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Coming up for 4 years ago now I purchsed this television as my girlfriend and I decided we wanted to get rid of the massive 32inch CRT television we had as it just took up too much space in our flat!
We thought long and hard about which television to go for as we wanted to make sure we got the right one and would be happy with it.
Our considerations included:
1) 720p or 1080p (Otherwise known as HD Ready v Full HD)
We did a lot of research and discovered that at the viewing distance we would be using the television at, even with 20/20 vision it would not be possible for the human eye to distinguish the difference between 720p and 1080p on a 42inch television. We therefore decided to go for a 720p set as it was likely that we could a 720p set which would be better than the equivilant 1080p set for the same budget.
2) Plasma v LCD
For me this was simple, plasma everytime hands down as the black levels of LCD at the time were not even close to those of plasma screens!
We were moving up from a 32inch television which was a good size but we wanted something bigger however we didn't want it to totally dominate the room. After a good bit of testing with cardboard cutouts we decided that the 42inch size would be the best bet for our particular setup.
I am a gadget person, I love hooking things up to other things, I love having a home cinema setup and I love media streaming devices etc etc. I also love my games consoles, so whatever television we decided to go for would need to have plenty of connection options.
After a lot of reading and research we went for the panasonic plasma as by all accounts they gave the best picture quality without going for the top of the pile Pioneer Kuro range which were wowing everyone at the time but cost approximately double anything else!
In the fours years, the television has had an awful lot of use both as a television, being served up freeview and freeview HD by Humax PVRs, a cinema screen being served dvds and blu-rays and indeed streaming from my HTPC, and as a gaming screen for both my PC and my various consoles. And on every front it has been brilliant!
The picture quality is fabulous, detailed with great contrast, good deep blacks and great skin tones, everything has looked brilliant. It even does a good job of making the less than stellar encoding on some of the more marginal freeview channels look good.
On the audio front it is acceptable too, for most of our listening we just use the sound from the television and it sounds fine, ok when it comes to films and the like it is rather lacking in depth and power etc but that is why I have a surround amplifier and speakers.
If I had to highligh any flaws I think the only thing I would say that is bad is the slideshow facility when using the side SD card slot as it is painfully slow and clunky but that is pretty much it's only flaw!
I know it is an old set now but if you are looking to upgrade from an old crt television and can pick one of these up second hand then it really will give you huge performance for not much money and even today gives a much better picture than most of the bargain basement models you could pick up for the same sort of money!!!
I have been using a Spinpoint F3 1TB drive as my main storage space drive for the last 18months or so and have to say it is a great little drive.
My previous experience of larger format drives, as the 1TB drive was when I put it in my PC, had been that they could be a bit slow and laggy when accessing files or they could be rather loud as the platters were spinning so fast to get the read and write speeds up.
Having read that the spinpoint drives were nice and quiet but still fast I decided to get one and I have to say I have not been disappointed!
Although I am nearly the drives storage limits it is still just as fast as it ever was and is still just as quiet. Although hard drive sizes have increased over the last couple of years a 1TB drive is still a good amount of storage space and as these drives are slightly older now and can be picked up relatively cheaply they are still a great choice when it comes to increasing your storage space!
I used this graphics card when I built my PC 18 months or so ago as it was a good compromise of price versus performance as the newer 580 range of graphics cards had just been released and the 570 cards had dropped in price a little.
I paired it with an I5-2500k processor and plenty of RAM etc, as I had one thing in mind at the time, making sure it would play Battlefield 3 with everything on high!
Since I built the PC the whole thing has performed very well indeed, every game I have thrown at it has be playable at high resolutions with all details and textures etc set to high and everything looks incredible, BF3 is truely a mind blowing experience in terms of graphics and this card handles it very nicely indeed.
I have a dual monitor setup and this card happily drives both monitors flawlessly.
I also use the computer for a lot of video encoding work and as this is CUDA compatible software which supports it uses it nicely, which further improves encoding times, which is a godsend when doing batches of encoding!
Currently you can pick this card up for a shade over £200, so although it is an older generation card, for the money you can get a huge amount of performance which really does make it good value.
For the last few years my girlfriend has been cutting my hair as I don't have any kind of outlandish hair style so it doesn't require much work and also because I can't be bothered to sortout booking an appointment or queuing up for ages etc etc.
Anyway, she had been using a small remmington trimmer that I had for my beard, which while it worked ok, took ages as it was really small being designed for beard trimming. As sush ci decidd to get myself something a little more suitable so I purchased this Wahl trimmer having heard good thigns about the make andit seemed a decent piece of kit as it comes with plenty of different attachments to alloow for different cutting lengths etc.
After making sure it was nicely charged she tried it out on my, long over due for a cut, hair. Impressively it made short work of my hair which is both very fine but very thick (as in there is masses of it!). She soon had me looking less like a tramp and more like a real person. The length attachments clip on an off easily and are made of a decent quality plastic which has some give in it, unlike some I have had on beard trimmers in the past which have often been made of solid plastic which has meant that over time they have cracked and broken purely through the method of opereation they are suppsoed to with stand, ie clipping on anf off the trimmer. These feel like they will last a good long time.
