- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
I have previously written a review on the excellent HP Photosmart Pro B9130 which we have used in our design studio for the past 18 month. This is more of a desktop printer we use for A4 presentations and colour matching, but we also have a Epson Stylus Pro 7600, which we use for outputting promotional posters and artworks for bakery clients.
We've had this printer for roughly 4 or 5 years and the quality of it's outputs has never deminished. It uses 7 colour ink cartridges (Photo Black, Light Black, Yellow, Light Cyan, Cyan, Light Magenta and Magenta) which come in either 110ml or 220ml and we find we get through a set once every 2 or 3 months (depending obiously on how busy we are). It produces Giclée quality prints (which means "to squirt, spurt, or spray") where the print head passes over the same area a couple of times in order to give a dense, high quality print area. This means the poster quallity will last for many years.
The Stylus Pro 7600 can also print on many kinds of media, although these have to be on a roll as it takes a 24" (610mm) roll of paper. We usually print on a 190gsm super dry satin stock which gives great results which colours coming out very vibrant and striking. We have in the past also used cartridge paper, canvas and a matte stock, all of which print very well.
Once the drivers are installed on your machine, the print selection is as standard through your artwork programme where you can set paper size, print resolution, output type, etc. We have the Epson connected via USB to a PC running Windows Vista which is used only for printing. On the PC, we run a RIP (Rastor Image Processor) software which calculates the print file before sending it through to print. The PC is connected by Ethernet cable to our network so all Macs can print to it. The printer can be connected direct to the network but you need the RIP software to be able to print correctly.
As mentioned, the printer takes rolls of 24" paper, which means you can print up to A1 paper size in portrait for (594 mm W x 841 mm H), which should suit any need.
Overall, this is too an excellent large format printer which we use regularly for client work. The colour matching to Pantone references is of a very high standard. The main perk for us is our clients remain happy and return time after time for more posters and outputs.
Having needing a new DVD player for our bedroom, we decided to get one 'on a budget' as were unsure whether to get a Blu Ray player yet or not. So, as with most electronic goods I buy, I set aboutbwith some research.
After reading many reviews, I ordered the Philips DVP3120 from Amazon as I was impressed with other owners comments on it's ease of use and facilities. Delivery was as prompt as ever and I soon had it hooked up to the TV.
On first impressions, I liked how slimline it was, measuring approx 35cm W x 20cm D x 4cm H. It sat very neatly un the TV. The remote control was quite small with a very basic layout. One of the first thing I noticed was that there was no tray open/close button on the remote and so this had to be operated on the unit each time. Not much of an issue but it would have been nice to have as it comes as pretty much standard on DVD remotes these days.
Picture quality was obviously very good although the unit does make very loud clunking noises when playing from one menu to another. It can also be made to be multi-regional, which is a huge plus point. If you search the product name and 'multi regional', you should find how to do it. It's very simple.
Overall, this isn't a bad DVD player for around £30. It plays all standard formats (DVD, MP3, JPGs, etc) and does so well. The remote control could be a little more ergonomically pleasing and that tray release button would have been quite sensible.
All in all,if you want a cheap and cheerful DVD player, this will certainly do the job quite well.
As a graphic designer, colour replication for proofs and outputs is incredibly important, especially when presenting a new project to a client. It's for this reason that we started to look for a new replacement for our ageing Epson Phaser laser printer, which after 5 or so good years service, was on it's last legs.
There were certain areas we wanted covering when researching for the new hardware. The main areas were:
- it needed to print to A3 in size
- it had to replicate Pantone colours as closely as possible
- it had to be able to print on card or thicker stock than normal everyday printer paper
- maintenance had to be as cheap as possible
- it had to have ink cartridges as opposed to toners
- had to be compatible with Mac OS X
So, we didn't think our checklist was too long or troublesome to cover, but it proved something of a chore trying to find a reliable, good quality printer which covered all of the above points.
We spoke with various independent reps and read many reviews until deciding on the HP Photosmart Pro B9130gp. We tracked the best price down (good old reliable Amazon.co.uk), placed the order and it was with us ready to set up within 3 working days.
