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Samsung UE40F6510 01/01/2014

Modern smart TV : Samsung 40 inch UE40F6510 television

Samsung UE40F6510 This review is of the Samsung UE40F656510 40 inch widescreen LED television. I was looking for a new television and this was recommended by a friend as they had one and found that it had a good picture quality and seemed robust and reliable. It is also an 'intelligent' television which can make recommendations on what you should watch based on previous viewing. There are also other sizes of the same television available including the 32 inch and the 46 inch model. In terms of the looks I found that the television seemed stream-lined, sleek and modern. The edge on the television is kept to a minimum so that the picture comes nearly to the edge of the television itself. It also comes with a silver stand which I didn't particularly like but did seem to have a modern look. The extra functions on this television I did find of interest, especially as I could link my Samsung phone to the television and use it as a second screen. The television also has its own built in wi-fi which allows people to connect to catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer, ITV catch-up and 4OD and I did find this facility really useful. It was the catch-up and wi-fi connection which I personally felt changed television the most for me as it integrates the Internet and television together really well. Watching Youtube or BBC iPlayer on a large screen is much more useful to me than watching it on a laptop and browsing the Internet is smooth and entirely functional. The sound quality was also better than ...

Breville VTP099 Gourmet Pie Maker 04/09/2012

Make yourself some gourmet pies!

Breville VTP099 Gourmet Pie Maker This review is of the "Antony Worrall Thompson Gourmet Pie Maker", model VTP099, made by Breville. Although the machine is named after a celebrity chef who has certainly caused a range of different views, it certainly makes the machine name easier to remember than a random model number alone. The pie maker itself is easy to use and can make four pies with around ten minutes cooking time. All the items that are needed to make pies, such as the pastry cutting and crimping tools are included with the product, so nothing else is needed other than the ingredients themselves. There are a wide range of fillings which can be used, and a small booklet comes with the device with some suggestions. But there's no reason that the machine can't be used for pies as diverse as fruit pies to meat pies, indeed anything that can be eaten with pastry will probably work. Personally I found the machine superb for making small chicken pies, although it should be noted that they are quite small, so the amount of filling is a little limited. In terms of use, this is a very easy machine to use. It might not allow for the flexibility that cooking in an oven can, in terms of the size of pie and more precise control over the cooking, but I found that it produces perfectly good pies which are of the right temperature and taste great. The pastry might be a little hard, but with some experimentation this can be minimised. There are also no long waiting periods required, it's a plug in and turn on ...

Four Meals for Fourpence - Grace Foakes 06/08/2012

An important social history of the East End of London

Four Meals for Fourpence - Grace Foakes This review is of the paperback book "Four Meals for Fourpence" by Grace Foakes, and is sub-titled "A Heartwarming Tale of Family Life in London's Old East End". This book is not a new work, but is based on three other volumes of auto-biography by Grace Foakes, "Between High Walls", "My Part of the River" and "My Life with Reuben". I hadn't read any of these, so this book was of interest, but for those who have read one of these books, there will inevitably be some duplication. The book is the true story of the author's early life in the East End of London in the early part of the twentieth century. Their story is typical of many people living in the poverty of what was one of the wealthiest cities in the world, and in many ways, life for the very poor had improved little since the times of Dickens and his stories of London. The book starts with Foakes noting that today the area around Tower Bridge, where she grew up, is now the "romantic river" that many described it as. She notes that, "those who lived alongside it or worked on it found it dirty, busy and smelly". She describes the hard work that the dockers had to put in, the poor working conditions, poor living conditions, lack of money and the giant river rats that ran alongside the river. I found the stories of the author's early life living in the East End, actually on Wapping High Street, fascinating, describing how the family lived their lives and the kitchen where "my mother could always be found". It is ...

