viernes, 10 de agosto de 2012

Hello Kitty Egg Mould



I like pointless things - and in my kitchen, there is nothing more utterly pointless than my collection of egg moulds - little snap close boxes that turn an ordinary boiled egg into a funny shaped one instead. One of my favourites has to be the little pink Hello Kitty one, which I purchased partly to amuse my daughter by jazzing up her lunchbox, but mostly to amuse myself!

Costing £4.99 from Amazon.co.uk, this is actually quite expensive compared to the rest of my collection, most of which were purchased for around 5 dollars a pair from America. Essentially, it's a small plastic box, with a lid that has four flaps that snap down tight to seal the two halves together. As you can see from the picture above, it has an impression of Hello Kitty's head in it.

To use this, it's fairly simple . You boil up your egg, and whilst it is still hot peel off the shell. It's best to do this in a pot of cool water, as the ceramic in the eggshell is very hot, even after being removed from the pan. Then, you simply pop the egg, with the longer side running horizontally, into the hole in the mould, and snap the lid down tight. Then, you pop the whole mould into a pot of cold water, and you might want to weight it down with something, as it tends to float about in the pan and not cool evenly.

Then you wait - for ten minutes. Flip up the little tabs, remove the lid, and there you have it, a perfect impression of Hello Kitty, in deliciously tasty boiled egg form. Well, being honest, the egg doesn't taste any different, but it looks an awful lot more fun - and my daughter is certainly more receptive to eating boiled eggs as a healthy and nutritious snack when they are amusingly shaped.

For a little added flair, you could also add some food colouring to the hot water you've boiled the eggs in once they are cooked, crack the egg shells a little, and allow to sit in the pan of hot water for a minute for an attractive marbling effect.

These eggs look lovely in a lunchbox and are sure to put a smile on your face - I've recently started a new job, and my egg salads attract a lot of comments in the break room!

As already mentioned, I do think a fiver is rather too much for this product, and only being able to do one egg at a time is an inconvenience when everybody wants one. Whilst I do think it's an amusing little product, I think you can get better value buying the egg moulds from the American Amazon site, where there is a better variety at better prices.

jueves, 2 de agosto de 2012

BT Diverse 6150

We have two telephones in our house, a regular style plug in phone upstairs for emergencies, but our main telephone is the BT Diverse 6150, which we have in the lounge.

I received this phone from my dad, who had received it as a free gift from BT about 5 years ago but already had a similar model of phone in his house. The phone is still available to buy, and after having a quick look on the Internet have found the going rate to be around the £35 mark. The telephone itself is a cordless one, which runs off the main electricity, hence the need for the regular style one as a back up and also incorporates an answering machine too. There are two cables to be attached; the power cord and the phone line, however both are pretty thin and thus not overly obtrusive. Setting the phone up for use isn't too difficult in the first place, simply plug everything in, leave the handset to charge up for 16 hours initially before use, and then you are ready to go. The instruction booklet that accompanies this phone is a staggering 88 pages long, however for obvious reasons I've not read any further than the initial set up page. I would hazard a guess that for those who struggle with technology, the answer is probably available somewhere within the tome!

The telephone itself comes in two parts, firstly the base unit, which is grey in colour, but suitably small so as not to take too prominent a position in the living room. On this sits the cordless handset, which is the same shade of grey, but again not overly large, around the size of the old mobile phones from the 90's for those who remember (no not the giant brick ones either!) The base unit itself is reasonably stylish in my opinion whilst not being amazing, and has a few slits to the rear that acts as the loudspeaker when in that mode. There are 9 buttons on the front which operate the controls for the in built answer machine and are all pretty obvious as they have the individual functions labelled on them. There is also an LED display showing the number of messages that are currently stored which isn't the most visually stimulating of displays but does the job its there for.

The handset itself is actually pretty basic looking, with the 10 numbered keys across the main body of it, a call button and a call end button, and then a small display at the top with two buttons to control functions of the phone itself. Its very much a functional handset with no frills of any kind, but at the end of the day its just a phone and as such does the job adequately. It claims to have an effective range of 50 metres if operating indoors, and 300m used outdoors, but as I don't own some kind of mansion I cannot comment on these claims! All I can say is that it operates from all parts of the house and our smallish garden with no crackling or loss of signal, which is all we can really ask for.

The phone has several additional features, some of which we find helpful, others which I would never use but may be of interest to others. Firstly there is a caller display option. However there is a "but" with this one, you actually need to subscribe to this service from BT for an additional fee to your standard line rental. For me this is more than enough to put me off, and I'm of the opinion I will soon find out who is calling once I answer it. In addition we receive a fair number of calls from abroad and this still wouldn't be displayed even if I had paid for the service.

