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andycharger

andycharger

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Reviews written

since 02/08/2000

858

Cannondale Synapse 105 2011 Road Bike 26/08/2011

Great bike and fully loaded!

Cannondale Synapse 105 2011 Road Bike Long time since I reviewed but here goes! I have been riding a hybrid for a year or so but needed a bike more suited to road work. Reason being I am riding a lot of long distance events this year (London to Brighton, London to Southend, London to Paris). So I have been test riding many model of road bike over the summer. The Cannondale Synapse 105 comes out miles above the rest and for a few good reasons. Firstly its has a nice relaxed riding position while maintaining the stiffness needed for power transfer. Compared to the equivalent Giant or Trek, the Synapse makes for a much more comfortable posture due to its reversible handlebar stem to give either an upright or racing style position. The combination of Carbon rear stays and corbon front forks and seat pin adds lightness to an already lightweight aluminium frame. You wont be hanging around due to weight penalties! The groupset on this bike is truly top drawer for a sub £1000 bike. Shimano 105 shifters, front mech, rear mech, cassette, BB30 crank and brakes means you will struggle to get better performance from an aluminium priced bike. The 10 speed gearing with dual crank gives you 20 gears that cover all the ranges offered by the cheaper 9 speed Sora and 8 Speed 2300 cassettes. True, these do come with triple cranks but the performance of the dual and the 10 speed cassette of the 105s is fluid, functional and fast! The stopping power of the bike is immense considering you are riding on 700 x 25 rims with ...

Wilson NFL Extreme American Football 02/06/2010

Its not the real mccoy!

Wilson NFL Extreme American Football Brown, football shape and laces down the middle. All american footballs are the same right? Wrong! So let me tell you about this football and what it brings to the game! The Extreme ball made by Wilson is a synthetic football. Wilson are the leading manufacturer of american footballs and produce game balls for professional leagues as well as the UK BAFL. It is made from a rubberised plastic that is supposed to replicate the feel of a real leather football. The only problem is, it is nothing like a leather football! Ive played quarterback here in the UK and have therefore been lucky enough to thow a lot of footballs over the years. However, this is a ball more suited for the occasional pass in the park. The football is very durable so that it can be used on a variety of surfaces. No scuffing from making contact with tarmac or concrete due to its scratch resistant coating. The uniform material layout also prevents deformation of the ball shape so your football will remain football shape. I would say this is a pretty lightweight ball. Much lighter than an official game ball. I would suggest this is a lot to do with materials used. It makes it an idea ball for kids and people with smaller hands. The laces also stand out much further on this ball than an official ball. This can make gripping and passing much easier as you can get hold of the ball and release much better. It gives you a great result when using it as a teaching aid to throw tight spirals. The NFL badge ...

Lexmark T 640dn 13/05/2010

The Office Workhorse

Lexmark T 640dn If you work in an office environment that produces a lot of documents, you need a printer that is going to be reliable, efficient and economical. Perhaps one of the brands that gets overlooked in this capacity due to its consumables cost is the Lexmark range of heavy duty printers. We have a mixture in the office of Lemark T640N, T640DN and T642N printers in the office and this review is regarding the T640DN that is, in my opinion the best of the bunch. The "D" and the "N" part of its name stands for 2 parts of the printer that are essential in our office. D stands for Duplex. This printer can print on both sides of the paper and N for the in built Network connectivity to sit happily on the Office LAN. Dimensions/Weight Constructed from rigid and sturdy plastic,It is quite a builky and somewhat cumbersome beast but no more so that the comparable HP, Canon or Epson Printers that do a similar job. The DN model is somewhat taller than the standard N model due to the inclusion of the inbuilt duplexer but it is advisable to opt for this model if duplexing is a requirement. You can opt for the add on duplexer that allows the N models to also duplex but this again adds a lot of extra space requirements to the rear of the printer. Weight is a factor. Due to the many inbuilt features, its construction material and robust design, it is built to last and reflects this in how much it weighs! You can easily lift it on your own but be careful if you have additional paper trays or ...

Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd 10/05/2010

Big features not amazing performance

Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd I thought i would add my review of this camera as I have owned mine for over a year now. It gives me enough time to find the good and the bad to help you make up your minds if considering this as a purchase. It is the 5th Digital camera i have owned since making the switch from film to digital but probably only the 2nd or 3rd best out of the 5. Here is why... Look and feel. Fits nicely in the hands as a "one handed shooter" with a good grip as long as you are right handed. It has a bulky block design and is relatively big for a handy everyday snap happy camera. Then again, it is not really designed for a pocket sized all purpose camera due to all the amazing features it has. Niche market camera. As mentioned, this is not really a basic "quick snaps" type camera. Its not one you can slip in your pocket for a night out. Nor does it have the flexibility or functionality of a lens swapping Digital SLR camera costing 100's of pounds. No. Instead this sits in the middle trying to play the part of a "compromise" camera for both markets. It is here it fails. Its too big and complex for everyday snaps and too underskilled for the bigger performance SLR range. If you are looking for this sort of compromise camera, its ok but not ideal at doing either job. Power consumption. This camera is suprisingly good when it comes to power. Granted it does require 4 x AA batteries but these do last and i have snapped at least 100 pics on 1 set and most with a flash and reviewed them ...

Samsung PS50B530 07/05/2010

A lot of TV for your money!

Samsung PS50B530 I have now owned this 50 inch TV for nearly 6 months so I feel I have had long enough exposure to write an accurate and honest review on it. Reason to purchase? Well, the old 1st generation 42 inch Hitachi Plasma we owned developed a fault in November 09. Not bad after nearly 6 years of service! A nasty black stripe had appeared down it so it was time to look at a replacement. Plasma over LCD? This is the debate that continues to rage. We had a Plasma prior to this one and loved the detter definition, true black and better response times the plasma gave compared to similar sized LCDs. People always commented on the sharpness of our old TV so my theory was, Plasma is the way forward. Today the LCDs and even LED TVs seem to be getting more and more popular. Downside is that the Plasma TVs do have a finite lifespan due to the technology and comsumables that are used in them. Saying that, LCDs are known to have dead pixels in the screen with age. One advantage the Plasma has over the LCD is the viewable spaces. The LCD tends to become unviewable if you are sitting at too great an angle to the TV. Try it now with your PC screen. Tilt it away from you. The Plasmas do not suffer from this as badly. Ok, so we now know why I wanted another plasma but with 42 inch on the wall already, why go bigger? Well, we have moved house since our initial purchase and the lounge is now bigger. Your eyes and viewing preferences do become used to the screen size in time and to make a ...

Acer TravelMate 5320-301G12Mi 05/05/2010

Average performance from an average laptop...

Acer TravelMate 5320-301G12Mi This is not one we use in our office environment but it is a laptop i have seen plenty of during the last year! The Acer Travelmate 5320-301 has often been looked over and used many times by myself as it is always breaking, becoming corrupt or generally performing badly for its owner ( a friend of mine) The laptop itself has a nice robust chassis and its shiny black case and ultra clear shiny screen make it a nice product to look at. I liken the screen itself to the Sony Viao range with a clear "glass" look as opposed to the matt finish that many anti glare screens currently come with. There are plenty of connectivity options and interfaces with this laptop. The Broadcom 1 Gig Lan port means you can plug it into a network without any problems and not suffer from speed issues. If you want to go wireless, it has a built in wireless capability offering you good speed as it uses Wireless G technology. There is also an infa red port and Bluetooth connectivity. The Wireless and Bluetooth have an easy on/off slide button on the front of the laptop. Next to the slide switches are the headphone/mic sockets for good front access along with an SD card reader for easy access to your pictures. To the left of the case is a side facing USB port wich adds to the 3 USB ports on the rear. The DVD/CD RW drive is located to the right hand side. So connectivity is not an issue. Built into the Lid is the Crystal Eye web cam that offers great heads up cam capability if you wish to use Skype ...

Carrera Gryphon Disc Spec 08 28/04/2010

Taming of the hybrid - Carrera Gryphon!

