Tuesday, 30 November 2010

How To Sell your Home

Despite improvements, the housing market is still unpredictable, so make sure you do everything you can to maximise your chances of selling.
Be realistic about the price. If it’s not competitive, your house simply won’t sell. If you want to sell quickly research the price of similar houses in your area and price your house below. You can do the by visiting www.zoopla.co.uk.  Get the word that your house is for sale in as many places as possible. Talk to your friends so that the news travels by word of mouth and advertise your property on reputable websites and in local publications.
Make sure your house looks at its best. Give special attention to the following:
Give shabby walls a fresh coat of paint in a neutral shade,
Get your carpets cleaned or polish wooden floors,
Wipe down all countertops and put away as many of your belongings as you can. Clutter puts people off, they can’t see past it.
 It sounds obvious, but tidy your kitchen, wash up dishes and put them away. Don’t cook anything that’s going to leave a lingering smell, add scented candles or fresh flowers, or a warm handful of coffee beans in your oven for 10 minutes before viewers arrive.
Play up your house strongest points. If you have a stunning range cooker get it professionally cleaned so it literally gleams – sure to attract any keen cooks.
Ask friends or family to look after pets (if you have any) – not everyone loves animals so they can be real turn off.
The outside is also important, so make sure your house has kerb appeal.
Look at it critically from across the street to make sure nothing looks scruffy.
Sweep up leaves and clear away any rubbish (garbage).
Invest in pot plants to brighten up the area with some natural colour.
Clean windows and windowsills. Give your front door a wash and polish the door furniture.
When potential buyers arrive, make them feel welcome.
Offer them a drink and to answer any of their questions.
Leave them to walk around on their own. People often get intimidated with the owner standing right there. You need them to feel this is the home for them, right from the first visit.
Put together an information pack about the positives of your area, such as schools, transport and roads, tube/train stations, shops, sporting facilities, parks, etc. Sell the are to them as well as your home.
I appreciate comments, so let me hear from you.
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Saturday, 27 November 2010

Sogatel - Skype compatible 1.3 megapixel sphere - Webcam with Mic - Windows 7 XP Vista and MAC - Product Review

After having had much more sophisticated and expensive Logitec and Philips webcams on previous PCs, I needed a new webcam to go with Vista. That limited my choice immediately and it was down to this one and one other - this one won on price initially and the fact that I only need it to use with MSN Messenger. This is perfect for that - it is easy to set-up, very clear picture and the sound is okay (not brilliant quality but it wasn't with the more expensive cameras). The only slight hiccup is that the cable it quite short and so it's not quite where I want to position the camera. But picture quality is great for chatting and some of the fun effects you can use on your picture make for good entertainment for children. I had a problem with getting sound but this is to do vista not the webcam - you need to start an audio call first and then start the camera, not start a video call. Would definately (and have) recommend this for a lower priced chatting webcam.Click here to check it out.

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TeckNet New Webcam Camera, 5 MegaPixel, 5G Lens, Built-in microphone, Built-in LED lights- Product Review

This is a great little USB web cam for very little money. When testing a dozen or so different web cams, I found this the easiest to use and the least expensive.
This cam does not come with software, and does not have fancy features like zoom, autofocus, and subject tracking. It is fixed focal length and focus, like a cheap still camera.
I found the lack of software to be a plus, as most all webcam software borders on being malware with its invasive and obnoxious effects on Windows. I have not tried it with Linux yet, but will update this review when I do.
This camera worked out of the box on standard Windows camera drivers, and for simple web conferencing, it is great. I have used it with the Elluminate service, and it functions quite adequately.
If you need a basic, generic, USB webcam and don’t want to shell out nearly 30 for a good one, give this beastie a try. It isn’t fancy, but it works. VERY GOOD VALUE FOR MONEY @ only £9.89Click here to check it out.

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This is perhaps the best webcam I have used by far, the images are bright and clear even in low light and the colour depth is amazing. The unit is very cleverly designed with a rubber mount that flexes to securely fit any monitor. The sleek tubular body is elegant and aesthetically pleasing, yet blends in perfectly so it does not look out of place. 

The auto focus functionality works perfectly and fairly quickly when new items enter the frame. And the digital noise-cancelling microphone provides the ideal audio capturing companion to this great HD webcam. As well as supporting a native resolution of 1280x720p, the camera also supports 800x600 and 640x480 which are more commonly used for web conferencing applications. 

