Having first seen an early example of this product at a Panasonic hosted event in Munich, early last year, it has taken until now for me to get my hands on a sample for reviewing. I have to say the wait was worth it.
What was often referred to as “that box in the corner” or the “goggle box” has now become the dominant and central feature of numerous living rooms. At the same time televisions has shrunk considerable in depth but increased in width with many families feeling they could not manage with anything less that a 40-inch display for their viewing pleasure. However not everybody has the space to accommodate one of these wide screen offerings.
This time it’s not security for a PC but for a home. I have been testing this range of items all held together by a service since the late autumn. While you have a camera or cameras you also have switches for doors and other items.
For some placing a heat sensitive light outside to light them up their path at night is a safety measure, for others they see this as security to deter a potential intruder. Others have a burglar alarm box showing in full view of the road, some of these boxes maybe live, others are dummies. The drawback of these is that they tell intruders you consider you have something worth stealing. The Halo approach is to tell you what is happening when you are not there.
A pre-Christmas evening of magical card manipulation introduced me to a new camera from the Panasonic range. This was a pocket camcorder device.
Cisco has its Flip, whether of the Ultra or Mino variety; Kodak offers users a choice of its PlaySport or PlayTouch models; and Sony is pinning its faith in the Bloggie. With this in mind you might expect Panasonic to come up with something equally memorable as a title to bestow on its initial offering for those looking to purchase a pocket camcorder. In its wisdom Panasonic has decided that HM-TA1 will really grab public attention.
Gather your casino chips together as we are off to Las Vegas to solve a mystery in a hidden object escapade.
As part of its extensive range of casual game titles, Avanquest has released Mysterious City: Las Vegas. Unlike the other numerous game titles in its portfolio, Mysterious City: Las Vegas has been released as a downloadable product only. I am unsure as to the reasoning behind this decision which does seem a little strange especially as Avanquest is charging the same price for the download version as it does for its other boxed game offerings. The actual download is 53MB.
I have been fortunate to have this longer than a standard test which means I have been able to test a larger range of software and hardware with it than normal. This is a high end offering and the differences can be found.
It is black but not that horrible shiny black that shows every finger mark, this is matt black everywhere apart from the keyboard surround that is a sort of slate marble finish but still a lovely matt finish. It is 37x25x3cm in size. The weight is a little under 2.5kilos. The front has a discreet SD card slot along with a row of seven tiny LED’s. The left side has VGA out, HDMI out, USB port, E-Sata port and 3.5mm sockets for microphone and earbuds.
The arrival of a product with the number 6 attached had me thinking that I had missed out on the first five titles in the series but that was not so.
To avoid any confusion I should make clear that Designer Pro is not a brand new product from Xara but rather the new name for what was the company’s flagship graphics title, namely Xara Xtreme Pro 5.0. With this name change, Xara has taken the opportunity to carry out a major make-over on the product. At the heart of this latest version of the product is a new UI (User Interface).
Unlike the earlier version of this – that I was ashamed to be seen with in public – I have been happy to be seen reading this in public. In case you are wondering why the first one needed to be used in private it was PINK.
The time the Sony Reader, Pocket Edition (PRS-350) is a more normal silver colour. Being a pocket edition the size (or lack of) is important, it is 14x10.5x1cm and it weights 150grams. Being able to use it outdoors during the winter can test several things, the effect of light and tempreture being uppermost in my mind. This is E Ink and as such having a page open uses no power at all, the only drain on power is when you turn a page and the new words need to be reprinted on the screen.
Two interesting little gadgets both connect via USB and for regular readers only one is from Brando. A USB powered electric razor is something to keep in a desk drawer. The mouse has bolder claims 'change the way you will use your laptop'.
Certainly the smallest mouse I have ever used and a great alternative for those who just can’t get on with a notebook trackpad. It is a maximum of 5.5x4x3cm and weights only 25grams. There are no cables as it is a wireless mouse and even the charging of the battery takes place via USB. The wireless sender is also tiny at 2.7x1.5x.5cm and it is magnetised. Mine was black with a red left side where your right thumb sits, the rest of the controls are controlled by your next finger.
You would have thought that notebook users would be satisfies with the device’s touchpad rather than spend extra on a mouse but often this is not the case.
A squat black box, this will be unlikely to pass the lounge police – unless they are goth – but it can be used wirelessly, however for those with no fashion taste – like me – I am only interested in quality of printing, copying and scanning.
