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costas1

costas1
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Member since: 18.01.2013

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    • Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 / Smartphone / 32 Readings / 31 Ratings
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      14.02.2013 14:22
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      Reasonably good smartphone and fairly inexpensive

      This smartphone purchase was my first and I wanted to own and use this phone for making mobile cellphone calls. I read up on the CPU speed and was impressed considering the budget price of this type of smart phone. It has a camera, radio and Internet capabilities. I had the choice of going on Vodafone or Orange and choose Vodafone despite the slightly higher pay as you go tariffs. The world of Apps is something that also interested me in buying this product and have read that the Sony Ericsson has popular apps that can be used. I also researched that the mobile phone runs on the android operating system.

      Sony Ericsson X8

      I bought this from phones4u store for £79,95 and had to pay an additional £20 air time top up voucher on Vodafone which brought my total spend to £99.95. I thought to myself Sony a global and reputable consumer electronic product provider suited my needs well, without having to spend more money on rival brands such as Apple, Blackberry. Carphone Warehouise and some other cellphone retailers are offering this same phone for about £30 extra for the same phone. The mobile phone was available in Black color or a White and pink design. I went for the more traditional and masuline black color version. The phone I received was a brand new with the packaging, and inside the box was the phone itself, with a nice and small but compact cellphone charger and some instruction manuals. I was advised to charge the phone at first for 8 hours before using it.

      The phone has a cpu speed of 600mhz which is reasonably fast, it uses the andriod operating system yet only has a memory of 128mb. The 3inch screen is a flat screen. When making text messages and making calls the phone is simple to use. The reception bar rate I receive is only 2 out of 4. I find that this is slightly disappointing, though I have been told that the call quality in general is good and clear.
      The box came with a host of instructions and manuals that I read most parts of it carefully to understand how to use the phone. Also in the box was a set of headphones that can be used to listen to the radio setting, the battery charger, and a few screen protectors which is a good inclusion as well.

      Design of the phone

      My impressions of the phone when I looked at the Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 was a positive one. I also had a look at the Sony X10 though I did not like the flip down keyboard section to that model, and in looking the Sony X8 is a well designed and easy to use phone. Regarding the navigation is made easy by having 3 buttons that enable people to carry out tasks on the phone. Similarly the side button works in taking pictures when using the camera option. I definitely like the look and the design of the phone as the screen size is compact at 3inches and I am able to make phone calls and do other tasks on the phone with effortless ease. The good aspect of the phone that I have seen is that the outer shell of the phone is not thick or wide. This in my mind makes the phone appear nicely designed.

      Advantages

      Despite the smallish screen the cellphone has a tilt mechanism which makes the keyboard appear bigger from the side. This makes entering telephone numbers, adding contacts and entering Internet addresses easier. I also find that when I use additional features of the phone that the navigation is quite simple and straightforward.

      The camera on the phone is good quality as it has a clear image and is focused. It does not have a flash feature. I have found the images that I have taken to be clear and camera phone worthy.
      I have found it easy to make calls, and add contacts to my list. I do not use the Internet facility regularly though the speed is also acceptable and reliable.

      Disadvantages

      Having owned this smartphone for a month now, I have used the fm radio and listened to the radio on the phone using some quite poor/average headphones and have found that the actual volume is quite low. This makes listening to the fm radio quite an average experience at best. The phone had no problems when playing music tracks that were pre-installed. The volume when listening to music is quite loud. This is good to know when downloading and then listening music on this smart phone.

      Secondly the phone does take about 10 seconds to load up the main menu from pressing the power button. This will be a bit slow for some prospective buyers of the phone, but it does power up well and the battery life is also good.


      Look and feel

      The look of the phone is sleek and compact and is pleasant to look at. I liked the size of the screen which is quite a good size though smaller than an iphone screen. Secondly the weight of the phone feels slightly heavy though it is not really a big issue in the overall picture.

      Durability & Robustness

      I find that the phone is easy to handle and easy to use overall. I would not think twice regarding misusing the phone or dropping it on the floor. I do like the touchscreen navigation facility and the three silver color navigation buttons as well. The phone looks well designed and pretty neat. The build quality looks strong and does not appear to be flimsy or poorly designed in any shape or form.

      Battery Standby time

      Having charged my phone for 8 hours before I started playing around on it for the first time, I feel that this was a good start in ensuring that my phone battery charges up and stays charged for a good level of time. I would approximate the battery life to be around a day or 2, from fully charged. I do not use the phone for heavy usage in terms of surfing the Internet all the time and for making too many phone calls, though I do charge the phone up during the evening/night.

      Range of features

      The features of the phone are that it is easy to connect to the Internet browser using Wi-fi. I also can download free and paid for applications. There are a good number of games pre installed which are slightly entertaining to play. Also on the phone is a fm radio which I found ok but basic. The camera is also easy to use and can capture good quality pictures from the camera function. The pictures that I have taken so far have been clear. The button to take the pictures is a small button on the right hand side of the phone which took me a while to figure out. The phone has a contact feature which allows people to save their contacts. The phone has a fast button to download and pay for apps in the 'Market'. The phone has an alarm and people can connect to facebook, google maps, Youtube, and try out/pay for GPS navigation. The most interesting feature I have seen is TrackID which allows people to record music from a TV or any external speaker. The phone also has Officesuite installed. Overall there are plenty of features that this phone has.

      Ease of Use

      At first I had a few teething problems with using the phone though I am fully aware of how the phone works now. The one thing I do not like is that it takes about 10 seconds or so to get started from the moment I hit the power button. The processor speed is around 600mhz so this impacts on the speed of the navigation on the Internet browsing. I have downloaded a few apps and have the speed of the phone is quite good without being superbly fast.

      Reception Quality

      Having made a good number of calls to businesses and my family I am very happy with the quality of the reception and signal in my area. I spoke to my brother about the reception and call quality and we could hear each other well. Similarly when I have spoken to business contacts I feel that the conversation goes well as a result of the cellphone quality.

      Value for money

      So far I feel that this phone is an easy to use and has all the range of features that most people could possibly want. My own usage is primarily on making the occasional phone call and by using the Internet when I am on the move. Consequently I feel that I have got my money's worth with this phone. As such this phone is in the recommended bracket. It may not be as fast as some of the more expensive iPhones though what it does have is a good range of features and also has a reasonably good Internet browsing speed. At the £80 mark for the phone this I feel is worth the money spent.

      Conclusion

      Whilst I would consider other cell phones in the future I have to say that I slightly feel good about my purchase. I think that this phone will last the test of time in the short to medium term and I feel that the Sony X8 is a good budget entry level smartphone. For the price I think it is a really good Smart phone

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      • More +
        13.02.2013 20:16
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        a practical solution

        The Officejet Pro 8600 N911g is a really good printer by all stretches. I have used this printer for the past 2 months now and am impressed by this printer. I would say, as an introduction that it is the best printer asides from laser printers that I have ever used so far. It looks the part and performs to a very high standard. The printer does have some disadvantages but on the whole the Photosmart Pro 8600 meets my needs very well. My previous printers have not always printed out professionally enough and have had issues at some stage. My printer is colored black and rests safely on a small coffee table. The printer does not look too big and is fairly compact based on its performance. I have found it effortless to install new cartridges inside the printer lid/tray.On the top of the device there is a scanning area where you can scan documents. The installation of the printer was done through a CD which was easy to install, which enabled me to set up the printer and allows me to print wirelessly from my laptop.

        Regarding the print speeds they vary as you can print simple pages quite quickly, but if you increase the resolution, for example the print quality then this will add to the wait for your pages to be made. On the whole I have found it useful in so far as that I can confidently print out drawings and pictures and know full well that what I am printing out creates a positive impression with myself as well as other people in my house.
        A main feature of the printer is that when printing on double sides of A4 paper the machine feeds the paper to print on both sides automatically, so this is useful and time saving as you do not have to feed the paper manually.

        The print quality is excellent compared to my HP Photosmart b110. On all occasions where I have printed documents the results are good.
        The HP OfficeJet Pro 8600 plus printer is a printer, a fax machine and can scan documents as well as be used as a photocopier and can print wirelessly from anywhere. Its design is quite good and from experience it can be seen that at the top of the device is where a small feed tray which is used for faxes, and if you lift the top up, you can then see the filter which can be used to scan documents. The middle part of the machine makes it really easy to install and replace ink cartridges. I have done small research which told me that it would cost about £60 to replace all of the cartridges (black, yellow, magenta and cyan colours, so please bear this in mind. Whilst the print quality is excellent the costs involved are high indeed. This might put some people off buying this printer.

        At the bottom of the printer is a paper tray which can store a lot of papers. The machine at the middle has a small touch screen which displays the different uses of the printer as well as the wireless connectivity settings. On each side of the paper tray is the power button on the right and there are card readers. A sticker on the printer states that the paper tray can hold up to 250 sheets of paper and also that the printer takes 4 different color inks as mentioned earlier. Also the printer is energy star rated and also you can print wirelessly, using the HP e-print feature. The printer came with accessories such as the CD driver which was easy to install as well as a cable to connect the printer to enable sending faxes. The length of the printer plug cable to the power supply was not very long but it was satisfactory.
        The advantages of the printer are that the colour printing is excellent and in my view the printing results speak for themselves. It is easy to get some glossy paper and experience quality prints as well as printing black and white documents. The disadvantages are the high costs of the ink cartridges. What I found a bit puzzling is that on the touch screen you can view the estimated ink levels but no indication regarding how many pages you can print off.

        My conclusion is that this makes a good bridge between buying a more expensive laser printer which would do as good a job as this printer, but at the same time this is definitely in a different league as to say if you were buying a really cheap printer. The quality of the printing on the HP Photosmart 8600 plus is excellent. There is no blurry or blocky printing results. The printing quality in my view is smooth and clear. It is possible to increase the print quality settings and this can result in better quality printing. This is only possible by changing the settings. One more thing regarding the printer speed is that it can print around 20 pages a minute, but I once made a print on glossy paper and I adjusted the settings to the maximum resolution and it took a few minutes just to print out a photo. Generally the print speed of the HP 8600 N911g, is fast.

        Costing around £280 is slightly an expensive purchase though it is an excellent addition to a home office or where intensive printing is required. The replacement cartridge costs are way too much

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        • More +
          13.02.2013 19:47
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          Effective steam cleaner

          Steam cleaner effective but not perfect

          I decided in December 2011 to buy this steam cleaner from amazon.co.uk. My own needs was simply to keep the house looking clean and tidy. This steam cleaner has definitely helped achieve that. In a few uses I was able to clean my carpets in the living room and in the bedrooms with what I feel to be a convenient and cost effective manner. I had the feeling that vacuuming alone was not enough. In short where it impressed me the most was that I used a small attachment with a terry cloth that came with the machine and I used this machine to clean my gas hob. In around 2 sessions of steam cleaning my gas hob was looking like new. This machine has the steam cleaning power and is effective. There are more pricier models than the Karcher SC1020 but as far as steam cleaning goes I am more than happy with this machine. I also used. On the first occasion I used this machine I noticed that I had to first of all vacuum the surface so that the dust from the surface was removed.
          The Steam cleaner is quite light weight at 3.7kgs due to its compact size, it looks fairly good but am not too keen on the yellow color. The attachments all seem to click into place fairly well and easily. The machine is light weight and this makes moving around with the machine seem easy. I have used this machine and it is quite straightforward once you get used to using it. The design of the handle makes it easy to pick up and hold safely the steam cleaner. Also there are 2 large wheels enables the user to pull the steam cleaner along easily. It is quick to assemble the fabric pads/Terry cloths which are provided, are easy to attach. The small Terry cloth is elasticated and easily slips over the nozzle. The bigger mop attachment you need to clip it in.

