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since 24/09/2002


Nescafe Green Blend Coffee 26/07/2011

Looks the part, but foul tasting, I will not be buying it again.

Nescafe Green Blend Coffee Cashing in one the benefits of Green Tea, Nestle are trying to push a Green coffee upon us. I bought mine in Asda, it was on special offer at £3 for 100g, as to how Nestle can ask more for a coffee that costs less to produce is beyond me. I understand that high demand results in a lower price, but to be honest if that were the case then this should be a lot more expensive as one taste will negate any demand you may have for it. I am yet to try it without milk, and maybe this would taste different, but I will only give it a go if nothing else is available. I have had good coffees and some really cheap nasty coffees, but this has got to be one of the worst I have tasted. My recommendation is find someone else who has been unfortunate to buy it and try before you buy. ...

Purely Belter (DVD) 05/04/2008

They're just a couple of zeros short of a 1000.

Purely Belter (DVD) Purely Belter starts in darkness, as the two lead characters, Gerry and Sewell are in the process of stealing the penalty spot from St. James' Park, home of Newcastle United. This begins the quest of the lads to make enough money to buy season tickets to see the Toon. The lads try every trick in the book, from salvaging junk to bank robberies and stealing Alan Shearer's car watched over by the Guardian Angel of Toe Rags, the Angel of the North. In their way, are hazards like the police, a strict teacher played by Kevin Wheatley, and Social Services trying to keep Gerry in school. There are some heart felt moments in the film, Gerry's family are having to move regularly to hide from his Alcoholic father who has beaten and stolen from them for years. The friendship becomes a little strained when Sewell gets involved with a girl. This is a riotous comedy that will have you belly laughing through it. It obviously has more appeal to us "Geordies" and to those who love football, but even if you're not then give this a try. There is a happy ending to the film, if not what the lads were hoping for. Plus a little bit of trivia, the two lads playing the lead characters are actually Sunderland fans. The special features are the usual affair, a Director's Commentary, on set features, trailers and cast/crew interviews. Do I recommend this film? Of course I do, it's belter, Purely Belter. ...

Sapphire X1950 PRO Graphics card 512 MB GDDR3 SDRAM 04/04/2008

Life in the old dog yet, but soon to be put down.

Sapphire X1950 PRO Graphics card 512 MB GDDR3 SDRAM I was the first of my friends to buy a 64-bit processor, and still use my Athlon 64 today. Now my friends are going full hog in replacing the major components of their PCs as they also buy 64-bit systems. To this end, my board is quite old with a still very capable processor, but this does mean that I have an AGP slot when everyone else has now moved to PCI-Express. This isn't so much of a problem however as the X1950 AGP can still produce the highest performance in the games of the last couple of years. Admittedly it struggles with the latest games, but if you are willing to sacrifice the highest detail settings, the games are still very playable. The card is a single slot design, unlike a lot of nVidia's 2-slot cards, so the X1950 is ideal for older systems. Some earlier ATi cards suffered from weak fans, but not so with this card, I have seen none of the tell-tale slowdown that overheating can produce. One thing to note for older systems could be that your power supply may be insufficient on a couple of counts. Firstly, you need to have a strong supply, I would recommend a 400 Watt minimum. Also, you need a PCI-Express power connection which attaches to the card. You can get around this if you have two standard Molex connectors available, using the supplied power connection adaptor. I know that demand can affect the pricing of products, but I was a little upset to find that AGP version of this card is actually about £25 more expensive than it's PCI-Express ...

Microsoft Official Xbox 360 - Xbox Live Gold Membership Card 11/03/2008

Live and let Live.

Microsoft Official Xbox 360 - Xbox Live Gold Membership Card What is Xbox Live: Xbox Live is the online service for players of the Xbox and Xbox 360 consoles. Xbox Live Silver is free to all users and gives some limited facilities. With a Silver account you can accumulate a reputation by achieving goals within games. These are own on your Gamercard and allow other users to see how experienced a gamer you are. With a Silver account, you can also download game demos, trailers, and event videos. Some games have the ability to upload performance based stats like lap times etc. to online leaderboards. Xbox Live Gold is a pay-for subscription, approx £35 to £40 pound a year. Gold gives you all the benefits of Silver, however you have access to marketplace items days, and sometimes weeks before the rest. The biggest benefit of purchasing a Gold subscription is that it opens up the full online multiplayer capabilites of the Xbox 360. Playing against your console is fun, but nowhere near as fun as knowing the person you just shot in the head from a mile away is another human being, or that the car you just overtook was driven by someone who was lacking that little bit of skill or little bit of luck to stay ahead. You can also trade game elements like cars etc. with your fellow players. If you have the Xbox Live headset you can even have conversations with the other players, organising assaults on the enemy's fortress or gloating a little as your opponents plane drops from the sky in a ball of flame. What you need for Xbox Live ...

