Rob's Gadget Reviews
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HP LA2006x Monitor
I got given one of these at work, and it was so good, I got one at
home too! Its beautifully clear, is height and tilt adjustable,
extremely well built, has a USB hub, swivels (although at 900 pixels its
not much use in portrait really...) but all in all, extremely impressive
indeed. Far, far better quality than anything that was available
at PC World!
Samsung Galaxy S II
This replaced a Galaxy S, and was a revelation.
Review Coming Soon!
Samsung Q210 Laptop
Review coming soon!
Epson SX535WD Printer
Review coming soon!
Review coming Soon!
Samsung Galaxy S
(3 out of 5)
Addendum! I feel I must point out that
after the update to version 2.3.3 of the software, this handset was
totally transfomed and I am now a big fan. However the fact
remains that as originally supplied, with version 2.1 of Android, is was
stuffed full of bugs and unusable. I also have now fitted a
3000mah batter which I got cheaply on ebay which makes it far more
useful a tool. If you have one of these handsets, ensure you have
2.3.3 installed (via the standard Samsung Kies software)
My second foray into the world of the Google Android phone and again
one BIG problem - absolutely terrible, terrible battery life. If
you actually use it - you will not make it through a day (e.g. 8am until
6pm) without needing to find a charging point. Why oh WHY can't
they just make it a bit bigger and heavier, and give it a BETTER
BATTERY!! There are 2 solutions to this though - the official
additional battery pack/case which works well once you've figured it
out, and also there are 3000mah batteries available on ebay which make a
big difference, but make the phone uglier.
I also had lots of problems with it UNTIL the firmware upgrade to
Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread).
It does have LOTS AND LOTS of powerful, excellent features but the
battery issue over-rides them ALL. "My phone could do that too, if
it wasn't flat" is a line I am used to saying...
(0 out of 5)
This gets zero because I sent it back because it was unfit for
purpose. The battery life was utterly hopeless, and the physical
keyboard was far worse to use than the on-screen one. If they'd
used the space that the keyboard takes up with a better, bigger battery
- it would have been great but with the rubbish battery, and the rubbish
keyboard, it was just hopeless.
Belkin N1 vision Router ADSL
(1 out of 5)
Disappointing. Crashes frequently, no firmware update available
and the gigabit network ports seem slow. Screen a useless novelty.
I sold it on eBay, and reverted to a trusty Netgear DG834v5
(3 out of 5)
Not really impressed. Its noisy and slow with tricky software.
Looking forward to replacing it.
However, it does the job and hasn't
let me down in 2 years.
Canon Canoscan 4400F
(2 out of 5)
Pretty much unusable and hopeless due to horrible, horribly buggy
inflexible 1990s software. BAD. Am going to sell it on eBay!
Its amazing how bad software can let down good hardware.
Sony Walkman NWZ-S639F
(5 out of 5!)
BESTEST GADGET EVER! Fell in love with this immediately,
and its only continued to impress, surprise and delight ever since.
"I love my Walkman" - and the last time I said that was in about 1987!
Its small, fast, sleek, quite sexy, really nicelymade, easy, sounds
fantastic, is stuffed full of great features like the 'SensMe' thing
which is superb. And it was also cheap! It also comes with
surprisingly great headphones.
Absolutely the only criticism I can level at it is that it wasn't
available in a 32gb or bigger version.
I simply can't recommend it highly enough.
Sansa View 32gb MP3 Player
(2 out of 5)
For my uses, this was completely useless, and I have sent it back!
I was looking for a replacement for my ageing and damaged Creative Zen
Vision:M but I didn't find it in this.
Its interface is very slow and unwieldy when the unit is filled up
with music, in fact it made me appreciate the design of my Zen much more
than I had done. The sound also seemed a bit flat.
On the plus side, its small, thin, light and sturdily made - its a nice
unit to hold in your hand... its just not for me.
Toshiba NB100-12A Netbook
(5 out of 5!)
I've ALWAYS wanted a really small PC, but previously they were very
very expensive. This is instantly one of my favourite gadgets
EVER! Its a full-featured Windows XP machine, with a gigabyte of
ram, 120gb hard disk, 3xUSB2 ports etc, all in a really tiny package.
