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Russell Smith "egobreed" (Glasgow, Scotland)
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Sony KDL50W829B 50-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p 3D Smart TV with Freeview - Black
Sony KDL50W829B 50-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p 3D Smart TV with Freeview - Black
Price: £599.00

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best telly ever., 24 Oct. 2014
This is my third Bravia telly in 8 years, replacing a 32", now I have a bigger living room. Naturally looked at Sony options first and this was a clear winner in terms of reviews, features and price. Could perhaps have stretched to a basic 4K telly but didn't think it was really worthwhile yet.

This TV looks brilliant standing on a low TV bench and is surprisingly unobtrusive for a 50 inch. My wife inevitably complained that it was too big at first but has quickly got used to it.

The picture is stunning, particularly from Blu-ray discs from a PS3, but also from Sky HD or even the built-in Freeview HD. It's sharp without being jaggy, and the colours and motion put the older TVs to shame. Standard definition is a little blocky in places but it handles DVDs and TV better than other large LCDs that I've seen. I had on David Attenborough's 'Life Story' last night in HD and every scene was a thing of beauty.

Speakers are downward-firing to keep the design minimalist and are reasonably powerful and clear. I recently splashed out an extra £200 on the wireless subwoofer, and while it's certainly not essential, it does transform the sound and makes it (almost) as impressive as the picture.

The only downside is start-up time; it needs a good 20 seconds or so before you can select an AV input, but once it's running, the interface is easy to use. It also does 3D (if you care) and comes with two pairs of active glasses. The effect is good, certainly on Metallica's Through The Never, the only 3D disc that I have in the house. It's a nice gimmick to try out but I'm unlikely to buy any more 3D discs in the future - it's too wearing to watch for long periods, and the 2D 1080p picture is so good that it seems a shame to ruin it with the glasses.

Oh, and football mode is horrible.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 28, 2014 3:39 PM GMT


Sony SWF BR100 Wireless Sub Woofer - White
Sony SWF BR100 Wireless Sub Woofer - White
Price: £227.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile addition to a Bravia TV, 16 Oct. 2014
I got a 50" Bravia W8 in the summer, and was blown away by the picture quality. The sound was absolutely fine, but when I registered the TV, I got a voucher for 20% off Bravia accessories.

This 20% voucher burning a hole in my pocket probably swayed me towards buying this subwoofer, rather than any great need to have extra bass. Having stumped up just under £200 for it however, I have to say that I'm fairly happy with it.

First impressions are that it's a fairly hefty bit of kit, not quite as unobtrusive as the marketing bumf would have you believe. It is however extremely simple to set up. Simple pop the dongle in to a USB socket on the back of your telly, and then connect that to the TV's headphone socket. The sub then powers up automatically when the TV is on, and also puts itself in to standby mode. It's very simple, and whilst the dongle doesn't feel massively secure in the USB slot, I've had no issues so far. I do wonder if a humble headphone socket is really the best thing to be using for audiophile quality however.

The main thing though, is that it performs very well in terms of filling in the sound. It adjusts its settings automatically depending on which model of Bravia it has been paired with, and the default levels for the W8 seem well judged. You can fine tune them yourself by going in to the TV's more complex sound options menu, accessed off the home screen, even if it's only to adjust the level of the bass relative to the TV's own output.

I like the sound; it's very full and certainly has proper impact and thud for movie effects. Music channels also sounds dramatically better when compared to the TV's downward-firing speakers alone. You are perhaps aware that you're listening to 'TV + bass', rather than a fully balanced home cinema set-up, but I suppose that's the compromise that you're accepting for convenience and ease of use. Turning the sub off and going back to the TV speakers alone does however make you realise how much it's adding to the overall experience.

I do turn it off sometimes though - it can be a bit distracting if you're watching something mainly speech-based, and you're only aware of bass-heavy background music and effects booming in from time to time, seeming disproportionately loud. Turning on and off is easy though, and can be done through the basic sound menu on the TV remote (or by turning it off at the wall).

It loses a star for the price, especially if you're paying the full £250. You can buy a soundbar/subwoofer combo for less, without the downside of it being tied to one brand or model of TV. As a well made, powerful and easy to use bit of kit though, it's certainly a worthwhile addition if you're spending £800+ on a Bravia TV.


Congregation
Congregation
Price: £12.71

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The 'dog are back, 13 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Congregation (Audio CD)
I got the download of this a week or so ago (I'm one of the pledgers who coughed up months ago so I could get my name in the credits) and I actually can't stop listening to it. I know all these songs so well, having listened to them regularly for the best part of twenty years, and it's amazing how fresh they are. Plus, the sound quality is stunning - I don't know how much of that is down to the recording process, but the band are really tight and Cormac's voice is as impressive as ever. Now really excited for seeing them live in November 2014. New song 'Electricity' is an added bonus but the live stuff is worth the price on its own.


The Solar Centre London Solar Post Lights (set Of 2)
The Solar Centre London Solar Post Lights (set Of 2)
Price: £23.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Work perfectly, 27 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Reviews are mixed here but I can't really fault these. True, they perhaps feel a little more lightweight than you expect, but I've had no issues whatsoever in typical Scottish weather and they look great. In fact, I'm probably going to buy another set!


Life After Death: Eighteen Years on Death Row
Life After Death: Eighteen Years on Death Row
by Damien Echols
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read that ultimately falls short of being a triumph, 27 Jun. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Being a (grown up) metal kid myself, I started this book with an in-built empathy for this story of an outsider being treated harshly by 'the system'. There's a great deal of focus on Echols' early life, and whilst it contributes to the understanding of his path in life, it all becomes a little wearing - it's terribly self-indulgent and at times, self-pitying.