Upon opening the box, we found it can with a full set of inks (8 in total - Matte Black, Photo Black, Photo Grey, Cyan, Light Cyan, Magenta, Light Magenta, and Yellow!) and a pack of HP glossy photo paper, which is to be used in the installation/initial ink charging process. It didn't come with a USB cable, but as we were going to be using it on our network, we didn't have the use for one as it would be plugged into a CAT5 terminal via Ethernet cable.
Once it was all plugged in and ready to go, we started the initial set up which lasted 30 minutes. We didn't have to install any drivers as Mac OS X comes with many drivers pre-installed. There was a disc supplied however for anyone who would be using the printer with Windows. Once the set up was complete, we ran a test print of a client colour palette (logo colours determined by Pantone references) to see just how accurate the prints would be. I must point out that we did also purchase a few packs HP photo quality matte 160gsm paper as we knew it would help lift the colours. This is also what we present all our client presentations on.
The results, I'm pleased to say, were astounding. We had chosen a particular logo which we have had difficulty replicating accurately in the past and the Photosmart managed it with no problems whatsoever. When matching the colours against their specific references in a Pantone chip book, the difference was marginal. We never expected a CMYK process to be able match it so closely.
We also tried out a thicker stock of paper (a 240gsm, so almost card). As this is a lot thicker, it couldn't go through the regular main tray and so had to be fed through the Speciality Media Tray, which is a flap that pulls down at the front. On this tray is a dotted line to which you have feed the paper and line up the closest edge. In order to print via this method, you have to obviously change the settings in your print dialogue box in the programme you are printing from. Again, print quality was very good.
As mentioned, the settings can be changed in order to print from different trays. You can also select from approximately 12 paper quality settings, including brochure paper, photo paper and glossy paper and also have the facility to choose to print from a roll of paper. There are two circular plastic adaptors which have to be fitted to the printer (which come as standard) in order to print this way.
We've had this printer for little over 18 months now and are still overall quite pleased. We have had a few issues though which may not be experienced by everyone.
- ink can collect and overflow in the ink reservoir, which can then collect on the print heads and transfer to the page. We did experience this but after a good clean with some cotton buds, quality was restored.
- if your artwork is made up from a lot of black or dark colours, we have experienced "strobing" where the print head has rubbed on the paper and scratched away the ink. This can be resolved by changing the print setting or by printing via the speciality media tray.
- ink consumption is quite high and with official HP cartridges costing £20+, high volume printing can be costly.
- with a good quality paper, colour replication is true
- very quick and easy to set up
- ability to print on thicker media and rolls is an added bonus
I highly recommend the HP Photosmart Pro B9130gb to anyone who is looking for a mid-level printer with great colour matching. At just over £530, it's not cheap (especially with the consumables prices) but well worth it for the quality of print
Having brought and returned a similar sized tower fan a few months ago (as it seemed of poor quality) this Honeywell / Duracraft fan has been a great replacement.
Honeywell is a brand that I trust though our tower fan is only labeled as 'Duracraft' and I was worried at first that I had been duped! However after switching it on I was impressed by it's smoothness and relative quietness and the power of the circulating air.
This fan is made entirely from a thin white plastic thus making it easy to move about. To first assemble it you need to slot together the two parts of plastic that make the base threading the plug through as you do it. Then the tower slots into a hole on top of the base. Incredibly easy to do.
The lead from it's plug to the base is 188 cm long (approximately) so not overly long but if it were too close to you I do find that the air is so powerful that it can make your eyes sore. Ours stretches from a plug on the other side of the lounge to about 5 ft from where we like to sit. We have found from this distance that the breeze is perfectly strong enough.
On the top of the tower are five easy to press down buttons. Three are the fan's speeds, one is an off button and the other is for allowing the fan to oscillate.
We tend to use the oscillate function a lot and it oscillates between approximately 90 degrees. Perfect when the wife and I are sat on the sofa so we don't have to cuddle together to both get a fair share!
I brought a water filter to use to fill the kettle to prevent limescale build up as we currently live in a hard water area.
It certainly does it's job and I haven't had to descale the kettle for as long as I have been using it for (three months so far) where I was descaling the kettle with vinegar every three or four weeks. As a result of it's sucess with our kettle I now use the filtered water to fill up anything from the iron to the baby's steralizer to avoid the dreaded limescale which as we all know will often interfere with the effectiveness of a household item (like the iron).
