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G. Mackey
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Icy Dock MB971SP-B 5.25 inch Hot Swap Drive Caddy for 2.5 inch and 3.5 inch SATA Hard Drive or SSD
Icy Dock MB971SP-B 5.25 inch Hot Swap Drive Caddy for 2.5 inch and 3.5 inch SATA Hard Drive or SSD
Offered by AVIDES
Price: £37.36

4.0 out of 5 stars Hot to trot?, 17 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The reason that I bought this is that I use 3 operating systems on Samsung SSD's (installed on 3 SATA inputs) & I had been plagued by Windows boot manager problems. The Icy Dock can accept 3.5 & 2.5 inch drives, & as the SSD's are 2.5 inch, it seemed like a good way out of the boot problem.

I had read about the stiff ejection mechanisms, so before I installed it I took a drive of each size & began to slot them in & eject them. I did this about 30-40 times & finally smeared a miniscule bit of lubricant on the top of the 2.5 inch backplane to ease these drives just a bit more.

Installation was easy. Just one power lead & two SATA3 leads required. I had removed my internal storage 3TB HDD & this will reside in the 3.5 inch bay once Seagate replace the damned thing again (3rd drive coming up!). I re-programmed each of my SSD's & installed them. It really is a doddle to change platforms: just power down, eject one operating system & install another. Simples!

I always keep the 3.5 inch drive switched off until the system has booted, as my motherboard sometimes tries to boot from the HDD if it's powered up. That brings me to a minor snag that I can't honestly see an easy way for Icy Dock to improve: occasionally, when ejecting the HDD 'live', I manage to also hit the power switch for the 2.5 inch bay & knock the operating system off. Not a good idea, but as the dock needs the switches I can't see them changing the design (& why would they, when it's operator error?). Just bear it in mind that it can easily happen.

I gave the four-star rating mainly for the ejection lever on the 2.5 inch bay: for a standard HDD it may be OK, but the Samsung SSD's are slim & the lever doesn't get the pusher to contact the SSD in the centre where it needs to push; it contacts mainly on one side. It's a bit of a wonky ejection, but at least it works.

I also like the 'active' LEDs for the drives, as it gives a secondary confirmation that all is working. I use SATA 3 leads, & I can confirm the WEI is exactly the same now as it was before fitting the Icy Dock. Further confirmation that the dock has little or no effect on data transfer speeds is that the Samsung Magician software also shows no significant data speed loss. Excellent!


1Byone Portable Wireless Door Chime , 100m Range MP3 Player Wireless Doorbell with Touch Control And SD Slot Color White, Type QH-0006
1Byone Portable Wireless Door Chime , 100m Range MP3 Player Wireless Doorbell with Touch Control And SD Slot Color White, Type QH-0006
Offered by 1ByoneUK
Price: £22.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost there, 25 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Most of the reviews are very favourable, but one reviewer issued a warning of possible a virus in the software. I use Norton security on my PC & netbook & as soon as the installation disc was inserted it blocked an alleged heuristic virus. As there must be many of these bells out there it is hardly conceivable that the software is anything other than bona-fide. With this in mind, I allowed the software to download & it works just fine.

The bell itself is well-made & easy to install. Set up is also user-friendly & the choice of ring tones is excellent. The built-in speaker deserves praise too: it has a very clear sound, with adjustable volume level & good dynamic range. This means that any decently recorded music will play very satisfactorily, a feature that bells usually do not possess. Your own music can be cropped onto an SD card to expand the flexibility of the bell.

The push looks sturdy, but should be supplied with self-adhesive pads as an alternative to drilling your very expensive UPVC or hardwood doors or frames. I used double-sided tape to fix mine & it works well. It also appears to be less prone to moisture ingress than most pushes.

The bell is equipped for use with an external power supply, but this is not included with the kit. I think this should be offered as an option with the bell, as most other mains-capable units include one as standard. Batteries are not always reliable & they can flatten without much warning, so I always prefer to use the mains option when available. I am using a 3-5Vdc proprietary adapter on my bell which works well. There is a green LED that shows when mains power is connected, so it gives a visible confirmation that the power is there.

