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Laptone 1 Metre 1.4A Version Pro Gold HDMI To HDMI Cable
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I bought a couple of these to tidy up the AV setup on my TV stand. As I have a glass stand that that isn't too tall, these 1m cables are perfect for connecting TV to AV Receiver then Receiver to games console and bluray player without excess cabling to tidy.
As for the cable itself, it is very high quality. The connectors on the ends are gold plated and feel solid and the cable itself has a fabric finish which makes it feel very sturdy and much more premium than the price suggests.
I am a bit of an audio and videophile but I don't believe paying 50 quid for a HDMI cable makes any difference. In my mind that is a rip off. As proof, I tested the cables on a friend's system who swears by paying upwards of 50 quid for his HDMI cables and there was no difference between these and his very high priced branded cables.
I can't recommend this cable enough. You may wish to consider a longer length if you haven't got a compact setup but the quality of the cable is brilliant, much more of a premium feel than the price suggests, considering for the same price you get a very cheap plastic looking cable from the supermarkets.
SanDisk 2GB SD Memory Card
It costs more per GB than SDHC cards because it is old technology that isn't the gold standard anymore.
I didn't buy it for that reason though... I bought it because I needed to expand the storage on my TomTom. I have a GO 510 that is still going strong after 6 years but doesn't accept SDHC. The included TomTom branded SD card was only 256mb and I needed expansion to add some updates and features.
All I needed to do was format the card then drag the contents of the old card onto the new one and it worked straight away, recognising all 2GB of storage.
Perfect purchase for that purpose. If you are in the same boat that I was (needing to expand storage in an older Sat Nav) then I recommend highly.
Weird Science Lab: The Snow Factory - Make Your Own Snow
I got this as a funny stocking filler for my girlfriend so we could have a 'white Christmas' despite the rain...
The concept is simple enough. You get two tubes full of a powder that has the consistency of sherbet. You empty half a tube into 80ml of water and stir.
It doesn't create snow by any means. After stirring, the mixture congeals and leaves behind what has the appearance of slushy snow but to the touch is a slightly sticky, rubbery, damp mush of strange consistency.
When you drop the mixture on the floor it does look a bit like snow but that is where the similarity ends. It binds together (as it is quite sticky) but it is just a rubbery mess and bounces off objects if you throw it (so no cheeky snowball fights).
It is a pretty cool experiemental gift but 'Make your own Snow' is extremely far fetched. I appreciated the concept behind it but I think many would be left disappointed if they expected actual snow (which of course wouldn't be possible without freezing or some kind of liquid Nitrogen).
Razer Black Widow Keyboard
The quality shows for the price paid...
The build quality is exceptionally solid, which results in a heavy keyboard (but who's carrying it anyway). It has a very generous USB cable that is made of a fabric material similar to the fabric cables that come with clothes irons. There are a couple of memory buttons which can be programmed using the supplied Razer software but I haven't used that. There are also buttons to brighten, dim or switch off the glowing Razer logo on the wrist panel (which seems pointless)
The mechanical action on the keys is exceptional. It requires the lightest of presses to get feedback. This at first can cause some mistakes when gaming but you soon get used to it. You can type away for hours without realising, engrossed by the amazing clickly sound.
The only problem I have with it is that the space bar feels cheap and plasticy and it is much louder than the other keys and sounds like it is just bottoming out with the smallest of forces (unlike the amazing action on the enter and function key buttons).
I use a large, single surface desk so the keyboard is very loud on the surface. To counter act this I've got the keyboard resting on a rectangular bar cloth. This means I get the lovely mechanical feedback sound and it doesn't echo off of the rest of the desk.
You won't be disappointed overall if you like mechanical keyboards. If you aren't expecting the mechanical sound (surprising if you are buying it) then it will probably be too loud for you but if you want that sort of thing then you will be very satisfied. A very solid product from a highly reputable gaming peripheral company. If you don't need the backlighting then get this model as it is considerably cheaper than the pro version with backlight.
LG IPS235V-BN 58.4 cm (23 inch) LED LCD Monitor - 16:9 - 5 ms - Adjustable Display Angle - 1920 x 1080 - 250 cd/m - 1000:1 - DVI - HDMI - VGA
I upgraded from a 6yr old 19inch widescreen Samsung. I never saw the need to upgrade but after buying this I wish I'd done so sooner!
I've hooked this up via. DVI-D to a Radeon HD GPU. The contrast and sharpness is beyond belief. Photos have been given a whole new edge - even my desktop background jumps out at me.
The black levels are deep and inky and the brightness of the screen is perfectly even end to end.
The build quality is great. It is a typically thin and light LED panel with a slight dark grey brushed metal effect on the front facia. Not flamboyant though and only noticeable if you are checking out the monitor.
It has IPS technology. I have no idea what this really means but I provide IT Support at work to a number of departments including digital photographers. They look for IPS as a bare minimum. This monitor has vast advanced calibrating options. For me this was perfect out the box but if you needed to calibrate - the option is there. The quality of this monitor for the average eye like mine isn't far off the quality of 1000 pound EIZO ColourEdge professioal monitors (just less calibration options).
My only gripe (and it is very minor) is that the power button isn't very tactile. It requires a hard press to activate power. This is sometimes annoying as I'll power down my PC then stand up to turn off the monitor only to find upon walking away that the power is still on. It requires a very firm and square press and as it is located under the panel it often causes the monitor to shake around. As I said it is minor but considering the quality of the rest I would have liked maybe a touch sensitive button or one that is a bit nicer to press.
