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mdstone

mdstone

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Many thanks to those who read and rate my reviews. Just remember, an opinion is just an opinion and everyone is entitled to one!

Reviews written

since 11/07/2000

114

Vtech Innotab 08/02/2013

THE VTECH IPAD FOR KIDS!

Vtech Innotab The Innotab is an interactive tablet designed for children aged 4-9 by Vtech which helps develop core skills in reading, spelling, maths, creativity and logic through its extensive list of e-books and educational games. The tab cost between £70-£80 brand new. Out of the Box *************** ** Our Innotab was bought as a previous Christmas present for our son. He loves playing with it and the fact he can call it his own tab as we have a Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 which we are sometimes reluctant for him to get his sticky mitts on as he’s only 3. The design of the Innotab is such that it provides a lot of comfort when holding it with blue rubber grips in each of the corners so it’s not likely to fall out of your hands easily. The size of the screen display is surprisingly small considering the size of the device (near that of an iPad) as it only has a 5” screen. In the top right corner of the screen you have the prominent green Power button and just below this you have the Home & Help button followed by volume and brightness controls in the bottom right of the tab. There is an ideally placed pen on the right side of the tab for more accurate use of the touch screen. Game cartridges are also connected from the same side of the tab which fits flush to the unit and doesn’t protrude out of the side. The screen lock on the left of the unit merely stops the screen orientation from flipping so this is something we hardly ever use (if at all). Although you don’t get a power lead for the ...

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7" WiFi 16 GB 06/09/2012

ICECREAM SANDWICH WITH A FLAKE ON TOP

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7" WiFi 16 GB A few weeks ago I decided to opt-in on the tablet front and purchase something that we could use around the house on WiFi that wouldn't cost a fortune and could perform the majority of tasks that we would expect from our current laptop. I was never going to consider anything from Apple as I am completely against their high prices and their limitations with USB support and expansion. Not to mention I hate iTunes with a passion! This is my personal opinion however as I know a lot of people love them. I do rate the iPad in terms of its quality and performance but there are too many negatives that would hinder my planned use for the device. I wanted to be able to connect this to my laptop to transfer files and easily drag n drop MP3 files and movies onto it and I also wanted something that actually worked with Adobe Flash when viewing web sites. Unfortunately our budget did not stretch as far as £300+ so I was keen to look at the smaller range of tablets. After reading several reviews on the web and analysing the pros and cons I was either pressing for an Asus Google Nexus 7 or a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. Both were priced at a reasonable £199 on Amazon but with the Galaxy Tab 2 having the better camera I opted for one of these (the 8GB Wi-Fi model). Out of the box & Spec *************** ************ When the Tab arrived I couldn't wait to get this out of the box and start playing with it. The box contained a very short user guide, some headphones, a USB charger ...

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (PS3) 29/04/2012

YOU'RE IN GOOD COMPANY

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (PS3) Last year I was convinced to have a go at EA's latest 3rd person shooter on the PS3 (at the time) by a friend who rated it highly. Since then I haven't been able to put it down.I wasn't a huge fan of the 3PS genre and I didn't really dabble with Call of Duty much since owning a PS3. However, I had heard a little about the Battlefield series but never bothered to give it a go as I was too busy running around and kicking balls on football games like Pro Evo than running around with a gun. To say I was surprised by what I saw and felt whilst playing the game was an understatement so I'd like to share my experiences of the game, much of which is focused on the online aspect which makes it a winner in the eyes of many.Campaign Mode*************** *******Having played the game online first, I was well prepared for what the single player campaign had to offer. I instantly selected Hard mode (as I already felt like Rambo!) and begun my mission. The story for Bad Company 2 follows a group of soldiers as they travel around the world hunting for a mythical weapon of mass destruction which they are desperate to keep out of the hands of the Russians in an attempt to become heroes and save the world. For the majority of the campaign you take control of Preston Marlowe who is a member of the 22nd Army Battalion's "Bad Company". The game takes you across a variety of locations ranging from baron deserts and frozen mountains to dense jungles and farmland. The action is split between infantry ...