The trimmer itself is a fair weight which feel good in the hand and instills a feeling of confidence in the build quality while not being so heavy as to make your arm ache during use!
Charging is a simple act of plugging it in an off you go.
Having had this trimmer for a while now the only flaws I have noticed are that you have to constantly clean the blade area and ensure it's suitable lubricated else it causes drag which slows it down and puts strain on the battery. And secondly that the battery life has really started to deteriorate over time. When I first got it a full charge would last for at least a couple of months, now, probably 2 years on, even if fully charged I can go to it in a only a couple of weeks I will find it slowing down and dying on me...normally as my hair is halfway cut!!!
Overall it's a good product but the battery life lets it down a bit.
When I upgraded my phone a while back I got a free Nokia Hands-free kit thrown in with it. As I get quite a large amount of free minutes in with my contract I tend to use my mobile when I want to make calls rather than using the land line.
I also like to be able to get on with other things while on the phone, as sometimes if I'm calling my brother or my Mum, the calls can go on for ages, and as I have so much to do it's useful to be able to get on with bits and pieces while chatting, so a hands-free kit would be a god send!
When I received the hands-free kit, I immediately opened it up and stuck it on charge using the mains adapter that was included, a nice little red led lit up on the end to show that it was charging...very handy, my last blue tooth headset didn't have this so it was impossible to tell if it was fully charged or not. When this set is charged, the light goes yellow.
The headset itself is about 2 inches long and about 3/4 or an inch wide by a little under 1/2 inch deep. It's a fairly basic looking unit, just a rounded off rectangle. On the fron there is a button which takes up approximately half the size of the unit which can be used to answer calls and hang up.
On one side there are 2 buttons which control the in-call volume, they are quite small but are easy to operate even when the headset is in place.
At one end there is the small socket for the mains adapter for charging, at the other a small hole where the microphone is housed.
On the back of the headset there is an ear piece which is designed to sit in the ear, and a flexible holder which can be shaped around your ear to keep the head set in place. The holder arm rotates and swivels so the headset can be used for either ear.
Also on the back is a small power button, a long press will switch it on and switch it off. Each action is accompanied with a short set of tones, increasing in pitch when switching on and decreasing in pitch when switching off, so it is easy to tell if it switching on or off, even while it is in your ear and you can't see the LED which lights up when the device is switched on.
When the headset is switched on, it goes into pairing mode so it is simple to pair it with a mobile phone, you just simple need to have blue tooth activated on the phone and then switch on the headset.
Upon using the headset I found that it is actually quite difficult to get the holder arm flexed and into a position which actually holds the headset in place, and even when I did manage it, it wasn't long before it decided to move about and on occasion actually fall off my ear! After a lot of attempts I finally got it sitting quite well though it will still fall off If I'm not careful and moving about a lot.
From a comfort point of view I would say this is not a great headset as the ear piece is rather too large and combined with the awkwardness of the holder arm I tend to find I end up with it wedged into my ear rather more than it being comfortably sat in place.
The actual functionality of the headset is good, the call volume is pretty good and the caller can be heard clearly. For the most part the microphone seems to pick up my talking fairly well although as the headset sometimes moves about, occasionally it moves enough that the mic stops picking my voice up very well and the person I am speaking to can barely hear me.
Despite it's flaws I have used the headset a lot and found it invaluable! It hold a charge for ages and lasts for a good long time even when being used. If it were just a bit more comfy and the holding mechanism actually worked properly I would give it five stars but as it is this is quite a flaw, so I can only really give it three stars but will say that for a freebie it is actually pretty good.
I was given one of these the christmas before last and have used it quite a lot. It's a well made kitchen gadget and unlike a lot of gadgets it actually does what it is supposed to do!
It is basically an alternative to a pestle and mortar and can be used for grinding spices.
It is made from hard plastic with a rubberised grip to allow you to keep hold of it while shaking it like a loon, else it'd be slipping out of your hands and would either break itself or something else...this could easily go through a window I'm sure!
Inside there is a small hard ceramic ball which being nice and hard makes light work of most spices. I have used this to break down a lot of dried chillies I had grown and dried out and have to say it did a nice job of breaking them down to form nice flakes.
When making a spice mix I find it quite useful to add a little oil to help keep all the spices together which seems to make the grinding more effective.
The only negative thing I could say about this, apart from the noise of the ball banging about while you shake, is the fact that you don't have the same control or power as you have when grind by hand with a pestle and mortar but overall it's a decent little tool
Being keen cooks and bakers, my girlfriend and I asked for a mixer for christmas as we were sick of hand mixing cakes etc.
We were given this nice little Kenwood mixer and having used it a lot, I have to say we are very happy with it. It is a well built mixer and feels good quality in your hands. The two beaters clip in with a positive click so you know they won't fall out.
