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since 30/11/-0001


Sony RDR-HX510S 08/01/2006

Sony RDR-HX510

Sony RDR-HX510S I finally made the decision to get a digital recording device. There are a few options around, so I had to decide what I wanted. The main thing was that I didn't want to get caught out by the + vs - battle (like with VHS and Betamax). The Sony offers the ability to record and read pretty much every format available at the moment. It will allow recording to DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW/DL. It wont record DVD-RAM, but that was of limited concern to me. It also has an 80GB hard disk drive for recording without having to actually use a DVD disc. At DVD quality, this equates to approximately 17 hours of recording, though this can be signicantly increased by reducing the recording quality. I managed to find it for just under £300 inc delivery, so the price was right. There are other similar products with bigger hard drives, but this suited me. First things first. Before I even ordered the recorder, I downloaded the manual from Sony's website and sat down to wade through the 108 page manual. It seems very well laid out, though the sheer number of options available seems a little bit bewildering. Set up was straightforward with a helpful setup wizard, combined with the help of the manual meaning I was up and running in no time at all. For the time being, all I've managed is to play a DVD film, and that looks and sounds fine. My first recording was made using the hard drive. You select the channel you want to record, press the record mode button to select the relevant mode (high ...

Devolo MicroLink dLAN Ethernet - bridge - desktop 01/10/2005

Such a simple idea!

Devolo MicroLink dLAN Ethernet - bridge - desktop It would appear that these days many homes have more than one computer. Most of these homes only have one internet connection, be it via the phone line, cable TV, etc. Most of these homes would like internet access in several rooms and some would like to be able to play games head to head. There are a number of ways of achieving these goals. The most hyped and talked about method is to set up a WiFi or wireless network. This is supported by Intel Centrino technology. Another way is to have a wired network installed. This involves drilling holes and laying cables and all sorts of other messy and complicated things. Wired networks are more stable and reliable than wireless networks because a physical connection is more reliable than a non-physical one. Devolo's idea (first implemented by HP, I believe) works on the simple idea that every home already has a wired network installed - your home's electrical system. Devolo's network adapters simply plug into a mains socket. You connect your network socket on your PC to Devolo's adapter, do the same with a second computer within the same building and lo and behold you have a wried network, running at 14MBps. This is fast enough for internet browsing, email, etc, but not fast enough for streaming video. The setup of the system, according to the manual, is devastatingly simple. Plug adapter into mains socket, plug supplied cable into back of computer and into adapter. Turn on PC. Repeat with any other computers you wish to ...

Pioneer DV575A 26/09/2005

A Great All Rounder

Pioneer DV575A Prior to purchasing the Pioneer DV-575AS I was watching DVDs on either my 15" laptop screen or via my TV using my Playstation 2. At the time I was renting DVDs at a phenomenal rate and I was finding a few that wouldn't play through my Playstation. I didn't have 5.1 surround sound from my laptop, so what was I to do? I decided I wanted the Pioneer DV-565. It was due to be replaced soon, so I thought I'd be able to get it cheap. I found it online for £125. Bizarrely it's replacement was available from the same online store (Richer Sounds), in multi-region format, for £118! By all accounts the 575 was even more highly regarded than the 565. Both were renowned for playing all manner of discs, including DVD-A and SACD. I'd read good reviews and I had decided I wanted it. Given that the newer model was actually cheaper I took the plunge. When it arrived, initial impressions were excellent. It's a nice looking bit of kit. Set up took about two minutes. No SCART cable was supplied, so I used the enclosed RCA cable (which I'm still using). Sound connection was supplied via the optical digital output (there is also a digital coaxial output available as well). I put in the first DVD that came to hand (Pitch Black) and sat back to watch this rather excellent little film. I hadn't realised how bad a DVD player the Playstation 2 was! Picture quality is about equal to my eyes, but the sound! What a revelation. I suddenly realised what true surround sound was. DD5.1 and DTS ...

Dell Computer Corp. (Shop) 22/12/2004

Ex-DELL-ent... unless something goes wrong!

