While designed to accompany one of the many recent technological devices, this next product could bring back memories of your youth as it did with me.
My first experience of a bean bag, like many others I’m sure, was during school days during PE lessons. Small bean bags would be used for various tasks and exercises, some more enjoyable than others. Later the bean bag grew in size as a large bean bag being a fashion item. This bean bag was pear shaped with a strong plastic or leather covering skin. When placed on the floor, this bean bag could magically turn itself into a chair when it was sat upon.
Forget about capturing video in HD how about 4K, yes this tiny unit captures nice quality 4K images on micro SD card and you can then play it back on a TV or panel in 4K and of course it can get absolutely stunning images.
It is 4.5cm tall and 4cm wide and deep, it weights 95grams. However this is without any of the range of fittings that it comes provided with. Before you start thinking that you might shoot an epic production with it the 4K mode it is at almost half the frame rate that you are used to with normal TV so not ideal for fast moving action but for slow panning of a landscape scene excellent. It can of course capture at lower quality, there are two 4K settings 15FPS and 12.5FPS, 2.
When the name of BenQ pops up, my thoughts immediately turn towards the range of display units produced by the company. However BenQ does have other strings to its bow as the arrival of a new product clearly indicates. This product is the treVolo which is claimed to be the world’s first portable electrostatic wireless speaker. Just in case you are not familiar with the term then I should explain that electrostatic drivers emit sound both forwards and backwards with mid and high range frequencies their target area.
When you first remove the treVolo from its packaging, it is a wedged shaped solid device that is encircled by a dark grey metallic collar. In this state, the unit has dimensions of 176.6 x 134.6 x 78.5mm (H x D x W). On either side of the device are panels which, when flipped out, add a bird-swooping like effect while increasing the width to 275.1mm. These wings provide the electrostatic output with audio delivered from the front and back.
I visited the Withings stand at the Wearable Technology Show early in the year. You have already heard about their ‘health’ watch, here something else that was on display at the show a camera to monitor your home but with an extra feature.
This is a French company that is perhaps best known for computers especially smaller offerings. Here as far as I know their first venture into weather prediction with a very comprehensive range of parts to give you accurate readings.
You get three modules that can connect to a range of devices. They are a ball shaped indoor monitor mounted on a stand, a half ball shape that attached to a wall or shed side and a probe shaped soil monitor. The indoor monitor needs mains power and the required items are supplied. The outdoor monitor runs of batteries as does the soil monitor. All three devices report to an App that you can download to either an Android or iOS device from the appropriate Store.
As part of Goodmans’ range of radios, this next offering adds a number of extra features.
With the short, snappy title of Go, this next product from Goodmans is a radio that could easily be described as a multifunction device. It does not limit itself to just providing DAB+ and FM radio signals but has a number of other functions to which I will return to a little later. Initially I will concentrate on the appearance and its radio features.
Certainly not the smallest external hard drive but still just about able to fit inside a jacket pocket. It comes with an integral short USB3 cable that is hard wired into the unit, its main selling point will be its rugged design so it will stand the odd knock or three.
It is like a small book even to having rounded corners at the spine side, the dimensions are 14x10x2cm and it weights 276grams which of course includes the ‘Integrated Flex Cable’ that emerges from the top left and is channelled along the top and right side a total of 14cm to the USB3 plug so that is the maximum distance you have between drive and target.
Whether you refer to them as Cold Calls or, probably more appropriately, Nuisance Calls, they are unwanted interruptions to your daily living routine. While some of these calls are merely annoying, to say the least, others are more criminal orientated in that they are designed to relieve you of your hard earned cash by illegal methods.
Recently I took a look at BT’s solution for dealing with these Cold Calls and now it is the turn of Gigaset, a German manufacturer of telephones, tablets and baby monitors, with the company’s C620A Duo product. As the “Duo” part of the product’s title indicates, this kit consists of two DECT phones each with its own base station.
Men’s shavers tend to fall into a wet or dry category. However there are some products, of a more recent development, that are classified as being both wet and dry devices for use when removing the stubble that continues to appear on our faces.
This next offering is meant just for dry use when shaving although you can use water to clean the head which, I suppose, almost classifies the unit as both a wet and dry product. The product in question is the Braun MobileShave M-90 model.
This is an Inkjet All In One offering but not the basic two cartridge offering as this has no less than x inks. So this has to be something to consider if the printing output is more important than basic mono or quick print output to you.
