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Colin McCartney (United Kingdom)
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BlackBerry Q10 SIM-Free Smartphone - Black
BlackBerry Q10 SIM-Free Smartphone - Black
Offered by Catch-up
Price: £199.99

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid all-round smartphone, 18 Sept. 2013
The BlackBerry Q10 is not for everyone. It's well known that BlackBerry has nowhere near the same range of apps available as its competitors. However if that is not important to you, then the Q10 really is an excellent phone.

THE OPERATING SYSTEM: This is no-nonsense and reasonably intuitive to use. As is the way of things these days you don't get an instruction manual and thus there's a lot you have to suss out for yourself. I've had my Q10 for three months now, never having had a BlackBerry before, and I'm still finding out new things about it - and I suspect there's more to come. I have experienced the odd glitch but nothing too disturbing. The unit runs warm if you keep apps running in the background so my advice would be turn these off, particularly if you want to save battery power, or unless you want to use it as a hand-warmer.

DESIGN/BUILD QUALITY: The Q10 is a subtly restyled version of its BB predecessors. The weight and size are just about right, neither too heavy nor too light and not too big either. The small screen-size will of course be off-putting to people looking to do anything requiring a visual aspect - but this IS a keyboard BlackBerry after all, so presumably those considering purchase are not prioritising screen size. The super AMOLED display itself is of a very high quality and actually, is absolutely fine for watching short clips and music videos and the like. What the prospective purchaser should consider, nevertheless, is whether or not the keyboard is required at all: I was surprised to find that the keyboard is just that - mainly used for keying text only. It does not assist with navigating around screens, nor can it be used to override touchscreen functions to any great extent - although it does offer a few handy shortcuts. Therefore, unless the lack of physical keys is of primary concern, you might want to look at the larger-screened Blackberry Z10 UK Sim Free Smartphone which as far as I can gather is more or less the same phone, sans keyboard. Whilst the Q10 is far from flimsy in build quality it does not give the impression of being overly durable either. Yet during the 3 months I have had it the screen has yet to collect its first scratch - despite being accidentally put in my front jeans pocket with my house keys on numerous occasions. So no need to bother with screen protectors.

FUNCTIONALITY: There are some niggles. Cutting, pasting and inserting takes some getting used to - fortunately I don't do a lot of that but it's a bit awkward. It would have been better if they could have added some sort of back-up cut and paste function using the keyboard rather than the touch-screen. Also, I find the screen panel for inputting text messages a bit small. This has two drawbacks: the obvious one - that it's difficult to read the whole message you've just typed at a glance (and fiddly to scroll through). Secondly, less obviously, re the aforementioned text editing issues, and in conjunction with the proximity of the 'send' button, if you're not careful you can accidentally send a text whilst still trying to edit it. Not a major problem for me and perhaps less so once the user becomes more aware of this. Pitfall, but nevertheless a flaw I would be seeking to correct in future if I were the designer.

CAMERA/VIDEO: This feature is the one thing I have received several compliments about - on what is otherwise an understated phone. The camera colour and resolution are excellent for a camera phone - better, in fact, than my own camera which I've more or less stopped using. The camera has (provided you turn the function on) the ability to forward and rewind pictures of faces before saving them i.e. to the moment immediately before somebody's blink spoiled your otherwise perfect picture. There's some fun video editing software on here too. Also extremely useful is the mini HDMI slot - just buy the appropriate lead and you can plug the phone straight into your TV - great for showing off pictures and videos.

PHONE/EMAIL/TEXTING: The USP of the BlackBerry 10 is its communications "hub" - it brings together all the usual suspects - Email, FaceBook, LinkedIn etc in one place. This function is quite scary at first - as people you barely know/used to know/thought you had erased suddenly pop up in your contacts list without warning. Ultimately though, I now find it quite useful as it brings in e.g. contact details for occasional business contacts whose details you might not otherwise have bothered storing until...the day you need them.

ACCOMPANYING SOFTWARE: The associated "BlackBerry Link" software for use with your computer for syncing music, making photo albums etc is decent if not fantastic. Useable without being annoying, and 10 million times better than iTunes (but what isn't?). One gripe though is that it's difficult to scroll though.

