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An Olympus E-PL1 Digital PEN Camera with 14-42 mm Lens.
Why I bought it:
My girlfriend and I regularly take the digital camera out and about and snap pictures wherever we go. We have owned three previous pocket digital cameras and we felt that we wanted our pictures to take a step up in quality from that of the usual pocket cameras. However, as we didn't want the bulkiness (and complications) that a Digital SLR might bring so we opted for Olympus simply because they seemed to have a reputation for good PEN cameras. We have owned the camera for about a year now.
The camera takes great pictures. Simple. It's focusing mechanism brings the main part of the picture to crystal clarity and this can be customised to either auto-focus, or to manually focus based on the picture you are aiming for. Multiple pictures can be snapped in very quick succession (without fully releasing the button), which allows easy capture of fast-moving targets. The flash is powerful, and can be set at a number of different brightness settings. The flash pops up out of the top of the camera, and I was worried that this might cause shadows towards the lower portion of photos that are taken up-close (having experienced this with a previous model of camera), but we have seen this occur only a few times.
Despite not being the full Digital SLR, the camera is still quite large and somewhat heavy. The lens requires quite a lot of expansion before a photograph can be snapped, so it is still somewhat awkward to keep handy. The auto-settings cannot seem to take a photograph in darkness (due to lacking an auto-focal point) so it means a constantly switching between the photo modes if moving from light to dark areas. The zoom isn't as impressive as I initially thought it might be with a camera of this type.
It would have been nice if a carry case had been included. This is particularly emphasised due to the larger size of this type of camera. The lens is interchangeable, but I have not yet tried anything other than the included product (I also believe that an extra flash can be added). The lens is easy to clean, unlike other cameras that have moveable parts that make cleaning much more difficult. The camera possesses a number of automatic modes for a variety of scenes although I am unsure of how suitable these are since I haven't fully tested all of these yet.
We are very impressed with the camera. A comparison between the photos taken with this camera compared to our old pocket camera is a no contest. If you want to take the step up from a pocket camera to a more advanced, yet simple-to-use, device then I'd recommend this thoroughly. Beware though, you may find it less portable than you may initially think. Despite its resemblance to pocket cameras, it is significantly larger.
Dr. Dre Beats Solo headphones with control talk.
Why I bought it:
As a regular laptop user and music-listener, I am forever wearing out cheap £5-£10 headphones. I saw a promotional offer with a notebook which contained a free set of Beats headphones, so I gave them a go.
I was speculative about how much better more expensive headphones would sound (if at all), and these Beats have convinced me that you certainly do get what you pay for. The sound quality is superb and certainly enhances the listening experience. I am also very happy with the design of the headphones. They fold into a compact shape, and also have a degree of cushioning which also adds to the comfort.
For me, the main downside to these headphones over the in-ear headphones I have used in the past is that the sound output can be heard by more than just the listener (which of course isn't ideal in quiet public places). I suppose another slight criticism I have is that these headphones aren't as great for spoken word as they are for music. This is simply due to the increased bass, which can sound somewhat out of place when listening to non-musical media.
An additional detachable cable (3.5 mm ports), and a carry case are both welcomed extras. The headphones are also quite light despite being an over-the-head style.
I would recommend these headphones to ANYONE who listens to music! Obviously, with the £100+ price tag it could be a purchase that is hard to justify, but you can certainly tell a difference between these and cheaper headphones.
A Dell XPS 17 notebook with touchscreen, Intel i7 Processor, 8 GB RAM, 9-cell battery and 1 TB Hard Drive.
Why I bought it:
I was looking for an upgrade to a more powerful notebook with a larger screen, particularly for photo editing and music management. I was encouraged to try a Macbook, but I have always disliked the Macintosh operating system so this was an alternative for me.
The screen! I found the screen to be of superb quality. The 1600 x 900 resolution displays a crisp image and certainly exceeded my expectations. In fact, the entire build quality seems to be of a very high standard. The combination of processor, memory and hard drive space have also proven to be far superior to my previous notebook, and I am able to run multiple applications with ease!
The sound quality is second to none. Listening to my music CDs and watching films or TV has never been so great on a notebook. I am used to a metallic, tinny-sounding speaker system on portable computers, but this notebook presents a very special sound! I also upgraded the battery to a 9-cell, and this gives me about 5 hours of life on average: a vast improvement over my previous laptops.
In hindsight, the touchscreen was an unnecessary upgrade and I am a little disappointed at the responsiveness of the screen. The notebook also came loaded with dozens of unnecessary pieces of software ("bloatware"). In itself this isn't so bad, however this was magnified by the fact that most of the software were just trial versions and so had no long-term benefit in being on the computer whatsoever. I spent an entire evening hunting down and removing all of this stuff.
The laptop is also quite large, but this is due to the high resolution monitor. It does however weigh a significant amount more than my previous notebooks, but since I wasn't aiming for portability, this wasn't really an issue for me, but could be a consideration for other shoppers.
I believe this to be a superb desktop-replacement notebook. It meets my needs and exceeds in so many areas (sound and video, in particular!). I fixed one of the main disadvantages (the bloatware), and the touchscreen is simply an optional extra that I can choose to either use or ignore. I would recommend this notebook to anyone looking for a high-end system.
I think that these chocolate digestive biscuits are a superb buy. The biscuits are a staple for our shopping basket each and every single week and for less than 50 pence, they are an absolute bargain. The only slight disadvantage is that I am always inclined to eat a whole packet in one sitting! These are a great biscuit barrel filler. I find that the biscuits are loved by the whole family, and as a result, we find that they do not last very long.
The only downside is that Tesco seems to have recently decreased the size of the packet (as they have done with their other biscuit choices). However, due to the price tag, you can buy several packets of these for the price of a single premium brand and personally, I would prefer these any time, any day.
These get a definite thumbs up from me !