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Reviews Written by
Richard W. Girdwood "b25atron" (Inverness, UK)

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Celestron Upclose G2 Porro Bino 8X40 Box
Celestron Upclose G2 Porro Bino 8X40 Box
Offered by UKHobbyStore
Price: £16.33

5.0 out of 5 stars they are light and easy to use, 15 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought these at the same time as a pair of 15x70 as I was worried the larger ones would need a tripod for use and I hoped these might be more suitable for the kids.

I was right; they are light and easy to use, while still providing a great view and sharp image. They are multicoated and use BAK-4 prisms, standard for decent binoculars. They came well packaged (the prisms can go out of alignment if knocked about too much) and although the carry case is cheap it is sufficient. The included neck strap is useless though, thin and digging into your neck. I'm planning buying a new one, I got the OP/TECH for my 15x70 and it is fantastic.

Overall, I cannot fault these at the price I paid (£20 delivered) and the kids love them.

Revelation 15x70 Binoculars Special Offer
Revelation 15x70 Binoculars Special Offer
Offered by Telescope House
Price: £50.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A good beginners set, 8 Sep 2014
I got these as I decided after a few months dipping my toes into a local astronomy club, I would dive in to the winter night skies and do some practical stargazing. Telescope House, the provider of these packaged the delivery very well. Binoculars can be prone to misalignment (called collimation) due to knocks so I was relieved to see them triple boxed and padded.

For the price these seem a great first purchase. They are well built, feeling solid and hefty (more on that soon), the grips are made of a nice rubber and sits well in the hands and the eyepieces are comfortable in use. They use BAK4 prisms, which I am told are standard in any decent binoculars. The styling is industrial but functional, with only the specs and brand name in gold. The central focusing wheel is grippy, and just right for on the fly adjustments. A downside is an awful carry case and the eyepiece protector is a little loose, but for £50 it isn't bad and I picked up a decent angler's case for £10 in Aldi which these fit in perfectly.

Viewing through them you get 15x zoom, and the 70mm lenses capture plenty of details. I managed to make out people on a beach from about 2 miles away, and could read a small sign from about 200 meters. The only issue is the weight. Due to this they can be a tad hard to hold for any time and as a result some smaller distant objects blurring as the binoculars move. On my first night viewing the moon was spectacular, filling the view and I could make out details I had never seen in anything less than photos. But stars looked like meteors, streaking and moving against the black. Far more than usual popped into view, but I couldn't focus on them. I am planning on getting a tripod and will update at that time, but I did prop them and they seemed better when stable so I am hopeful.

I think these are identical to the Celestron Skymaster 15x70, and are cheaper in most places so the Revelation Astros might be the ideal first set of binoculars.

EDIT: Got out last night, as had perfectly clear skies. Also have a HamaStar tripod now, and mounted them. They sat well, with only a bit of wobble. After a bit of scanning and being impressed by the depth of stars in the Milky Way I spotted my first impressive view, the Pleiades. Looked great, faintly blue and as well as the "seven sisters", loads more stars popped into view. Later I found Andromeda, a faint greyish smudge, slightly brighter in the middle. Not as impressive but still, despite a dark back garden it wasn't visible with the naked eye. I watched a few satellites and such, before trying to find Uranus, which had come higher into the sky since I'd gone out. It took time, but I eventually found a star that looked different, and a quick check on Stellarium (great free software) showed it was Uranus, right were it was meant to be, ringed in by five faint stars. Fantastic. In the morning I went out and found Jupiter when I was packing away the Tripod; the sun was rising so no Galilean moons, but maybe another time.

I should note I live outside Inverness, in a dark cul-de-sac, with the closest streetlights thirty meters away. My neighbour left his backlight on, but even so, it was pretty pitch black by the end of the night. Even so I was really chuffed with my first go. It has inspired me to work at finding and locating, and to think about a telescope for the future.

Cruzer Fit 32 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive (SDCZ33-032G-B35)
Cruzer Fit 32 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive (SDCZ33-032G-B35)
Price: £12.28

5.0 out of 5 stars Good for what I need it for!, 2 Sep 2014
Bought this due to its low profile and high capacity, all at a relatively low price. I'm using it on my Xbox One, as a permanent addition in one of the rear UBS slots. It is tiny, fits nicely and is easy enough to fix and remove.

It is loaded with a majority of my music collection to save streaming on DNLA, giving me easier access to my music collection. The read and write speeds are adequate for this, though a few other reviewers noted slower than expected overall speeds. In this capacity it works perfectly, and I cannot fault it.

