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bigdoug

bigdoug
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    • Russell Hobbs 14590 Stylis / Kettle / 43 Readings / 41 Ratings
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      13.03.2009 17:14
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      • "Ease of use"

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      Great design, make and performance providing hot water both safe and fast!

      The Russell Hobbs 14590 Stylis kettle is cordless and takes its power from a circular base that allows the kettle to face in any position in a 360 plain allowing it to be arranged on even a flat and level work surface suitably-oriented for either left, right or even mixed-handed households. The base comes with a 0.75 metre mains cable which restricts where you can place the kettle but satisfies the safety aspect of reducing the chance of catching trialling cables for electrically-operated appliances especially those that can contain up to 1.7 litres of boiling water.

      The kettle has an open handle that gives the kettle quite a good balanced feel even when full of boiling water. The spout is both accurate for pouring measured amounts exactly where you want them and non-drip when you return to the base. The water is delivered through a filter inside the spout that can be removed for cleaning.

      The power switch is located at the base of the kettle rather than the top, which turns out to be the lid release button. The power switch does feel quite light and weak and maybe could break with rough handling. The only niggle I had with this kettle was the lid release. A button on the top allows the lid to spring open but after a few weeks the spring seems not to lift the lid completely out of the way for filling - but it can be pushed back to the vertical where it will stay until you push it closed after refilling.

      The three kilowatt means that a kettle full of water reaches boiling temperature in a remarkably short time, after which the power switch is returned to the "off" position. The heating element is a disc on the floor of the kettle allowing you to fill the kettle with only the amount of water you require saving you a little electricity possibly another advantage in these cost-sensitive times we find ourselves in at the moment. If you do only boil small amounts of water you may notice that the hot heating element could be uncovered and then recovered with only a small amount of water that may cause a noise and some steam to be produced and in turn expelled from the spout when you return the kettle to its base. So take care.

      The base is the diameter of the largest part of the kettle itself and so if you can locate the base on your worktop then the kettle will surely also fit, although it is not advised to cram into just any nook or cranny so as to make it easier to remove for filling and use before replacing it as well as not directing a plume of steam at anything that might not like it, for example that large scented candle you admire!

      The jug design has both an open handle and the jug itself is made of twin layers of black gloss over transparent plastic. There are parts where the transparent layer is exposed to show off the blue illumination while boiling. I must admit to boiling the kettle once at night with the kitchen light off so I could fully-appreciate the "blue-glow" emanating from the kettle during the boiling phase. The black gloss outer skin is remarkably "warm-but-not-hot" to the touch even when boiling. Obviously the transparent layer which is in direct contact with the kettle's contents of boiling water it noticeably warmer to the touch but not so hot as to burn you before you realise and you have plenty of time remove your hand without sustaining burns from the surface, which can be the case with these metal-clad kettles. I have, in the name of science you understand, completed the boiling process with my finger firmly-pressed against the translucent liner below the water line and near the power switch at the base of the kettle and suffered no "ill effects" or damage to my finger as a result.

      I secured mine for half-price in at Tesco for £22.50, although currently (13th March 2009), you can get one from Amazon.co.uk for £24.75 delivered free to any address in the UK.

      All in all this is a perfectly serviceable kettle from a major-manufacturer of quality smaller kitchen appliances especially kettles, sold a reasonable price and that I would recommend to any one needing a new one.

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      • HP Laserjet 4100tn / Laser Printer / 53 Readings / 51 Ratings
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        25.02.2009 02:39
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        • Reliability

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        Quality, reliable high-volume networked work group printer that is cheap to own

        Hewlett-Packard 4100 Monochrome Laser Jet was manufactured by their printer division located in Boise, Idaho, USA, and was available in four versions;

        4100 - standalone laser printer, 600-sheet capacity, parallel/Centronics interface

        4100n - networked laser printer, 600-sheet capacity, parallel/Centronics and Ethernet interfaces

        4100tn - networked laser printer, 1100-sheet capacity twin drawer, parallel/Centronics and Ethernet interfaces

        4100dtn - networked laser printer, 1100-sheet capacity twin drawer, duplexer for double-sided prints, parallel/Centronics and Ethernet interfaces.

        Also, a copier that also has all the functions of the 4100dtn is available under the model 4100mfp.

        The Hewlett-Packard Laser Jet 4100TN is a monochrome 1200 x 1200 dots per inch Laser Jet printer that boasts a speed of 17 pages per minute, with the following features;

        Tray One - fold out paper tray for up to 100 sheets of 80 gsm paper is also suitable for heavyweight paper, card, and envelopes. A fold out output bin is provided on the back of the printer so this thicker media does not have to round the last roller so it can make into the top output bin.

        Ethernet interface - available on the "N" models provides connection to your network with the need of an parallel-attached PC acting as a print server. Jet Admin an Internet browser-based printer management tool allows you to configure all the properties of the printer from any networked computer.

        Tray Two - a drawer-style paper tray, for up to 500 sheets of 80 gsm paper, that can be configured to hold Letter, A4 (294mm x 210mm) and A5 (210mm x 147mm) paper.

        Tray Three - available on "T" models provides an additional drawer-style paper tray, for up to 500 sheets of 80 gsm paper, that can be configured to hold Letter, A4 (294mm x 210mm) and A5 (210mm x 147mm) paper.

        Duplexer Unit - available on "D" models provides a device for double-sided printing without operator intervention.

        These printers are substantial in both size and weight requiring suitable robust furniture.

        Routine maintenance requires both the fuser and transfer roller assemblies to be replaced every 200,000 pages, and you can secure an 11,000 page re-manufactured toner cartridge for around £30 from any number of specialist suppliers easily-located using the internet.

        Once your printouts start looking faded - you can get away with removing the toner cartridge and shaking from side to side until your replacement arrives. Otherwise, just keep the surfaces a clean with a lint free cloth once a month.

