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Ididdoo: Skip to the point you need info on, or go all out! Enjoy!
The Beko DWD5411 is a full size dishwasher and is the fastest dishwasher I've ever owned. It sure beats washing the dishes after you've spent hours cooking and minutes eating. Unfortunately you still have to unload it afterward (they still haven't figured a way around that yet!) but its a dishwasher that is quite powerful and astute at cleaning dirty dishes.
12 of the best
The DWD4311W has 12 settings for cleaning your dishes. But to be honest, I only ever regularly use 2 of them, and have never used option 4 to 12. So the main question is, how good are those 3 options that are used all time?
Well, one of them is a very effective "fast" clean option, a quick wash that is able to purposefully clean a small load of dishes in 30 minutes.
The main setting used is very efficient (as suggested by its AAA energy efficiency rating), again being able to clean most stains off with a minimal energy usage. This is evident from the well laid out electrical control panel on the front of the washer, which has easy translatable indicator lights (if you're planning on buying your first dishwasher, easy-to-read on-face instructions help you do even the most complicated washes in no time)
Basic but Bright
If I'm honest I studied the tech specs of this dishwasher to judge if I wanted it or not, not its visual appeal. Tucked under the work top in the corner of my kitchen, its face is pleasant enough to not stand out like a sore thumb. So whilst flat in design like the back of the bus (I prefer smooth curved designs generally), it doesn't necessarily evoke the same connotations.
But don't worry - the DWD5411 is much more reliable than the buses! My friend owns one and its dependability has been unquestioned since he bought it, and so far, so has mine.
A good feature that was a pleasant addition from my older dishwasher is the adjustable stacks for all manor of dishware. My older dishwasher struggled to accommodate my bulkier/odd cookware on those nights were egg and chips just wouldn't do for Dinner. This one however works wonders. If it doesn't fit, work it out, and it'll probably fit in different adjustment of the stacks.
This novelty wares off after a while however, as bending over a dishwasher yanking and shoving stacks in some sort of poor-mans rubiks cube game gets very annoying very quick. SO before long you soon resort back to using the standard configuration. So how well does this configuration accommodate dishware? Well, in a pretty average way to be honest. Plates fine. Medium sized Pans Fine. Woks...uh-oh.
I guess thats the burden of most medium-to-large sized (60cm wide) dishwashers. And this one is no exception.
Yup, pretty noisy. But in a strangely therapeutic sort of way. It is quite loud, but its not a distinct noise - not the kind that makes you want to leave the kitchen. In fact, when i throw it on (usually late at night before I go bed), its quite a welcoming sound when you go into the moonlit kitchen to let the dog out the back door.
Alright, I failed in trying to romanticism a dishwasher, but its definitely a bearable sound.
A mean clean?
The most important part of the dishwasher is of course how well it cleans. This is a combination of factors, what dishwasher powder/tablet you use, how dirty the dishes are etc, but the main thing is how good the dishwasher is at doing its job.
And this one is very good. Case in point was a family get together eating lots of spaghetti bolognese, followed by lots of drinking, then hours later someone remember to clean the dishes. Worked in stains could have been a tough task for some dishwashers, but this one made easy work of tough stuff. As it does alot of the time.
One downside is the time it takes to cool down after cleaning. But I've always put the load on to clean before bed, and woke up in the morning with the dishwasher ready to unload before work - so its never really be a big issue.
So far, not the one quarrel since I've bought it. The door closes snugly, and doesn't waiver, and the washes are as strong as ever - even after a vigorous family schedule with all sorts of meals.
All round good dishwasher
Ididdoo: Jump to the section you need info on, or go for it all! Enjoy!
The Cafe Treviso has been in the kitchen for a while now and over that time its had some very interesting things to share. Its compact design means it will fit nicely atop your kitchen surface and not take up alot of space. When I bought mine it was knocking around the £55 range, but after some quick searching around online, I found now you can pick it up for around £35, which is quite a good price considering there haven't been any stand out coffee maker/espresso machine advancements since this first came on the market.
