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Chris Cardell

Electronic Cigarette Review

E CIGARETTE

ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE – WHAT IS IT?

Electronic Cigarette, E Cigarettes or E Cig provides a clean and comfortable alternative to smoking. There are no stale tobacco odours. Your body, home, office and car can be free of ash, cigarette butts, and tobacco smoke.

In many ways the VIP E Cigarette looks the same as normal cigarette and functions just like a regular cigarette. The e cigarette tip glows when the smoker draws on the filter to inhale. The vapour which is inhaled from the e cigarette tank kit offers a realistic substitute for tobacco smoke and even gives the same nicotine throat hit and taste.

E CIGARETTE – HOW IT WORKS

The white body of the e cigarette is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The ‘Cartomizer’ filter is a sealed e liquid container and disposable vaporizer combined. This part attaches to the accessory e cigarette battery. When you inhale, the electronic cigarette battery activates and starts to vaporize the e liquid in the cartomizer or e cigarette refills. The LED tip of the e cigarette glows red while inhaling and returns to standby mode when you stop.

E Cigarette Benefits

E Cigarette is a Smoking Alternative

  • Designed with smokers in mind
  • Electronic cigarettes contain zero tar, no passive smoke and no tobacco
  • There is no pollution or carbon monoxide emitted
  • Electronic cigarettes give off a vapor that resembles smoke
  • Instant nicotine hit just the same as a normal cigarette
  • Provide the same taste in a traditional tobacco or menthol flavour
  • Non-flammable – No burning of substances
  • No ash or cigarettes butts More friendly to our environment
  • No ashtrays are needed
  • There are no lingering smells

E Cigarette is Cheaper

  • E cigarette refills cost far less then tobacco cigarettes
  • Around 80% cheaper than traditional smoking
  • Each cartomizer filter is comparable to 35-40 cigarettes

The VIP E Cigarette or E Cig is a tobacco free alternative to smoking.

VIP Electronic Cigarette products offer users a genuine taste of a traditional cigarette, as well as a boost of nicotine, to provide a genuine smoking experience but without the harmful smoke from tobacco. Instead, the E Cigarette produces a vapour that mimics tobacco smoke. Inhaling the vapour (Vaping) presents the real cigarette taste and delivers the powerful nicotine hit.

VIP Electronic Cigarette Ireland have been at forefront of the e cigarette (e cig) market since 2009, helping replace over 300 million tobacco cigarettes with the VIP E Cig.

more on electronic cigarette: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_cigarette

Hands-on Sony Vaio E Series VPCEB4X0E

The new E-series Sony Vaio 15-inch model is filling the i5 gap in their range. The VPCEB4X0E/BQ was released this month and it’s about time someone reviewed it. As an entertainment machine that you wouldn’t want to lug around, it boasts 3 hours of battery life, which as always is an exaggeration. Featuring a stunning display, incredible resolution and Blu-ray, it’s currently priced at £749 (roughly $1200). This machine is firmly targeted as a desktop replacement for the consumer who doesn’t mind spending a little extra for a few additional features and the Sony brand. It consists of:

2.66GHz (Turbo Boost up to 2.93GHz) Intel Core i5-480M Processor
4GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; supports up to 8GB
500GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm
Blu-ray Disc ROM Drive with DVD SuperMulti
512 MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 Graphics
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Built-in 640 x 480 MotionEye webcam
1000BASE-T/100BASE-TX/10BASE-T Ethernet
16:9 VAIO Display Plus (1920 x 1080 pixels)
VGP-AC19V37 Power Adapter
38.85Wh (11.1V/3500mAh) Li-Ion battery
Built-in Bluetooth and Wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11b/g/n)
3/4 USB Ports, 1 e-SATA, 1 Express Card Slot, HDMI output, VGA output, SD and SDHC reader, Memory Stick Duo reader

As always with Windows machines, there’s a huge list of updates on start-up, mainly operating system security patches, 41 updates to be exact. Sony’s own updater also has 3 updates, including a fairly hefty update for the graphics driver. This has become a standard with Windows machines, but it seems a little silly that after purchasing a brand new and recently released laptop that there should be such a vast number of updates. Similarly it’s bundled with a bunch of software you simply don’t need, so a quick uninstall session is a necessary.

