Cinematic 2

Well I’m pleased to say that the grand home cinema room project is now finished! Carrying on from where we left off last time, I’ll talk you through the pictures.

The next steps were to paint and wallpaper prior to laying the floor.


Then I set about laying the laminate flooring (something which I had never tried before, but which was thankfully pretty easy).


And once the floor was down, I hung the curtains.


Next job was to tidy everything up with new skirting board and architrave. I had it delivered pre-cut into approximately correct lengths, so I painted it prior to installation – note the improvised system to raise it up off the floor!


I chickened out of fitting the skirting myself – I know a rather good joiner who came and did it for me (took him about 2 hours – it would have taken me all day and it still wouldn’t have looked as good).

Once the DIY was all finished, I went shopping!


And then came the fun part – getting everything up and running! All the components (with the exception of the TV) were the same as the ones in my old house, so I was familiar with the setup and it all came together very quickly.

Here’s some photos of the finished result:






So there you go – finished! I’m really pleased with how it has turned out, and after the grand premiere (Avatar, in case you were wondering) I’m very impressed with the sound and picture too. Already I’m starting to think of future upgrades (better speakers? Wall mount the telly? Projector?) but for now, this is very nice indeed.

Posted in 5.1, Audio Visual, Blu-ray, HDTV, home cinema, Lifestyle | Leave a comment


And so it begins… after testing out the concept for a couple of weeks last year, I’ve started the official conversion of the garage room into a “proper” home cinema.

The room was initially a garage, and the the previous owners converted it into an office, complete with desktops, masses of power sockets, nasty fluorescent lighting, carpet tiles glued to the concrete floor and a weedy electric heater. It wasn’t a very “cosy” room to say the least.

The plan was/is as follows: New insulated floor, raised up off the concrete underneath; installation of a decent radiator, fed off the existing pipework in the adjacent utility room; strip lights removed and replaced with adjustable downlighters; speaker cables chased into the walls terminated at a binding plate; relocation of power sockets; laminate floor, painting, new skirting and architrave.

So here’s a few photos.

Firstly, the subfloor, complete with nice warm Xtratherm insulation:


And the boarding over the top of it:


And the ceiling spotlights…


Speaker cables fed through wall cavity down to below skirting level:


And the binding plate on the main wall:


And finally the radiator!


At the moment, I’m enduring the tedium of painting everything, and then I’ll be wallpapering the main end wall which will be behind the TV and AV equipment. Then it’ll be on to laying the flooring before tidying it all up with skirting and architrave. Once all that’s done I can reward myself with a brand new 40-inch TV! I’ll post again when I’m a bit nearer to completion.

Posted in Audio Visual, DIY, HD, home cinema, Lifestyle, TV | Leave a comment

Little and often


When I was writing the 2011 review of the year the other day, it didn’t take me very long to read through all my blog posts – there were very few! I can blame that on all sorts of things (mainly moving house I think).

So, for 2012 I’ve decided to go with a “little and often” approach. There will still be the larger “how to” posts when a subject demands it, but I figure I quite liked having my blog as a more regular snapshot of what I was up to on a day-to-day basis.

So, depending on your point of view, this will either be a good thing or the worst idea in history. Your choice.

Anyway, today is notable for two reasons – firstly, I’ve just taken delivery of some new cycling clothing, as it is my intention to actually ride that very expensive and lovely road bike that’s in the garage. Secondly, I’m sat typing this in a new coffee shop called Victus. I decided to be radical and spurn Starbucks in favour of a new experience. How very 2012.

Posted in 2012, blogging, coffee, cycling, Lifestyle | Leave a comment

Gadget Review of the Year – 2011

Well, if I’m going to do a review of the year, it had better be right now because there’s only five hours of 2011 left.

Things were a bit lean on the gadget front this year, mainly because I bought the ultimate gadget in June, a new house! We had been talking about moving for some time, but we finally decided to bite the bullet and go for it. We weren’t prepared for quite what a massively time-consuming (and to be honest, stressful) thing this would be, but it’s done now and we’re settled in nicely.

