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I was looking at buying an oven but not wanting to spend more than £200. I'd settled for a sub £100 oven before and it had various problems from heating everything outside it whilst not evenly cooking anything inside it to not turning on at certain times. I prefer electric because you can easily fit them yourself where as with a gas oven you would have to call out a gas safe engineer to fit it for you and that alone would cost just over £100. Its best to do some research before spending this amount of cash on something and during my research this oven came out top in terms of price, features and performance. I then started looking for the best place to buy this from and Boots seemed to be the cheapest. I managed to get it for just under £250, which was £50 over my budget but i though it was worth spending that little bit more for something that was a little bit more energy efficient (B), and one that came with a timer unit.
Before this i didn't even know boots sold electrical items, but they were pretty good, they managed to get it to me two days after I had ordered it. The packaging was OK, it had all the features as well as a picture of the oven on it, the user manual was quite good in that it shows you first how to install the oven, whilst giving you tips on ventilation for best results, it also gives you a run down of all the features as well as some suggestions for what to cook in it. Once I had the plug on it was just a matter of putting this into its housing. After this i just lined up the four screws and screwed it securely in its place.
It looked very modern and stylish, it also went with the rest of my stainless steel kitchen. The oven came with a dripping tray and a grill mesh that can be fit into any of the five position racks, depending on the food you are cooking I normally just leave them on the middle rack. The control panel is also quite fancy, it has a knob on each side with a timer / clock in the middle, one for selecting a function for the oven, and the other is the thermostat for selecting the temperature you want to cook at. The timer / clock works like you think it would, you select the amount of time you want to cook something using the plus and minus buttons below it and then press the set button. It then lets you know when the time is up with a buzz that is a little on the loud side. One complaint is that the volume of the buzz cannot be reduced, although that is a very minor complaint.
The functions that this comes with the oven are as follows: -
1) Traditional cooking mode, which uses both the top and bottom heating elements to cook the food.
2) Multi-Cooking mode, which is that same as traditional cooking mode but with the addition of the fan.
3) Top Oven mode, which uses only the top heating element.
4) Grill mode, which also uses only the top heating element but at a very high temperature.
5) Gratin mode, which is that same as top oven mode but with the fan on as well.
Now if your going to do any large roasts, e.g. duck, turkey, beef or pork, I would use the traditional cooking mode, as you do not want to evenly heat it. It gives a better all round finish and keeps the flavour, which i have only picked up due to trial and error. I would still roast chicken using the multi-cooking mode because it seems to come out better when its evenly cooked. Likewise, pizzas, lasagne and pies come out a lot better using the multi-cooking mode. The top oven mode seems to be useless for anything apart from finishing off anything that hasn't cooked properly, and grating mode is also only good for when cooking fish, as you do not want to overcook fish. Grill mode is probably useful for cooking burgers but this doesn't get used much in our household.
Cleaning the oven externally does not take much of an effort, cleaning it internally is a bit of a chore but it depends a lot on the product you clean it with, using the cheap value type stuff can take ages, whilst using the good branded stuff takes minutes. I use the value stuff mostly so it does need a bit of elbow grease. It also gets quite hot and that heats is passed onto the housing it is in, although this is not as bad as my previous oven.
Overall, i am quite satisfied with this oven, its easy to use, it does everything that I want from an oven and at quite a reasonable price too. It is also quite energy efficient, which again is saving me something along the way.
I got this on special offer at half price at just under £50 from Argos and i thought i was getting a good deal. It does come in a very fancy box and I cant fault the instructions. Style-wise it looks very good being a mixture of stainless steel, black plastic that feels good to touch and the clear plastic bowl and jug. The bowl and jug both have measurements on the front of them.
The blender can take up-to a litre but i have found it best to stick to 800ml or it'll struggle with things such as apples, carrots and sometimes even bananas. This is quite a failing for a blender. The main bowl is the same, it can take upto 1.4 Litres but it struggles with anything above a Litre. I think Kenwood should invest in some quality control for their appliances as this would have been enough to put me off Kenwood for life. They do make pretty good bread makers though so i would only avoid their food processors.
