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After my computer unexpectedly stopped working, I wanted to spend as little money as possible on a replacement, focussing only on buying the tower. As much as I wanted a LCD monitor to replace my hideous aging CRT, it just didn't make any sense to spend any more money on something I didn't really need, after all I'd lasted so long without needing one! When I got the computer home, plugged it in and turned on the old CRT monitor, it became obvious - even with a brand new computer the output on the screen still makes it look old, dim and compressed. Although it "worked", it would take a decent widescreen LCD monitor to make the difference. I took the receipt for the computer back to Staples and managed (with some persuasion) to take advantage of their current offer - a half price Viewsonic monitor with any new computer. I bought the 22", which was the largest they had to make up for the 10 years of using old-fashioned monitors. I was a bit dubious of the badge as I had never heard of Viewsonic before but it did come with a 3 year guarantee which was fine by me, if it stopped working after 3 years for the small price I had paid I simply wouldn't care! Setup and installation was really easy and I didn't need to use the disk which came with it, it worked straight away and the picture clarity is amazing - so much brighter and clearer than the old fashioned CRT monitor and so much less space taken up. Everything on screen is clear and easy to read and video playback is very detailed. The monitor can be wall-mounted or rested on a desk with the stand included - which is also very easy to fit. The monitor is very good looking with a stylish black finish and silver buttons. There is a blue LED light on when the screen is in use, which turns amber when it's in standby. This is probably one of the best value monitors around and people should definitely consider it when looking for a new monitor - don't let the badge put you off because it does come with a good 3 year manufactures warranty which is what you'll get elsewhere.
I don't have phones for very long due to short contracts, and also due to the fact I get bored very easily, but this was probably the phone I had the longest at about 2 and a half years and I couldn't wish to have a better/more useful phone for that period! The phone is a very solid, compact design and feels very robust with its almost flawless slide out keyboard. It has a very dark and dramatic appearance especially with its default theme applied which puts everything in black. The phone is in my opinion a perfect size and when answering the phone you don't have to open the keyboard, so you really don't have to open the keyboard at all unless when you're texting. The Walkman side of things is a very useful gadget. I particularly liked the amber backlight which lit up the keys when you pressed the music key. The storage is 1GB by default which isn't particularly great considering it's marketed as an MP3 player as one of it's biggest features. Still, you'll get a fair few tunes on there and the sound quality is superb - dare I say on par with an iPod. I actually used to use the phone to play through my car's speakers through one of those cassette adapters and never had any sound quality issues. The battery life is excellent and doesn't get affected much by music playback or talk time, I could usually use the phone for about 48 hours between charges even with music playback. The 2 megapixel camera with flash is very easy to use and take pretty good quality images. You can also take good quality video with backlight which proved good in filming in dark places. This is quite an old phone now, released in 2006, but the phone as a whole hasn't dated much in my opinion and is still probably one of the best walkman phones available.
The Toshiba eStudio 281c is primarily a black and white multifunctional printer, yet it is capable of printing in colour when necessary. It is intended to work to the ratio of 70% black, and 30% colour. The machine is still available as a new product in Toshiba's range and has probably been around the longest. It is based on the older 3511 model and is basically just a bug fixed version of that. The mechanical outline of the machine is now very dated and therefore quite unreliable- it has a single drum and transfer belt so the drum has to work for all colours, which COULD work quite efficiently in colour mode if it wasn't for the revolving development unit which has to rotate for each colour the machine needs to develop. Because it rotates, it will flick bits of developer everywhere over time, which is inevitable, and the machine gets absolutely filthy. Eventually it will get into the gears and will struggle to operate properly - causing excessive grinding noises, poor copy quality and call for service errors. Also, changing the colour toner isn't exactly easy thanks also to the revolver unit, meaning you have to go into a menu on screen, choose what toner you wish to replace and then let the revolver spin round until it gets to the right angle for you to replace. Copy quality is very hit or miss with this machine thanks to the mechanics, the revolver can easily stop in the wrong position and write the image incorrectly. The most troublesome machines of this range are found when users are doing excessive colour printing when it is essentially a black and white printer. Toshiba have recently launched a 20 copy per minute FULL colour printer based on their successful and very reliable 2820 series, which is much quicker and more reliable than this. One benefit for this machine is that due to its age, you get a lot of extra kit for your money as standard including a duplex, document feeder, bridge unit, and a finisher capable of sorting/stapling documents. It is useful and quite reliable for users doing mainly black and white with the occasional colour print, but if you're going to be doing a lot of colour then I'd recommend a full colour copier.