John Woo presents Stranglehold (Xbox 360) 09/03/2008

Shoot, slide, dive, shoot, shoot

John Woo presents Stranglehold (Xbox 360) I like to download demos before I buy a game, and this was one of those that I decided to buy on the strength of the demo. Having seen a few John Woo films in the past, I knew what to expect, intense shootouts, doves, and some beautifully filmed artistry. First impressions are that this is just another run-around third-person shooter, much in the same way as one of the games that revolutionised the genre, Max Payne. This was the first game to really make use of the Bullet Time feature. For a short time you can slow down the action, so that you can make more precise shots, and shoot numerous enemies in one slick move. You have a number of different weapons at your disposal, of which you can normally have two available to switch between. In order to use another weapon found on the floor, you need to drop one of the weapons you are carrying. My first surprise came when I intended to pick up a weapon from a table, instead of just running into the table, I jumped and slid across the top instead. Suffice to say, I spent the next couple of minutes doing just that. You can also shoot whilst performing stunts like this, and you are awarded a "Stylish kill" star. Performing more stylish kills, results in your Tequila meter building up. Tequila give you a choice of four different powers, the simplest being a health boost, this power is open when you start the game. The next is the accurate shot ability, when activated, the action is almost frozen whilst your gunsight zooms ...

Freeloader Portable Solar Energy Charger 06/03/2008

Nice idea, but ultimately a disappointment

Freeloader Portable Solar Energy Charger I really liked the idea of solar and wind energy. With traditional energy sources running low, and prices rising, I am all for taking advantage of "free" energy as long as it can be implemented cheaply. I often forget to charge my phone before I head off somewhere, and if I can keep something like this in the car, or the office, then I can hopefully give a quick boost to the battery. I say hopefully, as although you can charge the unit via the USB port, the solar charging aspect, for which I bought it, doesn't appear to work very well. It takes about 6 - 8 hours to full charge via the USB port, but leaving it on a window sill for 3 days did not charge a great deal via solar. The instructions do say that charging behind a window greatly reduces the performance of the solar panels, but I didn't expect it to render them pretty much useless on an overcast day. I would imagine that once fully charged via USB, the solar panels will be able to keep it topped up if you don't use it. Perhaps in the height of summer, with a clear sky, and the unit left out in the open, then it may perform admirably, but unfortunately, it's March now, and I am not going to know this for another couple of month yet. There are one or two good points, measuring a little more than a cigarette packet, the unit is certainly portable. Also, the unit comes with 12 different attachments for the wire, which covers most mobile models. You do need to buy an additional adaptor if you want to use the ...

Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows - game pad - wireless 29/02/2008

The power to control, but only for a while.

Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows - game pad - wireless After a week or two of playing my Xbox 360 with a wired controller, I plumped for a wireless controller. The wired version just ends up getting tangled up all the time, and the only advantages I can see is that it doesn't need any batteries, and is a little lighter. The wireless controller on the other hand, does all that the wired version does, but is missing the wire. There is a battery pack on the back, which takes two AA batteries. Mine was supplied with Energizer batteries which is a good choice, it's the only non-Duracell brand that I would consider. I had an original Xbox, with the original controller, but that thing was huge, it was like wielding a boomerang with buttons. Thankfully, a smaller version was released, and made gaming a lot more comfortable. The Xbox 360 controller is comfortable to hold, with two offset thumbsticks, the left one is higher than the right, this design contradicts the Playstation controllers, which have both in the lower centre section of the controller. On the left of the 360 controller is the circular D-Pad, which is usually used to give commands during games. One the right we have, the A, B, X and Y buttons which are familiar from the original's controller. On the top of the controller, we have the triggers and shoulder buttons used by your index fingers. In the middle of the controller, we have the Start, Back and Xbox guide buttons. Around the guide button is a ring of light, similar to the one on the console itself. Whilst ...

Need for Speed: ProStreet (Xbox 360) 22/02/2008

It's time to take racing off the streets

Need for Speed: ProStreet (Xbox 360) Need for Speed Underground, Underground 2, Most Wanted and Carbon were all about illegal street racing and accumulating street cred. With Pro Street this has all gone out the window, Need for Speed has gone back to it's simulation roots in this incarnation. Gone are the bright Neon streets, gone are the police chases, gone are the corners that you can throw the car sideways through without slowing. In their place are legal race meets, with a number of different disciplines: Grip - Straight forward race. Grip Multiclass - Cars are grouped according to performance, you race against cars from your class, but cars from other groups are there also. Time Attack - You have a number of laps to post the fastest lap. Sector Shootout - The lap is broken up into four sectors, achieve the fastest time through the sector to acquire points 1/4 mile drag - Fastest time over a 1/4 mile wins. 1/2 mile drag - Fastest time over a 1/2 mile wins. Drift - Score points by drifting the rear end around corners. The first four require a car setup for circuit racing, and drag or drift for the remainder. If you are connected to Xbox Live and do well in a particular race, you can upload your stats and shadow onto the leaderboard for fellow online players to race against. Unfortunately, you don't get an instant display of the leaderboard to see how you placed. To view your place, you need to search through the leaderboards for the meets, and then the particular race to see how ...

