It is not unusual for a product category that has been developed to provide a specific function to undergo a metamorphosis and emerge as a multifunction device covering different tasks. One example of this trend can be seen with eBook readers.
Ebook readers were originally conceived as a means to store your personal library of favourite books allowing you to read the text in digital format. Features such as bookmarks, note taking and electronic dictionaries were added without distracting too much from the original core aspect. Now, however, we are seeing devices appear that place both music and video on an almost equal footing with the eBook capability. Falling into this category is the Binatone Readme Daily product.
As an unnamed detective you are sent from the capital to investigate a series of murders and rumours of a werewolf being responsible that have left the citizens of a small city in fear of their lives. This is the premise behind Shadow Wolf Mysteries: Curse of the Full Moon, a Hidden Object Adventure game that is currently available from Focus Multimedia in Collector’s Edition format.
As is usual with Collector’s Edition format, you get the main game, spread over eight chapters, with an integrated Strategy Guide plus a bonus chapter, wallpapers, screensavers, concept art and a soundtrack with sheet music. You will need to complete the main game before gaining access to the bonus items. When starting the game you have a choice of playing in Regular or Expert mode.
This is a hot and cold water dispenser, hot means very close to boiling and cold means cool. Unlike water from a tap it goes through a filter (needs changing after six months) and a UV lamp (needs change after a year).
This is the home or small office version, available in a range of colours and I tested one recently in my home. It is 43cm deep (with cup tray open) 35cm tall and 27cm across, these are the actual figures I needed space wise. When you purchase one it needs to be plumbed in to a cold water supply.
The Android influence continues to grow as Google’s operating system appears on DECT handsets.
In the past I have looked at, and used, different DECT phones either as a single unit or in various combinations. All these handsets, from manufacturers such as BT, Panasonic and Doro, adopted an upright position when mounted on the accompanying docking station. This next DECT phone, however, prefers a more restful inclination as it lays flat in a sideways position on its docking station.
Serif’s PagePlus X5 is the latest upgrade of a well-established DTP program that already meets a great many user needs ranging from business and Christmas cards through to multi-page documents. A large number of individual improvements have now been made in this new version that, overall, enhances its versatility and ease of use.
Even when installed on a Windows 7 machine, where many of the newer applications will employ the Ribbon interface, it still has a traditional look. This makes upgrading from previous versions a straightforward task as well as being very convenient for those users who are conversant with Microsoft Office 2003 and earlier. This is particularly useful as PagePlus is widely seen as the DTP for business users.
While Pure are best known for DAB radios, this is certainly far more than that, I can remember a couple of units that have CD and another few that have Internet Radio, here the Sirocco 550 has the whole range of items.
The unit is 22.5x33.5x12cm, the middle figure (depth) is with the supplied wire radio aerial inserted in the rear and the last figure (height) without an iPod or iPhone inserted, even one of the smaller iPods will add around 8cm. The speakers are quite beefy at 17x25x26cm, these have 13cm mid range speakers and 2.5cm tweeters all in black wood.
Here a child’s first computer from a company known best for really young children’s toys. Second a set of walkie talkies great fun for kids but they also have a serious use for when normal phone signals are not available.
A child's first notebook aimed at 4 to 9 year olds. While it is a toy it is also an educational product what used to be called edutainment. Unfortunately they missed the first chance to make the child appreciate their toys by placing it in packaging that really cannot be used again as even removing it carefully really does not give you anything to replace it in. It is 23x18x2.5cm and weights 575grams with the required 4x'AA' batteries (not supplied) that are required to make it work.
With a title of Queen of Spades you would expect playing cards to have a major role to play and you would be correct. As part of the Haunted Legends series, this Collector’s Edition is a Hidden Object Adventure game that is available from Focus Multimedia.
Queen of Spaces casts you in the role of a police Inspector who has drawn the short straw by being next in line when the previous officer goes missing in mysterious circumstances when conducting an investigation. You are ordered to investigate a haunted mansion owned by a strange countess who is rumoured to possess a mysterious deck of powerful playing cards that are believed to give their owner everlasting life.
Last year I told you about my freezer purchase, since then I have asked several manufacturers for review units, most seemed not interested but when I met a gentleman from SMEG at a recent event he was, so here is there current offering.
SMEG are best known for their high end retro fridges. Here however a fridge freezer that still has that retro look, however the energy rating is A+, just like exams the smaller the letter the better for energy use – it costs less to run. They do a range of ten colours. Mine was pillar box red but even brighter and the finish is exactly like a brand new car, what surprised me was that even after two weeks of use it still looks bright and shiny after a damp cloth wipe-over.
While a product that I use on a regular basis, this next title does have a feature that annoys me from time to time. That time being when I install a new version.
When faced with a new software product, your first experience of the software will be with its installation routine. While many software packages make this introduction to a title as user-friendly as possible by keeping the user intervention to a minimum, this is not always the case. Sometimes an installation will go out of its way to make things more difficult than they need to be.
It is time for all heroes to gird their loins and come to the aid ofHellasin the latest version of Alawar’s match-3 game. Will you answer Athena’s call?