The camera works incredibly well with the Live Suite of software, especially Live Messenger both with Windows Vista and Windows 7 in both 32 and 64 bit versions. The camera output can be read directly into Expression encoder for live streaming if needed. Click here to check it out.

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This is brilliant,you can have it anywhere in the house and control it form where ever your sitting,i print loads of pictures so all i do is set it up with my photo paper and away we go,its really easy to use,and the quality is good,when i need to buy another printer in the future i'll always buy an epson,ive had 2 of them now and i only replaced the old one because i wanted a wireless printer, so i would definitely recommend it to anyone.Click here to check it out.

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Friday, 26 November 2010

Sony STR-DA2400ESB 7.1 Channel AV Receiver in Black - Product Review

This is an excellent home cinema receiver. So far I've used it mainly for listening to Compact Discs and Mini Discs using the 'multi-stereo' mode which outputs the two channel (stereo) sound from all seven speakers plus the subwoofer. And I am very pleased with the sound quality. 

It features Full HD 1080 up-scaling of any video sources (which works well with standard DVDs) - and it can decode the latest Blu-ray disc formats (namely Dolby True HD, and DTS-HD master audio). 

In terms of inputs and outputs - it has 4 HDMI input sockets which can also carry audio, and one HDMI output for connecting to your HD ready TV. There are also component and composite video inputs/outputs. 

There are five digital audio inputs (three optical, two coaxial) - there is no digital output, however there are two standard analogue tape loops, so you can connect audio equipment which requires an output (such as CD recorders, tape decks etc.) in the traditional manner, using standard phono (RCA) leads. 

There are also 9 standard analogue line inputs, a multi channel input (essential for SACD) and a Digital Media Port input. 

There is also of course, an AM/FM radio with RDS. 

The receiver reproduces the sound on CDs and MDs very well, and gives a very musical sound, with good levels of detail and insight into the recording. Bass is well controlled and delivered also. And the sound draws you in. 

In terms of DVD playback the sound is even more impressive than CDs or MDs. The DTS soundtrack on Terminator 3 sounds exceptional. Blu-ray playback is top-notch also. The Dolby True HD on Casino Royale (deluxe edition) is great - I am using: Sony BDPS350 Blu-ray Disc Player 1080p Full HD 

The automatic calibration feature - using the (supplied) microphone is quick, easy, and accurate, and sets up the receiver to a high standard. This works by sending a series of loud test-tone signals through each loudspeaker in turn. It takes about 30 seconds or so to set-up speaker distances, volume levels, and frequency response settings for all of the speakers plus the subwoofer. 

The end result is that the receiver is set up exactly to match your speakers, room size and layout - giving you the best possible sound. 

There is a graphic equalizer, which gives you control of bass and treble settings for front, centre and surround speakers (independently). And in addition you can choose one of three auto-calibration frequency settings: 

1) Full Flat - Makes the measurement of frequency from each speaker flat. 

2) Engineer - Sets the frequency to one that matches that of the Sony listening room standard. 

3) Front Reference - Adjusts the characteristics of all the speakers to match the characteristics of the front speakers. 

You can experiment with these settings to get the type of sound you prefer. Or you can choose to turn these settings off altogether. 

The receiver is also supplied with two remote controls, a large remote and a small remote. Many of the functions are repeated, so this is mainly for convenience sake, and I've found it to be quite handy. 

You can operate and navigate the unit's menu system either by using the built in display, or by using the display on your television set. Either way, once you get used to it, it is user friendly and simple. 

I have found this to be a good buy with which I am pleased. Click here to check it out.

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Samsung HT-C450 5.1 ch - 500W Home Theatre System - Product Review

I was a bit hesitant to purchase this as, at the time of purchasing, there were no reviews I could find on the net for this item. However I thought I would take a chance as I was in dire need of a decent 5.1 surround system with DTS. I have to say, for the money this is a very good system and I am very pleased with it. It was packed very well and very easy to set up with all the speakers and cable colour coded for ease of use. 

The system itself is finished in Piano black which on the plus side is very nice to look at but has the disadvantage of being a magnet for dust. 

On to the performance. I really only wanted this to play my PS3 through. I had looked at stand alone surround sound systems but they were actually more expensive than this system. It has optical in and plays both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS - however this will not play DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD just to be clear,but will still decode and play regular DTS and Dolby really well. Sound is very good - nice mid range and can be fine tuned via on screen menus. It has a passive sub woofer which is a bonus if you dont have too many plug sockets spare. 

