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I got the Bissell Quick Wash after spotting it in Tesco for a measley 70 quid. We have been planning to clean our carpets for some time. Bringing up 3 youngsters I shudder to think what lurks under my Shag Pile.
So an impulse buy really, the idea being that hiring a cleaner wouldn't be very satisfying if that tummy bug comes back or my youngest fails his potty training test.
I was quite impressed by how well it locked together with the minimum of assembly required. A Phillips screwdriver and three screws and you are there.
The unit comes with a goodly supply of cleaning fluid. Four bottles of carpet shampoo and 2 of hard floor cleaner. This was a bit annoying as I had bought some extra, it doesnt state they are included on the box.
Although the unit is intended for carpet cleaning primarily it does come with a hard floor attachment to replace the brush that you use on carpets.
Operation is a piece of cake, just lift off the clean water vat, fill to the cleaner line with fluid then top up with hot tapwater. Pop it back on and you are good to go. You use a trigger to release fluid then suck it back just like using a vacuum cleaner. The fixed brush helps agitate the pile and dirty water is collected in another tank which is easily removed and emptied.
The cleaner is fairly quiet and efficient however the fixed brush does not agitate the carpet as much as i would like. I think after a few more washes however my carpets dead pile will be restored. On another downside the hard floor cleaner is pretty pointless leaving the floor dripping. A mop and bucket is a far simpler and more effective option. The dirty water tank also tends to collect filth which you cannot empty out however well you pre-vacuum the carpet. I have sand in mine from the girls bedroom for example, so once used it suffers from the Dyson problem of never looking new and clean again.
Al said however an extremely useful cleaner and for less then 100 notes (or shiny gold coins nowadays).
I would certainly recommend this to buyers however don't expect a miracle for your money, it does however do a good job a keeping a better level of cleanliness and with repeated use improve you carpets lifetime. There are better cleaners on the market I'm sure but not for this money.
I was supplied this router as a replacement for a much simpler wired router. It was dispatched without question and I still have the faulty router at home as Belkin never gave me instructions to return it. It is easily worth twice the item it replaced and for that I cannot fault Belkins customer service. All communication was via email and it was accurately and expertly dealt with. Huge thumbs up for Belkin support.
To the router itself.
The unit is a combination of router and switch with a wireless LAN thrown in for good measure. Lets deal with wired first.
The router has capacity for 4 wired devices and one Ethernet input from your modem (i run an ntl cable modem to it with no issues at all). When running through the switch it will automatically select one of the three LAN protocol speeds 1Mb, 100Mb or the unbelievably fast 1Gb. In theory, I cannot comment on whether this works however as I only have a puny 100Mb Ethernet card. This is the connection I use for my primary PC as it is next to the router.
You know what is connected from the display panel indicators, active connections will also flicker. Your wired connection is indicated by the LED WAN.
The wireless connection is indicated by the LED WLAN and comes switched on as standard, ease of connection is a snip. Set you wireless device to the same protocol and it will connect and run. Thats a problem as your network is wide open and unsecured unless you actually read how to set it up properly. We will cover this later however under security.
The unit has a hardware firewall, this will help prevent your connection being hacked. When configured correctly your PC can become almost invisible on the net.
The router can act as a DHCP server. What it will do is assign an IP address to any PC that connects to it. This allows a degree of plug and play without the need to configure each PC connecting individually.
+++Setup and Options+++
As long as you connect all components in the right order then the router should run with no problems. The router can be fine-tuned via Internet Explorer and you access its setup page as if it were a webpage on the IP 192.168.2.1, this will give a wealth of options, the most important of which is the router password (under the very last system setting heading). THIS IS NOT A NETWORK PASSWORD. The router password will prevent changes to your settings in the event that the router is accessed by an untrained or unauthorised party, it will not prevent access to you network. Normal password advice applies here i.e. use a combination of symbols, letters and numbers to prevent guessing.
There is a baffling list of options down the side, trust me they are not as bad as they seem.
LAN SETUP- this gives you details of your network and some other information on the router.
LAN SETTINGS Here you can set the IP address of the router (192.168.2.1 as standard remember), the subnet mask IP (you shouldnt need to touch this unless you know what it is, if you do then you dont need MY advice!), DHCP server, Lease time for DHCP and Local Domain Name (simply to ID the network).
INTERNET WAN- Details for your wired network
CONNECTION TYPE Set this depending on your ISP and Modem type.
DNS If your ISP has a specific DNS server enter this here. This is quite rare for home connections so normally will be set to Dynamic.