There’s no doubt that Windows 7 has taken a few design elements from Mac OS X, so it seems a little strange Sony feel the need to include their own Dock emulator, which sits at the top of your desktop and will jump down when you mouse over and magnify the icons. It’s a little buggy and on a few occasions it just created a black blob that blotted out half the screen, so personally I would recommend removing it, the new Windows 7 taskbar takes care of unnecessary navigation splendour.

I have no idea what Sony’s thinking is regarding the naming of their laptops. E-Series VPCEB4X0E doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. I can understand why they might take this attitude with Business machines, but it doesn’t feel like Sony are moving with/understanding the market when they’re coming up with these names for their consumer machines.

I like the aesthetics; to a certain type of person it’s beautiful. However I don’t think Sony are putting enough effort into there design and build quality. It just doesn’t compare to Apple (which in my opinion leads in build quality). Granted it is half the price of a comparable MacBook Pro, but I still think more thought and care could be put into it.

Is the machine value for money? I put a strong value on good build quality and although it is largely plastic, which gives it a slightly less classy feel. It is very solid. The HP Pavilion dv6-3118sa comes with extremely similar spec, but lacks a Blu-ray player and only has a 1366×768 resolution all for £100 less (roughly $160). Both these additional features add a lot of value, so overall I do think this laptop is good value and you can’t put a price on the Vaio brand. I haven’t seen the HP up close, but it does seem to be more comfortable with its size, it’s proportioned correctly and doesn’t include a number pad. I’m assuming there is still a market for the number-pad, I would have preferred larger keys and better spacing. The area above the keyboard seems large and unnecessary. It does make way for the speakers, which are reasonable, but overall, you might say it looks a little skewed.

Unfortunately I know very little about Environmental qualifications, but it looks like Sony are making an effort to be environmentally conscious. It’s Energy Star 5.0 qualified and recycled paper or paper from responsible forestry (e.g. FSC-certified) is used for product packaging.

They’ve given the instant Web access an environmental spin, as it allows you to access the Internet within 15 seconds without having to waste battery life on booting the full operating system.

It’s one of those laptops that attracts dust and you’ll find yourself constantly wiping it clean, with this kind of laptop (shiny), it’s really the norm, it’d be nice if Sony could find a way to bring the carbon styling of their high end laptops to their entertainment machines.

The battery does have a lot to power, so the battery life is understandably disappointing, it seems to run down in no time at all, it’s in no way a portable machine, so this shouldn’t be an issue, but don’t expect to finish more than one film if you’re on the move.

Although generally quiet, it does have little bursts of noise. It’s not the coolest of laptops, but then we haven’t yet experienced it get above a normal level of heat.

The graphics card, resolution and array of ports impress, but the average camera, poor battery and some of the aesthetic decisions do not. However, overall this is a very nice laptop and if you’re in the market for a Blu-Ray 1080P HD 15-inch entertainment laptop, you should look into this laptop further. If you have any specific questions regarding this laptop, leave a comment below.

Powerbar 2 Review

Not strictly technology, actually not really technology at all. The Powerbar 2 is one of those products you want to tell people about, just like the new e cigarettes from VIP Electronic Cigarettes Ireland. Essentially, this is a pull up bar that fits to your door frame and requires no screws and almost no assembly.

This updated version has introduced flat rubber pads to prevent marks on your door frame, and new plastic mouldings to prevent damage to walls. The website claims it fits on 99.5% of all single doors anywhere in the world. The powerbar takes 10 seconds to put up or take down once you have worked out how. Once it’s taken down and folded, it’s easily storable. This is a solid, well designed product that vastly exceeded my expectations.