Sports Roadster 02/04/2012

DADDY I'VE GOT MY DRIVER'S LICENCE!

Sports Roadster For Christmas we decided to get a ride-on toy car for our son as he was becoming more adventurous and was starting to out-grow his other manual ride-on toys. We wanted something that he could drive rather than use his legs with (like the Little Tikes car he currently has) so we searched the web for some ideas.It didn't take us long to stumble across a website offering toy cars for a reasonable price (kidscarsdirect.com). We searched the site for several minutes through the selection of cars and trucks they had on offer. There seemed to be several types of car ranging from budget to licensed with a choice of 6 or 12V. The licensed cars were manufactured in Italy by ToysToys and are the only company to work directly with car manufacture like Porsche and Ferari to ensure that replicas are built with quality and durability. Sadly however, our budget only stretched to around £100 so we opted for a 6V budget model that was surprisingly remote controlled and could play music!We placed our order for a very reasonable £96.99 (considering the same product was around £120 elsewhere) and eagerly awaited delivery.Out of the box*************** ****When the item arrived by courier a few weeks before Christmas we un-packed all the items and set about putting it all together. We noticed that the main frame of the car was already complete with the stickers already attached to the windscreen and licence plate. My only gripe with this was that the windscreen sticker was not seated correctly so ...

Oakwood Leisure Park, Pembrokeshire, Wales 02/04/2012

CHEAP(ISH) WELSH THRILLS!

Oakwood Leisure Park, Pembrokeshire, Wales Getting There*************** *This summer I visited Oakwood for the first time in nearly 15 years with my family and friends. We managed to get our tickets from Tesco Clubcard vouchers and my 2 year old son got free entry so we didn’t have to spend a penny which was a nice bonus in this current climate.As we live in South Wales it only took us about an hour and a half to get there which makes it one of the closest theme parks to home. Having not been here for a long time I noticed that they have built a new road that makes a more direct route to Oakwood as you come off the A40. The route was clearly signposted from junction 49 of the M4 just to lessen your chances of somehow taking a wrong turn. Oakwood is situated in Pembrokeshire near Haverfordwest in South Wales (set your SAT NAV to SA67 8DE).Prices*********If your not lucky enough to get tickets from Tesco Clubcard vouchers or other loyalty schemes then you will be glad to find plenty of 2 for 1 offers in various magazines, newspapers and fliers. You simply can't fail to miss them as they seem to be everywhere at the moment.Standard entry prices for adults are around £19.95 or £14.50 for juniors between 3 and 12. Under 3's are free and there are discounts available for disabled or senior citizens. There are also various family ticket deals which will save you a massive £4! Or you could opt for an annual adult or child pass for £60 or £44 respectively. Group deals can also save you money but parties have to consist of 15 ...

Maisy's Bedtime - Lucy Cousins 02/04/2012

ITS NOT MY BEDTIME, ITS MAISY'S BEDTIME

Maisy's Bedtime - Lucy Cousins Lucy Cousins is a relatively unknown but fairly acclaimed author-illustrator for Children's books, who is best known for her books featuring Maisy Mouse. A lot of her books tend to include daily routines as well as popular activities and fun that children might get up to like going to bed, having a bath, making friends, reading books and playing in the garden. This is usually portrayed as a 'Maisy adventure’ featuring her animal friends like Cyril the squirrel, Charley the crocodile, Tallulah the chick, Eddie the elephant and her favourite Panda soft toy.The Maisy character is much similar to a human toddler with hands and feet but with mouse-like features like whiskers and a tail. The Maisy books usually introduce numbers, colours, sorting and matching to help children with their learning.I remember us having this book as a free gift from a book club (but it can be picked up for around £4) and we could not have had a better bargain. The book was a paperback version and comes with clear easy to read flowing text and colourful illustrations.Maisy’s bedtime begins with her putting on her pyjamas and closing the bedroom curtains and hearing the sound of an owl outside the window (twit tuwoo). Next she has a wash and brushes her teeth. But where is her favourite toy Panda? Maisy looks around the house for Panda, including her toy box but she can’t find her. Then she pulls back the curtain that she closed earlier and discovers Panda’s hiding place. She then gets back into bed and ...

