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Stephen Reid "Stephen" (Basingstoke)
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Oki C511DN A4 Colour Laser Printer
Oki C511DN A4 Colour Laser Printer
Offered by Printerland
Price: 165.96

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If it is as reliable as its build quality implies, it will prove to be exceptional value., 8 Jun 2014
First impressions of this printer are entirely favourable.

It comes in a stout box: careful, though because it is heavy and the 'handle holes' aren't really strong enough to take the weight. So carrying it is really a two-person operation, holding from underneath.

On opening, the printer is presented in a strong plastic bag with 'ears': designed for lifting it from the box. A nice touch. Then unwrapping it takes a few minutes. There's a four page illustrated guide for preparing the printer for use. It's not wholly clear, but the tasks to be performed are pretty obvious, so no matter. There are easily-seen protective strips to secure pretty well every part that might need replacing sometime. Removing them is a matter of moments and it is very clear where they are.

My printer came with a standard 'kettle lead' power cord and a European one. It doesn't, however, come with an Ethernet cable, so order one if you need one. The power cord goes in the back and the network cable goes in the side.

I run Windows 8.1 and found that loading the necessary drivers from the enclosed CD was simplicity itself. The disc loads, invites you to register the product (do that, there's a three year guarantee to be had) and then sets up the necessary drivers. In a matter of a few minutes, the printer is ready to use. I have made it my default printer.

The styling of the printer is understated: a rectangular box with heavily rounded corners. It comes in a standard beige colour with a grey flap on top which lifts to offer access to the consumables. It looks unobtrusive.

The C511DN has a good, solid 'feel' to it which makes me think that the build quality is good.

In use the C511DN takes a few seconds to warm up and then operates at a pretty good pace: a nominal 26 pages per minute. The print quality is crisp and and the paper comes out cool and 'uncurled'. The printer copes efficiently with double sided printing, as specified. The paper tray, at 250 sheets, is comparatively small.

I am not yet in a position to comment on the cost of ownership: although the OKI cartridges are expensive in themselves, their capacity is high. As always they say 'don't use compatibles', though the relatively low purchase price of the printer might make this a reasonable risk. If compatible cartridges are practical, the cost of ownership will drop.

I am using this printer as the family 'workhorse'. OKI say that it is capable of printing many thousands of pages per month: I doubt if we will push it that hard. For the price, this printer looks to be very good value. If it is as reliable as its build quality implies, I am confident that it will prove to be a sound purchase.


HP 364 Print Cartridge Combo Pack - (1 x Black, Yellow, Cyan, Magenta)
HP 364 Print Cartridge Combo Pack - (1 x Black, Yellow, Cyan, Magenta)
Price: 21.58

4.0 out of 5 stars There's a definite saving to be had here, 6 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having bought the HP printer, buying replacement ink is a necessity and this four-pack is as good a way as any. HP state on the box that the colour cartridges are good for 300 pages each and the black cartridge is good for 250 - presumably because black is the most used of all the inks. That works out at 6p to 7p per page, plus the cost of the paper. Buying in the high street works out at over 8p per page.

The best thing about the HP printers that take these cartridges is that each colour is loaded separately. The costs really rack up in printers that take combination ink cartridges: when one reservoir empties you have to throw the whole thing away or get involved with the hassle of re-inking (I've tried that: it works, but it's messy!). So, I prefer printers with the four-cartridge system.

This four-pack typically costs 25 in the shops, so there's a definite saving to be had here - but it takes a bit of discipline to achieve it. I recommend having a spare set in stock all the time and ordering new when you use one. Otherwise, you'll be in the middle of printing something urgent when the ink runs out and, not able to wait for delivery, obliged to dash to the local high street to buy at the higher prices.

I find the HP ink colours to be bright and clear and the quality from my 5520 quite acceptable.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 13, 2014 1:04 AM BST


One More Car One More Rider [2CD Plus DVD]
One More Car One More Rider [2CD Plus DVD]
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 18.63

5.0 out of 5 stars A most highly competent delivery of one the strongest back-catalogues one could hope to hear, 6 Jun 2014
I find myself turning to the DVD in this pack more often than the CDs. It is as good a live concert as you will ever see. For this tour Clapton assembled what I regard as one his strongest backing groups. With them Clapton glides through a strong back catalogue of favourites, playing and singing at his relaxed and effortless best.

