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Mr. J. BROWN (UK)
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No Man's Sky (PS4)
No Man's Sky (PS4)
Offered by Level99Games
Price: £15.93

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect but an impressive achievement, 5 Mar. 2017
This review is from: No Man's Sky (PS4) (Video Game)
No Man's Sky - possibly one of the most hyped games of all time - and hype usually results in disappointment. I hadn't played the earliest incarnation of the game before the numerous patches and updates, so I can only comment on the version that i'm now experiencing. The basic premise of the experience is simple... survival, with the protagonist taking the role of an explorer equipped with a simple spacecraft. There's elements of combat and trading thrown in along the way, but it's the exploration of the galaxy that's the real draw. For me, No Man's Sky is best enjoyed for an hour and a half or so, late in the evening - it's fairly relaxing in nature and not too taxing for the brain. Recommended for those who enjoy exploration and don't need instant gratification from constant battles. I'm unsure why the negative reviews are so angry in their nature - the game is undoubtedly an incredible technical achievement - no it's not a perfect gaming experience; many elements of the challenge are repetitive - but then I imagine real life space exploration would be repetitive too. Graphically the game renders the multiple planets with a pleasant colourful palette - there are similarities between each world that you encounter, but there's often just enough unique content to provide variation.


Suck UK Stainless Steel Key Bottle Opener, Silver
Suck UK Stainless Steel Key Bottle Opener, Silver
Price: £6.76

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The secret alcoholic's best friend, 26 Nov. 2011
There have been countless times in the past when i've required a bottle opener but not had one to hand - nowadays however, i'm fully equipped for any beer-opening eventuality. There are plenty of keyring bottle openers on the market, but I wanted one which was a little out of the ordinary. Suck UK's Key Bottle Opener fitted perfectly into my criteria, as it's disguised as [...can you guess...?] a house key.

There are a couple of advantages to having a key-shaped bottle opener on your keyring - firstly, it's small and unobtrusive, and secondly, it won't give the game away that you may indeed be a complete alcoholic (not that I am of course).

The key bottle opener is made from a tough metal which should last a lifetime with sensible use. The product comes complete with a red fabric tag featuring the Suck UK logo - but I took this off before adding the opener to my keys. The handy device won't add too much weight to your pocket as not only does it look like a key, but it weighs the same as one also.

So how does the key bottle opener perform? Well, it's pretty good to be honest. I say 'pretty good' rather than 'excellent' because there are times when i've found the product to be a little fiddly. Don't get me wrong, most of the time it's fine - it's just that during those evening barbecues when the hands have been frozen to the point of limited movement, this type of opener takes a little more effort!

Overall, Suck UK's Key Bottle opener is a great little device which no responsible adult should be without - Its ingenious disguise will mean that your fondness for the ol' moonshine will go unnoticed. Whilst the product is a little tougher to use than the classic design, it still warrants a recommendation!


Victorinox Waiter Army Knife - Red
Victorinox Waiter Army Knife - Red
Price: £12.76

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Less is more?, 26 Nov. 2011
If there ever was an un-impressive, or arguably uncool name for a knife, it would have to be 'The Waiter'. Nevertheless, Victorinox's 'Waiter' Swiss Army Knife is undoubtedly a useful tool - that's if you work in the hospitality business.

The Tools - The waiter is the simplest Swiss Army Knife that I own, comprising a corkscrew, large blade, flat screwdriver, toothpick and tweezers. Of course, like most Swiss Army Knives, some of the tools are multi-function - so the screwdriver also doubles up as a bottle opener and wire stripper. Measuring 8.4 centimetres in length, the tool fits into the pocket with ease, and has a small ring attachment so it can be put with your keys.

Due to the limited amount of attachments, the Waiter isn't a fiddly knife, opening without too much effort. The body is in the traditional Swiss Army maroon, and is made from a tough plastic. The corkscrew actually works very well, and it's arguably as good as one of those uber-fancy cork removers that are commonplace nowadays. If there's a weakness, it probably comes in the form of the tweezers which are a little too bendy and fiddly for anything more than occasional use.

