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Firstly, thanks Dooyoo for adding this to the catalogue! Now, with that said and done - lets get on with the review. My grandparents are both in their mid 80s and don't have a computer, a mobile phone or anything. Their previous BT phones had packed up and it really is a lifeline for them as they dont get out often. I was then given the task of finding a similar replacement. After a little searching these BT Big Button 4000 phones fitted the bill. I believe I paid £52 from Argos and collected them (the last in stock!) the following day.
Now, the phones may be easy to work but for elderly people they aren't that straight-forward to set up. Thankfully I was there to lend a hand and while they aren't the simplest (and I'm not technology minded) I didn't find them too bad to set up. The little instruction book it comes with is fairly handy so I told them to hang onto it just incase.
The phones come half-charged and the charging docks are easy to plug in. The main reciever (I think that's what it's called) sits upstairs with a second dock downstairs so you can pick it up upstairs or downstairs. BT also do a single version if you only want one phone but having two is more handy. After I peeled off the relevant plastic bits and connected the cable into the main dock upstairs we were good to go... not quite.
The screen isn't massive but the text is large enough for most elderly people to see fine. The background is orange with black text. Once it's turned on you can choose to go through the Setup Wizard or to do it manually on your own. I would reccommend the Wizard as you can sort the time and date, settings to block nuisance calls (this includes international calls, witheld numbers and phone boxes) and add contacts to the phonebook. All of this took about 10-15 minutes after I'd put in about 5 contacts.
However, pressing Phonebook and scrolling through the contacts isn't that handy for my nan as it takes a while so I set up the Speed dial feature. I can't quite remember how you do it, but it's all in the instructions book. To dial a speed dial number (say the Doctors is number 3 on Speed dial), instead of pressing 3 you hold it for about 2 seconds and then it will connect. It will come up with "Doctors" if you have added that number to the Contacts book prior to this. After a few attempts she got the hang of this.
To answer a call you press the big green button and to hang up you press the big red button. All pretty straight-forward. Another handy feature is if your (grand)parents struggle with hearing is the "Amplify" button on the side of the phone. My grandfather sometimes speaks to his sister in America when she calls and he has a hearing aid but still struggles to hear on the phone, this button is essentially like putting the phone on speaker so it's clear for him to hear.
As for using the phone, it fits nicely in the hand and the buttons are chunky and easy to hit. With the small ish scren and big text, altering something in the menus isn't particularly straight-forward but my grandparents won't be needing to do this as I've set it up for them and if they needed something changing, I'd be on hand to help. Oh, the phone also comes with (god knows why), not 3, not 4, not 5 but 15 ringtones. Most were pretty silly and we went with the standard one in the end.
To sum up, I probably wouldn't have this phone in the house if it were just for me. But for the elderly, this is perfect. The text is big, you can amplify and block nuisance calls and the buttons are big and chunky. And for 50 odd pounds for the pair, it's good value from BT.
After just having a little scroll down to look at the reviews here I am perplexed at why Bensons has such bad reviews? On the subject of bad experiences... Dreams. I honestly do not know how they are the UK's best selling bed store - the store was old and dated, tiny, dirty and had completely uninterested staff. Bensons on the other hand, was a completely opposite experience.
Before I start, I will admit that it was a new store. It had been open only 5 days before I bought my bed from them so it was inevitable that everything was very swanky, smart and clean. The choice of beds was very good with everything from bog-standard single mattresses up to uber deluxe super king television or air beds.
When I say bed, I really mean mattress as I'd already bought the frame from another store. If you aren't already aware, Bensons have something they call the Comfort Station. This is a section of the store where there are five beds lined up each numbered from 1 to 5 each with a varying degree of firmness. You then try out the beds to find which number is most comfortable for you. Once you have "your number" you then have a look round the store and it gives you a good indication at which mattress to try out (e.g. if you found a number 3 comfortable - which I did - you would try out the number 3 mattresses). Here is a rundown of what the numbers equate to...
1 - Soft/medium. They say that this is ideal if you sleep on your side as it lets your shoulders and hips sink into the mattress while supporting the rest of your body. I say... rubbish! Now, I like a soft bed - but this was ridiculous. It was a horrible feeling and you literally sunk into this squishy horribleness of a mattress. Obviously, it wasn't a popular one as I think I saw about 3 in the whole store.
2 - Medium. They say that this is great if you sleep on your side, but prefer a slightly firmer feel. Firm isn't a word I would describe this with and while it is certaintly an improvement over number 1 it's still too soft for me.
3 - Medium/firm. They say this is a good option if you change position a lot and sleep on your side and your back. I found this the most comfortable and went with a number 3 in the end. I went with my mum and she found this too soft and I think some people would as well. It's a bit squidgy but I like it, its certaintly a big difference over number 2.
4 - Firm. They say this is just the right support if you sleep on your back or on your front with a medium height pillow. It's a tad on the firm side for me whilst not being overly firm. The salesman said that 3 and 4 are the most popular as I can imagine.
5 - Extra firm. They say this is often referred to as Orthopaedic, they have a very firm and supportive feel. They say orthopaedic... I say bloomin rock hard! I thought number 1 was bad, this was horrendous! Avoid avoid avoid. Very few of these in the store too.
