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nicjaytee (London)

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Apple iPod classic 160GB silver
Apple iPod classic 160GB silver

19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great machine, but do you actually need all that memory?, 19 Oct. 2007
160 gigabytes sounds a lot better than 80 gigabytes but hold on there a minute, unless you intend to use this great piece of kit for storing large numbers of videos or as a portable hard-disk back up for your PC is there any real point to all that extra memory. 80 gigabytes will take a huge music collection (well over 10,000 tracks even at higher 256 or 320 kbps recording levels) plus an equally huge photograph collection. And, of course, the new 80 gigabyte version is much thinner and cheaper. Time for a bit of thought before shelling out the extra dosh...


Apple iPod Classic 160GB - Black (discontinued by manufacturer)
Apple iPod Classic 160GB - Black (discontinued by manufacturer)

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great machine, but do you actually need all that memory?, 19 Oct. 2007
160 gigabytes sounds a lot better than 80 gigabytes but hold on there a minute, unless you intend to use this great piece of kit for storing large numbers of videos or as a portable hard-disk back up for your PC is there any real point to all that extra memory. 80 gigabytes will take a huge music collection (well over 10,000 tracks even at higher 256 or 320 kbps recording levels) plus an equally huge photograph collection. And, of course, the new 80 gigabyte version is much thinner and cheaper. Time for a bit of thought before shelling out the extra dosh...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 17, 2007 4:04 PM GMT


Apple iPod classic 80GB silver
Apple iPod classic 80GB silver

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to revolutionise the way you listen to music..., 19 Oct. 2007
There's a very good reason why the iPod is the market leader... it's a quite brilliant piece of technology. Beautifully designed, simple to use and incredibly powerful it's the only sensible choice for anyone who wants to carry their music collection with them wherever they go. And, of course, you can also add huge numbers of photos, your address book & diary and even compressed videos.

But to get the best out of this wonderful piece of kit requires thought, effort and expense. Thought, in that the creation of your iTunes database on your PC (which drives what's on your iPod) is something you'll use for years, probably decades. iTunes' and its MP4 format for music storage ain't going away but technologies (and music player hard disk sizes) will change and to keep pace with this in the future you need to ensure two things: firstly that your music is transferred into iTunes at the highest quality level - i.e. 320 kbps wherever possible (sounds over the top today, but it won't be in a few years' time... witness Apple's recent move from 128 to 256 kbps for its music store downloads) - and, secondly, that your iTunes database is organised logically, with consistent and relevant genres etc.

Effort, in that importing your tracks into iTunes needs real work to ensure that your music collection can be accessed quickly and effectively. In particular, you'll need to categorise your tracks into their correct genres & release dates and, ideally, into some sort of star rating system - all of which can take an enormous amount of time. But, if you're prepared to spend the time, iTunes will then produce as many customised playlists as you want, either automatically or manually, based on a huge number of possible criteria. Want to hear all your favourite rock tracks released in the past 5 years, or the best tracks from one or more artists etc. etc.?... iTunes will produce playlists for them and will automatically update them as you add more tracks. Not just incredibly clever but the key to a total transformation in the way you access your music collection.

Expense, because once you've done this and then had the fun of creating dozens of playlists that deliver exactly what you want, your iPod will very rapidly become your main means of listening to music and, as a result, you'll need additional kit. First off, you'll need some form of protective cover to avoid damaging it while you carry it around; next you'll need connections into your hi-fi & stereo units, ideally through one or more chargeable iPod docks, so that you can listen to it around the house; then you'll need an FM transmitter so that you can listen to it in your car plus a set of portable speakers so that you can listen to it in hotel rooms etc.; then, you'll probably want to upgrade Apple's bundled headphones to hear your collection in all its glory while walking, jogging or on the train or plane; and, finally, if you don't own one already, you MUST invest in some sort of back-up device to keep your precious iTunes collection safe from the vagaries of your PC's hard drive because, after all that time spent inputting and categorising your music, you most certainly don't want to go through it all again.

Sounds daunting? Well, the pay-offs for all this effort and expense are nothing short of sensational... you'll be able to listen to exactly what you want, how you want, virtually anywhere you go, forever... and all at the touch of your iPod's gloriously easy to use click wheel.


Apple iPod classic 80GB black
Apple iPod classic 80GB black

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to revolutionise the way you listen to music..., 19 Oct. 2007
There's a very good reason why the iPod is the market leader... it's a quite brilliant piece of technology. Beautifully designed, simple to use and incredibly powerful it's the only sensible choice for anyone who wants to carry their music collection with them wherever they go. And, of course, you can also add huge numbers of photos, your address book & diary and even compressed videos.