Overall, although i'm not a fan of the overly stuffed (the ones with hundreds of attachments - flamethrowers etc) Swiss Army Knives, the Victorinox is a little too limited for my liking. Yes, it's obviously aimed at those in the service industry, but there are other Swiss Army Knives which have everything the Waiter has plus a few extras for a similar price. It's certainly a well made muliti-tool, but it's just a little lacking for my liking - still, four stars for quality.


SIGG Classic Bottle - Swissness 1.0litre
SIGG Classic Bottle - Swissness 1.0litre

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Swiss design in bottle form, 26 Nov. 2011
The company may have a silly name, but Sigg's drink bottles are second to none. I use mine when I go to the gym and also when I play squash, finding the product to be an excellent investment. This particular Sigg bottle is known as the 'Swissness', and has a Swiss flag on the front (due to the fact that Sigg is a Swiss company).

Design and Appearance - The bottle is constructed from aluminium and looks rather cool. Also, due to the choice of material, i've found that the contents of the bottle will chill very quickly once in the fridge. The downside to the use of aluminium is the fact that the bottle dents easily when dropped, and mine is very dented due its use in a sporting environment - still, it's all character I suppose.

Does it leak? - The bottle's lid is made from black plastic which features a rubbery seal round the rim to prevent leakage. I've found that this works really well, as long as you don't accidentally cross-thread the lid when tightening it. Similarly, the vacuum-like seal means that if you fill the bottle right up to the top, you'll get a bit of spray when it's next opened. The inside of the bottle is coated with a layer of non-toxic enamel, which apparently alleviates odours, aftertaste and contamination - the downside of this is the fact that the bottle can't be used below freezing temperatures, as said lining will crack.

Sigg's Swissness bottle is an excellent product which doesn't leak and looks cool. In terms of its weight, the bottle is light and perfectly portable even when full. To be honest, I would have preferred the bottle to be plain rather than having the Swiss flag on it, but it's not something which overly concerns me - recommended.


Samsung SE-S084F External USB 2.0 Slimline 8X DVD Writer - Black
Samsung SE-S084F External USB 2.0 Slimline 8X DVD Writer - Black

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sing Samsung's Praises, 25 Sept. 2011
A couple of years ago year the CD / DVD drive on my MacBook packed in, prompting me to shop for an external unit to replace it. In terms of my criteria, I simply wanted something that would be cheap to buy, and also be compatible with Macs as well as PCs. My research led me to Samsung's SE-S084 which had a number of positive reviews here on amazon.

The SE-S084 not only *plays* CD and DVDs, but it also *records* them too - the CD write speed is a respectable 24x, whilst the DVD write speed maxxes out at 8x. Appearance wise, the drive is very pleasant looking indeed - it's small, and clad in an unobjectionable black plastic. Measuring only 14 x 14 x 2 cms the device is ultra transportable, and as it draws its power from the USB cable (included) there's no need for an external power supply. Discs are loaded into the device via the opening tray which is accessed by a small button on the front of the unit. Once the button is pressed, the tray quickly pops open - it's then up to the user to fully extend the drawer and subsequently push it closed once the disc is in place.

I've had no issues with the device regarding performance, and have found it to read all the discs I've entered into it (barring blu-ray) without problems. In use, the product is quiet, and doesn't get excessively hot. From the perspective of reliability, the SE-S04 works as well today as it did when it was new, and I would have no hesitation in highly recommending it to others.


Fujifilm USB SD Card Reader
Fujifilm USB SD Card Reader
Offered by DigimediaUK
Price: £7.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Shiny Black Plastic, 25 Sept. 2011
In a moment of utter clumsiness I managed to knock my laptop off the table (admittedly from a low height) onto the floor. Unfortunately there was a SD card reader in the computer's USB port which took the full brunt of the fall. Luckily, the laptop was unharmed (these Macs are made of sturdy stuff!), but the card reader was completely obliterated - a few clicks later I had ordered Fujifilm's SD card reader.

