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since 13/12/2004


Mercedes C 180 30/12/2006

It's a car, it's a tank, it's a Merc

Mercedes C 180 Well I needed an upgrade from my previous car that apart from the fact that it was a bit girl-y it was also falling to bits. So I decided to ante up and went for the full testosterone upgrade and got a c180. It is P reg one so is almost 10 years old but it is a Mercedes and you can see it. FIRST IMPRESSIONS It is like a tank, everything inside feels humongous. The doors feel heave but close easily but slam with a healthy clank. The engine sounds sweet or should I say works quieter than a mouse stealing some cheese. DRIVING On the motorway this car feels at home. Like leviathan at prehistoric valleys. It does 100mph without you even realizing and cruise control coupled with the automatic gearbox make you redundant. Just steer while you relaxing to some Wagner classics and sipping tea. You feel cocooned in the security of a U Boat. In town it feels sturdy and has a bit of kick even though it is "only" a 1.8 L engine. Being a nearly 2 ton car though it is impressive. I like everything about the car. From the boxy looks to the interiors which might not be the stylish Italian Alfa-Romeo ones or the posh Jaguar ones but the blunt style and the unbreakable feel to every knob, handle and stick makes you feel comfortable and that's what being in a Mercedes is all about. MECHANICS There are few things to be careful about though. On the w202 chassis which is the one from 93-01 there are few tings to be careful about when buying. The viscous fan tends to go very ...

TomTom GO 510 30/12/2006

Way to GO TomTom but...

TomTom GO 510 I was bought this for Xmas and I felt like a kid again. The special offer at Curry's brings also a very welcome TomTom traffic module, this is actually just a re branded TMC module (the little green cameras on motorways) and works via RDS but hey on its own is about £60 so why not. Open another box (inside the big one) and you finally you find the TomTom, sitting there looking at you pretty in a nice gleam smile. I was just dying to open it up and try it. Common sense though suggested putting it on charge and playing about with the rest of the gadgets. This is where the first problem arouses. There is no jack to plug the charger in the TomTom and you have to use the dock, which means you have you have a dangling USB cable down in the living room because some genius designer though to make it built in. Now past that irritating feature I have the charger that doesn't plug firmly into the "dock" but is loose that only stays in is carefully put on the desk and remove your hand gracefully reminiscent of a game of sticks. Annoying stuff really! Anyway the feel of the accessories assures quality irrespective of the annoyance with the indoor charger. The TMC module is only one small dome with suction cups (3) to fix it neatly to the dashboard. CAR DOCK The car docking station though it fantastic, sturdy, well built with a lot of connection ports as you would expect. I sort of understand why the main unit has only one connector. It is build for the car which means that ...

Sony Vaio VGN-A217M 29/12/2006

A monster laptop

Sony Vaio VGN-A217M The VGN-217M from Sony came out a little while ago but nonetheless it remains a flagship of Sony Laptops. The Features: It has a humongous 17" X-Black that makes envious anyone, including PowerBook users This screen is it major selling point. Running this at a resolution of 1440x900 offers a crisp display thanks to the ATi Mobility Radeon 9700. Needles to say that the graphics are more than adequate to run anything you would want a laptop to do. It might not play all the power hungry newest games that will only run on monster desktops but lefts face whoever wants to shell out of the Sony VAIO wants it more for its style, status and built quality. In that note this was the first PC laptop that gave a dent to the Apple's self-inflated image of we have more style that anyone else. A point there for sony. Included with the gorgeous screen there is auto-luminance sensor that will adjust the backlight to the environment. The VGN-217M is not just a bimbo laptop though, it packs some serious power in it with a 1.6Ghz Centrino (later upgraded to 1.8) and a 80GB HDD (on later models upgraded to 100GB), a dual layer DVDRW drive from none but Sony and 9700 ATi mobility Radeon (later upgraded to the X700 from ATi). The power is harnessed to make the battery last and boy it lasts. 3+ hours might not sound too much but for a laptop of this size is and considering that is almost a year old and been using it constantly it hasn't deteriorated at all. On top Sony has ...

Sony Ericsson K800i Cyber-shot 26/09/2006

The Ultime Gadget

Sony Ericsson K800i Cyber-shot What can I say... Apart form that this product blew me away! The last time I had a Sony Ericsson was at the time of the P900 which I thought it could not be topped in functionality and product quality. How wrong was I? This phone has everything one would want and maybe a few more… Lets start with its main selling point: CYBERSHOT - Definitely deserves this mark of camera quality. The quality is amazing. The functions that come with it are more that some dedicated camera manufacturers' offer let alone phones. All the usual suspects for in camera manipulation (B & W, Sepia, Solarise etc) are all there. K800i adds to this a succession shot that take a number of shots in sequence and lets you pick the best one, an Autofocus and redeye correction. This is the whole deal. At to this a proper 3.2 mgpix camera with the lens like any other Sony camera courtesy of Mr. Carl Zeiss this phone is worth getting only for the camera. I have included a picture taken with this camera and they look just great. On the down side the camera lens cover that slides down feel a bit cheap and tacky. I would have really loved a metallic or pseudo-metallic material like front facia of the phone but just plastic with black veneer. Cybershot doesn't deserve to be engraved on that hideous bit of plastic, luckily is only small. What makes up for it though a earth scorching xenon flash light. Impressive stuff! The picture quality dramatically improves when taking pictures at dark obviously but ...

