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johnnyho

johnnyho
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Member since: 19.03.2001

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    • Apple iPod (5G) 60 GB / MP3 Player / 57 Readings / 54 Ratings
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      08.03.2006 00:58
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      Good machine but flawed

      Well, it's been a while since I last wrote a review on dooyoo, so here I am writing about this beautiful product, the 60GB iPod Video. This is a replacement for my 4G 20GB iPod, and they have come quite a long way in just over a year.

      The iPod itself
      ~~~~~~~~~~~
      There's no doubt that the iPod is beautiful to look at. I have the white version, which apparently doesn't show up scratches as much as the black one. I also chose the white one because I think it is the classic colour of an iPod, and the black one just isn't right!

      Accessories
      ~~~~~~~~
      The iPod comes in a surprisingly tiny box considering the price of it, but it just seems to fit in with the minimalistic Apple approach of doing things. In the box comes the iPod unit itself, the white iPod headphones (which I have not even opened), the USB cable for syncing and charging via USB, a slip case which is very simple and basic but seems to do the job (the old iPods didn't even come with any case so I think this is quite good of Apple) and the installation CD and manual. The problem with the new iPods is that they don't come with a wall charger, something that I would not be able to live without. This means that to charge your iPod (which can take about 5 hours), you need to have your computer on all the time. This may not be a problem for most people, but I’m sure some don't like to keep the computer on just to charge the iPod. I am lucky as I still have my wall charger from my old iPod. The do cost quite a lot of money to buy so consider this when you're considering buying the iPod.

      Software
      ~~~~~
      As most of you will know, the iPod works with software called iTunes. iTunes used to really frustrate me in the way it likes to do everything by itself, but once you get the hang of it and get used to it, you actually start to enjoy using iTunes. It organises your music well, and is very easy to use. Syncing your music with the iPod is also very easy. It is basically just a case of plugging in your iPod by USB to your computer and starting iTunes. Then iTunes will automatically update your music, videos, photos and contacts etc to your iPod. Of course, if you don't like it to be all automatic and you control what music you put on your iPod yourself, you can choose this in the iPod options in iTunes. iTunes is also a very good legal music download store. It seems to have most popular music available and is very easy to use. The only problem is that basically only iTunes and iPod can play these files.

      Using iPod
      ~~~~~~
      It is very easy to use an iPod and for those who have never used one, it will literally take you two minutes to get used to it. The scroll wheel is excellent, easy to scroll through your entire music collection and select things and the menus are laid out in a way which is very easy to follow. The battery life of the 60GB model has improved greatly from the earlier models - being quoted as 20 hours from a single charge by Apple. In real life circumstances, I have been able to get around 18 hours of playback, so these figures seem to be quite accurate. I even skip tracks quite often and have the volume quite high, all decreasing battery life, so this really isn’t a big issue.

      Playback and video playback
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      Playback of music seems also to have improved from the older models. Selecting tracks seems to be faster - but only with the latest version of the iPod software, version 1.1. This version does have its problems though - it creates playback issues for videos that you have converted yourself with 3rd party software. It is only a problem when the file is above a certain length. For example, a music video encoded at a decent bit rate will playback fine, but an episode of a TV show for instance will not playback correctly. The actual problem is that after a few seconds of playback, the video will freeze, then continuing to play without sound. This can be very irritating. The only way to solve this is to downgrade the iPod software to version 1.0. The problem with this is that the iPod runs much slower and that it cannot be used with the radio remote, an accessory which I paid £35 for. The old in line remotes for the iPod do not work with the video as the port is not there; therefore I was forced to buy the new radio remote. So at the moment the videos on my iPod cannot be watched without the freezing problem. Apple I think are also aware of this issue, but it doesn't seem to affect the 30GB model. So feel like I have paid more for a product which doesn't function as well as the cheaper model.

      The video playback format is MPEG-4, which looks fine when viewed on the iPod screen. However, when enlarged onto a television by using a cable, the quality is very poor. The other problem is also that MPEG-4 files are not small. The longer the video, the bigger and bigger the file size gets. For example, a film which can be compressed by xVID or DiVX to around 700MB, a MPEG-4 film will be around 800MB and the quality will be much poorer than the xVID or DiVX. If you are quite serious about video playback, seriously consider buying the new Creative Vision instead, as it is able to play all popular formats.

      Overall
      ~~~~
      The iPod is a very nice machine but the sound quality is still not up to standard compared to others such as Sony. Video playback is also quite poor, but a simple music video on the iPod's screen can sometimes be quite enjoyable. Overall, I am quite pleased with this purchase, but I am disappointed with Apple about the whole Version 1.1 video playback issue and the radio remote.




      UPDATE
      ~~~~
      Apple have now released a new software for iPod, version 1.1.1. This has resolved the video playback issue and has added a few minor additions such as a volume limiter.

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      • What's In Your Bag? / Discussion / 27 Readings / 23 Ratings
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        16.02.2006 01:33
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        The contents of a students bag

        Well, seeing as so many of you seem to be writing a review in this category, I decided to have a look to see what I carry in my bag. As much as I would like to write a fully detailed review on this subject, I can only seem to write so much, so here goes.

        Many of you writing in this category seem to be ladies, so I decided to let you know what a male student carries in his day to day bag.

        In my bag I have:

        Folder containing my notepad and notes
        Pens and pencils
        Calculator(!)
        Glasses and case
        Umbrella
        Cigarettes and Lighter
        Kleenex handy pack tissues
        Condoms
        Bluetooth headset
        iPod
        Scarf for this current weather
        Keys
        Water bottle
        Mints
        Chewing gum
        and finally strepsils!

        Well there you have it, the contents of the bag of a student. I wish there was more that I could say on this matter, but unfortunately I can't seem to think of anything else to say!

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        • More +
          29.01.2006 17:10
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          Great network

          Having been on most other mobile networks before on both prepay and contracts, I have never used Vodafone until a few months ago. The service I have been receiving so far has been very good, a lot better than I have experienced from other networks. I decided to give Vodafone a try when my sister was offered a good deal unmatched by any other network.

          ~~~Buying/Phones~~~

          There are many ways to connect to Vodafone, including over the internet via their website, calling them direct, by purchasing a phone from a Vodafone store, or any other high-street store such as the Carphone Warehouse. My only choice was to get mine from the Vodafone store in Tottenham Court Road because the phone I wanted (Nokia N70) was a brand new release at the time, and there was no stock left anywhere else. The whole connecting to a contract thing is quite difficult sometimes as there can be such a huge range of tariffs and add-ons available, not to mention the enormous range of phones available and their different prices on different tariffs, it all gets a bit confusing. The way Vodafone sets out their own stores is quite easily followed, showing the main features of phones and the price on the certain tariffs. I already knew what handset I wanted so it was quite easy from then on.