While I think Lynx make quality fragrances, I really can't see why so many people use this one. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad fragrance at all and it does it's job very well. But it's so widely used that it has absolutely no unique qualities about it anymore. The fragrance has an instantly recognisable strong yet sweet smell and retains a very dark and dramatic quality, as represented in it's branding. It's a best-seller in most supermarkets due to its popularity. I personally relate this fragrance to sweaty teenagers who buy it because it's cheap and they want to follow the trend, which is why I avioid it at all costs. If you just want to freshen up after a workout, then it's probably a good idea to use this as it's not exactly an expensive product at about £2.40 per can, but if you're thinking of using it for a meal-out or a special occasion then think again! If you are a Lynx fan, there are products which in my opinion smell better than this and are less-widely used so you won't be part of a mass-Africa wearing statistic!
The Toshiba eStudio 2820C is referred to as the 'Masherbrum' in the technical world with all Toshiba printers are named after mountains or rivers. It replaces the troublesome 2500C/K2 and is one of the newer Multifunctional Printers in Toshiba's range. With a seperate drum and development unit for each colour (cyan, yellow, magenta and black) and single transfer unit, the copy process is exactly the same method for full colour as it is for single black/white copies - meaning the copy speeds for both stand at 28 copy/minute for this machine. If you're looking for a higher speed, the Toshiba eStudio 4520 is the same model but provides a 45 copy/minute output. The device is capable of full colour scanning to a network or email at up to 57ppm and comes with duplex and document feeder as standard. The heart of the technology lies with Toshiba's e-Bridge 3 which controlls the fax, scanning, printing, and internal storage. One of the most useful features of this model compared to other brands on the market, is the ability to preview scanned documents on the display panel rather than having to run back to your computer to check. It is also one of the first eco-friendly models Toshiba has launched, with super-sleep mode which puts the machine into a standby that uses virtually zero power consumption, but can still be woken by sending a print job - a benefit for any offices looking to save money. The earlier 2820 models were fitted with a poor quality magnetic roller in the factory which were too smooth and turned out to cause copy quality issues and call for service errors after the first 60,000 copies. This has now been modified and the newer models are being shipped with the new rollers. The problem is easy enough to fix if you have the earlier models (assuming you're on a service contract.) The only other issue with these machines is the waste-toner bottle has a habbit of compacting and the motor will be unable to turn and thus a call for service error will be generated. Again, easy enough to rectify. Mechanically, the MODIFIED machines are very reliable and will work hard all day and the copy quality is superb. I've see many of these machines and the copy quality is always spot on with deep density in all colours even after millions of copies. They run very clean, quietly, and as long as they are serviced on time they will not let you down.
I sacrificed a radio-alarm clock for this projection clock purely due to the fact that I hate having to turn round and stretch to see the time in the middle of the night. It has proved to be very useful, as I always know what time it is and whether I've remembered to set the alarm without having to move. The projected display also shows the outside temperature, which is satisfying on a cold winter's night when tucked up in bed. The clock could seriously do with having a radio built in as I do miss waking up to early morning radio as opposed to an annoying 'beep beep beep'. And for the price tag, there isn't really a good argument as to why there isn't a radio included. The clock is also very bright; the whole room will be lit up by the bright blue backlight, which can affect light sleepers. I had to make a small adjustment to the projection unit when I bought it - by forcing it down beyond it's natural tilt level, this did naturally cause a bit of damage but I didn't really have any option since I needed the projected light further away from me in my room because it was just too bright. The projector is turned off in the daylight by light sensors so you have to rely on the LCD screen. If it's a particularly bright day and the sun is directly on the clock, it's impossible to see the screen. The clock as a whole is a nice looking and fairly useful gadget, but it could be so much better with the option of a dimmer switch for the bright backlight and a built in radio. The main selling point though is the projector and external thermometer, which do their job just perfectly.
