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

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Bresser  RA motor for EXOS-1 and EQ/MON-1
Bresser RA motor for EXOS-1 and EQ/MON-1
Price: £123.93

3.0 out of 5 stars Another try!, 24 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The first one was dead on arrival, but thankfully Amazon was fast with dispatching a replacement. The second worked, but as with the first, doesn’t seem to have been designed with the EXOS mount in mind - the fit is poor. I managed to get it in place with some half-witted DIY, and once in place it seemed to work fine. Someone with a decent DIY setup could probably fix the problem fully with ease; by my eyes it looks like it needs a couple of millimetres filed off the casing where it would join to the mount.

The hand-controller is cheap and nasty, but works. It is set to automatically run at 1x for object tracking. It has buttons for 2x (fine-tuning), 32x both back and forwards and a stop button, though the images I saw didn’t have a stop and had a 2x reverse.

I got a clear night a few days later to assess its tracking quality. Using a 1000mm f/7.7 scope I managed up to about 45 seconds exposure without star trails. This would presumably increase if using a mounted DSLR with shorter focal length, bringing brighter DSOs into imaging range, which is what I wanted it for. It also makes visual use much better, meaning once you have centred an object it should stay in view without constant adjustment. I found that with total exposure times of about 30minutes stars had drifted, but this may be less than precise polar alignment – something else I have to get used to.

Overall, given the lack of options, I’d recommend this, but frankly the price and the poor fit on the EXOS1 will mean not everyone will be happy. For me it does the job, but I can’t give it more than three stars.

Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Fast, action packed and fun. 5/5., 23 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Though this book is outside of my normal reading genres of space opera and fantasy, making comparisons with other novels difficult, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Face paced and written with non-purple prose, with intriguing characters and insane action sequences right out of Hollywood (but beware if squeamish!). The plot is absorbing and complex, though not overly so, making it a interesting but pacey read. A great debut novel and hopefully the start of a trilogy that will keep up the breakneck speed and pacing of this first part!

Original Album Classics
Original Album Classics
Offered by MediaMerchants
Price: £12.37

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classics revisited, 8 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Original Album Classics (Audio CD)
I think a little background might help this review. I got into Korn about the time Follow the Leader was released, and listened to them intensely until the album after Untouchables. After this my interest waned, partially due to what I felt were poor albums, and also my changing tastes, being more into thrash and classic rock/metal by this time. Somewhere between Untouchables and now I lost those first five albums, moving house most likely. After hearing Clown by chance a week back, and enjoying it for the first time in a decade, I decided to buy this boxset. A great little set, not full cases but cardboard slips, but with the original artwork at a decent enough price. I will give a rundown of each album now I have listened to them, giving my views after so long away from Korn and Nu-Metal but all time spent with the likes of Slayer and Iron Maiden to The Doors and Queen.

Korn - probably my favourite. Heavy, primal and raw. Full of cracking riffs and the most traditionally metal sounding of the five. Some hints at their future experimentations are dropped throughout. A classic, and the definitive Nu-Metal template. Best tracks are Clown, Blind, Divine and Ball Tongue.

Life is Peachy - used to hate this one, but time is kind and I loved it this time round. Its far heavier than I remember, more similar to Korn than the following albums. It contains their first real foray into rap/hip-hop and despite not matching their first is not a bad album. Best tracks are Good God, Chi and ADIDAS.

Follow the Leader - I have mixed feeling about this record. It is sonically so different than the previous two, which is cool, but makes for too much of a mixed bag for me, and the album has a couple of terrible songs like Children of the Korn and All in the Family. I like rap and hip-hop, but they are tripe. Best tracks are Freak on a Leash, Pretty, Dead Bodies Everywhere and BBK.

Issues - my favourite from the past, now probably my second. A great concept like feeling of progression through the album with the nice short interlude songs. Heavy and atmospheric, though some of the best songs get a tad samey by the end, using a similar soft intro, hard main riff, soft verse, hard chorus structure. The riffs are gargantuan and catchy though, so it ends up being worth it. Best tracks are Make me Bad, Beg for Me, Falling Away from Me and Lets Get this Party Started.