There are three speed settings which is very useful when you are adding dry ingredients such as flour as you can start nice and slowly so it doesn't puff out everywhere.
The beater release button works nicely and makes removing the beaters a simple and clean job as you don't need to use your hands to pull them out.
There are a couple of very nice touches. to keep the beaters together with the mixer there is a little plastic holder which pushes into the beater holes in the mixer into which the beaters can be clipped horizontal to the handle.
Also, lead can be wound round the base of the handle and it's just the right length for the plug to end up by the gap in the handle so the pins can fit into the gap, and there is a small plastic clip on the cable to keep it there.
Overall, it's a great little mixer and one I would recommend to anyone, and it's very good value too, being less than £15.
A few months ago when my girlfriend and I told our parents that we were expecting a baby, they were delighted. Being my parents first grandchild, they were very keen to be able to help out as much as possible and offered to buy us a buggy/travel system. While talking to the daughter of a friend of theirs, they learned about the Bugaboo Frog, a travel system combining pram/carry-cot and pushchair with a frame that is compatible (via adapters) with most of the car seats on the market.
Bearing in mind that my girlfriend and I are fairly frugal types and had been thinking that we would make do with cheap and cheerful pushchairs etc, when we looked at the price of the Bugaboo range, we were shocked to see that the equivalent model that had superseded the Frog, was about £800!! There was no way we could afford that, nor would we let my parents - who had offered to buy a travel system - spend that much on it!
I suggested we look at second hand Frogs, and was quite pleased to see them going on Ebay for about £300, quite a saving! My parents were happy to pay this much so we started watching each and every Bugaboo Frog that came up for sale in our area. After a few disappointments we managed to get one for £245 which we were quite pleased with.
A short drive and demonstration later and we handed over the money and took home our new purchase!
The Frog we got included the standard items:
Frame with wheels
chassis which is used for both pushchair and pram/carry cot
The fabric covers for the push chair and the pram
Also included was a Sun parasol, a footmuff, an alternative third party insect net and adapters to fit a Maxi-Cosi Cabrio-Fix car seat.
***** The Frame *****
The frame is constructed mainly of aluminium with heavy duty plastic mechanisms and sockets. The handle is finished with a rubberised soft feel to make it warm and comfortable to hold while pushing.
Unlike later Bugaboo models, the handle is not height adjustable, however my girlfriend and I who are both 5'8" find it absolutely perfect, so unless you are much taller or shorter you'll probably find it just right.
There are two sets of wheels which attach to the frame.
The rear wheels are 8 inch pneumatic tyres on typical 5 spoke pushchair wheels. They push into the side of the frame at the rear (for standard wheeling about) and are held in place by sprung circlips. Removal couldn't be more simple, all you have to do is squeeze the two tabbed sides of clip and the wheel easily comes away from the frame. While removal is simple, I have to say the construction and mechanism feels very sturdy and there is no chance that the wheels could be released accidentally as you wheels the chair along.
The front wheels are completely different. They attach to the frame via means of pushing the top of the wheel mechanism through a vertical slot whereby it clips in place.This arrangement allows the front wheels to rotate much like those of a shopping trolley, thus allowing the whole frame to turn on the spot. In addition to this, they also feature a sprung mechanic giving the front an actual suspension setup which absorbs lumps and bumps as you wheel it along giving a nice smooth ride.
The handle can be moved so that the large back wheels become the front wheels which makes it much easier to push on uneven ground, even fairly rough and bumpy fields are no problem and we have discovered while wandering around various boot fairs looking for bargains.
Setting up the frame and collapsing it are both nice and simple. On the inside of each side of the handle of the frame there is a release mechanism which works by sliding towards you. To prevent you from accidentally operating this, on one side there is a button which needs to be pushed in first which then allows the mechanism to work.
With the frame collapsed you merely lie it down on the floor, release the slide mechanism, then lift the handle, as you do so, you push the bar with the front wheels forward with your foot and the frame opens out and the handle clicks into place.
Collapsing is even easier, you merely release the mechanism, lower the handle to the floor, then pick up the frame by the central bar and it all collapses together and locks closed, the front wheel's bar has two clips which attach to the rest of the frame keeping the whole thing together.
Often things like this seem easy when trying them but when in the real world are a pain but I have to say with just a little practice it really is as simple as it sounds!
In addition to the frame, there is a separate section which acts a s chassis for the pram and pushchair, it's a rounded off rectangle which, in the middle of each side, houses the connectors which attach it to the frame, and a removable carry handle. The pram and pushchair are in effect shaped fabric covers which attach to this chassis.
***** The Pram/Carry Cot *****
The Pram cover has multiple velcro strips and simply velcros in place around the chassis piece. At each end of the cover there is a vertical pocket from the chassis to the base, into which a small lightweight metal plate is inserted to hold the fabric in shape. There is also a wooden base which holds the base in shape and provides support. Once this is assembled which only takes a matter of a few moments, there is a nice little mattress for your baby to lay on.
