Category Archives: Film, TV, Books and Music

Just shows….

That American cars are :- A : built like crap (out of crap) and B : Handle really poorly…

I’ve never understood American cars. Yes the V8’s SOUND good, but come on, 500hp from a 6ltr V10 (in the Viper). In Europe we get that in our 2ltr runabouts (or near about).

Funny anyhow, oh and I’ll let the Corvette Z06 and the Dodge Viper off, yeah there ‘rubbish’, but they have character.

24 Season 6 Leaked

24leak.jpg24 Season 6 episode 1, 2, 3 and 4 have been leaked onto the net. The episodes first appeared on an Asian BitTorrent site, and now are available pretty much anywhere.

If you want to download them and have a look what it's all about then they are available on Easynews

Episode 1 , Episode 2, Episode 3 and Episode 4 

They are just brilliant! Jack back to his best.

The talk however is will it kill off Fox's launch of season 6 next week? Well no, most of the people that will download it and are in the states will watch it anyhow, plus the other people not in the states are just going to download them anyhow, go get them, and get into the season early.

The source of these episodes seems to be a leaked copy of the Season 6 Disk 1 disk getting out into the wild.

Review: Sandisk Sansa 6GB

Sandisk is a well-known and respected name in the solid state storage market. Up until recently, it was not really known at all in the media player market. They are, however, obviously a quick learner: recently they became the number two seller in the market, behind Apple, with the SanDisk Sansa 6GB.

The design of the Sansa will be nothing new to anyone who has used an MP3 player in the past. There is certainly a homage to the iPod in this device with the rotating wheel.

The Sansa is thicker than Apple's Nano, but this is no bad thing, as what it lacks in miniaturisation, it makes up for in its screen and abilities.

The Sansa has the ability to play video, as well as display picture slideshows. This is great for watching music videos and the like; however, I would not like to watch a movie on it as the screen is just not large enough. That said, the screen is a good one; it shows a good level of clarity on the device's menus. There's also the ability to record audio using either the supplied microphone, or the device's built in microphone.

The player is well bolted together as well. The back of the device is metal, and the front seems to be fairly resistant to scratches and scuffs. The left hand side of the device has the slot for a MicroSD expansion card, a great idea if you need a bit more space.

The interface itself is quite intuitive and easy to navigate, but it is not without its issues. For one thing, it would be nice to be able to tell the device to play an album, rather than having to select first the album, then the first track. The playlist functionality could also do with a tweak or two.

There are a couple of little niggles in the hardware as well: the record button – used to activate the microphone – is unfortunately set on the left top of the device; if you use it with your right hand, it is very easy to press by accident. You do get used to it, though. There is one other technical issue that is not so easy to solve – there are four buttons around the scroll wheel, and because of the height of the scroll wheel it is sometimes difficult to easily press them when needed.

The USB connector is a proprietary interface, forcing you to carry a cable for the device around with you. "Why?" you may ask! You do not get an AC charger in the box, so the only way to recharge the Sansa is via an active USB port. This would not be a real issue if you could use a standard USB cable, as almost everyone has one hanging around. There is also the potential problem of being more likely to lose the cable if you're carrying it around all the time.

While I am talking of issues and USB cables, it is worth mentioning that you cannot use the device while it is being charged. As soon as you plug it into the PC the device goes into its sync mode and stops playing. The difficulty this causes is not necessarily in the playback, but rather the problem of when and how do you charge the device? You cannot use it while it is charging, and if you have no AC charger you'll have to leave a PC on overnight to charge it.

The Sansa is a PlaysForSure device, and as such the synchronisation software — for music at least — is Windows Media Player. I know this may sound controversial, but I welcome this feature in a device! iTunes is one of my personal pet hates; I just cannot understand why Apple insist on forcing it upon people (I personally use AnaPod Explorer instead).