At the time of writing, the Fujifilm's cost places it amongst the cheapest in its class. The reader is compatible with both regular SD cards and the newer 'SDHC' (high capacity) ones, plus it will work straight from the box with either PC or Mac. From a design perspective, the reader is small and ultra-pocketable - it also weighs very little. In the hand, the reader feels generally tough and also looks smart with its shiny black plastic outer shell. SD cards are inserted into the right hand side of the device, and the process feels smooth without any excess scraping on the card itself.

When in use, a small light illuminates on the bottom edge of the reader, which handily serves as a reminder that you shouldn't suddenly pull the device out of your computer. The USB end of the reader is protected by a removable transparent plastic cap, which keeps the product dust free when not in use. I've had no problems with the card reader in the five months that i've owned it (even though it has been lost and subsequently found several times!). Overall, the Fujifilm SDHC card reader is a reliable and well made product which is available at a very reasonable price - recommended.


Dunlop Pro Squash Balls - 3 Ball Box or tube
Dunlop Pro Squash Balls - 3 Ball Box or tube
Offered by Racketworld
Price: £7.98

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No cons with these pros, 4 July 2011
As a regular squash player I've sampled many makes and varieties of squash ball over the years, yet I always find myself returning to Dunlop's offerings. This is not only because Dunlop is seen as the premier squash ball manufacturer, but also because Dunlop balls are hardwearing and reliable. Dunlop make a variety of balls, each one tailored to suit a different experience level. The 'Max' ball is aimed at the beginner - it's blue in colour and bigger than the regulation size - it also has a higher bounce, and therefore is easier to hit. The standard 'Competition' ball is black in colour and has a single yellow spot - this one is predominantly used by the club players and features a lower bounce. The most difficult ball to play with is the 'Pro' ball which has a double yellow marking and is the least bouncy of the lot.

Like all squash balls, you'll need to warm up your Dunlop Pros before use, by hitting them firmly against the back wall of the court until they're reached their required temperature. Once warmed, I've found that these balls have a consistency of bounce and speed - essential if you take your squash seriously. In terms of their longevity, Dunlop Pro Balls (and in fact Dunlop balls in general), are arguably the toughest that you can get. After a while, squash balls have a tendency to split, resulting a low bounce - and with the cheaper balls splitting can sometimes occur after only a few sessions. In my experience I've found that the Dunlop variety are tough cookies - in fact, i've been using the same Dunlop Pro ball for the last four months; impressive considering the fact that I play squash at least once a week.

Nowadays I *only* use Dunlop Pro balls, they last a long time and ultimately offer very good value for money; because of this there's no reason for me to switch to another brand - highly recommended.


No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ball Basher, 4 July 2011
Dunlop's 'G-Force 15' is the latest in a long line of squash racquets that i've owned over the last couple of years. The racquet has a 500 square centimetre head size, and comes complete with a 3/4 length head cover - but how does it perform?

Predominantly red in colour, the G-Force 15 is adorned with a decorative series of dots and lines which make it look generally attractive. Made from a composite construction, the racquet feels solid in the hand, although it's by no means the lightest that i've used. That said, the weight isn't especially noticeable, and for a cheaper racquet the string tension is excellent. During play, the squash ball springs off the head with relish, and the racquet's overall balance is very good. The white grip which comes as standard is slightly thin, although additional grip can be purchased depending on personal preference.

In terms of the racquet's longevity - well, these cheaper items do have a tendency to break after a few months of play. Unfortunately, when I say 'break', i'm not talking about the odd snapped string (fairly easy to replace) - i'm talking about the actual side of the racquet splitting, which signals the end of our ball-hitting friend. The G-Force 15 actually has a decent lifespan for it's price, and in my experience it will last for at least a couple of months before it gives up the ghost - of course, this will depend on your style of play - and if you're someone who plays with a lighter touch, then you may get a longer lifespan from the racquet.

