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Mark Olive (Bristol, UK)
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Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit - Charcoal Black
Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit - Charcoal Black

20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stylish, but with some shortcomings, 23 May 2014
I've had my Gear Fit for several days now, and while I'm still generally happy with my purchase there are some things you should bear in mind before buying. I also own a Sony Smartwatch (1st gen) and primarily bought the Gear to replace it as the Sony watches don't work well with non-Sony handsets.

First, hardware. The Gear Fit is VERY light and very comfortable to wear, which is not even something I'd considered before trying one on. In comparison, the Gear 2 Neo felt much more bulky. You cannot replace the strap with a regular watch strap unlike with the Sony watches or the Neo. The fixing (as shown on the picture) is two studs that push through the strap's holes, and although I've not had any problems so far others have said this is prone to coming undone during exercise. You can buy third party clips to keep the band together, which might be a smart move if you want to avoid damaging or losing the Fit. Also, what ever you do don't lose the charging adapter, these are really expensive if you need a replacement! If you're used to Samsung OLEDs the screen will be no surprise, nice and bright but sometimes a little difficult to see outdoors. It's definitely an improvement on my old Sony. Swipes and taps are recognised as they should be.

Apps-wise is where the watch falls short unfortunately. Other than the fitness, notifications, media player remote and typical watch related functions that are built-in, there aren't many other apps yet for the Fit. The only ones that seemed worth getting on Google Play (all third party) were a calendar, an app that allows you to control some of your phone settings, and one that shares text from the phone to the watch. In comparison, my old Sony watch had a whole bunch of apps from Sony and others including social media apps like Twitter and Facebook, a version of Google Maps, calculators, an email client, etc. Also, contrary to the information I was given in the Samsung store, third party apps do seem to run in the background on your phone rather than on the watch directly (just like the old Sony watch) meaning they won't be available if your phone and watch are not connected. Hopefully some more apps will appear in time.

I've not really put the fitness apps through their paces, but while the pedometer seems to be roughly accurate I get wildly different measurements from the hart rate monitor. The saving grace for me is how the watch displays notifications, they're true at-a-glance messages with customizable quick replies. I would have liked to browse my earlier texts/emails like I could on the Sony, but really how it deals with new ones is more important.

On the whole I'm happy with the build and functionality, but unfortunately it's not really an upgrade over the last generation smartwatches even though it costs much more. The other Samsung watches may be better in that respect, but comfort was a priority for me.


Nikon Coolpix L820 ( 16.79 MP,30 x Optical Zoom,3 -inch LCD )
Nikon Coolpix L820 ( 16.79 MP,30 x Optical Zoom,3 -inch LCD )

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to fault for the price, 16 May 2014
The L820 has impressive specs, with the same backlit CMOS sensor and image stabilisation as in the equivalent P series camera. Considering the price this is going for from some retailers (thanks to the new L830, which doesn't offer much extra unless you want a swivel screen) it's a great buy. In terms of noise, artefacts and ISO performance it easily beats the equivalent Sony and Olympus cameras in tests, and only just loses out to the Canon SX50 HS - which costs 2.5 times the price I paid for my L820!

Something I was particularly impressed with was the quality of the HD video, it's much better than my HD camcorder in low light.


Pioneer BDR-S08XLT 15x BD Writer No Software Retail Kit
Pioneer BDR-S08XLT 15x BD Writer No Software Retail Kit

5.0 out of 5 stars Reliable, quiet and looks great, 14 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I brought this just over 5 months ago and it's been a solid, reliable drive. No problems with any writes, and it even reads Blu-ray discs that my Samsung standalone player has problems with.


Nikon VAECSP08 Case CS-P08 for COOLPIX
Nikon VAECSP08 Case CS-P08 for COOLPIX
Price: £12.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great quality genuine Nikon case for the price, 14 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Looks great, and fits my L820 perfectly. I'm unsure if it's real leather, but it looks like it (and the Nikon store lists the material as leather, so it probably is). If you're looking for a small bag for your P or L series bridge camera, look no further.


