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I've had my Fuji digital camera now for about 3 years, and it's been everywhere with me; from deserts to skiing down mountains to city breaks. By today's standards, it's a rather heavy bulky affair (although maybe they have updated newer models). It's got 2.0 million mega pixels and I am happy with the general quality of the results. - I use the 'medium' setting which is a compromise between quality and space, so I still get a reasonable amount of pictures on the smart media card, but the quality is still good enough. If you want top quality photos, then you can change the settings but each picture takes up far more memory space on the card. I put a lot of my photos onto disc, and playback with a DVD player through my TV - on a larger screen, some of the photos can become a bit 'blocky' as the loss in resolution becomes a bit more obvious. However, on say a PC screen or a portable TV, resolution is fine. The photos I've had printed (either 6x4 or 7x5 format) have been very god and true to the original. The camera connects easily to a PC using Fuji "finepix viewer" software. It connects via USB. Here you can do basic editing and resize the image. You're also meant to be able to connect the camera up and use as a web camera, although I've never got this to work.... One big plus I like about the camera is that it uses standard AA batteries (2 of) for it's power - this means wherever you are, if your batteries run out, you should be able to replace easily. The camera is really easy to use, and the zoom isn't too bad. I've found that as my skills develop, the camera can become a bit restrictive as there's not much you can change on it for different settings etc. Sometimes you are left wanting a wider angle lens to fit more in, and it would be nice to have some control over shutter speeds and maybe 'f' stops. But then you're
going away from the ease of a 'point and shoot' and into a more complicated (expensive) camera However, having said that, because it's so simple, there's not much wrong you can do with it either.The macro function works well - and allows for some great close up shots. There's a cover over the lens that you have to slide back, but if it's not 'clicked' right the way back, it turns the camera off - and it can be quite easy to accidentally knock it and turn the camera off just when you don't want to. The flash is not very powerful, and really only any good for indoor use of people quite close. But the red-eye reduction facility works well. There's a colours LCD screen at the back, which shows things in good detail - all menu options are done off the screen. However, when outside in anything but the dullest light, it can be very difficult to see the screen. I actually use the normal view finder for framing most of my shots - it uses far less battery power, and as I've said, the screen display can be difficult to see. Battery power is good, and a decent set of batteries will get you lots of shots (I use rechargeable one, but the higher the 'mah' rating the longer they last (camera came with 1 set of Fuji batteries with a 1700 mah rating, and I have purchased extra one at 2300 mah) It's easy to access the battery compartment (also where you put the smart media cards) by sliding the cover at the bottom of the camera. The only thing I'd say here is that the low battery level warning comes on far too late - you've only got a couple of shots left if you're lucky by the time the indicator tells you battery level is low. So - always carry a spare set just in case. As I said at the start, the camera has been to a lot of places around the world with me and has endured well below zero to far too bloody hot temperatures. It's been knocke
d about with big skiing wipe outs, and jiggled around on mountain bikes and thrown about on boats. It's now got a few scratches and a cracked lens cover, but has never failed to take good photos to remind me of my travels. At the end of the day, the main thing you want from a digital camera is good photos - and this is what this delivers. In most conditions, you'll get some very nice photos to look back on. Thanks for reading - Say Cheese Jon
My partner and I had 3 nights in Vegas in early June 2004. We stopped at the MGM Grand (see my review on this hotel) My other half wasn't really looking forward to Vegas (we were going for one of my mates' wedding) but to be fair, she enjoyed it more than she thought. I thought it was a cool place - but 3 nights wasn't really long enough (although we lost the best part of a day on a canyon trip; highly recommended and another day with the wedding). As you're probably aware, most of the action takes place 'on the strip' - this is basically a very large road with most of the major hotels right on it. Vegas is a bit like wandering around a huge film set; a lot of it seems very familiar even if it's your first visit. I guess this is because we're so used to seeing images of Vegas on TV and films. As most things are on the strip (or only just off it to the side) getting around is easy; walk up 1 side, cross the road, and walk back down to see most of it. I guess the main bit strip is probably about 2 miles, running from just near the airport towards Freemont street (or 'downtown') - it's all flat, so no hills, and the pavements (sidewalks) are nice and wide (as are the roads - so cross only at a crossing !!). If the walking and heat (tops 100 F in June - although there was a nice breeze) gets too much for your feet, take the CAT bus which just runs up and down the strip. There's plenty of stops, and a bus runs about every 10 minutes. Its $2 per ride to go as far as you want. However, if you're in a rush, this isn't for you - because of the hectic traffic, and the fact it stops virtually every 100 yards, it does take a while to get anywhere. When you first hit Vegas, it's a sensory overload - the whole town is rather unreal and seems to be in a fantasy world. It's consumerism gone mad, with all the hotels trying to be bigger and better than the ot
