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since 05/03/2005


Hewlett-Packard HP Photosmart 364 Ink Cartridges 03/08/2010


Hewlett-Packard HP Photosmart 364 Ink Cartridges If there’s one thing that bugs me about ink cartridges it’s that when one of the colours runs out you have to replace the whole cartridge. No matter if you still have plenty of red and blue ink, if you’ve been printing plenty of yellow rich pictures then there is no way around it, and you have to waste the lot. This is a pricey and wasteful approach to printer cartridge management, especially in this day of recycling and frugal awareness where we are all trying to make the pennies stretch just that little bit further. Thankfully HP 364 ink cartridges offer a solution to this, thanks to the clever idea of having different cartridges for each colour – that way when you use all of the blue ink before the red or yellow you simple replace it individually, eliminating ink waste at a stroke. I cannot believe I have only just started using a printer and cartridges like this, and dread to think how much perfectly good ink I have had to dispose of while using the old style cartridges. Installing the Cartridges Usually I only have to think about changing ink cartridges and I end up covered in the stuff. It’s not that I’m particularly clumsy, and I know my way around printers and computing hardware, I just for some reason get it on my fingers, hand and face no matter how careful I am. Thankfully this hard to clean up messiness seems to be in the past now, thanks to some simple click and press installation. For my HP Photosmart printer there are five cartridges to install – the ...

Tesco Magnetic Exercise Bike with Handpulse 19/04/2010


Tesco Magnetic Exercise Bike with Handpulse It happens to the best of us; as old age tightens its grip it becomes ever more difficult for me to hang on to my slim, muscled and tidy physique. In years gone by I was happy to get out and exercise at every opportunity, nowadays the thought of a nice sit down with a cup of tea or an early night is far more appealing. Don’t get me wrong, I still exercise, but when winter comes around the thought of getting caked in mud or knocked into a ditch by an unobservant lorry driver while cycling has very limited appeal. I also find exercise to be a very solitary, boring pursuit; and while listening to your iPod while on a brisk walk alleviates the tedium, it is asking for trouble while on a bike. Joining a gym is an option, but a job with constantly changing hours and an inherent laziness means I’d likely find any excuse to avoid going. Besides, I’ve read somewhere that sixty percent of gym members give up before the six month mark, not good odds and certainly not odds I was willing to risk, especially given the high costs involved. Only one possible answer to this seemingly eternal problem then, purchase an exercise bike and enjoy the health benefits of a good pedal session in the comfort and warmth of my own home, heck I can even do it while watching a film should the need arise! A quick web browse threw up all manner of options, but I didn’t want to pay close to £200 for a well known all singing all dancing model, so the £69 I decided on spending on the Tesco version represented ...

Thorntons Classic Collection 09/04/2010


Thorntons Classic Collection It’s become something of a tradition hereabouts that towards the end of March my Mum goes into her yearly rant about the cost verses quantity of chocolate in Easter eggs as well as the amount of packaging. Strangely, she always seems more than happy when I buy her an egg; it just seems that when it comes to spending her money she refuses to be sucked into the Easterly marketing madness spewed forth by Cadbury, Mars et al. This belligerent anti Easter egg stance is not without its benefits though, as her loving children invariably receive chocolate of far superior quality and quantity to that which an egg can deliver. This year each of us was lucky enough to receive a box of Thornton’s Classic Collection chocolates to savour, and devour; a hefty 621g of individual chocolates of the dark, milk and white variety with a plethora of fillings, stuffing’s and sprinklings all finished to a high standard. You can keep your eggs when chocolate is this good, and boy did the fifty chocolates in the box look good. The Milk Chocolates Roughly half of the fourteen types of chocolate are of the milk variety, which suits me as this is my favourite. First up we have the Country Caramel – a chewy little morsel which is best left to warm and melt in the mouth a little to preserve your teeth and let things soften - once warm the caramel is sweet and smooth and compliments the chocolate perfectly. The Chocolate Truffle is extremely rich but delicious as the soft, fluffy texture of the ...

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 (Xbox 360) 18/08/2009


Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 (Xbox 360) Thank the lord for video games; only in a virtual world can this thirty something with limited sporting skills pit his wits against the great and the good in various sports. In football games I can cross like Beckham and score like Rooney; in racing games I can go head to head with the likes of Button or Hamilton; and in golfing terms I can swing like a demon as I try to outplay Tiger Woods. For someone who thoroughly agrees with the Mark Twain quote declaring golf to be “a good walk spoilt”, Tiger Woods PGA tour 10 for the Xbox 360 is as close to playing the actual game I wish to get. Swapping a five iron or putter for a joypad means I can indulge my fantasies of being a top class sportsman, without being laughed off the course after one errant shot too many slices the ball every which way but towards the hole. So, how does playing golf on a console work then? Actually it works surprisingly well. You use the left hand stick on the joypad to swing your club and assorted buttons to aim, choose clubs and generally prepare your shot. There is a great deal of science and planning behind the button use, so those wanting to grab a joypad and hit hard will inevitably come up short. Finesse is very much the name of the game as you have to draw the left stick back and then push forward fast without deviating from a straight action, any wobble or slew will be magnified tenfold on screen and send your ball into the sand, bush or any other lateral hazard. Hang on, there’s a new ...

