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Genuine AB463446BU Samsung Battery for B130, B220, B300, B320, B500, B520, C120, C130, C140, C250, C260, C270, C300, C450, C520, D520, D528, D720, D730, E210, E218, E250, E251, E258, E380, E420, E500, E870, E900, E1070, E1080, E1110, E1120, E1310, E1360, E2100, E2210, F258, i320, M150, M200, M310, M620, M3200 Beat S, S401, S501, S3030, S3110, X150, X160, X180, X200, X210, X300, X500, X510, X520, X530, X540, X630, X680 BY D2D
Genuine AB463446BU Samsung Battery for B130, B220, B300, B320, B500, B520, C120, C130, C140, C250, C260, C270, C300, C450, C520, D520, D528, D720, D730, E210, E218, E250, E251, E258, E380, E420, E500, E870, E900, E1070, E1080, E1110, E1120, E1310, E1360, E2100, E2210, F258, i320, M150, M200, M310, M620, M3200 Beat S, S401, S501, S3030, S3110, X150, X160, X180, X200, X210, X300, X500, X510, X520, X530, X540, X630, X680 BY D2D
Offered by Glitzy Gizmos
Price: 12.99

2.0 out of 5 stars ...Does it say New? No., 7 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought the item under this heading for what seemed like a reasonable price for a Samsung battery, given that the price being asked was roughly half what the (cheap) phone it was for cost originally.

When the battery arrived, it looked like the genuine Samsung article, as stated here. It was also sealed in a little plastic bag.

What it definitely was not was NEW.

The gold contacts on the end showed signs of scratching / scuffing, a clear sign that the battery had previously been used. When I put it in the phone, the phone would not try to charge it at all. When I checked, I found that the battery was so completely flat that it had no standing voltage on its terminals at all, and under those circumstances a standard Li-Ion charging circuit will not try to charge the battery.

I put it into a specialised Li-Ion tester / rejuvenator unit and it did come back to life very slowly - it then charged for about one and a half hours before the charger declared it fully charged. After that, I put it in the phone and it does work, although the battery life is about 40% less than the battery life was with the original battery was when it was new.

This also suggests that this battery is second-hand.

The supplier Amazon directs you to for this item may vary on a day to day basis or even an hourly basis, so you may not get yours from the same supplier that I did.

...But what I will say is this: The Item description header does not state that the item is new, and the seller may try to make something of that if you feel you have been sold a battery which is not brand new. However, the product description further down does state that the item is brand new. If you are sold a battery which you don't think is new (scuff marks on the gold terminals on the end, poor battery life) then consider filing a complaint with Amazon.


Never Let Me Go (2010) [DVD]
Never Let Me Go (2010) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Keira Knightley
Offered by The Happy Zombie
Price: 3.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and thought-provoking, 14 April 2014
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (2010) [DVD] (DVD)
(This review is based on a TV showing by Film4. It is possible that the version they showed may have been 'ruined for television', that is, edited for the benefit of those of a more sensitive disposition).

I recorded this some time around Christmas 2013 when it was broadcast by Film4 as part of a 'SciFi phase' that they were going through, without my having any clue as to what the film was actually about. I was just thinking 'Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, in the same film. That'll do nicely'.

A few months later, I did get around to watching it. The film is basically divided into two parts, the first part where you have absolutely no idea what is going on, and the second part where, Oh Boy, you do, but you still just can't quite believe it.

Far too many people here have given away the secret that lies at the heart of the film, and by doing so have robbed prospective first time viewers of the gut-wrenching experience of finding it out for themselves in the way that the author and director intended.

I'm not going to discuss the revelation or anything that happens after it, but I just want to say that this is one of those films which lingers in the mind for a long time after you see it. Beautifully made, shot, and acted, this is not a film which is destined to make you feel comfortable or cheerful, and yet it is a film which everyone should see because it presents an alternative reality which is utterly possible, and although this particular version is set in the recent past it could just as easily be in our imminent future. In certain respects, we are already almost there.

From the start, you realise there is something askew - the dates at key points in the story, starting in the early 1970s, are regularly flagged up and yet everything about Hailsham school seems to be as much as thirty years in the past - the way the children are dressed, the childrens' model behaviour and complete deference towards the teachers and their almost total ignorance of what is going on in the world around them is puzzling beyond words. I was beginning to think the whole alternative reality had been timeshifted by minus thirty years until that idea was shattered by the arrival of outside visitors in vehicles which were indeed correct for the 1970s, not the 1940s-1950s era that the school seemed to be stuck in. Are the childrens' old clothes hand-me-downs from earlier generations of children? What happened to them? Where did they go? Why are the children told gruesome scare stories to make them afraid to leave the school grounds, and where are their never-seen parents? A much-anticipated delivery of boxes full of toys arrives, sending the children into raptures of anticipation. When the contents are revealed, the children are happy enough with what they find - but what we see only serves to increase our feelings of disquiet and dismay.

In the midst of all this, a relationship forms between two girls and one boy, a relationship which will evolve throughout the rest of their lives. It seems a strange thing to be able to say, but it is this beautifully nuanced relationship, not the horror they will all ultimately face, which eventually dominates this film.