hers.This isn't the place for quiet contemplation - but is very much the place for anything goes fun. All the major hotels (and there are a lot of them) are huge, and each one has it's own theme (Luxor = Egyptian, Excalibur = medieval, New York New York = work it out for yourself, Venetian = Venice (complete with canals and gondoliers) etc. etc.) In each hotel, you'll find countless places to eat, loads of shops and of course the casinos. - The size of these places is amazing. When I say there are shops in the hotels, I don't mean 1 or 2 gift shops - I'm talking sometimes hundreds selling everything from designer clothes to fridge magnets. Most hotels have literally thousands of rooms. The hotels are fantastic, and you could spend all your time wandering round the hotels and marvelling at how they've recreated things. - It's usually very tastefully done and obviously no expense spared. Of course there's all the famous shows up and down the strip, and some hotels do free shows at certain times (Check out one of the free booklets to tell you whats on and where). Prices vary from reasonable to expensive depending on what / who you want to see. There's plenty of free entertainment at the hotels - from the Lion enclosure at the MGM to the aquarium at Ceases palace (in the Forum shopping mall). There are some free outside shows worth a look at too at the hotels - The treasure island pirate battle (Get there at least 45 minutes before show time for a good view), the erupting volcano at the Mirage, and the fabulous water fountains set to music at the Bellagio. In typical Vegas style, most things are completely over the top, but very well done. Further afield is Circus Circus & the Stratosphere - these are situated mid way between the main strip & 'downtown' so will probably be a bus / cab ride for you to get to. A trip downtown tothe 'freemont street experience' is a must at ni
ght; on the hour, a giant tunnel of lights are set to music. Great rock tracks (Stones, Hendrix, Beatles etc.) thump out whilst the tunnel comes alive and animates with pictures and a kaleidoscope of colour. Here you'll find the famous Golden Nugget amongst others. - But don't stray too far from the main bit here, otherwise you'll find yourself in a seemingly rather dodgy area. Eating out is as cheap or expensive as you want it to be, with your choice from a variety of cuisines from around the world. Vegas is very informal, and shorts / t-shirts are acceptable attire - even in the casinos of the 'posher' hotels. There is a seedy side to Vegas; you have to run the gauntlet of pushers trying to thrust adult magazine and calling cards into your hands, and there are some dodgy looking folk lurking in the backstreets. But on the whole, on the main strip, it's pretty safe. It's always busy, day or night and most things are 24 / 7. My top tip is for the casinos - I found that if you are playing the tables or machines, the floor waitresses will get you drinks (day or night, alcohol or not) - these are actually free, although it is polite to tip the waitress (say $1 / drink) and this will make sure she looks after you when your glass is empty. A week in Vegas should be enough - you'll see plenty, but just about manage to keep your sanity. Consider an excursion though; we did the Canyon which was fantastic. We got picked up from hotel, taken to the local airport and flew for about 45 minutes on a high wing small plane over the Hoover damn & lake mead. We landed at the Canyon and transferred in a helicopter to descend to the Canyon floor where we then did a boat trip down the (Colorado) river before going back up top and having lunch at the rim before we headed back. It was well worth it (even though it was nearly £200 each - although there are cheaper versions available) as it's the type of thin
g you only do once. The canyon is awesome, and you can't get your head round the size of the place. another tip is limit yourself to a gambling budget; when it's gone, quit & walk away - it's very tempting to keep spending, but of course there's only one winner at the Casinos; they don't build hundreds of multi million dollar hotel / casinos for nothing you know... Happy holidays
I've been with O2 for quite some time now (remember when it used to be Cellnet ?) My main reason for choosing them was they seemed to have the best tariffs for my needs. Coverage is pretty good (most of the time) but is not without the loss of signal here and there, sometimes in the most unlikely places. However, it has to be said that the customer service is appalling. I've never been impressed with their service, and it's now getting to the point where I think I'll change my network provider next time the contract is up for renewal. For a start, it's the usual problem of trying to get through to the call centre - endless automatic telephone services - 'press this for that' type of thing, and then taking ages to answer the phone. Now, here a thing for a communication company; on my bills they print an e-mail contact address - I've tried to e-mail them twice regarding separate issues, and on each occasion, despite getting the automatic acknowledgment of receiving my e-mail, I then get another mail saying they are having technical problems and cannot deal with e-mail and asking me to phone them instead (and waste another half hour of my life going round in loops in their bloody phone system !) I seem to have trouble accessing my bills on line - first of all it was because I was on such and such tariff, and that didn't support on line billing. But even after switching tariffs, I can't get my account on-line. Talking about tariffs, I was quite happy plodding along on a pay in advance subscription - I paid my line rental 12 months in advance, and got a small amount of free minutes and then paid for call charges as I used. This worked out a good deal, as the line rental was cheap over 12 months. However, this time around, at renewal time, O2 advised me to switch to their O2 Leisure time tariff. This means £15 / month with 500 off peak minutes. I also buy a text bundle