The three attachments that come with this are the coarse grating blade, the coarse slicing blade and chopping blade. The grating blade is OK in that it does a job that is average at best, the other two blades neither slice nor chop very well and you would need to use the machine for well over a minute to get anything passable from them, by which time the motor would have probably overheated and you would need to give it time to cool down.
The main reason people are going to buy this is for the chopping and the slicing and if it can't do that very well then whats the point. This is a big and bulky machine that is difficult to keep clean and takes up too much space for something that doesn't do very much, i would recommend a mini chopper and a stand alone liquidiser instead of this monstrosity.
I was having problems with my Kenwood food processor not being up to the job and spotted this in LIDL at 12.99. It didn't seem like a bad price and i thought it would relieve the Kenwood from some of its duties i.e. chopping vegetables, nuts, or anything to do with whisking.
Looks-Wise it is quite stylish for something that is made from plastic, with a black base and a white head. The plastic doesn't seem like the cheap kind and feels quite nice to touch. The bowl itself is clear plastic and has the ounce and milliliter measurement on the front, you get the blade itself with this and a separate whisk attachment.
Being so small I didn't have high expectations for it but I was pleasantly surprised. The instructions are pretty good and it contains a section that gives you a rough idea on how much and for how long certain foods will take e.g. carrots, cheese, ice, eggs and fruit. It is also quite easy to use, you put the food into the bowl and push down to start processing, if you need a little more speed then there is a turbo button on the top that you can press. A minor problem is that the unit tend to overheat in about a minute but then again you aren't going to continuously use this for that long anyway. It does a very good job on everything i have thrown at it, my other machine struggles a little with carrots, this contraption doesn't even break a sweat with carrots, and it can turn nuts to powder before your eyes. Its not so bad for onions or tomatoes either. The whisking is on a whole other level. It creates very fluffy mayonnaise and the cream comes out superb as well. The machine is also very easy to clean but be careful its not plugged in when you do clean it.
Overall, don't waste your time on buying a big bulky overpriced food processor unit when something like this will do a better job and at a fraction of the price. I haven't used my main food processor since i got this.
Any man using this a few decades ago would have been laughed at and told to use brylcreem instead. Now instead of being called things like poofter or batty, you get called a metro-sexual, a man with style.
This mousse isn't cheap, coming in at 7.99 and it only lasts just over a month, but what you get is something that keeps your style under control whatever the weather and however much you exert yourself. I get the stuff from my barbers every month when i go for a haircut, it's become my monthly routine for the past few years, so I've gotten used to the expense.
I tend to apply this after I have showered in the morning, I put some into my hair whilst blow drying it into a volumised pompadour type hairstyle and for that it works very well. Normal gels and creams would give a similar effect but either for a limited time or they leave gunk behind. Not to mention that you would have to avoid the rain and winds. This last well into the night and does not leave any gunk behind. I have not noticed any adverse effects to my hair either whilst using this.
Overall, I would recommend this is a product to anyone even though it is aimed at women, it keeps your style alive longer and has very little negative effect on your hair and head.
After having a bad experience with my existing pressure washer, i decided to do some proper research before buying one. My research led me to this. At just over £50 at Argos, it comes with the basics. It costs a little more to buy the one that comes with the patio cleaner and the other gizmos, but i only use the lance so this package was the more sensible choice.
It comes in a fancy box with the various pictures and information about the product, the manual is easy to read and understand. Looks-Wise, it does look stylish even though it is made from plastic. The motor is a 1400 watter and it does the job well, it manages to push out the water at an incredible speed, although it probably isn't worth getting a pressure washer less than 1400 watts.
I've had this now for about a year and it hasn't let me down yet, the motor is still running as strong as when i got it. It has not suffered from any leaks either which seems to be a common thing with pressure washers. I cannot really think of any disadvantages, it does everything i want from it and it does it well. Some people do rate Karchers above all else but i think these are more robust and generally better then anything on the market. The Karchers also tend to cost more so even price wise these are better.
Overall, I would definitely recommend one of these and i don't think any home should be without one.