Belarc Advisor 26/09/2006

All you need to know about your PC

Belarc Advisor Let's ask how many times you have asked yourself- What type of RAM do I have? What is that licence key for MS Office that I keyed in? I have asked myself loads of times those questions and always wanted to find information about my PC and my laptop without consulting manuals, ringing through 'unhelpful' help lines etc. This first was introduced to me a few years back while at University when I need to find he licence key of my Office XP copy that I had misplaced. The program is a very small download from and at the size of a little bit shy of a 1MB is easily downloadable. What is will do once installed it give your information on a html page that will display by opening your default browser (IE, Mozilla, Opera, etc) and list down all you need and (don't need) about your computer. The page is divided onto three section that give a more in depth information about your computer. HARDWARE -> That will give you every detail of every obscure bit of hardware in your computer. This will include Models, Serial Numbers, Audits on the drives, IP addresses, Anti-Virus Status INSTALLED HOTFIXES This section provides information about the windows updates and also double checks with its server is all the required windows updates are there and all the patches are applied. It will redirect you to the correct update website to download the patch. (it will still be the Microsoft website but the one containing the specific ...

Remington MB 200 Precision Titanium 15/09/2006

Quality doesn't need advertisement

Remington MB 200 Precision Titanium Well my old man bought this a while back and well he didn't had the chance to use it. I had a Babyliss trimmer for ages that dated back to my University years that operates on AA batteries and wanted something that can be charged off the wall. Also the best bit is the little retractable mini trimmer to shape the sideburns and the goatee. Brilliant…. I like the look of it. It is actually different from the one on the picture as is gold with grey rubber grips with a grey dial. I do actually prefer it to the titanium grey with a blue dial. USAGE The razors are sharp and do a good job. I mean this, my stubble is like barbed wire and a lot of electric shavers have tangled in the past and made me jump with pain while still half awake in the morning but this baby is like a lightsaber. Neat, elegant and goes through anything. I like the function of the control wheel that gives more control on the length of the cut as well. I mean the Babyliss I had could do that as well put manually sliding the comb over the cutting mechanism but this is much neater and I like the feel of the rubber wheel and the way it gives control over the unit. Another jewel for this product is the quality of the blades. There don't wear down, cut through anything as said before but if you remove the comb it to style your beard doesn't scratch the skin which the Babyliss used to irritate me about. I also like the grip, the rubber is top quality and it is not likely to slip off my hand while ...

A4tech KIP-800 14/09/2006

This is great

A4tech KIP-800 I was browsing the net the other day in search of ways of spending my heard earned cash and came across this little jewel. Thought it be a bit of a novelty and looked good on the pictures so decided that I would take my chances and spend the £23 that was required. FIRST IMPRESSIONS Unpacked it today when it arrived at work and boy I couldn't wait till my lunch break to unpack it. To tell the truth I was slightly disillusioned when I opened the box as the phone on the picture on the website ( looks like proper size phone but this one looks like its midget cousin. I suppose it was my fault not calculating in my head that for a phone to fit in the breadth of a KB it must be as broad (or wide, depending on how you look) as the KB. Daft me there... Looking at the box and I noticed that the KB has two 3.5mm jacks on the side in order to connect a pair of headphones and microphone should you wish. When I saw that I thought to myself: -Ohhh b******** this is going to connect via USB and via the phono jacks for the sound so a lot of clutter I thought. Like most of the time I was wrong. This little baby has only one USB and it essentially installs a sound card via USB that takes over the PCI one installed on my computer. USING IT It is a bit odd to get used to the way it actually works. Do not get me wrong it works straight away after plugging the USB in and open Skype/MSN/Yahoo what ever you like and will work a treat but what bugged me was that ...