        All in all this is still an impressive printer, originally sold just under the £1000-mark, and still serviceable after 10, 15, 20 years and possibly even longer. I managed to secure a 9-year old HP Laser Jet 4100TN printer for my own use, that was 124,000 pages away from its next maintenance cycle and with about 4000+ pages left in the toner cartridge for the princely sum of £28 plus £15 post and packaging on eBay.co.uk.

        I was not originally going to buy a laser printer but I read a review for the Samsung 2010R and saw a new one could be purchased for only £60 and the same £60 secured a replacement toner cartridge good for 3,500 pages. As I had used the HP Laser Jet 4100TN in a commercial environment and appreciated how much better they were built and the considerably lower cost of ownership they had compared to these "cheap" laser printers available nowadays, I thought I would chance £43 on this printer and was generously-rewarded for my purchase.

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        • Navman iCN 520 / GPS Sat Nav / 46 Readings / 46 Ratings
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          20.02.2009 15:21
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          A perfectly serviceable SatNav now available at a knock-down price that would recommend.

          The iCN 520 is a fairly intuitive SatNav and for the feint of heart there is a built-in tutorial covering all the salient points of the unit accessed from the Home menu. This allows you to get on working with it right out of the box and glance at the tutorial only if you get stuck avoiding the need to refer to the helpful and extensive user guide.

          The rechargeable battery is only needed when you walk from your house to the car and back as it is supplied with both a home charger and cigar-lighter car charger. Also, the iCN 520 is supplied with a leather slip over cover with a reinforced side for added protection to the screen side of your SatNav while it languishes in your pocket when you transfer between your car and home.

          The iCN 520 is also supplied with a USB cable and Software CD to program and manage both maps and Points of Interest (POIs - speed cameras, MacDonalds, petrol stations, etc.) with the aide of your computer. A screen cradle is supplied attached to a sucker to stick it to your windscreen - Although you need to remember to disconnect the car charger cable when inserting or removing it from the cradle as the plug is accessed through a hole in the cradle, which also has a strain-relief clip so the cable does not unplug itself as you travel. My Skoda has the cigar-lighter behind the gear stick rather than in the dashboard so the cable, coiled to offer a long reach without dangling into important parts of the car or your cup of coffee. I experimented with a few positions for the Sat. Nav. on the windscreen, finally settling a position on the right edge of the screen at eye-level.

          Time-saving Routing Tip:

          Select your destination for your trip in the house so the iCN 520 can calculate the route even before you get in the car, so you are ready to roll when you do!

          Be Secure - Take the SatNav with you once you arrive

          Do not leave the SatNav in your car and remove the screen cradle and wipe the "coffee ring" off the windscreen before leaving the car. I put the cradle and charger in the glove box but always put the SatNav in its leather case and take it with me out of the car. Its bad enough if someone steals your car so don't leave them a SatNav so they can get directions and rob your house too!

          The routing process assumes you want to travel from your current location as determined using GPS triangulation of up to 12 satellites. The destination address needs to be specified in three stages: First enter the 4-digit postcode and select the one of the suggested areas. Enter the Street Name until you uniquely list the street you want. Finally, enter the House Number so house names are of no use to you! You are then given the address in full and offered the chance to save it as a "favourite" location so you can simply select it from your list of favourite place the second time you go there avoiding the need to to the three stages again for that location..

          I do sometimes find even the 7-digit postcode struggles in some rural and remote parts of England. My brother resides in such a leafy backwater and both postpersons and SatNav-equipped couriers still struggle to find him!

          The iCN 520 has six buttons to the right of the nice-sized touch screen; Home Menu, SatNav On/Off, ESC (back up or exit a screen), Pages to change the displayed information, Plus and Minus keys to zoom in and out of your maps. Also, you have both a four-way joypad with click like you might get on your Playstation for navigating around menu screens together with an extending stylus, that slides into its own slot on the back for storage, for the touch-sensitive screen in case you have pork sausages instead of fingers as indeed I do!

          When you are following a route you have a choice if 2D or 3D maps to give you more a sense of an "over the dashboard" view. You can increase and decrease the perspective effect of the 3D by moving the stylus up and down the screen.

          Double-tap the screen with the stylus on a valid address or road and a menus appears offering you to view the full detail of the location, save it as a favourite, choose either to navigate to it or avoid the surrounding area altogether.

          Tap the stylus in the bottom right-hand of the screen to change the display between; Distance to Destination, Distance to your next turn, Compass Heading, Current Time, Current Speed, Time to Destination, Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA),

          One thing I really like about the Navman i520 software is the ability simply to draw an "avoid area" directly on the map screen encompassing places that you want to avoid and the route is planned without passing through it. This is great if there are roadworks or your local knowledge about roads in your area allows you to plan a better than the SatNav when left to its own devices.

          The iCN 520 uses the same "camera food" as my Vivitar 5355 - SD memory cards up to 4GB but I have a 2GB in mine, which is sufficient for maps of; UK, Ireland, and all of mainland Europe to street-level. And if I go on holiday I can archive the SD card onto my computer and use it to store extra pictures taken with my digital camera.

          The Points of Interest (POIs) part of the SatNav allows you to upload the locations of Safety cameras used to monitor the possibly more hazardous places on your route so you can be apprised of any of these locations and the maximum speed limits that are in force. I found this function next to be useless on both the new iCN 520s I bought and usually alerted me to places after or as I was passing them rather than giving me prior warning. This was a fault that I could not rectify even by repeatedly reinstalling the software and buying another one to see if this was a one off. It was not a one off and the situation was only resolved by chancing upon some Tom Tom 5 software that I could load onto the Navman iCN 520 and this both cured the POI alert problem and provided me with full 8-digit postcodes for locations.

          The Navman iCN 520 maps are more detailed than provided by the Tom Tom and your current location is quoted as both a street number and name which is quite impressive but for its other shortcomings.

