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My phone contract with Orange came to an end way back in April. At that time I wasn't really ready to sign up to a new contract as I didn't know exactly what I wanted in a phone. The HTC had been a lot of hassle for me and I certainly did not want to spend £30 odd on something I barely liked. My boyfriend, on the other hand, was in a hurry to get the iPhone and still had a few months left on his o2 contract, which came with this smartphone. I decided I could try this phone in the meantime and then decide whether I wanted to get a better phone or just get a SIM only deal and keep his old phone. Aesthetics/appearance As much as possible, my boyfriend gave me this phone with all its original stuff. The phone itself is white with a silver lining around the front and silver lettering 'SAMSUNG'. Only one button sticks out on the front and that also has a silver lining. The screen area is quite wide but does not take up the whole length of the phone so it is not that big. On the back is the camera flash, with '8.0 MEGA', to indicate that this phone has an 8 megapixel camera, great! Again, 'SAMSUNG' is written at the bottom of the back cover and you can see a notch where you put your nail to lift away the battery/SIM cover. This comes away quite easily, which is a change for me. However, I have noticed on accidentally dropping the phone it perhaps comes away a bit too easily. The back is all white otherwise and on the top, you can see the headphone port. Buttons are along the side, with the on/off switch being on the right and the volume buttons along the left side. Perhaps I find this tricky because I keep accidentally changing the volume because of the way I naturally hold the phone. The feel of the phone is very light and for small hands like mine, comfortable to handle. It does have a very plastic feel to it though, so does not feel like it is particularly high quality in terms of materials. In a way I'm glad it is not too heavy because I always overload my bag with stuff so the lighter the better for me. Battery Power and Charger The charger that came with this phone is in one piece. My previous HTC charger also worked well with this phone so I have been using this instead. The one-piece charger does not have the convenience of also being a USB cable and so to connect to the computer a separate cable is needed, and this is also supplied with the phone. The battery life in this phone has always been pretty poor, and having installed some game applications that run in the background, it has only gotten worse. I tend to find that if I use it at all in a day I will need to charge it again by night. Charging takes me at least 3 hours, even when plugged directly into the wall (as opposed to being connected to a computer). When the battery gets to around 20% it seems to go down faster and faster and although unlike my old phone it will use every last bit of power, it takes a small percentage of charge just to be able to switch it back on, otherwise it will switch off again, even when plugged in. I have tried to use this phone as my alarm clock but have often woken to find that the battery died in the night and so the alarm never went off. Operating System This phone uses an Android operating system. There are a few apps on it that I have never used and some I do not really even know how to use. You cannot uninstall any of the preinstalled stuff and this always annoys me. There are also links that look like apps but lead you to purchasing sites where you would have to buy the app to get what is advertised. It is very easy to download and install apps from the Play Store, however, and there are plenty of freebies around. Some do take a lot of battery power, and I think my phone's battery weakened even more after I downloaded Words With Friends. Even when not in use it seems to use a lot of power, but I wanted the game. Managing Use I am pretty sure this is about the phone and not the network provider. The phone has a facility to set limits on access to data and to monitor your phone usage. You would need to double check your limits with the network provider first and then decide for yourself what limits you set. I have found this really useful as I'm terrified of going over on bills. Phone Memory There's under a couple of Gigabytes of internal storage, of which I am hardly using much at all, and this is probably just all the preinstalled stuff. The memory card I have in the phone is a micro SD 8Gb, which is more than half full, but it has been quite sufficient for me. I do not really use the phone for any music or video content, but I guess that extra memory could be purchased for anyone wanting to do so. I have just a few extra apps, but I don't think these take up too much space either. Browsing Contacts I have a little trouble scrolling through the contact list, because the phone is designed to make a call or start a text message by simply swiping left or right. I don't want this function (another I don't know how to get rid of) and I don't scroll in a straight line so have accidentally dialled a fair few people already! You can search for contacts by name, which is much easier than scrolling all the way through, and there is also the option of creating 'groups' and looking at 'favourites' which will have the people you talk to most listed. Making Calls So for me the crucial thing about a phone is still the ability to make calls. Skype has failed me miserably in recent years, so we are back to buying massive minutes bundles and spending ages on the phone instead. The call quality on this phone is pretty good, and the speaker option is clear and not too loud. In fact I have used it by accident and not realised for a while that it was on, because it does not hurt my ears when too close to my head (unlike my old phone). The clarity is what really helps with the speaker, but it would be no good in very noisy environments. The phone uses a new sense technology that detects when you move your head away from the phone and automatically unlocks the keypad. This might be useful if you are multitasking, looking something up to tell the person on the phone or going through an automated system and being told to press a number for a choice. I think it works by detecting if a certain part of the phone is uncovered, however I'm not really sure where if so. I really can't get the hang of this technology myself. I had it on my old phone and thought it was faulty because it kept unlocking whilst I was talking on the phone and dialling other people. However, I have found similar difficulties with this phone in spite of the fact my partner used it without problem for a while. I guess this must mean there is a knack to it. However, in my opinion a good phone design should not force me to have to learn a new skill just to use it and I am looking for a way to opt out. If you know, feel free to comment and improve my review! Texting Now that I have free unlimited texts I have started using them a lot more liberally. I also get picture messages with my package. I did discover a while into using the phone however, (my boyfriend had restored factory settings before giving it to me) that it was set to automatically delete my messages when I hit a certain limit. As it took me a while to discover this I was absolutely devastated to have lost many, many messages all of a sudden. When I sent or received a picture message, for some reason this cause the phone to delete all messages before it. I can't retrieve them and to me this meant something. I've become used to looking back through messages and have been unable to find some crucial information because of this as well. Always check the settings, I guess. Touchscreen I have found this touch screen much more pleasant than my previous phone, in spite of the fact it is not much bigger. I send a lot of text messages and for someone with clumsy fingers this is probably one of my better experiences of typing. I still have some troubles and so I am not great at gaming on the phone. I have tried Minion Rush on this phone and although I have learn the different types of touches I must still be getting them wrong as the Minion often jumps when I want him to go left or moves left when I want him to roll down. This might not make a lot of sense without knowing the game but the point is that the screen seems to misinterpret my intended 'swipes' etc. Apart from games, it has not been too much of a problem for me, though. Graphics and visual clarity I do like this phone for graphic quality. The detail is very good and crisp and the colours are also very bold. When taking photographs they appear on the screen pretty clearly and you get a reasonable idea of how they will look on screen, particularly if lighting conditions were good. Camera I have almost replaced my lovely Samsung camera with my Samsung phone camera, which annoys me because I bought a camera for that function. However, the quality of photography on my phone is actually better, and the phone also takes really good pictures even in the dark. I don't have very steady hands and yet the pictures almost always come out well. The camera is a decent 8 megapixels, which is pretty reasonable and good enough for most things. I even use this camera for my design work. Internet The Internet is much faster than my old phone, but probably slow for today's standards. I think this is somewhat affected by the speed the browser can load the pages (as opposed to network signal as this is not really relevant here) I do find navigating this a bit fiddly, in spite of the fact I am happy with the touchscreen. I don't like the way the windows open, because it is impossible to tell how many are open and it also took me a while to work out how to close them. I think it could just do with being a bit more intuitive, but I guess I have gotten the hang of it. Conclusion This phone is pretty decent, and definitely better than my old phone. I have found it easier to use, although I have had to get used to new ways of doing things, as you might expect when switching brands. It is now very out of date and so will not appeal to most people. However, if like me you are looking to get hold of a decent second hand phone it is not a bad one to go for at the right price.
There is nothing I like more than the tempting aroma of freshly percolated coffee filling the kitchen in the morning. I'm not even sure I'm a big fan of the taste, but I love to drink it because the scent is just so warming. I have memories of visiting my late great aunt since childhood and each morning she would have the percolator running and the beautiful scent would reach up the stairs and make me that much more keen to get up early and enjoy it. In fact I did not like the taste back then, but always said 'yes please' to coffee. Percolated coffee, in particular, became something of a special treat in our house as we bought our own machine and started to use it when guests were visiting. Normally in our house we stick to standard instant coffee with boiled water from the kettle, but on the odd occasion we do enjoy a special drink, even without visitors. Currently we are using ground coffee beans but my mum believes that whole beans, although expensive, are even better for percolating. Originally we bought a simple percolator with a glass jug, but when we moved house we went for an upgrade, and the Rowenta Milano Therm CT 273 was introduced to our household. This was very different to our previous, more old fashioned percolator. I have to admit I cannot remember the exact amount we paid for this kettle, although it was in the region of £80-100. It is currently priced at £82 on Amazon. I know I have seen coffee machines on offer for around £50 but even £80, from my searching is a pretty good price. The higher end coffee machines, particularly those that use capsules, can set you back a good £200. Sometimes it is worth shopping around to see whether there are any promotions on because these seem to happen occasionally. Appearance and Aesthetics Tucked away behind our kettle and under the cupboard, this large appliance barely gets noticed by visitors to our house until it is in use. In fact it is quite a pleasant sight, albeit not fancy, and I wouldn't mind too much it being more on display. The machine has a glossy black exterior with a hollow central part for the jug. Above this is a compartment which opens in front for the coffee and along the side is a water measuring level, which is large enough that the printed numbers are not too hard to read. The name 'Rowenta' and 'Milano Therm Line' is printed across the front of the machine. The is an on switch with an LED light near the bottom which comes on when in use. The jug is short but wide. It is mostly made from stainless steel with a black handle. The handle is reasonably large and allows plenty of space for larger hands to grip it. I have very small hands but still find it quite comfortable when lifting and pouring. Engraved on the jug is the name 'Rowenta' again and 'Stainless Steel', confirming this material. The jug is not overly heavy but quite thick and robust. The machine is large, just fitting under the top kitchen units on our worktop, but very light indeed. It has a very plastic feel to it and one concern I might have is that with rough use the compartment doors feel like they might easily break. This has fortunately not happened so far and perhaps it is stronger than I think, but it does feel a little flimsy. The jug on the other hand has a quality weightiness about it and since you are only lifting it full when ready to pour for me this is alright. There is also a measuring spoon to make it easier to get the right amount of coffee, but I'm not sure what happened to ours as we just use a normal tablespoon these days! Connection The jug fits nicely in the machine whilst the coffee is made. The jug itself is completely cordless, which makes it more convenient. The space designed for it holds it well and clicks into place quite easily. The jug has a good sturdy handle to make it easier to take out when ready. The machine has a power cord which is about the same length as our current kettle - two thirds of a metre. You can't really tuck this underneath too well but it is not such a long cable that it is likely to be a problem. Capacity The machine is taller than it is wide, but is certainly much bigger than a lot of the newer machines on the market today. It would best suit a large kitchen area as I think it would look out of place anywhere too small or in a bedroom. Being such a large machine, it is not surprising to learn that the capacity is pretty good. This machine states that it can make up to 10 large cups and 15 small cups of coffee. We often use it to make just a couple of large cups but perhaps our mugs are small as we often have a bit left over! It amazes me that so much coffee could fit into the jug but so far we have never used it to full capacity. Interaction I really enjoy making coffee in this machine and it is really simple. You spoon in a couple of good heaps of coffee into the top compartment; depending on your taste you can make it stronger or weaker. Guidelines are given in the manual. Then you add water at the back. The fill level shows how many cups of coffee you will get for the amount of water you have poured in. Of course as I mentioned before I do think these measurements are a bit different to the mugs I use as we always have some left over. I think it is worth trying out different amounts and deciding how much is right for your own needs, so personally I would have preferred the measurements to have been in ml rather than cups. Once this is all done you just close up the compartments, which will click shut, and switch it on. Our old machine used to make a lot of noise that sounded like someone slurping through a straw as the coffee was made. The Rowenta, on the other