transport routes by both bus and train.
By the Roehampton gate, there is a café which served a wide range of items including snacks, drinks, sandwiches and ice creams. The café also has both indoor and outdoor seating. As it was a nice day, we thought it would be a good idea to hire bikes to ride around the park. You miss a lot when going around the park by car and it takes a long time to walk around the whole park so a bike seemed to be the best option. We didn't take our own bikes so used the bike hire service in the park which is controlled by a company called Park Cycle and they are open from 10am until 7pm on weekends and school holidays and from 10am until 5pm on weekdays outside holidays. This wasn't very cheap (about £9) but as it was a nice day it seemed to be the best way to cover the whole park.
Other significant places of interest in the park -
Pembroke Lodge is described as a beautiful Georgian mansion set in 13 acres of landscaped grounds. It also has some great views from the outside garden. It is also used for events as well as having a restaurant and is also licensed to sell alcohol.
Another attraction is King Henry's mound which is located in the gardens of Pembroke lodge and offers spectacular views of the surrounding area including the likes of St Pauls cathedral .
The Isabella Plantation is another place of interest with a wide range of plants in a woodland garden.
There is also a golf course and a playground area which is handy for kids especially.
This is a great park with something for everyone. You can walk around, run, cycle and also have a bite to eat. You would not think you were in London when first inside the park and it is a real escape from the hustle and bustle of normal London. It can get quite busy at times especially if the weather is good. I visited this park before the recent bad weather so it was really pleasant then. The Park has now become one of my favourite parks. It is a park I have only discovered recently but it is a spectacular park and one that I would visit more often if I had the chance. I would definitely recommend a visit if you are in and around London. I would give it 5 out 5 dooyoo stars.