MAC ADDRESS Again something that you rarely need to touch. Some ISPs require routers to have the same MAC (id) as the modem, not many though.
WIRELESS Here are the all important settings for the wireless network including SECURITY
CHANNEL AND SSID Quite simply if interference is causing network problems you can change the channel (a friend had a wireless network that cut out every time someone used a microwave!) SSID refers to the name of the wireless network. This you will need to know when connecting devices. Wireless mode refers to the types of connection so that you can match this up with your wireless card at the other end. Broadcast SSID will make your network visible and protected mode sacrifices speed for reliability in high interference environments. If you have a Belkin device that supports it at the other end turbo mode will increase data transfer speeds.
SECURITY The most important option. The router ships with this off, meaning anyone can access your network, use you connection and access shared folders if enabled. This I will write in caps SWITCH IT ON! There are four options WPA-PSK, 128kb WEP, 64kb WEP and WPA. They all do similar things but the most secure is considered to be WPA-PSK, you of course are limited by the protocols your other devices can accept. Simply WPA-PSK takes an entered phrase to create a highly complex passkey, its like a really long password. Thats it, painless eh?
USE AS ACCESS POINT Basically this rips the connection wide open for any Tom, Dick or Harry to use. Ideal for a web point in a University etc but not good for your house!
WIRELESS BRIDGE- A way of extending networks to make bigger networks.
FIREWALL Option to switch on or off. (Switch it on)
VIRTUAL SERVERS Sometimes the firewall blocks things you dont want it to. Bypass it here.
CLIENT FILTERS You can set the router (By IP address) to restrict access to the network outside certain times. Very useful for cutting off that late night surfing 14 year old!
MAC ADDRESS FILTERING The ultimate in security. Put simply with this enabled if the PCs name isnt down, its NOT getting in.
DMZ If you think the firewall is causing problems or you have a PC that you dont want to use this firewall with you can place it in the DMZ (which really does stand for De-Militarised Zone)
WAN PING BLOCKING With this enabled the router will ignore PING requests. If asked are you there it wont reply giving a greater degree of security form hackers. They simply dont know a PC is connected to that IP.
SECURITY LOG Log of all logins and access attempts.
UTILITIES I wont go into details on this section, utilities are available for rebooting etc. There is mention of a parental control feature however Belkin now support this via a software partner.
In closing this is a monster of a Router from a very supportive company. It sometimes locks however and restricts browsing. A reset fixes this. The lack of security as standard is also a great concern. A similar router of my Brothers had had 14 unknown IP addresses connected to it before I adjusted his setting and he is by no means a PC dunce. Belkin really need to take the lead more in education of this.
I have a problem. I am a Doctor Who fan. It damages my pockets and my storage space.
When i saw the Remote Controlled K9 in Toys R Us at the bargain price of £19.99 I knew it had to be mine (RRP £39.99).
Rushing home my new purchase hungrily grasped in my clammy hands I was thankful I had read the box where it told me "Battery for display purposes only" as it required a full new set of 4 AA and 1 9v batteries.
The box has this whole new innovative (read annoying) new packaging design which means that without the right size screwdriver you will never free your toy. Luckily I had one and quickly assemble the remote and employed the screwdriver again in changing the batteries.
Placing K9 on the floor I was ready to roll. The toy is nippy resposive and rather cutely has a little start up speech when you turn him on.
The controller works in the style of a tank ie left controls left wheel right controls right. This allows you to spin K9 while spamming the "MAXIMUM DEFENCE MODE" button. Hitting another button extends the gun. Sadly you cant move the little fellow while his gun is extended.
John Leesons voice is perfect and clear and the toy is ideal for chasing toddlers around with. I have the feeling that like my RC Dalek will soon become more of an ornament then a toy, that is ok though as it does look great and at half the price a great bargain.
I have been using the A85 for over a year now, I can honestly say I've had the best performance from it of any camera I have owned so far.
The unit itself is rugged and well built with the battery enclosure providing a nice gripping area for when shots are taken. The rear is taken up by the LCD screen which suffers from very little glare in bright lighting conditions. With my previous cameras I often found I reverted to the viewfinder in bright sunlight. Not so here. Also residing on the rear is a selector switch that allows you to switch between playback and photograph, buttons for display mode, printer/pc download, menu access and function select. There is also a four way curser key and a central "set" key which makes navigating the wealth of menus a breeze.
