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tlmartin

tlmartin
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Member since: 14.05.2009

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    • 13 Hours (DVD) / DVD / 63 Readings / 61 Ratings
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      09.06.2011 23:00
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      An alright movie, but not enough effects to fulfill its potential

      Introduction
      I'm a big fan of horror movies, especially if they contain zombies, vampires or werewolves. So when I came across this, a modern movie, containing werewolves and British, I thought I was in for a treat, something nearly as good as dog soldiers. Unfortunately this movie was no where near as good as dog soldiers, however don't get me wrong it certainly has potential. The trouble I think was the budget was so small and the director didn't keep the pace up throughout the movie, or allow for more action that was needed.

      As I mentioned this movie goes at a slow pace, we start off being introduced to the characters and basic scenario around this family where the estranged daughter returns to visit. It then eventually moves on to the heart of the story where there is a struggle to survive and a discovery of what's going on, unfortunately then the climax of an end is over to quickly and you're left wondering what happens next.

      This movie has a lot of potential, but the pace needs picking up, and a bigger budget is certainly needed. The story is pretty good, this movie would be great for a remake, however in the current incarnation it is certainly lacking.


      Story (May contain spoilers)

      Sarah Tyler returns to her family home to visit her father and step family. After catching up with her father who suspects his wife is having an affair as she goes away for a few days each month. After Sarah has caught up with her dad she heads out to the barn where the rest of her family and friends are drinking and smoking.

      Unfortunately there is a storm raging that cuts off the power, so they all head back into the family home, which is where the fun starts in the dark. In typical horror style one by one they get killed, as they frantically try to work out what is going on, where this creature has come from, what this creature is... After all werewolves are impossible and of cause how will they escape from the middle of no where without being killed.


      Acting
      The acting is generally good. There is nothing unbelievable from their reactions, the problem is the slow pace of the movie, and with everything being set in near dark, it's hard to see what's going on.


      Special Effects
      This is one area the movie needs a bigger budget for. As I said the story was good, but the visual effects of this movie were lacking, so much more could have been done to show this good story off.


      Overall Opinion
      Overall this movie is a good movie, and for any British movie/werewolves fans you will probably enjoy it. However there is a lot that could have been done to make this movie better. The story is excellent and has a nice, but predictable twist, it would just be better with a quicker pace and more special effects, just to make the movie more viewable.

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      • Extreme Ghostbusters (DVD) / DVD / 32 Readings / 29 Ratings
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        07.06.2011 21:56
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        Pretty good spin off

        Introduction
        This was a short TV Series of 40 episodes released in September 1997 - December 1997. It is essentially a spin of from the Real Ghostbusters. It is like all the ghost activity has paused for a number of years so the team has all split off into their own separate ventures, however Egon has remained studying in the fire station with Slimer. His study of paranormal has him teaching a paranormal class with very limited numbers.

        This year's class has 4 students when suddenly Slimer bursts in alerting Egon that the PKE Meters are going crazy, so a field trip is organised to investigate. It is discovered the city has broken through a dimensional rift which is allowing ghosts back into the city, unfortunately the warnings Egon gives are ignored as an old con from back in the 80's until people start getting visited by these newly released ghosts, and then the Ghostbusters are needed once again. However this time the team is now made up of the 4 new students

        Over the 40 episodes of this series the new team investigate and trap the newly released ghosts that are out terrorising the city.


        Overall Opinion
        This is quite a good series, I did prefer the original, The Real Ghostbusts, however it is a nice touch that the cartoon style is kept the same, the typical storylines are again kept in the same style and of cause Egon is voiced by the same person Maurice LaMarche.

        If you enjoyed the original you will enjoy this and it's a nice continuation of the series, after all you can never have enough Ghostbusters.

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        • Broken Arrow (DVD) / DVD / 22 Readings / 16 Ratings
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          05.06.2011 20:14
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          This is a movie everyone should have in their collection

          Introduction
          What an absolutely awesome movie. This is a 1996 John Woo Classic starring John Tavolta and Christian Slater. These two actors are pitted against each other in a struggle of holding the government to ransom or being able to recover the nuclear bomb. The acting in the action movie is fantastic as you would expect from a top quality cast aided by a great soundtrack keeping you in the heat of every moment.


          Story (May contain spoilers)

          Deakin (John Travolta) and Hale (Christian Slater) are 2 pilots for the US Airforce. Their primary job flying a stealth bomber designed to carry nuclear bombs. During a routine training exercise Deakin decides to eject 2 nuclear bombs over the Utah desert. As it transpires, he is fed up with the military for being passed over for promotion and is looking to use these devices to hold the government to ransom so he can live a life of luxury. Unfortunately Hale doesn't want any part of this and the battle begins. Will Deakin be able to recover the bombs with his well laid plan? If he does, will he be able to stop Hale from messing up his plans? Will Hale be able to get the bombs and save the country?

          To find out watch this movie


          Overall Opinion
          This movie is for all action fans, perfect for a Friday or Saturday night with friends. It is one where you will not be disappointed, in fact I would recommend this movie to absolutely anyone to watch!

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          • Logitech Webcam C160 / Webcam / 27 Readings / 23 Ratings
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            05.06.2011 16:27
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            A great budget webcam from a fantastic equipment supplier

            Introduction
            I had a Microsoft Lifecam and it wasn't working well with Windows 7, so when out and about I saw PCWorld offering 3 Logitech products for £30, so I bought one. Now I do not use webcams much, however as an IT person I believe I should always be prepared just in case. Also I do have a few projects where a webcam is proving useful.

            The main projects I have been doing are a few self-recordings for video lessons I have been creating as well as taking pictures for a few mini stop frame animations. While it is great for recording quick videos the picture side I wont bother with any further due to the fact I use a Digital SLR which has more features for zoom, focus and quality, however for a new entry into stop frame animation with integrated software this camera does work well.

            The camera connects to the PC through USB and comes with a Driver CD that installs the drivers and Logitech webcam software. The Logitech software lets you connect to other Logitech users through a Logitech server. It also allows you to use some special effects and configure the camera.

            The webcam is a basic entry model 1.3MP VGA camera. So it keeps the files small which is ideal for transfer through the net. It has a built in microphone so you don't need a separate device for that. It has a manual focus which means you will need to adjust it as you use it, however there is not autolight correction.


            Features
            1.3MP Photos
            Compatible with Logitech Vid, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger
            Built in Microphone
            USB 2 connection
            Universal Clip for Laptop or LCD Monitors


            Advantages
            It will clip to the top of a standard LCD monitor
            USB 2 means for easy connection
            Software for enhancing videos
            Built in Microphone
            Cheap for reasonable quality photos/video


            Disadvantages
            Manual Focus
            No Light Auto Correction


            Summary
            This is a great budget webcam that will do most things any body would need a webcam to do, however if you are after slightly more quality look at the C200 series. I would always say Logitech produce high quality computer equipment, so I would definitely stay with this brand if you are looking for a webcam.