Hands-on MacBook Pro 13-inch June 09

MacBook Pro 13-inch4 days ago (June 11th 2009) Apple moved their 13-inch unibody MacBook into the MacBook Pro family. To qualify this, they lowered the price (backwards?) and improved the specifications. Among the improvements, an enhanced battery (up to 7 hours), elevated clock speeds (up to 2.53GHz), additional RAM (up to 8GB), an SD card reader, FireWire 800, a wider colour gamut and a backlit keyboard as standard. This review is of the 2.53GHz version with standard configuration. Including shipping, it’s currently priced at £1,149 at the Apple Store (U.K.), which as ever, isn’t in our favour (us Brits). At the current exchange rate, if you were to buy the laptop in the US, you’d see a saving of almost £250. It consists of:

2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
4GB (two 2GB SO-DIMMs) of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; supports up to 8GB
250GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm
SuperDrive 8x (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory
Built-in iSight camera
Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T (Gigabit) Ethernet
One FireWire 800 port (up to 800 Mbps), two USB 2.0 ports (up to 480 Mbps), SD card slot
Built-in AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi
Built-in Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) module
60W MagSafe Power Adapter, AC wall plug, power cord

What’s in the box?

MacBook Pro 13-inch Box

Once you’ve taken out the MacBook Pro, there’s very little to be excited about unless power cords, cleaning cloths, documentation and installation disks tickle your fancy. The Apple Remote costs an additional £15, even when purchasing the high-end 17-inch MacBook Pro (£1,849 upwards). You could call it focus or stinginess, either way, any luxuries come at extra cost. For that reason I invested in the “tech air 3506” (for up to 15-inch MacBook Pros), unfortunately realising at a later stage that they do a 3512 version that’s geared towards the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Nevertheless the bag looks great, it has acceptable protection and tons of pockets. Those who work in particularly quiet areas should avoid this bag as the Velcro release is rather loud.

tech air 3506

In terms of mass, the MacBook Pro isn’t light, you might call it reassuringly heavy at 2.04 kg. I’ve personally never used a notebook that feels so well built. The screen mechanism allows extension to roughly 130 degrees. If you require a screen that opens fully flat (180 degrees), this isn’t the laptop for you, although I’m struggling to think of a scenario where this would be essential.

MacBook Pro 13-inch Box Open

Heat output is very impressive, after testing the laptop on a number of different surfaces, the build up of heat is mild at worst. It dealt with carpet extremely well and had no issues with jeans. Noise output, it has none. The laptop seems to make absolutely no noise, to hear anything at all, your ear needs to within an inch of the keyboard.

MacBook Pro 13-inch Safari

Battery life has been lengthened in exchange for full integration (non-removable). The battery is supposedly non-removable, which isn’t entirely true. Once you’ve opened the back of the laptop, battery exchange only requires the removal of two tri-wing screws and a sticker (according to iFixit). This isn’t ‘unlock and remove’ as you’d find on most laptops, but that said, 7 hours is double the life of a typical laptop.

MacBook Pro 13-inch Closed

Apple doesn’t make cheap laptops, that isn’t to say they aren’t good value. People can easily be misled by high starting prices, but when you actually parallel the 13-inch MacBook Pro against comparable laptops, it fairs well. The Dell Studio XPS 13 sits in the same price bracket. From what I’ve read, the Dell manages around 4 hours without AC power, it overheats and sports a mishmash design. The main advantage of the Dell is the ability to switch between discrete graphics and integrated. The discrete graphics provide greater performance, while the integrated provides greater battery life. This feature comes as standard with MacBook Pros 15-inch upwards, but isn’t included in the 13-inch MacBook Pro, either as standard or upgrade. This is one of the greatest downfalls of the 13-inch Pro, with only integrated graphics, some might argue that it shouldn’t therefore be part of the Pro line. Apple has seemingly always been one to skimp on graphics.