hand, is very quiet. I did not mind the noise of the old one because it told us all that some lovely coffee was on its way, whereas now often people in the house make coffee and I will not even notice it! That said, I can see how a quieter machine would be useful to some people, especially if it is close to bedrooms and might disturb people with different sleeping patterns. Although I would say this machine is a bit big for a bedroom, it would at least not be too loud. I am interested in how these things actually work, so it would be nice to be able to see what is happening as the jug fills. However, I can see how this design is meant to look simple and discreet so all the work is done behind the scenes. With our old percolator the jug was glass so you could easily see it filling up and would be able to tell when it was done because it will slow to drips and then stop filling. With this one, you know it is working because the light comes on, but it is otherwise hard to tell the progress. We just switch it on first thing then go away and come back and it is ready. If the water is already hot then it will probably not take very long but if cold then a few minutes more to heat up the water. Although I would like the convenience of a machine that makes coffee straight into a cup, there are advantages to this machine working with a jug. Whereas a cup would just go cold if left, the jug keeps the coffee nice and hot for a very long time. It is particularly well insulated. I do not have to keep going back to make another cup as there will be plenty of hot coffee in the jug even a couple of hours later. I also think that it keeps it well. I know I shouldn't, but I have used coffee from it the next day by just pouring what was left in the jug, microwaving this and then adding hot water to taste. Obviously do NOT microwave the jug itself! My next day coffee tasted absolutely fine and was no problem at all. I'm not recommending you do this (we also use out of date coffee and keep it well beyond the recommended 10 days!), but while the coffee is hot it will still taste nice and fresh. Maintenance Inside the compartment where the coffee goes is the filter. After each use this must be taken out and washed. The jug lid comes off completely so that the two parts can be easily washed. The main part would probably just need the odd wipe down every now and then to keep it looking good, but ours hardly ever seems to need a clean. Being under the cupboard might explain why it is well protected but it seems to stay quite clean. There are never any spills or mess around the machine which is good too. It is important not to use an harsh chemicals or scourers on any part of the machine as they will damage it, however the filter can go in the dishwasher for convenience. We've never had any problems with this machine requiring repairs or support and have found it to be quite reliable. We do not really use it that often, although recently mum has been firing it up at the weekends for her morning coffee. Perhaps if used more frequently you might expect signs of wear and tear, but to be honest it is hard to see how as it is very durable. The only risk I see is if kids are allowed to play with it or plastic parts are forced out then they may crack or be broken somehow. This has not happened to us and I think with good care there is no good reason for it to do so. Manual My mum taught me how to use this machine so I did not really need to refer to the manual. It is actually quite simple anyway so the manual is unlikely to be needed too much once you learn the basics. The manual itself is big because it has a whole range of languages covered. There are also diagrams at the start showing the parts and how they work with a numbered step by step guide on what to do without words.. These are not too hard to understand but as it is in black and white that makes it a bit less clear, but the pictures are quite nice and artistic. The written guide gives advice on how to wire and also contact details for support and what to do if it is damaged. This has never been needed by us but it is nice to know. It also adds more advice on using the machine and keeping it clean and avoiding damaging it. Refills The one downside to having percolated coffee is that the actual coffee is likely to be quite expensive in comparison to your standard instant coffee. Of course you are paying a premium for better quality and fresher tasting coffee. The use-by dates are pretty tight though, and on our current packet we are advised to 'refrigerate and use within 10 days'. I think it has been in the fridge for a few months and even left out at one point. Personally I am not bothered about this but it is worth considering if using products past their dates concerns you, because you may want to buy something that lasts longer. For example a lot of machines now take individual pods that might work out cheaper. This machine can also be used to make tea using tea leaves. I have not done this yet but a friend gave me a bag of herbal tea leaves a while back so I will hopefully get around to giving them a try in this machine. Apart from being able to choose different flavours of tea and coffee, there are no extra functions. However, the jug is a good insulator and can be used to hold hot and cold drinks. Conclusion At some point in the future I would like to buy a fancy new coffee machine that takes a variety of pods and does milkshakes and other things. If I had something like that it would almost render our current machine obsolete to me. However, it has been very convenient and enjoyable to use. It looks really nice on our kitchen worktop and is the kind of product I feel proud to own. Even if that makes me sound a little materialistic! If you were going for this type of coffee machine it is not a bad buy and will not disappoint. However, it may not be enough alone to suit all needs and where space is an issue a smaller machine that has other functions might be a better option.
The netbook/laptop I am currently using has been mine now for four years. When I bought it, Windows 7 was pretty new and having had a bad experience with Windows Vista, I was a little worried about whether it would be an improvement or worse yet. I had been hoping to revert back to XP, the better operating system that preceded Vista, but decided to take a leap of faith. I will make a lot of comparisons to Windows Vista, the previous operating system but will try to explain the differences where relevant. Regarding installation, although I am sure this is not relevant to most people - my computer came with this operating system so I have not had to install it from scratch. However, I do have the CD in case I ever do and if so I will of course return to describe the process! Appearances The new design of the interface is meant to be more simplified and so in some aspects icons have replaced text. For example the main menu was labelled 'Start' before and is now simply a Windows logo. It is positioned in the same place so it did not take me that long to realise that it was the same menu, however, I think some people prefer to just see the word Start. The icons for different programs are very attractive and easy to recognise, even if you are not already familiar with where things are. I found that this did boost my enjoyment of using my new computer. There are some very nice background themes and designs to go with this operating system and as well as being attractive, these alone I have not found to have any slowing effect on my computer at all. I know this because I had them on for a long time before my computer did in fact slow down. I have since downloaded my own themes but I did particularly like some of the scenic photography. The images change every 30 seconds or so, so that you could potentially set up your own slide show background to personalise your computer. Taskbar The taskbar, the panel usually located along the bottom of a Windows screen, uses tabs to show what applications are open so that you can switch from one to the next. In Windows 7, all windows or individual files within the program are represented by just one tab, with the name of the current work you are in as the label. To see what other windows are there, I can just hover my mouse over the tab and miniature windows appear showing a miniature version, known as a thumbnail. Even with a video playing, you can watch it in miniature while having another file open! I am a bit of a clumsy user of computers and when it comes to pressing the tiny arrow to scroll a window in any program I will often miss. Missing that button is how I learnt that in Windows 7, pressing the lower right corner minimises all open windows revealing the desktop underneath. For me this just adds to my frustration, but in fact I can see how it could be really useful. If someone walks in and you are working on something confidential, you could quickly press it to hide what you are working on if you do not have time to lock the computer. Hopefully people are not being naughty, though, and trying to hide the wrong things! Next to this on the left the time and date are shown, which I think has been something Windows have always done. In Vista I remember there used to be a large 'gadget' panel along the side with a clock, but this cluttered the screen and I suspect slowed the computer loading on startup. Running programs are inside a tray accessed by a tiny arrow, and you can move any that you need to see more often onto the taskbar. For example I often adjust the volume or have to mute my computer quickly, so it is helpful to be able to just click on the sound icon right away. Only icons are shown for programs here, but if you hover over them text appears telling you what they are for, and you can click or right click for different options. Speed and reliability I had Windows Vista before Windows 7 and I am not knowledgeable about computers enough to be able to say why but know that it was terribly slow, always crashing and seemed to be very vulnerable to viruses. I have in fact read that Windows 7 has improved on these things and from my experience of actually using a computer with this operating system I have had very few system crashes (as opposed to, for example, my browser crashing) and have yet to experience a virus - touch wood I won't. One thing I would say is that I disabled Windows updates a while back, because of these there have been more than I care to remember, and most of them were not needed. This has slowed my computer dramatically, so in fact the speed now is probably not much better than my previous computer on Vista. Help Windows 7 comes with a very comprehensive Help system, which can be found in the Start menu. An offline version is available, but it also links to a Windows 7 Help website, where the most up to date information is available. This site shows what has actually changed since the previous version and also has lots of information on how to use the various programs that work with Windows 7, from the Calculator to Internet Explorer 9. I have not really needed to access this facility since I was fairly familiar with Windows operating systems anyway and tend to prefer to find my own way around. However, it is still worth a browse. It is written in plain English and you can look through categories and an A-Z of information as well as do a keyword search. If I am ever stuck I'm glad to know it is there. Conclusion Overall I think this operating system has started the improvement since often regarded as disastrous Windows Vista. For me it has been reasonable enough to stick with for the last few years and I am just glad to have moved on. If a computer runs on Windows 7, in general I think this is not a bad thing, but perhaps it is even better on a computer with better specs than mine (2gb RAM and celeron processor - if you are interested to know). Since most brand new computers will have far better specs, usually at least 3 or 4gb RAM and dual or better processors, they are likely to work well with Windows 7. Even a lot of old computers still work well with Windows 7, so if it somehow works out cheaper than getting the latest operating system, in my opinion it might well be a worthwhile purchase.
One of the most frustrating things I find about technology today is also the great thing about it. It is constantly improving and updating. The trouble is that keeping up is an expensive task. Over three years ago I bought my last netbook. It was even longer before that I had purchased some Office software and I have yet to get updated. So I installed Word 2007, along with other office applications onto my 2010 computer. I'm still working in this version today and it shocks me to think it is now over 6 years old. I have become more comfortable with using it over the years and most of my coursework reports have been done using this application. ***Quick note*** I have used a few previous versions for a long time in the past and am also fortunate to have a newer version at my disposal at University. I can therefore recognise a few benefits and drawbacks for those familiar with other versions in switching, however I would not want to cause too much confusion to those interested just in this version. In this review I would prefer not to make too many comparisons but will mention where relevant for those interested. What is it? Microsoft Word is an application developed for making basic text documents, for example reports, agendas, essays, stories, lists or anything you like. You can add pictures, alter the layout and change the font of text to suit a particular style. You can also use templates provided to get you started on a variety of designs for invitations, cards etc. For a more sophisticated design tool, you can buy Microsoft Publisher, or obtain this as part of Office software, but for most basic needs, Word is usually sufficient. Personally, I use Word to type some of my reviews, as well as University coursework and written notes, because my handwriting is illegible! It took me some time to get used to using Word 2007 when I first upgraded. For instance, the previous menus had always been the same and this was the first time I had used a version where the menus had completely changed. I spent ages just searching for basic functions that previously I had used all the time, but I have started to get the hang of it and I imagine the designers were expecting the new menus to be more user friendly. Interface/Layout The general appearance of the application uses shades of pale blue with dark blue text and brightly coloured icons that have shadows to better outline them. If you are reading this then it is safe to assume you read from left to right (some languages, like Arabic are read from right to left). I've learnt from Microsoft themselves that when designing computer interfaces you should bear in mind that people will read the screen in a similar manner to reading a book, from top left to bottom right. Following this logic, when I open Word initially, I find the menus ordered from left to right by those most used or most important first. There is a main menu for starting new documents, opening files, printing and other file related activities and this is not named, but instead shown by the Windows logo. To start with I found this confusing, and with this menu and others I found myself opening and closing them to discover what they contained. The other menus are designed as tabs rather than drop-down menus. This means you can click on one menu and keep it open with all the options shown along the top as you keep working. Instead of listing the different functions under each menu, I can see labelled icons with large pictures demonstrating what they do. These act as buttons, for instance to insert a shape into my document, I click the 'Insert' tab and I quickly spot a picture showing three shapes and the word 'shapes' underneath it. When I