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Member since: 20.09.2010

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    • Sony KDL-40CX520P / LCD TV / 13 Readings / 11 Ratings
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      12.02.2012 21:47
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      A quality tv which will provide you with a great viewing experience

      Its been nearly a year since I purchased our Sony Bravia and I haven't looked back since! We used to own one of those huge black boxes, a Panasonic and with very poor reception, and its really quite ridiculous to think for how long we put up with it. Anyway on to the TV. We currently have freesat on our TV, and I must say the picture quality is excellent. The colours are sharp and vibrant and the HD channels really do look incredibly detailed. The sound quality also is very good, although I'm sure purchasing surround sound speakers would improve a movie watching experience, it still holds its own against the excellent picture. The build of the TV is slick and stylish, the black not distracting from the mainscreen, and the stand likewise shares this. Its a great improvement over the hulking black box which we used to own. I can't say I've used the inbuilt wifi too much myself, but we have a blu-ray player that has internet anyway, which we've used once or twice for bbc iplayer, but generally its not something we use. The HDMI inputs are great for watching your camera photos and movies on the tv as well as connecting your laptop to, however the cable you need for this does not come with the tv, it must be bought separately. There is also the usb input which allows you to view your movies on USB, a feature which I've seen shops make use of but one that I don't use myself. For people with consoles, the tv has scart inputs too which we use for our wii. The immersion factor has increased significantly with this TV and the same can be said for movies. One frustration which I'm sure many people share is the number of damn remotes you need just to watch something. We have the remote for the tv, the humax remote (the freesat box), and the bluray remote. The remote for the tv has lots of buttons which I'm sure I will probably never use, however it remains intuitive as all the important buttons are in the middle and self-explanatory. All in all, this was a great purchase, (at the time there was a sale going on) and I don't have any problems with it. Yes, will probably be the case that 3D tv will become more prevalent, but I don't see myself upgrading any time soon. I thoroughly recommend.

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      12.02.2012 00:09
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      An analysis of his writing techniques in an attempt to explore his authorial skill.