Connecting the device to your PC is simplicity itself. If you have Media Player 9 or later, it is just a matter of plugging the device in, selecting which music to sync, and click the sync button. If you don't use Media Player, you can just drag MP3 or WMA files onto the device straight from explorer, as the Sansa shows up as a drive under "My Computer". It's also worth noting that the device uses the USB Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) interface by default, and as such any media software that supports MTP will be able to synchronise with the device. It can be switched back to the older USB Media Storage Class (MSC) format for greater compatibility.

I tested the device in MSC mode to check the performance, which, for the curious, isn't fast enough to use it as a ReadyBoost device in Windows Vista. As you can see to the left, the actual performance of the device as a flash disk is not that great, but it does outperform the Nano ever so slightly.

This makes synchronisation over USB 2 quick and painless. The same can be said about copying movies to the player, but although this is easy, it is a little disappointing that it cannot be managed from inside Media Player.

Sandisk ship a cut-down version of ArcSoft media converter to do the video encoding. The device supports MJPEG video at 15fps, and the Sansa Media Converter software does a quick and decent job of converting and copying the video to the device. It is a bit of a pity that the player does not use WMV and the Media Player synchronisation. This will probably not be an issue; as I mentioned the device's screen is really not large enough to use as a video player in any real sense, but you could get away with a cartoon or two. The same software allows you to convert photos for use on the device, and is just as simple to use.

One part of the device we could not review here is the FM receiver. This is because, in the EU, the radio is — bizarrely — disabled due to tax laws. If you purchase an E series device outside of the EU, then you get a radio as well.

Sound

The most important part of an MP3 player is the sound quality, and here it is just fine. Testing the device side by side with a 4GB iPod Nano showed no definitive quality issues, and one surprise was that the headphones bundled are not useless! They're no Sennheisers, but they're not bad at all for freebies.

Speaking of Sennheisers, I tested a set of MX550s on both the Sansa and the iPod Nano, and playing the same tracks on each player showed that the iPod Nano edges out the Sansa in the upper range. That said, the Sansa definitely has the edge in the low range. Because of this, choosing purely on sound, it comes down to the sort of music you listen to. If you are a fan of bassier music, the Sansa will most likely sound better.

Worth noting here is that when a low bitrate MP3 was played, and the music was complex, the iPod Nano was certainly the better sounding device. If a 128k MP3 was used on the iPod Nano and a 128k WMA on the Sansa, then the Sansa edged the Nano out.

The difference was not noticeable with files at 256k and above, but it's worth noting that the WMA files where smaller than the equivalent MP3s.

The one thing that the iPod Nano can do musically that the Sansa cannot is gapless playback. Now, it's new to the iPod range as well, but at the moment the Sansa has a slight pause between tracks. This may be resolved in a future firmware release.

Conclusion

So then, should you buy one? There are certainly some issues, but none of them are great enough to put you off. Depending on the way you use the device, the charging issue could be a stumbling block. The device is far cheaper than the equivalent iPod, and not needing to use iTunes is always a bonus.

The Sansa also has more features than the Nano, and as such is better value, and probably the better choice.

That said, the iPod has a style that has captured the public's affections. As such, that's the device that is more likely to be bought this Christmas, even if, in reality, the Sansa is the one Santa should be supplying.

The names Martin, Aston Martin

Well, ok this is actually a review of the new Bond flick Casino Royale. I'm going to come at this review from a strange perspective though (as the title might suggest), so if your looking for a 'proper' review then pop over and see Dan's site.

No my review is not going to be of the movie, no, rather it will be of the movies stars – The Cars.

Before you dismiss this as a bad idea, think about it, has there ever been a bad bond car?

Let's go through the list, but here I will add a warning, it get's nerdy from here on in, so either be a car, Bond or ideally both fan before continuing.

Bonds car in the Flemming books was not as most people think an Aston Martin, no it was 1930 Bentley Convertible, complete with a 4.5ltr supercharged engine. It was actually mentioned in the Casino Royale book as Bonds hobby. Flemming however got his dates wrong, as it's stated that he bought the car almost new in 1933, then in Live and Let Die states it was a 1933 model, however the 4.5ltr SC ceased production in 1930. Flemming later corrected his error in the Moonraker book.

