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Whilst working in a bar a few years ago I won some gift vouchers, ironically for coffee sales. So the vouchers were destined from the off for my own coffee machine. I'd always fancied being able to whip up a frothy cappuccino from the comfort of home but probably like the rest of you, I didn't think it was possible to find a coffee machine with a steamer for anywhere near as cheap as I found this DeLonghi machine! The fact that it was DeLonghi was an even bigger bonus!
I picked it up for about £55 on a special offer from Argos. Upon seeing the box come down the conveyor belt from the magical heavens of Argos I was surprised at just how small it was! Here are the dimensions so you can check it fits in a nook in your kitchen!
19.5 x 24 x 28.5 cm.
The machine comes with a smart looking filter holder that you fill with your ground coffee using an included measuring spoon to get the right amount. You then use the tamper that's built onto the machine to compact the coffee into the filter holder. Other reviewers have mentioned that the filter holder is quite difficult at times to twist snugly into the machine, this can be because you have heaped too much coffee into the measuring spoon and it simply wont fit then. But I admit at times it can be a bit fiddly, though even professional machines can be fiddly to be honest. You soon get the knack for it.
Once you've got the filter into the machine you have the option to make two espresso's at the same time if you so wish, using dual nozzle action! Alternatively you can just have one for yourself, using the dial to put the desired amount of coffee into your cup. The machine has a clever operating system that heats up only the part of the machine you're using which coupled with a high pressure (15 bar), makes the machine quite fast and you get your coffee nice and quick. The machine makes a lovely crema on the espresso (a sign of a good quality coffee).
Since this model doesn't come with its own milk jug you'll have to either find your own or simpler than that you can just use another mug that you have. The machine has a steam arm that you can turn to make it easier to get your mug underneath it, though if you have a large mug it can be tricky to get it underneath the steamer. I sometimes move the machine to the edge of the worktop and have the steamer hang over the edge so I can get a bigger mug underneath it. It froths milk to perfection! It's extremely fast and gives you the proper coffee shop experience. You simply need to fill the water container inside the machine with cold water, that it quickly turns to hot steam and you vary the depth of the steamer in your mug to make more or less froth.
The machine is very easy to clean and only really requires a wet cloth so long as you clean it immediately after use. Aesthetically the machine looks quite sleek on your worktop and is nice and compact.
Before I had this machine I used to walk past a local coffee shop looking with awe at the hundreds of flavour combinations that they sell, all the way through infusions such as chocolate orange and black forest coffees and now I can experiment with hundreds of flavours and try rare coffees from all over the world, frothing up a storm to make the perfect cappuccino from home.
Soon after buying a not so 'dwarf' lop rabbit, he started trying to get his hands on anything he could chew on. Tables, chairs, doors and most annoyingly (and worryingly), chargers left unattended for 2 seconds!
When I saw these willow sticks in pets at home I knew he would love them. They come in a little parcel all tied up. This of course lasted all of 2 seconds when he went to town on them! Anything that he considers to be 'naughty', he loves doing, so sticks were flung everywhere and he had just as much fun throwing the sticks around the lounge as he did gnawing on them. He would get one stick at a time and strip it down like corn on the cob, throw the bare stick at the wall and then move onto the next one, which was very amusing to watch.
I've since bought many other treats and entertaining toys, but he hasn't had half as much fun with them as he did with these sticks. At £2 they're not too expensive, especially not compared to the price of a lot of things in pets at home! They lasted around a week before he was fully done with them and we decided to remove them as the bare sticks seemed to be splintering a bit, which I would advise doing.
I now have a second rabbit, a female dutch one and she loves the sticks too, which adds even more to our viewing pleasure as they fight over the sticks, which can be hilarious.
I would definitely recommend this product!
Of all the reviews I want to write, when I found out that I could review virgin media, I jumped at the chance.
From a service perspective, they are by far THE worst company I have ever dealt with.
I began my journey with virgin media 2 years ago. Things started smoothly and the broadband had no problems and kept a reasonable speed. It was only once problems started occurring that you start to realise how poor the company is. The Internet connection started to drop out regularly and after 3 calls to technical support who follow a benign script of things, starting with have you turned it off and on again, I was ready to pack it in! I don't blame the tech support as they have a script they must follow, but once you've explained to them that you've recently spoken to someone and tested these methods, they make you follow the steps again anyway! One of the advisors told me to manually input DNS servers into my router. The following tech support member told me I didn't need to do that...so they clearly can't even follow the same script? Eventually they sent me a new router around a month after my first call which finally resolved the problem.
