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since 10/07/2004


TomTom Navigator 3 GPS kit 26/11/2004

Is it worth the upgrade from Nav 2 to Nav3

TomTom Navigator 3 GPS kit The Navigator series of software allows your device (in this case an ipaq pda) to turn into a fully fledged GPS tracking system. Now, the spec: I am running Tomtom 3 on an Ipaq 36xx series with a dual CF slot jacket with a Pretec GPS card and and a 256MB CF card. This was the hardware I was using from navigator 2. I bought this a) portability - i can use it in the different cars I have b) updated maps - maps are only a year old(ish) c) cheap - cheaper than a in car dashboard version (esp the mercedes one at £1800!!) I had Tomtom nav. 2 on my ipaq and decided to upgrade to navigator 3. First thing to note is that it *will lose* your stored addresses/fav locations! so be warned! Unfortunately, it was not as updated as I thought it was, which was a shame... central london streets are not quite all there, since everything was been changing a lot to one way systems, this should have been double checked or at least a update from the web been offered for up to date maps. The program itself looks better, and the icons have all changed to a more windows xp pastel type style. This is all good until I also found it this seemed to be slower! much slower than navigator 2! Running the traffic cam software in the background (3rd party software which warns me of speed cameras), seemed to slow my poor old ipaq down to a crawl and seemed to effect the GPS tracking, to the effect that it would lose track of where I was! not good! I prefered the tomtom city maps way of ...

Biostar Mini-PC iDEQ 200T (IDEQ 200T) 26/11/2004

Good things do come in small packages

Biostar Mini-PC iDEQ 200T (IDEQ 200T) To start off you can get this entire system for around £140 now. I've had this system for over 9 months now, and can give a long term test result/review. It has built in 100mb LAN, firewire, 4x USB2, onboard sound (which isn't that good in my opinion), digital out, (5.1) and integrated graphics, with handy headphone socket on the front and back. The case design is excellent, with *all* cables tied and tucked neatly into the case design, which improves airflow considerably! I have never seen a more tidier case! Well done Biostar! The manuals for installation and setup are clear and concise, and would enable the newbie to setup this PC easily and within an hour i reckon. One of the reasons I bought this was the fact that the memory is interleaved, thereby giving the maximum theoretical throughput for DDR...mmm tasty... Another was the fact it was so easy to open up! It has thumbscrews instead of screws ont he case, so that facilitated easy upgrades. The only screw on it was on the PCI/AGP slots, which you could replace with thumbscrews i reckon. CPU temp for a 2.6Ghz Celery never goes above 26oC. Suitably impressed! Running 1 x 60gb + 1 x 120gb deskstar (one on IDE and one on SATA) with Geforce 5600xt, 2x256mb DDR 3200, 802.11g pci, (cant find a ti4600 anywhere) & pioneer 106 DVD drive. Please note you do not need a heatsink/fan as the unit comes with it's own custom one with heatpipes! A Very Very fast system and extremely quiet. Fan speed can be adjusted ...

HP JetDirect 170X 26/11/2004

Easy to use network print sharing

HP JetDirect 170X I got my 170x off ebay for the princely sum of £20 (tho no manual), and it was def worth it! I can now share this printer over the network without using a PC to share it with! It wasn't easy to set up initally, but after running DHCP on my linux box it was easy to configure over the web interface. If you do not have DHCP, you will need the HP network printer wizard app thingy to configure it via ipx/spx, or you will not bed able to access it. If you're not a tech head like me, you may have problems installing it, so read the manual and HP support site carefully! After that I connected my HP laserjet 6l, and that basically was it! it was that simple. With windows XP, you simply add a network printer (TCP/IP) With 98, you needed the network printer wizard app. Simple and not noisy, it just sits next to the printer, taking an additional power socket.

Apple iPod mini M9435B/A 4 GB 26/11/2004

mmmmm iPod mini...

