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since 20/10/2000


Super Flower SF-464T2-S Rhythmic Silver Atx Case Top & Side 20/03/2005

Make sure your next PC has Rhythmic Bubbletubes!!

Super Flower SF-464T2-S Rhythmic Silver Atx Case Top & Side INTRODUCTION A while back, I decided it was time to dispose of my boring old beige computer case in favour of something a little more stylish to fit into my futuristic (at least I’d like to think it is!) room. So, cue as usual (my first stop for everything computer-related these days due to their great range and prices, despite the non-existent customer service) - and they came through as usual with this beauty from Super Flower of Taiwan. I chose the case on the strength of reviews already on eBuyer and the picture of it. I paid just over £30 for the case which, when you consider the range of accessories included (though there is no PSU supplied) and the quality of the case, is quite incredible. Even more incredible is that it’s now little over £20! (excluding delivery). THE CASE The Super Flower SF-464T2-S is an ATX tower case with NO PSU - so you will need to use your own or buy a new one to fit it - I bought a suitable 400w unit also from eBuyer for less than £10. The -S on the end refers to the silver colour of this model. It is also available in blue, green and black (although this silver model certainly has an element of blue to it anyway). The rather cryptic use of the word ‘Rhythmic’ in the title is actually in description on the case’s main lighting effect, a pair of colourful bubble-tubes that run down each side of the front. These do not appear in the picture shown here or on eBuyer but the case is otherwise similar (apart from the ...

Casecom KG-201 In Black And Red With USB/Audio No PSU 18/03/2005

Great looking case/hand shredder for a low price!

Casecom KG-201 In Black And Red With USB/Audio No PSU INTRODUCTION When I built my new PC I decided to rebuild the old components for my little brother to use. For this, we needed a new case! The snag is, he has a very oriental-themed room (lots of deep red and yellow with black details) so the standard beige boredom box wouldn’t really fit in… So, cue (seemingly my first stop for everything computer-related these days, despite the non-existent customer service) - and they came through once again with a quite ridiculously cheap case that pretty much exactly fitted the brief! THE CASE The Casecom KG-201 is a basic ATX tower case with NO PSU - so you will need to use your own or buy a new one to fit it - I bought a suitable 400w unit also from eBuyer for less than £10. When I bought it, the case cost about £15.00 - with free delivery (though bear in mind a small ‘shipping surcharge’?? is added and you have to take the slowest option so it's not totally free) - surely too good to be true for such a stylish looking unit? But on delivery, I pleasantly surprised. The case looks very much like the pictures; the colour is a nice deep red and black which fits perfectly in my brother's oriental themed room. It definitely needs black drives to finish it off perfectly (shame the ones I fitted were beige!). The lights on the front are blue LEDs, stunning, very bright (perhaps too bright) - and are BOTH to indicate power on - one of them isn't an HDD light as I'd expected. All in all, it looks very good, ...

Sapphire 9550 Graphics card 256 MB DDR SDRAM 08/03/2005

Perfect sub £60 graphics card for budget systems!

Sapphire 9550 Graphics card 256 MB DDR SDRAM INTRODUCTION As I’ve said before, my new system was built on a fairly tight budget of around £400 of which I allowed about £60 for the graphics card. I chose the Sapphire Radeon 9550 256mb as within that price range this card seemed to be the best reviewed. A new-ish chipset and generous onboard memory clinched the deal. I bought the card for about £55 from (a bargain really, considering that most decent graphics cards start from at least £60-70). INSTALLATION The 'lite retail box' package that I purchased comes neatly boxed with the card, software CD and TV-out cable but nothing else so don't be expecting any games (though you do get a snazzy little case sticker if you want to show off!). My card was a handsome looking red board with a nifty blue-lit fan (though this doesn't really show up in my case). Installation is dead easy, the card plugs into the motherboard AGP slot (though do make sure your mobo actually has AGP – my girlfriend wanted to upgrade her graphics too but found that AGP support on her motherboard was limited to the onboard graphics chip – no slot!). The card has outputs for TV, standard monitor and the new DVI standard, which unfortunately my monitor does not support. The system booted first time with the card, though you need to install the drivers off the CD for full support of the card. PERFORMANCE I had heard these cards were very easy and safe to overclock so had a play around with this by downloading a little ...

