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Sony Xperia Z3 Compact UK SIM-Free Smartphone - Black
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact UK SIM-Free Smartphone - Black
Offered by MACnificent
Price: £259.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, apart from the rubbish flaps on the side, 7 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This phone is almost everything I want it to be. The design is very nice- I love the glass panels on the front and back. Overall, it has a premium feel to it. I didn't think I would like the rubberized border around the phone, but it actually looks very smart and doesn't look tacky at all. This is where I thought I'd get the only bad point I've found with this phone out of the way early; the flaps on the left hand side of the phone for the micro SD card/charger, and the nano SIM are really awful. Firstly, they're very flimsy and fragile- it feels as though they will break off entirely after a fair amount of usage. The nano SIM flap is VERY loose, and keeps edging out of place so that it doesn't lie flat with the rest of the phone. It doesn't seem to come out entirely, but it protrudes enough for it to be very noticeable. It seems as though the rubberised waterproof seal on the underside of the flap isn't quite thick enough, and therefore it doesn't fit tightly enough in the slot. It literally comes out every 30 seconds or so by itself, without me even touching the phone, so I'm constantly pushing it back in again, which can't be good for the longevity of the device. I also think this will affect the waterproofing capability of the phone, although I have tested the phone in the shower (out of full spray, and with me pushing the flaps in every minute or so), and it was fine. In its current state though, I definitely wouldn't fully submerge the phone, as it probably wouldn't survive. It's highly irritating for a product that cost me over £300 to have a problem like this. As it happens, I was planning to buy a case for the phone, and this should also solve the problem with the loose SIM card flap by covering it up, but I shouldn't have to resort to this to fix a poor design flaw. I think it would also be worth buying one of the magnetic chargers to avoid constantly opening the micro SD card flap of the phone. The rest of the build quality is actually very good, and the phone feels as though it's quite solid.

Everything else about the phone is brilliant; The screen is beautiful- don't let the fact it's a 720p resolution instead of 1080p affect your decision on whether to buy this phone. I can't see individual pixels at all, and I tend to be quite fussy about screen resolution usually. The colours on the screen are very nice too, and the screen is also perfectly visible in bright daylight. Reading text, watching videos or viewing photos on the screen is a great experience.

The camera is fantastic- I tend to shoot in manual mode, at 4:3 aspect ratio (they also give you the option to shoot at 16:9), to make the most of the 20.7MP sensor. The colours are beautifully vibrant and nice and contrast-y, without irritating white highlights or obvious vignetting. I wouldn't encourage you to zoom in too much on the photos, as they begin to look less natural, and pixelation becomes quite obvious, even when shooting at the full 20.7MP. I have an SLR, so I think I'd be unlikely to use this camera for serious photography, but for a phone camera, it really does perform well.

The battery life is very good also- although maybe not the 2 day battery life that Sony advertise. Having said this, because I only got the phone last week, I've been using it very heavily, so it's perhaps not a fair test. After a full 24 day of relatively heavy usage, I'm left with about 40% power- so the battery realistically has been lasting about a day and a half- still much better than the average smartphone, and with lighter usage, I think the 2-day advertised battery life would be much more achievable.

The performance of the phone from a speed point of view is faultless. The 2GB RAM, and the 2.5GHz processor are more than enough to allow switching between apps, or playing games a seamless experience without any delay whatsoever.

One extra bonus is that the quality of music playback (through headphones) is very good- and seems to be much better than my ipod nano, which is what I usually use to listen to music. With a micro SD card, I'll be able to fit all of my music on it. The Walkman app is very good as well, and much better than the Google equivalent.

Xbox One Console with Kinect and Titanfall
Xbox One Console with Kinect and Titanfall
Offered by CSC Distribution
Price: £359.00

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent device, 17 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
First, some quick info on my gaming background. I'm 20 years old and have had an Xbox 360 for about 5 years now, so I was ready to dive into the next generation. Seriously considered buying a PS4, but for convenience reasons I decided to stick on the Xbox side of things. Its been nice to carry my gamertag over to my Xbox One, with all my achievements and friends from the 360. I've also always preferred the UI of Xbox's over Playstations, and prefer Xbox Live over PSN. I'm also a big Halo fan, so didn't want to miss out on that when it was released later this year (assuming it is).