          The length of the hose length is 2 meters which makes this reasonably good and the mains cable is around 3 meters which is enough to clean a lot of my downstairs area without having to keep unplugging this machine.

          The gun trigger is easy to use which starts the steam flowing to your surface. I have not and would not advise using this steam cleaner on wooden flooring, wooden surfaces. Use this machine on carpets, bathroom, kitchen tiles, laminated flooring, porcelain tiles. Using the small attachment on the gas hob is ok, but this machine would not be recommended to use to clean an electric oven. I also was more than happy when it cleaned the residual soap from the bathroom screen and it also is easy to clean windows.

          The good aspects of this machine are that it makes it easy to clean carpets really easily and it does work. I have removed dirt marks and the steam dries reasonably fast. In my mind there is nothing better than having steam cleaned carpets and clean surfaces around the house and this machine has helped me achieve my goal. I would say that this steam cleaner does the job well but I personally doubt if this deep cleans carpets. The tiles in my bathroom also were cleaned although I felt that the machine could have more power to make the job a bit easier. I was delighted however, when it got the gas hob looking new again.

          The main aspects of using this machine include the steam taking around 5 or so minutes before the steam cleaner is able to be used. It does take a bit of time for the water to heat up. When pouring the water into the water holder, you put the cap/screw and screw it down deep, then once you switch the plug to the mains there will be 2 lights showing on a small display. There will be 2 lights on when you put the machine to work. One is an amber light and there will also be a green light. When the steam cleaner is ready to use there will be just the green light showing which means it is ready to use. After that time you will be able to steam cleaner as you like. If you steam clean the carpets and floor surfaces you will use the long attachments with the mop head, and place your terry cloths. If you want to spot clean parts of your house i.e tiles, bed etc then you will just need the smaller attachment with the small sized mop.

          The negatives of this machine is that the Terry cloths once dirty effectively stay that way. I have tried to remove the dirt from the cloths but any amount of cleaning does not work, which means that you have to buy replacement cloths. Secondly regarding the safety and usage of the steam cleaner, I have noticed that the cap holding the water must be screwed on properly otherwise the steam and water will flow out of the device and water the carpets or surfaces. Initially I had to get used to screwing the cap on properly and I did not feel that this design aspect was particularly good. Thirdly I found that the water capacity of this machine only takes around 4 cups of water which might not seem like a lot but it does provide enough time to steam clean for around 20 minutes. After 20 minutes of steam cleaning, if you require to go over a certain surface again which is probably unlikely, then you need to wait again a similar amount of time before opening up the water cap and refilling it with water. If you open the cap in a hurry the water and steam move upwards making this quite dangerous if you are not careful.
          Another slight disadvantage is that hard grease does not come off completely, so you will need to also use a small scourer on the gas hob. Other traces of dirt come away well. Dirt on tiles around the grouting is a bit more difficult but I have noticed that recent dirt marks come off well, but not if you have never cleaned your tiles, then they will simply need to be re grouted.

          Overall in paying around £115 for this machine I feel that it has done the job that I required, and I feel from a cleaning aspect I have already got my money's worth. I would recommend this machine to people that require a good steam cleaner. The machine is easy to use and is effective. My main criticism is that the power could have been a little better and a bit more powerful to clean tiles and the gas hob more easily. Another main selling point of these types of steam cleaners and steam cleaning in general is that you are cleaning surfaces and carpets using the power of water steam. There are no chemicals involved. I have felt no need in using chemical products since buying this steam cleaner. It is light weight so it is easy to use, and compact so it is quite easy to store without taking up much space. The tank of the steam cleaner is only 1 liter, which provides about 15 -20 minutes worth, which would be enough steam water to clean floor tiles of around 2-3 average sized rooms, and perhaps more if done on a regular basis.
          If you are steam cleaning the carpets it is advised to vacuum the carpets beforehand.

          All in all a recommended product and one that will help make and keep the house clean. It is a bit pricey for what it is, though I have been able to maintain a higher level of cleanliness than that was possible before, and of course without the use of chemicals. I think that this product deserves a 4 star rating. It would have been better and useful if there were more Terry cloths provided because once the cloths become dirty, you are in effect spreading the dirt, so to have a clean replacement cloth would ensure more efficient cleaning.

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          • More +
            13.02.2013 19:07
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            a good quality espresso machine

            The product I am reviewing today is the Delonghi ECO330 Icona Espresso pump machine. In my opinion it is an excellent product. The amount of money I spent at coffee shops especially during 2010 and 2011 was beginning to look too high which was the main reason I invested my money on this product. It is available at Argos super store for £169.99 although I managed to buy it during a special offer price of £149,99p, The product with all things considered is not that expensive at all. An additional point to note is that this product is recommended by the Which magazine and this can be seen on the Argos book itself. When I had a look at the Argos book I looked at this model and some more expensive models of coffee machines and came to buying this product.

            Having tried a number of different ground coffee products you can certainly taste the difference between each bag of coffee when making an espresso using this espresso machine.
            The design of this product is quite good without being too fancy. It is a functional, easy to use and simple to maintain machine. The main body of the machine is red and is not too bright. It is a product that is easy on the eye, and has a stainless steel top and a tray at the bottom. There is a milk frother attachment that can be used to make the milk used on top of capuccino drinks and there is a water container at the back of the machine.

            It takes about a minute for the water to warm up and about 10 seconds after pressing the OK button for the ground coffee to be made. From my own experience the coffee warmth is just above lukewarm and not excessively hot.

            The spout that you put the ground coffee beans in has to be cleaned after each use. The filter of the coffee also has to be wiped clean to remove the ground coffee residue left. Also regarding the cleaning the tray occasionally has to be wiped if you spill the coffee. I also noticed the tray at the bottom of the machine also has to be emptied from time to time, but overall minimal cleaning is required when owning and using this machine. The spout is easy to clean and I have tipped the coffee residue into a pot so I can recycle the coffee into my garden soil. To clean it simply requires putting the spout against the water tap and drying it with a clean cloth.

            When making the coffee the machine is quite loud but does not slip, however the noise made by the machine when used does often makes my espresso cup move ever so slightly. To be honest, this is not a problem or a major product issue it just requires placing the cup in line of the 2 dripping parts where the coffee liquid flows from.

            15 bars of pressure noise would be enough to wake up other people in the house in the morning if using this too early, before they wake up. Although really I do not find the noise from the machine to be really loud. It takes about one minute for the water to get warm and then around10-20 seconds for the machine to make an espresso.

            I have found that there are slight disadvantages using this machine because to make a cappuccino drink you have to make 2 shots of espresso and this can take extra effort. Also when the espresso is being made, the power button has to be turned off to stop the coffee flowing.
            The manual is not really required other than that I had to clean the coffee machine and parts before I started using it. I also have had no maintenance required in the 2 months since buying and using it so far. I could have bought an extended warranty for around £30 for 2 additional years, although I can see this coffee machine lasting a fair while.

            Regarding the value for money perspective there are far more expensive coffee machines that would make a cup of espresso or other types of coffee much quicker than this machine, but the price would be much higher. I feel that within the past 2 months of using this machine, I have saved on the need to go out so regularly to coffee shops and have managed to experience a range of quality ground coffee products in this time.

            More importantly from my experience, the coffee I have tried so far tastes good and has made this purchase well worth the money. All of a sudden, I have also avoided instant coffee which I feel is inferior, if not sub standard. Within a few minutes I am able to make myself a good tasting espresso, and if I wanted to make myself a Americano or double espresso it would take me a bit longer. Overall I would say that this machine does not take that much time to make a good espresso. It is safe to say that the coffee produced by this machine is very good indeed. Since buying this machine I have saved myself a lot of money and have enjoyed many good quality espressos.

            As mentioned before this product is recommended by the Which magazine, and I too recommend this coffee machine highly. I really think highly of this espresso machine.

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            • George Foreman 10099 / BBQ / 18 Readings / 17 Ratings
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              13.02.2013 11:22
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              Good and useful cooking appliance

              The george foreman 10099 gr30 is a good alternative way to cook Food.

              The man behind this product is a former two time Heavyweight champion of world boxing.
              the Desktop Grill machine is approximately 60cm x 40cm x 10 cm.
              Relatively compact Grill it does not take too much space of the Kitchen.

              The great aspect of this machine is that a variety of Food can be Cooked faster and more healthier than using Microwaves, and also using an older type built in Cooker.
              what this Grill does is that four minutes is all the time needed to pre-Heat. After four or five minutes, the Food you place can be Heated within five to ten minutes extra. So approximately ten minute's is what is needed to get a well Cooked, less fat, and much crispier tasting chicken.

              The machine has a nice Teflon based coating plates inside, which makes cleaning the george foreman machine very easy. Not much effort is needed to clean the Grill. A damp Towel can be used.
              the Grill does not Weigh too much, it is fairly easy to move from one Room to another.

              The design of the Grill means that the fat of Meat flow down to a collector tray. The Tray is again easy to clean. It takes less time to clean this Grill after usage, than cleaning an Oven and the trays that have been used. The dishwasher cleans the Grills and Trays without leaving scratches, or clean the plates via hand. So here instead of eating greasy fatty Food's, this Machine makes the flow of fat onto a Tray which is just wiped away like magic later.
              if metal forks, Knives are used to take the Meat out of the Grill, then the plates can become scratched. So some attention to care is needed.

              The use of this Grill is very safe to use. Safety wise the Grill has a manual so there are guidelines as to how long is needed to pre Heat and Cook different types of Food. Therefore you have no worry about what if I am undercooking or overcooking or even burning the Food.
              value for moneywise for twenty five and thirty Pounds, this is a unique time saving,
              stress-free way of Cooking.

              extra information: The manual contained in the Product box details indicated cooking times to properly Cook Food using this portable Grill. Also it is helpful and user friendly in terms of preparing the Food for use with this super device. Also how to warm the Food up, fill the Grill, remove the Food, care and maintenance instructions are included.
              some easy to Cook and healthy recipes such as George's sausage Texas style, grilled vegetables, sole with Tomatoes, rosemary lamb Chop's, Burritos, Carne Asada and a few others. Also the recipes contain the required ingredients and also the required Cooking times, and the amount of servings per person is also highlighted.

              There is a guarantee for one year provided with the product from the date of purchase. Furthermore I have used the Grill for about twelve months on a frequent basis, and have experienced no problems with the Grill.
              There is a repair short guide in the manual which is good if I required spare parts for the device, or if the product requires repair, or servicing. Though due to the low cost nature of this product the best way might be to just buy a new one.

              Conclusion:
              What I like most about using this Grill as occasionally I make my own burger's using mince Meat. I have calculated that I am still saving time compared to using ready made processed burgers and cooking them in an Oven.