I bought one of these when they were on offer a few years ago. I thought i could use it to clean my car and my flat windows. It came in a bland box with the main features written on it. The instructions weren't very clear and you do need some sort of instructions to tell you what each attachment does. The moment I took the plastic bags off the pressure washer, the smell of cheap plastic hit me. I did think about packing it all up and returning it but i persevered. Connecting it all together is straight forward and once its all piped up and plugged in, your ready to go. The machine did clean my car the first few times i used it, and i even managed to spray my windows clean, but then the handle started leaking. These were the start of my problems with this contraption. I tried to return it to B &Q for a replacement but that was an impossible task. They said i would need to buy a replacement hose for this as i had caused the damage. The replacement cost more than the pressure washer itself so i thought maybe i could live with the leak. A few month later the motor packed in and I binned it.
I have since bought a Nilfisk pressure washer and have so far had no problems with it. I would stay clear of B &Q for any electrical goods. The customer service is terrible, and they tend to give you the run around just so they can pass the buck onto someone else. In retrospect, this didn't cost much and I'm glad i wasted this small amount of money finding out what B & Q are like rather than spending a large amount.
I like my ketchup to be tangy, not too runny and not to have any extras in like the milk protein Branston put in theirs in order to lower the production costs. It does become apparent when tasting it, so i do not know why these companies bother. If someone wanted to save cost they could just stick with the stores own brand, which although very runny, it does taste similar to the lesser brands. The top two brands seem to be Heinz and Helmanns. Helmanns are known for their mayonnaise products so it isn't surprising that they'd branch out into other condiments. Heinz have a great recipe, although lately it has been a little watery, their prices are also a bit higher than others. It does have a distinctive taste that no other ketchup can match though.
Now Helmanns have produced a ketchup that can compete with Heinz price wise. But can it compete taste wise? Well, Taste wise, the sauce is thicker and you can taste the freshness of the sun ripened tomatoes, it also has a tangy taste although it seems a little sweeter which is not necessarily a bad thing. It isn't as tangy as the Heinz sauce which does let it down a bit, but all in all, it goes better with certain foods such as with fish and chips, as the other lesser sauces tend to turn the fish and chips soggy. I would still use the Heinz as my main ketchup though due to that distinct tangy flavour.
I only got this fryer because it was on offer at Tesco, it was marked down from £60 to £29.97. At that price it was worth giving this a go. The display model at the supermarket had a broken timer knob on it but i thought that with it being a display model, someone must have had a good play around with it. The box it came in had all the features listed on it, the instructions were OK, I don't normally bother with instructions but i had trouble with assembling the handle on the basket, but following after the instructions properly i managed to get it together.
Design-Wise the fryer is stainless steel, so it goes with the rest of my kitchen, it does look pretty good too. The Control unit is a black and comes with two knobs, one for controlling the heat, and the other is the on/off/timer knob. Upon setting it all up, and loading it with oil, it wasn't turning on as it should be. The fault turned out to be the timer knob which was not gripping the nut underneath to turn it. I couldn't really be bothered returning it so i got a flat head screw driver and turned it to the on position. I didn't really care about the timer function anyway.
The temperature knob has pictures of various things at the different temperatures such as fish at 150 and chips at 190. It is crucial that you cook chips at 190 degrees otherwise your not going to get the perfect chip and whilst looking at the other fryers i did notice a few only went up to 180. So if buying a fryer make sure it goes up to 190.
This comes with a filter compartment in the lid that has some metallic type filter that is washable. The lid does become filthy quite quickly but washing it with warm water and fairy liquid takes care of that. The mesh basket is like wise easy to clean. The whole thing comes apart easily but you have to be careful with the control unit. This must only be cleaned with a damp cloth. There is an emergency switch in the control unit that turns it off in case of any problems and this can then be reset when the problem is put right, for example if you do not have the minimum amount of oil loaded in. The minimum amount is about 3 litres and the maximum is 4 litres. I normally drain out and filter the old oil and just add that back after everything has been cleaned, ill then top it up if its needed.
It takes about 5 minutes to warm up to 190 and then it does french fries in a couple of minutes, it does standard chips in about 5 minutes and fish take in about 5 minutes as well. The chips come out exactly like takeaway chips. I've yet to try home made chips in here but I'm sure they'd be just like chip shop chips.