click this button, I can choose from another drop-down with various pictures, which shape I require. Since I have become familiar with these pictures, even if I forget which menu I need I can quickly find the button because they are so easy to recognise. I do get frustrated browsing through the menus, however, for one or two things that I still forget, like adding references. Usability I find that when using Word 2007 for its most basic functions, for creating simple text documents, it is fairly straightforward and easy to use. Most people have a version of Word or access to one, and it is easy to open documents in compatibility modes for different versions, so it is also very versatile. The problems for me arise when I try to create anything more complicated. There are specific ways to achieve the look you want, but I get frustrated with automatic formatting and all the different options for wrapping text around tables and images. I do think that to get the best out of this application, it helps to have some level of training, which might sound odd coming from someone who has grown up using Microsoft Office. My mum is one person who still comes to me frequently seeking help with things that really ought to be simpler, like getting text boxes positioned correctly and getting the text inside them right too. Personally I think Word must be user-friendly enough to be so universally in use rather than another application, but could still be improved to make it more accessible to everyone - which I think it should be. Ok, Help! So what happens when you get stuck? If you are looking for help using the application, there is a help menu, but finding this might be a challenge at first, because it is such a discreetly placed '?' icon in the top right corner! Once found, it links to online help pages, which means it helps to be online! If you are offline then a separate version is available but this might not be as up-to-date or have as much information. I hardly use the help facility nowadays and always found it difficult in older versions to find exactly what I was looking for, but I do think that a lot more information is now available because of it being online and most questions therefore can usually be answered. Questions that I imagine are most common are shown immediately but there is also a keyword search facility to speed up the process to find your answer. Formatting I think the main area that Word 2007 seems to be good with is making it easier to choose the right font or style of text and to edit objects while selecting them. For the first of these two points, whereas in previous versions of Word I used to have to select the font and change the text and then review the results and undo if I was not happy, now where the fonts are listed they are shown using the actual typeface as it will appear, so you already know what you are getting. This means you can pick out the one that really stands out to you without having to go through trial and error, which is particularly helpful if you are not too familiar with different fonts. When any type of object is selected in Word 2007, for example a table or picture, extra menus will appear relevant to that object. For a table made in Word, there will be a 'Design' menu, where you can choose ready made designs and some formatting options and a 'Layout' menu for other options like adding or removing cells, columns and rows. For a picture, a 'Format' menu appears and you can even add a frame around the picture or alter its colour, brightness and contrast to your needs. For me, this is really useful because I do a lot of design related reports and having the right presentation is key. I can take a picture from the Internet or my camera and alter it to fit the format of my report so that it looks more natural. You can insert ready made standard shapes, charts and also images from 'Clip Art' into your documents, although I avoid these nowadays because they have become a little cliche and my design lecturers can tell when they are being used! New in Word 2007 is something called SmartArt. These are shapes that might be particularly useful for businesses, like flow diagrams, but designed so that you can easily type into the boxes and they will fit your work nicely. They are also professionally formatted so look great in any document, but be aware that they might not work properly when the document is opened with another program (see below). Errors and Issues I'm afraid that I have found with all versions of Word that at times the program malfunctions and crashes for no reason. You soon get into the habit of backing up your work as regularly as possible and these days I prefer to work in an application that automatically saves my work to reduce the risk. I can then later copy and paste into word for formatting or sending to other people using Word. Sometimes I notice when scrolling (perhaps my computer memory is struggling to keep up) that it looks like the last few lines have become distorted, but this is usually temporary and re-scrolling solves it. Sharing Work Often people need to share their work with others and rather than printing out pages and pages, possibly having to post copies, this can obviously be done electronically. One thing I find a bit of a pain is that people all seem to have Word but be working on different versions, so when you share work you have to check that they can actually open it correctly and see the document the way you intended. Work can be saved as a 'compatibility' version for previous versions of Word and should be easily accessible in later versions, but with the former, I have occasionally come across warnings that special features may not work in older versions. For me this was with SmartArt, which I believe was only introduced with Word 2007. My advice would be to avoid using this if the work needs to be available in other versions of Word. It is possible to track changes made to a document rather than having to keep saving new versions with new names, and this will allow different users to contribute and also shows their contributions in their own assigned colour ready to be accepted or rejected. I used this alot in my old job because there were often too many chefs in the kitchen, and it saved a few headaches from losing track of what had been done! Conclusion It might sound silly but I think the reason Word is so mainstream is because it is so mainstream. In the last few years many other companies have cropped up with their own document editing software, but it has to be compatible with Word to be worthwhile unless its user has no need to share their work electronically. Employers, schools and Universities, friends and family and most people I know own a version of Word. It is taken for granted that you can email a document attachment to anyone and they will have the right program to open and maybe even edit it themselves. I've seen people complain a lot about this program and I personally find it not always that user friendly, but I really do like the formatting capabilities of Word 2007 and as begrudging as I was about having to get used to the new interface, I would rather not go back. The best features I might hardly ever use, but I do find them inspiring and it is just good to know they are there. I think with a little patience this has become a good application for me. Unfortunately for Word 2007 (not for me) I have already experienced 2010 and am hungry to upgrade (hopefully to the Office 2010 or higher in future). However, this was a good enough step to keep me going in between and I have no regrets with sticking it out. There are always going to be frustrating things about applications but I can see some valid improvements. I would probably not recommend going for Word 2007 unless you are getting it really cheap in comparison to a later version, but if you are then it is as good as any.
We've owned this particular kettle for a number of years now at my parents home, where I have been, well, temporarily stopping for a few, well, months. I myself have been through several kettles and enjoy the challenge of venturing into a new area of reviewing. I have already reviewed the kettle I currently have in my flat, which is probably on the other end of the scale to this one. So I think this would be an interesting one to contrast it with. I have been drinking coffee and tea since childhood and it is a part of our daily life. Since returningm to University and the need to actually be paying attention, I have found that having a cup of coffee has become part of my morning routine. Appearance and Aesthetics We clearly bought this kettle for its style and quality appearance. Mum was going for as many metallic or chrome designs as possible for all her gadgets in the kitchen, and this fitted the former category well. The body is a very shiny metal and does really stand out on the worktop. It has a smart black base and the handle and top of the lid are also black, with a texture that feels comfortable to grip. The jug handle also has a nice finger gripping shape which is nice, at least for small hands like mine. One thing we noticed pretty quickly, however, was that lime-scale would show up blatantly on the outer surface. This means that the kettle needs a regular clean or it quickly starts to look cheap and tacky. To be honest after a while it is just too much hassle to keep wiping down the kettle so it has started to look quite bad with white marks all over the outside and even on the base. The kettle is a little weighty when filling and I find it hard to carry with just one hand. Plus it is rather wide around the base so I have to angle it slightly when filling in order to hold it in the sink. This probably also makes the weight harder to lift and so it feels heavier than other tall kettles. The lid comes off completely rather than being hinged on. On the plus side this means it is not blocking your view and won't swing shut or risk being snapped off. Also it is easy to take off and clean. On the other hand I'm not a fan of having too many separate parts to have to find a clean work surface to put them on while filling the kettle. Not a big deal, though. Connection This kettle is a cordless with a separate base to which it fits very easily. Once or twice I have found that it has not connected correctly when sat on the base and hence does not switch on straight away, but a little wiggle usually does the trick. The base is black, as with the handle and lid handle so it matches nicely. The cord is neither too long nor too short, at just over two thirds of a metre. Capacity The kettle is not very tall but quite wide, so it gives the appearance of a low capacity but actually what appears like a low fill level is always more than I expect. To start with this could be wasteful, but after time I started to figure out how far to fill for one cup, two cups, a saucepan etc.and so less water is wasted. I think it is just a case of getting used to the new shape. The kettle actually has a good capacity at 1.7 litres and there are markers at 0.75, 1.00, 1.5 and 1.7. For me, 0.75 is enough for two large cups or my flask. Boiling Point When you switch the kettle on there is a little blue light at the base which comes on. Sometimes you might need to turn the kettle to bring it in view, or in a dark room it shows quite well. This is helpful because if you are not sure you would otherwise have to wait for the water to start making sounds. Of course it also adds to the kettle's aesthetic qualities. Obviously the kettle takes longer to boil if fuller. However, it is not as slow as my cheap kettle and usually takes just under a minute to boil for my morning drinks. I'm pretty sure there is noticeably more steam when boiling this kettle than with others I have used, but I really would not know why this could be. Certainly the room conditions are about the same. The only other reason I could suggest is due to the fact that the kettle narrows so much towards the top that all the steam gets compressed and so looks like there is more than there is. Anyway, it is sensible to keep this kettle well away from any kitchen cupboards or other objects that might be damaged by the steam. The kettle seems to be very loud when started and this has worsened over the years, although it does not affect its function at all. I hear a lot of scary snapping and crackling sounds to start with and then you get the usual gurgling and bubbling as the kettle starts to boil and then tames down a bit. It is a fair bit noisier than my personal kettle but then it is useful to know when the kettle is done and we've put ours in the kitchen so don't mind too much about noise. Once the water boils, the kettle switches itself off, the blue light goes off and the switch moves back up. The water does not stay boiling hot for long and although I let it cool a little for my coffee (apparently boiling water burns the coffee - not that I ever knew the difference) other people tend to prefer to reboil even after five minutes. The water comes down from boiling quickly, but will stay relatively hot for a while. Again I can only guess that the shape has something to do with this. Safety Note As this kettle is mostly made of metal and metal is a good conductor of heat, the body of the kettle gets very hot. Obviously the handles are fine as they are made of a type of plastic. However, if you touch the body of the kettle after the water has been boiled you could get burnt. For this reason I do not think this kettle is ideal for family use. Maintenance As I mentioned, the exterior does need a regular wipe to keep this kettle looking presentable. There is a small mesh filter at the spout which probably ought to be taken out and cleaned frequently too. You can get replacements but I doubt we will ever bother. Ours is currently covered with limescale. The lid can be removed and washed separately. We live in a hard water area and the inside of our kettle jug is now badly affected by limescale and I usually have to rinse it well before using each time. I can see at the base a lot of the limescale that has become stuck. My mum does not always rinse out the kettle as I do so I have noticed bits in my drinks when she's making! The base also needs a wipe now and then, and obviously this must be disconnected first for safety reasons. Apart from needing a good clean, we have had no real issues with this kettle. It has been fairly consistent and has required no further maintenance nor have we needed to refer to support information. It has been a number of years now and as yet we have no intention to replace it. Conclusion Clearly this kettle is designed to look stylish in a home and is not the most practical around, especially with all the cleaning it needs. It has become noisier over the years and I do find it uncomfortable to lift. That said, it has been very reliable and is quick to boil water. We have become a bit lazy on cleaning so I guess appearances are not as important as we thought. Personally I would not go for this sort of shape of kettle again, but then it is just not quite my style. I'd also prefer a better insulated kettle, although the hot metal body is a quick, if not safe way to tell the water is still very hot! I think that today there are definitely better models available and if you were buying this kettle it would not be worth paying full price or more than £30. However, if on offer I think it is not a bad purchase. Given how long ours has lasted, we can't really regret buying it. One more thing... I have noted from others that the handle does not leave a lot of room for bigger hands and as I mentioned that the body is metal this means that you could hurt your fingers gripping it if they do not fit the handle well. For this reason I would strongly recommend trying before you buy. For us it has not been a problem, but we all have small hands! (Please ignore picture and audio quality ratings!)