I've used many 'budget' squash racquets in the past, and the G-Force 15 is up there with the best of them. For the price, the racquet offers very good value for money and the overall feel is actually better than some of the racquets I have used which cost twice as much. Where you undoubtedly lose out is in the weight department - and compared to the pricier racquets of this world, the G-Force 15 is a wee bit heavy. However, overall i'm happy to award the G-Force 15 four out of five stars, as a racquet which is perfect for a beginner / mid level player.

Additional Info

Head size: 500 cm sq
Frame weight: 185g
Balance: Head Light
String Pattern: 14 x 20
String Tension: 20-30lbs / 9-14kgs
Construction: Composite


Samsung LE32C530 32-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p 50Hz LCD Television with Freeview (discontinued by manufacturer)
Samsung LE32C530 32-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p 50Hz LCD Television with Freeview (discontinued by manufacturer)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sleek Sexy Samsung, 4 July 2011
The price of televisions has fallen rapidly in the last few years, allowing the average Joe to purchase a decent set for under £400. Today I'm putting Samsung's LE-32C530 through its paces - it's a thirty-two inch LCD which has become a popular choice due to its solid performance and meagre price-tag. The TV is capable of a full HD output - meaning that should you connect it to your blu-ray player (or other high definition source), you'll be able to watch films in glorious 1080p.

DESIGN + PRICE & AVAILABILITY

In terms of appearance, the LE-32C530 is quite a looker - its black glossy screen is matched by a similarly glossy surround which makes the TV one of the prettiest budget LCDs on the market. The TV comes complete with an easy to fit stand - yes, there are three or four screws to add, but the process is quick and simply illustrated in the manual. Round the back there are plenty of connections to satisfy those with an input fetish - there's the obligatory SCART socket, three HDMI ports, plus Component and Composite Video input, Digital Audio Out (Optical), and a DVI Audio In mini jack. One of the television's handy features is what's known as the 'Connect Share' - here you can instantly display pictures and videos from a digital camera via the televisions USB input. All you have to do is plug a USB stick (or your camera's USB cable) into the TV, and you can view your photos and movies immediately. Setting up the TV is a doddle, simply switch it on and it will ask you whether you want to begin an automatic search for channels - click yes, and around two minutes later you should be up and running with a full selection of Freeview TV and Radio stations to choose from.
PICTURE QUALITY

By default, the Samsung's picture is set up quite aggressively - i.e, it's too bold and bright with oversaturated colours and maximum contrast. However, with a little tinkering a subtle yet impressive result can be achieved. Take the contrast down a little, decrease the saturation and the backlight - and the picture comes closer than you would expect to a high end LED model. The integrated Freeview tuner (non-HD) returns excellent results, up-scaling images with an impressive clarity and demonstrating a fluidity of motion. Samsung's 'Wide Colour Enhancer' is supposed to "create a vibrant and accurate spectrum straight out of the box" - although I found that the colours were a little inaccurate before I had a chance to adjust the settings. For a LCD model, black levels are very good (assuming you haven't set the backlight too high), providing a real depth to the picture which is great for movies.

AUDIO QUALITY & THE REMOTE

Overall, I would describe the Samsung's sound quality as 'acceptable' - however, it's certainly not as good as my other LCD TV's audio output (a Sony Bravia) due to the fact that it lacks any real presence at the bassier end of the spectrum. What I can say is that the sound is certainly 'clear', and spoken word comes across very well indeed. Of course Samsung have provided an option to fiddle with the sound presets, and turning the bass up from the default setting does help things along somewhat - however, at the end of the day the speakers will be simply too small to satisfy the audiophiles amongst you. That said, for an older person who craves clarity of speech rather than rumbling explosions and music videos, the TV is certainly good enough.