There is a separate fabric cover which hooks over the chassis and has two elastic hoops which attach to small tabs at each side, this provides cover for the baby's body when out and about.
This can be attached to the frame facing in either direction, so you can have the baby looking at you or away from you depending on your or your baby's preference.
When not in use on the frame/wheels, the pram top can also be used as a carry cot which can be quite handy. We have used ours to give out little boy somewhere to sleep while we have been at friends houses, it's lovely and cosy and he slept very nicely in it.
***** The Pushchair *****
Like the pram/carry cot the pushchair is a fabric cover which attaches to the chassis, and again it uses velcro and is nice and simple to fit. The back is shaped with padding and the seat is a wooden base with padding, this allows it hold its shape nicely and gives a good seat for a baby/toddler to sit in. There is a great five point harness which holds the baby in place, with shoulder straps, waist straps and a crotch strap to stop the child slipping down off the seat. The harness is very easy to adjust and clip together so it easy to put the child into the seat and easy to remove but feels nice and safe in use.
Again the pushchair can be placed on the frame facing either direction so you can do whichever you and your child prefer. The seat has a tilting mechanism so it can be either partially reclined or fully reclined which will be more comfortable for the child if they are small and get a bit tired.
***** Accessories *****
This attaches to the frame and can be used with either the pram or the pushchair. It is a fabric canopy with metal framework and ribs. It is very simple to attach and can be opened halfway or fully to give a nice bit of shade.
This is a lovely fleece-lined sleeping-bag esque accessory which can be used with the pushchair. It straps in and provides a lovely snug, cosy and warm covering for the child in cold weather. The front can be adjusted for height so even for smaller children it sits nicely in front of them and allows them to see out.
The parasol clips onto the frame and can be used with both pram and pushchair. it is a lovely little fabric umbrella with a sort of metallic lining to block out the sun and provide some shade and coolness in sunny weather. It can be angled and positioned with a flexible shaft so you can easily shade your child.
The rain cover clips onto the canopy and over the feet when using the pushchair. It shelters your precious child from the rain and is nice and clear so they can see out into the world.
This goes over the pushchair or pram to keep nasty bugs out when outside, very handy for use in the summer!
This attaches to the frame with strong velcro and can be used with both the pram and pushchair. It has a curved hard plastic base so it doesn't get caught on kerbs etc but is sturdy enough that if it did take a knock it would be fine. It has a good elasticated draw string top and can take a good amount in it. It is really handy for a day out as you can pack most of the things you need for a baby into it to save you carrying it.
***** Conclusion *****
This travel system has turned out to be a god-send! The whole thing is very good quality and has clearly been very well thought out with real world ease of use and practicality in mind and it really shows. Everything is nice and simple to operate and use, even when you are in a hurry or needing to keep an eye on a child. With either the frame or the pushchair, and loaded with a baby, the whole thing is so easy to push about and maneuver, with its ability to turn on the spot and the front suspension, you are very unlikely to end up stuck even in less than ideal places like crowded shops.
The whole thing collapses down nice and small so is simple to fit into the boot of a car for transporting about. The fact that you can get adapters for most of the major brand car seats is brilliant as it means you can simply fix the car seat to the frame and wheel it about, then when you get back to the car unclip the car seat and fit it into the car (especially simple with an ISOfix car seat base).
The wide range of accessories that come with the system means it is suitable to use in pretty much all weather conditions whilst keeping your child comfortable and safe.
The Bugaboo Frog has been superseded by a newer model with a few changes including an adjustable height handle but to be honest it's much the same and of course costs a whole lot more than a second hand Frog, which are plentiful on ebay!
I would wholeheartedly recommend the Frog as a great travel system to anyone!
If you've read my Tesco Value Kettle review (if you haven't, go read it now!), you'll know that I like to go camping with my girlfriend and our friends but also that we like to take a few creature comforts with us (the Tesco valve kettle being one) to make the whole experience that little bit nicer. Along with the usual camping equipment we take with is a brilliant power lead which plugs into the campsite power supply and gives us four plug sockets which we can use for all sorts of things.
One of those things is a kettle, we had been using an old one from when I was at university but it eventually broke so I went looking for a new one and found the bargain that is the tesco value kettle. At the same time I also spotted the value toaster and was lured in by the bargain price of £5. I figured it would be another great addition to our camping equipment, so I snapped one up!
Shortly after I purchased the two value items, we went off on a camping trip. The kettle was an instant hit meaning tea was available nice and quickly. The toaster I kept as a special surprise for the first breakfast!
Then camping the traditional breakfast routine is that the first person up gets the kettle on and starts frying some bacon to give the air that wonderful smell. Then when everyone starts to appear from their tents we all chip in and help cook up a feast. The hardest part is making enough toast to go round using a small gas toaster. Being able to break out this toaster and easily and quickly being able to do toast two slices at a time meant I was able to get it all done and everyone was impressed.