Its OK to type on, as long as the light is good enough for you to see
the keys! The touchpad is fine, the screen is small, but perfectly
usable - its advisable to set the taskbar to not 'stay on top'
and just let the browser take over the screen. It is the ultimate
little portable BBC iPlayer. I particularly liked the fact that it
feels VERY sturdy indeed.
Downsides? Biggest one is the dark text on the keyboard
- impossible to see sometimes.
The initial software setup, out of the box, was not
great... and would make an Apple fan laugh. I know what I'm doing, but still struggled for a while.
Software was installed that was of no use, or trial software. You
should uninstall the trial bluetooth software (it doesnt even come with
bluetooth) and also MS Office's trial - if you do this, it wont have to
do hundreds of extra updates for Office the moment you connect it to the
Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 5000
(4 out of 5)
My top tips for a pleasurable PC environment? Nice big monitor,
top of the range mouse, big empty desk and big comfy chair! In
recent years I've had bog-standard cheap PCs and not minded as long as
the other essentials are right.
This mouse ticks all the boxes. Nice scroll wheel (horizontal
plus vertical), side buttons for back & forward. The only thing
that could be better is if it was a little bit bigger.
Denon AH-C551 Headphones
(5 out of 5)
Superb. These have transformed my listening pleasure! It
took me a day to realise how to get the best from them (set all tone
controls to neutral) and then I realised what superb little performers
they are. Lovely bass, lovely high treble, and suddenly I was
wanting to re-rip my music collection at the highest bit-rate.
Sony Ericsson K850i Mobile Phone
(4 out of 5)
Good points: Full email client,
fast internet, 5 megapixel camera, great media player, RDS FM Radio, 3
touch-sensitive buttons at bottom of screen work well, screen brightness
adjusts for ambient light,
Bad Points: Plasticky, tricky to
use, small fiddly buttons, smudgy case (unless you wear velvet gloves
the whole time!), looks less professional than its excellent
predecessors (The K750i and K800i). I can't wait to get rid of the
awful Vodafone branding -
DaVinci Team here I come... Would Apple
let them change all the icons and menus and even what some buttons do? I don't think so!
Come on Sony Ericsson - don't let them mess with your carefully designed
interface designs any more!
Sony CDX-A360 car stereo
(5 out of 5)
I bought this for my Ford Puma mostly because it was silver to match
the dash, but also because it had a nice interface that wasn't all tiny
wee buttons. Car stereos should ALWAYS be simple to use - by touch
where possible - but so many nowadays are just smothered with gimmicky
stuff to appeal to teenage boys for some reason.
Good Points: Great sound quality,
relatively easy to use for an aftermarket tuner, looks good.
Buttons can be green or red.
Bad Points: Difficult to turn on!, RDS
tuner and channel surfing has a mind of its own sometimes. Screen
too bright, even when dimmed.
REVO DAB in-Car unit
(3 out of 5)
I couldn't find an integrated DAB CD-tuner that I liked, so I ended
up buying this. I got it for £70, I believe a few years ago that
it was £300. Its designed and engineered in Britain and is fitted
'permanently' to your car, but can be removed again in 30 minutes or so.
It has a stick-on internal antenna, that works surprisingly well.
It can either connect to rear inputs on your stereo, or it has an
in-line FM modulator that fits between the aerial socket of your stereo,
and the aerial plug of your car's FM antenna. This works VERY
well. It cuts off the antenna altogether when you're using the
REVO, and gives crystal clear digital-quality sound quality - no hiss at
all. It actually sounds BETTER than listening to an Audio CD,
which is impressive! You need to splice its power wires into your
car's stereo's harness (I did this without damaging the car's own
harness, by fitting it onto the stereo's harness). You then simply
mount the unit on the dashboard, and run the DAB antenna wire to its
Reception - If FM reception is fair to good, it will work well.
If FM reception is patchy, it won't work at all.
Good points: Excellent sound quality,
very well made, works well when reception is available.