Untouchables - I think this is where things went wrong for Korn. Overblown, overproduced and too many filler tracks that don't stick out at all. I remember this album coming out vividly, and I also remember the lack of interest it managed to generate in me at the time, thirteen years ago. Today it is much the same. Still, it has moments and the best tracks are Here to Stay and Hollow Life.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Studio Monitor Professional Headphones - Black
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Studio Monitor Professional Headphones - Black
Price: £88.11

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Star Headphones, 6 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These are my first pair of expensive audiophile quality headphones. I have previously owned various £30-50 Sennheisers and I have a £700+ hifi setup so do have experience with quality audio equipment, if not at the very high end.

These arrived quickly and well packed. The included carry case is decent , the addition of the three removable cables (the X on top of the M50 is for these) is good and all three feel thick and sturdy. The headphones carry this forward, feeling reassuringly chunky and weighty, yet light enough not to cause headaches and be comfy on long listens. They are conservative in design but still look cool. They fold small for slipping into their carry bag and all the joins and build makes me think they will not be falling apart any time soon when being stored like this.

The sound is brilliant. The whole scope of instruments in my music (mainly rock and metal) comes out more than I've heard with any other headphones. Every part of the recording is distinct, clear and powerful, little details being dug out even on the lowest quality mp3s, while uncompressed audio sounds truly immersive. Going back to cheaper headphones suddenly feels masochistic. I couldn't recommend these enough.

Pioneer DEH-1700UB Car Stereo for Android Media Access and FLAC Audio File
Pioneer DEH-1700UB Car Stereo for Android Media Access and FLAC Audio File
Price: £51.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Star, 6 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I go this for my 2006 Fiat Grande Punto, and this required an additional fitting kit to work. It sits well and looks nice , the red lighting is not garish, the LCD display clear and the text and controls usable and well laid out. The steering wheel remotes work and the fitting and setup was easy (about 20mins total). I connected a 32gb microUSB in the front and now have much of my music available for when I'm travelling. This is a great bonus.

Sound quality is superb. Car sound isn't a high priority for me, but overall audio is (I own expensive headphones and a £700+ hifi setup) and can say this is impressive given the price. I normally avoid post processing too, but the in-built sound enhancement for mp3 really pulls up the detail on songs run off USB, even when originally ripped at 128kbps. Radio quality is perfect, CD too.

Overall, given the low price, this Pioneer is perfect for someone looking for a cheap but decent car radio/CD/media player.

Bresser telescope Messier NT-130/1000 EXOS-1/EQ4
Bresser telescope Messier NT-130/1000 EXOS-1/EQ4
Offered by astroshop
Price: £332.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My First Telescope, 16 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After doing research, and coming close to buying the Skywatcher 130P on an EQ2, I decided on this Bresser NT130 with EXOS 1 mount for my first telescope. I think I got a good deal on it, either a reduction or a mislabeling by Amazon as it was under £200. Obviously, this has some impact on my review, so I thought it best to get that information out.

It arrived quickly, well packaged and with decent instructions. An included guide to astronomy was in German, a shame, as it looked rather good! Beware as the entire box with all the equipment is heavy; one can manage but it is awkward. It didn't take long to set up for use, though I had viewed a few tutorials on setting up beforehand (search for these on YouTube: Eyes on the Sky and Astronomy and Nature Center both have good guides to setting and using an EQ mount). It is a little cumbersome due to the weight but far from impossible. The optical tube didn't require set up as such, and its collimation seemed good enough for now.

The entire set up looks upmarket in its matte white with red flashes, the whole thing built solid and feeling smooth in operation. It is here I think you will see the biggest difference between this expensive starter and the cheaper Skywatcher and Celestrons (around £250 pounds of difference at RRP). The tripod is chunky and made with heavy steel, the mount thick at its joints and pivots, most the set up is in fact metal, and the build quality, while not tested long-term is clearly high class with everything having a reassuring weight and thickness to it. The only (very) slight problem was one of the counterweight rattled when moving. A small slip of folded paper stopped it! One smart feature is a carrying handle integrated into the tube cradle, making moving the optical tube easier.