The main reason for fitting this bell is that Royal Mail seemed incapable of ringing my existing one. I have been told that it doesn't work so many times now that I gave up & replaced it with the 1Byone unit. The issue was that they kept pressing the edge of the button instead of the centre. I thought this one would be better, but it was even worse; the first caller thought the BOTTOM of the push was where you pressed it. She didn't even see the actual button sitting there right above her finger. I think that people with poor eyesight or dyslexia may have this problem. It needs to stand out from the rest of the push unit.

The answer (I hope) was to colour the button with a marker pen & write 'Press here' around it (I have posted a photo of this crude modification). The manufacturer would be advised to colour the button so it is more obvious.

The manufacturer of the unit seems keen to improve the product & solicited feedback from me. If this is typical, & they genuinely listen to the customers, then they will surely take on board the points raised & work on the issues. They have recently informed me that they will be offering the push with a coloured button in future production runs & also offering a mains power adaptor.


USB 2.0 External 6x Blu-ray Burner Player BD-RE / 8x DVD±RW DL / BLU-RAY WRITER/ 3D BLU-RAY BURNER
USB 2.0 External 6x Blu-ray Burner Player BD-RE / 8x DVD±RW DL / BLU-RAY WRITER/ 3D BLU-RAY BURNER
Offered by PC SOLUTIONS
Price: £49.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Two faulty, one OK., 1 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It comes without any burning software, which is fine at this price point. As I have Nero 2014, Power DVD 13, & AVS burning software, all with the appropriate codecs, it should have worked with at least one of them.

I plugged it directly into USB 2 & 3 ports, bypassing any hubs or extension leads to eliminate any potential data transmission issues. The power lead was also used in several power sources.

I tried Verbatim, Panasonic & TDK Blu-Ray rewritable discs, & I tried the deck with Windows 8.1x32 bit, Windows 8.1x64 bit & finally Windows 7 Pro 64 bit platforms. In each case, the Blu-Ray discs struggled to be seen by the unit, & when I tried to move data onto them, the burner locked at 28% every time. The deck also made a loud clicking noise, suggesting that it was faulty.

It did, however, read DVD's. I must admit to being perplexed by this, as it seems that the problem is simply with Blu-Ray discs. I contacted BOSITOOLS who supplied the unit (very quickly, too!) & spoke with one of their staff who was very helpful. We discussed the problem & agreed that the unit was faulty. I returned it to them & they sent a replacement which was also faulty: this time the drive worked OK, but the drawer wouldn't open manually. Another replacement has been delivered & this one is OK, I would even say that it's fast & completes system images in half the time my two other Blu-ray drives take: the issue is that any potential buyer can't be certain of receiving a working unit & could end up with several faulty ones, with all the associated hassle of posting them back to the supplier. The manufacturer of these units is Matshita (not Matsushita, a leading Japanese electronics company), so if you see them advertised under the original manufacturer's name, avoid them like the plague.


Timetop High speed USB 3.0 Hub 4 Ports Super Speed 5 Gbps VL812 Chipset USB 2.0/1.1 with USB 3.0 Cable & Power Cable
Timetop High speed USB 3.0 Hub 4 Ports Super Speed 5 Gbps VL812 Chipset USB 2.0/1.1 with USB 3.0 Cable & Power Cable
Offered by TimeTop
Price: £10.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just OK, 3 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After reading the 5-star review, I bought this hub. It looks nice, but the base came off straight away. This exposed the internals, which isn't a good thing. There aren't any instructions with it, but why would anyone need them, as it's just a simple hub? I will tell you why: it comes with a power cable, which implies that it requires external power. It doesn't come with a power adaptor, which implies that powering from an existing USB port is OK. That was fine; I did all that & tried it out. I powered the new hub from a 7-port hub with a spare way. This hub has an external power supply from the mains.

All seemed well, but then I noticed that Windows 7 kept starting up with the old 'You didn't power off correctly' message, when I knew that it WAS shut down properly. The penny dropped & I looked at the HDD LED, which was still glowing bright red after the PC had allegedly shut down. I realised that the new hub was back-feeding voltage to my motherboard. Removing the power lead did the trick, & it's working fine now. Other external mains-powered hubs that I use do not have this fault; I leave them powered up when the PC shuts down & none of these back-feed the motherboard. The exasperating thing is that the new hub didn't even need the power lead fitted.