That being said, in time I have found that its problems begin to outweigh its benefits, progressing to the point where I only use it on a rare occasion. More of a luxury than your port-of-call for every cuppa, this machine is worth purchasing if you like coffee in a variety of ways (lattes and cappuccinos are a nice boost every once in a while) and on a regular basis.
To the point
For a coffee maker, the Treviso is really quick, heating water in no time. Never have I had to wait impatiently for a coffee - and when you never seem to be operating at a slow pace (probably due to the excessive coffee), the benefits of this are huge!
In a few easy steps you can have your piping hot coffee reading to get you going in the morning:
1. Fill up the water tank to the top
2. Attach the two tubes onto the back and place the lid on the top
3. Heat up the water by turning the machine on
4.. Put the coffee into the holder
5. Tamp the coffee (don't be too forceful here)
6. Clip on the coffee holder
6. Press the first (top) button which filters the hot water though the coffee and wait until the cup is full
7. Voila! A (small) cup of coffee!
I have to say, lattes are great. And the Treviso comes with a very handy milk steaming 'foamer'. Every once in a while you want to go all 'Starbucks' with your coffee and this device can help. That being said, initially it would probably be quicker to head off to Starbucks, order, and bring it back home - as this device takes a while to get the hang of using, taking up valuable minutes to attacth. And you'll probably want to be out of the house when its on as well, because it isn't half loud! After a while you get used to it, both assembling and sound wise, and the 'foamer' definitley becomes a plus.
Quick on the surface, but behind the scenes...
Over time you'll begin to realise this thing will eat up your time, overriding its initial windfall in speedy coffee making. You have to clean the thing after every use, and the gasket begins to leak after a lot of use. And when this happens, cleaning becomes part and parcel of the Treviso, as the gasket is fixed in such a way that it cannot be removed, cleaned or replaced without taking it to a specialist (there's one in Reading I found).
What a mug...
I am for not realising regular size mugs do not fit underneath this thing. I have about a dozen coffee mugs, and only one fits for Treviso coffee.
So you end up paying for the compact size of the machine. This can be quite annoying when two people want coffee! But then again, there's always Tea.
The first few cups from this machine are not great. They all had a bitter taste to them. This could just be the 'breaking in' period or due to the way I was tamping the coffee in the begininng. But in time the machine (or my skills) work itself out and the coffee begins to taste pretty good (especially my lattes!)
Could have been a coffee contender, but this time this machine falls short.
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When I bought this guy it came in a pretty sizable cardboard box, and when you open it up - you understand why! Its many versatile features means its size it pretty daunting, especially if you have a smaller family kitchen like mine. That being said, although sizable on the surface counter, i wouldn't have it any other way. Each part of the FP196 has been designed for function, and function it does...
First things first - the packaging it comes in is great. No messing around with oodles of filling polystyrene all over the kitchen floor. Very simple, and straight to business.
Kenwood clearly decided to go for substance over style on this one. Whilst not unsightly, the FP196 is more about what it does than how nice it makes the kitchen look. That being said, I quite like how it looks in my kitchen, with the familiar chrome shine fitting in with almost all of my other appliances with ease (chrome in the home it seems)
So whilst it isn't going to grab points in the looks department, will it make up for it in the function area? Well, after I managed to figure this strange looking thing out - I found out!
At first, I felt it a little daunted by it all. If you are only used to the standard "one jug" food processor (like mine before this one), there's a fair bit to check out. But not to worry, the instructions supplied are easy to follow and straight to the point.
I spent literally two minutes reading them and was off for a test run!
First was the liquidiser, the largest section of the piece. In went the goods, but after a little time I realised, the goods weren't necessarily coming out again. When the liquidiser was dealing with small amounts, it was great - but anything over half way full, and I ran into problems getting anything completely smooth. And trust me, unwanted bumps and chunks don't sit well. So a 1 litre liquidiser quickly became a 0.5 litre load only. Not good.
