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Squash balls - The best AV upgrade you’ll ever make!

Short and sweet this one but I’m still surprised how few people know about this trick.

Over the last few years most homes have acquired at least a box or two under the TV that contain moving parts. Almost all set top boxes have a fan of some sort in them, any that record programs have a hard drive. Blu-Ray or DVD players not only spin discs at (relatively) high speeds but tend to have fans in there as well. All those moving parts create noise and that can lead to some issues especially as more and more TV stands have glass shelves…

The worst offenders are those stands that have ‘floating’ shelves where only one side is actually attached to the stand. Any movement or vibration from a device can cause the shelf to vibrate in sympathy making the noise that much louder! In my case my Virgin TiVo box is almost constantly running the fan and the result is a quiet but noticeable high pitched buzz. Lift it off the shelf and virtually all the noise goes away.

Enter the humble squash ball. At around £5 for a pack of three they’re probably the cheapest bit of AV kit you’ll ever buy but they can make a huge difference. Take a ball, cut it in half, repeat with a second ball and presto - instant vibration dampeners! Whack ‘em under the four corners of whatever’s making the noise and you may be amazed at the results.

Now, granted, they’re not the prettiest things you’ll ever use and it adds a couple of centimetres to the height of your kit but look at it this way. If they make no difference you can chuck ‘em out and you’ve only spent a fiver. On the other hand if they do improve things you can either keep ‘em in place or go looking for something a little sleeker albeit at a higher cost.

Review – Frozen Blu-Ray

Ooooh boy, this is going to be a giggle. Yes, I’ve finally had a chance to catch up with the huge hit animated movie of 2013 now that it’s come to Blu-Ray and am about to spill many words commenting, praising and – yes – criticizing this film. Which, frankly, is a bit scary considering the near-fanatical following Frozen has amassed. But undaunted I shall plow on not letting this influence me in any LOOK! It’s the Goodyear Blimp!

Quick, while they’re distracted, everyone else join me after the break and shut the door behind you!

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Review - Samsung UE55F8000 

For all technology there is a ‘sweet spot’ when you get the best possible value for money. On mobile phones, for instance, you want to be in as soon as possible during a product’s life cycle while games consoles are usually better left until their second or third year. TV’s are often somewhat trickier to judge as models get replaced every year but often the new offerings are very similar to what’s gone before. Even when new technology does come on to the market it’s a fine line judging when best to jump in. 

Right now we’re just seeing the start of the shift to 4k sets which promises to be a significant improvement. Coupled with OLED displays finally coming in to production models and hinting at price drops you’d think that now would be a good time to hold off any new purchase and wait. I’m not so sure though. In fact I just dropped a large chunk of money on a new Samsung set a month before it was getting replaced! I’ll explain why right after these messages…

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The sad state of the PS4 and Xbox One media centres…

There’s a suspiciously head-shaped dent in my desk at the moment and it’s all the fault of the ‘next gen’ consoles! You see we’re currently in the middle of a refurbishment on our (rented) house and I took the opportunity to upgrade the TV to something a bit more comfortable for my old, tired, IT manager eyes. At the same time I thought it may be nice to finally put the original PS3 out to pasture and treat myself to a nice shiny new console to play my discs and pull my (legal I hasten to add) movies from external hard drive. Silly me…

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