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    • Sony PSP / Games Console / 47 Readings / 42 Ratings
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      21.05.2006 17:03
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      the walkman of the current generation, a must own

      PSP - mans true best friend…

      Ah, I couldn’t help myself! Im back and writing a review of something that’s really changed my life recently. Yeah it’s a PSP and yep I am as much of a geek as you all assume. So why write a review on the machine now, its been out an age… Well a few reasons recently, one ive been using it on a daily basis now for so long that I think I know it well enough know and secondly its actually started to get some decent games out for it…

      Sonys little machine has sort of under whelmed the whole gaming world. Which while I can understand, doesn’t alter my belief that this truly is THE most important gadget to come out in the last 10 years. A bold statement I know, but ill explain some more later on…

      As a pure gaming machine, the jury is stil out to be honest. If you want a pure games machine, stick to a Nintendo DS for now. Saying that, the games are getting far better and I shall list my top 4 later on for you to have a look at, but for now, some details.

      The machine…
      **
      Well its not a small thing that’s for sure, its around 8 inches or so wide and at least 3-4 high. So this is no clamshell GBA, it needs a decent sized pocket to fit into. Not that it’s a bad thing mind, because most of its size is taken up with a big (and I mean big) widescreen display. Boy, it’s a joy to play games and watch video on this puppy, so I forgive it the large size. Its also not too light either, the battery on the back takes up a nice chunk of weight. It also manages to fit a nice analogue control stick AND a d pad onto its left size. Despite its size, after some adjusting, you do get used to it fitting into yout hand when playing games. I must confess that it did take some time to adjust to the analogue D – pad and I did fear I just would never get used to it, but I did.

      The machine plays its games and movies on UMD discs. These a small discs in a plastic cover to prevent scratching. Of course having a spinning disc has its downside, it needs to be powered so the battery life is cut compared to solid state portable devices like the GBA. That’s the only real major downside of the PSP, its battery life is awful. The large LCD screen, UMD drive and powerful CPU really do drain the power. You are lucky to get 3 hours on game play on one charge, so consider this. Its not all bad though, you can get spare batteries for about £15 (non sony) and even double size ones for £25. I have 3 batteries and they are small enough and can easily be swapped over, a bonus over the GBA and ipod.

      Multimedia
      **
      Oh yep, this doesn’t just play games. The PSP on its latest firmware is a multimedia wizz, it’s the most advanced media device out there. Its handling of audio and video is unsurpassed. It plays mp3, wma and AAC for the audio and plays mpeg4 ASP and AVC. Not to get too techy, but mpeg 4 ASP is the Divx/xvid format that you may be aware of online. AVC is its newer bigger brother, a far more advanced and powerful video codec. I know the ipod also handles AVC (or h.264 as its also know), but sadly the square ipod screen is poor and does not do any modern TV or movie justice. The PSP does though, and you can encode your own TV shows or DVD’s for free. In fact I have an ultra tech site devoted to the whole subject:
      http://www.bontragerphotography.com/psp/

      if you follow those guides, you will be able to fit hours of TV onto a single 1gb card, which is amazing.

      Ive recently been flying back and forth to the US and I can say the PSP has changed my travel for good. No longer do I have to watch whatever BA are showing, or wait for the next movie to start. On my last trip I watched an episode of lost, desperate housewives and also managed to watch the film Go, which really made the trip fly along. Ive also recently become an uncle, so have to go upto bath a lot, and the 90 min train from Paddington to bath is 2 episodes of lost ;) a joy….

      The video is amazing, the audio uses the same formats as the ipod (in fact I use itunes to rip my CD’s….) So as media player, its amazing. All you need to do is make sure you get as large a memory stick as you can afford and you will be laughing.

      Games.
      **
      Hmm, I know that if you look at online review sites, the PSP doesn’t appear to be doing too well. I think things have changed these last few months though and you have at least now got some 5 star games to chose from. Sure it has no Mario kart or animal crossing like the DS, but it does have GTA, burnout, daxter, lumines and virtua tennis. If I am honest, I have played my PSP every day since its purchase at xmas. I find myself loading up burnout if the TV is getting a little dull, I play the PSP version more than I do the PS2 version. Also, GTA is fantastic. A little lacking compared to the PS2 versions, but still a classic game, if it does feel a little rushed. Im still amazed that I can drive around the same liberty city on my PSP as I did on my PS2. Also, one game that was a classic on the dreamcast is virtua tennis 2 and it’s a classic on the PSP as well. All of the games I own are extremely involving and have gameplay that lasts for ages, in fact I have yet to complete any of my games, but I still load them up frequently.

      The graphics are by far the best on any portable system seem to date, at least upto playstation 1 standards and make my GBA look very dated. As well all know though, games aren’t just about looks, so the DS would still probably be my first choice as a pure games machine

      The loading times can sometimes be a little slow due to the disc being accessed, but luckily not so bad as to put you off playing. I have heard that games like pro evo really suffer, but I hope that’s something they learn to work on in future version.

