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P. Wood (Ely, UK)

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Iiyama XB2776QS-B1 27 inch IPS LD/TFT Monitor (1000:1, 350 cd/m, 5ms)
Iiyama XB2776QS-B1 27 inch IPS LD/TFT Monitor (1000:1, 350 cd/m, 5ms)
Offered by Fuzion
Price: £432.50

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, but an excellent piece of kit for the price, 2 Oct 2013
I've been using one of these for a few months now. I'm a digital photography hobbyist, and not a gamer, so I can't talk about response-time, but I can say that the IPS screen is delivering excellent colour rendition. It really is a huge step forward over cheap TN screens, and is as good (if not better) than my old Trinitron CRT, which I intend as high praise.

Criticisms? Well, it's hardly a criticism, but obviously if you haven't had a monitor of this resolution before then you might, as I did, need to go and buy another graphics card that supports the dual-link interface. But they're not expensive (I repeat, I'm not a gamer).

I own a monitor calibrator (X-rite i1) and it declared itself quite happy with the monitor, very little tweaking was required to get the colours right. The only major problem is that, out of the box, the monitor is far, far too bright. Eye-piercingly, headache-inducingly bright. At least this one was. With brightness turned right down to 8, and contrast on full, the i1 was then able to get on with its job and deliver excellent colour and contrast. There's a little backlight bleeding into the blacks in the corners, but once the brightness is turned down to something sensible then it's not excessive, and my photoprocessing tools tend to put menus, not actual photo, in the corners anyway.

The Essential
The Essential
Price: £5.00

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic music, massacred by the mastering, 26 Jun 2013
This review is from: The Essential (Audio CD)
This is awful. I'm not reviewing Paul Simon's music, that is what it is - the work of a genius - and doesn't need someone like me to describe it.

But the sound quality here. Oh dearie me. Paul Simon is something of an audiophile, and he and his engineer and producer took great pains, in most of their recordings, over a very long career to do the best that they possibly could. And then some cloth-eared imbeciles - and let's name and shame them, since they have put their names on the CD sleeve, they're Dan Hersch and Bill Inglot at Digiprep - have ruined it. Compressed and flattened within an inch of its life, over-eq'd, a travesty. A victim of the "loudness wars" between the record companies.

Avoid at all costs. If you love Paul Simon's music, this really is hard to listen to at anything other than "background noise" levels.

And, bizarrely, Sony have labelled this a "legacy" edition. What sort of legacy, for Paul Simon, is this supposed to be...?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 25, 2013 12:54 PM GMT

HP Q5456A Advanced Glossy Photo Paper A4 210x297mm (25 Sheets)
HP Q5456A Advanced Glossy Photo Paper A4 210x297mm (25 Sheets)
Price: £7.05

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 20 Jun 2013
Bought this by accident instead of the HP Premium / Premium Plus photo paper that we normally use in our HP C5280 (with genuine HP-351XL colour cartridge). Very very disappointing. Dark, dingy, un-vibrant, poor contrast, poor detail, poor saturation. Dull, Dull, Dull. And, yes, my monitor is calibrated, and I'm used to getting decent images out of the system on the Premium/Plus papers. Given that the one thing that you want photo paper to do is to reproduce photos, I can only give this one star.

Reading HP's blurb, the emphasis seems to have been on making it quick-drying while retaining acceptable image quality. Well, I agree it's quick drying. If that's all you want, it'll tick your box.

The Gift Band Live On Tour - The Union Chapel November 2010 [DVD] [NTSC] [2012]
The Gift Band Live On Tour - The Union Chapel November 2010 [DVD] [NTSC] [2012]
Dvd ~ Eliza Carthy
Price: £14.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful performance, 9 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
What a great gig. Norma and Eliza share singing duties, with Eliza also playing fiddle, and it's a warm and wonderful affair.

It's a good-length show, there's a lot of songs and, crucially, a lot of chat between the songs as well, as Norma and Eliza introduce the songs to the audience, explain where they're from and why they mean something. There's a mixture of traditional songs and more modern ones, with Richard Thompson being the most-used modern writer, though Clive Gregson gets a look-in as well with "Fred Astaire". The band are good - clearly very talented, and with enough sense to not get in the way. Martin Carthy (Norma's husband, Eliza's dad) plays gently in the background, it's emphatically not his show, he's just there to help his girls.

If you don't know anything about the Watersons and think it's all going to be terribly po-faced, just give it a go. If you need convincing, look up an online bio of Norma - this is a woman who did CND and Amnesty gigs before they were fashionable, and threw it all in for a while to be a DJ in the West Indies in the 70s. It may be Traditional, but it's fun and actually remarkably moving.

Would have been a 5 star review, but docked one star for slightly iffy sound on the first couple of songs - which presumably reflects the live mix - and also because the video jumps. On my BD player, at least, it looks like there's been some sort of frame-rate conversion problem and it's dropping a frame every second or so. It's not actually very distracting, and certainly doesn't ruin the experience or anything like that, but you can just see it when there's close-up shots of moving things, generally faces. To authentically create the ambience of a gig, the sound could probably have done with a little more of the audience buzz mixed into it, some of the jokes seem to fall flat because you can't hear the audience reaction. But none of that really matters compared to the music, which is great.