Carey Mulligan in particular is fantastic in this film - if she was not already an established star, this film would have made her one overnight. Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield are the other sides of the triangle, providing strong support - and there are welcome appearances by Domnhall Gleeson, Andrea Riseborough, Sally Hawkins and veteran actress Charlotte Rampling (among others) in lesser roles.

Don't watch this when you are in the mood for a nice Rom-Com or feelgood film - but please, do try to watch it some time.


USB A Male to PS/2 Female PS2 Active Keyboard Adapter
USB A Male to PS/2 Female PS2 Active Keyboard Adapter
Offered by Computerstar
Price: 6.49

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genuine active converter, 30 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There are perhaps three categories of PC-AT keyboards.

1) Original PC-AT with a 5-pin DIN connector - only communicates via PC-AT protocol.

2) Early PS/2 PC-AT keyboard with a PS/2 connector, but still only communicates via PC-AT protocol.

3) Later PS/2 PC-AT keyboard with a PS/2 connector which can communicate via either PC-AT protocol or USB protocol.

If your keyboard is the last type, then you don't need this adaptor. A passive adaptor which just rearranges the wiring from PS/2 to USB will do, because the keyboard 'listens' to the PC to see which protocol the PC will try to communicate with it in, and then communicates with the PC the same way. Virtually all of these keyboards were supplied with passive PS/2 to USB adaptors already in the box. If you know your PS/2 keyboard originally came with one but you've lost it, just buy another passive adaptor.

If you've got the second type, you need this converter because the keyboard doesn't know how to speak USB, so there needs to be some kind of intelligence in the adaptor to translate from one protocol to the other. This adaptor contains that intelligence.

If you've got the first type, you will need to plug it into a passive DIN socket to PS/2 plug converter, then plug that into this active adaptor.

I've just been testing this with a big old British layout keyboard with a 5-din connector, a DIN to PS/2 converter, and this adaptor plugged into a USB port on a Linux computer. By running XEV in a desktop terminal window, I can see a detailed breakdown of which keycodes the computer is receiving when I hit all the keys, whether shifted or unshifted, and the translation is perfect. Going into a text editor, every character is correct including the British specific ones such as ('' rather than '#' above the '3'). The vertical line '|' ('pipe') character which for some reason often doesn't work on cheap active PS/2 to USB adaptor leads also works.

Be aware that the older PC-AT keyboards are, the more current they tend to draw from their host. This could become significant if you try to use one (with this converter) with something which doesn't have a lot of USB power to spare, like a Raspberry Pi. You might have to break the +5V feed from the host to the converter and provide the converter and keyboard with their own appropriately rated +5V supply.

Note that if you have a really old PC-XT keyboard, they communicate via a different protocol again, and as far as I know this adaptor is not able to handle it.


About Time [DVD] [2013]
About Time [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Rachel McAdams
Price: 6.99

153 of 165 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Good, 7 Oct 2013
This review is from: About Time [DVD] [2013] (DVD)
(Based on a cinema viewing of the film)

So:- It's Richard Curtis: let's go through the checklist:

-The main protagonist will be a romantically inept posh British boy whose seemingly work-shy bohemian family are nonetheless inexplicably well off.

-The ultimate object of his affections will be a lovely American girl whose best friend / guardian is a rather hard and slightly trampy British girl.

-There will be a wider array of eccentric (borderline bonkers) characters.

-There will be more swearing than is ever necessary.

-All boxes ticked.

Can I be honest? I thought Four Weddings and Love Actually were just agreeable, not great, and I've always been irritated by how, in British films and Richard Curtis films in particular, swearing supposedly equals funny - so my expectations were not very high when we settled down in our seats about five minutes before the film started in the cinema - and then a group of mid to late teens trooped in and sat down in the seats in front of us, and I instinctively (and very unreasonably) assumed that this was not the sort of film which would suit them and that they would get bored and start fiddling with their mobile phones all the way through the film.

Well, I could not have been more wrong. Until the end credits rolled and the final notes of the end title music washed over us, we, they, and everyone else sat with attention riveted to the screen.

Before you continue reading, be aware that what follows contains a brief sketch of the film's premise and outlines the story set-up (but not the middle or the ending) for those who know absolutely nothing about it, but would like to know a little about it before choosing to buy it or see it.

If you don't want to know anything about it at all, stop reading now.

If you saw the trailer, you might think you have the drift of it already - as he nears adulthood, the hero (Tim) learns from Dad that all on the male side of the family can time travel back to an event within their own lifetime and take a different path to the one they originally pursued. On learning this, Tim's first thought is to undo what was, for him, an untypical act of minor cruelty committed at the New Years Eve party the night before.

Eventually, out on a rather unusual blind date and entirely without the use of his Talent, he meets up with his soulmate, Mary, the aforementioned American... and then accidentally erases their sublimely perfect first meeting from history while using his Talent to help out an undeserving family friend (a perpetually angry, misanthropic playwright played with acidic relish by Tom Hollander). And so Tim has to try to re-boot his relationship with a girl who doesn't know she ever fell in love with him, and may never do so again.