      Overall
      **
      Yeah, its sexy but boy does it pack a punch. As a games machine, its getting there, as a media device its already top of the pack and looks like its not going to beaten for a while. If you’re a games player who does a little traveling, this puppy is ideal. I am off again to the US next month and the 11 hour flight doesn’t phase me at all, in fact ill be saving up a few weeks of lost and housewives, just to make it nip along even faster! The down sides are the cost of UMD movies, why pay out twice for a film if you own it on DVD. My advice is to follow my guide and rip your own
      http://www.bontragerphotography.com/psp/

      I really couldn’t recommend it enough, to me it’s the walkman on the current generation, finally bringing portable video to the masses when you get bored off playing GTA or daxter

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      • Dyson DC04 / Vacuum Cleaner / 53 Readings / 47 Ratings
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        02.08.2005 16:14
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        powerful, convenient to use

        Boy aren’t I becoming domesticated… first george foreman grills and now vacuum cleaners. I don’t know where it all went wrong, but I should be reviewing cool gadgets and 241 inch plasma screen TV’s. Oh well, I guess that’s what happens when you nudge towards 30. that looks very scary to write, im still a 15 year old kid at school, well that’s how I feel anyway! Oh shut up deets, we don’t wanna hear this…

        Anyway, onto the cleaner :o


        Well it’s a dyson. My second dyson actually, the first lasted very well but last week sadly passed onto the other side. It’s a little hard to review this as it kinda only does one thing, but ill do my best, don’t panic.

        Okay, its your standard upright cleaner and as usually with dyson, it has no bag. The dirt and dust gets sucked up into the main chamber, which you just unclip and then tip into your plastic bag. Lovely! I know these have been around for a while now, but I still have nightmares about the bags on my very first cleaner, what a pain in the chump that was. One other side of the clear plastic container is that you can see just how dirty your house really is! I had to leave it a week for the new one to be delivered and when I did the cleaning on the first day, I wept when I saw just how much dirt me and the cat bring in.

        Once the cleaner arrived from ebuyer, it was easy enough to setup. On principle I refused to read instruction manuals as you shouldn’t need to really for something like this. I was up and cleaning up all dirt withins minutes. The first thing I noticed was just how noisy this little beast is, although Im taking that as a positive as it means its very strong, the high whine was a little off putting and managed to cause a few bats to crash mid flight.

        It’s a nice simple unit to use, just unwrap the cord from the convenient cord holder on the back, plug it in, push down on the front and off you go. The handle is also the extension pipe for doing the stairs and carpets. A very handy addition, no more having to go find the pipe, its built in. Just press the clip on the front, pull down the cover and attach your desired attachment. A nice touch is the molded attachment holders, you don’t need to go hunting in the cupboard under the stairs, your attachments fit snuggly into molded fittings on the unit itself, genius!

        This one is a weird lime green and silver model. The old one was lemon yellow and silver. Both are hideous, but the lime green wins. Not that it matters though, you just use the thing to clean, its no lifestyle product, so all your powerbook owners will have to waste your money on something else, probably chrome and Swedish :P Its easy enough to move around although probably a little too heavy for someone with joint problems.

        Overall im very happy, it cleans very well. The little touches like molded attachment holder and little plug clip are very nice. It is however very loud, more than the old one, and it looks awful. I really suggest you look at ebuyer.com as I got it for £120+delivery, which was a nice surprise.

        It really does have a powerful motor and should handle whatever you throw at it, my carpets really do look kind of like new again!

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        • More +
          16.06.2005 19:39
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          • "the name is a bit naff"

          Well about time I dipped my toe into the kitchen…

          So here we go, my latest addition to the deets culinary experience is the george foreman grill. This is one of the older models, no fancy bun warming or timers here. Just a two plated grill that either turns on or off. Don’t be sad though, it’s a good thing really, well to me anyway!

          I don’t need a bun warmer or fancy thermostat functions to confuse and scare me. I just want a grill to cook my sausages and other delights. This does the job just fine. It’s the jumbo size one though, ideal for when I have my friends (come on, were not that stupid…) round for some food. Didn’t really need the jumbo version, but heck it was half price and the thought of doing half my cooked breakfast on the one grill was just too tempting…

          So, the design of the unit is your standard clam shell. The heavy lid drops back revealing the grilling surface on the top and bottom. Yep that’s right, this puppy cooks on both sides, considerably speeding up the process. This is no gimmick, if you do what I used to do and grilled your sausages under the grll in your oven, the george will seriously speed up that process. Of course the food is still cooked through thoroughly, in fact you have to be extra careful at first not to over cook things as you just expect them to take longer. Apart from the lid, there isn’t really much else to say about the design. Has a little orange light in the middle that goes off when the thing has heated up. It’s a simply designed tool that is easy enough to use and clean, more about that later!

          So why should you consider getting one? Well, if your like me and your old oven had an oven/grill combo thingy, you had to deal with the fact that you couldn’t cook your grilled sausages and oven chips at the same time! Crazy, how is a man supposed to live without sausages and chips… I tell you, it wasn’t easy and now my life is noticeably better since george came and joined my life. The other reason is health. Now this isn’t quite as important as they advertise. If you used to grill things anyway, well this isn’t going to be any healthier, the fat from my old bacon would drip into the grill tray underneath anyway. Saying that, if you fried your food or used a shallow grill pan, you will get some nice health benefits. Trust me, food not swimming in fat and oil actually tastes better! TO give you some evidence, my “fry up” now only actually contains one fried item, the bread… the rest is all grilled, so that heart attack is on hold for a while longer ;)

          There is a little fat tray that you place under the front which catches all the fat that comes from your food. Sure we have all seen the demo on TV and it really is like that. High fat foods like bacon and sausages will soon fill your tray up with heart killing grease, not nice, but strangely fascinating…

          Another reason is speed. Yep george cooks fast. Be it frozen or not, sausages or burgers, george will cook them in no time. This is great, you frozen tesco finest sausages will cook quicker than they used to from fresh! Im sure the idea of spending less time in the kitchen appeals to us all… To give an example, a thick sausage will take about 7 minutes to cook through well. I know its hard to believe, but that’s the way it is, deal with it. You get a little booklet with the unit saying how long things take to cook, these aren’t lies and like me, you will probably burn a few things in fear of undercooking them. I once got a bit carried away and made my own burgers, not only could it cook about 8 at one time, but they were all nicely done in about 6 minutes. Very impressed!

