Categories
reviews

Nokia 5800 Long Term Review

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic is a smartphone and portable entertainment device by Nokia. It was introduced on October 2, 2008 and released on November 27, 2008. Code-named “Tube”, it is the first touchscreen-equipped S60 device by Nokia. The version being s60v5. It’s part of the XpressMusic series of phones, which emphasizes music and multimedia playback. The touchscreen features tactile feedback. (Wikipedia)

I’ve had a Nokia 5800 for almost a year now. I was really excited when I bought this phone last year. My first touchscreen smartphone! It took some getting used to, having mostly been a Nokia S40 user. It didn’t take long, and in fact now I try to press the screen when I use older phones!

The phone itself does all the usual things and frankly, there are many in-depth reviews out there. Here are a few:

I love this phone. It’s the best phone I’ve ever owned. It’s not perfect by any means but the pros outweigh the cons!

  1. I love the on-screen keyboard for entering texts. It will switch from portait to landscape mode when you turn the phone on it’s side. When I first bought the phone I could use predictive text in both portrait and landscape mode but the latest firmware upgrade changed that. In landscape mode I can’t use predictive text now. That sucks.
  2. The GPS works reasonably well though. Using Windows or Mac OS X software you can download maps for your area to the phone. Unfortunately the GPS chip in the phone is Assisted GPS. It makes a network connection almost every time it needs to find it’s location. I actually bought a data add-on simply because the phone seemed to “leak” data for no apparent reason but it was probably because I had loaded Nokia Maps.
  3. Nokia recently made their navigation system free of charge and it works, sometimes well, sometimes not. Unfortunately it sends us driving in round about ways on occasion. Our journey may be directly down a road but the map told us to cross the river, drive for a bit and then drive across a bridge further up!
  4. The camera is decent enough. It has a flash too. There’s a plastic cover over the lens on the back and unfortunately it cracked. I bought a cheap cover on Amazon but now the light leaks from the flash so I usually disable it when I can.
  5. Reception is very good. Phone calls don’t drop very often, and texts go through all the time. Data calls drop occasionally, and will drop back to Edge if required. No “grip of death”! (har har, bet you’re all sick of that now aren’t you?)
  6. My favourite apps would have to be Gravity, a Twitter application, and Opera Mini for browsing. Opera Mini loads the mobile version of Gmail and Google Reader quickly and display them with little lag. There’s also the free Youtube app which is excellent but I prefer to use a computer for watching videos. I also have numerous free apps and games installed, almost all from the Ovi store.
  7. The Ovi store is Nokia’s application store. It’s basic, but it’s quite good. You can search for apps, and sort and display by different criteria. Only want free apps? There ya go! Installing is a sinch, but it would be nice if they made reviews more accessible. You have to click through to them.
  8. Battery life is pretty good too. If you’re browsing the net and making phone calls it’ll last well over a day but add GPS and suddenly battery life drops like a bomb. If it has to hunt for a signal that hurts too unfortunately.

So, there it is. The Nokia 5800 is an excellent phone. It’s not perfect but I can heartily recommend it.

My next phone? I already bought it. It’s the Samsung Galaxy S, an Android powered smartphone. While the 5800 is an excellent phone it’s showing it’s age. Using the new phone is like moving from Windows 3.11 on a 486 to Windows 95 on a Pentium. Hmm, time to update my analogies?

Categories
Games

Kontrol Freek FPS Freek review

FPSFREEK

The FPS Freek by Kontrol Freek is a small attachment for the Xbox 360 or PS3 controller that helps players aim more precisely in first person shooters or FPS games. There’s a Speed attachment too for racing games.

The FPS Freek snaps on to the top of the controller sticks so your thumbs have to physically move further to make the same in-game movement. This is supposed to help when you want to make small accurate movements, especially useful when aiming at a small distant figures in a shooter such as Modern Warfare 2. From the blurb on the product page,

The added analog stick length provides 40% more linear distance from full stop to stop. This gives you more leverage and increased precision without disturbing your natural gaming playing feel.

I’ve been using it for a week and while my gaming has improved a whole lot, it was improving any way because I was getting better with practice. I don’t think you’re going to see a dramatic improvement in your gaming by using the FPS Freek.
I tried increasing the sensitivity of the controller, thinking that the extra leverage of the thumbstick would help but it really didn’t, and I think it’s back at 3 in MW2 now. At that sensitivity I can aim fairly well. With a silenced Scar-H I was able to make a few kills at the other side of Highrise, but on the other hand, a distant crouched enemy-in-waiting in Estate shot me while I attempted to aim at him.

The FPS Freek is comfortable to use however. It probably has helped my gaming but it’s not the major leap you might think. Learning how to use a mouse and keyboard properly was better for my gaming than using this, but of course you can’t use a mouse and keyboard on the Xbox 360. All you PC gamers will know what I mean!

In the US it costs $10 but here in Ireland or over in the UK you have to buy it from Lime. I think it cost me the equivalent of US$29 including (for some reason) registered postage of about 7 Pounds Sterling. I had to sign for it when it was delivered. At that price it’s not great value for money, but at $10 it’s an impulse buy I could live with.

In theory the science is sound. The extra length of the stick will give you more travel and room to aim precisely but if you’re not a good gamer this won’t work miracles. If you panic when you’re confronted by an enemy on a map, you’ll still do that. If you don’t use a game’s maps to your advantage now, then buying this won’t magically make you immune to enemy fire. It may help you aim if you’re sniping. I’m still using the FPS Freek on my right thumbstick however, it’s comfortable.

Buy it only if you have $10 burning a hole in your PayPal account. Don’t buy it if you’re outside the US, it’s not worth it.

