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Sony KDL32W705B 32-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p Smart TV with Freeview - Black (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Sony KDL32W705B 32-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p Smart TV with Freeview - Black (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great all-round performer, 9 Mar. 2015
The Blu-ray player in our bedroom recently died leaving us without a media player and Netflix access. While awaiting its repair and return I grew a little impatient and started investigating the possibility of replacing my ageing LG 32LH3000 with something a little more modern. After a fair bit of research into various makes/models I opted for the KDL-32W705B for a number of reasons.

Firstly, unlike many of its competitors, which opt for IPS panels in their TVs, Sony used an AMVA PSA panel in the W705B. What that means in simple terms is superior contrast and black level performance, something that I find essential for viewing in a darkened environment (and the primary reason my main TV in the living room is a Pansonic plasma). While still nowhere near the quality of plasma, the W705B does offer superior black levels and contrast to the LG TV it replaced, which struggled to produce anything other than grey-looking blacks on account of its IPS panel. The resulting image definitely has more 'pop' than that of the LG, especially with full-screen content or in brighter conditions (ambient light tends to make LCD TV's black performance look better). The minor trade-off here is with viewing angles, which are inferior to IPS panels. That's not to say they're terrible though, and you have to look at the screen from quite a wide angle before it starts to wash out (so wide as to be impractical for viewing). As the TV is placed right in front of our bed it's not an issue, something which will probably be true for many people.

While image quality was paramount in my decision I also wanted a Smart TV to replace the BD player going forward, as it was both wasteful and annoying running two electrical appliances to accomplish one job. The Smart features on the W705B aren't as good as some, but they suit my needs. I don't watch a lot of broadcast television in bed and have TiVo in the living room, so the limited on-demand/catch-up services don't trouble me. The lack of such services for ITV and Channel 4 could put some people off, but at least it has a dedicated iPlayer app. Anyway, I mainly use the built-in Netflix app to watch films and the odd series in bed, and it works very well. As I understand it there were issues with application navigation speed in the past, but I found the TV reasonably responsive. This could be due to the recent (March 2015) update designed to address performance issues. I was also pleased to discover that I could edit the DNS entries in the network settings, which allowed me to connect to the US Netflix service and view its larger catalogue. The built-in media player is also very useful for watching downloaded media, supporting a wide variety of popular file types such as mt2s, mpg, mp4, mkv, asf, mov and avi. I have personally played a variety of formats (mainly mp4/mkv/m2ts) and it works well.

The W705B has a wide array of customisation options for both picture and sound. The former allows you to tweak a lot of the settings to your personal preference, although the Cinema 1 preset actually comes quite close to offering accurate settings for home cinema use. I used this as my basis and then further refined, disabling some of the extraneous processing options and dropping the backlight level slightly. The TV lacks a proper colour management system, but it's not really aimed at the sort of person who would be looking to get their TV calibrated so it can be forgiven. The TV also has a very low input lag (at least according to all of the professional reviews I've read), which could make it an attractive proposition for gamers.

Unfortunately the audio is as weak as you'd expect from today's Smart TVs. CRTs often boasted decent sound, and even the older, fatter LCD displays could house reasonable speakers, but these super-thin LED backlit TVs just don't have the room to accommodate speakers with any 'ooomph'. As such the sound is quite tinny, and although there are options to boost the levels and add pseudo surround sound, the end results are still anaemic. Of course this is a weakness shared by most TVs these days, when manufacturers all-but expect people to be using a home cinema system (or a sound bar at the very least).

To summarise, the W705B offers impressive visual performance and a solid array of Smart and media playback features, but is hampered by some relatively weak audio. If your primary use is as a secondary TV in the bedroom it might not be an issue, but I have a feeling that the sound could get lost in a living room (not that I think 32" is big enough for a living room these days of high-definition content), so it's worth keeping that in mind. Other than that, it's a great little HDTV.

Krull [Blu-ray] [1983] [US Import]
Krull [Blu-ray] [1983] [US Import]

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very satisfying presentation of an enjoyable fantasy romp, 3 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This 1980s fantasy feature might be the poor relation to films such as Star Wars, but it is surprisingly entertaining nonetheless and a firm childhood favourite of mine. I'd been longing for a Blu-ray for years, but as Sony didn't appear to have any intention of releasing one I was very happy when they licensed the title to Mill Creek.