All this is fairly standard time-travel romance stuff, and by now you'd be thinking the story was about four-fifths of the way through with just one or two more misunderstandings and time travelling fixes to sort it all out - but this film has a lot more depth to it than that, and is by turns unsettling, bittersweet, funny, poignant and at times extremely moving as Tim finds he has to make some excruciating decisions about life-changing events which will hurt one person if he interferes and another if he doesn't (if you have seen the film, you will know I am being necessarily vague here).

Tim is played affably and sensitively by Domhnall Gleeson, likeable in every scene - Mary is the lovely Rachel McAdams who, in all honesty, doesn't have to do much in this film except be her perfect self. Also featured is the undisputed master of just being himself, Bill Nighy as Tim's dad, and although the development of the relationship and the chemistry between Tim and Mary is very sweet and enjoyable to watch, it is actually almost eclipsed by the fantastic relationship Tim has with his father. Also in the mix are forgetful (but harmless) live-in Uncle Desmond (Richard Cordery), Tim's pretty, semi-feral feline sister 'Kit-Kat' (Lydia Wilson) and their sensible, 'sturdy', and still rather beautiful Mum (Lindsay Duncan). The performances of all of the players in these and other minor parts are excellent, with Lydia Wilson a stand-out (for me, anyway) as Kit-Kat.

We talked about this film all the way home, for a while before and after we went to bed, and then some more in the morning, and then some more when we went out for a drive the following day. For us, this was undoubtedly the best work that Richard Curtis has ever done. I subsequently had a look around on review sites and was very surprised to find that critical (ie, website, newspaper, media) reaction to the film had been very mixed and generally lukewarm, and perhaps that uncertain balance will also eventually be reflected in the reviews here as time goes by, but I honestly can not understand, personally, why anyone would not like this film.

Some people will argue that the time travelling aspects of the film are full of holes, that the 'rules' are stated and then subsequently ripped up several times over, but to agonise over all that is to miss the point - the time travelling aspect is just a device to power the main thrust of the film, which is to try to make you examine the way you live your own life, and perhaps to try harder to get things right the first time and consider the possible consequences of your actions for others. This is nothing which hasn't been done before, but it is handled here with a light, deft, sweet touch, and this film is an absolute pleasure to watch.
Comment Comments (13) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2014 3:50 PM BST


No Title Available

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Little General Purpose Electronics Tool, 1 Sep 2013
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you've never knowingly programmed a microprocessor before, they are electronic chips which can be taught to perform particular tasks - to 'teach' them, you write an instruction list (a program) which they run, and the program makes the chip behave in the way that your program determines it should. So why is that interesting? Well, Arduino boards are designed in a way which makes the electrical signal connections in and out of the chip easily accessable. They can read switches and keypads, they can turn LEDs on and off, drive LCD displays and with a little bit of extra electronic hardware they can operate electrically controlled switches (Relays) and control motors. Putting a project together and breathing the vital spark of life into it with a program you wrote yourself really is a magical experience, and one which never gets old, because the next idea is always a development of the last or something completely new.

If you already know what a microprocessor is and have perhaps done some programming on AVR, PIC or similar devices then the Arduino series (of which this is just one model) will be a useful, low-cost addition to your toybox, although I would hesitate to call this a toy, because it is quite technically advanced and comes with no written instructions. A bright child could certainly make one of these fly given some guidance, but I think they would struggle without the initial help of a knowledgeable adult or other good online or offline information source. If you are buying this for a child I would take a look through the Arduino books here on Amazon and choose a well-reviewed tutorial book to hand over along with the Uno.

The title 'Arduino' doesn't refer to a type of microprocessor you've never heard of - indeed, different Arduino boards are based on different microprocessors - This particular one uses an Atmel Atmega 328P. The name 'Arduino' really refers to a microprocessor development suite of hardware and software. The main software runs on the PC - the microprocessor also has some firmware preprogrammed into it to handle communications with the PC software and load and run user programs in the microprocessor's program memory. While your project is under development the Arduino board is conveniently powered from the PC via the USB lead. Once it is working to your satisfaction, the Arduino can be disconnected from the PC and run stand-alone on a simple unregulated DC power supply to perform whatever function you have programmed it to do.

The Arduino concept consists of:
-A microprocessor development board with plenty of input/output capability
-A USB data / power connection to your PC
-Integrated Development Environment (IDE) software for your PC, Mac, and unusually, Linux as well.

By default, the Arduino Uno assumes that six of the input-output pins will be used as analogue input pins, and a further fourteen are regarded as general digital input/output pins. This basic I/O functionality will be quite enough to keep beginners busy for a while.

For experienced microprocessor users, as on most microcontrollers a lot of these pins have secondary functions which are disabled by default. The details of those are beyond the scope of this review, but briefly, the secondary pin functions include multiple Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) outputs and I2C and SPI serial communications. For further information, seek out the Atmega 328P datasheet on Atmel's website.

The PC software is not provided when you buy a plain Arduino board like this, but it is downloadable, free, from the Arduino website. You do get a short USB lead.