I tried several different items, and all the same outcome. When times get half tough (or more), the liquidiser just doesn't get going. Anything too taxing, and it even gets extremely hot.
This thing is so light, it needs suction on the feet to stop it moving around in action. Give it a chance, and it'll take a free role all over your kitchen! For me, it wasn't too much of a problem due to the arrangement the FP196 found itself in in my kitchen (i.e. tucked tightly in the corner!)
But you can never hide the noise of these things. And this one is even louder than my previous blender, especially when its struggling to keep up with the larger amounts of food.
At 600w power and with dishwasher safe parts, the FP196 follows suite here with most food processors. That being said, trying to drop a 1.4 litre bowl and an 800ml jug into the dishwasher after a full meal is a feat of engineering in itself! More often than not, I found myself washing it the old fashioned way to save valuable dishwasher space.
The chopping blade is stainless steel and supposedly sharp as, well, a knife. But whilst sharp to the touch, it seems to struggle with power when it comes to lots of food.
Safety interlocks and cable storage keep things a-ok with young families like mine. Although a retractable cord would have been a nice touch.
A spatula and whisk come in tow, but I found myself never using them. In fact, they're still in the nice packaging it came in. Perhaps they can make friends with that little tool that nobody uses on the vacumm cleaner?
FP stands for Fantastic Price?
At first I thought so. I found mine for £32, and I'm sure you can find it for a little better searching online. But what you get for the price ultimately isn't that impressive.
Summary: Not great to look at, fairly large and bulky - and most unfortunately - not a great blend for your buck.
Ididdoo: Jump to the section you most want to read about, or go for it all! Enjoy!
Microwaves - what would the modern household do without one? As todays world races by, sometimes its just simpler to use that little device in the corner of almost every kitchen. How does it work? Who knows!
Well, actually, PANASONIC seem to know. They've been in the Microwave game since the early days of the late 70's, and are a real trustworthy brand when it comes to riding the wave.
The NNGD458W does what it says on the box (and in the Instructions given in the box too, which are a welcome relief with their well written and easy to read step-by-step instructions). It is a counter top microwave, but with its relatively small size (11.97 in x 14.96 in x 20.08 in) it could sit in a number of places in any kitchen.
Honestly, its standard fare with the NNGD458W. A 900 watt convection cook mode is part of the programmable information.
Its somewhat box-y style lends itself to the norm of microwave design. If you want your microwave to stand out then this is not the one for you. Its egg white gloss finish is simple, but means it can fit into most kitchen layouts and colour schemes (even the wackier ones!)
My favourite feature of this microwave is the Child lockout (which is by no means a new feature of microwaves). My old microwave however did not have this feature - meaning a royally cooked can of baked beans in the microwave was one lunch I'd choose to remember (my kid's initiative to learn to cook could have had better beginnings). This simple add on is a welcome choice for people with children.
Capacity for what?
Ideal for a medium size family, the 27 litre volume of the NNGD458W can cook large size dishes in a variety of formats (considering the human stomach can hold around 1 litre of food, and up to 3 litres on a good day - 27 litres is going to be surprisingly ample!) .
The cooking settings are a multi-tasker's dream - as it offers quick defrosting, reheating, cooking and grilling options (and without excess power consumption).
Also, with its 6 power levels, innumerable types and quantities of foods can be dealt with effortlessly saving time and energy in every option. I find myself using the power options more and more now as I begin to understand its benefits on power. Which leads me too...
This wave has a quartz grill, which only requires up to 1.1 kW of power. The grill has 3 settings, and thus lends itself to numerous foods which can now have that sought-after, crispy texture (with minimal oil). Grilled foods are a nutritious bonus to a microwave's options, and are the next best thing to steamed foods when it comes to getting healthier cooking.