Other than that rather expensive purchase, I managed to acquire a new Xbox 360 Slim (after the other one suffered a rather drawn-out demise). It’s a much more sleek unit than the old one, and having 250GB of storage is a bonus. It has also proved its worth as a decent media player too, as I’ve been using it as a stop-gap DVD player and media streamer in the lounge.

I also got a second Apple TV for the bedroom, and I also got round to migrating my iTunes library onto an external hard drive to free up space on the iMac. I’ve been upgrading a lot of my music to Apple Lossless, and ripping a lot of DVDs, so having the extra storage has been pretty much essential.

Other than that, in November I retired the HTC Legend and managed to finally get my hands on the Gadget To Rule Them All, an iPhone 4. This is, it goes without saying, quite the most magnificent thing in the known universe and why I didn’t get one sooner is beyond me. Obviously, I considered the new iPhone 4S but ultimately it came down to money, so the 4 ended up being the better deal. iOS5 is excellent, and it has already become indispensable.

The final gadget acquisition of 2011 was an Apple Magic Trackpad for my birthday just a couple of weeks ago, and like all Apple gadgets it is superb – it really takes advantage of Lion’s multitouch features, and now I’ve got used to it I can’t see myself going back to a mouse any time soon.

And I can’t let it go without saying that 2011 was a sad time for the gadget world when we lost Steve Jobs. We won’t ever see another quite like him.

So goodbye 2011, and let’s hope 2012 is filled full of gadget-goodness for you all. I have my eye on the home cinema conversion for starters – let’s see how that one pans out!

Posted in 2011, Apple, Apple TV, Computing, Gadget, Gaming, iPhone, iTunes, Magic Trackpad, Mobile, Review | Leave a comment

iPhone, therefore iAm

If you’ve been hanging around here for long enough, you’ll remember my inner turmoil back in mid 2010 when I was trying to choose a new mobile phone. I eventually settled on the HTC Legend, and in the main I’ve been pretty happy with it. Android is a fairly decent operating system, and the availability of decent apps improved immeasurably in the 18 months that I had the phone. My main gripes were to do with the hardware of the phone itself, rather than the operating system. Firstly, there was nowhere near enough onboard storage (the phone was constantly telling me it was running out of space) and the screen was a bit small for web surfing (and more recently, Kindle reading).

So anyway, my 18 month contract came to an end and it was time for me to choose yet another new phone. Would I go Android again? Or would I, just maybe, finally opt for the iPhone? When the iPhone 4S was released, I was – like everyone else – a bit disappointed by it being just a gradual evolution of the iPhone 4, rather than an all new iPhone 5.

But at the same time as Apple showed the world the iPhone 4S, they also sneaked out – with little fanfare – a cheaper, 8GB version of the iPhone 4. With it being effectively a “last gen” phone with less storage space, Apple were asking a very reasonable price for it.

I’d heard a lot of good things about the Tesco phone network, and in particular their good-value 12 month contracts. I figured if I could manage the upfront cost for a handset, then 12 months would be ideal.

The amount of minutes, texts and data on offer for £25 a month were more than enough, but the handset prices were still a little on the high side. If I wanted the latest-and-greatest iPhone 4S then I’d have to find £335 for the phone itself. However, if I was happy to slum it with an 8GB iPhone 4 it would only be £200. Talking to friends who were still stuck in their iPhone 4 contracts for several more months, but who were still incredibly happy with the performance of the 4, I decided this was the way to go.

And here we are. I’ve now had the 8GB iPhone 4 for a little under 2 weeks, and I absolutely love it. I realise it’s not the 4S, but compared to my wilderness years without any iPhone at all, it is just brilliant. So finally you can hear the end of my “I wish I had an iPhone” moaning. It’s here, and it’s staying.

Posted in Apple, contract, iOS, iPhone, Mobile, mobile phone, Tesco | Leave a comment