When the movies were released however the car was given a staring role rather than just the sideline role the books had given it.

Possibly the most famous Bond car is the Aston Martin DB5. This appeared primarily in Goldfinger, Thunderball, GoldenEye and now in Casino Royale.

The car was also the one to introduce us to the Q branch of MI6. It was the car to receive the standard bulletproof panels and revolving number plates and the famous ejector seat.

The Aston Martin DB Mark III was used by Ian Flemming in the Goldfinger book. However the DB Mark III was not used in the movie, and was replaced with the DB5 above.

The reason for this was one of sponsorship. The DB5 was the car that Aston Martin had for sale in the early 60's, where the DB Mark III had gone out of production in 1959 to be replaced by the DB4/5.

You only live twice did not feature many cars, instead the star of the motor show was the Gyrocopter called 'Little Nellie'. There was however a very special car featured in the movie, even if most people will not notice it. Toyota actually built two 'one off' 2000GT Convertibles. These where the only convertible versions of the 2000GT ever built, one is on show in the Toyota headquarters in Japan.

The next movie brought back the Aston Martin. On Her Majesties Secret Service saw a new Bond (George Lazenby), and it also saw a new Aston. The Aston Martin DBS was used by the Australian Bond. The car did not have a big part in either of the movies it featured in (it was also seen in Diamonds are Forever). It did however steal the scenes it was in. The car was in the pre-credits, and it was also the car Bond got married in. Diamonds are Forever also included the Ford Mustang Mach 1 Fastback.

The Man with the Golden Gun featured a reduced car line up (in the sexy car stake that is). There was the Silver Shadow, but the car that everyone remembers is the AMC Hornet, yup the one that does the corkscrew jump.

The Spy Who Loved Me brought another one of the memorable Bond cars. Yup it was the 70's and the first of the Lotus Esprit's to feature in Bond.

This Bond car was the most Q'd up car yet. It was not only a mobile gun platform, but a submarine as well.

The next Lotus was the Esprit Turbo. There was actually two Esprit's in this movie, Bond has the white one blown up (security system) at the beginning of the movie, and is then provided with possibly the worst colour Bond car ever, a burgundy Esprit Turbo.

Octopussy featured no Bond cars as such, however it is interesting in that one of the cars used in the movie (Bond steals it in a getaway) is an Alfa Romeo GTV 6 Quadrifoglio, rare and possibly the best Alfa of the period.

Timothy Dolton took over the role of Bond in The Living Daylights. In this he was equipped again with a Q'd out Aston Martin. This time it was one of the best sounding cars of all time, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante.

GoldenEye introduces another couple of names. Those names are BMW, Ferrari and Pierce Brosnan. The Ferrari in question was a F355 GTS. In the movie Bond races Xenia Onatopp down a mountain side in his DB5. Now we all know in the real world Bond would not stand a chance. But the sequence is good, and shows off some nice driving. The movie also famously has the T-55 Tank chase sequence. The Bond car however was a BMW Z3, it was the first non British Bond car, and is only actually seen in one scene of the movie.

Tomorrow Never Dies has an excellent scene with a BMW 750iL. Bond uses the car to escape the bad guys in a chase sequence inside a multi story car park. The nice thing about this car is that the writers obviously realised that a German car for an English gentleman was not perhaps the greatest marketing choice. They where however stuck with it having signed a 3 movie deal, and decided to play on the Germanity of the car. The 750iL features a female computer voice with a very 'German' manorism.

The World is Not Enough featured the last of the BMW cars. This one was the BMW Z8 and also did not feature highly in the movie. This is the last time that Desmond Llewelyn hosts the Q role. The car get's cut in half late on in the film.

Die Another Day brought Aston Martin back to the Bond car role. The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish is used in the last of the Pierce Brosnan movies. This car along with it's sister Jaguar XKR are used for some of the big segments of the movie. There is a great car chase on ice. The Jaguar is the bad guy car and has as many toys as the Aston Martin. The Aston however can cloak itself, and uses this to save the girl.