Now Mill Creek isn't necessarily known for the quality of its Blu-ray output, but its Deep Rising/Pupper Masters release was decent enough so I held out some hope that Krull would at least be passable. Thankfully it's actually much better than that. Mill Creek has simply used the unmolested transfer supplied by Sony, which is no bad thing as Sony produces some of the best catalogue masters around. The film looks great; detailed, natural and with few (if any) artefacts. It's a really solid visual presentation that puts a good few modern features in the shade. The audio is similarly impressive, at least given the limitations of the source, with some decent surround activity, balanced dialogue and powerful bass. However, the aural highlight is James Horner's score, which should be unmistakable to anyone familiar with his other work and incredibly well-represented in the mix. There is no bonus material, which could be seen as a negative by some, but to be honest I'm just happy to have the film (and I have the old DVD for the extras).

Although the disc purports to be region A locked - and indeed, a warning message is displayed when you try to play it in a region B player - it is extremely easy to circumvent this restriction. Simply pressing the 'top menu' button on the player's remote when region restriction message is displayed will take you the disc's (rudimentary) main menu, from which you can play the film. I've tried this workaround on four different brands of Blu-ray player and it's worked on all of them (as well as the PS3 and PC etc).

If you're one of the film's loyal fans this is a must-have disc, but I'd also recommend it to parents whose children enjoy fantasy films. It's not as flashy as you're average modern feature (no CGI here), but there's a real charm to the old-school practical effects and the film has genuine heart and good morals to teach. There's nothing unsuitable for the average PG-safe audience, but very small children might find some of the monsters a bit much. I first saw it when I was about eight years old, and it was just the right amount of 'scary'! I'll certainly be introducing my boy to the world of Krull when he's old enough to appreciate it!

As usual, the seller 'All Your Music' delivered in a reasonable time-frame considering the disc came from the Sates (under two weeks door-to-door). The price, which worked out at around £4 at the time of order, is ridiculously good, so much so that I almost felt guilty for paying so little for one of my fondest childhood memories (almost).
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 7, 2015 3:26 PM BST

XFX ATX 550 Power Supply - P1550SXXB9
XFX ATX 550 Power Supply - P1550SXXB9
Offered by Bora-Computer GbR
Price: £59.16

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent enough PSU, if you get one that works..., 3 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I ordered one of these for my new system build on the back of positive reviews on various websites (and the fact that XFX PSUs are made by Seasonic). Unfortunately, having assembled my system I was greeted by the sight of the fans spinning up and then immediately stopping. At first I thought it might be a motherboard short, but after testing the PSU with my old system I confirmed that it was DOA. This was extremely frustrating to say the least, as the late hour meant it would be two days before Amazon could get a replacement to me and my new system was useless without power.

When the replacement unit arrived I was relieved that it worked and appears to be coping well with the power requirements of my system. To give you an idea of what it's running, I have a Core i5 4690K, a Z97 motherboard, 8GB 1866MHz DDR3, 1x Crucial SSD, 2x Samsung HDD, 1x LG Blu-ray/HD DVD writer, an MSI GTX 970, and various attached USB devices such as external HDD and docks. I really appreciate the single 12v rail design, which makes things much easier than the old days when you had more than one rail and could run into problems if you had a power-hungry graphics card vying for dominance with the other components. I haven't had any reboots or crashes yet, even during several long periods of gaming, so it appears stable and it's quiet enough to lead me to believe that it's not being unduly taxed under load. Obviously it's still early days, and given that my first unit was DOA long-term reliability is a cause for concern. You do get a generous five-year warranty, but from what I've heard the RMA process is a bit of a nightmare, and besides, who wants to be without a PSU for the length of time it takes an RMA to process? Fingers crossed this replacement PSU is one of the good ones!

The PSU has a generous amount of connectors, including 24 pin 12v ATX power, 2x4 pin 12v ATX power, 1x8 pin 12v EPS power, dual 1x6 pin and 1x 6+2 pin PCIE power, along with more than enough SATA and Molex power connectors for the average system (legacy FDD connectors are also included). I'm not a fan of the flat, rubbery power cables used in place of the more traditional sheathed cables, as they are inflexible and difficult to manoeuvre around the case. Trying to plug three SATA drives into one power cable proved tricky, and the inflexibility of rubberised cables means that, in my system at least, the PCIE power cables sit very close to the GPU's heat dissipation pipes. This issue is exacerbated by the fact that this particular model is not modular, so I have a rather large bundle of unused cables sitting at the bottom of my case, but I guess you get what you pay for...