          The only down I can think of is the price, and maybe the cleaning. If your lucky like me and see one on sale, think about it. The cleaning isn’t too bad I guess, but you cant put it in the dishwasher like I could with the old grill sheet ;) It will take a few minutes to clear off the sausage residue and then clean it down. I find some stuff gets caught in the front elevated area which is there to stop things rolling off the grill, but it takes a little longer with a dish brush to clean that out. Not a major issue, but does sometimes peeve me when I realise I haven’t cleaned it post burger session.

          So, that’s the grill. Ideal for those without a separate grill, who want to get healthy after frying everything, or if you don’t have the time to cook your sausages for 16 minutes and even those who would like a combined grill and toasted sandwich maker! Yep, you hear me right, a couple of slices of bread buttered on the outside with some cheese and chopped onion, pop in the george for a few mins and you have great toasted sandwiches! Awesome as my friends on the west side say. The little booklet also has a few recipe suggestions and ive tried a couple, the burgers and some chicken thing, both very nice!

          So there you go, if you have thought about getting one, maybe you should cross that line from ponderer to purchaser, your “fry ups” will taste so much better and you wont have that heart attack before your 45…

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          • Half-Life 2 (PC) / PC Game / 36 Readings / 31 Ratings
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            22.05.2005 18:36
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            • steam

            Okay, shes gone, of course I was forced into this title after the doom3 “incident” that resulted in me eating pizza and sleeping on the couch for a week. It appear someone on DY emailed Mrs. Deets about the comments in the last op and she wasn’t best pleased… I think I know who it was , so watch your back…

            Anyway, ill be dumping her soon as I have my eyes on someone else ;)


            Right, enough of that crap, onto Half-Life 2.

            Can I just start by saying that if you are into computer games and don’t own HL2, then someone has gone seriously wrong, maybe you fell down a hole for 10 months. I am sure the vast majority of PC owning gamers will have this in their collection. It’s the game of the year, no, it’s the game of the decade. Scratch that, its beauty was the reason god gave me eyes in the first place, its delicate control the real reason we have opposable thumbs.

            I really do come out with some crap don’t eye, “YES” scream the crowd.

            Okay, well HL2, like Doom3, has been out for ages now. Again, I have finally completed the game, so its time to put fingers to keys and share the experience with my dear friends on DY.

            The Game and stuff
            *** *** ***

            So, its been year since Half-Life 1 was out, literally years. The benchmark that HL1 set was always going to be hard to beat, but the project seemed to be a labour of love, so we had some hope. To be honest, I never actually finished HL1, this ranks as the biggest regret of my 29 years on this lump of metal. I don’t actually know how it ended, and although I went back to try and complete it when I got steam (more later), I never quite did the final level on a floaty platform thing. SO, I don’t actually know what happened at the end of HL1, something to do with that weird guy im guessing. Ah who cares.

            So your back, playing through the eyes of Gordon Freeman, all round uber human. You survived the nightmare of the black mesa labs, and now your back for another helping of killing and trying to stay alive.

            You start off on a train, heading into city 17. A little like the first game. This time though your enemy are the combine soldiers under the control of Dr breen. Wow, I actually remember some of the plot! So that’s about that, you have to battle your way through many level to find and kill the evil Dr Breen destroy all the evil structure setup to oppress and control the masses.

            I liked how it went with doom3, so next will be the good and bad about the game….

            The good (not just good mind you..)
            *** *** ***

            Oh, where do I start. It realty is no exaggeration to say this game is one of the most complete games I have ever played. It has it all, beauty, depth, the game physics, fun (in buckets) and a level of detail I have never seen before.

            As soon as you load up the game and wander about, you know your in a living breathing world that does actually exist somewhere. Its amazing, the quality of the graphics and the textures on all the levels just work so well. Unlike doom3, there is a lot of variation. From the bleak homes of the oppressed to the industrial beauty of the final levels. There are water levels, prison levels, tunnel levels, beach levels, city levels and probably many more.

            Not that any of this would mean anything, but the rest of the game works so well. It really does feel like every tiny element of the game has been tweaked and balanced to work so well. The levels all feel different and have their own character. The enemies, from the columbine soldiers to the zombies are all well produced and have pretty good AI.

            It’s a pretty long game, so expect it to take a while to complete, but its not chore. In fact I had to reinstall and when I went to my steam back ups, I found they were corrupt, but I was actually pleased I had to start all over again. I still load up the game to fire the odd blade through a zombie using the G gun!

            Yep, the gravity gun. A device like no other ive seen. IT lets your pick up things and fire them at your enemy. Not that great if you pick up a pot of paint, but takes on an interesting twist when you pick up large saw mill blades or highly explosive gas canisters. The joy! The gravity gun really does show off the amazing physics in this game, another standard setter. It’s a joy to pick up a box and fling it into the air watching it bounce off the roofs realistically.