It is an expense I could do without but I purchased the jug when it was on offer and I stock up on the Maxtra filters when they too are on offer. Maxtra cartridges are currently selling on Amazon in a 4 pack for £15.99 though I have been getting them when they are a third off in Sainsbury's. (£10 total approx).
A cartridge will last me for approximately a month and I am reminded when it needs changing by the timer on the top of the product. I am pretty sure that the timer just counts down days since the filter was replaced, I do not think it can measure how often the product is used. Perhaps this is because once out of it's plastic packet the filter has a timeframe when it is effective though I would have thought it was how much water had passed through the filter that would determine when it should be changed. Any how, if you plan to use one little as apposed to often this might not be worth the expense and outlay to you. You certainly won't be getting your monies worth from the cartridge.
One pet hate with it is having to go through the faff of changing the old cartridge for a new one. First you need to wash out the jug and remove the old filter (no probs there) but then you must submerge the new filter in the jug filled with water as 'shwoosh' it about a bit. Then you fit the filter reset the timer on top and fill the jug twice!
Our filter currently stands on the kitchen work surface however this Aluna model has and would fit in our average sized 'CDA' fridge door.
I brought one of these flashes to accompany a back up camera body that I had when I used to run a wedding photography business and it did it's job without being as expensive as the Nikon SB800.
It will eat batteries when used regularly but then it needs to, to omit the light that it does.
It is easy to attach to the camera body, it is just a case of having to remove a tiny plastic slide from the top of the Nikon camera body and then you slide it forwards into place at the top of the camera and flick a very small lever to stop it coming out of place and falling to the floor.
When purchased it came with a velcro flapped padded bag which it is easy to slide it in and out of although it may have been benificial to have designed it's case with a strap attached.
The product weighs 300 grams without batteries which is quite a weight when added to your already weighty camera body. It is fairly compact though at 124 x 90 x 68 mm (4.9 x 3.5 x 2.7 ins).
It requires four AA batteries and a standard alkaline battery will give you approximately 200 flashes. I did try reuseable batteries for a while but I found that I was getting more life out of standard alkaline batteries, however this could be due to the recharger and rechargable batteries that I chose (Energizer).
This flash can also be used remotely but I didn't ever use it this way.
I brought this camera body as a second camera when starting up a wedding photography business (since closed).
Much like Nikon's other camera bodies, this one is easy to use whether you are an avid Nikon fan or a Canon lover like I was. Unlike the very latest Nikon camera bodies though, it won't allow you to use the screen on the back to take the photograph. In a rather archaic way you need to look through the viewfinder to line up your shot thus increasing your eye wrinkles and lines!!
The display is plenty large enough at 2.5 inches and it has a 170 degree viewing angle. An additional product well worth the money though is a cover and flap for the screen as on many occasion out in the bright sunshine it is hard to see when the light reflects off it. A hand cupped to shade the screen will also work but not as well.
It has consistently provided me with clear images thanks in part to it's 10.2 million effective pixels although that said I can also get a quality image from my little Panasonic Lumix compact camera and that wasn't quite as expensive!
It weighs a comfortable 585 g (1.3 lb) without it's battery and 668 g (1.5 lb) with. The battery is worth having a spare of, though I only ever had to recharge my new battery at the end of the day but then I was using it regularly. If left to sit a while the battery will loose some of it's charge even though it hasn't been doing anything.
Tips for the amature, always remember to press down the shutter button to take the photo, (once to focus and then again to take the shot) and also remember to move the highlighted bracket (seen through the viewfinder) to the part of your image that you wish to be the sharpest. That way you should achieve a sharper shot!
This is the best home phone I have ever owned. I'm very impressed with how easy it is to use straight from the box with very little set up other than plugging it into the main and telephone socket. Some of it's features I use the most include:
- address book (in which you can store your phone numbers)
- answer phone
- nice clear big dials and a easy to read display
The coloured screen on the phone can be customised with a limited range of images or just solid coloured backgrounds. I believe it may be possible to download your own picture to use as a wallpaper, although I remember reading this in the manual which I have since misplaced, but didn't believe it to be a necessary feature.
