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Griffin SmartTalk Headphone Adapter And Control And Mic For iPhone 3G / 3GS / 4
Like many other reviewers here, and on other sites these are initially excellent. In fact, they're perfect.
Allows you to connect some nice earphones to your iPhone without limiting yourself to the very limited selection of earphones containing the (essential for me) microphone and controls.
Unfortunately after only a few weeks sound cut out in one earphone and the dreaded "wiggle of the wire..." was required to bring it back. A week later and it was uncorrectable.
A shame, because the idea is spot on.
Unfortunately, despite looking after them very well they're just too flimsy.
I just wish there was an alternative.
iPod Alarm Clock / Speaker Dock (Black)
If you're reading this review you're probably thinking similar thoughts to what I was a week or so ago, is this (very) cheap little radio alarm iPod dock worth a punt at £17.99.
The answer is a resounding YES!
Of course it's no Bose when it comes to sound quality, but it's a radio alarm designed for either waking you up in the morning, or perhaps in a kitchen.
A few here have complained that it loses the time etc., when unplugged. That's not quite true - if you install two standard AA batteries then the time and alarm settings are saved if the power disappears. What the batteries do not do however is allow you to use the dock - it does need mains power to operate, so isn't necessarily portable.
The unit is somewhat smaller than the picture suggests, measuring 207 x 125 x 75 (W,D,H mm).
There are two separate alarm settings which can either wake you up with a bizarre (awful) "beep", FM radio or your choice of music from your iPod/iPhone. Yes, it does work fine with a 3G iPhone - although like many devices of its type it recommends you turn on Airplane mode (which I rarely do, and put up with the buzzing if someone does try to ring me - doesn't happen much :-) ).
Setting the time, and alarms is standard stuff - one thing I did like is how fast the minutes tick by if you hold the buttons down, no more waiting three weeks for the numbers to turn if for some reason you want your alarm at 50 minutes past the hour or whatever....
Probably the question you're really waiting for is sound quality. Let me be honest, I didn't expect much when I saw the size of the box. Looking at the two speakers (hey, this baby is Stereo, unlike many similar units) they're tiny. But it sounded surprisingly full for such a small unit. Like my opening line says it's no Bose (of course - it wouldn't be...) but it is better than most standard clock radio style units I've heard. There are separate bass and treble controls. The first thing I did was crank the bass up to the max, expecting it to distort horribly - but it was fine. I found lowering the treble a touch gave a better sound as the smaller speakers reproduced top end sounds pretty well.
Overall, an excellent unit - as someone else here wrote - why spend 20 quid on an official Apple charger when this will do it for less, plus you get the added benefits.
Can't fault it - definitely an xmas stocking filler.
Brunswick Pro Bowling
5 New from
Have to agree with all the other reviews around here. This game is terrible.
Just to make it clear, the bowling on Wii sports is far superior in every way. This version is just way too complicated and completely lacks the fun factor as well.
Avoid this one.
4 New from
September saw the release of the latest EA Sports Fifa release, the fifth game of its type already on the XBOX 360 (That's a lot of football games...).
First was Fifa 06, then game Fifa Road To Germany, next it was Fifa 07 and finally UEFA Champions League (which was basically a Fifa 07 tweak - a good tweak by the way).
So, Fifa 08 has arrived.
One of the biggest things EA have been plugging recently is the new "Be A Pro" mode of the game. In simple terms this allows you to be a player, rather than be a team. Currently only available in offline mode (An update is promised in team for christmas which will make this a fully online option). It's different, and whilst I don't feel it's as good as the conventional mode it does allow a completely different game. The default view whilst in this mode focuses on your player as you try and stay in position, play a killer pass or better still score a goal! Suddenly you find yourself screaming at the TV, PASS, PASS, PASS... then you find yourself one-on-one with the 'keeper only to blaze wide. It's fun, and a welcome new mode.
The classic game has itself undergone a lot of improvements, lots of new tournaments have been added (basically the leagues for all the nations covered by the game - which is a lot by the way, for the first time in a Fifa game you really can choose just about any team from anywhere in the world...).