Bad points: Not enough presets.
Buttons on the unit itself need pushed too hard, quite large - where do
you put it!? Mounting remains on view. Too difficult & slow
to rapidly channel surf.
TomTom GO 700 GPS Navigation Unit
(5 out of 5)
I never wanted a SatNav unit. I never really thought I'd need
it much. Then my boss at work was selling his old one, and lent me
his overnight. It took me about an hour, but I was hooked.
Simple things like being able to see what way the road was about to
turn, what thee names of side-streets I was passing were called etc. -
was all utterly amazing.
I bought it, too it home, ran all the updates on it, subscribed to
Traffic and speed camera updates and bought the latest maps for UK and
Times when it has proved most useful have been when finding parcel
depots in the middle of nowhere, friends houses that I'd not been to
before and finding a fast way home from somewhere new. The main
benefit is that it makes driving much safer when you're somewhere
unfamiliar. You can give your full attention to the
traffic/driving, even if you take a wrong turn it leads you back.
Pros: Works well.
Cons: Screen not terribly big or bright. Fairly big
heavy unit (sorted on newer versions). if you unplug the
car-charger, it powers off which is annoying, since it has a 4 hour
Tefal Quickcup (4 out of 5)
Bought August 2007
This radical gadget has replaced my electric kettle - an item found
in every home in Britain. People are commenting that the water
isn't close to boiling but I think if you give it a chance to 'get
going' it gets hotter. I've had no complaints making tea, coffee
and cup-soups. Overall its wonderful and is saving me time and
money every day and partly responsible for me getting to work on time
Pros: Instant hot water (not boiling). Time and money
Cons: Very noisy indeed. Water could be slightly hotter.
Buttons are a bit uncomfortable to use needing a very firm push.
Sony Ericsson CLA-60 Mobile Phone Car Charger
(0 out of 5)
Bought March 2007, Failed August 2007
Brief review - this is not a quality item. It fell apart.
Neat design with its little map light and clips, but i wouldn't
recommend it at all.
Top Up TV Anytime hard disk recorder - Thomson
DTI 6300-16 (2 out of 5)
Bought May 2007 - Could be good if they made it work.
I love this - IF IT KEPT WORKING! Series link scheduled recording is brilliant - I
now have things to watch when i sit down on my sofa! I like the
very fast forward (64x) and I like being able to pause live TV.
I wish the USB socket did something, and allowed you to move recorded
.mpg files to a PC for burning to a DVD - that would be superb.
Bad points : guzzles power, all the time... it can't be switched off
or it would not be able to download the TopUp channels overnight.
It has crashed completely at least 15 times and has frequent corruptions
and other glitches. Buggy as anything. It has no
indicators or display, except to show you if its on or off, and if its
Overall - It would be brilliant, IF IT WORKED.
Creative Zen Vision:M 30gb (3.5 out of 5)
Bought April 2007. A superb little player,
let down by the rubbish supporting software.
UPDATE AFTER 18 months - left out in a puddle in the rain for a day
(by mistake!), drop-kicked across the pavement (with no case) and yes it
still works! A tough little player this one.
Top Tip : DO Not use Creative's awful software - just use Windows
Media Player 11 and you'll be fine. Forget about video and
podcasts, just use it for music.
Absolutely fabulous little iPod Clone which, by all accounts was
superior to the equivalent iPod when launched (2006?) - better battery life, better screen, better sound quality and
a wider variety of supported formats.
Had to set the touchpad to the lowest sensitive, but it still takes
quite some getting used to. Tap & Stroke is the best way to
describe it. The firmware update added some crucial functionality
to the DJ option. Headphones are OK but aren't great.
Good points: It just works!, looks great.
Bad points: Supplied software makes things confusing and is utterly
unncessary for music library/transfer. It would be better for everyone if they just didn't
put any disks in the box.
Netgear SC101 - Network Storage device~ (1 out
I thought this was the answer to my prayers, but it wasn't, and i
took it back to the shop, very disappointed.
What I was expecting was a standard network device, with its own ip
address and web configuration etc.