Kingston Technology SD10V/16GB Class10 SDHC 16GB Memory Card
Kingston Technology SD10V/16GB Class10 SDHC 16GB Memory Card
Offered by UkMobileAccessories
Price: £6.50

2.0 out of 5 stars Just barely class 10, potentially not suitable for full HD video, 12 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this 16 GB card for HD video recording and have just finished benchmarking it against other cards I have, a SanDisk 32 GB class 4 MicroSD and a SanDisk Extreme 8 GB class 6 SD card. I ran the benchmarks several times to be sure, and this card was the slowest of the lot. It just barely manages 10 MB/s writes for 16 K transfers and above and so qualifies for the class 10/U1 rating, but no more. The class 4 SanDisk managed up to 17 MB/s, with the class 6 marginally faster.

10 MB/s is OK for 720p, but you could run into problems using this card for 1080p (full HD) recording. Before buying, check what bitrate your camera records at - mine uses 15 MB/s for 1080p, so attempting to use this card could result in dropped frames or failed recordings.


Scythe Gentle Typhoon 120mm Case Fan- 1450rpm, 21dba, 45.9cfm
Scythe Gentle Typhoon 120mm Case Fan- 1450rpm, 21dba, 45.9cfm

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected vibration and noise, you'll need a fan controller, 6 Jan. 2014
I purchased two Scythe Gentle Typhoon 120 mm fans for my low-noise PC, one was the 1450 rpm model and the other 1150 rpm. Considering reviews of the 1450 rpm fan had stated that it was all-but silent, I was less than impressed with the amount of noise (and particularly vibration) the fan generates. The 1150 rpm model is better, but still produces some noticeable noise if you're building a near-silent system. I use a fan controller to run these at 50% voltage and they are then far better, but I could have just bought something cheaper like Vantec Stealths and they would probably have been just as quiet with the controller.

Basically, they're not all they're cracked up to be, and not worth paying a premium for.


GMYLE (TM) PCI-Express 4 Ports USB 3.0 With 4-Pin Molex Power NEC D0720201 Chipset Control Card Adapter
GMYLE (TM) PCI-Express 4 Ports USB 3.0 With 4-Pin Molex Power NEC D0720201 Chipset Control Card Adapter

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Renesas uPD720201-based card, 31 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
When buying a USB 3 PCIe card, it's important to do your homework! There are a variety of different chips out there and they vary wildly in terms of performance and compatibility. I first went for a Fresco Logic FL1100 card but quickly discovered those have serious problems with Western Digital USB 3 drives, as well as performance issues. After searching around I eventually found a review of all the various chips on vr-zone.com that confirms just how variable many of them are, but overall they recommended ASMedia, Etron and Renesas.

This card (also known as the NECXG PC-4p) uses the Renesas uPD720201 chip, and importantly (If you have certain Western Digital drives) it allows you to turn off USB 3 "link power management" in the settings. The performance is very good, beating the Fresco Logic FL1100 card in my ATTO benchmarks - my WD Elements 2TB drive had read speeds up to 130 MB/s. It loses one star because Renesas doesn't provide drivers and firmware directly so you have to hunt around for the latest ones - I found the newest Windows 7 drivers (3.0.23.0) and firmware (2.0.2.4) on station-drivers.com.


Seagate 500GB 2.5 inch Laptop Solid State Hybrid Drive
Seagate 500GB 2.5 inch Laptop Solid State Hybrid Drive
Offered by Beetechwise.ltd
Price: £56.92

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unimpressive, a 7200 RPM drive may be a better purchase, 29 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this around 2 months ago to replace the conventional Seagate 500 GB (5400 RPM) drive in my Vaio that had been damaged. Unfortunately, I have not seen the performance boost and quicker boot times that others have claimed here, the drive appears to perform more or less identically to the conventional 5400 RPM drive I had previously. My system is not at all exotic, no dual booting just regular Windows 7 x64, so I'm at a loss as to why the drive seems not to have cached the principal OS files in its SSD memory as it should have. Unfortunately, Seagate provides no utilities to see what the drive is caching and no way to keep files in the SSD cache. I'm forced to conclude that a conventional 7200 RPM drive would have been a better purchase in terms of performance.