I bought this kettle when I started University, to keep in my room and make life a bit more comfortable. It was the cheapest I could find at the time, costing me around £5 and since I would probably not need it once I finished University, I was keen to pay as little as possible. Appearance and Aesthetics This is an economy kettle, and as such it is not exactly designed to look pretty. However, it is also not too unsightly, and whilst it is not eye-catching, at least it fits well in most kitchens and rooms. It has a base and the main jug of the kettle. The base connection is big and often I have to hover the kettle over for a second before placing it on the base correctly, but I notice it is very secure and not easily knocked. Again when picking up the kettle it has to be lifted first before I can pull it towards myself or pour water, which my weak wrists are not always comfortable with. The kettle is a clinical white with a clear blue panel along the centre to indicate water level and a bright red switch that lights up when on. The handle looks nice with a smooth curve, but it can be a bit awkward for me to carry when the kettle is filled with water. Fortunately the kettle is very light and and the grip is reasonably good. The lid has a nice big grip to open it, but takes a little more effort than I would like to release. It is best to keep it on a surface if opening when there is even just a little bit of water left inside. This is because the whole thing shakes when I use enough force to pull the lid up and the water inside could end up flying everywhere. Connection The base is separate from the kettle, making the kettle itself conveniently cordless. The power cord for the base, however, is far too short and this means that you need to either use an extension or connect it very close to your power sockets, which may prove inconvenient. For me I had to park my kettle at the back of a table, so although wireless, this was not ideal because it meant lifting it off the base while leaning over a table. Not good for the back. Buying the extension at least enables me to place it on a table! Bear in mind if using multiple plugs on an extension that when using the kettle it takes a surge of power so it is best not to share the extension with too many other appliances simultaneously, especially if they require a lot of power themselves. Before Use I think I only boiled one lot of water before I started using this kettle, but actually the instructions state that you should fill it completely and boil twice before using. I guess this is a matter of being on the safe side, as if any bugs did not get killed off the first time ASDA might fear a lawsuit from its customers for getting ill after using it. I don't blame them, but I personally didn't bother, it wastes energy to me. Capacity The kettle states a capacity of 1.5 litres. For me this means two large mugs of coffee and a flask for the road, with a bit extra I use to rinse and warm my coffee flask. I often keep extra hot water in my insulating flask to make this last, because otherwise I have to go up and down the stairs to fill my kettle each time. Otherwise I can see how filling the kettle would not be energy efficient. The minimum fill level and maximum are clearly marked. I have accidentally broken both of these rules. With the former, you soon know by the hissing steam, but fortunately the kettle switches off quickly. For the later, this is advised as water can spill over, which is dangerous however, I find that being slightly over the level is not normally a problem. Boiling Point When full, the kettle takes a while to boil, maybe a couple of minutes, and this is reduced dramatically if the water is already hot or half filled. The sound is more of a rumbling than a hissing of traditional kettles, so although noisy, I find the noise much less uncomfortable. It is much quicker than some other kettles I have used, but I usually busy myself with other things while it is boiling so do not notice the time so much. I also tend not to use the kettle water immediately, unless making tea for my partner, because I have black coffee, for which it is better to use cooler water. The water does not stay hot for very long in the kettle. Even a full kettle will start to cool down after a few minutes, which is why I use my flask. For me this is not much of a problem, except that I have had to re-boil the kettle a few times when I have boiled it too early before my partner was ready for his drink. Maintenance So far I have found this kettle very easy to keep clean and look after. I wipe it down quite often because dust settles on the lid and I forget to wash my hands before handling it sometimes. It cleans really easily just with a slightly damp cloth. Inside, for a kettle I have used for 2 years now, I am impressed with how little limescale has built up. This is especially the case where I live in a very hard water area and have yet to give the inside a thorough clean. At the moment I just rinse it out every so often, but I have not had any problems. Also any limescale does get filtered through the spout, which on mine probably needs cleaning at some point, but has been fine so far. Small Safety Note This is probably my fault entirely, but I did have one strange occasion where the cut out function of the kettle (which stops the kettle heating once the water is boiled) did not work. I think this had to do with how I had positioned the kettle. It has fortunately done no damage, but I was alarmed one morning to wake up and discover that the strange clicking noise I had been hearing all night was my kettling repeatedly attempting to boil and then cutting out. The area around the kettle was warm the next day, and I do worry what could have happened if left like that. It looked like the kettle had not been placed back properly and this must have caused the problem - I noticed some mention of this in the instructions. I think its probably the case with all kettles that we should use with care - but it is worth mentioning that the kettle should be regularly checked. Manual As mentioned, there is a basic information leaflet on how to use this kettle, and not much information is really required. It takes a minute just to scan through and then I have kept it for reference, but I do not think I have ever had to look at it again. Conclusion Apart from the last mentioned issue, which fortunately occurred only once and never again, I have had no problems with this kettle. It is not the most comfortable or style of kettles around but it is certainly fit for purpose and will suit anyone requiring a cheap solution or maybe a shared office kettle. At just £5 this is not a bad price and even if mine packed in now I would still have thought it a worthwhile purchase. PS ignore picture and audio quality as not relevant to a kettle!
A long time ago I became bored of horror films and moved on to comedy. I could not really see the point in depressing myself with films that have a 90% death rate and very few decent endings. However, recently I found myself getting caught up in the fascination of such gory films, particularly the monster creature type. I knew very little about this film when it came on television one evening, but it sounded like the sort I was looking for so I recorded it and decided to give it a go. I watched it with my boyfriend and my sister, feeling a bit guilty as she had expressed a preference not to watch anything too bloody. Story After a plane crashes into a storage facility, the people just happening to be there at the time find themselves locked inside. Among them is recently dumped Charlie, determined to get an explanation from his ex girlfriend Shelley and struggling to cope with their breakup. After the building goes into lockdown, he finds that he is trapped inside for the night. Worse yet, something appears to be picking people off, and the man who can let them out is one of the first to disappear. The main characters are introduced gradually, and at the start it is not clear who will be most involved in the remainder of the film. However, once we become acquainted with Charlie and his best friend Mark, the story becomes rather predictable. The twists may not be completely expected, but they bring little surprise. We already know more than the characters do about the thing that is attacking them, and even the element of mystery as to when and how they figure it out is short lived. The story develops somewhat, but has nothing particularly original and could have been a few episodes of a soap stuck together with the addition of a monster. In other words, the monster itself is hardly a focal point of the film. I found my boyfriend and I were making a lot of sarcastic remarks through the first half of the film, and could not help openly criticising the plot. I'm not normally like this, but I guess I was embarrassed at having chosen this film to watch that evening. In spite of this, I'd be lying if I said I did not enjoy the film at all. It wasn't that bad, and there was a little bit of humour, if a little ridiculous. As the film progressed, it did get a bit better, and I guess I would not have wanted to continue watching through to the finish if I did not want to know how it would end. Acting and Characters The acting was pretty substandard throughout this film, which was very disappointing. Furthermore, the characters were downright awful, save for one girl, who was disappointingly plain. The rest were incredibly annoying and the acting just seemed very unnatural, creating quite pathetic people. We ended up rooting for the monster at times just to finish them off. Clarke's character is caught up in self-pity and without anything else to go on to understand or appreciate him this gets boring very quickly. His friend is terribly shallow and likewise is his ex and her male friend who is hostile for no reason. Between Charlie and his ex we would expect tension, but it was poorly acted out and lacked any genuine chemistry. It was hard to picture these two ever having been more than friends and even that seemed weak. There are the odd few other characters that add a bit of variety to the story, which make it more interesting. Unfortunately these people barely have a chance to develop in their roles and I honestly think some of them would have been better as main characters. The core cast was just too ordinary and simple for my liking. Film Qualities The soundtrack is eerie from the very start and this catches the mood well. The suspense and build up was pretty good throughout so this at least kept me paying attention. At times it seems like everything is deliberately slowed down, and actually this effect works really well, even it does make me feel a little impatient. The sense of anticipating what might happen next is pretty strong. The monster is shown in its full glory and does seem fairly menacing. I'd say it is pretty hard to keep up the horror once you see a monster fully because it is never as bad as your imagination could make it. That said, I think this was not a bad attempt at avoiding looking like a man dressed in a ridiculous outfit with claws and big teeth. Nonetheless, the most effective scenes were before we saw it. The storage setting is dark, especially since the lights are intermittently failing, and this adds to the atmosphere. However, at the same time it is full of brightly coloured storage units and this contrast works pretty well. In a way the result is that you still have that sense of uncertainty but without the depressing dullness used in a lot of films. Generally the film looks very natural and as a British viewer I'd say, even without the skyline shots occasionally shown at the start and end of the film, it did look like London. Someone said to me recently that the more normality a horror film starts out with, the more scary it is, because that means it could happen to you. I guess to some extent this effect could be seen, but then again how likely is it that a plane carrying a monster will crash in London? Classification There are some pretty graphic violent scenes in this film, so I do think for that reason, it is not for the faint hearted. The scenes of people being killed are slow and gruesome, and there is one particularly gory scene that shows someone's insides in graphic detail. It didn't look real at all to me, which weakened the impact, but suffice it to say my sister who does not like blood was happily not paying attention! The rating is only 15, and I suppose this is probably a typical rating for this sort of film by now, but it should be noted that this film will not be for everyone. I should also say that an animal is harmed in the story (not for real, of course!) but we only hear it, rather than see it. However, I know this can be distressing for some viewers. Conclusion This not a film that I am likely to be in a hurry to watch again, and I have a feeling I would have trouble sitting through the whole thing if I did. Although this film certainly has its fair share of horror and suspense, the tangles of bickering between characters are painfully tiresome and dragged out for far too long. Once the film gets going it is not so bad, and it will probably satisfy most appetites for gore, so as a horror it is alright. In spite of its predictability, I kept watching to see how the film would go, and I think for this it was worth a watch. However, I would not recommend forking out money for this one, maybe catch it if it comes on television when nothing else is on.
I watched this film in full for the first and last time one night while staying in halls when I could not get to sleep. It seems to be stuck in my memory now, as that was not a good night for me at all. Story Jarrod's girlfriend Elaine has discovered she is pregnant and is desperate to secure his commitment to their relationship. But it is difficult when they visit his old friend Terry in LA, and see his successful but morally questionable life. Terry is cheating on his girlfriend Candice with his assistant Denise. As he demonstrates his partying lifestyle and offers work to Jarrod, Elaine could be forgiven for fearing that things between her and Jarrod could change. That night, however, a strange light appears across the city, and soon its fascination leads to terror as people appear to be sucked in by it. The city is under attack by some powerful aliens and as dawn approaches, the group find themselves battling for survival. The film just seems to keep spiralling downwards, and just as you might think it will pick up, you find yourself disappointed further. The absolute hopelessness of the situation might have been seen as artistic by some, but for me it was just painful to watch. Long before the film is over you realise that it is probably not worth watching anymore, yet you might just keep going in case it does get better. The turns in the story are barely convincing at times and I found myself trying to force a laugh just to show how ridiculous I found it, but it was too depressing. Acting and Characters I was hopeful when I recognised 'Turk' from Scrubs, Donald Faison, playing Terry in this film. For a moment he seemed lively and I thought the film would be more upbeat. However, it was soon clear how wrong I was. His character is shallow, arrogant and quickly loses that fun, appealing side. Frankly, apart from Elaine and Oliver (a character that later joins the group) none of the characters are really likeable and all seem pretty shallow and selfish. I can't deny that the acting was effective, it's just that the effects of it were awful. I found it hard to care genuinely for any of them, and maybe that's intentional, but it feels pretty depressing watching when there are so few people in the film to root for. Nonetheless the impact of what is going on in the film still affected me, because I imagine it happening to good people as well. But this is because I am capable of imagining that there are good people in the world, rather than because of the film. Film Qualities Granted, this film is very graphic, and the graphics are indeed convincing and full of impact. However, the level of brutality, including people having their heads literally ripped off, is terribly dehumanising in a way I have not really seen before. This is not a good thing. Seen once or twice in a film, I would agree that it might have that shock effect and make me appreciate humanity's vulnerability, but over and over again? It just leaves you with complete despair and sensing that the director seriously lacked any sensitivity in this film. This is coming from someone who was once a real horror film fan. The more gory the more I was intrigued, but the excitement and tiny bit of hope that comes with a horror movie is utterly lacking here, so the result is just sad. Classification Although some of the action aspects of this film and the wealthy LA lifestyle scenes might appeal to younger viewers, the sense of impending doom that soon becomes clear will cancel out any of its value. It is full of very graphic and gory violence, disturbing scenes and of course bad language. Personally I would think it cruel to make anyone sit through this film, let alone younger viewers. The film somehow manages a rating of 18, in spite of the sort of scenes I have mentioned, but my advice to parents would be: never let your kids see this film, even if they are 30! Conclusion I found this film so horrible that I tried to warn my other half against watching it. Unfortunately I was not successful, and he was left feeling as depressed as I did after watching it. There is really nothing to be gained or learned from this film that has not been done better before. To add to this, it is probably one of the first times I have felt not just that I have wasted my time on a film, but that I actually regret watching it and wish I had not. These are the reasons I cannot recommend this film at all, and it does not even deserve the one star I have given - if negative stars were possible, this is the one time I would surely award them.