          ~~~Selecting a Tariff~~~

          I had no idea which tariff I needed to be on, but after a bit of research I decided to go for the Anytime 500 (3G Only) tariff, giving me 500 anytime any network minutes and 100 text messages a month for £40 a month. This also includes 50 minutes of video calling a month! So it is actually quite a good value for money package. I was also offered 6 months half price line rental. The staff in the store was very helpful indeed, pointing out the pro's and con's of the handsets and tariffs. In no way whatsoever through the whole experience did I feel pressured in any way whatsoever to buy anything - the guy I bought the phone from was very helpful and polite.

          ~~~Stop The Clock~~~

          This was probably one of the major reasons I decided to switch to Vodafone. If you take out a new contract with them on an 18 month contract (which I did!) then Stop the Clock comes as standard. This amazing deal basically means that you can make a call to any network in the evenings and weekends for up to an hour, and you will only be charged for 3 minutes! So if you have some inclusive minutes left, you can make a call for an hour and only 3 of your inclusive minutes will be taken off! God only knows how much I have saved by using Stop the Clock. It means I can make a lot of off-peak calls like I can with an off-peak tariff, but still have anytime minutes to use during the day.

          ~~~Deals~~~

          A few deals can be had with Vodafone, especially if you buy direct from them over the telephone. In a store the deals cannot be as good as direct because of the extra overheads and commission that Vodafone must pay. If you are looking for the best deal, call them and keep trying to better the deal that they're offering you.

          ~~~Bills/Billing~~~

          The first bill I received was a bit confusing, but it is all explained. Vodafone don't charge you per month depending on which day you were connected (e.g. If you were connected in the 20th of the month, the bills do not come for the 20th to the 19th of the next month and so on). They way Vodafone work it out is the 1st of every month, so if you were connected on the 20th, you will pay a certain amount up until the 1st of the next month, and then will be billed on the 1st of every month. This is also when your inclusive minutes are replenished.

          ~~~Customer Services~~~

          I have only had to call customer services a couple of times, but the times I have called, the staff have been very helpful. The call centres are also all located in the UK, unlike some other phone networks and they are actually able to understand what you are trying to say to them. Again, the staff were helpful and polite. It is also free to call customer services from you handset.

          ~~~Coverage/Vodafone 3G/Live/Other Services~~~

          The coverage I have experienced with Vodafone has been excellent. Almost everywhere I go, there is some sort of signal, whether GSM or 3G (well, except for the tube of course!). 3G signal is very good, in my experience, I get 3G signal on Vodafone in places I could have only dreamed of when I was using 3. The thing I like about 3G is the ability to get internet services a lot faster than before. For example, Vodafone Live, their WAP service, is a lot smoother when in 3G signal. The same pages can still be accessed when on 2G, but it takes a lot longer. The great thing is that browsing Vodafone Live is absolutely free, until you leave the Live pages and wander off to an external website, where you will pay data charges, or when you download premium content from Vodafone Live such as a wallpaper or ringtone.

          ~~~Summary~~~

          So far I have been very happy with Vodafone, probably the most problem free I have been with any phone network I have ever used. As I have mentioned before, I have used most of the other networks, each for quite an extensive period of time, and Vodafone is probably joint at the top (along with O2). I just hope that the rest of my contract is going to be as smooth and problem free as it has been so far. Remember, it is never good to stay loyal to a phone network, and best to change around every so often for the best deal.

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          • More +
            20.01.2006 13:24
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            Gets the job done

            I purchased this router a couple of years ago now when we first got broadband in our home. As our ISP provided us with an ethernet capable modem already, we needed this router mainly for all the computers in the house to be able to access the internet without depending on one computer being switched on all the time. Now, I don't know an amazing lot about computers and all this techie stuff, so i'm going to try and keep this review as simple as possible.

            In the box came the router itself, a power adaptor, CD for drivers and a cat5e ethernet cable. It was simply a case of connecting the ethernet cable which came with the modem to the router, connecting the other ethernet cable to a computer and switching it on! After this setup was relatively easy, just a case of following some simple instructions.

            To set it up, you need to type in an i.p. address into your web browser, and a box will appear. Then the username and password must be entered. Once this is done you can change all sorts of settings, a lot more settings than I can understand! I did however setup a password and security on the wireless network using WPA as I heard that this has stronger encryption than the WEP standard. To be honest, I don't really know what all this means, but it sure was very easy to understand and follow. Once this is done, all sorts of things can also b changed, such as the built in firewall, the wireless network's name, access restrcitions etc.

            Once all setup with the desktop connected by ethernet, it was time to try the woreless connection. My laptop already had a built in wireless networking card, so didn't need and extra hardware. I clicked on the Windows XP network connections, and searched for wireless networks. The network that I had just setup appeared. I then clicked on connect, and was prompted for the password. After a few seconds, I was connected, and was able to use the web on both my laptop and desktop!

            Other things can also be done with this router, sharing of an internet connection is just one of them. Others such as networking and sharing files and printers can also be done, but somehow I can't seem to configure my firewall to allow me to do this! iTunes music sharing seems to work fine though!

            I have not really had problems as such, but on a few occasions i've had to reset the router or turn it off and on again. For some reason it does seem to hang sometimes and this must be done or there seems to be no internet connection. The speed is quite good however - the wireless networking on this router runs at 11 mbps if on the b standard or 54 mbps on the g standard. It does however seem much slower than this when exchanging files etc with my desktop computer on my laptop, but I suppose there must be some speed decrease in a wireless standard.

            Overall, an excellent router which was relatively cheap and gets the job done. I'm sure there is so much more you can do with it, but I just don't know! But very easy to setup and easy to use. Highly recommended.

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            • Marlboro Lights / Tobacco / 57 Readings / 44 Ratings
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              04.01.2006 02:39
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              The best of the "normal" cigarettes

              I do not like the fact that I smoke, and don't really like the fact that I am writing a review on cigarettes. But Marlboro Lights or "Gold" (changed as it was decided that no cigarettes are actually "light" and can still kill you) as they are now called are my favourite and basically the only cigarette I smoke when I have a choice.

              I started smoking at quite an early age on and off, and have always gone back to Marlboro lights. They were the first cigarettes I ever smoked. They just have a very distince flavour which you just know is that Marlboro quality. I have tried changing brands with no luck. I always come back to Marlboro, even though they are one of, if not the most expensive normal cigarette you can buy. I'm sure that you non-smokers must think i'm crazy, going on about flavour as some will argue that cigarettes will all "taste" the same. But I have to make my point clear that Marlboro lights have the smoothest taste and the best aftertaste of all the cigarettes that I have tried. Even though I may smoke a stronger cigarette, I do not feel as satisfied as I would if I had just smoked a Marlboro light.