Now that it's sorted, I think it is a decent unit. I don't see the 5Gbps speeds, but it's as good as my internal USB3 expansion card. Just be aware of the potential power problem if you buy it!
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 27, 2014 8:52 AM GMT


HyperX 8GB 1600MHz CL10 DDR3 HyperX Memory Module - Red
HyperX 8GB 1600MHz CL10 DDR3 HyperX Memory Module - Red
Price: £58.11

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice!, 3 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having BSOD problems caused mainly by my Hyperam 2 x 4GB 1333 sticks, I bought this little gem. I have kept it set at my GA970a-UD3 motherboard default speed of 1333 for now, as my processor WEI & the RAM WEI are exactly the same so I guess there isn't much point in going to 1600 yet.

It looks great & works beautifully: the BSOD errors have reduced considerably & it has eliminated the RAM as the total cause (it passed the extended Windows memory tests without a hitch). The WEI is 7.6 on Windows 8.1, which is fairly good: On Windows 8 & on Windows 7, it's 7.4. Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but it seems to be a lot smoother when opening applications & programmes. I particularly like the shielded sides which kept my grubby fingers off the components when fitting it. Price is decent, too.


DURAGADGET Sleek Black Water Resistant Laptop Sleeve For Acer V5 122P, Aspire V5-132P, Aspire P3 Ultrabook
DURAGADGET Sleek Black Water Resistant Laptop Sleeve For Acer V5 122P, Aspire V5-132P, Aspire P3 Ultrabook
Offered by GADGETPLUSUK
Price: £14.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far too tight at first, but read on!, 30 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's certainly a decent looking sleeve; made from a neoprene-like material with a three-quarter zip & some decorative piping around the bag. The only problem is the size: my Acre Aspire V5 just wouldn't fit properly. There was a chunk of netbook protruding out of the case when the zip was nearly closed, which meant that it wasn't fit for purpose.

Not wanting the hassle of sending it back as it was so cheap anyway, I decided to use a bit of brute force. I closed the zip on the empty bag & did a tug of war with the edges. After 5 minutes of this brutality, the Acer now fits quite nicely & the zip closes fairly easily. I can't imagine that anyone else would want to carry out this modification, so maybe look at alternatives. If you are prepared for a bit of a struggle, it ends up as a very decent sleeve!

Duragadget contacted me with regard to the case & could not have been more helpful. They acknowledge that the case was too small & have given me a postage refund. They have also dispatched an alternative case FOC. The new case fits well & looks exactly like the original. Now that's what I call customer service. Fabric materials are notoriously difficult to manufacture to a precise standard, but as this is a new company to the market it surely won't be long before they develop a jig to stretch the finished cases to the exact dimensions they specify. Four-star case: Five-star service.


IL2 Sturmovik - The Ultimate Edition (PC DVD)
IL2 Sturmovik - The Ultimate Edition (PC DVD)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £8.94

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oldies, but goldies, 15 Nov 2013
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Of course, this is a very old flight simulator: it first appeared around 2005 or thereabouts. At that time it was considered the best flight simulator on the market, with good graphics & a good range of flyable aircraft. It was so good that it spawned many expansion packs & add-ons, most of which added to the fun.

It was a logical step for Oleg Maddox to develop a new flight simulator when Vista & Seven came out, & Cliffs of Dover was the result. Unfortunately, Oleg seemed to have lost his mojo by then & COD was a bit of a disaster that he couldn't fix. It was a bitch to run, & had (has) many bugs unless the third-party patches are installed (none of these are official & some carry Trojans). Also, it won't run on Windows 8 without the non-OEM patches, which limits it to the previous versions of Windows.

I already had IL2 in all of it's iterations, but struggled to load it onto my Windows 7-64 bit platform. However, the version sold here is rigged for Windows 7 & 8 & was issued this year. It works too: loading was a breeze & setup was easy, although the video modes are limited when compared to COD. The choice of aircraft is excellent & the ability to compose your own missions is also very good. Gunner positions in the bombers are operable & add to the enjoyment. You can choose the weapons load-out & various other aspects of the missions you are building. The video detail of the game shows it's age however, & you will certainly be disappointed with the graphics. If you can put that to one side, it's still a decent game & isn't too far behind COD in actual play-ability.

