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Bose Sounddock Digital Music System - Black
Bose Sounddock Digital Music System - Black

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GOOD QUALITY AT A PRICE... BUT NOT QUITE AWESOME, 1 Aug. 2008
I bought a Sounddock having listened to a range of competing systems at a duty free shop. It's a solid piece of kit, and the sound quality is substantially better than most cheaper systems - indeed, there's a bit of a "wow" factor. In a small or medium-sized room, it's easily loud enough, although it's doesn't have the volume eg to power a dancing party of more than a few people. The controls are admirably simple, the remote control unit works fine (although you can't use it eg to move between playlists), and the Sounddock looks good. It's also extremely compact for the volume and quality of the sound.

Two quibbles. First, the Sounddock is expensive. I bought mine substantially discounted, which helped it to seem reasonable value. Second, mine emits a barely-perceptible (to my ears) high-pitch whine when it reaches the end of a play-list. This stops if you remove the iPod or turn the unit off.

For: compact, good sound quality, looks great. Against: expensive, some doubts about build quality.


Case-Mate IPC120GB-PB Leather Case for iPod Classic - Black
Case-Mate IPC120GB-PB Leather Case for iPod Classic - Black

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GOOD-LOOKING, CLASSY CASE FOR IPOD CLASSIC, 1 Aug. 2008
First, if you don't have a protective case for your iPod Classic, get one. Drop any iPod without a case onto a hard surface and it's gone. I've seen it happen, twice. Trouble is, there are countless designs of case, ranging from cool stick-on jobs (offering little protection) through silicone sleeves (reasonable protection) to substantial leather or leather-type hard cases (excellent protection). I browsed endlessly before settling on the Case-Mate and have been delighted. It's rigid, feels sensuous and leathery, looks cool, and is lined with a smooth red material to make it possible to slide your precious iPod in and out (the fit is quite tight). There's a hole at the bottom for your charger; the top is exposed for your headphone jack; and it comes with a leaf of plastic to stick over your iPod's window. After six months of heavy use, mine still looks like new.

Downsides: with the case, your iPod won't fit into a cradle or sound dock. This leads to an existential moment: when you take the iPod out of its Case-Mate, where it's been for a week or two, to put it into eg a Bose sound-dock, the iPod seems impossibly vulnerable and frail. It's almost a relief to put it back in the case later.

KEY POINT: the Case-Mate has different sizes to fit the 80B and 160GB iPod Classics. Make sure you get the right one!

For: solid, classy product to protect your iPod. Against: makes the iPod a bit fiddly to use with products needing a dock. But then so do most protective covers.


Concise Oxford Russian Dictionary
Concise Oxford Russian Dictionary
by Marcus Wheeler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.53

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality, good-value Russian dictionary, 1 Aug. 2008
I last bought a Concise Oxford Russian dictionary in 1991 in two volumes - Russian-English and English-Russian. 17 years later it was falling apart from over-use, and was missing key modern words like "bio-diversity", "global warming" and "on-line". So I was delighted to find the revised version in a single volume, printed on good-quality paper and properly bound in a hard-cover edition. Printed on 1007 pages, it has an excellent ratio of "range of vocabulary" to "weight and size", and includes all the above words. It's not a dictionary for specialist or technical translators, but is fine for eg "A" level or IB students, or for most people studying modern, rather than literary, Russian eg to take up a job in the former Soviet Union. The only down-side is that althought the dictionary has been reprinted several times, it doesn't seem to have been revised since 1998. So it's light on a few words of the last decade, eg it does not contain "blog" or "podcast".

For: good-value, compact, comprehensive. Against: beginning to need revision.


Kingston Technology 1GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive with Exclusive 6 way jewel case bundle (case holds one of  XD,CF,SD,MMC, Memory stick, or SM)
Kingston Technology 1GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive with Exclusive 6 way jewel case bundle (case holds one of XD,CF,SD,MMC, Memory stick, or SM)

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT MEMORY STICK, 22 July 2008
For some reason I've often had trouble with memory sticks which simply stop working. I've had two Kingston data traveller sticks, one 1GB, one 4GB, and both of them have been utterly reliable. There's a little light to show if it's in use, and the colour coding gives you a clue as to the size of the memory you're dealing with (eg 4GB is purple, 1GB is grey). They're not quite the cheapest memory sticks, but the extra reliability is, in my view, worth paying a little bit extra for. Plus they look as if they were designed by Apple.

For: works every time. Looks good. Against: not as cheap as cheaper memory sticks.


Kingston Technology 4GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive.
Kingston Technology 4GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive.

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SUPER MEMORY STICK, 22 July 2008
For some reason I've often had trouble with memory sticks which simply stop working. I've had two Kingston data traveller sticks, one 1GB, one 4GB, and both of them have been utterly reliable. There's a little light to show if it's in use, and the colour coding gives you a clue as to the size of the memory you're dealing with (eg 4GB is purple, 1GB is grey). They're not quite the cheapest memory sticks, but the extra reliability is, in my view, worth paying a little bit extra for. Plus they look as if they were designed by Apple.