              To be honest with you there is not much else that one can actually write about a certain brand or type of cigarette, so I hope I have helped you smokers out there thinking of switching from your normal brand to try Marlboro if you have not tried these before. To you non-smokers, in no way am I trying to get anyone to try these if they do not smoke, I do think it is a disgusting habit which can damage your health and can also eventually kill you, but I guess it was my own fault for starting, but it is now part of my lifestyle, especially as I am currently a student. These help me to keep going for those working late nights when rushing essays or assignments, and especially during exam time.

              I hope no one will take offence to me awarding these 5 stars!

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              • Nokia N70 / Mobile Phone / 49 Readings / 42 Ratings
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                09.12.2005 18:23
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                Smart, powerful, feature packed phone

                The N70 is a 3G "smartphone" running the latest Symbian operating system from Nokia. Symbian smartphones have a reputation for software reliability and functionality. Nokia are the leaders when it comes to Symbian, but others, including Siemens, Panasonic and even Sony Ericsson run some form of Symbian on some of their handsets.

                The N70 is in a new range of top-end phones by Nokia. The Nokia N-Series are high end phones, all with slightly different functionality. The N70 is probably the most basic one, but is still a killer handset.

                Features
                ~~~~~~
                The Nokia N70 has a very wide range of features. The full list can be found at the Nokia website. Some of the most useful are 3G capability, Bluetooth, the ability to add software because of the Symbian operating system and the 2 mega pixel camera. Other features also include FM radio, expandable memory via DV-RSMMC (Dual Voltage Reduced Size Multimedia Card), second camera for video calling and QuickOffice - a suite for reading MS Office files. The phone also includes a basic MP3 player for music, which is actually not too bad. The interface works well, and even shows the album art of the song if this is stored on the file. The one problem I have is the volume; it is quite quiet even on maximum. The Bluetooth function also works very well, with minimal problems connecting to other phones and hardware.

                Battery life
                ~~~~~~~~
                The battery life of the phone is the only thing that I find below excellent on this phone. The battery will usually last for less than a day while using the phone for about 2-3 hours, with Bluetooth on, sending about 5 texts and using the camera with flash on quite often. However, if the phone is hardly touched, with a few various calls now and then, it will usually last for a couple of days.

                Camera
                ~~~~~
                The camera on this phone is simply brilliant (well for a phone anyway). The camera can take almost anything quite well, especially when in good lighting conditions. Even in dark conditions, the results are not too bad, but will never compare with a standalone 2MP digital camera. I don't like the fact that as yet there has not been a cameraphone with an optical zoom, which I think will be available very soon. But as far as cameraphones go at the moment, this is one of the best for photos. The camera is however, lacking in some features. These are mainly the lack of auto focus; this phone still uses a fixed focus lens and the lack of a macro mode for close up shots. These two are related in a way as the lack of auto focus makes close up pictures very blurred. However, for everyday photo taking, this phone is perfect. The built in flash also works very well, coming on automatically when it is needed, and is also surprisingly effective. I also like the fact that the camera mode is activated as soon as you slide down the cover. This does activate the camera sometimes when not needed and can become quite frustrating as you need to close the cover then use the phone, which can take quite a bit of time. The video mode on this phone is the best I have ever seen, as the files are of a higher resolution than that of most other phones, which means that these files will not play on other phones if transferred by Bluetooth for example. The picture is very good; there is hardly any jittering and very smooth.

                Symbian OS
                ~~~~~~~~
                One of the main reasons why I chose to purchase this phone. The Symbian operating system is one of the most stable platforms for mobile phones, but however tends to run quite slowly. The speed of the phone ranges from almost instant, to an excruciating long time. I have heard however that a new firmware flash will slightly increase the phones speed. The great thing about Symbian is the ability to add a wide range of software. I have currently installed on my phone Quickoffice, which is a MS Word, Excel and Powerpoint file reader. This software however doesn't allow you to edit documents. Another very useful feature is Adobe Reader, which I find extremely useful as I have the London Underground map on the phone. I also have purchased TomTom Mobile. This is a satellite navigation system which is similar to the TomTom Go units. This requires a Bluetooth GPS receiver, which can be bought from eBay for a reasonable price. Although expensive, it is a very handy tool indeed. The phone runs this software with no problems whatsoever. In addition to these, I also have various games installed.

                3G
                ~~
                This phone is 3G capable, allowing much faster data speeds than GPRS if in a 3G signal area. This allows you to browse the internet at much faster speeds that usual, and also allows you to use your phone as a modem for internet connection for your laptop. I have not tried this as it must be supported by your network and network charges apply. Another feature that could be used using 3G is the ability to video call. More of a gimmick really, but can be quite cool sometimes. The phone has a lower resolution camera on the front which is used solely for video calling. I have not had a chance to try this yet due to a fault with my network, and is no fault of the phone.

                Problems and Issues
                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                I don't really have any problems with this phone, but do have a few issues with it. To me, this phone is almost perfect but the features I find that are lacking are, as already mentioned, a macro mode and auto focus on the camera, infrared, even though hardly used now, it may still come in handy and maybe slightly better battery life. Another thing is the slide for the camera is too big and so the camera is too easily activated.

                Summary
                ~~~~~~
                A well built high quality handset that does almost anything that you need in a phone, but it is still not perfect, and the N80 has already been announced!


                Some Technical Information
                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                220MHz processor
                32MB RAM
                176x208 pixels, up to 262,144 colours
                Volume: 95.9 cc
                Weight: 126 g
                Length: 108.8 mm
                Width (max): 53mm
                Thickness (max) 21.8mm
                GSM 900/1800/1900 and WCDMA 2100 networks
                2 megapixel camera (1600 x 1200 pixels) with 20x digital zoom
                Second VGA camera (640 x 480 pixels) with 2x digital zoom
                Up to 27 MB of internal dynamic memory
                Expandable memory: Reduced Size Dual Voltage (1.8/3V) MultiMediaCard (MMC)
                Integrated Bluetooth wireless technology v.1.2
                USB 2.0 full speed via Pop-Port™ interface

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                • Phones 4U / Highstreet Shopping / 35 Readings / 30 Ratings
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                  08.09.2005 19:21
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                  Good deals but staff way too pushy

                  Who are they and what do they sell?
                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                  I think that most people who will be reading this will know a little what Phones 4U is all about. They are probably the largest high street mobile phone store after the Carphone Warehouse. They sell mainly mobile phones, contract or pre-pay, and also mobile phone accessories and also some home phones. Phones 4U used to be linked with Singlepoint, who were a mobile phone service provider (the people who bill you) that was a service provider for mainly Vodafone, but also provided some O2 contracts. Singlepoint has recently been acquired by Vodafone.