Apple iPod mini M9435B/A 4 GB I didn't buy this, I was given it as a leaving pressie by my colleagues at work... and OMG! was my reaction! It was even engraved "To xxx from all at xxx" Wow... Now I got something to listen to my 100gbs of MP3s ^^ I've had this for a while now, and I have to agree with other reviews, that yes the battery life does suck a bit - I have to charge it up every few days (i use it for an hour every day) The capacity (4gb) is ok for me, that's around 20 hours worth of listening - anyway, so when the battery is flat, time to put some new songs on This is small enough to put in your trouser pocket, but obviously, dont be stupid and put in with your keys or lose change, cos it'll undoubtedly get scratched.... The laser engraving is still clear, but the silk screened logo etc at the bottom of the unit is beginning to fade. The controls are good, and easy to master - there is nothing to it! it's so intuitive! A word of warning tho. don't use the controls after reading the newspaper. The print seems to stick to the bugger and won't come off! The headphones, as noted by others sucks big time, and cannot reproduce the low bass i've come to expect from a decent pair. I would recommend getting some B&O headphones. Also changing to another pair won't make u a target for muggers :-) The games included are quite cool. Yes they're black and white... so what? this is not a games machine! I did like the parachute game better than solitaire... i dunno why... just the ...

Logitech Cordless RumblePad 2 - game pad - wireless 26/11/2004

Wireless is the way forward!

Logitech Cordless RumblePad 2 - game pad - wireless Well, I was pleasantly surprised to find out the pad is very comfortable to use, much like the PS2 pads, also in common with PS2 pads, is the rumble or vibrate function. After using it for a few months with FFXI, I can say that it's very very good and robust. The other pad I tried from logitech was pretty poor, as the buttons stuck. The pad itself is working on the 2.4ghz range, but fortuitously it doesn't interfere with 802.11b or g, so that's a big plus! and has a small USB interface to plug in the PC and then wire free operation! woohoo! It's pretty cool to be able to play FFXI in bed, whilst the pc is on the other side of the room :-) You can use more than 3 in one room, as I have and there is no problem about operating 3 simutaneously , as they don't interfere with each other (unlike some keyboards!) Batteries are still going after 4 months... and so am expecting about couple months outta it! (and yes it does come with a couple of AA batteries) It was instantly recognised under windows xp, tho am not so sure it'll just work straight outta the box in legacy OSes (win98 et al)

NETGEAR ProSafe Switch GS108 8 x 10/100/1000 25/11/2004

solid build and quiet switch = happy chappy

NETGEAR ProSafe Switch GS108 8 x 10/100/1000 Well there isn't much to say about this switch. I've bought 4 of these and they are all working fine. This is basically the big brother of the FS108 switch. The FS108 is 100mb Full duplex switch (full duplex meaning it can send and receive data at the same time), which theoretically gives 200mb throughput (send/receive combined). The GS108 is a 1000mb full duplex switch, which theoretically gives 2000mb throughput (send/receive combined). Under real wolrd conditions, you can copy a 650mb file with a 100mb switch in under 5-6 minutes. With a 1000mb (gig) switch , you should be able to do it in under 2 minutes (hardware permitting). On average, you will more than likely get over double the transfer rate than a 100mb switch, and obviously it's a hell of a lot faster than a 100mb hub. With copying the files am assuming you are using Windows 98/2k/xp over samba, which unfortunately only 50-60% efficient. Transfering files over FTP is gonna be miles faster than samba (windows file and print sharing) They are all auto MDI-X on every port, so it doesn't really matter if you';re using a cross over cable or not, as the switch will sort it out The LEDS on the ports indicate 1000mb or 100mb and the status LEDS on the panel indicate 10mb connection and blinking = activity. It's silent, as it's all passivly cooled, unlike 3com switches/hubs, which is good when you have these in the bedroom! It's solidly built and i really can't fault it, and I feel it's worth the ...