Lian Li PC-60FN 02/09/2006

First it was the PC 60 then came the G5

Lian Li PC-60FN I was sold this case when I was at University and I loved it the moment I saw it. Here is why: LOOKS It looks good. It really does. It is made of high grade brushed aluminium that not only makes it look gracious like the new jewel of the RAF the Eurofigher but probably as much engineering has gone to it. Because of the use of aluminium rather than steel (take note other case manufacturers) it dissipates the heat faster. To cut it short the case is also a giant heat sink. On top of the case there is a strip of carbon fibre. This sort of makes a change from all the metal and adds detail to the case. The case in the front boasts 4 slots for 5 1/2" drives and 3 slots for 3 1/2 inch drives. The best bit is that Lian Li provides bezels (actually retractable flaps) for the optical drives and a Floppy Drive made in the same aluminium (with the matching brushed pattern) and .multi format card reader (see pic below). There two buttons, a power on/off button that feels sturdy, is a good size and the engraving is of top quality. Sounds like a little detail but I just want to emphasize that there is quality galore. No corners have been cut. The second button the smaller and you can only push it with a pencil or something smaller that my gorilla pinkie finger. I wish it was slightly bigger but you can't have everything I guess. There are two LEDs (a power on and a HDD access light). They are extra bright LEDs and they are quite dear. They look good though. In the dark ...

Alitalia - AZA 30/08/2006

I would rather walk

Alitalia - AZA The joys I have had with Alitalia.(little sarcastic smile)! I used to fly Alitalia (and their partner Malev Hungarian) a lot. This was for lack of option rather than choice. Thank God BA has a direct route to my main holyday destination now. TICKET SYSTEM The pricing is dreadful and every-time you make an enquiry (be that via the internet or phone) the price tag goes up if you enquire with the same phone number or PC (logs ip addresses) so the price magically goes up every 10 minutes (you get the base price if dial with another phone so when at University half of my course would ring Alitalia if I couldn't find cheaper from Thomas Cook.) The price apart from being ridiculous it gets insulting from the service you get (£350 for 3.5 Hours total flying time) FLYING OUT I have always flown Alitalia (or Malev) via Heathrow at terminal 2 and the flights have always been for 6:00AM which is good because I could be in Rome/Milan in 2 and a half hours and be at my destination by midday (in Albania just north of Greece). Well that would be good if you flew any other airline but because the airline has 3 flights in a short time span (6:15, 6:45, 7:15) with lets say 200 people each the check in queue is gianourmous. Alitalia has about 5 check-in booths at T2 plus 1 for their Prima (or Business/First) and also could in theory use 3 from Malev (staffed by Alitalia) and 2 from Olympic Greek. You would think that with that many staff and that many booths the queue would be ...

Iiyama Pro Lite E430S 17 in 29/08/2006

Build Like a Tank, As Sexy as a Tank

Iiyama Pro Lite E430S 17 in I bought one of these way back ( a couple of years ago) and they were much dear back then but I wanted a reliable brand. For the price it was compromise between size, brand reliability and specification. FIRST IMPRESSIONS The monitor came out of the box neatly packaged and was supplied with the cables all cables and was a joke to set it up. The annoying bit is that XP doesn't recognise it (well it loads the default TFT drives which work fine) and there is no drivers CD with it. The manual is slightly patronising (how difficult to connect the power, speakers and a monitor lead could be) and the only useful bit of information in there was that the drivers should be downloaded from the website. God know why a CD with this drivers it is not included. (Maybe newer releases do but mine didn't). INSTALL As I don't like having unrecognised devices installed on my computer I went to the Iiyama website (well actually after playing Call of Duty: United Offensive on that, which I found a pleasure to play even though the colours were a bit dull, especially the black not being inky). The Iiyama website was confusing and took a lot of clicking to get to the drivers (the UK ones) and after you download a zip file which actually holds all of the Iiyama drivers for every Iiyama monitor since the conception of the company. Weird as it asks you to navigate to the product you have with pin-sharp accuracy but you still end up downloading the whole of the range. After this ...

Logitech Marble - trackball 29/08/2006

I want one of those

Logitech Marble - trackball I first saw one of these on a colleagues desk many months ago and always thought having a track ball mouse device not only looked like a daft idea but also would be fiddly and counterproductive to use. STARTING UP Then when I saw one lying around in the office I though I would give it a try connecting it to my laptop as the touchpad is even more horrendous to use and I couldn't have 2 mice in my desk. This is when I started thinking that I was wrong all along. I thought it would be weird to use and fiddly especially clicking as the left and right mouse buttons are to be clicked with the thumb and ring finger respectively. This arrangement sounds a bit weird but I was amazed how easy it is to control the pointer and how much faster it makes things. It also comes with two extra buttons that provide scrolling up and down so it makes life even easier but if I would be picky I would have wanted a scroll wheel somehow incorporated. USAGE It also makes for a great space saving device as you won't need to move it about which is great if you run two different machines (like I do at work). The tracker ball offers pin sharp accuracy (once you get use to it) and is a breeze to use after a couple of days. I used it retouching my pictures in Photoshop and am accurate, omitting the annoying jiggling of a mouse. CONNECTIVITY It is a USB device that works with just about any OS under the sun (haven't tested it some Linux Flavours) but some people would have likes ...