I had originally planned to get the Xbox One fairly close to launch day last year but I didn't really have the money until now. This price cut is really something I didn't want to miss, so I bit the bullet and bought one. First thing's first, the value is great. The Titanfall bundle is now the same price as the Playstation 4 on its own. I don't know how long this offer will be available so I decided to just go for it. Here's what I thought:

Appearance-wise, the Xbox One is very large. Its taller than the 360, and probably wider too. I don't have too many problems with the design of the console though, and still think it looks great on my desk. The gloss black finish gives it a very modern look, much better than the appearance of the 360 that was previously in its place on my desk. Any larger and it really would be a bit silly though. The Kinect design is much the same as the console- a little bit boxey, but still looks very smart. Its quite heavyweight and feels well-built. The only issue I have with the design so far is that its not particularly easy to find somewhere to place it. I have my Xbox One on my desk, and the camera won't tilt up enough on its hinge to include my face in the picture. I therefore have had to place the Kinect on a few objects so it points upwards enough to include my face. This probably wouldn't be as much of an issue for someone in a bigger room, where you're further away from the camera (I'm using mine in my bedroom). There is a tripod mount for Kinect, which would be very useful if I had the space to put up a tripod in my bedroom!

As for the performance of the Kinect itself, it works very well. Voice commands are great and work 99% of the time if you're speaking clearly. Success rate drops to around 80-90% if you aren't speaking clearly or loudly enough. You just need to make sure you use the specific phrases which the Xbox will recognise. For example, "Xbox, turn on" doesn't work, but "Xbox, on" does. And for those thinking its just a gimmick, I can genuinely navigate the UI more quickly using my voice than I can using a controller- so from that perspective, it really works. Auto sign-in using face recognition is also nice when I power the machine on, and hasn't failed to work as yet. The quality of the image is really nice too, so would work very well on Skype. Also, it performs REALLY well in low light, and has a really wide angle of view, meaning it covers most of the room you're in, which is nice.

The controller is excellent, feels great in the hands and looks really nice too. The D-pad is much improved over the 360 one, and the thumbsticks and triggers feel good too. The bumpers take a bit of getting used to though if you're familiar with the 360 controller. Other than that, there's really not much I would improve at all. The chat headset is decent enough, but the speaker feels a bit small when you put it on your ear. Nothing too irritating, just noticeable when you first use it.

The UI of the console is generally pretty good, although some settings are incredibly difficult to find as they aren't always placed where you'd think would be most appropriate. I do like the main home screen though, and the preview screen of the game/app you're currently playing on works well.

I'm personally not interested in using the TV pass-through function as its designed to be used (and can't use it anyway given that we only have Freeview, which is built into our TV), but it is very useful for something else. I have my Xbox 360 plugged into the HDMI port of the Xbox One so that when I say "Xbox, go to TV" on the X1, it switches to the 360 input. This works really nicely, and stops you from having to keep unplugging HDMI cables from the back of your TV (if you only have one HDMI port).

One small annoyance is the way the friends list is structured. Firstly, I really dislike the way the new friends list looks- just seems poorly laid out and rushed. Not only this but the "following" feature doesn't work quite as I would have liked. Rather than separating your friends list and "following" list, it just combines the two in one list. I liked the idea of being able to "follow" people, as there's some gaming Youtubers which would have been cool to track, but the execution of the feature is so far quite poor. I would assume this is something that can be changed quite easily in the future though.

Titanfall itself is a pretty good game with a fun multiplayer, but personally I don't find it the most interesting thing ever; I mostly just bought this bundle because of the really low price. Titanfall was just an added bonus really. Be prepared to wait literally hours for the game to download and install once you've redeemed the code included in the box though. Storage is a serious issue too- it takes up a massive 40GB of space which is fairly ridiculous given that you only actually get about 400GB of use-able space on the console anyway.