I would add, as another reviewer noted, that Seagate's method of using Linux-based firmware update discs is a disaster. Only certain SATA controllers are supported by these discs, even mainstream nvidia SATA controllers (nforce 3 and nforce 720a) cannot be used. If you don't have access to a PC or laptop with a SATA controller that works with these update discs, it will be impossible to update your drive's firmware (USB adapters are not supported either).

It should also be noted that the information here, calling the drive a Momentus XT, is misleading. The Momentus XT is Seagate's 7200 RPM SSHD, but the drive being sold here is the ST500LM000, namely the "Laptop Thin SSHD" which is a 5400 RPM drive.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 8, 2014 6:00 AM BST


WD 2TB  Elements Portable External Hard Drive - USB 3.0 - WDBU6Y0020BBK-EESN
WD 2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive - USB 3.0 - WDBU6Y0020BBK-EESN
Price: £69.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Faster (but bulkier) than My Passport, but check which chip your USB 3 controller uses, 29 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this drive to supplement my previous generation WD My Passport Essential SE USB 3 drive (500 GB). Comparing the two, this WD Elements drive is certainly an improvement in speed terms, with writes as high as 89 MB/s (compared with 59 MB/s) and reads up to 130 MB/s (93 MB/s for the My Passport) according to ATTO. The drive is however considerably thicker than the older drive (around 50% thicker) so that could be an issue if portability is a major concern for you. It also vibrates quite a bit when in use, although it's still silent.

A word of warning about USB 3 controllers though. A number of external WD drives (including this one) have problems with USB 3's link power management (LPM) - see the WD forums and WD Universal Firmware Updater release notes. Western Digital have fixed this on some drives with a firmware update, but this WD Elements 2TB drive still has problems with the current 1.025 firmware. After a while, the drive may disconnect from the computer without warning. A workaround is to turn off LPM on your USB 3 controller, but not all controllers give you that option, for example Fresco Logic chips. If you are buying a USB 3 PCIe card or ExpressCard to use with this drive, I'd advise you look for one with a Renesas uPD72020x chip as LPM can be easily turned off.


Inateck Superspeed 4 Ports PCI-E to USB 3.0 Expansion Card - Interface USB 3.0 4-Port Express Card Desktop with 15 pin SATA Power Connector, [ Include with A 4pin to 2x15pin Cable + A 15pin to 2x 15pin SATA Y-Cable ]
Inateck Superspeed 4 Ports PCI-E to USB 3.0 Expansion Card - Interface USB 3.0 4-Port Express Card Desktop with 15 pin SATA Power Connector, [ Include with A 4pin to 2x15pin Cable + A 15pin to 2x 15pin SATA Y-Cable ]
Offered by Inateck
Price: £39.99

21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY if you use WD USB 3 hard drives, 29 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
More details are available on the Western Digital forums and at goo.gl/yFlA4f. The Fresco Logic USB 3 chips do not work well with devices that don't support link power management (LPM, USB 3 power saving) and unlike the USB 3 chips from Renesas (NEC) and Intel, LPM cannot be disabled on the FL100x or FL1100. There is a solution of sorts on the link I posted above for cards that use the older 2-port chips (using a very old driver that did not have LPM enabled) but this will NOT work for 4-port cards that use the FL1100 like this one. In addition to frequent drive disconnects, I was also getting very bad speeds (~ USB 2 speeds) when copying files between drives connected to the same card.

For the moment, I'd advise any Windows users (I'm not sure what the Mac situation is) that have or plan to get a WD USB drive to get a card that uses the Renesas uPD720201 chip instead. LPM can be easily disabled, and I've had no problems with any devices. Copying between drives connected to the same card is much faster also. You can find 4-port cards that use the uPD720201 here on Amazon, and they're even cheaper than these FL1100 cards too.

I would just add that SpringRain have been very willing to help and offer suggestions and have provided great customer service, this compatibility issue should not be taken as any criticism of them as a seller.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 4, 2014 9:09 AM GMT


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