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M. Pearson (West Midlands, UK.)

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Blackberry Z10 UK Sim Free Smartphone - Black
Blackberry Z10 UK Sim Free Smartphone - Black
Offered by Sam Store US
Price: £105.00

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great phone, underrated by "professional" reviews, 10 Jan. 2014
I have had a mobile phone since the days of the Motorola housebrick, but have only fairly recently come to smartphones. My first was a BlacBerry Curve 3 years ago, and my second is a new Z10. Other family members have iPhones and Android devices, and I thought quite hard about what to replace the Curve with. In the end I decided that I was not going to pay the excessive (in my view) price required for an iPhone, and I wanted to avoid contributing further to the dark force that is Google's expanding empire. Which basically left the choice between a Windows phone or a Blackberry. A secondary choice then was to get another keypad phone, or go to a touch-screen model. Having got used to using a tablet I decided on the latter, and after reading a LOT of reviews, by journalists and users, I opted for the Z10. I was all set to buy from Amazon, until I saw the Carphone Warehouse offer at £189 for a sim free LTE version, at which price, frankly, it's a steal.

The phone has been with me for a few days now and overall I love it. The new OS is easy and quite intuitive to use, certainly more so than my partner's Andriod based Moto G. The hub is really excellent for keeping up with emails, which is probably the main reason why I have a smart phone. The relative lack of apps is not an issue for me, as that's not what I want a phone for. The other feature I will make use of is the mobile wifi hotspot mode, which coupled with a Three 12 month One Plan allows tethering with a good data allowance. Again this is not something I'll use a lot, but it has allowed me to ditch separate phone and mobile broadband contracts.

Downsides? Some have complained about battery life, but that is a problem with all modern touch-screem smartphones. I'm finding that I'm using up to about two thirds of the battery's capacity in a day, so a daily top-up charge suffices for what is probably light use by some people's standards. For those days when use may be heavy I have just ordered an external charger pack with spare battery. The bundled earphones are a bad fit, uncomfortable and poor sound. Oh, and it would be nice if the camera icon could be hidden if required, as it is too easy to switch to camera mode unintentionally.

Upsides? Replaceable battery, memory card slot, feels solid and well built, very sharp screen, good sound for telephone calls, easy and intuitive to use, much easier to learn than my previous Curve. Excellent documentation (especially compared to Android) available from the Blackberry website, with video clips to explain most things you'll need to know and a 284 page downloadable PDF manual (where's yours, Google?).

Finally, am I worried about the future of BlackBerry? A bit perhaps, but I don't use any of their enterprise services, and the phone will carry on if they do go down in a couple of years time. So at present I'd say this is not a reason for failing to pick up an excellent phone which is currently available at excellent prices. I'd also definitely say get a sim free one then you can pick whatever suits your needs from the whole range of sim only deals.

Edit: After a week or so's use I'm finding battery life improving, getting a couple of days now.

Magic Lantern Guides®: Canon PowerShot G12
Magic Lantern Guides®: Canon PowerShot G12
by Peter K. Burian
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but misses some key information, 25 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It seems that even expensive cameras these days come with poor manuals hidden away on a cd, and only a very basic introduction in print form. The Canon G12 is no exception, so this little book fills a significant gap. It is a convenient size, nicely produced, and has a good deal of useful information specific to this camera.

However, as a reference book, it is not without some faults. Whilst there are excellent illustrations inside the front and rear covers of the layout of the camera and controls, unfortunately there are no equivalent guides to the symbols used on the lcd screen. There are some 40 odd icons available on the shooting screen, and aound 30 on the viewing screen, yet trying to find what they all represent is a nightmare in this book. It does not have a section devoted to navigating these screens and providing information on what the icons represent and how to interpret them. This is a major ommission in a book decribed as a complete guide.