I did try contacting Tricity for a replacement knob but they gave me the number for a spare parts company which i didn't bother ringing. Tesco said they would take it back but as it does the job and it does it well, i thought i would keep it. Overall, i would recommend this as long as you double check the timer knob in the store and your getting it at a decent price.
I needed a built in microwave that wasn't going to cost too much, it also had to go with the rest of my kitchen appliances which were stainless steel. At £150 this was not bad, as it also came with built in kit. These go for around £50 on there own so all in all it was quite a good deal. It comes in quite a big box, its a big microwave to begin with but the box makes it seem bigger. It also comes with a dozen different papers in quite a few languages as well as the main manual and a recipe book. The manual is OK, and it does explain all the functions, but you probably don't need a manual to tell you how to use a microwave.
Style-wise, it looks great. Its got that modern angular minimalistic look. The door handle is made from the some sort of cylindrical metallic material that feels quite robust. The buttons are big and easy to press and are made from a grey plastic. The knob likewise is easy to turn and made from the same type of material. The inside is also made from stainless steel, and it comes with a glass hotplate in the centre. It is quite a heavy microwave but with it being built in, it doesn't really matter. At 29 Litres its quite a step up from my existing 20 Litre microwave. Being mostly stainless steel, this microwave is a breeze to clean. The hotplate is also dishwasher friendly.
Noise-wise, it does make a certain amount of noise and the beeps when it is finished are quite loud, but then again it is a 900watter and you aren't going to be using it for hours on end anyway. The wattage can be adjusted depending on what type of food you are going to make and it had programs for each type of food e.g. potatoes, rice, milk, pasta, etc.
Picking one of these programs automatically selects the different power levels at different times so for example it'll cook a potato at the full 900w for 5 minutes and slowly reduce to 400 towards the end. I prefer to use manual for most things, just put some food you want to cook into the microwave and then use the knob to increase the time. The microwave doesn't do pizzas very well, but then again I've not had a microwave that has been able to. It does great jacket potatoes though, they come out quite well cooked all over. It apparently has some sort of dual heater system that cooks food all over, this does tend to drain the moisture out of some foods though.
Overall, you could buy a cheap small white microwave for £40, or even something a bit bigger with the same functions for about £100, but if you want something stylish in your kitchen, something that will impress you guests, something that will cook most foods to perfection, then this is the perfect microwave. And anyway, most people have ovens for pizzas.
I Live in an old Victorian building which is known for its rodent problem. Other people living in the building have had the council out to get rid of the problem but have not been very successful. Having a half dozen takeaways on the same road doesn't help. I am constantly finding rat droppings all over the kitchen and they have pretty much got used to avoiding the poison even though i have loads peanut butter and chocolate mixed in with it.
After finding a dead rat on my doorstep which was the size of a cat, i decided out of desperation to try this gadget. I had heard from neighbors and friends that these type of devices do not work as the rodents get used to the noise, but the reviews online were quite good overall and it came with a guarantee that if it didn't fix the problem in six weeks i could return it. At just over £30 it is a little on the expensive side and for a device that is just plugged in and to the untrained eye is doing nothing may not seem such a good idea, but at this point i was willing to give anything a try. By comparison it costs just under £100 to get the council in and get them to sort out the problem over a number of visits. I would have tried this first but neighbours had already gone down this route unsuccessfully.
Delivery was quite quick, i got it the day after i had ordered it which is quite good for royal mail. It came in a brown plain box with instructions and an invoice. The instructions are pretty good and show you what combination to use in order to get the most out of this. What this repeller does that is different from most others is that as well as transmitting sound to deter rodents, it transmits an electromagnetic field through all the wires in the house. This is supposed to keep all the rodents away from the whole of the property. The ultrasonic sound only works in the room that this is plugged in.
I had it plugged in for a few days on the recommended settings and could still hear the rodents scratching away in the walls so i thought i would turn the frequency transmission from close range to long range. You get an option to transmit a variable frequency or a constant frequency and i just keep it on constant.
Their is also a test button on the top which transmits a loud beep that sounds a lot like the noise a rat would make if you gave it a kick. Its a good button to let your frustrations out on. The night light is a waste of time in my opinion and I have it turned off, although it would be useful to anyone who wanted to illuminate a few centimeters of the floor beneath this.