Picture wise - this is a very good DVD player with great upscaling (actually better than the PS3 at upscaling). Nice remote control with some glow in the dark buttons !!!! 

It has a USB socket on the front which I have heard can take a portable drive up to 250gb. 

This system can also play DivX files and photo CD's 

This system will be laughed at by 'purists' but if you want a good sounding system with great upscaling capabilities then this is a very good buy. Good choice of inputs enabling you to plug your Sky+, Virgin box, Xbox or PS3 through.Click here to check it out.

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Logitech X-540 Multimedia Speaker System (5.1) - Product Review

I wanted a surround sound system for my PC and, to be honest, was trying to justify spending £200 on an all singing, all dancing set-up. I really thought I couldn't expect much from a budget system. However, based on web reviews of the Logitech X-540s (and indeed the X-530s) I decided to bite the bullet and go for these. And am I glad!!! 

First off, even with free Super Saver delivery these arrived on my doorstep within a few days. Thanks Amazon, YOU rock. Second, on lifting the box I was pleasantly suprised to notice how heavy these speakers are, normally a good sign. Last but not least, opening the box revealed an array of extremely cool looking and well finished center / satellite speakers (each with two cones and built in metal grill), and a neat and tidy subwoofer with large bass port on the front, the cone being on the bottom between four sturdy rubber feet (take care when lifting / positioning as the subwoofer cone is unprotected). 

Basic set-up took 10 to 15 minutes, and was very user friendly as all cables are colour-coded. This was especially useful as the colours tied up nicely with my Creative Soundblaster Audigy sound card. The center speaker has a nice touch - the stand, which enables it to sit on the desk in front of your monitor, also doubles as a bracket which allows you to place it on top of an LCD screen. This obviously frees up desk space and works wonderfully well. 

Another 10 minutes and I had the four satellites mounted on my walls (again this is an option, not a necessity). This greatly improves spaciality and frees up yet more desk space. One potential negative here is the length of the satellite cables, especially for the rear speakers. However, they are adequate for a small room and extensions can be purchased easily and cheaply if required. 

The system also comes with a very useful remote which provides controls for "Power", "Master Volume", "Bass (Subwoofer) Volume" and "Matrix Mode" (it also has a "Headphones" jack). Matrix mode allows you to spread stereo sound to all speakers where your sound card may not have the ability to do so (CMSS on my Audigy card does this superbly - see later). Note that the remote control is wired to the subwoofer - not a problem for PC use as cable length is adequate. Also a wired remote means you won't be constantly changing batteries. 

Now to performance - WOW!!! These speakers rock for the money. The volume capabilities are enormous with no discernable distortion. I have my system in the converted attic of my bungalow and, even at half volume, I can hear it out in the street. One to aggravate those pesky neighbours for sure. 

Music sounds crisp, clear and incredibly rich and packs a beefy bass punch - but no bass overload, unless you want it of course. I usually have the bass volume up to about 40 percent and it sounds perfectly balanced, but plenty of room for adjustment either way according to taste. My Audigy card has CMSS mode, which means I can route stereo (eg music) sounds to all speakers. I find that the "Stereo Surround" setting works best as opposed to the recommended "CMSS" setting - you literally feel surrounded by the music, with different instruments appearing to come from all four satellites, vocals from the center - simply stunning! Don't be afraid to play with your graphic equalizer etc to get that perfect sound for you. 

And if your sound card soesn't have 5.1 / CMSS capabilities, just hit the Matrix button on the remote. This provides a perfectly adequate substitute to give you a great surround sound experience. 

Gaming is also excellent, with a real sense of immersion in the atmosphere of whatever game you're playing. From the deep, throbbing, underground machine noises of DOOM3 to the light, airy ambient outdoor sounds of Tiger Woods - everything sounds fantastic. The plasma gun in DOOM3 for example - you literally feel the vibration in your chest on firing (and recoil too I'd swear), and even the sound of reloading weapons blows you away. On the sudden appearance of an imp or such like I practically jump out of my skin every time (getting interested? LOL). 

Finally, movies. Again these sound stunning with full 5.1 dolby digital performance, giving that sensation of really being immersed in the action. I won't mention any particular movies here as you'll all have your favourites - just give this system a try and I'm sure you'll be impressed. 