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              • HTC Sensation / Smartphone / 9 Readings / 7 Ratings
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                12.02.2013 18:14
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                excellent smartphone

                Introduction

                In the past, I have owned a number of basic phones that were used just to make phone calls and to send text messages. Having recently bought the Sony Ericsson Xperia x8 smart phone I had started to get used to a reasonably good level of internet services through the Wi-Fi facility. However on the HTC Sensation smart phone, I soon found myself being able to do much more. This HTC sensation does much more and better. It is also well known that HTC and Apple iPhone 4 at the moment are highly rated corporations where brand prestige is very closely matched.
                Installation/Set Up

                There is a pre-set list to choose your phone network service provider. People can configure the internet access and internet applications, such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. There is an auto synchronise data and time setting. Getting started with the phone is a straightforward process. Once the phone is set up to use, the screen/the user interface displays the time at the top of the screen, and has shortcuts to the Google app store market. There is also a tutorial to help you get the most out of your phone.
                First Impressions

                The HTC smart phone is very sleek and has a very appealing design. It is uncomplicated and un fussed. It is user friendly and inviting to be used. Prior to using the phone, I researched the various features and the cost of the phone and had formulated a certain level of expectation.
                Design

                The HTC Sensation has quality plastic and a nice rubbery feel to the cover. The cover of the phone has a charcoal and gunmetal grey colour. The phone has a sliver power button and a volume button. At the top of the phone there is a silver colour mesh design speaker cover. The screen size is quite large at 4.3 inches and it makes full use of the size of the phone. The display screen is so big, it makes the phone appear to have slim edges and it has a well designed user interface. To the bottom of the mobile phone, there are 4 touch screen buttons. The first one is the home button which displays the desktop. The second button shows the settings of the phone, the third button is the back button of the system and the final button is the internet search.
                These 4 buttons are fixed to the front of the phone. They are integrated to the front of the fascia. The build quality is very good and it feels like a solid phone. The camera is fixed to the back of the phone. It is easy to handle the HTC Sensation mobile phone due to its size and shape. The design is slim and easy to handle, and would fit comfortably into most peoples hands. It does not feel heavy or bulky, nor does it feel flimsy. In addition I found moving around with the phone to be quite convenient as the product fitted in my pocket, so this allayed my initial fears regarding the size of the product.

                The textured sections of the back of the phone provide a non slip and smooth feel.
                In shape the screen looks like an iPhone4.

                The Buttons

                The buttons on the phone used for making calls are bigger than the HTC legend. This makes it very easy to make phone calls and text. In addition this also makes it easier to correctly input the telephone numbers.
                Battery Life

                The phone has an auto standby feature of about 5 seconds of idle use. There are battery saving options which I found useful. In assessing the battery life, I have found that it varies depending on usage. On days of light usage, the phone lasted a whole day before I needed to charge it up again, but when I used maps and used the Internet apps a lot, then I did need to charge the battery more frequently. I was impressed by the battery life on this phone and my expectations were beaten on this measure.
                Operating System

                The HTC Sensation uses the Android 2.3.4 operating system and I have found it to be quite powerful and after 14 days of usage there are no phases of slowness, and I would definitely say that the system as a whole runs very smoothly indeed. The phone does go on stand by itself after approximately 5 seconds of idle use. The applications are very easy to access the most used and specifically all of the pre-installed features. Another thing I liked regarding the Operating System is that people can multi-task between functions such as listening to the radio and browsing the internet, or checking their e-mails and listening to music. The Operating System and the system as a whole does not get hot which is another really important factor in choosing this phone.
                Furthermore the phone also has a lock screen which is easy to open but I find this a bit unnecessary.
                Phone Call Quality

                I highly rate the call quality due to the good audible volume and with clear reception as well. I made a number of phone calls and was delighted with the phones capabilities. The speaker and audio device is located at the top of the phone and this enables good communication over the telephone. The media volume button is located to the top left and this produces a Hi-Fi media sound. For a mobile phone this is loud. The good thing about the silver volume button on the phone is that it can be adjusted conveniently.
                The Internet

                Regarding the Internet, the browser displays Google within a few seconds and the page results are displayed quickly. I would state that from my experience that using Wi-Fi proved to be faster than using the Vodafone 3G services. The Internet browser displays websites very easily and in a rich format, making it easy to read. The font size when reading the websites is big enough to read without generally needing to zoom in. I would also say that pages load up very easily and fluidly. The speed is fast loading and is easy to navigate. The Internet browsing on the HTC Sensation is almost if not as good as browsing from a good quality desktop machine.
                Apps

                Quite simply there are around 50 or so pre-installed apps which all adds and enhances the user experience. The apps are displayed alphabetically and all of which are symbolized and easy to access. There were a few apps I downloaded separately in order to obtain quality Internet radio service. Generally the range of apps is quite comprehensive and covers a wide spectrum of media. I shall provide a run down of most of the apps from here in.
                The main apps on the main desktop are 1) Messages 2) Mail 3) Internet 4) Camera 5) Market and 6) Show me app. Also included are the time and weather shortcuts. Simply tap the time displayed and it shows the local time and other times in different cities. Slightly below the time is the weather app which in my view is excellent. It shows the latest weather. Included in the weather app is the real feel of the weather, which is a great feature.

                The message app is of very good quality because people can send messages using a good quality interface. I was able to send short text messages within seconds.
                Regarding the Internet app, I was able to visit my favourite websites and able to access the Internet quickly. It displays WebPages really nicely. When restarting the Internet the browser displays the last page that was browsed. Regarding Google searches, the browser does have a list of probable match of the searches.
                Regarding the Android market it requires the user to sign in with his or her google mail account and after that you can download free or paid for apps with your calling credit. The interface like all other applications is user friendly, fast loading and well presented.

                The Camera app is an important feature. The camera has another app linked to the camera which is the flashlight. People can adjust the flashlight from off to very bright and this can add to the quality of the pictures taken. The camera has a built in automatic focus. In addition I also liked the ability to share pictures easily on social networking sites. People can take normal photographs but what is an added feature is the front camera which allows people to take self portraits. The front camera is very useful as it avoids guesswork of the end result. The quality of the camera is very high due to having 8 Mega pixels and also having a HD screen. Gone are the days of a poor focus or not so good pictures. I was very pleased by the camera and camcorder feature on this phone. Another impressive feature of the camera is the ability to use the zoom feature at the top of the screen.The zoom is also on the Camcorder.
                Camcorder is an app where people can take videos of anything that you can video. The app is fast loading and has a simple red circle button where you can record. The quality of this feature is excellent in my opinion as like the camera the results are stunningly clear.

                Calculator again requires no introduction as to what that is. The phone has a good big display of numbers and key functions in normal mode, but when tilting the phone to the side, it brings up another feature of some scientific calculation buttons such as the square root, co sign, tangent etc. This again would appeal to the wider community of people wanting a reasonably good calculator feature.
                The Call history shows a scrollable list of people who you have phoned and calls that have been received. This makes the accessibility re-contacting a telephone number very easily. I found it very easy to scroll up and down the list of phone calls.

                There are 2 reasonably good games that are installed in the name of Dice and Teeter. I liked the graphics and presentation of the games and Teeter is a good skill game which provided me with some challenging moments.
                People can use the mirror app to have a look at themselves at anytime they use this smart app. Also a very important app is the People app whereby you can view your favourite contacts. The location app is also interesting because on my phone it displayed my location to within 1 house number. This app displays my home address details which I did not have to enter myself. After 1 week of usage my exact location was recorded and displayed. This app is linked to a sat navigation map which is another good quality and well presented feature. Also within the location app I can view businesses and places of interest that are in my local area.

                I also found the presentation and clarity of the e-mail apps to be very good and clear indeed.
                Facebook and Twitter social media networking sites are also included and these too are easily accessible and well presented.

                Friend Stream is another app where I can view my friends that I have added on twitter. This app displays the latest messages from my friends on Twitter.
                People can also use Maps, Navigation and Google Latitude in finding where they are located. These apps show the road they are on and the surrounding areas.

                The Music app also adds to the sound and entertainment experience as there are eight installed tracks. In addition, I found it easy to transfer music files from my computer where I have a small iTunes library of tracks to this phone. This gave me a good feel for the sound quality which was really good.
                There is News and Weather app which is interesting because it displays the latest news. This reduces the need to buy a newspaper in the morning. It would suit a lot of City professionals and people who enjoy keeping up to date with the news. Again the display of the news is first class and pages load fluidly and effectively. The news and weather app displays the headlines of the latest news, top stories, U.K news, sports and entertainment articles.

                I had some fun in transferring some of my Office documents to this mobile phone. I was quickly able to use the Polaris Office software which enabled me to access business programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. I was able to use Excel well. The keyboard in Excel, displayed a full range of symbols and keyboard which would definitely suit the business professionals. From my experience I could read and edit Word documents, making this a very smart phone indeed.
                SoundHound is an interesting feature where you can find your music. The software was reasonably accurate. It did require on occasions repeat requests before the correct artist was successfully located. However, with perhaps more practise and better pronunciations this will become refined to improve the success rate. I played some music from my computer and it could not find any close matches to the song I was playing and looking for.

                Separately the weather app on this phone is simply amazing. A key feature of this super phone is the weather app.
                People also have a voice recording app which records conversations and speech. The interface displays the record button along with a play button. and if you have more than one speech file recorded, there is a button also that enables you to find the file that you want to listen back to.

                Another more interesting app for me, is one called Watch. Here people can watch trailers to some films and there are loads of films that can be rented or purchased. I found the prices quite reasonable in searching this facility and having seen a few trailers played on this phone, it is excellent quality.
                On YouTube against my Sony Ericsson X8 the sound on the HTC Sensation appears more trebley and is slightly more balanced on the Sony X8. I did notice that the HTC Sensation has sharper edges and is ever so slightly better quality in terms of viewing. In my view, HTC Sensation definitely scores well as a media player, and that is up against the Sony x8.
                My conclusion of the apps is that the user interface, navigation display and functionality make this phone truly excellent.
                HTC Sensation Test against my sisters iPhone 4

                I shall leave a few test results I noticed against my sister's iPhone. Firstly we both signed in to our Facebook accounts and the iPhone 4 lists friends by surname which my sister told me that she liked the HTC Sensation display which is made by first names. Often my sister does not even know her friends surnames. Secondly, the Facebook app on the HTC is also clearer and this makes it easier to find contacts because of the layout. The bolder and richer display on the HTC is quite important.
                The speed test showed that the iPhone 4 is marginally quicker when accessing apps such as stocks and YouTube. When I say marginally quicker, I am literally talking around a second or two at most. Therefore albeit having found that the iPhone 4 is slightly faster, I would still place a benchmark the HTC Sensation as a fast smart phone.

