Month: March 2009

The Ricoh CX1 Reviewed with one word… Awesome! (Cameras)

Posted by – March 31, 2009

Ricoh CX1
DigiCamReview have reviewed the Ricoh CX1 with just one word: Awesome! They go on to say that it’s the best Ricoh digital camera ever made! It features a 9 megapixel CMOS sensor that means high speed shooting – 4fps at full resultion – low ISO noise – and enhanced Dynamic Range mode that saves detail in shadows and in the sky – their sample photos do a good job of showing this in action. The camera also features an excellent wide angle 7.1x optical zoom lens, high resolution 3″ screen with 920,000 dots, and a compact metal body. The only problem is the price, it’s currently around £299!

Olympus EVOLT E-450 Digital SLR Announced (Cameras)

Posted by – March 31, 2009

Olympus E-450
Olympus have announced the new Olympus EVOLT E-450 – an update to the E-420 – the camera features a 10 megapixel sensor, 3.5fps shooting (upto 8 RAW shots), three new art filters (pop art, soft focus, pin hole – details here), improved live view 2.7″ screen, perfect shot preview, TruPic III+ image processor, ISO1600, depth of field preview, and compact flash / XD card support. It will be available in May priced at £450 with kit lens.

“31 March 2009 – Building on the success of the popular E-420, the new E-450 is packed with features that encourage new comers to DSLR to have fun and explore their creative potential. Three in-camera Art Filters apply stylish effects to any image at the touch of a button. Image composition is simplified via Live View on the bright LCD. Packed with features yet easy to use straight out of the box, this latest addition to the Olympus E-System range is not only one of the smallest and lightest models on the market*, it also boasts all the benefits of the Four Thirds Standard at an affordable price. The E-450 has a full range of Olympus’ innovative E-System technology on board and will be available in stores from May 2009 at a recommended retail price of around £450 for the standard lens kit.”

VW Passat Common Faults 1.9TDI Sport Estate… (Cars)

Posted by – March 30, 2009

VW Passat common faults / problems: plenum drains blocked – can cause expensive problems, brake pads wearing quickly, brake servo, filling with water, water leaks, etc. check with dealer to see if yours is affected by a recall (US class action). MAF Sensor – fails may need replacing, can cause performance problems. Waterpump fails and should be replaced at the same time as the Cambelt. Glow plugs on high mileage cars (£80 to replace). ISOFIX not necessarily standard but can be fitted at a later date (guide here). Changing brake pads not necessarily a DIY job, but cheap at independant garages. PD engines need VW PD Spec oil (VW 505.01). Drive shafts. Turbo failure at high mileage. More details at 800pixel wide photo uploaded using gallery2.

Polaroid x530 Battery Information XB903874 (Cameras)

Posted by – March 28, 2009

The Polaroid X530 uses the Polaroid XB903874 Battery – rated at 3.7v, 1020mah – the same battery as the Olympus LI-12B and Li-10B, and SANYO DB-L10. A full list of cameras that use this battery can be found here. (pictures from DigiCamReview)

Skoda Fabia MK2 1.2 HTP (70bhp) Estate Thoughts (Cars)

Posted by – March 27, 2009

(IMG: 400pixels x 2 wide blogger hosted) Engine / Performance: Performance isn’t the right word for this car, however, the engine does have a gruff growley sound when pushed, it’s just a shame the car doesn’t accellerate in the same way as it sounds. When idle the engine has a wobbley character about it that wobbles the car, this is especially noticable when stopped at traffic lights (most likely due to the 3 cylinder engine). The engine is adequate to set off from lights in a nippy enough way, and keeps up with traffic.

Handling and Driving: The biggest problem I found when driving this car was the general feeling that I was driving a van – the car seems to tower over similar class cars, and you can’t see the front of the car. There seemed to be little feedback from the steering or wheels. The car has a light steering and a light clutch so is easy to drive.

Interior and space: Suprisingly spacious – seemed more spacious inside than the MK1 Octavia – makes me wonder why cars are different sizes when the insides always seem the same – ie they almost always easily fit 4 people in them. ISOFIX as standard in rear – large car seats and toddlers fit with space for their feet, even with a 6foot tall person in the front. Unfortunately the front passenger seat isn’t adjustable for height. The interior ceiling is high with lots of head room.

