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Case-Mate HTC Desire Tough Case - Black/Black
I have to say, I bought this expecting nothing special. I've never bought any kind of case that has actually impressed me enough to recommend it. This is different.
A lot has already been said in previous reviews, so I'll cover the concerns I had before buying it, that I can now comment on:
- Bulkiness. It actually adds surprisingly little bulk to the phone; I thought I'd buy it and struggle to fit it into my pocket, and would get sick of it. But no, it's just as easy to fit in my front jeans pocket as it was without the case.
- Grip. Those rubbery silicone cases you can buy are odd.. they make the phone slightly slippery to hold unless your hands are bone dry, but they also grip material, which makes putting them into jeans a very tedious process. The hard portion of this case covers most of the silicone under-layer with solid plastic, and despite this being superb to hold in terms of grip, it doesn't have problems sliding into and out of my pocket quickly. This was a major concern before I bought it, and I'm impressed that this is not an issue with this case.
- Buttons. It leaves the face buttons open, which is good. The volume rocker is covered by silicone but you don't even notice it. The top power button has slightly ticker silicone covering it, which I've found to be great because I can't accidentally activate the screen when I slide it into my pocket now.
- Toughness. It feels tough, but without bulk. I've never used a case on any device that feels like it's going to protect said device as well as this one.
- Looks. It actually looks great; the exposed silicone areas meet uniformly with the edges of the plastic outer case. It just seems so well designed and doesn't make your phone look like an armoured tank either.
Overall, it's definitely worth the money. It's clear that some thought actually went into designing this; they didn't just shove a Desire into a mould and release some lousy, half-arsed attempt like a lot of companies seem to. Very impressed.
Logitech M505 Wireless Mouse / Silver
Wireless mice have always been something I'm sceptical of thanks to bad experiences of heavy, battery eating monsters with ugly and unreliable receivers.
This changes everything. Its size sits somewhere between one of those tiny laptop mice, and a normal sized desktop mouse. Which for me is just perfect. The weight is surprising; despite the AA batteries being a relatively large portion of its weight, it glides smoothly and without resistance. You wouldn't even know there were batteries inside until you lifted it.
The receiver is so small that you could probably leave it in a laptop when in a case. It's about 6mm in height exposed, so very small. The range seemed really good too; I tested out Paint from another room through solid walls and it was fine.
Installation was insanely easy; I plugged in the receiver, and before Windows had finished starting up it was already installed. I can't comment on battery life, but I trust what I've heard in that it should last 12-14 months with reasonable use.
Very impressive mouse, and very cheap.
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I've really enjoyed this game for many reasons. It's very unique in the way that you play it; that is, you must focus on creating a sustainable island with the resources that can be obtained from it, but in order to attract more wealthy citizens, you must obtain and keep a steady supply of resources from other islands, and in turn you generate more income to spend on upgrading your existing industries and expanding to new islands with more expensive resources. Some games have trading, but few allow you to be the one manufacturing the goods to send to yourself. It adds an element of multi-tasking; manage the food demands of a huge town on one island while expanding onto a new island to build it into a tobacco producing giant.
You end up with a complex trade network of islands, and a few 'hub' islands where you'll keep your main towns, and everything is shipped in from across the map. Dealing with things like alcohol or tobacco shortages is a regular problem, but it's always pleasing to see your improvements to the network satisfy the greedy rich.
Combat is clearly not the focus of this game, and to be honest that's a welcome change from the large number of war RTS games. Maybe they could have improved it a little, but it doesn't feel like a major negative despite the limited options available, and extreme cost of military units (you may struggle to build a military force if you didn't work the necessary resources into your trade network early, but maybe that's an additional challenge for you). Military is not necessary by any means however, you can choose to play a more peaceful game.
Overall this is a not so well known title that will keep you occupied for ages. Great for those who like micro-management, city building, trade or general strategy.
Fuji Film FinePix A800 8.3 Megapixel Digital Camera (Blue)
First of all, just to say that this camera isn't blue like in the photo or description, but it looks great regardless. The camera is fairly small, easy to use and is full of functions. The screen is an impressive 2.5 inches, and while there's no viewfinder, the colour quality of the screen even in bright conditions is better than that of your average camera so you won't have problems taking photos. For hardcore photographers, the image quality isn't perfect by any means, but to the average user like me, the quality seems brilliant. The video function creates fluid, decent quality footage and the sound quality is sufficient. The video format is fairly bulky (a 41 second video was 23MB), but it's definitely a feature you'll find yourself using if you have a big memory card and/or a laptop on your trip (if you're on one). The provided AV cable lets you play video and photo on a TV, although not in HD (which is understandable), but it's a nice little thing to throw in with an already great camera. Downloading photos and videos is as simple as plugging the camera into a Windows 98SE, 2000, ME, XP or Vista system and opening the camera in My Computer. If that wasn't easy enough, they even provide some free software to do the transferring for you if you're not used to the Windows folder interface.
At this price, you'd be mad not to seriously consider this as either a replacement or a first digital camera. I recommend Play.com's own 2GB SD card with this camera if you don't already have storage (which you'll need, like with any camera)
Freecom DVB-T USB Stick / Digital TV Tuner
I've had this thing since mid-2006, so I've pretty much seen all the ups and downs with it. Firstly, the provided aerial is not brilliant, but provided you're in a strong signal area, you'll have no problems. Do consider the fact that you may need to connect it to a loft/roof aerial.