      A fore note to my review, in light of the great author Hardy was, I have taken it upon myself to provide a brief analysis of his writing in my review, and in doing so, I assume the reader has read the book. Creating effective interest and suspense is a useful skill, particularly in short stories. The ability to quickly build up the tension in the limited size of the narrative is what draws the reader into the story. This technique is comprised of smaller ones such as juxtaposition of characters and objects, foreshadowing events, gradual revelation of the plot, the presentation of the setting and many more methods. These are all designed to provoke feelings in the reader such as a sense of injustice, sympathy, apprehension, and Thomas Hardy incorporates them throughout the entire story to generate interest and suspense. The gradual revelation of information is a sure way to build up the suspense in a story. Hardy begins the story by gradually revealing facts about Rhoda, the "...thin fading woman of thirty milked somewhat apart from the rest." Hardy makes it subtly clear what a social outcast she is. A short way further into the conversation we learn that Rhoda has not been spoken to by Farmer Lodge for years and that he will be marrying a woman half his age, who is rumoured to have rosy cheeks and a "...tisty-tosty little body...". At the end of the page the reader is shocked by the knowledge that Farmer Lodge is actually the boy's father and that he is illegitimate, a sudden shock to the reader when the boy says," Is Father Married then?". And so the reader is kept in anticipation about the relationship between Rhoda and Farmer Lodge. But even as we are satisfied with knowledge on that point, the new revelation raises fresh questions and intrigue. Rhoda is quite interested in gathering information herself (and it is through her discoveries that we learn more about her supplanter, creating more intrigue) and tells her son to find out as much as possible about Farmer Lodge's new wife whom he married over Rhoda, creating more interest and suspense for the reader. Later on when the boy has gathered more information, she (though disappointed by her beautiful looks) gains pleasure out of knowing that she was taller, height being very important in Victorian times. The reader though slightly alarmed by Rhoda's obsession with Gertrude (as we see when her son arrives home and his mother says,"' Well?' before he had even entered the room") can understand why she feels this way. We read in one of Gertrude's conversations with Lodge, she speaks of Rhoda's son " 'How that poor boy stared at me!'" and so we are given information from both parties; however some of this is information that Gertrude is denied. When the boy returns home to his mother after seeing Mr.Lodge, the boy's father, Rhoda questions him asking " What did he say or do?", to which his response is, "Just the same as usual" "Took no notice of you?" " "None". Of course one of the ways that Hardy builds up suspense and interest is through such snappy short conversations. Hardy uses these techniques simultaneously in an effort to extract as much feeling and emotion from the reader. Another such conversation following a similar pattern is in the scene where Rhoda rigorously interviews her son upon the appearance and manner of Gertrude, anxious to know as much about her usurper as possible, ""Well did you see her?" "Yes; quite plain." "Is she ladylike?" "Yes; and more. A lady complete." " Is she young?" and so on. The reader is shocked by the scandalous affair and then the actions of Farmer Lodge, consequently damaging his character for the rest of the narrative, making the reader side against him and more likely to condemn any further actions by him, thus building up the anticipation of the reader. Further suspense is created, when Gertrude visits Conjuror Trendle for a second time. He reveals information very slowly, mounting up the tension. He shares his advice and gives his instructions piece by piece, his first comment being, "If you ever do throw it off, it will be all at once". This in turn reveals that a cure might be available. All the while the reader is getting more and more drawn into the events. Hardy crafts short, snappy dialogue where a lot more is being hinted than said. Gertrude has to nearly beg, "Tell me", before he finally reveals that she must "touch with the limb the neck of a man who's been hanged". Even after keeping the reader in suspense, he refuses to move on to the next part of the narrative, as the reader wonders how Gertrude will manage such a feat. Towards the end of the tale the reader's interest is subtly aroused as we are given a bit of information about the young man to be hanged who had "...only just turned eighteen, and [was] only present by chance when the rick was fired...",- encouraging the reader to feel pity for the lad and hope that he will somehow gain reprieve, even though the reader is sympathetic to Gertrude's cause. And there are still more examples such as when Gertrude first catches sight of the county jail. Its description is unhurriedly given out bit by bit: "Over the railing she saw the low green country; over the green trees the roofs of the town; over the roofs a white flat façade, denoting the entrance to the county jail." "She discovered on the level roof over the gateway three rectangular lines against the sky..."The effect of this is to evoke curiosity and apprehension in the reader. One particular technique that Hardy uses repeatedly throughout the chapters is juxtaposition of characters and objects. He sometimes uses this to reveal to the reader the harsh realities of life at that time. A particular scene early in the narrative presents the son of Rhoda Brook, of whom we are never told the name (perhaps to ensure the reader develops no significant feelings for the boy), walking along at snails' pace; "... the heavy bundle he carried being some excuse for, if not the reason for his dilatoriness." Hardy presents in that same extract, Farmer Lodge and his new wife riding upon "...a handsome new gig with a lemon covered body and red wheels." The contrast of the relative poverty that Rhoda and her son live in, is juxtaposed with the relative luxury Farmer Lodge and his new wife are privileged with, as Farmer Lodge owns the land in the valley. Similar to this is his juxtaposing of their living conditions, Rhoda and her son live in a shack that was "built of mud walls, the surface of which had been washed by many rains into channels and depressions and left none of the original flat face visible..." Such was the poor condition of their residence in comparison with Mr. And Mrs.Lodge's "white house of ample dimensions." There is also a kind of juxtaposition and irony that develops roughly halfway into the story; As Gertrude and Rhoda's relationship improves, Gertrude's arm worsens, a tragedy, which is typical of Hardy. This also provokes a sense of injustice in the reader. It is through such comparisons that Hardy makes it clear to the reader the unfairness of the situation (which reflects the common reality of the time) in order to raise the possibility in our minds that justice might be delivered in the story. This further aids the creation of interest and suspense. Towards the end of the Victorian era, people who believed in and performed superstitious actions were increasingly looked down upon, and this reversal of