Most cameras at this level are awful to use if you don't know what you are doing. Canon have taken most of the guesswork out with an extensive level of presets accessible from the top dial. You can select settings covering Portrait, Vista, night-time, sports/motion, a multifunction environment setting and record video clips among others. You can even use a built in tool to take panoramic shots which you then stitch within the provided software. Of course you can always set the camera to Auto and let it choose itself. If you are not the best at timing your shots it can even be set to repeat fire when the shutter key is held down. Possibly an ideal way of catching that winner at school sports days?
There is a 3x optical zoom backed up by a optional 11x digital zoom controlled from a nudge wheel set around the shutter key.
Should you wish to use other lenses there is also the ability to fit these by removing the bezel cover on the front.
The camera takes Compact Flash cards and a 1Gb card will give you around 500 images at the highest quality setting. Settings can range from size based to quality based and any combination of the the two.
Should you wish to use the camera to its limits however it excels, you can manually set white balance, aperture, f-stop, shutter speed, you can even specify the type of light metering to use. This allows for some very special effects simply by using the cameras potential. There is also the standard range of preset effects going from sepia toned to negative. black and white etc, however I often get better results from image manipulation via programs like Photoshop.
When you are finished you will want to download your images. The bundled software allows you to specify how you would like this to happen. I choose to save all shots from each day in the same folder. It will name this for you to your specifications.
However the utility doesn't end there, with the software you can remotely control your camera via USB, triggering remote shutter or even a timed regular image. If you had the will power I guess you could even perform some simple time-lapse or animation with it.
The Hotpoint FF187M was not our first choice for our replacement fridge freezer after our Beko freezer died. Unfortunately, as seems to be the way of things, the Daewoo model that I had my eyes on was available...nowhere.
After hearing several non complimentary things about modern Hotpoint I was a bit unsure as to my choice however now the Fridge Freezer is in place I stand by my decision.
The unit i chose was in Polar White however it is not a cheap finish and looks almost powder coated with an almost satin texture. The inset door display was also a very unexpected bonus noted in the sales literature but not clearly promoted. It is very space age and allows control of both compartments separately.
The unit is extremely quiet with a slight rush of air when the Frost Free unit kicks in and as regards to Frost Free, it does exactly what it says on the tin.
Internally the design is excellent with a very stylish vertical light and all glass shelving. There is also a wine rack, however this does impact on available space and we have removed it.
You can set the units to cool when shopping is added and there is an addition "Ice Party" function intended to time wine that you rapidly cool in the Freezer section.
The unit alarms when the door is left open and as an added space saver ice cube trays are fitted to the tray units.
A word of warning however, the door can only be rehung by Hotpoint engineers, make sure that your space is suitable for a right hinged door or budget for a man to rehang it.
I went to the iPod after swearing never to touch Apple products with a double length bargepole. Instead I brought a cheap mp3 player. Then i discovered it wouldn't play DRM enabled music, and it wouldn't arrange them, and i couldn't shuffle the music. Well suffice to say i decided to go a for a big boys mp3 player. As I had used iTunes and had liked it I thought hmmm iPod.
From the word go the machine impresses. The box is tiny and the iPod even smaller, a sort of aluminium anodised black smooth scroll edged sexy droolworthy small. Seriously this machine looks great.
So can you use it, well at first I had problems navigating, then i realised that that was because i was being too privative. To scroll up and down the many menus you simply stroke the donut in the required direction. Its so responsive its unbelievable. in fact if it wasn't for the volume limiter (programmable of course) I'd have accidentally blown my eardrums by now!
The equipment works seamlessly with iTunes, change a setting there iPod gets it, delete a file- its gone, rate a file - updated on both.
The system is so flexible i even have a playlist that will play songs i have rated at 5 stars but only if I haven't played them in the last 4 weeks. Coupled with nearly 2000 songs that's a whole lotta music.
Did I mention it charges from the PC USB port while it is synchronising with iTunes and seems to take less then an hour for a full charge? Did I also mention that charge seems to last for ever? (Seriously I've run mine for 8hrs solid at work and not even half drained the battery) Did I also mention the ultra cool FM transmitter that plays its output wirelessly through my car Hi-Fi?
Now the cons.
It crashes, not constantly but about 3 times in the 3 months I've had it. Rebooting is a snip but is a trick hidden away in the manual (Switch hold on the off then hold down up and select if anyone is wondering)
The dial is a little to delicate sometimes and my chubby fingers often catch it when hitting the centre button.
Headphones aren't great and irritate the ears a bit. However if replaced the sound output is absolutely stunning.
Just to confirm, I don't work for Apple, I hate Apple. I have a PC and would never consider a mac. Well then again if they are 1% as good as the 2nd generation iPod Nano is shaping up to be maybe i will taker just a little look.