Young Prince Philip: His Turbulent Early Life - Philip Eade 31/07/2012

Recommended look at Prince Philip's early life - by Philip Eade

Young Prince Philip: His Turbulent Early Life - Philip Eade This review is of the paperback book "Young Prince Philip - His Turbulent Early Life" by Philip Eade. This is the biography of the current Queen's consort and there are also hardback and Kindle versions. Whatever people think of the Monarchy, most will agree that Prince Philip has been a constant source of support to the Queen over the 60 years of her reign, and the years when she was the first in line to the Throne when George VI was King. This year, in 2012, they marked their 65th wedding anniversary, so the impact that Prince Philip has had on the Monarchy is crucial. I didn't previously know a great deal about Prince Philip's early life, other than knowing he was born into the Greek Royal family and later had to go into exile. This book takes the story of Prince Philip's life to around the death of King George VI and starts to make sense of the complex connections between the monarchies of Europe at the time. The book is semi-authorised, so that friends of Prince Philip were no obstructive in helping with information and quotes, but equally, this is not a fully authorised biography of his early life which the Prince was involved with. This has the substantial advantage that it means the potentially negative areas of his life aren't removed, which helps the biography be much more balanced. I found the writing style positive and fluent, and I found it provided enough detail about Philip's up-bringing and how he was influenced, without becoming confused with the ...

LaCie Minimus 301961EK 1 TB 26/07/2012

Lots of storage space for your holiday photos - 1 Terabyte LaCie

LaCie Minimus 301961EK 1 TB This review is of the LaCie Minimus, which is an external hard drive. There are both one terabyte and two terabyte versions available, I own the former, although their functionality is the same other than the storage space available. I've now been using this product for just over a year. I recall one of the first computers I purchased had a 250MB hard drive, which once seemed vast to me, very roughly the equivalent of 250 floppy disks. Time however has moved on, the Internet has developed and there seem to be ever more documents, pictures and videos that need saving. Although I use the cloud more and more for on-line storage and back-up, I also felt that I should put a copy of all my data onto a hard drive. I hadn't heard of LaCie before I purchased this unit, but it had good reviews and was reasonably priced at 74.99 pounds including delivery. I purchased the 1 terabyte model, although a 2 terabyte model was available for about another 25 pounds at the time. Although I have managed to take lots of photos and videos from holidays, I was still nowhere near to filling up that much space, so I opted for the 1 terabyte model. The unit uses USB 3.0 technology, which I don't understand the details of, other than it's much quicker and more efficient. When transferring lots of data, any faster data transfer is of course appreciated, and this made me confident that the unit would be up-to-date, although my computer currently isn't as advanced. I did wonder whether the USB 3.0 ...

Seve: The Autobiography: The Official Autobiography - Severiano Ballesteros 24/07/2012

Seve's autobiography, understand more about this great golfer

Seve: The Autobiography: The Official Autobiography - Severiano Ballesteros This review is of the paperback book “Seve – The Official Autobiography”, written by the famous golfer Seve Ballesteros. Although he sadly died in May 2011, this book was originally published in 2008. The book is 304 pages long and was published by Yellow Jersey, and there is also a Kindle version available. The first part of the book recalls his memories of the farm on which he grew up, living in rooms above the animals which occupied the stables. It was during childhood that he became interested in golf, and he writes, “From childhood my brother and I liked golf, we’d take along an 8-iron that one of the club members had given us. We’d almost always play with stones, but occasionally we’d use real balls that we found or stole from the club”. I found this first part of the book particularly interesting, with how his interest in golf started, and also the very rural and peaceful upbringing which he had. He was close to his brothers, although they often argued, and all of his brothers that survived childhood became professional golfers in later life. I felt that the first three chapters or so were important in explaining who the man was, because by his late teens Seve had already won his first tour event, and then in the next few years he won many other events and also The British Open and the Masters. His progress was swift, and he had an engaging character which won him many fans. I felt that the story of how he won these titles was told in a genuine and engaging way, in ...