In the end I went for double size Silentnight Mirapocket 2000 mattress. The store was busy and I think we had the manager. He was a loud northerner who was clearly a confident seller though give him his credit he was very good. Swift, chatty and generally helpful. The mattress was £599.99 though he immediately knocked £100 off the price even though the bed wasn't in the "extra £100 off" section. We were then hit with the £40 odd delivery charge on top but it is a bulky item to be fair but I would've prefered it included.
Delivery took 3 weeks (luckily the same day the frame turned up so it was well timed). I was out for the delivery but I am informed the delivery guys were good. A fortnight or so later and the mattress is wonderful, a slightly different feeling from in the shop but it's got a nice sheet on it now and it's soooooo comfy. And warm too.
The bed mattress comes with a 1 year warranty though I think you get a longer warranty if you buy a frame too. The store I bought it from if anyone's interested is the Old Shoreham Road branch in Hove and there is a swanky new Harveys store downstairs in the same building. To sum up, Bensons offered a wide selection of beds, pleasant staff and in the end a not bad price. Oh - and a super comfy bed!
Firstly, apologies for the lack of reviews and rates recently. Whenever I seem to get a cold, I seem to get it 10x worse than anyone else and have been in a terrible state recently. Well, I still am and know a few friends who have used these Olbas inhalers and have had nothing but positive things to say about them. I have the old conventional Olbas where you dab a little bit on a tissue for it to linger and for you breathe in and hopefully unblock your nose so this sounded even more convenient.
These inhalers are pretty cheap - £1.50 for a 695mg tube. The packaging is different to the one in this picture, it's the conventional green and orange Olbas colours and it's incased in plastic with a cardboard backing.
Olbas claim that their "pure plant remedy is for symptomatic relief of blocked sinuses, catarrh, hay fever, colds and flu." My nose is constantly blocked no matter how much I blow my nose, but this provides relief and really clears the nose nicely. The packaging says to place under one nostril and inhale and my goodness, even 5 seconds under my nostril does a fantastic job and it's literally like a breath of fresh air... then repeat on the other side of your nose, it really does wonders. Admittedly, it doesn't last particularly long and the packaging states to do this no more than 4 times an hour but when you're really suffering from a blocked nose it's literally like a breath of fresh air.
For anyone who's interested, it contains - Cajuput oil (20%), Eucalyptus oil (20%), Levomenthol (40%) and Peppermint oil (20%). On the tube it also states not to be used for those under the age of 6 and not to store at temperatures above 25 degrees.
To sum up, sure - it's not going to unblock your nose permenantly but what it does do is provide you with some cheap, convenient and easy to use relief (up to 4 times an hour, of course) that is literally like a breath of fresh air.
I honestly don't know why everyone raves about Strepsils so much as they don't even offer me short term relief when I have a sore throat, they are just essentialy a sweet to me. I would probably be better off sucking on a Werthers Original to cure my sore throat (which incidentally are lovely). So, with Strepsils out of the question I chose to go for Halls.
This is actually a very up to the minute review because as I am typing this I am sat here in bed with a bunged up nose and sore throat, to be honest - I don't know how I made it through the day at work, but these Halls did at least provide some relief. To start off, they are cheap. Much cheaper than Strepsils at the bagain price of £0.45 (now I really am looking a cheapskate - the £4 lampshade, 30p deodorant) and Tesco currently have these at 2 for 80p. Not a massively good deal but a saving nonetheless.
They come in a small black wrapper in a pack of 9. The pack has lasted me the whole day with just one sweet left over. I don't know if this is the quantity you should have them in but at least I can be thankful that my job doesn't involve me being too vocal if you know what I mean because if that was the case I would've gone through packets of them! Inside the black wrapper, the sweets are induvidually wrapped in a thin white paper. The sweets themselves are clear in colour despite the packaging making you assume they are black and are "thick" if you know what I mean. They are square in colour and slightly thinner than a Lego brick but are still quite chunky. This is a good thing however as it takes about 10 minutes or so for it to dissolve in your mouth.
The flavour is strong and every time you breath in and out it's like it's a cold winter's day and you get a cool cough sweet type smell waft out of your mouth. The smell isn't bad to be honest (well, not in my opinion anyway) but it is strong.
Now, I know that these aren't going to cure a cold or sore throat, but are intended for relief for an hour or so. I would say an hour was pushing it, and by then I'd be reaching for another sweet but at least the soothing sensation does linger for a while in your mouth. It does a better job of unblocking your nose however and when I breathe in I sometimes feel a cool minty waft. These combind with my Kleenex balsam's (see earlier review) and my blocked nose hasn't been too bad.
To sum up, these aren't bad and again, with the price I paid I can't really complain. They deliver a nice cool sensation which is the menthol I just wish it would last a little longer. No doubt however that these are a 100x better than the useless Strepsils.