MotorStorm (PS3) 20/01/2008

Fast frenzy fun, shame it's just you though

MotorStorm (PS3) When my mate was buying his PS3, I was stood in Currys playing a driving game that I didn't know the name of. Found out a few days later that my mate had actually bought the game and we've lost many hours to it already. The game revolves around a motorsport festival in the rocky, muddy Monument Valley. You start with very few races open, but getting at least third will open the next race. Getting at least third in all the races of a ticket, and it opens a new ticket. Getting first in all the races of a ticket will also open new vehicles, new liveries, and new music. Each race has a class assigned to it, from which you need to choose a vehicle, but you are generally racing against all class of vehicles in each race. The classes are as follows: Bikes, ATVs, Buggys, Rally Cars, Mud Pluggers, Racing Trucks and Big Rigs. Each track has numerous routes that can be taken, some are quicker depending on the class of vehicle you are driving. High ridges tend to be good for bikes and ATVs, whereas dusty and muddy floors are better for the rally cars and trucks. The AI is quite good on this game, if you're riding a bike or driving a car then the larger vehicles will try to knock you off or force you against the rockface. If you imagine an extreme version of the Dakar rally, then you're coming close. The graphics are impressive in high-def, and the game is fast. This is purely an arcade racer, and it's great fun being able to just pick up and play. The soundtrack is of ...

Tefal BR303844 Quickcup 17/01/2008

Hot new technology, but not boiling.

Tefal BR303844 Quickcup My old kettle was showing it's age, and having seen the Quickcup selling for £50+ elsewhere, I decided paying just over £41 in Costco was a bargain. Firstly, if you are a tea drinker, this isn't for you. Although the water does get hot, it isn't boiling. In my opinion, you need boiling water to make a good cup of tea. However, if like myself, you are a coffee drinker then I think you will be quite happy. What new does the quickcup bring that justifys it's cost over a normal kettle? It produces hot water in three seconds, and a full cup takes about 5 on top of that to fill. It's heating method saves up to 65% of the energy used compared to a normal kettle. You can fit a filter into the water tank, giving cleaner water. It's an attractive design and becomes a talking point when friends are round. With every upside, there has to be a downside, and having read other reviews, I agree with some of the complaints people have made: The water isn't boiling, so no good for tea, babies bottles, some instant gravies etc. The height of the spout means that water occasionally spits back out of your cup if left on your worktop. The water tank is only 1.5 litres, which runs out really quickly. First couple of runs with the filter leave a scum deposit on your cup of water, not particularly harmful but not very attractive. It's a little noisy, but no more than a Philips Senseo or a Kenco Tassimo. And considering it's only a few seconds I can live with ...

Need for Speed: Carbon (PC) 24/12/2007

Carbon shiny, still a few flaws

Need for Speed: Carbon (PC) I have played a lot of the Need for Speed games, (including the PSP variations there have been 16 games so far), and I have enjoyed them all. Back in 2000, I spent hours playing Porsche Unleashed, buying performance parts to squeeze an extra second or two from my lap times. All of the models through the history of Porsche were there, and approved by the manufacturer, there was a decent damage engine. Unfortunately, more recent Need for Speed games have not had a damage engine, bar the odd scrape and cracked window. I can't help but think that the car manufacturers put there foot down and said that they didn't want to see there cars getting damaged. Carbon continues this theme, and the police chases are not as good as in the earlier Most Wanted title. What Carbon does introduce, is the addition of Crew Members, now you are not just a loner amongst the racers. Each available crew member has a particular skill, and whilst active, allow particular modifications to your car. Skill set: Blocker: A blocker will be obstructive to other racers. Scout: A scout knows the shortcuts throughout the course Drafter: A drafter will drive directly in front of you, sharing the air resistance so that both of you are faster Cars: Exoctic: Predominatley European cars, Aston Martin, Lambo etc. Muscle: Predominately American, Mustang, Chrysler etc. Tuner: Predominately Japanese, Mazda, Mitsubishi etc. As in earlier titles, each zone has a Heat level, the higher the ...