Delonghi ICK6000 1.2L 24/07/2012

Summer's here, time to make ice cream with the ICK6000

Delonghi ICK6000 1.2L This review is of the DeLonghi Il Gelataio ICK6000 ice cream maker, allowing you to make ice cream in just thirty minutes, ideal for the several days of sunny weather that can be expected this year. I didn’t actually buy this, just borrowed to try from a friend who used it once, and then finding it worked quite well, have now acquired it permanently. I don’t have a wide experience of ice cream makers, so I can’t easily compare to other machines. Although I’m not entirely sure on how ice cream makers work generally, I understand that there are some where you need to freeze the bowl before making the ice cream, and some which have an in-built freezer which do this for you. This particular model does the latter, which is what I understand makes it more expensive. In terms of ease of use, I found this a really easy machine to actually make ice cream. Everything is done by the machine, so after placing the required ingredients in, start it off, and ice cream is ready in around half an hour. What ingredients to use and their quantities are detailed in the book, just a mixture of milk, sugar, egg yolks and cream, although this can of course be varied to suit. The unit can make just over a litre of ice cream, which I find sufficient, but for those that want a larger quantity, they’d of course have to set it off again after it’s finished. For larger families, some planning therefore might have to go into how much ice cream is needed, but at least of course it’s a product which can ...

Russell Hobbs 18960-56/18507-56 Desire Collection 22/07/2012

A mixer which is reliable but a bit over powerful : 18507

Russell Hobbs 18960-56/18507-56 Desire Collection This review is of the Russell Hobbs 18507 hand-mixer and which currently retails at around 18 pounds. The packaging explains that the mixer can perform a range of functions, whisking, whipping, kneading and mixing, and it is the latter that I primarily use. The mixer has five speed settings and comes with two beaters and two dough hooks. A basic instruction manual is also included with the mixer. The mixer is primarily black, with a red panel at the top and three black buttons set into the red panel. The top button has the five available speed settings, and the off button, as well as the button to start the mixing and a boost button to give some extra power to the process. In terms of the looks of the mixer, I think it looks fine in black and red, but I don't find that it feels overly robust, although it is at the cheaper end of the pricing range. In terms of noise, it is a little loud, but not excessively, so I don't find this either a negative or a plus. Although I haven't tried it so can't comment in too much detail, as making bread is beyond my level of competence, the enclosed dough hooks can be connected to the mixer to knead dough. However, in terms of what I use the mixer for - mixing cakes mainly - I've found that it copes really well. It has sufficient power to mix the ingredients, and it copes with eggs and batters perfectly sufficiently. The mixer is also relatively light-weight, so it doesn't start hurting the wrist after a couple of minutes usage. ...

48 - James Herbert 18/04/2012

A horror novel by James Herbert - if WWII had ended differently

48 - James Herbert This review is of the military horror novel "'48" by James Herbert, first published in 1996. Without giving away too much of the plot itself, the basic essence of the book is about a London where the allies didn't win the war. Instead the Germans were able to send V2 missiles to attack the city with a deadly disease, which only those with the AB blood group were able to survive. Although most of the city's population had been killed as they were going about their usual life, some had survived but were even weakening. It was the leader of this group, Lord Hubble, that wanted to the blood from those with AB blood groups and use it himself replacing his own blood group, to make him better. The book involves a number of characters who have the AB blood group, and who need to escape London, and those who aren't fortunate to have that blood group and need to stop them. I found the characters believable, although they were a little stereo-typical in places, a German, a member of the aristocracy and an American, to name just a few. I haven't read any of James Herbert's books for several years, and remember in the past that he has written books such as the Rats and Lair, which are when giant rats attack people, and also some more haunting books such as The Magic Cottage. I didn't find that this book was similar to any others which I've read, and it was an interesting mix of horror, history, military and thriller. There were a number of twists in the story, and not everyone ...