          I bought the Navman iCN 520 at a cost of £175 when they were new which compared very favourably with the £300-odd for a Tom Tom 5. Currently (21 February, 2009), you can pick one up for around £60 on eBay.co.uk or even less if you are lucky. Then my advice is to program it as a Tom Tom 5. Although you might be able to just buy a Tom Tom just as cheap now too. There are two extras that you might consider an extension aerial this may make it quicker to initially pick up the GPS satellites when you first turn it on but I have had no problems without one - even with a windscreen with integral heating wires. The other and in my opinion equally redundant is the remote control. Just pick the thing up and use it! The only amusement you might gain from owning one is if another car you are next to in stop-go traffic also has a Navman iCN 520 then you could play with his or her SatNav as a diversion.

          If you do not need to know where your POIs are so badly and you have programmed and saved all your favourite destinations then this is a perfectly serviceable SatNav now available at a knock-down price that would recommend.

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            19.02.2009 15:08
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            Its a great car that still makes me smile every time I drive it.

            2009 sees both me and my Skoda Octavia enjoying a golden jubilee! I neither mean to imply that I bought it the year of my birth nor my car has lasted 50 years. But on January the 6th 1959, the Czech car manufacturer Skoda introduced its newest car model to replace the Skoda 440, also known as 'Spartak'. Reported in their company magazine Ventil, they announced "Our new vehicle has a new name too - the Skoda Octavia, as it is the eighth model produced by our nationalised industry."

            The new Skoda Octavia was the first "in-house"model to be developed 1989 after Skoda became part of VW. The first concept car was created in 1992 and was finally launched in 1996 as a hatchback followed by the estate version and 4-by-4 two years later. In 2000 a new, modernised Skoda Octavia was introduced that is still manufactured in Mlada Boleslav to this day as the Octavia Tour. The new Skoda Octavia, was launched in 2004 then facelifted in 2008. More than two million have been produced and boasts a vast range or sub-models and trim levels that include both the 4-by-4 Scout and the sporty Skoda Octavia vRS.

            In 2008 wanted to replace my Ford Focus 1.8 petrol estate, that had been a great servant since 2001 with a reliable high-mileage and low-maintenance car. To this end I decided to concentrate my search on Diesel-fuelled cars in general and German cars in particular looking for example from VW, Audi and BMW. I consulted with my friends and colleagues that owned care from these marks for information about the cars and their experiences running them. The Audi A6 owned by my eldest brother scored highly in all departments except servicing costing around £400 annually. My other brother had the VW Polo scoring higher due to the lower servicing costs although a little too small for my needs preferring the VW Passat for size..

            In an aside I asked if he saw the recent Skoda Fabia advertising campaign featuring the construction of a full-size a car-shaped cake. He replied that Skoda was taken over by VW and I could secure my reliable "German Diesel" in the guise of a Skoda. I made enquiries about the costs of both purchasing and ownership and found them to be a lot lower. The cost for a 2.0 litre TDI Skoda Octavia estate was around £5000 lower than a similar VW Passat. I enquired about servicing from a local Skoda Garage and he informed me the regular Annual 10,000-mile service was around £80, I was even paying £132 for my Ford Focus, and variable servicing depending upon your driving habit and when it was due for service this would be indicated by light on the dashboard and would cost £164. This made me concentrate my search for a Skoda Octavia Diesel estate.

            Initially, I used the Autotrader.co.uk website to look for a second-hand car but noticed that there were not too many on offer and those that were available seemed to have held their price rather too well so not affording the saving I wanted to achieve. I clicked the New Cars tab in Autorader.co.uk to investigate the Octavia models more thoroughly. I found Autofinders.ltd.uk, a UK-based new car reseller offering 2-litre Diesel Octavia Estates 6-speed manual transmission for around £14,500 new! In addition just for £900 more they had the Octavia 2.0 TDI PD vRS with an advanced 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine that produces 170bhp!

            Diesel cars have never been short of pulling power, the Octavia is no exception, with 350Nm of torque available from just 1,800rpm, the 2.0 TDI PD vRS offers amazing thrust from low revs. The piezo-injector technology provides exceptional performance, and driving thrills you would only expect from a petrol engined car rather than this diesel-powered vRS. 0-62mph can be achieved in just 8.5 seconds for the hatchback and 8.6 seconds for the Estate, boasting top speeds of 140mph and 139mph respectively. So how much does it cost to feed? The more sporty cars are usually seen at their second-homes "tethered" to the garage forecourt fuel pumps, but both the hatch and estate versions of the Octavia 2.0 TDI PD vRS return an amazing 48.7mpg on the combined cycle, which gives a potential tank range of 589 miles.

            The Octavia 2.0 TDI PD vRS is fully-compliant with the EURO IV regulations thanks to its diesel particulate filter (DPF) which helps reduce exhaust emissions. In terms of CO2 output, both the hatch and estate versions produce just 157g/km. An annual tax disc costs £145 for this model. After a year of ownership I have only had to top up the oil after 15000 miles. Halfords sell Audi/VW compliant 507 Oil available for around £40 a gallon rather than paying £75 for the VW branded stuff. The interior is also quite luxurious including dual-zone (front passenger/driver) climate control, half-leather vRS seats, Multi-CD player in the boot together with a Radio-CD-MP3 player head in the dash and alloy wheels are fitted as standard. Safety equipment includes ESP (abs, traction control, and some other tricks), plus driver, passenger and side air bags.

            Currently (19th February 2009), you can buy yourself an Octavia 2.0 TDI PD vRS Estate (RRP 19,200) costs £16,095 from autofinders.ltd.uk saving over £3000. If you do buy from these guys, mention my name and I get £150 from them!

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            • More +
              16.02.2009 19:25
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              Buy cheaply to meet your immediate needs only - as the cost of technology falls

              What to look when buying your new DVD player - always try find those features you need for least price you can secure one.

              Do you have a television?