Conclusion? I doubt you need one after all I've said. If you're looking for a budget surround sound system that gives unbelievable performance for the money, just try these. You'll be amazed at what you can get for £50 odd. I definitely am - one of the best purchases I've made in a very long time. 

Oh by the way, there is one VERY major downside to these speakers ..... if you're married that is. You are likely to make your spouse extremely irate with this system as he / she won't be able to hear themselves think while you transport yourself to another realm. But sure, what the heck? Just DO IT!!! After all, if they kick you out you can always bring your X-540s with you. Problem solved ;-) Click here to check it out.

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Samsung HT-C5500 Blu-Ray 5.1 ch Home Theatre System - Wireless Rear Speaker Ready - Product Review

I'm sorry but whatever anyone says no matter how packed full of functions, high quality or future proof this type of product is, it is not worth its salt if it lacks on the style front! You want your mates to come in and say "Wow"..and Samsung have not disappointed with this blu ray home cinema system. It is an gorgeously designed piece of kit and looks fantastic connected up. 

It was easy to set up, well packaged and the majority of my time was spent hiding cables around the room. The system itself does everything it sells itself to be. Connected it up to Sky HD box and X-Box 360 with an optical splitter and it excels in sound quality. And it looks beautiful! 

The last Samsung surround I purchased was quite disappointing as there was a severe lack of audio options but there are many adjustments that can be made here (the option that stabilises the sound is great if like me you live in a flat and dont want an asbo - you can enjoy at fairly low volumes without upsetting your neighbours!) 

Just a couple of VERY minor points: 

1) The subwoofer is a wee bit hard to tame but I saw a hint to put some socks or something in the back section to take some of the impact out of it.. 

2) The i-pod dock is an excellent feature is nice but it doesnt import album artwork across which is a bit lazy considering the quality 

3) Not much internet TV content...youtube is about it...until BBCi-player etc comes to town it is hardly worth the hassle (dont be rushing out to buy wireless dongles!). 

But they are all just very very minor quibbles. The Samsung Blu Ray Surround Sound comes highly recommended... Click here to check it out.

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Sony BDVE370.CEK 5.1 ch Blu-Ray Home Cinema System - Black - Product Review

This is a review for the Sony BDVE370.CEK 5.1 ch Blu-Ray Home Cinema System as listed on Amazon.co.uk 

So, we said to ourselves... "We really need to replace our broken down surround system, what should we get?". Well, I'd wanted something that could bring together all my media needs for a while and so thought this the perfect opportunity to look in to what was new on the market! 

Almost straight away I stumbled upon this Sony BDVE370 player because, well, it had such good reviews and appeared to do everything! It had 5.1 surround, could play Blu-ray, was 3D ready, could up-sample DVDs, Stream media from the internet and your local PC, and had a wizzy interface... Could it be the perfect home cinema system? 

Well, we bought it and now I can tell you what I think. 

1) Installation - No issues here, unpack it, plug it in and off you go. For those that are interested the speaker cables are very thin, the front ones are 3m each and the rear ones are like 8 to 9m I'd say? (These were not long enough for my room, so I had to splice `em!). There is only one power cable required for the whole system which is a boon. The included sound calibration mike then helped to get everything, umm, calibrated! I did however decide to drop the subwoofer down by 2db as it sounded a little over powered compared to the satellites. 

2) Connectivity - I did not want to go down the route of buying Sony's wireless dongle, so I bought a homeplug networking kit. Was mildly worried about whether it would work, but it's just great and from the moment I plugged it in it has worked flawlessly (At £40 for a pair or reusable network points it was a no brainer). Hey also, don't forget to buy an HDMI cable ;) 

3) The Interface - The Sony interface (that scrolling bar of options) is a strange beast in that it is unlike any other interface, and as such might take some getting used to. However it really didn't pose me any threat and it looks nice :). One thing to note is that after the initial firmware upgrade, and after connecting a hard drive / USB stick, and setting up my PC for media streaming, the video menu of the Sony player is quickly filling up with options... I hope this won't get too confusing for people wanting to use my player when I am not around. 

4) The Sound - Oh, it's lovely having the surround sound working again. We've watched a couple of movies and are not disappointed. Like I said, I needed to drop the subwoofers volume by 2db as otherwise when the sound moved down from the satellites to the sub there seemed to be sudden increase in volume and this discrepancy bothered me. Once this one done however things seemed much for fluid. The high notes do not scream and everything sounds clear. Volume wise it is quite capable, but does not go stupidly loud. We find that we have the volume level sitting around the middle mark most of the time. I noted that the sub-woofer does not go down quite as low as our previous sub, but then this one is passive and so this couldn't be expected... shame, but never mind. 