natural progression entices the reader and builds interest and suspense. Thus Gertrude does not wish to follow her servants' advice about seeing Conjuror Trendle; "I dare say it shall soon disappear", however she is worried about what her husband would think whilst making reference to the occult; "My husband says it is as if some witch, or the devil himself, had taken hold of me there, and blasted the flesh." Rhoda herself all the while is feeling insecure, having said to herself earlier, "O, can it be...that I exercise a malignant power over people against my own will?" Not only that, but since she fell from grace after her illegitimate child with Mr.Lodge, the villagers deemed her to be a witch; " She knew that she had been slyly called a witch since her fall; but never having understood why that particular stigma had been attached to her, it had passed disregarded." This introspective questioning stimulates the reader's desire to learn more of her past and what exactly were the events that led up to her fall. In the Victorian era, distinctions in social class were more pronounced. And so women in Rhoda's position, who had low social status, were vulnerable to exploitation and harsh treatment. Hardy generates tension by incorporating the notion that there really could be supernatural forces at play here whether there will be any further supernatural intervention. It was around Hardy's lifetime that the Victorians began to emerge from the superstitious era that held them and all previous civilisations. With the advancement of scientific knowledge, superstition was increasingly being regarded as old wives tales and dismissed in favour of science. But Hardy chose to write a short story about the period where things had just begun to change. Ironically Gertrude is changing in reverse. She is reverting from the modern enlightened Victorian woman to the superstitious crabby lady from ages past. We read that when Gertrude is told about Conjuror Trendle and his abilities, she initially dismisses it as superstitious nonsense; "O, how could my people be so superstitious as to recommend a man of that sort! I though they meant some medical man. I shall think no more of him.". But just two days later she comes back down to see Rhoda and asks her to lead her to Trendle, thus belying her initial instincts. During the years when Gertrude and Rhoda had no contact, Gertrude tried every single cure she could think of in order to rid herself of the curse, to no avail. She eventually decides to go back and visit Trendle. She pleads, so desperate is she, for him to reveal the cure that she begs him; "Tell me!", and Hardy keeps us on tenterhooks the whole way through. (Right at the end with Rhoda is she at her most decrepit.) The interest and suspense being generated at this point is huge, as we are at a key point in the narrative. Hardy also wrote about the subconscious in "The Withered Arm", a late Victorian discovery, though not properly identifying it, merely focusing on the repressing aspect of human nature. It was roughly just 10 years later that Sigmund Freud addressed the issue. In The Withered Arm, the element of the subconscious is introduced as to blame for Rhoda's use of her malignant powers, with which she curses Gertrude's arm, it is Rhoda's repressed resentment that wishes to cause harm towards Gertrude. She performs the curse in a queer dream. Hardy uses this opportunity to captivate the reader with the application of sorcery and fast paced action that takes place in the dream; "Gasping for breath, Rhoda, in a last desperate effort, swung out her right hand, seized the confronting spectre by its obtrusive left arm, and whirled it backward to the floor.". It is at this point in the narrative that Gertrude begins to suffer the effects of Rhoda's curse on her arm, and by doing so, Hardy brings in the possibility of there actually being supernatural forces at work here, in this case manifesting itself as Rhoda's powers, for which she is not totally resentful of, for" In her secret heart Rhoda did not altogether object to the slight diminution of her successor's beauty" . And so over the coming months and years Gertrude's arm worsens. Foreshadowing is a technique where the writer tries to create an image in the reader's mind of an event to come, usually through the description of something. Particularly at the beginning of the story, Hardy incorporates a lot of foreshadowing, and he presents quite a lot of it through the setting, such as at the very beginning of the narrative in the dairy farm, when the milkers took their pails and "... and hung them on a many-forked stand made as usual of the peeled limb of an oak tree, set upright in the earth..." The cottage was built of mud walls; "...while here and there in the thatch above a rafter showed like a bone protruding through the skin.". He successfully tries to create an image in the reader's mind of a rotted limb with a bone sticking thorough the skin, subtly evoking a grim foreboding as he does so. The degeneration of Gertrude's arm is something that inspires a morbid curiosity in the reader as we are compelled by the deterioration of her beauty and rationality. Throughout the narrative our minds are transfixed by the unfortunate changes Gertrude has suffered, compelled by the constant change in description of Gertrude. Towards the beginning of the narrative, she is described by Rhoda as an; "...innocent little thing" who" should have her blessing and not her curse". But when Gertrude leaves Rhoda and her son's dwelling, it was as if; "...a light" had" gone from the dwelling." But as her arm degenerates, it seems she loses her grip on reality and more focused on finding a cure for her arm; "The once blithe-hearted and enlightened Gertrude was changing into an irritable, superstitious woman, whose whole time was given over to experimenting upon her ailment with every quack remedy she came across." Hardy even juxtaposes her description from light to dark, such as when Gertrude decides to visit Rhoda again, Rhoda saw"... a shadow [that] intruded into the window-pattern thrown on Rhoda Brook's floor by the afternoon sun." This description reflects the change not just on Gertrude physically, but also mentally. It is truly inspiring to imagine how long Thomas Hardy must have planned in order to conceive and incorporate all the techniques that he has managed to fit into his short story, "The Withered Arm". It is a artful piece that containing many superb examples of a complex narrative. The ending of the story incorporates many of Hardy's most powerful techniques, provoking a sense of injustice in the reader when we realise that it is Rhoda's son being hanged. The moral conclusion of the story is quite depressing, something Hardy is quite notorious for, leaving Gertrude dead, Farmer Lodge heirless, a widower, lonely, and faced with the prospect of being the last of a family 200 years old. Rhoda carries on being a milkmaid, rejecting all contact, especially with Farmer Lodge. The reader is left feeling unsure of Rhoda's powers in the last few lines, as we are compelled to read on right up until the end, determined to resolve any loose ends. Rhoda being very old at this point is described; "Here, sometimes, those who knew her experiences would stand and observe her, and wonder what sombre thoughts were beating inside that impassive, wrinkled brow, to the rhythm of the alternating milk streams".