              Sounds like a daft question but unless you opt for a portable offering that has its own screen for watching on the move or from screens in the headrests of your Hummer, you will need a television to use the DVD player of your choice.

              Do you need to play Foreign DVDs?

              If your television supports either NTSC and/or SECAM playback the video standards of North America and mainland Europe respectively then you may choose to by a "Multi-regional" facility for you DVD player allowing you to play DVDs purchased around the world. DVDs are recorded with a local audience in mind to suit the local standards of DVD player available around the World. To this end the globe is divided into regions for DVDs. They are:

              Region 0 - No Region Coding
              Region 1 - United States of America, Canada
              Region 2 - Europe, including France, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Arabia, Japan and South Africa
              Region 3 - Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Borneo and Indonesia
              Region 4 - Australia and New Zealand, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America
              Region 5 - India, Africa, Russia and former USSR countries
              Region 6 - Peoples Republic of China
              Region 7 - Not Unused
              Region 8 - Airlines/Cruise Ships
              Region 9 - Expansion (often used as region free)

              Do you backup computer files onto DVDs?

              If you back up you computer files you may want the ability to review, pictures, sounds and video on your TV without your computer. As far as archiving video material onto DVD. If you keep them in either DivX or AVI format rather than transcoding them into DVD-compatible VOB files. This saves both space on the DVD that your video takes up as well as dramatically-reducing the processing time needed to create the larger VOB files before they are saved onto the DVD.

              What television do you have intend to use with your DVD player?

              DVD players do not allow you to connect to your television with an RF ariel-style cable, as is the case with VCR recorders, so you must have a matching connectors on both the television and the DVD player.

              For CRT televisions: These may connect your DVD player with a SCART video connector.

              For LCD televisions, you may have either a HD-Ready (720p/1080i) or Full HD (1080p) resolution screen. So you should look for an "Upscaling" DVD player, that can make the most of all you legacy DVDs on your new television, but you should only choose a DVD player that upscales to either the 720p or 1080p standard to match your LCD television and connect it to the DVD player with an HDMI cable, as by the time you upgrade your television the cost of both will be reduced when you need to purchase them.

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              • Skoda Octavia in general / Car / 32 Readings / 30 Ratings
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                10.02.2009 02:22
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                A comfortable quality people's car with a German pedigree

                I had often admired from afar the German automotive art with examples from prestige makes including; Porsche, Mercedes, Audio, Volkswagen, and the mighty Trabant!

                I wanted to buy into a reliable German Diesel like an Audi A4 or VW Passat. My ex. Boss had got himself an Audi A4 and always moaned about the £400-odd cost of its annual servicing. My two brothers had both recently changed their cars, one getting an Audi A6 and the other bought himself the VW Polo. I had heard about the VW takeover of the Czech automobile manufacturer Skoda and made enquiries about the Octavia that looked rather like the VW Passat but offered for sale at a fraction of the cost but still with benefit of that VAG diesel engine.

                I looked in local newspaper as well as online on autotrader.co.uk and found that not as many Skodas were being offered for sale secondhand, no bad sign when looking for a car you wished to keep for sometime. From 2001 to 2008 I managed to wear out my Ford Focus 1800 petrol and as my annual mileage exceeded the 12000-mile service interval and the service light came on during the year in spite of annual serving - I decided after 7 years and 115,000 miles it was time to get something with a longer service interval. I noticed that some advertisements for the Skoda Octavia diesel reported the service interval to be 2 years.

                I enquired by telephone at a local Skoda Garage about these reported running costs and he confirmed that the service interval could be set to 10,000 mile/ Annual service for £80. Alternatively you could select as I did, a variable service interval indicated by a service light on the car's instrument panel and the exact mileage was determined by how hard the car had been driven, but on average he quoted that it was around 17,000 miles with easily exceeded my annual mileage, after which the car is placed on a VAG diagnostic machine for £164. The Skoda Service manual recommended that if the service light does not light after two years then take it in for a service so as not to invalidate the 3-year warranty. Which also comes with 3 years free RAC membership to take you to your car's first MOT.

                Once I had decided I wanted to buy a brand new Skoda Octavia Estate car for March 2008, I looked in the new car search tab of the Autotrader.co.uk and it returned the best prices for a company named Autofinder.ltd.uk - a UK-based car reseller that secures cars from 20 major manufacturers including Skoda with fantastic reductions. The prices were so competitive that instead of the basic 140 bhp 2.0 diesel, I decided upon the sporty 6-gear manual 170 bhp VRS estate in Race Blue with 18-inch Zenith alloys. All for an on the road price of £15,890 that included the first years Road Fund License, and three years RAC membership. One thing I spent some of the money I saved on the purchase price was Chip Shield - a plastic protective film apples to the front of the car to almost eliminate stone chips to the paintwork - at a worthwhile cost of £400. The day after I purchased the car I had to pass a gritting lorry - and it was not to be my only one either - and the car's paintwork still has no chips!

                After 11 and a half months and 14,000 miles, the only maintenance required has been a small oil top-up once - this car still makes me smile every day just knowing I own a car this nice. The onboard computer does more against speeding than any amount of speed cameras by continuously displaying the current miles per gallon you are getting - a very effective way of making you ease off the accelerator pedal in order to consistently get 52 miles per gallon but still giving you the opportunity to swiftly and safely pass lorries by unleashing the power of the beast for short periods then easing off and get back to working on increasing the miles per gallon figure. The day I purchased the Octavia I followed a blue VW Passat and was amazed just how similar the two body shapes were.

                This Skoda Octavia represents not only great value for money but is also a genuine prestige-class quality automobile that I am still proud to own.

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                • More +
                  09.02.2009 22:32
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                  Digital Stills Camera, Digital Video Camera, SD card reader and a VGA Webcam

                  The ViviCam 5355 is an inexpensive digital camera, from Vivitar, boasting both a picture resolution up to 2560x1920 pixels and featuring 3x optical zoom. I purchased the camera £29.99 from Amazon.com pretty cheap for a digital camera of this quality. The supplied USB cable allows the camera to be used both as an SD memory card reader, including the 4GB HCSD memory card and VGA webcam.