The G12 is a complex camera, which includes a number of shooting modes and in camera editing tools that perform functions available on PC software such as Adobe Elements. This book, whilst giving a brief explanation of these, does not provide much guidance in actually using them. Personally I don't see the point of many of these features; if you want to produce such effects you are much more likely to do so in software on a PC. Though I suppose they may be useful if you print directly from camera to a compatible Canon printer. But don't look in this book for help with doing that either.

Overall though I'm glad I bought this book, despite the faults mentioned above. It does provide a good walk through of what this camera does and contains some useful tips and hints. Be prepared though to have to trawl through it sometimes to find the information you want.

Yamaha YAS101bl SoundBar System with Built-In Subwoofer - Black (discontinued by manufacturer)
Yamaha YAS101bl SoundBar System with Built-In Subwoofer - Black (discontinued by manufacturer)
Offered by Direct savings
Price: £129.99

189 of 199 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yamaha YAS101 Soundbar, 20 Dec. 2011
Like many folk who've bought a new flat screen TV, Samsung in our case, we were very disappointed with the sound quality. My first attempt to improve this was a low cost Philips HTC3020 5.1 surround system. Whilst an improvement this had several shortcomings. Wires trailing everywhere, the DVD player refused to work properly with TV, and speech was still not as clear as I wanted. The last point was the killer for me, as I have some hearing damage from industrial noise which makes speech hard to pick up against a noisy background.

As we didn't want the wires, and full surround sound was not a high priority I decided to look at sound bars as a possible solution. After trawling for reviews, and listening to demos I decided that the best price/performance compromise seemed to be the Yamaha YAS101. No-one seemed to be discounting these at all, so I thought I'd hang on until after Xmas to see if any appeared in sales. Then I spotted this at Hughes Direct discounted £20 and free postage, so thought let's get it before Xmas.

Hughes free delivery service included allowing me to select a delivery date. Their online ordering system doesn't however provide any despatch or tracking info, but the item arrived mid morning on the day selected, so no real complaints there. It would be good though if they did provide some delivery progress info as if you are out when delivery is attempted a re-delivery charge is levied, so you are forced to wait in even though you don't know for sure your goods have even been shipped. Hughes, please note if you read this.

The YAS101 was a doddle to set up, it just fitted under the TV on a free shelf, our TV has optical audio output so using the included optical cable it was up and running in 5 minutes. There is no base or treble adjustment, and with the TV speakers turned off that couldn't be adjusted from the TV menu, but this doesn't really matter as the soundbar seems to have the mix just right. Crisp, clear and distortion free room filling sound, without the excessive bass that annoys neighbours (we live in a terraced town house) or pervades the entire house. Speech is now far more audible, especially with the special speech boost setting enabled. Also love the uni-volume control which does a very good, though not perfect, job of controlling the volume jump every time the ads come on.

The only downside for some will be that you do not get proper surround sound, though with suitable sound tracks you get an impression of movement of sound. But if you want full surround sound you'll need a larger budget, and you will need a full 5.1 rig, with wireless speakers if you can afford them....

So for me this really has hit the spot, and managed in the end to get in at just under the £200 I'd originally set as a budget.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2012 6:38 AM GMT

DIGIFLEX 2.5 Sata to USB Hard Drive Caddy HDD Enclosure Case Laptop and PC parts
DIGIFLEX 2.5 Sata to USB Hard Drive Caddy HDD Enclosure Case Laptop and PC parts
Offered by Digiflex
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Does the job, what more do you want for the price?, 1 April 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My teenage grandaughter trashed a new laptop that I'd bought for her birthday, only things worth salvaging were the memory and the 250GB hard drive. My daughter's laptop also died recently, with a lot of treasured photos still on the hard drive. So I bought 2 of these caddies, and brought both drives back into use. I now have a backup drive for my laptop, and my daughter has one for her new laptop and got her photos back. Grandaughter is learning to do without for the moment.