If taken at face value, the abuse suffered by Echols at the hands of the authorities is shocking, and it's easy to share in his anger and frustration. There is always a naging doubt though that there is another isde to this story, and the circumstances of his eventual release only serve to strengthen this. The book needs to end on a complete vindication to really resonate, and unfortunately, that never quite arrives.


Official T Shirt BLACK SABBATH Avengers Iron Man US TOUR 78 M
Official T Shirt BLACK SABBATH Avengers Iron Man US TOUR 78 M
Offered by ripleys clothing
Price: £12.89

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very cool. But tiny., 10 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a smart retro shirt, the pattern has a nice, slightly faded look. But as another review commented, the sizes are too small. I' *always* a Medium in t-shirts, being fairly tall and skinny, and I generally take a 40 Long in suit jackets. The medium of this is definitely too small for me though, really tight around the shoulders and armpits. Can't be bothered returning it so my missus can have it to sleep in....


The Black Banners: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda
The Black Banners: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda
by Ali H. Soufan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Damn you, CIA!, 16 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The review copy of this that I read was heavily redacted by the CIA. Now, at first, that's fun - a couple of black lines where names should be gives an air of authenticity and danger. Later on, however, it gets annoying, literally, entire chapters are 90% black line with the remainder rendered completely impenetrable.

This may seem like a petty way to approach this book, but actually, it's the whole FBI / CIA relationship in a nutshell. There are some chapters were the CIA has literally insisted that the personal pronouns are removed. You can clearly see from the context (and the size of the black bar) where words like 'I', 'He' and 'They' have been removed. It's ludicrous, and demonstrates the kind of attributes that the CIA is often associated with; paranoia, bureaucracy, and inter-agency pettiness.

I mention this because the author, Ali Soufan is a former FBI agent, and here he tells the background story of the hunt for Al Qaeda, following attacks such as that on the USS Cole in Yemen, and of course, September 11th. The overriding theme is that Soufan (and, to a certain extent, the FBI) was always in the right, particularly with regards to interrogations, whilst the CIA merely hampered efforts to protect America and bring Bin Laden to justice.

It's one man's opinion and is inevitably biased, and it would be interesting to hear a different or opposing perspective on the events. However, as much as Soufan can come across like a flawless boy scout throughout, it's difficult not to side with his point of view in the majority of situations. His approach in dealing with terror suspects always seems more constructive, and according to this book at least, seems to get better results.

If you want to delve behind the headlines and find out some of the human stories on both sides of the 'war on terror' then this is a very informative and well-told tale.


The Explorer
The Explorer
by James Smythe
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Memserising, haunting sci-fi, 16 April 2013
This review is from: The Explorer (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's really difficult to explain what's so great about this book without telling you the entire concept. It's about a spaceship hurtling in to deep space to inspire mankind, and how our storyteller, Cormac, quickly finds himself alone as the last survivor. So, as you can guess, it's not all lightsabers and one-liners - if anything, it has more in common with 'Moon', starring Sam Rockwell. It's meditative, contemplative, and takes you on a journey through Cormac's desperation, acceptance of his fate, even redemption, perhaps. Not for everyone, then, but if you stick with it, it'll definitely get inside your head and stay there.


The Science Magpie: A Hoard of Fascinating Facts, Stories, Poems, Diagrams and Jokes, Plucked from Science and Its History (Icon Magpie)
The Science Magpie: A Hoard of Fascinating Facts, Stories, Poems, Diagrams and Jokes, Plucked from Science and Its History (Icon Magpie)
by Simon Flynn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.94

3.0 out of 5 stars A nice idea, but a little lightweight, 16 April 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I like the intent of this short collection; I'm all for the promotion of science as something fun and fascinating, rather than the stuff of dusty textbooks that many of us will remember from school. There are some interesting vignettes, but ultimately there's not really that much to it, and the attempts at humour are a little twee.


Origin
Origin
by J.T. Brannan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This week on the X-files..., 3 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Origin (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Anyone who was a fan of Mulder and Scully towards the middle of The X-Files' run will be on familiar ground here. There's a mystery body buried in ice which has modern clothing but appears to be almost 40,000 years old, and an ultra-powerful, shadowy organisation that will stop at nothing to keep the secret buried. There are further similarities which I could list but that would risk giving away much of the plot.

So, the (beautiful, genius) scientist who discovers the body narrowly survives being assassinated and goes on the run with her part-native American ex-husband - the kind of indestructible, super-capable action man that only exists in this sort of book. Much adventure ensues, there's guns and fighting aplenty, and after a few nights' reading, we get to the centre of the conspiracy and an extravagant set-piece finale.

Now, at the centre of 'Origin', there are a couple of decent high concept sci-fi ideas which are genuinely interesting. The trouble is, that to get to that point, we have to go on a magical mystery tour of pseudoscience, religion and mythology which gets spuriously tied together in one tortuous monologue. Don't get me wrong; it's all very good fun, and I don't think for a second that the author is actually trying to convince us that it's true. However, as the plot spirals over-ambitiously, it stretches the credibility completely, and you find yourself guffawing at each successive twist as the whole thing teeters on the edge of parody.

Anyway, as a guilty pleasure, it was all quite enjoyable, and there was even some genuine tension towards the end, but I can't help feeling that it could have been more interesting if it had all been dialled back a bit.


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