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            05.06.2011 02:35
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            A fantastic monitor range, just be sure about the specific model you buy

            Introduction
            As you might have seen I have previously reviewed the iiyama ProLite B2409HDS, which I rated as a fantastic monitor. You may have also seen I recently built myself up a new PC. On my new PC I decided I want a two monitor set up, so after how fantastic my 2409 was, I thought, great another 24" iiyama is what I need. Unfortunately the only one I could get for a sub £200 price was the 2410HDSD. Now breaking down the codes 24 = 24" the same size great, 10 well that's bigger than 09 so must be a newer model, HDSD that has an extra D at the end must have more. Unfortunately this is not the case. The 2410 HDSD is a lesser monitor. Yes I did look into it before I purchased, but I was making a special trip for parts so I couldn't make another trip later on for when my desired monitor came into stock. I realised this monitor wouldn't have a HDMI port on it, but that's ok, it would be plugged into a PC via DVI. I also realised it wouldn't have built in speakers, which again was ok... after all my main view on my PC would have sound from a decent speaker set, not inbuilt monitor ones. Otherwise the monitor had the same spec as my 2409, it was 24", it was full HD 1920x1080 and it had a 2ms refresh rate.

            This is now where the monitor disappointed me. I got it home unpackaged it, and went to set it up as my primary monitor, except once I plugged the base into it, that was it. It was in a fixed position, no height adjustment, not tilting and the turning turned the whole base. The monitor is slightly too low on my desk for my seat height, so this can't be fixed. I thought about putting the 2409 that is tilt able, that is height adjustable as my primary monitor, then I realised this 2410 had no speakers (as I am hooking a second PC into the additional slot and the old PC doesn't have speakers so would need to use the monitors (to save desk clutter). The other problem dawned on me, that it didn't have HDMI, so it couldn't be the secondary monitor, as I would want to unplug it when a friend comes over for him to use with his Xbox360 when we hook it up for network games. SO I have been left having this non-adjustable monitor as my main screen. The only other fault I have with it, is the plastic looks a very cheap glossy black plastic, where as the 2409 is a matt black plastic that looks heavy duty and quality.

            However as a monitor it is perfectly good quality, just the same as my old one. It displays full HD 1920x108 with no problem, I can play games and videos and video editing application and have no refresh issues, so the quality I cannot fault. It is just a shame the build quality is not there.


            Features
            1920x1080 resolution
            2ms refresh rate
            1x DVI port
            1x VGA port
            24" screen

            Advantages
            Cheap
            High quality 24" full HD screen
            DVI and VGA port that are treated as separate sources so both can be plugged into at once

            Disadvantages
            No HDMI
            No inbuilt speakers
            Not adjustable by Title, Height or Twist

            Summary
            The monitor is a great monitor at a fantastic price for a 24" full HD at a refresh of 2ms. But only if you know when the monitor placed on your desk will be a suitable fixed height starting at 2" from the top of the desk.

            I would buy a ProLite monitor again, but I would always make sure it included HDMI and was adjustable.


            Notes
            I fully appreciate the monitor has VESA mounts, but that means buying a VESA adjustable stand or wall mount, which is additional cost and DIY work, which I don't really do well.

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          • BlackBerry Messenger BBM / Apps / 10 Readings / 7 Ratings
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            05.06.2011 02:04
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            Great if you have lots of Blackberry friends

            Introduction
            As you may have seen from my other reviews I have owned 2 Blackberry phones over the last 2 to 3 years. One of the many good features about Blackberry's is the Blackberry Messenger. This software is by default installed on all Blackberry phones, however you will often need to update it to the latest version.

            Blackberry Messenger works in the same way as MSN Messenger (Windows Live Messenger). You have contacts that you add to your Messenger list. This can integrate into your phone contact list too. Everybody with a Blackberry will have a BB PIN, which is used to identify each phone. With BB Messenger you can send messages free of charge to any other BB user as long as you have them on your contact list. The messages are also unrestricted on size. This means if there is a group of you with Blackberry's you can save a fortune as you will not need to txt, and long messages will not cost multiple txts. BB Messenger can also send multimedia files, like pictures and sound files to other users again with no charge.

            The only downside with this, is you cannot contact other people without BB Phones, using this tool, whereas if you do install MSN on your phone and they have MSN on their phone (Android, Symbian or IOS) or they are on their PC you can communicate with them. However with MSN you have to sign in, and if you become disconnected through a bad signal zone you have to sign in again. However with BB Messenger your phone is always signed in as long as you have signal, so you will always get your message just like a txt.


            Features
            Contact your Blackberry friends just like a text message but completely free
            Send multimedia files to your Blackberry friends for free
            Integrates with your Phones Contact List

            Advantages
            Quick, easy and free messages between Blackberry users

            Disadvantages
            Can only communicate with Blackberry phone people

            Summary
            If all of your friends (or the vast majority) have Blackberry phones then it is a great app for keeping in touch and making sure you don't use your txt's up or get charged for txts

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          • More +
            05.06.2011 00:53
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            Buy this tool if you have a cat and regularly do presentations

            Introduction
            My first gift to myself from DooYoo through Amazon vouchers was a Logitech R800 Presentation tool. As a teacher, I occasionally need to do PowerPoint presentations which have numerous slides. As it is not a good thing to be purely stood at the front of a class, clicking on a mouse button to progress through the slides I thought I would buy one of these presentation tools.

            I investigated a number of these presentation tools. I wanted one that would allow control of PowerPoint, it would need a USB interface and vitally it would need to be driverless with Windows XP. (he driverless factor was due to it being a very tightly controlled network, where individual drivers would not be installed). This resulted in me looking at the Logitech R series. As I looked through the different versions I liked the features on the R800. However normally I wouldn't have spent £70, but as I had DooYoo vouchers reducing the price to cheaper than the basic version, I decided to spoil myself.

            The device takes 2 AAA batteries, which last easily 6 months from regular use off all parts. The device comes with a very nice neoprene and faux leather styled case to keep it in. The R800 has two parts to it, the main control unit and a small USB dongle that plugs into the PC you're controlling. During the time the tool is not being used the dongle slides inside the controller ensuring you don't loose it.

            When I got the device the first thing I played with was the green laser pointer. This is a fantastic tool if you are a pet owner.... My first 2 hours of use came from leading my cat on many laps of my lounge as she ran after the green dot on the floor, and worse still wondered where it had gone when I turned it off. On a more serious side the range of this laser is very good, so far I've had it reach 10 meters without any problems.

            The next feature I then looked at was the main reason I bought the device, which was the ability to control presentations. Now I have only used this tool on Microsoft PowerPoint 2003, 2007 and 2010 which it works with really well. (The operating systems I have used it on are Windows XP and Windows 7, which again it works with really well). The first 2 main buttons are a forward and backwards button. These work just like the mouse buttons to step through your presentation, i.e. each animation, to the next slide etc. and of course backwards through your presentation step by step. There are two other buttons that are really useful one is a 'Play' Presentation button that allows you to start your presentation from the design screen, this is useful that you can start your presentation from anywhere in the room, whenever you are ready. The next button is a 'Blank Screen' button, it allows you to blank the screen and go back to the slide you were on when you blanked it. So if you want to stop people looking at the presentation while you explain something you don't have to stop the whole thing and re-start, you can just blank the screen and then resume.

            Now most of these features are on most devices, however the thing that separates the R800 from the rest is the on-board timer. One thing with presentations is they are easy to let over run by running out of time and if you are walking around the room you're often not looking at any form of clock. However with this device you can set the time your presentation should last and have it countdown as you present. It will even vibrate in your hand to let you know when you are down to the last few minutes. To be fair I don't use this feature much as time management is a regular part of my job.

            The range on this device is impressive, however so far I have only used it in a class room, which means I have been about 10 meters from the USB dongle and it works perfectly with no problems.