Overall I'm fairly happy with my purchase and the build quality/performance of the PSU itself, but a 50% failure rate means I'm uncomfortable with awarding anything other than an average score. The inflexible cables are also a negative from my point of view, although I concede that the more expensive modular versions of the PSU are probably better in this regard. Still, the price-point is attractive, and I could just have been extremely unlucky in receiving a 'duff' one.

Additionally, whilst this doesn't factor into my scoring for the PSU, I would like to vent my spleen about Amazon Logistics. As mentioned above, because I of the late hour Amazon were not able to get a replacement PSU to me the next day. That was fair enough, but what wasn't acceptable was the courier's claim that they could not find my delivery address. I live in a central area in a large city, clearly signposted, and other couriers/Royal Mail have no problem finding my house on a daily basis. Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that any courier would be without sat nav in this day and age, and it's my belief that 'could not find address' was code for 'don't have time or can't be bothered to deliver today'. Amazon's customer service team informed me that they were unable to contact the delivery hub (a stance that they later contradicted), or indeed the drivers, so I was faced with the prospect of waiting another day for the delivery due to the incompetence of the courier, not knowing whether the same excuse would be used again. The Amazon customer service reps being located in other countries doesn't help, as they don't appreciate the subtleties of the English language leading to confusion over my enquiries. Thankfully I finally spoke to a Scottish guy who contacted the delivery hub and assured me that they knew where my house was and that the PSU would be with me the next day. Unfortunately the overall impression of Amazon Logistics is not a favourable one - unlimited one day deliveries aren't much use if the couriers can't be bothered or lack the basic literacy and numeracy skills required to read street names and house numbers... From what I've read on Amazon it seems I'm not alone in this opinion.

Sony BDPS590 Smart 3D Blu-ray Player with Built-in Wi-Fi (New for 2012)
Sony BDPS590 Smart 3D Blu-ray Player with Built-in Wi-Fi (New for 2012)

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A capable player for the price, 9 Nov. 2012
I've been the proud owner of a third generation Sony BDP S-550 for around four years now, but recently it's started to exhibit a few minor problems; things like locking up with certain discs after extended use and issues with some or the more complex BDs out there. I was also keen to add media streaming capabilities in the living room without having to cart the PS3 between rooms each time. After demoing a few players at my local independent store I narrowed things down to the Panasonic DMP BDT220 and this, the Sony BDP S-590. In the end I plumped for the Sony for the following reasons:

Disc playback: I took a couple of known `trouble' discs with me to test, fully expecting the Panasonic to have no problems with them - I was wrong. While it didn't lock up like my old S-550, the picture did break up, pixelate and skip. I tried the S-590 and it played over the problem area like it wasn't there. This was a great surprise given that this particular disc locked up my old player and my PS3, but also because even my Toshiba deck in the bedroom - known for its speed - exhibits a slight glitch when it passes over the defective area. The S-590 was flawless, so Sony has clearly made strides in this area in the last few years. It also played another disc (the one that prompted this purchase by locking up my S-550) without incident. Images looked every bit as good as every other player I've seen when set to the standard setting (let's face it, most BD players offer the same visual quality) and audio bitstreamed to my amp without issue. I usually don't use on-board decoding, but I performed a quick test and the player mixed both primary and secondary audio and output the result as multi-channel LPCM to my AVR, so it's doing what it should. Overall I am very happy with the core functionality of the machine.

Performance: Third generation players were quite sluggish, as evidenced by the fact that the £50 Toshiba deck I have in the bedroom outperforms my old S-550 by quite some margin even though it was a sixth of the cost (the Sony was around £300 at the time of purchase). Thankfully the S-590 is much better in this respect. Boot time is noticeably quicker than the older Sony, coming in at around fifteen to twenty seconds (unscientifically measured) even without the `Quick Start' mode enabled. (The quick start mode brings it down to around five seconds but uses more power.) Load times were also much improved over the older model; Prometheus took around forty seconds to load even with BD-Live enabled and The Cabin in the Woods was just over twenty seconds. These results are only a couple of seconds slower than the Toshiba. Chapter skipping and fast forwarding/rewinding are very nippy, as is general navigation through menus.

