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Andrew S

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LG DP132 Slim DVD Player
LG DP132 Slim DVD Player
Offered by DIRECT 4
Price: £30.88

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacks refinement, 16 Aug. 2014
Bought this from a local supermarket since it was cheaper from on here. I've been using it for around six months and in summary it works fine, but there are simply too many minor niggles for me to be truly happy with it.

On the plus side as I said, it works, and nice and quietly too. It's seems fairly reliable even on DVD+RW that have been recorded a few dozen times and are sometimes problematic on other DVD players. It's a physically small player too, so this was able to fit in a better place than the previous player it replaced.

On the downside the remote is truly appalling - it's physically tiny and feels cheap. I've had better feeling remotes from pound shops. More significantly the angle over which it is useful is very narrow so unless you are physically sat directly in front of the TV don't expect it to work first time.

This gets even more annoying in that the fast forward and rewind functions have multiple speeds but the settings for each are plain daft - the initial fast forward setting isn't much more than a mute button since it advances at perhaps 1.5x original speed. Going up a level isn't much better but the level after that skips minutes at a time - if the remote doesn't register your "play" button press you can easily find yourself half an hour away from where you told it to resume playback. To add insult to injury if you then try to rewind back to where you wanted to be you go past that point since the rewind speed is insanely fast even on the lowest setting.

As for USB playback, you are basically rolling the dice as to whether it works or not. If it works it works fine apart from the remote and those speed issues when searching - more important here since you don't have chapter marks. However, the range of formats it supports is very limited and not documented anywhere so you have no idea if a given video is going to play before you try it.

The rear connection is via phono socket but the British version I received came with a phono-SCART conversion cable. That works to get the image and audio to the TV but lacks any other support you'd get from a native SCART connection, such as automatic channel change to the DVD or automatic switching between widescreen and 4:3 aspect ratio.

So, yes, it works but I'm disappointed with it. In hindsight I would have rather spent another £10 on a player and got something altogether better than this unit. The annoying thing is that a lot of the problems are not even about cutting the cost of manufacture - fixing them would cost nothing extra on a per-unit basis. Rather they are down to a simple lack of care, attention and testing during product development.


Rapesco 90 4 Hole Punch - Black
Rapesco 90 4 Hole Punch - Black

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Does the job but nothing special, 20 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This punch is a bit of a mixed bag: the build quality is perfectly satisfactory but not exceptional, in particular the bridge between the two halves of the punch is a little prone to twisting, meaning you need to stand it on a firm flat surface before punching - try it on a bed or sofa and the induced twist prevents the mechanism working properly. When punching towards the maximum number of sheets a reasonable amount of force is needed: not superhuman strength but possibly two hands, and of course this brings us back to needing a good firm surface when punching.

My biggest gripe is with the paper edge guide - this is held in place with a couple of flat springs that simply don't seem "springy" enough to hold the guide in place very well. Additionally, the slots to hold these springs and the guide itself have gaps around them into the punchings container if you ever move it in an orientation other then perfectly level you leave a trail of escaped punchings behind you. A bit of gaffer tape fills these holes and secures the guide, but that's a tacky solution to problems that shouldn't exist. There is also a minor issue feeding paper into the punch - each hole has a separate feed guide and if the paper has any curl to it (e.g. it is out of a laser printer) to need to manually check it has fed into each position correctly. A crossbar between these guides would have done this automatically and further stiffened things up to boot.

On the plus side, it does perform as described: it'll punch four holes in 35 sheets or even a little more without falling to bits. The punched holes are reasonably cleanly cut too. As such I'm awarding a middle-of-the-road three stars: it does exactly what you would expect but without the refinement of a truly great product.


HP Mouse - Optical - 3 Button(s) - Wired
HP Mouse - Optical - 3 Button(s) - Wired
Offered by Kikatek
Price: £26.04

3.0 out of 5 stars OK but not great, 12 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Yes, it's a three button mouse and those are seemingly as rare as hen's teeth these days, but you knew that already, indeed it is probably why you are looking at this particular item, so I'm not going to delve too deeply into that.

The third real button and lack of scroll wheel aside, this isn't actually such a great mouse. Build quality is perfectly solid but nothing special, and I'd like slightly more tactile feedback to the buttons. When I compare to some cheap Logitech scroll mice here that cost around a third of the price they come out level in terms of my impressions of their quality: both are perfectly serviceable but nothing out of the ordinary. For a mid-priced mouse such as this frankly I'd expect something a little bit better, but I suppose you do have to pay a premium for what is nowadays a more specialist item.