                  I specifically chose this model as I required a digital camera that was simple enough to use both for me and my 81-year-old mother. It was bought to be used mainly for holiday snaps. I wanted a camera that both supported SD memory cards and it was possible to be powered with either rechargeable AA batteries that supply only 1.2 Volts as well as than the 1.5 Volts supplied by the non-rechargeable ones.

                  This allowed me to run the camera with rechargeable AA batteries but in those cases I was away from UK mains power too long to recharge them for my next raft of photographs, featuring sun, sea, and sand, I could simply revert to using non-chargeable batteries to tied me over.

                  The SD and 4GB HCSD memory card support allowed me to temporarily use my 2GB SD Memory Card from my Satellite Navigation gizmo in the camera. This allowed me to store over 700 full-resolution 5 megapixel photographs in the camera before I needed to download them onto my computer using the supplied USB 1.1 interface cable.

                  Easy to use - but with flexible and advanced features

                  The top of the camera has only two controls the smaller power on/off button and the larger shutter button. You can take photographs by simply "aiming" it at the desired subject. Frame the subject using either the viewfinder or the large LCD panel on the back of the camera, then press the larger shutter button halfway-down to auto-focus the picture, indicated by blue square in the centre of the LCD panel and then press the button completely to actually take the focused picture.

                  The back of the camera features: 2.4" LCD screen, Zoom control, Mode button (Photo, Video), Macro, Exposure compensation, Flash, Self-Timer, Scene, Menu, Play buttons. This can be used to review and manage your photographs, videos and camera settings, including picture resolutions and multi/single point image focusing. Once the desired settings are set for the camera, these settings will be applied to all your subsequent photographs so the process of taking photographs remains unchanged.

                  I used this on my last holiday and the only problem I found was selecting which photographs to publish to a CD slideshow for viewing on a DVD recorder from the 400+ pictures I took!

                  Ok now for all you feature-freaks, here comes the facts and figures:

                  The ViviCam 5355 can be used as a;

                  * Stills Camera - 5 Mega-pixel (2560x1920, 2048x1536, 1280x960, 640x480)
                  * Video Camera - VGA (640x480 (24 fps), 320x240 (30 fps) both with sound)
                  * Web Camera - VGA (640x480)
                  * SD Card Reader - SD Cards and 4GB SDHC Card

                  The ViviCam 5355 Features;

                  * Integral Flash,
                  * Integral microphone, for audio on video recordings,
                  * 3x optical zoom lens,
                  * 2.4" LCD screen,
                  * 5cm macro mode, for close ups,
                  * 32mb built in memory,
                  * SD memory cards, 4GB SDHC memory card support,
                  * AA battery support, including rechargeable ones.
                  * USB cable that allows the camera to be used as both a
                  . * SD card reader and
                  . * VGA webcam.

                  Computer System Requirement

                  In order to use all the features of both the camera and the supplied software on your computer they must have the minimum specifications.

                  For Windows Computers
                  * Pentium 166 MHz or higher
                  * Windows 2000/XP/Vista
                  * 128MB RAM
                  * 128MB hard disk space
                  * CD-ROM drive
                  * Available USB port

                  For Macintosh Computers
                  * PowerPC G3/G4/G5
                  * OS 9.0 or later
                  * 128MB RAM
                  * 128MB hard disk space
                  * CD-ROM drive
                  * Available USB port

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                  • More +
                    08.02.2009 02:35
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                    An inspired product that definitely delivers on both fun and functionality

                    The Culinare One Touch Jar Opener is battery-operated gadget and uses a pair of AA size batteries the first of which are supplied with your new purchase so you can start opening jars, including those jars with vacuum-sealed lids, right out of the box. Originally available for the full retail price of £20 it is currently available, (February 7th 2009) for the price £16.82 for purchase online, with free delivery in the UK, from Amazon.com.

                    Simply place the unopened jar that you wish either to re-open or to open for the first time, onto a flat level work surface then the Culinare One Touch jar opener onto the lid of the jar so that it is centrally-located on the top of the jar lid. Press the button until you hear the motor start and then leave the opener to work its magic on even the most stubborn jar.

                    Firstly, the outer arms close to firmly grip the jar. This also has the effect of centring the opener on top of the jar lid. Then the inner arms close to grip the lid and in turn rotate to undo the lid. Once the lid is loosened the opener releases it 25-pound grip on both the lid and the jar allowing you to lift first the opener and then the lid from the top of the jar.

                    Just be warned that when opening jars with the vacuum-sealed lids that the might be quite a loud bang heard as a reaction to the release of the vacuum as the lid is loosened. The opener is suitable for opening most jars with lid diameters between 32mm (1.3inch) 101mm (4inch) inclusive and jar diameters of 21mm (0.8") to 95mm (3.7inch) inclusive.

                    Once the opening process was finished and the motor has stopped, the opener and the lid of the jar can simply be lifted from the top of the jar. So those of us with limited hand strength and mobility, or simply a fascination with motorised gadgets, this is a must in the kitchen. Equipped with both this jar opener together with Culinare's One Touch can opener I can now open almost anything in the kitchen effortlessly! All I need now is a fizzy drink bottle opener and closer so I can first open those 2-litre bottles of lemonade then close them tightly-enough so I don't get just one drink of lemonade that is fizzy per bottle! Then I will truly be set, well for now at least!

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                      29.01.2009 02:57
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                      An inspired product that definitely delivers on both fun and functionality

                      Originally an all-white affair available for the full retail price of £20 it has spawned a family of new offerings that feature soft-grip inserts for comfort in a choice of colours red, blue or lime as well as a rechargeable version for convenience that uses a charger rather the need to replace the pair of AA batteries, which are supplied with the opener, that power the other versions. The rechargeable version, available for the slightly-higher full retail price of £25, boasts that it is capable of opening a staggering 30 cans from a single charge.