The programming language here is essentially 'C', simplified in some ways: For example, Arduino relieves you of the chore of having to predefine (prototype) all the functions before you use them.

The Arduino system provides so many predefined functions and libraries for the programmer that it is genuinely possible to create a huge number of microprocessor driven projects using only the functions and libraries that the IDE provides, linking them together with just a few lines of code. One thing you might typically want to do is to connect a standard two-line alphanumeric display to the Arduino. Normally, it would be left to the programmer to write the routines needed to initialise and run the display - but Arduino has a library for this built in - you just give it some basic information about how the display is connected, and from then on using the display is just a matter of using the functions provided by the 'LiquidCrystal' library. The abundance of predefined functions and libraries, many contributed by third parties, means that fully working projects can be created even by people who don't necessarily understand (or want to understand) the use of microprocessors down to register level - If you want a 1000mS delay, there's a function for that - there's no need to manipulate or interrogate a timer down at register / bit level.

If you do want to do that, there is of course nothing to stop you doing it, the only caveat being that code written to control the microprocessor's functions directly at hardware level may not run on other Arduino boards which use a different microprocessor.

When connected to the PC, the Arduino appears to the PC to be a USB port serial device: Likewise, the PC appears to the Arduino board as a serial device - the IDE has a built in terminal facility so it's a simple matter for your Arduino project to send diagnostic or other information to the PC as serial data, and of course any other PC software capable of reading from / sending to the PC's serial port can also communicate with the Arduino by this means. For example, you could write an Arduino program (or 'Sketch' as they are called in Arduino-speak) which continually reads a voltage value from one of the Arduino's Analogue input ports and sends that reading to the PC via the serial port: On the PC, a Python program also written by you could serially receive and display the value in a nice graphic interface window.

For simple projects, connections to external components like displays, relay boards, LEDs and switches can be via simple flying plug in leads plugged into the single-inline connectors along the edges of the board: However, the Arduino system has also spawned a whole host of third-party add-on hardware boards, known as 'shields', which can plug directly onto the top of an Arduino board to give it additional hardware capability. For example, there are Relay shields, Wifi shields, Stepper motor driver shields, all kinds of amazing interfaces designed to enable Arduino boards to connect to almost anything which can be read or controlled electronically.

You'll find that this product is available under several slightly different descriptions on Amazon, and each of them has their own set of reviews as though they are separate products although they are actually the same item. To see more reviews of the Arduino Uno R3 than the few you find here, seek out those other listings.


No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Decent 3rd party replacements from a known brand, 1 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As the branding suggests, these batteries were originally packaged and sold by Jessops. When sold by Jessops they were not cheap, costing perhaps one half to two thirds of the price of the extremely expensive Canon originals, but Jessops' high price was reflected in the quality of these batteries, which in my experience have been the most reliable third party battery brand that I have tried - and some of the alternatives have been very recognisable brand names, some of which I have found to be very unreliable across their range.

These 'new old stock' Jessops branded batteries have now found their way into the hands of third party suppliers and are now being sold for perhaps a quarter of the price which Jessops originally sold them for, although of course they -are- old stock, and some sources will tell you that Lithium batteries begin to decline with age from the moment they are manufactured, whether they are used or not.

However, my actual experience with these Jessops batteries so far (I have five of them now used in two different Canon Ixus cameras) seems to suggest that they were still working really well when bought at the time of writing (Summer 2013) and I will continue to keep this review updated over time.


ICO
ICO
Offered by Click4entertainment Limited
Price: 37.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A Little Bit Of Oriental Magic, 30 April 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: ICO (Video Game)
A while ago I was given a broken PS2 with instructions to either throw it away or fix it and keep it. I repaired it and then came to Amazon to look through the PS2 game reviews and eventually made my way to these reviews for ICO, which appeared to be the most consistently highly reviewed computer game I had ever seen. I found a copy that wasn't ridiculously priced, waited a couple of days and sat down to play it.

Everything everyone else says about the game is true: Boiled down to the bare bones, the gameplay is most similar to the better Prince of Persia games (ie, Sands Of Time) but the look, sound and eerily strange atmosphere owe a stronger debt to the Myst / Riven series, which is not a bad thing at all.

I do just want to comment on something not many people have picked up on, and that is that this (PS2) version is rendered in fairly low resolution, which can make it pretty hard on the eyes on a large screen because the individual pixels are really noticeable, making near-horizontal lines (for example) look like little staircases. It actually looks like a PS1 game directly ported to the PS2, and maybe it is? This visual roughness is likely to be aggravated if you use an RGB (rather than composite) video cable because an RGB / component connection will show the hard pixel edges even more sharply, when what is needed in this case is some of the smearing / blurring you typically get when using a composite (AV) video connection. I still have a 14" Philips RGB/Composite CRT monitor and I tried it in composite mode - it looks a lot better on that. I understand that visually updated higher-resolution versions of ICO and Shadow Of The Colossus have been available for the PS3 (not PS2) on one disc since 2011: If so, I am almost tempted to buy a PS3 just to be able to play a better looking version of ICO.