            Features
            Green Laser Pointer
            Presentation Controller (Forward, Backwards, Play & Blank)
            On-Board Timer
            Driverless Installation
            Presentation Tool Case


            Advantages
            No drivers are needed to be installed for it to work with Microsoft Window XP-7.
            It works with Microsoft PowerPoint 2003-2010 (and other software I assume, just not tested)
            Green Laser pointer, ideal for pointing out key points and as the best cat toy your cat will ever have.
            On-Board countdown timer to ensure you don't over run.


            Disadvantages
            No storage on the USB dongle
            £70 is very expensive


            Summary
            Overall this is a fantastic device, and it's an essential tool that I use very often. Knowing how useful it has been for me over the last year I would probably pay £70 for it. However if not knowing that I would have probably gone for a cheaper one which I may have been disappointed with not having all these features (if I hadn't have had the Amazon vouchers from DooYoo).

            If you are after a presentation tool, buy a Logitech R Series one. If you want an ultimate tool, buy the Logitech R800.

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          • 28 Days Later (DVD) / DVD / 21 Readings / 20 Ratings
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            04.06.2011 22:20
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            A classic zombie movie with a British edge

            Introduction

            As a fan of Zombie horror movies, I had to watch this when it was out. It is a fantastic movie, so naturally when it came out on DVD I bought it. This movie is one I can watch again and again, while not a classic George Romero zombie movie, it is an excellent British zombie movie. I do think some of the British horror movies on classic myths like Zombies, Werewolves etc. can be absolutely brilliant as they encompass our sense of humour and sarcasm that American horror flicks miss as they try to be slapstick funny or just full of gore and suspense.


            Story (May contain spoilers)

            Some activists fighting against experiments on animals break into a science facility where they are experimenting with violent images on chimps. One of these chimps bites an activist who becomes infected with what is known as "The Rage Virus" which turns anyone infected into a creature that's whole purpose in life is to be violent to the non-infected, essentially a Zombie.

            A man, Jim, who was in a coma before all of this happened, wakes up.... 28 Days Later (hence the title). He wakes up in an empty hospital and starts to wonder what happened. He walks out of the hospital into an empty London (London is never empty even at night so this is pretty eerie). During his investigation he unwittingly disturbs a number of Zombies who end up chasing him across London until he is rescued by a couple who have been surviving this nightmare for a while.

            While Jim is getting some catch up lessons on what has been happening over the last 28 Days one of the 3 gets caught out, just leaving Jim and Selena in the middle of London trying to survive. They come across a father and daughter and all try to head up to a military base in Manchester, this is when things get worse as the military group no longer getting orders are an all male unit, so when 2 females arrive they stop being protectors, and start thinking of themselves.

            Question is who is worse, the Zombies or the Military Unit? Will these survivors escape and be free? Will there be a cure?


            Acting

            At this point these actors had not been in much, or anything as big, and they did an absolutely excellent job. The actors definitely make you believe they are in a world where they are the minority, fighting to survive against.... Well Zombies.


            Special Effects
            The special effects are good, which they really have to be in a zombie movie. The gore looks believable and scary, which is all anyone could ask for in a zombie movie.


            Soundtrack

            The soundtrack to the movie is pretty good, I have even bought this myself to listen to (I do enjoy OST's). There is a good mix of music that is very representative of the feelings and emotions this movie conveys.


            Overall Opinion

            Overall this is a fantastic movie well worth watching, especially if you are a fan of horror or zombie movies. I would certainly recommend it to anyone.

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            • Nine Dead (DVD) / DVD / 24 Readings / 23 Ratings
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              04.06.2011 16:36
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              An enjoyable movie if you like one that focuses on individuals personalities

              Introduction
              This movie is a novel idea and a generally good film. The story doesn't require you to think too much, but it does allow you to start making predictions as it goes on. When I watched the movie, I was not bored, I actually quite enjoyed it, however it is not one I would go out and buy, but it is well worth watching.

              The movie focuses on the premise of 9 individuals having to discover why they are there, and 1 being killed every 10 minutes until they work it out. The movie in total lasts 98 minutes, which when you take the introductory scene of catching the 9 individuals, and the instructions being given, plus a pause between each death and of cause the credits, means this movie works at a very quick pace. Although you are wrapped in the suspense that the 10 minutes of discussion does seem longer as they try and work out why they are all here. This I found kept me entertained for the whole movie.


              Story (May contain spoilers)
              9 people wake up in a room, all tied up and all wondering who each other are. A masked man enters and tells them that they are all connected, and not only that they need to work out why they are here and how they are connected. He then informs them that they have 10 minutes and every 10 minutes he will come back and kill 1 of them at random until they can tell him the answer.

              This is where the problem comes, some of them know a couple of the people in the room, but don't want to say. Some of them have done things they are ashamed of and don't want to admit it to the others, some of them can't speak English. This causes a lot of wasted time and accusations while all 9 try to discover what it is they are all connected by, to hopefully not be one of the random deaths.


              Acting
              The acting is pretty good, it is quite believable that these are 9 random people all whom have woken up in a room with 8 others without knowing why they are there. The movie really only focuses on 10 characters that the actors portray very well, and to be fair this movie requires acting to carry it, as it is all generally set in 1 room and they are pretty well restrained during this entire movie.


              Special Effects
              The only real special effects are the death scenes where people are shot, otherwise none are really needed to carry this movie off, as it is set generally in 1 room with these 10 people talking (which of cause the number of people decreases every 10 minutes)


              Overall Opinion
              Overall I thought this was a good movie, that kept me fully entertained for the full 98 minutes. This is quite impressive considering the whole movie was practically set in 1 room with only 10 characters. While this is not a movie I would go out and buy for my permanent movie collection, it is certainly worth watching if it is on Sky or you're looking for a movie to rent. If I was after a movie to watch one night I would quite happily pick this again if it was available.

              This movie is definately for those that like movies that focus on individuals, and human nature, rather than special effects explosion and action.

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              • Blackberry Bold 9700 / Smartphone / 18 Readings / 17 Ratings
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                16.03.2011 01:35
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                If your priority is email get this phone

                Well 18 months had passed since I took out my Blackberry Bold 9000. I had enjoyed the Blackberry phones overall as they provided me with the business resources I needed. I could access my personal 3 email accounts, as a teacher I could access the school Exchange account and one of my very important clients (as I do IT Consultancy) I had an additional Exchange account. The Blackberry has shown itself as the only phone (pre iOS 4) that can access multiple Exchange accounts, and it does it very well. I still needed this kind of access and it was 1 month before the iPhone 4 was about to be announced for release, so when my contract was up for renewal I went for the new Blackberry Bold 9700.

                As I say the Blackberry does a fantastic job when it comes to emails and calls, however the internet has never been at top speed, the browser very limited and there are hardly any apps. I would have liked the iPhone, but the existing iPhone could only access 1 Exchange account (I needed 2, actually 3 as Google calendar is also classed as an Exchange account). Further to this there was no speculation on the release date of the new iPhone 4 nor was there any speculation they would improve it for business purposes. The other phones out there, using Google android also could only access 1 Exchange account, so I gave up hope of the iPhone 4, and decided on settling for the newest version of my existing Blackberry.

                The Blackberry Bold continues to be a good phone. The Bold 9000 is enhanced with some basic features. The phone is smaller, comes with a nicer leather pouch/case for the phone, the roller ball is gone and replaced with a very small track pad and there are buttons on the top to quickly lock and unlock the phone.

                This phone is certainly better than the Bold 9000, as it has been essentially supped up, the problem is on the functionality wise there is no real improvement. Or the rest of this review I will stop comparing and write it as a review of the product overall.