Dell Computer Corp. (Shop) SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE. I have owned and used a Dell Dimension XPS T500 for over a year now and I have been impressed by the whole Dell ownership experience. From before I bought the system, I was impressed straight away. Looking through magazine adverts, they seemed to be the best equipped and most reasonably priced systems available (along with Gateway who you can read about elsewhere for that horror story). I phoned Dell to ask for a catalogue and one was sent within two weeks. I phoned them to discuss what I was after and they couldn't do enough to help. The person who had been helping me gave me their name and direct number so I could get hold of them if I needed any more help or advice. In the end I decided on the system I wanted and the upgrades I wanted and I placed my order with the same very helpful person who had been advising me all along. The order was placed and a confirmation of details was sent through the post a few days later. A couple of weeks later, the system arrived. I unpacked everything and set up the system using the colour coded plugs and the clear, easy to follow instructions. The computer worked faultlessly for months until I accidentally turned the power off while the computer was shutting down. This accident caused the windows helpfile to be erased. An e-mail to Dell's technical support and within a week the solution to my problem had been sent. I'd already solved it myself but the response had been quick and accurate. I've owned ... 14/03/2003

Superb service I've bought a few books, Cds and DVDs from, mainly when I have got hold of a money off voucher. My family have also purchased books, CDs and DVDs from amazon. Each time, the purchases have arrived when they told us they would. On the rare occasion when a book is out of stock, an apology is e-mailed telling you when they expect to get a delivery. CDs ordered on a Saturday night or on Sunday, usually arrive by Tuesday. The service from is amazing. The only downside with is the postage and packing costs. Amazon sell CDs, DVDs and books cheaper than they can be bought in the shops, but once you add p&p on to the cost, particularly with books, the savings tend to be only marginal. Postage on books is £2.16 per delivery plus 59p per item and on CDs and DVDs p&p is £1.19 per delivery and 29p per item. This means that savings on CDs over the high street shops is only about a pound at most. Books are less of a bargain, with paperbacks being just a few pence cheaper. But they are cheaper than the high street as far as I am aware. On the other side, there is the convenience of being able to buy almost any book or CD, including some unusual/rare imports that you might not even think about unless you saw them in a shop. For me the big draw is being able to sit at home in an evening and decide what I want to buy, without having to drag myself into town to look round the shops. Amazon present everything in a nice, easy to use format, that lets ...

Demolition Man (DVD) 02/03/2003

Demolition Man

Demolition Man (DVD) THE STORY - from the back cover of the disc "Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes go at it amid a dazzling cyber-future in this explosive hit. In 2032 arch-criminal Simon Phoenix (Snipes) awakens from a 35-year deep freeze in CryoPrison to find a serene, non-violent Los Angeles ready for the taking. Unable to deal with Phoenix's brutal 1990s style, officials seek an old-fashioned cop to fight old-fashioned crime. They revive Sgt. John Spartan (Stallone), unjustly serving a CryoPrison sentence because of his last encounter with Phoenix." That sums up the story nicely, without spoiling it too much. It's kind of a mix of action and humour, with Sandra Bullock thrown in to add a bit of sexual interest. Nigel Hawthorne plays the founder of the serene new world and a rather good job he makes of it too. Watch out for Denis Leary playing… well, playing himself, really. The plot isn't great, but it's a half-decent action film. Certainly worth a look if you like Stallone, Snipes or action films. THE DVD Extras There aren't any. The back cover lists Interactive Menus, Scene Access, Subtitles and English 5.1 Dolby Digital sound as extras, but they aren't extras. They are the absolute, bare minimum that a DVD should contain. Sound As stated above, this is Dolby Digital 5.1 and it's pretty good too. Not brilliant, but not bad. Like the extras, this is functional, without being inspiring. Picture This is without doubt the WORST picture I have ever seen on a DVD, or even VHS ...

Comet (Shop) 24/01/2003

Do they have anything in stock

Comet (Shop) Perusing the top few opinion titles about Comet, it would seem that people do not have a high opinion of Comet. Unfortunately (for Comet) I am not going to change that. The reason I am writing this opinion is that I have a story to tell; "Once upon a time a young, handsome prince decided it was time to get a new stereo. His old stereo was six years old and made a grating noise every time a new CD was put in and the tape player was eating tapes like they were going out of fashion. The prince decided what sort of thing he was after and how much he wanted to spend and he went shopping. He went to a variety of stores and no one had what he wanted. He went in to Comet for the second time that day and decided to ask about a stereo. (He had to ask because he had been in twice and no-one had spoken to him despite the fact that he had been staring at the same stereo for ten minutes.) He listened to a stereo that was more expensive than he wanted (he had set a budget of £300 and the one he was looking at was £350). He decided that since he was a prince, he would have the stereo he was looking at. It was bigger than he wanted, more expensive than he wanted and had a twin tape when he only really needed a single tape but it looked and sounded great. He was told by the storekeeps assistant that the one on display was the only one left and there was no box and probably no instructions - but that the price would be reduced to compensate. Off trotted the assistant and came back ... 29/08/2002