THE REST: I'm a big music fan and will ignore any device that is half-a**ed as a music player. The Q10 is NOT one such device and is the first phone I've owned that I actually bother to play music through regularly. The onboard sound is pretty good too. Whilst, as I mentioned, the lack of apps will be off-putting for some, this was not a problem for me APART FROM the lack of Google Maps - which I took for granted on my old Android Sony Ericsson. BlackBerry Maps isn't in the same league and in particular, if you mostly go everywhere on foot (as I do). A remedy is at hand in the form of "BeMaps Pro" which is downloadable from the BlackBerry store for £2.50 and is almost, but not quite, as good as the Google version. Final minor annoyance: I've noticed all BlackBerry charger cables are on the short side but the one supplied with the Q10 is even shorter. Buy an extension cable unless you want to charge your phone on the floor.

IN SUMMARY: Personally, this is really a five star product for me - it's transformed me from a "non-phone person" into a "phone person" but I appreciate that it will not suit everyone. I've knocked a star off for some of the problems mentioned above plus, the fact that (at time of writing, at least) it's perhaps rather expensive for what it is (don't expect to get that many compliments on it). If you like to send a lot of emails and take a lot of pictures on your phone - this is the phone for you. If you want a decent non-iTunes music player and a phone that is generally pleasant to use (how irritated do I now get when I revert to my wife's Android tablet - quite, so much so I use the Q10 where possible) - this is the phone for you. If you like your gadgets but you are not a crowd-follower - this is the phone for you. If you want to play games and use apps then, you should look elsewhere. Oh, and if it's just a bigger screen you're after (the Q10 can be a little fiddly at times) - consider the (touchscreen only) Z10 instead.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 20, 2014 10:26 PM BST


Commodified
Commodified

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As close as you'll get to a new Drexciya LP, 11 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Commodified (Audio CD)
NRSB-11 comprises Drexciya's Gerald Donald (aka Heinrich Müller of Dopplereffekt) and Sherard Ingram (aka DJ Stingray of Urban Tribe) and is released on the (usually) hard to find Belgian label, WeMe Records.

A collaboration between these two individuals was always going to be a must-have for any Detroit techno fan such as me - and it doesn't disappoint. The musical similarities with Drexciya are fairly clear, although the sound is overall cleaner and higher-tech. As with Boards of Canada on Tomorrow's Harvest, NRSB-11 have concocted a sound that will appeal not only to longstanding fans of techno music, but also to today's post-techno generation (Chromatics, Factory Floor et al).

"Commodified" is something of a concept album: with a barcode on the cover and track titles like "Consumer Programming", "Living Wage", "Market Forces", "Offshore Banking" and "Austerity", I guess it's fair to say this is about the darker side of capitalism.

The CD version of the LP has the added bonus of all three tracks from the group's previous EP for WeMe and is therefore a must for anyone who didn't manage to get hold of a copy of that.

Class.


Reach For The Dead
Reach For The Dead
Price: £0.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life in a Scotch sitting room..., 25 May 2013
This review is from: Reach For The Dead (MP3 Download)
You half expect to hear Ivor Cutler's voice over the bagpipe-like drone at the beginning of this track; instead, in come the beats, followed by some arpeggiated chillwave synth.

"Reach for the Dead" is a contemporary listen but in a retro way: a yearning for the past has always been at the core of BoCs music, but here their reminiscence appears to ape contemporary bands like Chromatics - who are themselves nostalgic.

So who is copying who? Whose record is the more forward looking by being the more backward looking? I'm even confusing myself here...

Anyway this is very good - the most entertaining thing I've heard from the Boards since Music Has The Right To Children [New Version] - after which they have largely been treading water in my opinion.

Bodes well for the new LP Tomorrow's Harvest.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 13, 2013 1:04 PM BST


Solar 90" x 90" Cyan Blackout Thermal Lined Pencil Pleat Designer Curtains Available In A Choice Of 7 Sizes
Solar 90" x 90" Cyan Blackout Thermal Lined Pencil Pleat Designer Curtains Available In A Choice Of 7 Sizes
Offered by The Linen Depot
Price: £47.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blackout, at the flick of God's switch?, 27 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It seems to be a fact that blackout curtains do not come in nice patterns and so a plain design, like these, is the best you are going to get - unless you are prepared to pay bigger bucks for made-to-measure.