Ergonomically, again it's perfectly usable but not great: the "hump" of the mouse is both slightly too high and doesn't extend far enough back for my tastes, although if you're a fan of the Microsoft Intellimouse you'll probably quite like it. I would also have liked to see some depressions on the buttons to guide your fingertips into place: this mouse is regular width so dividing that width into three makes each button quite narrow, and it is easy for your fingers to drift out of the correct position for each button.

Ultimately then it's a fairly expensive but very ordinary mouse. I'm happy enough with it and I'd happily buy it again, but that is more down to your limited options for three button mice than this being inherently a particularly great mouse.


Uni-ball Eye UB-157D Rollerball Pen Fine 0.7mm Tip 0.5mm Line Black Ref UB157BLK [Pack 12]
Uni-ball Eye UB-157D Rollerball Pen Fine 0.7mm Tip 0.5mm Line Black Ref UB157BLK [Pack 12]
Offered by Huckster Traders
Price: £6.50

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great disposable pen, just needs a lot of "starting", 28 April 2012
These are great pens: they are accurate with no wobbles, and cheap enough that if you lose one occasionally it's no big deal. They write well merely resting on the paper, unlike ballpoints and even some other rollerballs that you must actively press in to the paper to make an impression causing writer's cramp. The "fine" line width is perhaps marginally thicker than I'd like but the ball is large enough to write smoothly, unlike the finer "micro" size I have always found to feel scratchy.

They're not quite perfect though. Cosmetically the design is a little too cluttered with printing and various labels, giving a slightly cheap appearence to the pen. This gets worse with use as it can then begin to start flaking off in places. My biggest gripe however is the performance when brand new - it seems that initially ink doesn't get to all parts of the ball, meaning that the pen can occasionally stop working mid-stroke for a few millimetres. This does settle down in time, but it is not simply a case of making a few scribbles to get the pen "started" - it takes several pages writing to get the pen working in a truly reliable mannner.


Black Wind :
Black Wind :
by Clive Cussler
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good premise poorly executed, 24 July 2011
This review is from: Black Wind : (Paperback)
There is a good story to be made of the basic plot elements in this book. The problem is that this book isn't it. Other reviewers have noted the rather two-dimensional characters but to be honest I could live with that. The real issue is the wooden writing style. Sentences change tense regularly without rhyme or reason, but the biggest issue is the techno-babble. Fortunately this is usually only brief but disturbingly regular, and somehow seems artificially wedged in, almost as an afterthought, as if Cussler thought dropping in some superficial specs for some breathing apparatus or whatever would better establish a sense of place. If that's the case it fails miserably each time: instead of adding credibility the suspension of disbelief is immediately lifted, and you are once again aware you are a poorly written novel. More broadly, I couldn't help but compare the general writing style to Enid Blyton: it is a simplistic style and structure that may be perfectly fine for children, but is lacking the subtle refinements and nuances of a deeply satisfying adult read.


Berkeley Unix: A Simple and Comprehensive Guide (Computer Science)
Berkeley Unix: A Simple and Comprehensive Guide (Computer Science)
by James Wilson
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars A brief outline of an eclectic range of subjects, 10 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's difficult to know who precisely this book is aimed at. It's relatively thin but attempts to cover an comparatively broad range of subject matter, and as a result does not develop the subject matter as well as it might. There are three principal sections. The first two cover interactive command line use and shell scripting. It's fine as far as it goes - a little dated in places but not enough not to be relvant. The real issue is a lack of depth and coverage. I can't help compare it to O'Reilly's Unix in a Nutshell which has greater depth and considerably broader scope, even if that does lack some of the absolutely introductory material this book provides.

The third section is a basic overview of various aspects of Unix system programming. However, it deals ONLY with Unix programming and assumes a prior knowledge of general C programming. As such it seems a curious fit bearing the first two sections in mind: should a book that explains how to log in to a Unix system assume a familiarity with programming? Again, the coverage is fairly shallow but here I think that serves a useful end - it is sufficient to put an area into context in a way that man pages do not. Just do not expect to walk away with significant expertise of anything on reading the appropriate chapter of this book. Like the first two sections, it is dated in places but not enough to make referring to this book counterproductive.

So, overall, is it worth buying? That depends. For an introductory Unix book I would suggest not, since there are much better books out there. The Unix system programming section is better, shallow as it is. If that is of interest then possibly it is worth picking up a copy but not at full price. There is usually a selection of used copies available at a small fraction of the new price. Picking up one of those is not a bad idea even if you only refer to it on a couple of instances: it's good enough to save time gaining a basic familiarity of the subjects covered.