Imperial War Museum 15/04/2012

The Imperial War Museum in London, highly recommended

Imperial War Museum This review is of the Imperial War Museum in London, a military museum marking the contribution made by the armed forces over the centuries. I visited the museum in early April 2012, and for anyone interested in going, it's best to make a visit sooner rather than later as from August 2012 many of the large objects are being moved out, and in January 2013 the museum will be closed for six months for a major renovation. Like many other of the London museums, entrance is free of charge to everyone (some special exhibits have an extra charge) because of a grant from the Department of Culture, although donations can be made, or a guide book purchased to help them (the museum is a charity) with the costs of running such a superb museum. Making the museum free of charge has made a large difference to the number of visitors, up from 660,000 ten years ago to nearly 1,100,000 last year. There is a large gun outside the front of the museum which helps identifies you've found the right place, which is located near to Lambeth North tube station, and not far from the Elephant & Castle and Waterloo stations. There are also many buses which go by the museum and some nearby bike racks which are part of the Mayor's bike hire scheme, sponsored by Barclays. There is no parking at the museum, other than street parking, which is expensive and the museum is inside the congestion charge zone. So most visitors will probably opt for public transport to get here. Entering the museum you can see ...

Microsoft 2LF-00001 25/02/2012

Wireless mouse and keyboard from Microsoft

Microsoft 2LF-00001 This is a review of the Microsoft Wireless Desktop 800, which consists of a wireless keyboard and mouse. Having broken my previous keyboard (which I do with some regularity unfortunately), I needed a replacement and this was the one which Argos were promoting for 16.99 pounds at the time (although it's back up to 19.99 pounds at the moment) which seemed good value. The package consists of the wireless keyboard, the wireless mouse and also the dongle which plugs into the computer's USB port. The equipment is battery powered, the keyboard uses 2 AAA batteries, and the mouse 2 AA batteries, but these come supplied within the package. Installation for me at least was easy, just a matter of plugging the USB dongle in and my Windows 7 computer at least immediately installed the relevant software, and I was ready to go in minutes. The packaging notes that the product is compatible with Windows 7, and also with Windows Vista and Windows XP. The Argos packaging came with a note saying that it came with a Microsoft two year guarantee, which I imagine is provided to all customers regardless of which retailer they purchase it from. The mouse has three buttons and three scroll wheels, and the buttons are programmable, so it's also handy that it's suitable for left or right handed people and seems to be quite robust. The mouse moved effortlessly with no sticking and no slow response times, which is the main requirement I could have with a wireless mouse. The only fault I've really ...

Breville VKJ142 Hot Cup Kettle 13/02/2012

One cup kettle - saves water and energy - Breville VKJ142

Breville VKJ142 Hot Cup Kettle This review is for the Breville VKJ142 Hot Cup, which is a kettle designed to just heat the amount of water that you need. The aim of this kettle is to boil and dispense only one cup at a time, which has the advantage of being much quicker, and saves energy and time in not boiling water that isn't needed. I bought this deliberately for both the speed and energy issues, and hopefully it'll save at least a little electricity! Some technical details, the kettle is 3,000 watts, has a 1.5 litre 5 cup capacity, a removable drip tray, cord storage, boil dry protection, and safety cut-out. The kettle weighs 1.6 kgs. In terms of the product itself, it's easy to use, and takes less than 30 seconds to boil one cup, with the water automatically dispensed at the press of a button. It's easy to fill, which is done just like a usual kettle and it has an easy release lid, and it's also easy to pour. It's maybe a little louder than a usual kettle, but nothing particularly excessive. The kettle is black and grey, and I think this is the only colour that is available. As expected, the kettle comes well packaged in a relatively small box, and there is a comprehensive instruction manual enclosed, although it's not really necessary to read this to be operate the kettle. The kettle feels quite robust and comes with a one year warranty, so should be reasonable long-lasting. It's also easy to lift, which makes it particularly suitable for those who struggle to lift heavier products or have ...