These curtains are very stiff and squeaky to the touch, however I saw similar reviews for other brands - so I am guessing this has something to do with the type of materials used to reflect the sunlight, and may be unavoidable.

This 90" x 90" size is basically two pairs of curtains sown together. That in itself doesn't bother me although, the stitching is quite wide. There is nevertheless plenty of gather in them and they drape along the floor which always makes curtains look classier I think. As for keeping the light out, they do work well enough. Our bedroom faces north-east, which is problematic in that the sun shines right into the room first thing in the morning.

The curtains do not blackout the room, but they do reflect the sunlight so that it isn't glaring in. What you are left with isn't total darkness - just calmer and more sedate.

So all in all, these curtains are probably a little slap-dash in terms of quality and they do not blacken the room out completely, but for what they cost overall, they are reasonable value for money. 3.5/5.


Get Lucky (Radio Edit)
Get Lucky (Radio Edit)
Price: £0.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last I am free, 20 April 2013
This track will make you dance like Fred Astaire.

I didn't think I could dance until I heard this song. It's genius - but then, Nile Rodgers is involved.

I can't kick this feeling when it hits.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 23, 2013 7:00 AM BST


Kitchen Craft 20cm Non-Stick Round Sandwich Pan With Loose Base
Kitchen Craft 20cm Non-Stick Round Sandwich Pan With Loose Base
Price: £6.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good quality, but beware of the product description, 23 Mar. 2013
As always with this brand, the pan is of superb quality and durability.

BUT - the pan measures 8 7/16" (21.5cm) to be exact, which wouldn't ordinarily matter but I bought it to go with an existing 8" sandwich pan (which DOES measure 8" and yes, I have had the measuring tape out) to make a Victoria sponge cake and so now one layer of my otherwise superb cake ;-) is quite visibly bigger than the other one :-(

So if you are wanting to buy one of these to pair up with a different brand you have at home, you may want to bear this in mind.


The Essence of Greece: An Authentic Musical Journey
The Essence of Greece: An Authentic Musical Journey
Offered by SourceMediaUK
Price: £2.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't judge a CD by its cover, 3 Mar. 2013
I bought this some years ago in HMV when I was looking for some authentic music for a Greek-themed party. It was in the World Music section next to the Rough Guide CDs. Perhaps I might have thought - mistakenly - it was from the Rough Guide series?...

It's not - it is absolute rubbish - it starts with a passable version of Zorba's Dance (titled here as "Zorba The Greek") and it's downhill from there on. Closer investigation reveals there are no performer names anywhere in the liner notes - that's right, this is SO bad nobody put their name to it! Probably knocked up with digital audio software that came free with a magazine, in about 30 minutes by some bloke in Suffolk who tried and failed to get commissioned for a daytime TV food series. Yet still, somehow, miraculously, this managed to see a release?

The Amazon price at time of writing is £7.02, for which, even from selling a single CD, the mark-up must be at least a fiver.

I really hope the person who anonymous person who made this is some cheesey Alan Partridge type who knows deep down it's wrong, or, at odds of one billion to one, the Aphex Twin having a laugh. Otherwise I fear I may have just shot Bambi.

As far as musical journeys in Greece go, this is inessential and unauthentic as it gets.


Truant / Rough Sleeper
Truant / Rough Sleeper
Offered by MEGA Media FBA
Price: £8.36

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Burial's bid for the Christmas no. 1, allegedly, 20 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Truant / Rough Sleeper (Audio CD)
Hyperdub's first ever all formats single release comes, not surprisingly, from its flagship artist Burial, a man who seems happy to do what he wants to do and not follow anybody's expectations. Many people are talking about the 3rd album (BTW, well done, to whichever broadsheet reviewer it was who last year predicted the next Burial LP would be one of the albums of the 2012 - 10 days left mate, keep making that prediction and keep waiting, maybe) but Burial seems happy to knock out EPs, and when they're of this quality I don't think many of his fans will be too bothered whether he releases another album or not.