Sound System: This was probably the base model (Fabia 1) as it only had speakers in the front – but these sounded suprisingly capable with good bass and treble. The CD unit is the same that is in the VW Golf, with seperate treble, mid, bass controls and loudness settings and radio text, so was quite impressive, however there was only AUX in (next to the handbrake), and no USB in.

Other things: Doesn’t seem to have a temperature guage on the display – how do you know when the engine’s at normal running temperature? ISOFIX labelled up nicely, but one of the fixings is inbetween the seat belt sockets (which could be a little awkward). Full size spare wheel provided (Bridgestone) – cars go on about safety and 5 star euroncap ratings, and then provide a space saver spare wheel which in my opinion makes the car unsafe! AC provided, ands works well.

Overall: Priced at around £9.5k, and considering it’s a nice enough car, but nothing particularly stands out about it, I’d be considering a KIA Ceed or Hyundai i30 for a similar price, especially as these come with 7 or 5 year warranties. But I suppose if you want a “smaller” car from a quality “budget” manufacturer then it could be a good choice.

More pics: (click to embiggen)

The Polaroid x530 (Cameras)

Posted by – March 27, 2009

Photo taken with the Polaroid x530 – 800pixels wide.

Teapigs Yerba Mate energy brew (Tea)

Posted by – March 27, 2009

Teapigs – yerba mate – energy brew – 15 tea temples – £5 GBP from Coffee Union – cheaper on the website. The back of the box said it was a “love or hate” kind of tea, so I had to try it. It’s native to South America and it’s meant to “increase focus and alertness while helping with detoxing and weight loss”. Apparently – I find it soothing and relaxing, with a real “…aaaah” (and relax) sensation. It’s got a slightly smokey aspect to it and reminds me of Masala Chai tea, but with a sweeter end of cup taste. Great for work day afternoons it’s relaxing and soothing, but doesn’t make you too sleepy. (from

Roasting your own coffee beans – WOW! (Coffee)

Posted by – March 26, 2009

(IMG: 490pixels) I used Sweet Maria’s oven roasting method – Gas mark 9 (500 degrees) to roast the green beans for about 10 minutes – the roasted beans and grounded coffee came out looking roughly the same colour as store bought beans / ground coffee, but the taste! WOW! Soo smooth and divine, with LOTS of crema, when compared to store bought beans that tasted SO bitter. (Admittedly the store beans were a couple of weeks old).

Definitely a must try if you are setup with your own bean grinder and coffee maker then you absolutlely HAVE to try roasting your own coffee beans!

Dell Vostro 1510 Laptop Review (Laptops)

Posted by – March 26, 2009


The Vostro 1510 from – £316 including VAT and Postage (with £50 off, plus a further 10% off). It’s very dark in colour, and not very shiney from this angle. After the faulty advent I think I’ve finally got a bargain of a laptop to replace the Inspiron 1300.

The laptop scores well in Vista, although is let down slightly by the graphics, and 3D graphics scores. Aero is supported, but scores would be higher if a dedicated graphics card was chosen. The Vista experience scores are: CPU: 4.8, RAM: 4.8, GFX: 3.5, 3D GFX: 3.5, HD: 5.1 – giving an overall score of 3.5.

The Dell Vostro 1510 features a 1.8ghz Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, 250GB HD (WD), Vista Home Premium, DVDRW (slot loading TEAC), 15.4″ widescreen, SD/MMC/MS/Pro memory card reader, 4 USB ports, WIFI (plus physical on/off switch), Firewire, a shiney sparkly black lid, a catchless closing mechanism (magnets? weighted shut?), a nice blue circuit board with easy access to the CPU and memory.

Some pros and cons, starting with the pros:
+ EXCELLENT price!
+ Good screen, clear, bright
+ Good sound (quite loud for a budget laptop)
+ Little installed software (Google gadgets, toolbar easily removed)
+ Very easy to access memory, CPU etc
+ Quiet – very little fan noise (as far as I can tell)
+ Plays Spore

– \backslash key is next to the forward slash key on the right!
– Mouse buttons are too deep – it’s like pressing a key (I prefer a firmer click)
– Drivers out of date according to Windows update.
– lacks a scroll wheel (some games require this)

originally posted Sep 2008 (on another site)