The game is more difficult than the previous versions, but not unplayably so. Some of the controls have changed from previous versions which makes it a little more difficult to pick up and play - although after a couple of games it becomes second nature.
Fifa 08 sees the addition of many new "special moves" which really give you something to master. Don't even think about doing these until you've mastered the basic game - but once you have these moves really give the game a new dimension and for the first time ever give you total control over what you want the players to do, step-overs, flicks, it's all here.
One thing worthy of a mention is the 'Achievements', for the first time a Fifa game comes with GREAT achievements - helping you get into that feeling of "Just one more game...". Rather than the usual 10-15 different achievements as in previous games, which required you playing hundreds of matches this release sees a lot of different ones including many secret ones (one of which is to score a goal within the first 5 minutes - harder than it sounds!).
The graphics are what you'd expect from a Fifa game and are a slight improvement on '07. The sound and commentary (from Martin Tyler & Andy Gray) is superb.
I'd describe this game as (currently) the greatest Football game on any platform - it's got the magic playability, and more importantly you genuinely feel the tension when you're a goal behind as the match draws to a close.
Many people incorrectly compare this quite naturally to the Pro Evolution games. That isnt a fair comparision in my opinion, it's like comparing Forza Motorsport with Destruction Derby. They're different games. Nobody knows yet what Pro Evo 2008 will offer, but for now there really is only one football game for the XBOX 360.
See you online (my gamertag is the same as my Play ID).
Can't wait for the fully blown 'Be A Pro' to be launched - although I need a lot of practice before then!
There is one major flaw with the game though which EA need to fix ASAP with an update - Shevchenko is a good player, hopefully the next player update will resolve this :-)
Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer
2 New from
Having already seen the existing reviews for this game I was a little sceptical when it arrived.
In short, I'm glad I ignored them; although some of the reviews do make good points and the game certainly isn't perfect.
Let's cover the four players option first. Firstly this game doesn't support any XBOX Live facilities, everything is local. But, if you're lucky to have up to four controllers then up to four players can play locally at the same time. Basically each one controls a character. Any "unused" characters are computer controlled and you can swap characters during the game at any time.
There aren't too many levels and even an average games player could complete the game (as far as completing the levels are concerned) in around a week. I've no doubt the elite games players here could complete it far quicker. However, that doesn't mean it isn't fun.
The game doesn't follow the film particularly closely, although it does vaguely follow it.
The graphics are above average for a game of this type and to be honest I think they're on a par with most XBOX 360 games - it's difficult to see what more could've been done here, so no complaints for me.
Getting the achievements gives the game a little more longevity too - basically you have to complete the game on "normal" difficulty and then again on "hard" if you want to get all of them. In addition there are a few extra ones which can only be unlocked if you really explore each level (for example finding all the Fantastic 4 symbols can take a little longer).
In short, I wouldn't recommend this game as a one player experience - but two or more players really can be quite a lot of fun and I would recommend it. If only more games of this type allowed multiplayer co-op.
Each character gets a couple of "solo" levels which even in multiplayer games are only played by one player - these are quite fun and none are overly difficult.
As I say, the game isn't perfect, it would have been nice with a few more levels to keep you playing and a couple of the levels are quite repetitive and lacking in puzzles - basically you just "fight" your way through with little thought.
All in all, one of the better "Super hero" style games on the 360.
Big Brain Academy for Wii
7 New from
Okay, I'm a little sceptical that all of these 'Brain Training' games actually make a difference - but regardless of that I admit to feeling better watching my daughter (8 years old...) playing this rather than blasting aliens!
This game is excellent though, and what really improves upon the original formula is the multiplayer options which really make this actually fun to play - it really gets your competitive nature going!!
The game fully supports the Wii Mii's which is excellent so you can monitor your progress as you play the game.
There are enough different activities to keep you interested at varying skill levels - what was interesting is that on a first play everyone in our household scored very similar scores and we all improved on our second session.
To get the best out of it you need two Wii remotes - you can obviously take it in turns but there's nothing quite the same as trying to answer 20 questions quicker than your opponent...