            So that will do for the good stuff, don’t want to bore you anymore than we have to ;)


            The bad (gonna be short…)
            *** *** ***

            Hmm, so what is wrong with the game? Well as to the game itself, not much. You could probably argue that the water levels go on a little long, but in hindsight I did find myself enjoying them, I think I just wanted to get onto exploring more of the world.

            Steam is also one of the biggest complaints about the game. Steam is an online content delivery system. Its run by the games maker, valve, and is a way of delivering the entire game over the net and any updates that need to delivered. I bought the game via steam as it worked out cheaper, but it still took a while to download. I have 3mb NTL connection, but it never tops the connection out, not even close, so I am left waiting ages for the patches…

            Not really a fault of the game, but valve and HL2 live hand in hand, so cant be ignored 

            Apart from that, there isn’t really much to complain about. It ran very fluidly on my older radeon 9800 pro, which was a great at 1280x1024…

            To conclude
            *** ***

            What can I say, own a PC, go get this game! You really will be glad you did, it’s a joy and you will go back and play it all again. A deets promise of satisfaction, if your not happy, come back and ill refund you 130% of the price (I wont actually, but it looks good).

            Even the current Mrs. Deets enjoys playing the game, lets hope she gets to complete it before I give her the boot

            ;)

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            • Doom 3 (PC) / PC Game / 34 Readings / 33 Ratings
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              19.05.2005 19:56
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              Oh I am a funny one. But its true, Doom 3 is very very pretty, but equally shallow.


              Not that it’s a bad thing though, in fact a bit of mindless demon killing every now then keeps deets a happy boy.

              An Introduction
              ****

              So, Doom 3. Been out for ages now, old stuff in the computer world. So, why am I reviewing it now? Well, for the main reason I’ve pretty much completed the game, bar the final level. How can you comment on a game until you have seen the vast majority of what is has to offer? Not me said the flea, and he was right.

              See, Doom3 has got quite a bit of bad press. Well that’s not so true, its got quite a bit of average press for the game and a lot of bad press for not living up to the hype. Its almost now been forgotten since the almighty half life 2 came upon this world (review to follow, bet you cant wait..). Considering the original doom and doom2 are held with such affection by so many of us older gamers, it was always going to be very hard to live up to the hype. Personally, after months of playing it, I think it has.

              The story is apparently the same as the first one, you’re a solider who has to go to some mars base and kills lot of things or something. Really, if you want a plot, go read a book. This is about pumping demons full of lead, and it does its job well. The main setting is inside the mars base of some mining company, UAC or something its called. Im not being vauge because im stupid (well maybe!) but I just don’t really care what the mining base is called, or really if it is even a mining company, they could sell hand knitted scarfes for all I care. The fact is there is a big building that’s been taken over with demons and its your job to go in a kill them all.

              Its your standard FPS (first person shooter) game, you look through the eyes of the marine your controlling. As usual, you have an arsenal of weapons that breaks every law of physics known to man. Of course you start of with your little pistol and the rest of the weapons get dribbled out over the course of the game. There of course is your standard shotgun, probably the most famous weapon from the original and will probably be your standard death stick for most of the game. None of the weapons really stand out, the “soul cube” is an interesting one at the very end, and the BFG (big fking gun) is also pretty meaty. No gravity gun here though, the weapons are all pretty usual stuff that you find in most other games of this type.


              The good
              ****
              Okay, im not going to go on anymore about the innards of the game, Im going to list the pros of the gam and then the cons. What I like first, and then what I don’t like!

              So, what is this game good at? Its not exactly mentally taxing, it hardly takes any time to learn how to play, there are no puzzles to solve and certainly no detailed manual to read. That’s its joy, it’s a beautiful and simple ride. It’s a dark game, you will need to bind the flashlight to a mouse button, but that lends it to be a very atmospheric game. The claustrophobic and industrial mars base is intertwined with organic demon flesh and occult imagery. The looks works well, but to be honest it does get repetitive. Luckily things do get a bit more mixed up later on when you have the wondrous level where you go into hell to find the “soul cube” weapon.

              Did I say it was pretty? It is, the opengl graphics are a dream, you can literally see the blood pumping through the organic demon veins that pulse up through the metallic floor. The mars base textures are extremely good, plenty of variation on the same theme, but you do feel it’s a living breathing mars base (well was anyway…). The monsters are also pretty good, my personal favourite being little winged cherubs who look like little angels until they start eating at your face. Nice. A couple of shot gun carts to the head soon ends their petty existence. The are quite a range of enemies, from possessed marines, fat zombies with open shirts, toxix spiders that come in packs, fireball spitting demons and many others. There are also a few “bosses” as well, all well designed, and the hell level boss with its 3 lantern carrying flying things is a classic in my book.