                Thirdly, the iPhone 4 does not have the app called SoundHound which she said she would like to have.
                Regarding the camera and video capabilities, the iPhone 4 does not fully utilize the functionality of the flash, whereas the HTC sensation does indeed provide better quality and clearer photos. The video camera also is better quality on the HTC Sensation. Finally the media volume on the HTC Sensation is louder than the iPhone. Therefore this makes the task when making a mobile phone call, listening to YouTube, music files or the Internet radio even better.
                Pros

                The range of features and apps is quite substantial, makes tasks straightforward
                Fast processor combined with a good size memory results in a powerful mobile system
                HD display screen means you view Internet in very good quality and can see your pictures crystal clear
                The display, when using apps is impressive as I was more than impressed by the image display and presentation of apps such as Facebook, Twitter, and viewing my own e-mails.

                Cons

                The built in Radio installed was disappointing. I could hear approximately 3 radio stations and I had to repeatedly adjust the positioning of my device. However I did download a free app called TuneIn which provided a full list of Internet radio stations and combined with a reliable connection I was able to listen to my chosen radio stations. The quality of the TuneIn app, quickly and easily overcomes the problems of the pre-installed radio.
                Some people might find the screen size too big, although I quite liked the bigger size.


                Main Specifications

                - Model Z710e
                - CPU Speed 1.2 Ghz dual core
                - Platform Android with HTC Sense
                - Memory 1GB Internal Storage
                - RAM 768 mb
                - Size and Weight 126.1 X 65.4 X 11.3 mm, 148 grams
                - Display 4.3 inch touch screen
                - GPS Internal GPS antenna
                - Camera 8 megapixel colour camera with auto focus and dual LED flash
                - 1080p HD video recording
                - Expansion slot microHC card
                Price Information

                Having researched the price of the HTC Sensation, this comes with a price tag at the Carphone Warehouse of £499,99p. Whilst this might seem a bit high, it is not overly expensive and is approximately £100-120 cheaper than the iPhone4. Having seen my sister's reaction to this phone, she was impressed. From an Internet browsing experience the iPhone4 is slightly faster, however from a media perspective the HTC Sensation to a certain extent outclasses the iPhone 4.
                Other information

                Taking the cover of the phone is easy and I saw that the microHC card is 8GB and is tiny. I would have to have a special card reader to use this on my desktop computer. Transferring files to and from the computer is easily done through the cable charger lead supplied. People have to download the HTC Sync software.
                Conclusion

                The HTC Sensation is a product that in my opinion people should seriously consider buying. For this product is the real deal. It has all the communication services that anyone would ever need. Its fast Internet processor and good memory result in really fast internet services.
                The sum of the parts, of this excellent Smartphone justifies the costs involved. This takes into account a wide range of features and apps which can be used on this phone. There is the ability to multi-task to a certain extent and as such is highly recommended.

                The HTC Sensation is a feature rich application smart phone that justifies its price tag. I thoroughly enjoyed testing the features on this phone and have come to the conclusion in stating that this is an excellent phone. It is like having a good quality camera, camcorder, media centre and micro computer that fits in the palm of the hand. In my opinion it is superior to the HTC legend and also to my Sony Ericsson X8.
                From my experience of using and testing this phone out, in my opinion it will not totally replace desktop computing but it definitely comes near. I strongly feel that it is definitely moving towards that direction. I did like the appealing and inviting design on this phone, and the build quality is excellent. The phone is simple to use and has a user interface that is easy to navigate. Some might say that the screen is big but it is better, making it more appealing to view and to operate the touch screen buttons. My sister who has the iPhone 4 has confirmed this.

                Comments

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              • More +
                12.02.2013 16:08
                Very helpful
                (Rating)
                2 Comments

                Advantages

                • Reliability

                Disadvantages

                Once you get to like using the coffee capsules you are going to get a consistent quality of coffee

                Introduction

                I have owned this machine for the past few months and I am delighted with my purchase. As a regular coffee drinker I wanted a reasonably strong coffee without being too full bodied and I am impressed with the range of coffee from Nespresso. This machine is a mid range Nespresso machine that cost me £140 from amazon.co.uk website. I think that this was an excellent purchase as I also redeemed a voucher over the winter which gave me a £40 Nespresso coffee capsule rebate which I used to re order some additional capsules at no extra cost to myself on one particular occasion. In short, the advantages of this machine are that the machine itself is not that expensive. The design of the machine is quite compact and does not take up as much space as my Delonghi coffee machine. The Nespresso Krups machine also does not require much cleaning at all. To make a cup of coffee requires me having enough water in the tank at the back of the machine and a Nespresso coffee capsule. After around a minute I am able to press either of 2 buttons to make my coffee and within 20 seconds I will have an excellent flavored cup of coffee. Regarding the cleaning all I need to do is to remove the tray and place the empty capsules in my kitchen bin. That is all that is needed in terms of cleaning. As I use filter water into my machine I have not as yet needed to de-scale my Nespresso Krups machine.

                From my experience I have ordered the replacement capsules from the Nespresso website and also have visited Nespresso concession area within Selfridges store in Oxford Street, London. The prices of the capsules are between 29p to around 33p per capsule and you have to order sleeves of their Grand Cru coffee which come in packs of 10.

                Nespresso Krups Citiz and Milk XN7106

                The design to my eyes is neat and compact and tidy. There are effectively four elements to this machine. Firstly there is the machine itself and has a narrow yet rounded shoulders. It is not that big in terms of size. My machine is colored fire engine red on the outside and is black in parts. The small nozzle is silver chrome colored. Secondly the Aerocinno which froths the milk is black and has a silver colored colored top. Thirdly there is the tray that holds the machine and the milk frother which again follows the same black colored design. All in all the machine is well designed and makes an espresso and a capuccino with less time and effort than you would think. It is effortless and very quick and efficient. The design is slightly retro.

                There are two buttons on the machine itself which indicates a small and a large espresso size coffee. This makes it very easy to recognise the size of the coffee you want, although the sizes are pre determined. The way I make my coffee last longer is by making myself a capuccino sized drink which I use the Aerocinno device. I have to pre heat some milk from the microwave and then add the warm milk to the Aerocinno. The Aerocinno does not take long to get ready and within about 20 seconds or so you will get frothy and good quality milk for the capuccino.

                In addition there are two drip trays which are made using stainless steel which are easy to clean. The trays look quite nice and a good feature of the design of the machine. They are not only practical but add a nice design feature.

                My Opinion

                Despite the reasonably high cost of capsules if ordering them regularly, this is still an excellent machine to make Nespresso coffee from. I do like in particular the fact that it is possible to make an Nespresso coffee within less than 2 minutes. Within seconds I check if there is enough water at the water device at the back of the machine, and then I place a coffee capsule in the top of the machine. Then I wait around 1 minute for the water to get warmed up, and by pressing the Nespresso button on the machine will soon deliver my coffee within around 20 seconds or so. Asides from myself enjoying an excellent smooth and tasty coffee, all I have to do cleaning wise is empty the tray of the used coffee capsules. This aspect of the machine I like and it is so much more advantageous and time saving than owning a coffee machine whereby you have to use ground coffee powder. In terms of time saving and cleaning it saves me a lot of time, which is one of the main reasons why I bought the machine.

                Using Delonghi espresso machines you can choose types of ground coffee and beans to use, however with Nespresso you are in some respects limited to currently 16 types of coffee capsules. I find that the coffee capsules are convenient.

                It is a very neat design,that does not take up a lot of space and would easily fit into most kitchens.

                I paid £140 for this machine early January 2012 and so far think the world of this machine and coffee system. This coffee machine has enabled me and other members of my family to enjoy top quality coffee with a system that is extremely easy to use. I did not take long in knowing how the machine worked. I was however confused by the slightly limited range of 16 Nespresso capsule pods. I do like in particularl the Areppegio, Volluti and Dulsao Grand Cru Nespresso coffee capsules. T

                The only negative of owning this machine and Nespresso machines in general is the availability of places to buy the coffee capsules from. I have had to order online from Nespressos website and have visited Selfridges in Central London to buy additional coffee capsules. It would be nice if supermarkets sold a select range of these capsules as well. This to me is not the most convenenient way of getting the replacement coffee capsules.

                In terms of safety the machine is easy to use and the lid for the water tank is easy to be filled. There are no sharp edges which would to cause injury. The finish of the machine is smooth and there are no sharp edges. Because of the design the machine is easy to keep clean and will therefore remain hygienic.

                When making the espresso coffee the machine makes some noise but is reasonably quiet. This is yet another advantage of this product.

                In terms of making a choice it comes down to personal preference. If you want to particularly use ground coffee from beans or use a selection of ground coffees then the Nespresso would not be your choice. However, for a coffee lover who wants to enjoy a consistenly good cup of coffee from a good range of coffees, but without having to deal with ground coffee mess, then the Nespresso system would be the ideal choice.

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                • Football Manager 2012 (PC) / PC Game / 4 Readings / 4 Ratings
                  More +
                  12.02.2013 15:47
                  Very helpful
                  (Rating)

                  Advantages

                  Disadvantages

                  Fun and interactive football simulation

                  This is a soccer management simulation game produced by Sports Interactive and Sega. The game is vastly improved from the 2011 version of the same title. The way it is better than Football Manager 2011 in my opinion is that, there is more interactivity and more responsiveness from the players.

                  The objectives of the game is to coach and manage a football team of your choice, or you can select a team at random to manage, or you can choose from most football leagues. You can choose to start in lower divisions to start with, or you can you jump straight into managing a top flight team.

                  Graphics
                  The graphics are good as the layout of the management menu is improved. Secondly, the game has a better layout and more information is available on the pages. The game progresses on a daily basis and the homepage is essentially the inbox of the manager and you receive messages regarding news and match fixtures, transfers, injuries and other awards, statistics and scout reports. There is a choice of two color skins which you select for the navigational background pages. Also there is a dark or light option, but I have found that the darker option is better as it is easier on the eye. While there are more player pictures available on profiles than in Football Manager 2011, it is still worthwhile downloading the face packs available to improve the visual game play.

                  Gameplay

                  Here you can view your senior, reserve and under 20 squads. You can see information such as their estimated transfer value, physical characteristics, contract, and you can bring up physical, mental and technical attributes. In addition you can view their statistics for matches played in the league, cup, and the division that the club is playing in. One new feature that the new Football Manager has, is that you view assistant reports which gives a star rating out of 5, in terms of their current ability, the players potential ability and the assistant managers recommendations. This way you can see which players are regarded as the best in the team, and you can also see what type of personality they have, or if they are professional, determined and loyal to the club. Every couple of weeks, your coaches will remind you to conduct backroom meetings to get the views and advice of the team coaches. Their advice will range from recommending staff additions and potential transfer targets, to advising on poor performance or if players are unhappy with their training. The coaches will also let you know if the player is unhappy, which could be for a number of reasons, including if they want to leave the club, to move to a bigger stage, or if they feel that the club is under achieving.

