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I bought this microwave purely because it was cheaper than the other options available on the market, I only use the micro occasionally for defrosting or warming up things that I have already prepared and there was no need for me to spend so much money on it. It's white and has a digital control pad at the side, very sleek looking and I feel the 'cleanness' of the design would fit in perfectly with any kitchen, regardless of the colour scheme. It is easy to use, especially considering the amount of detail contained within the instruction manual, it tells you everything that you can do with the microwave oven, even detailing the correct settings for cooking meat, specific meals and defrosting certain weights of produce. It's by far the most detailed instruction manual I've seen come with a product in the modern day. The oven only has a 700W output, which means it takes a little longer to cook everything, although being a downside this is quite common for cheaper ovens and most food produce designed for the microwave come with cooking times adjusted for such a weak output. It should be mentioned that despite the low output it's an extremely noisy microwave, I have to shut the kitchen door and still turn the TV up/shout down the phone or just do whatever I'm doing with more volume than I would with a different oven. Having said that one rarely uses a microwave for more than ten or so minutes, so the noise is bearable. Inside the oven there are the usual rollers with a glass plate sat atop, both come out and are therefore easy to clean with little more than a wipe with a soapy dishcloth. It's also easy to clean the inside of the oven, there aren't many bumps and grooves within the metal which can make it tedious to clean. There are a number of presets, none of which I find to be particularly useful for anything, it's easy to change the settings to meet your own needs and with the instruction manual you won't find any difficulties using the product. I definitely advise it, and recommend it over other more expensive products as it is capable of matching them in every department.
This was the first MP3 player I owned, and needless to say it doesn't compare to the size, looks and functionality of modern iPods and expensive MP3 playesr. I still however find myself using this product as it takes a normal battery, rather than being charged via USB. This is really useful for those of us who like to travel without taking a computer with us, or those of you who don't actually have a laptop. As for the functionality of the device it has a very small memory, this is to be expected for a device of it's age, it can carry more or less 25 songs by today's standards. This of course means you can only carry your latest music and it needs to be updated constantly, but still the playback is high quality, the three buttons are easy to use and there is no need for extra programs, such as iTunes in order to use it. Another point worth mentioning is that WMVs are compatible, therefore if you want to go for the old fashioned model of ripping songs form CDs and then adding them there is no need for a third program to convert them. Although I have nothing bad to say about it I should point out that I only think this MP3 player is useful if you can get it second hand and for using when travelling without access to a computer, I wouldn't suggest you purchase one for use as your day to day MP3 player, it's definitely better to get a more up to date one with more capacity and features. Overall this is good for those of you who need a small MP3, and can get it for pennies.
So, at first sights this box seems to give you everything you could want from an expensive TV subscription for a one off payment, it can record two channels at once, has the facility to pause and rewind live TV as it is broadcast, and save programs for later viewing. As well as allowing you to watch all of the many freeview channels in good quality. On top of this it has the facility for top-up TV to be enabled, however I have never used this service and therefore cannot comment on the reliability of it. Firstly, I bought this box a while back, a few years in fact, at that time the features available were quite admirable, and I was excited to have such abilities without a subscription HOWEVER there are many, many faults with this device. The pausing and rewinding facility are completely unreliable, in fact I don't think I have ever used it successfully. On many occasions after having paused live tv it jumps straight to the live broadcast when I choose to resume. This completely defeats the objective of course, on other occasions it have completely confused the system and I had to turn the box off and then on again to force it into 'forgetting' the whole pause/resume cycle that I had started. With regard to recording one channel whilst watching another this facility does work well, very well in fact, it's very useful for those days where every channel seems to be playing something you are dying to see, you can just record the one and watch the other (or indeed record them both and watch them both back later) once again the pause, rewind and fast forward facilities are the let down for the box, as even with recorded programs they are faulty and can completely mess up your experience, or on occasions just not work at all. As you can see from photos of the product, it is perfectly pleasing on the eye and very sleek. The remote works well, it's not chunky and it doesn't have too many buttons to get confused with (at least I don't think so). Regarding the digital switch over which seems to have made certain freeview boxes fail entirely, throwing channels to random numbers or not getting them at all, in my area (the south) the start of this switch over hasn't caused problems and the box still works, with all the correct channels on the correct number, with EPG information working for all of them. Overall, I only advise you get this box if it is on a VERY special price, and only for use as a freeview box rather than for it's advertised rewind and pause facilities, because they are simply useless.