              I love it. The pure adrenalin of running around shooting things in close quarters is great, the dark atmosphere leads to a few jumpy moments and this is best played with the sound up load. That will do for its good points, now onto its bad ones…


              The Bad
              ****

              Well sadly this much beauty comes at a price. This little flea requires a meaty PC to run at high res on high setting. I have a p4 3.6 and a 6800GT overclocked and I can run it at 1280x1024 on high settings and 2XAA, but I still get the odd bit of slow down. To play this at a smooth level, you will need at least a 9800 pro, or either drop the quality level down to nothing. Not that it doesn’t still look good at the lower resolution or settings, its just not as good. Also, the game is dark, very dark. You will be using your torch most of the time, and you cant carry a weapon and a torch at the same time. This put a lot of people off, but I bind the torch to mouse button 4 and then its only a quick swith to load it up and then off again. I can see their point though, I also have to raise the gamma level. Dark is one thing, so dark you cant see all the time is another.

              I can also see why some think its repetitive, it is pretty much. No changing scenarios like in half life 2, just lots of mars base and lots of demonic stuff. The industrial look does get a bit much and it would have been a lot nicer if the hell type levels had maybe been interspersed more often and at an earlier stage. A lot of people got bored of the game and never really pushed on to the later levels, which is a real shame. I was also one of them, but I came back to it and invested the time to get into it all again.


              To conclude
              ****

              Hmm, this is hard one for me, while I personally love the game, I can really see why some folk would not be too impressed at all. I think you have to be a fan of the first games as well, the shotgun killing really is a doom trademark. You will have to bind the mouse and bump up the brightness on your meaty PC. If your like me and take it for what it is, I really think a lot of people would enjoy this type of game. If you see it for cheap, then give it a go, take months to complete it, but just enjoy it while you do.

              Oh, and yeah the title is sexist and unfair. Its wrong of me to say Mrs. Deets is pretty and shallow, shes actually a bit of a dog….

              ;)

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              • Canon Canoscan LiDE 80 / Scanner / 28 Readings / 28 Ratings
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                05.02.2005 16:49
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                A new member to the deets family! A shiny new scanner, yey to me. No I don’t just buy this stuff as im a geek, I do actually need it for work. Considering I was recently in the FT (yeah shameless self promotion), I kinda need the latest kit to scan the article in uber high res ;)

                Anyway, onto the scanner. First things, this isn’t a cheap scanner. Saying that, its not overly expensive at £110 either, but probably over kill for someone getting into scanning. I started off with a £40 umax scanner that did the job fine for a while, but now I needed the extra resolution and features that comes on this scanner.

                For those interested, the scanners optical resolution is 2400 dpi x 4800 dpi and 48 bit colour. That basically means it can scan at very high quality and with an excellent colour reproduction. More than good enough for your home family photos or if you want to print them up on your home printer. The extra resolution comes in very handy if you want blow up a small part of your photo and keep it very high quality, which I do. The unit also comes with a negative scanner, so you no longer have to go back to the shop to get reprints, you can scan the negatives and print at home. Or if you have old negatives from years back, but don’t have the pics, you can now scan the negatives and get the picture on your computer. Very handy, a little more on this later.

                Right, so as I know this important to some folk (usually mac owners :p) heres a bit about how the scanner looks. Now, as much as I am a geek, I wouldn’t normally be too fussed over how something looks as long as it works well, but if they do both, well hey, break out the champers. This scanner is small, very small, height wise that is. Its about half the height of my old scanner and comes with brushed metal top, very nice! It also can be put on its side if your very short of space, nice touch I would guess, and it does work as I tested it :D

                Okay, the unit also has a nice touch, the usb 2.0 cable also provides the power, so no need to take up an extra plug socket. Very nice considering things were getting pretty crowded under my desk with optical mice, printers, monitors, all requiring their own power supply. The USB 2.0 also means it’s a fast scanner, much faster than my old usb 1.0 scanner. Its hard to say if that’s purely due to usb 2.0 or due to the fact that it’s a modern scanner with the latest technology, but USB 2.0 would always be the wise bet if your buying a new scanner.

                Onto the scans, at last I hear you shout!! Well as per usual with the scanner, when you select scan from your imaging software, it loads up the canon scanning window. This lets you select the simple or advanced mode. In simple mode you just select what your scanning, photo, magazine etc. then you can select preview and the software will crop to just scan the photo. If you select advanced then you can select all kinds of settings from DPI to scratch removal and other functions. Handy if you want to do something a bit more advanced, but the simple mode will do for your normal home scans. Once you hit scan, away it goes. If you selected simple mode, then a normal size print will scan pretty quickly, about 30 seconds. Of course if you changed anything under advanced, then expect it to take a little longer. The quality of the scans is excellent, the best quality I have seen from a scanner. The colour reproduction is excellent and the quality of the reproduction is also superb. You can zoom in and it still keeps the high quality, ideal for cropping the image down. I got my old dad to take a look as hes an expert butterfly photographer (oh dear, see its not my fault!) and he scanned in some of his cherished butterfly pics and was amazed at the quality. So deet Snrs gives it a big thumbs up :D It also has a built in dust and scratch remover, very handy because this can show up a lot more if your blowing up the image using the higher resolution settings. It will slow the scanning down considerably, but worth it if your wanting to blow something up.

                The unit also comes with plenty of software for scanning and OCR (optical character recognition) but I would be a lying little flea if I had said I had used any of it. I just do all my scanning into paint shop pro and macromedia fireworks as the TWAIN driver allows you to use whatever image software you have, but if you don’t have any, im sure the provided software will be good enough for basic stuff.

                Overall, very happy with the scanner, if I were a monkey I would swap all my bananas for one. but im not, so ill just say that its definitely worth considering if your looking for a good range, fast and well featured scanner.