I can't really complain about this deodorant really - it has done everything a deodorant should do yet only cost me 30p. It was sitting there very innocently on the bottom shelf in Tesco (probably so that it escapes your eye and instead buy a more expensive product) when the 30p label set off the cheapskate sirens in my brain and it was in the trolley before you could say "I'm sure you know better".
It comes in a plain old white bottle with the standard Everyday Value (what was previously Tesco Value) labelling on the front in a light blue coloured text, much like the one in the picture. The size of the bottle is only 50ml but it's lasted me a good 3 or 4 weeks I'd say. I'm very much a spray deodrant fan (I've been using Lynx for the past 3 or 4 years at least) so this was somewhat of a change but as I said, the price made me question my previous buying habit.
What does it smell like? Just deodorant to be honest. It isn't scented with any smell (well, it is 30p) and doesn't smell particularly strong. Maybe if I was being a bit fussy it smells a bit chemical-like but don't all deodorants to a degree? What is good is that the deodorant comes out rather thickly once you've gotten the ball rolling (quite literally) which is more than can be said from the Lynx roll-ons I've used in the past which have been rather dissapointing in the amount of deodorant that comes out.
When you do buy something like this for 30p (or most things to be honest) you do question the quality to a degree and I had visions of this stuff bringing my underarms out in some ghastly rash but thankfully that incident has been avoided and it has been trouble-free.
So, to sum up - am I sold on this 30p deodorant? Well, yes and no. I still like my lovely smelling Lynx deodorant, it is a stronger and more interesting smell that lingers and lasts a bit longer but it is much more expensive - around the £3 mark. They are 150ml bottles though, granted. There is something to be said for this deodorant and I would in no way dismiss it, but if its something sweet smelling that you're after then look elsewhere.
...Or should I say it WAS a treat for my feet. But more on that later. On one of many visits to Ikea I was on the look out for a rug. I didn't really know what I wanted but I fell in love with this one immediately and knew I had to have it. This was even before I had made it to the rug department, they were sitting piled high in the bedroom section. This went straight in the yellow bag and when it came to the rug section (near the very end of Ikea) I don't think I really bothered looking as I knew the Ludde Sheepskin rug was what I was having.
What can I say, this thing is SO soft. I know, I know yesterday I am reviewing soft Kleenex balsam tissues, today a big fluffy rug (what can I say, I'm a big softie) and so is this rug! I don't have the rug anymore (for reasons I'm still to get to) but I do sort of miss getting out of bed in the morning onto this lovely thing and feel the soft sheepskin between my toes.
The reason why I don't have this rug anymore - and it may sound strange - is because this thing picked up bits no end. No matter how many times I spent trying to pick the bits out of it, they would re-appear within hours. Hoovering was no good either, the odd couple would come off the rug but the vast majority stayed firmly rooted between the thick sheepskin and if you pressed the end of the hoover onto the rug it would almost lift it off the ground! And I honestly have no idea where it was getting all these mysterious bits from as I barely spent any time on the rug, and when I did - I was barefoot! If only it looked like it did in the catalogue... well it did. For the first couple of days.
Of course with it being Ikea, they also do a fake version of the rug for a bit less money. The Ludde rug (the one I had) was £30 but for I believe £10 you can get the Tejn rug which is faux sheepskin and very similar in appearance. Either way, you must either have a spotless house or are not particularly concerned over the condition of the rug. I just ended up getting fustrated with it every time I looked down and saw bits of god knows what in the depths of the rug.
To sum up - it was lovely and soft. Fantastic, if only bits were easier to get out of the rug! It seemed like as soon as they were there, that's where they were and they weren't budging. Don't get me wrong though, if Ikea were to release one in a darker colour (it would be faux obviously) then I would be the first to buy one. Maybe it's just because I'm a bit OCD.
Also, to add... for those interested the dimensions:
Width - 60cm
Height - 2cm
Length - 95cm
I'm a great believer in buying a cheaper brand to save money. Of course, I wouldn't want to compromise on taste too much but if you look through my kitchen cupboards you'll see mainly own brand products (not all - but the majority). However, if you came shopping with me you'd see mingled in with the own brand products in my supermarket trolley are these Kleenex tissues. There's something about Kleenex tissues that the other brands just can't copy.
I've tried buying the Tesco and Asda equivalents and sure, they're okay but they are no match for the lovely cushiony soft feeling the Kleenex balsam tissues give. When winter rolls round again I get sniffles and colds no end (probably man flu) but these Kleenex Balsams let me blow my nose to my heart's content and it doesn't feel like I'm rubbing my nose up and down on a piece of sandpaper (as cheaper brands often do).
I tend to stock up when they are on offer at the supermarket and I get them in packs of 6. Each little pack of tissues gets 9 neatly folded Kleenex Balsams. They feel nice and soft on your nose, this is partly because they are nice and thick but also because of the balsam in the tissue which soothes the nose. Even when you unfold them they are still thick and soft, and they are also of a decent size. When it is fully unfolded I would say it was the just over the size of half a piece of A4.
A word of warning - one shopping trip where I was being particularly hasty I picked up the Oblas Kleenex's by accident. Big mistake! They made my eyes water and I was consistantly sneezing. These Balsam's thankfully don't have such an affect on me, but at least I won't make that mistake again.