It is clear that all the musicians are comfortable with each other. Andy Fairweather Low is a frequent collaborator on guitars and backing vocals. Nathan East on bass and Steve Gadd on drums provide an excellent rhythm section and Billy Preston on keyboards is a welcome addition.

The concert gets off to a quiet start with 'Key to the Highway' and Reptile'. But from then on it builds inexorably. 'Badge' is there from the Cream days. 'Cocaine', 'Wonderful Tonight' and 'Layla' are grouped together. And then 'Sunshine of your Love' to round things off, before an improbable ending with 'Over the Rainbow'! Twenty tracks in all.

I am a great fan of Eric Clapton: his guitar playing is legend and delivered here with his usual lack of flamboyance or over-acting: he just stands there and plays and sings. He doesn't need to show off. The band takes its lead from him and the result is the most highly competent delivery of one the strongest back-catalogues one could hope to hear.

I thoroughly recommend this package: five stars.


Santana
Santana
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: 4.50

5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of an album that has stood the test of time brilliantly, 24 May 2014
This review is from: Santana (Audio CD)
Some years ago someone described to me a track that she had heard on the car radio and liked. From that description I suggested that it might have been Santana, and so it turned out. The point of this story is that the sound Carlos Santana and his band produce is so distinctive that it can be uniquely described, and they have remained unmatched in this regard for over forty years.

This is their first album that blazed the trail for their unique fusions of Latin rhythms and rock music. It is, quite simply, superb and I thoroughly recommend it even now, decades after it was first released. The music has survived the years very well and still comes across as vibrant and immaculately played.

I first heard this album when a friend played it at University and it soon became an addition to my own collection. The fusion of Latin rhythms with great rock guitar playing was something new (to me anyway). At a time when we were all scouting round for new and exciting music, this fitted the bill precisely.

From 'Waiting', the opening track, it is clear that this is going to be an example of brilliant musicianship. The rhythmic underpinning is relentless. On this track the keyboards of Gregg Rolie are very much to the fore. 'Evil Ways' was a classic in its day and fades out with guitar work from Carlos Santana that is a herald of things to come. The vocals are controlled and un-strained, the sign of a band well in control of its material. It makes for rock music that is easy to listen to.

'Shades of Time' continues with the easy vocals but allows more time for Santana's soaring guitar. It flows seamlessly into 'Savor' - a more driving track and more brilliant keyboard work. Then another seamless join to my favourite on this album: 'Jingo'. This track has a truly heavy beat with Dave Brown's bass work accompanying the percussion section to create a non-stop toe-tapping masterpiece. These three tracks combined make for ten minutes of top class playing, and generate a pulsating end to what was the first side of the LP.

'Persuasion' continues the highly rhythmical approach before 'Treat', which has a slower, piano-based introduction before speeding up into a jazz/rock piano masterclass and Santana guitar solo leading to a false ending and a return to the slower piano-based theme. 'You Just Don't Care', a blues-based track featuring strong vocals interspersed with Santana's guitar in support.

Finally the famous 'Soul Sacrifice', featured to such famous effect at Woodstock.

This album carries three bonus tracks, all taken from the Woodstock set - brilliant stuff that made Santana's name.

The LP cover was a great interest in its day too. Look carefully and the lion's head has within it many smaller lion motifs. It doesn't really come out to full effect on the smaller CD facsimile.

This is a masterpiece of an album from 1969 that has stood the test of time brilliantly and is still worth repeated listens today. For a debut album it was quite stunning. Highly recommended and five stars.


From The Cradle
From The Cradle
Price: 4.59

5.0 out of 5 stars A tour de force from a consummate artist with a love of the blues, 13 May 2014
This review is from: From The Cradle (Audio CD)
First released in 1994, `From the Cradle' is an album of blues covers. It is a 'studio live recording', which means that there are no overdubs or edits except for Dobro on `How Long Blues' and drum overdub on `Motherless Child'. Some people feel that Clapton lost something on this album, merely imitating the original artists. I don't hold with that criticism: the blues are important to Clapton and it is fitting that he positioned this as a tribute to the artists who influenced him so much.

Clapton says in his autobiography that he was determined to make these new recordings as much like the original versions as possible, even down to the key they were played in. He remembers the sessions as great fun and he loved every minute of them.