What I got was a proprietary file system, software that has to be
installed on each client PC and SCSI drivers. It "tricks" Windows
into thinking its a normal physical drive. Why???
It comes with no disks in it, you add 1 or 2 bog standard IDE disks
yourself, and just slide them in - no screws or setup required. If
you add 2 160gb disks, for instance, you can either have 320gb of total
storage, or 160gb of mirrored storage (keeping your data safe if one
But in the end, how safe is it? if the SC101 develops a fault,
you have your data locked in its own file format that nothing else can
A great idea, poorly implemented.
- It gets very hot earning it the nickname "the toaster" - it also
looks a bit like one.
- You have to install software on every PC that needs to access
- It uses a proprietary file format, so you can't just remove a
disk and shove it in a PC. Makes things interesting if the
SC101 itself fails completely.
- Its not very fast, especially in mirrored mode.
- On my media-center PC, the software installation failed due to
an incompatibility with a system driver. I found the answer
through googling, but the answer is not logged on Netgear's site,
even though its a common problem.
- Ability to choose your own hard disks
- Its quite a sexy little unit - sturdy and well made.
Philips X51 "freevents" Notebook PC
(4.5 out of 5)
Bought June 2006. Died December 2008 after constant use during
I'd been looking for a small, light but still fully functional XP PC
but all the ones I saw were well over £1000 which was just too much.
Finally, though, I found this neat little notebook in PC World and
snapped it right up for £750.
I've not had a notebook for years, and then they were just for work.
This one is a little bit sexy while still being business-like. It
has a modern glossy screen which makes movie-watching from the
integrated DVD-RW drive a pleasure. It has a clasp-less lid which
is neat, you just open and close it like a book. It has none of
the old-fashioned ports (PS/2, serial, parallel etc) and has 3 USB2
ports plus firewire. Battery life seems very good at 3.5 hours
plus. It also stays silent most of the time which is nice.
The wireless connection worked perfectly straight out of the box and
maintains a steady strong connection.
Update 2.5 years later - still working perfectly! The case is
battered looking, the minus key sometimes falls off, but it still works
- and the battery even still lasts for up to 1.5 hours.
It refuses to run Vista though... installing Vista just stuffs the boot sector and I have to
sort it myself. (bios firmware update available via TwinHead's
The only negative thing I can say about it is that there's zero
online support from Philips. If you rummage about on Google for
F12DT you discover its a rebadged Twinhead.
- Intel Pentium M 740 Processor 1.73GHz with 533 MHz FSB and 2 MB
- 1024 MB RAM and a 60 GB Hard Drive
- Double Layer DVD RW MultiDrive
- 12.1" Brite Display
- Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
- 128MB Intel shared graphics
Fujifilm E900 9 mega pixel digital camera (3.5
out of 5)
I bought this in haste after my trusty Kodak broke when i dropped it
First, the bad. The user-interface is terrible. Its like
an advert for Kodak. There are numerous features that you'd never
figure out without the instruction book, and i still need the
instructions with me if i'm trying to do anything remotely clever.
And now the good. Its fast. Very fast. The pictures
are great if a little less 'jolly' than the Kodak used to do. The
9mp photos are wonderful - i can crop a photo to make another photo,
still with enough detail to print.
Logitech MX 1000 Laser Cordless Mouse (2 out
I got this simply because it was the only comparable mouse that PC
World had to replace my faulty Microsoft one (below).
I *much* prefer the Microsoft Mouse. It felt more substantial,
especially the scrolling wheel and I also prefer to not have a
recharging base (yet another power pack under the desk). The
Microsoft one just used two AAs which lasted for a year or something.
The software also doesn't seem to work right... I have to turn the
software OFF to make the buttons work properly - and yes I DID uninstall
the Microsoft Mouse software first!
Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 (0 out of
My previous mouse was the first Microsoft optical mouse and it lasted
a very long time until I accidentally broke it... I was very happy with
it until then. I particularly liked the back and forward buttons
at the thumb. There's a principal in car design that the contact
points are very important (steering wheel, gearknob, door handles etc.)
and its the same with computers. So I got the best mouse in the
range. It should also last a long time...