Logitech Cordless Desktop LX700 29/08/2006

Solid Piece of Kit with Stylish Look

Logitech Cordless Desktop LX700 Logitech has always been a brand of quality in terms of Human Interface Devices and this show in their sturdiness and in terms of usage. I one of these at work and typing 8+ a day I have got accustomed to it. I made the move from a wireless set from Chicony which I must admit it was more comfortable to use for me considering that the keys are way smaller on the Logitech. If you have big hands you have a slight problem (as I have found out). You would have to strain yourself to cramp onto the keys and this would lead strain if used Another "feature" which I am not particularly keen on is the reconfigured the layout of the Insert/Delete/Home/End/Page Up/Page Down keys. The main culprit here is the super-sized delete key which inevitably gets pressed more than its fair share. Why they would double its size is beyond me. The shortcut keys (or hot keys) are abundant and very useful especially if you like the quick way of accessing things. The range is pretty good and I have tested it around the office (about 5m) but could go more I suppose but why would you want to do that it escapes me. Synchronising with the receiver is easy if you know what you doing and follow the instructions on the manual (or printer underneath the KB should you lose the manual). If the procedure Sync Key on Receiver -> Connect Button on KB wait 20 sec and Sync Key on Receiver -> Connect underneath the Mouse is not done properly in that way chances are one of the devices will not work. Slightly ...

Akasa Integral AK-EN-02BK 28/08/2006

Arctic Cool Encasing

Akasa Integral AK-EN-02BK I was looking for a 2.5" encasing to make use of an old 40GB laptop hard drive and looking through the Maplin's selection I decided that this was the best looking for the price (£29.99). It was the smallest and prettiest on the shelf and also it helped that I like Akasa as a brand because they are usually good in PC accessories. I then found it at PC World for £19.99, which made it more of a temptation for me to get it. THE LOOKS It comes either in black (pic above) or in silver. It is made of aluminium and it looks good with its brushed aluminium encasing. Still though it lacks something, It doesn't feel solid. It has blue LEDs on both sides, one to show is getting power and the other to indicate the HDD inside is being accessed but these lights are slightly deceptive when you buy and see it on the box as the LED stripe effect is made through one single LED on the side that is reflected through the plastic. I suppose this consumes less power (as opposed to a row of LEDs) so when used through a laptop there would be less power siphoned from the laptop battery. Initially I thought the lighting to be cool but then it starts getting slightly tacky and the case even though is aluminium it doesn't feel sturdy but sort of cheap. (I have seen plastic Freecom ones feeling much better manufactured). THE MANUAL Even though this would just be plugging the HDD in; fix the screws and plug the mini USB to PC, it comes with a manual but really they shouldn't have bothered. ... 25/08/2006

Ciao and Earnings This is not a review to be rated as I know I will get off topic ratings so please do not rate. I am not attempting to review Ciao but want to make my voice heard as I am slightly annoyed with Reason is: I had £20.15 which has disappeared from my earnings, showing 0 now and Ciao hasnt even bothered to reply to my emails. I havent requested a payment and thinking is a glitch I tried for a week and even tried to request a payment that promptly advised me to earn £5 before I could do so. Something is not right here and would like people's opinion. Has anyone else encountered this problem? Also I do apologise for making this a review but seems the only option at this moment in time and hopefully some from Ciao would take a minute to read it. Thanks, Nik

Peugeot 306 1.4 23/08/2006

Cute little thing

Peugeot 306 1.4 I have had my 306 for 2 years now and I have clocked almost 30K miles on it. Not bad for a car that was bought for £780. It is an M Reg with 97000 miles on the clock and the engine is running like clockwork. THE CAR The best feature of this car was the looks of it. It is in red and comes with Peugeot alloy wheels. The standard car is a beauty and this no coincidence as it was designed by Italian car design house Pininfarina, yup you guessed it the people that design Ferraris. The car lines are sharp and sexy and it looks good still even though it was launched more than a decade ago. The car is amazingly roomy inside and in common with most French cars is a very comfortable car. The interiors are of a good quality for its price. It doesn't look cheap and the plastic is rubberised and if clean the car would look younger than it is. The built in stereo (tape player) is good and the steering column mounted controls are great. If you want to put your own though you have to spend £15 on a plastic mask from Halford's (cheapest) because of the odd trapezoid shape of the standard one. That is extremely annoying from Peugeot. The heater is sound and is comfortable not giving a head ache which some cars do. THE MECHANICS Maintenance is cheap and spark plugs, filters and break pads are cheap to purchase, the same range a Fords and other common cars. It is reliable and mechanics are good up to a point and if you look after it it will drag for ages. Recommend ...
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