                Keypad
                The first thing to note is the keypad. As this phone is relatively narrow, making it nicer to fit in the hand you may be worried that the keypad too will be small, making it harder to use. However they clearly have got something right from the Pearls, they have a very nicely designed keypad which is very easy to type on whether it is by one hand or two. The keypad spouts a full Qwerty keyboard, with shift key for capital letters, ALT key for numbers and symbols. The symbols they have chosen to put on the keypad are the typical ones used, I find it very rare I have to use the Symbol button to access other symbols.

                There are then 4 main buttons above the keypad, one for call and one for hang up, one button for the menu and the other to allow you to go back from your menu choices.

                Finally there is the track pad which is also a button. The button clicks to choose the menu options, it also has a built in optical sensor that can detect the direction of finger movements that you use to direct the selector around the menu options.

                Screen
                The screen is a good size, very clear, and high quality. It is also easy to put a screen protector on as the screen is very exposed. The screen shows off 1 row of 5 menu options you use or the full list of menu options if you go into the menu. It also shows the time and various connections at the top (Bluetooth, wifi, 3g, etc). It also has easy access to set the theme whether the mobile is on normal ring, or silent, or vibrate or call only, or anything else you want to configure. You have full control over figuring these options. Finally there are also symbols that appear for emails, txts, instant messages, etc that appear that the top to inform you at quick glance of anything to be aware of.

                Contacts
                The contacts book on the Blackberry is very comprehensive. It stores full personal information, name, job title, birthday (which gets automatically placed into your calendar), Multiple Phone, Mobile, Fax and email addresses, Again all that can be easily accessed from any other applications requiring these. It allows you to store home and work addresses and categories for grouping contacts. Finally there are also 4 custom fields for anything special you need to store.

                Calendar
                The calendar is pretty good. You have your own internal calendar on the phone, however if you use Google sync you can sync it with Google calendar. Unfortunately this is where the functionality ends. Personally I have 2 calendars a school one and a personal one, my wife also has a calendar. With Google calendar we share the 3 calendars that way we can see what everyone is doing when so we can book appointments or know if each other are going to be late etc. With Google calendar it is all colour coded and we have the ability to write to each others calendars. With the Blackberry calendar you can see all of the Google calendars you have access too, unfortunately they all download as 1 colour, and if they clash they highlight as a clash. So on my phone I have to ignore my wifes calendar otherwise her working day and my working day would clash, further any appointment I make can only be made to the primary calendar which is my personal, so if I have to make a work appointment I always have to tidy things up online and swap calendars. It would be good if Blackberry could fix this problem as not even the iPhone has the problem (the iPhone can handle as many calendars as you like with colour coding and swapping events between calendars).

                Internet
                The web browser is acceptable, however it is nowhere near the best mobile phone browser. The browser will allow you to access most websites, including those using Java. It can handle logging in and purchases. However it is very slow, even using 3G the speed on which the page loads is tedious. The screen layout as it tries to fit the whole page on 1 screen comes with a high quality, but tiny view. You have to zoom in. The zoom in is via click, which then means the page needs to re-render... again taking time. Usually to make it readable you have to zoom in 2 times. This makes looking at any web page take such a long time, and is one of the worst features on this phone.

                Email
                The e-mail is the best feature of this phone. Email works in a special way, what happens is that you are registered with BIS, which is a Blackberry owned server that you set up to connect to your email servers. This then pushes the e-mails down to your phone. Emails all have separate mailboxes on your phone, however you do have an overall mailbox that allows you to collect all of your emails into one place to view. When you send an email, the email is sent to the BIS which forwards it onto your specific email account and onwards to the recipient. You have full control over which account you send from, but it will choose the default of which account received the email if you are replying.

                Blackberry Messenger
                One of the massively attractive features of Blackberry phones is if you have a number of friends owning one, you can use Blackberry Messenger. Blackberry Messenger is a free instant messenger service that can be used to talk between friends and/or groups of friends, you can send files/images, etc. Its like a unique version of MSN but for Blackberry users only. It is completely free whether you are on PAG or Contract, and doesn't get classed as using Data. This means for people trying to save money it is fantastic as it you don't need to use txt's. Unfortunately I only have 1 friend on it so it doesn't do much good for me.

                Apps
                Obviously a very important factor for smartphones today are the apps you can use on the device. When Blackberry's started taking off for home users the App Store was a web page with some text links, with very few apps that users could use. As the iPhone was released Blackberry developed its very own App Store - 'App World'. This very quickly started getting numerous apps both free and chargeable that you could choose from. There are a few apps I have downloaded and used, however there are nowhere near the numbers as on the iPhone App Store. Further to this I do not feel safe or entirely sure on how I would go about paying for one of the chargeable apps. This entire system is not straight forward.

                Hardware
                The phone is Quad band, meaning it can be used practically anywhere in the world.
                It Supports GPRS, EDGE and 3G, meaning it will handle most telephone masts.
                It has Wifi, Bluetooth and GPS connectivity.
                It has a good quality camera, although it only has a 3MP camera, but with Flash, which means excellent quality photos can be taken.

                Additional Notes
                This phone has given me one problem after about 11 months of ownership. It is something other people have reported on websites too. During calls to landlines the phone would start to echo, I would hear back what I had just said with about a 1 second delay. It suddenly started and would only happen on a 3G network, as soon as I turned my phone to 2G it worked fine. This clearly was the phone as Orange replaced the handset and it is working fine on 3G now... no more echoes. So please be aware if your phone does start to give you an echo while talking on it, the handset is faulty.

                Overall
                This is an excellent phone overall, however not as much fun as an iPhone could be. For the main use of organisation, emails and phonecalls you cannot go wrong with this Blackberry, however if you do require more functionality look at the other phones out there like the iPhone. I personally do wish I would have waited for the iPhone 4 (when iOS4 was announced with the mulktiple Exchange server access), but to be honest I can not complain at this phone. It is stylish, it does its job, it is just the internet is slow and there are not many applications I can use, I think I only have 5 installed (where as on my iPad I have 7 pages full of apps.)

                My recommendation for people is to judge what is your priority. If it is business, email, and calls then go for the blackberry. If it is fun and multimedia go for an iPhone.

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              • More +
                13.03.2011 20:12
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                A nice simple fun kit, with a motor

                Introduction
                This kit costs £15, however I got it for £7.50 from Tesco using the Tesco double up vouchers (for any Lego fans that collect Tesco club card points, wait for Tesco to do the double up voucher redeems in store, because you can get any of the current kits for half price, you also get full club card points from them... and technically you actually get the kit for free because they are vouchers you got for normal shopping in Tesco. Be warned Tesco only stocks in store the kits under £40)
                Anyway back to the kit, yet again I am playing about with Stop Frame Animation (I have filmed this build, I just haven't processed it yet into a movie). The movie link will be added to this article soon if I don't have it done before positing this.
                The kit contains 92 pieces, most of which are large only a couple of pieces are small. It has 1 special piece which is the motor, as when built if you pull the car backwards it will fire off at speed forward once you let go. There are also 2 mini-figs in this kit, a normal Buzz Lightyear with wings and helmet and Woody, a bit taller than a normal mini-fig, with his cowboy hat.
                I was surprised to note that there was only 92 pieces in this kit as from looking on the box I would have expected more which is why I left this to be the third one I would build out of the Toy Story series.
                This kit takes about 45 minutes to build with the process of taking pictures between each piece being put together.
                The kit is ideal as a first starter kit for anyone entering the world of Lego. There is a small number of pieces, most are large, there are only a few small pieces in the entire kit, plus this kit actually does something with the motor unit.

