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I have always had sensitive teeth but this was then made worse when I started my orthodontic treatment due to the roots being moved under my teeth. At this point, both my orthodontist and dentist recommended I get sensitive toothpaste and named Sensodyne and Colgate as two good brands. I have never been a fan of Sensodyne so I opted for Colgate and it was a great choice!
The packaging is simplistic, yet stands out at the same time. The colors used are generally generic such as blue, red and white, however the logo with the gold strip underlining and easy to see anywhere. The cardboard box is easy to open (as it should be) and contains the tube of toothpaste as well a guidance sheet (for toothpaste?!?). The only part of the packaging I don't like comes when you open the tube. There is a tamper evidence safety seal, which ensures you won't buy a dodgy pack but is very annoying to open. This is removed by locking the top of the lid (there is a corresponding dent thing) onto the safety seal and twisting to remove it. This is trickier than it looks to do without getting past all over the top of the lid and can be an unnecessary hassle to clean.
As with any toothpaste you are recommended to brush for 2 minutes twice daily and doing this is key to getting the best out of this product. I did notice instant effects, but the major changes occurred after longer use. After about a months use there is a major change in the sensitivity of your teeth. I could barely drink milk from the fridge before but now I can comfortably bite into an ice lolly straight from the freezer. This is down to their long-lasting pro-argin technology. This ensures that exposed roots or sensitive parts of your teeth are protected in the long term and the protection builds up with continued use to the point that your teeth are pretty much not sensitive any more.
The new version of this toothpaste also comes with whitening plus technology. This works great too; when I got my braces off (finally, after 8 years!) there was a slight color difference between the part that had been covered by braces and the rest of my teeth. I started using this in the hope that it might balance things out and it did! It may have been partly due to the basic cleaning ability of the toothpaste as well, but I do personally feel as if there was a whitening effect that made my teeth look more natural and blend together better.
Other than that, the basic cleaning abilities are just that... basic. The paste produces plenty of foam and only requires a smallish amount for every time you brush. No less than you would expect really, but it does excel with it's other features.
At the time of this review both the sensitive and the sensitive+whitening versions are available at Tesco for £3.56 for a 75ml tube. This makes them relatively expensive, but the benefits they offer, especially for people with sensitive teeth is invaluable and I would highly recommend it.
The first time I came across and started buying products like this was when I got my orthodontic braces put on. The lumps of metal in my mouth meant that the insides of my cheek were always irritated and seemed to attract ulcers and on top of that, the normal problem of the wire sticking out the back as the process goes on meant that it was digging into the back of my mouth.
The unusually colored turquoise packaging stands out and is easily identifiable. The contents are the tube of gel and an instruction leaflet. On the front it is advertised that the product is 'clinically proven' and the claims made are that it 'forms a long lasting adhesive protection', 'relieves pain and fights infection' and 'speeds up healing'. It is also said to be specific to ulcers, but as mentioned previously I used it on other occasions and it worked fine.
Most medicines have a leaflet that, on the whole, tells you stuff you already know and this is much the same. The one thing I would point out is that it warns you that applying excessive amounts may cause numbness and this is something I can confirm. My sister used this once and unknowingly used a lot of it at once on an ulcer close to her lip which resulted in temporary numbness and she couldn't drink/eat properly for a while.
Application of the gel is pretty standard, you are recommended to use a clean finger and then just rub it over the affected area. One minor problem; when applying it, you will be left with a lot of it stuck to you fingers which I find very difficult to get off. In the mouth this will feel rough and irritating at first, but I find that if I rinse with some water immediately after putting it on, it smooths out instantly and is barely noticeable and as soon as you stop poking it with your tongue every 5 seconds it fades into the background. The taste is slightly mint with a hint of medicine, but again this fades into the background very quickly. The gel does seem to stand the test of time fairly well, although as soon as you start eating it will wear of rapidly.
You can feel the pain subsiding after a minute or so and it really does fight infections. I had a minor infection from one of the cuts from my braces which I noticed on Friday evening so no doctors were available. I just put this on for the weekend and it was pretty much gone by Monday and it barely hurt the whole time. I have to admit that although it is said to be for ulcers, it seems, in my experience, to work considerably better for other mouth related problems. That's not to say it doesn't work well for ulcers - it does, they heal much faster than normal and never hurt. One extra use I have found for it is to use it on your tongue when you bite it or something sharp prick is. Admittedly it doesn't taste very nice when applied directly on your tongue but it is very refreshing to be relieved from the pain so this is a very versatile 'ulcer gel'.
The one major downside to this product is the price. It is £5.85 for an 8g tube. Although it does last a while because you only need to apply small amounts, the price is still very high when compared to similar brands such as Bonjela which is £2.00 for 15g. I don't find other brands as effective but in terms of value for money they may be considered a better option.
I am only 19 so the fact that I was beginning to lose some hair was slightly worrying. It wasn't huge clumps or anything but was noticeable after a shower and on my pillow when I wake up. That was when I saw this in Tesco and decided to take the plunge. I got mine on offer for £3.00 (this offer has been available at the Tesco near me since I started using this about two months ago) for a 500ml bottle which is still very expensive. The price now at Tesco is £4.99 which is a lot to spend on shampoo.