of 50 each month. - this works out more than the old tariff I was on, and I'm not using anywhere near the 500 free minutes a month; I worked out I'd spent over £150 more on the new tariff (which O2 said would be better for me!) than my old tariff I've since learnt they're doing away with the pay in advance tariffs (although if you were on it, you could stop on it - but it's not available to new customers). So, when O2 said the new tariff would be better for me, what they really meant was that it'd be better for them..... My complaints have fallen on deaf ears - I wrote a letter (via snail mail, seeing how e-mail didn't work!) and got a bog standard reply with a list of their current tariffs asking me to switch if I want to. There was no apology for putting on what is obviously the wrong tariff (at their advice) in the first place, and importantly no offer to refund any of the £150 the new tariff cost me. Also, when I upgraded last, I did it over the phone. When my mobile arrived, there was a problem with the inbuilt software. So I thought I'd pop into the local O2 store to get it sorted; no such luck - the stores and the 'over-the-phone / web' services are dealt with completely separate - so the store could not help as I'd ordered the mobile over the phone. But hang on, I thought it was all the same bloody company... To be fair to the store, they did try, but when they spoke to their call centre they were told not to swap my phone. The call centre wanted me to send the phone back and wait possibly up to 2 weeks for a replacement ! - they wouldn't send a new phone out until they received my old one first, so this meant I'd be without a phone during all of this. In the end, I had to cancel my contract with the call centre and take out a new contract with the store. I also had to return the faulty phone myself to the call centre, as the store wasn't able to take
it i n for me. I tried to complain via e-mail (after being given an alternative address) but no-one was interested. The department I complained to said it wasn't anything to do with them, and I should contact someone else, who also passed it around saying it was another department. In the end I just gave up with them They seem to have a very disjointed set up - as it's all the same company (O2) it shouldn't matter weather you deal with a store, call centre or via the web - but they seem to have a different view, and you might as well be dealing with separate companies. So, all in all a very poor attitude to customer service. I'm not impressed with that aspect so I think it's time for a change Thanks for reading, Jon
We stopped at the MGM in June 2004 for 3 nights - it wasn't long enough & we very impressed. My other half wasn't keen on going to Vegas, but as it was a mates wedding out there, we had to go.... so, she insisted that we stay at a 'nice hotel' hence the MGM However, for nice, don't read expensive - we paid £237 for 3 nights, and you can probably get it cheaper than that. Bear in find it's a good 4 start hotel, and it becomes good value for money. The location is spot on - 5 minutes from airport, and right on the strip - you can easily walk to most major sights on the strip. The size of the place is overwhelming; this hotel has over 5000 rooms, and the statistics are staggering; Over 10 restaurants plus other fast food chains, nightclubs, show theatres, over 6 acres of pool area and numerous shops. Of course there's the casino which is just huge - it takes you 10 minutes just to walk through it all. There's thousands of machines and hundreds of tables. Oh - and don't forget the lion habitat ! (yes - real lions in the middle of the hotel.........) Check in is like being at the airport - row and row of desks. But it's all pretty efficient and you'll soon have you room keys (and map to find your way around !) We were on the 21st floor, over looking the strip. The room was very nice and spacious - the bathroom was the size of most hotel rooms ! All fixtures and fittings were well maintained. The style is very glamorous, but not tacky - sticking to a classic early era of the silver screen. Actually, we could have spent the whole 4 days we were in Vegas in the hotel and not got bored. But because we had a hectic schedule (full day Canyon tour, and my mates wedding) taking up 2 full days, we were only left with evening time and a couple of half days on our arrival and before we flew home. We didn't really scratch the surface of the hotel facilities