The display shows the date and the time constantly (in not such a big numbered format) and so I use this as a clock too. The display does stay on when the phone is in it's cradle but disappears when left out. This is more than likely to help battery life.
My favourite function though is the speaker phone which I use all of the time so my hands are left free. The speaker phone function is crystal clear and I am informed by my callers that it doesn't affect the quality of their sound at the other end.
The answer machine is also easy for me to use however I would like a display to be able to see how many messages I have at a glance. There are operational buttons built into the cradle but your messages can also be retrieved when using the handset.
Whilst trying to get everything ready for our new arrival, we found the Tommee Tippee Nappy bin on offer in Mothercare for £10. Believing (at the time) that this would be a wonderful purchase and would save numerous trips to the kitchen bin, we decided to get one, along with a pack of 3 cartridges, also on offer at £13. The nappy bin did come with a cartridge in the box but we thought it would be worthwhile to get spares in case we couldn't make it to the shops.
With our baby not due for another couple of months, the bin stayed in it's box except for a little 'hands on' training so we would be prepared for when it was called into action.
When that day came, I must admit I was very disappointed as the nappy bin proved rather tricky to use. The idea is to lift the top lid and place the wrapped up nappy in the space below. You then turn a small handle in a clockwise direction around the outside of the bin which should seal the nappy in. You then close the lid which plunges the nappy down into the main bin compartment (there is a plastic plunger on the underside of the lid).
In theory this all sounds very straight forward. The main problem is that the cartridge bags do not seal the nappy in and rather twists the bag loosely. This means the plunger doesn't work in the way it should.
I think in the end (through a combination of tiredness and frustration) we used the nappy bin approximately 10 times and so didn't even use up a whole cartridge. It then found itself sitting in our local charity shop.
When it comes to a baby monitor you really need something that is reliable. I do not feel that this product is 100% reliable despite being made by a manufacturer whose products I do trust for my baby (I use their bottles and have their baby bath thermometer).
Even when it is fully charged our monitor has been known to loose connection from one part to the other, leading me never to fully trust it. It also takes a while to kick in when the baby makes a noise. I believe that this might be a battery saving function but I, as a paranoid parent would rather hear every sound and not worry about recharging the battery.
And when it comes to the battery on the walkabout part it does take a considerable amount of time to recharge. It has been known to be on charge for over an hour even after it had only been in use for the duration of a nap, (a period of up to an hour in my baby's case). This is not something that you would expect from the charge of any other electrical item, (mobile phone etc) and during her naps it's mainly on it's 'sleep' mode as the baby isn't making much noise for it to have to pick up on!
Overall I expected more of Philips Avent.
I can highly recommend these Avent bottles. I do believe that with all of Avent's collic reducing methods that they do help to reduce the amount of a baby's wind.
Something to look out for is, inside the white bottle rim is a screw cap system with gaps so that the air bubbles have a chance to escape. Unfortunately because of the gaps in the screw cap, it is possible to screw the lid bottle rim (with teat attached) incorrectly and then when you go to shake and mix the powder and water you can become covered in it as the liquid escapes through the gap.
I have several versions of this Avent bottle including the gold versions which are made of a gold tinted plastic which annoyingly has American measures on the side next to the British measures so you can end up becoming a little confused as to which measurement is the correct on to fill to.
I also have the latest version with a removeable ring like collar which is further meant to reduce collic. These versions with the collar are also made of a more flexable plastic, designed (I believe) to be less likely to crack if they are filled with boiling water. I have put boiling water into all of my different sorts of Avent bottles but I have never had one crack so far and I prefer the older type plastic as I prefer the feel and the weight over the lighter newer ones.
I also haven't noticed a difference between this type with the collar and those without, when it comes to reducing baby's wind.
Regardless of which type you end up with, these are a great baby basic if you're not breastfeeding.
I brought this washing machine because I had to have a slightly smaller machine than the standard size to fit into a specific space in a built in cupboard in my kitchen. I wish I hadn't!!
On the plus side it is easy to select the washing programme that you need. It is just a case of a bit of knob turning after reading and selecting the programme on the front panel. There are eleven progammes in total split into three catagories; cottons, synthetics and delicates. I have very rarely ever had to use anything other than the standard 40 degree cotton wash, in the year that I have owned the machine.