A friend of mine was having problems with mice in his house and I told them to try this, a month after giving this away, i noticed rat droppings again so i ordered another one which arrived the day after i ordered it again. I have been rodent free since getting the new one. My friend is also mouse free.
Overall, if you have a rodent problem and no one else can help then you need to give this a try.
I was looking for a cheap android phone and didn't want to get stuck in another 18 month contract. It was between this and the HTC Wildfire. The specs were almost identical, the CPU and screen on this were supposed to be better whereas the camera on the Wildfire was supposed to be the better of the two. In the end i thought that if i need to take any proper pictures i can use my actual camera so i popped down to Argos, who had these on offer supposedly.
It was down as £99 on their website, in reality the wanted £109 as they wouldn't / couldn't sell me one without me buying a top up. I thought its only a tenner so i decided to go for it. What Argos had done was remove £10 from the price of the mobile so it showed up as a sale item, and then add that same tenner back by only selling it if a top-up is bought at the same time, which is quite crafty. Its available for about that price most other places anyway.
The packaging was the usual small black box that orange give with all phones, it contained the battery, headphones, charger/usb cable and 2 manuals. As soon as i opened it, i took out everything but the manuals and put the box away just in case. You don't really need a manual to tell you about how to use a smart phone unless you've never used a smart phone before.
The first thing i did was charge the phone. Orange have including a rather nifty plug which takes a USB lead. The USB lead is a micro-usb which is also used to connect the phone to the computer.
It also came with a 2gb memory card, which is enough for quite a few music tracks, videos and pictures. It would cost you about a fiver for a 8gb card if you need more space, so this wasn't a problem. Once the phone was fully charged i decided to unlock it and put on the latest android software which is gingerbread. The Modaco website has a community dedicated to android phones and through that website you can unlock this phone for free and also get the software which is as easy as putting it on your memory card and just turning your phone off and then back on again whilst holding certain buttons.
Once i had done all the above i was ready to test the phone out properly. The main criticism of this phone is that orange load it full of crapware, which in effect slows it down. This isn't a problem if you upgrade to the latest software though as it removes all traces of anything Orange. The basic functionality of the phone is very easy to use, it comes with Google maps, calendar, contacts and emails that all sync with the Google servers. These can then be used on the phone of on your main computer.
The camera is a 3 megapixel camera and takes a decent picture providing there is enough light. Its useless if there isn't enough light. The videos are just a bit below OK, the quality on the phone is almost acceptable but its very pixelated. I tried changing the settings to very high and trying it with different codecs but the end result was always the same. I expected these sort of results though so was not really disappointed.
The call quality was quite good, and sending emails/sms is a breeze as soon as you replace the existing keyboard with Swype. The WiFi speeds are quite good on this and the bluetooth connected seamlessly to my car, so the connectivity cannot be faulted.
My main concern about this phone is that it does not support flash, this can be overcome by using sites that convert the flash to something else but it defeats the purpose of it. The music quality on the phone is OK although the speakers are a bit tinny, most people would probably use headphones or bluetooth so this isn't a big issue. Talking of headphones, they are OK but a little uncomfortable, they probably need getting used to. I have some seinheissers so these headphones just go into my spare junk pile.
I normally try Fruit ninja in order to test a phone as it is a graphics intensive game and wanted to see how phone would perform under a bit of pressure. The graphics weren't as good as my Galaxy S, but they were non the less acceptable. The phone did slow down a little when too many fruit were on the screen, but not enough to make the game unplayable. The touch screen is a little insensitive though and requires a bit of a hard poke. All in all the screen and hardware of the phone perform quite well for a budget phone, the only things letting it down are the camera, the insensitive screen and no flash, all of which are just minor problems for me.
I got into golf back when i was in college, I'd had a good miniature golf game and thought this was the sport for me because not much energy was required, similar to snooker and darts. I started practicing on the shooting range and was pretty bad at golf itself. It took me a couple of months of practice to be able to hit the ball consistently, and at certain targets although my aim was still pretty bad at times. I bought these practice balls to fix my aim, these cost me a quid for 6 from my local shooting range.