                  Range of Phones/Services available
                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                  The range that Phones 4U sell is quite large, with nearly all of the most popular phones and also some unique ones but think that the Carphone Warehouse has a slightly larger range than Phones 4U. However, most of the time they will have the handset you are looking for in stock. Their handsets range from very budget pre pay ones, to very top of the line expensive ones.

                  Deals available
                  ~~~~~~~~~~

                  The deals that are available from Phones 4U are generally the best you can get from the high street. I have made many comparisons with the Carphone Warehouse, and most of the time there is a better deal going at Phones 4U. Their cashback and half price/free line rental offers are fantastic when compared to other stores on the high street. The only place you will find a better offer is mail or internet order.

                  Sales advisors
                  ~~~~~~~~~~

                  Well this term is not entirely correct as their so called 'advisors' try to pressure you into buying a phone as much as possible. As soon as you walk into the store, nearly most of the time (in my local store anyway) there is someone who will ask you if you need help. If you sound like you will be signing a deal on that day then their faces light up. They will drag you into the store and not let you go! (And I am not exaggerating). They will try and make the deal sound absolutely amazing, but fortunately for me, I don't fall easily for these things. I have once been dragged into the store and kept me there for over 45 minutes talking about an O2 contract. When I finally told them I was not interested, the advisor gave me the biggest evil you have ever seen and didn't even say goodbye! The advisors or sales staff do put an enormous amount of pressure on you to buy the phone and make it sound like you really need it. I have never met such pushy people in my life. The last time I entered a store, I eventually bought the phone I was slightly interested in. But the pushiness doesn't stop after you sign the deal. They continue on trying to sell you insurance and accessories for your new phone.

                  Store Atmosphere
                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~

                  The atmosphere in the stores is actually quite comfortable with their red, blue and white theme. The only time you would feel uncomfortable is when their pushy staff try and sell you something!

                  Signing the Deal
                  ~~~~~~~~~~

                  Purchasing a mobile phone has been easier than ever, and is no different at Phones 4U. I completed the whole process in around 40 minutes the last time round (at Phones 4U). This may sound like a long time, but in comparison with other experiences I’ve had, it is a relatively short period of time. This included going into the store, looking at their range of handsets, then asking someone about what tariffs are available, discussing alternative offers, signing up, looking and checking the phone to see if it was suitable for me and eventually paying and walking out of the store. The whole process was easy enough, just needed to provide ID and details on my bank account to pay the bill by Direct Debit. After all that, I had a shiny new phone in my hands, which I got out and started using straight away as there was some charge in the battery! The advantage of buying from the high street is that there is no delay/waiting time for the phone to be delivered, and worrying about there being no one available at home to sign for it.

                  After Service
                  ~~~~~~~~

                  When I say after service I mean what happens if something goes wrong, or if you have questions. I have asked questions about my tariff, phone and phone problems before and the advisors are quite helpful most of the time. Sometimes however they do try and fob you off.

                  Summary
                  ~~~~~~

                  Overall, I think that Phones 4U are excellent if you are after the best deal going on the high street. They are, however, not for you if you cannot stand pushy sales staff pressuring you into buying something you don't completely know you want. In that case I recommend the Carphone Warehouse. It is always worth checking them both out if you are after a new mobile phone and buy it from the one you think is the best and don't be pressurised into buying it, buy it if you know you want it.

                  Thank you for reading!

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                  • Tesco / Highstreet Shopping / 50 Readings / 40 Ratings
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                    29.08.2005 18:07
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                    Great supermarket chain

                    Ok, my title is a bit unimaginative, but here goes. I have been shopping at my local Tesco store ever since I moved here. It has not always been the closest supermarket to me, but I always keep going back. Here are my reasons why.

                    Open 24 hours a day
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                    First of all, my store and many others are open 24 hours a day, apart from Sundays due to Sunday Trading Laws. I think Tesco were the first supermarket in the UK to do this and others have followed suit. This is a huge convenience because it gives you the option to go shopping whenever you like! It is especially great if you work long or unsociable hours, and can go to do your shopping at 3 o clock in the morning! However, some sections are sometimes closed, such as the tobacco counter (but you may still buy cigarettes but you must ask your cashier for them) and the deli, fish and meat counters. The alcohol aisle is also sometimes closed.


                    HUGE range of products
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                    When I say huge, I mean huge! My local Tesco store is a Tesco Extra - in other words, they sell nearly everything. If you don't know what you want for dinner, Tesco can always help because there is so much choice. Sometimes it seems that Sainsbury’s food products are of a higher quality than food at Tesco, but when you weigh up the cost, Tesco wins because I find that Sainsbury’s are very expensive. Tesco seems to offer the best value for money. Tesco's own range of products range from Tesco Value, with its distinctive red, blue and white packaging, to Tesco Finest, with its expensive looking black and silver packaging. I always seem to buy a variety of things from all the ranges, as some Value items, in my opinion, taste better than the normal Tesco branded items! All other brand names are there, too many to mention here. Tesco in the last few years have even started selling electrical items, such as TV's, DVD players and mobile phones and now they have even started selling LCD/Plasma TV's at my store! Clothes are also on sale, even though I don't look in that section too often but many bargains can be had, especially for socks and underwear!

                    Price
                    ~~~~~

                    Tesco is always very competitive when it comes to pricing. Although saying that, recently they seem to have fewer items on offer such as buy one get one free etc when compared to Morrison’s. Although some items can be had cheaper from other supermarkets such as Morrison’s or Asda, an average shop for me always seems to be cheaper at Tesco. As I have already mentioned, Tesco always seem to offer the best value for money.

                    Layout of Stores
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                    I have been to quite a few Tesco stores in my time, and have found that every single one that I have been to has an excellent layout so that you can find the item you are looking for very quickly. As soon as you walk into my local Tesco store, you can probably find what you are looking for within two minutes. On the right there is a 'fast' food section, where there is a variety of ready made sandwiches and drinks in a chiller cabinet. Next to that are news papers and magazines, and all the other non-food items. On the immediate left is customer services counter, photo processing, tobacco/lottery counter and the cafe (more on the cafe later). Then the rest of the store is food aisles and checkouts. The food section is normally divided into fruit/veg section, then dry goods, bakery, meat section, freezer section, chilled goods section, alcohol, drinks and at the back of my store there is the delicatessen, olive bar, roast chicken counter, fresh fish counter and the fresh meat counter.