We don't really go to the cinema as often as we used to. The price has gone up so much it just does not seem worth it. However, one evening after dinner we just decided to be a bit spontaneous and bought tickets to see this film. I vaguely recalled seeing a trailer and being interested, but could not really remember what it was about. Story Less than a decade into the future, in response to concerns about violent crime, the US introduces 'Purge Day'. The idea is that on one night each year, crimes all the way up to murder of ordinary people (conveniently not government officials) are not prosecuted, to allow people to get their violent feelings out of their system. In addition, all emergency services become unavailable. Not a good time to become sick then, either. It seems in general that this law has been accepted and maybe even welcomed. In the wealthy suburbs most people have good security anyway, so can simply 'lockdown' for the night and sleep through, whilst others indulge in their anger and cravings for blood. However, for the Sandin household, things go terribly wrong when James's teenage daughter's boyfriend sneaks into the house to confront him and his son Charlie opens up the house to a desperate outsider being chased down by a gang of killers. When the killers discover where he is seeking refuge, the family are faced with a dilemma: hand over their intended victim, or all become victims themselves. I was expecting this film to be a gripping horror and from the trailer it looked that way. However, in this respect I was disappointed. There might be something sinister and twisted about the gang of killers pursuing their victim - their masks and playful attitude towards violence, but this had little effect on me when played out. I waited for the moment this would all get a bit scary, but it never came. In fact the creepiest thing was a baby doll robot. The film would have been better advertised honestly as a futuristic thriller. The idea of people turning into remorseless killers in one night would still be very effective without attempting to dress it up as a horror. That said, I did find the film very interesting and it left me with a lot to think about and talk about with others. A part of me wanted to remark that 'this might happen in America but it would never happen here' because I find it so hard to comprehend that violent behaviour could be something people just need to get out of their system. Really, I think worldwide by now most of us know that the more people indulge in violence the more they want. The very idea that legalising crime for a few hours would fix all our problems is nonsense, and I could not see this ever happening, so frankly it was far-fetched. However, it is also true that there are people that follow this line of thought, so to challenge it is worthwhile to me. I thought this was very cleverly done and the moral dilemmas that come with such a society were fascinating. Acting and Characters I think getting a film based in the future right must be tough. At one time imagining how technology and fashion would develop might have been the hardest thing, but I think today the one thing we still struggle with is imagining how people would really behave in a world completely different to ours. I often find it hard to get into a film when I'm just not convinced. To be honest I did sense that phoney family atmosphere to begin with and I was worried that I would find it hard to appreciate this film. However, as the plot developed, albeit with cliche characters, it did seem a bit more natural. The attackers were convincingly menacing and Ethan Hawke played an excellent role as troubled father, although Lena Headey's maternal role was also strong and well developed. Edwin Hodge played the stranger that comes into their home, and very well indeed, but it was unfortunate that his character was so much of a victim for so long that it was almost cringe-worthy. Film Qualities The film slipped quickly into a gloomy tensity that remained throughout. Mostly set at night, this was to be expected, but even the daylight scenes had an eerie feel to them, which perhaps made the cheesy suburban setting more sinister. The film is not set too far into the future, so I did not expect it to look too alien, and fortunately it was mostly plausible. The soundtrack certainly added to a feeling of unease througout the film, but it did not add as much suspense as I thought it might. As the film built up to its climax, there was a dramatic increase in violence, but with the lack of light and speed of jumping from one scene to the next, it was often hard to tell what was going on. Some of this might have been intended to be left to our imagination, the scariest thing of all, but actually there simply was not enough. Somehow the effects were muffled and whilst I watched with great interest, the actual scenes had little emotional impact on me. Classification The film deals with a few big issues, and so rightfully is not gentle on revealing the terror brought on by 'Purge Day'. This means that indeed there is a great deal of violence, and there are some pretty horrific weapons on show too. A scene with James's daughter and her boyfriend gets a bit raunchy too, which made me uncomfortable, although again I appreciate the point being made and it does not go too far. Personally I think the rating of 15 is reasonable, because little can really be seen in terms of violence or sex and the language was no worse than in most films of this genre, in fact I hardly noticed. Conclusion I did enjoy this film, but not for the reasons I had expected. At times I was almost on the edge of my seat but generally it just did not have that much of an impact on me. Also I found the idea of a Purge too ridiculous and so I think this affected my involvement in the film. That said, it did raise some interesting issues about how an 'ordinary' family might behave in a situation like this, or whether the class divide still exists. I might not have found what was presented realistic, but it was definitely interesting and for this reason it was worth a watch.
Having waved goodbye to my most recent printer, I find myself thinking back to my first time University years. An hour before the deadline I would still be error-checking my essay. I really do not remember worrying about getting that hard copy printed half as much as the need to get a second copy on a floppy disk and run across a muddy field in the pouring rain to hand it all in moments before the building doors would slam shut. I even remember people running in the wrong direction, panic stricken faces from realising they had forgotten the disk. I remember a lecturer saying 'If your printer breaks down, I'm afraid that's no excuse' and thinking 'well, what are the chances of that happening?!' Back then, my dad had bought me a little Samsung black and white laser printer, and now I see just how much I took this little friend for granted. The ML 1710 is a small, modest creature of the printer world, and even with minimal functionality (monochrome, single-sided printing only) I now believe it really is a little wonder. Appearance/aesthetics My dad has never been keen on making or even letting me carry heavy items, and even more so when I was younger (and ironically probably strong enough). This printer looked heavy, and I often let him deal with carrying it up and down steps. In comparison to my last printer, a wide but lightweight HP laserjet, it probably was more dense but also more compact. In fact it is not really heavy to a point that it is a problem, just heavy enough to feel like it might be good quality for me. I would not have wanted to lug it up the six flights of my last accommodation, but a couple of staircases I could handle, and I'm not that strong. The shape is a bit awkward for me to get my arms around for carrying and the box it came in was not ideal for that purpose either, but with a decent strong carrier bag it would be no trouble. When set on my desk, and it remained in my bedroom for quite some time after University until dad passed it on to other family, it took up a neat rectangle of space without odd bits sticking out and this made me feel more comfortable with it. If I measured the actual space taken up on the table it might well be about the same as that wide printer. However, because it was not so wide I felt I had more desk space I could actually use for working and did not have to allow so much space around the device, apart from for the pull-out paper tray. The colour of the printer is a neutral off-white, almost warm grey with a darker grey front, which now looks rather dated and out of fashion. It has a slightly grainy feel. The shape has enough smooth curves, however, to give me the impression of something sleek and stylish, which fits with my mental image of Samsung as a brand. A weird thing to say about a printer, I know, but I find this sort-of comforting. I never saw a scratch on the printer, and dust would collect if not cleaned, but was barely noticeable in comparison to the glossy surfaces of today's printers. The paper tray felt fairly strong and secure; something I had taken for granted. I also liked the reassuring click I'd hear when shutting the drawer, and it was in fact pretty durable and tough, as I was not always gentle with it. On the other hand, the weakest aspect was the small flap hinged on to allow printing papers to rest on their exit from the printer. This was pretty flimsy, but not positioned where it would be easily broken as it was on top and not particularly essential as a part in my opinion. Setup and Installation The printer comes with and power cable and quite a good amount of setup information, but quite frankly most of it is not really needed, but handly to keep hold of in case you need it in future. I found the setup process fairly self-explanatory. This printer has very basic functionality, and so to me it is reasonable not to expect its setup to be taxing at all. Thankfully for me, it was not. One point to note is that it did not come with its own USB cable to connect to computers, which is not ideal for a printer that needs at least one method of connection. Fair enough, most people might have a spare from previous printers, but I think if it forces the buyer to make another purchase before they can use the product it's a little unfair. It had a starter toner but this does have a lower capacity than the replacement. I let dad help me with sorting out this part of the setup process but it seemed fairly quick and simple. Finally it is just a matter of plugging it in and switching it on. Then, once the software is installed on the computer, it's really easy to plug in and go. Paper jams were rare but on the odd occasion it was very easy to open up and sort them out. Also because the toner lasts a while, there's less worrying about changing cartridges often. Software At the time I still had a CD drive, and so I could install using the enclosed CD. I checked on the Samsung site and print drivers are still available for a range of operating systems for download as well. For me the installation took a matter of minutes, and there's no extra unnecessary nonsense with this printer, so using Windows I found that I could just go through the normal printer settings options if I needed to check on progress or pause or cancel prints. I don't like extra software that slows down my computer and luckily there were no such problems here. Printing Documents For me it's a real shame that this printer only does A4 black and white printing, but it would have been too good to be true to be able to own a printer that works so well, does A3 colour printing and makes my coffee in the morning! The paper tray is a bit on the small side for heavy users, so frequently needing to reload might get a bit annoying, especially since this printer is designed to be fast and good for heavy use. On the other hand it's a decent sturdy pull out tray that can be fully removed. There's no fiddling about with the paper to make sure it's all in correctly and won't print wonky, because it holds the paper well. I've heard of people having problems with the very occasional wonky printout but I can't say I have had this problem. The tray fits comfortably inside the unit and keeps the paper safe. As a law student at the time I used this printer most often, my main need was to be able to rapidly churn out my essays, grab them straight off the top of the printer and run for it. For text only printing, this printer is fantastic. I found that it would take just a few seconds to complete a task and I could quickly pick up my work and go. In terms of quality, text was very clear. For printing graphics, unfortunately the results were not so strong, but basic diagrams were reasonable. One thing to note is that with its speed, the paper can get hot and start to curl, so I found it helps to put them into a hard folder quickly to reduce the effects of the heat. The printer is not exactly quiet, but in comparison to my most recent printer, I thought it was fairly discreet for sound. Switching on is not so loud and the printing noise is no more than most similar printers I have come across. I never understood the concept of printers breaking down when I was using this printer, because it really never did. The worst that could happen during the odd print was that the paper got too hot or was crumpled when feeding in and caused a paper jam. This was extremely rare and on each occasion I would simply open it up, gently remove the paper, close and it would be on its way again. The printer seemed to be tough as old boots to me and never really caused me any trouble. It is a shame that this printer does not do automatic double-sided printing because this would have been economical and good for the environment. I suppose you could reprint on the other side but personally I would be worried about paper jams from feeding hot and maybe slightly deformed paper straight back into the machine. I did not have to worry about changing the toner during my student years so it lasted very well and was not affected by long periods of non-use. For this reason it really was an ideal economical student printer for those on essay-based courses. Conclusion My needs have changed quite dramatically over the years, so this printer is no longer suitable. It would have been nice to keep it alongside a colour-A3 printer for 'economy rough prints' but in spite of the fact it is so compact I just would not have the room. I am still gutted that it was given away however, because it was just so helpful to me back when I did all my writing. It comes highly recommended, although there probably are newer versions available now, I only hope they are as good as this one. So for printing large volumes of black and white text, this is a good buy.