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                • More +
                  24.01.2005 18:44
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                  • "cats still walk on it :("

                  Well I was sitting here trying to think up a title for this masterpiece and nothing was coming to mind. Then little piglet came running in and decided it was time she had some attention, so up she jumped onto the desk and right across my lovely new wireless desktop. It seems cats are no respecters of state of the are computer kit, which is a shame, but at least it gave me a title :D

                  Okay, this is going to be quite simple, the Logitech MX wireless bundle consists of 3 parts. One wireless optical mouse, one wireless keyboard and one radio base station/mouse recharger. Okay, please bear with me while the cat gets put outside, otherwise this wont ever get done… boy did I get a look then. Anyway, as I say, 3 parts, ill go into detail on them now, here we go…

                  Okay, all your kit is wireless, but you still need some way of sending the data back to your pc. This is were the little base station/mouse cradle comes in. Its quite a small little cradle that has its own power supply and has 2 connectors coming from the back which plug into the mouse and keyboard inputs of your lovely computer. Don’t panic though, you can put the cradle at the back of your desk and there it will sit without a problem. It has a little connect button on the front which you press and then press the connect button on the mouse and keyboard, this locks the devices to each other so it gets the right signal. It also has the caps lock and number lock lights on it, which is a little weird for those of us used to the num lock/caps lock light being on the keyboard itself. Its fine though, so don’t worry, you will get used to it. Okay, as well as being the base unit to receive the wireless signals, its also the mouse recharger. Yep, no more batteries for you! This baby will power the mouse up to keep it running without a hitch, more on the mouse later. That’s about it for the base station/cradle. It looks nice though, all colour co-ordinated in black and silver and is small enough to not be intrusive on your desktop. It might be handy though to place it away from other electrical devices if possible and also to try not to block it behind anything so it can get the signal. Saying that, ive never lost the signal on either device, even when moving them a few metres away.

                  The fun bit now, the mouse! Oh yep, this is a lovely little baby, wireless, optical and re chargeable! Does it get any better? Im sure you all shouted “no!!” as I did… Oh dear, I should get some help. Anyway, the mouse is the trusted Logitech mx700 which has a solid reputation already as a good all round mouse, even for gaming. Once again it looks the part in sleek black and brushed silver, but if your someone who buys computer stuff on looks then I probably wont like you anyway. Okay, the details, it has 8 configurable buttons, one being the scroll wheel. There are two side buttons which are set as back and forward in your web browser, much handier to navigate through your pages and you will soon get used to it. As I said, all the buttons can be configured to your needs and you can set the scroll wheel line number etc. Its all very nice, the buttons are well placed, but you would expect that. Being optical, you don’t need your mouse matt anymore! Very nice, but be aware that it may have problems on glass or shiny surfaces, but otherwise you should be fine. It’s a very responsive mouse, the optical sensor is very fast and is very good for windows. I also play games with it, half life2, counter strike source etc. and I haven’t had any problems with lag. It glides smoothly over the surface and is a joy to use and im sure you would like it as well. The batter life is good, I haven’t yet had it run out, but it’s a good idea to get used to putting it in its dock while its not being used for any length of time. It also switches itself off when its not used, so it wont power down.

                  The whole kit is colour co-ordinated, the keyboard is mainly black but has the brushed silver on the buttons and a main central dash. Again, it has no cord, so you can move it around and about! Unlike the mouse though, it does require batteries. Which is a shame, but I guess making the keyboard rechargeable was just too much of a headache and may not work. So far though I haven’t had to replace the batteries, but I do keep a pack of AA batteries in the desk though to be safe when it does happen. Well it’s a multimedia keyboard, which means you can control your music player from it as well with the usual play, stop, mute etc. buttons. Maybe useful for some, but I never got used to them on any keyboard. It also has the usual buttons for loading up your email or websites and such. It used the Logitech itouch software which allows your to re configure any of the buttons to your own needs. Those on slower systems, or no desire for the extra functions, may wish to turn this off to save system resources. It also has a little scroll wheel on the left, just like on the mouse and this can be configured to do many things like scroll through your music tracks, raise the volume or scroll through documents like the main scroll wheel. You can also have an F-lock key which when pressed gives the Function (f1 f2 etc.) keys an alternative use, such as save print etc. Might be handy for someone! The keyboard is general very good, the keys are nice and responsive and the wrist rest, like with most keyboards, is fine. Cant fault it!

                  Overall it’s a very good package, the mouse is excellent and the keyboard is very good. Range seems fine, although I haven’t tested it fully, a few metres is the most I have used it so far. If your tired of getting snagged on wires then this should be something you should have a look at, the mouse is very good and its nice not having to worry about batteries for it. For gamers, this kit is also fine, although I would still think if you’re a hardcore CS player then a wired setup may be better. For the rest of us, well we can enjoy it, although maybe better for dog owners ;)

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                  • Panasonic KX-TCD455E / Telephone / 26 Readings / 22 Ratings
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                    05.01.2005 18:01
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                    Im someone that’s on the phone quite a bit, in fact I just got my phone bill today and I nearly fell off my chair. Up until recently I had survived with a fine cable and wireless phone, and I felt my phone life was just fine.

                    It wasn’t, not by a long shot. Like with so many things, once you go cordless, you cant go back. I didn’t realise just how restricted you are on a corded phone, its like a baby not cutting the umbilical cord (what??). Now I have freedom, freedom to walk and talk, cook and talk, pee and talk. The list is endless, and im loving every second of it.