5.0 out of 5 stars Simply astonishing, 1 Jan 2012
This review is from: SALTERIO (UK Import) (Audio CD)
This is a simply astonishing album. I've played it for years; for me, it's THE desert island disc!

It is (insofar as I understand it, I may be wrong) more or less the Spanish ancient-music band 'Calamus' showcasing one of their team - Begona Olavide (and my apologies to Spanish readers for not hunting for the correct accents on my UK keyboard) - playing music reconstructed from medieval andalusian/moorish fragments on a variety of instruments generically classed as Psalteries. The instruments are made by Begona's husband (a luthier, and fellow band member) and are apparently constructed by following intuition based on pictures in medieval books and tapestries - no example instrument actually exists in the modern age. It's all instrumental, no vocals (except the birdies tweeting in the roof of wherever it was recorded).

Behind the swirl of the seemingly simple repetitive rhythms lurks a wonderful meditative core, where small variations lead to endless haunting fascination. Some of it is potentially danceable, but my experience is that the listener sinks into a state of peace and calm, an almost magical 50-minute break from the cares of the modern world.

The musicianship is first-class, the recording is an acknowledged audiophile gem, what have you got to lose?

BabyBjörn Safe Step (Ocean Blue)
BabyBjörn Safe Step (Ocean Blue)
Price: £17.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, it's a step...., 4 Oct 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Not quite sure how to review a step, but here goes. It's stable, it's non-slip in the wet on both top and bottom, and (unlike its predecessor) it doesn't break and shatter when 15st of Daddy uses it to stand on when hanging a picture! We now have 2, so we have one upstairs and one down.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 3, 2011 10:21 PM GMT

Humax HDR-FOX T2 Freeview+ HD Twin Tuner with 1TB Recorder
Humax HDR-FOX T2 Freeview+ HD Twin Tuner with 1TB Recorder

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect (to us), and good service too, 21 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought this as a distress purchase when our old Sony RDR-HXD860 died.

It's a twin-tuner PVR, it does SD and HD freeview, its EPG is quick and easy to use (at least it is when you come from Sony-land and Pioneer-land, I've never used a TiVo which other respondents feel is better) and has a good search funtion.

Picture quality is very good (I'm running it at 1080i into a Pioneer KRP-500A), the ability to pause and rewind live TV is a real boon. We've used the BBC iPlayer and that seems to work fine at SD (we don't have the broadband bandwidth for streamed HD), we've even surfed Wikipedia with it!

The only functional annoyance that we've found so far is that if you're channel hopping and find something unexpected that you like, then you can record what you're watching but don't seem to be able to record the whole series. The EPG will only let you set series-recording in advance. You can work round it, by finding the next episode in the EPG and series-recording that, but it's an annoyance. Minus half a star for this.

And minus half a star for having a captive mains lead. For a device costing over £300, I expect to get a replaceable mains lead, not to find that the manufacturer has tried to save 2p in production by fitting a captive one. Which I then have to cut the 13A plug off in order to thread through shelf holes sized for IEC plugs...

This is our second HDR-FOX T2. The first one went wrong - started to hang/lock on an (initially) weekly, then almost hourly, basis. Contacted Humax UK support, a replacement device was brought to me and the old one taken away, at no charge and with no hassle. No trips to the post office, no need to reclaim costs, the courier came to my (workplace) door. So I rate that as Stars-neutral - it shouldn't have gone wrong, but the service when it did was first-class.

All This and Sailing, Too
All This and Sailing, Too
by Olin Stephens
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully interesting book, 11 May 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you're interested in the history of sailing, then this book is the autobiography of one of the world's greatest yacht designers. If you've found this review, you've probably heard of Sparkman and Stephens, heard of some of the greatest America's cup yachts ever built, and no further introduction is necessary.

This book is not a modern-style kiss'n'tell autobiography. Stephens' family intrudes in the book, for the most part, only insofar as they impinge on his sailing and design work. Nor is it an academic treatise on yacht design (especially as he repeatedly states that he's not an academic and had no training for what he did...). Instead, it's the very engaging story of Stephens' life viewed through the lens of yachts he's sailed, yachts he's designed, people he's met, projects he's worked on, and so on. The style is dry, but humour is there. From shipyard workers to the Vanderbilt family, from the smallest centreboard dinghy to the mighty Ranger, all are viewed with warm-hearted and discreet equanimity and appreciation.

If you think that you'll like it, then you probably will. If you're looking for tales of scandal and high jinks among the rich and shameless, look elsewhere.

Spill Proof Kennedy Cup
Spill Proof Kennedy Cup
Offered by Mobility Smart
Price: £12.16

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Genius design, but expensive and breakable, 11 May 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Our little boy has a leaning difficulty, and oro-motor development skills, so we were recommended this cup by our SLT. It "does exactly what it says on the tin", it's a spill-proof cup. However, there's no doubting that it does cost a lot of money for what it is - two bits of moulded plastic - and it does crack if thrown onto a hard floor, landing on the corner of the lid. Replacements are expensive, and as far as I can see it's not possible to buy the lid without the cup. So we now have more cups than lids!

Play and Learn: Reading & Counting
Play and Learn: Reading & Counting
Price: £2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't run on Vista 64, 6 July 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My wife ordered it on recommendation, but despite the packaging saying it runs on Vista, it turns out not to run on Vista 64, and the suppliers say that no fix is available or planned. It will go back to Amazon for a refund; another few hours of my life wasted.

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