The graphics are more than adequate, on some of the tests you have to guess actual pictures of animals for example and the pictures are good enough and do the job. The animation of the Mii characters is very nice - they're rendered in a 3D style which looks nice.
If you are still unsure, look at the price, this title has been released at approx. half the price of most Wii games and coupled with the fact that it's a good game to begin with this makes it an essential purchase.
Xbox Live 2100 Microsoft Points Card
3 New from
I won't go into too much detail of what these cards are for, others have already covered that.
Basically these cards give you Microsoft Points (not to be confused with points that can be achieved through playing the games) which can be used as credits in XBOX Live Marketplace. There are various things available, themes for your console [which I'd never spend money on personally], games (many of which are 'retro' games given a facelift and in the future videos and even movies and TV episodes.
The games are what its all about so far, and some of them are very good indeed.
However onto the added benefit of using these 'scratch cards'. You don't need to use these, you can give Microsoft your bank details and buy points directly through your XBOX. It works. However reading through the small print Microsoft basically reserves the right to keep your card on file and (assuming you're already an XBOX Live GOLD subscriber) will use your bank details to keep you subscribed to GOLD; I don't like that - I consider it sharp business practice (though the small print in the T&Cs says they'll do this; the problem is you can't opt out).
(Note as of now when I write this review it is not possible to delete your card details either, so they really have you trapped into a service you might not want in the future).
So - if you want points to spend then buy these points cards, it's a lot lot safer. Plus of course you save £1 each time you buy.
I'd follow the same logic for the XBOX Live Gold membership cards and use those instead of sharing your bank details with Microsoft.
Hope this helps!
Viva Pinata (Classics)
11 New from
Let's face it, Pinata's aren't exactly the rage of the U.K., unlike other parts of the world they're not the focus of birthday parties etc. etc.
I think for the above reasons this game disappointed here in the U.K., and that's a shame.
As far as Sim games go this is arguably the best sim game on any console, ever. Why? Because it's FUN to play.
Graphically it is sublime, not a fault. There are a lot of achievements to get which keeps you plugging away to get them - which gives the game some actual objectives if you want to play it that way.
The Pinata animals are just /so/ cute everyone will love them. Of all my 360 games this one has the second longest play time (second only to Test Drive).
There is a demo available on XBox live - so give it a go and I'll bet after playing the demo you'll be placing an order!
The TV series is really good fun too, it's just a shame it didn't quite make it here in the U.K.
A brief description of a game is, you start off with a small garden which you need to sort out, planting flowers, trees, etc. making a lake even, to attract the Pinata animals to your garden. Once they start arriving (starting with basically small bugs and insects, and after you're more successful ending up with huge horses and unicorns) you can "romance them" (to breed new Pinata's) and basically try to keep them happy.
The control system has been really well thought out and it works really well with the 360 controller.
Everyone in our household plays this game.
One of the top 360 titles.
Take a look...
Shrek The Third
Simple advice people.
Download the demo.
If you like the demo, then buy the game - easy.
Don't do as I did, buy the demo then think "That's a little disappointing" - but then buy the game. Basically there are no improvements between the demo and the full game.
I do truly accept this is a game aimed at the younger audience - but surely that doesn't justify a second rate game.
The graphics are at best acceptable but the animation is poor and the screen scrolling is done in a way which causes dizzyness and sickness after only a short gaming session.
Definitely one to avoid - send a message to the publishers - this game would have been disappointing on a Playstation 2 (or even the original Playstation) - but on the XBOX 360 it is truly very, very, very poor.
Avoid this one folks.
The best game on the 360 for the younger audience remains Viva Pinata.
4 New from
This is a very simple puzzle game, quite a good puzzle game really. Basically each level starts with a shaped grid containing different items of fruit. You rotate the whole screen trying to get the same items of fruit in a line - they then disappear. Get rid of all the fruit and the level is complete.
It's not bad, it was a very early Wii title and the reason I rate it so poorly is because it doesn't use the Wii remote at all - well, apart from the dpad, you simply press left or right and that's it.
This game would be better suited to XBOX Live Arcade or a PC title - for the Wii its too little, too late.