                Building this kit you get;
                The Radio Controlled Car, with in built Motor Action, which allows you to pull back the car, release it and off it will fly. You start off building the main body of the car around this motor piece. It builds up quite nicely and quickly. The final part of the construction are the headlight/eyes, the wheels and the aerofoil (tilt-able).
                There is also a small rocket built that attaches to Buzzs' back, as per the scene in Toy Story,

                Overall
                Overall this is a very easy kit to build, but is also nicely detailed. All patterns are pre-painted on the kit so no stickers are required. After building it and seeing how many piece3s there are I wouldn't say it was worth £15 it should be more like the £10 kits you can get, but as I got it for £7.50 of Tesco vouchers I can't complain. However it is certainly worth while having this kit if you are a fan of the Toy Story series of Lego.
                 
                Additional
                As I have mentioned I have been dealing with stop frame animation, however part of this kit can move on its own, so I have combined Stop Frame Animation and Video in an aims to show this kit off, hopefully you think it works well so please feel free to have a look.
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRQIbL1b4z0

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              • More +
                13.03.2011 14:15
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                A nice introductory lego kit for fans of Toy Story

                Introduction
                I bought this kit for £19.99, and decided to build this up in a similar style to my Lego Zurg, where I animated the building using Stop Frame Animation. This kit works really well for this with a few sub builds that combine to make the overall project.
                This kit contains 205 pieces and 1 mini-fig, another LGM (Little Green Man). It also contains 5 stickers to be placed on to the Lego pieces as you build the kit. To me this seems strange, why have stickers that will come off with time, why not just have the pattern printed onto the lego, is not like the pieces they fit to were generic pieces, they were custom pieces for the kit and in fact they already had some kind of pattern/symbols on them.
                The kit took about 1 hour to build and that includes photographing each piece as it was placed to show the kit building itself.
                The kit would be idea for children to build as most pieces are large, however there are a few small pieces just to be aware of (single stud pieces)

                Building this kit you get;
                Buzz Lightyear - a 9" tall creation. You start off building the torso of Buzz. This creates the main body and all of the join points of the creation. Next goes on the head which is attached in such a way that you can turn the head a full 360. There is then a clear plastic space helmet that is in two parts for over his head. The one part of this being loose so it can lift up, or slide down.
                Next created were the legs. The legs are straight and joined at the hips which can move sideways outward or back to straight. Unfortunately there is no waist hinge to allow him to turn. The feet extend outwards providing a firm base for Buzz to stand, the feet can turn sideways and be used to tilt Buzz forward.
                The next part are the arms. The arms are joined with a ball joint at the shoulders, meaning the arms can be twisted in all direction. Like with Zurg the arms are bent at the elbow which is fixed. The hands are attached to the arms also with a ball joint so they too can twist any direction. Of cause attached to the one arm is Buzzs' Rocket ready for launch.
                The final part to this kit are the wings. Once built this attached to Buzzs' back which means it can be taken off if he isn't to expose his wings at the specific time.

                Overall
                Overall this is a very nice kit to build. It's nice and simple, but very detailed. It is also nice having small parts to actually build Buzzs' body, but then having smoothly topped pieces as the outward facing pieces that give a very smooth look to the character. The wings are nicely detailed with appropriate port and starboard colours plastic to symbolise the lights. This kit is a nice kit for £19.99, it is certainly the next step up from Zurg as the character is built from plenty of pieces, which would allow a novice builder to further develop his/her skills.

                Additional
                As I have mentioned I am doing stop frame animation with my Lego kits, trying different techniques out, etc. So I will always be including my you Tube video clip for you all to see the kit being built.
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5kqJdi9Qs8

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              • 127 Hours (DVD) / DVD / 23 Readings / 14 Ratings
                More +
                13.02.2011 19:59
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                Quite good in comparison for this style of movie

                Orange Wednesday is fantastic to give you the opportunity to watch any movie even if from the trailer it doesn't look great. Due to this I went to see 127 Hours. From looking at the trailers and synopsis of the movie I was expecting another, Buried, movie but with a trapped theme. I found Buried very boring and was worried this would be the same. Luckily I was very wrong. It is very clear that a movie focussed on 1 person can be good.

                Synopsis (may contain spoilers)
                The movie starts off with Aron, going off on an canyoneering adventure in Utah. Aron feeling invincible like a man in his early 20s does with clear experience he goes alone, and on a mission to go fast. Along the way he bumps into a couple of girls whom he shows the exciting paths in the Utah. They invite him for drinks one evening, and this is when his luck turns. On his route back to his bike he ends up loosening a boulder that makes him fall, to make it worse the boulder lands on his right hand crushing it and trapping him in a narrow canyon, not quite at the bottom.
                For the rest of the movie we engage in him trying to figure out how to survive, flash backs from his past and the mistakes he's made and premonitions of what could have been. The problem is he is trapped, he is running out of food and water, no one knows where he is, and the Utah canyons are so vast the chance of bumping into someone.... he has already used up with the girls.


                Overall
                This movie I really enjoyed, I was captivated every minute, at no point did I feel bored. This movie shows that with a good actor, and a good director the stories where there is one scene and one character can be really good and entertaining.
                The acting by James Fanco is superb, you can end up really liking this character and feeling for him, about the terrible situation he is in through young arrogance, and how he keeps his spirits live learning from his mistakes.
                The movie is realistic, but not gory, there are a few cringe worthy scenes, but nothing too bad.
                This movie is well worth watching, so if you are undecided go and see it, you will not be disappointed, don't let slow movies like buried put you off this type of movie as there are no parts that are too slow, they are just right.

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              • More +
                30.01.2011 01:11
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                Long lasting, with plenty of modes

                My wife is past the 12 week mark of her pregnancy and now we can tell people we wanted to start buying stuff for the baby. Now as BabiesRUs are doing quite a few sales we thought we would by stuff throughout the sales over the next few months, and then in the final month anything missing we will buy at full price. This has required me to do a lot of reading or reviews to know what I want so I can just price watch.

                One of the items we needed was a travel system. Originally I was looking at pram/pushchair system and a separate car seat. I wanted something that would last an age, due to some car seats specifically designed for 9 month age ranges and with prams only being useful for about 4 months until the baby would want to look around and a pushchair being needed. To me the solution for the pram pushchair was a travel system. So I was looking at prams and pushchairs that transformed into each other.

                A friend of mine suggested the Silver Cross 3D travel system as it was reasonably priced and did that. So I did some research on here, all to some varied comments. So when I was in BabiesRUs I asked for a demonstration of a few models and ended up settling on the Silver Cross 3D Travel System for a huge variety of reasons, which I will go through here.

                First of all one thing that is clear with all products is that over years new versions of the same model come out, with improvements, etc. And one concern I have is a lot of reviews are written after the child is in pushchair mode meaning that they are 5 months after purchase at least if not more. I am writing this the day after purchase, but before baby use. I will update this as it gets used with an additional section at the bottom. This review is therefore for the Silver Cross 3D bought on the 23/01/2011.

                One of the big points for this was the offer it was on. The price for the pushchair was £299 and all it normally came with. However BabiesRUs also were giving the Silver Cross Ventura Car Seat for free with this product (worth £115). This made it a fantastic bargain, considering numerous other models more expensive than this and with less.

                There are two styles of fabric for the Silver Cross a black with red line and a charcoal with swirls. As we do not know the gender we felt the charcoal would be more neutral and to be honest it did look the most stylish.