The product pictured above is the old formula and the old design, on the new one the blue strip is orange so the packaging stands out more and is much easier to find. When I was looking it up on Tesco to see the most current price, I saw that is described this as being 'specially formulated for men with a unique male fragrance'. This is not mentioned at all on the packaging or advertising, but thinking back it does have a much different smell which I had previously just out down to it being a new formula.
This shampoo is said to fight dandruff on the first wash and I have to say that claim is very true, for me at least. My dandruff was not severe, but it was noticeable so I wasn't expecting instant results, but after just one use the effect was unbelievable. Nothing would ever cure it in one wash, but this did a very good job of reducing it drastically, and now with regular use the dandruff is kept completely at bay.
The other major claim of this shampoo is the hair endurance part, which is said to keep your scalp in good condition and help protect your hair. My scalp wasn't exactly in bad condition (I think... how do you know when your scalp IS in bad condition?) but my hair did need protection and one part of this is reducing hair loss. I have to say that again, this product performed at the highest level. The results weren't instant but that's only to be expected; after using it for a few weeks I began to notice considerably less hair falling out although it has never completely gotten rid of the problem (maybe you can't get rid of it).
On a more general not, the smell of the shampoo is very nice and is a subtle smell that is strong enough to be noticed but subtle enough to blend in. It provides plenty of foam and coverage so you only need to use a tiny amount meaning it will last for much longer than other brands. This takes some of the sting out of the high price but I still think it should be slightly cheaper.
Overall, if you have either dandruff or hair loss this is an amazing product and highly recommended. If it's on offer then I would recommend it to anyone, but if it isn't and you don't have those problems you can find cheaper versions within the Head and Shoulders brand which I would recommend as well.
You may think that toilet rolls and luxury don't go in the same sentence, but this product gives you an excuse to do so.
I normally go for the standard Andrex toilet rolls, however I recently found that these Shea Butter infused ones were the same price so gave them a whirl. I buy these from Tesco in packs of 4 and for some reason there almost always seems to be an offer on them so they are usually £2.00 for a pack of 4 (£2.38 without the discount). At £2 they almost a must-buy product when you take into consideration the quality they provide, but even at £2.38 they still offer good value for money.
The packaging itself looks immediately more stylish than other brands with its brown and cream textures and calligraphic writing. You then notice the headline, 'A touch of luxury' added to the claim of '4 luxurious rolls' and it is evident that Andrex have produced a superior product. In terms of branding, 'Andrex' is strapped across the front in huge letters, and underneath the Andrex puppy is present on the front of the packaging, it almost wouldn't be the same without it! There is a picture of the product itself on the front as well and it is depicted as a brownish creamy color (it seems that was a promotional pack, possibly something to do with the launch, because the picture isn't shown anymore). To be honest, I looked at the picture and thought, 'it's never going to look like that, surely toilet paper can't look that nice...'.
Boy was I wrong, it did have that exact color, and add to that the velvety smooth texture and it really feels like a premium product. They are 3-ply I believe, but if they aren't they certainly feel like they are. There are 160 sheets in every roll and they are about 12m in length, which is less than other offerings, including other Andrex products. However you do not need as much as it is thicker and softer and just much nicer to use so, in my experience, has lasted significantly longer than cheap, thin rolls.
Overall I love the product and find it hard to go back to anything else! Highly recommended although the price may be a slight stumbling block.
This Creative USB Bluetooth transmitter is primarily meant to increase the efficiency of Creative products however it works with all other Bluetooth enabled products too.
This is a small-ish product, it sticks out about 1.5 centimeters, so I have seen smaller Bluetooth transmitters but this is not the biggest by a long shot. Although at the price (around £15) I really would expect a more compact package, though this alone isn't a deal breaker. Its got a sturdy build quality so it can take a fair few knocks which are bound to happen when it is sticking out the side of a laptop.
This is a simple plug and use product. There are a few drivers to install, but those are all done automatically and in under a minute. All you have to do once it is plugged in and ready to use is set both the transmitter and your Bluetooth enabled device on pairing/search mode.
The method of putting your Bluetooth device on pairing mode will vary by product, but to put the transmitter on search mode, you have to press a button situated at the head of the product for 4 seconds until it starts flashing its blue light rapidly. Once you have connected your device to it, the blue light will stop flashing rapidly and instead flash only once every 2 seconds.
The transmitter has Apt-X technology built in which means that if your device is Apt-X ready (many new devices are) then the Bluetooth connection will be as secure and reliable as any wired connection meaning you will get crystal clear sounds or images. I used it only for audio and the sound was amazing, I couldn't tell the difference between the Bluetooth connection and a wired connection (I tested my speakers with both).
This device is simple on the first use and continues to be an easy to use product until you want to connect a different device via Bluetooth. I initially used it with my speakers and they worked instantly and flawlessly. However later on, I wanted to use my Bluetooth headphones instead, so I figured it would just be a matter of putting it onto pairing mode again along with the headphones and they should connect, however it wasn't so; they were both in pairing mode but never connected. I tried repeatedly, but for some reason it seems to have a memory of the product you connect it to and it can't connect to anything else. In the end I had to go to my laptops Bluetooth device settings and remove my speakers from the list of devices to get my headphones connected. As a result of this I made sure my latest laptop purchase had Bluetooth built in so I could avoid these troubles.