                    Cafe
                    ~~~~

                    The cafe is good when you have completely run out of food in the morning and need to get down to Tesco. It is excellent just for a breakfast in the morning before you do a huge shop. The prices are excellent, and you can use your clubcard there too! However, normally the queue at my store is very long, and I think sometimes that I could have done my shop, got home and cooked it in the time waiting to get served there!

                    Tesco Clubcard
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                    I think Tesco were the first ones in the UK to bring out a loyalty card (please correct me in the comments if I am wrong!). It basically means that every time you shop at Tesco, you hand your clubcard to the cashier and you get points built up on your shopping. The point system works by giving you one point for every full pound you spend, so even if you spend £12.99 for example, you will earn 12 points. Each point is worth a penny, which my not sound like much, but when you spend over £100 a week it soon adds up! I love it especially when my vouchers come in the post, and get to save a few pounds on my next shop. It is not only the Tesco store where you can earn points - you can get points from Tesco garage when you fill up your car, and I think that now you can also earn points at other places, such as Beefeater, car rental etc.

                    Parking
                    ~~~~~~~

                    On their larger stores (Extra and superstores) there is always plenty of space for parking, even during the Christmas period. This especially has not been a problem over the last few years due to Tesco opening 24 hours a day!

                    Services
                    ~~~~~~~~

                    The services on offer, such as photo processing are also very convenient. Different stores vary on these but some even include dry cleaning! My store only has photo processing.

                    Different stores - Extra, superstore, Metro, Express
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                    Tesco are now not only a supermarket, but also a convenience store or corner shop even. Not only because they open 24 hours a day, but because they have the Metro and Express stores. I don't really know the difference between the two, but I think that Metro is a small store on its own and an Express is a very small store attached to a petrol station. Even though these stores are small, they still offer a good range of products at good prices. However, they probably don't offer enough to do a weekly/monthly shop, so only an Extra or superstore will do.

                    Petrol Stations
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                    Correct me if I am wrong on this, but I think Tesco were the first supermarket to offer own brand petrol. I hardly ever use the garage though because I am still a little bit wary of supermarket fuel! (I think I’m just over paranoid!). However, I think many people do use these services so it is worth a mention. The prices at the Tesco pumps seem to be very competitive most of the time, but I have sometimes seen it be more expensive than the big brand garages that are very local to my store. I do like the fact that you can pay for your fuel at the pump at my local Tesco garage, just by slotting in your credit/debit card. You can still earn clubcard points here too by putting your clubcard into the machine first.

                    Summary
                    ~~~~~~~

                    Great. I cannot really say that it is excellent because I do occasionally like to go to a different supermarket such as Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s, but Tesco for me is the overall winner out of the large supermarket chains.

                    Thank you for reading!

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                    • Ebuyer.com / Online Shop / 31 Readings / 27 Ratings
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                      26.08.2005 00:36
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                      Great company with excellent products at good price but poor customer service

                      My story with Ebuyer is extremely varied. I have been a customer of Ebuyer for about 3 years now and have purchased quite a bit bits from them. It was not until recently that I discovered that all the other reviews and ratings were correct about Ebuyer's appalling customer service. Before this, I did not believe the reviews because I had had such great service from them.

                      What they sell - Well nearly anything computer based and quite a few bits that are not. I especially like their prices for DVD media, and also they sell a lot of OEM equipment, which have no frills but come at a very cheap price. They sell most computer hardware stuff such as cases, power supplies, processors, memory, CD/DVD drives, the list goes on and on. Complete computer systems are also available, including laptops. They also sell a lot of software titles, many of which can come as OEM. As well as computer equipment, they also sell TV's, including LCD and Plasma ones and MP3 players etc.

                      The website itself is very easy to navigate, but not always very user friendly. At the top of the page, there are tabs for specific 'departments' of the site. These are PCs and Displays, Peripherals, Components, Networking, Software, Office, Electronics, Household and Clearance. So as you can probably tell, easy to navigate. Once you have clicked on one of those, or chosen one from the side, you then have to option to choose something more specific, and then the site will show you the most popular products in that section. There is the option to show all. Once you click on that then all of the available products are listed in that category. You then have to option to view by price/manufacturer/rating etc and show all items or just items in stock. What I find handy is that the site will tell you exactly how much stock they have left. All prices shown here are actually exclusive of VAT, which is not useful to me, however, if you actually go into the product page buy clicking on the product description, then the price will be shown there inclusive of VAT. Another thing that I also quite like is that when you do add products to your basket, it will tell you in there how much the delivery charge is going to be without signing onto your account or registering a new account with them. It also gives you the option of Saturday delivery, for priority services, or for saver and super saver delivery which can save you a few pounds. However most of the time I seem to find that the standard delivery is fine. It will also give you a table for the delivery costs dependant on value of order and weight of the order. The strange thing is that the more expensive your order is, the more expensive the delivery!!! Most companies will charge you less if you spend more - may be due to Ebuyer's low prices I suppose, and for courier insurance expenses. It is also very easy to place your order - just placing items in basket, choosing delivery options, giving payment details and waiting for your order! The delivery times quoted are for latest delivery, so it may well be that the order is delivered before the stated date (Has happened a few times to me). There is also a tracking system on their website when you sign onto your account.

                      The account page is also very helpful. You can track orders there and you can also save quotes. This is when you may not need to buy something straight away and you can save the order as a quote in your account. This will then stay there until you delete it and you may convert the quote into an order subject to the items still being in stock. The account page also gives details on your last three orders, so that you can check prices, or print receipts for example.

                      So sounding good so far. But my problem started when I got a new camera. The camera didn't come with a case of any description so I decided to find on online and came to Ebuyer. The one that I wanted was shown in the picture description on Ebuyer and the written description also sounded like the product I wanted so I decided to buy it as the price was less than half the price any other supplier was selling it for. When it arrived it was nothing like what I was expecting, so I decided to return it. This was my first item I had ever had to return to Ebuyer because they have always been so excellent in the past. At the time, there was no contact phone number for Ebuyer whatsoever because they said they were a completely online store. So I had to sign into my account and request a RMA - Returns Merchandise Authorisation. This is required buy Ebuyer in order to refund you. A few steps are involved in requesting a RMA - first you have to select the order, then the item or items you which to return, and then choose a collection date or date when you will send it back to them. In my case it was a collection date. So I chose one that was two days away. That day came, and nobody turned up all day to collect it. So I had to go online again and make an Enote. This is so someone will actually answer my query as I had no phone number to ring. The Enote was left unanswered for over a week, I think it was 12 days after that I raised the Enote that someone contacted me through the Enote system, but was Emailed to let me know there was an unread Enote on my account. It basically told me to request another RMA and the old RMA would be removed. This is what I did, and the collection did finally come, but it took a long time. Till this day the Enote still says it is unread - no matter how many times I read it! This doesn't affect the account though so I am not too bothered. I also got my refund, including the postage I paid for it, so in the end it was all sorted. However, at the time, I was really frustrated with this 'Online only' attitude to trading. It is only recently that Ebuyer have got their phones back and they do now answer phone calls! They also did have a phone number years before but I never had the chance to use it - but have heard bad things about their phones and customer advisors too.