I bought this printer when I went back to University, realising that although printing costs on campus were not unreasonable (we were even given free credits of 50p to start us off), getting work printed and retrieving it from a shared printer, especially around deadline time, was a nightmare. I'm awful for leaving things to the last minute, even now after having had a fair few years to grow up a bit, I still do it! This meant that having a decent colour printer would be a real help. When my room-mate moved out of our shared room, I had ample space left behind and quickly got onto Amazon with more of those lovely Amazon vouchers. I did a fair bit of research and read several reviews before I found this printer at around £65 sold by Amazon. I made sure I could also get my inks from them, which cost around £17 for a set of colours and one black. Not being very knowledgeable about these things, I didn't realise you get a free pack with the printer anyway. Appearance/Aesthetics The printer is big but actually not that heavy. I was pretty worried when it was delivered because I lived up 6 flights of stairs and would have to carry it from our communal post room, so I almost took a suitcase. However it was actually not that bad and I carried it myself without much trouble. Inside the big cardboard box, once I removed all that polystyrene, I found the manual, software disc, printer, power cable and oddly, a carrying bag. I also had small packet of free small photo paper to get me started. Nowadays you are expected to supply your own connection to the computer, and as this printer also had wireless capability, a USB connection cable was not provided. The printer was not that small, and took up a fair bit of space on my table. In fact, when I moved to a new room with a desk that is more of a computer trolley, it covered half the surface. This meant I had to buy something to put it on in order to work at the desk! The printer does not look bad, all black with a mix of glossy and matt surfaces. I kept it covered with the carrying bag most of the time and it hardly collected dust, but otherwise I'd imagine it would need a regular clean and the dust would probably show up. With a wide base, it also looks quite sturdy and, perhaps misleadingly strong. However, I felt that the scanner lid was probably quite flimsy and would be awkward when scanning from a book. Also the paper tray consists of a very flimsy structure and a small pull-out extension that might snap off quite easily if you forget to fold it back and knock it. Set up and Installation I was a bit nervous about getting this printer set up and ready to use, having been given the impression it was a slow and troublesome process from reading some reviews. Thankfully, I at least did not leave this particular task until my coursework deadlines were closing in on me. Wish I could say the same for the work! Anyway, installing the printer certainly did take longer than I had expected, and it would have been a nightmare had I needed it ready in a hurry. However, taking my time and working through it bit by bit, I didn't think it was that bad, or that it was too complicated. I had to download the software as I do not have a CD drive and this was probably the bit that took the longest anyway. The printer's small colour display screen guides you through each set up process step by step and so there was not a huge need for the manual at this point. In fact even when troubleshooting I followed the on-screen instructions. The only point I found problematic was calibration, which for whatever reason did not work properly, and it turned out scanning would be a bit tricky as I'll explain below. Software I had never used HP before so was pretty new to the software. To be honest I prefer to use my own software for scanning and managing printing, so I found it an extra hassle. I also think that each time it opened up it slowed down the whole computer. Also, although you can dismiss them, if you buy genuine HP inks you get a message saying that you have a reward to claim. I tried claiming the first time but it was just a money-off voucher for more products and not particularly generous. When the notification of a reward popped up it always looked like something was wrong, highlighted by an exclamation make, which was not at all pleasing. Printing Documents The main reason I needed this device was to print off coursework, without the stresses of queuing at the University printers and the high printing prices. It turns out, however, that this particular printer is quite costly to run, in particular because the inks do not last. I followed some advice I had read online, including leaving the printer switched on, because apparently switching off and on wastes more ink through some testing process. The printer still used an awful lot of ink and the inks ran out very fast. The one thing I did appreciate was that I only had to replace one colour at a time as the inks are separate: black, magenta, cyan and yellow. The alignment often printed wrong and so I still felt stressed at deadline time when I had to go through stacks of work, page by page to check they had printed correctly then find the pages that did not and reprint them. The printer is not particularly fast but not so slow as to cause a problem for me. I almost always printed in colour and did not notice a huge difference in speed by doing so. The worst thing for me was the noise, which is a sort of 'chug, chug, chug' as it prints. This is a very loud printer that makes itself known to everyone and I suspect that using it late at night for those coursework deadlines will have disturbed people in the same accommodation block as me (walls a bit thin). I did like the colour quality of my printouts and the crisp detail was not bad; however, my printer soon developed major glitches, which I describe below under 'Defects'. I would hope to think these were just due to my own printer being faulty, but it appears to be a common complaint, having searched the Internet for solutions. It is also possible to print from a memory stick straight to the computer, but I always prefer to preview what I am printing on my computer and stick to the old fashioned way. Wireless printing I did not really want or need wireless printing when I bought this printer. To be fair it could be a lot more convenient than having to keep going over to it and plugging in my laptop, not to mention having to buy that cable to connect your computer. My fears were that people could hack into it or print to it by mistake. Rather silly of me, I know, but I'm still not sure how much I trust networks I share with others. The set up process is simple and quick, however, and when I think about it now, it would be no use to other people, if they could, to print something to my printer which would be locked in my room. With the e-5510 (which I had) it is also possible to set up an email address and print from anywhere simply by emailing the document to the printer email. I have absolutely no need or wish for this facility - I would always rather be present when printing to check it has gone well, so I have never used this. Scanning It should be possible to start a scan from the display touch screen on the printer, however for some reason mine did not work. I don't know if this is to do with my OS (Windows 7) or something else, however I was happy to open my own software and start the scan that way instead. I just means going back and forth to the printer as I am already used to with others. To be honest, even using the same software, I have found that the quality of scan results from this printer compared to the flatbed scanners we have at Uni to be somewhat poorer. There appears to be a leak-in of light from the lid that distorts the picture and makes it appear with darker grey shadows over than with the equivalent settings on a flatbed. It was something of a bonus for me, more for convenience, although I ended up relying on it a lot. You can get reasonable results most of the time and therefore it is not bad for copying information. However, for my design work it meant that I often had to do a lot of fixes on the computer after scanning or keep changing the settings for the best possible result, so basically it was a lot more work than it needed to be. The speed of the scanner was not unreasonable, but obviously being a flatbed, and a little flimsy feeling, would not be ideal for heavy use. The scanner is also a little noisy, though I don't find it as bad as the printer. Defects From the start, there was a slight issue with documents actually printing, but not being removed from the print queue, so when I'd plug in the printer again they would all reprint unless I was sure to delete them from my computer beforehand. This was more of a hassle than anything to me. I got into the habit of checking the queue at the end of each print and cancelling anything still listed, so did not lose too much paper and ink to duplication. I don't know how this would be fixed but was not really that bothered. However, there were worse problems that made this printer no longer usable. The scanner had some issues, but again I was able to get around these. Basically you should be able to scan and copy directly from the printer. I've never needed to copy, so perhaps that's why this was less of a problem to me, but when using the buttons on the printer, for some reason the scan kept failing. Hence I was unable to complete the initial configuration for scanning and alignment using the printer functions. What I could do, however, was use other software on my computer to start a scan, and this worked fine. For quite some time I realised that when printing a few pages, the printer had trouble picking up the paper, and would think the tray empty. Also it started to print the pages at an angle. I have heard many possible causes for this problem, but I noticed when reading other reviews on this product that I was not alone, so I think it is a defect. It was annoying because I submitted some of my work with wonky printed pages and I could have lost presentation marks for this. Another problem that started to occur in the final few months of use was inks supposedly running out when they should have still been near full. At one point my work printed entirely pink, as error messages came up saying that the new cartridges were empty in spite of the fact they were brand new and hardly used. I replaced the black and on occasion I could switch it off and on and then get a bit of black ink printing, then it would go wrong again. Basically once I experienced this problem and could not work out how to solve it I felt that the printer was completely useless to me. I bought it particularly for design work, which means the quality of the printouts had to be as good as possible. Fortunately I bought my printer from Amazon and even thought it was just about coming to the end of the 1 year guarantee, they offered me a full refund, mostly because they no longer sell it themselves. I would have to say that I would have been gutted to put so much time and money into this purchase and then not even get that. The manufacturer might have offered fixes, but I was worried about the costs of getting it sent to them and so on, whereas Amazon picked it up for free and at this point a refund was really the best choice. Conclusion It's a shame a printer that looked very smart and was my first HP has been such a disappointment. For me it has simply not been fit for purpose, especially due to the faults. Without the faults, and for some basic photo printing and standard work that need not be perfect, it might have been acceptable, but it is hard for me to even justify a 3 with all these problems. Obviously this particular printer was defective, but my suspicion is that the problems I had are not uncommon and therefore I would say it is not worth the risk. I had heard about wonky printing but thought that it was just a case of making sure you align the paper yourself properly before hitting 'print', but I can assure you this will be out of your control at least to some extent. I think I will now use that money towards buying a more suited printer for my needs and do my research a little better!
In spite of having spent quite some time shopping around and trying to do research into what sort of laptop I would buy to replace the nightmare that was my previous one (an Advent that likes to randomly switch itself off), this was actually an impulse purchase. I spotted it in the window of a Maplins, priced at £320 and looking like the sort of thing I wanted. With 2GB RAM and 250 GB hard drive and at such a low price, plus boasting up to 6 hours battery life, it seemed like a good deal, and I could buy it as a netbook until I could afford enough for a proper laptop or desktop computer. Worried about my bad experience with computers so far, I asked about the returns policy and it was on a 1-year guarantee. It has now been over two years so I'm sorry to say it is probably a bit out of date, but at least I feel well placed to review it. Appearance/aesthetics When I bought this computer, I regarded it as a netbook, being just 11.6 inches, although actually it is not that small and I now treat it as my regular laptop (mostly because I can't quite afford another one yet (perhaps if I could just keep saving up those Amazon vouchers...). The battery, which I admit I did not at the time of buying take too much notice of, is the one thing that fails this computer on size and being portable. It is a cylinder, that sticks out along the length of the back of the laptop. This means that the computer does not close flat, and can be an awkward fit for those narrow sleeves. It also means that the back is always slightly raised with the battery in, which you might prefer as it raises the keyboard at a slight angle. It is better than those annoying keyboard feet, where one always seems to fold and make the whole thing wonky! Obviously you would expect to use this computer on a fairly level surface, and so the gap also gives a little ventilation to help cool the computer. The computer does not get too hot normally, but the charger does heat up quite a bit. The lid exterior has a glossy finish, which means that if scratched or damaged it is probably more noticeable. However, mine as yet only has very tiny, barely visible hairline scratches. It does however show dust up really easily, which is the same all over the laptop. Inside, the screen is bordered by about an inch along the top and sides and twice this along the bottom. This means the actual screen size is smaller than might be expected. For me this is not a deal-breaker, but it is less than ideal for watching films, playing games etc when with ohers. On the keyboard we have the metal power button, which is easy to spot and separate from everything else, keypad in one full set and one of those touch mouse pads with two small slot marks on either side to indicate where to press for the right and left mouse functions. More on Keyboard and Mouse For the size of the computer, these could not really be spread out anymore, but it took me a long time to get used to the small space you have with the keys. Even now I am often making mistakes when typing, and I haven't yet figured out what I'm doing but when I type really fast sometimes the cursor suddenly jumps, highlights my text and overwrites it or goes to another page or program. I am a bit clumsy, but something like this can be very annoying when trying to type an urgent message or get some information down quickly. The mousepad, as my boyfriend pointed out to me when he first used it, should probably also have been given a little more thought. For me the surface is just a bit too smooth and sometimes I don't think it properly detects my fingers. Your fingers must be absolutely dry, no moisturiser or anything or it simply won't work. Some people might find the smoothness more comfortable but I find it a little to unreal sometimes, I like to know I'm moving something. I have a lot of trouble with the drag and drop function, because I can't seem to hold onto the object properly. As those mouse buttons are spaced, it is difficult to hold down the left button and move, since the mouse can't always tell you are trying to press the left button rather than just having two fingers on the mouse, so the cursor starts to jump about. Coupled with this, the pad has extra functionality, which I cannot work out how to switch off, if possible at all. I imagine it is in some setting somewhere, but it really shouldn't be that hard to find and it should be up to us whether we want the extra, very awkward functions. For instance, moving two fingers together along the pad apparently scrolls, and drawing outwards/inwards diagonally with two fingers resizes your view. They might be handy shortcuts, but they take an awful long time to get used to and often they happen accidentally when you are trying to do something else, which certainly does not save me any time. Power cable/charger The charger is really weird. It comes in two parts, one cable to connect into the computer, which includes the charging block and the actual power cable with the plug. For some reason they have designed this charger so that both wires face the same direction. When you plug the power cable in, it comes out backwards, which means you have even less wire length than you thought and have to twist the wire at some point in order to plug into your computer. I wonder if they thought this would make it easier to wind the thing up, but at a bigger sacrifice to how flexible it is in the first place. My sister has this very same charger for one of her Dell's in fact, and using it as intended, winding it around the block, has finally torn the cable. This has really put me off tidying away my own cable, although to be fair I've had mine some time and it is showing no signs of damage as yet. The connection to the computer helpfully has a bright blue light, that lights up while it is plugged into the power supply. To let you know it's charging, a white light comes on on the computer, though this could be made easier to see. It goes off when the battery is full and the computer is off, which must be a good thing as I guess it means you do not waste power, but I am not certain of this. My connection seems to be less secure nowadays, and it has fallen out a few times, though I have seen this happen eventually with many laptops. Power Saving A lot of options are preselected on this laptop, which you can change to suit yourself, for instance screen brightness, sleep or hibernate options when left alone for a chosen amount of time or when someone closes the lid. I switched off sleep when closing the lid because I'd keep closing it by mistake or when the computer is still shutting down, then find it was still on hours later. Two helpful settings offered are Balanced and Power Save. I use Balance for watching TV programs and Power Save for other tasks that require less power or when unable to charge for a while. On Power Save this computer can last up to 5 or 6 hours. I would now like a computer that lasts longer, but this has served me fine for a very long time. On Balanced it lasts up to 4 hours, but if watching television this is reduced to 2. Charging only takes a maximum of a couple of hours however, so I find this is still not too much of a problem. Operating System/Speed This computer came with Windows 7, which I was very, very happy to have, after the nightmare that was Vista. It is much faster, and whilst still a bit confusing, not such a painful switch from Vista, than Vista was from XP. Many updates have been done on this computer, and this is my biggest annoyance. One particular update a few months in permanently slowed this computer to snail-pace. I also notice that you are never warned, let alone asked about updates and while they are going on (I can't even find a way to check) everything slows down. This seems to have always coincided with a major deadline drives me crazy. The computer now takes a painfully long time to shut down, yet is still not too bad on startup. It only has 2Gb RAM, not a surprise for a computer of its size, but while this was not too bad for the first few months, I do find it a lot slower now in use. Hard Disk Memory This laptop boasts 250Gb hard drive, although in reality it is more like 218, but that is to be expected. As with most Windows computers, a fair bit of space gets used up on programs, but I still have around 100Gb free, while using mine for downloading movies, one or two games, lots of music, pictures and documents. I don't think the amount of hard drive I am using yet affects the speed of the computer, but I do schedule it (well, it does automatically) to defragment every so often, a process that sorts how memory is used to make it quicker to access. Antivirus This purchase came with a trial subscription for McAfee and also has its own Windows Defender software. However, I opted to buy my own stuff and uninstalled McAfee (never have more than one program on your computer). Software This computer came with a lot of stuff I don't need, as usual. I bought myself Office 2007 separately and so do not really use the word processing or other types of software. In fact, apart from Windows Media and the Accessories (mainly Calculator and Paint), most of the software on this computer was rendered redundant from the start. It's a pain to have to uninstall stuff or stop programs from starting up automatically, but it might save you some hassle in the long run. Webcam and Microphone I often use this computer to Skype (though recently I have been unable to do so as we have no Internet connection at home, something that is proving to be a huge part of my life) with my boyfriend. Living distances apart, the idea of being able to see each other on camera as if in the same room is very appealing. The picture from my end is usually not of high quality but sufficient for this purpose. Unlike my boyfriend's webcam, this one does not adjust to the lighting of the room, which is actually a good thing because his dims too much, but does mean I frequently have to supplement the lighting to get a decent picture. It uses a lot of memory too, so it's best not used in combination with other programs running as it will freeze a lot. The microphone is very low and took a while for us to get used to (once I gave up on the pound shop headsets) but it is again sufficient for my needs and clear enough for making calls. The downside is if you are recording something the volume recorded is terribly low (even using a separate mic I find this so not sure why, so it is no use for anything specialised. Conclusion I think I have been able to 'make do' with this cheap little machine for long enough now. It has turned out to be a main laptop for me and it has worked alright until now, but I do have a fair few gripes with it and so if money permits then I hope in the future to get myself something better. I would certainly not pay what I did pay for it now, but I would probably recommend a price of around £150 second hand and £200 for a new computer, if you need something basic and don't mind the problems I have mentioned.