                  The 2012 edition, allows more interactivity with your players, and there is a distinct focus on maintaining good morale within the squad. If you have got a player with very low morale, or does not want to be playing in the team, then that can influence or distract other players to perform fairly badly, which affects team performance. It is a case of one player who effectively has the ability to bring down the whole team. When you are looking at the squad there are information icons which tell you if a player is listed on the transfer market, or if they are wanted by a club, or if they have slight concerns or if they are unhappy. Generally the players that are unhappy are the ones that are concerned about something, and that they tend to have low morale. By selecting the player, by right clicking on their profile or right clcking on their name, you can choose to have a private chat with them, or you can find out what they are concerned about, and respond in a way to motivate them. Sometimes this works and their morale will improve, and other times it will bring up previous concerns, and if they doubt your managerial ability the players will not take what you are saying on board and their own morale will worsen. So you have to be careful in handling situations. If you are left with no other options but to transfer list the player, they may have a good relationship with another player who will then voice their concerns. Sometimes these concerns are then relayed back to the media, and unfavourable articles are then published, which the board of the team do not approve of.There is a Football Manager job centre, where you can appy for managerial jobs, and you can also place adverts for positions for coaching jobs that are vacant at the club. Also there is a transfer center where you can make dealings within the transfer market. You have all of your list of players that you have bid on, and keep up to date with all your transfer activity in one place, whereas before on Football Manager 2011 it was pretty much all over the place and you had to keep a track of your inbox. Whenever an offer comes in you get an information icon with a number, indicating the level of activity.

                  Also in the game is the boardroom where you can see what your job status is, and how confident the board is on your abilities. With the board confidence, they look at the club stature, the performance in competitions against their expectations. They have also got a match by match opinion of how well the team played and that includes the opinion of the fans spokesperson, and they also rate the transfer dealings and whether new signings were good or not. They also have specific players where the board are happy. Also they look at whether the reputation of the club has improved and if you are keeping to your agreed wage budgets and also if the squad is happy. So a combination of all these things determine how secure your job is at the club. Then you can interact with the board, and you can ask for training and youth facilities to be improved, or you can ask for more money for transfer dealings, or you can suggest ways to improve networking with other clubs and to arrahge trial dates to scout for potential talented players. There is also the chance to ask for a new contract, or if you are under pressure, you can ask the board members for more time, if you are under pressure to prove yourself. If you are doing well in the league, you can ask the board to expand the stadium to increase attendance capacity. Also you can request more staff to be employed. You can assign your scouts to search for potential transfers and they will compile a report detailing the players strengths and weaknesses. They will also compare their current ability to players in the squad that can play in the same position. THe scout report will also have information about the player's potential ability and their personality and whether the player would fit in with the existing team. Each scout report comes with a recommendation note as to whether signing the player would be worthwhile or not.

                  3D Match

                  I had to set the controls to high graphical detail in the preference section. On matchday experience mode you get the media prediction of the match fixture, and there is the idenitifcation of the key players of the match as well as the milestones of the two teams. If a player is making his debut then this is shown, and it shows the teams position in the league before the match. When you get to the matches you can instruct your players to mark the opposition, or to close the opposing players down. You can also set up tactics for set pieces, or give your players specific instructions to play down the wings or so that they can cut inside the flanks, or you can give focused instructions as to how to attack, or break down the opposition on the counter attack. On the team instructions you can set a defensive line, or where to focus the passing. Then you can set a strategy to be defensive or go all out attack, and during the match you can change these tactics as the match unfolds. Before the match starts you can give players your team talk, which will either motivate them or whether this has an impact on their morale.

                  The 3D match does look much improved compared to Football Manager 2011. Before the players ran on the spot but now it looks more like a realistic football match.
                  Sound/Music
                  The game does not contain any music which I consider quite poor. This makes the game very quiet. There is no commercial music playing whilst you are playing the game.

                  Value for money

                  I think the game is quite good and it is definitely better gameplay than Football Manager 2011.
                  Difficulty and Complexity
                  I think that this game is relatively simple game to understand.

                  Pros

                  1)Good graphics and gameplay and improved from Football Manager 2011
                  2)More detailed and interactive game
                  3)In the 3d match the stadiums look more detailed in terms of seeing the stadium dug outs and fans.
                  4)Can give detailed instructions and set tactical play for all aspects of the game
                  5)The user has better negotiation control over transfers and more detailed scouting reports.
                  Cons

                  1) 3d match a bit clunky and takes up a lot of CPU usage.
                  2) The players in the match look a bit generic and all look the same size.
                  3) Can take forever for the manager earn enough money to buy a club.
                  4) When a player is out on loan to another club the player calls a meeting in another country, so how is this possible in real life. (Observation and design flaw).
                  5) There is no proper way of the manager controlling ticket prices or expansion of facilities.

                  Conclusion

                  This is a much improved football manager game. I am sure that no doubt that the Football Manager 2013 version will be better. It is a shame that there is no music while you are playing it. The game itself is a good in my opinion. The game has many new features in terms of better interaction with players and the board. The transfer market and the Job Centre feature is good. I would recommend this game to other people as it is quite entertaining whilst being a bit passive if you can get into this type of game. It is not a game for everyone.

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                • More +
                  12.02.2013 15:41
                  Very helpful
                  (Rating)
                  2 Comments

                  Advantages

                  Disadvantages

                  a top quality hotel from my experience

                  Introduction

                  This hotel is located in Moorgate, Liverpool Street or in layman terms it is in the city of London. The hotel is highly attractive on the outside. The transport system of London allowed me to get to Moorgate station in one hour on the Metropolitan line network. The streets here are really interesting because of the bars and coffee lounges. At Liverpool Street one difficulty I had was finding the correct exit to find the hotel.

                  About the Hotel

                  This hotel has 89 luxurious rooms as well as a restaurant and a bar area. The hotel also has free internet services as well as free local telephone calls. The hotel is located within close proximity to two main railway stations as well as three tube stations. The stations nearby include London City Airport, the o2 and Excel on the Docklands light railway, Kings Cross St Pancras, the Eurostar, and Waterloo and London Bridge main tube stations. The walking time from these stations is around three minutes. It is close to London's Barbican Centre, St Paul's Cathedral, and the London Wall.

                  Ambience and Decor


                  I would say that the decor is very modern, sleek entrance. The reception area was very crisp and had very clean lines. The entrance was very clean, glossy and looked very modern. People at the reception were very friendly, helpful and professional. The receptionist was very quick in finding our details on the computer system, and in giving directions into how to get to our room. The lifts to the different floors were close to the reception desk area, opposite the bar and dining area. There were clear divisions, for each area. I noticed the interior decor is minimalist, with an ultra modern twist. The colours of the stripy carpet were picked up in other areas of the hotel, such as soft furnishings and curtains. The room was very spacious, and welcoming. There was a large king size bed, a writing desk, flat screen television, and a sofa that was conveniently positioned at the bottom of the bed for watching television or having light refreshments. The provision of tea making facilities, along with the small fridge was an additional convenience. The bed was very comfortable, with plenty of pillows and scatter cushions. I found the lighting to be very flexible, because there were various options available. The colour scheme of the room was well co ordinated and pleasing to the eye. The bathroom/shower area was also well appointed, and provided a deep bath as well as a large walk in shower.

                  Initial check in Process

                  At the reception area, the check in process was quick and efficient, the reception staff gave us good eye contact and smiled, we were politely asked for our names, in order to process the check in. We asked for a room that was in a quiet area of the hotel and we were informed that all the rooms were quiet, particularly during the weekends and that the local offices were closed. We were issued with a card for a room on the fourth floor, and then given clear directions, as to how to get there using the lift which was located near to the reception desk. We were asked how we would like to pay for the booking and our bank card details were taken. We were also asked if we would like to take breakfast, and if so if we would like to pre-book and if we would like to pay for it. However as we were uncertain as to whether we would want breakfast in the morning, the receptionist explained that we could still have breakfast, without pre booking and simply pay for it at the time or have it added to the bill. We were asked if there was anything else we could be helped with. We made our way to the lift, which was clean and provided a very smooth ride to our floor. The corridor provided clear instructions to locate our room. The corridor was softly lit, but spotlights illuminated the numbers on the doors. The door to our room opened easily with the use of the card. The reception area was very tidy, almost minimalist by having just computers on view.

                  The Bedroom

                  We found the bedroom to be very spacious, with a large comfortable bed, lots of pillows and scatter cushions which co ordinated well with the bed linen and the curtains. The whole feel of the room was very relaxing and comfortable. The facilities made our stay enjoyable. There was for example tea and coffee making facilities along with the provision of tea and coffee. There was also a small fridge which could have been used to store small items of food and drink. The layout of the room was such that it enabled easy access to different areas. There was a desk area with a chair and a sofa at the bottom of the bed for the viewing of a large flat screen television. The whole room was well lit, but had a number of flexible lighting options. There was plenty of wardrobe space and the provision of ironing facilities as well as a hairdryer. The bathroom area was modern with a large deep bath, and a walk in shower/wet room. The hotel provided a selection of toiletries and towels and bath robes and slippers. The bathroom was like the rest of the room, spotlessly clean and hygienic. There were enough personal essential luxury toiletries which also surprised us a little, though we did pay for a good night stay at a four star hotel. The extractor fans were quiet in the bathroom area, and the desk area was tidy. The desk area had some writing paper and pens. We were very pleased with the decorations and the quality of the bed. The sofa area was very comfortable and cosy. The bedroom overall was very luxurious, with new carpets. The ceilings were quite high, which made the room appear more spacious. The windows were very wide and were drapped with fine net curtains. The heavier curtains were easy to draw back. It is a pity that the view from the window was not more interesting. All we could see outside the window was more buildings, some which were being renovated.

                  Service

                  The service included a breakfast menu, as well as a lunch dinner menu as an optional extra. People can have room service, as well as laundry service. We also got provided bath robes and slippers that we could use during our stay. There was ample wardrobe space, as well as a safe in the room to keep our valuables secure. This is an ideal place for business people on trips and for tourists to use as a base to see London's attractions.

                  The breakfast included a full English breakfast or there were items such as porridge with blue berries which cost £6. We did not have porridge as we had the full English breakfast. The full English breakfast with two pots of tea cost £15 each, which included the service charge. I found this to be a bit steep, though the food was well cooked and really well presented.

                  Facilities

                  The facilities included laundry and shoe polishing, 24 hour room service, 40 inch large television screens, alarm calls in the morning, disabled access to rooms. There was also a restaurant and bar area which we had breakfast which was modern and this was a really nice place to have drinks and eat. They provided a newspaper in the morning to read at breakfast time. The place also benefited by having free local telephone calls as well as wi-fi facilities which I used to surf the internet for a short time. In addition the hotel also had free internet services which is also good service to have. Previous stays to the Holiday Inn, has resulted in me being charged £4 an hour for the use of the internet. Here at the Apex hotel it was free of charge. The hotel also had a meeting room and dining room for ten people, which could have been used. Here is a complete list of the facilities provided:
                  ~24 hour room service
                  ~40" LED TV's
                  ~Bose SoundDock MP3 docks in all rooms
                  ~Free local calls and Wi-Fi for hotel guests
                  ~Gym (opening soon)
                  ~Alarm calls
                  ~Restaurant & Bar
                  ~Cots and high chairs
                  ~Hairdryer in room
                  ~Disabled access to rooms and public areas
                  ~Guide dog access
                  ~Mail and message delivery
                  ~Same day laundry
                  ~Concierge Services
                  ~Meeting/Dining Room for up to 10 people. - Further conference and event
                  ~facilities are available at the Apex City of London Hotel close by.