I currently have a brand-new Renault Megane Sport Tourer (the new mk3 2009-onwards model). I've been driving it a couple of months now and I honestly think this is the best-looking estate car on the market. The majority of estate cars look like they've been designed in someone's coffee break by a trainee and just appear to have an extra box welded onto the end of the car. This, however, is superbly designed to look like a more of a elongated hatchback and actually makes the regular hatchback version look like it's missing a part. It's a very striking looking car and looks very bulky and well built with a high-rise bonnet and thick, chunky door guards. The rear lights on the estate version look far better than the hatchback ones as well with slightly less white colourings. The front headlights are also very smart looking and blend high up into the side of the bonnet rather well. Colour coded wing mirrors with the integrated indicator finish off what is a very stylish and sporty looking car. The good looks and high quality craftsmanship can only continue inside of the car, right? Wrong. The interior really lets the car down; it has a overly cheap feeling about it with extremely poor quality plastics used and ugly sweeping lines all over the place. The integrated sat-nav that you get on certain models does not close down into the dashboard even though it's designed to make it look like it does. The dials/speedometer are quite smart looking during daylight hours however at night they are so bright with the white backlight that you have to turn the backlight down so much that it just becomes a grey dim light - so if for example you are driving on a motorway in the day when it's raining and need your sidelights on, it'll be impossible to see the dials. Another annoying thing about the dials is that as soon as you stop the engine, the dials revert back to their daylight setting so if you stop at night for a drink or a rest in the car, you've got the bright lights blinding you directly in front of you; with absolutely no way of turning them off unless you sit there with your headlights ON and your engine OFF. The controls for the electric windows are so close together that you're almost guaranteed to press the rear window when you want to open the driver's window. Also, the button for the cruise control is down by the handbrake with adjustments on the steering wheel, which is awkward to find unless you take your eyes off the road. If you set the cruise control at 50 when going through road works for example, you can't hold down the speed adjustor button to make it increase to 70 in 5mph or 10mph increments, you have to press it 20 times to get it to the desired speed. One other annoying niggle worth mentioning is the heaters; if you put the blowers directed towards the windscreen the air-conditioning automatically comes on every time you start the car so you can be driving for miles before you notice. I also absolutely despise the 'keycard' you get with the vehicle - I really can't see why it has to be so big and bulky. I do like the idea of being able to walk away from your car and it locks, but surely the key doesn't need to be the size of a beermat? The steering is very unresponsive and very loose so driving on country roads isn't exactly a pleasure. The suspension is also not the best I've ever experienced as it doesn't take speed bumps or potholes particularly comfortably. To sum up, it's a very good looking car; particularly the estate version. But the interior is an absolute nightmare. If you can forgive the many annoying parts that come with having this car, I'm sure you learn to love it.
