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G. Thulbourn (England)

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Garmin Edge 305 Navigation and Trip Computer for Cycles with Heart Rate Monitor
Garmin Edge 305 Navigation and Trip Computer for Cycles with Heart Rate Monitor

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking device, 15 Mar. 2008
I've had an Edge 305 now for 6 months and I've got to say that it is fantastic. I agree with the previous reviewer that Garmin are a dreadfully backward company with a non-customer focused attitude, but the Edge is at least an indication that for a particular sector of the cyclist market they are trying to put some effort in. (Note - however - the Garmin eTrex series are complete junk in my opinion - suffering from a lack of investment in software, and a considerable resting on previous laurels: unless you need to do multi-day navigation, look for another navigation product).

The thing to remember about the Edge is that it is for a very specific market. If you want it to navigate by, well it can kind of do that, but it's not great at it. What it is great at is acting as a training aid. If you're seriously into your bike training or just generally interested in your bike stats, then this is the device for you. It was that good that I got rid of my wired bike computer: this does everything it does and more.

A great feature, for the solo cyclist, is being able to cycle against your previous rides, helping you push yourself along. It's so much better than pushing yourself simply against a set time. The realism of seeing you catch up with your virtual partner, only to dawn on you that the main reason for this is that he is in fact 200 metres ahead of you and therefore starting to grind up the hill ahead is great motivation.

I can't recommend the device highly enough: to the keen training/stats interested cyclist.

Given my experience of the colour screen on the etrex and the dreadful navigation software (and maps that cost over £100 in addition), I'd be very skeptical about the new colour/navigation enabled Edges and stick with the 305.

The heart rate monitor of the 305 instead of the 205 is also well worth the investment: OK it's getting a bit 'controlled', but it seriously helps you push yourself more when you're slacking AND calm down when you're overdoing it: thereby leading to a better training run. The 305 also has a altitude profile display which I don't think the 205 has: OK, so that's a gimmick (GPS altitude for technical reasons is rubbish), but it is a bit of fun!

Personally I'd also partner the device with the excellent Tracklogs software if you fancy doing a bit of navigation/analysis work (although the mediocre training centre that comes with the Edge should be enough to get you started on storing and looking after your previous ride information).

Dual Wii Remote Charging Station (Wii)
Dual Wii Remote Charging Station (Wii)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Junk - doesn't work out of the box, 14 Mar. 2008
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
Firstly the controllers just won't lean up against the charging stand without some serious balancing tricks: turn your back and they have come off charge.
Secondly, one of the batteries sent with my device just didn't work (when put in the stand it just flashes madly at you). Got my multimeter out and it read 2Volts (should be putting out 3Volts ish to replace two 1.5V batteries: obviously!), and whats worse the other battery (which did work) was pumping out 4Volts.
Luckily (unlike the previous reviewer) this didn't blow up the controller, but I presume theirs was possibly a high enough voltage to do so.
Basically this is cheap junk: don't buy it. Even if the batteries were 'in specification' it's almost impossible to balance the controllers in such a way to actually charge them.
I think Amazon should withdraw the product, there is definitely the possibility of this damaging your controllers if they have such poor tolerance on the battery specifications.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 28, 2008 11:30 AM BST

Nintendo Wii Console (Includes Wii Sports)
Nintendo Wii Console (Includes Wii Sports)
Offered by Oligopoly Charity
Price: £170.66

7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating, 12 Jan. 2008
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
Trying to see through the hype and be objective is difficult when it comes to the Wii: after all, you've probably had to pay £100 over the rrp or wait 4 months to get hold of one.
Having gone down the waiting route I can't but help say that frankly I'm disappointed.

Positive things:
The Wii is very much is about engagement with other players, and so is different to other consoles. It accomplishes this well and the system of interacting with the device is very innovative and fun.

Negative things:
So far the games I've played are all just a little shallow: relying on the novelty of the interface to make otherwise fairly normal games interesting for a while (sure, Wii sports and a few others are exceptions to this rule, but not the majority).
Dare I say the interface is a bit clunky? Will I be lynched for saying that from time to time the controllers seem to have a mind of their own? Would people pan me if I said sometimes I think they just plain didn't work? Frustrating.
Given the simple nature of the games I think at full rrp they are very overpriced. I remember back to when I bought Halo for the original Xbox and think what I got for my money, and all I can feel is that in comparison - now - I'm being ripped off by overinflated Wii pricing.
And the rip off world doesn't stop once you've bought the console: try to buy a second controller and you can expect to pay over rrp (if you can find one), games also seem in short supply, and as for some of the prices people are trying to charge on certain auction sites, they ought to be ashamed of themselves. This just leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth.
Oh and the fact that the device can't play DVDs is more than a little disappointing.
Oh, and you don't need a memory card to store your game history: there is memory built in - despite many console bundles having a memory card in them (which you probably don't need).

Nintendo have to sort out their supply problems: maybe they're making hay while the sun shines, but if they're not careful people are going to start seeing through the hype, get fed up being ripped off through over pricing and frustrated at the short supply of, well everything Wii related. Meanwhile time is ticking on and the technology will start to look dated and the games manufacturers, fed up of their potential market being squeezed because of Nintendo's supply problems, will move elsewhere or simply continue to deliver shallow games because not enough people can buy them.