I am quite a fan of using fresh produce, not tinned nor frozen, preferably purchased on the day I cook it. However, ''chopped tomatoes'' are one of those things you can buy here in the UK that is just impossible to make at home... I mean, you can chop some tomatoes, but they don't turn into the same thing as you get from the tin. Therefore I make an exception with these. As for the brand I buy, I prefer to go for ASDA Smart price for a number of reasons, principally the low cost (which seems to vary somewhat between stores and from day to day, but they are never more than 25-35p) As well as this the tomatoes ASDA uses seem to be more suited to making this product as they are always tastier than the more expensive tins, in fact I find them a lot tastier than fresh tomatoes prepared in any way. it's quite possible that this is due to the nature of the tomato sauce that they are stored in, I am not aware of ASDA's practices when it comes to preparing the sauce but all I know is there are no 'artificial colours or preservatives' in the product (providing you purchase a new-style green tinned pack, rather than the old ones that don't mention the preservatives) and therefore it's fine for me. There is an equal divide between the sauce and the tomato chunks, to some people this may be too much sauce and therefore I suggest you only get these if you are, like me, a fan of the juice. Also the chunks seem to be chopped a little smaller than in other varieties, and once again this is a question of taste. One tip I think it's worth adding is that when opening the new tins it's best to tip them upside down, as I have gone through four or five tin openers thinking they are broken because I can't open smart price tines, but then finding that they all work perfectly well when they are upside down! (Strange, I know) Overall these are chopped tomatoes in tomato juice, there really isn't much room for differences although these are really tasty and have a better consistency for my personal tastes, they are perfect for adding to a full english, or for making a tomato sauce (add a little sugar, olive oil and an extra two chopped tomatoes for a great simple pasta sauce!) or for whichever recipe you like to make with them! There really is no point in paying ridiculous prices for the same thing in other stores!
Due to the nature of my professional and social lives I actively carry two mobiles at the same time, the one I use personally is the Samsung Genio QWERTY. At £50 (the lowest online price I am able to find for this product at the moment even now) this phone wasn't expensive, and it was significantly cheaper than the other phones of this style. With regard to the QWERTY keyboard, which is the main reason for the development of this phone, it's slightly on the small side, unless you have tiny fingertips there is no way you will be able to use it without making a few mistakes, however this isn't too major a problem and the mistakes won't occur too often, especially when you get used to using it. On a side note there is a game included with the phone that helps teach you to use the keyboard quickly and accurately, which I consider to be a quite nice touch. With regard to usability the phone cannot run apps, as it's more expensive counterparts can, however it does have pre-installed ''apps'' (meaning bookmarks listed on the homepage) to access Facebook, Myspace and some other social networking sites. This phone of course sends text messages, e-mails and makes phone calls, which is to be expected, however it's best I find for internet use. For those of you who like to have a good browse of facebook or google then this is for you. It has a normal headphone socket, which is great for listening to MP3s or FM radio (both of which are of a decent quality). The final point to mention is the camera, which is utterly useless, it can take a few high quality photos but the onboard memory isn't capable of storing many. Even with an added memory card it seems to take up more space per photo than other phones,even though the quality is lower. It doesn't have a flash nor a torch facility. Overall, this is a great low cost QWERTY phone and I do advise it for those of who looking for a good internet browsing phone, provided you don't require Flash Java or app capabilities. I can't fault this phone for it's price and what it claims to do, but of course it cannot compete with say an iPhone nor a Blackberry.
STEPS are back! What could be any more exciting than that? This album, the first to be released by the band in ten years, contains all of their single releases minus one (Words Are not Enough) in chronological order of release. This is of course a Greatest Hits album and not a studio album, therefore the material is old (but still as great as it always was) and it isn't ordered in a specifically 'stroy-telling' way, as many studio album track listings are. There is a little bit of everything here, from the cowboy-line dancing-ish floorfiller 5,6,7,8 to the slowed down, sway-a-thon cover of I Know Him So Well. This is all intertwined with the big, feel good dance numbers such as Last Thing On My Mind, Stomp and After The Love Has Gone. As well as all of their most well-known hits, such as One For Sorrow, Tragedy and Better The Devil You Know. The full tracklisting is as follows, "5, 6, 7, 8" "Last Thing on My Mind" "One for Sorrow" "Heartbeat" "Tragedy" "Better Best Forgotten" "Love's Got a Hold on My Heart" "After the Love Has Gone" "Say You'll Be Mine" "Better the Devil You Know" "Deeper Shade of Blue" "When I Said Goodbye" "Summer of Love" "Stomp" "It's the Way You Make Me Feel" "Here and Now" "You'll Be Sorry" "Chain Reaction" "I Know Him So Well" And the bonus track, Dancing Queen, a cover of the ABBA classic recorded in 2011! (Not the 1990s version that they recorded) this is a special little bonus for all STEPS fans as it is the first time we have heard their modern day voices together on a record. If you are a big fan then it's worth it just for that song! Also, for older fans it's great to have all the singles here on one track. There are two versions of the album, the black covered CD which contains the product as already described, and the white covered version, which contains all of the music videos for every single, including Words Are Not Enough, but not including Dancing Queen - as no video has been made for such track. I personally own both, this was a matter of having a complete collection and I find it a great album, it's already my most played. The quality is excellent (especially the older tracks, I only had them ripped from old CDs and the sound quality just didn't match up to modern day MP3 downloads). The quality of the packaging is, of course, great. A strong case and well printed inlay (which contains lyrics and production information for each song). Overall I recommend this album, either version, to both fans of old and new as well as anybody with a passion for pop music. Surely there can be nothing more enjoyable than listening to a STEPS track in 2012 and imagining them doing all the old routines? It's great value for money too! With the album being available for a fiver in most stores, and especially online.