The toaster is not much to look at, its just a very basic white two slice toaster, though it would look nice in a white themed minimalist kitchen. It is very plain with the controls located at one end. The controls are simple as you would find on most cheap toasters, there is the lever to push down to start it toasting, a control dial to allow you to adjust how you like your toast done, and a cancel button to stop the toasting midway through. a nice touch is that the lever can also be used to lift the toast high to make it easier to remove, something which is not always found on cheap toasters.
In use the toaster stayed fairly cool on the sides though it it is not one of those ones which has so called Cool Walls so do be careful if there are young children about.
At the bottom there is a slide out tray for getting rid of crumbs, though as we were outdoors I just turned i upside down once it was cool and shook it...
Overall a nice cheap toaster that does the job pretty nicely for such a low price, certainly something I would recommend for anyone wanting a very low cost toaster.
I like to listen to music in my car, and ever since I first passed my test and started driving my first car I have felt compelled to replace the factory fitted stereo with something which performs rather better, somethying which was vital back when I was 17 and factory stereos really were nothing more than a nod to the fact that you might like something to drown out the sound of the engine and the road noise...this was before the days of sound deadening and refinement in cars!!
At the start of my car stereo career I had several good years of service from a nice Kenwood cassette headunit, when I finally left university and got my first real job I decided to upgrade and move on to something more advanced. Being a media student at university I had spent a lot of time using minidiscs and had my own minidisc recorder so I decided to go for a minidisc headunit as I knew that the buffering system on minidisc would be good for use in a car especially seeing as the roads in my areas are rather lumpy and bumpy and friends of mine suffered lots of skipping with cd headunit something the minidisc would not suffer from! The headunit I went for was another Kenwood.
Last year I decided it was finally time to upgrade again and once again I decided to go for another Kenwood. This time I went for a single CD headunit as the time of Minidisc had really passed by and all my minidisc recording gear was packed away in the loft. I wanted a headunit with a USB input as I have my entire music collection stored digitally so it would be nice and simple to copy music across to a USB stick and use that to play it in the car.
When I got this new headunit I was running a fairly nice sound setup in my car designed around my minidisc headunit, whish only had one set of preouts, as such I was perfectly happy to go with this head unit which being an entry level headunit also only has one set of preouts unlike more expensive models which have two sets or even three. This might be a reason for some people to avoid this model but it suited my needs so I was happy.
In that setup I had the preouts connected to an active crossover which split the signal into two amplifiers one which powered the subwoofer, the other powered the front speakers (a nice set of Kenwood component speakers), it worked perfectly and sounded great.
I have since had to grow up and buy a far more sensible car in order to transport my young (5 month) son and all the items that requires, so boot space is at a premium, hence I no longer have the amps etc in place and I am now running just the headunit with the standard speakers. It doesn't sound like it used to but it's not to bad as at least car manufacturers now install speakers which have some musicality and can even put out a bit of bass unlike when I was 17!
Upon receiving the headunit I was pleased to see that the build quality had not suffered over the years and it was every bit as sturdy and well made as my previous 2 headunits. The pop off faceplate is always good to see as it can act as a deterant to the scum bags that nick car stereos, and I have to say the faceplate feels good quality too, unlike some I have felt which have been very light weight and flimsy feeling! The buttons all have a nice positive feel too them without being too stiff. You can tel you have pushed them without having to press hard. The screen is nice and clear and easy to read and everything illuminates nicely making it just as easy to operate in the dark.
Installing the headunit is a nice simple affair as it is a stanard single DIN size and has an ISO to Kenwood conversion lead included, it is simple a case of remove the factory headunit (which in my case was nice and easy), fit a surround blank if needed (wit was in my case, this had to be purchased separately), push the attaching cage into place and make sure it is firmly held in place by pushing as many metal tabs up as possible, pull the leads through, hook them up to the conversion lead then into the back of the headunit, push the headunit into the cage until it clicks, then fit the finishing surround and hoorah you are all done.
I had also purchased an adapter so I would still be able to use my steering wheel controls, this simply plugged in between the ISO lead in the car and the conversion lead so again was fairly simple.
Setting up the headunit in my new car was very simple too, a simple menu let me choose what type of speakers were connected up, in my case OEM ones, and off I went. There are plenty of controls to get the best oout of the sound and to tailor it to your tastes, included front/rear fade, bass mid and treble levels, bass boost, bass eq etc etc, all of which are easily adjusted using the volume wheel/button.
When used by itself there are four inputs which are switched between using the source button, these are Tuner, USB, CD and Aux (which can be renamed if you want...mine is labelled as portable) there is also a standby mode though I have very rarely used this.
As you switch inputs the radio beeps through the speakers. Each input has a slightly different beep which gives an audio clue as to which input you have switched to, allowing you to keep your eyes on the road.
The tuner is your everyday affair, it works for both FM and AM so will pick up most of the analogue radio stations and will continue to do so until radio completes it's digital switch over, though that is not due for some years yet so it is not a worry at this point. I have found that the tuner, as with my previous Kenwood headunits, is very good and is able to pick up stations which my Ford headunit would not. The reception is clear and the sound quality decent, as good as you will ever get from the radio.