AMD Athlon 64 3000+ / 2 GHz processor 07/03/2005

The BEST processor you can get for under £100!

AMD Athlon 64 3000+ / 2 GHz processor THE CHOICE I recently decided it was time to finally give my ancient Athlon 500-based system a rest and build a new one (on a budget of around £400). Obviously the CPU is a fairly important choice to make when building a new computer so I put in a lot of thought and research and eventually settled on the AMD Athlon64 3000+ for my new machine. The current price of the 3000+ model makes it only slightly more expensive than the 2800+ and actually cheaper than the equivalent AthlonXP! There's no Intel processor available that can touch it at this price. I paid around £95 for the P-I-B (Processor-In-Box) package, which includes everything you need. The Athlon64 comes in various varieties, 754pin, 939pin, FX and a range of speeds, all of which have slight differences and may require different motherboards. The 3000+ I chose is a 754pin processor (at the budget end of the scale) with 128kb L1 cache, 512kb L2 cache and actual clock speed of just over 2 GHz. AMD use an equivalent performance marking system to rate their processor speeds – so whilst the clock speed of this ‘3000+’ chip is 2ghz, its performance is equivalent to at least a 3ghz Pentium 4 – a common misconception is that clock speed (the ghz/mhz number) is the be all and end all of a processor – most certainly not the case. INSTALLATION The retail pack comes in a very nice looking box complete with instructions, heatsink/fan and the processor itself. For the extra couple of quid over the OEM processor, this ...

ABIT NF8 - motherboard - ATX - Socket 754 - nForce3 250Gb 25/02/2005

A good choice as base for a budget Athlon64 system

ABIT NF8 - motherboard - ATX - Socket 754 - nForce3 250Gb INTRODUCTION I spent many many hours researching the best components for my new computer system, which I intended to build myself. On a budget of just £400 this meant not merely choosing the very best components but trying to find the best ones on a tight budget. I eventually decided to go for an Athlon64 3000+ skt754 processor (which I'll also be reviewing) and so needed to choose a motherboard at about £60 to go with it. Judging from the comments on this review some people found the following a bit confusing, sorry about that! I should stress that the motherboard and the chipset are two different things, there are only 2 major chipsets available - the Via K8-series and the nVidia nForce3-series. There are then hundreds of different motherboards available with either of these chipsets. The board I'm referring to throughout is the Abit NF8, which comes equipped with the nForce3 chipset, not the Via. A point I'm trying to make is that the performance of similar motherboards with the Via K8-series chipsets is slightly better. The choice turned out to be a rather daunting task given the various brands, chipsets and specifications available and very little in the way of recent reviews that I could find. One of the biggest choices was the board's chipset; whether to go for the nVidia nForce 3, or one of the Via K8T800 series. THE CHOICE I eventually plumped for the nForce3 chipset instead of Via due to some reliability issues I'd heard about with Via chipsets. ...

Reise, Reise - Rammstein 21/10/2004

Rammstein - Reise, Reise - Pure Amour for this CD!

Reise, Reise - Rammstein WHAT IS RAMMSTEIN?? First, I guess I'd better explain the craziness that is the band Rammstein. What genre do they fall into? I’d say its somewhere along the lines of Heavy German Cyber Gothic Techno Melodic Metal… If that doesn’t immediately appeal to you then chances are you may not enjoy this CD, but everyone should hear it at least once! Rammstein consist of 6 members, Till (vocals), Richard (Guitar), Paul (Guitar), Oliver (Bass), Christoph (Drums) and Flake (pronounced Flar-kuh, on Keyboards/Electronics). They’ve been around since the early ‘90s and their unique sound has gained them thousands of die-hard fans across the world (including me!). Pair this with their incredible live show and they’re actually one of the hottest bands you’ve never heard of. Reise, Reise is their fourth full-length studio album, and has been several years in the making. It was worth the wait… THE CD Reise, reise is a new release so there’s little chance of finding it at a bargain price. The best deal I found was on where it’s available for just £8.99. I believe it’s also available at this price on CD-wow. The front cover is designed to look like a Flight Data Recorder, a theme which is continued throughout the packaging and indeed the CD. The booklet has all the lyrics as usual with backgrounds of plane wreckage. It’s a fairly minimalist design really, with no pictures of the band or anything, but it works well. THE SONGS 1) REISE, REISE - The title track gets ...