Resident Evil 5 (PS3) 02/04/2012

ADDING BLING TO RESIDENT EVIL

Resident Evil 5 (PS3) Having not pickup up a Resident Evil game since its debut on the PS One, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from its latest offering – Resident Evil 5. Maybe it was the offline Co-op mode that excited me most? (as I enjoy playing a game with a mate in the same room rather than online) or perhaps it was all the added features it included being the Gold Edition of the game? Either way, £14.99 for this 3PS was a bargain I couldn’t turn down.Story Mode*************For the story mode at the beginning of the game there are 2 difficulty levels; Amateur and Normal. I always opt for Normal mode so I selected this together with a mate and we started the game with the Co-op option with split-screen display. Player 1 takes control of Chris Redfield (one of the main characters in the original series who is a former member of S.T.A.R.S) whilst Player 2 takes control of Sheva Alomar who becomes Chris’ partner in the game (Sheva is a member of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance or BSAA which Chris is now a part of).The game’s setting is based around the two characters teaming up and being sent to investigate a terrorist bio-organic weapon in a fictional West African town called Kijuju. Their main objective is to apprehend Ricardo Irving so that they can prevent him selling a bio-organic weapon on the black market.When they arrive they discover that the locals have become hostile and converted by parasites carrying Type 2 or Type 3 Plagas into what’s known as Majini (we’ll just ...

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 (PS3) 02/04/2012

FOR THE PROS

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 (PS3) FIFA Vs PES*************** **With the release of FIFA 11 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 recently, the battle has again intensified in answering the age old question ‘Who is the king of football gaming’?Coming from a PES background over the past several years, one could be mistaken for suggesting I have a bias of Konami’s football sim over EA’s old favourite but this wasn’t always the case. Back in the day of the Sega Megadrive I was completely hooked on the FIFA International Soccer series that descended on our consoles. Up to that point, Sensible soccer had been the fan’s favourite and there hadn’t really been anything to challenge the fun and simplistic arcade style gaming it had to offer. FIFA however was set to change that. With its isometric view of the pitch (compared to bird’s eye view or side scrolling views of other football games) and detailed graphics it quickly became the ‘must have’ sports game selling millions of copies world wide. After the huge success of its first release, subsequent years from 1995 onwards would present us with a new title with added improvements over its predecessor such as FIFPro licences for real player names and much improved match features and graphics. FIFA Road to World Cup 98 was probably the most groundbreaking at the time when released for the Playstation. Nothing at the time was comparable so everyone went with it and became addicted to the FIFA brand eagerly anticipating the next release to reach optimum realism and a bigger step ...

John Woo presents Stranglehold (PS3) 02/04/2012

HOW TO WOO YOUR GAMING EXPERIENCE

John Woo presents Stranglehold (PS3) Story*******Action director John Woo presents and stars in this thrilling third-person action adventure ‘Stranglehold’. The game is a virtual sequel to his original movie masterpiece ‘Hard Boiled’, where you take on the character of Inspector Tequila played by actor Chow Yun-Fat experiencing his personal war with Hong Kong crime lords. When his ex-wife and daughter are kidnapped by the Russian mob he struggles to balance his duty to uphold the law and doing whatever it takes to save his family. I’d like to focus this PS3 review mainly on the game play as this is what makes the game what it is.Game Play**************The game itself offers great excitement in allowing gamers to use stunt-laden gun play, witness destructible environments and special gun moves and be able to interact with objects using the Massive D innovative physics engine.WeaponsTequila has a pair of pistols as a default weapon but along the way you can pickup submachine guns, assault rifles, heavy machine guns and the odd rocket launcher here and there. In addition you can also collect grenades which are very easy to aim and throw which come in handy when you run out of bullets. Each gun will have its own strengths and weaknesses such as the shotgun not being useful at long ranges but you usually want to go for something that does the most damage. I was disappointed not to see any sniper rifles throughout the game (unless I missed them?) but with the special features available they are probably not needed. ...