Expensive but really is worth it.
Tesco DVD rental is actually provided by Lovefilm. This is bizarre in a way as they are actually up to £1 a month cheaper then Lovefilm!
You will receive you discs via Royal Mail, all you need to do is watch, seal and return. They will then select another and dispatch it from their warehouse in Peterborough. Delivery is often before you get your notification of what they are sending you however I think this is due more to a slow notification server then supersonic Royal Mail deliveries. I usually experience a turnaround of 4 days but this is often better (my last return was on Tuesday and dvds arrived on Thursday)
There are two main pricing schemes working on slightly different methods, you have the choice of cutting the cost by limiting the discs you receive each month or going for the "as much as you can possibly watch" option. At the time of writing the price points are as follows:
Limited Package (fixed limit per month)
2 discs per month £4.47 (1 at a time)
3 discs per month £5.97 (1 at a time)
4 discs per month £7.47 (2 at a time)
Unlimited Packages (As much as you can physically watch)
1 Disc unlimited £8.97 (1 at a time)
2 Disc unlimited £11.97 (2 at a time)
3 Disc unlimited £14.97 (3 at a time)
You can also make additional savings by buying in advance, this varies by package but general incentives are:
3 months 15% off
6 months 1 month FREE
12 months 2 months FREE
and by adding £1 a month (unlimited packages only) you can also rent games, however this is something I haven't yet done. Games count as a disc and are available from all new console platforms ie GameCube, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, Xbox and Xbox 360. However PC games are not available.
You don't need to return the discs all together, the total is basically all those active on your account. For example you may have two at home and one in the mail or awaiting allocation.
The theory behind the service is simple, you pick a list of films or TV series that you would like to rent, you also pick how important it is that you see that film (set priority). Depending on your service level the next film/s are send via first class post once the previous ones are received back. All very simple in theory.
You pay for the service via a subscription on a credit or debit card and you can alter your level or cancel at anytime. There is also the very useful option of freezing your account should you go on holiday.
They have recently upgraded the site and everything is now presented in a very whizzy, choose your next step, format. Click on a film and it scrolls out into a box where you can select the priority of that item. You also then get the option to rent similar items.
Selection of the items has also improved in recent months. Should you have a specific target in mind there is a fairly accurate search option that will give you a selection matching your terms. If your choice is not yet available it will place it in a secondary queue of TBC films. This si very powerful and actually allows you to choose current films well in advance of a DVD release (I am already waiting for Spiderman 3)
Should you be a bit of a TV fiend you can also now choose to have boxsets delivered in order of disc. No more frustrating "Darnit disc three I haven't seen two yet" situations.
It does fall down slightly if you are not 100% sure what you want. The Browse options are useful but I often get the feeling that they are showing you what they want you to see. I would welcome a one hit type button that will bring up a recommendation based on your past rentals. You could then select "Seen It", "Rent it","Not for me" or something similar to trim your reviews. The site certainly has this scope to become more personal.
The only other gripes I have is that often the films seem to be awaiting allocation for longer then is acceptable and that you really have no way of choosing a film that you want on the spur of the moment.
I would heartily recommend this service to anyone however despite the niggles as "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die. " sorry Bladerunner moment. Expand YOUR horizons.
This review refers to the Kia Shuma II Ice 1.6 4dr Saloon.
I've been an owner of the Shuma II Ice since June 04 and I must say that the previous reviewers problem has not been experienced at all.
For what is essentially a very cheap car it is surprisingly well appointed with Aircon, CD player and all round electric windows as standard.
Comments have been made about the air conditioning affecting the cars performance, this is so (as with any cars aircon) however not to such an extent that it makes the vehicle kangaroo or in any other way unusable. Acceleration is affected with the unit running but not excessively so. In fact the only gripe I have with the air con is that when you switch from screen to any other setting it turns off!
Internally the vehicle is quite nicely trimmed with velvet type roof lining and a dashboard that isn't as plasticy as some more mainstream cars I have driven (Hondas HRV springs to mind), seats are comfortable and it comes with ISOFIX fittings on the rear seats (absolutely excellent innovation) so that your child seats are totally immovable.
The vehicle is huge, cabin space doesn't feel massive however the boot is more the adequate for my family of five and it gives a very comfortable ride.
Engine noise tends to rise at high speeds however it is very quiet through town.
Having driven the car for around three years and 260000 miles now I'd recommend one to anybody looking for a bargain (maybe secondhand at low milage) however as they are now no longer produced its probably best to look elsewhere unless you have an absolute bargain.