Cedar Point, Ohio 03/10/2004

Enthusiast POV - CEDAR POINT Americas Roller Coast

Cedar Point, Ohio INTRODUCTION Wow, this review’s been some time in the making. I hope you have the patience to see it through (I know, it’s very very long!) - I started writing and just couldn’t stop (although I had to for sleep and such!). Cedar Point is a huge place full of some of the most crazy rides you've ever seen but what makes it really special is the way it's run and the fantastic atmosphere it generates. It's my very favourite park and home to several of my favourite coasters (and I've experienced a fair few!). The park is located on a point of land that juts out into Lake Erie at Sandusky in Northern Ohio. It's around 2 hours drive from Cleveland, home of the nearest international airport I believe. It's easily reached on road from all over Ohio and the surrounding states and is well signposted from far away. Be wary of heavy traffic on the main approach road. It seriously is worth making a trip all the way from the UK just to come here, and flights can be quite reasonable if you come across a good deal on the net. We paid around £350 each return for flights to Cleveland in August this year (on US Airways from Manchester-Philadelphia-Cleveland). Car hire is also reasonable and there's a lot more to Ohio than you might think (especially if you're in the market for a theme park holiday!). THE PARK On the gate entry is around $45, this drops to around $38 if you book online and about $35 if you take advantage of offers that go on in the local area (this year I noticed good ...

Jet2 30/09/2004 - The Way All Budget Airlines Should Be!

Jet2 INTRODUCTION are a new (around 2 years old) budget airline who fly from Leeds Bradford International Airport to a variety of European destinations including Amsterdam, Venice, Prague, Geneva, France, Spain and Portugal. Their growth over the past couple of years has been quite spectacular and shows little sign of slowing down, with new routes, flights, aircraft and facilities being added all the time. They just announced a massive new expansion to Manchester where they will base 6 more aircraft and run 9 new routes including Budapest, Pisa and Valencia. So now they're the obvious choice for low cost air travel all across the north, not just from Yorkshire! Myself, and my family and friends have flown with Jet2 several times over the past year and a bit and have found it to be a very pleasurable experience every time. I've just booked with them again to go to Paris this Christmas for a little romantic getaway - at just £38 return! We also booked Venice again for next spring at just over £50 each! Madness... BOOKING Something along the lines of 95% of Jet2’s booking occurs via their website It’s a well set out and professional looking site, I’ve never found it to be slow or inactive. Booking doodads are located down the left hand side of the homepage, a news scroller and language selection is available at the top, details of recent promotions and a route map are found in the centre of the page and links to Jet2’s various ...

Fujifilm FinePix 4800 Zoom 24/07/2004

Fuji FP4800 - Stunning looks with quality results

Fujifilm FinePix 4800 Zoom INTRODUCTION I purchased my Fuji FinePix 4800 around a year ago after doing a lot of research into what the best digital camera for me would be. I eventually settled on the 4800 due to excellent reviews I had read, its stunning looks and the great deal I found on it (£200 from a small camera dealer). THE CAMERA The camera arrived; I was immediately struck by its beautiful design (after all, it was designed by Porsche!). Smooth and sleek with excellent textures, all of the controls look like they belong exactly where they're placed and the whole thing is extremely tactile. It’s just the right weight so that it feels solid but not too chunky. It just about goes in my pocket but perhaps it could have done with being a little smaller/lighter. All of the camera's extremities are concealed within the camera while its off, turning power on for the first time is a great surprise. The inch or so long zoom lens comes sliding smoothly out of the front panel and adjusts itself, the small mono LCD with controls on it light up green for playback mode or red for recording mode and the main colour LCD springs brightly and colourfully into life. Its a pro sequence, the main screen oozes class with an excellent operating system. It is unusually large (2") and very bright. It performs well in most conditions and has a fast refresh rate. Believe me, this is nothing like the sort of dreadful quality 'colour LCD screens' that some budget cameras are now coming up with. USING ...