                  Comparison to Other Hotel's I have stayed in

                  I paid roughly a similar amount of money when I went a few years ago to have a night stay at the Holiday Inn express in Earls Court and I have to admit that the Hotel Apex benefits from having much better decor and the facilities were much similar, except that the Apex hotel is much better colour co ordinated. In addition the television screen was also flat screen compared to staying a night at the Holiday Inn. This is by far and away the best hotel I have stayed in as the hotel staff are really friendly and professional and they smile, whereas previous stays at the Travelodge as well as the Holiday Inn Express the reception staff have not scored so highly.

                  Price Paid

                  The price I paid for a one night stay was £107. We feel that because there were two of us staying in a nice and relaxing double bedroom that this is somewhat good value for money. We found ourselves relaxed throughout the visit as well as we enjoyed the place as well as the sites around the hotel. We were slightly surprised with the £15 breakfast charge for each person. This was a slightly high in my opinion though the breakfast was sufficient in terms of quantity, it was well presented and well cooked. I did not come away feeling absolutely full, though it was sufficient. The breakfast itself was quite good value for money, though we felt that there could have been slightly larger portions.

                  Recommendation

                  We would recommend this hotel, for anyone wants a centrally located hotel for either business purposes or for tourists to use as a base. Obviously this luxury type of hotel comes at a price, though it is well worth it. For those who can not afford or do not wish to pay £107 a night on a regular basis it is well worth considering for a special occasion. I did pay £135-150 to stay at the Hoxton hotel, so the Apex Hotel is better priced.

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                  • Benq Xl2420T 3D / LCD Monitor / 9 Readings / 6 Ratings
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                    12.02.2013 15:03
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                    Advantages

                    • Reliability

                    Disadvantages

                    an expensive monitor

                    This is a review of my monitor I purchased in April 2012 on amazon.co.uk for £270. This monitor product was only released I think during February 2012. I have to say that I am pleased with this monitor despite a few problems that I experienced early on. The monitor whilst high priced, is a super sized screen which I use whilst surfing the Internet on my laptop. I use my laptop keyboard to type and this monitor shows the Internet screen.The colors are really well textured. The design of the monitor is really good because the bezel is quite small and this gives me almost a full viewing experience on this 24 inch monitor. It was very easy to install, but I had to purchase a Startech Mini DisplayPort to Dvi converter to get the full 1080pixels. The lag times are faster than the Samsung Samsung S23A700 and the performance is also better. When using the HDMI cable I can watch in High definition 720p but not full HD. Another selling point of this monitor is that it is 3D vision ready if you have a 3D compatible graphics card as well as the Nvidia glasses. Using this monitor for gaming as well as live sports streaming is good as the screen is responsive with 2ms response time and has an instant motion feature. The monitor is also wide screen.

                    The box contained the monitor and stand and a nice base. The screen is matte colored and this means that there is not much reflection on the screen at all. This might appeal to some but people who like glossy screens might think otherwise. I received a VGA cable and power cable. The optional extras which people would have to buy separately would be the Mini Display Port cable as well as the HDMI cable. There is a Dual link DVI cable, but my laptop does not have a dual link DVI port. The screen when I placed my VGA cable was really good. I noticed that I could change the settings using the side buttons on the right hand side of the screen. Secondly there is another switch that magnetically stays on the base also enables me to save my settings. The viewing angles could have been better. There is some back light bleeding issues on my second screen but this is a very minor issue.

                    Features wise being there are a few things to talk about. One is that the monitor tilts from landscape to portrait which is easy to move around. It can also be moved from side to side to make the viewing angle more convenient. The on screen display settings are easy to locate the menu at the side of the screen. It is also possible to store 3 different picture settings and save them to the magnetic switch on the base of the monitor. This allows you to have different picture set ups which allows the user to have a wide ranging viewing experience. You can also rest your headphones at the back of the monitor after you have finished using the screen, as there is a red headphone holder on the stand.

                    Pros

                    I found this screen easy to set up and install. I did need additional cables to buy though even at 720p was good enough.
                    This is quite a massive sized screen that is big enough to stream videos and watch movies in Hi definition.

                    Great colours and contrast, along with the 120hz refresh rate, and fast 2ms response time make this an all round excellent purchase. The screen is customisable and the On screen display settings make setting up the screen easy. I have made numerous changes to the display of the colours, brightness and contrast.
                    The design is pretty good because the bezel is small. The color contrast and brightness levels are excellent. The screen is easy to use and easy to install. The screen refreshes at a chosen resolution within around 4 or 5 seconds. I managed to find many options, but my graphics card could not go to the 120hz signal at 1080p. Asides from that the monitor is excellent.

                    Cons
                    The manufacturers set up and instruction manual could be more detailed and easier to set up the monitor.

                    For a monitor this is reasonably expensive at around £260-300. After a few days I did notice a few dead pixels. which I considered a bit disappointing, though I still find this a really good monitor. The dead pixels are not noticeable from all viewing angles and in the bigger scheme of things is not too problematic.
                    I invested £13 in a DVI link cable which connected to the Mini display-port from my laptop to the DVI port of the monitor. This enabled me to find extra settings such as the 120hz refresh rate. With the 120hz refresh rate setting I could only access this at 720p and not as expected at full HD 1080p. This is because my graphics card is not fast enough to play games and video at 120 frames per second. Separately I would need to spend another thousand Pounds for a top end graphics computer.

                    Conclusion
                    This is a TN panel and not an IPS. The monitor performs well when playing games and watching movies. I really do like this monitor. The screen displays the different colours really well. For performance I am pleased I went for this monitor. For the money paid it is well worth it. There are more expensive IPS screens that have a higher resolution but some of these also have a slower response time. So for performance and price this is a good investment indeed.

                    During the end of May 2012 my screen had some dead pixels and so I had to return it and get a replacement. The service provided on Amazon.co.uk was first class in terms of getting a replacement or a refund.The replacement screen I have now is perfectly good. I would say that this is an excellent monitor despite needing to have a top end computer to utilize this screen to its full potential.

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                    • Sony KDL-32CX523 / LCD TV / 27 Readings / 25 Ratings
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                      10.02.2013 18:53
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                      Advantages

                      Disadvantages

                      a good LCD tv in a fairly budget price range

                      Model: Sony 32CX523

                      This is a review of the Sony 32 inch LCD, model number KDL-32CX523. The product is made by Japanese global electronics giant Sony. I bought this product at Costco in August 2011 and paid £385 for one of these televisions. With my purchase I received a 5 year warranty which also helped me decide on buying this television. In my opinion it is a good television but not among the very best High definition LCD televisions available. The primary reason I bought this television was because of the digital switch over in April 2012 and also because I wanted a better television and felt the need to replace my long standing CRT television. So far I have thought quite highly of this television because I have watched football in High definition and been really pleased by the viewing performance and also having a PS3 also means that I view the games in the highest resolution possible. This set has Freeview HD channels, but there is no 3D television option on this product.

                      The design lends itself to many different styles of living room. This set is slim and not bulky. It looks the part and is a television from a top quality manufacturer.

                      The sound quality is quite average as I could not hear bass music too well on this television but the sound is audible and easy to adjust on the remote control. The sound is not that good but not bad either. I would say the sound is a bit flat. The sound lacks bass and does not have smooth frequencies. This means that this television does not have the all important stereo sound. I would say that for the price paid it is still acceptable.

                      By contrast the picture quality is good. By good I mean that in high definition I can watch football matches in HD and the picture is crisp and clear and the result is detailed and nice to watch. I have watched other rival LCD brands in the 32 inch category which in my opinion are not as good as the Sony 32 inch Bravia televisions. I would say that the picture quality looks realistic and natural. In standard definition mode there is a bit of glare from the light which if you view the television away from the center then you will see light fading from the edge of the screen ever so slightly. Watching the standard definition channels in the center of the screen then it is a good quality television. Similarly when watching a hi definition the quality is really good. There is good depth to the picture and I like the viewing experience. The viewing experience is good as I can see clearly the sharp crisp picture quality.

                      The advantages of this television are that the television comes with Freeview HD installed, good high definition picture quality and reasonably good standard definition pictures. The sound for me was clearly a slight negative. Secondly the price is good and not overly expensive and definitely fits within a budget television purchase.

                      I am able to see the different shades of color on the screen and for me it is a well defined and has good details. The refresh rate is 50hz but is smooth and I do not see changes in shadows or background distortion. Also when I watch a scene of a horror film where there is a dark setting, I do not see the details in the background fading.

                      The installation involved auto tuning for the channels which was fast and straightforward. I also can run my channels from the cable television box. When I bought the television I

                      It is easy to select either the AV or HDMI channel selection. The television has 4 HDMI ports and 1 scart AV port and PC output. This television can be connected to the PC as a monitor if needed. There is also a standard aerial port socket and it also has a surround sound speaker output module. The thin panel really can not be expected to deliver deep bass sounds and good range of frequencies. So, if you were to get the most out of the sound quality, you would have to connect a good quality sub woofer or wall mounted or free standing speakers to enhance the audio experience.
                      My conclusion of this television by Sony is that it is a good one, it is not excellent largely because of the sound and the picture quality does not have enough depth. Apart from this, it can be said that this is definitely a good television and worth around the £350-400 mark.

                      Settings and Technical Review

                      The remote control has an options button which contains different settings of the television for items such as picture, sound and screen format. This is very easy to access from the options button on the remote control. Also there is an audio systems selection where you can switch between the television speakers to the pictures you have added on. Looking at the picture option settings you have three picture modes which are !standard, vivid and custom. The vivid setting changes the back light and brightness to a high settings and provides a warm range of colors. This adjusts the back light and contrast to the maximum. The standard picture mode is easier on the eye and although the picture quality appears to be not as bright and sharp as the vivid picture mode. The custom mode allows you to set your own settings based on your preference for the back light, brightness, contrast and color. Changing the settings is easy as you can select which of the four options you want to change, and using the circular arrow keypad on the remote control, you press it right to increase the value, or you can go to the left, to reduce the output of each setting.

                      Once you have adjusted the custom settings you can return to the television screen by pressing the back button on the remote control and your settings are instantly saved.

                      The sound options include 3 modes of standard, dynamic and clear voice. Each of those sound modes has different treble and bass settings. The standard sound mode has treble and bass on a medium setting. The dynamic mode has treble and bass close to the maximum which provides a higher frequency range. The clear voice mode has a flat default setting for bass and treble, which would be more suited to watching documentaries or watching chat shows where there is not much musical background. This would enable the user to get a clearer voice output. If you have surround sound speakers connected to the television, these can also be configured through the remote control easily, and there is also an additional option for sound enhancement. I have found that this works similar to a loudness setting which amplifies the range of sound frequencies. You can also adjust the balance of the sound to different speakers and generally adjusting the sound is very easy.

                      There are five options for screen format which is useful for watching films that have different screen sizes. The first option is the normal setting and watching most television programs compresses the screen size to a traditional square. This leaves a left and right blank screen margin. The second option is a full sized screen mode which maximizes the full size of the screen without cutting out parts of the picture. The third option is a zoom option which provides a closer picture but it cuts part of the top and bottom of the screen, so if you were reading captions or subtitles would prove quite difficult if not impossible. The fourth option is a wide zoom, which is more or less the same as the zoom option. The final mode is the caption screen format which provides a full screen zoom but it compresses the screen size upward, so that you can view the subtitles and eliminates the cut in the screen. There also is an option for a network connection but when I press that option it comes up with an error message.