The next interesting feature is the ability to send and receive SMS text messages from the handset. I've always thought that this is a slightly strange feature for a house phone, as the vast majority of people have mobile phones on which texting in much quicker and much more straightforward, but never-the-less its available as an option for people.

The handset has the ability to save and store up to 50 phone numbers and names for what is described as "easy dialling" by the instruction booklet. This is handy for those who don't have a phonebook and the menu is reasonably easy to scroll through, however it isn't the quickest and if you do fill it up with the full 50 names, you will probably find it quicker to simply key in the number yourself! The phone also stores the last few numbers to have phoned you, or been phoned by you, so you can sometimes find a number quite quickly using this feature. You also have the option of deleting this memory at any time too.

I've mentioned the answer machine facility and this is probably the most useful feature for me, as I've never had an answer machine of any kind before this phone. You can either use a pre-recorded message or record your own, and the answer machine kicks into life after 5 rings of the phone which you can't change, which leads to some epic scrambles if at the far end of the house. An option to amend this would have been a useful addition, as would the ability to disable the answer machine from time to time if you didn't want to take calls, but for a cheapish phone I can't really complain about this too much.

The handset itself runs off 2 rechargeable AAA batteries. The phone automatically charges when connected to the base unit, and to be fair to it, I've been pretty impressed by the battery life. I've not replaced the original batteries since we have had the phone, as it's probably just as cheap to replace the whole thing, but it used to hold its charge for several hours of call time and being off the base unit. Nowadays after over 5 years of use we still get around 45 minutes call time before the unit dies, which isn't too bad and normally adequate to complete most calls to be honest. There is a battery life indicator on the display and it also beeps several times before it dies, so it's easy enough to keep an eye on and make a dash for the traditional phone upstairs. The sound quality is very good, with no interference noticeable, and although the loudspeaker quality isn't the greatest, I don't normally use this function so I don't find this too much of a problem.

So to sum up this phone, I would say that it is a pretty good option for those people who just want a bog standard cordless telephone with an incorporated answer machine facility. It is certainly fair to say it's a no-frills telephone; it does exactly what a phone should do and does it well. It may not have the range of facilities and extra features for some of the more technologically minded people out there, and the design is functional without being overly stylish or overly offensive on the eye, and this combined with the exceptional life span of the batteries would leave me no hesitation in giving my recommendation of the BT Diverse 6150.

lunes, 30 de julio de 2012

Samsung Galaxy 551

I got this phone in January 2011 and I used it as my main phone until last September, when I moved to the UK. I got it free with a Euro20 per month Austrian contract on the network 3 which lasts for two years, so I am still paying for this phone and still using it occasionally when I am in Austria or away where it is cheaper to use this network.

This was the first smartphone that I got and I was quite happy with it on the whole.

=== Typing ===

This phone has a touch screen but it also has a full QWERTY keyboard (well mine is QWERTZ because that's how the German and Austrian keyboards are!). I really liked the fact it had this full keyboard because when I got this I was not sure how confident I would be with typing on a touch screen keyboard. In fact, I didn't really find it a problem, as the keys on screen are large enough to easily press and if you turn the phone on its side, everything on the screen turns with it, making the letters look wider on the touch screen. I did find the full keyboard great to use on occasions when I was writing long messages though. You simply slide it out from underneath the phone body and then slide it back in when finished. It doesn't make the phone look bulky and it is not even noticeable when not in use.

All the symbols and numbers are clearly marked on the keyboard as well as the letters so there is no need to scroll through any menus to find the & % $ or whatever. Just press and alt and the corresponding key, as on a normal computer keyboard.

=== Navigation ===

This phone is very easy to navigate. The screen is large and takes up most of the front of the phone, so icons on the touch screen are all large enough to use without difficulty. There is a home screen, where I put my most used icons such as email, texts, phone book, internet browser, calculator, clock. To get an icon onto this screen you simply press down on it with your finger and drag. If you swipe across from this main home screen, there are more pages which you can fill with different icons shortcuts.

On the bottom of all screens there shortcuts to the most important functions - telephone, contacts, messages and home.

There is also a menu button on the bottom of the home screen. If you go to the menu, there you can get the full list of all your functions and apps. To move to the next page, you just swipe the screen across, basically the same as on the iphone.