GMYLE(TM) ExpressCard 34/54 to USB3.0 Express Card Adapter Dual Ports Windows 7/XP/Vista
GMYLE(TM) ExpressCard 34/54 to USB3.0 Express Card Adapter Dual Ports Windows 7/XP/Vista
Offered by Clever Gadgets
Price: £10.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect on my Lenovo, 15 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Got this for my recently purchased Lenovo Thinkpad. Was a bit worried with some of the negative reviews but decided it was worth a pop for the price. Fitted flush, blending into the laptop and is secure in use. Windows installed the drivers from the disc and it worked right away. Transfer rate is about 5x my USB2.0 slots. Haven't noticed any issues yet so have to give it five stars.

TeckNet® 2.5 inch USB 3.0 Hard Drive Disk HDD External Enclosure / Case for 9.5mm 7mm 2.5" SATA HDD and SSD, Tool-free HDD Installation
TeckNet® 2.5 inch USB 3.0 Hard Drive Disk HDD External Enclosure / Case for 9.5mm 7mm 2.5" SATA HDD and SSD, Tool-free HDD Installation
Offered by BlueByte Ltd
Price: £10.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A decent purchase, 15 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Had an old 620GB laptop drive going unused so bought this so I could hook it up to my Xbox One as some extra storage. Came quickly. Easy to use and transfer rate is quick. Seems secure, if perhaps tight when putting the lid back on the enclosure. Ideal buy if your looking to use an old laptop drive as extra external storage and for £10 it does nothing wrong.


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thinkpad T410, 6 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My 3 year old Toshiba broke and I needed a new laptop. After a bit of research I came across this, and saw how highly it is regarded, and comparing it to similarly priced laptops in shops it was clear it was good value. I'd used Thinkpads in work and found them functional if conservative in style. For once I popped for function over form.

My model was the i5 2.4GHz, 4GB RAM, 160GB HD model with Intel HD Graphics. It has a SDHC card reader, Wi-Fi, Windows 7 and enough USB2.0 slots for the average user. It also has a eSATA connection for super-fast transfers to external hard-drives. On first booting I was on the desktop in under 45 seconds. Without the bloat that is commonplace in new laptops, Windows 7 boots and shuts-down faster than I've ever seen. The screen while not spectacular is fine and 720p streams from Netflix display nicely with no slowdown. The battery life isn't great but is sufficient. I have bought a new 9-cell battery for travelling. I also swapped out one of the 2GB RAM chips for one from my Toshiba at 4GB, giving a total of 6GB RAM, although this didn't make a discernible difference to performance.

The condition is near immaculate, some slight scuffing on the lid the only signs of previous use. The keys, trackpad and buttons all look as new. The build quality of the T410 is superb, solid, if perhaps heavy, with cast metal joints for the screen lid and hard plastic throughout with hardly a bit of flex. It seems it could take a hammering! The keyboard is fantastic and the first laptop keyboard I've used that matches a good desktop one.

Overall I am pleased. I have had it for ten days and do not regret it one bit. Time will tell, but my first impressions are far ahead of the disappointment I've felt with previous laptops. The Toshiba, slow and wrecked by awful keyboard; the Sony VAIO, fast, powerful and gorgeous to look at, but dead after 12 months; and a Samsung that was unusable and sold for scrap after less than a year.

Update: After a month it is still fine. I added a USB3.0 express card which works perfectly. New battery gives me about 4.5hrs on a full charge in high performance mode in Windows. Do not regret buying this at all.

Official Xbox One Stereo Headset (Xbox One)
Official Xbox One Stereo Headset (Xbox One)
Price: £42.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great value, in a manner, 27 Mar 2014
Bought these to save the trail of leads that accompany me anytime I want a late night Xbox session. I used to use Sennhiesers plugged into my AV amp (cheap Sennhiesers, expensive Onkyo amp) and they worked great, albeit without the chat support.

These though are much better. The build quality is good for the price. They feel solid, chunky, sturdy and look good if not too stylish. The non-tangle lead is a plus and the boom mic tucks away so neat you cannot tell it is there. Sound quality is good, solid bass and fine treble, not as detailed as the AV through speakers but better than the Sennhiesers. If I had a complaint it would be the bass is slightly too high, but I have always preferred a flatter response in my music and AV. The boom mic works fine, and although I don't game online too much, I have been told I am clear and easy to hear. They are comfortable, tight and block out external sound well. They also have a standard 3.5 jack so can be used on any audio gear, so that is a nice bonus.

The included control/adapter works well and fits nicely and only took a minute for a basic update that is prompted as soon as the adapter is clicked on. This is done for each controller. The buttons work fine and it is nice to have the balance controls. You can also plug any headphones into the 3.5 jack for listening.