The microwave cooks food with a surprisingly little amount of noise. Microwave cooking isn't exactly the most excruciating of sounds anyway, but any plus addition to ones appliances is a bonus I'd say! Get in!
Priced competitively (as usual with Panasonic products), you're looking at around the £80 mark brand new, even if you shop around a bit online.
A microwave that fits the standard mode and does the job with relative little noise and hassle.
Ididdoo: Jump ahead to the section you need info on - or go all out! Enjoy!
With the trend of laptops getting ever more advanced and powerful in ratio to their size, the advantages of having a desktop PC as the main computer in your family and/or business are becoming relatively minimal.
Laptops are showing that they can be the main computer of choice, not just the travel companion - with products like the new SONY VAIO E SERIES bringing both colour (oh yes, Sony have gone rainbow on this one - with choices from pink to blue to good ol' black) and performance into the mix. The VPC-EC1S1E/BJ member of the E Series is in black, but I always was a more subtle type anyway (honest).
...VAIO COME AND ME WANNA GO HOME?...
Yes. But not because its bad. In fact, quite the opposite. I want it to replace my desktop computer!
The being said, the VPC-EC1S1E/BJ was designed well for travels, and it has accompanied me mostly outside of the comforts of home.
This laptop is crammed full of features, meaning its not the lightest on its feet tipping the scales at just over 2.7kg. In fact, its desktop aspirations are evident in its measurable size (248mm x 31mm x 369mm). But trust me, its still very slim and chic - and visually quite beautiful. Sony have certainly not held back on aesthetics with the E series - you could spend a fair while studying its many slight and appealing curves and contours.
But after you've done that, does it matter where it really counts - inside?
Inside is at the forefront of modern parts for medium-to-high end laptop. It is slightly on the heavy side of RAM (Memory usage) from the start-up, but you're getting a good standard for that little bit extra load. And with a very ample 4GB RAM as standard, it takes to your tasks quite swiftly and with dedication. Even gamers will be glad to know it has been tested and taunted with some heavy loads, and came through admirably (a Football Manager 2010 game on full database was not a problem on the memory front, whilst a few graphic-heavy First-Person Shooters served no worries for its Intel core i5-430M processor and a ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 graphics processor with 1 GB video RAM memory.)
7 is the magic number
No Vista. Thank god. Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit Operating System means its fully loaded. This is just the Operating System mind you, you'd have to aquire and install Microsoft Office et all after you've purchased E Series VAIO (which is of course standard fare with all new computers - unless you're lucky)
The E series has a couple of interesting features, notably a 'Web' button that loads a Linux-based graphical user interface that allows you to browse the Internet without having to wait for Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit to load. There's also a fancy 'Web clipping' tool that allows you to keep track of anything interesting you come across during your browsing session, and gain access to these things from any other PC or Web-connected mobile phone.
The Tech Bit
The laptop consists of 3 MB L2 cache memory, 4 GB DDR3 SDRAM with 1066 MHz speed and a 500 GB hard disk drive. It supports BD ROM, DVD+-RW, +-R DL and RAM optical format. In everyday speak, thats not too bad at all. Ultimately fast and effective, even though it may never quite win Gold in a race.
The 17.3 inch display with 16:9 image aspect ratio and 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution is a real treat to the eyes with its excellent image clarity. This is of utmost importance if you use a computer alot, and a lot of effort has gone into this from Sony to make it a stand out feature.
The connectors include 1 microphone jack, 1 headphone jack, HDMI output, 3 USB ports, VGA output and an express card slot. It supports 802.11 b/g/n wireless LAN and 10Base-T/100Base-TX/1000-Base-T Ethernet.
The built in speakers ensures crystal clear sound output and the built in microphone enables sound input. This unit also features a 0.3 megapixels image sensor.
Battery life is good, not great. But that can be expected considering its relatively good price range. Good value for money can be had with a laptop that you can sense will last a long time.
