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Having kept my laptop in a old bag I got free from attending a course for a over year it eventually developed a large hole in the base. The time was ripe for a proper laptop bag as once on the way to work the AC adapter almost slipped unnoticed from the gaping hole.
I chose this bag based on the balance between sleek and stylish design and the protection it offered. I got it from Staples for a bargain £24 and have been using it for about a month, carrying it to and form work.
The strap has a padded section which prevents it from digging into your shoulder. This is something that I found was a huge problem with my old makeshift bag. Difficulties only begin to occur when your carrying the thing for a long period of time. The first thing I noticed was that the padded section on the back face of the laptop bag turned from a cozy duvet to a sweaty nusiance in the space of 20 minutes. That was only in mild weather - God forbid we actually have a proper summer. As a result of this discomfort, you have to keep repositioning the bag from resting on your rigth side to your backside at regular intervals.
The other problem is simply due to the fact that it is a messenger bag. When walking briskly - the bag sways with your movement and can eventually work its way off your shoulder if your wearing a slippy nylon shirt. Not so bad on your wooly coat. Running whilst wearing the bag or either garment is a complete no-no . (Why run with a a laptop bag - you might be escaping from a gang of thieves, or from your scary mother-in-law - be prepared for anything).
Also due to the bulkiness of the laptop bag, you will end up walking with your shoulders slightly bent due ot the weight being carried on one side. Thats only if you carry the laptop by your side - the problem doesn't occur if you just carry it over your backside. This may seem obvious, but the difference was less noticeable when I was carrying the old convention bag.
Not as discreet as pictures make out
On the internet, the Targus Mode Messenger bag looks very discreet and un-laptop-bag-like. Don't be fooled. You can most definitely tell its a laptop bag once you purchase it. Its just isimply too large an bulky to look liek its carrying anything else. Its dimensions are roughly 40cm wide by 33cm tall and 10 cm width. Its the 10 cm width that gives it away really. Before you buy, take a look at in your PC World/Staples and you'll realise what those dimensions really mean. The visual impact is more substantial than what any umbers can tell you. the other massive giveaway to potential thieves is the small Targus logo on the front situated on a rubber tag(only ~3cm by 1cm though) and the larger woven in logo on the back (but that should be facing your body anyway).
Stylish (for a laptop bag)
The chocolate colour is very cool and goes well with the wheat coloured strap. I still haven't tried out the turquoise strap and chocolate straps which are also provided. These are nice additional features that will refresh your look occasionally. Getting the strap on first time was a bit of a pain especially as Targus had provided such sparse instruction on changing the strap. Second time shouldn't be so bad.
Having said that it looks cool, the buckles on either side look ridiculously large. Despite being hard plastic, they don't look like they're going to break off/crack any time soon however. As a result of a large buckle the strap also is quite large (or maybe the other way round). This wouldn't be so bad if it didn't go round the outside face of the bag. To me this is an eyesore, in other people's books its style. This feature however is essential to make changing the strap easier.
Storage - only long and thin things fit
The main compartment is divided into two sections by a material that Ican only describe as thick lycra. Its strechy and soft and I've never seen before it in my life. Anyway the posterior surface of the compartment has 4 thick padded sections. The laptop fits between the lycra and the posterior surface. The opposite side of the compartment is space for a thin file/wallet of A4 papers. Over this compartment goes a flap (which is spearate from the main flap. this feature means that this bagis like 2 bags in 1 - so that possessions like stationary can be accessed form the outer bag, whilst the laptop and important documents only accessible by openig the inner bag. The extra security is reassuring - but could be clumsy and annoying if late for a lecture and needing to quickly access the laptop.
The outer bag (covered by the larger outer flap) has a zip pocketr which neatly fits the AC adapter and mice. Theres also pace for a few other small accessories. Theres also a rubber name badge within this pocket where you can write the 'I'm lost' instructions. Ovetlyuing ths zip pocket are three velcro-secured pockets - for stationery, compact camera etc.
The limited storage options are a toss-up for the less bulky bag that you buy, however it satisfies school purposes and most importantly will secure your laptop from elements and man alike. Its a bargain for £25.
I'm glad that for now over a year I've been saved from the trials and tribulations of using the unresponsive trackpad on my Dell Inspiron 1525. This is thanks to this wonderful mouse, which has turned out to be a godsend for easing frustration I've had with earlier mice and other tracking devices.
The most important thing about this mouse is that it gets my cursor to exactly where I want it. Its about as precise as I can get without attempting magically transforming my screen into a touch-sensitive version. I've struggled with trackball mice before (which is comparable to using a touch-sensitive screen whilst drunk). I would say that this mouse is adequate enough for the occasional gamer and certainly does me fine for when playing CounterStrike.
Its able to do that without having to physically move more than 2 inches. Workout sessions battling with previous mice are now a thing of the past. This is great for when I'm tight for space e.g crammed lecture theatre, or very messy desk. I can even navigate fully by just using the mouse on my thigh or the laptop itself (in the spece next to the trackpad).
I've only ever had to change the AA batteries once and that was after 6months of usage. Thats a stark contrast to the 12 months battery life claimed by Logitech - but still 6 months of 5-6 hour usage every day is reliable enough for me.
This mouse has been bouncing around in my bag and laptop bag for as long as I've had it. It has sustained some scars and scratches on its once pristine plastic case - but it still works as if it was new. i like to think it looks battle hardened now.
The teeny weeny nano receiver fits into the USB snugly and only juts out by 1cm. This receiver is able to pick up my waving my mouse around from the other side of a 20ft lounge when I link up my laptop to a widescreen tv. If you're ever watching a movie with friends or showcasing pictures to your family, you can comfortably sit as far as you want from the screen (or your friends and family for that matter) and navigate fine.