If I had to mark it down it would simply be because the adapter should have been included in the Xbox One box! PS4 had this capability out of the box, and although the Xbox's method allows for greater control, it is still an additional cost, which when included with the remote, batteries and headset, makes the One expensive. I have paid over £600 in total now for console, games and accessories.

Despite that, I would recommend this as it is well built, has good quality sound and for the price is a decent set of headphones for everyday use.

Zeitgeist: The Movie [PAL]
Zeitgeist: The Movie [PAL]
Offered by Xenon Books
Price: £7.95

3.0 out of 5 stars The ideas have evolved, but it is worth a watch, 9 Jan 2014
This review is from: Zeitgeist: The Movie [PAL] (DVD)
I saw this a couple of years ago and at the time was highly sceptical about its claims. I still am, but that doesn't mean the film isn't worth watching and isn't interesting.

Part One deals with religion, specifically (for a Western produced movie) Christianity. It is interesting, and probably broadly correct in the overall assertion that Christianity is essentially a mix of ancient myths coupled to a messianic figure that lived 2000 years ago. It was preaching to the converted with me in this section, and although I cannot verify every fact stated, my understanding of the early evolution of Christianity would lead me to think it contains a general truth.

Part Two is different. The US was aware of an impending attack on its soil, but I personally doubt 9/11 was orchestrated or allowed to happen. There are sufficient questions to be asked, and one cannot doubt that in some ways, some people benefited from the attack, especially in the military-industrial complex, but my personal opinion is this is correlation, not causality. I have heard Peter Joseph has moved slightly from the viewpoint expressed in this section.

Part Three is very curious. Although I don't believe in the chipped sheeple theory, I certainly do believe that certain events in history have been manufactured to create favourable conditions for the exploitation of new markets by Western financial and corporate institutions. For a well referenced work on this look at Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine. As for the legality of Federal Reserve etc, I cannot comment, I am not well enough informed.

Overall a though provoking movie. I feel it is probably not as accurate as it first appears, but it made me think and that is part of the job of any documentary. Peter Joseph has gone on to create a fun, cynical and thought provoking web series called "Culture in Decline", more enjoyable and interesting than this film. I would recommend people look that out.

In the Velociraptor's Nest (Dinosaur Erotica)
In the Velociraptor's Nest (Dinosaur Erotica)
Price: £1.91

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book of prehistoric erotica I've read this week, 10 Oct 2013
After reading Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park I was left feeling scientifically fulfilled but emotionally distraught. Now I know why.

I have to recommend this most heartily. I was transfixed by the subtle arrangement of words into a tale of lust, so much so I struggled to read for more than say, 2-3 minutes at a time, often having to take short breaks between reads to recompose, arrange short expeditions to find edible berries, spear neighbour's dogs and clean up the Kindle.

Needless to say those 2-3 minutes were spent deep in the mindset of a caveperson, wondering what dinosaurian magic might come next. After reading this literary wet dream I wouldn't mind a Velociraptor opening my door handle at night!

I would love to see her branch into other forms of prehistoric erotica, such as ammonites and giant sloths, or fantasy creatures. Cthulhu with his many tentacles comes to mind. Bravo!

A Song of Ice and Fire, 7 Volumes
A Song of Ice and Fire, 7 Volumes
by George R. R. Martin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £37.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Ice and Fire, with a side of Blood and Boob, 8 May 2013
I came to this series before seeing the excellent HBO adaptation, but my interest was raised by the many comparisons between the world of A Song of Ice and Fire displayed in the book and the TV show and Skyrim, a game I was ravenously devouring at that time.

The seven volumes (five books) taken together are a great read, full of all the sex, intrigue, violence, humour and walking of the HBO show. Individually there are good and bad points. They are page-turners, generally very well written and they flow well. The plots, although labyrinthine at first glance, are quite simple and easy to digest. The settings are fantastical and well described and the characters are fleshed out with depth, especially the POV characters. Like many, I was particularly fond of Tyrion and Jon, and also found Jamie and Brienne very interesting. Some slow conclusions to plot points can irritate and gaps in narrative that make falling back into the characters difficult, the best examples being after the split narrative of books 4 and 5. None of this would be enough for a mark down.

Individually I like the first and fourth volumes the best (book 1 and book 3 pt2) and found volume 7 the least enjoyable (book 5 pt2). A lot of people found A Feast for Crows slow but I actually really enjoyed the politics of that volume even though there was not a great deal of action.

The best compliment I can give these books though is they have me back into fiction after years of reading books on politics, history and environmentalism. Perhaps there is some link between books on these subjects, with their ridiculous attention to detail, and Ice and Fire novels. I have taken Hunger Games as my next read so to George Martin I say thanks.

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