The graphical capability of the console is brilliant. I genuinely feel like the experience is very close to that of a decent PC, and certainly not distinguishable from the performance of the PS4 from what I've seen so far. The detail in Titanfall is really nice, and there's certainly a big step between the last generation and this generation.

Generally I've been very impressed so far. Some general UI improvements and some better games and this device would be perfect.

ASUS Google Nexus 7 7-inch Tablet (2GB RAM, 32GB eMMC)
ASUS Google Nexus 7 7-inch Tablet (2GB RAM, 32GB eMMC)
Offered by MACnificent
Price: £299.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect device., 2 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In short, this tablet is absolutely fantastic. Let me break it down:

The first thing you'll notice is the quality of the display- absolutely crystal clear 1080p resolution. The colours are vibrant, and a huge improvement over the first version of the Nexus 7, which one of my friends owns. As a result, watching HD films on the device is an absolute pleasure. The high resolution and great colour also mean that magazines also look great on the screen of the Nexus 7. I think I read somewhere that it has the highest pixel density of any 7-inch tablet available on the market. Not sure if this is still the case though. The only thing I would maybe say is that an 8-inch model might be slightly more useful for some tasks. For example, as a university student, I decided to try using this tablet to write notes (using OneNote) on in lectures, but the screen just isn't big enough to type quickly without making mistakes. Having said this, I like the portability that a 7-inch screen offers, and I'm not sure whether this is worth sacrificing for the increased practicality of a slightly larger screen. Typing for casual tasks such as Facebook messenger and Twitter is absolutely fine, just don't expect to be writing pages of text on this screen without getting a bit impatient.

Given that the screen is so incredible, its easy to overlook the fact that the tablet runs so fast. Like, really fast. I can't recall a single time since I bought this tablet in October that it has stuttered or frozen on me. Its just so smooth. It runs games really well too, even the more demanding ones in terms of processing power.

Obviously, it runs the latest version of Android which means you get the huge range of apps available to you through the Google Play Store. And because the Nexus 7 is a google tablet, the version of Android that the tablet runs is so well optimized for the device, which helps it run so smoothly and efficiently.

The battery life is very good. Under normal usage, I only really have to charge it every 3 days or so (slightly less under high usage), compared with my Nokia Lumia 800 phone which needs charging every day. It does seem to take quite a while to fully charge, but this isn't really a problem as I generally leave it charging overnight.

In terms of design, I really love the way it looks. The black colour and thin shape gives it a very smart look. The back is easy enough to grip, so don't worry about it slipping out of your hands. It feels sturdy too, and feels as though it would survive being dropped on the floor a few times (not that I've tried this).

As for the cameras, I was actually very impressed. The front camera is perfect for Skype calling, and is great in low light conditions. The front camera is better than some people have made out in my opinion, and is as good as a tablet camera needs to be. Its nothing too special, but then, who uses a tablet as their main camera anyway?

The only weak point about this tablet is the speakers really, which sound pretty tinny, and really aren't very loud at full volume. Having said this, 90% of the time, I use headphones for this device anyway, so the speakers aren't really too important, for me at least.

And the best thing of all? The price. £200 for the 32GB model is an absolute bargain. Its BY FAR, the best value tablet on the market. I just don't see why you would even consider buying something else.

Submarine [Original Songs]
Submarine [Original Songs]
Price: £5.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So, so good, 19 Mar. 2011
I bought the album today after seeing the trailer to Submarine. Film looks amazing too btw :)

I love it already. First impressions are that it is a laid back, relaxing, yet lyrically brilliant mix of songs that sound as though they will work really well with the film. Every album/EP Alex Turner is involved with is just incredible. Piledriver Waltz and Stuck on the Puzzle are my favourite songs on the EP but the others are good too. I think Piledriver Waltz sounds a bit like 505 from Favourite Worst Nightmare, but maybe that's just me :P

Anyway, such a good EP from a truly amazing musician. Can't wait for Arctic Monkeys's "Suck it and See" in June as well :D

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