However, I want to make a very clear distinction between the technical visual quality, which is quite poor due to the poor resolution chosen, and the art visuals which, along with the sound, are superb. One thing I really like is the consistency of the map: Time and time again you emerge onto a viewpoint which allows you to look down and retrace much of the route you took earlier in the game, and everything is where it should be, correctly geometrically placed. It makes the castle a joy to navigate. As with Prince of Persia: Sands Of Time, some of the views / jumps are of / from / over convincingly vertiginous heights - you find yourself holding your breath as you look down or make the jump, sometimes catching on only by the ends of your fingertips.

Total playing time on my first pass through was about 15 hours - mainly because I fell off things a lot, and certain specific jumps or moves seemed so impossible initially that I wasted a lot of time looking for alternative ways around because I thought they were red herrings - if I say 'Windmill' and 'Waterwheel' some of you will know what I mean. However, by and large the 'static' puzzles are all very logical and sometimes there are little clues which you don't realise were there until after you arrive at the solution. If you are stalled with no obvious way forward, your companion will sometimes actually point to the way ahead. She did this for me at the Windmill. By its very nature this is an absolutely on-rails game and so its replay value ought to be poor, but the game is so immersive and touching that I am already looking forward to playing it again. The game mostly doesn't burden you with the chore of having to seek out cleverly hidden objects, so for the most part you don't have to go around bashing everything in sight in the hope that it may reveal something - however, there is an exception to this rule in the Waterfall room area, and that's all I'm going to say about that.

Add to all this one of the best, most cinematic endings I have seen in a game for years, and you have almost the perfect game - I'll repeat the warning from others - at the end of the game, watch all the way through to the very end of the crew credits - there's a little bonus waiting for you at the end.


Windows 8 Pro, Upgrade Edition [Upgrade from Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7] (PC)
Windows 8 Pro, Upgrade Edition [Upgrade from Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7] (PC)
Offered by SoftwareDirect2u
Price: 139.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stick with Windows 7, 19 Feb 2013
"Windows Hate"

"Microsoft Window"

-Just two of the kinder terms which I have seen used to describe Windows 8.

In order of importance:

-If you haven't already got Windows 8 and you haven't had the opportunity to use it yet - a possibility, since you are reading reviews for this update - then under no circumstances should you buy Windows 8 without trying it out first. Go to a computer store, or try it out on a friend's new computer. Most importantly, do not even think about ruining a Windows 7 machine by putting Windows 8 on it.

-If you are already a Windows 8 victim for any number of reasons, one of which may be that your new PC came with it whether you wanted it or not, there is one way to salvage the situation to a certain extent, and that is to obtain and install one of the (already numerous) small third party utilities which restore a degree of sanity to the Windows 8 user environment. Googling 'Windows 8 start button replacement' will get you into the right ball park area. Start8 is the one I prefer, but there are many others, some of which are free. The very existence of all of these third party utilities, and the urgency with which they have been produced, ought to be enough to clue Microsoft in to the way their, er, 'radical' upgrade of the Windows user interface has been received by a less than jubilant user base.

And why would you need to install (and even pay for) any kind of utility to make Windows 8 usable? Well, because Microsoft in their wisdom have foisted a tablet-style user interface onto desktop versions of Windows, and they honestly expect that you will just accept that, even on your non-touchscreen laptop or desktop PC. They'd obviously rather you didn't find or use the traditional Windows-style desktop at all, and even when you do find it (under a discreetly labelled tile on the start screen) you will find that the start button (and therefore the start menu) both ever-present on prior versions of Windows, have been ripped out.

The third party utilities I mentioned put the start button,the start menu and the power / shutdown button back where they belong, and they also make the machine boot straight to the desktop.

---

In actual fact, the Windows 8 user interface would be perfectly fine if it wasn't called Windows and wasn't on your PC - Microsoft should have followed Apple's sensible lead, keeping two distinct operating systems - one for desktop and laptop computers, and one for touchscreen / tablet devices. The OS currently called Windows 8 should have been called 'Windows Touch' and used only on Microsoft (and compatible) tablets and phones, and 'proper' Windows 8 should have been an improved version of the classic Windows 7 desktop OS.

It would have been OK for Windows 8 (Desktop OS) to have a full speed, fully compatible 'Windows Touch' emulator as a desktop application, so that you could run the occasional 'Windows Touch' App on your desktop computer if you wanted to. But basically, it's been done the wrong way round. Instead of starting you off on the desktop and giving you the option of running the 'Modern' UI, they've done it the other way around.

It is, honestly, a disaster.

In the month or so since I acquired a computer with Windows 8 on it (Windows 7 was no longer available to consumers) I have seen very experienced Windows users reduced to tears of frustration by Windows 8's new user interface. Open a modern UI application and then ask a new Windows 8 user to close it. They won't have a clue how to do it.

Microsoft could still rescue the situation, but they need to swallow their pride and admit they have made the worst mistake in the history of the company's existence. They need to bring out an urgent update, the purpose of which must be to allow the user to choose whether to prioritise either the desktop or the Modern Windows interface. If the user wants to boot to the desktop, they should be allowed to do so. If they want to spend their entire time working in the desktop environment, they should be allowed to do so. Every task or action should be achievable in either the desktop environment or the new UI alone, without abruptly switching from one to the other - at the moment, some things can only be done in the desktop environment, and others can only be done in the modern UI.