                      I am still purchasing through Ebuyer, as they do offer excellent price and a fantastic range of products, some of which I have not seen sold anywhere else. However, if I do find someone else selling the product for the same price or a similar amount, I will strongly consider the other company. Ebuyer is great, but of you do need to send something back it can become a nightmare. However, I do acknowledge the fact that they do have a phone number now, so I would not be so worried about returning an item.

                      All I can say is an excellent company which have poor customer service.

                      Thank you for reading!

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                      • Freeview / TV Channel / 35 Readings / 28 Ratings
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                        22.08.2005 19:10
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                        An excellent service

                        As many of you may know, I am a poor student. Therefore, we cannot afford Sky/Cable charges, but we want extra channels. That's when Freeview comes in.

                        Freeview is a relatively new service that has only been available for a few years, after the fall of ONDigital and ITV Digital, but they were subscription services. Freeview basically uses the same system, but all the channels are free. You get around 30 channels and extra radio (audio only) channels. The channels include the normal analogue terrestrial channels - BBC 1 and 2, ITV 1, Channel 4 and five. However, it also includes the extra ITV and BBC channels, such as ITV 2, BBC three and four, BBC News 24 and ITV news channels etc. It also includes channels such as E4, abc (american sitcoms), men and motors, a couple of music channels, kids’ channels and shopping channels such as QVC.

                        The set top box that I have is a Sony one, which was relatively expensive when compared to some of them, but I think the extra amount is worth it, as it includes 2 SCART sockets, which some only come with one, so you cannot connect your VCR/DVD recorder to record programmes, and RF loopthrough - this means the aerial lead can pass through to your VCR and TV, as some boxes only have an aerial in, but not out! This box also includes an audio out, which can be used as an analogue signal with a headphone lead or digital optical out. The box is also, in my opinion, very stylish and matches with most Sony equipment. The box was extremely easy to set up, basically connecting all the cables up, turning it on and doing an automatic setup. The setup basically asks you all the options you want to set, such as language. It the searches for all the channels and after a few minutes, you're watching digital TV!

                        The signal reception I get is excellent; however, sometimes the picture does freeze up a bit, but is normally due to interference such as from a hair dryer or mobile phone. I have not experienced these problems with Sky, but it may be due to my aerial. The aerial I am using is an internal one, but is amplified. I expect this interference to go away if I started using an outdoor/rooftop aerial. The sound quality is also much better.

                        The Sony box that I have comes with a remote control, which can control basic functions of your TV, even if it isn't a Sony one! I am using a Toshiba TV and it works brilliantly. You simply have to program it to work with your TV as it tells you in the instruction manual. The box also came with a normal aerial lead and also a SCART cable which I think is excellent.

                        The box also gives you an 8-day EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) which is basically a TV guide on your TV screen. When you change channels it also tells you the name of the programme currently showing on that channel and the time it started and ends. You can also do a "Now and Next" which tells you more information about that programme. There is also a subtitles button on the remote which gives you subtitles almost instantly, which are clearer than the old teletext ones which you had to choose page 888 for.

                        Top-Up TV is a new service which you pay a few pounds a month for, but in my opinion it isn't worth it as the extra channels are not great and you also need a top-up TV compatible set top box, which the Sony isn't. However, if you have an old ONDigital/ITVdigital box, then you can get the top-up TV service as you need a viewing card.

                        Overall a brilliant service which there are no extra costs for. The extra TV channels are excellent, I especially like music channels. The service also gives you access to all the interactive services, such as press Red and digital teletext, which I can definitely say is much better than the old teletext system. All in all, brilliant!!!

                        PS - Before you go out and buy a freeview box, make sure that you can receive it in your area buy going on the freeview website.

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                        • Epson Stylus C86 / Inkjet Printer / 20 Readings / 18 Ratings
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                          21.08.2005 12:23
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                          Great value for money, decent results, cost effective 4 cartridges.

                          I have always used Epson inkjet printers and this is no exception. As I have a mono laser (Samsung ML-1510 - read review) I don't really need an inkjet for text printing, but I bought this as it was going cheap and had the ability to print semi-decent photos on photo paper.

                          First of all, the printer comes with 4 ink cartridges one for each colour - cyan, magenta and yellow, and then the black. The printer also came with a sample pack of 15 sheets of 6x4 photo paper and a USB memory card reader, however, I think the last two items only come with the C86 Photo Edition, but I think this is the only one they do now anyway - the C86 and C86 Photo Edition are exactly the same printer, but it is just the stuff that comes in the box that is different. The printer also comes with the normal printer drivers on CD and manuals, but the printer did not come with a USB cable, which you must buy, but can be picked up for a few pounds.

                          Printing results with the printer are very good for a cheapish inkjet printer. Black test results are produced very quickly, but as I have said before, the results with black test did not impress me too much. All inkjet Epson printers seem to produce black text results which appear the "bleed" on the page, when used with normal 80/90gsm paper for inkjets. Results that I have seen from other inkjets, especially HP's, seem to give much better results - near laser quality in fact. However, I don't think that HP's can touch Epson for colour quality print results. Colour results take a lot longer to print, the stated times with the printer is 22 pages per minute black, but in real life you will never get this, apart from on laser stated times. I have printed colour graphics and photos on various paper and all results are great, especially when you print on photo paper. However, I advise you not to use the Epson PhotoEnhance feature on the driver, as if you leave it as normal I seem to get better photo results with more vivid colours!

                          Ink cartridges don't seem to last too long, but then what do you expect for an inkjet. The "normal capacity" cartridges that come with the printer seem to run out very quickly, but I have replaced them with the "high capacity" cartridges which cost a couple pounds more for the colour ones and around five pounds more for the black, seem to have lasted a much longer time than the "normal capacity" ones. The thing I don't like is that when the printer driver says a cartridge is empty, then you must replace it. If you take it out and put it back in, it still doesn't work as it used to on the older Epson’s. The printer still says it is empty when you put it back in, so the only remedy is to put in a new cartridge, which is probably wasting a lot of ink. I suppose it's a way to help Epson sell more cartridges! The four cartridge system is more cost effective then the black and colour systems because you only need to replace a colour when you need to, instead of throwing away a colour cartridge where the cyan maybe all used up, but half the yellow is still there. However, its seems that once I replace one colour, then the others need replacing very soon anyway, so the amount you actually save is minimal.