The real problems started when I moved house...
My girlfriend is currently completing a PhD and Internet is crucial for research when she's away from the library. As we were moving house we knew we had to plan the Internet ahead of time to make sure we weren't without Internet for long in the new house. I arranged with virgin to cleverly start a package for the new house before we moved, so I would be paying for both my current package and the new package at the same time for a month or 2. I was happy to do this and it meant that I would be able to keep my Internet running in the old house up until the last minute and the Internet be pretty much ready and waiting to go in the new house when we moved in. All seemed well and we thought everything was sorted.
The following day our services were disconnected in the old house...despite asking to keep the service running until we cancelled it. As the phone line had been stopped I couldn't use the landline to call virgin for free anymore, which meant I had to use my mobile...charging me a shed load. As it was their mistake once I'd finally got through to an advisor after a 30 minute queue I asked them to call me back on my mobile to save me spending money I shouldn't have to. The adviser promised to call me back immediately. My patience ran out 5 hours later and I called again. I demanded to speak to a supervisor, explaining my situation and how virgin had not kept their promise. I asked again If I could have a call back to save my phone bill due to them cutting off my phone line. The supervisor promised me 3 times that he would call back immediately after we ended the call.
Guess what...I hit the roof as once again, no call back 3 hours later (I'm amazed I gave them even that long). Number one rule for service, keep your promises!
I called once more, and immediately pushed the button for 'thinking of leaving us', it probably took about 5 seconds before I was connected to the happiest person I've ever spoken to in my life, who's own life seemingly depended on keeping me with virgin. It didn't end happily for them unfortunately as I was beyond reconciliation by this point and cancelled my whole deal with them despite being offered a whole £50...
Bottom line, virgin are fine...so long as you don't have to speak to them...and prey to god that you don't ever have reason to speak to them
Back in 2011 I got a tax refund (a rarity I know!) and I decided to treat myself with a new tv. I didn't have the largest budget but wanted the best quality I could afford. The first choice was whether to go with a bigger tv, or go smaller with more features and in the end I opted for this Sony tv for £358 on amazon. For the price I could have got a 40 inch tv, but the smart tv aspect won the day for me.
One of the great features on this tv is the inbuilt HD free view tuner that really let's you experience the quality that this tv has to offer. The pictures are crisp, with great depth and good tones. I've also used this tv for playing blu rays and xbox gaming and the HD really stands out.
Getting good sound from internal LCD tv speakers really is a challenge and is presented as a disadvantage of the product by other reviewers but this tv really does a good job and has a lot of options including a virtual surround sound that really works. Obviously this will never compare to external speakers but for a budget tv you can easily get by without extra speakers.
Other good features on the tv are the ability to plug in an external USB hard drive allowing you to record programmes and films directly to your hard drive to watch later. It's nowhere near as accomplished as a sky+ box etc, however it really is a unique feature for such a budget tv.
You have the ability to plug in a web cam and use Skype on the big screen.
You can even use your smartphone as a remote for the tv and most usefully to type when searching through the net or on love film for example.
A really novel feature is the 'track ID' button on the Sony remote that when pushed during live tv will do the same as 'shazam' and give you the artist and song title playing.
Another really great feature is the ability to play pictures/music and videos from DNLA enabled devices such as phones, PC's and tablets. Having the ability to flash your pictures up on the big screen from your phone when you have family or friends round is really fun.
For the energy conscious among us the tv boasts a presence sensor that recognises movement and will turn the screen off if you leave the room, instantly coming back on when you arrive back in the room. This really is a good feature.
Recently I decided to buy a Sony blu ray player, due to the fact that certain Sony products can use 'Bravia sync' allowing you to use the devices together on the same remote and access all the settings through the Bravia tv, something not normally possible when combining other brand players with your tv, due to them having separate setting menus.
This is the reason i bought this tv. If you haven't got a games console or tablet with the ability to play on demand tv this tv is definitely a winner. Using a wired connection or wireless (if you fork out for an expensive Sony wireless adapter) you can stream bbc iplayer, 4 on demand, 5 on demand, love film and lots of other video streaming sites. You can also use social media sites such as facebook and twitter, though I'm not sure if many would want to use that feature on the tv. Either way it's available to you.
Overall this Sony tv has a huge range of useful features and a great quality picture so I recommend it whole heartedly to those on a budget. You get great value for money.
Before I begin, everyone needs to realise that this is a budget speaker/dock. At around £50-80, do not expect the quality and power the more expensive units offer. That said, this dock gives out amazing sound, power (20watts) and quality for its size.