In summary: if you've got kids and you don't want them to have a 'violent' Xbox or playstation, and you want them to play games which involve interacting with other people then Wii is the answer; if you often have friends round for parties then definitely get one (you'll only need probably Wii Sports); but if you just want a good game playing device then get a Playstation 3, Xbox 360, or even a second hand Xbox or Playstation 2 - you might just save yourself the frustration of feeling continually ripped off.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 18, 2008 3:52 PM GMT

Big Brain Academy (Wii)
Big Brain Academy (Wii)
Offered by Revival Books Ltd
Price: £4.80

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is that it?, 12 Jan. 2008
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Simple game, fun for a while but not a lot to it (like many Wii games).
Not as long lived game as I had hoped; as mental agility fairly quickly turns into mental frustration. As puzzles get harder it's not your ability to solve them that matters but the ability to find a strategy to cope: time, to me, plays too much a part in getting a good score and not difficulty (hence the frustration).
It's all a little tongue in cheek but we ought not to be too caught up in the 'keep your brain active' marketing for the game: the longer I play Halo the better I am at killing rampaging alien beasts, the longer I play Brain Academy the better I am at popping ballons with numbers written on them in order...
If you don't pay full rrp then it's a good bit of fun and certainly something different (and - on reflection - probably more wholesome than killing aliens, even if BOTH help keep your brain active).

Paper Airplane Fold-A-Day: 2007 Day-To-Day Calendar with Other
Paper Airplane Fold-A-Day: 2007 Day-To-Day Calendar with Other
by David Mitchell
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun, 9 Jan. 2008
Tricky to get the hang of at first, but soon you'll be creating these with barely a look at the instructions.
Good for keeping the mind active and maintaining your dexterity!
Just remember to recycle them when you're done!

Creative TravelSound 250 - Black
Creative TravelSound 250 - Black

4.0 out of 5 stars Punches above its weight, 9 Jan. 2008
For such a small product the sound isn't half bad. As everybody says the bass isn't 100%, but better than laptop speakers and if you adjust the equaliser on your device to boost the bass a bit then pretty passable.
Sound seems better if you don't sit too close to them, since the stereo separation is bound to be small. Great set of travel speakers.

Garmin Large Diameter Rail Mount Adaptor (25-30mm)
Garmin Large Diameter Rail Mount Adaptor (25-30mm)
Price: £8.99

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No other choice, 7 Jan. 2008
Well, you don't really get an option to buy anything other than this to mount your Garmin device to a set of oversized handlebars. It's rugged enough but it's a real shame that once the device clicks in it has about 2mm of 'slop' that the GPS can rattle about in: pretty poor design really. OK for road bike, but the rattling might drive you nuts after a while on a rough trail on a mountain bike (you might mitigate this using some silicon sealant or a small piece of rubber).
Very important note: it comes with no 'device clip'; it's just a 'wraparound' for the handlebars, so you'll need to purchase the smaller bike mounting kit which includes this clip UNLESS you have an HCx unit which comes with a clip that screws into the back of the battery case as standard (mine, the Legend HCx, does).

CSS: The Missing Manual (Missing Manuals)
CSS: The Missing Manual (Missing Manuals)
by David Sawyer McFarland
Edition: Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good starting point, 31 Dec. 2007
Great book to learn about CSS starting from zero knowledge, with lots of supporting web links to follow up on to get really into the low level details. Slightly disappointed that it didn't really cover a wider area of application of CSS: mostly mainstream stuff (multi-panel web design etc.). It also is mostly 'pure CSS', but you can't expect everything out of one book: for that you'll need an advanced CSS book or do your own research on the web; this is a great starting point.

Garmin eTrex Legend HCx Handheld GPS System
Garmin eTrex Legend HCx Handheld GPS System

18 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Deeply disappointing, 26 Dec. 2007
I've hung off buying a GPS for my road bike because I was waiting for them to mature beyond being simply another 'gadget' until they became genuinely useful. I thought that time was now, but having taken the plunge I think I've been proven wrong.

There are several problems with this device:
1. When it says that it comes with base maps it means "base maps", as in, "for all practical purposes no maps"; just A roads round where I live: not enough for any form of road navigation. They are available from Garmin at £130 extra; making the device effectively £340 (plus a bicyle mount which will set you back another £10 at least). £350 seems highly overpriced compared to sophisticated car based navigation systems. Of course you can lay in your route in to the device without maps (use something like the excellent tracklogs product), but in which case you may as well buy a cheaper model without 'mapping capability'.

2. You will also notice that the colour 'sunlight-readable' screen can be barely readable in all but the brightest 'sunlight' conditions: if you are using a road bike and are down on the bars the light you obscure makes it very difficult to read. A higher contrast black and white version might be a better bet (especially if you aren't just a fair weather cyclist!) With the backlight on, the screen is a delight to behold, but I can't imagine the batteries would last very long with this on continuously, and pressing a button every 5 minutes to get the screen to come on to check your speed/navigation reminds me of the early days of Sinclair LED watches!

3. Also note that the product can not seem to tell which way North is unless you are moving (Garmin's vista product contains an electronic compass). I believe this is due to some genuine technical reason, but again, it diminishes the value of the device. Note that I gave up on mine and returned it before I managed to explore this much further, but if you just want to be able to point the device in a direction and figure which way it is then the next model up (the Vista) seems the better bet (despite therefore paying extra for the mapping capability which allows you to pay an extra £130 for maps!)

Overall I found the product hugely disappointing and just not very practical for navigating a road bike. If you want a bling bling gadget go for it - it seems to fit that bill, if you want to do some serious road bike navigation in overcast conditions then I think you will probably be better off buying the black and white version (with - I presume - far better screen contrast) or, like me, stick with a good old fashioned map shoved in your pocket.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 10, 2008 12:33 AM BST

Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: 25th Anniversary Edition
Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: 25th Anniversary Edition
by Robert Pirsig
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A 'beautiful book', 10 Dec. 2007
If you want to read a 'road-trip' interwoven with philosophy and a fascinating personal story then you should read this book. It isn't an easy going paperback nor is it a full-on treatise on philosophy; but a wonderful mix which works for me!

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