These usually retail around the £1.50 mark but are sometimes on offer. I also have some of the boxes of Kleenex Balsam for when I'm at home but these can easily be put in your pocket (or a handbag) for when you're out and about. To sum up, nothing comes close to these tissues and I think they are very good value for money.
If you're unaware, I've given my room a bit of a makeover recently and it is now 50 Shades of grey (quite literally). I have done most things (furniture, paiting, paiting furniture!) and this little lampshade nearly completed my bedroom's makeover (still got the curtains to go). It was £3.99. Yes, you read that right - £3.99. Well, usually I'd be dubious over the quality of a product at this price but I already had a brown version of the same light shade and now that my room is grey, it seemed fitting to get a grey lightshade. Well, it was less than £4!
It was quite straight forward, I reserved online last night and on the way home from work today popped into my local Argos and picked it up (along with a set of home phones for my grandparents as theirs had packed up). I printed off the confirmation, took it to the store, paid and was given a little receipt to wait for the products.
Less than three minutes later my goods were being handed to me and I was soon home fitting this to the light shade. I went for it in grey but it's also avaliable in (get ready for this) - Cream, Apple green, Fiesta blue, Funky fuchsia, Poppy red, Purple fizz, Lagoon, Chocolate (what my old one was), Jet black and brown. The great thing about these is because they are so cheap and easy to fit it's simple to swap and change if you change the colour or style of your room.
Sure, it's nothing fancy but it was very cheap. It was easy to fit and looks simple and unintrusive. My only slight niggle is that it loses some of it's grey colour when the light is actually on, but that's a small niggle. It looks great, goes with the room and overall I'm pleased with my purchase.
And I mean it... it really has been a great little bedside table. Anyway, recently I have been giving my room a bit of a "makeover". If you have read my previous paint review you will know I have gone from green to grey (in room colour, that is) and have also bought a new bed (which comes tomorrow!) and have also repainted the desk and wardrobe.
I now have a bit more space thanks to some re-shuffling and thought that the 2-drawer Malm would be perfect on a very recent trip to Ikea. Now, let me start by saying it's not a looker if you know what I mean. It's sleek and understated but hardly something that you'd walk into a room and say "wow". But I don't know any bedside table that is.
Ikea offer the Malm in a choice of colours, there is Birch, Black-brown, Oak and White-stained oak for £35 and a white one for £25. The wood is all veneer (well, it is cheap to buy) and the white is just particleboard or whatever it's made out of these days. Not because I'm a cheapskate but more to do with the fact that it goes with the room, I opted for the £25 White one and did the usual process of going to pick it up downstairs, loading onto the trolley, to the car and back home.
Putting it together was simple enough (and I struggle with the Ikea Kassett boxes at times!) and I'd say it took me about 45 minutes and that includes a bit of faffing and running to get the relevant bits and pieces. The instructions could be clearer as they are just pictures as Ikea sells this in many countries with many different languages.
Once assembled I was really rather pleased (firstly, because I actually managed to build it!) but mostly because it has been such good value for money. I think the wood veneer ones might look a bit better but really you only notice it's particleboard when you tap the top or see it from the inside. The draws run smoothly, glide nicely and don't fly off the end when it reaches the end of the runner. The draws are also much deeper than I originally expected and I've got a few bits and bobs inside like a notepad, deodrants, phone chargers and I am yet to fill the second drawer! That said, I don't suppose they will take much weight but at the end of the day, it is just a beside table and not something you'd put heavy things in anyway. Finally, on top of the table sits my alarm clock and plant with some space left for a glass of water.
Oh, also for those interested - the figures from the Ikea website list the dimensions:-
Width - 40cm
Depth - 48cm
Height - 55cm
To sum up, sure - it's not the best quality in the world, but it feels sturdy and is more spacious than you'd think given the dimensions. And at £25 it really is great value for money.
First of all, let me say, what a fantastic piece of kit this is. Anyone who is keen on gardening, washing their car or anyone who has a garden - HAS to get one of these. They are brilliant and okay, I will admit it - quite amusing to use. Dowsing friends and family in water has never been so fun with seven different settings!
Okay, let's start with the appearance. The shape is similar to a gun, but you hold it the opposite way round. So where the trigger would be on a gun, is the spray area and where the bottom of the gun is, the nozzle is on the hose - if you get what I mean. The bottom of the device fits snugly onto the end of your hose and you push the big grey trigger to squirt your car/plants/grass to your heart's content. It is really easy to fit to the hose, you firmly press down so it fits and you will hear a little click noise when it's attatched. Getting it off again is another matter, but I like to think of it as - why would you want to?
Now let me take you through the different settings - I'm sure they have proper names but I don't know what they are so I will give you a rundown on what each feature does in the best way I can explain.
1. Tap icon - the tap icon is just like, well - a tap. It's like not having a hose at all and the water freely flows quite heavily downward. I would suggest this is better for watering a lawn or a tree or quite a big plant. I think a rose bush or flower bed would require a slightly softer flow of water, and this certaintly isn't the setting for washing cars as it doesn't cover a wide area and is quite a heavy, hard flow of water.