I got this free with the speakers I bought from Creative so no harm done really, but they retail at about £15 so for anyone wanting a separate Bluetooth transmitter, this is probably not the way to go. If you are desperate for a flawless connection and definitely on have one Bluetooth device you would use with it, then this could be one to consider especially for audio, but if you have more than one probably look elsewhere.
I've just finished my first year at Aston University now doing an BSc Economics and Management degree, I initially applied for BSc Business and Management but there is a common first year so I was allowed to change, more on that later though.
The grades you need to get are highly dependent on your course ranging from AAA for business courses to CCC for courses such as engineering. Aston is said to be a specialist business university, however looking at rankings, it is actually the best university in the country for Optometry (as told by my friend that does Optometry quoting league tables he looked at when applying a year ago) so Aston is a good university to go to for a wide range of courses. My offer was AAA-AAB and I only got ABB s I'm guessing your personal statement carries a lot of weight when applying here so make it good!
Aston Uni is located in the center of Birmingham with most things you could ask for within a 15 minute walking distance. If you live on campus in your first year, which I highly recommend, all university buildings will be less than a 5 minute walk from your accommodation. There is a small shop in the student guild and there are cash machines at the guild as well. I rarely used these though, since there was a Tesco Express about 5 minutes away for a quick shop and a Tesco Metro about 15 minutes away for the weekly shop. Also around 15 minutes away is the Bullring, one of the biggest shopping centers in the country. Not only that, there are loads of shops outside ranging from Cybercandy and Poundland to M&S and Jack Jones. To top it all off a lot of it is completely pedestrianized so there are no cars or roads to cross making the shopping experience even better. If you want to watch a movie there is a little known IMAX movie theater which we discovered in Millennium Point, a building which is just across the road from the university... and it has the biggest movie screens in the Midlands! There is pretty much everything you can think of and want so close by that you will never have a boring day, and who knows, if you explore a bit you might find something new as well!
I lived in New Build Block A1 and I can hands down say it is the best student accommodation I have ever seen. They were only just built a few months before I moved in so most rooms hadn't even been lived in yet, and even now, they are only a year old. It is modern and spacious with ensuite bathrooms and shared kitchens - although slightly pricey, I think it is worth it. You have the option of 7 bed and 5 bed, I lived in 7 bed because it is cheaper, and to be honest, the upgrade to 5 bed isn't that impressive. For those on a tighter budget, Lakeside still provides accommodation far superior to most you will see. The rooms are slightly bigger and the bathrooms are slightly nicer, but you share with 10 people and get a smaller kitchen. Fridge space in New Build is adequate, but in Lakeside it is slightly on the tighter side, but for the lower price is is very much acceptable. Then there is Stafford 'soon to be demolished' Tower. If you want to live there, the 2012-13 academic year is the last year it will be in existence, after that it will be taken down brick by brick *yawn* I was looking forward to an explosion but it won't happen. I have not been in there when sober so I cannot give a truly descriptive account of it, but from what I have heard it is not the best - just liveable. I can't speak for Lakeside or Stafford, but at New Build our kitchen was cleaned weekly and our bathrooms were cleaned monthly which in student life is VERY useful although not so much when they decide to start work early and wake you up at 8am after a night out...
Just a bit about the nightlife because it is a big part of being a student. The nightlife is brilliant! There are tons of clubs and bars with rock bottom prices. The places I recommend are; Monday - Gatecrasher, Tuesday - Risa, Wednesday - HMV, Thursday - Risa/Gatecrasher, Friday-Sunday - Everywhere has good deals and is a decent night out! There are several clubs at the Arcadian as well which is basically a complex of bars and clubs, but the major thing they have is they bar crawls. I would recommend going on Barsity and all the bar crawls at Arcadian - they offer the best value without a doubt.
The library is a great resource for all students. You get free wi-fi, in fact you get free wi-fi all through the campus, and there are hundreds of computers for your use as well as 2-4 printers on every floor. There are hundreds of textbooks, and if you want to save some money there are a few copies of the essential textbooks which you can snag if you get there quick. For those doing a business degree, I highly recommend this, I purchased all the books and soon came to regret it - many are not useful at all and the ones that are even slightly useful are limited by things like using American terminology which we can't use in our exams.
The internet in your rooms was £140 for 12mb/s and £180 for 20mb/s for the year 2011-12 but apparently it will be changed to be included in your rent for following years, although rent will also increase. It wasn't great for me, it was run by StudentCom and frequently (at least 5 times a day) redirected to their homepage, but again that may change. There is also a gym for students which is £100ish for a year. If you want the pool and sauna it will be more but I am not sure of the price. There is a football pitch, badminton courts, squash courts and table tennis available at a small cost every time you use it. The badminton courts are £2.50 to £4.50 an hour and football pitches are £10/hour with deposits required if you want a football/racket.
When you arrive you will be greeted by Aston Aunties who help you move into your flat (I carried one bag up to my 8th floor flat - the aunties dd the rest!) and you are then assigned one auntie per flat to introduce you to your flat/floor mates and to help you out if ever you need. Freshers week is full of partying but also contains a lot of useful information for the future years so attend as many events as possible. The one definite event you attend should be Freshers Fair. This is where you apply to all sorts of groups and clubs from badminton to extreme bbq! Also there is a ton of free stuff to be had so make sure to sign up to anything interesting and pick up anything that's free on the way.