                      You can also generate a twin picture so that you can watch two different channels at the same time, using a split screen option. There is also a seam select options which you can use an auto select which is the default setting which adjusts the seam based on viewing content. There is a general seam select, which turns off the feature for general viewing. Also is a cinema seam select which adjusts the picture and sound for optimal viewing of movies. Similarly there is a seam select option for music, sports, animations, gaming. Each seam select option has a different range of screen and sound options, to automatically enhance the viewing experience based on what you are watching.
                      The television has a sleep timer which ranges from 15 minutes to 2 hours, and once this time has lapsed the television goes into standby mode.

                      A USB memory stick can also be inserted into the USB port at the back of the television and pressing the home button on the remote control you can select media, to access photos, music and videos. There is also a recording facility but you would need a external hard drive to store the files. There is finally a Ethernet port which allows you to hard wire the television to the cable modem which would allow you to use Skype, Facebook and Twitter and the Internet browser. The browser size is a bit small and takes a while to load the default Sony television website. The Internet access is limited to the Sony website. I am unable to change the web address which is not accessible.

                      In my opinion this television by Sony has a good range of options to adjust the screen size, format, picture and sound quality. I also think that the television has a good connectivity through the different ports available. The downsides are the sound which does not provide a deep enough bass. The sound could be improved by connecting surround sound speakers. I think that this is definitely a good value budget purchase.

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                      • More +
                        09.02.2013 18:24
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                        Advantages

                        • Reliability

                        Disadvantages

                        a good quality and effective vacuum cleaner

                        I bought this from Argos for £180.I have owned this for around 6 months now. I thought this was a fairly expensive purchase but I noted that the Dyson products were selling for a slightly higher premium so I decided to go for the German manufactured Miele. I also noted at the time of buying that Miele have a standard 2 year guarantee that can be extended to 10 years if registering the purchase online. In some respects at first I was a bit dubious of what this product could actually do in terms of cleaning, but it was just within minutes of first using this product I soon notice the differences between cheaper vacuum cleaners and I must admit with the Miele S6210 vacuum cleaner I was definitely impressed. From start to finish I am impressed because it is largely easy to use. The main vacuum cleaner head is a bit big for stairs but the product came with a smaller head size which made cleaning the dust an easy and effortless job.
                        The main selling points of this vacuum cleaner are that it has a telescopic frame which means that the length of the tube can be made bigger which means that this would be suitable for people of all heights. This really is a genius feature that makes it easy to extend the length of the hose and thus making it much more convenient to use. Secondly the cylinder bag vacuum cleaner is easy to open and dispose of. The vacuum cleaner has a red warning light when the bag is on the verge of becoming full up and this warning light makes it easy to instinctively know when to replace the bags. Thirdly I also was impressed by the suction power of the S6210. Fourthly regarding the convenience of using this vacuum cleaner, the product contains a quite lengthy cord which means that if placed in a central location of the house, it can effectively mean that you can clean near enough most of a floor of a house, without having to unplug this vacuum cleaner and move to another area. Of course this last point depends on the size. Other important features include a 'Comfort' setting which when this button is pressed it retracts the cable cord back to the main unit. The size of the bag is 3.5l which is reasonable. I have found that I am having to replace the bag every month or two which is not that bad in the bigger picture of things. I would also say that the noise level from this product is well within safe limits, it makes less noise than other vacuum cleaners that I have owned in the past and most consumers would consider the noise levels to be acceptable.
                        Design

                        For me personally I consider the design to be excellent. It fits well within my airing cupboard. The main body is compact and sleek. The telescopic hose is adjustable and this for me makes the S6210 easy to use. I am not having to fight the vacuum cleaner when I use it at all, with the Miele S6210 it does the hard work for me. The base of the unit has 3 small wheels which makes it slightly easy to keep the unit moving or staying where you want it too.


                        The unit has a slightly big release button which opens and closes the cylinder. There is also the lengthy hose as well as the telescopic adjustable suction hose. Inside the machine is excellent because you have a 3.5l bag which is good sized and also a clean air filter which is good for allergy sufferers. There are also minimum and maximum settings and this machine can be used on carpets as well as the floor surfaces. The machine also has a red warning light which indicates that the bag is nearly full and needs replacing. This is also related to the maintenance of the machine.

                        My Opinion of the Miele S6210

                        I personally think that this vacuum cleaner is an excellent choice. I have found it so easy to use and has made a difference to the cleaning chores of keeping the floors looking clean and tidy. It does an extremely thorough job. It has a high level of suction power and I was even able to hear minisule amounts of dust and dirt being sucked into the bag. It is convenient and easy to use. Some people might find that they have to drag the unit around which is not so good, but the machine is not a heavy machine to drag around. I primarily bought this product for its suction power and cleaning ability. This machine definitely did not dissapoint me.
                        With this product the advantages well outweigh the disadvantages. I am not so concerned with buying replacement bags as I have found a supplier who sells them for £6.99 for 5 bags which are as good if not better than the more expensive Miele version. The cost of the vacuum cleaner at £160-180 is reasonable from my experience but this machine definitely cleans and the air smells cleaner and fresher in the rooms that have been cleaned. Apart from replacing the bags every month or two, the bags are disposed in the waste bin and a new clean bag I might add, is inserted with ease and is by no means a time consuming process. With the bag replacement process, this is a speedy process and would be convenient for the majority of people.

                        The machine has good suction power on all surfaces, the machine is easy to adjust. There is the length of the telescopic handle which makes it easy to manoeuver around furniture. It can get underneath chairs and tables as well being able to reach above items such as curtains. The machine has a easy carrying handle and it is not heavy to carry. It's size makes it easy for storage but the size does not reflect or diminish its power. Although from looks and size it looks like a small vacuum cleaner, it is definitely powerful.
                        The size of the main vacuum head makes it more awkward to use to get a thorough clean on narrow steps, but the Miele 6210 comes with a smaller head which can be used on steps and in harder to reach places. The smaller head does not have the facility to select the setting for carpet or hard floor surface. Perhaps an additional tool or a smaller version of the bigger head would have been more useful.

                        Performance
                        The specifications are that this is a product made in Germany and it has a 2000 watt motor.

                        The bag is 3.5l which is good sized. The performance does not dissapoint. I have had owned other hoovers that have not performed so well. The Miele s6210 is excellent by comparison. It picks up a lot of dirt and it cleans deep down which is evident in the bag. You also do not get any dust circulating back into the room as a result of the clean air fliter.

                        The one thing I have noticed when I have used this machine is that the time taken to vacuum the carpets and surfaces in my house is reduced. The machine glides well on the surfaces. Being a tall person, I have to adjust the telescopic handle to the top height, but once this is done, I am able to hoover the carpets in a very fast time.
                        I would also say that the performance of this machine is that it cleans surfaces including carpets thoroughly. It makes the carpets very clean. It picks up everything on hard floors. I have also used this vacuum cleaner on small mats and it has cleaned them up very well. It is powerful enough to deep clean coil mats.

                        Ease of Use
                        The machine in my opinion is very easy to use. It glides on the floors and is easy to carry around the house, and from room to room.

                        Durability

                        It looks well built and strong. There are no sharp edges to make this machine dangerous.
                        Maintenance

                        The bag replacement process is easy to remove and replace.
                        Noise

                        For a machine with 2000 watt motor, it is on the whole a very quiet cleaner. The noise is audibile in the background but does not drown people out.
                        I do not own any pets so have not tested the pet hair removal efficiency. I have deep cleaned bed mattresses and have seen the effectiveness for my own eyes. It worked efficiently.

                        Value for Money
                        The product cost me £180 which included a manufacturers 2 years standard guarantee, which can be extended to 10 years for an additional payment of £30.

                        This is an excellent vacuum cleaner. I bought this machine with a great deal of confidence and it has not let me down. I also have no reason to believe that it would ever become problematic for me to use. Top marks awarded to Miele. This product is highly recommended.

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                        • More +
                          09.02.2013 18:19
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                          Advantages

                          Disadvantages

                          Good and reliable vacuum

                          Introduction

                          I have owned this upright vacuum cleaner twice over the past 10 or so years. This hoover made by Panasonic has proved itself reliable and effective over the years. I have owned my latest one for around 3 years and still works as good as new. I find this device is quite heavy to carry around from room to room but the hoover was bought quite cheaply at £50 from Argos and I have had no major problems with this hoover at all. In short I would say that the relatively low price and reasonably good hoovering make this a good purchase. The Panasonic brand is highly reliable, amongst the leading corporations within the household. It is safe to say that this vacuum cleaner and brand is not within the Dyson league, but at least the price is not overly inflated.

                          The Panasonic MC-302


                          The product comes with a few product benefits such as being super lightweight, though I do not completely agree with this claim. Then I move on to the vacuum cleaner which states that it has a 1900W clean filtration system. On the whole the filter stays clean, but only when the dust bag is full, then I have found that dust blows out of the filter which is not good. The good thing about the cables are that they have to be neatly tidied and placed around a handy holder which loops the cables around. The power button on the side is also useful for easy powering and switching off. The hoover is quite easy to move around and would pose not many problems for most people. The device is also good in that the vacuum can be adjusted at certain angles to allow effective cleaning movements with the device. I have no problems when using the tilting mechanism and also the vacuum does have a nice roller at the front of the base. Another thing to note is that the vacuum cleaner has edge cleaning on both sides and the suction part is located at the front of the base. I like this machine because it hoovers effectively. The hose can be removed to clean in some awkward places and the device comes with a few useful attachments. I like this machine as a result and I really can not think of many disadvantages accordingly. I do not have pets of my own so really can not comment fully here, though I have read a few short reviews of this product and some reviewers claim that this vacuum cleaner is effective in cleaning and taking away dog hairs from floors. Separately I have found this a really good hoover because I can clean my bedroom with minimum fuss. The definite negative would have to be when using this machine to clean/clear staircases because it feels a bit heavy to keep lifting the device every few stair steps. Another advantage is that this piece of equipment does have well designed storage space for some of the attachments as well.

                          Performance

                          The manufacturer claims to have excellent level of cleaning around edges, and have found that largely this proves to be the case. I have found that the device does not hit skirting boards or make them dirty or result in scratching surfaces. The Panasonic MC-UG302 is very good

                          The cable allows the user to effectively clean a good sized room without having to unplug the cable and start again. The length of the cable is approximately 6 meters. The hoover gets the dirt and crumbs off the floor, but I strongly accept that these hoovers do not deep clean dirt fully. They do not go to the base of the carpet but they clear the top and middle parts well. I like the results that the Panasonic vacuum cleaner achieves. The suction is quite powerful but the bag has to be almost or fully empty for the suction to be able to fully clean. For thorough cleaning I have to use the attachment on the nozzle of the hose. The attachments are useful in removing dust from curtains and Venetian blinds. The adjust height system is good as it adjusts to different types of flooring. There is also a spring which automatically adjusts according to the surface level used.