2. Multiple spray - this shoots spray outward in vaguely the same area, but not in one solid flow. The spray is much lighter than the tap icon and would be more suitable for smaller plants.
3. Wide spray - this is a favourite of mine. It covers a BIG area and when held upward when spraying it looks like a fan shape. It delivers a thin, wide area of spray with no gaps, much like a fan. You often see these sprinkling golf courses and this would be perfect if you have a large area of plants or lawn to water or to lightly wash a big car. It's quite multi-purpose.
4. Cloud icon - this delivers a light mist. The closest thing I can compare this to is in Florida, on a hot day the theme parks often deliver a mist of water to cool you down. This is like these and delivers a pleasant light spray that you could walk through to cool down. I think it's proper use is for small plants and flower beds which only need a light watering. Or perhaps you just want to keep cool on a hot day!
5. Thicker version of multiple spray - this is a thicker, heavier version of the second setting, probably not great for cars and more suited to bigger plants.
6. Sun's rays - this is a wide thicker spray area, and unlike the wide spray (no. 3) it's water spray is broken much like a sun's rays. This is good for washing cars and also when you want to cover a large area. In a lot of respects it is much like the Wide spray.
7. Brick wall icon - this gives a powerful, thicker, faster water spray. I would say this reminds me most of a conventional hose without the extended nozzle on, and so can be used on pretty much anything. It does nothing special and has no fancy features on this mode though.
That should clear things up a bit, hopefully. I'm no Alan Titchmarsh but do like a bit of gardening from time to time, but I must say my car is looking quite neglected at the moment (time for a wash I think!) I really do like this hose attatchment and maybe it's just because I'm easily amused but it is much more fun and easy to water things, and choose specific settings for specific things. I think anyone with a garden should have one of these.
I've had a look on the B&Q website and you can pick one up for £25.98. This is an updated version to the one I have, I believe as I bought mine a few years ago. Where the new model has chrome, mine has grey plastic but I believe the settings are the same.
I bought this camera about 18 months ago, back when Jessops wasn't in any financial trouble. They went bankrupt, but I believe are still in business. Anyway, that's beside the point, up until this point I had only had digital cameras - my old Casio was still going fine but I felt I wanted to take some more professional pictures or at the very least have something that delivered better quality pictures. I wasn't too concerned about the megapixel number (my Casio had 8MP but still seemed to deliver pretty well) so I wasn't particularly interested at something with 14, 16 or even more megapixels so the 10.3MP Nikon seemed a good bet. It was well priced and looked rugged (not that I take pictures anywhere particularly adventurous or off the beaten path but I wanted something that could take the odd bump or scrape) and it was the Nikon brand - something that has a good reputation.
First impressions were good - the camera is light and looks just as good as the pictures suggest. To hold, it has a rubber grip to place your thumb on above the controls wheel to the right of the screen on the back, and I rest my other finger above the power button on the top of the camera. It's comfortable to hold, and its weight makes it easy enough to carry around without too much bother. In the box the camera came with it has a neck trap that attatches to the sides of the camera which means it can hang around your neck when ambling around which means you have your hands free to carry things and also it's more safe - it's much easier for someone to pinch it out of your hand than from around your neck. Also in the box it comes with a lens cap which I place on the camera when I'm not using it or if there's a fair bit of time between shots.
Now, before I get into the techincal details of the camera and it's features - let me forewarn you that I'm no David Bailey! It was a fair jump for me from a standard digital camera to a bridge camera, hence the reason why I didn't make the big jump to a DSLR (and because they are blooming expensive, and I don't take enough pictures to warrant one, also).
So, let's start with the back of the camera - there is a large high-res screen to the left of the back of the camera which also flips out and swivels up and down so you can clearly see the screen at a number of different angles. The screen can actually turn 90 degrees and is a full 3 inches of LCD goodness and it's one of the best I've come across on any camera so I was impressed. Moving to the right there is a circle of controls - these control many of the display options on the camera screen - either when you are taking a picture or viewing it back. To the bottom left of this, is a rubbish bin icon which deletes any picture you have taken.
Underneath there is the Menu button which controls most of the options of the camera and also the different picture settings. For most people, the standard 'Auto' feature is good enough for everyday picture taking and can do all sorts of pictures fairly well but produces no outstanding pictures, and I find that in bright light it doesn't fare too well and doesn't get the depth of the colour quite right, e.g in bright sunlight, though if it's darker colours, indoors or on a rainy day it does it pretty well. Next on the list is the 'Portrait' setting which is well, pretty self explanatory. Next down is 'Landscape'. Now this is a favourite of mine and I often find that I use this mode rather than Auto mode for everyday pictures. It gives lighter colours a much more realistic colour and doesn't make them too bright and on pretty much every colour it gives it a better depth and range of colour. The only problem is that I often forget to take it off this and I go to take a portrait photo and it messes it up because of course, it's still set on Landscape. There options on the list continue - Sports, Party/indoor, Beach, Snow, Sunset, Dusk/dawn, Close-up, Food, Museum, Fireworks show, Black and white, Panorama and Pet photo.