                          Overall, this is an excellent value for money printer, however, the Epson R200/R300 series of printers are getting much cheaper now and they have the ability of printing onto printable CD-R's and DVD's. This is an excellent feature which I feel should have been included with this one. They also use 2 more cartridges, for even more realistic photo printing. But for everyday use, this printer is excellent.

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                          • More +
                            21.08.2005 11:49
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                            Average game, with great graphics and detail, but limited playability

                            The Getaway (the original) was quite a big game, with a revolutionary interactive map of large streets in London. The map was so realistic sometimes I thought I was actually there! The cars in the original were also very good, very realistic (although not driving them!) .I bought this game as it was reduced and I quite liked the original Getaway game. There were a few flaws with the original, such as poor controls, characters had awful control and viewing angles were also very bad. Apart from that, the original was a pretty good game with a semi-decent storyline and good graphics. However, the sequel, Black Monday, still has the same flaws as the original, and game play has not changed a bit. You would expect that they would have improved on this. However, there is no change whatsoever.

                            The storyline for this game I personally don't think is as good as the original, but will suffice. I think that this is a very average game, it is not excellent but it is also not very bad. The game producers have done very well with the graphics though, they have probably pushed the Playstation 2 to its limits! The map is still there, and now includes a paper map in the box, showing all the major streets of London that are included in the game. The cars again are still very realistic looking, however, the driving is a different matter. As for character controls, car controls are also very poor. The cars drive as unrealistically as you can probably get, but then again this game is not exactly Gran Turismo, but I still would have liked more realistic driving dynamics.

                            The game is well completable in about 2-3 days of normal gameplay. It is a relatively short game if you put your heart into it. The bad thing is that there is basically nothing else left to do when you have completed it. Therefore, I don't think this game is worth paying full price for but is great for under £10 which I got if for. It is a great game though for those dark, rainy days where you have nothing else to do, but you will probably end up completing it in a day if this happens!

                            Overall, although still a bit flawed, I think this game is quite fun and playable, but you may get very frustrated at times with the awful controls and give up like I did a few times! But if you really liked the original, or after a game that is playable, then this is the game for you. But if you are after a very playable game, which is not completable in a few days and with decent controllability, then this is not the game for you.

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                          • Sony DVP NS355/S / DVD Player / 19 Readings / 18 Ratings
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                            01.05.2005 03:24
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                            I bought this Sony DVD player from amazon.co.uk as a multi-region player, but I think if purchased from the high street, it will be a standard region 2 player. The player is very cheap, especially when considering it is a Sony. I have had one DVD player before, but as that didn't allow me to playback some copied DVD's, I thought it was time for a new one.

                            The player arrived in a standard box. Included was the player itself, a remote control with batteries, an instruction manual and some standard phono cables. The player was so easy to set up - litterally just plug it in, connect some cables to your TV (although I am using a SCART lead which is not supplied - and I strongly recommend that anyone do the same) and thats it. You're ready to go. When the player is first plugged in, there is some simple setup procedure - such as telling the player what type of TV you have (widescreen or standard) and some other minor things such as language of the menu. Once this has been done, then you can just put a disc in, and it will start playing.

                            The picture quality, is very good. I was not expecting it to be absolutely first class as it is a 'budget' player. I am using a RGB signal from it, and if your TV is compatible, I also recommend you do this as the picture quality you will get is much better. The player is very easy to use, and so is the remote. The remote also allows you to control a few things on your TV, such as standby and volume. You can use this even if the TV you are using is not Sony, and it tells you how to set this up in the manual.

                            The outputs are your normal phono ones, a SCART socket and coaxial out for digital audio. There is no optical output which I think is more widely used.

                            The appearance of the player is very attractive. It is a nice silver finish, although I think it is available in black, but is much harder to find. The unit is very slim, about half of what my VCR is, but has the same width as the VCR so it does fit in nicely. It also has a nice glossy black on the front of the disc tray, which matches to blackness of the screnn on the unit.

                            Playing DVD's is easy - you have got good control over it, such as information of current time on the disc, chapter, title etc. You can also skip to a specific time, which I also think is very handy.

                            The player does not just play DVD videos, it also has the ability to play VCD's and SVCD's, and plays them in quite good quality (considering the quality of VCD's and SVCD's is not too good). It can also play mp3 and JPEG discs, which you can just burn as a data disc on your computer, and can view your photos or fit a lot of music onto a CD. However, using the unit as a CD player or a mp3 disc player is not brilliant, but is adequate, but will never be as good as a standalone CD player.

                            As I bought this as multi-region, I can play discs from all over the world. I have not currently tried a region 1 discs (Americas), but have tried a few region 3 discs (Asia Pacific) and they have played flawlessly. I have also tried NTSC discs, and they also work fine (although you must check that your TV is compatible). The player also manages to play DVD's which I have burnt on my computer that have not been finalised (although it does take a long time to start playing - about a minute of spinning the disc or so) but I didn't expect these to work at all!

                            Overall, a very good DVD player with a top brand which you can trust. It will play anything you throw at it (including your own DVD's which can be burnt on any format (+R(W), -R(W) except for DVD-RAM). Why spend similar money on something else with an unknown brand when you can get this. One thing I don't like is that it didn't come with a SCART cable, and maybe the possibility to play DivX files, but I think that is asking too much for this price.

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                            • LG U8100 / Mobile Phone / 8 Readings / 15 Ratings
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                              09.03.2005 00:01
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                              I purchased this phone after waiting for the Sony Ericsson Z1010 for about a lifetime and heard that it will not be released. The reason for buying this phone was not because I wanted this handset, but because it was one of the best handsets on offer that was available on the '3' network. I wanted to use '3' as they have by far the best value for money tariffs out there (See my review on the '3' network).

                              In the box comes the handset and battery, a wall charger, a manual and several other '3' manuals and a USB cable for connection to your computer, with software on a CD. The box was quite small, but neatly packaged.

                              The handset itself is an averagely sized, ordinary looking phone. However, I was actually quite amazed by all the features. Having not used an LG phone before, I found the user interface was very easy to use, and easy to get used to. I even find it much better than most Motorola phones, which I still believe have the worst user interface/menu system.

                              The battery life is, I would say, is less than average, but good enough for a couple days of semi-intense use (a couple hours a day on the phone, and using the phone to take pictures, send/receive messages etc). One thing I like about the phone is that the internal screen is very nice. It is clear and has a good resolution, so looking at photo's etc is a pleasure. The phone also has many features:

                              Video calling - a gimmick really, but allows you to call and see others on their video phone. Very expensive though and doesn't work too well, as there is a huge lag. Also, video calls can only be made when you are in a 3G coverage area.