                      Currently, (January 28th 2009) the battery-powered versions normally available for around £20 can be secured for the following prices £16.96 for the original white one; £10.85 for the one with red soft-grip inserts; £12.18 for the one with blue soft-grip inserts; £8.26 for the one with lime soft-grip inserts; and £25 for the rechargeable version. All available for purchase online, with free delivery in the UK, from Amazon.com.

                      Whether the Culinare One Touch Can Opener you choose is; rechargeable, battery-powered, with or without soft-grip inserts the operation is the same. The One Touch is capable of opening cans, with diameters between 67mm and 100mm, at a single touch.

                      What struck me about the tin opener as I unwrapped it, was its size. I don't know why I just didn't expect it to be quite so big. I doubted whether it would balance on the top of the can ok and to that end I found the first few times I used it, - I know I bought it for my mother, well I got my self one too! - I was supporting the opener until I was satisfied it had "bitten" securely onto the rim on the tin before letting it go to do its stuff unhindered. The opener overran the circumference and seemed to start well into a second lap of the now open lid of the can - bit I guess that's so it can open the largest circumference tins without the need off a laser-aided satellite navigation system to calculate exactly when to stop removing the top of the tin.

                      But joking aside there is a cut-away section on the underside of the opener that allows the opener to function only when the rim of the tin is proud enough of the end of the tin to sit in the cut-away like a fail-safe power kill switch. For this reason the opener lost power as I tried to open a large diameter Fray Bentos tinned Steak Pie but the rim was not proud enough to allow the opener to stay powered. So it was back to the manual tin opener for this baby. The culinare website does actually provide you with teXt to warn you that "With One Touch it may not be possible to open cans with heavy seams, rimless or odd shapes."

                      Once the cutting process was finished and the motor had stopped, the now lid of the tin is removed with the One Touch as it is held quite strongly by a magnet in the body of the opener. The first time I tried the lid seemed a little tricky to remove - especially as I was trying not to get any baked bean juice over my hands. But as with most things repetition and little practice got this down to a fine art without drama. So those of us with limited hand strength and mobility, or simply a fascination with motorised gadgets, this is a boon.

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                      • autofinders.ltd.uk / Internet Site / 25 Readings / 25 Ratings
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                        28.01.2009 21:46
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                        Get yourself a new car bargain from this UK-based reseller

                        Autofinders.ltd.uk is an online car reseller, offering brand-new UK-registered cars from 22 of the most popular manufacturers from Audi to Volvo. So no grey imports are sold here and all cars are supplied with complete with their valid manufacturers' warranties. The beautifully-appointed and almost new showroom is tactfully hidden away in the picturesque village of Bakewell, nestled in the rolling Derbyshire hills. Although a UK-based reseller, it still offers great value as if you were importing your car from mainland Europe as I did for my previous car a 2001 Ford Focus Estate 1800cc Petrol from Garage Canada in Brugge, Belgium.

                        First select first the manufacturer and then one of the available models, review the price and if satisfied call them about the colour and any other preferences you may have with the friendly helpful staff. To be ultra cheeky you might choose to arrange a test drive with a local dealership then purchase from Autofinders. Although most of the process can completed entirely online I must admit I prefer to call and talk to a real person so you can get a more of feel for the type of company you are dealing which in this case doesn't jeopardize any internet-only offers favoured by some online vendors.

                        In 2008 I decided to replace my internet-purchased with another. I researched both new and second-hand cars on the Autotrader.co.uk website which recommended Autofinders.ltd.uk when I searched for prices on Skoda Octavia estate. Their guaranteed old car purchase policy was also a boon. I sent an email to describe the make, model, age and condition of my old car and thy e-mailed back with their offer for my old car. Although, I guess I could have managed to sell the car for more with a little effort, but this not only saved me the hassle it also gave me the added convenience of driving to the showroom in my old car then driving home in my new brand car which can not be underestimated. But don't forget yourself and leave your Sat Nav together with all your old stuff you brought in the old car with you, and get all your old stuff from the old car before you go into the showroom and get caught up in the new car purchase process. The last thing you want is to remember you have left something behind when you are halfway through your drive home.

                        I purchased a Skoda Octavia Estate VRS in Race Blue together with the Skoda's add-on package including; electric rear windows, jumbo storage box, 18" Zenith Alloy wheels, full-size steel spare tyre instead of the space saver spare and twin-zone air-conditioning. The cost was £15890 on the road instead of the full £20990 representing a saving of over £5000. I ordered the car in February 2008 for collection on Sunday the 1st of March 2008 so it attracted a new "08" plate rather than the current "57" registration. I even arranged for a guy to fit the front of the car with a set of chip shields, a set of clear plastic foils to rebound stones and other debris from the road to prevent stone chips in the car's paintwork, at the showroom on the day before I collected the car. All the Skoda extras were supplied as if I had bought the car direct from them including; three years comprehensive RAC cover, with an option to extend it for a further two years at half price as well as the first years road fund licence. As is the case with all new cars, I don't have the worry of getting the car though an MOT test for three years too. All in all a fantastic package.

                        In summary, I found Autofinders.ltd.uk to be a straightforward web-based automobile reseller with both friendly staff and an intuitive website that I would have no hesitation in recommending if you find that you can buy the car of your dreams cheaper here

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                      • Philips DVDR 3380 / DVD Recorder / 18 Readings / 17 Ratings
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                        28.01.2009 13:20
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                        Burn more video faster and onto fewer DVDs

                        I bought this DVD recorder for my mother so she could enjoy almost twice as many videos and pictures before she needs to change DVDs thanks to the Philips DVDR 3380 supporting the great quality compressed DivX video format. This means that a whole series of the TV programmer 24, her current viewing of choice, can fit onto 2 DVDs as DivX video instead of 4 DVDs in VOB DVD-Video format.