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      • Nokia E5 / Mobile Phone / 11 Readings / 8 Ratings
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        11.02.2012 22:41
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        Nokia has let me down by selling a 3 year old phone under the pretense of a new one

        A few months ago, my previous phone, the Nokia e63 was coming to the end of its life, and I felt that an upgrade was in order. Having had a good run with my Nokia, I looked on the market for something which could improve upon the great experience I had had. Naturally I came to Nokia to find the E5 and decided that as the successor of my previous phone, surely this could be the phone I was looking for. Sadly I was mistaken. Upon opening the box, I found the phone to be much lighter than my e63, however I was somewhat put off by the cheap plastic that Nokia had decided to furnish it with. However from an aesthetic viewpoint, it was nice enough. I was glad to see that the camera was 5mp, however the camera aperture itself is quite large and I believe likely to become scratched if not careful. The menu itself is quite clustered and I reverted it back to the classic interface present in my e63 for simple usability. Begin my disappointment. Despite saying that the symbian OS was improved the E5 is indistinguishable from its predecessors. The podcast application I had enjoyed previously had been removed and honestly the phone simply seemed another iteration of a phone which is 3 years old now. The applications and ovi market are simply quite dated and in dire need of a make over in comparison to the iOS market and android market. My worst discovery was that upon trying to play music, not only was the sound quality worse, but I couldn't change the volume, the side buttons having no affect on the music player. I don't believe it was simply a faulty model as the volume control worked for the youtube application. The screen of the phone is worse than all of its e-series brethren. I read that Nokia had decided to use a cheaper screen which it turns out makes it nigh on impossible to read in sunlight outdoors. While it does have a long battery life, that could be easily found in the other phones of the e-series. I am forced to come to the conclusion that this was simply a cheaply made model to sell money - the £115 price tag is quite ridiculous. Its of a shoddy make with dated software. If you still have any desire to purchase an e-series phone, then I do recommend the e63 and its brothers the e71 and e73 as frankly, any 'improvements' made on this model are of no consequence. The three shop from which I bought it from were gracious enough to allow me to exchange it with another phone, and I chose the HTC Chacha which for only slightly more, is on a whole other level from the E5, and I do wholeheartedly recommend. In short, Nokia has disappointed me, and I haven't looked back since my conversion to HTC.