I totally love everything about the university and actually can't wait to go back for my second year! Anyone who plans to come to Aston send me a message!
I bought this fan a few years ago for around £40 and it still holds that price tag on a few internet sites that I checked which emphasizes the quality of this fan.
The box contains 3 pieces of the fan (the main tower, front half of the base and back half of the base), screws to connect these parts and a power cord. There are instructions supplied, which I highly recommend you read first due to the somewhat strange way of positioning the pieces and the power cord. All in all though, it was a relatively painless experience considering there were only 3 pieces that required any sort of assembling, and even then it was just a few screws.
Once all the pieces are attached, the fan is a solid structure. Many other, more expensive fans, no longer use screws to make the setup easier, but this means that the tower can be toppled from the base very easily. This problem is averted with this model meaning that it is harder to topple due to the base weight and lower center of gravity, and even if it does fall, it will not break into pieces.
There are 4 large buttons on the top of the fan to control all the settings (there is a remote as well but more on that later). The 4 buttons are; power/speed control, mode control, timer setting and rotation control. The power/speed button is used to both turn the fan on as well as to increase the speed of the fan. This could be considered convenient as it is all packed into one button, but the huge downside is when you want to turn it off. There are 3 speed levels, so for example you turn it on and it is on speed 1 and after a while you go to turn it off you need to press it 3 times, pressing it once will go to speed 2, again speed 3 and when you press it again it will turn off. This is very annoying and has often resulted in me just pressing it once and accidentally leaving the fan on for hours on end. The speed levels are good, offering control of the strength and coolness of the air, although I have found that on hot days, however rare they may be in the UK, even the highest fan speed doesn't really do the job. On most days though it is fine providing a level that is acceptable for most temperatures. I have never really used the modes available because I prefer the constant stream of cool air rather than 'breeze' which mean that on a hot day, the fan decides when the fan is on and when it isn't. This may be beneficial to some people as it creates a more natural effect, however it was just not for me. The timer setting, albeit slightly limited, is an excellent feature. It offers a timer setting for 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours and 8 hours. I often use it at night especially on days when it is hot but cools down through the night. At the end of the timer period the fan automatically switches off also aiding with saving electricity. The rotation feature is again slightly limited, there is only one mode for rotation; the distance it rotates is pre-defined and cannot be changed. The distance is very long, it rotates over 180 degrees, which for most people is way more than is required so I rarely use this feature either. There are small green lights that display which, if any of the 4 button options you are currently using. These are good to see the settings you like/don't like and they are not harsh enough to keep you up at night.
The remote has all the same buttons as the ones located at the top of the fan, albeit smaller versions. The remote requires 2 AAA batteries which were not meant to be supplied but for some reason I got some in my pack. The battery life of the remote is great, I have only ever had to change them once and that was very recently. There is a discreet storage compartment for the remote on the back of the fan where you push the remote in and when it clicks it is securely stored. Then you have to push again to get a click and bounce back to release the remote. The remote has great range and it works from anywhere on the floor that the fan is located for me, although I have heard reports that it only works within a 10m range. Although this is still a good range, and far more than is really necessary in a fan remote, you may want to get a replacement.
All in all a good, solid fan for a reasonable price. Recommended to anyone who wants a fan that is just a fan and does what it does well.
A very tasty biscuit that can be used in many ways. They are not cheap coming in at £2.00 for a 150g pack (8 biscuits) which may not seem like much but when compared to some of my other favorites such as chocolate digestives (although not on the same level of quality they are still great) which cost £1.00 for a 500g pack you can really see the arguable lack of value for money.
The reason I say the arguable lack of value for money is because, yes you only get 8 biscuits compared to around 20 and you have to pay double the price, but you will not find many other biscuits of this quality for any price. They are crispy but at the same time have a buttery soft texture with a smooth chocolate filling. They are a class above any other biscuit I have ever tried.
However with all of this comes a minor downfall with the nutritional information. With new laws all the basic nutritional information has to be visibly displayed on the front of all packaging. The packaging in my area seems to be different to the picture that is displayed as the product image. It comes in a premium looking package made up of two shades of brown as a background and a two shades of purple as the main part in the middle. On the purple part is a picture of the biscuits, the logo and a brief description. This is very attractive packaging, and although the packaging doesn't stand out massively, the logo and brand certainly do. The logo is in colorful letters drawing your attention and the reputation of the brand is very good and therefore stands out more. Now, after a brief detour to packaging, onto the nutritional information (per biscuit):
Calories - 79kcal
Sugar - 5g
Fat - 5g
Saturated fat - 3g (doesn't seem like a lot but its 13% of your GDA)
Salt - 0.1g
Its not the most unhealthy biscuit in the world, but the addictive taste mean that you rarely stop at the recommended serving of one biscuit and therefore the snack ends up being a whole lot more unhealthy than planned! There are further uses such as dipping in your hot (or cold) drink although that's not the most inventive. Slightly more inventively, this is another one of those things I tried making a milkshake out of and again it tastes amazing. I would highly recommend trying it as it beats almost every other milkshake I have tried and is comparatively healthy.
Great biscuit that is expensive, but can be considered a healthier treat... if you manage to stop at one!
This review is based on the 33cl plastic bottles of Evian natural mineral water.