The food we had in the hotel was good quality / value - we did the grand buffet where it's eat as much as you want type of thing. The only thing here was you pay your fixed price before you sit down, and they expect a tip (as most people do!) - but how can you leave a tip at the start of the meal; you have no idea how good it is yet. And also, as it's a buffet, service doesn't really come into it, as you serve yourself.... We were new to gambling, but don't let that put you off - the croupier on the roulette wheel was very helpful and understanding and helped us through the rules and etiquette (there's a lot more to picking numbers on a wheel than you think!) - we made £50 last 4 hours winning some, then losing some (and that included our drinks - see below) Here's a top tip - if you're gambling (machines or tables), you can have free drinks (including alcohol) - there are loads of scantily clad ladies rushing round with trays to get you what you want. You don't pay for the drinks (although it's polite if you tip the waitress - say $1 / drink. That way she'll look after you too and keep bring more) Everything in the hotel is well organised, as you'd expect in the service capital of the world - from not having to deal with your bags when you arrive (the bell service will bring them to your room) to express checkout for a quick get away. We would certainly stay at the MGM again if we revisit Vegas - it's nice and classy (but definitely not pompous; shorts and t-shirts are fine throughout the hotel expect at some of the more exclusive restraints). But for what you get, it's very good value for money. Don't be put off by it's size - you soon get your head round it and find your bearings. There's lots to do, 24 / 7 so you should never have a dull moment. The only problem is packing it all in.... Happy holidays Jon
I've had my 7210 now for just short of a year - having owned several Nokias before. If you already own a Nokia, the controls and menus will be familiar to you, so you can get started very quickly. If you're new to Nokias, the menu system is very easy to use, so it shouldn't take you long to find your feet. I would only really ever consider Nokia phones now as once you've used one, you can use any. And they are very user friendly. I upgraded free as part of my contract package, so cost of phone didn't enter into it. I've found all Nokia phones to be well built and robust (The Nokia 3510 bounced out of my bedroom window once and onto the drive and was still working !) - Although the 7210 doesn't feel quite as solid. Infact my first 7210 had to go back as there was a problem with the inbuilt software, but this was all sorted within a few days, and I had a new replacement. As I said, using the phone is real easy - especially if you go through the instructions step by step. There are some functions I don't use (WAP) as I'm not bothered for using my phone for that. The phone has a large memory, so plenty of phone numbers can be stored, as can text messages (sent & received). One useful feature is the ability to tag several different phones numbers to one contact in your phone book - so you can have a persons mobile, house, office and fax number all stored. You can even put addresses, e-mails address and notes against contacts too. The alarm clock feature is also very useful - I use it to wake me up every morning. And a calculator function never goes a miss. There's also a handy calendar function; here you can enter appointments / notes / reminders and set reminder alarms to let you know in advance of any entries you've made. And you need never miss a birthday again as you can enter birthday reminders too. - It's like having a mini PDA with you, and infact I've started using it
more than my pda for quick entries are I generally have the phone on me at all times. I don't use the games much - I don't think the inbuilt games are up to much, but if that's you're thing, you can always download JAVA games. The same goes for rings tones / wallpapers - although I'm happy with the inbuilt choices. There's a neat radio function, so, using the headphones, you can tune into your favourite radio station (using the headphones as the Ariel) - reception is good, especially if you're not moving. Connection to the phone is with the 'pop port' on the bottom - It seems a bit flimsy, and I'm always wary of breaking the pins whilst connecting the headphones (also used for hands free). Although to be fair, I haven't had any problems with it yet - it just doesn't seem as robust as the push in charging socket (which is the familiar Nokia size, so you're old charges / in car adaptors still fit). Using the pop port, you can also connect to a PC (via a data cable). here you can edit phone data / settings and backup your phone book and calendar etc. You can also import files for wallpaper etc. - The Nokia cable is expensive, but there are loads of other cable available - check out e-bay. You can use the cable with Nokias free downloadable software - PC Suite which enables you to synch the phone calendar with various PC versions. But you'll need to make sure the cable is DKU-5 to do this (A lot of cables aren't, so you won't be ale to run PC suite, although you can still do other more basic things) The phone is also Tri-band, which means you can use it in USA; This was one of my main reasons for choosing this phone. And it works ! - although on my last trip, I did notice I couldn't get reception in some places where the locals still could. The phone is nice and compact and has a good battery life - I leave mine switched on all the time, and get 5
days usage from it (although it's not heavy usage). It's also light, so it can sit in your top pocket without it dragging you down. The colour screen is OK, but can be a little difficult to see in bright light conditions, and because the covers are changeable, it seems to let a lot of dust in which gets stuck behind the screen, so you have to keep taking the cover off to clean the inside. Sound quality is very good, and talking and listening have good clarity. All in all, a very good, capable phone - should meet most of your requirements.