Philips ID937 02/04/2012

TETRIS IN A TUBE

Philips ID937 Delving into our stock of Tesco Clubcard vouchers that we had stored away for a rainy day we counted £50 worth of vouchers. We weren’t planning on taking advantage of any 4 x face value offers like RAC cover or day trips to Lego Land so we opted to use them at Tesco on something we desperately needed; a new set of house phones.At the time we purchased this twin handset pack it cost around £99 pretty much everywhere (only a few quid cheaper online) which was more than we were willing to pay for a decent house phone. We had searched through reams and reams of reviews for something that looked stylish but was also reliable and the Philips ID 937 seemed to fit the bill. With our £50 off we would only pay £49 which seemed a bargain so we went for it.We were glad that this new model had contained Rechargeable Nickel Metal Hydride for its set of AA batteries so we didn’t have to worry about replacing them. We had a problem with the batteries leaking on our old set rendering them useless so we wanted to be careful about putting the right batteries into the phones. We simply couldn’t wait to get this new model home and start playing with it.Out Of The Box*************** ***After tearing open the box we instantly revealed the user guide, quick start guide and warranty card which we threw to one side (who needs manuals I thought?). Next came the 2 bases, splitter and power cables for the phones which act as charging units once they are plugged into an electrical socket. The larger one ...

Gillette Soccer Saturday - Sky Sports 1 02/04/2012

I FEEL GOOD!

Gillette Soccer Saturday - Sky Sports 1 Soccer Saturday has been the football update programme of choice for most avid fans over the past 10 years since its debut on Sky Sports in 1992 when it was known as Sport’s Saturday. Incredibly, there have only been 2 presenters on the show in that time, namely Paul Dempsey and currently Jeff Stelling. Studio analysts on the show have changed over the years with the likes of Gordon McQueen, Rodney Marsh and the late George Best making way for the current line-up. Saturday afternoon coverage usually begins at 12pm which is also aired in sync on Sky Sports News until 6pm.Format*********A typical Saturday afternoon show starts with the host and pundits previewing the weekend’s matches, debating current football issues and reviewing recent results. Viewers of the show are kept up to date with early kick-offs by designated reporters who are at the games and a graphical representation of a vidiprinter, team news and league standings appear to the right and bottom of the screen in vibrant blue and red colours. These usually stay in place throughout the show from 3pm, even during ad breaks so that you are always kept up to date. The live scores mainly consist of English and Scottish leagues (including the Welsh Premier) with the host providing a commentary of all events as they unfold. The focus will always be on the most important games of the weekend which is usually Premier League games that are described by the studio panel. This comes in the form of a video link or telephone ...

Old Trafford, Manchester 02/04/2012

THE OLD TRAFFORD STORY

Old Trafford, Manchester The Arrival ************* As the coach drove down Chester Road I was alerted to the movements of several other supporters standing up and getting their gear together. I slowly widened my eyes and began to take in a sense of buzz to approaching Old Trafford; the home of Manchester United for the first time in over 5 years. We had to be almost there because I could see the East Stand poking out between buildings in a break in the tree tops. By the time we reached the end of Chester Road we were hit with match day fever as streams and streams of fans could be seen unloading in every direction like a scene out of a war movie. However, there was a reason why I was in such a drowsy state of disarray because we had been up since the crack of dawn and travelling for 4 hours. My backside cheeks couldn’t possibly take much more abuse. Darren on the other hand was like a child running into the living room on Christmas day and seeing the stacks of presents that Santa had left. The sparkle in his eye twinkled as it caught a flash of the Manchester Sun through the coach window; this was my brother-in-law’s first ever visit to Old Trafford and his excitement was beginning to rub off on me. With our eyes glued to the window we passed a sea of red shops bearing Utd flags and related names; Lou Macari Fish & Chip Shop, Red Star Sports Souvenirs, United Off-licence, The Red Devils Traditional Fish & Chip Shop and the United Burgers & Kebabs to name but a few. Pretty much everything a footie fan ...