The 36 (Leeds-Harrogate-Ripon) 23/07/2004

36 The Best Option for Travel from Leeds-Harrogate

The 36 (Leeds-Harrogate-Ripon) INTRODUCTION The 36 is a single route bus service run by private regional bus operators Harrogate & District. It runs from Leeds to Harrogate to Ripon via Harewood and Ripley roughly every 20 minutes during the day. Personally, I've been using the service on and off since around 2000 and very regularly over the past 2 years to get to my college and back (from Leeds to Harrogate). The website for up to date timetables and pricing information is USING THE 36 The 36 is (and always has been) fairly expensive as far as buses are concerned. But, as with most things in life it's a case of you get what you pay for. Around 4 years ago it cost me about £2 for a single from my nearest stop (North Leeds). These days it's £2.50 - so the price hasn't risen too much considering recent investments. A day return from Leeds centre to Harrogate centre (or the equivalent for Harrogate to Ripon) costs £4.20. The journey takes about 30-40 minutes. However, if you're staying the night in Harrogate (as I do quite frequently) there is no Period Return option so you end up paying for 2 singles - that's at least £5 return. However, compare this to the train and it's still cheaper - the train from Leeds to Harrogate costs about £5 for a single (without railcard) and in my opinion the 36 is miles better so it's not too bad value when you think about it. Various other ticket options are available for regular travellers such as a weekly ticket and the Gold Card, a mere ...

Hotel De Gerstekorrel, Amsterdam 13/07/2004

Basic Accomodation on a Budget in Amsterdam Centre

Hotel De Gerstekorrel, Amsterdam I recently got back from a short break in Amsterdam, where I had a fantastic time exploring this vibrant and exciting city. I've already reviewed the superb airline I flew with ( - check them out, but that leaves the accommodation. I was recommended this hotel by a friend who said it was basic but clean and the location was superb. He advised me to book online with (which I intend to also review shortly) to get the best price. So I did, and sure enough, within minutes I was booked into the Hotel de Gerstekorrel for just 45 Euros a night for a single room WITH en-suite! There's gotta be some kind of catch I thought... well there is, slightly, you have to pay another 5% city tax on top of that but thats all. Got a friendly confirmation email shortly afterwards, which I printed and took with me. I arrived in Amsterdam at about 10am so spent the morning exploring as check-in was not until 2. When the time did come, the hotel was surprisingly easy to find, being just off Dam Square on Dam Straat (heading over towards the seedier side of the city centre). It's in the middle of a bustling street and can be quite easy to walk past as it's basically just a door but if you keep your eyes peeled it's not too hard to spot. The reception area is light and airy, I think it's been recently refurbished with nice lighting and modern steel railings etc. The staff on the desk were always very happy and polite and spoke excellent English (being a typical ...

Drayton Manor 12/07/2004

Enthusiast Review - Drayton Manor Theme Park

Drayton Manor INTRODUCTION We had a great day at Drayton Manor last Summer, here's my thoughts. Drayton Manor is quite a small park just outside Tamworth near Birmingham. Its not super easy to get to or particularly well signposted but you'll get there in the end. It costs £18 per person on a peak day and £16 off peak, and is open pretty much every day over the summer. First of all, I was amazed at how busy it was! I know it was half-term and all but I had always thought of Drayton as quite a quiet little park... How wrong - we had to queue for over an hour just to get in! Pretty shoddy really, they could do with a better admissions system - please note I'm told by some friends on coaster discussion forums that a better admissions system HAS now been implemented with just one entrance as opposed to 3. THE RIDES First stop was Maelstrom (Intamin Gyro Swing - nearest our entrance at Car Park 3). The queue looked quite short but was in fact about 45 minutes due to most of it being hidden away... Still capacity is good, 32 seats on the ride, a swift ride program and efficient ops rarely despatching at anything less than full capacity. The token themeing is decent enough, but nothing special - the main entertainment in the queue is watching the ride as it swings impossibly high impossibly fast. The seats are comfy and standard Intamin restraints very solid. The ride reaches maximum height very fast after beininng, taking only 3 or 4 swings to get up to speed. It is very forceful ...