TP-LINK TL-WA501G 54MBPS Wireless Access Point with Extended RangeTM
TP-LINK TL-WA501G 54MBPS Wireless Access Point with Extended RangeTM

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flexible and a real bargain, 17 Oct. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The configuration of this access point is very flexible. Depending on the mode you select it may function as a regular access point or a wireless repeater or bridge. I bought this a couple of weeks ago to connect a wired ethernet network to an existing wireless hotspot - using it in bridging mode in other words - and it has performed flawlessly. In that mode it is also appropriate for connecting up a Playstation or whatever to a wireless network and is the cheapest wireless bridge I have seen by a long way.

The only slight reservation I have was with the power adapter. I bought this in the UK and yet the power supply was fitted with a Europlug. You need a "shaver socket" adapter to use this in a normal British mains socket. Those are not expensive but it is something that you really shouldn't need to buy.


No Title Available

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic, 4 Oct. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Classic is what sums this up - it is the trimming knife that everyone thinks of. It doesn't have any fancy features, but it is a simple, well balanced tool with no real drawbacks. There are cheaper knives out there but in my experience they represent poor value - they don't hold the blade rigidly, the blade retracts under pressure, or it is simply uncomfortable in use. Often a true quality is when there is nothing to say - this knife simply does what you want without any such fuss.

Only four stars though, since the casting on my last couple of these knives has not been quite as good as in days gone by, with a little moulding flash where the two halves of the mould meet. In once case it was enough to actually need a little filing off, since it caused an uncomfortable ridge around the grip area. Not a big deal but something that shouldn't need doing.


VIA VT6421A 3 PORT SATA SERIAL ATA + 1 ATA PCI CONTROLL
VIA VT6421A 3 PORT SATA SERIAL ATA + 1 ATA PCI CONTROLL
Offered by ADAPTER WORLD
Price: £7.04

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good enough, but costs cut a little too much, 4 Oct. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There seem to be two versions of this controller - one with an on-board BIOS chip and one without. I presume you can boot from the former without issue but the second (the one I received) lacks that chip - there is an empty space on the board where the BIOS chip would go. Booting from that is problematic since the motherboard BIOS will not recognise the disks attached to this controller and therefore there is nothing to boot from.

This can be rectified: VIA release the BIOS module as a free download on their website which technically adept users can merge into their motherboard BIOS. Do not underestimate this process, however. It involves using BIOS tools you've probably never heard of and in all likelihood you'll need to remove existing modules from your BIOS to create the space you need first. Make a mistake and you risk rendering your motherboard useless with a bad BIOS update. I've 20 years technical experience with PCs but a lot of this was new to me. Happily I didn't write off my motherboard and my system now boots from that drive without problems. However, this process, and the time, skill and risk it took, was ultimately so that the manufacturer could save at most $1 by not including the BIOS on the controller. That is a false economy that suggests costs have been cut right to the bone.

On the flip side, it performs well and without issue once it is up and running. If you don't need to boot from connected drives then this board will fit the bill just fine. However, if you do need to boot from the controller the two versions (with and without the BIOS) are lumped together here as the same controller. That makes it impossible to recommend since you don't know which you are going to end up with.


Startech.com 40 Pin Female IDE to SATA Adapter Converter
Startech.com 40 Pin Female IDE to SATA Adapter Converter
Price: £9.38

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Useful form factor, but not reliable, 19 Sept. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This adapter didn't need to do much to earn a five star rating from me. I needed to add SATA support to a Mini-ITX based system with a very low profile case, and that had no clearance for the majority of adapters like this that plug directly into the motherboard. With this one the height of the adapter when fitted is no more than that of a DIMM module meaning that it will fit happily into such a case with limited vertical space above the motherboard.

On fitting it and powering it up the adapter and disk attached to it seemed very fast - much faster that the disk they replaced. However after perhaps an hours use errors began to occur slowing the system down ultimately to the point where it was effectively frozen and even a controlled shutdown was no longer possible. Put simply, the system was unusable in that state.

Looking into the errors I got and online it became apparent that all DMA and Ultra DMA modes are unreliable with this adapter. DMA transactions are requested but do not complete. The only way around that is to switch to the more primitive PIO modes to control the new disk. That entails a huge performance hit: this interface is supposed to be capable of transferring data at 133 MB/second. In PIO mode I was barely getting 3 MB/second, and PIO needs a lot more attention from the host computer to get even that. I gave up and installed a PCI SATA adapter for the new disk, which worked flawlessly.

When performance drops a couple of orders of magnitude from where it is supposed to be it is no longer suitable for a primary disk drive, and the adapter was effectively useless for what I wanted it for. I'm being generous and giving it two stars because the physical size of the adapter can resolve a knotty problem of insufficient space, and in certain applications such as archival or backup maybe those speeds are acceptable. However, those are specialized uses and I wouldn't recommend this adapter for general use.


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