Carrera Gryphon Disc Spec 08 Taming of the Hybrid In recent years, the once definitive line between Racing Bike and Mountain Bike has been “muddied” by the emergence of the Hybrid Bike. This is an ideal scenario for those of us looking for the general everyday performance of a road bike but the comfort and riding style of a mountain bike. My Requirements...When i was looking for a new bike to complete the London to Brighton on this year, I figured i would invest a little and get a half decent bike. The last bike i purchased was a cheap mountain bike some 4 or 5 years ago for around £90 and game me the performance and expectations of a £90 bike! i.e. not much of either! However, im not yet made of money so had to go about this in a sensible fashion. A budget of between £300-400 was my target and any less would be a bonus. What i found...Looking at most performance bikes i was unlikely to achieve my goals on my budget. That was until i stumbled across the bargain of the year in Halfords. The Carrera Gryphon with Disc Spec. CARRERA GRYPHON – The Bike. To say that this bike is loaded with some really good gear would be an understatement. Not only does it give you a lightweight and rigid frame made from 7005 gauge aluminium, but it provides you will Shimano/SRAM gearing setup, Full Disc Brakes and quick release wheels! The Frame.Nice looking item finished in a metallic dark grey. It only comes in 1 colour. There are no eye fittings for standard brakes on the frame so if you wanted to change ...

Samsung SyncMaster 2243NW 22 in 28/04/2010

Developer's dream!

Samsung SyncMaster 2243NW 22 in Being an IT manager, I get to sample a lot of hardware and peripherals. Not just the latest "toys" but also trialing products the company can use in a day to day environment. Therefore when my developers were complaining abut cramped screens and lack of working space, I decided to investigate the world of 22 inch widescreen monitors. The problem? Well when you have a lot of programs open on your computer screen, everything runs out of space fine. True, you can adjust your screen resolution on your PC but without increasing the screen size, everything gets very tiny. The solution? Increase your resolution AND buy a nice big screen so that you can see what you are doing. The Product to do it? The Samsung 2243NW. Samsung screens have been widely reknowned for years as one of the biggest movers in the LCD and even plasma arena. Many TVs hanging from the walls in lounges are Samsung. My 50 inch TV bought at christmas 09 is a Samsung. (more on that later). You simply cannot fault their build quality, screen sharpness and reliability. The same goes for this 2243NW. Resolution? It can easily cope with my work requirements of 1680 x 1050 which is more than most home users would ever need. It can go up even higher than this too without failing! The picture is clear and crisp ( it has an 8000:1 dynamic contrast ratio!) with the problem of angled viewability totally eradicated. What do I mean by that? Well, sometimes with LCD screens you can only see what is on screen when ...

Bush CF143GB 27/04/2010

Ideal for the average family!

Bush CF143GB Long time away so here goes.... If like me you have 2 small children, you tend to need a supply of "instant food" in the freezer for when you don't have the time to freshly prepare a big meal. As frowned upon as it is, we all need to reach for the chicken nuggets, fish fingers and oven chips from time to time. That is great if you have a garage with a large chest freezer to store lots of frozen goods in it. However, we dont have a garage or utility room for such a unit and have got by for the last few years using a fridge freezer combo in the kitchen. This limits how much we can store and even how long we can store it. What we needed was a freezer to go in the shed. After looking at various smaller single freezers, we found that Bush and several other manufacturers made these "one and a half" sized freezers. Single freezers are fine but they did not really add any capacity to what we already had. The Bush BSCF145 White Chest Freezer gives you just enough capacity to cope with your average family without being obtrusive in size so that you need lots of room to keep one. However, be warned here. If you are hoping to slot it in to a traditional sized slot in your kitchen, it is actually 1.5 times the width of a standard household appliance so will not fit in the hole! It is also top opening so dont buy one if you are planning on putting it under a work top. We had it delivered by Argos and it came very well packaged. I was very suprised by its "dry weight". It was ...