Samsung SGH-F480 18/08/2009


Samsung SGH-F480 I'll be honest with you; the Samsung Tocco (F480) was not my first choice mobile; I really wanted an iPhone. Sadly however, you can only acquire one of the Apple-esq wonders if you sell your soul and empty your wallet to O2. Don't get me wrong, I love O2; they have been my one and only network provider and the service has always been faultless. But whereas now I am paying £15 a month for a decent amount of texts and minutes, the lowest tariff for the iPhone is double that - and for your £30 a month you get a derisory 75 minutes and 125 texts. Oh, and you have to fork out the best part of £160 for the iPhone itself! Sad as it made me the decision was made to look elsewhere for my new phone. I had always been a big fan of Samsung units; progressing from an F400 to a D900 via the D600 - all decent, intuitive and user friendly phones which had served me well. A quick browse of the January sale on the O2 website threw up the offer of a free Tocco on a £15 a month tariff, I thought this was too good an offer to pass up, and so the Tocco was ordered, and would become my new mobile telecommunication and gadget solution. What's in the box? Firstly, and of course most importantly, you get the Tocco itself. A glorious piece of engineering wrapped up in shiny black and silver styling - roughly the size of a credit card in all but thickness, it weighs in at a svelt one hundred and six grams. Next out of the box comes the mains charger, which - along with the USB cable - connects ...

Samsung SGH-D600 18/08/2009


Samsung SGH-D600 Being a confirmed gadget freak and realising I had not changed my mobile phone for at least six months I decided it was high time to put that right. I was looking to extend the contract I was with on O2 while updating my current phone. After a conversation in which I threatened to move to another service provider O2 eventually offered me a free upgrade from my Samsung P400 to the recently released all singing all dancing Samsung D600, needless to say I bit their hands off! • What's in the box? • Firstly, and most importantly, you get the phone itself - an amalgamation of black plastic, rubber and chrome all squeezed into a unit measuring 96 x 46.5 x 21.5 mm which sits nicely in the palm of the hand. The weight is also low at 103 grams which means you won't be hauling around a brick in your pocket. The battery slots onto the back of the phone and takes about three hours to charge from flat using the included charger. A plethora of cables are next out of the box with a USB to phone one allowing synchronisation between the phone and the Samsung PC studio program, which is also supplied on CD-Rom. There is also a cable which enables the phone to be connected to a TV to view photographs and video as well as a Sim card from your chosen network provider. Of course no new phone or electrical device would be complete without half a trees worth of documentation; the 100 page users' guide is invaluable while the numerous fliers for various mobile phone related websites ...

Hozelock 2000 18/08/2009


Hozelock 2000 Few could argue that sitting by a pond admiring the fish, insects or plants is a particularly soothing experience, playing your fingers lazily across the surface as a fountain spouts water in a cathartic, melodic way is a pleasure all should experience. Of course the calm, clear waters belie the hard work needed to keep a pond in a clean and flourishing state, and as all pond owners and water gardeners know a good aquatic pump is essential to keep the water fresh either by passing it through a filter box or aerating it via a fountain or waterfall. Step forward the Hozelock Cyprio range of pond pumps - a compact and powerful pump that can feed a waterfall, fountain or filter as choice dictates - or indeed all three at the same time! ● Calculating the size of pump required relative to pond size ● Of course for the pump to work effectively it has to be capable of moving the required amount of water at the correct rate, ideally the pump should be circulating at least half the ponds total water content every hour. A simple calculation to use measures the ponds average length in metres x average width in metres x average depth in metres x 1000 to give the volume of water in litres and thus the pump required, this is a rough but effective method to use and it is important to take into consideration how many functions the pump will be required to do as well as the distance of the filter box in relation to the pond and the strength of the fountain flow required. If ...

Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) 18/08/2009


Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) Up until now handheld gaming devices have been a rather hit and miss affair, yes there have been occasional gems like Nintendo's Gameboy but more often than not the results are more likely to follow the Nokia N-Gage and the Sega Game Gear into the abyss of poorly thought out and poorly marketed gadgets we'd rather not have. Now Sony have decided that holding the monopoly on the household gaming market is not enough and have launched a portable gaming system with the hope of taking a large chunk of that market as well, and while the Nintendo's Gameboy is a competent little system the Sony PSP (Playstation Portable) offers so much more to the person who needs to be entertained on the move. ● What's in the box? ● Well most importantly you get the PSP itself, two hundred and sixty grams of finest black plastic and moulded buttons with a TFT screen neatly positioned in the middle. Of course a battery to keep the unit running for up to fourteen hours continuously and an AC adaptor to recharge it when not in use are next, while depending on which package you have purchased there may also be an AC power cord to save the battery if the unit is being used near a power outlet. A pair of in-ear headphones complete with attached remote control ensure those around are not disturbed by noise while you are enjoying any of the features and a 32MB memory stick means game saves, movie preferences, internet settings and MP3`s can be kept for future reference. A soft pouch and ...

Toshiba 17WL 46 18/08/2009


Toshiba 17WL 46 Having been impressed with the improved quality when I ditched my old CRT computer monitor for an LCD model it was only going to be a matter of time before I would replace the televisions in my house with LCD systems, the picture is so much crisper and the colours a truer reflection of their real selves. With full size LCD televisions costing the best part of one thousand pounds I decided to update my bedroom portable first just to make absolutely sure I was still enamoured by the improvement these displays give, and so it was that I popped into my local independent electronics shop and parted with the £400 necessary to make the Toshiba 17WL46B my own. Luckily they had a good stock and the fact that the packaging is not at all bulky means it is the type of product you can take away with you there and then. The Toshiba is silver in colour as is the trend at the moment and has a screen size of 17" and is widescreen shaped although all other screen formats are easily switched to using the remote control. ○ What's in the box? ○ Well apart from the TV there is the mandatory remote control and instruction booklet. Wire wise the user is supplied with a cable to connect the TV to a PC which is a great bonus if you want a multi function display, but I was interested solely in using it as a television. Because the TV is so thin there is little room to fit the power adapter so this is external and comes in the form of a box slightly larger than a packet of cigarettes. ...

Nokia 7600 18/08/2009


Nokia 7600 There are currently an estimated fifty million mobile phones in use in the UK (source, and with the recent sales of new handsets levelling out the phone manufacturers are looking at multi function mobiles designed to tempt us to trade in our older models and thus give them more money. While ten years ago a mobile phone made phone calls and little else these days the handset has to be all singing, all dancing with hot and cold running gizmos to make us realise that our lives will not be complete until we have one. Unfortunately I am a marketing mans dream when it comes to gadgets and mobile phones, if they tell me I need a certain new function on my phone I make pretty sure I have it quick! I also have a low boredom threshold with mobile phones with the result that the average life span of a mobile phone in my hands is around six months. So it was that I found myself on ebay a few weekends ago looking for a state of the art mobile phone at a price not likely to panic the bank manager, I had done a little research on the internet and narrowed down my choice to two models - the Samsung D500 and the Nokia 7600. I had a checklist of the features I required; Bluetooth, camera, "real" ringtones and a good sized crisp display essential in making my mobile experience the best possible, so after a lot of comparison work the unique and novel "teardrop" shape of the Nokia 7600 won out. An unlocked model was essential so that I could insert my 0² Sim card and not have to ...

Orchard Toys Crazy Chefs 24/07/2009


Orchard Toys Crazy Chefs One of the many joys of being an Uncle rather than a Parent is that I get to hand back my Nephew at the end of the day, without having to deal with the tantrums and crisis’s that inevitably go hand in hand with a four year old boy. Of course while he is in my control I have to make sure I fulfil my role as doting Uncle by entertaining, educating and amazing in equal measure, and while I try my hardest to rely on my wits for this purpose I do occasionally need outside help. Being a Chef I wanted to find a game or toy in a similar vein, to show my Nephew what it was I did for a living, and to interest him and maybe even get him to follow in his Uncles footsteps! After a little searching I found a game called Crazy Chefs made by Orchard Toys, since they were a company I’d heard good things of and because the game was described as a memory game, blending enjoyment and education, I purchased it without delay. What’s in the box? Firstly you get five brightly coloured place mat style boards with a happy chef holding a dish. There are seven squares around the edge of the board with little pictures of ingredients, as well as the completed meal on the dish the chef has in his hands. Next you get thirty-five small square pieces each with a colour picture of an ingredient or utensil, be it peppers, flour or a frying pan. There are also five small plate shaped cardboard pieces and the same amount of the completed dish. Finally, you get a circular spinner with six equally sized ...