Digitalera.co.uk 02/04/2012

THE DIGITAL ERA

Digitalera.co.uk Digital Era are an online retailer who have been in the business since late 2002. They were well known back then for selling memory cards but due to the success of the business they expanded their product range to include a host of other items consisting of adapters, accessories, gadgets and more. They are probably the number one place to visit if you are looking for accessories for game consoles and hand held devices offering a great competitive price.The Site**********When you first visit the site you are presented with a professional and well designed layout making it easy to navigate and find items you require. The use of white forms on a pale blue background and lime green menu bar are well suited with nothing too over powering.To the right of the home page you have a handy search feature which is a must for any online retailer with your shopping cart list below it. There is a Featured Products section in the middle to include the latest hot deals and a category listing and Best Sellers section on the left.There is a useful navigation bar along the top of the page which will direct you to important sections of the site which include My Account, About Us, Delivery & Returns, Help & Downloads and Our Blog. The rest of the home page contains a Manufacturers section which has a drop down menu for finding items by manufacturer, a Newsletter signup section which you can subscribe to, a News column featuring guides and tutorials, a twitter link to follow them on the ...

Member Advice on General Computing Issues 02/04/2012

THE COST EFFECTIVE WAY TO INCREASE YOUR COMPUTER PERFORMANCE

Member Advice on General Computing Issues We’ve all had moments when we’ve probably let out some frustration on our computer equipment due to its performance being lacklustre to say the least, a throw of the mouse or a bang on the keyboard followed by the words “For ***** sake” can be heard echoing around households all over the country. But is it time to upgrade or is there a more cost effective way to ease the pain?Frustration and Microsoft probably go together like a duck to water but they are slowing getting there in the race to offer the stability already provided by Linux and Apple Mac. For most of us Windows has been the prominent choice of Operating System so I have targeted this for my review guide and more specifically Windows XP, although most of the below will apply to Windows Vista & Windows 7 but may involve accessing via a slightly different menu.From an IT background I’m always lumbered with fixing PCs for my entire family and there are always the same complaints; “Can you look at my computer because it its running very slow?” Whether this is a laptop or a desktop PC, the first problem to overcome is the dreaded start-up time from the moment you power it up to the moment you can actually click something on your desktop without an egg timer appearing. Microsoft has to take some blame for this in the way the operating system was developed as your system will always get bogged down on start-up over time no matter how much you tidy things up on your PC (which has vastly been improved with the release ...

The Hollybush, Coryton, Cardiff 25/03/2010

NUMBER 1 FOR CARVERIES IN CARDIFF

The Hollybush, Coryton, Cardiff The Hollybush in Cardiff is ideally situated just off the Coryton Interchange at junction 32 of the M4 near The Village Hotel. It is a pub restaurant that is part of the Crown Carveries chain. The chain has just recently been awarded the winner of the Great British Pub Food Awards 2010. The top prize was awarded for Best Food Concept which is all about good value for money, consistently good quality food and fantastic standards and friendly service. I have visited this particular pub restaurant on numerous occasions in the past with family when in the mood for a nice roast meal. I’ve decided to write a review to share my experiences. Approach ************ Driving into the car park you will notice that there is sufficient parking right outside the pub restaurant for approximately 40 cars. Although the car park can be busy at times I have never had to wait for a parking space or have to park away from the premises. The restaurant itself is an appealing early 19th Century public house with recent Carvery and conservatory extensions. Leading up to the restaurant is a nice beer garden full of wooden tables with a large canopy. Unfortunately, due to the smoking ban this area can sometimes be full of smokers which isn’t very pleasant for those who don’t smoke. On entry to the restaurant you immediately see a small bar in front of you with the carvery serving area to the left. To the right there is the traditional pub area with large screen TV and seating. The restaurant seating ...
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