I bought my E-trex via e-bay a few months ago. I'm not a serious walker, but do enjoy the outdoors and like the odd mountain bike trek. I was looking for a unit that would be simple to use, but had enough features to grow with me if my needs increased. With the e-trek vista I found my requirements. Another plus is that it is possible to use it in the car quite well. The dedicated car units are too big and not practical for hand held use, but the vista covers both hand held and in car use pretty well. It's a little small on the display side for true car navigation, but if you have a passenger, then it's not a problem as they can read the screen leaving your eyes to concentrate on the road. I found that using it in conjunction with a map is the best way to navigate. Because of the small screen, it can get overloaded with detail (you need to find a compromise between two much, and not enough detail), and if you zoom in too much, you've travelled off the screen by the time it updates. However, I found that using the GPS to give you your position, and a map to know where you want to be works fine. Let's face it, it was never designed for in car use really so with this in mind, it does a good job (at a lot less pound notes than dedicated in car systems). I would certainly advise use of an in car charger (from the cigarette socket) to save your batteries. When walking / biking, it is very handy - you can just set off, and let the unit lay a track down to chart your progress so you know exactly where you've been. To get back to the same point you set off from, simply turn and trace your route back - the unit will plot your current position, and if you match that up to the route you've laid down then you're following your exact steps back home. You can navigate by the on screen map, or by using the in built electronic compass bearings. When used with the mapsource software and a
PC, you can download selected areas to give you street level mapping - right down to individual house numbers. The accuracy is very good. However, as the software is CD based, and there is no update facility, it's a picture of a moment in time, so you might find some of the businesses (shops / restraints etc) are no longer there. Mapsource CD's retail for approx. £100 - I have western Europe & the States. I've used both on recent holidays and found them very useful (Although check e-bay - you can pick up for much less than retail) The garmin unit provides accuracy down to a few feet in ideal conditions. It's waterproof (and can survive immersion in up to 1 metre of water for 30 minutes). - I've used mine for skiing and even with gloves on, operation is easy. There's only a total of 6 large buttons to press, and all functions are controlled with these buttons. It does struggle to get a signal sometimes where there is dense tree cover, so if walking thru the forest, you can't rely only on the vista and you'll need another form of navigation. (Obviously it doesn't work indoors or under buildings - tunnels, underground car parks etc - as it needs a clear view of the sky to get a signal) Battery life is from 2 x AA batteries, but it can go thru batteries at a fair rate so it's handy to always carry at least 1 spare set (maybe more if you are on a long trail) - using the electronic compass eats up batteries. There are lots of very advanced features available - I only use a small part of what is available. But the unit is capable of giving you a bewildering choice of options. The instruction manual covers all functions in an easy format, supported by screen shots - although it does assume you have knowledge of the advanced functions, and doesn't go into too much detail to explain these. - Although I guess if you need to use these sort of functions, you'll already know what they ar
e / how they operate. Connection to the PC is via 9 pin serial cable, so data transfer is not the quickest. Although memory space in the unit seems pretty good and is able to accept large areas that you choose to select from the maps on your PC. Remember that the unit relies on GPS - these satellites are actually U.S military hardware made available to the general public free of charge. I've heard reports that in times of heavy military operations (e.g recent Gulf / Iraq conflicts) the satellites go off line for public use as they become just for military use. So, as with any electronic device, it's always best to have a backup (Map / compass) in case of malfunction / loss of power etc All in all though, it's a very capable unit and meets (indeed exceeds) most of my demands. It's loaded with features, so your needs should never outgrow it. And it's got a nice robust case so can take a bit of rough handling - all this from something the size of a mobile phone that sits in your hand. Pretty impressive stuff really.
