ARRAY(0xab8da180)
 
Profile for P. Stephens > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by P. Stephens
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,855
Helpful Votes: 1123

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
P. Stephens (Bath, B&NES United Kingdom)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
pixel
When Computing Got Personal: A history of the desktop computer
When Computing Got Personal: A history of the desktop computer
Price: 4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly researched, highly readable, 25 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the story of how we went from 1970, when no-one had a computer in their home or office, to today, when computers are everywhere. It’s a colourful tale, and the author tells it in a highly readable style backed by impressive research. It’s all there, from the development of the microchip and the first hobby computers to the entry of IBM and the rise of Microsoft, Apple and the Internet.
If you were there then it’s a real trip down memory lane; if you weren’t, it’s an eye-opener to see just how ‘Wild West’ the early microcomputer industry really was. Some illustrations would add to it, but the quality of the material makes it an excellent read nevertheless.


Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson
Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson
Price: 1.91

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my kind of thing, 11 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This might suit some people, but not me, although I confess that I only got a few minutes into it. It seems to consist of a man telling you to do all the usual things (relax physically, empty your mind etc), and for me the concentration required to do things like slacken my facial muscles tends to keep me awake. I prefer to listen to an audiobook with the sleep timer set to 20 minutes, preferably something factual that takes my mind off other things without engaging me in plot or characters. I'm almost always asleep before it cuts out.


Replacement Remote Control for HUMAX RM-F01
Replacement Remote Control for HUMAX RM-F01
Offered by Hyper Direct
Price: 11.45

4.0 out of 5 stars Different layout from the Humax remote, but otherwise good., 8 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The original Humax Foxsat HD-R remote seems to have a reputation for wearing out quickly, and as some of the keys on mine were becoming 'dead' after just six months, I bought this as insurance. For the price it's surprisingly good quality (it feels as solid as the Humax), with responsive keys (so far, at least).

As others have noted, the layout is very different from the Humax remote, so you can't switch easily between them. The only thing I haven't been able to do with it so far is set a bookmark. Unlike the Humax this one only controls one device, so you can't use it to switch your TV on as well. Mine arrived without batteries (2 X AAA needed) or any instructions, so the 'Mode A/B' switch remains a mystery (and probably does nothing).

Overall though I'm very happy with it, and am now using it as my full-time Humax remote.


HDR-1000S Freesat HD+ 500GB Satellite PVR with Free Time EPG & SD Channels
HDR-1000S Freesat HD+ 500GB Satellite PVR with Free Time EPG & SD Channels
Offered by Peter Tyson Online
Price: 195.90

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but bad EPG design made it no use to us., 20 Feb 2013
I bought this as a replacement for Sky+, and found it generally OK. Sadly though there was one show-stopping problem which made me take it back. I'll deal with that first.

In the programme guide (and recordings list), the text used to display programme descriptions is so small as to be illegible on my 32" TV, viewed from 7-8 feet away (actually I could read it if I squinted hard enough, but it brought on immediate eyestrain - see uploaded customer image for an example). Not only is it the smallest font on the screen (by some margin), but it's horizontally condensed as well, as if the layout designers found they didn't have enough space so just crammed it in. My partner couldn't read it at all from a normal viewing distance. The programme names are fine - it's just the details ("In this episode of Eastenders, Sharon tells Phil..." etc).

This might sound trivial, but for me being able to browse programme details is a key feature of digital TV. I've been using Sky's EPG for 12 years with no problems, and my TV's Freeview EPG is fine too. If you have anything smaller than a 40" TV, and anything less than perfect, 25-year-old's eyesight, I'd strongly recommend seeing this machine in action before buying.

As for the rest of the box, it's swings and roundabouts compared to Sky's kit. Setup is very easy, and although the box takes a few seconds to start up each time it's not too long. The box is very quiet, with no fan noise. Picture quality is good, although HD images seemed just a bit soft and I'd have preferred it not to upscale SD channels (unlike Sky, you can't switch this off). In 'auto' timer record mode it had a tendency to cut off a few seconds at the start (and, in one case, end) of programmes, but you can add extra padding time. If you press 'record' while watching a programme it only records from that point, not the start of the record buffer. There are good features for things like choosing between SD and HD recordings (when available), but the list of planned recordings showed some confusing dates on series record.

