Review of the HP Pavilion AC114NA Laptop

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Buy the HP Pavilion laptops here from Amazon UK

Memory: 8GB ram
HD: 1TB
Processor: i3 (2.5 GHZ)
Colour: White or Black

That’s the boring stuff out the way. Now here’s my early thoughts on this laptop. Please note: I did not buy this laptop, I won it in a competition. It’s available brand-new for £379.99 GBP as of 02 April 2016. I have only been using the laptop for two days.

My first impressions of the laptop were very nice. It’s clearly a pretty powerful machine. After unboxing I quickly put the battery in its place and charged the machine via the AC adaptor supplied with. It’s no-nonsense in almost every respect. That’s all that comes with the laptop and you’re ready to turn it on and get going.

It comes as standard with Windows 10 which works pretty much straight out-of-the-box. Just a quick bit of set-up and you’re ready to go. The laptop isn’t loaded with too much ‘fluff’, just a bit of standard HP software. Otherwise the machine is fairly clean and ready to start using.

Cons: So let’s talk firstly about what I don’t like about this machine and that is the touchpad. It’s frankly terrible. I don’t know if it’s just my fingers but I find it gets stuck when I try and scroll with it. Compared with my old Dell machine touchpad it’s far less intuitive. The one good point I suppose is you can zoom in and out by ‘squeezing’ your two fingers in or out, a bit like a touch screen on a tablet, but this is not what you instantly would think it would do and therefore you can get caught out and accidentally zoom massively in or out. Not good.

Also it’s EXTREMELY HARD to right-click using the touch pad, and that’s really the only way to right-click if you don’t use a mouse. I found you can just about right-click but you have to go very far in the bottom right to do it. Takes some getting used to for sure. I really cannot get used to the touchpad at all. Maybe it will grow on me but right now I hate it.

There’s also no functionality keys on the system as far as I can see to change the screen brightness. Something which I was just so accustomed to with Dell machines. It’s extremely handy when you’re working on something a bit glary and you wish to turn the brightness down, and then vice versa.

Also I noticed how loud the fan is. If you’re in a completely silent room you will also notice it. I mean I guess it’s a good sign it’s working, it’s just a tiny flaw I suppose about the machine itself.

Pros: So those are the flaws out of the way. Let’s try and coat this review with something positive about this machine. It seems very powerful. It comes with an i3 processor which isn’t the best around but it’s pretty good for a mid-range laptop like this. The display is pretty sharp. It’s trying to be a bit Apple and it does look a bit Apple but it’s still definitely HP.

As for the keyboard: it’s pretty good. I tested my typing speed and it came out 103 words per minute. On my Dell I can type at 150 words per minute. This is because I’m very comfortable on that keyboard, but also because the keys are close together not ‘island style’ keyboard like on this machine, so it’s not going to be a speed demon, but it’s still pretty good. The keys feel well-made and good quality and there’s a fair amount of spring.

Sound: Okay so the best thing about this machine is the sound. It comes with a built-in Bang & Olufsen sound card which produces excellent sound. Even with mid to bottom range headphones you can hear aspects of music not previously heard. I imagine with a really good pair of headphones the sound would be incredible. It’s very crisp and clear. It is the aspect of the laptop I am most impressed with.

Coolness: Another aspect you wouldn’t automatically notice but this machine remains very cool. There’s a bit of heat under the hard-drive but not as much as older machines.

A good no-nonsense machine. I’d say this is a very good family laptop or even mid-range work laptop computer. It would be pretty good on a commute as it’s quite small and light and looks quite neat. This laptop however is not a speed merchant. It’s a bit more of a strong plodder. It would suit work which takes some time and thought. It seems like it can handle the usual software and a bit. The build quality is also good.

Overall verdict: I’ve not really put it properly through its paces in a scientific way like some user reviews could, so have more of a look around on the web before buying. It can definitely handle a bit of word processing, heavy internet usage, and playing of music and videos. The touchpad really lets this machine down though, IMO. Maybe it’s just me. You might want to check it out in a shop and see how it feels before you buy it. That would be my suggestion. Overall a good machine. For its price and compared to other laptops in the range I’d give it a 7.5/10.

Price: £379.99

Get the HP Pavilion from Amazon here.

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Review of the HP Pavilion AC114NA Laptop

‘Easy Winners’

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Oh dear, Chelsea

Champions League 2nd round – Chelsea 2-2 PSG (After extra-time) (Agg 3-3: PSG win on away goals)

What is there to say about this diabolical performance and result? Firstly, the result was almost great. With a tiny bit of help from a poor referee (about time Chelsea had it in their favour for once), Chelsea was very nearly through to the quarter-finals, but instead naive defending and I suppose a bit of justice sent them out of Europe at the first KO hurdle.