We recently flew Virgin from Heathrow to San Francisco, and returned to Gatwick from Las Vegas. This was my first time with Virgin, and I was expecting good things as the Virgin brand generally tries to deliver something a little better and different from it's competitors - I wasn't disappointed. We chose Virgin as the only direct service from UK to both San Fran and Vegas (all other airlines we looked at had changes somewhere in the States) Check in was a pleasure - their desks are open most of the time, so you can just walk in and check in when you like - no waiting for a set time for the desks to open and joining a queue with several hundred other people. Baggage allowance was very generous - something like 32Kgs for the hold, each if I remember right. If you're moving that much luggage, you're more likely to put your back out than get hammered for excess baggage ! The timings were spot on, boarding and leaving bang on time. The flight out was 11 hours, and have to say it really did fly by. There was plenty of food (pretty tasty for airplane stuff) and free drinks where you just helped yourself. The entertainment system on the way out was fantastic; massive choice of films / music / games - all 'on demand' so you started, stopped, paused etc. when you wanted to. The trivia game was especially good fun as you play against fellow passengers on the plane. You also get a free goody bag which is pretty nifty with headphones, flight socks, eye mask, tooth brush, pen etc. Service was good. And on arrival in San Fran, they provide a limo service to take you to your hotel downtown (about 45 minutes) - we'd only booked flights with Virgin, and made our own arrangements for hotels but we could still use the service. It was only $35 (compared to at least $45 for a normal taxi and was much nicer. We were not quite so impressed with the return flight from Vegas - the biggest problem wa
s that my partner and I were not seated together, despite checking in in good time. We'd booked the tickets well in advance so this was rather annoying. They did say they'd try to change things round to seat us together but this would depend on if all other passengers turned up. In the end, we were at opposite sides of the plane and a row behind. The plane wasn't as clean on the return trip (maybe suffering from lack of preparation time ?) and as it was an older aircraft, the entertainment system was well below our outbound trip. To be fair to Virgin, when I commented on our return flight via their web site feedback, they were very apologetic and sent me a nice letter and credited my flying club with an extra 5000 miles. So at least they do take comments seriously and do something about it if they get things wrong.
I've had my Colt (1999 model) since Feb 2000 when I bought it as an ex-demo from a main dealer. I have to say I'm very pleased with it - 4 years on, and approaching 80,000 miles and I've not had any problems with it. I find it comfortable and have done several long journeys with it. OK, so it's not a hot hatch, but the engine performs well, and can be pretty nippy if you take the revs up and drop a gear. The handling is very good - it goes round corners like it's on rails. Equipment levels are not over generous (although I dare say things have improved with later models) - although mine is a GLX model, I don't have electric windows or air con. It does have central locking (useful even on 2 doors !) and mine had a CD player installed (although I think the dealer put this in). I had a sunroof put in (pop up & lift out). There's plenty of room in the front, and storage is pretty good with a useful centre console with a lift up lid. Although the door pockets are so thin you struggle to get a CD case in them. Driving position is good with seat height adjuster, and adjustable steering column. And the instrument panel is very clear, with a nice large Rev counter. Rear space is not so good - it's a squeeze with 3 adults in the back, but it can be done ! - biggest problem for rear passengers is lack of leg room behind front seats (although having said that, I'm nearly 6 foot so tend to have my driving seat fairly well back). Luggage space is pretty good for a small car; you'll get all your shopping bags in the hatch, and it will take most of your luggage requirements for 2 people if going on holiday. Fold the rear seats flat, and you've got a pretty impressive load area - I've had washing machines in there, and have moved house twice stuffing the rear of the car full. (OK, I needed a van for the bed and sofa and other large furniture) However, above all, and to cou
nter any niggles, the main thing is that this car is well built and very reliable in typical Japanese fashion. I've had it serviced at the regular intervals (9000 miles or 12 months) and I've never had a problem with it. Infact, apart from usual tyres / brakes, and not had to spend anything on it either other than normal service parts (timing belt change at 55K) I even got my exhaust replaced under the 3 year warranty scheme. The clutch is nice and light, so it's east round town, and with the power steering and reasonable all round visibility, it's good to park. But it's also good on long motorway trips - and will cruise at 80mph all day. Like a lot of foreign cars, main dealer servicing and spare parts can be expensive; I've started to use a non franchised garage for servicing now my warranty has expired (last service was £85 as against £270 for the main dealer !) and I've used after fit parts for my brakes also from my local garage. So, for a car over 4 years old and nearly 80,000 miles I'm very happy. Paintwork is still good (allowing for a few stone chips and a couple of scratches put there by some kind person at the supermarket !). There's no sign of rust, and no excessive annoying noises and squeaks. I like it because it's a little bit different from most cars, and there aren't loads of them driving around. The styling is good and works well but is still practical. Fuel economy is a little disappointing for a small car with a small engine. Generally I get mid 30's MPG on normal daily driving. Although this can raise to around 40 for long trips with steady cruising. I have no plans to replace yet (don't fix it if it ain't broken !) but would certainly consider another Colt when the time comes. Happy motoring !