I personally have never really liked mineral water, but upon recommendation by a friend, and by pure force in the way of having nothing to drink on a hot summer day outing and only bottled water being available, I finally gave in and decided to give it another crack. The bottle was inviting, although no single brand really stood out with all using generic colors such as red, blue and green with a see-through label with the only color coming from some writing and their logo.
I don't really buy bottled water at all so I'm not sure if they are normally refrigerated but this one was, most likely on account of it being a warm day. At first this tasted alright... actually pretty good. I was reluctant to admit it due to my long history of negative response towards the product, but it actually was and I thought things might have changed. The water was cool and refreshing, as water should be and did the job of hydrating me perfectly.
I only drank half the bottle at once and saved the rest in case I was thirsty later on. This uncovered the hidden flaw. One of the main selling points of mineral water is that it lasts a long time when stored away, this definitely does not apply once it has been opened. Within an hour or so I took my second plunge into the world of mineral water, only to be greeted with a warm, thick, sticky tasting liquid which in no way resembled water, or even the same mineral water in that bottle an hour ago. Admittedly the warmth would have been caused by the weather, but there really is no excuse for the fall in other qualities.
I don't know why it changes like that but that will be my last foray in mineral water. I still buy it, but only for the bottles, the water gets poured down the drain; I know not eco-friendly but I use them more than once and I am starting to move to proper reusable bottles. I would recommend the bottles, they are sturdy and last for ages, but not so much the product within. I anticipate that the few sales they get from me, for the bottle alone, will soon diminish to nothing.
The thing that really caught my eye at the time of buying this USB stick was the price. It was (and still is) under £7 on amazon.co.uk. I bought it and it arrived promptly in 3 days with Amazon's free super saver delivery.
The packaging option I chose at checkout was Frustration-Free, the idea being that the process of opening and recycling the packaging is simpler. The package was a small cardboard box with one perforated strip, so opening it was no problem and since it was all cardboard, that was no problem either. However, within the box, the USB stick had no further packaging or protection and was just floating around the box (I have since bought another one that came in a plastic casing within the cardboard box so hopefully this problem has been rectified).
As soon as you see the USB stick, you will notice how small and light it is. It is around 4cm in length, 1.5cm in width and 0.5cm in depth at its thickest point. The reason for this small size could be due to the fact that it has no protective lid. This makes it seem like it is more susceptible to damage but it isn't. I have made use of the keyring hole thing (don't know what its called) to put it with my keys and coins in my wallet, as well as dropped it several times and there is hardly a scratch. It has been designed well and slides smoothly into the USB slot, unlike many other USB devices I have used which are stiff the first few times you plug them in.
Windows explorer picked up the USB stick very quickly, after the brief installation of driver software. The autoplay window popped up as would with any standard USB. All the options are the same and since the default formatting of the USB stock is FAT32, you can use it for pretty much anything straight out of the box. Then I noticed the storage capacity, which disappointingly was only a maximum of 14.9GB from a 16GB USB stick, however that was further educed to around 14.2GB (rough estimate of what I remember), so I decided to see what was going on...
Stored on this memory sick is a Sandisk Locker application (I can't remember the exact name, I deleted it almost immediately). As I said, I deleted this almost instantly so I do not fully remember the purpose of this application, however here is my best guess at remembering: it is supposedly an application that allows you to securely store data in a password protected folder and an online option is also provided. I was intrigued at first, however the setup was very unclear and complicated, at which point the realization struck that I would actually never need such a function. It could be useful when you are working on sensitive or top secret work files, but along with the difficulty of installation and the relatively little use it would get, I decided against spending time on it. For me the password security provided by Windows is sufficient, but some may find this application useful if they manage to set it up.
The write (when you copy something onto the memory stick) and read (when something is copied from the memory stick to another device) speeds are respectable, but in true Sandisk fashion, this USB stick has a relatively slow write speed of up to 10MB/sec and a relatively quick read speed of up to 15MB/sec. Taken directly from the Sandisk website, they claim to be able to store 1000 songs or 900 photos at 10MP or 80 minutes of 1080p video. I know for sure that you cannot store 80 minutes of 1080p video because when I tried to copy over a movie that was 1 hour and 12 minutes long (72 minutes) it failed to copy, even though the file was only 9GB in size. This makes me wonder about the overall reliability and usability of this USB stick.
However I still went on to purchase another one because my main use is for university work, past papers etc, and for this it is more than enough because I go nowhere near the maximum capacity. I opted for the 16GB rather than a lower level of memory because of the minimal price difference (currently 8GB is around £4.50 and bizarrely both 4GB and 2GB are around £2.85). Overall good for most things, but when pushed to the limit it doesn't seem able to keep up.
The Monopoly Here and Now edition brings one crucial change as well as many minor ones.
Properties - the properties have been changed from the classic London locations, to worldwide locations, changing from neighborhoods and train stations to cities and airports. This is a welcome change as it makes it a more satisfying experience buying whole, much more recognizable cities rather than locations around London, even though they are well know locations.
Chance/community chest - another minor change, the events are much the same but the scenarios are different, foe example, rather than collecting $10 for you birthday, you collect it for St Paddy's day. There are no significant benefits or drawbacks of this change, however if anything it makes it less recognizable by using some country specific events.