I didn't think too highly of this phone when it was my main phone, but funnily enough, although also a HTC, I am tempted to go back to using it instead of my current phone, which I recently reviewed. Appearance/Aesthetics Compared to my current phone, this one is lighter, a little smaller in length and width, thicker and has a smaller screen space. I prefer that this phone is a little lighter, even if this implies a lower quality. Though more chunky, I still think it looks nicer and I do prefer its surface materials. The back is softer and more rubbery, rather than the metal finish of my current phone and much nicer to the touch. The whole phone remained scratch free during my use of it, but one of the problems I did find was that it got a lot dirtier than my current phone and the surface you hold to your ear often requires cleaning. For protection, a screen protector and a pouch are provided, though when I was using it I did not keep the protector on for that long. The pouch gave me a better sense of security putting the phone in my bag, where my current just goes in loose. Unlike my current phone, this one comes with a neatly tucked away stylus, which is meant to be used rather than fingers on the touchscreen. The 'on button is located at the top, and must be pressed and held to actually switch on and off, otherwise it operates to switch off the screen and lock the phone. The headphones port is also on top, which makes sense to me. The charging/connecting port is located appropriately at the bottom. As with my current phone, the volume button is on the side, awkwardly where I hold the phone normally, so that I often accidentally adjust it. On the back I can see where the camera point is located, with its main features mentioned. The front of the phone is not a bad design, with the htc logo and symbols for connecting and ending calls, home and go back clearly shown at the bottom. There is a light indicator at the top for charging. The casing is nice and easy to remove, once you know how to, and the SIM, memory card and battery storage are very easy to find, and just a little fiddly to use. Interface The background was quite plain when I first bought the phone, but you can customise this to make it nice and lively. I chose one of the background options that came with the phone and this was nice enough for me. To unlock the phone you press the on button, and I actually bothered to set a PIN for this phone, which can be annoying as everytime you unlock it you have to enter it, but it was a comfort when I lost my phone briefly! The time, date and alarm status are shown clearly, as well as a line of icons to indicate different statuses, like battery level and notifications. There is also a Start button, as this phone operates on Windows Mobile. It is possible to scroll along a bar at the bottom of the screen to look at different items, like Messages, Internet, Weather, Stocks etc. This is fairly simple, but I preferred the windows style programs icons, which, this being a Windows Mobile phone, can be accessed from a Start Menu. The features are not as elaborate as my current phone, a little simpler and tend not to be animated (like the weather is just simple symbols). On the other hand it is very functional and depending on what you want you can choose and easily access information. Touch Screen Although to some extent you can technically use your fingers, the touch screen requires the attached stylus, which can be frustrating when you are out and about and want to quickly write a message but don't have both hands free. Also there is the risk of losing it, although it is fairly secure in its place, it's easy to forget to put it back. On the good side, I find the precision a real comfort. It is much easier to get it right first time with the stylus and so messaging is easier for me, whereas with my current phone I'm constantly pressing the wrong buttons. You can use sliding motions to switch from screen to screen, or tapping to select items. It is quite user friendly and when I'm sat comfortably and not in a hurry it is a pleasure to use. It's just not so enjoyable when you are trying to do more than one thing. Telephone Calls I preferred making calls on this phone. Although if you need to use the keypad you would have to take the phone away, unlock it and enter your PIN first, at least you could sit comfortably with the phone against your ear secure in the knowledge that nothing weird would occur while you are talking! Of course if you use those annoying automated telephone services a lot, this phone could add to your frustration, as the voice on the other end of the line starts to nag at you to enter your choice or could well just put you straight through to the 'sorry I can't help you' operator. The call clarity is not bad but not great either, and at times a little quiet, with volume settings being limited. It is possible to use speakerphone but obviously you would not then have the phone held to your ear and on occasion I have had people tell me that they can hear themselves while using it. Internet With this phone, my data plan was not unlimited, so perhaps this is why I barely persevered with using the mobile Internet. I found it to be extremely slow, and my boyfriend, using a different phone to mine, would often have already run a search and found the information I was looking for before my page had even loaded. Part of this could be blamed on my network, but I do think the actual pages loading were slow because of the system too. Operating System Unlike my current phone, which is an Android, this HTC phone uses Windows Mobile. This proved to be a particular annoyance on upgrading, because of course the two cannot be easily synchronised. In fact, in spite of being Windows, same as my computer, a lot of data like text messages cannot just be transferred to another location at all. This was something of a problem when messages needed for legal reasons could not be copied or saved anywhere because that means keeping the whole phone just for those messages. The phone was always very slow, and that I partly blame on Windows too, though of course I don't know for sure and can't prove it. For example, entering the PIN, it can take ages for the little stars to show up indicating you've entered a digit. This means I often re-enter them by mistake. Programs/Features I was really keen that this phone has the Microsoft Office software for mobiles installed on it, although if I'm honest, I barely used them. Nonetheless I can see how they would be handy, at least for accessing documents, for professionals and some students. For editing, I still think working on a small phone would quickly get uncomfortable, but the fact it is possible has to be a bonus. There are just three games on the phone, Teeter, which is like a labyrinth type game, Solitaire the card game and Bubble breaker, another simple game that I find rather addictive. This for me is enough, but it's not much for someone that wants really up to date gaming on their phone. There are other standard features, like a calendar, calculator, music player, messenger, task list and so on. Another feature that might be important is the camera in the phone, which has a decent, though not great 5 megapixels and is not too bad. In the dark, it is not so great, however, as it does not have a flash. It is also a little bit slow, and has a loud clicking sound to indicate a photo is being taken, so you might want to change this setting before using on certain occasions! Memory The phone has an external 8Gb memory stick, although you can buy a 16Gb stick if you want. The phone also has a very small amount of internal memory, so it can somewhat function without the memory stick and before I briefly lost my phone I had not even bothered to install it and had used the phone fine (a small number of songs were stored on it at that point). Battery/Charging The battery life is not too bad considering the number of functions this phone can perform. It can last several days without too much use and a good few hours of talk-time. Also, there are options to save power and keeping the screen switched off helps to conserve power. The charger uses an older HTC style connection (before they started making them universal), which is a bit of a pain, as it looks terribly similar to that of my current charger and so I get them confused and have accidentally packed the wrong one! It is relatively easy to connect however, and the wire has a USB connection that goes into the plug or your computer for synchronising etc. Manual I did actually read the guidance information for this phone when I first bought it, as this was my first proper smartphone. As a new user, I found it clear and fairly helpful, but I quickly got to a point where I no longer needed to look at any of the information provided, which is even better really. Conclusion As a smartphone, this is now very out of date and lacks many of the fancy features of newer phones. However, it also is easier to use and a little simpler than some of them. I'm not happy about having to use a stylus and this was my biggest complaint, although as I admit, I just don't have the thumb technique or small enough fingers for finger touch screens!