Acer TravelMate 202T 30/06/2004

Acer TM202 - An Excellent if Basic Workstation

Acer TravelMate 202T INTRODUCTION I've used Acer Travelmate T202t notbooks in conjunction with my work for several years now. They were excellent value when purchased, but have obviously now been well surpassed in terms of spec. However, hopefully this review will give you some idea of the lifespan and use of these computers, and maybe you'd be able to pick one up on the cheap (I see similar models going for £100-200 on eBay which is a bargain!). SPECIFICATIONS Processor: Intel Celeron 600mhz. I've never really liked the Celeron and this unfortunately is no exception. There's nothing majorly wrong here, it's just a little slow and power consumption ain't too great at all. Doesn't get too hot mind you. Memory: 64mb RAM, not really enough for multi-tasking of any kind these days, however it runs the bundled Windows ME operating system fine and deals OK with internet and word-processing. There is also a spare slot available should you wish to upgrade, or indeed bin the existing 64mb and you have 2 spare slots allowing much greater memory. Hard Drive: 5gb. Pretty tiny, you won't want to be saving too much on here but again, provided you're only using the machine for simple tasks like word-processing and internet, you won't fill it up too quickly. Disk Drives: CD-Rom and Floppy Drive. The CD-Rom is noisy but reasonably quick and doesn't struggle with CD-Rs like some do. Floppy drives on laptops are getting rarer so this is a real bonus, especially considering the size of the ...

SmartDisk SmartScan 3600 27/06/2004

A good option for Scanning Slides from SmartDisk

SmartDisk SmartScan 3600 INTRODUCTION I recently bought a SmartDisk SmartScan 3600 slide scanner for my grandfather's birthday. He has a collection of over 3500 slides that will probably never be viewed again unless they are digitised so it seemed like a worthwhile thing for him to while away the hours with! I researched extensively what was available in terms of slide scanners before deciding on this one. I knew they existed, but to what extent and in what price range I really wasn't sure. I decided we really wanted a dedicated machine rather than a standard scanner with a slide adaptor so this narrowed things down even further. There ended up being 3 realistic options, 2 of which came from a company I'd never heard of: SmartDisk. I settled on their 3600 model as it seemed to be the best combination of features and price. It cost me around £260 from, a saving of £40 over the £300 list price. THE SCANNER It arrived a few days later (after being left out in the rain by ParcelForce, top marks there...) in a surprisingly large box. The scanner arrived very well packed and bundled with all the necessary cabling and software including USB cable, FireWire cable, power cables, driver software and strangely enough TWO copies of the excellent Adobe Photoshop Elements (an unforeseen bonus!). The scanner itself is a fairly hefty unit, weighing in at about 4 kg and about the size of four VHS tapes stacked up. It has a reassuringly solid black metal body, this is finished with a rather ...

Canon S 200x 26/06/2004

S200 - Basic Budget Printer that gets the job done

Canon S 200x I purchased a Canon S200x printer as a stop-gap measure when my absolutely dreadful Epson 680 gave up for good (a definite blessing in disguise!). I have since upgraded to the brilliant Canon i560 (which I have also reviewed) but used the S200 for a few months whilst I saved up for a better one. The printer cost me less than £40 from the superb - this is especially excellent when you consider that cartridges (unofficial) for the printer can be purchased for about £3 each! Sometimes budget printers like these sting you later on the cartridges but with this unit, the cost is low and stays low! Unpacking the printer, you'll notice it is fairly compact and light, and also feels rather tacky and plasticky. The printer is mostly standard beige, with the front cover in a green/grey effect. It doesn't look too bad, but not too good either. Let's face it, at this price looks probably aren't a major consideration. Note you do NOT get a USB cable included in the price and there is no parallel port so you will need to purchase a cable spearately if you don't have one lying around. Software installation is fairly painless and the manuals are excellent. And if you do get stuck, I've found Canon's technical support to be superb. The software is basic but allows tweaking of your print quality and running of the usual utilities. Print quality is predictably mediocre. When you consider that this printer costs just £40 however I'd say it's still pretty impressive. Mono ...
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