The remote isn't the prettiest that I've seen, but it features large clear buttons and is generally intuitive to use - even my 90 year old gran finds it easy to operate. It takes two AAA batteries (included) which seem to last a long time before needing to be replaced.

SAVING THE PLANET? + FINAL WORD

In regard to the telly's eco credentials, the LE-32C530 claims to use 30% less power than the last generation of Samsung's LCD models, and is produced using environmentally-friendly materials. There's a range of eco settings too - for example the 'Eco Sensor' which measures the intensity of the room's light and automatically calibrates the brightness of the screen accordingly. That said, you have to actively switch on the eco settings, as by default they are set to off.

Overall, I would highly recommend the Samsung LE-32C530 as an excellent budget LCD television which certainly outperforms its small price-tag. Not only is a pleasant machine to look at, but it's also easy to use and built to a high standard. The only real weakness is the audio output, which although clear, doesn't have an especially good range. Nevertheless, the great picture quality combined with the television's ease of use makes this budget 32" wonder arguably the best LCD for its price - highly recommended.

SUMMARY OF FEATURES

Screen Size: 32" 16:9
Tuner: Digital & Analogue
Sound System: Nicam
Maximum Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Contrast Ratio: 'High Contrast'
Input / Output Sockets: 3 x HDMI, 1 x SCART (RGB), 1 x USB, Component Video, Composite Video, Digital Audio Out (Optical), DVI Audio In (Mini Jack).


Play TV (PS3)
Play TV (PS3)

58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Should I invest in Sony's Box of Tricks?, 2 May 2011
This review is from: Play TV (PS3) (Accessory)
Many UK households have a plethora of electronic devices stacked up near the TV - Sky Boxes, Freeview Boxes, consoles, DVD and blu-ray players to name just a few. Wouldn't it be great if you could combine some of these bulky electronics into one, thus saving both electricity and freeing up plug some sockets? Sony's PlayStation3 is already a bit of a multi-tasker with its game-playing, DVD-playing, blu-ray-playing, and BBC iPlay-ing antics - and if you purchase the 'PlayTV' add-on, the console will also be transformed into a Freeview recorder. Sound good? In this review I'll be putting PlayTV through its paces, taking a look at it's pros and cons before forming an overall assessment of the device in my conclusion.

What does the PlayTV unit look like?

PlayTV is simply a small, black plastic box which connects to your PS3 via a USB cable. At around the size of a mobile phone (albeit a rather bulky mobile phone), PlayTV can be placed where traditionally sized Freeview boxes simply wouldn't fit - you could even hide it behind the PS3 itself if you so desired. If i'm being completely honest, it isn't the most beautiful piece of gadgetry that i've ever owed, but due to it's size, it doesn't really matter. Thankfully, PlayTV doesn't need an external power supply, as it draws its energy direct from your console. The front edge of the PlayTV box features a small red LED light that illuminates when the device is in operation, whilst the back of the unit houses the input and output sockets. PlayTV doesn't come with a remote control - it doesn't need one, as you can operate it via your PS3 game controller. That said, although I found using a gamepad to be a perfectly acceptable method of navigation, I generally prefer to use a traditional "dobber" to control my AV equipment - so I invested in the official PS3 blu-ray remote (available for £12.99 from Amazon) which similarly allows full control over the system.

What do I need to do to get started?

To use PlayTV for the first time you'll need to first plug it into your PS3 via the USB cable (provided) - also plug in the aerial cable, and then install the PlayTV software which comes on a disc. The process is a simple one and is explained fully in the easy to understand manual. Once the disc is in your console, select its icon from the Playstion menu and press the 'X' button on the remote or controller - a short video guide will begin playing whilst the software is installed. When the installation is complete, a new PlayTV icon will appear in the Playstation's menu, and it is this that you will need to select every time you want to use PlayTV. The system takes a while to start up; perhaps thirty seconds or so - to be honest, it's quite a slow initiation time for a set top box, but you'll quickly become used to it, and probably won't notice it too much in the long-run.