But to get the best out of this wonderful piece of kit requires thought, effort and expense. Thought, in that the creation of your iTunes database on your PC (which drives what's on your iPod) is something you'll use for years, probably decades. iTunes' and its MP4 format for music storage ain't going away but technologies (and music player hard disk sizes) will change and to keep pace with this in the future you need to ensure two things: firstly that your music is transferred into iTunes at the highest quality level - i.e. 320 kbps wherever possible (sounds over the top today, but it won't be in a few years' time... witness Apple's recent move from 128 to 256 kbps for its music store downloads) - and, secondly, that your iTunes database is organised logically, with consistent and relevant genres etc.

Effort, in that importing your tracks into iTunes needs real work to ensure that your music collection can be accessed quickly and effectively. In particular, you'll need to categorise your tracks into their correct genres & release dates and, ideally, into some sort of star rating system - all of which can take an enormous amount of time. But, if you're prepared to spend the time, iTunes will then produce as many customised playlists as you want, either automatically or manually, based on a huge number of possible criteria. Want to hear all your favourite rock tracks released in the past 5 years, or the best tracks from one or more artists etc. etc.?... iTunes will produce playlists for them and will automatically update them as you add more tracks. Not just incredibly clever but the key to a total transformation in the way you access your music collection.

Expense, because once you've done this and then had the fun of creating dozens of playlists that deliver exactly what you want, your iPod will very rapidly become your main means of listening to music and, as a result, you'll need additional kit. First off, you'll need some form of protective cover to avoid damaging it while you carry it around; next you'll need connections into your hi-fi & stereo units, ideally through one or more chargeable iPod docks, so that you can listen to it around the house; then you'll need an FM transmitter so that you can listen to it in your car plus a set of portable speakers so that you can listen to it in hotel rooms etc.; then, you'll probably want to upgrade Apple's bundled headphones to hear your collection in all its glory while walking, jogging or on the train or plane; and, finally, if you don't own one already, you MUST invest in some sort of back-up device to keep your precious iTunes collection safe from the vagaries of your PC's hard drive because, after all that time spent inputting and categorising your music, you most certainly don't want to go through it all again.

Sounds daunting? Well, the pay-offs for all this effort and expense are nothing short of sensational... you'll be able to listen to exactly what you want, how you want, virtually anywhere you go, forever... and all at the touch of your iPod's gloriously easy to use click wheel.


On Chesil Beach
On Chesil Beach
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant or Rubbish?, 16 Oct. 2007
This review is from: On Chesil Beach (Hardcover)
One star or five? Well judging by these reviews what makes a good book is far from clear and highly subjective.

There are parallels here with Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" which received similarly mixed reviews on its release - some totally dismissed it for its "novelette" length and its superficial and incomplete story-line while others lauded it as a work of pure genius. In fact what Fitzgerald had done, which only a highly skilled writer can, was to take a complex love story and then cut everything back to its bare essentials, re-crafting every paragraph and sentence to the absolute minimum and, in doing so, leaving the reader to imply key elements of the plot and to ponder on how and why these things happen. The result, as time has shown, was a novel that precisely because of its superbly compact writing and pervading air of mystery was far more emotionally charged and thought provoking than novels of double or treble the length and, as a result, unforgettable and timeless.

And this is exactly what McEwan does here. Beneath "On Chesil Beach's" short and superficially simple narrative is a complex, multi-layered and deeply moving love story, executed in a similarly minimalist style that ultimately leaves the reader to reflect on the reasons for its outcome. Almost every page requires one or more repeat readings to appreciate how incredibly well written and constructed they are, while his ability to distil genuine tension, emotion & mystery into single sentences of superficially casual observation turns the whole book into something that's equally thought provoking and unforgettable.

Maybe McEwan is trying to emulate Fitzgerald's masterwork, maybe not, but the parallels are uncanny - not least in peoples' initial reaction to it - and, while not in the same highly rarefied class as "The Great Gatsby", my guess is that time will also show "On Chesil Beach" to be seen for what it is... which is?... a quite brilliant piece of writing.


No Title Available

207 of 219 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The obvious next step for Nikon D series SLR owners..., 24 Sept. 2007
If you own a Nikon D series SLR with its stock autofocus DX series zoom lens rated at 18-55mm new style (equivalent to 27-83mm old style), this is the obvious next step purchase. Rated at 55-200mm new style (83-300mm old style) it's small, light and really does cut out camera shake to allow genuine "point & shoot" at its higher focal lengths, giving you a "tripod-less", perfectly matched combination of two autofocus Nikkor lenses covering a full 18-200mm (27-300mm old style). Just perfect... and, for the price, stunningly good value.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2009 9:37 PM BST


Nikon D40X Digital SLR Camera With 18-55mm Lens - Black (10.2MP)
Nikon D40X Digital SLR Camera With 18-55mm Lens - Black (10.2MP)

100 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the price, this camera is amazing..., 8 Sept. 2007
Having been an enthusiastic (old style, but highest quality) SLR user for many years and having then switched to several digital compacts, from the disappointingly basic (circa 2000) through to the brilliant latest versions (in my case, a 7.0 megapixel Panasonic Lumix), I was intrigued when a professional photographer friend said I should check out the new generation of low cost digital SLRs and, in particular, the Nikon D40x... you'll enjoy it she said... and she wasn't wrong.