                          Durability


                          The build quality of the Pansonic MC-UG302 is quite good but I find a bit heavy to move around from room to room on an effortless basis. The good part of this vacuum cleaner is that it has a strong handle around the area where the power button is located. It has been used to pick up small bit of rubble in the past.
                          Noise

                          Well I find the noise of this device to be quite noisy, though it is not something I really recognize this point so much when cleaning the rooms in the house almost every week. In my house I have tiled floors mostly on the downstairs and carpeted areas in the bedrooms and on the stair case. I would not say that this hoover is deafeningly loud but I have to admit that this vacuum cleaner is reasonably loud. This part of the user experience does not matter so much in the bigger picture of things. The Panasonic MC-UG302 also makes some noise when collecting the dust and small pieces of dirt and crumbs on the floor.



                          Safety

                          I have to say that the safety of this vacuum cleaner is very safe. I find the hoover easy to use and good on the stair cases and carpeted areas because the attachments that come with the hoover as well as the cable being quite long makes this vacuum cleaner very safe to use. The only negative thing I have noticed when using this hoover is that if the hoover bag is full, there is no real way of knowing this feature until the hoover starts spewing dust. This is the only occasion where I would rate the safety downwards. Other than that I would say that this hoover works well and effectively enough. It does pay to check the bag every few months or so and users would have to replace the hoover bag accordingly. It is safe because I have noticed that the base of the hoover remains in firmly in place when I am cleaning a few steps on my stair case and the hoover stays still.

                          Ease of use

                          It is easy to press the power button on. It then makes noise and it is switched on. The handling is easy though I do find myself feeling to be a bit aggressive with the machine. The handle and moving around to clean the room is straightforward. I do find myself having to go over a few places sometimes though not too much with this machine.

                          Maintenance

                          Taking the dust bag does require getting some replacements from a specialist shop, and also the bag took me around 20 minutes to replace. This part of replacing the bags is a bit fiddly and not the most straightforward task to complete.

                          Another part of the maintenance is that the hoover rejects picking up penny coins and big pieces of rubbish. When picking up coins the hoover machine makes a racket and spits it out eventually. Also when picking up too many big pieces of rubbish the suction area can also get blocked up. The vacuum cleaner also does not like thread. This point continued when the suction part gets blocked up, it can take a while to carefully remove the objects or items that are in the way.
                          Value for Money

                          I would say that this vacuum cleaner is value for money. I paid £50 a few years ago from Argos and would give this hoover a deserved 8/10 for effectiveness, but around 4/10 for the maintenance and its slightly heavy build design. In the past 10 years I have only replaced this machine with the same model once, so in some respects these machines are built to last a long time. I can't comment on the user manual as I threw away the box a long time ago. The hoover itself is placed in a storage room in my house and the handle makes it easy to carry around. The vacuum cleaner came with a good few attachments that can be used to clean behind sofas, corners of rooms and hard to reach places.
                          I do not have pets in my house so I also can not comment on how effective it removes dog hairs.

                          Manufacturers Specifications
                          Upright
                          1900W Motor
                          4.5 Litre Dust Capacity,
                          Electrostatic Filtration System
                          Final thoughts

                          I paid 5 tenners which has lasted me years of vacuuming and keeping the carpets looking like new. To this latter point I don't wear trainers or shoes in the house especially not in the carpet areas. Furthermore this has kept the need to vacuum at a minimum. For most categories this vacuum scores high marks from me, with the exception of maintenance and removing the dust bag. The weight of the hoover depends on the amount of dust in the bag itself which adds to the weight, but I would say that the approximate weight of the vacuum would be around 6kgs. At £50 for this vacuum I think it is a bargain. I have seen in addition this hoover retail for slightly higher for around £80, though my impression is that the hoover merits this price range.

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                          • More +
                            06.02.2013 16:57
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                            Excellent toothbrush

                            Oral B 1000

                            From what I know and having used one of the Oral B Pro care 1000 toothbrushes I have to say I am very impressed with the results so far. I have used this product twice a day for the past 12 months and have had no cause to go to a dentist or a dental hygienist. I was so pleased with mine, I decided to buy the same product for my parents and my siblings. They were very happy that I bought them one.

                            Regarding the all too important price, I have tended to buy them from Amazon or Argos and have paid approximately between £26 and £32. There are times when these are on sale for slightly less than £30.
                            The toothbrush has a battery which takes around half a day to fully charge, and from my experience of using this twice daily it lasts me approximately 7 days.

                            My Opinion

                            I think that these provide fantastic results for the price. I believe that the toothbrush head spins at around 40,000 pulsations per minute. If you buy more expensive Oral B you would probably find that the spinning speed is the same as on the Pro 1000. The action of the brush is very good, and this enables the head to reach at the back of the mouth effortlessly. The brush also has a sensor which flashes a red light if you are brushing too hard.

                            I would say that for definite, that by brushing with a Oral B Pro care 1000 electric toothbrush will make brushing easier and more convenient compared to using a manual toothbrush. I have found that every toothbrush head lasts around 2 or 3 months before having to use a new head. I would say that I am happy overall with the cleaning results of the toothbrush. It definitely did not give me perfectly white teeth. However it did provide me just about every day whereby my teeth felt as if they had just been cleaned by a dental hygienist.

                            The design of the Oral B Professional toothbrush is sleek and appealing to the eye. It is easy to use, with the push on/off button. It stands well on the base when recharging, although it can sometimes topple over, which may result in damage. It is important to place the recharger and the toothbrush on a suitable surface.

                            The pressure sensor light is particularly good to indicate over excessive pressure on the teeth during brushing, which minimizes damage to the enamel or to the gums.
                            The toothbrush has a daily clean mode which is used when turning the on and off button.
                            It also has a useful timer whereby the toothbrush cuts out briefly to remind you that a ¼ of the brushing has taken place. I think the timer changes sound every 30 seconds so that you know to change areas of the mouth/teeth.

                            The toothbrush is easy to handle and the design of the toothbrush head makes it efficient to clean all of the teeth around the mouth. It is very quick and easy to use giving a very professional clean.
                            After each use, it is useful to dry the body of the toothbrush to keep it clean, and to prevent any deposits of toothpaste on to the charger. This will help to maintain the unit in good working order.

                            It did take me a while to get used to electric toothbrushes but I now know that this is far better than my experience of using a manual throwaway toothbrush. I can now clean the back of my teeth as well as the fronts. I can honestly say that I have had no problems with my teeth or gums whilst using this Oral B Pro Care 1000.

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                              06.02.2013 13:09
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                              A likeable racing game

                              At the time of writing this PS3 console game, this is within the top 10 titles on many game retailer websites. This game is playable in either 2D or 3D.

                              Gran Turismo 5
                              Introduction
                              This game is a driving simulation game. In my opinion it is an excellent game. I was fortunate enough to have this game included when buying the Sony PS3 console brand new from Argos.

                              Driving Simulation
                              The objective when playing this game is simply to win races.
                              Game Modes
                              There are a number of game modes outside the online racing mode.
                              GT mode encompasses the following
                              -'A spec' are single player car type category races. The entry is based upon driving level.
                              -'B spec' is multi player races where you have to create new drivers.
                              -Special events include go carting, NASCAR, Top-Gear test track, AMG (Mercedes) driving academy, rally grand tour and Sebastien Loeb rally challenge.
                              There is a design your own course which adds to the variety of game modes.
                              There is also arcade mode
                              At each rally school the principal of the circuit does a talk before the event, which increases the interactivity of the game.

                              In short there are many different locations, normal race tracks and people can even get to see the apartment blocks around the race tracks whilst racing.
                              Graphics
                              The graphics on Gran Turismo 5 are exceptional throughout the game. There are a wide range of events, different tracks, cars and scenery. The views are generally realistic and each race has good presentation. This makes the game enjoyable.

                              The drivers names, vehicles and numbers appear when the race loads, there is information about the tracks. Also the graphics include lap times, and drivers split difference which shows how fast you are ahead or behind the field.
                              As you are racing, there is the track map which displays and updates where your car is on the track, and is helpful in knowing where your opponents and also in looking for where the next turn or corner is at.

                              It is easy to see the good detail of the buildings, the sun reflections, cloudy or sunny skies, the car windows where the drivers are siting. The motion of the backgrounds is very smooth.
                              In short, I feel that the graphics are excellent because the cars look like they should. The design of the cars appear well designed.

                              Game Play
                              The game play is exciting and engaging. It is a combination of full throttle acceleration combined with skillful driving. There is the option to keep or remove the racing line which helps the player to see the best racing line as well as the acceleration and breaking points.
                              From a driving simulation perspective the driving action itself is excellent.

                              People can buy different cars to participate in different races. There are new and used car dealerships. When selecting a car you get to see the specifications, car profile, price and performance rating.
                              For some races you have to have the correct category of car to enter the race which adds an extra dimension to this game. I would say that 70 or 80% of the game focuses largely on driving, but the rest of the focus is on buying and enhancing the performance of the car.

                              To increase your own driving level you have to participate in races, licence exams and special events.
                              The only thing I did not like about the game play is the rolling start to races which I think spoils the game a little bit. Starting a race mid-field to last is a bad aspect of the game in my opinion.

                              An important aspect of the game play is indeed tuning a car from the tuning shop, which aims to improve the performance and speed of the car. Players can improve the body chassis, tune up the engine, install high performance exhausts, buy a turbo kit supercharger,and increased transmission systems. The range of options is quite extensive, and this also adds up the cost of spending your own virtual credit cash. Win races and get placed in events will see your credits rise, but fine tuning your car will cost you. Tyre choice is also very important when racing as you can have the wrong set of tyres whilst racing, and this can lead to over or understeering action of your car which will affect your lap time.
                              Most races tend to be either 2 or 3 laps each race with varied lap times depending on circuit, car selection and your own driving skill.

                              Generally speaking if you have the best car it is quite easy to win. I have noticed that the computer racing opponents tend to drive cautiously and they follow the racing line. Having said this, it is quite easy to follow there slipstream which makes over taking appear quite easy.
                              Another part of the game play I have noted, is that when chasing the leader you can go faster than if you are leading the field. When racing on a bumpy road, the controller starts to vibrate, or when braking heavily or even when crashing into a barrier.

                              The only unrealistic part of this game is that when bumping into a barrier or crashing, the cars are allowed to continue racing, seemingly unscathed and without damage. This level of detail fails to recognize car damage and reduces the realism
                              When you win A spec races, you get prized car which is your to use for different races or you can sell the car for extra virtual credits. The garage shows what cars you have and players can pick and choose these to race.

                              Sound/Music
                              I do not really rate the music generally speaking. Having said that, I do like the sound of the engine, and the tyres screeching and when changing gears.
                              There is a smooth and easy listening music when navigating through the main menus.
                              Finally when confirming options at the menu area, there is a beeping sound and also a banging noise upon impact.
                              My Opinion
                              I really like this game because of the good quality graphics and challenging race tracks. After a week of playing this game, every day I have so far completed around 20% of the game. The number of races and tracks adds to the longevity and enjoyment of the game.

                              As a conclusion I can easily see myself completing the game and playing this game beyond that. There are so many cars to pick from, it will take a long time to get bored of this game.
                              An approximate price of £20-30 brand new is value for money. Overall as a driving game this is an excellent choice.

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