5) Internet Video - Not much to say here, in a good way... It worked brilliantly and I look forward to watching much more iPlayer that I have in the past. It integrates with the remote so it feels just like watching a DVD (e.g. the pause, play, stop, rewind and fast forward buttons all function from the remote). All I want now is the channel 4 to get on the band waggon! 
6) Local Video Streaming - I was excited that windows 7 detected the Blu-ray player straight away, and I was able to open windows media player and right click an album and select "play to". In a matter of seconds the album was playing on the surround system in the other room... What's more I could pause and skip tracks by walking next door and using the remote. I was then rather disappointed to find that trying the same with photos and videos... Unsupported format it said - Cuh! Well, the happy news is that after a little research I have got all my mp4's and div-x's streaming by installing Serviio (a free DLNA media server). I tried a few alternatives with mixed results, but this one seemed to make a good backing from a number of people with the same player. The main quirks are that the Sony player does not support CD or DVD covers (a big shame as that would have helped my kiddies when browsing the lists of films & music, and would have looked nice). Also an mp4 video had to be transcoded on the fly to an mp2 video to be streamed, and yet if you put the mp4 on a memory stick or removable hard disk and plug it in directly to the player then it can be played natively... The upshot of this is that to save your PC from doing lots of extra work it would be much better just to stick all your files on an external hard disk and keep it plugged in to the back of your Blu-ray player. 

7) Conclusion - So, does it do everything? Straight out the box it does an awful lot right. The sound is good, the Blu-ray & DVD playback is crisp and smooth. The internet video works well and is very well integrated and really feels a part of the TV experience. DLNA Media streaming is a little disappointing out of the box as Sony's / Microsoft's implementations don't appear to talk very well to each other, but with a little help from a 3rd party DLNA Server (i.e. Serviio) things can at least be got to work well (even if your media requires transcoding for no real reason). Would I buy this product again if I knew what I know now? Yes I certainly would. 

Click here to check it out.

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Western Digital TV Live HD Media Player - Product Review

I've read a few reviews where some people have had problems with the WD Live TV device. I have to say I've had no issues whatsoever and thought it might be useful to share my setup to give people confidence to try this amazing little box. 

Here are the steps I went through to get everything working. 

1. WD Live TV device: Firstly I installed firmware version 1.01.11 (There is/was a version 1.01.12 but this has problems so I would stick with 1.01.11 for now). When I first got my device I went to the Western Digital website and downloaded the firmware onto a USB stick. Once I had the device attached to the TV I plugged the USB stick into the device and it immediately popped up on the TV that a new version of firmware had been found and let me install it. I would recommend doing the first firmware update this way, even before hooking up the network connection. 

2. The WDTV device is very fast at detecting where media is. I did my first test by copying a few photos, music tracks and a film onto a USB stick and plugging it in to the device. When I went into the Photo menu I could select the USB stick and display the photos, likewise with the film and music. Okay so far so good - time to network. 

3. My ultimate plan was to go wireless, but I like to keep things simple to start with so I switched off my WDTV device then plugged a wired network connection (i.e. Cat 5 network cable) into the network port on the back of it, and the other end into one of the network ports on the back of my Internet Router (Netgear WGR614). This might not be practical for some people due to the length of cable that you would need. My WDTV is only about 10 feet from my router, if its not possible you might have to go straight to wireless (outlined below). This is where things get slightly techie. You need to check your WDTV device is getting allocated an IP address by your router. Once you have both ends of the network cable plugged in, switch on your WDTV box and then use the menu to go into Settings and the Network and choose to Check Network. Fingers crossed the device should show you an IP address and Gateway (your routers IP address) and DNS servers. These are all allocated by the router. You need the IP address for accessing local media (i.e. on your computer). The gateway and DNS are required for accessing YouTube and the like over the Internet. If you have all these allocated - great! If not, you need to do a bit of trouble shooting. There can be various reasons but they pretty much all come down to how your router is configured for allocating IP addresses. Checking the DHCP configuration on your router is the first thing, also check anything that would not allow the WDTV device to connect, such as an access list. 