First off, the price was only £150 or so more than a top end compact with the same 10 megapixel rating and, in the shop, it turned out to be smaller and much lighter than the old, dramatically more expensive SLRs I used to lug around... so, worth the plunge?

A resounding yes, not only does it deliver the most beautiful, high quality photos but the control options over virtually all aspects of shot selection, including a powerful built in flash unit, are quite incredible - far better and much, much more comprehensive than I'd expected - with the ever present, wholly effective, compact-style "point & shoot" option if you can't be bothered. Plus, you get a large preview screen and extensive "in camera" editing features that allow a wide range of post-shot manipulation if you don't have access to your PC. Just amazing... everything, plus a huge amount more, that I got from my previous SLRs.

Could it get any better? Well yes, because the stock Nikon autofocus zoom lens that comes with the camera (rated at 18-55 mm new digital style and equivalent to a just about perfect 26-83 mm old style) is now matched with Nikon's new, low cost, autofocus DX VR lens (rated at 55-200 mm new digital style and equivalent to 83-300 mm old style) which really does cut out camera shake to allow genuine "point & shoot" at its higher focal lengths. In other words, for a total cost of well under £600 I got a stunningly powerful and flexible camera plus a "tripod-less" combination of two lightweight autofocus Nikkor lens covering a full 26-300 mm range... which is nothing short of sensational for any "old style" SLR user like me.

SLRs are a different world from compact cameras - you definitely can't fit them in your pocket - but for anyone wanting to move up to a higher level for not much more, or for anyone wanting to rediscover the lost joys of their SLR past at an incredibly cheap entry price, the Nikon D40x is a "must have" option... certainly it's got one more very happy user.


The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead
by Gerald Seymour
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost but not quite..., 18 Aug. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Walking Dead (Hardcover)
Over his 24 book career four things mark Gerald Seymour out as one of the very best thriller writers out there: the subjects he chooses are topical, fascinating and revealing, his research is impeccable, he can write and, he can weave a rivetingly good story. "The Walking Dead" has all of these. The subject matter is particularly topical: why do suicide bombers do what they do and how do apparently "sensible" people turn into mass killers? The research is typically excellent: so good that, by the end of the book, you'll have real insight into how and why this form of terrorism has become so insidious and effective. And, it's a riveting plot, with its multiple story lines - each of which is fascinating - developed with a page-turning drive that makes you want to know what happens to these people in the end.

So why doesn't it hit the mark? It should... the comparison of the idealism that drove many to a manipulated and brutal death in the hands of the communists during the Spanish Civil War with the idealism that drives potential suicide bombers into the hands of equally brutal modern-day terrorists is perceptive and provides a thought-provoking sub-text for the whole novel. The way that its numerous "sub-plots" are explored is interesting and addictive, and the way that they come together in the novel's final pages is believable. But, in the end, it leaves you with the distinctly frustrating feeling that several of these sub-plots - which have been followed with growing interest as a result of Seymour's superb ability to explore & develop his characters, and which form a large part of the novel - are nothing more than an overly lengthy "means to an end" to a not particularly unexpected denouement.

Worth the effort then? Yes... because a great deal of the book will give you a fascinating insight into a different and highly relevant world. One of his best?... not really because, unusually for such a gifted thriller writer, you'll probably leave it with a feeling that there are too many loose ends waiting for answers. Harsh assessment?... possibly, but then when you're one of the best the standards are higher than most.


Bookends
Bookends
Price: £3.37

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely classic album..., 18 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Bookends (Audio CD)
Under-rated on its release and rapidly eclipsed by the massive success of "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Bookends" has, with time, proved to be not only Simon & Garfunkle's best album but one of the very best albums of the 60s.

And, 40 years on, the first seven tracks that formed side one of the original LP, with its themes of old age and alienation, remain as fresh and relevant today as they were then... a cohesive and beautifully reflective suite of quite exceptional musical poetry. So good that the quality of "side two", with its five incredibly catchy but more mainstream folk-rock tracks, is often lost in reviews... which is a shame as they're also among Simon & Garfunkle's best and are good enough on their own to justify five stars. But, in the end, it's the timeless brilliance of side one that elevates "Bookends" to "classic" status.


Hits Of Gold
Hits Of Gold
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £14.50

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The one to get..., 13 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Hits Of Gold (Audio CD)
Like many 60s artists it's the original compilations that are the ones to get and, re-issued several times over the decades, this remains the Mamas & Papas definitive collection. Featuring just about every track that made them something special, with the minimum of "fillers", it avoids over concentration on Mama Cass' solo output (good as it was) and zeros down on the ecstatic four part harmonies that catapulted them to international success, including difficult to find but essential tracks like "Trip, Stumble & Fall". The end result? A perfectly formed record of why, for a fleeting period, they were up there with the best.


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