While I saw a prototype unit a couple of years ago at Google, earlier versions of Chromebooks have passed me by. Rather different to a PC notebook and also different from a Google Tablet a Chromebook is a category of its own.
When I first saw one the things you noticed were that the keyboard had no function keys, this is still true. No local storage was possible and so therefore if you had no Internet connection you had a unit that could do nothing, this is no longer true. Not surprisingly it is chrome in colour and of course this has a huge advantage over a normal black screen surround in that your fingermarks do not show. The Samsung Chromebook, series 3 measures 29x20.5x1.5cm and weights 1090grams.
The Boxee Box could be regarded as a hybrid product. D-Link, the source of this particular offering, has combined the free Boxee media software with its own hardware kit in order to offer the user a solution to the conundrum of creating a home-based media centre for their entertainment needs.
Recently I have been checking out the Boxee Box as part of my home network computer set up. The results were not always as positive as I would have liked as the Boxee Box proved to have a temperamental side to its make-up. Lets start with the actual kit before getting down to the performance.
This is a multi-function unit which means it also has fax as well printing, scanning and copying, I actually recently found a business that still uses fax, my local Pharmacy as urgent prescriptions can be sent from doctors surgeries.
The HP PhotoSmart7520 measures 48x35x21cm, you will need a few more centimetres on the last figures to place items on the flatbed but not if you use the page feed. However anyone thinking of placing it on a shelf should make sure it’s strong enough. While this is capable of working on USB some of the features are only available via Wi-FI and this includes scanning to PC although you can scan to USB memory stick or SD card on the unit and then transfer the file to the PC.
Now that Windows 8 is well and truly here -- even though an updated version will probably be out within the year -- there is a need for a detailed manual. This is particularly important because it is a significant redesign focussed on a touch-screen interface. "Windows 8 The Missing Manual" should meets the needs of power users as well as the rest of us who need to get to grips with this new environment.
This massive 900 page volume is divided into logical sections to enable users new to Windows 8 to get to grips with the various aspects of this new operating system a key feature of which is its touch-screen interface. It also covers Windows RT which is, in essence, a variant of Windows designed to run on the lower power ARM chips that are widely used in tablets.
Like most men I spend a lot of time in trainers for one reason only, they are comfortable, these however are rather different. Like most there are occasions that a notebook needs to travel with me and this bag from STM is also a little different.
These trainers are described as multi terrain shoes. They are trainers to look at but the sole is tricker and gives added support to all parts of the foot. I looked through all my trainers – old and new – and could not find one pair with a sole configuration anything like these. To begin with there is a slight heel, then the sole from the toe back is thicker and the really unusual bit is that there is support on either side in the mid sole area.
Why would some unknown person murder a travelling opera singer? It is up to you to solve the crime by playing a series of Match-3 boards.
Combining elements of Adventure, Hidden Object and Match-3 game play is Night in the Opera which is available as part of Avanquest's GSP label. Described as a thrilling operatic adventure, the game revolves around the murder of Prima Donna Madame Agnes who is a travelling opera singer. On discovering the crime, Alfonso del Pino, the theatre director of the Opera sends for you to search for clues and discover the perpetrator of this dastardly crime.
By the time anything gets to version 4 it should be mature; however this has something that few such products have and that is the ability to work just as well with touch screens such as those for some recent Windows 8 PCs it supports fully.
Rather than give this next product an easy-to-remember name, its developers have opted for the model number of i2360P.
Asked to list the top ten world influencing events of the past 50 years, I am sure many, if not all, would include the event that happened on the 22nd November 1963.
It was one of those events that are indelibly etched on the memory of those of us who were alive at the time. My less-than-perfect recollection of this event places me at a Friday evening social Badminton event. The social aspect of this burning off of excessive energy (I was a good deal younger then) can be judged by the players’ habit of listening to radio broadcasts, such as “The Navy Lark” as they played.
How do deaf or hard of hearing parents manage to hear when their baby is crying? Something like this offering Amplicomms the people known for ultra-loud phones have produced this small module to allow them to see as well as possibly hear.
It consists of two units both small the first that can watch over the baby and for a hearing parent it is even sensitive enough to hear the child breathing as well as to let you see it over a Wi-Fi link. The second is the receiving unit that has a 4.5x3.7cm screen as well as a speaker. The camera unit is 10x6x2cm on an 8x8cm base to keep it stable a small microphone is on a 5cm flexible arm. The receiver unit is 12x7x2.
Never having eaten an oyster, I am unsure whether this delicacy would suit a side dish of damsons but why talk of food when technology is available.
It wasn’t so long ago that I had the opportunity to look at my first product from Damson. This was a portable Bluetooth audio streaming device that was entitled Twist. This model made use of Incisor diffusion technology to deliver its audio output. Now it is the turn of one of Damson’s other product, namely the Oyster, which makes use of Wave Field Synthesis 3D sound technology.