The textured effect palm-area was supposed to be a master-stoke (no pun intended). But the seemingly clever touch is in fact mildly irritating, evoking an image in the back of your mind of nails on a chalkboard. Although not that horrific, the part where you connect with the laptop the most (i.e. the mouse pad) feels rough and frankly, wrong. Still, looks nice though (says the designer at Sony).
All-in-all, laptop/desktop whatever you use it for - the
SONY VAIO E SERIES VPC-EC1S1E/BJ comes out on top. Just buy a mouse to go with it!
Ididdoo says: Jump to the section you most need information on, or go for the full hog! Enjoy!
INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW NANO:
Could the ipod nano be the under appreciated jewel in the 'i' range of products from Apple? Sure, the imac was first, the iphone got people going crazy, and the ipad is probably Bill Murray's new number one Christmas boutique gift item. Ghostbusters in-jokes aside, seriously, how important is the ipod for how many? Think how often you use your ipod, and imagine how life would be without it...
Well, now imagine it taking over your life! Because the new ipod nano (5G) has so many new features crammed into it's little frame, it'll take a long while to get used to all the new stuff (and I say that in the best possible sense!)
5 X GENERATIONS, 5 X STARS?
For me, the nano's appeal has always been it's size. The regular ipod is beastly - more bag-size than pocket-size. A music player should know that size matters.
For this, I was always willing to compromise in features with the nano just to have that slight, user-friendly build.
But now, at last, the nano is a double threat. The right size, the right substance.
The 5th generation nano (5G) is beautiful to look at with its graceful and sleek design, the 5G nano will captivate you with its fantastic little gadgets and choice of 9 colour options to buy from (from an understated grey to a impacting pink).
The 5G works with itunes as would be expected.
But unexpectedly it also has a pedometer to help you on those musically enhanced runs. It's a great little feature that can be very useful for losing weight, simply by giving you a pace to set each time you go running.
It's things like this Apple are very good at - clearly having noticed the use of the ipod by people who like to keep fit, a useful tool has now been added.
For the youtube generation - You can now record videos. Whilst not exceptional quality under testing (for example, the tilt sensor that enables you to shoot holding the nano vertical or horizontal has a knack for switching unexpectedly between one another on the slightest twitch of the hand), it is efficient both indoors and out. With a new 2.2 inch screen (a surprisingly noticeable bump up from the 2 inch screen of the 4th generation nano), you could shoot some nice stuff.
There be quality in them there builds.
It is a durable little piece, as can be said for all the nano generations ipod have so far built. It withstands considerable pressure from bend angles and has some bounce on the drop. Yes, that nice anodized aluminum finish will scratch, but it'll keep going strong.
Now I've done the dirty work, don't try that on yours and risk good money (it still costs around £120 brand new - although can be found cheaper if you search online long enough)
That's right, there's a little speaker on the bottom of the new nano. It's not particularly loud or high quality, but alas - a speaker on such a tiny device! It's definitely audible in quiet rooms, although you'd probably want to use it for spoken word or video rather than music, as songs tend to get washed out and distorted. A useful and thoughtful device that i bet will be used more and more so by users.
Unfortunately the headphones are still bog standard (bog being the choice word). For such an important part of the music listening experience, you'd think Apple would tender to this problem more than they do. The headphones begin to strain after a period of continued listening, which can be uncomfortable.
It seems almost trivial - headphones, but when you consider it, without them, mobile music listening (aka the whole backbone of the ipod) wouldn't be anything! So it's an unfortunate issue of imbalance with the quality of the player to the quality of the headphones connected to it.
Maybe next time? (or maybe they enjoy you buying serperate, higher quality headphones...)
A respectable digit, looking at around £117.99 for the 8GB version. A nice £20 drop down from the last generations to-market price on release.
A noticeable step up - Shinier, brighter and lots more gadgets, what more can you ask for? Good headphones. That's what.
Thanks for reading, hope you found this review helpful.
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