Edit, April 2014 - in Windows 8.1 Microsoft have introduced a 'Boot to the desktop' option and a kind of resurrected 'Start Button'. However, the latter change in particular still does not take the Windows 8 user interface far enough back in the direction that 'Classic' Windows users want it to go, and if you are a member of that substantial group you will still be better off using a third-party user interface like Start8 or the free 'ClassicShell'.

Where Microsoft have replaced what was previously a desktop application with a modern UI application, the functionality of the newer version is invariably greatly reduced. To give just one example, Windows Mail does not bother to support POP3 mail. Microsoft have taken it upon themselves to assume that we will all use web based mail from now on. (An update on this: If you miss the offline email functions of Outlook Express, search for 'Windows Live Essentials', opt to download it, opt to choose what to install and choose 'Windows Live Mail'. It's a desktop application with similar functionality to Outlook Express, and it does work with POP3 mail).

Modern UI APPs which on the face of it might have been interesting and / or useful, such as music, games or video, turn out to be basically little more than adverts / shop windows for goods and services which Microsoft would like to sell to you. The 'Games' tile is especially bizarre and useless as it is heavily loaded towards the marketing of Xbox 360 games. Where there is a choice between a desktop program and a modern UI application, sometimes (as in the case of Internet Explorer) the version which is run depends on where you are when you run it. If you run IE from the desktop, you get a fairly traditional looking desktop version of IE10. If you run it from the modern UI, you get a grossly stripped down, minimal, featureless tablet version of IE - but that's how it should be. Each of the two interfaces should have its own version of (or skin for) every major application.

Unfortunately it is currently the case that the modern UI version of any application / program is usually the default version invoked from either environment - 'Windows Mail' being one example. And by default, double clicking on a JPEG file in the desktop file browser will call up the Modern UI photo viewer. Given time and patience you can work through all the file associations, switching most media viewing and playing duties back over to the old-style Windows Picture Viewer and Windows Media Player, which are both still lurking under the hood of Windows 8. Windows 8 comes with a built-in 'Modern UI' PDF viewer and uses that by default. It's awful. You'll need to go back to the real Adobe reader to recover all the functionality you expect to have.

The list of things which are bad about Windows 8 is essentially endless: so I'm going to round off by finding a couple of good things to say about it.

-It starts up and shuts down extremely quickly. How often do you think about switching on your Windows computer to look something up on the net, realise it's going to take about 3-4 minutes to start up and then decide not to bother? With Windows 8, those waits are a thing of the past. Typical startup time on my Windows 8 PC is about 15-18 seconds. Shutdown is even faster.

-If you don't install an antivirus or you don't like the limited-time trial one which came bundled with your new PC, Windows 8 automatically falls back onto Windows Defender so you are never entirely unprotected from viruses and malware. However, this Microsoft 'factory fitted' antivirus will undoubtedly be the one that the hackers will study and attack the most, so it might be better to choose a third party solution eventually.

-I have found it surprisingly compatible with my large back-catalogue of games which mostly date back to the XP era - they simply install and work. The only precaution I take is to stop them from installing in the 'Program Files' folder as they often do by default, because Win 8 apparently doesn't allow user applications to store their user-generated data (like configuration files and saved games) in that area. So I have a 'Games' folder in the root of the C: drive and I encourage games to install themselves in there instead. There is also a compatibility option which can be found by right-clicking on the desktop icon of any program you've already installed, or if it is an installer .exe which is refusing to run for you, right click on it in the file browser and choose the 'troubleshoot compatibility' option.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 14, 2013 10:47 PM BST


Asus CM6330-UK002S Desktop PC (Intel Core i7-3770 3.4GHz, 8GB RAM, 2TB HDD, Nvidia GeForce GT620 Graphics, Blu-ray Combo, Wi-Fi, 6-In-1 Card Reader, 2x USB 3.0, Windows 8)
Asus CM6330-UK002S Desktop PC (Intel Core i7-3770 3.4GHz, 8GB RAM, 2TB HDD, Nvidia GeForce GT620 Graphics, Blu-ray Combo, Wi-Fi, 6-In-1 Card Reader, 2x USB 3.0, Windows 8)

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fast, but lumbered with Windows 8, 19 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The initial version of this review moaned a lot about Windows 8 and didn't have much to say about the hardware, for which I apologise - I've now had some time to look at the innards of the machine as well. If that's mainly what you are interested in, scroll down past the Windows 8 comments.

I'm writing this early in 2013, when most people contemplating the purchase of this system still won't have used Windows 8. If you are one of those people, don't buy any computer loaded with Windows 8 until you have tried Windows 8 for yourself. Go to a computer store and play with a Windows 8 desktop PC for half an hour first.

In a nutshell, Microsoft have taken a user interface which people have grown used to over the space of 20 years or more and done their utmost to destroy it. Inevitably, there will be some people reading this who actually like Windows 8, but everyone I know, without exception, hates it. There are already at least half a dozen little third party utilities which restore or replace some of the classic features which people have come to expect to find in every version of windows, but which have been removed in Windows 8 - most notably the Start button and start menu.