EASE OF USE, FEATURES, & PICTURE QUALITY

Quite simply, if you have the technical skills which are required to operate a regular Freeview recorder, you should have no problem in getting to grips with PlayTV - once it's up and running it acts in an identical manner to a regular set-top box. The menus are arranged in a slick and intuitive system, allowing you to navigate with consumate ease through the non-complicated options. The seven day electronic programme guide (EPG) is brought up by pressing the square button on your remote or gamepad - it looks great and is very responsive whilst scrolling through it. To record a TV show, you merely select the programme's name from the EPG and then click on it - simples.

Compared to the similarly priced Freeview recorders on the market, PlayTV is generally quite feature-laden; there's the ability to pause and rewind live TV, and due to the fact that it features a dual tuner, you can watch one programme while recording another - you can even play games whilst recording. Unfortunately you can't record two programmes at once - but to be honest, it's very rare that there are two programmes on at the same time that i'm interested in viewing! Other features include the 'find by name' option, which (as its title suggests) lets you search for you favourite program and see when it's next on - plus, there's the standard 'favourites menu' which you can add channels to. One especially good thing about PlayTV is the fact that there are frequently a number of firmware updates available for it, with Sony doing their best to fix the minor bugs which have been reported with the earlier versions of the software.

Picture quality is very impressive - I've noticed a fluidity to fast-paced movement (such as sports coverage), plus colours are nicely saturated and natural looking (although the latter will have as much to do with the quality of your TV as anything else). In comparison to my television's in-built Freevew tuner, PlayTV's quality is far superior - images are certainly shaper, and the menus are easier to read. In terms of the playback quality of recorded programmes - well, to me it looks *almost* the same as did it during the original broadcast. This shows that recordings aren't too heavily compressed (they take up around 1.5GB of your PS3's hard-disk space per hour of video), meaning that you'll be able to enjoy high quality renditions of your favourite shows at a time which is convenient for you.

What could have been improved upon?

In terms of the downsides, well there aren't too many - but PlayTV does have a couple of niggles which prevent it from being the truly exceptional device that it perhaps should be. Firstly, '''PlayTV only allows you to watch in standard definition''' - there are no HD channels available. This may seem a little backward in 2011, but to me it really isn't an issue - PlayTV will 'upscale' your images for you, allowing you to see standard definition Freeview with just that extra bit of clarity and sharpness (assuming you've got an HD Ready TV and have connected up your PS3 via a HDMI cable), and the results are generally impressive. To be honest, i'm not especially dismayed about the lack of HD, as my local transmitter isn't even broadcasting in HD yet. The second negative point is that Play TV only has an RF aerial input, and not an RF aerial output, meaning that you can only forward the aerial's signal on to you PS3, and not to your TV. On paper, this means that when you want to watch TV you'll have to always do it via PlayTV, as you won't be able to use your television's own Freeview or analogue tuner. The problem can be solved via investing in an aerial splitter (they only cost a couple of quid), but it does seem like an oversight on Sony's part.

Should every PS3 owner go out and buy the Play TV system?

Personally, I feel that If you own a Playstation 3 and want a Freeview recorder, then PlayTV should be an essential purchase - that's if (and it's a big 'if') you don't mind watching non-HD content. Of course, PlayTV not being able to broadcast in HD has it perks for buyers - it's one of the reasons why the system is available for such a reasonable price; a bargain price in fact. At the end of the day PlayTV is an excellent device''' which is really easy to use, and features an impressive looking menu system - for the price I honestly believe that it's the best Freeview recorder on the market today - highly recommended.

*It should be pointed out that although the vast majority of the reviews I have read for PlayTV have been positive, there have been a few reports which claim sporadic moments of juddery and pixellated playback of recorded programmes. Whilst I personally I haven't encountered any such issue myself, I feel that in order to make this as thorough review as possible, it should be noted nevertheless.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 18, 2011 9:21 PM BST


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