Playback is a mixed bag. Unlike Sky there are no bookmarks, no way to start playback from a specified position and no slow-motion playback (although the help pages say there is). There's also a noticeable delay when pausing live TV, as it switches to recorded playback. However the skip-forward button (with selectable time periods) makes jumping over ads very quick, and the skip back button is great for action replays. The remote control feels good quality, and some buttons have a positive, click-action feel. The menu system is logical enough, and there are shortcut buttons to areas such as the recordings list, although you still have to perform a lot of clicks to do things like delete a recording.

Humax don't seem to support wi-fi on this box (although they sell a dongle), insisting on an ethernet connection to your broadband router. To my surprise, my old Sky Ethernet/wi-fi adaptor worked fine - I just plugged it in and got instant connection (changing the network password would be a problem though). iPlayer performance was excellent (amazing picture quality), although unlike Sky's catch up service you can't record, only stream. The much-vaunted Free Time go-backwards EPG wasn't quite what I expected - instead of extending the programme grid into the past, if you're on a channel that supports catch-up (currently BBC or ITV) then scrolling left switches to a list of available programmes from that channel. This makes it fiddly to switch between channels, and I ended up just using the standard iPlayer interface instead.

The packaging also says that this model supports 'apps for services such as YouTube', but when I registered on the Humax website it said 'Your product does not support this feature' every time I tried to obtain one. I was able to connect it to a DNLA server but performance was poor and it wouldn't recognise JPEG images. The product only comes with two thin getting-started guides, and there was no guidance to using USB memory sticks etc, although the device has two USB ports.

The overall impression was of a quality product whose software is still a bit rough round the edges (and might, of course, be updated). I would have kept it, but for the problem with the programme description text. Instead after a few days, with sore eyes, I gave up. I really would check it before buying.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 14, 2013 1:46 PM BST


Panasonic KX-TG6461ET DECT Corded and Cordless Phone Set With Answer Machine - Black
Panasonic KX-TG6461ET DECT Corded and Cordless Phone Set With Answer Machine - Black
Offered by liGo
Price: 50.30

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Capable, looks good, excellent value, 24 Oct 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This phone system is clearly aimed at the home office market, offering a fairly businesslike base station with answering machine for the office bit, plus a cordless handset for use around the rest of the home (you can add more handsets if you like).

Both parts work well. Their LCD displays are easy to view, with big characters and bright backlights, and the keyboards (illuminated on the cordless set) are clearly labelled with a soft action. Setting up all the options requires care, but you get a good printed manual plus a quick-start sheet, which tell you everything you need to know.

The handsets use a `soft key' system which means that the three buttons under the LCD can sometimes change function depending on the screen symbols above them. It's mostly consistent (e.g. the middle button opens a menu), although some functions on the cordless handset (particularly the answering machine) are buried one or two menus deep and not immediately obvious, and you have to remember what a couple of icons mean. This might not be the best choice for someone who really doesn't get on with gadgets, but then no phone with this many features is likely to be.

The answering machine does what it says on the tin - it's easy to record your own greeting (although the built-in one is fine), skip back and forward between messages etc, and it can all be done from the base or cordless phones (although, strangely, you can only record your own greeting from the cordless unit). If you have caller ID on your line it can also dial the message-leaver back for you. You can screen calls, and also access the answering system remotely using a PIN (this can be switched off for security). You can't record two-way conversations, but that's not surprising at this price.

Integration between the base and cordless handsets is excellent. You can copy all your phone book entries between handsets in one operation (so only have to maintain them on one), and if you clear a `missed call' indicator on one, it disappears from the other. You can also make intercom calls, transfer calls, have conference calls etc. The cordless handset is comfortable to hold and its battery life seems very good (an easy 3 days off the charger), despite only using two AAA batteries. The base station will work as a basic phone in a power cut, a big advantage over cordless-only systems.

There were a couple of disappointments. The maximum number of rings before the answering machine cuts in is seven, the same as BT 1571 (I'd have preferred more). Sound quality through the handsets is a bit thin, although I'm getting used to it (speakerphone performance is very good, with plenty of volume available). You have to use Panasonic's cable to connect the base station to the phone socket (my old, longer cable didn't work, as warned in the manual). The units are stylish, but the plastic on the base station looks and feels just a bit cheap, not full-strength office quality, although for the price it's fine. My cordless handset fell onto a wooden floor and survived completely unscathed, so it seems solid enough.