Windows 8's radical departure from all that is familiar is its most serious handicap. If you are thinking of purchasing this for business, the last thing you will want to have to do is spend a week becoming familiar with a completely new user interface. You'll just want to put the machine down, turn it on, and start using it without even thinking about the user interface. In Windows 8? Not possible.

What about the manual? You get a small, but fairly thick book in the package. It looks quite promising until you pick it up and realise it is a description of your warranty (and nothing else) in several dozen languages. The only manual for the computer is an electronic one installed on the desktop. Since Windows 8 starts up in the bizarre 'Modern' interface by default, you'll need to find your way to the desktop somehow in order to find your manual so you can actually read it. (Hunt around for a tile with the word 'Desktop' written across the lower right corner in small letters. Click on that).

At the time of writing it should still be possible to buy this or similar ASUS machines with Windows 7, which most people generally agree is a decent version of Windows. You might want to seriously consider that option instead.

---

So - to the PC itself. I'll revise the basic specifications here so you don't have to refer back to the product description above, but where I can give additional information over and above that given in the product description, I will.

Power supply: A rather meagre 350W - it's a standard sized / shaped ATX2 unit, so it would be simple to replace or upgrade. It doesn't have a hardware mains on-off switch so you'll have to pull the power from the wall or pull the IEC plug out of the back if you really want to power it right down. Spare power output connectors not already used by the system: 2 standard 4-pin Molex style connectors as used on IDE (and some SATA) drives, 2 SATA and one 3.5" Floppy Disc type power connector.

Processor: Intel quad-core I7 3770 running at 3.4Ghz. That's quite a lot of grunt there. It makes the machine seem very quick, to me, anyway.

RAM: 8GB in (2X) 4GB DDRIII @ 1600Mhz. As there are only two slots, the installed RAM already fully occupies the available memory slots, which means that you can't simply add to the existing memory: The original sticks would have to be removed and larger ones (2 X 8GB?) fitted in their place. The motherboard actually has the capacity to take another pair of memory sticks, but the motherboard build version used in this PC only has two of the possible four memory sockets fitted.

Graphics card: The motherboard includes integrated graphics, which in this version of the machine are disabled (the motherboard VGA connector is capped, as is the motherboard HDMI output). This system has a 'proper' dedicated hardware graphics card (A 1GB Nvidia Geforce GT620M) installed. It's not a bad card but not a particularly powerful one either. I have some flight simulator type games which are a few years old - I was never able to run them at any usable speed on my previous machine, so I've had a lot of fun installing and playing them on this machine, which runs them very smoothly. For very modern games, I suspect it would be a different story and if that's what you want to do, you'll need to spend a bit more for a true gaming machine with a high-end dedicated graphics card. Outputs on the Nvidia card are HDMI, DVI, VGA. A driver disc for the NVidia card is included in the package.

Hard Drive: SATA, Seagate Barracuda Model ST2000DM001, 2TB, formatted as a small (~150GB) system drive C: and the rest as data drive D:. There is also an operating system restore image hidden on the hard drive somewhere, and that's the only system recovery material you get: If the hard drive goes down altogether, you also lose your only backup copy of Windows, since - in the package as supplied by Amazon - no physical system recovery discs are supplied. I strongly feel that a computer at this price point should come with physical system recovery media (ie, disc copies of Windows and all necessary driver discs).

Optical drive: SATA, DS-12E3SH (Generic/Unbranded) it's a Blu-Ray / DVDRW combo drive - that is, a Blu-Ray reader / player only, but with writer capability for DVD / CD discs. Blu-Ray playback is taken care of by the bundled ASUS badged version of PowerDVD. It works very well, but note that some Blu-Ray discs insist that they will only output their content through one of the digital monitor outputs, so if the monitor you intend to use with this only has a VGA input, you may not be able to view some of your Blu-Ray discs until you replace it with a monitor which has DVI or HDMI inputs. DVD/CD writing comes courtesy of the bundled 'Lite' version of Nero 12 which is preinstalled.

If you feel you might eventually want to put a Blu-Ray writer in the machine as well, bad news: The PC case only has one optical drive bay. Looking at the product image, you might be thinking it looks as though there is an unused bay above the installed drive, but that's not the case - that space is filled by the hardware associated with the front mounted card reader, USB and audio ports arrayed along the upper edge of the front panel. So, as with the RAM, it would be necessary to remove the old completely in order to fit the new. As per the current trend, ASUS have gone out of their way to hide the optical drive behind a drop-down flap, but when removed from the chassis the drive looks like an absolutely standard desktop DVD drive with the tray-open button in the usual place, which suggests that any other standard drive would fit just as well.

Wireless: The ASUS-branded wireless card installed is based on the Ralink RT3090 chipset. It supports up to Wireless N (150), but not Wireless N (300).

Motherboard: Labelled ASUS 'P8H61-M PRO'. There is extensive information about this motherboard (including a PDF manual for it) on ASUS's website in the 'Motherboards' section. Be aware, however, that the specific version of the motherboard fitted in this machine has been built to include only what this ASUS PC requires, so there are some connectors and sockets shown in the motherboard manual which are not fitted on this PC's motherboard - like the missing RAM sockets mentioned above.