Clapton is a genius at presenting the blues and on this CD he is strong in both guitar and voice. His voice is not as powerful as some of the original singers: it never has been. But it is good nevertheless. His backing band is tight - really tight - and the overall effect is of a group of top quality musicians having a great time playing music that they love.

I started this review producing a summary of each track: but how many times can one say `fantastic recording, impeccable guitar work, well sung'? Those descriptions apply to every track and make this a collection that is a pleasure to listen to.

Stand out tracks? For once I'll say there isn't one. But if you want to play one track to give you a flavour of this album, try 'Groaning the Blues', the closing track on this CD. Clapton makes it sound as if his guitar is having an emotional breakdown. It is remarkable.

This is a consistently good album and every track has its merits. The obvious merit is that this is a recently recorded album of tracks which were first released many years before. I like the fact that it is essentially a collection of live performances. It's a tour de force from a consummate artist with a love of the blues. I toyed between four and five stars: it just about deserves the top rating, I think.


Allinson Easy Bake Yeast Tin 100g
Allinson Easy Bake Yeast Tin 100g
Offered by Leading Brands Worldwide
Price: 2.42

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The results I have been obtaining with this product are very encouraging, 29 April 2014
I have tried two types of Allinson Yeast: the dried yeast in the yellow tin and this 'EasyBake' Yeast in the pale green tin. Of the two, this one was by far the better for me. Whether I had a duff tin of the other (it can happen) or this is simply better for home bread making I can't judge but I will certainly be sticking to this product in the future.

The first piece of advice is that buying yeast in tins is much better value than sachets. It is cheaper and more convenient: where a recipe asks for 2 and half teaspoons, try doing that easily with sachets!

The second thing to note about this product is that the grains of yeast are very much finer than with the other product in the range. My observation is that this makes it easier to dissolve and quicker to get to work.

The third point is a tip really that some recipes recommend anyway: I have found that warming the water or milk before dissolving the yeast also helps to produce a good result.

Using this yeast I have found that the bread dough rises very quickly and then proves successfully as well. The results I have been obtaining are very encouraging and I recommend this product enthusiastically. Five stars.


The Titanic disaster - As reported in the British Press April - July 1912
The Titanic disaster - As reported in the British Press April - July 1912
by Dave Bryceson
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars It doesn't try to be a textbook: it presents the jumble of real-time information to recreate the atmosphere of the day, 21 April 2014
This is a fascinating book about the Titanic tragedy. Remember how you feel when an item of 'breaking news' comes on the 24 hours news broadcasts? You find yourself hanging on every snippet of new information, trying to work out what its implication is and use it to piece together the picture of what is actually happening. Well, here is the Titanic tragedy played out in the same way, except that the time intervals for new information are counted in days and not minutes. But just like today, there are facts and mistakes, truth and lies to be picked over and interpreted.

The difficulty of getting information out is highlighted by stories of 'Wireless Chaos'. The rumour mill was working overtime: there were rumours of other ships having picked up survivors and these had to be denied.

Very quickly questions were being asked about the lifeboats, though one report says that the liner carried 'a number of boats in excess of the official requirements.' Then, as the enormity of the tragedy strikes home, questions are asked in the House of Commons and people start defending their positions in public. These reports are carried int he papers as well.

Unlike films and many written accounts, this book goes further than the disaster itself. As the Daily Sketch said on 17 April 1912, "the disaster is a terrible blow for Southampton. Nearly all of the Officers and crew lived there, and very few of them can have been saved." That was the truth and the impact on the City was devastating. The Daily Sketch and others opened disaster funds.

The arrival of the Carpathia, carrying survivors, was a major event in New York, but this was a full nine days after the first report of the Titanic sinking. But from then on, there were stories from the survivors to help piece together the events of the night.

Human-interest stories keep the tragedy alive to the end of April as survivors' stories are picked over for nuggets of information. There are even rumours that the ill-fated Hope Diamond may have been on board (redolent of the Leonardo di Caprio film!)

Then the Board of Trade sets up am Inquiry and this starts to uncover the real facts. Eventually, in July, the conclusion is reached that the loss was due to excessive speed. But doubts remain to this day that that was the whole story.

This book is easy to read, as it is in essence a series of newspaper reports designed to be easily read. The strength of this book, however, is that it does not assemble the facts into a cogent narrative: it presents the jumble of information as it became available and shows how difficult it was to pick a way through the jumble of fact, rumour and interpretation of the tragic events of that night. In doing so it recreates the atmosphere of the day and gives an insight into what it must have been like to live through those harrowing times. Fascinating, Five stars.