Up until about age 16 I wasn't in the slightest bit interested in learning to drive, but I decided to do it purely to enhance my employment possibilities. Even as I was taking my lessons I still wasn't interested in buying a car, as I wasn't overly keen on the cost of running/maintaining a vehicle. That was until I heard one of my friends was getting rid of their K reg Ford Fiesta. The car wasn't exactly pristine because it had recently been broken into because the opportunist thieves were banking on all pre-95 cars being without an immobiliser but were thrown when they discovered the post-factory one which had been fitted. The lock had been damaged since it had been forced opened with a screwdriver but I managed to repair it after a bit of basic mechanical work, and the underneath of the steering column had been ripped off in an attempt to hotwire the car. Still, on the upside, the car had only done 34000 miles and although the car was getting on for 13 years old at this point, it had spent 7 years of its life unused in a garage underneath a load of blankets and had been serviced, MOT'd and taxed. All this for the price of £450. I decided to buy it and was over the moon when I got it home, and washed it nearly every day - even though I was still learning to drive and it was unused. I passed my test a few months later and I drove it everywhere and anywhere as you do when you first start driving. I can't exactly say it was the greatest driving experience ever - the suspension was horrific, It always felt like the car was on two wheels when going round corners and without power steering the effort required to park the car was just unbelievable. As for features, I'd love to say it was equipped with a few useful things - but there was absolutely nothing; just a chassis on wheels. It featured wind-up windows, windscreen wipers with no intermediate setting, no power steering, no ABS, no sunroof, plastic bumpers, non-smoked lenses for the indicators, plastic manual wing mirrors, manual locks, no rev-meter and a hideous aqua coloured set of seats. The car let me down on a few occasions and absolutely hated winter mornings. It would be impossible to start the engine on a cold morning and put the headlights on a few seconds later because it would just stall. Also, there would be a number of times when I would leave the engine running, run inside to get something and come back out to find the car stalled. The only major failure for me was caused by a blown fuse, which prevented the car from starting. In terms of looks, the car design is VERY dated but in my opinion this was purely down to the lack of exterior cosmetics such as colour co-ordinated bumpers, as a lot of MK3 Fiesta's still on the road today don't look that bad, especially when compared to a Rover Metro/100 which rivalled the Fiesta at one point. This car wasn't particularly reliable and was incredibly basic, but it was very old and unloved so that could account for it. If you are looking for a MK3 fiesta, go for one with a few basic features such as power steering and you'll pick up one pretty cheap one these days. I never intended this car to be a long-term thing but the £450 I laid out turned out to be the best investment I've ever made as it gave me a job and career.
There is a fine line between tweaking a car to make it more useful to the consumer , and trying to make it look like a completely new model. Rover however, not only crossed this line, but also took that line and added a wood-trim and tried to pass it off as it's new car! When Rover aquired the Honda Civic design in the 90s, and based the 400 upon it, were they honestly planning to keep dragging it out until way after the Civic had been replaced on numerous occasions, or was it a "well actually the time has come to replace it, but we can't really be bothered" decision? Saying the Rover 45 is based on the Rover 400 design is like saying oxygen is based on the O2 design. It's exactly the same exceot there are slightly different dials on the dashboard, put chrome door handles on and they have put circles around the headlights. What's even more shocking about the marketing of this car is that Rover even tried to sell it as a rival to the Mondeo and Vectra! Having got the laziness of Rover out of the way, this is a really comfortable car and looks very classy even to this day. The ride is very smooth with its double wishbone suspension, and quiet engine. There are a lot of safety options too - four airbags in total and a typical Rover sounding alarm which is the horn. You can pick up a generously equipped one for a decent price these days. My Rover 45 Impression, which had a spoiler, alloys, fog lights, air con, and cd player with only 22000 miles on the clock was only around the £1400 mark. The only let down with these cars are the badge which signifies failure and poor quality to a lot of people. But for the car itself, they are a nice, comfortable and decent size and quality for the price.
When you find a product that you really like, it's very easy to over-indulge and end up ruining it for yourself by just becoming bored. It's happened to me on so many products that I used to love, but because I went over the top the edge was lost and I stopped eating it. Frazzles, however, is the only product that I can honestly say I've never got bored of, and would lay down a cast-iron guarantee that I'll never get bored of them as long as I live. I've had at least one packet every day for the last three years and I still absolutely love the taste of them. I used to love them as a kid up until about age 11, and then I just couldn't find where to buy them anywhere, apart from shops out of my local area so they became a rare treat. When my local Tesco started stocking them a few years later I was reunited with my all-time favourite snack and I haven't stopped eating them ever since. Frazzles are a small but thick crisp with colourings representing the colour of a traditional rasher of streaky bacon with a distinctive deep bacon flavour. They are very crunchy and the strength on the bacon can vary from crisp to crisp. There are hundreds of rival products on the market and I've tried them all and instantly dismissed them as a terrible imitation of the genuine thing. There is only one that comes close and that is ironically made by the same company. They are called Bacon Fries - you can usually get them at bars. Frazzles are the perfect small snack at a good price - usually around the 30p mark in most places. Their unique branding hasn't changed at all in all the time I've been eating them, and are easy to spot with their deep red colour representing the colour of bacon. It could be argued that the branding is very dated compared to most of the crisps on the shelf these days - but I see it as a determined effort by Smiths to stay true to their original product, and keep the crisps which are in my opinion the greatest ever made, exactly the same as they've always been.