A somewhat different book reader in that the shape of this near 7inch offering is more like a book with the bulge in the middle makes it easier to hold. It also has a backlight when lack of daylight means you need it.
The Kobo Aura HD eReader measures 17.5x12.7x1cm but the width is only 0.5cm at the edges. The screen is 13.5x10.5cm giving the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 6.8inches. The screen display is 1440x1080 made up of 265DPI. The unit weight is 240grams. It is an e-ink display and according to the Kobo CEO it is the biggest e-ink display in the world. In the box are the Aura HD a micro USB to USB cable and a small Getting Started Booklet. The reader is totally touchscreen.
As smartphones, tablets and other devices, upon which we are now totally reliant, get more powerful and have faster processors and more memory they impose a heavier battery demand. Mophie's Juice Pack Powerstation Duo external battery pack has enough capacity to provide a useful safety belt that can be used to increase the time before one needs to use a mains charger.
The Powerstation Duo is rectangular with slightly rounded corners and is just 110 x 58 x 20 mm in size. Its top and bottom faces are of a hard matt black material (which, unfortunately, gets badly smeared with fingerprints) and sides in stainless steel and feels very robust overall. Despite being a 6,000mAh battery pack it is relatively small and only weighing about 220g complete with the supplied 87cm USB cable and can be slipped easily into a laptop or other travel bag .
Two different rather nice value sets of earbuds from very different places, First from Crystal Acoustics their i-40 offering. The second set from a name more known as a motherboard producer the H11 from Gigabyte.
A stylish looking set of ear plugs and because your ears are plugged there is a noise reduction element as well as a bass increase. 15cm down the black lead from your left ear is the normal mute and answer option found to allow you to take phone calls without needing to extract the smartphone from your pocket. The total lead length is 1.2metres and after .35 metres the two flat leads merge into one, this can be adjusted to suit.
You probably do not know much about Grey Mist Lake. Not many do especially since the mysterious fog engulfed the town and when it disappears, so had the town. There were rumours of occasional reappearances of the town with ghost-like inhabitants but now you can check it out for yourself.
Available from Focus Multimedia's extensive catalogue of titles, Strange Cases The Secrets of Grey Mist Lake is a Hidden Object Adventure game. With this Collector's Edition version, you get a number of bonus items. As is the usual practice, items such as a bonus chapter, concept art, wallpaper and music soundtrack only become available when the main game has been completed.
Most radios I have reviewed from Pure rely on mains power, some have worked on batteries if you play extra for a ‘ChargePAK’, however this unit is designed to work on its internal batteries charged by USB, no mains lead in sight.
It is 15x8x2.5cm and weights 296grams. In use the second figure the height can be as much as 50cm when the 42cm six piece rod aerial is fully extended. The connections are on the right side at the top a silvered lock button. Below this the micro USB connection, Auxiliary I and Headphone 3.5mm sockets and finally a Pin Hole reset button. The back has an easel type stand that tilts the radio back by around 15degrees when extended. The top and the left side are clear.
Yet another Canon multifunction device has arrived on my workspace for testing.
Decked out in a coating of matte black, the Canon PIXMA MX455 is a multifunction device offering print, copy, scan and fax functionality. There is also a built-in ADF (Automatic Document Feed) facility and a choice of USB or Wi-Fi connectivity. All connection options (power, USB and telephone line) are located at the rear of the unit.
Originally published by Alawar and now available on the Avanquest GSP label, The World’s Legends Kaschey The Immortal is a Hidden Object Adventure game. Based on an ancient Russian storyline, the game opens with a narrated introduction that involves a magic mirror, a beautiful woman and an evil sorcerer. As you might suppose the evil sorcerer is the Kaschey of the game’s title and he is in the market for a wife.
This game opens as Kaschey, using his magical powers, kidnaps and spirits away the royal Tsarita. Her eldest son sets out to rescue his mother but he disappears as well. The second son then sets out on the same task but a similar fate befalls him. Now it is the turn of the third and youngest son to ease his father’s unhappiness and rescue the queen and his mother. This is your role in the game.
This is a small but powerful digital camera from Pentax. Having recently tested myself on a DSLR offering I now downsize but not as far as ‘point and shoot’ as this digital camera has a lot to offer yet it can still fit in most pockets.
It is 12.5x6x6cm the last figure the width is with lens cap on and the unit switched off. Add 3cm to the width when switched on and fully zoomed in. The body is metal and that is why the units weight is 398grams. 12MP may seem small as some less impressive units offer as much as 20MP but its how good the sensor is to give the quality and depth of the overall images taken.
Branching out from its normal target market of the older generation, Doro’s latest handset is aimed at those working and enjoying the outdoors.
Described as an easy-to-use durable unit for a user who enjoys an outdoor lifestyle, the Doro PhoneEasy 520X is a 3G candy-bar style of handset. Predominately black in colour, with a silver trim running around the front face, my review sample of the 520X has dimensions of 118 x 53 x 13 mm (H x W x D) and a weight of 95g (including the battery pack).