The Canon Pixma MP495 measures 42x32x15cm when closed, put paper in the rear tray for printing and the second figure the depth increases by 4cm and lower the front output tray adds a further 16cm, finally raise the scanner lid by 15cm to get pages onto the flatbed. So a total size to put on a shelf - for instance – 42x52x30cm should allow you to use it. The scanner lid is flush to the top and opens landscape towards the waiting paper stack at the rear.
I have to confess that the continued popularity of digital photo frames has surprised me a little to say the least. Initially I suspected that they would be a passing fad and would quickly loose their original appeal for users.
Mixing together adventure game play with hidden object finding and puzzle solving set in an undersea environment is a game that will run on the Windows or Mac platforms.
With the type of opening that immediately grabs your attention, Empress of the Deep: The Darkest Secret introduces you to a beautiful young woman as she is awoken from a deep sleep to find herself in a vast and mysterious undersea temple. She quickly learns that she has been in a frozen state for over a hundred years but has no idea who she is or why she is in this location.
I have owned a Flip since the very first model, to me anyway, it is the best pocket camcorder, the latest software release has improved the compression algorithm when sending items to other people, making it even better.
Recently my own first generation Mino developed a fault, I was lucky the first time, a night to let the battery go flat and it recovered, then a few weeks later it did it again this time there was no recovery so this came along just at the right time. The new Flip Mino 8GB measures 10x5x1.5cm and weights 100grams. It looks very swish to me; mine was black with all but the back a lovely matt black that does show any finger marks. Sadly the back is a shiny black but finger marks rub off it okay.
Adding to its popular Aspire One family of products, Acer has released the D255 model. This is a 10.1-inch netbook.
As with the Aspire One Happy reviewed recently, the D255 model is a dual-booting netbook giving the user the choice of opting to use Windows 7 Starter Edition or Google Android 2.2. While the review unit, as supplied by , came in Diamond Black, I believe other models are available in Aquamarine, Sandstone Brown, Ruby Red and Seashell White for those looking to be a little different. As you would expect with a netbook, size and weight are a prime consideration.
As my search continues to find a perfect HD box with PVR I move onto this Humax box that I first saw it as a prototype in early summer, now deep into winter one has arrived to be thoroughly tested to see if it meets my high standards.
As so many boxes fail to deliver power through the pass through when in standby that became one of my first tests, after changing a few settings (it does now peak at just over 1watt) it can deliver a perfect signal in standby. The reason it does not do this out of the box I was told is that ‘standby’ standards demand less than 1watt of power. It is 37x25x5cm but add another 3cm to the 25cm depth for any cables.
Some of the pocket camcorders can also take still images. This unit from Aiptek can take still and movies in 2D and it can also do the same in 3D. It has built in software to allow an interface on the PC, all fine in theory.
The Aiptek 3D HD Camcorder measures 11.5x7x2cm, the middle figure the width reduces to 6cm below the TFT screen which is 5x3.7cm. Viewing 3D images on the units screen is quite impressive, however you will not see 3D on your computer just a red and green haze on the edges of items in it. The same can be said for movies 2D are okay but 3D is a mess. The front of the unit has twin lenses 4cm apart and twin microphones 1.5cm below the lens.
Archos has brought together media player features and Internet tablet functionality with the Android operating system
A lot of people want a second TV and with the Digital switchover due to be completed next year that old portable will only work with an external box, so now might be the time purchase a TV that can also be a replacement panel.
The ACER AT 2358ML LCD TV/Panel measures 55x35x4cm and comes with a stand (attached by three screws) to this TV/Panel; the stand is 32x14x4cm. The viewable screen size is 51x29cm giving the notional imperial screen size (measured diagonally) of 23inches. One of the few weak points I found was how you attach the three screws into the units stand. You are of course likely to do this only once but you will probably curse their connection for a long while.
As hard drive increase in capacity so does the demand for faster data transfer. Verbatim offers a solution.
The arrival of USB 3.0 brings with it the promise of a data transfer rate at 10 times faster than that achievable with the previous version of the technology. However not everybody has a computer system that can currently take advantage of this new technology due to the lack of suitable USB ports. Fortunately USB 3.0 interface cards are becoming available so that existing systems can be upgraded to accept the faster data exchange rate from appropriate devices.
Tropical fish, coral, air pumps and match-3 game play are bad on the menu as Playrix returns to its popular Fishdom series.