                        The Philips DVDR 3380 offers all the connectivity you would expect to support all video sources in your non-HD video environment. Twin SCART sockets allow your VHS video recorder or your SKY/cable service box to be connected to the recorder and then looped through to the TV using the second SCART connection allowing you to enjoy them on your TV without first having to turn on the DVD recorder. These SCART connections also allow the recorder to access both the channel selection of your SKY/cable service box as well as the TV's integrated tuner as this DVD recorder has no tuner or decoder built-in.

                        You can choose either to record from either your SKY or cable-service box or direct from the tuner in the attached TV. These recordings are made in VOB or DVD-video format and you can select from a number of recording quality levels to fit up to 6 hours of VHS-quality video onto a single 4.7GB DVD. The recorder produces an attractive menu for you to select your TV recordings. When you use DVD-RW media you can use these just like blank video tapes on VHS video recorders allowing you to edit and erase part or all of the DVD content. For those programmes recorded from commercial channels you can choose to go through each video and mark those advert breaks with their own "chapter" markers that are rather like bookmarks and then choose to view the video with these ad break chapters hidden during playback.

                        The DivX compatibility makes for quicker authoring of your DVDs as the content does not have to be rendered in VOB DVD-Video format. The only downside is that you have to create/convert these DivX video files then use them to compile your Data DVDs with a DVD burner-equipped personal computer. If you don't fancy converting files for your favourite TV programmes then you will be able to find them available for download shortly after transmission on the various sites on the internet. The upside to DivX support is that both video and picture files archived onto DVDs to free up space on your computer's hard drive can be played quite happily on this recorder without the computer needing to be connected or even switched on.

                        The Philips DVDR 3380 records and plays all your movies and music in a mind-boggling range of formats (DivX, MP3, WMA and JPEG) on most DVD media (DVD+-R/RW, DVD+R Dual Layer). You can choose to record video in a range of quality settings allowing you to tyre-iron up to eight hours of VHS-quality video onto a single DVD. This recorder will handle everything from audio CDs, to DivX DVDs. I have even played a DVDR crammed with MP3 music files from almost 80 albums.

                        This is a well thought out and easy to use DVD recorder manufactured by Philips, the inventors of the CD/DVD technology upon which all players and recorders are based, is ideal for those of us without need for either HDMI connectivity or upscaling functionality just yet, from the true innovators of the art.

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                      • Tefal QuickCup / Kettle / 28 Readings / 27 Ratings
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                        28.01.2009 03:43
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                        • "Ease of use"

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                        Quick safe preparation of filtered hot and ambient water for all your drinks.

                        I am so pleased I replaced my mother's Brita-filtered kettle with the Tefal QuickCup. This is a much safer option over the old kettle for my 80-year-old mother that can only walk with the aid of a frame. Both her old kettle and the Tefal Quick Cup hold about 1.7 litres of water and rather than remove the Quick Cup's water tank she fills it, as she did with her old kettle, using a small plastic jug from the cold tap. Unlike the kettle there is no need to lift a cumbersome and heavy kettle full of boiling hot water to pour it into her cup for her drink of tea.

                        To prepare a perfect cup of tea, all she does is place her cup under the nozzle and simply presses the red hot button once to start the water and again to stop it when it is half full. This both warms the cup and allows the Quick cup to achieve its highest temperature for making the tea. She then empties the water into the sink places the tea bag in the warmed cup and replaces it under the nozzle and simply presses the red hot button once to start the water and again to stop it when it is near the top. The cup is then placed onto the saucer the tea bag is retrieved for that second cup later and milk is added to taste. The Quick Cup will automatically stop after dispensing about a coffee mug full of water, just under half a pint. If you require any volume of water less than this, for example in an elegant tea cup, then you need to press the button a second time to stop the flow of water.

                        A black button dispenses filtered water at ambient temperature - for chilled filtered water, instead of having a filter jug for the refrigerator simply fill a regular jug from the Quick Cup using the black ambient button and place it in your refrigerator.

                        The replacement Claris filter, required about every four weeks, is indicated by a red flashing light in the red hot water dispensing button. These filters are available for purchase from Amazon.com at a cost of around £5. Currently orders over £5 attract no delivery charges. Replacing the first filter seemed quite a little fiddly task. But now, after the practice of a couple replacements, this is a straightforward and simple process. Every other month/ filter replacement, especially if you live in particularly hard water area, it is a good idea that the Quick Cup is de-scaled. No special chemicals are required. You only need a litre of cheap white vinegar poured into the water tank and press both the ambient and hot water buttons together to start the de-scaling process and pass the vinegar through the system. Once de-scaled the temperature of the water increases noticeably. All in all this is a great boon for dispensing filtered water for all your drinks and the added safety especially for those older and more frail users is an added bonus and piece of mind.

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                        • Hitachi L32H01 / LCD TV / 8 Readings / 7 Ratings
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                          28.01.2009 01:36
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                          Hitachi L32H01 - 32" Widescreen 720p/1080i HD Ready LCD TV With Freeview

                          In order to reduce the speed that my living room was sinking, beneath the mud that is my front garden, under the weight of my old 32" Mitsubishi CRT widescreen television. I decided it might be an idea to replace it with something a little lighter. To this end I chose the Hitachi L32H01, an HD-ready 720p/1080i 32" widescreen LCD panel. This model features both Freeview digital and analogue tuners that allowed me to use my old set top box with my SCART-enabled portable television in order to extend its life beyond the digital switchover. The built-in Freeview tuner is equipped with full red-button functionality for those interactive hidden programmes on various channels, as well as both now and next digital schedule that can be reviewed while still watching the current channel in the top right quarter of the screen and a 5-day electronic programme guide EPG.