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      • HTC ChaCha / Smartphone / 17 Readings / 16 Ratings
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        11.02.2012 13:13
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        A powerful little smartphone capable of holding its own against any smartphone on the market.

        Ever considered buying an iphone but have held back because of the price? Then this is the solution for you. The Chacha is the cheap alternative to many expensive smartphones on the market and without significant compromise. It's responsive touchscreen and wide qwerty keypad make it an intuitive and easy interface for the user. Owning an ipod touch myself, I've come to the conclusion that the qwerty keypad is the easiest method of input for writing on a phone and in my experience this is the best qwerty keypad I have encountered to date(surpassing Blackberry and Nokia qwerty pads). The dedicated facebook button is purely optional, and if you don't own a facebook account, the phone in no way forces you to make one. Asthetically, it sits comfortably in the palm with a nice aluminium band wrapping around it, giving it a feel of quality. The curve in the middle feels completely natural - so don't be put off by it. In fact I would go so far as to say that it protects it from damage, as the concave form shelters the screen from damage. The Chacha offers the full diversity of the android market, where you can easily navigate to and any app that strikes your fancy. Its a powerful little smartphone that can hold its own against any other smartphone on the market. Don't be put off by the smaller screen - its quite clear. The phone offers a surprising scope of compatibility with online video play, supporting sites such as blip.tv, where my ipod touch has failed. In the event of the phone not being able to play a media format, the android market comes to the rescue, offering more software to aid your media viewing experience. Of course the phone comes with all the basic functionality of a modern smartphone, i.e email, calendar, wifi, 3g, and its very customisable software can easily be supplemented by the android market. The only downsides I have encountered are these two: The battery life is not great. It will last a day, which is good enough for your average working day, but if you're going to be away from any source of power, then the Chacha isn't the solution. However, this is to be expected of any android phone on the market, and this can be helped by disabling wifi and 3g in the settings. If you are not restrained in downloading apps, you may find that the internal memory is used rather quickly. However, this is remedeed somewhat by the 2GB microsd card supplied with the phone. But beware that some apps will use some internal memory regardless. All in all, the HTC Chacha has something to offer everyone - great compatability, software, communication, a diverse range of apps, and a fantastic user experience. I thoroughly recommend it.

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      • Death Note - Volume 1 (DVD) / DVD / 5 Readings / 5 Ratings
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        24.09.2010 20:26

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        The first volume of Deathnote is an excellent anime.

        Death Note, one of the most popular animes of all time, born from the collective talents of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, Death note tells the story of Light Yagami, a young handsome genius whose life is changed forever when he picks up an item of great power: The Death Note. Dropped by a Shinigami in the human realm, Light uses its power to eradicate crime from the world, and all he needs is a name, and a face. But his attempts do not go unoticed, and super detective L, is swiftly on the case. Whichever of the two win, will be known as justice. Having watched the entire series I can confirm that it is a fantastic anime, definately worth the time I spent watching it, I even gone back and re-watched the series as well as read the original anime. And the begining certainly upholds this. Even though one may consider it dubious by name, give it a chance and you'll be amazed. It separates itself from other animes by its psychological and staggering feats of intelligence, and every moment will keep you tense and wanting more. Give it a shot!

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        21.09.2010 22:45
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        A truly well made game that will have you playing for years to come

        If you want to own the best game on the wii, buy this game. If you want to get the best value for money wii game, buy this game. If you are going to continue owning a wii buy this game. In all seriousness, the game super smash bros brawl is one of the greatest creations in the history of nintendo. Being created on behalf of fan demand, Nintendo brought back one of their old employees to create this game. After years of work and two delays, the game was finally released and its success was huge. With a massive cast of 35 characters, players can choose between these characters and fight in a stage of their choosing, even self created stages! The game operates on the simple but effective concept that whoever survives the longest and kills the most, wins the bout! Items, which can be turned on and off, add an extra layer of tactics to the game, or can simply be used for the hell of it. The game even has a wifi mode, where users can go online and battle with other players across the world. But its not just a multiplayer game. Brawl has a single player mode, where players can play the story mode, train, or choose between different fun modes such as homerun contest (to smash a sandbag as far as you can) and target smash (literally smash the targets in the fastest time). The game also has a peaceful side to it. Players can create stages, view trophies, stickers and photos and replays of their favourite matches. Bored? Why not ask a friend to play online with you by a simple exchange of friendcodes. For me, super smash bros. Brawl is the best game I own. Time after time I come back to it, playing my friends, people online, or even just the cpu's. I can guarantee that this game will Keep you entertained for years to come. This is not just your average fighting game. This is a top quality product from the gaming masters that are nintendo.