Loquax In the past, I have been a strong critic of the loquax site. I previously said that it was cramped, difficult to navigate and confusing. A couple of weeks ago I revisited the site after a long time of avoiding it because my regular competition site, theprizefinder was not being updated due to people being on holiday. Since I need my daily fix of competitions, I relunctantly visited Loquax. The site had changed quite significantly since I last visited and I now visit the site everyday, and haven't visited theprizefinder for a few days now. Why my change of heart, I hear you ask? Oh, you didn't ask. Well, I'll tell you anyway. The site is still quite a busy looking site, with lots of text everywhere, but the main interest lies in the centre column of the page which starts of with selected new additions for the day. Further down the central column are things like the community and discussion links and a freebies section. The most useful aspect is Your Loquax, which allows you to mark off which competitions have been entered and also allows you to see which sites have been updated since you last visited them. The site is nice and quick to load, due to the lack of pictures (which is a good thing). Not sure how good the newsletter is as I've only just signed up for it, and I've never used the communities pages as I never like those sort of things (since a few bad experiences on the ciao site!). A good site for compers and definitely worth looking at (so you can stop ... 04/06/2002

The best science magazine but online The New Scientist website is one of my favourites. Every week they put some of the articles from the magazine on the website. OK, some of the articles from the magazine are left out, but there are often some really good articles on all sorts of different science topics. I find this a really good site, because I can't afford to buy the magazine every week and I can't be bothered plodding to the library every week to read it there. The website allows me to read some fascinating articles from the comfort of my own home. Also, there is an extensive catalogue of back issues on-line so you can find articles from the last few years that might be interesting and there is also some web-only content. If you like science, try Update (24/7/01) Recently the website was redesigned and updated. The new website is nowhere near as good as the old one. As the previously free too view content is now virtually non-existant, with the content only being available to subscribers, of either the site or the magazine. The quantity and quality of the content has dropped considerably and I can't even be bothered to visit it at all now. Looks like I'll have to keep reading the magazine in the library. ...

Invesco Asset Management Limited 24/07/2001

Really impressive

Invesco Asset Management Limited I have an Invesco PEP and am currently investing in an Invesco ISA. My financial advisor has recommended Invesco to me each time and I have had nothing but positive experiences with them. Every six months, I get a detailed report about each unit trust I have, and once a year they send me a statement that tells me what my investment is worth. Whenever I want to know what the prices for each unit are, I can check the current prices on Invesco's own website. Invesco offer a range of unit and investment trusts and there should be something to suit every type of investor. I paid into my PEP by monthly instalments and changing the amount was simply a matter of writing a letter to Invesco and my bank telling them how much to transfer. I have been extremely satisfied with my investments with Invesco and will continue to invest with them in the future. Update (24/7/01) Over the last twelve months, the performance of Invesco's funds has been less than impressive. The have merged with Perpetual and funds from both companies have been combined. This has nthing to do with the poor performance of Invesco's previously most impressive funds, the European Growth and European Smaller Company funds. Both of these funds have crashed over the last twelve months due to over investment in Technology stocks and the fund managers' failure to see the drop in value in this market sector. The funds will recover in time, as they are long term investments but it is still scary to check the value of ...

Invesco GT European Smaller Compans Fnd 24/07/2001

Double your money...or not

Invesco GT European Smaller Compans Fnd I have had an Invesco European Smaller companies unit trust for almost three years now and it has been one of the best investments I have made. This unit trust took a quarter of the money I invested in a PEP, just before PEPs were replaced by ISAs. In the time I have had it, my investment has doubled. The Smaller companies unit trust from Invesco has been a consistent performer over the last few years and, while it's value does fluctuate like any other investment, it has shown a steady state of growth and it looks like it should continue to do so. Europe appears to be a good place to invest money and the Smaller Companies unit trust, while being more volatile than European Growth fund, does have the potential for greater growth. Invesco describe this fund as being medium to high risk, so it is not for the nervous but it is a good place to stick some spare cash. Update (24/7/01) Over the last twelve months the value of my investment has more than halved. This was due to an over-investment in technology media and communications stocks. This means that the fund manager was caught out and didn't anticipate the drop in value of technology stocks. Due to the heavy investment in this area, the fund has gone from being one of the top performing to one of the worst. Still, these things are long term investments and no doubt the fund will recover. ...