Features: Although probably best described as an entry-level, perhaps mid-range player, the S-590 offers a generous selection of features over and above disc playback. For starters it is wireless enabled up to 802.11n, so you can connect to the Internet even if your router is in a different room (although this is obviously subject to signal strength). With this functionality you can use the XMB interface to connect to services like the BBC's iPlayer, Lovefilm, Netflix, and plenty more besides. Within minutes I was streaming 1080p video with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio in X-High quality from Netflix that looked every bit as good as it does on the PS3 (admittedly I have fast broadband and a strong wireless network). I also tried out Sony's Crackle, which offers free streaming movies, and it worked well but the quality of the streams isn't great. There's also a Sony portal that grants access to various other services, both paid and free, plus you can log into Facebook and browse the web.

The player also supports DLNA when connected to a suitable media server (unfortunately direct access to SMB shares is not supported). I was able to successfully connect to PS3 Media Server on a PC in another room and stream 1080p video in a variety of formats. I also connected a USB flash drive and an external 500GB hard disk drive to the unit via USB and was able to play back various .mp4 and .mkv files without issue (I did not test other formats). Best of all, connecting directly to the player removes the wireless bottleneck, so even 1080p video fast forwards/rewinds quickly. In this mode high-definition audio tracks (such as DTS-HD Master Audio) work, which they do not when using DLNA.

Build: Unlike my old S-550, which offered outputs such as 7.1 analogue, composite video, stereo audio jacks, coaxial digital, component, Ethernet and S-Video, the S-590 is a comparatively sparse affair round the back. You have the HDMI port, composite video and stereo audio (who would use these?), coaxial/optical audio, Ethernet and USB (for both BD-Live storage and media playback). There's also an additional USB port on the front of the machine for connecting to external storage, which is convenient. While investigating new players the first thing that struck me was that build quality is nowhere near as sturdy as it used to be. The S-550 has some real weight to it, but everything I tested recently (including the Panasonic and Sony's big brother, the S-790 at £200) was very lightweight and plastic. I wouldn't go so far as to call them flimsy, but you can definitely tell that we're now in an era of mass market BD players as opposed to the halcyon days when they were still a niche product and cost a bit more. With that said, the features packed into current players at a fraction of the cost of older units means something has to give, and I'd rather it was design than performance. This seems as good a place as any to mention the remote, which is basically a smaller version of the one that accompanied the S-550 (Sony likes to keep its styling consistent). It's comfortable to use and all of the buttons are easy to access, but the placement of the Home button is such that it's very easy to accidently knock it when trying to pause/skip, which sends you back to the home screen. I would also have liked a dedicated button for lunching Netflix (like the Panasonic remotes) to save scrolling through the XMB every time.

Misc: Sony also offers an app for Apple and Android products that allows you to control the player via a virtual interface. You can also `throw' web pages from your mobile device to the player for viewing on the big screen, perform searches related to the disc you're watching through Gracenote, and various other bits and pieces.

Cons: It's not all rosy though. I do miss some of the functions from the S-550, such as the ten second jump backwards/forwards keys on the remote. The S-590 is also a little noisier than the S550, especially with DVDs, and they are also slower to load than BDs (although to be fair I use an Oppo DV-981 when I watch DVDs, which is rare anyway). I was also a little annoyed that Sony forced me to update the firmware before I could use any of the online applications. Not only did it mean a fairly lengthy download and installation process before I could access said features, it also introduced Cinavia protection onto the machine (you'll have to look it up). The firmware upgrade wasn't mandatory for viewing BDs, but Sony clearly made the decision to `encourage' users to apply it by limiting the player's online functionality until the upgrade was performed (much like PS3 updates). Boo Sony. I was also a little disappointed to discover that on-board storage for BD-Live is not included, but then again a lot of players require external storage in the form of SD or USB, so it's hardly surprising.

Overall: On the whole I'm pretty happy with my purchase. It's not the most aesthetically impressive piece of kit I've ever owned, but it does what's asked of it well. It's amazing to think that my first Blu-ray player (Samsung BD-P1400) was around twice the size of this, three times the weight, had no BonusView or BD-Live support, no on-board decoding of high-definition audio formats, took around three minutes to load some BD-J enabled discs, and cost £350. Things have come a long way in five years and I am more than happy to recommend this player to first-time buyers or those looking for an affordable upgrade.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 3, 2013 6:15 PM GMT

The Hangover (Extended Cut) [Blu-ray] (2009) [Region Free]
The Hangover (Extended Cut) [Blu-ray] (2009) [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Zach Galifianakis
Offered by Helen's Goodies
Price: £4.18