MacBook Pro 13-inch Closed

Resolution. Possibly a little low? 1280×800 has been standard on 13” widescreen laptops for as long as I can remember. The 8” widescreen Sony Vaio P-series laptop has a resolution of 1600×768. Now this resolution is blatantly ridiculous, but with that said, the MacBook Pro has an extra 5” to play with and still has a resolution well under the Vaio.

MacBook Pro 13-inch Closed

I’m aware that a number of people have concerns regarding the reflective screen, glass covers the display from edge to edge. If I had the choice I would opt for a matte display. The LED display is bright enough that it isn’t enough of an issue. The laptop when open is a work of art, personally I don’t find the back of the laptop all that attractive, however the lid does provide an enormously satisfying clunk when closed.

MacBook Pro 13-inch Closed

I ran a quick microphone test, the microphone is omni-directional which is a good thing? Probably. Similarly the speakers appear to be more than acceptable for a laptop.

So after I’d installed a few updates and played with PhotoBooth, I decided to see how it would deal with Microsoft’s forthcoming operating system, Windows 7. The installation ran smoothly entirely from battery. I haven’t had much of a chance to test the battery in detail, but I ran it down in around 4-5 hours by leaving it on full brightness, installing Apple updates, partitioning the disk, installing Windows 7 Build 7000 and generally giving it a fairly hard time. Once installation was complete, I installed the BootCamp drivers on Windows, the software didn’t seem to install the graphics driver, which was installed through Windows Update after one failed attempt. Afterwards I could run a performance test using Windows built in benchmarking system. The MacBook Pro scored a fairly disappointing score of 3. Windows’ benchmarking system doesn’t average the scores of your components, but instead takes the lowest score, taking the stance that a computer is only as fast as its slowest component. The score is due to the 250GB 5400 rpm Serial ATA hard disk. The upgrade cost to a 128GB solid state disk is more than £100 greater on the Apple website than by external means. With all the advantages of solid state, I’ll eventually be looking to upgrade to a 128GB solid state disk. It will be interesting to see how much the solid state disk will boost the score. The processor scored highest with 6, while memory scored 5.5, graphics a mighty impressive 5.2 and gaming graphics 4.4. Unfortunately the trackpad drivers created for Windows are plain awful. It is impossible to use “tap click” without tapping when taking your finger off the trackpad and it’s generally far to sensitive to the touch. A number of people on a number of different forums echo my feelings and these feelings are from months ago, so I doubt the issue will be addresses by Apple for some time.

MacBook Pro 13-inch Closed

Mac OS X Snow Leopard will be hitting shelves in September 2009, I talked to support who stated, “I am sorry but neither a set date nor price has been announced for the UK”, the upgrade for those who buy a MacBook Pro between now and release will be around £7. I’ve read some articles saying this is no more than a service pack. A service pack is a collection of updates, Snow Leopard is far from a collection of Leopard updates. It may include few new features, but under the hood it has been re-written in a number of key areas. I believe it will provide considerable performance gains.

The integrated graphics isn’t a problem for me, nor the semi-fixed battery or anything else I’ve mentioned. It’s the trackpad that I have an issue with. I’m fine with trackpads, but for starters, this is simply unnecessarily big, so much so that it’s more “in the way” than an advantage. This along with typical Mac acceleration (the faster you move the mouse, the greater the acceleration) is just something to get used to. Why can’t we just use the infamous ThinkPad pointing device? I’ve always considered trackpads a step backwards, am I crazy?

Finally I’d like to point out Apple’s impressive dispatch and shipping speed, after the order was sent, the laptop arrived in just two days along with the carry case. Well done Apple!

Western Digital 1TB My Book Review

Back in December of 2007 we purchased the USB version of Western Digital’s My Book Essential Edition 1TB external hard drive for £159.99 from Amazon. Since then the price has dropped to £89.98. Ouch.