Snug fit for small hands
Before this mouse I was used to using a larger mice as ergonomic as a brick. This mouse snugly fits my hand (medium- small size) with two nice grooves for my index and middle finger to rest in. The rubber sides provide a comfortable fit for thumb and ring finger. My pinky finger does also feels slightly left out and has sit quite close to the ring finger as a result so it doesn't drag along the surface. I think larger hands my not be so happy with the size of this mouse and potentially would have more problems using it.
The central click is less sensitive to scrolling than the mouse laser. In an 100% view on word can take a couple of rotations of the wheel to get from top to bottom (I would prefer this to be in one smooth motion). Perhaps I'm being a little harsh as this is a personal preference. If you want you can always click down on the click wheel and scroll using the vertical motion of the mouse (but its more satisfying to use the click wheel).
Suspect plastic casing
The mouse feels quite light in the hand (with most of the weight being shifted towards the back fo the mouse). This is great for navigating but doesn't feel very reassuring. It doesn't feel particularly robust - and a solid tap on the plastic casing confirms this with a hollow sound. A look under the hood of the mouse reveals the battery compartment and even a compartment for the nano receiver(which is great for on the move, if you want to use it with a different computer). However its mostly just plastic inside. It would be interesting if a titanium or lightweight aluminium version was made - just to compare.
Might not like your desk
The mouse won't navigate as easily on certain surfaces - anything soft is usually fine e.g quilt, mousepad, thigh . But you could be struggling on a wooden desk from IKEA (to be fair, this is the only surface it has problems navigating on). Now I'm being petty. Just get a mousepad.
Plug in and play
Just stick the receiver and you're away. No need to install drivers. Just remember to turn the thing on (small power button on the bottom) - but even then if you forget it turns off itself and suffers form the tineiest amount of intial lag when you start using it again (after your five hour break).
Value for money
I paid £30 hard earned pounds for it and was worth it. I've never had a better mouse.
Overall, a good mouse (precise, quick and sharp) and very few complaints.
The Fuji F31fd was released in late 2006 but 3 years on its still one of the best point and shoot cameras on the market. On first glance it seems pretty ordinary, weighing in at a meagre 6 megapixels, 3x optical zoom and not particularly pretty - but image quality is where this camera comes into its own.
Super picture quality
I only truly realised this when I actually used the F31fd to take snaps of my sisters wedding a few months ago (an indoor affair with soft ambient lighting). Everyone had bought their point and shoot cameras along and was taking pictures and at the end the whole family had ordered prints. All the images were grainy and grey except from those pictures taken from my camera. The vibrancy of the coulours it produced was excellent - almost as good as if the ceremony had been done outdoors.
However, you can't push it too far - don't expect to get any pictures worth printing at ISO 1600 (ISO is a measure fo correction for low light - the higher the ISO the grainier the image usually). ISO 800 will produce prints that are ok for small prints up to 7" by 5" (but a discerning eye will be able to tell the image is a bit grainy). I took it on a camping trip in dense woodland where there was little light coming through canopy. Even at the heights of midday - the camera's auto mode was switching to ISO 800/ISO 1600. For those conditions and SLR is probably needed. However, anything printed up to ISO 800 is a beauty to behold.
Huge battery life
The other big bonus with this camera is the massive battery life. I've taken up to 400 pictures with it before needing to recharge. So its perfect if you're going away for a few days, packing light and don't fancy taking the charger. I've recharged less than twenty times in three years of owning this gem. You've absolutely no need to worry about back up batteries - the one it comes with will last you.
Durable but bulky
If you're always dropping things like me then durability is essential. Its worth getting the leather case thats made to fit the F31fd. Enclosed in that, I've dropped it several times on rocks and hard ground and never even had the tiniest scratch work its way on to the metal casing. The screen is a bit of a magnet for finger prints but is as sturdy and firm as the metal casing. Its reassuring to know this camera can take some beating and still survive. As a comprimise it feels a little bulky and makes an unsightly bulge in your trouser pocket - alternatively you can just tie the drawstring around your wrist if you need to be constantly ready for the opportune shot.
Grey and ugly
Not particularly pretty. Just a lump of grey metal really. The beauty is all in the image processing inside.
It has a small 2.5" by 1.5" screen that is fairly dim - but the brightness can be increased a press of a button. The small size of the screen means judging the quality of the picture you just took is difficult immediately (when blown up on your computer screen in fact it could be quite blurry)
The zoom has a range of only 3x, which is just standard. However, it is quite noisy. Thats probably not a problem for most people, but worth noting if taking pictures of animals etc.
Focussing on close range objects can be difficult even in macro-mode. Anything farther than a foot is fine - but closer and the focssing is noiser and takes longer. The macro-mode range is also quite poor, more than 5cm in my experience. If you're taking a picture of a resting butterfly, for example, the combination of the long focussing time and poor range.
The flash makes your shots look overexposed except when its pitch black (however, I still haven't mastered the art of using flash well so this may be down to skill).
The face detection is pretty poor. Its quick to recognise faces, but people in your shot have to be looking directly at the camera - so not great for capturing those split-second emotions. For that, you may as well pay the premium for a DSLR anyway :)
Good value for money
I got this camera from the Fuji Refurbished Site for half-the-price it normally would be at £120. However, you only get half the warranty but considering the superior build quality it shouldn't really break down anyway so in my eyes its worth the gamble. The manufacturer refurbishes to the standard of a new camera also - so there is little reason to worry.
All in all, a great little camera, expecially if you're inside and can't afford an expensive dSLR.