This has been my phone for almost a year now. It's probably pointless me talking about my contract deal as this has nothing to with the physical phone and having got it as part of a business contract, it was not the consumer price, which is probably a fair bit more. What I will say, however, is that it is probably not one people will just buy without a contract at all, pricing at up to an extortionate £400. When we took out purchases out of the store (we bought two of these and one other phone, obviously I wasn't paying for all of this!) the salesman pointed out to us that we should probably be careful as we were carrying around two grand worth of goods. I was afraid of being mugged all the way home. Now, I'm not sure why it is worth so much. Appearance/aesthetics To be honest, to me this phone looks just .like a lot of other phones on the market currently. In fact, people see it and light up a bit, asking if that's the latest iPhone, to which I awkwardly have to explain it is not, and watch the disappointment emerge in their eyes. This I don't really care about, however, as I'm not one of those people who needs to impress people with my latest fancy gadgets (those people annoy me a bit). That said, it is a smart, sleek looking phone, and is rather heavy for its appearance, a sign of quality but quite annoying when you get tired of holding it to your ear for 2 hours (yes, I do have one of those people I like to talk to all night, please don't tell my mum). On the top is the power button, which only puts the phone on standby (switches off the screen) unless you press and hold, and then other options are given or it switches on if off already. Along the side is the awkwardly located volume button, which is tricky to use but get pressed too easily because it is located right where you hands naturally hold the phone. I hate the back surface material, as it feels really uncomfortable against my fingers and nails. It does have some slight, not significant scratch damage, which shows up clearly, because underneath it is a silver, metallic colour that reflects the light and contrasts the matt black you are supposed to see. The back reveals the logos and the fact this phone has 'HTC sense', plus the camera and flashlight. The glossy front screen is fortunate enough to not be one of those to easily pick up scratches or blatant cracks and has remained in relatively good condition. The front has the small LED indicator for battery status, which is red when charging, flashes red when low and green when fully charged. There is a tiny dot that I think is where the sound comes from.The HTC logo is shown at the bottom, with small symbols for some main functions of the phone, 'home', 'menu', 'back' and 'search'. I often get these and the controls on the screen confused. Interface When the phone is on, it shows the original background, which is nice and colourful, but I have since replaced with a picture from 'A Bug's Life'. Each time to unlock the screen you need to slide your finger down the phone (except when the phone rings and it automatically unlocks). This can get annoying when you are in a hurry and forget to do it. The time and date are always shown clearly, plus symbols to indicate power and network/connection status. There are also little symbols that come up to indicated when you have messages, missed calls etc. One of the nicest things (although really not necessary) is the way the weather is displayed when you are connected to the Internet. You get some pretty pictures and animations, for example in heavy rain you see rain coming down the screen and windscreen wipers sweeping across. You can customise the screen to show icons for the things you use most often, otherwise there are a few that are already on there, like Messages and Camera. Along the bottom is a big Phone button for making calls with an Apps arrow to the left and customise button on the right (looks like a painting icon, though). These are the buttons I always get confused with and often press Apps when I want to get to the Home page again. You can use sliding motions to get to other screens, for instance 'Favourites'. Apart from not always getting the right buttons, the layout can be figured out quite easily. I think it's just that I find things aren't where I would 'naturally' expect to find them, perhaps because I'm used to other devices. Touchscreen/Screen configuration The touchscreen for me is a total pain. Some buttons are just too small, so for example when online I have to keep zooming in in order to press the right button and even then it often doesn't work because the phone thinks I pressed somewhere else. It is also extremely frustrating to write a text message because the wrong letters are always pressed and the predictive text does not help with this at all. Sometimes there is also a time delay in me pressing something and the phone responding, so I end up pressing too many times or pressing something else that I didn't intend to. Making or answering calls is made as easy as possible to avoid delays, and sometimes I accidentally call people while looking up contacts or trying to edit their details. The phone unlocks when people call, and a few times the call has been answered while I am still rummaging through my bag to get the phone out. It is also just as easy to accidentally hang up or reject a call when trying to pick up the phone! By screen configuration, I'm talking about which way up the text/images show on the phone. This automatically switches when you tilt the phone as it assumes you want it to. This is normally handy, because it means if you need a wider view of something you just turn the phone on its side. However, there are often times when I'm reading something sat in bed and I lean over a little and it switches. Then I end up positioning the phone awkwardly just so I can keep reading. I can't work out a way to override this as yet and doubt there is one. Telephone Calls It's funny that I wasn't sure where to put this section in my review, and yet when I am looking at getting a phone, surely the first thing you want to know is can you make a decent call with it. Yet today there is so much more to them, this gets forgotten! So I have put it not too far down my list, though not at the top. I don't like making calls on this phone. It is the thing that frustrates me the most. Though not really relevant here, it seems like all mobile networks these days have their disaster moments. Mine is not too bad, but I still struggle to get a signal and the thing that frustrates me with this phone, having been informed by QI that the bars on the phone do not actually tell you how good your reception is anyway, is that you can lose your signal without knowing it. I have had occasions when I needed to get hold of someone urgently and the signal would go completely but it would take some time for my phone to acknowledge this and no solution to the problem would be offered. This had nothing to do with reception and I have found that when this problem seems to last a long time, my phone needs switching off and on again. I don't know if this sounds obvious, but for me I have no idea how you are supposed to be able to tell. When we finally manage to get a signal and make a call, the sound quality is not bad, reception permitted. While good, voices sound very clear. The reception can get bad, and more recently I have found that the phone sounds as if it has gone dead occasionally during a call, yet the other person is still connected. It breaks up quite a lot, but again this could be reception. I have a major problem with making calls on this phone and that is that it has this stupid sensor technology. This is meant to be able to tell when you have pulled the phone away from your ear to press numbers during a call or something else, and respond by unlocking the phone to save you time. With this phone, it does not work. In fact, while I am still holding the phone to my ear, it frequently unlocks and my ear proceeds to press all sorts of random buttons. I have pressed the mute button unknowingly and silenced my end of the line, put people on hold and called others on my contact list, added contacts, gone online and downloaded stuff and many other things using my ear, which makes me laugh when I struggle to use this phone properly with my hands! I now resort to using the speaker and holding the phone out in front of me, which can be awkward and is no good when you need a bit of privacy. Frankly I have got a phone that I struggle to use as an actual phone! Internet My phone now has an unlimited data plan, so I use the Internet quite a bit. I have also set up an email account on here (beware as Google records all your details). I find browsing painfully slow and I would not use it find something our on the spot, even though I'm sure this is what it was intended for. My boyfriend's Samsung takes a tenth of the time mine does to look up my bus times, check for restaurant vouchers or even open a standard web page. The emails also take ages to download and usually do not show up for about half an hour, so again, no use if you are awaiting urgent correspondence. Operating System This is an Android phone, so I guess for a lot of people the next best thing in terms of Apps. It is true that more and more Apps are becoming available for this phone and it is catching up in terms of companies wanting to make their Apps available to Android users as well as iPhone users. But since those pre-installed games I noticed cost a lot more than the iPhone equivalents, it's not all good news. I have been unsuccessful as well in synchronising my phone with my computer, although this is meant to be possible with the software. Not really sure if the operating system is to blame but I can't really think of other answers. The phone is not too slow in running however, and apart from the odd crash I guess it could be worse. Apps First thing to warn you about. I assumed that we had been given a number of free games (given how much these things cost, why not?) as the Apps were already installed on the phone. In fact the only game to keep is 'Teeter', admittedly good fun as it is like labyrinth (a ball that needs to go through a maze and land in the right hole) and you feel it bumping and rolling about in the phone as if it is real. That's it, the rest are free trials that you can use once (for quite a long time I notice as I went on Uno for hours to see just how long and got sick of it before it told me the trial expired). However if you open them even for a second then close you cannot get back in and to buy they cost around £5, a rip off compared to games, I hear, on iPhone. The other very annoying thing about all these Apps installed on the phone is that you cannot uninstall them. I've tried and it simply does not let you. You can remove the temporary data to clear a bit of space, but not much., hardly choice. Memory This phone comes with an 8Gb memory SD card that you can install into the phone when you put the SIM in. If it is preinstalled (apparently it is meant to be, but mine wasn't) when I don't know if this means that some of your memory is used on programs, but mine had the full 8Gb. So far this has been more than enough memory for me but would fill up quicker if I wanted more games and music. A couple of times the phone has malfunctioned somehow and failed to recognise the SD card, saying it was removed when it wasn't and this has rendered a lot of functions useless, e.g. you can't use the camera without the SD card installed apparently and this happened once when I needed a camera. Battery Power/ Charging Batteries are getting smaller, and this one takes up just a small compartment at the back of the phone. This gives a few days worth of power if the phone is not in use, but once you are making calls, using the Internet or anything else, I find the power runs down pretty fast. I can make about 1.5 hours of calls on one charge now, and I'm guessing this is affected by the screen switching on every few seconds during calls. Browsing online also uses a lot of power. There are some power saving options, including screen brightness and the option to go into Power Saving mode automatically when at a certain percentage of power. The display uses a huge amount of the battery power and even when reduced to 20%, it still uses nearly 70% of the battery, which I was able to check through the settings. This means there is not really a huge amount you can do to extend the life of the battery. The charger has a separate plug with HTC logo and a USB port that you connect your USB wire to. I hate USB connections as I always plug them in the wrong way around, and in fact the logo is on the wrong side for this one so I always do it wrong. It uses the now standard charger connection, although yet again, in my opinion, this was a bad choice of connection to be made universal as I'm constantly trying to plug it in the wrong way round! The wire is a bit on the short side so it can be hard to make calls or use the phone while it is charging. It takes a good two hours to fully charge this phone, but I have also noticed that the red indicator does not always change to green once fully charged, so you could end up leaving it plugged in too long. Manual I don't see why I should have to spend ages reading up on a device to find out how to use it, if it is meant to be designed to make my life easier. I used it simply to work out how to set the phone up and how long to charge it. Apart from that I hardly look at it. I have looked at it to solve some of the above problems with no joy. To be fair the pictures and the guidance for setting up the phone were relatively straightforward and clear. It didn't take long to figure it out and in this sense it was helpful. Conclusion Perhaps the makers of this phone would bark back at me 'You're not using it right!', but frankly it should never be this complicated to use a device to make a simple call. I'm not against fancy new technology and the idea of having a multifunctional device sounds great to me. The problem I have is that this has been made exclusively for those with a bit of special knowledge and expertise and the rest of us are left feeling a bit silly when things go wrong. The least I ask is that a phone can be used as a phone and everything else should be a bonus, but where this one goes wrong is that too much time has been spent on making everything else look fancy, and yes it does look rather nice, but by throwing in this extra Sense technology they brag about, they have made the simple task of making a call a real headache.
So I mentioned in one of my previous reviews recently that my boyfriend had bought me a Dior perfume as a birthday gift, but I had yet to review it. Part of the reason it took me a while to get onto it is that while I use and remember the fragrances well enough, I like to do one whole day's test just before I review, so I feel a bit more confident about what I'm saying. However, this is not an everyday perfume for me and so I was waiting for the next opportunity to use it for a special occasion. With the boyfriend visiting and us going for a nice meal, this seemed the time. Packaging This perfume's range is packaged in my favourite colour, a kind of ruby red. Unlike some of the other perfumes I've talked about, some more attention to detail and effort has gone into the design of the box, as well as the bottle. It is very attractive, even stored away inside its box, which works well for me because I keep my perfumes boxed away, out of sunlight to avoid them being spoiled. The box is deep red, with a reddish brown shaded oval containing the name of the perfume and the brand 'Dior' beneath, all text in fancy gold. Inside, the bottle is glass, semi-transparent, with a deep ruby red colouring that gets darker toward the top of the bottle. The bottom, which is clear, is thicker and gives the bottle a bit of weight that probably helps to keep it balanced and makes it feel better quality. The shape is round, not really spherical but that's the only word I can think of, but it kind of makes me think it is as though it is the centre part of a heart shape. The lid is proportionately large and also round, and although it feels more plastic-like and doesn't have as much of the weight we associate with quality it is not unattractive and is easy to remove but secure when on. It also has a gold rim. Spray I have to admit I find these types of bottles a little trickier to use because getting a good grip to control how hard to press the spray is awkward with a near-spherical shape. Nonetheless I was able to spray a small amount at a time by gently pressing the pump. If anything it was easier to press it too lightly rather than too hard. A reasonable amount comes out, although the mist is not particularly thin. I always spray once and rub my wrists together first then rub some on the neck, rather than spraying several times and finding it is too much. You can always reapply if needed. Scent When my boyfriend gave me this perfume, he admitted that he was not sure he had bought the right one. I hadn't heard of this version yet, and it was in fact the original that I had fallen for. I too could not tell just from the packaging, as when they are in front of you, you can easily tell but by memory I just knew roughly the shape and colour. We therefore agreed to pop into the shops again and try the tasters again just to be sure, and if it was wrong, the shop assistant had kindly agreed to exchange the unopened perfume. When I first tried the tasters I knew straight away my other half had gone for the wrong one. The original was more subtle and had a stronger touch of vanilla, whereas this one was more tangy and orangey. Initially I was tempted to point this out, but I thought about it and decided that this was the bottle he had picked out for me and this was what I wanted, because he'd chosen it for me. I purposefully delayed the decision although admitting I was doubtful myself. As it was, I liked the way this perfume developed, and as the day went on, the sweetness started to blossom and the tangy edge to soften. Actually this one was quite pleasant in its own right, and I made the decision to tell him that right or wrong, I wanted to keep it. Now it sits alongside 'Poeme' in its box on my dresser as one of my two top perfumes for only the most important occasions, always involving the man. With a slightly more fruity tone to it, but still a warming and sweet essence, I found this perfume to tick two boxes in one. It is noticeable and a little rejuvenating to start with, but as you wear it through the day it is also classy, probably not intended for the younger ladies but attractive to most people. A small amount of the fragrance is very subtle and a lot will get you noticed, but probably it would take quite a bit before I'd get those infamous perfume headaches mum warned me about years ago. Endurance This perfume does indeed last very well, and for example I wore it for a day when my boyfriend visited and we went to lunch. From morning to late afternoon he was still commenting, when sat at a fair distance, on how nice I smelt. I could still smell the fragrance on myself later in the evening before showering, but it was by then very weak. I was a little mean on the spraying to be fair, so I would say that with a more generous spray this would probably last quite well. Recommendations The perfume would probably last better indoors as it did weaken pretty fast while we were out and about, but it lasts quite long and never gets too much. In fact, it would work well on a wide range of occasions, but it really comes down to this: if you just spent 60 quid on a small bottle of the stuff, would you want to use it all up too quick? Of course not, and being a very special fragrance to me, I would only want to use it on special occasions so that it remains a rare treat and not just an everyday thing. Mine I expect will last literally years, and whatever it says on the bottle, I think it should last years. Conclusion I am pretty biased, given that this (and the original) are amongst my favourites already and this particular perfume was given to me as a birthday present. I was shocked when I found out it cost my other half something in the region of £60 (thought you weren't meant to tell us that!) and to be honest that would probably have been the thing that would have stopped a spend-conscious person like me from opening my own purse. No matter how much I like it, I can't seem to convince myself that I should buy it for myself, so I would probably never have had the pleasure. That said, I'm really happy to own this fragrance. I love the smell, it lasts ages and is never overpowering or sickly so it is basically perfect for me. If the price doesn't put you off, I don't think you'd regret buying this one.