The contacts are easy to navigate as it is simply an alphabetical list to scroll through, and you can arrange them into groups if you wish, such as colleagues, family, or whatever would be useful to you.

The only very annoying thing about the controls is that you don't seem to be able to lock the touch screen to stop things being pressed when the phone is in your bag or pocket. After the phone has not been touched for a while, the screen locks automatically and you have to swipe your finger across it to unlike, as with the ipone. However, there seems to be no way to choose to lock it. This means it can be a bit of a liability if you use it then put it straight in your bag without waiting for it to lock itself!

=== Phone Calls and Sound ===

I have not experienced any problems with the sound quality while making phone calls and I have been satisfied with it. The volume buttons are on the side and are easy to adjust while talking.

The sound in general is good and I have found it to be fine when listening to music or watching videos on the phone.

It has a standard headphone jack at the top to fit any normal headphones, so you don't need to buy specific ones for this phone if you want to listen to music on it.

=== Camera ===

The camera is not good enough to replace a proper camera in my opinion but it takes acceptable photos and it is easy to upload them straight to Facebook or send them by email. I have found this camera comes in handy just to capture something when I don't have my normal camera with me. You can also get apps to put different effects on the photos - the one I have is called Retro Camera and is similar to Instagram.

=== Operating System and Apps ===

This phone runs on Android. I have found it to mostly be quick and efficient, but occasionally I have found that the phone freezes which was extremely annoying for me as it meant that I could not always see the phone as completely reliable.

I was impressed with Android as far as apps go, and I have found that it seems to offer nearly as much variety as Apple. It is much much better than the Blackberry system which I have on my current UK phone and which hardly offers any apps worth having at all. The Android Marketplace is on the phone so you can easily search for apps, either free or paid. I pretty much only ever looked at the free ones as there are so many good free ones that I didn't feel I needed to branch out.

The apps I put on here include lots of news ones, such as UK Newspaper and World Newspaper which give quick links to various newspapers which you can read in smart phone friendly format for free. You can also get plenty of apps from specific papers or magazines, such as Time or BBC news. These are all so handy and I loved the fact they saved me from buying so many newspapers which I would then leave on the train, so saved me money and more environmentally friendly too. It also made me read more of a variety of newspapers than I normally would. You can get well known apps such as the Aldiko e-book reader, which also allows you to download a lot of free e-books, music apps, apps for learning languages, dictionaries, games etc. The usual ones like facebook are all available, and Wikidroid which is a good Android friendly version of Wikipedia. You can also download Skype and then as long as you have unlimited data on your contract, or you are in a WIFI zone, you can make Skype phone calls for free. I have unlimited data but my phone minutes did not allow international calls, so I used to use this to call the UK for free. Mostly if you want an app for something you should be able to find something suitable on Android.

=== Battery Life ===

I found the battery life of the phone is okay, but not outstanding. When I first got it I could use it for a couple of days without charging but as time went on I found that more often than not I had to charge it every day. Once it is plugged into the charger it doesn't take too long to charge up.

=== Overall ===

I was really impressed with this phone when I first got it. It is not really the latest thing now and I am sure the newest Samsung Galaxy phones do look a bit cooler and probably run faster, but this is not a bad little smartphone and I do appreciate the fact it has all the benefits of Android and a touch screen while still having a full QWERTY keyboard as well. However it does have its drawbacks, as the fact it occasionally freezes can be a bit of a concern, and I wish it was easier to lock the touch screen!

miércoles, 22 de febrero de 2012

Dell MMS 5650 5.1 Surround Sound Speakers

It was coming up to my 18th birthday, my parents had asked me what I wanted for present. I had asked my parents for a computer of my own to save me sharing with my Father. Computers years ago were more expensive than what they are now, so to be fair I didn't think that they would of agreed to get me one. Rather than buying one my parents decided to talk to my Uncle who builds computers as a hobby. He orders in the parts for the computers and builds them up himself, surprisingly enough he found out how to build them through the internet. It works out much cheaper than buying one and he is able to make a little money off it for himself too. Luckily for me my Uncle agreed to make the computer, he ordered the parts and it was only a waiting game till the parts had arrived and ready for him to start building my computer.



My Uncle had ordered all the parts for the computer from a website called ebuyer. I'm not sure if you have heard of it before but I had never head of it, this was the first. As well as ordering all the inside parts for my computer that makes it work, he also ordered me speakers, a mouse, and a keyboards, all from the same website. If you are wanting to have a look at the website I have listed it for you below. They are very reasonably priced, the website is:
http://www.ebuyer.com



In this review I am going to tell you all about the speakers that were ordered with my computer. I will also write other reviews on the different items that my Uncle ordered with my computer, so if you find this review useful please keep an eye out for my further reviews.