Just don’t expect miracles.

Just so you know I haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, here’s a few glowing reviews:

Short video review of the FPS Freek

Impressive accuracy at custom sensitivity 7 in COD 4, but then this guy is hardly a newbie at the game!

Categories
Ireland

Last Friday we stayed in a West Cork B&B

This weekend we stayed in “Aisling Heights”, a B&B in Clonakilty, County Cork while attending my cousins wedding in the area.

It was my first time in a long time staying in a B&B but I think I may be back because it was a great place to stay. After ringing them, we were met in the town and guided back and helped with our bags.
All the rooms in the house were immaculate and exquisitely decorated. As (bad) luck would have it I didn’t photograph the rooms themselves but check out the photos of the hallway and living room below! If you’re tired of staying in yet another shabby, run down hotel, give this B&B a go. Beds are fairly comfortable, rooms are nice and large and light pours in as there is plenty of space around the building. Breakfast is fine, lovely fry up, toast, tea and cereal and it was very competitive at 35 Euro each for the night.
Our 2yro Adam stayed for free although they didn’t have a travel cot so we brought our own.

Anyway, many hotels in this price range (and more expensive!) are in a shabby state of repair and understaffed, so you owe it to yourself to spoil yourself with the picturesque surroundings of this delightful B&B. Call them at +353-23-8833491. (More photos and details are available on this page.)

Categories
Movies

Terminator Salvation Review

So, the reviews are mixed but mostly bad but don’t let them put you off. I went to see Terminator Salvation last night and, maybe because of my low expectations, I enjoyed the movie!

The movie won’t strain your brain cells, it’s a pure action film with huge robots, explosions, fights and a mostly straight forward story. If you loved Starship Troopers, I think you’ll like this film!

Categories
Games Wii

Metal Slug Anthology

Metal SlugThe Metal Slug series of games is over 10 years old now but I only came across them for the first time last year through MAME, the arcade emulator. The games are run and gun shoot em ups with great hand drawn graphics, and frenetic gameplay. You can read about the first game on Wikipedia.

Metal Slug is a series of run and gun video games first released on Neo-Geo arcade machines and game consoles created by SNK. It was also ported to other consoles, such as the Sega Saturn, the PlayStation, the Neo-Geo Pocket Color and more recently, the Game Boy Advance, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS. There is also an anthology of the first 7 games in the main series (including Metal Slug X) available for the Wii, PlayStation Portable, and PlayStation 2.

They’re great fun to play, and with an Xbox 360 controller hooked up to my computer the experience in SDLMame was as close to perfect as it could be. When I saw Metal Slug Anthology for the Wii in Gamestop and for only 25 Euro last weekend I had to buy it! All those games in one package, on one CD? How could I resist? Unfortunately I should have checked the reviews first. Metacritic gave it 73%, but the first user review points out the huge flaw that makes all the games totally unplayable.
Metal Slug

Once you’re in a game, the default control has grenades set to motion control. If you’ve ever played a metal slug, you’d know that these games are hard, and require split second reactions. There isn’t time to shake the controller up and down. Fortunately there’s 1 control setup that uses the gamecube controller. But with just 3 buttons, it’s baffling why they couldn’t have used 3 buttons on the wiimote.

There are a number of different control configurations, but all are just as hopelessly bad as each other and I don’t have a Gamecube controller. A shame really because they’re arcade perfect conversions. As they should be. Credits for the game include M68k emulation so I presume the exact same code is running on the Wii. Why oh why did they screw it up with a crap control system?

If you really must play Metal Slug, the first game in the series was also released on the Wii virtual console and supports the classic controller. There’s also SNK Arcade Classics Volume 1 but besides Metal Slug it doesn’t seem to be a good value compilation.

Even though the control system is all messed up in the Wii version of Metal Slug Anthology, I’m glad I could support SNK in some small way. Back to SDLMame for me though.

Update! This morning I played Metal Slug on the Wii using a knock off Gamecube controller and it rocks. Sure, you still have the lengthy loading times at the start but otherwise the controllers are fine. Here’s the controller screen and a shot of my “Gameexpert” Gamecube controller. Bought that in Zavvi at a knock down price!

metal-slug-wii-controls

gamecube-controller

Categories
Food reviews

Stix Bar in Beaconsfield

For lunch today we went to Stix in Beaconsfield. It’s a lovely restaurant in a picturesque area outside London, with a car park right next to it.

Before I go any further, the owners are related to Matt so I could be accused of being biased. Still we had a great lunch there. I ordered a burger, the others ordered various tapas portions and Adam had chicken goujons, chips and peas and hasn’t been as relaxed in a restaurant since he was a tiny baby and slept through our excursions to a local restaurant in Blarney.

If you’re ever in Beaconsfield, make sure you visit Stix and say hi to Suzy, Steve and Dan!

Styx Bar

Styx Bar

Styx Bar

Styx Bar

Categories
Food When-in-Ireland

Dinner in Aroma

Just a quick note at the end of the night. My sister took care of Adam (thank you so much Mairead!) while Jacinta and I went out for a fabulous meal in Aroma on Emmett Place in Cork. It’s a Thai/Chinese/Malaysian restaurant and I’ve never been disappointed when I eat there. In fact we’ve brought lots of visitors there, including Matt if memory serves.

The Thai fish cakes are scrumptious, and I ordered the a beef dish with a Malaysian curry sauce. The meat practically melted in my mouth and the curry was nice and spicy. It can be quite busy but we arrived early at 8pm when only a few tables were taken. Service is great with attentive staff. Compared to other restaurants in Cork, prices for an evening meal are reasonable.

We’re definitely going back!