Credit card system - there is an electronic game unit and plastic visa credit cards rather than the classic Monopoly money. This is a huge change in terms of gameplay and brings with is both benefits and drawbacks. The benefits are that you will never lose you money again, unless of course you lose all the credit cards. This is a big advantage for someone like me who is always dropping, ripping, damaging and losing the paper money. Another great thing this does is stop those cheats! It's much harder to steal from the bank because of the persistent beep the game unit makes as you type that additional 0 on the end of the rent someone pays you. The drawbacks however are significant as well. The credit card system detracts from the classic game in the sense that, taking someones card and typing numbers in doesn't quite give the same satisfaction as seeing them hand over their last dollar. It is still fun, but the physical money is what makes the game. Also the game unit can be fiddly and without a doubt takes longer than handing over a couple of notes.
It is the same game, just based on a very new and different gameplay style. I personally don't like it as much as the classic version and always end up going back to it, but that may just be because I grew up with it. This could be the way forward for Monopoly, but for anyone who owns or has even played the original, this probably won't be the magical improvement it seems to be at first sight.
The Google Nexus 7 is Google's first venture into the tablet market and, all considering, they do not disappoint. With a price tag of only £159 for the 8GB model and £199 for the 16GB, as well as the fact that the whole design and manufacturing process was completed in 4 months Google have pulled off a masterstroke.
The packaging is attractive and on the front is a picture of a Nexus 7 which is cleverly angled to create a number 7. The packaging is very safe, too safe in fact. Sliding the box out of the sleeve is a struggle to start off and took me around 20 minutes of pushing and scraping. Once you finally get the box out, the tape on the sides are fairly straightforward to take off. However it took me all of almost half an hour of gently hitting the box (I didn't want to damage it after all) to eventually separate the lid and the containing box.
It's all worth it though because you are presented with a plastic covered Nexus 7 in all its glory. The plastic even has a guide as to which button is the power button and which is the volume button. The plastic is easy to get off and then you can see the true brilliance of this tablet. The glossy 7" screen looks amazing and the fact that there are no logos, watermarks or anything on the front make it look even more stylish. The back is a sort of rubbery plastic material, which not only looks great but offers a grip far better than on most tablets. There is product information at the bottom, just above the speakers, but even this has been thought through as it is on a sticker which you can easily remove. There is a Nexus (Google brand) and ASUS (manufacturer) logo inscribed on the back, but neither detracts from the look of the tablet. Talking of the manufacturing and build quality; there are several reported defects: many users have reported a screen rise when the screen seems to bulge out of the body, there are accelerometer problems and the device does get hot in the bottom left corner during heavy usage. My device had a major accelerometer problem so I returned it and got a replacement. The replacement has a minor accelerometer problem (which I have decided to live with) and a minor screen rise problem (there are many solutions but I don't find it a big problem as you do not notice it unless you turn the device on its side and look for it).
The setup is extremely straightforward. If you purchase it from the Google Play store, you have the option of linking it to your Gmail account before purchase which further simplifies this process. You are first presented with a language option screen with the default as English (US). Then you are prompted to connect to a wi-fi network and, as far as I can see, this is a compulsory feature. Next, for those of you who didn't buy it from Google Play, you will be asked if you have a Gmail account. If so you can log in, if not you can create one, and if you do not wish do do either you can skip this step, but many of the features will be unavailable. This step does not show up for those that have bought it via Google Play and selected the automatic setup option. You are then asked if you want to back up data to your Gmail account and location preferences need to be set. That's it, you're all set up and ready to roll!
The device come pre-loaded with android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the latest version of the android operating system. You are presented with a home screen that contains a large widget of your media library. You get a Nexus 7 Guide Book and Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer free in terms of books, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon free in terms of movies. The movies however is not downloaded to your device, so you can either stream it (quality depends on your internet) or download it (takes a long time, though you can do other things while it downloads, and takes over 2GB of memory space). On the screen to the right of the default home screen, there are two widgets that show Play Store recommendations. There is a dock bar at the bottom that contains 5 apps (Play Store, Movies, Books, Chrome and Music), one folder that contains all things Google (Currents, Chrome, Gmail, Maps, Youtube, Calendar and Google+) and the button to open the app drawer. All of these (except from the button to open the app drawer) can be removed and changed and so can all the other home screens which are empty and up for customization with shortcuts or widgets.
The process of customizing has been made very simple. You open the app drawer and you are presented with a list of all your apps (of which you can download more from the Play Store), and if you swipe to the right there will be a few pages of widgets (again you can download more from the Play Store). In order to put any of these on your home screen simply click and hold, and it will take you to your home screen where you can place it however you want, and to place it on a different page simply continue to hold and move to either the left or right side of the screen.
The speaker grille is at the bottom of the back of the device and stretches almost the entire width. The idea of this is to give you a stereo sound effect rather than the mono sound effect produced by pretty much every other tablet in existence. This works surprisingly well in portrait, though in landscape the effect is much reduced as the speaker would be full o one side making it harder to replicate a stereo sound effect. Although even in landscape it works well for the size and you do get a sort of feel for the direction the sound is coming from, albeit not amazing. There is also a 4 pin dock connecter on the bottom left hand edge of the device, this is currently unsupported by any peripherals, but it will supposedly have many attachments coming in the future.