                The Silver Cross comes with numerous accessories included as standard. The is a travel bag for nappies and bits etc that clearly is going to be useful and match in with the pushchair, there is also a wipe down changing mat that again will be useful. It comes with the pram body including foam mattress and cover that to keep the baby protected. The hood of the prank is also the hood of the pushchair, and there is a plastic rain cover/protector. And a foot warmer.

                It was important for us that we had a pushchair that could be used as a pram initially as we knew the pram part would only last 4months until the baby would want to look around and that is the age to move to pushchair. We also knew that the pushchair must be suitable for 4 month onwards. The Silver Cross has all sections suitable from birth. We looked at some other systems and their foot print when closed down or when moving seemed very huge and clunky. This compressed when folded into a reasonable size. While heavy it was still lighter than a lot we had felt, and knowing the system was made up from clearly detachable parts meant we could customise what we wanted to take out with us when going out. The buggy was very easy to steer and had a lovely turning circle, being able to navigate the aisles at ToysRUs easily without bumping into anything.

                The travel system as a whole seemed very sturdy and hard wearing, so with all these accessories, the car seat (which will click directly into the chair, giving yet another option for the baby) it seemed to be the best option, especially with the car seat for free.

                On getting home I naturally had to open everything up to have a play. The car seat I will review in the appropriate section, this is for the main travel system. Unpacking was easy getting everything out of the box and separated. There are two manuals that come with it, that naked em perfect for everyone. One manual only shows picture guides, the other manual is pure text, thus ideal for those whole like to read instructions or for those who just like to look at the pictures. However everything is numbered which means you can combine the manuals and follow the text descriptions with the pictures, which is my preferred method. My first task was to see how the pram gets put together as that will be the first use. So I followed the manual, parting the push chair, then started assembling the pram mattress putting the cover on, clipping the hood on. Nice and easy. It was also noted that the chair could be folded with the mattress in, this worked perfectly, however it did not long time folding the foam would curve ( and straighten when a baby was it was put on it). As the baby is not due for 6 months still I wanted to keep things pristine so I disassembled the pram to play with the pushchair, and to wrap the pram components up to keep safe. The pushchair forms the base of the pram, so with the mattress removed the the seat pops up and you're ready to go. It has 4 seat positions and a harness. It also has support padding for while the baby is still young but in the pushchair. This padding can be removed as they grow.

                Pushing the chair around was easy, attaching the extra bits was so easy they just clipped on. The brakes were easy to use, and seemed nicely secure. To fold up it was lift the handles and then turn a handle upward and just push and it collapsed into a click and was nicely compact. My only concern is the length of it, however it should fit in the wifes' car along as she doesn't have the roof down. The only other issue is the weight, however this was one of the lightest ones I picked up that was a travel system and not just a cheap lightweight pushchair.

                The pushchair as mentioned has a lovely stylish design to it, and certainly seems to have plenty of space around it, however the truth will really Cooke when the baby is born and it gets full use. The concerns mentioned on here I have not experienced, apart from the one about the pushchair seat facing outwards and not towards you, but to me they all do that and it makes sense anyway, the child is in the seat because it is mosey and wants to look around, it sees the parent all the other time so let it look where it's going and not just at you :)

                Overall I am very happy with this purchase, the childs travelling needs are now taken care of until 9months and then I only need to look for a car seat which will allow me to purchase a longer lasting one, at least I won't need to buy a baby seat and then upgrade now. I can't wait to get chance to use the pram and then upgrade to the pushchair.

                Once that has done I will and I have live tested it, I will update this review.

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                • More +
                  29.01.2011 21:00
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                  Everyone should have one!!!!

                  I received my iPad on Wednesday 9th June. It was ordered in the second batch of pre-orders, so it was a 'ship before 7th june'. It shipped itself from china to Bangkok to Mumbai to east midlands to telford, leaving on the 5th June.

                  Luckily when I received it I also received the Apple case, reviewed separately and luckily I also received a screen protector from amazon, this is definitely needed as I will explain later.


                  Packaging
                  Just like the delivery route having a huge carbon footprint, so does the box it comes in. The outer packaging of a brown box is about 33% bigger than the iPad box, which is supported in the middle of the box using buffers, I take to minimise any shock. After removing the lush white Apple box, ( you have to admit they have style). I lifted the lid to reveal my iPad, covered in plastic film. As I took the iPad out I noticed a small flat rectangular slip of a case that contained a basic 5 step guide to turning on and activating your iPad and the MicroSIM eject tool.

                  Activating
                  Activating requires access to a PC or a Mac where iTunes is installed and it has Internet access. This also means you need an iTunes account. Now whether this is a good or bad thing I have mixed feelings about. By having to register it, it ensures that you activate your warranty, which for a user means you don't need to prove you purchase date. For the business it allows them to keep track of the equipment for sales info. It also means your purchases can be immediately placed on the iPad whether it is music, apps you use on the iPhone etc, as apple allows you to authorise 6 devices. To be honest this is pretty good as it's not too many devices but not very restrictive, (it would be nice if Microsoft did this for this for the xbox so I have to use one for downloads, and if you upgrade you can only move your stuff once a year. ) the reason DRM fails is due to the restrictions only allowing 1 device when so many of us have more, 1 with the tv, in study, portable etc.

                  As stated the problem with needing to activate via iTunes is that you need a computer, however I have seen number of stores willing to activate and set you up an account so you can get up and running. Most functions don't require a PC, as you can get apps throughout the App Store through 3G or WiFi straight from the iPad, this is also the same with the iTunes store and Book Store. However the PC does come in useful for backing up you iPad settings and configurations, plus internally created documents. It is also useful to moving apps offline that you own but may not wish to currently use, swell as putting on personal movies and music. The other main benefit of a PC is that it allows for the iPhone OS (iOS) to be upgraded and version 4 will be awesome, when it comes out at the end of June, especially for business users allowing multiple Exchange accounts to be used. (If they had announced that 4 months ago I wouldn't have taken a Blackberry, I would have waited for the iPhone as I use 3 Exchange accounts.)


                  First Steps
                  Before I activated the iPad I thought "let's get the screen protector on" and it was a good move. Just a few hours usage and swipe ends up covering your screen in smears. As I mentioned i'll review the protector I chose another time. After I had gone through the very quick activation I put the Apple case on it, it fitted nicely and hid the few bubbles of the screen protector right at the edge of the iPad screen. This doesn't obstruct the screen as the 9.7" screen has a 1" black border. Again I will review this in a future post.

                  Finally I could turn it on. I was first impressed that it came fully charged, and I mean fully charged as I thought, i'll run the battery down to get a full charge in it, and it took about 36hours to get it down to charge it up. During this time I had played music, video, wifi was on constantly viewing the web and downloading applications. The battery is very impressive, I only charge this iPad (yes I am using the iPad to write this) every 2 days. During that time I use iWork, wifi and 3G always are on, I play pod and vodcasts, and even a few games. The only annoying thing is that when you decide to hook it up you have to think, sync or charge, it can't do both for normal users. The iPad requires a 10w input, this is only available through the proper charge or through newer Apple Mac computers, typical PC usb ports can not provide that kind power. So for myself normally every 2 nights I put this on charge over night, but every morning as I shower I connect it to my PC to sync. This then leads me to my next discussion point, syncing.