The Canon Pixma MG7550 measures 42x36x15cm. Add 14cm to the middle figure the depth when the automatically opening paper output tray is lowered. This is a six ink unit the quality is excellent and just for good measure a single mono page will print in only ten seconds from switch on which is exceptionally good for those wanting a single page. Installation on a windows machine was not quick at 19 minutes and it took 1.
While devices, such as televisions, smartphones and tablets, have their own speaker facility, you can enhance this output with the addition of a soundbar.
While the product number SB-2501 gives very little away regarding this piece of kit, an inspection of the packaging from Evolve Audio reveals that it is a soundbar with wireless sub-woofer and wireless headphones. Accompanying these elements are an assortment of leads, remote control and button battery plus a Quick Start Guide and User Manual. The leads cover mains power, USB charging facility and connectivity between the soundbar and a television.
By the Ghetto Blaster standards when they were popular this is small, but it is powerful and not only has it an FM radio but also Bluetooth, ability to play SD Cards and USB sticks and has impressive sounds and speakers built in.
The actual name on the box is ‘groov-e wireless portable soundblaster’. It is 38x15x12cm. There are two forward facing 3inch speakers at either end and two 2½ passive radiators on each end. The central ara between the speakers has all the controls and most of the connections. The exceptions are the mini USB power input, headphone out, auxiliary in and USB for charging other devices that are in a line along the back all inset below an overhang.
Millenial discs (M-Discs) are claimed to have a life of 1,000 years. While we cannot actually put this to the test, these discs from Verbatim provide a reliable means of storing all those irreplaceable photos and documents as well as a vast music collection.
These noise cancelling earbuds from Creative start with a puzzle, how do you get them out of the very solid packaging, the answer lies in a small sheet that lives inside the packaging. Having spent a while solving the puzzle the result was worth the wait.
They are of the ear stuff type which as they are noise reducing they have to be, they come with three sizes of silicon plugs that should fit anyone from an older child upwards. A small 13 language manual should get most up and running as the most important facts are in diagram form, luckily for me the first language was English.
While most wearable technological devices are meant for every day use, this next product is not the type you would wear when out and about.
One thing you can say about 3D, without fear of any major contradiction, is that this is a technology that refuses to admit defeat with regards its general acceptance by the public. There have been at least two major attempts to bring the technology to the big cinematic screen as the next big thing to make a lasting impression.
A 4inch screen phone may seem small today – it certainly did to me as I put my own phone away for the duration of this test – but as I got used to it I found it did everything I needed so this is not only about the phone but also the service.
To test the service I deliberately went to several places that I know are ‘dead spots’ where my own phone struggles, one such place gave a good service, another that is notorious dead spot on the line from Waterloo to Wimbledon where you so frequently here peoples conversations come to stop with ‘Hello, Hello’ again still in service. It is 12x6.5x1cm and weights 111grams. The right side has on/off button and below this the volume rocker.
Unlike the major players of Apple, Samsung, LG and HTC who prefer the top end of the market, ZTE positions its smartphone products in the budget arena.
According to ZTE, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and mobile phones, most young people (into which category I left behind long ago) like smartphones with large screens. However, in ZTE’s opinion, devices with 5.5-inch and larger screens present a problem as to where they are stored as they do not easily fit into a jeans or jacket pocket.
The de facto standard for electronic documents is PDF. Software for the creation and working with such files can cost from £400 downwards. This review is based on a product costing under £60.
There was a time when, in order to read a document, it would be necessary to have the particular software that created it on your system plus any special attributes used in the original created. For example you would need to have the fonts, as part of your system, which were used in the document. Now matters are totally different. One reason for this has been the rise in popularity of the Adobe created PDF (Portable Document Format) software.
A small PowerShot digital camera, for those who do not know a PowerShot can be little larger than an IXUS the smallest of Canons cameras or as large as the small end of Canons DSLR range, so here it is at the IXUS end of the range.
The Canon SX610 HS measures 10x6x2cm and weights 190grams. The right side has a tight fitting door behind which are AV and HDMI out sockets, above this is a wrist strpap anchor point. The left side has a manual flash deployment button. The base has the solid battery bay which is where you insert any SD card you use, there is also a tripod screw which if you are going to use a lot of zoom is very important.
Computer databases have come a long way since those of early days of the D-Base products developed by Aston Tate with libraries of instructional books written on the subject. While the ability to store and correlate different types of data might not be the sexiest task, it still serves an important role for both the home and office user.
One company that has established an impressive pedigree in the particular field of databases is FileMaker. Starting life as an Apple company, FileMaker was, for a period of time, totally independent before being drawn back into the Apple fold. Sharing its name with that of its product, FileMaker is software that I have been using for a number of years for managing specific data.