Now - I will confess to not having used all of those modes (who on earth uses a museum mode?) For indoor photos I find that the Dusk/dawn setting works as good as, if not better than the indoor setting though it does give it a slightly orange tint. Of course, you could always turn the flash on but I really don't like pictures taken in low light with the flash on, it looks, well - HORRIBLE. I would much rather a slightly different tint, or a darker picture than one all flash and not much picture. When it gets pitch black, unfortunately the camera isn't great. And don't even think of using firework mode for fireworks! Maybe other people have more luck than me (or are just better at taking photos of fireworks!) but they take an age to process and always come out blurred no matter how much I steady my hand or even rest the camera on a table or railing.
Also in the Menu, there are options for filming and general camera options like Welcome screen, Time zone settings and monitor settings. These are all easy to use and are controlled by the wheel to the right of the screen.
Moving up above the screen, we have the little window to look through if you like to take your pictures the old-fashioned way and to the right is the Dispaly button marked 'DISP'. This alters what you want to see on your screen whilst taking pictures, I keep it just blank with just the battery life in the top right corner. To the right of that button is the record button, and the camera can record 720p and even 1080p (I believe?) HD footage which it does well (though this does suck quite some of the battery life, and sound quality is only average, but it does deliver a good picture). I don't really care though, as this camera is all about the pictures for me. Down below that is the playback button, to review the pictures you have taken.
Finally, on the top of the camera is the ON/OFF switch and to the left the big chunky black wheel were you can alter the settings you take your picture with. The first one is a green camera which is the standard Auto mode, next is Programmed auto, then Shutter-priority auto (which works VERY WELL), then Aperture-priority auto, then Manual mode, then User settings, then Smart portrait, Backlighting, Night portrait, Night landscape and finally scene select (which you do by the aforementioned Menu button). If I'm honest, I haven't used half these but I am listing them here so that you have the information. I did say at the start that I am no professional photographer so I don't use ALL the settings on the camera, especially not the most obscure ones. Finally, at the front of the camera is the zoom switch which you rock back and forth to toggle the zoom. Oh - and you can raise the flash by pressing a button on the side of the camera - it then pops up on top.
Taking pictures is really easy and the zoom and quality when you are zooming is phenominal. It has a 26 x optical zoom and can steady and stabilise pictures even when you are zoomed in quite some way. Even when you haven't got shutter priority on, it still takes a picture very fast so even if something is quite fast moving then you should be in good hands.
I hope this review hasn't been too bad - I've tried to explain the best I can the features of the camera. Like I have said, I'm no professional photographer so don't know every single thing about the camera, and the things I have mentioned are just what I have found and what my personal preferences are.
Finally, on the underside of the camera is the battery and SD card and on the left-hand side is the flap which opens the HDMI port and charging slot.
To sum up, this is a very decent camera. I'm under no doubt that there are better cameras out there with more fancy features and even more megapixels but for me and for what I use it for - it is great. It's pretty straight forward to use and with Landscape mode on does some fantastic everyday shots. At night, it's not so great - but that might be me. Overall, a great all-round camera, and for the price I paid (£225) it was money well spent.
(On a side note - christ, a 1524 word review!)
It was that time, the time for a change of colour - so it was out with the green and in with the grey. I know, grey can sound a bit bland and there is the risk of turning my room into a 1960s housing block but the light green really wasn't doing it for me and so after many sample cards and tester pots I came to the conclusion I wanted Dulux's Chic Shadow. The Once paint was only a couple of pounds more expensive in B&Q so I opted for that one instead, hoping that it only needed one coat, as after all it is called Once paint. That said, in the back of my mind I did know that it might not cover as well as a standard Matt paint, but I thought I might as well give it a go.
It comes in a sturdy plastic 2.5L tub - the stanard 2.5L Chic Shadow matt was £18.98 in B&Q and the once £24.98 so it wasn't that much more. Once it was home I opened the pot up and gave it a thorough stir with a wooden stick and rolled some into my roller tray.
First things first, it coats well. So long as you put down a decent amount of force onto the roller (I think you should be fine so long as you're not too light handed) and I had feared it might start letting the old green colour show through but it didn't and covered it up nicely. It's also pretty quick to dry. I didn't time it but I would say it was all dried within 30 minutes. With the painting done (and touching up round the smaller areas the roller missed with a paintbrush) I left it for the next day to see what it looked like having had 12 hours or so to set in.
The next day I was pleasantly surprised. The paint was of a thick texture and looked like it had had 2 coats rather than one. There were a few areas where a little green was showing through (and these were only spotted if you were specifically looking for it) which needed touching up with a paintbrush but it was still very impressive.
Maybe if you had a new wall that hadn't been painted before (as this is a 1930's house so god knows how many times the walls have been painted and re-lined with paper) it might of needed a second coat but the Once title did certaintly live up to it's name! Two weeks later, and it still looks great, and there's no evidence of the colour that was there barely a fortnight ago. A highly reccommended paint and great if you have several rooms to do at once (or are just a bit lazy like me!) Well, whatever makes life easier, eh?