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      • Mario Kart (Wii) / Nintendo Wii Game / 4 Readings / 3 Ratings
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        21.09.2010 09:18

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        Mario kart wii is a serious come down from its predecessors, Read to find out why.

        Mario kart wii, one of the most populat games on the wii, a big sale for nintendo. I myself bought it the day it was released, and I wish I hadn't. Frankly if you enjoyed the previous mario kart games, you won't enjoy this. Any element of skill has vanished from this game. The items are so overpowered that literally you could be at the end of the race and still win. It feels like a great series from nintendo has been given the casual Gamer tag, and thousands of people, attracted by the novelty steering mechanism, bought it for their kids. While its improved graphics and a greater number players can now play similtaneously, in my opinion, it is a serious drop in quality from the DS version. Nintendo in their attempts to placate the growing casual games demand has altered the game for its audience, however in doing so, its betrayed the more serious following. Certainly, I can envisage young children enjoying it as well as the casual gamer playing together, and if you see yourself in that category, then don't worry about poor game modes or controls, Nintendo does make good games; I am simply let down by the abandonment of creating a skill based game. If you want a good competitive mario kart game, get the gamecube or DS verion, two excellent mario kart games, which I both posses and highly recomend.

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      • Nintendo DSi / Games Console / 6 Readings / 6 Ratings
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        21.09.2010 00:42
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        A review describing the new and upgraded features, and the target audience.

        The DSi is what the DS should have been when released. I, having stuck loyally to my original DS for over 3 years, decided an urgent upgrade was needed, and like a prayer being answered, nintendo announced the DSi. I pre-ordered on amazon and was delighted when it arrived. I opened up the neatly packed box and instantly fell in love with the black matte finish. Now many think differently over this, but I think that this new finish is a vast improvement over the glossy finish of the lite. To me, that glossiness gave the lite a cheap plasticky feel, like a kiddies toy, but the DSi is a cooler slimmer more adult handheld. Now for the specs. The DSi 's battery life is actually shorter than the lite's, however it still can give you 15 hours of solid gameplay (on lowest brightness and without wireless connectivity in use). It is slimmer than the Lite but slightly longer which means that the old cases will no longer work. The screen is bigger, a necessary addition, one that really enhances a gamers experience. The addition of the SD card slot is something which separates the DSi from its predecesors greatly. This allows for your music to be updated, and for you to upload your photos. The stylus is longer. The gba port has been removed, something which displeases many gamers, but something I personally don't care for. Enhanced sound quality. More 'pressable' buttons', a detail which may seem trivial but surprisingly makes quite a large difference. Power button on the inside. And of course, two 0.3 megapixel cameras, one on the inside and one on the outside. The software has been given a facelift. No more the turning on and off to change between games or settings. The DSi's new navigation system of channels allows for easy selection of applications and smooth navigation between content. The DSi also comes with a lot of new pre-installed software, such as camera channel, and music channel, both of which are very entertaining and interesting to use. The DSi has been given a network boost and can now support any router available, however unfortunately this cannot be extended to DS games which are not exclusively for DSi. My final thoughts are that this is a splendid addition to the nintendo handheld family tree. It contains some much needed upgrades while still letting you enjoy your old games to a higher level. This is definately one of the best purchases I've made, and I recomend upgrading to the DSi even if you have a lite, though if you are thinking of buying this for younger children, you're better off buying a lite. All in all, keep up the good work Nintendo!

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