4. Okay lets assume you now have a network connection and IP address etc. If you select the Video option you should now be able to select YouTube. See if you can stream a YouTube video. Pretty cool, eh! If its not working double check the network settings are correct especially DNS and the gateway. These should match the ones set in your router. 

5. Okay so you can connect to the Internet, but how about all your local media - photos, music etc. Well you need to ensure they are shared. The WDTV box will detect PCs on your network and let you find media on them. I'm running Windows 7 on my home network but Vista and XP should all work fine too. I'm not going to go into all the details of how to do this but you need to make sure the folders on the computer that contains the media are shared. If you right click on a folder containing your media you will see the option to set up Sharing. Make sure you have done this for every folder you want to access from the WDTV device. Tip: Put all you media in folders called Music, Films, Photos etc and place all in a folder called something like Media, then set the Sharing on the Media folder and everything below it will automatically be shared. With Windows 7 there are other options for media streaming which you could explore also. 

6. Right, once the sharing is setup on your PC you can go to the WDTV device and it should now be giving the option of Shared Folders under the Photo, Video etc menus. You should now be able to play and listen to your photos, films and music. There are two final steps, both optional, to complete your setup. 

7. Going wireless. This took me all of 30 seconds! I used a Buffalo Airstation Nfiniti Wireless-N Ultra Compact USB adapter (The Western Digital website has a list of tested USB wireless adapters). Switch off the WDTV device, unplug the wired connection to the router and pop the Wireless USB adapter into one of the USB ports on the device. When you switch back on, go into Settings, Network and it will ask you if you want wired or wireless. Select wireless and the box will then search for a wireless network. Obviously you need to be able to pick up your wireless network from where the box is located, but assuming this is the case and you have your wireless enabled on your router you should be able to browse the network just as you did when you were wired. Depending on the security on your wireless router you will probably be asked to enter the encryption passcode that you setup when you first configured your wireless network. Techie Tip: You should use WPA encryption if your router allows it. WEP is much less secure. If you have no security setup you should get it enabled immediately otherwise everything you just shared on your PC can be accessed by anyone within range of your wireless network. Not good! 

8. So that's it. Sit back and enough streaming your media to your TV......Oh there is one last thing you could think about. I can't be bothered having to switch on my PC every time I want to view photos or listen to music etc. This is where you could consider getting a NAS box. I have a Buffalo Linkstation with a 300GB disk. I've put all my media onto this and setup to share on the network. The WDTV device finds the shares on the Linkstation just as if they were shares on a PC. 

So there you go. I hope that gives you confidence that the WD Live TV device is capable of doing what you need it to do. Yes, if you are unfamiliar with the basics of networks you may need to do a bit more work if you encounter a problem but I have to say it does work very well and worth it. I'm looking forward to what other Internet services Western Digital might add in the future. Enjoy!Click here to check it out.

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BlackBerry 8520 Sim-Free Mobile Phone - Black - Product Review

I was a bit apprehensive about replacing my antiquated and very old straightforward phone with a Blackberry that seems to do everything but as I had a good contract deal I thought it was worth a go. I have spent several days working out how it works and reading up on it which I think is well worth doing if you want to take advantage of all the features this phone has to offer. Having done the homework I can honestly say that I find it very straightforward to use (although initially I couldn't make head or tail of it). I have set up e mail and Wi Fi with no problem at all (the phone gave the necessary prompts and it worked first time). Setting up instant messenger was a little harder as I tried to do it by connecting and downloading the instant messenger software via the PC without realising I needed to install the software and drivers for the blackberry on the PC first. Having done that I still couldn't install Windows live (because both computers in my house "said no" but I managed to install the windows live software with no problem at all by following the prompts on the phone and downloading via the browser on the blackberry........instant messenger on Windows live is working a treat on the Blackberry now. The internet connection is very good using the Wi Fi connection at home and the GPRS outside is slower but adequate. I find it a little difficult to read the web pages though as the screen is small and although you can zoom in it isn't as good as using a PC.....but OK if you have no other option. The biggest disappointment with this phone is the quality of the camera. It takes adequate pictures in daylight but as it doesn't have a flash it isn't very good at taking pictures or videos indoors without adequate light and when the photos are transferred to the PC the poor quality it highlighted especially compared to the photos my digicamera takes, with hindsight I would have considered a phone with a better camera however as I wanted a phone that had E mail and internet features together with a querky keyboard this phone fits the bill perfectly. The keyboard although small isn't a problem (once you have worked out how to use the shortcuts) and I can type away pretty quickly on it now. The four star rating reflects the poor quality of the camera (don't buy this phone if a good camera is essential) other than that I can totally recommend it for all its other features.Cclick here to check it out.