NETGEAR ProSafe Switch FS108 10/100 Desktop Switch 8 x 10/100 25/11/2004

Solid switch at affordable price

NETGEAR ProSafe Switch FS108 10/100 Desktop Switch 8 x 10/100 Well, there isn't much to say about this switch... except that when i bought them, they were well over £200! (about 3 years ago) As for transfer rates, with a 100mb full duplex switch, you should be able to copy a 650mb file in under 5-6 minutes. Full duplex meaning it can send and receive data simultaneously, theoretically boosting the speed to 200mb. Of course this is all theoretical, and samba over ethernet is only 50-60% efficient. If you transfer a file with FTP you should be able to saturate the net connection easily and transfer files even quicker than over samba. Older models have a manual MDI-X (on one port only) thou recent models now have auto MDI-X on all ports, so you can use crossover or straight cables and it won't matter :) The older models ran at a high ampage (not that good) of around 3A, 5v. They now sensibly put it to around 12v and around 1A. This sucker does get hot during the summer, but that's only because it has no active cooling. All the cooling is passive and so this switch is fantastically quiet :) very good for the bedroom! After 2 years of owning a couple , it;s served me well... and I have upgraded to a couple of gigabit switches a while ago... Hopefully the gig switches will serve me as good as these :-) ...

Aibo ERS-210 robotic pet 25/11/2004

Robot dog cheaper than a real one! ;-)

Aibo ERS-210 robotic pet Bought my Aibo new, and I had to jump through soooo many loops to get him.... passport, cv2 checks etc... come on sony! anyway... My aibo was born (well incept date) was December 12th 2000, and he's now nearly 4 years old! As the other reviewer mentioned, this generation of aibo does suffer from droopy head syndrome... and he's still not fixed yet.... Also my tail end seems to have developef a funny click each time it rotates to a certain position. Anyway, here's an extract from my diary which it'll show you how long it takes for an aibo to mature - of course your results will vary according to how long you play with him ;-) (some spoilers will be there) 00-12-21 He's tried to get up - and failed - but OMG! he's trying and trying! and he's get so unhapy when he can't get up. Evetually after around 30 minutes of this, he got upp and started to do a little dance - a praised him for his efforts, but now he only manages to get up 50% of the time. He did this really cute thing where when you touched his paws, he would get surprised and quickly retracted his paws.... 00-12-25 He's starting to play with the ball a bit more.... though he can't quite place his paw on the ball yet... 00-12-28 He;s managed to kinda kick the ball and miss and managed to put his paw on the ball a few times now... 00-12-29 Booted up Ziggy @ around 20:51 - different bootup tune - crazy flashing lights on his visor and tail!!! OMG!!! I am so proud of my little Ziggy - he's learnt ...

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T1 25/11/2004

OMG this is the smallest camera... ever!

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T1 Seriously... i think it is .. This is the smallest camera with this sorta specification you can find at the moment. It's about the size of a credit card, and about the thickness of a DVD case you get in blockbuster. Am sure you don't need a review of the specification, as you can get it off the sony website, but incase you can't be arsed: DSC-T1 Major Features: * 1/2.4" 5.1-Megapixel Super HAD™ CCD for up to 2592x1944 stills * JPEG (Fine/Standard), Voice Memo and E-Mail still image modes * Carl Zeiss 3X Optical zoom lens (38~114mm 35mm equivalent) * Auto, Program AE, Scene Mode (Twilight, Tw Portrait, Landscape, Snow, Beach, High Speed Shutter, Fireworks, Magnifying Glass) * Auto Shutter range 1 ~1/1000 sec; Auto aperture f3.5, f5.6, f8 * Five area Multi-point Auto Focus, with AF Illuminator low light focusing assist * Slow Shutter NR subtractive noise reduction for long exposures * 49 Segment Multi-pattern measuring exposure system and Spot meter modes * 4 Mode flash (Auto/On/Off/Slow Synchro), TTL Pre-flash metering, red-eye reduction * White Balance (Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent and Flash) * Live Histogram display in record and playback modes * 4-shot 2.5fps Burst mode * Auto-Exposure Bracketing 3 shots w/0.3, 0.6, 1.0EV steps * MPEG Movie (w/audio) - VX Fine (640x480, 30fps), VX Std (640x480 16fps), email (160x112) * 2.5" 211k Pixel LCD; Transflective design reflects ambient light for increased brightness * ...