That brings us gloriously onto Casino Royale. The star car of this show is again the Aston Martin DBS. However this is the new DBS, and is one fine looking car.

It's based on the Aston Martin DB9, but where that looks pretty, the DBS looks purposeful.

The DBS comes to an unfortunate end in the movie, but by then has already stolen the heart of the petrol heads amongst us.

The car does not feature as a moving object quite as much as it possibly should, and is not as gadget laden (maybe) as some of Bond's previous cars. It does hint at a gadget laden underbelly though. The car after all saves Bond's life (twice if you count the fact he does not die in the accident). Aston Martin have stated that the DBS will go on sale next year, and although it will not be quite the same as the Bond edition, it will certainly keep all the important parts of this stars character.

The DB5 also makes a welcome return in a guest appearance, if only breifly, the old dear is still looking and sounding great.

There is one unwelcome sight though. The new Ford Mondeo shows it's face at the start of the movie. It's not that it's a bad car, or even that bad looking. No it's just that it's not a Bond car!

We all look back at Bond movies from the past 54 years and know that all the Bond cars have got that, well, Bondness about them. The Mondeo however will not hold up to that, in 15 or 20 years time it will just be an old Mondeo no matter how many shiny bolt on's they put on the car.

That said it's not in the movie for very long, and if the producers had to pay Ford Motor Corp to use the DBR by using the Mondeo, then it was worth it.

To the movie then. I would say it's a cracking Bond film, and all the Daniel Craig neigh sayers (myself included) have been proven wrong. He is a good Bond!

The book is well honored, even if it's all been updated like Texas Holdem instead of Baccarat. The torture scenes have come across well from the book.

There are some great action scenes, the Parkour scene at the beginning of the movie is well done, and very cleverly shot, and the part is played by Sebastien Foucan, who is widely considered to be the father of the sport.

The little niggle in the movie was that the Sony brand showed up FAR too often. I don't mind a bit of product placement, but the brand was everywhere in the movie. That said Ford did a good job as well, not only was the Mondeo and Aston featured, there was Jaguar and Land Rover as well.

All I can say is, go and watch it yourself, it's a good movie. Long live bond, and hurry up with Bond 22!

Transformers Transformed?

It seems that the General Motors is trying to up it's brand by 'sponsoring' some of the Autobot's.

First we had the news that Bumblebee has become a Chevy Camero concept, he was a Beetle for feck sakes! hence the name!

Then there was Brawl, he is now a Ford Mustang! and to add insult to injury, poor Ratchet will be a Hummer!

Now I'm not sure about those three , but the last is the best, Jazz will not be the Martini Porsche 935 race car, instead he will be a Pontiac Solstice, the car is not even worthy to be said in the same sentence as the Porsche!

I don't get it, and all though really looking forward to the movie, may not bother to go and watch it purely because of this product placement fiasco!

Leave them alone, GM, please get bought before the movie is finalised, Continue reading Transformers Transformed?

Peter Cullen

optimus1.jpgPeter Cullen was announced yesterday at Comic-Con as the voice for Optimus Prime.

Peter Cullen was of course the original voice for the Autobot leader, and he return fo rthe feature is good news. Now all we need is the voice of Megatron to be finalised (Frank Welker is still rumoured).

Oh and if you have not seen it, head over to the official site and have a look at the teaser trailer. 

Top Gear

The new season of Top Gear aired over the weekend, boy was it good (Download it here if you have an EasyNews account).

They had the new Micra CC (in shocking pink), the Koenigsegg CCX (and the Stig crashing it!) a new reasonably priced car (a Chevy Lacette, or to you and be a Daewoo ;)) with a bunch of 'stars' taking it round the track (looks like it's about a second quicker than the old Suzuki Liana).

This weeks set piece was 'Make a people carrier convertible', which they did using an old Renault Espace, very amusing. I recommend a download if you have not seen it.