Western Digital My Book EssentialHaving always purchased Western Digital hard drives and never seeing any disk or cable failures it becomes difficult to understand how so many people see these drives fail. Its either pure luck on our part or people are not treating these things correctly. In reality it’s probably a mixture of the two. Issue number one, putting all your eggs in one basket, one terabyte is still a significant amount of data. If you have the desk space and an extra socket it may be smarter to spread the risk and purchase two 500GB hard drives for a similar price.

Almost 11 months have passed problem free, the drive looks great, its very quiet, fast and we get 931.5GB of actual storage. The software that comes with device is fairly abysmal, as long as your computer is relatively new (less than 8 years old) it should work out the box without the need to install any software or drivers.

On Amazon you might find some odd reviews and some plain untrue, this one probably slots into the ‘odd’ category. Ms. S. Johnson explained how her 6-month-old hard drive failed,

“Apart from the occasional rebooting of explorer from this ‘My Book’ I thought well that’s a quirk – today there was a bump it jumped about an inch in the air (NOTE – IT JUMPED BY ITSELF – I did not knock it – the inertia of the internal failure was that bad).”

Mr. R. C. Dawson stated,

“If you use Mac, do not buy a Western Digital Drive. It will not partition and cannot be reformatted for Mac. There are tutorials available trying to solve this. They do not work. WD support is useless. The drive is a waste of time and money. Avoid.”

This statement simply isn’t true. Our drive is formatted with NTFS and is fully readable by our Mac Pro. Mac doesn’t come with the ability to write to NTFS out the box. However software is readily available that allows you to write to NTFS as well as read from it.

Although our experiences have shown Western Digital to be only a shining beacon of reliability (our 250GB WD external hard drive purchased June 2005 works as if new) there seems to be an overwhelming number of people who would disagree.

Beware when purchasing hard drives, due to moving parts they will never be 100% reliable.

Garmin Forerunner 50 Review

Garmin WatchGadget geeks need exercise like anyone else, however in the time between leaving their place of residence and partaking in a run they can suffer withdrawal symptoms. No longer, thanks to the ‘Garmin Forerunner 50 + Footpod’. The watch acts as a regular, yet rather sleek digital device used for presenting the time. The real beauty comes when pressing the ‘mode’ button that moves you into ‘train’ mode.

While running its possible to check your speed, distance travelled as well as time taken, all this data is wirelessly transmitted from your footpod to your watch. The clever part comes next. Once you’ve cooled down and showered its time to meticulously analyse your journey. This is made possible with the Garmin Training Center, insert the USB dongle (included along with the watch and footpod) into your computer (after previously installing the required software). ANT Agent will allow you to wirelessly transfer the data from the watch to the USB dongle, once the data has been transferred Training Center allows you to view the statistics and a graph of your run or cycle.

Garmin Training CenterOur only gripe is that we purchased too early, bought at Amazon for £64.99 (roughly $100), a few days later we noticed it dropped to £37.99 (roughly $60).

Pros are that it’s affordable, sleek, easy to use, reasonably accurate and wireless. Cons are a less than one-year battery life and an undersized manual.

Powerisers 2008 Model Review

Powerisers have been around for a few years now, with the 2008 model recently released we thought we would give the now heavily tested (hopefully) Powerisers a go. After watching YouTube (an example shown below), we thought that it would be a piece of cake.

Powerisers are jumping stilts that claim to allow you to jump 6 feet high and this claim is substantiated by those flipping over cars on YouTube.

It turns out that its actually harder than it looks… a lot harder than it looks. However, after a few hours of hard, but enjoyable messing about on these bouncy stilts you start to get the hang of it, bouncing and running adequately.

There a lot of fun and I think well worth a purchase, we got ours from Skatehut.co.uk and they seem to work very well. At £199.95 they aren’t cheap, but we still think they are well worth a gamble! If you need help on how to quit smoking, this will give you a good bit of exercise!