Late last year our old Zanussi had packed up. We are no white goods experts but when a fridge freezer is no longer keeping your products refrigerated, water is leaking from the bottom and it is making strange, rather loud humming noises then it becomes apparent that it is no longer happy and has reached the end of it's life.
This is what happened to our poor old 6 year old Zanussi last year. So, we set off to do the rounds of the retail parks. We had a look online and made the trip to Currys. We thought the selection was fairly good but nothing particularly caught our eye (probably more to do with the fact that they weren't that competitively priced and the salesman were not intrested in us whatsoever) so we were about to make the trip home to see what we could find online. We passed, what we thought was a closed-down Comet - but the yellow and black CLOSING DOWN SALE signs caught our eye and we decided to make a stop there "just out of interest" or to "see if they had a few bargains" with no real intension of finding a suitable fridge/freezer.
Amidst the empty aisles and already sold stickers we found this Hotpoint. We wanted a fridge/freezer that had a fairly equal fridge to freezer ratio whereas our old Zanussi favoured heavily towards the fridge in size. After opening and closing the door, pulling out numerous drawers we were happy and paid £299.99 and squashed it into the boot of my father's estate.
10 months or so later and we are still very happy with our purchase, our last purchase from Comet. Firstly, as fridges go it's a looker. Not. It looks just like any other fridge freezer you can buy, the only difference being the grey Hotpoint letters stuck three quarters of their way up the fridge door. After peeling the energy rating sticker (A by the way) and customer helpline stickers off the front it didn't look bad. And it still doesn't, it has remained relatively clean despite daily use.
Inside, it's really rather swanky. There was a similar Hotpoint in the shop with a different shelving configuration (as I think different variations of each model come with slightly different positions of shelves) but ours has four shelves in the fridge, and four storage boxes in the freezer half. Starting off with the fridge, all the shelves are of a decent height but they get taller the further down you go. Beneath the four shelves are two vegetable boxes which is handy and can store all the vegetables any man would ever need. Below the top shelf is a drinks rack which can hold four bottles (we currently have two bottles of Sparkling wine and two big 2 litre bottles of 7-up sitting comfortably). Inside the door there are 2 racks and the bottom rack is really rather wide, it can fit big cartons of orange juice and plenty of cans of beer with ease.
Moving down to the freezer, as mentioned already there are four boxes with the the middle two being bigger (especially the third one down which is positively enormous). The bigger boxes are good for bags of frozen peas, carrots etc. and big bags of oven cook chips. The skinnier of the draws can easily take tubs of ice cream however and fish fingers boxes for example and the top drawer we keep for ice lollies and ice cubes. Infact, the bottom drawer seldom gets used because the fridge is so big!
As far as it's efficiency goes we aren't really that sure yet but we think we are saving compared to our old Zanussi (we definetly are with regards to the end of its life where things really started going wrong) but then we aren't sure on what the Zanussi's efficiency rating was. I know you can get A++ and even A+++ nowadays but this was a reasonable price and for me, an A rating will do just fine. We also have an aftermarket temperature monitor in the fridge and it's telling me it's at 4 degrees currently, with the freezer being at -22.
To sum up, the Hotpoint was a very good purchase. It's been stress free and can accommodate all of our neccessary food and beverages with ease (it was only over Christmas and New Years did it get a bit full, but that's just 1 week out of the whole year and besides, who's fridge doesn't?) So far it has been very efficient from what I can tell and there have been no problems to report. Just as well, as Comet aren't in business! I think it came with a 3 year guarantee from Hotpoint, but I can't remember off the top of my head.
As I was just about to start to write this review about the cute little Russell Hobbs toaster I was surprised to see not so great feedback about it on Dooyoo which surprised me since we have very few complaints about it.
About a year ago we were looking to purchase a new toaster. Our old Kenwood had been with us for at least 15 years and was still going strong, ish. No matter what setting you put it on it always used to deliver quite soggy toast, only when you cranked it up to 6 were you delivered something closer to toast than bread - well, it was more closer to coal in colour. It was also big. And pretty unattractive so it seemed the right idea to get a new toaster.
We actually came across the Russell Hobbs as it came out top in a Gadget Show Top 5 test so we presumed that that accolade meant we were getting a quality product.
Let's make no mistakes, it's not a fancy toaster. I think I can count its features on one hand but then, it's just a toaster. I'm not interested in bagel settings, or multiple slots or something that matches my kitchen tiles to the exact shade (which is a pointless exercise in my case as we don't have kitchen tiles). I just want something that delivers good quality toast, stress and fuss free.
Let's start with the positives - it's a dinky toaster. It sits nicely in the corner on the kitchen countertops and it's stainless steel body looks the part. Also, at the bargain price of £29.99 for a good looking, quality brand name toaster you can't go far wrong.