It is typical of the LG brand quality - An amazing solidly designed display, which servces its purpose beyond expectations and has excellent features.
Jack & Jones Men's Edward Chino Shorts (Coffee)
These are identical to the Edward Bolton Chinos by Jack and Jones except they are shorts (of course).
Hard wearing, thick material and a great colour that hasn't faded in a few months use.
The only downside is that they are a very snug fit. If you are on the borderline of fitting into normal 34W pants then you won't fit in these. I buy 34W because I like them to be a bit loose (should I choose to wear them low) but these are very snug.
Jack & Jones Men's Bolton Edward Chinos (Brown)
These are great quality Chinos. The material is quite thick rather than loose fitting and I'd imagine that they will be pretty hard wearing. The brown colour is a quite a bit lighter than the dark brown in the picture.
One thing to note though; I take 34W, 32L and these are a very snug fit. All of my other 34W pants have some slack so I can wear them lower if I want but these are closer to a 32inch and they just about fit above my hips.
Just be aware if normal pants of your size are snug as these probably won't fit.
Denon AH-D510 Closed Stereo Headphones / Black Overear
I got these just after Xmas. I bought them because my current ones sufferend the one ear of death issue. Previously I had full size DJ monitor headphones. These are a little smaller than that but are bigger than Skullcandys.
The ear cup is comfortable for wearing for long periods and the noise cancellation is very very good. I only use mine for gaming but they could probably be used outside due to the noise cancellation.
The only issue I found is that the standard cable length is very short. They do include an extension cable but the extension is complete overkill and about 5x longer than the stanard cable so its one extreme to the other.
Also the bass is acceptable but isn't great. It performs best in mid-range and due to this they are great gaming headphones.
They do take some time to burn in though. At first they are very dull and flat sounding but after a week of use they will be at their best.
Definitely recommend. If you haven't heard of Denon before then basically they are a company that produce very high quality audio solutions, primarily surround sound amplifiers.
Gears Of War (Classics)
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This game deserves 4 stars simply becuse it put the 360 on the map. It is a bit of a Marmite game though in that some people (including myself) aren't huge fans.
For me the gameplay is a bit clunky and the main character is just an oafish thing that moves with all the grace of a hippo.
The other thing I don't like is that enemies take whole clips of ammo to kill and often even then don't die after that.
I did finish the game and found the story entertaining but it was met with more frustration than anything.
Due to my dislike of the game engine I found multiplayer just as bad. It seemed to have no real objective and (like Halo) to win it just required a skill of being able to run up to people and Melee.
It is a fantastic game, a brilliant concept and a true gem for the console but not for me.
You really have to give it a try though as you won't know if you like it until you play it.
Samsung Galaxy S II 16GB Android Sim Free Unlocked Mobile Phone
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This phone is incredible. Due to a previously long contract, this has been my first 'smart' phone and after seeing a friend's HTC, I knew I had to get an Android.
I got the White version of this just after release and it looks incredible. It is very light and very thin. Some people commented negatively on the build quality but it doesn't feel flimsy at all. It is very solid and the screen is huge. The screen is significantly larger and brighter than the iPhone screen and the phone itself (despite being larger) fits easier into your hand than an iPhone because it is so thin.
The phone is super fast and of course has access to the vast array of Android apps. Not only this but the Android operating system is completely customisable and aside from the usual interesting and pointless apps you can download things like new clocks and text applications so you are in no way restricted to use phone as you receive it. Pretty much everything can be customised and changed (unlike iPhone that forces you to use it in the way Apple wanted you to).
It really puts the iPhone to shame. After showing this to a number of iPhone users, they could see no reason to own an iPhone (apart from preference and brand name). It is superior in every other way.
People always used whip their white iPhones out on the train with pride but as soon as iPhone owners clock me holding this beauty they discreetly hide away their iPhones because this thing makes them look like a brick.
The camera is amazing too. It has an 8MP sensor and is super quick. I can't fault the quality at all. If you don't need an SLR and can put up with having no Zoom then there's no reason why you would ever need a separate camera... it's that good.
The screen is super bright and clear, the phone is wafer thin but solidly built and it is blisteringly fast with complete customisation and the sleekness and usablity of Android.
There are only 4 things I can fault about this phone (and they probably apply to most smart phones these days). They are:
-The battery life is rubbish and if you leave Wifi, Bluetooth + GPS turned on with apps running, you won't get a whole day use from it.- The unlock screen (Specific to Samsung Galaxy s2) is very clumsy. Rather than an animated slider like you get on iPhone or HTC, you literally just drag the background of the 'screensaver' wallpaper to the side. It just looks uncool and clumsy.- The phone gets very hot when you are gaming. This means your hands get sweaty and it makes it hard to hold the phone as it is so slim.- This is a general problem with all Android phones in that so many apps just run for no reason. I have a task killer app that shows me everything that running in the background and I'll find random games that have started themselves and are sending data. Even after killing the app it will show up again. The only way to stop these is to uninstall them. Google need to have a task 'blocker'. Then again, maybe there is one.
Seriously, this beauty puts the iPhone to shame and is Samsung at its best. It looks gorgeous, it is super fast and it truly deserved it's phone of the year title. It would have been a crime if it didn't win. It will (and has) converted many people from iPhone. The negatives are just minor and nothing that would ever make me regret getting the phone.