Fitting your iPod or iPhone of all generations to the dock is easy as it comes with adapters, to fit different versions. There's also the option to plug in other brand MP3 players or even an ipad/tablet using the mini jack input. Ive actually used this to plug in my ipad and watched a film using it as a larger speaker, which was great. If you're using your iPod or iPhone the other bonus to this dock is that the dock charges your device whilst you listen to music. This is a real bonus, especially if your charging cable is upstairs and you're lazy like me!
Lots has been said about the bass boost button on the dock. This I guess is more of a party feature that certainly does add bass, which is great for banging out dance tracks if you want to keep your neighbours up! The volume you can reach on the dock is surprisingly good and you would not want to play music any louder than the max that this goes if you value your hearing!
There are a couple of other cool features on the dock, such as when you get a call on your iPhone, the music stops and your ringtone plays out, so you don't miss your call. The dock also comes with a handy remote control, which is great and easy to use from a fair distance.
Overall this dock has great sound and is a steal for the price. A great budget dock from Sony.
Six months ago I decided to give this blackberry a go. I'd decided to swap my iPhone to save some money, and I thought the 9360 would give me everything I needed from a phone.
I knew when I got this phone that it wouldn't give me half of the features that I could get from an iPhone, but i guess it doesn't pretend to be an iphone. The appearance of the phone itself is slick, it looks good in both black and white. You also immediately notice how light and slim it is, which is great for carrying around in your pocket, seeing as some of the other smartphones are getting seriously big nowadays, such as the Samsung galaxy range. Unfortunately for blackberry these are some of the only positive things I can write about the phone.
Whilst the lightweight and small size is appealing, blackberry have clearly cut back on what goes inside the phone, such as the battery. On a full charge this phone barely makes it to the end of the day even with little usage. As time goes on, its getting worse and worse. If you go away anywhere overnight, you're definitely going to need to pack your charger!
The interface of the phone isn't too bad, though completing certain actions as seemingly easy as deleting an email become extremely tiresome, due to the long winded menus. Using 3G, the Internet browser is far from the fastest I've used, though it is capable of running videos through youtube with reasonable quality. I've had an unusual problem when using wifi, in that when called whilst I'm connected to wifi, I cannot hear the person on the other end of the line, which suggests the wifi is disrupting the 3g signal, as when i turn wifi off and call them back, the line is fine again. If this is the same on all other 9360s it is a big fault. The phone also tends to crash a lot, with apps freezing and taking time to respond when you move through menus. This seems to get slower and worse over time (bear in mind I've only had the phone for 6 months)
The camera quality isn't the worst on the phone if you just want to take a few pictures to show your mates, and it does have a flash. It is however lacking a front facing camera unlike most smartphones, so video calling is off the menu. With the option to expand the memory upto 32gb using micro sd cards you can take plenty of videos and pictures, without having to worry about running out of space.
Now, with any phone, it's not really what's on the phone as standard that shows how good it is, it's the apps you can download for it that really convince you of it's usefulness. The apple App Store and android App Store have thousands of useful apps to download. For reasons unknown, the blackberry 'app world' is utterly appalling...most popular services and video streaming sites have not even bothered to make apps for blackberry presumably due to lack of popularity in blackberry products. Even if you can find a recognised app such as angry birds for example, you are charged a minimum of £3 for the privilege, compared to 69p on other app stores. I had hoped that with the new blackberry z10 being released and thousands of apps now being made available for it, I would be able to benefit from them...alas blackberry have shafted older blackberry customers by making apps separately for the z10 in the hope that we all upgrade. It's annoying to see adverts everywhere for smartphone apps that make things easier, only to find that they're available on all app stores other than blackberrys. Of course if you're satisfied with just facebook and twitter, you're all set.
Blackberry have always used their blackberry messenger 'BBM' as a key selling point, giving you the ability to send messages for free to other blackberrys that have added you as a friend. This selling point really is by the by now, as probably more than 90% of users have unlimited text deals on their contracts or even pay as you go.
For those of you who merely want a phone that is proficient at calling and texting, the 9360 does just fine, and it's useful for those who dislike touch screen phones, so long as you have nimble fingers. However, if this is all you want a phone for, you might as well save some money and just get up the loft and find your old Nokia 3210 as this phone really doesn't offer much more. At least you can get 'snake' on the old Nokia!
I have a year and a half left on my contract for this phone and its already begging me to put it out of its misery. Blackberry need to concentrate on sorting out their App Store and making sure their phones have more life in them! Until then, avoid blackberry and opt for android or iPhone.