As an electronics tech by trade I have seen a lot of motherboards across all makes / brands fail prematurely because the capacitors on the motherboard have baked dry or leaked after a few years. The capacitors on this motherboard aren't the conventional type, they are 'solid' types aimed at giving the board a much longer lifespan.

Motherboard ports and features not already discussed:-

SATA connectors: A generous total of 6, with two used by the installed drives.

IDE drive connectors: None.

Floppy drive connector: None.

USB2.0 - 2 front mounted, 4 rear mounted.

USB3.0 - 2, rear mounted only - good to have, but could be a bit of a pain to reach when USB 3.0 external hard drives, etc, become more commonplace. At least one should have been mounted on the front.

Card slots: Not very many for such a large tower. They are:
PCI-E x16: 2, One occupied by the Nvidia graphics card, one vacant, available to use.
PCI-E x1: 2. One occupied by the wireless card. The other is vacant, but blocked by the Graphics card's heatsink!

Audio system / Audio connectors:
The audio hardware / audio chipset is by Realtek.
On the front panel, there is one audio-in and one audio-out jack.
On the rear, 6 3.5mm audio jacks which support a variety of confgurations including surround sound output. The sound can be configured just to output stereo sound via the primary rear audio out connector, for use with conventional amplified stereo PC speakers. No speakers are supplied with the PC.
Also on the rear panel: SPDIF / Optical digital audio out.

Wired Lan Network interface: Runs at up to 'Gigabit' speed.

Bluetooth: None.

Keyboard / Mouse and connectors: The supplied wireless keyboard and optical mouse are a lot better than I expected they would be, although the keyboard is very light. The keyboard uses 1 AAA battery, the mouse 2 AAA batteries, supplied. There is no facility for recharging the mouse or the keyboard, so you'll need to keep a stash of good batteries handy. The Mouse and Keyboard communicate with the PC via a single USB dongle which therefore occupies one USB port permanently. If you happen to have a favourite wired PS/2 keyboard which you'd prefer to keep using, the PC has a single PS/2 style connector on the rear, coloured half green and half purple which suggests that it can support either one PS/2 mouse or one PS/2 keyboard as it comes: To plug both in, some kind of splitter cable (not supplied) would be required.

Already briefly mentioned: There is an integral card slot on the front panel for SD/SDHC sized cards. There is no provision for larger cards like CF (CompactFlash).

There is only one led indicator on the entire machine, a white power/standby indicator integral to the on/off switch. There are no drive activity indicator lights either for the optical drive or for HDD activity. I can't even see a HDD LED connector on the motherboard.

More bundled software: There is the usual limited-life Antivirus (Trend, in this case) installed. If you uninstall it, Windows 8 automatically falls back onto Windows Defender for basic antivirus / malware protection.

A demo/trial version of Microsoft Office is installed.

There's a decent version of Pinball preinstalled under the 'Games' tile in the Windows 8 interface. Unfortunately that tile (like other tiles in the Windows 8 user interface, such as 'Music' and 'Video') is basically just a shop window for software - sorry - 'Apps' - and services which Microsoft want to sell to you. You'll see a lot of stuff which you'll initially think is already on the machine and ready to run: But then you'll find you have to (a) download it and (b) very possibly pay for it.

Sorry, there I go, moaning about Windows 8 again.

That's all I have time for, for now, but I will continue to add to / amend this review from time to time as I learn more about the PC and Windows 8.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 4, 2013 3:23 PM BST


Vodafone K3770Z Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband Dongle
Vodafone K3770Z Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband Dongle
Offered by skaz9805
Price: 40.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Check your Vodafone 3G coverage FIRST, 18 Jan 2013
I've had a Vodafone 3770 for about 6 months now - it was originally bought with the intention of gaining internet access while staying in a cabin in a village in the central highlands of Scotland... HaHa!

Before I bought it I used the coverage finder on the Vodafone website to find out if my destination had any coverage, and was informed, honestly enough, that I would only have GPRS coverage, not 3G, and that it would not therefore be recommended for Web surfing or email. I bought it anyway thinking 'how bad can GPRS be?'... and in the event it was, as it turned out, very bad indeed.

Virtually unusable.

You could use it to view a website if you had all the patience in the world, but not otherwise. In the instance mentioned above I ended up having to hooch from the village pub's open wifi at almost record breaking distance with near zero signal strength: And yet that was still considerably better than this dongle connected via GPRS.

If you can get into a 3G coverage area, the device does become more usable, but only when it manages to upgrade the 3G connection (deep blue LED) to HSUPA (Pale blue LED) - then, you get a reasonably OK connection. Still nothing like as fast as a home broadband connection, but that is just down to the speed limitation of the 3G spec, and is obviously the reason why higher speed 4G is now (2013) being rolled out.

So to summarise: If Vodafone's coverage finder shows availability of HSUPA in the area you intend to use this in, then it will serve you reasonably well. But otherwise, forget it.


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