4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bland film ona bland BD, 2 Dec. 2009
I don't really get all the love for this film. I didn't find it particularly amusing; certainly no more than any of the other comedies I've seen this year (Role Models, Bruno etc). Anyway, I'm not here to review the film, but rather the Blu-ray. Unfortunately it's like the film in more ways than I would have liked. Audio-visual quality is average at best, and the extras are quite flimsy. The PiP commentary track is about the best thing on offer, but the other extras aren't hugely enjoyable. For some reason Warner has opted to put two separate encodes of the film (theatrical and 'unrated') on the disc, rather than use the seamless branching option. There's almost 14GB of wasted space on the disc that could have been used for more extras and given the video more headroom. If you liked the film you'll probably be happy enough, but it's not exactly a demo title.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 12, 2009 12:28 PM GMT

Knowing [Blu-ray] [2009]
Knowing [Blu-ray] [2009]
Dvd ~ Nicolas Cage
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.49

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Demo material, 28 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Knowing [Blu-ray] [2009] (Blu-ray)
The score shouldn't be taken as a review of the film, it's a reflection of the Blu-ray's quality. Put simply, reference stuff. The film itself isn't great, but it looks and sounds phenomenal on BD (a bit like that other Proyas flick I, Robot). If you enjoyed the film this is a must-have disc, but even if you didn't it might be worth a rental for the audio-visual quality alone.

Leon - The Director's Cut [Blu-ray]
Leon - The Director's Cut [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Jean Reno
Price: £8.99

5 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great..., 28 Aug. 2009
I'd personally liked to have gone for about 3.5 stars, but Amazon doesn't seem to allow that so I went for the higher score. Anyway, the transfer is a bit of a mixed bag. Detail is much stronger than the DVD releases, edge halos aren't as apparent and colours seem to be slightly better. Unfortunately the contrast has been pumped up massively, so there's quite a lot of blooming and black crush. I never saw the film theatrically so I have no idea if this release or the previous DVDs (which themselves had contrast issues) are closer to the intended look. Even with the 'faults' this still looks considerably better than the DVDs on balance.

Audio is perfectly functional, but it lacks punch during the action scenes. The subtle elements are handled well though, and Eric Serra's score sounds magnificent. The bonus material isn't anything to get worked up about, but it's better than most catalogue titles. If you're a fan I'd say go for it, albeit with the above caveats. It's certainly a cheaper option to the German Steelbook and the French BD.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2009 1:36 AM GMT

Let the Right One in [Blu-ray]
Let the Right One in [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Kåre Hedebrant
Price: £4.94

22 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warning!, 4 Aug. 2009
If you're planning on buying there are two things you need to be aware of. Firstly, as already pointed out in another review, the advertised DTS-HD Master Audio track is not on the disc. Instead there are only standard Dolby Digital and DTS tracks, and the DTS track is only 768Kbps.

Secondly, at around 102 minutes and 53 seconds there is an encoding error that shows up as a series of white lines across the screen.

If you can live with these issues then this is still a good looking transfer with accurate subtitles, but when you're paying the best part of £20 for a film you expect someone to have quality controlled it somewhere along the line. It's really not good enough.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2009 6:58 PM GMT

Ghostbusters [Blu-ray] [2009] [Region Free]
Ghostbusters [Blu-ray] [2009] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Harold Ramis
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £9.98

8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A review from someone who actually has the disc, 9 Jun. 2009
Unlike the other reviewers, I actually have the disc in my possession (no pun intended) and I can say without hesitation that it's a great success. I'm sure some people will be disappointed by the amount of grain on display, but it is a fair representation of the look of the film and the audio breathes new life into the on-screen events. Thankfully Sony has delivered the goods when it comes to the extras as well, with the 'Slimer Mode' a particular highlight. If you're a fan of the film then this is a 'must have' disc, but everyone else should give it a go as well, if only to be reminded of how great family movies were in the 80s.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2009 10:45 PM GMT

The Promise [Blu-ray] [2005]
The Promise [Blu-ray] [2005]
Dvd ~ Dong-Kun Jang
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £6.18

5 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware!, 4 Jun. 2009
Momentum are falsely advertising this as 1080p, when it is in fact 1080i. Worse still, it's sped up to 25fps instead of 24fps! It only has standard Dolby Digital audio as well. This is not acceptable for a Blu-ray release.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2009 10:52 PM GMT

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