For: works every time. Looks good. Against: not as cheap as cheaper memory sticks.


Greed :
Greed :
by Chris Ryan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SUPER SOLID THRILLER WITH SOME NASTY BITS, 22 July 2008
This review is from: Greed : (Paperback)
This is a slick, fast-moving thriller based around a slightly improbable theft from Al Qaeda. Chris Ryan as usual bases his story around some retired SAS guys struggling to make a living in the real world, throws in a beautiful MI5 paymaster, a challenging assignment and a bunch of plot twists, and lights the blue touch-paper. For my money this is a much better read than Ryan's "The Watchman" or "The Kremlin Device" and is a bit less formulaic than most of Andy McNab. The only downsides are a rather cutesy epilogue, and some rather gruesome killings of children which strike a macabre and false note.

For: a real page-turner. Against: bit nasty in parts.


The Kremlin Device
The Kremlin Device
by Chris Ryan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.58

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars LIGHTWEIGHT, COMPETENT THRILLER, 22 July 2008
This review is from: The Kremlin Device (Paperback)
Chris Ryan's unique selling proposition is that he's supposedly an ex-SAS guy. So the good news is that when he describes SAS guys in action, he can be relied on to do so with a bit more plausibility than other thriller writers, most of whom have never actually shot anyone. "The Kremlin Device", like most of Ryan's thrillers, has quite a few good action scenes and convincing descriptions of day-to-day life for the special forces. The less good news is that the story, such as it is, is slow-moving and unconvincing; and you rarely get the edge-of-the-seat page-turning thrill of a great thriller. It's a competent read, but instantly forgettable. If you want something better by Ryan, try "Greed", which moves along a good deal faster.

For: reasonable holiday read for action addicts. Against: boring in parts.


Nothing to Lose (Jack Reacher)
Nothing to Lose (Jack Reacher)
by Lee Child
Edition: Hardcover

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ROUTINE REACHER, 7 July 2008
I'm a big fan of Lee Child and his rogue, justice-dealing loner, Reacher. In "Nothing to Lose", Reacher must solve the mystery of a remote town, Despair, whose people seem unaccountably keen to see the back of him. This makes the plot reminiscent of the first Jack Reacher, "Killing Floor". Indeed, the whole plot is uncomfortably formulaic and reminiscent of earlier Lee Child thrillers, from Reacher shacking up with an interesting loner female to his final assault on a stronghold defended by some tough guys. I hoped desperately for some twists or intriguing characters, but in vain. Indeed, the plot conceit of having two neighbouring towns entitled "Hope" (decent place) and "Despair" (dump) was symptomatic of what feels like the author's need to let a second pair of eyes edit this down to something tighter and better (see eg "Tripwire" or "Echo Burning"). I'd have liked to another outing for Reacher's best female sidekick, the enigmatic Neagly, too (see "Without Fail" and "Bad Luck and Trouble"). And Reacher's terrific, ironic sense of humour, as seen in "The Enemy" seems to have deserted him.

So why 4 stars? Well, it's still a decent read, and moves along briskly enough. But c'mon Lee Child, you can do better than this!

For: an OK read. Against: slow-moving and formulaic in places.


The Ghost
The Ghost
by Robert Harris
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elegant political thriller rates highly, but..., 29 Oct. 2007
This review is from: The Ghost (Hardcover)
I'm always desperate to find a good political thriller, and Robert Harris is a consistently excellent author. "The Ghost" contains several promising elements: a thought-provoking political background, a cast of intriguing characters, some fine landscapes, betrayal, mystery and topicality. Tied together by Harris's exquisite writing, it all adds up to an entertaining, interesting read, and in a different literary league to most modern thrillers. The only downside is that we never get much of a sense that what happens at the end matters much, or will change the world; there's none of that too-terrified-to-turn-the-next-page feeling you get with the best thrillers. Indeed, you get the feel the whole thing could have done with a final polish. I wondered whether, like his eponymous hero, Harris had hurried to produce his book to coincide with political events in the outside world.

Pro: a solid, intriguing read. Con: not quite thrilling enough.


The Afghan
The Afghan
by Frederick Forsyth
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable, routine thriller, 16 Oct. 2007
This review is from: The Afghan (Paperback)
Frederick Forsyth has written some great political thrillers in the past, and is undoubtedly an interesting bloke. So if you like political thrillers, it's tempting to go for anything new he's written in the hope that he'll have done a workmanlike job. The good news here is that the book is a decent read, topical and with a wealth of political and historical detail and discussion of terrorism. The bad news is that the story is thin: after the opening incident, little happens for the next 250 pages, and for the 250 pages after that, up to the end of the book, you wait in vain for any twists or surprises. I finished it, but kept wishing the editors had made more of an effort to tighten it up and make it punchier.

Summary: OK read, but too easy to put down to qualify as a good thriller.


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