                              Camera/Video camera - The rotating camera takes pictures of up to VGA resolution (0.3 mega pixels, 640x480). However, the pictures are semi-decent, not as good as most say, Nokia phones, but decent enough for a phone. It also has a 'flash' which is a light on the phone which allows you to take pictures in the dark. It doesn't work well though, as the subject must be very close for it to be slightly effective. Video capture on the phone is also not very good, the picture is very jerky, and is at a very low resolution.

                              Media Player - Allows you to watch 3gp videos on your phone, listen to mp3's etc, which can be transferred from your computer via the provided USB cable.

                              Other features include MMS, vibration alert (but what kind of phone doesn't have this feature these days), calendar, world clock, which allows you to find out the time in many other countries (useful for travellers), memo and secret memo which can only be accessed if a PIN code is entered, calculator which includes more than your standard phone calculator including functions such as trigonometric functions (sin, cos, tan) logs and natural logs, exponentials etc, unit converter which allows many conversions for example Celsius to Fahrenheit, timers such as stopwatch, voice recording, java etc etc.

                              Another feature of the phone that I quite like is the ability to change the backlight colour of the front screen. It also can be changes for various things, such as if a message has arrived the light will be yellow, or if a call is coming in, it can be blue.

                              I have been happy using this phone, and memory space is sufficient, at around 32MB. One thing that I do not like is that there is too much '3' branding on the phone. There is a '3' logo on the front of the phone, and also shows the '3' logo whenever the phone is switched off or on. A major reason which may put some of you reading this off this phone is the lack of Bluetooth. Bluetooth allows you to send or receive files from or to other phones with Bluetooth, a wireless handsfree headset, or a computer with Bluetooth. However, as a USB cable is provided, I don't think it is too much of a big deal for me. Software for transferring files to and from computer are very easily installed, and quite easy to use. I think it is actually much better than Nokia's PC suite, which can be very 'intrusive'.

                              This phone has actually failed twice on me, but to be honest, I think that this might be a problem with the software that '3' have put on the phone. It has been repaired, and so far has been working well.

                              Overall, I think this is a decently sized handset with decent functionality. I would not however, say that it is the best phone in the world, nor the worst. Many things about this phone I really like, but some things really frustrate me. However, the price of this phone justifies my purchase.

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                              • Pentax Optio S5i / Digital Camera / 2 Readings / 14 Ratings
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                                06.03.2005 03:20
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                                This camera - god, it's cool! I think even James Bond will be happy with this one.

                                I have owned this camera now for around two months. I first started looking for a camera just before getting to university. My main points were that it had to be ultra small, as I would like to carry it around with me, especially on nights out with my friends. I also needed a decent picture quality, with a decent pixel count.

                                It wasn't until just after Christmas that I started looking around for one. So there I was, searching the internet like crazy, reading reviews, finding prices, looking at sample pictures etc etc. After about a week, I narrowed my search down to a few cameras. I saw a good offer on a Casio Exilim EX-Z3, but as it was an old model, there was no stock. I originally wanted to spend around £120-150, but as I started looking, my budget just went higher! So on my final list, there were 4 cameras. I had the Pentax Optio S50, the Casio EX-Z40 and Z50 models, and of course this one, the Pentax Optio S5i.

                                I found some good prices on the net, and so decided to buy it there. But I needed to have a look at the cameras in real life, playing around with them was also worth it. So there I was in Jessops, looking at these cameras. I finally chose this one because it was the smallest, nicest to use in my opinion, and also the lightest. I had also heard that even though it was the cheapest model, the Pentax Optio S50 had a much poorer image quality than the others. The Casio models used the same Pentax lens as used in the Pentax models, so another reason why I chose the Pentax. I actually bought the camera from Jessops, as they price matched the internet price I had found!

                                In the box came the camera, a wrist strap, a charging stand, a USB cable, instruction manual and software CD's. The camera itself is very, very small and very, very light. The full aluminium body is also great; it feels so amazingly built, especially compared to some other cameras that I had looked at. Features of the camera include a 3x optical zoom, one of the major reasons that I bought this camera, a decent sized screen (1.8 inches, which may not sound like too much compared to some you can get, but great as the camera is so small), 5 mega pixels, movie mode with sound recording, a decent flash (excellent for a camera this size) and takes SD memory cards.

                                There are many modes of the camera, a 'green' mode, which is basically everything automatic apart from flash on/off and zoom. Then there is a Program' mode, which allows you to control much more than in green mode. Other modes include Night Scene, Movie, Panorama Assist (allows you to take panoramic pictures, that can be joined together by the software provided), and many others. I do like the fact that this camera has a macro mode, which means you can be very close up to an object (or person!) and it will take a beautiful photo, with a flash! It also has a super macro mode, but this is for very close shots, and with this, the flash is disabled. The camera is able to take photos in a variety of quality and pixel settings. Quality can be set on 1, 2 or 3 stars, with 3 being the best. Pixel settings go from 5 mega pixels, 3 mega pixels, 2 mega pixels to 0.8 mega pixels, and 0.3 mega pixels being the lowest. Movie mode is also great, but the optical zoom can only be set before recording starts, after which only the digital zoom can be adjusted.

                                The camera is very easy to use, literally just switch in on, and take a photo. One thing that I don't like about the camera is that is has no memory buffer, it takes quite a long time to save a picture, and this must be done before you can take the next picture. Things are much improved though if a high speed SD memory card is used (these are fairly cheap nowadays - check out Amazon or any other Computer/Electrical store). Charging the camera is very easy as it comes with a charging stand. If you bought a spare battery, you could also charge the spare battery, at the same time that the battery in the camera is being charged. However, I think that the charging stand should have allowed for USB connection for the transfer of photos. You must connect the cable separately into a port on the camera, which can be quite fiddly.

                                The camera takes excellent photos, but I have not had the chance to use all the features, or take pictures in many different conditions. The battery life on the camera is actually quite astonishing; I had a night of taking around 90 photos in about 3 hours. During this time, the camera had been switched on and off repeatedly, the flash was used in every single photo and the screen was also on. By the end of it, 250MB worth of photo had been taken, along with some video clips, and the battery indicator still showed up as 3 bars out of 3!

                                The photo quality of the camera is truly great for a camera this size. This camera does what it is meant to do, point and shoot. But you can also do many other cool things with it too, which I have not explored with yet!

                                I would definitely recommend this camera to anyone looking for something similar. It really is one of the best gadgets I have purchased in years! I would however, definitely recommend a large, high speed memory card - as each photo I have taken has been around 2.5-3.5MB each, on best quality and highest pixel setting. Also, a good case should be purchased, as the camera does not come with one, not even a pouch. All in all, a very good buy, which I am sure will get much use as a student!

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