Compared to other starters I've looked at, it just seems so robust. In use, the steel tripod leads to less vibrations, a better mount gives smoother action and hence better viewing, and is capable of holding bigger optical tubes too (this goes up to 7kg, or double the weight of the 130mm). The EQ movement takes getting used to, but knowing that once I have it set up it will stay solid and aligned means I can concentrate on gazing. There are a few plastic parts and the viewfinder feels a little cheap (more on that to follow) but even these plastic parts feel well made.

I got a chance to use it on a clear night about a week after I got it. It is supplied with only a 26mm Super Plossl, giving about 36x magnification (a 1.25" piece, but the scope supports 2" too). I didn't see much this night, but stars looked sharp and clear, thousands popping into view and the clarity being sharp over most of the view (reflectors can suffer from distortions in the edge of their field of view). In use, it feels as quality as it looks, although as said the EQ mount isn't intuitive and takes getting used to. The slow motion controls work fine, but like on many EQ mounts they can get in the way of the tube and each other, but not so much it causes any major frustrations. When moving and scoping around the views are clear and as said, vibrations are minimal. One flaw is the viewfinder scope. It isn't bad, but just isn't great. The image is dull and the crosshair invisible. Putting brighter stars in the center is OK, but dimmer deep space objects are not going to be visible. Alignment of the viewfinder was difficult too, but got easier with practice. Unfortunately, I found a slight knock moved it out again. I bought some sticky gripping pads that will hopefully stop this.

As I mentioned the mount could carry a bigger scope, but that isn't all. The EXOS mount has space for an illuminated polar scope, motor-tracking controls (apparently the RA axis only, though both RA and DEC have the joints where the motors attach) and different viewfinders can be fitted making it a versatile base for expansion. The top of the tube has a standard thread capable of mounting a camera. Many starters can do this, but the superior mount and tripod makes this more capable of carrying the weight needed for any extras, or a large SLR on the camera mount.

In short, I love the solid build, cool looks, excellent tripod, smooth mount, clear vision through the tube and the optional upgrade-ability. I was less taken with the poor viewfinder and the EQ mount is difficult to get used to. I do think too that over £400 is excessive. For that, I might have expected a better viewfinder and the polar scope integrated. Overall, I am very pleased with the scope. In terms of build quality, looks and price I got a fantastic deal. It remains to be seen how good it will be for a variety of uses as I haven't the eyepieces or other accessories yet, but what I feel I got is a well crafted tripod, mount and tube that should last years.

EDIT: SO I've had it couple of months now and have had a bit more use. I bought a couple of new eyepieces (some more pricey ones, a 2x Barlow and a cheap wide angle) and they all function well. The higher magnification ones up to about 150x perform well, with Jupiter and the Moon being crisp. Jupiter showing the bands, polar regions and four moons as discs rather than points. Above this things get a touch blurry, but DSOs at 200x are great, with the Double Cluster at 200 looking amazing. The Moon craters look good enough to dive into! Deep sky is fine though I haven't gone all out on Messiers yet. Andromeda is visible with detail in the disc and the center being defined, and clusters are full of pinprick stars. Mechanically it is fine, and though the DEC slow motion got bent (my fault), it doesn't affect its functioning. As a note on stability, after comparing it to scopes in the £200 bracket, this one is obviously more stable. The mount is very good, with almost no vibrations. Also I have come to accept the finderscope which after some getting used to is capable of helping in finding most non-nebulous objects.

EDIT: Year Two! Got a RA tracker for the scope, and a Canon 100D DSLR camera. Hooked to the scope, I am now able to do basic astrophotography. The results are impressive, with the scope, despite being modest, picking up a ton of detail in DSOs. As a basic beginner astrophotography rig, I can't complain!

Celestron Upclose G2 Porro Bino 8X40 Box
Celestron Upclose G2 Porro Bino 8X40 Box
Price: £26.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars they are light and easy to use, 15 Sept. 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 FMC Porro Prism Binoculars V2
Revelation 15x70 FMC Porro Prism Binoculars V2

5.0 out of 5 stars A good beginners set, 8 Sept. 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: £10.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Good for what I need it for!, 2 Sept. 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: £11.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Perfect on my Lenovo - but developed problems, 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.

EDIT: after a couple of months the speed dropped to about the same as my USB2.0 slots. Not a major issue but still annoying. Dropped 2 stars.

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