Secondly, the software is fully functional, but it lacks in some areas. For example, you'll need to have 2 channel listing files set up, one for day time television, and one for night. This is because the stick doesn't recognise channels that are off air at certain times, so you'll have to step in here yourself. UK interactive services (red button) do not work (but extra BBC material such as sport can often be found on channels 301 and 302). Also, the Time Shift feature is OK, but you have to click Time Shift and wait a few seconds for it to activate. If you forget to turn it on, then you can forget about pausing live TV in a hurry. It will also eat up disk space while paused with a huge MPEG-2 file.
It also provides no other recording formats other than the bulky MPEG-2 format, which is not as easily converted or edited as you'd hope for. The recording set up is easy, just leave the PC on and it will have no problems starting.
If you want to use other software with this device, then good luck, because the online BDA drivers are totally hit and miss from user to user. Some people get good performance, some get none, and some like me get a choppy and quite frankly rubbish experience. Stick with the Freecom software is the best advice.
Yes there are flaws, but it does the job great. I've got a small icon for the software on my taskbar in XP, so when I need to quickly check the news, I simply click it, and Sky News (the last channel watched) is up in less than 3 seconds. If I need to quickly record, I can then just press record and it begins instantly with no fuss. Exactly what I wanted it for. Hardcore video editors may be a little less satisfied though.
Supreme Commander: Gold Edition
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While this game may not always come to people's heads straight away when they think of RTS games, it is in fact one of the more memorable experiences out there. If you've always felt disappointed by unit caps of several hundred, unrealistically small maps, and an underwhelming arsenal of weapons at your disposal, then this is the game for you. Nothing beats sending hundreds of bomber planes over an enemy base and watching the carnage unfold (and it won't necessarily be their base in ruins). The included addon adds yet more to an already content filled package.
About the price; I looked in Game today, and SupCom was £17.99, while the addon was £24.99. That's £42.98 for what you get here for £17.99, so it's absolutely the best value for money. One word of advice, check that your PC meets the system requirements, and to get a massive boost of performance make sure you have a dual core processor or better, because this game was designed with multiple cores in mind. It will perform better on a 2.2GHz dual core than a 3.2GHz single core, while for most games (which are written specifically for single core, and therefore will max at a theoretical 3.2, compared to 4.4) it is the other way around.
Creative Zen 8GB MP3 Video Player (Black)
Forget every other player you've ever seen.. this is the ultimate combination of low price and maximum functionality. It plays music and video at an impressive level of quality which you'd expect, but the major bonus is the ability to expand the memory with a card slot. Having a card slot is the killer feature of this device which puts it ahead of every other device like it. It allows you to fill up your existing space, and then should you want more, you simply buy an SD card rather than a new player. With tumbling SD card prices, by January sales you'll be able to double the memory of this thing for less than £40. If that wasn't enough, it even has an FM radio tuner! It's as light as a feather too, and it's exactly the size you need; not too small and not too big. The interface is slick and functional, and you'll have no problem getting your media files onto the player either.
Top quality MP3/video player, worth every penny. It beats the iPods, Sony Walkmans and even Creative's own other players, so don't even think about buying something else.
SanDisk Cruzer Micro U3 USB Flash Drive 2GB
First thing to point out; the stick comes loaded with some software, and a menu to launch these programs will appear when you insert the stick into a Windows PC. This can be useful for carrying software around without needing to install it, but it does waste small bit of disk space, and you may find it annoying. You can download the removal tool for this software from Sandisk's website if you don't like it.Anyway, it's a great USB drive which is fast, reliable and well made. The metal USB plug has no cover, instead it has an innovative slide switch which brings the plug inside the casing. It means you'll never have to worry about losing the lid to the stick, which is something that happened to every other USB stick I ever owned.So to sum it up, it's high quality, great value, innovative, and comes with software which you just don't get with other brands, and which can be removed if you don't like it. The Sandisk Cruzer Micro range is the best range of sticks out there, from arguably the best flash memory producer in the world.
Official Xbox 360 VGA HD AV Cable
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There is a reason this cable is more expensive and out of stock; it is much better. This official Microsoft cable won't cause loss of true colours and will produce a brilliant picture on an LCD/CRT PC monitor or an HDTV. You will wonder why you ever even considered playing the 360 on a standard TV set. Again, don't be tempted by cheaper brands, because their cables are prone to interference from lights, PC's, the Xbox itself etc., colour loss and loss of quality. Many people are tempted by other brands because the Microsoft one tends to be out of stock often, but it's worth the wait and the extra £8 or so. If you're strapped for cash, then alternatives will do I suppose, but if you pay less, you get less.
Go! Cam (PSP Camera Add-On)
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Like others have said, it's simply a fun toy, not a serious digital camera. And it certainly does the job well for £30. Regarding megapixels, I believe it is VGA/640x480, which is 0.3 megapixels (640x480=307200 pixels). On the PSP screen this appears as a high quality image, and will look good on a phone, myspace, and web forums too.