                    Okay, a bit technical now. This model is a DECT cordless phone, which means its digital (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications, thanks google!). The phone comes in 2 bits, the main base unit and the phone itself. It has rechargeable batteries that charge when the phone is in the dock. They suggest a good long charge at first, over 7 hours, but after that you can put it on the charger when its not being used and it will top itself up. It also has a pager function in case you lose the phone, press it on the base unit and the phone will keep ringing. If you have 2 phones, you can take them to the shops and use as walkie talkies, very cool :D you can setup a number of various ring tones depending on who is calling and what group they belong to, but to be honest the range of tones is poor. Ive also never lost the signal, however far if gone walking about the house.

                    Well onto the phone itself. It has a 3 line back lit display, it comes in a gun metal grey and has a mini pad in the middle for navigation. I found it pretty simple to pick up, anyone who has used a mobile phone in the last 10 years will have no problems with it. It has a nice weight to it and feels solidly built. Its my first venture into cordless phones, but I was nicely surprised by the line quality, no different to my old phone, but with this you can adjust the volume on the handset, which is nice. It also has a speaker built in so you can use it as a speaker phone, very handy if you need to wait inline for NTL customer support ;)

                    The screen and mini pad control make for easy navigation, its just a case of tapping on the pad to navigate through the options. Im a newbie when it comes to DECT phones, so it took me a bit to work out that you have to turn the ringer off on the base and on the phone if you want to be left in peace to sleep all day ;) I soon got used to adding number into the 200 slot phone book. I have caller display, and adding a number to the phonebook after they call is very simple. Also, this phone does have SMS facility, but being on NTL I can only receive sms from some mobile networks (well only orange so far!) and I cant send anything L but it’s a nice feature if you have caller id and a bt phone.

                    I could go on about tech specs which mean little to me, so if you want to find out how many handsets etc you can use with this unit, have a look here:

                    http://www.netelectrics.biz/product.asp?ProdID=1562&CtgID=

                    Overall, very happy with the phone, especially for the price. Good line quality, good build quality and plenty of options to play about with.

                    Oh, and as for the title, I don’t think ill share ;)

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                    • More +
                      26.05.2004 08:30
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                      • "still makes me look like a gimp in photos"

                      Ahh. Well back to the things I know best, electronic gadgets. Im sure many of you have thought about getting a digital camera, but now the price has gone down and the quality has gone up, it?s a great time to make the plunge. What ever you want one for, the cats, the kids parties, the wife in her tigger ears and nothing else, it doesn?t really matter. I wont beat about the bush, this is a very high quality camera, probably too high quality for most of us, well I know it is for me. But heck, the dollar exchange rate was just too good ;) Anyway, I could reel off stats etc. but they can be found on most websites, ill try and keep it simple. (http://digitalcameras.kelkoo.co.uk/b/a/ps_318188/124901.html) Anyway, ill get onto the camera itself. Well it?s a 5 megapixel camera so have 5 million effective pixels, basically it can take very high resolution images (2592x1944). Its has 3x optical zoom for closing in on your subject, which isnt that much, but is handy enough. You can either look through the standard view finder or compose your photo via the 1.5? LCD RGB screen on the back. The camera itself is simple laid out, the zoom is controlled by a tilting thumb control and you can select your function via a rotating dial. You can switch it to photo mode, video mode, setup or playback. All pretty simple, photo is for standard pics, video is for video clips, setup is pretty obvious :p and playback allows you to go back through your pics and clips to view or modify (such as rotate, crop or delete). Its all quite intuitive and a short read through the manual should get you going with the basics. To move through the menus or images you have a little four way pad with a select button in the middle, all easily accessible with the thumb. That?s the good thing about the camera, if you?re a novice you can just set it to auto mode and let it make all the selections for you and away you go. The camera even makes a shutter noise when you press the button, just
                      so you feel like your taking a real photo ;) It?s a 5mp camera, but of course you can select a lower resolution if you wish, 4.1mp, 3mp, 1.2mp or VGA, the lower the resolution the more images you can store. The camera uses memory stick or memory stick pro for 128mb upwards. On the auto mode the images are very good, the colours are vibrant and the images are clear and crisp, good enough for the amateur that?s for sure. You can either view your images on the LCD screen, upload them to your PC or even view them on your TV via the supplied cable (NTSC or PAL). If you just want to take snaps, leave it on auto and it will do the rest, of your more of an expert (not me!) you can mess about with all the settings. Its quite a heavy camera mind, and didn?t come with a case, but those can be picked up very cheap. The video mode is quite handy, it has a built in mic so can pick up basic sound (can also be used to attach voice to pics and make memos) and it records in a compressed mpeg format at either 640x480 or 160x120 in email mode, although the frame rate is about 15fps so don?t expect anything tv standard. On my 256mb card I can fit around 110 images at full resolution in fine mode, I could fit in a lot more if I used the standard mode, but this would compress the image more. It comes with a 16mb card, but that will get you about 8 images on the 5mp setting, so you would need a higher capacity card. It comes with a two battery charger and rechargeable NiMH batteries that wont last you too long, best to do what I did and get another lot of batteries. I even bought another Duracell charger because it could do 4 batteries at once, left the things in the US mind, so im stuck having to use the slow sony one. To be honest I haven?t used the software that came with it, I just use paint shop pro. If you have WinXP you can just plug the camera into your USB port and its ready to use as a removable drive, you could store other things on it if you so
                      wish ed. I f you have win2k or older, you need to install a small USB driver, but its all simple enough. I think the best thing to do would be to include a link to a few pics at the end I have taken with my new little baby, these are cropped and recompressed for the web mind, but should give you a good idea of just how nice the images can look. The camera costs around £200 here in the UK, but if your after a good range camera that will cover all your needs, you cant go wrong. If your only interested in snaps for the web, or aren?t too interested in re-editing, go for a cheaper model, say a 3mp camera instead. http://homepage.ntlworld.com/deets75/dy/DSC00929.jpg http://homepage.ntlworld.com/deets75/dy/DSC00328.jpg Anyway, would have put this op up a little sooner had I not blown my mainboard while trying to hook up the front USB ports while heavily jet lagged, a lesson to be learnt there im sure ;) and totally off topic, but this is in honour of my old cat eric whose gone blind while I was away :( http://homepage.ntlworld.com/deets75/dy/DSC00896.jpg