                  Synching
                  As a user if you don't sync you will really miss out on some of the safety and easy features of the iPad. You sync your iPad for the main reason of updates, this sis so that when Apple release operating system updates you can apply them to your iPad. This is definitely important with iOS4 on our door steps. The other reason for synching is to get a backup. The backup isn't of the synched items like music, photos, apps, etc it is for the important things like settings and internally stored files that you create using the applications. Now ts has been reported that it can take up some time, I haven't experienced this yet but I have only occupied about 10gb of my storage so ace on a 64gb model. (this shows a high capacity is needed as I only have a few podcasts, midcoasts and 5 music albums on here and about 500mb of apps). The suggestions to fix this are to always use the cable supplied with the ipad, for some reason it works quicker than using the iPhone or a generic iPad cable and try to connect directly to the PC rather than through a hub.

                  Setting up
                  Once you have turned your iPad on and activated it you would be best to go into the settings and configure the usage. I will talk about the settings here instead of the app section due to the fact it is a controller app of how the iPad and the other apps work.
                  In settings you have the following settings
                  Airplane - this is just a simple switch that I assume will just disable all wifi and mobile communications. I would also assume it would just disable all push notifications, as naturally on a plane you can't use these wireless functions otherwise you'll probably crash. As I haven't taken this on holiday yet I can only assume, but it is bound to work just like on a mobile phone. The manual states it actually stops you being able to use the applications using the defined features that are disabled with that option, and that you then have the ability to activate specific parts of the iPad depending on the rules of the airline and laws of the country.

                  Wifi - in this area you can turn you wifi device on or off. Mine is continually left on and it really doesn't make any usable impact on the battery, and a lot of it's time is spent searching for a network, rather than being connected. The iPad automatically searches for all networks in the area to allow you to join them, once you authorised a network you have the chance to type in any specific settings, ip, dns, etc obviously for those with BT hubs you can also configure a network manually, specifying the name and settings etc. The iPad remembers all of the networks you have joined, but only shows them when they are detected, so you don't have a huge list to go through, especially bearing in mind most mobile companies give free unlimited access to wifi base stations so you don't use their 3G. The final option here is that you can allow or disallow the iPad to automatically connect to known networks. If a network is not known or you have disallowed it will always ask you. This can be annoying slightly, due to the fact it will inform you it detects a network, when u may well just want to u 3G. I.e. I don't want to use my schools wifi as there are too many restrictions I want to use 3G due to me being able to do what I like, however each day I have to tell it I don't want to join that wifi network. The only other bad point about this is there is no easy way to delete a network from your authorised listing, well not that i've come across yet.

                  Carrier - my iPad is the 3G version so it can accept a micro sim. This area shows which network you're connected to. It also tells you the detected networks in the area, so while automatically deals with connecting to the designated network of the sim, you can manually connect to other networks, obviously this depends on what you're sim will allow, but I suspect this is the way to choose the right/cheapest network when roaming. The iPad detects all networks, as I had a complete list of the UK companies show up. This clearly shows the way forward of non-network-locked devices.

                  Notifications - this setting clearly shows the full customisability of the iPad. On this menu you can set whether or not you wish for notifications from your push applications. These are the things telling you, you have new message or your crops are ready (in We Rule and most likely the future coming Farmville App). Well so far we'd expect something like that, however we have full control. Each app that uses push notifications will end up being listed in here for you to customise the settings. There are three settings, Sound. Where the iPad will make a noise to alert you, Alerts where you get a flash up telling you something has happen.d or needs your attention and badges which put a number on top of the App icon alerting you to how many things that App has had happen. For practical use, I know Facebook gets a lot of notifications that drain the battery so I have turned tho off but I leave my We Rule game notifications on to tell me when I need to go into the game and do something.

                  Cellular data - why they didn't group this with carrier I don't know, but here is where you can setup the settings for connecting to your 3G provider. The APN, username and password, not all companies use these, or certainly don't tell you they use these. I use Orange network at the moment, and I connected yet I couldn't access the Internet, when I called them a second time after activation thy asked if I had entered 'orange data' in the APN, which of cause I hadn't due to the micro sim guide not telling me to. Well that solved the problem and had me up and running. Orange don't u a username and password so they were left blank. So any sim configuration you need to do is done here.

                  Brightness and wallpapers - brightness allows you to adjust the standard brightness of the device using a simple slide bar. It also has a switch for auto brightness that dims the background light after no use to conserve battery. On the iPad you have two wallpapers. One for the lock screen which is shown while the device is locked, and one for the menu screens which show you your Apps. The iPad comes with some ready available HD wallpapers you can choose from or you can take them from your camera roll from pictures you have synced or saved. This is good and allows some nice personalisation of your device. What would be nicer would be the ability to have a different wallpaper on each screen, hey who knows an Apple developer may read this and add the option.

                  Picture frame - this setting allows you to configure you £700 iPad into a good quality picture frame. It allows you to setup the picture transitions between dissolve and origami. Dissolve just fades in and out of each picture it displays. Origami is where the true skill in the iPad is. With origami it puts more than one photo on the screen at a time, two perhaps three maybe four. The pictures fold out of each other to be displayed, but what is really good is it crops the images to ensure it all fits, what is even better is the software identifies the key focus of the picture so it is always shown. I had this running through 900 pictures for an hour and not once did it focus on the wrong thing. The picture frame tool can only be run from the lock screen, so you can set this going as your iPad is locked, but if you iPad is locked anyone can start this going so you might need to be careful about some of the pictures on you iPad if left unattended. The final option in the settings is for you to either setup to view all photos on the iPad or to select specific albums to be shown.

                  General - this contains tho general options and allows you to view the general info about your iPad. The first one About shows you the capacity, usage of the iPad, what wifi is connected, the Mac address, the cell provider and phone number of your micro sim, etc. The usage option tells you about how much data you have not and received, useful for ensuring you don't go over any limits. The only problem here is you have to reset it manually each month, as it is accumulative. In this option you can turn on or off the sounds for the various default actions of the iPad, receiving mail, locking, calendar alerts etc. The next part is about network options, including setting up a VPN if your a company user. I must admit this is a good feature, Apple have realised businesses love their devices. The next option is Bluetooth, to allow you to find devices to link to, I have left this off due to Bluetooth having a reputation for draining battery life. The next is location services. This activates the GPS that is inbuilt in the wifi+3G version. This is used by a number of Apps, maps being the better one for using this.

                  Mail, contacts and calendar - this allows for you to set up your email including gmail, hotmail, pop, and exchange accounts. Since iOS 4.2 you can also have multiple exchange accounts, this is very useful if you do work at multiple places or have a home and work exchange server. Contacts can be set where to sync from and to. I find this part easier to sync to my outlook using iTunes. However the most important one to me is the calendar sync. I use google calendar, my wife has a calendar and I have 2, one for work and one for personal. Syncing the google calendar uses an exchange account connection as it uses ActiveSync, which is no longer a problem since iOS 4.2. The calendar app on the iPad gets all of the data and colour codes it, unfortunately you do not have a choice of colours, but at least you can see all three or more calendars in one program, you can edit al if you have that allowed access and you can add appointments. We use it because I can add to my personal or work calendar, and my wife can see where I am and she can make bookings for me if we're going out for a meal etc, so it becomes an excellent organisation tool.

                  Safari - this gives you full control of the web browser, as in access to cache, clearing it, etc, the default browser, java, etc so you can truly customise your web experience. T be honest I haven't had much need to use this as the defaults are just fie

                  iPod - this gives you control of iPod settings, like the volume levels, whether to show lyrics etc, so general settings you'd get on the iPod.