The package comes with IL2, plus IL2 Forgotten battles, IL2 1946 & Pacific Fighters on a single dual-layer DVD. System requirements are so low that it would probably run on a netbook**! Also, once it's loaded, you can pack the installation disc away, as it doesn't need it any more (I like that bit).

I loved this game when it first appeared & played it for a good few years. Cliffs of Dover would have been an improvement if it worked properly, but it doesn't. The fact that this one is now compatible with Windows 7 & 8 is the factor that persuaded me to buy it. Nostalgia at it's best!

**
Just to back up this claim, I installed IL2 on my own netbook. It's only an AMD Dual-Core 1Ghz processor- based machine on Windows 8.1, but IL2 runs decently on it at the 2nd highest settings. I now have my favourite game on-tap when I am on holiday & the weather is too inclement to venture outdoors. Result!


Microsoft Windows 8.1 (Full Version)
Microsoft Windows 8.1 (Full Version)
Price: £84.02

32 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, flawed & a step backwards, 22 Oct 2013
This may not be the right place to publish this review, as it is for the download version of 8.1 & not the full version disc as described. In mitigation, I feel that you may appreciate these comments before you splash out £100, as you may be disappointed with your purchase. It is your right to ignore or disagree with any comments that I have made. As an aside, Microsoft are experiencing BSOD issues already with some tablet versions of 8.1 so maybe they needed to do more work on 8.1 prior to issue.

I expected the return of the start button & we got it, although now it's a RIGHT click instead of the industry-standard left click. One interesting new touch is that the start button menu has lots of options that are usually found in the Control Panel & elsewhere on Windows 7. The left-click takes you to the charms screen now, but maybe Microsoft should have reversed the buttons? It's down to personal tastes & I prefer the 'old' way.

Still no official desktop gadget sidebar, even as an option, which is a dreadful snub for the many Windows 7 aficionados who requested it's inclusion. There are some 3rd-party sidebars out there already, but please be warned, some of them are virused & will harm your PC. I found one that works well & has been checked for viruses. It's 8GadgetPackSetup, authored by Helmut Buhler & is digitally signed by AddGadgets IT. The usual gadget options are there & it works well. One nice touch is that if you add the System Monitor 2 gadget, you can see the current WEI score simply by left-clicking the processor logo & it shows all the Microsoft parameters. This is very useful, as Microsoft haven't included their own WEI in 8.1: what on earth was the rationale behind that one, Microsoft?

Another unforgiveable thing is the lack of a dedicated system image function within the Control Panel: OK, a version of it is still included, but now you have to use the File History browser to find it. Has anyone else tried to use it though? It doesn't work properly at all with multi-platform systems (it still works with single 8.1 platform systems though), whereas the old Win 8 & 7 images were bomb-proof & a doddle to use. I can't back up my triple-boot system from 8.1 without it throwing a hissy fit. Fortunately, I can still image from my Win 7 & Win 8.0 platforms. Using 8.1, it starts to back up, but always fails: I can't use Blu-Ray discs for backup either now as 8.1 throws pathetic error messages up when trying to format them, & even ready-formatted discs are rejected.

When 8.1 first came out, I upgraded (??) both of my Win 8.0 platforms. The 64-bit platform works fairly well, although the new 8.1 boot manager 'hangs' my system for a predictable 45 seconds when loading the USB keyboard & mouse into the boot manager (nice-looking boot manager; the old Windows 7 one looks naff but works fine). The 32-bit version of 8.1 is a dog & should be consigned to the bin: the programme fails to load the desktop & several apps most of the time during start up, & I spent nearly an hour one morning trying to coax it into life. I had restored my PC from two pristine system images four times with the same result every time. A clean install from an 8.1 disc may well work, but in my case, the upgrade did not. I ended up reverting my 32-bit platform to Windows 8 again & will wait to see if any fixes are forthcoming before reloading 8.1. ** Feb 2014 Since writing this review, I have re-loaded 8.1 32 bit, as it has been improved by the latest updates. It's still a pain to load at times, but it is now better at start-up than Windows 8**

I like the way IE works now; it seems a lot more intuitive & is definitely faster. That said, it's just about the only thing that I think is an enhancement, but this is personal preference & you may not agree with this comment. OK, the charms screen has changed: it's is a bit more 'fancy' & can be resized, but has the rest of the new 8.1 been a worthwhile change? I think not; at least not yet.