When my Uncle brought my computer over to my parents house to set up for my birthday he asked me to give him a hand. As I don't know much about setting computers up only using them when all the hard bit is done, I thought this would be a good learning opportunity, so I took him up on his offer. As I picked up the box to pass it to my Uncle I was shocked at firstly how big the box actually was, as I thought it was standard sized speakers that he had ordered. Secondly the weight of them took me buy surprise causing me almost to drop the box. After getting over the strain of carrying them over the computer to start setting them, I opened the box to find out that the speakers were indeed not your standard sized or standard package of speakers.



In the box I found:
4 surround satellite speakers which I thought looked rather modern.
1 rather small centre speaker which comes with a metal stand.
1 massive sub woofer which is what made it so heavy to lift.
A connection cable which had 3 outputs and one input.
A spare fuse in case you were to blow a fuse you had a spare one to replace it.
And last but not least an instruction manual.



There isn't must point in describing the speakers to you as you can see them in the picture above. As you can see, the sub woofer is in a black case, in what I think is made out of MDF. The other speakers are all, also black with a metal effect stands and in my opinion look quite modern.



Luckily for me the computer was set up in my parents living room which to be pair is rather quite large. My Uncle picked these speakers for me as he knows how much I like watching my online movies but the sound quality of the films are not a good standard with normal speakers as what it would be on the television, hence the reason why my Uncle chose these surround speakers.



My Uncle started to position the speakers where he thought was best, but I stopped him in his tracks to suggest that if he was teaching me how to set up my computer it was maybe best to follow the instructions. Shocked as I never normally read instructions for anything he agreed with me to start reading them while he went for a well deserved break and a cup of tea. Not being very good with instructions it has to be said, if I can understand them anyone can, they are practically idiot proof just like the books that you get like computers for dummies. As I read the instructions I start to follow them. I found a place for my sub woofer on my computer desk the I plugged the rest of the speakers into the back of the sub woofer. After I arranged the rest of the speakers on my desk, I put the electrical plug into the mains and then the plug that was left into the back on my computer. Normally I would of had to of asked someone where I would plug in the connection plug into the back of the computer, but luckily for me the wires were colour coded and matched the connection on the back of my pc. As I was plugging them in I also noticed hat the connection were designed with only what can be described as knobbly bits on it, which makes it impossible to plug the speaker cable into the wrong connection.



I noticed that how much cable there was when I was setting the speakers up. I was pleasantly surprised, I could of pretty much of positioned them anywhere around my parents living room, but as my Mother didn't want them around her living room as they didn't match her deco, I decided to keep them positioned around my computer desk. Now that they were set up, they were now ready to use woohoo.



The controls are actually quite easy to use and easy to follow. There is a power switch at the back of the sub woofer, a volume control and the on/off button in the centre of the speaker. Straight forward with no confusion is just what I like, you can also adjust the volume on your computer using the usual volume control that you would use for normal speakers.



Since I have had the surround sound speakers for my computer, which is roughly 7 years, they are still going strong. Over the years I have listened to CD's, DVD's, online movies off the internet, and even the radio. The sound quality is excellent, I was so surprised when I used them as it sounded just like when you are in the cinemas, you can hear the different sounds come from different places to give much better sound effects. The sound is crystal clear, also fairy loud at 100 watts. While I never played any games using the surround sound speakers my father did. He played the well known army game Call Of Duty, for those that don't know or haven't heard of it before, it is an army game. My Father enjoyed playing this game on my computer rather than his own, as he said the sound affects where like as if it was real life and he was actually in the game. My Father is a little hard of hearing so the volume had to be turned up quite high, I was pleasantly surprised that even at a high volume, there was no loss of tone. No matter what I have used the speakers for, listening to music or watching my online films, the sound that the speakers give off it just amazing. You can hear noises that you couldn't hear before when using previous speakers when I used my Fathers computer, it has depth to the sound, it is sharp, precise and as I said before crystal clear.