Even the AM performance is pretty good with minimal engine whine which is sometimes a problem. Radio 5 Live is perfectly listenable, which is great at the moment when the football is on while I'm on my way home from work (Euro 2012)
As with most tuners, you can set presets making it simple to jump from station to station, they are simple to set up, just tune to a station then hold down the preset button you want it saved to.
The CD performance is also much the same as any other headunit, the disc slides nicely into the slot and is recognised nice and swiftly. When changing between inputs or leaving the car and returning it resumes playback from where you left off which is nice.
The auxillary input is a 3.5mm stereo jack socket on the front of the headunit which allows you to hook up any audio player with a headphone output using a 3.5mm stereo jack lead. This works nicely but requires the player to be controlled on the player itself which is not ideal when you are driving. I have used it a few times with my android phone for listening to podcasts using a player design for car use with my phone mounted on the dashboard and it has been quite simple to use.
The final input to describe is the one I use the most, the USB input. This takes the form of a standard full size USB socket on the front of the headunit which is covered by a plastic flap which snaps open and into the body of the headunit so it is not in the way. This covere stops dust etc getting into the USB socket or the 3.5mm socket which is also house beneath it. The USB socket allows connection of a USB memory stick packed with music which can then be browsed and played using the headunit controls and I have to say it works very nicely indeed.
To use a USB stick, you need just need to copy the music to the memory stick. Once that is done, you run a small piece of software which is available from the Kenwood website, which reads the files on the memory stick and creates a database onthe stick which can then be read and searched by the headunit. All my music is well organised with a folder for each artist then a folder in there for each album, and every file has full id3 tagging so for me this was a very simple task. I am using a 16GB memory stick which is nigh on full and took only about 5 minutes or so for the software to create the database.
Once this is done the headunit can search by artist, album or song which makes it nice and simple to find what you want to play. There is a dedicated search button (a magniffying glass) which takes you to the last level searched at, there is also a back/up button which will take you up a level when browsing through the folders. scrolling through for example the artists is done using the volume wheel, turning left and right to scroll through and clicking it in to select, it works really well as it is quick and simple.
Selecting an Artist then moves you to the next level of navigation which is on an album level allowing you quickly select an album to play, or indeed you can select to play tracks from all the albums which is great if you have several albums from an artist and want to listen to tracks from them all.
In addition to this there are some nice features when it comes to random play as you can apply random to various levels from simpy playing and album in random order through play tracks from all of an artists albums in random order right through to playing music from the entire selection on the memory stick in random order! The only limitation of this is down to the number of tracks it supports which is 999, so if you have more than 1000 tracks it will only play at random from the first 999 and ignore the rest. It's a bit of a shame that it works like this but overall 999 tracks will keep you going for quite sometime, or you can work around it by creating a separate folder/album into which you can put up to 999 of your favourite tracks and just play that folder at random. My girlfriend and I have done this when we were going on holiday and it worked really well giving us a huge amount of music to listen to and a nice variety.
The single preout can be switched between a full range preout or a subwoofer output, which is brilliant as it means that at some point I could add a small removeable subwoofer to my car which will allow me to keep my boot space when needed and give me nice bass when I want it! There are full controls on the head unit for adjusting the sub level and crossover frequency etc which for a low end head uint is very welcome indeed!
This headunit also has ipod functionality though not having an ipod I've not tried this so can't really comment other than to say I imagine it'll work flawlessly like everyting else on the headunit.
For what can only be described as an entry level headunit costing a mere £80 this really is a cracking good headunit and one which I would heartily recommend to anyone who is looking for a new headunit and who does not need more than one set of preouts.
My friend and I love to go camping in the summer because it is so nice to be able to get out into the country side and enjoy getting back to nature. That said we are not ones for slumming it, we like to have a few creature comforts to make life in a tent that little bit nicer.
One of the biggest luxuries is a kettle so we can make a nice cup of tea whenever we want without having to wait ages for a small gas ring to heat an old aluminium kettle or a saucepan.
We had been using an old spare kettle left over from my university days but when it finally met it's maker I went looking for a nice cheap replacement. My travels took me to my local Tescos where I picked up this little wonder for a mere £5.
It is a very basic kettle as you can see, it really is just a simple jug with a handle and a clear window allowing you to see the water level which is pretty handy.
It is an exposed element which can lead to quite a lot of lime scale build up if you live in a hard water area but it does at least have a lime scale filter so you won't get white bits in your cup of tea.
The 1.7 litre capacity is plenty for making cups of tea for several thirsty campers or for filling a saucepan for the cooking of pasta over a gas stove.
It is a fairly quick kettle and as with most kettles switches off when it has boiled.
For £5 I am really pleased with my new camping kettle, and really think that if you are low on funds and are setting up a new home, or heading off to uni, you won't go far wrong with this!
Five months ago my girlfriend and I welcomed a new arrival to the world, our baby son Dylan. As he is now getting more and more interested in visual and audio things, we have started reading him books and singing to him.