Creative ZEN Arm pack MP3 Player (70AB216000020) 28/02/2008

No bouncing when im running

Creative ZEN Arm pack MP3 Player (70AB216000020) As some of you may be aware, ive been on a major health and fitness kick since 1st Jan and part of this has been jogging/running. However, spending time on my own pacing across the forest or more importantly, down at the gym can get a little tedious without some entertainment. My Ipod is a little large to take out with me and the headphones are a little restrictive with it in my shorts pocket. So I needed an alternative method of listening to my music on the move. My wife came up with the solution. "Borrow my MP3 player. you can get an armstrap for it as Claire has one for the Gym." My eyes lit up. There was the answer. However I was a little sceptical with the thought of the band loosening/slipping mid motion and the Zen ending up on the floor as I trample it on the running machine. But oh no, this is ace. So now you know why I have it/need it, here is what it does. Looks/FeelWell, its not the most complex of items! Its a material band that has a black carry case attached via a belt loop. Its descreet enough to fit under most T shirts, should you wish to hide it away on your biceps! The strap part is perforated along its length which seems to give it more stretchability (is that a word?) and hence, more snug fitting to your body without cutting off the blood supply to your arm. The carry case part is finished in a rubberised material that the Zen fits inside neatly. It just slides in without any problems and you have full access to its controls through the ...

Microsoft Headset Xbox 360 Wireless 25/02/2008

Poor Xbox audio - No one seems to talk

Microsoft Headset Xbox 360 Wireless After investing in a wireless headset some time ago, it was not many minutes before i realised what a big mistake i had made. Dont get me wrong, with the Xbox 360, there is very little Microsoft have got wrong (other than the 3 red lights problem that we have all had!) but they did get the wireless headset seriously wrong. So why am I so keen to share with you my experiences with you? Well I dont want you to make the same mistake i did with the wireless headset. This is because most people on here seem to rave about it. I dont know why. I must be missing something! Why Wireless?Well I think that wireless is totally unecessary. At all time you will have a controller in your hand. The wired headset that comes with the console plugs into the controller and has ample cable. Wireless, I guess would come into its own where you are using a dancemat and playing online. With the mat on the floor and the headset on your head and plenty of movement, the socket provided will not be able to give enough length for an adult using it. What annoys me is that the The Xbox 360 is one of the most popular computer games consoles around yet it provides a wireless headset option that is difficult to set up, has rubbish battery life, a long recharge time and poor quality sound. Look and feelAs you can see from the picture it is a small device that fits over your ear and operates totall wirelessly. Its small size means that the earloop is very restrictive to people with bigger ears ...

Kingston SDC/2GB-2ADP Micro Secure Digital 2048 MB 18/02/2008

Small Medium and Large SD Cards!

Kingston SDC/2GB-2ADP Micro Secure Digital 2048 MB You probably own a device of some sort that requires a flash memory card of some sort and more than likely its an SD (Secure Digital) style card. For a few years now SD memory cards have been one of the most popular methods of storage for digital cameras and some mobile phones. However, as all technology shrinks down, unfortunately so do the memory cards. Therefore a lot of of new phones require a "Micro" or "Mini" SD card. Sounds ok but does that mean your existing card reader (That takes standard SD types of card) is now obsolete? No, not at all! The clever bods over at Kingston decided that they could make their new Micro SD cards backwards compatible for standard and Mini SD sizes by selling them with a pair of handy adapters. Yes, when you buy the Kingston Micro SD, the card itself will fit into all of your Micro SD powered devices (even though they are too small in my opinion) as well as easily fitting into the supplied adapter and then into your Laptop Card reader. Its a great way to only need 1 SD card but yet have lots of applications for it. The storage of my particular Micro SD cards is 2Gb. That is a huge amount of storage for a flash card and will allow you to take up to 1200 good sized pictures on my new 8 Megapixel Camera. It can also hold other types of recorded media and doubles up as place to store music on my MP3 Player that takes Mini SD courtesy of the adapter. My other Mini SD is permanently stored inside my XDA Orbit mobile phone from O2. This ...