The toast itself is nothing outstanding, but it always delivers reliable, good quality toast. I have never walked away from a breakfast thinking, "Wow, what a cracking piece of toast that was", but it's never disappointed me. Like most toasters it has 6 degrees of crispiness shall we say - 1 to 2 can guarantee you a pretty soggy looking piece of toast, 3 is about what I like but sometimes I crank it up to 4 if I want it a bit more well done. 5 and 6 are best avoided if you don't want you piece of bread to be cremated. I'm not particularly experimentive when it comes to bread so it's usually just a good old slice of Warburtons Farmhouse white for me, but it's done brown and seeded bread (not my choice...) perfectly fine. Oh, and fruit bread comes out a treat too - catch it when it's hot and spread over with melted butter, bit of strawberry jam on top... delicious.
I would love to inform you about the extra features it has but err... it hasn't got any. Well, that's a bit of a lie - it has 2 buttons on the side but I have never dare press these buttons in case I completley mess up it's ability to deliver a good piece of toast. The snowflake sign is pretty self-explanitory and I presume it's the defrost button. The next I am less sure about, it's an upward facing arrow with a line underneath. I am still not entirely sure what function the button does on my DVD player remote so god knows what it's use is on my toaster. Above these switches is the big black plastic handle you pull down to submerge your piece of bread into the inner depths of the toaster. It's a fairly cheap looking plastic handle, but it's a sub-£30 toaster. If I wanted something fancy I would've payed triple the price and brought a Delongi or whatever they're called.
Toasting is pretty quick, around the 3-minute mark I would say, and then I use my rubber tongs to fish my bread out (no knives or fingers in the toaster for me).
To sum up, it's a not a bad toaster - but it doesn't do anything extroadinary. If I want a really good piece of toast, I will go to my grandad's house, bless him, he's in his late 80's and he does himself 3 pieces of toast, every morning on the grill. Like he has done for the last 60 odd years. Now THAT is a good piece of toast. But, I can't really complain, I doubt it will live as long in the kitchen as our old Kenwood but it certaintly seems a good piece of kit for the bargain price of £29.99.
I got this earlier this year with the idea being something of a halfway house between my Iphone 4s and my new HP laptop - something portable to take out and about but also big enough to do some general typing and web browsing too.
I'm not a fan of the white Apple products so it was an easy decision - a black Ipad mini, I chose the 16 GB variant but you can also get them in 32 and 64 GB. Where I wasn't so sure was whether I wanted just the Wi-fi Ipad (which can only connect to the internet when you are in a Wi-fi zone, e.g at home or in a coffee shop like Starbucks for example, where there's free wi-fi) or to go for the 3G option where you have data sim-card with say, 1GB of data. I think all the major phone companies like O2, Vodafone etc. do one of these as well, this means that you can connect to the internet anywhere, like on an Iphone so long as you have a 3G connection.
In the end I went for the Wi-fi option, 16 GB, black Ipad which was £269.00 from Apple.
Since then, I have been very happy with the Ipad. First of all, it's light. My father has a regular Ipad and after I while if you don't have anything to rest it on I find myself getting a bit of cramp in my hand - this is no such issue with the Mini however, it is much lighter (it only weighs 308g) so is a doddle to use and just like holding a book or an Amazon Kindle.
Like all Apple products, it is a thing of beauty (well, I think it is anyway). Since I opted for the black one, the back has a lovely slate finish with the Apple logo in the centre in a darker black colour, and the slate is also nice to touch as well though it can slip from my hand sometimes (this is something I have rectified however - more on that later).
The operating system iOS is fantastic to use, and if you have used an Iphone or Ipad before you it will come naturally to you, the home screen has all the standard icons, like Itunes, App Store, Email, music, calendar, weather etc. These are the features that come as standard on all Ipads and Iphones. One area the Ipad does excel in over the Iphone is when it comes to watching videos and films - the screen is 7.9 inches and the sound is clear and crisp. When we went on holiday last month I had a 9 hour flight to Florida to endure, this was no problem and I didn't even touch the films or TV shows on the plane - I had it all stocked up on my Ipad mini which was fantastic.
It's also great for gaming, many games have a HD version like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja which have a better screen resolution - the only downside to this is the apps are usually double the price of what a standard Iphone app would cost, for example Angry Birds costs £0.69 in the Iphone store, Angry Birds HD is £1.49 for the Ipad (this is from memory, don't quote me on it!) But for example racing games, and even down to simple 4 in a row or the fantastic Flow Free game are much more fun on a bigger screen. And like the Iphone, the App Store is fantastic - better than that on an Android or other devices, it has over 375,000 apps so whatever you could want - the Ipad has it.
There are a few niggles however - the screen resolution for one, it's not bad by any means but unlike the regular Ipad, it doesn't get the retina display, so when you have come from an Ipad back to a mini it's quite a difference. Secondly, the Ipad smart covers are expensive and in my opinion aren't worth the £29.99 (or £55.99 for leather) price tag. If you go coverless, I often find my hand slipping on the slate on the back. I have since brought a non-Apple cover that goes around it. I actually brought it from a phone cover stall in a shopping centre for the bargain price of £15 and since then it hasn't let me down.
To sum up, the Ipad mini is a fantastic bit of kit - it does everything you'd want - and more. I certaintly don't regret my purchase but if I could turn back the clock I think I'd pay that little extra and go for an Ipad. It has a much crisper retina display and I think films and TV programmes would be even better on the bigger, clearer screen.