The performance, mostly, on the other hand, was terrible. There was such a lack of cohesive dynamism from the midfield, meaning that they didn’t link up with each other and gave the ball away too readily. It’s wrong to pick on individuals, but nearly everyone except for the goalkeeper can be looked at. Diego Costa has now not scored in over 6+ CL games and he never really looked like scoring in this game. There’s something about him being isolated on his own up-front and drifting wide which doesn’t really suit his game. He’s a predator with a natural goal-scoring ability, and you can only score goals from inside the penalty area. So seeing him go wide and try and take on defenders with skill or pace just isn’t going to get him near the target.

Hazard was again wasteful and simply looked to be fouled instead of really providing an injection of anything too great. As always, he coolly took his penalty, but we as Chelsea fans just expect a bit more refinement, really. The entire midfield shape was imbalanced and wrong. Willian should have started on the right as he’s been Chelsea’s best player this season, but instead it was Ramires playing in a weird three, with Hazard out wide and Oscar sort of just flirting around in front of the midfield. All wrong.

What’s more astonishing is that PSG played for 90 minutes with just ten men. Chelsea, usually so good at defending and seeing out games, twice lead and twice surrendered the lead. All credit to PSG, but it’s an opportunity missed by a too inexperienced team.

Footnote: I thought I’d publish this a year on. I saved it in my drafts initially and just left the site alone for a year. It’s the 2nd leg from a previous post. I think it sums up the tie quite nicely, so alas I’m going to still publish it, even if it is massively out-of-date now.

Oh dear, Chelsea

A day in the life of a (slightly unusual) transcriber

From dayinthelife.org

Part 1- Morning

I wake up at 7:30am every single morning. After I get up, I fling my boxer shorts and pants into the laundry basket and hop into the shower. In there, I apply a tea tree oil massaging cream to my face and an aloe vera and ginger body wash onto my body. I stay and soak in there for a good five minutes enjoying the warm water on my body. Some days I’ll wash my hair with shampoo and conditioner, other days not. I usually brush my teeth immediately afterwards and get rid of any stray hairs on my face and back. I like to be clean-shaven, it stops me itching and makes me look younger and healthier.

Once showering’s done, I head to the kitchen where I fire up my Nespresso coffee machine which makes me an Americano just how I like it, with a dash of milk. I sometimes acccompany it with some breakfast waffles or pancakes. I really like sweet foods; they provide me with the sort of energy I need throughout the day, burning off all that glucose with my brain.

Did you know, 75% of your brain is powered by glucose which is stored in your body.

During breakfast I either play some music or have a podcast on. The surround sound system in my living room booms out sounds which I enjoy coming into my ears which doesn’t happen to be a focus group of women talking about toilet paper. It soothes me.

Some of my favourite podcasts include The Fighter & the Kid by Fox Sports, the Joe Rogan Experience by Deathsquad, and Guardian Weekly Football Podcast by the Guardian. They all encompass some of my favourite topics: comedy, sex, relationships, music, football, and American sports. I am particularly into UK grime music at the moment. I like the beat production and some of the lyricism is actually pretty clever. I’m a particular fan of Sir Spyro, Rude Kid and Swifta Beater, to name but three. These guys are all pretty good on the keyboards and putting bass lines together. Some of the better MCs out there are Roachee (aka Richard Roach), Ghetts and Skepta.

Anyway, I digress. Back onto my day and I peruse the web for my other passion: sports gambling, particularly football, where I make my second income, sometimes upwards of £3000 a month (I lie). I write and read previews and betting tips of what I think are good teams to bet on. I have spreadsheets which I work on, taking in as much information as I can on the team lineups, their styles of play, etc. It’s good to know which teams in particular are very strong this season. It’s mostly the same teams, so past knowledge can help at times. I’ve also recently been dipping my toe into the NBA water. There are so many statistics to go on, it can help, but it’s a sport I know only a bit about, so I play with caution.

I drink another coffee and it’s only just gone 10am. I normally sit around waiting for my first piece of work to come in. It can come in any time, it’s unpredictable like that. You have to be ready to go at any time, like Batman. I might work at any time during the day from the hours of 9am right through up until 3 or 4 am. I have been known to pull all-nighters. It really depends on my current sleep/wake rhythm.