There is built in bluetooth, wi-fi and NFC (near field communication), though there is no 3G/4G capability in this device. The bluetooth and wi-fi work flawlessly even better my laptop most of the time in terms of connectivity and speed. I use the bluetooth with my bluetooth speakers and not once has it dropped out, or even been slightly blurry. The wi-fi is constantly on connected to my broadband and I'd say about 70% of the time, the Nexus 7 is faster loading a page than my laptop. NFC is still a growing idea in the UK although it does have a ton of potential. The existing uses for it include android beam, which allows you to send photos, videos, apps, web pages... pretty much anything to another android device with android beam. To do this all you have to do is put the two device in close proximity to each other and face them back to back, then just tap the item you want to send and almost instantly, its there! This works amazingly, I have even tried sending 720p HD movies across two Nexus 7 devices and it took a matter of seconds. The other function is to pair it with other NFC devices, so for example with the Nexus Q or NFC speakers, instead of setting up bluetooth connections, all you do is bring the devices close to each other for a few seconds and they are connected; there is a limited choice of NFC accessories at the moment, but more and more are being developed. Another major use of NFC, although not prevalent in the UK, is using the device for carp payment under £15 or interacting with posters/signs. The payment method speaks for itself and is very similar to the Barclaycard wireless system, where you just tap it on the wireless receiver rather than enter your PIN etc. The interaction with posters/signs is more complex, it allows you for example (this only works on participating company posters) to see a poster for a concert, bring your device close to it and that will open up a page to book tickets etc. which could be a very useful feature if it becomes more common in the UK.
The 7" Corning Glass LED-Backlit IPS LCD has a screen resolution of 1280x800 giving you 216 pixels per inch. This, although not quite a Retina screen (the screen on the iPad, this has 264 Pixels per inch, so many that each pixel is indistinguishable by the human eye), is very good. The screen size on paper seems very small but it is actually a very comfortable size for web browsing or reading a book because it is handy and can be held in one hand, or for gaming because you can easily wrap your hands around the side as you would any other portable gaming device. It is also useful when utilizing the 1.2MP front facing camera for video calling. Rather than being tied down to one place like with a PC or laptop, you are free to move about however you please. The camera quality is nothing special, though it is perfectly adequate for a Skype call with the family. You cannot however, access the camera to simply take a photo or video, you can only use it for a video calling application (this is not strictly true as you can root the device and then access the camera, but that's not what you get out of the box).
It comes in at a whopping weight of... 340g! This means it is ultra portable, one of the most portable tablets on the market only rivaled by the Amazon Kindle Fire and arguably the Barnes&Noble Nook. However the hardware packed into the device is far superior to either of those. This packs in a 1.2GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM. It also comes packaged with a 12 core Nvidia Gforce ULP 416MHz dedicated graphics processor. It is able to play a 720p HD movie comfortably and multitasking is no problem. As soon as I got the tablet, I immediately lined up a queue of apps to download and there was no hint of lag, so as soon as Spotify had downloaded, turned on some music... still no lag. Then I decided to really push it and attempt to play Real Racing 2 at the same time as the downloads continued AND Spotify was playing in the background. Yet I STILL got no lag or problems, only that the music as well as the Real Racing 2 soundtrack were playing at the same time, but that was to be expected. The battery life is great, it lasts a full day of wi-fi constantly on, auto sync with two emal accounts and google calendar, me playing graphic intensive games, web browsing, watching HD videos and playing music, meaning that it is more than up to the task of day to day use. They have advertised 8 hours of active use, but I regularly get more than that, but even 8 hours is plenty.
I firmly believe this tablet is one of the top performers in all regards, and at a price of under £200, with Google most likely selling at a loss or minimal profit, it is a bargain buy. I would definitely recommend picking one up before Google decide to put prices up however unlikely that may seem.
Classic Cornetto vanilla ice cream in the classic Cornetto cone, but with a twist of cookies and cream. It comes packaged in a brown and gold box with an easy perforated strip to allow you access to the goodies (I have seen different packaging in other locations so this may vary). This doesn't stand out from other products as many ice cream brands use similar colors, e.g Magnum, however as someone who looks for this particular brand this flavor stood out. If you see it you will notice it. There is a tunnel through the middle of the ice cream which is filled with sticky chocolate sauce and crunchy cookie balls, all of which is depicted on the front of the packaging. This is all combined together in a cone with the chocolate rim to make a near perfect ice cream treat.
The downside is when you look at the nutritional information which ma put a fair few off, hell I have to think it through twice before I have one and I'm not exactly a health freak! So here it is:
Calories - 180kcal (9% of your GDA)
Carbohydrates - 25g (unknown, sorry)
Sugars - 15g (17% of your GDA)
Fat - 8g (11 of your GDA)
Saturated fat- 7g (a whopping 35% of your GDA)
On the whole, when I have bought these, the cones have been crispy, but I have bought the occasional pack when they have been soggy and that detracts so much from the taste. On the plus side I have never had any complaints about the ice cream itself.
So the combination of a crispy cone, soft vanilla ice cream, sticky chocolate sauce and crunchy cookie balls make this a delicious snack although the calories and saturated fat need to be watched. The price needs to be watched too, with this coming in at an eye-watering £4.50 for a pack of 4 (although I do admittedly live in London). All in all, a good luxury (in terms of ice cream) purchase.