                          The back and right-hand side of the TV boasts a multitude of various video connections including, both two HDMI and two SCART sockets as well as the composite video (video and stereo sound on 3 phono sockets) to connect your usual video sources, Sky/Cable box, VHS and DVD player/recorder. In addition, I was surprised that it was also possible to connect my NTSC standard American DVD player, equipped only with component video and audio outputs, requiring connection with 5 phono sockets, directly to the TV. The television also has both S-video and VGA computer connections that I use for my personal computer that I have equipped with a twin-output graphics card that allows me to surf the internet on the TV screen and stream media from internet television.

                          In spite of the fact that you would not think there were any room for speakers worth the name within the confines of this television's slim design it produces a rich and full sound at even quite loud volumes. The viewing results are great for all the non-upscaled video sources I have tried, including my cable service box and American DVD player. Even more impressive are the results I get from my newly-acquired upscaling DVD recorder connected one of the TVs 2 HDMI sockets that currently has me re-watching many of my DVDs to see the improvement over playing them with my old DVD player.

                          I have noticed, on some live TV programmes, from time to time that the depth of field and the focus on some programmes a little lacking. I am not sure whether these effects are simply a reaction by my eyes to this new visual experience. It reminds me of my watching experience after the addition of NICAM stereo sound. TV programme makers had to reign-in the volume of those "background" sound like birds tweeting and other atmospheric sound effects once they had discovered the efficiency that the new generation of TVs made of these sound enhancements. With the passage of time, new HD-friendly programming will be created and legacy programmes will not figure as much in the schedules.

                          In conclusion, I have found the Hitachi L32H01 to be an excellent first foray into the HD ready LCD television world without the need to bankrupt myself priced as they are between £350 and £400 in January 2009. As with most new technology products I feel your patience not to buy into the very latest full HD and largest LCD panels until you have experimented at the lower end of the price scale will be rewarded. When you discover what you want/like to feature in your next purchase in the future then these higher specification televisions will be priced markedly lower when you finally decide to upgrade.

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                        • Philips DVDR 5500 / DVD Recorder / 18 Readings / 16 Ratings
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                          27.01.2009 20:38
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                          Unrivalled features and connectivity at a bargain price from Debenhams in Jan 2009

                          After years of sterling service I retired my Philips DVDR70 DVD recorder for a newer model. As I had recently updated my TV to a HD-Ready 1080i LCD panel I thought I would opt for one that offered both video-upscaling to 1080i and HDMI connectivity. I chose to look among those models of DVD recorder manufactured by Philips, after all they did invent the CD/DVD technology upon which all players and recorders are based together with my great experience living with my first Philips DVDR70 DVD recorder.

                          The DVDR 5500 not only offered a built-in Freeview tuner but also one for analogue TV reception, until the analogue "switch-off" looming in the upcoming years, making recording both analogue and digital TV so simple. The Freeview has a full 5-day EPG for you to review the upcoming digital schedule as well as program the recorder direct from the programme listings allows the recorder to oversee all the channel switching and timers. Unfortunately, they still have not found away to pause the recording process to eliminate recording the adverts! The onscreen display guides you through all the functions available on this recorder and creates attractive menus for playback of your TV recordings. In addition, the recorder features USB Direct for quick and easy transfer of photos and music. This allows me to connect both my USB multi-card reader and my digital camera directly to the DVD recorder for viewing on the TV without using the computer.

                          My Virgin cable service box connects to the DVDR 5500 via SCART and to then recorder then the TV connects to it using both SCART and HDMI cables. This allows me to watch my Cable TV service on the SCART loop through connection to the TV when the recorder is switched off or upscaled to 1080i via the HDMI connection when it is switched on without the need for an HD cable subscription. You could sacrifice the SCART loop through to upscale a second SCART source.

                          S-Video connectivity together with composite video connection affords any reasonable connection to his recorder. This recorder records and plays all your movies and music in a mind-boggling range of formats (DivX, MP3, WMA and JPEG) on most DVD media (DVD+-R/RW, DVD+R Dual Layer). You can choose to record video in a range of quality settings allowing you to tyre-iron up to eight hours of VHS-quality video onto a single DVD. This recorder will handle everything from audio CDs, to DivX DVDs. I have even played a DVDR crammed with MP3 music files from almost 80 albums. This is a truly remarkable recorder from the true innovators of the art. Originally these were sold for around £180 but I secured a new one from an e-bay shop for £75. The recorder is currently available (26 January 2009) from Debenhams.com for a price of £99. So bag yourself a real bargain!

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                          • Dell Dimension 8200 / Desktop PC / 2 Readings / 10 Ratings
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                            16.11.2002 04:06
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                            I have and still use in anger a Dell XPS 400R based on the PII processor, which I purchased in April 1998. I have been a fan of both the computer and the company ever since. As I usually like to upgrade, although not too quickly - I usually miss out one generation of processor model, replacing my 486 with a Pentium II and now with the 8200?s P4. This PC offers power and performance without compromise as the motherboard uses the fast ram bus memory. The PC looks like a black book with the curved front acting as it?s spine simply press a button on top and bottom of the case and the book theme is continued as is reveals a book-like hinge-action as the side covers. All work inside the case can be completed without the need of a screwdriver to secure PC cards, and drives alike. This is a joy to work on ? not that you have to except for expansion, which is provided as spare PC card slots and a drive bay to squeeze even more power from this awesome PC. Supplied with both a DVD and CD-RW drives that may use an extra IDE channel but also both afford you better performance for both peripherals and also allows you upgrade them individually. Again as for all my DELL (well both of them at least!) I insisted on the support upgrade to 3 years onsite maintenance that is still offered at the fraction of the cost of even the most modest computer magazine. Money well spent if you ask me. Just ask my mother who has a DELL PIII 600T and celebrates her 75th birthday this year! Again, I used the Service Code on the DELL support web page to access my single stop shop for bios updates, software patches and upgrades as well as operating system drivers and other breaking news for your system should you upgrade it or not. Yet another triumph in computing excellence from Dell!

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