The morning is also spent watching the homeless people who sleep in the field next to my home waking from their drunken slumber. There is only one tent at the moment, their other one broke, and they have a windbreak for some weird reason! I’m sure that’ll come in handy in the summer months (lol). I then realise what a privileged position I am in, in my warm flat with the Internet and as much entertainment as I want at my fingertips. But that’s their choice and this is mine. I’m sure there’s something pretty satisfying about being homeless, not having to answer to anybody else. Not having to wear a shirt and tie and be in a place at a specific time and working with people you most probably hate and taking orders from people. I do wonder how they fill their days, though, because, without anything to do, the day can drag quite a bit.

I then sometimes think about the best writers who have ever lived: J.R. Tolkien, Irvine Welsh, Stephen King, JK Rowling, and think how long they must have spent physically typing their books. I can type pretty fast, but I barely make a dent in the first few pages of a chapter as a writer. It is quite astonishing the amount of effort those people put into writing a novel. It is a skill and it’s no real wonder that so many people get so much enjoyment from their stories, because it’s their whole being that’s being put into that book, their heart, their soul, their humour, their own perception of the world, the things they do, the things they say, the way they drink their coffee. Each one is individual and different.

I’m trying to get to 1000 words. I don’t enjoy being conscious of the amount I am typing, but I guess it’s something to aim for. Maybe I need a new hobby. Tennis, perhaps? No work today. That’s typical of a Monday. I usually don’t like working Mondays, if I’m honest. I will happily though, and also happily not. If no work does come in, I’ll likely play Fifa 15 or Far Cry 3 for the entire day, and then feel intense guilt that I didn’t achieve anything worthwhile that day apart from passing a new level or gaining a promotion. Still, one step at a time, right? I’m not even at the halfway point in my life yet, so I’ll still do as I wish, not harm anybody, enjoy the coffee that the world has given me and….

To be continued

A day in the life of a (slightly unusual) transcriber

A Page About Bikes

man-on-bicycle“I want to ride my bicycle”

Freddie Mercury sang that lyric. Is it about bikes? Might be. It could also be a metaphor for anal sex, or drugs, knowing Freddie. So why do people ride bikes? It’s that freedom. You don’t need to go and fill it up with petrol. You just hop on in shorts and spikes and get going. The world is literally your oyster. You can be part of the road alongside cars and other bikes, or you can go off-road into your own world experiencing nature on a bike. A bike is a great way to see many of the canals and toe paths in England. On a sunny spring or summer’s day, there’s really no better way to get around the country and delight in the fresh air and the wonderful serene nature that England has to offer.

London

London is also a great place to see on a bike. That’s why the Boris Bikes were invented. It’s such an ideal place for cyclists because there are no hills. Central London is pretty much all flat. So instead of jumping on the Tube, or hailing a really expensive black cab, the Boris Bikes (sponsored by Barclaycard) were introduced. It’s also a much faster way of getting through central London, as you can weave your way in and out of traffic (being careful, of course! Try and wear a helmet) and find yourself at your destination a lot quicker than if you were in a car or on the smelly buzz of the Underground.

You never see a fat person on a bike

It’s also healthy. You use your cardiovascular system to get yourself around. This is so true, because lugging your extra weight around is just a damned bitch to deal with. So cycling can help you lose weight, as well as appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us. It’s just you and the road.

Tax

The problem cyclists have to deal with, though, are other road users, namely cars. People in cars despise seeing cyclists on the road. The road was made for cars, you see. And it is true to a degree. Cyclists don’t pay road tax, so therefore should they really be on the road at all? It’s a fair enough question, but then cycling on pedestrian pathways might be even more dangerous, as you can run over pedestrians, or even be blind-sided by corners or cars reversing out of their driveways onto the road.

So should cyclists start paying road tax? I think so. Even £15 a year or so to have your bike taxed would alleviate the problems that cars have with cyclists on their roads, and it’s a small price to pay for that peace of mind, I think. Taxing cyclists would also generate a few extra million pounds every year which could be re-invested into the roads to pay for things like cycle lanes (which are brilliant, by the way), or just doing up the major roads in the UK. We all pay £120 for a TV licence each year (well, the vast majority of us do), so £15 to be able to use the roads with your bike seems fair enough. And anyone who doesn’t wish to pay can just use the pedestrian pathways and canal paths like any other person, just watch out for that mommy with the stroller! Maybe get a bell. (Ding, ding) “Excuse me, please. Thank you.”

Riding is fun

You can also race others on your bike. A bit juvenile, perhaps, but going over jumps on a bike is great fun, as is speeding really quickly on a bike. It’s that freedom again. It’s closer to a motorbike than a car will ever be, I suppose, but your legs will feel the heat afterwards.