                  Videos - this allows you to set up your videos, do they remember where you paused them so you can continue where you left off or always redraft from beginning, it also controls about the TV output and let's you set that up in case you wish to watch your movie or vodcast on the tv instead of the iPad

                  Photos - this area let's you set up the slide show as I mentioned previously. How long each picture stays on screen, the settings for the animation, whether to collage the pics or have them individual.

                  App Store - this controls e log into to the app store where you go to buy your apps for your iPad.

                  Any app that has any special settings will also get listed here. It allows you to configure all of your settings under one screen, with a very nice and neat layout. I think having one icon for settings is perfect as all the configuration is easy to find. To many times on a computer have I found that each programs settings are hidden in different places. Some under menus on screen, some in different programs to the main program, but here under one icon, all in one area just makes it so much more user friendly.

                  Included apps
                  There are a number of standard included Apps on the iPad that allow you to start playing before you have to download anything

                  Safari - this is a good web browser it will show you everything you need to see on a website, it allows for quick searching with an integrated search area by an area where you can just type in e web address. It contains bookmarks so you can store sites you visit often as well as allowing you to use folders all pages can be easily zoomed in and out by expanding or pinching your fingers on the screen. The obvious down side is the fact it does not support flash. There has been much debate about this being good or bad, as an IT professional flash has it's uses, but the only time I have ever been infected with a virus on a pc was through a flash security hole, so I can understand Apple not wanting Flash on their system if they won't properly build it for the iPad. (Apple set up rules for all application developers and Flash is the only group that don't want to abide by those rules, go Steve Jobs for sticking top your convictions and not allowing the big Adobe to try and bully you) overall I think I have only been to 2 sites in 7 months that required flash for some content I wished to see, so it probably won't make that big an impact.

                  Mail - a nice simple email software. Once set up in settings it allows you to view your email by mailbox, or you can view all your email in one combined mailbox. Saving attachments is simple enough if you have an app that supports the file type. Sending emails is also quite simple, linking directly into your contacts to get the email address. Overall the software is easy to use and does all it needs to.

                  Calendar - as mentioned previously you can sync is to other calendars if you wish and all can live along died each other. There is also a calendar built into the device which doesn't get synced, so iPad only invade you need any no synced notes. The only thing that would truly improve this would be the ability to integrate tasks/todo lists, for instance I have a todo list on my google calendar by that doesn't sync to the iPad calendar, another app is needed for that.

                  Contacts - this has a lovely design to it. Like a traditional paper based contact book you have the letters down the side from a-z and you choose what you want, but there is also a search facility and it neatly lays out all individuals by name alphabetically. Iside each name there is all the information you wish to store about them. If you don't store information the heading doesn't appear so you're not even having to see a list of heading even if you only store the person and their phone number. If however you have the iPad turned landscape the design is still there however you have a 2 page book. The name you select on the left and their details appear on the right so you can view both at the same time. It is a lovely book design and makes finding people so easy.

                  Notes - is a small notepad app. You get pages in simple yellow lined paper design. Very easy to quickly make notes on and make multiple pages. However all pages are within the same notebook, so for instance I have one page with notes of a room code, but I have to scroll past that to get to a shopping list, so it is not very secure, and the more note pages you make the more flipping through your book you have to do. However it is great for quick and easy notes before you type up elsewhere ( or copy and paste ).

                  Videos - is what managed your movies, it splits them into 2 categories, videos and vodcasts. This is useful as any main feature movie you have put on your iPad is easily differentiated between all the very useful vodcasts you will find yourself subscribing to. For videos you upload through iTunes in an idevice compatible format, obviously on an iPad you have a bigger screen to work to. However if you have not been a vodcasts listener before you will now find you are. Go to the podcast area of the iStore and you will find lots of great podcasts, further more you will find them with video, there are numerous ones for cooking, training, entertainment, and reviewing apps for the iPad. I found very quickly I subscribed to quite a few and as I exercise I just let them play through. Having the iPad means you are more likely to be somewhere where you have 5 mins with nothing to do and a vodcasts will fill that nicely, while letting you know something new. Before the iPad I never bothered with them, but I am regularly watching them now to find good apps and new video games I want.

                  YouTube - the YouTube website hosts a huge variety of videos that are excellent to watch, this app is the iPads doorway into the YouTube world, it allows for quick and easy account management as well as finding and watching new videos, while taking away the website element and giving you a much more well designed and nicer looking interface into this world. It doesn't do anything more that give access to YouTube, but it does so in a stylish way.

                  ITunes - this app is for all of your iTunes store needs, downloading music, videos, podcasts and vodcasts. The idea is that while you need a pc to activate you iPad and most apple shops will do that, and a pc is useful for you to backup your iPad, it is not essential for your general use. iTunes store allows you to buy the song you want and download it over the net directly to your iPad, no longer will a pc required as a go between. This does present some risks as iTunes doesn't store what you've downloaded so if you loose your device you've lost your purchase, however it does present a useful part that if you are away from your pc you can still buy a song or a video, or subscribe to a pod/vidcast while on the move.

                  AppStore - this is the heart of all the exciting things you can do on the iPad. All of the apps for the iPad and iPhone are listed here. All iPhone apps will load and work on the iPad, however just be weary of things like SMS apps because you don't have an SMS service on the iPad, so use your common sense. The AppStore has some main sections. The first is a nice presentation of what's new and what is being promoted, it's good for a quick look at anything apple wants you to know about. On here you can search for any app you wish to know about and it will give you results grouped by iPad and iPhone so you can choose what you like and see how much they are.
                  The next section is a ranking of apps split into two categories of paid and free. This initially shows the top 25 but it can be expanded to show more.
                  The next section is Genius, this is where the store will recommend apps you may like based upon apps you have already purchased and kept installed on your iPad. I have found a few good apps through this, however there can still be some totally irrelevant apps. I guess I may confuse it is as I use my iPad for education, consultancy work, videos, personal, general business and entertainment.
                  The next section is where all apps are sorted into categories so you can look for the type of apps you may want, games, productivity, etc. There is a lot of rubbish in here as a loads of apps are released daily, I very rarely use this.
                  The final section is the updater, the iPad keeps a note of the apps you have and tells you when any updates are available so you can authorise the installation. This is great as you don't have to watch out for updates yourself. These can sometimes be bug fixes, new features added, new levels for a game or anything.

                  Conclusion
                  Overall the iPad is a fantastic device. I am extremely pleased with it. I have previously bought net books, ereaders, pc's macs, iPods etc, and this device is used everyday just like my main computer. My net book was great when I first had it, but a month in it was a pain and I stopped using it, my mac book I only use for creative purposes, my ereader I only use when on holiday, my iPod I only use in the car,(I also used to take into class to play music, but now I can do that with my iPad so it stays in my car). My main pc I do use every day for email, browsing, work, web development, etc, and that I could not live without. My iPad I have owned for over 7 months now and I still use it every day, it certainly isn't a fad, it's a very productive device. It is great with all the other apps I have for entertainment, for productivity, for writing reviews, for reading, for having reference material when I go to do it support jobs, for planning, keeping notes on, and just having fun. This device is something I would not want to live without, to me it is just as important as my pc, every other gizmo comes well after those devices.

                  A couple of apps well worth getting and will be reviewed after are game centre (it gives an achievement system to your games, like on the xbox360) and iBooks as this allows you to buy books, get free books, and add your own PDFs to build up wire a huge library to carry with you.

                  Buy this device! But definitely go for the larger capacity as there is so much you can do with it, and lots of content you will want to do that with. The only choice left is then wifi or wifi+3G, I preferred wifi+3G as I can do whatever I want, when I want.

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