One of the most versatile chocolate bars, and one of my favorite. They are relatively cheap and you can buy them pretty much anywhere so getting a sudden craving is not a problem! (although for me this is less of a problem because I normally have a few packs stored up)
The packaging is orange with yellow bubble writing which really makes it stand out from the crowd of other generic colored chocolate bars. This is what prompted me to buy them in the first place and I have never looked back. With new laws all the basic nutritional information has to be visibly displayed on the front of all packaging so here it is:
Calories - 245kcal
Protein - 2.1g
Carbohydrate - 29.1g
Fat - 13.4g
Its not the healthiest of snacks but tastes great. I recently tried making a milkshake out of it and that is arguably better than the original chocolate bar itself! I even recently heard about a toffee crisp ice cream which I immediately went out and bought and that was amazing as well. I love toffee crisp in all the forms I have tried it and hope more versions come out soon!
Great bar available at under 50p a bar (when bought in a multipack) and can be used in a variety of ways.
It is highly understandable that many phones nowadays seem complicated to many people. The solution to this is to buy a high quality, but lower end phone such as this one. There are a reduced amount of features making for a more straightforward user interface while sill having enough to make life simple.
The build quality is, in classic HTC style, very good. The aluminum finish on the side combined with the rubbery feel of the back make the phone feel comfortable in your hand. This particular model even manages to avoid common HTC problems such as a creak near the battery and rattling when the camera autofocus displaces. It is a very well built phone and is far better than many others in its range. I have never dropped the phone, but by the looks of it, it could take a fair beating. It is a unibody construction, apart from the back cover to insert the battery, sim card and SD card meaning there is very little there to break. Battery life is impressive, this phone lasted days on end without needing to be charged and when it did, it fully charged in under 4 hours (based on average use with auto brightness).
Although the phone runs android version 2.2.1 (upgradable from 2.1), HTC have skinned android with Sense 1.0 (this will most likely be upgraded to sense 2.0 when the phone is upgraded to android v 2.2.1), which give you a very different experience to other phones. Sense 1.0 had major developments at the time but have fallen behind, even sense 2.0 is starting to fade. One common feature feature of all versions of HTC Sense is the 'widgets' you can place on the home screens. These are large previews of apps, which allow you to use many of their features without opening them, such as the weather widget which constantly displays the weather. These are much improved from the stock android widgets and deliver a much more user friendly experience. HTC Sense offers a very clean and easy to use interface, with one simple button to show a menu of all available apps. It is possible to put shortcuts on all your homescreens as well simplifying the process of opening you favorite applications.
The phone has a 3.2" TFT LCD QVGA glass screen with a screen resolution of 240x320 giving you only 125 pixels per inch. The screen is not Gorilla Glass meaning it is not as durable as many other phones and is more prone to scratch so needs a bit more looking after. The screen is not amazing so watching videos or doing anything that requires decent graphics does not look great on this phone. Only videos up to 320p can be played and even then there are times when individual pixels become visible and if you press hard enough the screen area around your finger will discolour. The capacitive touchscreen is not the best, it registers most touches and gestures, but it does miss some crucial ones, however these mostly occur after long periods of use, mainly gaming. At this point there is also often the problem of the phone getting very hot, it is not too uncomfortable but seems to be slightly hotter than is acceptable and makes your hands clammy especially in hot weather.
The phones Qualcomm MSM7225 528MHz processor can handle web browsing and the odd game, but do much more than that and it will struggle. It has kept up with all the day to day tasks and the 384MB of RAM mean it can handle a few applications running at once, but not much more than that. I have found it difficult to go from web browsing, to a phone call, and then back to the web and as a result have had to download a task manager. This helps the problem, but does not solve it because although it frees up more RAM, there is still only a limited amount available. The built in storage is less than exciting coming in at a low 512MB which in current times will be filled up almost immediately, especially since half the storage is used up by pre-installed apps. However you can expand the storage up to 16GB via a micro SD card. I have got an 8GB micro SD card which has stored all my ap downloads, pictures and videos so far, so this is a problem that is easily solved.
The camera is 5MP with autofocus so the camera at least is punching well above its weight even now. Photography is not my area of expertise, but from an amateur point of view the pictures seem to have decent saturation and the contrast is impressive considering the age of the camera, but again, the picture quality will not impress amateurs let alone professionals.
Now onto what a phone is actually meant to be used for, calls and texts. The call quality is good at all times. At most times the line is very clear, and when its not.. its crystal clear. Calls have never dropped and I have never had a warbly tone as has happened to me on other phones. Another feature available through HTC Sense is predictive calling. You simply start typing the phone number as you remember, as an example say John's phone number is 07912345678; you start typing the numbers ie 07912... and it will predict the number. In what should be a phones principle function, this phone works very well and is easy to use. Texting is good due to the messaging interface of HTC Sense, however the small screen size limits the ease of use. Individual characters are very small and often results in misclicks and typing errors so the texting experience is tarnished by the sub-standard keyboard and touchscreen available. This is improved in android 2.1.1, but even then it is not great.
I got this phone for free on a £10/month contract three years ago, but the price will have dropped drastically by now, what with the vast array of new technology available. This makes it a great buy as it has all the essential features of a phone, doing whatever it does very well. It is by no means a top end phone and is not keeping pace with current technology, but if you want a simpler phone with many of the most useful features other phones have and access to the thousands of apps, this phone would be a good fit.