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                      • Top 10 Films in general / Discussion / 8 Readings / 42 Ratings
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                        22.08.2002 03:51
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                        The war scenes are as you would expect, showing some of the repugnant things that anyone in a war has to go through. The whole theme of this f ilm for me is friendship, the main friendship between Michael (De Niro) and Nick (Walken) is one formed over years and is based on a deep trust for each other, which saves their lives over in Vietnam. Probably the most powerful film I have seen, the ending is one that will leave you feeling emotional, especially if it?s the first time you have watched it. A film that truly deserves the accolade "classic".

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                        • NTL / Telecommunications Service / 4 Readings / 55 Ratings
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                          16.08.2002 23:04
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                          EDIT: now NTL have introduced a cap of 1gb of data a day, I would strongly advise getting ADSL. NTL broadband is no longer "unlimited" the 1mbit service would hit the 1gb cap after 2 1/2 hours at full speed. ADSL is not capped, DO NOT GET NTL BROADBAND UNTIL THEY REMOVE THIS CAP. http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?NTL Conclusion It's a poor. service and gives you flexibility of prices. If you're a high net user then this is a must really, you wont believe the difference of having a permanent connection and not taking up a phone line! If you also want a digital cable TV service then NTL offers the whole package at a good price and with a good service level. I am really happy with it and wouldn't go back to dial up for anything. (didnt mean to go on this long, but these were all things I needed to know before signing up, thanks if your stil here!!)

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                          • Marantz SR-5200 / Receiver / 2 Readings / 46 Ratings
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                            07.08.2002 22:10
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                            It's a nice looking unit, mine is champagne but its also available in black, but both look good and it's a big piece of kit! I couldn't recommend this enough and if you can find one cheap, go for it! They are bringing out the marantz 5300 which has slightly better spec, but is based on the same system. I love it, cant recommend it enough, and your all welcome to come round and watch Lord of the Rings in Dolby Digital EX :D

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                            • Top Ten TV Channels / Discussion / 3 Readings / 77 Ratings
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                              03.07.2002 00:21
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                              I cant count the number of films I have seen on this channel, but usually there is at least one I would like to catch and these last few months I have seen some great ones from Memento through to O brother where art thou and many in between. As I say, they also had all four star wars films, and as these arent on DVD, it was great to seem them in proper widescreen :) < br><br>Highpoints: some great movies, sometimes proper ratio Lowpoints: when they don't show a film in its right ratio L

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                              • NTL / Telecommunications Service / 2 Readings / 109 Ratings
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                                01.04.2002 01:56
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                                • "less choice in channels packs"

                                I think this is going to put a lot of people off, and maybe its only a short term situation while they re organise their debt problem, but currently Sky offer you a lot wider choice in your channel packages. So would I recommend NTL, yes (sorry GG!), but only with some warnings attached and only mainly to those who wish to have internet access as well, that makes it much more worth while. Deets Score 6/10 (7-8 if you use the net) oh, Some services and prices may vary slightly, and all data is correct at this time.

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                                • Pioneer DV 444 / DVD Player / 0 Readings / 104 Ratings
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                                  13.02.2002 18:31
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                                  • "turns you into a geek"

                                  Overall though I am beyond impressed, the overall audio/visual experience is tremendous, especially to someone used to the PC DVD player. I believe though that anyone wanting to upgrade an older player would be pleased with this machine, the way it handles all fast paced action and the high resolution and sharpness make for a very pleasurable viewing experience. I would recommend anyone to have a look at this player and i am sure you wouldn't be disappointed if you purchased. as for the TV who i s now getting jealous, well we can all live happily together and share the electro joy ;) ©Deets some detailed specs for the "techy heads" among us ;) Available in Black (DV-444K) & Silver (DV-444S) - Advanced Pioneer player, compatible with CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R and DVD-RW ('inc VR mode) - Burr-Brown 192kHz/24-bit DAC - Superb spec : 540 lines horizontal resolution - Picture parameter adjustments - Includes MP3 playback with on-screen navigator - On screen MP3 Bit-rate Meter - With an MP3 CD up to 250 folders with 250 files can be played - Sleek, super-slim design: just 55mm high - 54MHz / 10-bit video DAC - 27MHz clock reduces jitter and picture noise - Superb spec : 540 lines horizontal resolution - 1 x SCART socket with RGB output

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