Colchester Zoo, United Kingdom 20/07/2009


Colchester Zoo, United Kingdom With the summer holiday season here at long last we are all looking for interesting day trips to fill our time. Parents want something that little bit different to engage kids during the long school break, while the rest of us want something to enjoy while soaking up the sun, should it decide to shine. Colchester Zoo seems to tick all of these boxes nicely, and with a clutch of complimentary tickets in hand thanks to a recent animal adoption, we set off to enjoy the many marvels of the animal kingdom at the sixty acre site in the North of Essex. Colchester Zoo opens its doors at 9.30am every day of the year, except Christmas day, while closure times depend on the season, with the doors open through summer until 6.30pm, and 4.30pm during the winter months. Getting there Despite the Satellite Navigation in my car seemingly determined to strand me in an industrial estate on the outskirts of Colchester, we eventually found our way to the zoo, thanks mostly to the many signposts and directional arrows upon leaving the A12. Colchester Zoo is on the outskirts of Colchester, about twenty-three miles from Ipswich or sixty from London. Public transport links are poor at best, meaning by far the best bet is to visit by car, or better still a coach trip if you fancy letting someone else take on the driving. Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh my! Or at least Lions and Tigers, surprisingly there are no Bears of any variety at the zoo. The animals are divided into sub sections ...

Dentyl pH Mouthwash 14/07/2009


Dentyl pH Mouthwash It’s been said I am something of an advertisers dream, there only has to be a new item for consumption with a slight gimmick attached or some originality about it and that product will inevitably end up in my shopping trolley. Imagine my joy then, when I noticed Dentyl PH Mouthwash on special offer on a recent trip to ASDA. Here was a product that used a subtle blend of witchcraft and wizardry to deliver a bottle of mouthwash, somehow divided into two separate coloured potions, one floating atop the other! As someone who has worked in bars in the past, and tried to mix many a cocktail, I can tell you that this mesmerizing layering of liquids is a skill second only to teleportation for wow factor. I stealthy deposited a couple of bottles of this intriguing looking concoction into my trolley for closer examination at home. At the time of writing there are five varieties of Dentyl PH mouthwash available, but for some reason most supermarkets and chemists only carry the three most popular which seem to be Icy-fresh mint, Icy-fresh cherry and mouthrinse clove. As someone who thinks cloves should be a flavour present in apple pies and nothing else, and the fact that the cherry varieties vivid pink hue would clash with my bathroom it was the good old mint flavour that I chose as my ally in matters of oral health. It is also worthy of note that the cherry and mint varieties are about a pound dearer than the other two, or at least they were when I purchased them. I’m not sure why ...

Keane - Roy Keane 07/07/2009


Keane - Roy Keane I have to admit that when my beloved Ipswich Town FC appointed Roy Keane as manger a couple of months ago I was a little sceptical. Most of what I knew about Roy came from the press and news coverage, most of it negative, which seemed to follow him around. Determined to give the latest bastion of the Ipswich hot seat a fair crack of the whip I set about finding out a little more about the man behind the hype and headlines. My Brother recommended his autobiography which he’d penned in 2002 with the help of journalist Eamon Dunphy, so I gave it a read. Roy Maurice Keane was born in Cork, Ireland in the summer of 1971, the fourth of five children. He was a mediocre performer at school, preferring to be out kicking a ball around than in a class studying. A smattering of junior Irish clubs came calling, most notably Rockmount. He actually came late into the professional game, having seemingly missed his chance he was noticed by a Nottingham Forrest Scout while playing for Cobh Ramblers in the Irish league. A couple of seasons with Nottingham Forrest ended with them relegated and Roy moving to Manchester United for the then record fee of £3.75 million. Manchester is where Roy made his name as an uncompromising player, giving no quarter and helping the team pick up virtually every trophy available. The drinking culture, prevalent in many teams in the eighties and nineties is also touched upon with honesty, Roy freely admitting that he did more than his share of socialising in his ...

101 Uses for a Lab - Dale C Spartas 13/06/2009


101 Uses for a Lab - Dale C Spartas Being the proud owner of three Black Labradors – quite possibly the most gorgeous examples of the breed around, definitely the most pampered and loved – I get given all manner of Labrador related items for birthdays/Christmas or any other day for that matter. The festive season wouldn’t feel the same without that pair of socks/gloves/bookmark replete with one or more Labradors smiling back. Last Christmas I delved into my stocking and retrieved a compact little tome bearing the legend “101 uses for a Lab” by Dale C. Spartas. Not being sure if this was some sort of complex manual to train and turn my Labrador into a Guide dog, or a sniffer and retriever of illegal drugs, I turned the pages with trepidation. After all, the only uses I ever stipulate on any canine crossing the threshold into my life is that they show the same amount of love and unquestioned loyalty that I lavish upon them. In truth, my Labradors need not have worried. The book is little more than a whimsical look at Labradors in various positions and in various acts caught for posterity in pictorial form. It turns out Mr Spartas is a photographer of some repute - with four previous dog themed publications to his name - and it is his gloriously coloured and detailed pictures that form the mainstay of the book, with just a few descriptive words beneath should each depiction not be clear enough without them. We get treated to over a hundred black, brown and blonde canines of the Labrador persuasion doing what ...
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