Last autumn I visited a venue called the Ice Tank, it was for a presentation from a company based in Germany that has a product to efficiently control your central heating, it even knows when the last person leaves or the first arrives back at your home.
This big brother scenario might sound rather frightening but for a home where people work different hours this can save a good deal of money so you do not end up heating an empty home. A bold statement was made during the presentation that they could control any heating system however old. I know my gas boiler is at least 50 years and its controller probably of the same vintage. So I agreed to test it out. Everything can be done from their website.
Over the years I have reviewed a number of coffee machines, all have been very popular with readers, some seem to think that the coffee from ‘Pod’ machines is not hot enough, so this unit that uses fresh milk that it heats could be their answer.
This machine has one huge plus over other Lavazza machines for those who love Cappuccinos and Lattes a milk froth maker is attached. The size without the milk froth maker attached to the right side is 28x21x23cm the unit wider at the front and is only 12cm at the rear, the hard wired mains lead emerges from under the water tank so these figures are maximum.
While the battery capacities of mobile devices are increasing, it never seems to be enough even for moderate users.
Over the last few years we have become more reliant on and, in some cases, emotionally attached to our personal mobile devices. As a result the need for an easily accessible power source has increased in important. Not surprisingly this need has been noted by manufacturers who have not been slow in developing solutions that can fulfil the role of a portable power source to recharge our power-hungry devices.
Not quite the specifications – or price - of the last offering from Ben Q but still a rather nice 27ince flat panel, this one suitable for those of us who cannot quite justify the price tag associated with the higher specification that it offered.
The screen of the BenQ EW2740 measures 62x37x2cm, the stand is 31x12cm with the support arm protruding back by another 7cm in the central area. The stand raises the screen by 8cm from your desk. The viewable screen is 60x33cm giving notional diagonal imperial screen size of 27 inches. The total weight is 4.2kilos. The unit has a good amount of back tilt stated to be 20 degrees and a tiny amount of forward tilt. All the connections are in a vertical column on the support arm.
Keeping a check on your blood pressure could provide an early warning of any health issues. This next product could help.
Activity trackers, with their ability to measure different aspects of your everyday life, are currently all the rage. Several of these devices, as part of their functionality, offer to provide a blood pressure measurement. However the data that is produced by these devices is based on a single reading rather than the Systolic and Diastolic measurements that are required to give a blood pressure reading.
When stage magicians meet in competition you can expect magic to be in the air along with some trickery.
Hoyle Illusions is a Hidden Object Adventure game set in the early 1900s. The game takes place in New York City as the top two magicians of the period, Johannes the Great and Merlin the Amazing, plan to face each other in a contest to decide once and for all who is the top illusionist. But this is just the subplot as you take on the dual roles of Peter and Sophie who work as assistants to Johanne the Great.
Here is the latest and greatest Moto G from Motorola who smashed through the glass ceiling of SmartPhone pricing, with their first Moto G, then more recently a 4G offering also bearing Moto G name and now the latest Moto G.
While Adobe is intent on herding its business and professional clientele towards the Cloud with its Creative Cloud offering and various CS services, the more budget conscious consumer customer can opt for a product such as the company’s popular Photoshop Elements
Now up to version 13, Photoshop Elements is currently available from the company’s website as an upgrade priced at £66.43. You could also opt for purchasing an upgrade for the combined bundle of Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 13 for £100.61. This review is based entirely on a copy of Photoshop Elements 13.
The TREK A26 wireless portable speaker is a robust unit having Bluetooth and NFC connectivity that has been designed to withstand the elements and so should be able to survive the weather at a music festival.
The A26 forms part of the TDK Life on Record brand. It is 7 x 3 x 1 inch and weighs 12oz. finished in black with the exception of the central silver disc carrying the TDK logo. The built-in tilt stand folds flush with the back of the unit when not in use so is unlikely to get damaged in normal usage or even when carried around in a rucksack. With the exception of the on/off switch, 3.5mm Aux.
A decent sized clock powered by micro USB lead, it has other features that anyone familiar with Oregon Scientific will know, it tells you the temperature both inside and out and just for good measure a display projection feature.
The The Oregon Scientific Prysma projection alarm clock measures 20x8x2cm which includes the 4cm wide part at the end that swivels to project onto a wall or ceiling, more about this feature further down. I had just plugged the unit into the power socket and was about to look at the instructions as to how to set the correct time when the phone rang, a short call that involved me saying ‘no’. I then looked at the display to see that the time was now correct.
Sennheiser is one of the few affordable brands sold in top end shops whose diet normally consists of brands costing a great deal more. However do not think of Sennheiser as a cheap brand as they are not and the quality is good.
For those looking for a good quality set of headphones at a price that is not ‘cheap’ but still affordable then Sennheiser is a brand to check out. These are over ear offerings – however Sennheiser also do on ear – and there is 3cm of movement in each ear, not as with some a flimsy band but a solid internal movement backed up with a solid rubberised band.