If you are a potential purchaser, why not just go for the original Windows 8, try it out & then download the free update to 8.1? That way, you don't end up with something you may not like & can always revert to the original platform, which has now been debugged & extensively updated since it's launch. In both cases, the 64-bit versions are best. Also, add-on sidebars for Win 8 are available & most are virus-free (but they don't work with 8.1). If you are a Sniper Elite V2 user, you would be advised NOT to change to 8.1 yet......If you do, you will find that it randomly disables some important mouse functions as you are playing. Apparently Microsoft did this whilst 'fixing' another mouse bug!

In November I purchased a netbook with Windows 8; I updated it & loaded 8.1. My neighbour purchased the same netbook in December & also loaded 8.1. Mine works fine, but his consistently freezes on start-up & has to be manually switched off. His working programmes & mine are almost identical, e.g. Office 2007, Nero 7 & iTunes. This unpredictability needs to be addressed by Microsoft as a matter of urgency, as it also still affects Windows 8. I have been advised that Windows 8 & 8.1 have an asymmetric start-up which may be failing to load the platforms properly, leading to these failures. I am not an expert, but it does seem logical.

So, a few minor positives, but the negatives are still an issue for me unless Microsoft change heart & give us what we, the customers, want rather than what they want to give us (Like a decent boot manager; a sidebar & PROPER fixes for the programmes they have screwed up!). Meanwhile, I am keeping 8.1 on my 64-bit platform to see how the inevitable plethora of 'fixes' perform & I have the 'old faithful' Win 7-64 bit platform for everything that 8.0 & 8.1 can't do.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 24, 2013 11:45 AM GMT


Seagate 3TB 3.5 inch 7200RPM 64MB Cache SATA3 Hard Drive
Seagate 3TB 3.5 inch 7200RPM 64MB Cache SATA3 Hard Drive
Offered by M.T.
Price: £80.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not up to the job, 1 Oct 2013
I had this drive for just a few months before it finally gave up completely. Before that, it kept uninstalling itself or required constant repair through the Windows 8 drive facility. I had a massive amount of data stored on it & every time it corrupted I had to reload it all again from an external USB2 drive, a task which took best part of a day to accomplish.

It had some saving graces: it was easy to install & was always quiet in operation (very quiet when it finally gave up!). The most annoying thing was that my primary system image was stored on the drive & I would sometimes find that the image was corrupted by the drive without it flagging up a fault: not nice when you only find out when the System restore function can't find an image! Fortunately, I had made a secondary Blu-Ray disc back-up for this contingency, but it was frustrating all the same.

I took the drive back to where I purchased it & they rigorously tried to resurrect it, but to no avail. I ended up with a warranty replacement which also started to show faults just a week after installation: it wiped itself clean 4 times within 2 days. If I had considered buying this drive through Amazon I would have read the reviews first. The horror stories of some of the 1-star reviews would have persuaded me to purchase a different drive. I thought I just heard the stable door closing.

Update, November 6th 2013. The replacement drive has also totally failed now. Absolute rubbish.


Carpoint 2561501 Steering Wheel Cover 33-37 cm
Carpoint 2561501 Steering Wheel Cover 33-37 cm
Offered by Price Zone
Price: £9.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Simples!, 24 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I fitted mine to my old Fiesta. Seems fairly well-built & gives a good hand grip (the cover, not the Fiesta!). No laces or anything else....just friction keeping it in place. Some people have had trouble fitting it as it's very tight. It's a bit like fitting a bicycle tyre: just work it around the wheel as far as you can, then use a cable-tie to keep one end securely held against the steering wheel, whilst working the other end onto the wheel. I used a pair of the wife's dessert spoons for this task, but if you follow this tip make sure your better half doesn't catch you using them or you might end up with the new cover wrapped around your head!


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