- Good points - the scroll wheel is a
delight to use. Very tactile. It also scrolls
horizontally - clever. The high resolution is impressive -
things are easier once you're used to it - especially tricky things
like graphics work. The cordless facility works perfectly and
the laser means it needs no mouse mat.
- Bad points - the click resistance
on the scroll wheel is a bit too strong. Mouse failed after
6 months. Replaced with a Logitech unit under warranty.
Wireless Notebook Laser Mouse 6000 (4 out of 5)
This is a neat wee thing. Wee being the operative word here...
A single AA battery powers it, and the USB transmitter is housed in the
bottom of the mouse until needed. No cables are required. When
the transmitter is stored in the bottom of the mouse, it fully powers off
the mouse so that the battery should last a long time.
It also has neat wee magnify button on the side which works well on
Part of the reason I bought this was as a partner to the full size
version, so its a shame that it broke!
Sony Ericsson K800i Mobile Phone (2 out of 5)
I bought this to replace my K750i Overall its been a
disappointment, although technically superior in every way. I find it
too fiddly, and too bulky. I do like the camera though.
- Good Points - 3mp camera, big bright
- Bad Points - Annoying small keys which
run together, Vodafone customisations which go a long way to ruining the
phone, camera cover opens and turns on all the time, random crashes and
reboots, smaller memory card available than for the older k750i.
K750i Mobile Phone
(4 out of 5)
This wee phone is great. It lets me do my email on the move, surf
the net (opera mini recommended!), play games, listen to MP3 music and
podcasts and take 2mp photos.
- Good points - lovely screen, great functionality, good battery life (if
you stop playing with it!), Memory Sticks up to 8gb, popular so lots of
accessories & software etc. Frequent firmware updates. Great
media player (good for MP3s and podcasts). Has survived huge amounts
of physical abuse.
- Bad points - joystick intermittently plays up, ringer doesn't go quiet
enough, photos are disappointing (despite their claims that its as good as a
Epson D88+ Durabrite Ultra Inkjet printer
I bought this despite my near identical printer failing due to a simple
paper jam. This was because I'd been happy with every other aspect of
the printer. It seems slower and slightly less good photo quality than
the earlier model which is a shame, but still an excellent wee printer.
- Good points - Excellent resin inks. Good printing on all paper
- Bad points - slow. wasted ink due to head cleaning.
Epson C84 Durabrite Inkjet Printer
(same as C86 model) (4/5)
I knew the pros and cons of this printer when I got it. Great
quality prints in waterproof, fadeproof inks on any paper. Its also
very fast on "normal" mode. Recommended.
- Good points - very long life, waterproof ink that prints on any printer.
Fast (once its on). Easy availablity of high capacity genuine epson
ink on eBay!
- Bad points - head cleaning and wasted ink if you don't use it often.
Printer broke following a printer jam caused by forgetting to open the
Dell 2001FP Flat panel 20" TFT Monitor
I absolutely love this! Its transformed my PC and made everything I
do on it easier and more enjoyable. Highly Recommended!
- Good Points - EXCELLENT big heavy stand that
allows you to move the panel in any direction with no difficulties including
to a great height and rotating through 90 degrees. Beautifully clear
display. Superb 1600x1200 resolution. 4xUSB 2.0 ports which are
- Bad points - 1 dead pixel (out of
1,920,000!). Black isn't black on TV/DVD (although I believe this to
be a limitation of all TFT panels due to the backlight).
DX7440 4 Megapixel, 4xOptical zoom Digital Camera (4/5)
This fantastic wee camera, got cheaply on Amazon, has given me a new
found interest in photography. It is perfect for someone wanting to
learn what all the various settings do.
- Good Points - Excellent, easy to use full
manual controls - great for learning. Great scene modes. HUGE
LCD display. Screw on lens availability (e.g. 2xtelefoto making
8xOptical). Very fast response.
- Bad Points - Original battery was
inadequate (replaced cheaply with a better one). 4MP starting to look
a bit mean. Camera broke after being dropped onto a tile floor.