Dark Mysteries is another offering from Avanquest’s GSP 4-Play series. The four titles making up this collection are The Beast of Lycan Isle, The Soul Keeper, The Sleeping Palace and Ghost Painting. All four titles belong to the Hidden Object Adventure genre. As usual with the various 4-Play collections, each of the titles has to be installed separately from the same front end menu of offerings.
The Beast of Lycan Isle can be played in either Casual or Expert mode. The game casts you in the role of Luna who responds to a call for help from her friend Tara who has been investigating the cult of Madra Alta or Wolf Man. Spread over five chapters, the game has an inventive opening that involves blurred scenes until you manage to locate your glasses. As usual your inventory runs across the bottom of the scene when in Adventure mode.
This is a Windows 8.1 notebook but it has an ability that most notebooks do not have, the screen can flip through 360degrees so not only is it a notebook but also a Tablet and because it’s a Tablet then it also has touchscreen ability.
The ASUS TP300LA "Flip" measures 32x23x1.5cm and weights a tad under 1.8kilos. The left side has a Kensington Lock port, USB2 socket, SD Card port, volume rocker and on/off button. The front has three well marked LED’s. The right side has a 3.5mm headphone socket, two USB3 ports an HDMI port and DC input. The back is of course clear as the screen can flip totally over it. The viewable screen is 29.5x16.5cm which gives the notional imperial diagonal size of 13.3inches.
Battery power from the pocket is the aim of this next product from PNY.
Like a virus attack or attempted phishing expedition, the situation of encountering a smartphone with a drained battery when you really need to make a vital phone call (for some every phone call is considered vital) could happen at any time. Perhaps you think it will never happen to you but just you wait.
Continuing the MiniDrones are coming theme, this next product has more of a tank feel as it travels around and over obstacles.
Whenever the subject of Sumo comes up, my thoughts immediately go towards the full-contact wrestling sport so popular in Japan. Two very large and over-weight men try to push each other off a combat mat. Just looking at these man-mountain combatants gives you the impression that they could well be lacking in one particular skill level – that of jumping. However there is one Sumo that does have this skill and that is the appropriately named Jumping Sumo.
Perhaps a strange time of year to be sent a DSLR unit with a 55-250mm lens as this requires either very large rooms or outside use to get the best from it, however so far the weather has been kind and my short time with it was productive.
The body is 10.5x9x7cm, I am mentioning things this way as not everyone will use 55mm to 250mm lens with it. Add the lens and the last figure becomes between 18cm and 22cm. The total weight is 804grams (without neck strap). As always I start with it in the easiest mode ‘Auto’ and assume that I know nothing.
As with the Moto G, reviewed earlier, the Moto X is now available as a second generation product. Motorola has taken this opportunity to make a number of changes to enhance the appeal of the company’s top of the range product.
Placed side-by-side with its earlier creation, the second generation Moto X is clearly larger than its sibling. The device’s width has been increased to 72.4mm while its height has grown by over 11mm to 140.8mm. However Motorola has trimmed a few millimetres from the curved depth of this handset which now varies between 3.8mm and 9.9mm at its thickest point. The increase in size has allowed Motorola to slot in a 5.2-inch AMOLED screen protected by Corning Gorilla Glass.
I admit that the main reason I accepted this evening invitation was to see the view from the top of The Shard, sadly the 34th floor was the highest we got but this amazing portable scanner made up for the disappointment initially felt.
A scanner to turn documents the right way up automatically – however you feed them - certainly got this journalists attention. Being cordless is another box ticked, having the ability to transmit data to mobile devices is another and being small enough to fit in any bag cannot be a minus. Setup took around 10 minutes while 2.4GB of data was transferred from the supplied DVD to my PC via USB.
Here I am looking at two items that all arrived rather late from various sources, so in order to get them to your attention in time for Christmas I cover them together in one review. They are a Wireless Speaker in the shape of a mug and a Gentleman’s Shaving Set, neither is expensive.
It is 9.5cm tall, 4cm square at the base, 7cm across at the top, it weights 240grams. It can be used upright or resting on its handle that protrudes from one side by 2cm making the sound go slightly upwards. All the controls and connections are on the base, when standing it does look exactly like a square cup if you cannot see the green speaker grill on the top. The cup itself is plastic but looks like china apart from the silvered handle.
Take a journey into space in one of two roles as you tackle Match-3 levels.
Galaxy Quest is a match-3 game that has more than a passing resemblance to a previous title, that of 1000LYA, from the same source. You get the same mixture of numerous match-3 type grids interspersed with a story line that has an intergalactic theme with immobile characters who deliver their dialogue in printed text format. When setting up this game, which does have a visually impressive opening sequence, you can adjust various options.