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TomTom Start UK & RoI Satellite Navigation System - Black -Product Review

I am a first time user and wanted a simple to use but reliable unit and decided to go for this one. Brought it from my local store, opened it and used it to take me to unknown address 20 miles away. Was so easy to use without looking at any instructions and was so acurate. Very quick to re-direct when you take a turning too early (as I did when 2 junctions were very close together)and soon got me back on track within a couple of seconds. I don't mind motorway driving so other comments have not put me off along with the fact you can ask for alternitive routes. Liked the fact I can download updated info and buy a homer voice if I ever desired! Love the fact you are not stuck with one voice and think Irish Sean is very calming to take instruction from lol. 
I did buy a cheaper brand a few days before but had no web back up and couldn't even direct me properly from my moms which is 2 miles away along with the fact that every bend in the road I was told to turn left etc. Somethings you buy you are just better going for a decent brand and having a reliable product then saving £20 and ending up spending that plus more on petrol and patience. Very happy with my first decent sat nav and will only buy Tomtom in the future!Click here to check it out

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Klipsch iGroove HG iPod Speaker System Black - Product Review

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I'd been happy playing my MP3 player through my home separates but unsightly trailing cables made me think I should invest in a quality speaker dock to give my iRiver a better home. I did my research in the usual department stores to see what was on offer. Everyone raves about Bose and although it's designed for the iPod I thought I'd check this out as a benchmark, to be honest I found the sound quality didn't warrant the £250 price tag. I also checked out the Monitor Audio iDeck which was excellent, though I found it a little too bassy. Which brings me on the iGroove, I find it hard not to wax lyrical about it. The design is gorgeous, a gloss black curved design which will add style to any room, but this isn't style over substance. I find it hard to believe that such a well-balanced room filling sound can come from such a compact bit of kit. I'm jealous of the functionality the remote brings to the iPod as once plugged into the dock it will charge your iPod and enable you to skip tracks. If like me you have another brand of mp3 then you have a cradle to plug in and a headphone plug to put in your player, it might sound a little indiscreet but it works and looks fine with my H10. My one regret? I wish I'd checked Amazon as I ended up paying over £200 on the high street. 

Update Nov 2007 - My iGroove is still going strong, not found anything that compares in sound quality and I can be smug everytime I see people floating around the £200+ Bose in John Lewis. Price has gone down over 50% since last year, it was a great buy then, now it's just a steal! 

Update Mar 2010 - Still going strong and sounding as good as ever! The other half has just got a 5th Gen Nano so going to try and get the latest adaptor for it.

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Sony BDP-S570B Blu-ray Disc Player with Built-in 3D Technology - Product Review

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Did quite a bit of research before buying a Blu-ray player - wanted something that did more than play B/ray - Internet video (esp iPlayer) & media streamer were two features high on the list. Whittled it down to the Sony or LG range, but went for this in the end & glad I did. Things that sold it were:- 
1. Built-in WIFI... some models (including Sony) had option of WiFi dongles... but they're expensive & take a slot 
2. DLNA functionality for home network media streaming 
3. 3D for the day when I can afford a 3D TV! 
4. Seems to have UK-specific functionaltiy like ITV/BBC players... something LG lacked 
5. Price... all this a a (on Amazon at least) price that beat polayers with similar functionality 

I was expecting a lot & its did pretty well meet my epxectations! Connected easily to home network wirelessly (no problems with signal so far), updated its firmware, picked up my NAS storage drive automatically (& videos/pics), plays a good selection of Web videos, connects to my laptop (once Media player setup), and even plays DVDs/BRs with no problems so far. Looks good & does the job very well! 

I'm 'only' giving 4 stars because 5 stars to me means it has to be perfect, and this isn't quite pefect (what is!). Couple of minor niggles to me are:- 
a. Remote feels a bit cheap 
b. Some video formats (files on the networked drives) aren't recognised... doesn't like MKVs, and also certain AVIs (can't pinpoint what sort yet). 
c. My PCs can view device on network... but haven't found a way of playing discs on the PCs yet (picky I know). 
Overall... really impressed!
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