I bought the Philips GoGear roughly around 2004 as a cheaper alternative to the then-recently launched iPod. Since I didn't have an incredible amount of music, a 2GB MP3 player seemed more sensible than a 20GB iPod. Also, the Philips also came equipped with a built in radio which the iPod doesn't have which was a bonus. When it was delivered I eagerly plugged it in to begin charging and synchronising. Alas, there was no life; completely dead. It WOULD switch on, but the screen would remain blank and the backlight would just flicker continuously. Amazon were happy to replace the faulty item and within about 5 days the replacement came and finally I could get started. I'm not sure what it is about this product, but whenever you switch it on you always ask yourself "is it going to crash?" "Will it turn on?" or "will it let me down?" and you end up having very little faith in the quality of the player. These doubts aren't entirely unfounded, as the player does crash a lot and you'll end up having to do a hard reset. It also has very little skip protection, as the slightest movement will cause the music to jump or briefly pause. The sound quality isn't brilliant, and the volume doesn't go very high, so listening to it whilst walking near traffic isn't a great idea. But for quieter areas and general use it's fine. The player as a whole is very dated now and with technology in this field progressing rapidly, there are far better and more reliable models out there, so if you are thinking about purchasing this product try to look for something a little bit newer. I found this product again recently after a couple of years of being unused, I tried to plug it in to see if there is any life there, but it's now completely dead with the flickering screen previously mentioned.
I bought a refurbished Toshiba Gigashot A100F in 2009 and has yet to cause me any problems. It records in extremely good quality and can handle fast panning shots quite well. It adopts the traditional camcorder stance and the position of the zoom and record/stop buttons are excellently positioned so that you don't have to take your eye off the screen at any time to look for them. The major downside to this camera is the night mode option - which DOES record film rather well in terms of lighting, but the frame rate is reduced so much it's like you're recording on an old Nokia phone. It can also take a few seconds to adjust when focusing on a new object. Also, the standard battery on this camera isn't great, you'll probably get an hours usage before it will run out which isn't great considering the price. I use the camera mainly for taking still pictures these days which it does just perfectly, high resolution and very clear images are a major factor with this camera. If you can get it for a good price then I'd definately recommend it, but it's not for anyone wanting to do serious all-condition recording.
Following on from a prototype lads clubbing holiday in Kos in 2008 which proved to be the best week of our lives, we decided to go bigger and better in 2009. More nights, more clubs, a bigger resort and more spending money. Zante was the host of this 11 night holiday and for me proved to be a massive disappointment. If you've ever been to a festival which is sponsored by a brand you come home thinking the whole event had a commercialised feel about it - which is exactly the same feel you get in Zante except the brand is 'British Culture' - there is absolutely no Greek feeling about this place, and everywhere you go it's 'All Day English Breakfasts' and 'Fish and Chips' deals. I really couldn't understand this, as the whole point of going abroad is to get away from your homeland and not to visit a tacky Blackpool imitation. The main attraction of Zante for many people is the nightlife - however the main clubs at the resort are the exactly the same as the type you would get in a big UK city club at home with lasers, podiums, expensive soundsystems and dancers. Which, for me, again is the same as being at a club at home so proves pointless in being abroad in the first place. Expect to hear the same song fifteen times a night when bar hopping (or possibly even in the same club) as the venue organisers expect that you won't want to hear anything other than what's on the Radio 1 playlist. When I was there in 2009 I can honestly say I heard Boom Boom Pow and Bonkers more than 100 times in total. Michael Jackson died at the same time as we were over there so Billie Jean added to this statistic towards the end of the holiday. In the daytime however the resort is an entirelly different place and a lot of fun can be had with watersports such as JetSkiing and travelling to small islands on a motorboat. Quadbiking is also an option is you want to travel further afield and take in some of the island non-British culture. The weather in the week we visited was below average with spots of rain on the first few nights and I believe the UK was experiencing a heatwave at the time so this was disappointing - still, nothing can be done about that. At the end of the holiday, I couldn't wait to get out of there and get back to work. I can recall sitting in the airport with my iPod listening to Roy Orbison to get away from hearing the same old dance music I'd heard constantly for the previous 11 days. I did not listen to any dance music for about 2 months after getting back which is remarkable since I love dance so much - but Zante really was overkill. To sum up, I love nights out, holidays, dancing, drinking, and clubbing in general. But I also like an escape when needs be, which Zante does not allow. You can't walk ANYWHERE without hearing dance music, witnessing someone being sick, being hasselled by a Rep, or having Full English Breakfast deals being forced upon you. If you have an ounce of culture about yourself then you should stay away from this God-forsaken hell hole.