Citroen Xsara 2.0 20/12/2007

Bit a wolf in sheeps clothing

Citroen Xsara 2.0 My car is a second generation VTS Coupe, with 167 bhp, from 2002. I was initially looking at BMWs but only ones within my price bracket were 10 year old, instead I got my VTS at half the age. First impressions were that it's not a car that stands out, standard Citroen alloys are OK, but nothing spectacular. Sitting inside the supportive slightly bucket seats, you feel comfortable and secure. There are driver and passenger airbags, and also airbags in the sides of the seats. The CD stereo has steering wheel controls, and an LCD display in the centre console provides track/station info, and also provides output from the electrical system such as open doors, low fuel warnings, and also the trip computer. Acceleration from the 2 ltr 16v engine is quoted as 0 - 62 in 8 secs, and a top speed of 137 mph. I believe that my car accelerates quicker than this, and on a track I have had close to the top speed before I backed off. The engine is the same found in the Peugeot 306 GTi6, an equally exhilerating drive, however the Xsara VTS only has a 5-speed gearbox compared to the 306's 6-speed box. Even throwing the car around as I often do, I still manage approx 31 mpg using super unleaded. Personally, I think the Xsara is a much better looking car to the 306, and I have to admit, it's nice to keep toe with some of the chav-mobiles on the road. A little known fact that, although the Subaru Impreza has won the largest number of rallys (having been used for longer), the Xsara still ...

Costco (Shop) 18/12/2007

Incredible Bulk, at amazing prices

Costco (Shop) I first come across Costco whilst on a trip to America. I was shocked by the size of the warehouse, and of the size of the packs inside. I found myself wandering around working out how much it would cost in the UK. I'm pleased to say, shortly after I returned, Costco distributed some literature about their site just behind the Metro Centre near Newcastle, to the staff at my workplace. To become a member as an individual, they asked for some photographic ID from your workplace, and a utility bill from home. Membership is £25 + VAT for a year, but for this, you can get a second card for a spouse or direct relative. Although, this may seem a little unreasonable at first, you will probably save this on your first visit. May I recommend also, that you take a couple of hundred quid with you on your first visit, you may just get carried away. Entering the warehouse, you are presented with an airy building filled with aisle upon aisle of differing products at extremely reasonable prices. You are also met by a bouncer, who won't allow you to enter without showing your membership card. (you can visit the information desk to join for your first visit). Each product has a label indicating it's excl. VAT price, with a smaller incl. VAT price underneath. Indeed some of the products are also VAT free, these tend to be those considered to be essential living items like milk and bread. In the USA, sales tax does not apply to these items and it would seem Costco have tried to keep to ...

Aerobics Oz Style - Belly Dance Fitness (DVD) 09/12/2007

Gives you a Belly good workout

Aerobics Oz Style - Belly Dance Fitness (DVD) For those unfamiliar with Aerobics Oz Style, it is Australia's most popular daily routine shows with over 40 million viewers worldwide. Each demonstration has 5 or 6 attractive ladies in the background, with an instructor at the front. The instructor changes on a daily basis, to provide variety in the routines. Each routine has a warm-up session, a toning session and a cool-down/stretch session. More info available at In the UK, the show can be seen on Sky Sports. Along with the daily broadcasts, the team have also produced a number of video/DVD releases, of which Belly Dance Fitness is one. I have always had a fleeting interest in indian culture, the music and dance telling a story, so when I saw this on the shelves of my local shop, I bought it to have a look. Admittedly, being a bloke, I prefer to exercise in private otherwise I feel very self-conscious, but I find myself trying to find time to go through at least some of this enjoyable routine. The whole routine including warm-up and cool-down is just under an hour of excercise. With regard to the quality of the exercise, the movements are all low-impact and well paced, but you can really feel your body working. The routine did make me ache a little a while after, but I think that was probably because I didn't do all the stretching exercises afterwards. Like all exercise patterns, it's important to cool-down properly. Having used this routine a few times ...

Sumvision Premium Glossy Photo Paper A4 (180gsm) 03/12/2007

Surprisingly good results from a very cheap paper

Sumvision Premium Glossy Photo Paper A4 (180gsm) I don't do a lot printing, but for anything other than general documents, I use this paper. Tesco's 180 gsm paper used to be my paper of choice, but this comes in a great deal cheaper. To give you an idea, PC World stock HP paper very similar to this that comes in at about £7 for 25 sheets, this paper from Sumvision can be had for about £2. So, HP paper from PC World works out at about 28p per sheet, this paper is about 8p per sheet. The package is a thin plastic bag, much like magazines are often in nowadays, with card inserts to protect the paper. The bag can be opened and resealed to ensure the paper doesn't dry or become contaminated. In comparison to the Tesco paper, and I would imagine, Epson or Kodak paper too, there is little to distinguish this paper from it's rivals. Only the purist is going to notice a difference. Colours are bright, and contrasts are good with little, if any, banding throughout the page. Drying times are good, you should be able to work with the result after a few seconds. I used this paper with my Epson Stylus Photo R300, using Epson ink, but my mate is also happy with results from an R200 with compatible inks. I really can't fault it compared to the brand names. ...
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