My Uncle origionally got these surround sound speakers off the webite www.ebuyer.com but I have checked and they no longer sell them. After so long after purchasing them, I am no surprised that they are no longer on the site to buy. I have however done some researching, I found that you can buy the speakers from the manufacturer Dell, that supplies online direct to the public. I have supplied the website below:
www.dell.co.uk



They are selling a 5:1 system which means that there are 5 satellite speakers and one sub woofer. It can be connected by the cable and also magnetically shielded satellites and centre which means that it is safe to put them near your other equipment eg your television. They have an 40hz to 20khz bandwidth, which means they are incredibly responsive and able to produce sound at lots of different frequencies and wavelengths. Including VAT and their delivery charged the surround sound speaker system is coming in at £78.73p much more expensive that your standard speakers that you can pick up at the supermarket at roughly £5 a set, but considering that the sensational sound that there speakers output, the experiences is worth while investing in. Normal speakers last around a year to two years, these speakers have lasted me 7 years and still going strong.



If you are looking for speakers that are easy to install, have exceptional sound quality, look modern and last for a while, then these are the speakers for you. Having spoken to Dell on the phone trying to find out more about prices they told me that you can buy like what we would call ex display speakers that will be a little cheaper as they would be willing to sell them with 20% off if they have any ex display ones in at that time. Although Dell say that the surround sound speakers have only been tested on Dell computers and that their technical support is only available if used with a Dell system, I have to be honest and tell you that my computer system is not from Dell. To be fair it has to be said that I have no idea what parts my Uncle used to make my computer but I do know that it is obviously not manufactured from Dell. Despite that my computer is not from Dell and the speakers are it is safe to say that the Dell Surround Sound Speakers work well with my computer and the sound is fantastic.



I cannot recommend these speakers enough, it has really changed my experience listening to films, music, and gaming for my Father. As I said before my Father is quite hard of hearing, I tease him that it is old age but to be fair he doesn't see the funny side to it. With its !00 watt combined system, the satellite speakers are 9 watts each, the centre is 14 watts, and the sub woofer is is 10 watts. There is more than enough volume quality and depth for us with these surround sound speakers. I would rate these wonderful, stylish speakers full marks of 5 out of 5 and would also say that the price is worth it for the quality and also for how long that the speakers have lasted for. They have really been 100% worth it. I hope that my review has been of some use to you and helps you in making a decision if these speakers are for you or not. Thank you for taking the time in reading my review, it is much appreciated.

lunes, 23 de enero de 2012

Plantronics P90

The Plantronics P90 is a bluetooth headset specifically designed for gaming consoles such as the Playstation3 - that said, it can also be used with phones and other bluetooth enabled accessories. Last week I reviewed my previous bluetooth headset - the cheap and cheerful TalkNano Pro which, although competitively priced, is somewhat lacking in terms of its build and sound quality.

Price, Design and Specifications
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With a current amazon.co.uk cost of £13.90, the Plantronics P90 is one of the best headsets available in its price range, offering a solid construction and ease of use. The weakest point on the device is the over-the-ear plastic clip, which although a little flimsy, is very comfortable and secure. The earpiece has a rubber surround which also adds to the comfort levels, and the buttons on the unit are located in easy to reach positions. Size-wise, the product is nice and small, measuring only 5 x 2 cms.

Set Up & Use
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Before use you'll need to charge the P90, and this is done by attaching one end of the included USB cable to the top of the device, and the other end into one of the ports on your PS3 or PC. Charging takes a couple of hours, and when fully charged the battery will last for around three to four hours. Like all bluetooth headsets, the set-up needs to be done both on the headset itself, and on the target device - the basic process is as follows;

Activate the bluetooth setting on your PS3 or mobile phone, then use the device's settings to search for new bluetooth accessories. Slide the switch on the P90 downward to turn it on. Now press and hold the square 'Call' button on the P90 until the LED flashes red and blue. 'P90Plantronics' should have appeared on the list of devices shown on your phone's screen (or TV screen if you're using a Playstation). You'll now be asked to enter a pairing code on the target device, and in this case the default entry should be '0000'. To complete the process on a PS3 you'll need to go to 'audio device settings' and select "P90Plantronics" as the default audio input and audio output device.

Sound Quality & Final Word
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For the price, the P90 has an impressive aural clarity - I can hear what fellow gamers are saying without too much distortion. By default the microphone is the correct sensitivity level, picking up any vocals in the vicinity. When in use, a blue light intermittently flashes (showing that the power is on). The earpiece volume can be set via the two buttons on the right hand side of the unit - it's easy to do whilst the P90 is being worn, unlike the volume switch on the NanoTech Pro, which was very fiddly indeed. Overall, I would highly recommend the Plantronics P90 as a headset which is perfect for use with the Playstation 3. Ignoring the thin plastic ear clip, the build of the P90 is top notch and the device as a whole is easy to use.