Sony DVM1 30/07/2004

Cool dvd player, wish it had a bigger screen

Sony DVM1 After having this particular DVD player for 2 years, I can say it's good, and is very robust, but it's not as good as the DVP-FX1 I bought. The reason? The screen! It's sooo tiny! The styling of this is unique and well.. unsurpassed... I liked it so much, I actually bought two of them whilst I was last out in Japan. I bought this for around £550 whilst out there, thereby saving at least £300. The player is region 2 again, but that's no prob, but I do not know how to make this region free. There are no external speakers for this, so headphones must be used. The screen is attached to a long cord, which helpfully can be detatched if you're using this solely as a CD player. The screen is tiny, which is a shame, so if you're planning to watch anything with subtitles on forget it! you won't be able to watch it! The screen, althought tiny is good and the colours are nice and vibrant. The viewing angle isn't too great, but this isn't really meant to be shared I reckon on something this small, so only one person could comfortably use this unit. The controls are a bit fiddly on the screen unit, and on occassion dont respond on one unit, but does on another, so it could be dust. The battery pack is the grey long clip thing that goes around the unit, and is removeable, but why would you wanna do that? It make sit lighter, and you'd have to run it on mains... not really portable huh? The remote control is exactly the same as the DVP-FX1, cept one is in japanese ...

Intel RAID Controller SRCS14L 30/07/2004

Cheap RAID card is perfect! (but slow)

Intel RAID Controller SRCS14L Dead cheap raid 5 card compared to similar others (£50 cheaper). It also allows online capacity upgrades, which basically means you can expand the size of the RAID without destroying the data on the RAID. handy! The main reason for me getting a RAID 5 hardware solution rather than a software solution again, is the fact that even if one of the hard discs on a software RAID5 becomes slightly iffy, it drops it, and you have to rebuild!!! With hardware RAID5, it'll automatically recover, and will rebuild in the background. This fits into my PCI-33 slot, but can alos connect to a PCI64. mmmm tasty... It has LEDs on the card for RAID access, CRC, and Drive access (4 LEDS) and it has all the necessary connectors for external LEDS too! I nearly creamed myself with the thought of 6 blue LEDS connected externally to the RAID card. I would recommend upgrading to current firmware and 2.16 storcon utl (both are on There is a linux version of the 2.16 storcon, but it was hard to find!) With initial installation on a Gigabyte GA7 motherboard and Adaptec 2940AU SCSI controller, the problems with onboard intel BIOS / adaptec 2940AU and mobo BIOS reared it's ugly head. I could not for the life of me with all the PCI juggling, IRQ remapping and BIOS remapping options get it to boot with a Adaptec SCSI card and Intel RAID card. I asked a friend about his setup, and he had no problems (he was running a Intel serverboard with his SRCS14L) My problem was solved by ...

Sony DVPFX1 11/07/2004

Sony have thought of everything here...

Sony DVPFX1 Well, after having this DVD player for 4 years now, I can say without a doubt, it's been the best. One of the best features of this particular DVD player is the auxilary input. I am using this at the moment with the inputs of the DVD connected to the composite out of my VHS player, so I can watch TV on this too! Fantastic! I have also plugged in my PS One, PS2 and other devices into it and it works flawlessly. So using it as a secondary display is great. I would recommend the external battery pack (cost me around Y175,000 (yen)). I purchased this DVD player 4 years ago for approx £950 in Japan, so it's region 2 only (UK is region2 also). I should have got it chipped ages ago by Techtronics to make it multiregion. The sound is a bit tinny (as you'd expect from a portable unit) but it's acceptable. The screen is good, with bright vibrant colours. I've seen the new portable dvd players by panasonic and sharp, and the outut from them is fantastic! then I found out it's because of the SVGA/HDTV/ high res. screens they have...mmmm... The outputs on this baby are impressive too. SVHS, composite and digital. I really can't fault this unit.