I got one of these little beauties in June 2003 - I had to get mine from the states on e-bay because 1) it was cheaper (about £350 compared to £400) 2) they are / were like rocking horse droppings to get hold of in UK Anyway, regardless of where it's purchased, it's a miracle of fine engineering. It oozes quality and everyone who's seen it have been well impressed. My model (30 GB) is quoted as holding 7,500 songs - I'm well on my way to 6000 tracks and still have 6GB space free so it looks like it will hold it's capacity at least. I'm running it thru a windows PC (i.e. NOT a MAC) and it's fine regarding comptability (I did have to update my PC as it was rather basic with USB 2.0 card & extra hard drive for all my CD's) My I-Pod came with Musicmatch software, and I really can't complain about it - it's easy to use, and I was downloading my CD collection to PC in no time. I think the new Ipod's now come with itunes which is what originally came with the ipods but only for MAC users. By all accounts, it's meant to be better than musicmatch, so now itunes is available for windows this should be even better (although the latest ipod software update doesn't seem to be compatiable with musicmatch and I had to unistall it and roll back to my older version) The biggest chore is downloading your music collection onto PC - it takes around 3 - 5 minutes per album (so was a major task for me with over 500 CD's). Virtually all my CD's (some going back years) were recognised by the software, and track / album / artist details automatically came up (with the option for manual adjustments occasionally) Music quality is very good - just the occasional glitch, but you can always delete a bad file and re-record it. I have i-pod connected to home stereo system. The convienince of having all your CD's in a gadget the size of a fag packet cannot be under estimated. No
more searching around for CD cases. I've now resigned my CD's to storage and have a lot more space available ! - Put the i-pod on random play, and i'm suddenly hearing things hadn't played for years ! The i-pod can do a lot more than just play music, but to be honest i'm not so interested in some of the add ons. I use a PDA for calendar / contact info. etc. and just keep my i-pod for the music. Although the facility to use it as a portable drive is good (i.e. transfer data files from one PC to another or even download media cards onto it as backup) Battery life could be better - it's quoted at 8 hours, although that seems to be stretching it a little. Certainly, if you have it on random shuffle throughout your entire library, expect about 6 hours playback. But this does improve if you just play 1 album at a time without shuffle. It charges quick though, in under 4 hours (reaching 80% charge in about 1 hour). There's a neat hardware add on that lets you use normal AA batteries so when you're internal batteries are dead, and you're not near a power outlet you can still keep the music playing. The biggest drain on batteries is when downloading (sync) the i-pod with your PC. If you're using the firewire connection, the ipod will charge whilst connected to PC. But for most users (especially windows based) it will be the USB connection option (Both cables come in the box) and this does not charge i-pod when connected. This might mean you'll have to download the music library you've built up on your PC in 2 or 3 sittings, having the charge the i-pod in between. There are a lot of cool accessories available - including a voice recorder. I have a very neat FM transmitter device (actually illegal to use in the UK - but they've got to catch you first !); this plugs int the top of the i-pod, and you simply choose a vacant FM station on your radio, choose the frequency from the i-pod and aw
ay you go - set the i-pod to play, and it transmitts a short distance (approx. 10 feet) to come thru your radio. This is ideal for the car - it's like having a 500 CD boot changer (imagine how big that would be!) in the palm of you hand.... Add a decent pair of travel speakers, and you've got your own very mobile hi-fi system. You have the option os creating 'playlists' so you can assign various tracks (or whole CD's) to your own lists. So, for example, you might have a playlist for driving, one for relaxing etc.etc. etc. All in all, this piece of machinery is very capable, and just so convienient. It's very easy to use and very well built. These things really are the dogs dangly bits. There really is very little else on the market to touch them. yes, they're expensive, but well worth it. Happy listening !