Heroes of Hellas 3 is not just the third game in this particular series but also a game that belongs to the match-3 category. Unlike some of the other titles that fall into this genre, you are not expected to make your own groups of 3 or more similarly embellished tiles by moving adjacent piece but, instead, locate already existing groups within an assortment of playing areas.
It’s been a while since I have indulged my passion with you, but here is probably the best guitarist in the UK. Yes I have heard Jim Mullen and Martin Taylor and numerous others but for me Nigel Price has an all round quality to his work.
I have been lucky enough over the years to hear Nigel in a range of small groups and often just as a backing member whatever the context he adds something to the mix, here first in his latest double CD and then as an integral part in a CD by a fantastic tenor saxophone player that I would probably never have heard but for Nigel. Even on this double CD you see two different sides to Nigel, first in the environment he is found most often with his organ trio.
The first Samsung mobile handset I reviewed was a clamshell unit that could automatically open and close itself at the press of a button. It also came with two battery packs. Neither of these features can be found with this next Samsung handset.
The Samsung GT-S5260 model, otherwise known as the Star II, is a candy-bar style smartphone. Predominately lacquered black (in the case of the review unit), apart from the combination of matte and reflective silver bands running around the sides, the Star II has dimensions of 107.5 x 54 x 12.4mm (H x W x D) and weighs 94g. At this weight and size, the handset should fit comfortably in the hand and give easy access to the various controls.
The other Tablets I have looked at recently have had v2.2 of the Android system; the Acer Iconia TAB A500 has v3.1. So what can this unit offer that the others cannot, so what does this have that the other units do not have in them?
The Acer Iconia TAB A500 measures 26x17.5x1cm and weights 760grams. It has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The box contains the A500 Tablet, a small user guide, a mini USB to USB lead and a power adapter to charge it. The base has a Docking Port (I did not see the dock itself which is an extra). The left side has a micro HDMI port, headphone/earbud 3.5mm socket and the on/off button this needs to be held for around five seconds to switch on.
Last year I told you about a Guitar (highly commended) and Drums (5x5 award) both from this company WowWee, so their updated Guitar certainly merits a look as does a Microphone to give us all perfect pitch… maybe.
I very much liked what they produced last year, this offering offers more and just perhaps it gets too near to a ‘real guitar’, the guitars themselves (there are three designs) look more realistic and in fact they do far more and maybe even sound better. You can even download a free app from that allows you to add your own music into the internal memory. It comes with some music pre programmed into the guitar to allow you to strum along as a taster.
While HP may have decided that tablets were not an area worthy of its expertise, other companies have a different opinion. One such company is Binatone with products that include the HomeSurf 705 model that is being priced at under £100.
With dimensions of 192 x 112 x 12mm and weighing 325g, the HomeSurf 705 should easily fit into a pocket or bag without causing an unsightly bulge. Dominating the front of the unit is a 7-inch digital LCD TFT resistive touch screen that has a screen aspect of 16:9 and delivers a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. This screen does give you plenty of practice at polishing as you regularly need to remove the finger smears that quickly builds up on its surface.
This looks a lot like a radio I had in my youth, leather covered with a leather handle, the differences are of course immense with the top manual tuning dial replaced by a rather nice screen display, so I assume we call it retro.
It is 24x10x14cm, the last figure the height is with the six piece 70cm rod aerial retracted. The radio (without optional batteries) weights close to 1.3kilos. The rear has the rod aerial, line out socket and DC input. The left side has a flip clip that opens the back to allow 4x‘D’ cell batteries to be inserted. All the controls are on the top of the unit. The centre of which is a 6x3.5cm black on white five line display.
As technology advances, so old standards get left behind – often to gather dust as you are loathed to part with items imbued with memories of yesteryear. One obvious example of this type of situation is with our collections of favourite music stored on vinyl records and audio tapes.
Golden Records, a product developed by NCH Software, offers to convert vinyl records and tape cassettes to CD or MP3 files when working in conjunction with your computer, whether Mac or Windows base, and your Hi-Fi equipment. Opening the box reveals the software on a CD along with various items of documentation (the greater part being a catalogue of other NCH Software products, and a RCA to 3.
Ghostly spirits are a popular element in computer games. In this case the spirit is a helpful assistant to the lead detective character.
Some may remember, as I do, a television series of many years ago that paired the living with the dead. No I am not referring to one of those Zombie based stories. This British television series was entitled Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). It dealt with the adventures of a private detective (Randall) who was helped by his deceased partner (Hopkirk) with the ultimate aim of finding Hopkirk’s killer so that his spirit could be laid to rest.
A number of companies have now brought out these near ‘PC’ devices. Good for surfing (using Wireless) Ok for collecting email, but perhaps most importantly is to have a decent Web Store for free (or low cost) apps.
This is a unit sold exclusively by Dixons stores group (includes PC World), like most currently it is based on Android v2.2. It is 27.5x18x1.3cm and weights 675grams. The viewable screen is 22x12.5cm (10.1inch), this is probably just too small to view a standard width web page unless you have 20:20 vision but the zoom function is quick and efficient. From fully discharged it took 264 minutes to get to fully charged while it was switched on and in use.