Empire of the Ants (PC) 08/06/2001

Sooo hard it's no fun

Empire of the Ants (PC) Empire of the Ants is a resource management type of game with a twist. Instead of controlling people or monsters, you control a colony of ants. Definitely a fresh idea and it sounds really interesting. Unfortunately, it SOUNDS interesting. Actually, it isn't. I played this game (briefly) before turning my back on it and haven't revisited it since. The problem is, it's a little bit too hard. The first level is dead easy, but after that it gets really, really, really hard. My little anthill can only produce so many soldiers so quickly but the enemy ants seem to swarm all over me in limitless numbers. If I can fend off an attack, I have to devote time and resources to creating new soldiers to replace the ones that have been killed and that means that I run out of resources and when winter comes, my ants starve and I lose the game. Maybe I'm just stupid (which I doubt) or I'm just not very good at these type of games (which, again, I doubt). Maybe I just can't manage ants, which is a shame because as creatures go, ants are remarkable things. It might be that I just gave up with this before I had got to grips with it, but I found it too difficult (or tedious) to manage ants above ground and below ground. As well as deciding which ants to generate and telling them where to go and what to do, you also have to build the nest, which means you need to create ants to build. The graphics are exquisite and the sound does it's job. Make sure you have an up to date driver ...

Addicted To Love (DVD) 01/06/2001

Addicted to Love

Addicted To Love (DVD) Addicted to Love is a romantic comedy featuring two extremely amiable stars. Meg Ryan and Matthew Broderick are both competent, inoffensive stars, who (generally) make competent inoffensive movies. Sam (Matthew Broderick) is an astronomer whose girlfriend Linda(Kelly Preston) goes to New York to teach and decides to stay, dumping him in the process. Naturally, he goes to see her only to hear a man's voice coming from inside her hotel room. He decides to stay and observe her and her new man Anton (Tcheky Karyo), and takes up residence in the abandoned building opposite their apartment. During the first few days, he encounters Maggie (Meg Ryan), who it turns out, was engaged to Anton. Maggie and Sam team up to try and split up the happy couple, doing whatever it takes. Sam is obsessed with winning Linda back and Maggie wants Anton humiliated and destroyed. If you have ever seen a romantic comedy then you'll know exactly what happens in the end, but I won't spoil it for those who can't guess. This film is no "When Harry Met Sally" but it is a nice film. It's is amusing without being fall-on-the-floor hilarious and it is sweet without being too sickly. Meg Ryan is gorgeous and as good as she always is. Matthew Broderick is funny and charming and Tcheky Karyo is really rather good as the character we hate and then feel sorry for. All in all it's a really nice film and perfect for watching with the one you love. DVD Extras Cast and Crew biographies for Meg ... 01/06/2001

If you like ciao... ...then you really should check out dooyoo. It is basically the same site and a lot of people write for both. With dooyoo, you write your opinions and you earn dooyoo miles. 100 miles for writing an opinion and 50 miles for every time it's read by a member. You used to get 10 miles for rating opinions but they stopped this. When you have accumulated enough miles you can cash them in for a variety of rewards. You can choose vouchers from various stores (Dixons,, Boots, etc) when you have at least 20,000 miles (equivalent to £20) or you can request cash when you hit 50,000 miles (or fifty of your English pounds). So, basically it's the same as ciao isn't it? Well yes and no. I've been a member of dooyoo longer than I've been a member of ciao, and I've been a member of both longer than most of the people who tell me how to write opinions and how to read and rate and all that nonsense. Dooyoo is a consumer site (like ciao) only dooyoo also have debates about various political and social topics. You write what you think, someone else writes what they think, people read and comment and everyone earns a few pennies. Where dooyoo differs greatly from ciao is that dooyoo is much friendlier. There is none of the bitchiness that abounds on ciao. Comments written about opinions tend to be about the product, rather than about how long or short the opinion is. People tend to write things like "Thanks for the warning, I'll certainly think carefully before I ...

BSkyB - SKy One 28/05/2001

Sky One

BSkyB - SKy One Sky One is a really good channel...if you like the Simpsons (which I do), Pokemon (which I do), American chat shows like Oprah, Sally Jesse Raphael etc (which I don't) and wrestling (which I don't). These programmes make up the bulk of Sky One's schedule. It is also good if you want to see new episodes of X-files, Friends, JAG, etc before they appear on terrestrial television. Occasionally there is a special feature like the recent Tenth Kingdom and Britney Spears in Hawaii. This limited programming can be good at first. I love the Simpsons and Pokemon is bizarrely interesting, but when you have seen all the episodes and end up watching the same ones over and over again, you stop watching and start seeing what's on the other channels. It seems that Sky One is struggling to find new shows to fill the schedules and this means that viewing figures are bound to drop. Star Trek also features heavily (new episodes are good, repeats worth watching if nothing else on) but how many times can some programmes be repeated? Sky One seriously needs to do something and stop fobbing us off with repeats time and again. It's not all bad, though. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is screened followed by Angel (as it was in America and as it was supposed to be). Credit must be given for this. Sunday evening's new episodes of the Simpsons and Futurama is also great, but maybe it would be better to spread the new shows out over the rest of the week instead of clumping them all together in one ...
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