Ali Tandoori, Norwich 10/02/2012

Recommended Indian in Norwich - Ali Tandoori

Ali Tandoori, Norwich This review is for the Indian restaurant, the "Ali Tandoori", which is on Magdalen Street in Norwich. I've been visiting this Indian for a few years, and I personally think it's one of the best in the city. The food and service have always been of a good standard, and the prices charged are reasonable. There are also some interesting pubs nearby, the King's Head offers a superb choice of real ales and ciders, Wetherspoon's Glass House is cheap and the Ribs of Beef offers a river view from its terrace. The restaurant is reasonably large, probably seating around 60-70, and it's recommended to book if you're visiting on either a Friday or Saturday night. However, if you just turn up, they'll always do their best to find a table for you. One of the advantages of waiting in the Ali Tandoori is that they have a small seating area and bar at the front of the restaurant looking out onto the road. You can enjoy drinks here, and they usually provide some free Bombay Mix whilst you're waiting, which is an enjoyable extra touch. The papadums (that spelling looks wrong, but it's how they spell it, and they know more then me about Indian cooking!) and selection of chutney dips are good, and I can recommend the starters of chicken wings, chicken tikka and the onion bhajis! I don't usually opt for very hot curries, but they do have a range of these, including vindaloo and chilli masala, but I'm always content with the baltis or bhunas. The chicken used in these curries is always ...

Twitchhiker: How One Man Travelled the World - Paul Smith 01/01/2012

Travel the world for free using only Twitter - travel book

Twitchhiker: How One Man Travelled the World - Paul Smith This review is of the paperback book "Twitchhiker - How One Man Travelled the World" by Paul Smith. It is the true story of the author's attempts to travel around the world relying only on Twitters users to help him with his travel and accommodation. The author, Paul Smith, had worked in radio production for over ten years before deciding that the management position he had risen to involved rather too much office politics for his liking. A combination of recalling his joys of reading travel authors such as Pete McCarthy and discovering the Internet site Twitter had given him an idea for a new challenge. Smith set himself the challenge, whilst day-dreaming of travelling by relying on people he hadn't yet met on Twitter and to see how far around the world he could get in 30 days. As Smith wrote about his thoughts, "it was the most ridiculous, least violent thought I'd had in the past hour, and I had absolutely no excuse not to attempt it". This was the basis for Smith's charity expedition and he set himself some simple rules. He would only use Twitter to find accommodation and travel, he could plan his travels no more than three days in advance, he could only pay for food, drink or things that would fit into his small case and he'd chose his favourite option but if there was only one option he'd take that. He would go for 30 days, but would have to stop if he failed to find someone on Twitter to make him travel or accommodation offers. Without giving too much away of ...

Hewlett-Packard CM1415fnw 10/11/2011

Multi-function colour laser printer - some issues

Hewlett-Packard CM1415fnw This review is of the multi-function HP Laserjet Pro CM1415 FNW, a wireless colour laser printer which also has fax, copying and scanning facilities. There is also a version available which doesn't have the wireless functions, which is the CM1415 FN, and this costs around 20-30 pounds less. FIRST APPEARANCES: The first impression that I had of the printer is that it's heavy, over 20kgs, and seems fairly well built, and is mainly in black, with a white panel at the front. The paper tray, which is at the bottom of the printer, seemed to me to be a little fragile, but otherwise it seems like quite a robust unit. You'll need to take the toner cartridges out, as there is a piece of plastic on each one to prevent damage or peaking during transit. COMPONENTS: Included in the box are three DVDs, one is to install the printer drivers onto a PC, one for installing onto a Mac, and one contains OCR software. The DVD loaded automatically, and the drivers quickly loaded and found the printer, all a very smooth process. Also included is the USB cable from the printer to the computer, a UK power cable, a continental power cable and some comprehensive instructions. PRINT QUALITY AND SPEED: I was pleased with the quality of the print, the colours seem very clean and crisp, and printing in either colour or black and white only takes a few seconds. One frustration that I have is with the preferences, although there are a series of different saved preferences, such as whether to use ...
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