Gravity [Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
Gravity [Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ George Clooney
Price: 19.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite brilliant; a technical triumph and an acting masterclass, 20 April 2014
This is a review specifically about the 3D version of the film and it is spoiler-free. There are hundreds of other reviews to attest to the fact that this is a most enjoyable film: quite short by modern-day standards but gripping from start to finish and packed with special effects.

My major conclusion is that Gravity is great entertainment in either 2D or 3D form. The 3D adds value but the difference is not as marked as in some other films (for example 'The Hobbit'). The 3D effects come into their own most when there are objects floating about in the fields of vision and they add depth to the space shots.

What adds more value, however, is the surround sound. The dialogue comes from all corners of the room, emphasising who is speaking and adding a dimension to the screenplay that would be missing from the TV-only delivery. And it's a soundtrack that begs to be played loud - it's worth turning the volume up and letting it vibrate the whole room.

This edition contains two blu-ray discs: the 3D and the 2D. The 3D offers the option, of course, to play in 2D. The 2D disc contains nearly three hours of interesting accounts of the techniques and pressures involved in making the film. There is also an 'Ultraviolet voucher' which permits the downloading of the film.

So many science fiction films contain factual inaccuracies: the 'swoosh' of the Starship Enterprise as it passes by in 'Star Trek' is a classic. This film attempts to be scientifically accurate and it succeeds to much greater effect than others. The point of this accuracy is that it generates the proper sense of risk and danger in an alien environment: space is an impossible place in which to survive unless protected. When weightless, there is no up or down. There is nothing to stop a moving body nor any means to stop a spin other catching hold of something or by using motors and fuel.

There are some aspects of the fiction that don't ring quite true: the speed with which Sandra Bullock is able to put on and take off her space suit, for one. But I'll go with that, for the sake of the story.

For Sandra Bullock this is a tour de force of a film. She is on screen for most of the time and her acting is very good. She is not 'superwoman' - she is a scientist out of her comfort zone in space and very, very frightened. That comes across brilliantly.

In my opinion this film deserved its Oscars. It is quite astounding in its presentation; a technical triumph and an acting masterclass. The 3D adds value, but the surround-sound adds more. Five stars. Enjoy!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 24, 2014 10:05 AM BST


Hugo Boss BOSS after shave balm 75ml
Hugo Boss BOSS after shave balm 75ml
Offered by Fairsandhaus
Price: 23.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A good way to pamper oneself or a most acceptable present., 18 April 2014
This is a luxury product: great to own. I was bought it as a present - I'm not sure that I would have spent this much on myself! That said, I really like it.

The balm comes in a standard (these days) top-down flip-lid container which makes it easy to stand for storage purposes. The balm itself is white; a creamy, liquid texture rather than a sticky gel. A little goes a long way, so this 75ml is going to last a long time. The fragrance is very pleasant: it doesn't hit you between the eyes or announce your presence from twenty metres away but it does linger for a long time, which is good.

In my opinion this product is excellent: expensive but reasonable value given how little is needed each time. A good way to pamper oneself or a very acceptable present. Five stars.


Vegetable Planner
Vegetable Planner
Offered by Lowest Price
Price: 4.80

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As a handy guide, this is a brilliant piece of work, packed with useful information and very practical to use., 9 April 2014
This review is from: Vegetable Planner (Office Product)
This is a useful planning tool and gives good advice to those with a vegetable plot or allotment. The way it works is that you dial the vegetable you are interested in growing and it indicates
- what sort of soil is needed
- how closely together the plants should be planted
- the space between rows and
- when the planting or transplanting should take place.

In addition it indicates
- how deeply the seeds should be sown (there's a useful centimetre to inch converter)
- when to harvest and
- how quickly you might expect to see the plants appearing and coming to maturity.

It's a lot of information and presented very efficiently.

The dial has 36 garden vegetables on it which covers the majority of likely ambitions for the vegetable grower. On the back is a summary of how to rotate crops on a four-plot system. Useful, if you have the space to do it.

Now, what it doesn't do. It can't give advice in the space available on protecting crops, the types of pests that might attack them and the different varieties of seeds / plants to go for. That needs further research. But hey: it's a handy guide, not a book!

As a handy guide, this is a brilliant piece of work, packed with useful information and very practical to use. Worth buying!


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