Although I don't claim to be an avid gamer I have always kept the latest console at home to play casually, and this is a great one. The graphics, although arguably not as strong as the Playstation 3 - this machine's closest rival - they are great, and games often look real, although only at certain points and in certain scenes. This machine is of the latest generation of computer game consoles, and is the predecessor to the original Xbox, retaining many of the same mechanics and controls of it's younger brother. However, everything is better this time round with the power of the machine being unbelievable - what I have noticed is that with every year the games released on the 360 contain brand new technology, that is extraordinarily impressive. For a console already so agéd one expects that most of the technology it is able to produce has already been developed and exploited. But not with this console. The price is cheap, frankly, for what you get, they are available for more or less £120 now-a-days. a little more and a little less depending on which system you choose with which amount of space, internet connectivity and included accessories. As for the internet connectivity the xbox 360 is able to connect to a normal household modem, using an ADSL lead that is included with the machine (the standard set) or with a wifi adapter, which can be purchased separately or may be included in certain packages. The only downside is that one must pay a membership fee in order to actually use this online service, although it is worth it. With games, movies, downloadable content for inside of games, music and online play all being available. There are downsides, for example with the wireless control pads there is a constant need to renew the batteries, which can be costly, however this is easily avoided by using the more modern rechargeable, or wires pads, or one could purchase a battery recharging kit. This would save money. In the past there have been considerably problems with the 'red ring of death' attacking many xbox 360 consoles, with the new models this problem has been resolved and you should only get this error in certain situations, however, if you purchase the console second hand or from an outlet with extremely old stock (unlikely) you may still face this serious error (which is actually free to get repaired from xbox, although one must wait for the machine to reach Germany, be repaired, and be returned) Overall this is a great console with technology that keeps improving with each game, and great online experience even if you have to pay and excellent graphics that look as real as the real world at times. Also important, this has full HD capabilities, which is great when downloading movies or watching DVDs!
The Compaq Presario range of laptops aren't the newest on the market, however they are still on the market, which is saying something considering they were first released almost five years ago. The Compaq Presario CQ is a great little laptop, at least for me, it is of a decent size with a 15.6 inch widescreen display (HDMI enabled) and has 2 gig of ram, which is easily powerful enough for office work, surfing the web, utilizing media and playing simple games. When running certain versions of linux, which utilize less ram than Windows 7 starter (what this machine comes pre-installed with) it can power more impressive games and can be used for media manipulation, without causing too much of a strain on the on board systems. As is standard with almost all laptops it is complete with a webcam and built-in microphone, and of course has the keyboard (which on this model doesn't include the numerical pad which it's larger brother, the CQ70 has) and a mouse pad, which is sleekly designed to fit into the base of the keyboard, and isn't made of the scratchy black material that lots of laptop mouses are made of. Also, it has USB ports on both sides, which is useful for using usb modems or the like which are too wide to allow simultaneous use of both USB drives on one side. With regard to my personal opinion of the product I find that it has been a great laptop for me, after having it for a while I am still in no need to replace it (in fact I am on my third version of Windows with it, showing that it is powerful enough to run even two generations higher of operating system) I am quite sure I will still be using this laptop in the future too, for office work and web surfing. The start-up time is great, at least with my current set up, I can be switched on and using a program within three minutes. There is a huge disadvantage to this laptop however, and that is the non-detachable battery. I would advise that you only plug this into the mains whilst the battery is charging and then remove the adaptor immediately, allowing the system to run on battery power. Although this is said to reduce battery life overall running the computer on mains power with the battery attached (the only option) will lead to the battery needing replacement within a couple of years. You can of course get a replacement battery, but this isn't the most economical solution. Overall this is a great laptop, for the price tag, which currently stands at around £200-£260 depending on the vendor, offer and installed suites, it is excellent value and powerful. If you are looking for a gaming laptop, this is not the one for you. But if you just need a laptop for checking e-mails and social networks, publishing websites, browsing Youtube and producing office documents then it is fine! I strongly, strongly recommend this laptop.