When my girlfriend stumbled across this book listed on Amazon for a mere £3 (used) she insisted that we got it after all it was about our son's name sake.
The book is a lovely tale of a little baby duck on his way to the pond with his Mum and his three sisters. I'm not going to give the story away after all I don't want to spoil the end of the book for potential readers... but it is lovely!
Unlike a lot of story books which we have seen, this book is of a decent length, so many are only a matter or five or six pages long this is 24 pages long and has several situations in the story which allows for some lovely illustrations which are beautifully drawn, really cute and lovely and colourful and eye catching. The book is a large format book with pages a little over A4 sized so the illustrations are nice and big too which makes it easy for a child to look at even as you are reading to them. Our Dylan loves looking at the pages as we read to him.
Our little lad might not be able to understand what is actually being read to him yet but the writing is really good and when read has a nice rythmic flow to it which hold his interest and will be perfect for reading at bedtime when he is a little older!
I would heartily recommend this book to any parents with young children, even if yours are not named Dylan!
I have for many years been a huge fan of the bbq, there is something really nice about getting outside on a nice hot day and getting the bbq going, roaring flames followed by a lovely bed of hot charcoal giving out enough heat to beautifully cook anything and everything (no burnt to a cinder sausages here!). And let's face it, everything tastes better from the bbq!
The only problem with this lovely scene is the time it takes, getting a bbq going can be fairly time consuming as you wait for the coals to light properly and evenly and get up to cooking temperature and in this lovely country we call England, particularly so this summer, the opportunities to be able to take the time are few and far between!
It is for this very reason that I decided that this year I would commit an act of heresy and buy a cheap gas bbq! I am not normally a fan of the gas bbq as I always feel they are cheating, where is the ceremony in the lighting, the spreading of the coals, the creation of areas of differing intensity? None of his is the case with a gas bbq, you simply turn a dial and hit an ignition button, the burners light then 10 minutes later it's up to temperature and you're ready to cook.
It is however this simplicity and speed that got me thinking, If I want to be able to cook outside and enjoy the fleeting summers evenings it would be handy to be able to be ready and cooking really quickly, hence I decided to buy one.
I did not want to spend much money so looked at various models until I found this one at Asda for a mere £35! As luck would have it, my local Asda Living store had one in stock on the first sunny Saturday after I decided to buy a gas bbq, so I bought it and headed home with the intention of assembling it and having a bbq for lunch.
***** Building *****
When I got home, I set about the assembly. The instructions were your typical badly translated fodder but with decent enough illustrations. Most of the parts were fairly obvious as to what they were, the hardest parts to identify were the parts of the frame that the bbq stands on, but even thoses were not too hard.
When building things like this, or flat pack furniture, it is often difficult to work out which screw/bolt/nut you need for each step as they are all quite simple. With this bbq I was very impressed to see that the screws, nuts and bolts were separated out in a special blister pack style strip and each was nicely labelled making it extremely simple to select the parts you needed.
Building the bbq was nice and simple as it is fairly basic but it does require two people at times in order to be able to hold things steady and to help line things up while screwing together.
In total it took me and my girlfriend about half an hour to put it all together, though that was with a few pauses to appease out baby boy who was looking on.
The build quality is pretty good, though it is not the sturdiest bbq I have ever seen, and I don't think it would stand up well to any rough treatment but then what kind of inhumane creature would treat a bbq (even a gas one) with anything other than love and kindness?
At one end of the bbq there is a handle and at the other end two wheels to make it easy to wheel about though it does struggle across grass, it is much better suited to moving about on a patio!
The bbq part itself is sturdy and of a reasonable size about 16 inches by about 12 inches, big enough for a reasonable amount of meat for a family of four which is perfect for what I wanted! There is a lid with a stay cool handle which is vital as the base and the lid of the cooking section both get very hot! The lid is kept down during cooking and heating in order for the heat to build up and stay up.
The two gas burners are very simple to install during the build process, it's just a case of putting the machined metal piece through a hole, lining it up with two valves on the control panel and pushing into place. it is well made and feels like it is good quality.
The control panel contains two dials and an ignition switch, again this feels like it is well made of decent quality.
One lovely touch I noticed was the way the base of the cooking section is angled in such a way to allow any grease/oil to drain to a small hole near the back. Into this hole goes a shaped piece of metal which holds a small metal cup. At first the holder seems unnecessarily bent and complicated however as soon as I starte to use the bbq I realised it was actually very well designed...the grease makes it's way to the hole, then runs down the bent holder to a low point just above the cup and drips directly into the cup!!!
***** In Use *****
Hooking up the gas supply is simple a case of pushing the gas regulator onto the valve on the bottle whereby it clicks into place. To use the bbq you turn on the gas using a small lever on the regulator, then turn both burner controls up to max and press the ignitor button. I found it took only one click to get it lit...better than my gas hob in the kitchen!