The main problem to owning this machine that I have found is that I have to remove the soap dispensing tray to dry it after each wash so as to avoid a build up of mould (which takes some effort as the tray doesn't feel like it is designed to be repeatedly removed)! I dry our tray out with kitchen roll after each wash but still there are patches of mould growing around and in the tray.
There is also mould growing around the seal inside the door. It is especially bad and thick around the drainage hole.
Then as if to add insult to injury, Indesit repeatedly send me two copies of the same letter asking me if i'd like to insure my machine... it's as if they know that I should as their product is so terrible!!!
Having owned a G4 Quicksilver tower which was on it's last legs, I decided to update with a laptop as I wanted more mobility in my own home rather than being stuck in the study. I didn't need anything as powerful or expensive as the MacBook Pro and so looked into a MacBook.
After much deliberation and research, I opted for the entry level MacBook which came with 2.1 ghz processor, 1GB RAM and a 120gb hard drive. This was enough for me as I was mainly going tomuse it for web browsing and Skyping friends and family. I ended up purchasing the Mac on the Currys website as I managed to find a discount code which bought the price down to just under £600. I must point out that I bought this laptop in 2008 and so the spec and price are obviously a little out of dat. I could probably do with upgrading again!
I had heard reports of the battery not lasting all that long, but I'm pleased to report I still get a good 5-6 hours of regular use on a single charge. I'm also very impressed with the built in iSight web camera, which is built into the framing around the screen. It gives very good picture quality when using Skype, even though I believe the quality to be less than a megapixel.
One of the best improvements I have seen from previous incarnations is how the power cord attaches to the laptop. Previously, both MacBooks and MacBook Pros (or rather iBooks and Powerbooks) had regular "plug" style adaptors which, on occasions broke. Apple had decided to update the function with a magnetic attachment which is much better. If you trip over or pull the lead accidentally, the laptop doesn't follow you round the room... Instead the light magnet simply detaches and causes no damage.
Overall, I am still extremely delighted with my MacBook 2 years later. I will certainly upgrade with the newer version when the time comes.
This Nikon camera is excellent. It is very compact and slim and it easily fits in a small bag or pocket.
I have found that it gives me very clear images I also like that it has a setting that you can use to reduce the megapixels used so that you can send your images more easily by email. I have found however that many of the functions I do not use in particular, portrait, scenes and the option where you are able to take more than one image and then join them together in a panoramic type view. The macro is great though and the self timer is easy to operate.
I can so far describe the battery life as brilliant as it rarely seems to need to be recharged.
Video clips are easy to do and the screen size is good for my failing eyesight. Deleting is also an easy operation and the red eye flash gives good results.
I bought this buggy hoping that it would be able to fit in to my Mini's boot which sadly it does not. Well it did before I attached the wheels! Apart from this it is excellent value for money and was suitable for my baby from birth.
It has plenty of seat recline positions from laying flat to a 90 degree angle, and the leg support is very easy to adjust.
The basket is a useful addition although it is not so easily accessible when the buggy is in the lie-flat position. You are unlikely to get a conventional sized changing bag in the space though, it's more for a few smaller shopping purchases like two carry packs of nappies or two four pints of milk (that sort of size).
Included in the price is a see through rain cover which is easy to throw, although if you take it out for the day and end up not having to use it, it will take up pretty much all of the room in the basket. The hood (seen in the above picture) is fully removable and fastens with velcro, it also folds back into itself.
The brakes I have found are more difficult to remove than put on. You should be able to flick the levers (one on each side) up and down with your foot but mine are pretty stiff and often require a hand. This problem could ease as they loosen up, i'll keep you posted). The buggy handles are covered in a soft foam.
The swivel wheels can be locked for when you are continuously walking for example around the block, but I often release the locks when walking around the shops for better manoverability. Overall it's manoverability is good, not as smooth as my other buggy but then it's wheels are smaller so I would expect this.
A useful addition would be some strap pads to avoid the straps chaffing the baby's neck which it could do with prolonged use but I haven't experienced this so far. but overall I am very pleased with this buggy. It is an excellent product for the money.