These caddies do the job, though as others have commented drives may be a tight fit. The newer 250 GB drive went in with no problem, the older drive wouldn't go right in until I trimmed a bit of plastic off the inside of the blanking cover at the non cable end. Screws are fiddly, one caddy had more spares than the other. One screwdriver was broken in two, but I used a jeweller's screwdriver anyway. It is prudent to use both connectors at the PC end to ensure adequate power, especially if you are trying to recover lost files.

I was sufficiently satisfied to buy two more.

LED Lenser Police Tech Focus Torch (Black) - Gift Box
LED Lenser Police Tech Focus Torch (Black) - Gift Box
Offered by Stuff Plus
Price: £45.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent small torch for occasional use, 10 Jan. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
But possibly not the only torch you'll ever need. It is undoubtedly amazingly powerful for such a small package, similar output in Lumens to a 2D cell LED maglite, and far far brighter than a standard (non-LED) Mini Maglite.

Compared to the 2D LED Maglite it:
1. Is much smaller and lighter, fits easily in pockets.
2. Has a very even spread (flood) beam.
3. Has no "black hole" in the middle of mid focus beams.
4. Doesn't have such a narrow spot beam as the Maglite.
5. Has a slightly bluer light.
6. Has a built in fastening for a carrying loop.
7. Comes with a neat little canvas case with belt loop.
8. Has much shorter battery life (3 AAA cells vs 2D cells).

In summary, the Police Tech Focus is an excellent torch for carrying around "in case" you need it, and countless situations where you need a bright light for a shorter period of time. Sample uses for me are walking the dog in the dark, coming back from the pub when caravanning, looking inside computer cases, looking for things dropped on the floor in poorly lit areas.

However if you want a torch for extended use outdoors, with a beam that carries a long way, and which stays bright for a long time then the 2D LED Maglite fits the bill better. If you don't mind the weight that is.

Samsung R519 15.6 Inch Notebook PC ( T4200 2GHZ, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, DVDRW, HD, Vista Home Premium) -Black
Samsung R519 15.6 Inch Notebook PC ( T4200 2GHZ, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, DVDRW, HD, Vista Home Premium) -Black

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Samsung R519 Notebook ( T4200, 2.16GHz, 4GB RAM, 250GB HDD, Win7 Home Premium), 14 Dec. 2009
A decent basic laptop for the price. But be aware that the low price means some corners have been cut. Most notable are the cut down I/O capabilities - it comes with 3 USB 2.0, Ethernet, headphone, microphone, VGA, SD slot, webcam and 802.11b/g wireless networking, oh and a built in DVD R/W. But no Firewire, no S-Video, no PCMIA or Express card slot, no ESATA.

Screen is 16:9 format, with glossy surface, but actually quite good definition and less reflective than I had feared. Samsung do good keyboards, and this is no exception, has a nice positive feel to it. But although marketed as a recreational computer the lack of dedicated graphics limits it as a games machines, certainly for top end games. Performance wise it is more suited to office use.

My main gripes with Samsung though are poor documentation, and with this model the lack of any backup Win7 or driver disks. OK, there is a backup partition on the HD with reinstallation files, but very little guidance on how to use them. The printed docs are a joke and refer you to the on screen manual - but how do you get to this if the system won't boot into Windows? There is a process to create backup/recovery discs, but using these seems to depend on you being able to run the Samsung Recovery Solution software. Fine as long as your problem isn't an HDD mechanical failure. I presume you'd then have to buy a retail copy of Win7 along with a new HDD.

There is also little help with initial setup - the default for instance is to split the HDD into two equal partitions, one for use and one for backup. So your 250GB hard drive actually ends up as a 108GB working drive! Of course you can change the partition ratios, but that's not something a beginner would find easy to understand the significance of doing.

I really don't understand Samsung's thinking here about not providing disks, especially when the NC10 notebook I bought last summer came with XP and driver CD's as the only recovery media for a computer that DOES NOT HAVE A CD/DVD DRIVE! How mad is that?
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 19, 2009 6:05 PM GMT

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