Once lit, simply close the lid and leave it heat up. I left it for about 10 minutes while I prepared some nice chicken and bacon kebabs. When I was done, the bbq was nice and hot and ready for cooking.
I did try turning down the heat on one of the burners but I'm not sure it made a huge difference to the flames or the temperature but I wasn't too bothered about that.
The cooking area was fairly uniformly hot so things cooked no matter where they were in the bbq which was fine for the size of bbq.
Once I had finished, I left the burners going on full with the lid closed for about 10 minutes as per the instructions, which was intended to burn off as much of the grease etc as possible...however it didn't really make much of a difference. That said cleaning it wasn't too hard, the only thing I would say is leave the grease catch until it is cold, don't try to remove it before that as tit tricky to do and you will end up spilling grease all over the floor...oops!!!
***** Conclusion *****
It's a great little BBQ to use for a quick bit of outdoor cooking, it's big enough for a fmaily of four, though if I was going to be having a BBQ for a lot of people I think it would have to be done in stages, unlike my 'real' charcoal bbq!!! The key thing with this gas bbq is the speed with which you can get set up and cooking which allows you to enjoy outdoor cooking at the drop of a hat!!! I would heartily recommend this bbq if you wanted a cheap and simple gas bbq for the same reasons as myself!!!
Having had the same PC for about 7 years and finally getting to the point where it was getting much too long in the tooth, and having saved for several months I finally decided the time had come to buy myself a new pc. I decided to buy from Overclockers as over the years I have bought various bits and pieces for my computer from Overclockers as and when I have needed them, a Sound card here, a hard drive there etc and always found the service to be fast and efficient.
Having been out of the world of PC hardware for some years I first needed to decide upon a specification and the exact components I wanted to get the best performance for my money.
Seeing as I have been a member of Overclockers forums for years I figured that would be a good place to start by asking people who are clearly into their pcs and who keep up to date with the latest technology etc.
A quick thread in the general hardware section asking for help speccing a pc got several well reasoned responses and a good few suggested shopping baskets of components. I spent a day or so looking over the various suggestions and along with asking various supplimentary questions and asking if different bits of kit worked well together I finally settled upon a configuration which all in the thread agreed would be a great pc for the money I wanted to spend.
I went to the online shop and added all the items to my basket ready to purchase. Luckily as a loyal forum member I benefit from free next day delivery which naturally I took advantage of.
As promised, the next day I took delivery of a large boxed nicely packed up with all the hardware I had ordered. Great service!!
I got on with putting together the pc which went fairly well but when I hit a couple of stumbling blocks I went back to the forums and asked for help and advice which again was very quick in coming and got my build progressing within a few minutes.
Once I finshed building the pc and installing the software I was really pleased with the performance.
As mentioned I have used Overclockers several times and I have to say every time I have been impressed with the service I have received. Items have been dispatched and delivered very quickly and their prices have been pretty much spot on. It is worth looking out for their special weekly deals which can give you quite a saving at times.
The thing I like most about Overclockers is the fact that aswell as the shop there is the community on the forums who are only too happy to help out when it comes to suggesting products to meet your needs which is extremely helpful as the amount of collective knowledge on the forums is huge!!! It is also lovely to be able to benefit from free postage for being a loyal forum member, so that is something to think about too!
A few weeks ago my girlfriend gave birth to our first child, a lovely baby boy.
For trhe first couple of weeks all was well in the nappy department...well apart from those first deposits...oh my god they were terrifying!!!
Anyway, after a couple of weeks the poor little chaps bottom started to get a bit red and angry looking. We were not too sure what was best to do as we had been bathing him, changing him frequently and applying Sudocrem but it wasn't getting any better.
After a couple of days I was chatting to my mother who suggested using vasoline as a barrier to prevent the urine getting to the skin to see if that would give the skin a bit of a chance to get better.
A couple of days later his bottom was still angry looking and now we were at a bit of a loss, so we headed to our local Boots and looked to see what they had.
One of the products on the shelf was their spray on nappy cream, it looked pretty good and at a mere £2.99 for, I think, 250ml we decided to give it a whirl!
When we got home the little chap needed changing so we followed the instructions on bottle.
We washed him down and patted him dry then having given the bottle a good shake, sprayed over the sore bits with cream. The spray is white and has a consistancy a little like watered down sun lotion. It spread quite nicely when we sprayed and according to the bottle would spread further and into all the nooks and crannies as baby moved his legs. The spray application also meant there was no need to rub anything over areas which might be sore, which is certainly a benefit if you ask me!!!
We did this everytime we changed him and even after only a few hours it seemed to be working, his bottom was a lot less red and angry looking. After a few days his bottom was nice and pink as nature intended and we were much happier as parents!!!
If I had to mention something negative about this product, the one thing I would mention is the fact that this product is perfumed which seemed like a bad idea when it is for use on tiny babys as they can have such delicate skin which can easily be sensitive to such things.
If you have tried other methods of treating the dreaded nappy rash and not had any success I would certainly recommend giving this a try.