Mercedes C 240 10/07/2004

After 2 years of ownership....

Mercedes C 240 Bought the car couple of years ago with 6000 miles on the clock (Avantgarde style, model w203 ), and it's still running smoothly with 16k miles on the clock now. Albeit the crashes I've had (first one by a cat running in front and the second by someone hitting my side as they were pulling out of a side road), this car is the dogs bollocks. It looks cool and drives pretty well for a saloon of this class. I would have gone for either a BMW 3-series coupe or saloon, but everyone's got one of them... I wanted something different. Safety is great, with more airbags than I count in the front and the back. The built in sound system is v. good, giving some deep rumbling bass with the right tracks (Need for Speed Underground is great with it) The standard suspension is a bit soft, and would recommend the sports suspension and parameter steering. Leather is also a must option (with heated seats), as is climate control. I wouldn't bother with the patrktronic (parking aid), as this car is a doddle to park. It aint that big to too drive! The automatic is god damn smooth and would recommend it (it does have gear changing abilities too!). The auto's on other cars suck badly compared to this. I've onl;y had two incidences with regards to getting keyed, nothing major - which is good. Fuel consumption does suck a bit, for a 2.6l v6, with an average 12miles per day (mostly stuck in traffic to wimbledon), i pay about £80-100 a month. With that in mind, I should have bought the 3.2l v6 - ...

Toyota Corolla 1.4 compact 10/07/2004

Good deal in a smart lil package

Toyota Corolla 1.4 compact I am assuming this is the 1.4l hatchback (liftback), as this was the closest match. Got this brand new for £13k, for my dad, and 2 miles on the clock, on July 2003 It's an ok drive, but the suspension is a bit soft for my liking, but it is smooth. The aircon is useful, tho would have prefered climate control. The interior is roomy, and we've had no probs with it so far. We haven't had it for long, so we can't tell you of any logn term problems we've had with it. One of the problems that occurred during the first 3 months was one of the heating elements in the rear window gave out, but that was replaced FOC by Toyota. It comes with alloys which compliment the lowered front skirts, which give it an aggressive look - nicely done Toyota! It's a shame only the front windows are electric, as having rear powered ones would have been handy. I didn't like the positioning of the door, as I couldn't lean my arm on it comfortably, but at least it's better than a renault clio, which I found cramped and badly positioned on all counts of gear stick, door and steering wheel. One thing that did puzzle me was the fuel cap release was under the chair... wierd! But the fuel consumption is good! getting around 40+ mpg on short runs, even for start-stop situations to Sainsburys. Haven't driven this on the motorway yet, but am sure it will exceed 50mpg+ Customer service is good there, infact as good as more expensive marques. ...

Ford Fiesta 1.8 D 10/07/2004

Good value,that's been going strong since '95

Ford Fiesta 1.8 D After having this particular car since 95, I can say without a doubt, it's the most reliable i've had! (bar the Merc) and I use this as my lil workhorse car, carrying all the stuff I dont want in the merc - like flatpack furntiure from Ikea. It's extremely cheap to run! getting *at least* 45+ mpg, and with diesel only a fraction of the cost dearer than unleaded, it goes without saying .. yow! No power steering makes it a bit of a bugger to drive tho. but insurance is cheap cheap cheap! I insure me as a main driver and my sister (still a student) and dad as secondary drivers for under £800 It;s done approx 70k miles since new, and well i can't fault it. Granted it takes 20-30 seconds to get from 0-60, but hey, this wasn't meant for speed, but reliability.... The car is comfortable to drive, and still goods good after a good washing, and there have been no problems with rust either. The ratings I am giving are compared to a car of this class/age and price, and not compared to my current daily drive of a Merc C240!
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