I know of Interval International (I.I) through an associated company they operate with (Sunterra / GVC (Grand Vaccation Club) - that's another story! - check out my review on that company; they are a truly terrible company) I'm not impressed with I.I at all - we went on an exchange week with them, and turned up in spain (after deciphering the worst directions possible to find the place) only to find our accomodation did not exist ! - we were told to report to front desk, which didn't exist - it was a block of privately owned appartments....... I'm still waiting for a reply from them for an explanation / reimbursement of my costs / compensation 3 months later after sending 3 letters..... They have a big brochure, full of glossy pictures. But when you start to look, a lot of the properties are not on the major tourist trails, and suprisingly few properties in a lot of popluar destinations.. You can only book in week blocks, so it's hell trying to get a 2 week booking (for long haul) as you need to get 2 consecutive free weeks.You can only check in on certain dates, and often your flights might not be on those days. And, suprise, suprise, all the really nice destinations always seem to be fully booked ! In response to my annoyance with Sunterra / GVC (which is a very long story), but which also includes Interval International, I've set up my own web site which goes into much more details of the problems encountered. Please check it out (no adverts or any pop ups). I'm so annoyed that I decided to spend a few quid setting up the web site in an effort to tell people about my experiences with these companies, and hopefuly warn people off losing thousands of pounds with them. www.sunterror.co.uk Hope you find this review helpful Thanks, Jon
I am in total agreement with other reviews on this site warning people to STAY AWAY from anything to do with GVC (grand Vacation Club) - now changed its name to Sunterra. They are affiliated with Interval International (I.I) We forked out nearly £7500 for 40 points at one of their sales presentations (sold thru one of their franchise operators - Leisure Club International (Now trading as LCI travel)) Basically, we've been sold down the river - half of what they tell you is pure lies. Do not believe a word they tell you ! - and, what's worse, once you got the product, you are stuck with it. I consider myself pretty careful when parting with money, and the company seems genuine and reputable (actually, it is genuine - it does exist...) But I'm left with a product that is so restrictive and unflexible can hardly use it. The biggest lie they tell is that you can get your money back (original price you paid) after 3 years membership; you can't - believe me, I've tried (and am still fighting them to try and get my money back). I take some comfort from reading it's not just me that got told a load of Bull - it's obviously a frequent tactic they use for selling. For those that don't know them, GVC / Sunterra sell points in a holiday scheme - on a similiar basis to timeshares, but you're not tied to one particular product. Depending when and where you go, and the size and quality of accomodation, you'll use more or less of your annual points entitlement. There's an annual management fee (based on how many points you own). I'm so hacked off with the lies and disappointments of dealing with this company I've involved Trading Standards (dispute is still on-going). This company has a terrible attitude to customer service, and my complaints to them about aspects of the product have fallen on deaf ears. OK, so the company does exist, - they won't do a runner with
your money (but they might as well have) but you end up getting nothing like the fantastic product you thought you were buying. The whole system is very inflexible, and very over subscribed - availaibility is worse than awful. You've more chance of winning the lottery than getting the accomodation you want, in the country you want and at the time you want. Also, once you're a member, they pester you to buy more points (my complaints to their sales people was met with the response that I don't have enough points to get what I want out of the system, so why don't a spend a few more thousand pounds on buying more !!) - If you are already a member, and want more points, DO NOT buy from the company direct; there's a Sunterra members web site (independent from the company) where people sell points from between £25 -£35 each (Yes - the same points I paid £7500 for 40 !!) The other thing to consider is that you're only buying accomodation on a room only basis. By the time you've allowed for your management fee, flights, transfers, food etc. you might as well book through a reputable travel company and get exactly what you want, when you want it. Do yourself a favour, give this company, and anyone associated with it a wide berth. These people are already well known to Trading Standards - Although they often hide behind small legal print and technicalities I'm so annoyed, I've set up my own web site, where I am publishing my correspondance betwen GVC / Sunterra and myself (also including Trading Standards). There's more info. on this scheme than I can fit into a review, so I'd urge you to check it out on: www.sunterror.co.uk If you're already a member (like me) and it's too late, I suggest you start hammering the company with letters, getting trading standards involved etc. (Next step will be the media.....) Good Luck, - Hope you find my comments use