It does take a few shots to adjust to these because they don't travel much but then again they aren't meant to. The shooting range is a bad place to practice with these so i went down to Roundhay Park which was the best place as living in Leeds I don't have much of a garden. These are made from a lightweight white plastic and are completely hollow inside, they have holes in various places in order slow down the speed so that you can practice your control and spin techniques.
After using these for a few months I can definitely see an improvement in my game. I wasn't that good to begin with though so if you are quite good at golf these may not do much for you. You do realise that golf isn't all luck though, you can control the ball to some extent if you take into account the wind and then compensate for it. These balls are more prone to the wind then real golf balls, but you can apply the same principle to some extent and your then relying less on luck and a bit more on skill.
I still have a lot to learn but these have helped, so overall i would recommend these to any beginners just starting out.
Eye drops for contact lenses started appearing a couple of years back. Before that you had to clean them in saline solution that came in big 300ml bottles that only lasted 8 weeks. I've still got a few half full bottles lying around the house which remind me of the money wasted buying them, they went for about a tenner.
These on the other hand are just under 3 quid from Tescos, last just as long and you can wash you lenses in them.
These eye drops also come in bottles that are very small, and a pocket-able size. I've tried quite a few brands and these compare quite well with the more expensive brands, the only difference is that they don't keep your eyes as fresh for longer so you end up carrying the bottle around and applying it when your eyes start feeling itchy or irritated. The eye drops are basically a saline solution with fancy names for the ingredients that just mean purified salt. The bottle is also reusable but you probably wouldn't unless you made your own saline solution at home. That would make it very cost effective but is it worth taking that risk with your eyes?
Overall, the same as most other eye drops, except cheaper. Just keep it with you at all times and you may actually use a bottle before it expires one day, although probably impossible as they expire too quickly.
Being a contact lenses wearer, eye drops are a must, and wearing extended wear contact lenses means that after a few weeks, the lenses tend to get irritating. Eye drops last 8 weeks according to all of the brands of eye drops I've tried. And with these being used in the eyes I don't want to take the risk and use them for longer just to save a few quid. This bottle was still half full after 8 weeks, so the remainder went down the drain.
I've tried a lot of eye drops and there is little difference with most of them. Your eyes do feel fresher for longer with these, and you don't have the urge to rub your eyes as often but is that really worth it for the extra cost? These cost me just over a fiver, tescos own brand cost just under £3. For the few quid extra, it probably isn't. On the other hand you don't need to carry this around with you as you can freshen you eyes in the morning and at night, which is enough to keep your lenses fresh.
The main ingredient in this is sodium hyaluronate, which is probably just another name for a purified type salt. This in effect is just a cleaner saline with a fancy name. It comes in a bottle that can be refilled, so you'd think it would be cost effective to get a big bottle of the stuff and keep refilling it. But with it lasting just 8 weeks you can't do that. The instructions aren't really clear but it doesn't take a brain surgeon to work out what to do with these.
Overall, I would recommend these if you don't like watering your eyes very often, otherwise stick with the cheaper alternatives.
No home is complete without a blender, and if your on a budget the value ones will do the job almost as well as the more expensive ones but probably not for as long. If you do the maths it might work out more cost effective to go for the more expensive one but seeing as i use this very infrequently, the budget ones work out better for me. I got his one from Asda at just over four quid, which is probably what Tesco and Sainsbury sell theirs at.
Packaging wise it comes in a plain Asda box with instruction that aren't much use. At this price though you can't complain and its not like you really need instructions for a hand blender. Looks wise, its made from cheap white plastic, with a detachable metallic head and rubberised buttons to turn it on/off and switch speeds between high and low. I normally just keep it on high. The cable is just under a meter long which is long enough for any blender.
The head clips on to the main body and away you go. This is great for blending soup, although with the body being made from cheap plastic it does tend to get a little hot. It also does quite well with smoothies, with splash back being limited. These are also easy to clean with the head being detachable.
Overall, i would recommend this or the Tesco/Sainsbury alternative if you are either on a budget or do not really use one that much. I have had mine now since August and it still works as it should without any problems, and looks as good as when i bought it.