I like writing about riding almost as much as I like riding, and writing, though never simultaneously. Although…

A Page About Bikes

Write One Page of Shit

Here’s an interesting concept I learnt from micro-blogger and first world humanitarian (I joke, but he’s a pretty cool guy), Tim Ferriss. He was on the Duncan Trussell Family Hour Podcast (pretty cool, you can find it on iTunes), and they were having a little tittle for an hour and a bit mostly about writing.

Tim Ferriss is actually an author, and a goal he sets himself is to write, in his own words, “Two shitty pages a day.” I love the concept. For any writer battling to get things down on the page, setting yourself such a low benchmark is entirely achievable.

Put it this way, if you write two shit pages a day, after a month you’re going to get somewhere. The shit will begin to be filtered out of your words. The first few pages might be drivel, but hidden within there somewhere will be magic, and magic that you can run with and build on.

So I set a target to all aspiring writers, and to keep it simpler, and that is to write one page of shit a day. Open up your Microsoft Word and just get writing, think of any subject you can think of and write until the page is filled up.

Maybe you’re a blogger, an aspiring journalist, author, creative story writer, whatever, maybe you have writer’s block, maybe you don’t. Maybe you just need an outlet for your crazy mind and you have access to a computer. Start that page of shit and it could turn into something beautiful.

I leave you with this quote, “All the greatest food on this planet starts from one thing: shit.” You put carrot seeds into shit and what grows? A beautiful carrot which you can eat. The same goes for words on a page, sort of.

Write One Page of Shit

Excuses to NOT go to the gym

Excerpt From: “The Loser’s Diary”, AKA “Don’t Do What I Do. Com”

Excuses to NOT go to the gym

Let’s be honest about this, most people don’t actually like going to the gym. The losers don’t anyway. Those big muscled guys with more testosterone flowing through their pinkie finger than in some guy’s whole bodies love it, they love to push weight, they get an exhilarating feeling from it, and they love other guys and girls looking at their bodies in wonder and hope that one day they could get that big. The average Moe, like me and you reading this, we don’t like it. It’s a chore for us, akin to cleaning the microwave or the oven (cooker if you’re American). Therefore, when the need for an excuse NOT to go to the gym arises, it’s good to have plenty to-hand…

Excuse Number One – “I have no decent gym clothes to wear.”
Either they’re all in the laundry, (Oh, shucks, I forgot to wash my jogging bottoms again), or you just don’t have anything suitable in the first place. “All I have is baggy tees and jeans, looks like I’m not going for a work out.” Remember, to work out you need either track suit bottoms and a tracksuit top, sports shorts, oh and running shoes. So if you don’t have any of these, DO NOT DARE GO OUT AND BUY ANY. Not owning a pair of shorts is your greatest GET-OUT-OF-GOING-TO-THE-GYM card ever.

Excuse Number Two – “I’ve got nobody to go with.”
This is an easy one for us losers, because basically we don’t have many friends. We all know the gym is a much more fun place to be with somebody. If your good only friend Joey’s out of town, then you can’t possibly go to the gym alone, can you?

Excuse Number Three – “I haven’t eaten enough protein.”
Protein is an essential building block of muscle. If we didn’t eat any protein, we’d pretty much wither away and die. We all know that, so therefore if you’re going to the gym and doing resistance training, you need to eat protein. A diet of cookies and soda is a good enough excuse to never set foot inside a gym again. Who wants to eat beef and broccoli all day anyway? Get yourself down to Krispy Kremes at once, and make it a large soda so you’ve got enough sugar in your system not to have to go to the gym for a month!

Excuse Number Four – “I haven’t washed today in a week.”
Nobody likes a stinky person hanging out at the gym sweating and leaving their stench all over the equipment. If you rarely set foot the other side of your shower curtain, then you’ve got a pretty good excuse not to be hanging out sweating around other people. If you haven’t bathed today, that’s a great excuse not to go to the gym.

Excuse Number Five – “I’m afraid of the bullies at the gym.”
This is legit if you’re scrawny and weak: people will laugh at your attempts on the bicep curl machine. (Ha ha, he’s only pressing 25kgs, look at that pussy!) No one likes to be laughed at.

Excuse Number Six – “I have cancer anyway so I’m going to die in the next four years.”
This one’s also pretty legit. There are plenty of other things you can do with your time rather than trying to sculpt your body: there are zillions of computer games to complete, tonnes of good television series to watch, and then there’s nature: go and stare at a flower or a tree or a horse in a field chewing on some grass. All much better uses of your short time you have left on the planet.

Excuses to NOT go to the gym