Overall I'm really pleased with this set - it works very well and offers a very good range of features for an amazingly cheap price.


For The Roses
For The Roses
Price: 4.02

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly great - arguably her best album, 13 Oct 2012
This review is from: For The Roses (Audio CD)
'For the Roses' was Joni's next release after her legendary confessional album 'Blue'. After the time in Greece that had yielded Blue, she went to Canada's Pacific coast, where she lived alone in an isolated cottage and wrote about her surroundings and her reflections on the life she'd (temporarily) left behind in California. For the Roses is about nature, the sea ("love to see that green water in motion"), her childhood in Canada ("Mama let go now"). It contains her most perfect pop song (Barangrill, 2:52 on fame and "the crazy you get from too much choice"), plus a song she wrote specifically to get radio plays ("You turn me on, I'm a radio"). There's also the sublime, dreamy "Woman of Heart and Mind", plus a bittersweet song about rock star infidelity ("you can't hold the hand of a rock and roll man"), and an empathetic song about a man facing divorce ("it just don't do it, like the song of a warm, warm body loving your touch"). There isn't a bad, or even average, track on it.

For me, this is Joni's best album; she covers such a range of subjects, the songs are so beautiful, the performances so great. It's in amongst a series of great albums she made in this period of her career, and it's worth hearing them all. However if you only buy one Joni Mitchell CD, this is the one to get.


Delphi Complete Works of Anthony Trollope (Illustrated)
Delphi Complete Works of Anthony Trollope (Illustrated)
Price: 1.83

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value - but these mega-compilations can be unwieldy on Kindle, 13 Oct 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For years I confused Anthony Trollope with Thomas Hardy, assuming Trollope to be, like Hardy, a writer of long, depressing books about life's unfairness. In fact he's not - his books are certainly long (as many Victorian novels were), but on the whole they seem to be rather jolly, and he has a light, humorous style. I bought this compilation after enjoying "The Three Clerks" (apparently his most autobiographical novel), and although I'm finding his Barsetshire novels a bit less lively, I'm sticking with it.

This enormous compilation (571,000 Kindle locations!) is well put together, with a comprehensive table of contents and a mountain of material (sketches, biographies, travel writing) beyond Trollope's novels. It's worth the purchase price to have them all 'bound' together, saving you the time of tracking them down individually. However it does also highlight some drawbacks to using these huge files on Kindle. You can't tell how far you are through a book because the percentage indicator shows your progress through the whole compilation, and if you forget which novel you're reading (which can happen if you leave it for a while) it's not easy to find out. Perhaps Amazon could introduce individual book titles and percentages within compilations (if it hasn't already in its updated Kindle format).

Overall though this volume is excellent value.


Angry Birds (Ad-Free)
Angry Birds (Ad-Free)
Price: 0.63

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maddeningly addictive!, 13 Oct 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Angry Birds (Ad-Free) (App)
Firing birds at pigs is so politically incorrect it's not true, but it's also great fun, especially when there's lots of crashing glass as well. There is, in fact, more to Angry Birds that it seems at first glance - as Rovio say, the trajectories and impact damage are based on the laws of physics (so you learn a little bit about ballistics), and as the levels get more difficult, with different types of bird (my favourite is the big red one that just crashes through everything), you have to look for the weak points in the structures that are shielding the pigs (i.e. you can't just keep randomly slinging birds at them). Plus you get your reward - clearing a level - in little dollops every few minutes. Problem is, having cleared one level, you almost always want to go to the next. Help!


100 Hama Sealable CD/DVD Paper Sleeves - White
100 Hama Sealable CD/DVD Paper Sleeves - White
Offered by Media Replication
Price: 3.45

4.0 out of 5 stars Good - but make sure these are the type you want, 13 Oct 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought these partly in error - they're the 'sealable' ones which means they have some contact adhesive (like an envelope)to hold the flap shut, whereas I prefer tuck-in flaps for taking the disc in and out. However that hasn't proved a problem (they un-seal fairly easily), and the sleeves are good quality with a large window so you can see what's written on the CD/DVD. Very good value, and arrived quickly and well-packaged.


Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II 16 GB Sim Free Smartphone
Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II 16 GB Sim Free Smartphone

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, especially at this price, 7 Aug 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought my S2 when the price dropped after the announcement of the S3, and I think it's a bargain. Mine came with Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) installed, and I've had it for around a month now.

Good Points:
------------

The screen - it's a genuine thing of beauty. Colours are rich, details are pin-sharp, and although I suffer from eyestrain a lot I seem to be able to look at this one for longer than others. Everyone who's seen it has commented on how good it is.

Performance - it really goes well. Web browsing is into laptop PC speeds, unlike any other phone I've used. It just eats up whatever I throw at it, embedded Flash included.

Battery life - a long day of heavy usage, or two days of light use. It's great not to have to worry about the battery meter hurtling down as soon as I turn on mobile data, GPS or push notifications. This is really a tablet computer rather than a phone, and I wouldn't expect anything more than two days battery life from it, although if you used it solely as a phone I'm sure you'd get longer. The battery is user-replaceable too.

Android. I have an iPod Touch running iOS 5, and I think Android ICS is a better all-round operating system. It just seems easier to do key things like switching between apps, the widgets are great, and integration between Facebook, Twitter, email etc all works well. It's also highly customisable - I wasn't over-impressed by the standard on-screen keyboard, so just installed a different one with better features.

The Google Play app store is as easy to use as Apple's store, and the apps themselves are as easy as iOS ones, with the bonus of consistent menu and `go back' keys, which Apple devices lack. I like being able to move files around (and between apps) how I want to, not how Apple thinks I should. There's no need to install Samsung's Kies app (equivalent to iTunes) which I've read is not especially good.

General appearance. This is a matter of taste, but I like it. It's big in surface area terms, but slim and surprisingly light. For me it's the perfect size for a smartphone, unlike its too-big sibling the Galaxy Note.

OK Points:
----------

Sound - someone said their S2 heated up when playing music, but I haven't found this. Sound quality from the built-in speaker is nothing special, although it's quite loud. Plugged into headphones (decent in-ear ones are supplied), or to a stereo, it's very good - clear, solid sound with plenty of bass and definition.

WiFi. Generally it's OK (and very fast), although it has frozen after losing wifi connections a couple of times and had to be rebooted (hold the power key in for 10 secs - no need to remove the battery). Mobile data performance (3G/H+) is very good (I've used it on the T-Mobile and GiffGaff/O2 networks).

Phone - yes, it does phone calls and texts too! I've had no problems with it, and Samsung's phone app makes it easy to choose which number to call for each contact. It echoed a lot during calls on T Mobile, but doesn't on GiffGaff.

Camera/movie recorder. The camera is 8MP and can produce some great pics, especially in good light (and they look quite beautiful on that screen), although the digital zoom is no better than average (i.e. not worth having). It's also slow to react, meaning that you often lose `the moment'. A physical shutter button would be a big improvement. HD movies look amazing on the phone, but are a bit jerky, and mine has a problem of background hiss on the sound, caused by over-sensitive, and non-adjustable, microphone gain, which does spoil them a bit (actual sound quality is very high). Overall the visual kit is amazing, but also slightly disappointing.

GPS. EDIT - the S2 was slow to lock on to satellites when I first got it, but after upgrading to Android 4.0.2 (pushed out automatically by Samsung), GPS performance is transformed. It now locks on to satellites very quickly.

Not so good points:
-------------------

Connectivity. I bought an adaptor which I hoped would let me stream YouTube etc to my TV via HDMI, but found that the S2's wifi didn't work properly when it was connected (although it would play pre-installed movies OK). The supplier said this was a known issue with the S2. Big disappointment.

It can get hot. This hasn't happened to me with music (see above), but it did happen with the Opera Mobile browser, which seemed to go into a loop which resulted in the screen becoming too hot to touch (presumably due to those two high-speed processor cores getting over-excited). It doesn't happen in normal use, but I do feel I have to keep an eye on it, and unload apps before putting it on charge at night.

Overall:
-------

I bought my S2 more as a pocket computer than a phone, and it's pretty much everything I hoped it would be. It has its weak spots, but overall it's a big, fast device with lots of storage and a beautiful screen, and a software system that seems infinitely customisable yet easy to use. Outstanding value for money.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6