I've had three Goodmans products in my life: A CD walkman, A DVD-TV combined, and this. Adopting the 'three strikes and you're out' tactic, I now will never purchase another Goodmans product as long as I live. All three products stopped working after about 6 months. The attractive thing about buying from Goodmans is you can get the same product you can get from a major brand for a lot cheaper; but there is an important reason for that: They make appalling products. Getting it as a christmas present, I was reasonably impressed. I had always wanted a HiFi in my bedroom with CD capabilities - rather than having the radio on constantly with some song you hate or some annoying DJ which is what I had before. So all was well, it did exactly what I wanted it to do. Annoyingly, I lost the receipt and within about two weeks the remote control stopped working. Obviously Goodmans couldn't help me without the receipt which is fair enough, so I put up without having a remote. About four months later, the CD player stopped working altogether which was the whole point of getting it in the first place. "Typical Goodmans" I thought. I've stopped using the HiFi now, and will probably be thrown away next time I'm visiting the tip. I'm sure there are people out there with good experiences of Goodmans products, but for me I'll never buy them again.
Having read the very positive reviews on here I started to question my overly negative opinion on the phone, so instead of going ahead straight away with slating the model I started to casually ask a few of the 110+ people at my company who have this model as their company PDA. Luckily, I was reassured when I heard them utter the magic words which has summed up my opinion ever since I first switched on this PDA: "This is the worst phone I've ever had." I really don't know where to begin with the problems with this phone. It's unbelievably heavy, pathetically slow, bulky, impossible to see the screen in daylight, the pullout keyboard is completely unnecessary as what you can do with the keyboard you can do with the stylus - without the risk of constantly pressing the wrong buttons. It's quite hard to hear anyone on the phone as well even on full volume - so the way round this is to use the loudspeaker, that's if you can put up with the pathetic speaker distorting absolutely everything. The only good thing about this is if your phone rings in a busy place and you answer, you have plenty of time to find a quieter place due to the fact there is a huge delay in actually connecting the call. The battery? Well I've never managed to use for phone for longer than half a day without the battery dying - and I only use it for emailing and general features, very rarely for actually making calls which is its primary use. Did I also mention that this is my second model? The first had to be sent back as the mic stopped working after 12 months but I can assure you the replacement is as awful as the first. It's also terrible for Wi-Fi as it will constantly lose connection whereas a wifi-enabled laptop next to it won't. Bluetooth will destroy the battery even quicker. It's very hard to think of anything good to say about this model, other than I haven't yet thrown it at a wall. I suppose if I had to point out anything, it would be the 'conversation style' text messaging which has proved useful in remembering what I've said when replying to a text message. To sum up, I hate this phone with a vengeance. PLEASE try to find an alternative before buying this one. UPDATE -- I'm now on my third model. The second had to be sent back a couple of months after I got it because it completely stopped picking up any signal. Need I carry on? ***DO NOT BUY THIS PHONE EVEN IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS UPON IT***