HP 344 - 2-pack - colour (cyan, magenta, yellow) - original - ink cartridge (C9505EE) 15/02/2008

Great colours and great pricing for my HP inks

HP 344 - 2-pack - colour (cyan, magenta, yellow) - original - ink cartridge (C9505EE) After telling you about the excellent and longer lasting Black brinter cartridge for the HP 2575 multi function device yesterday, I figured I should also write about its counterpart.....The Colour Cartridge. While modern Inks for printers are more widespread and easier to replace in our throwaway society (cartridges seem be sold in the most unlikely of shops!), a little bit of careful consideration should be made as to what ink and how many we buy at once! Therefore, the twin pack idea from HP is a great way of saving the environment with packaging and also adding the "spare" cartidge philosophy when printing your pictures. Colour qualityFantastic. Colour is delivered via its 3 strip element adding a mixture of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow in differing quantities to give you excellent and smudge free results. The colours are vivid and sharp and pretty breathtaking for an inkjet. Usage/ApplicationPretty much anything you need to print out. From high quality glossy paper to general run of the mill printing. The extra capacity cartridge delivers massive amounts of ink that should last you some time. Why the 344?Well most of you dont know that the HP Photosmart 2575 comes with 2 different cartridges to the ones i now use. The numbers are 338 and 343. 338 is the black cart and the 343 is the colour cart. What they dont tell you is the standard cartridges (338 and 343) only manages to print 600 pages at 5% coverage. However, for a couple of quid more, you can have a full ...

HP 339 Twin Pack - 2-pack - black - original - ink cartridge (C9504EE#241) 14/02/2008

Extra Ink? - REVISED

HP 339 Twin Pack - 2-pack - black - original - ink cartridge (C9504EE#241) PLEASE NOTE! My previous opinion on the HP 339 is in the wrong category as I dont get paid in the other one and It is the same item! Im asking Ciao to remove the other review and have reposted it here! Inks for printers are a lot more accessible today and refillable and replacable cartridges seem be sold in nearly every stationers. The print happy generation with their digital cameras, web forms for invoices, bookings and receipts for goods/holidays means most of us need to be able to print. Therefore when buying cartidges for your printer, its good to have an option. For the HP Photosmart 2575 there seems to be a few options on print cartridge. Mainly do you want the standard cartridge that prints 450 pages at 5% coverage, or for a couple of quid more, have a full cartridge that prints 800 pages! No brainer really but im not sure how many people are aware of this. For example. In your Photosmart 2575 printer, you get a short filled colour cartridge and a short filled Black cartridge. The Black cartridge number is 338. So its natural for the unsuspecting user to take this with them to cartridge world or somewhere similar when getting a new one or even having it refilled. If they are replacing it, chances are they will pick up the 338 replacement. Its unlikely that they will know that the 339 is an identical part except it prints almost TWICE what the 338 does for very little extra investment. Packaging is traditional HP cardboard which aids to the recycling. I ...

HP 339 - 2-pack - black - original - ink cartridge (C9504EE) 12/02/2008

Extra Ink? How about they told you that!

HP 339 - 2-pack - black - original - ink cartridge (C9504EE) Inks for printers are a lot more accessible today and refillable and replacable cartridges seem be sold in nearly every stationers. The print happy generation with their digital cameras, web forms for invoices, bookings and receipts for goods/holidays means most of us need to be able to print. Therefore when buying cartidges for your printer, its good to have an option. For the HP Photosmart 2575 there seems to be a few options on print cartridge. Mainly do you want the standard cartridge that prints 450 pages at 5% coverage, or for a couple of quid more, have a full cartridge that prints 800 pages! No brainer really but im not sure how many people are aware of this. For example. In your Photosmart 2575 printer, you get a short filled colour cartridge and a short filled Black cartridge. The Black cartridge number is 338. So its natural for the unsuspecting user to take this with them to cartridge world or somewhere similar when getting a new one or even having it refilled. If they are replacing it, chances are they will pick up the 338 replacement. Its unlikely that they will know that the 339 is an identical part except it prints almost TWICE what the 338 does for very little extra investment. Packaging is traditional HP cardboard which aids to the recycling. I believe they use recycled material for the boxes. Inside is the foil wrapped cartridge which is packed in such a way to prevent ink drying and evaporation before usage. Installing the cartridge is very ...
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