"Truant" is two long tracks and around 25 minutes of music. It really needs to be heard loud to get the full benefit of it (bass). The sound is distinctively Burial but as with the previous EPs Street Halo [12" VINYL] and Kindred [VINYL], it's a gradual, rather than a radical progression.

Does it sound Christmassy? Well if you like the Christmas episode of "Eastenders" then it's Christmassy, otherwise - not. Both songs have a lot going on there. The second piece, "Rough Sleeper" in particular sounds like it could have an album's worth of ideas condensed into one, stop-start piece of music - and who knows, maybe it does - Cabaret Voltaire once did a similar thing with their "C.O.M.A." B-side, which turned out to be a mash-up of tracks from their then current LP The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord, so why not?

I'm not joking about the Christmas no. 1 thing incidentally - there is an internet campaign. It would be good to see "Truant" get a high chart placing at Christmas, but I'm not sure about no. 1 - Burial would have to appear on Christmas Top of the Pops and we'd still have an hour of "Eastenders" to get through afterwards...
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 24, 2012 1:25 AM GMT


SEQUENCE -A RETROSPECTIVE OF AXIS RECORDS(2CD)(regular)
SEQUENCE -A RETROSPECTIVE OF AXIS RECORDS(2CD)(regular)
Offered by JAPANMEDIA
Price: £19.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia for the future, 19 Dec. 2012
Perhaps the most anticipated of all the Christmas Best Ofs this year (well, at least in my house) is this one from Detroit techno pioneer Jeff Mills.

Despite the fact that he is a prolific producer, Mills has released relatively few compilations over the years. The reason he gives in the (comprehensive) sleevenotes is that he once "resented the fact that music was being reduced into a collection or a composite". Now it seems that Jeff has come to terms with the possibility that compilations can serve as a gateway to new musical worlds; as a means of condensing vast catalogues of work that might otherwise prove inaccessible.

"Sequence" covers Mr Mills' post-Underground Resistance work more-or-less from the set up of his Axis record label in 1992 until the present day. Undoubtedly a lot of work has gone into the selection and running order of the tracks and as an album this makes for compulsive listening. Undoubtedly, the former UR man's work can seem a little daunting at times and this compilation (as often the way with techno music) is a good way to approach it. The LP runs the full breadth of JM's styles - from his characteristic unmelodic, avant-garde work to the harder-core techno stuff as well as "trackier" releases for the Axis sub-label Purpose Maker.

The booklet contains a track-by-track commentary on all 24 tracks. We learn that "Drama", his most UR-like Axis release was in fact intended as a house music crossover for the New York clubs. Really?! Or that the classic "Changes of Life" had to be mixed on headphones after a neighbour complained that the noise was driving him crazy.

If you've ever been curious, or had a passing interest in Jeff Mills' music then "Sequence" is the compilation to buy. If you're already a fan then - this will make a fine soundtrack to your Christmas, alternated, of course, with Now That's What I Call Christmas.

Open the brandy and have a mince pie. This is what I call techno.

PS at time of writing this release is advertised as a Japanese import for the price of £39.99. It's not a Japanese import but a (cheaper) US one and can be bought for about £22 elsewhere.


Mark Kozelek on Tour: The Soundtrack
Mark Kozelek on Tour: The Soundtrack
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.72

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good collection of mostly live tracks from Mark Kozelek, 17 Dec. 2012
This 2CD is the soundtrack to Kozelek's recent DVD On Tour [DVD] [2011] [NTSC]. If you've seen that, you'll know exactly what to expect. If you haven't, then it doesn't matter as the soundtrack works well as a stand-alone release: a kind of "Best Of" live with a few bonus tracks.

The live versions of such tracks as "Lost Verses", "Cruiser", "Carry Me Ohio" serve to remind just how great this man can be when he is on form.

Just one thing - I like the gatefold packaging, but it's clearly designed to have some sort if inner sleeve for each disc, but there aren't any? So when you take the album off the shelf or open it up, the discs come flying out if you're not careful - so, rip it quick before it gets scratched!

At time of writing "the Koz" has no fewer than 3 LPs scheduled for release in 2013. Let's hope they're on a par with this one.


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