Brother continues to develop its range of multifunction devices. This latest model is aimed more at the office rather than home users.
The Brother MFC-J470DW multifunction device follows the normal convention of mounting an A4 flatbed scanner on top of an inkjet printer. Along with the usual functions of Scan, Print and Copy, the device adds Fax, Duplex, ADF (Automatic Document Feeder) and Wi-Fi capability into the mix. Matte black in colour, this multifunction unit adopts a basic box shape with dimensions of 410 x 180 x 374 mm (W x H x D).
After my recent tests with a soundbar from Sandstrom, I am looking at another unit from another manufacturer, this time Samsung and this unit comes with a Wireless sub woofer to beef the bass up even more than the single unit.
While I often think if you need to read the manual the product is more complicated than required. As sometimes happens with test units this did not have a manual and to be honest I was not finding my way round it that well. However I was sent a link to a PDF version and that changed my outlook. While this is a soundbar it is far more and its correct name is ‘Crystal Surround Air Track’ Active Speaker System.
For anyone with a baby or other dependant person something like this will make a hard life easier. Starting with the setup. This will work on your home Wi-Fi network or over the Internet the latter ideal for keeping an eye on the baby sitter.
Place the camera where you want to use it, within the two metre length of its power cable, it can even be hung on a wall, follow two simple instructions and then download the appropriate free App either from the Android or ‘i’ store. Set it up to work with your Wi-Fi and then wait a couple of minutes, the camera is recognised and you are in business. In total around seven minutes including the download.
No matter how skilled one is when using a virtual keyboard on a touch screen, a proper keyboard is far better when working with text. ZAGGkeys Universal Bluetooth keyboard has been designed to work with various sizes of tablets and smartphones irrespective of whether they are iOS, Windows or Android devices. It is small and light and will make a very useful accessory for those who need to do a reasonable amount of typing on their tablet or smartphone.
The keyboard itself is grey in colour with white inscriptions on black keys. It is sized 245 x 135 x 22mm and weighs 300g complete with its slide-on (black) protective cover which, when removed, doubles as a stand for one’s tablet or smartphone. It has a curved cross-section which provides the rake necessary for comfortable typing.
It is time to join up with a band of pirates. I am, of course, referring to the type of pirates who sailed the seven seas in the vicinity of the Caribbean in years gone by as they preyed on merchant vessels and, according to Jack Sparrow, lived by the Pirate Code. This particular band of pirates, led by their charismatic leader, Captain Salty, inhabits the TAG Publishing title of Caribbean Jewel available from GSP.
Available as a download rather than a boxed product, Caribbean Jewel gives you a comic book style of storyline with well drawn scenes and printed text. Returning from his latest round of plundering and pillaging, all carried out in the background so as not to offend the less bloodthirsty game players, Captain Salty discovers that his wife, Pepper is missing and there is no supper waiting for him.
Moving files to and from a portable Apple device has always been a faff, now there is a halfway device you copy them to, and then, transfer by drag and drop to the PC and by downloading an App, from the iFlash Drive to your ‘i’ device.
The PhotoFast iFlash Drive HD measures 4.7x2.5x1cm and its total weight is 8grams. These devices are available in different capacities – the one sent to me was 8GB – one end is a USB plug the other end is the standard Apple 30pin plug. For those with the very recent new connector size there is an adapter available. Transferring files from the PC is as easy as drag and drop just like to any USB stick.
Back in April of this year, Kobo raised the bar on screen quality with the release of its Kobo Aura HD product. This model featured a 6.8-inch WXGA+ Pearl E Ink touch screen with a resolution of 1440 x 1080. Now Kobo has produced another model in the Aura family but this time without the HD capability. This latest product is being pitched against the new Kindle Paperwhite offering
Available in a choice of black or pink, with my review unit being of the former hue, the Kobo Aura is certainly significantly smaller than its HD sibling. In fact, with its dimensions of 150 x 114 x 8.1 mm, it could almost fit within the screen area of the HD model. Befitting its size and weighing just 174g, the Kobo Aura fits comfortably into the hand, helped to a degree by the slightly ridged back of the unit.
Focus Multimedia has brought together three titles described as “The Best of Big Fish Mysteries” in a triple pack entitled Mysteries, Secrets & Shadows. The three titles are Grim Façade Sinister Obsession, Secrets of the Dark Eclipse Mountain and The Theatre of Shadows As You Wish. All three games belong to the Hidden Object Adventure genre and will need to be installed individually from a basic front end.
Taking the titles in the order they appear on the 3-game packaging, Grim Façade Sinister Obsession places you in the role of a detective who is called upon when the Conti family maid finds a diary relating the mysterious deaths of three women. The game gives you the options to adjust the volume levels for background music, sound effects and voice dialogue plus play in full or widescreen mode. You have a choice of Casual, Advanced or Hard difficulty levels.
Having recently tried other digital cameras designed for those who photograph underwater I did not expect too many surprises from the Pentax WG-3. Here in the introduction I can say that I was wrong, very wrong, as it has two features I have never seen before.
First one that I – and others I have shown it to – struggle to see a real world use, a digital time display on the face. Second a feature that could have uses a two way spirit level on the display screen to tell you if the images you are taking are straight. This waterproof compact digital camera measures 13x6.5x3cm and weights 240grams.
Joining, what is already considered a heavily populated consumer marketplace, is the Prestigio Multiphone 5430 product. For those not familiar with the name of Prestigio, I should explain that this is a brand name of ASBIS, a component distributor based in Cyprus. While not one of the leading lights in the UK, the Prestigio brand has a higher profile in several other European countries.
The Prestigio Multiphone 5430 is a smartphone built around an Intel Atom Z2520 processor with a speed rating of up to 1.2GHz with Hyper-Threading capability. The handset comes with a 2000mAh Li-ion battery pack, USB cable and power adapter, a fairly rigid leather pouch, earplug style headset, plus Quick Guide and warranty (2 years) documentation. The Quick Guide is of the small multi-language variety with just four pages in English.
For anyone not using touch I feel that Windows 7 is where you should be. However as most new machines now come with Windows 8 I gave up a night’s sleep to go through the long and torturous process of upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1.
One of the most unsatisfactory issues when using an iPad, or any other touch screen tablet for that matter, are the finger prints and smears on the screen. The iKlear spray cleaner/polish from US company Meridrew Enterprises offers an effective solution to the problem.
iKlear consists of a proprietary cleaning fluid and a microfibre cloth. One side of the cloth, which has a raised texture and the other side is soft and smooth, is claimed to have an antimicrobial action. The fluid is described as being alcohol and ammonia free and is claimed to be 100% non-toxic, eco-friendly and safe for both children and animals.
Both products are small, both products work to reduce or eliminate pain, the first called No Pain is a Tens device and anyone who has used one a few years ago cannot claim there is ‘no pain’, the second is even smaller and often used by physiotherapists.
Compared to a Tens device of even a few years ago this treatment for a range of injuries is almost zero pain and all relief. Any Tens devices works by passing electrical charges between two areas. These areas should be either side of where the pain is and it works by giving you a different discomfort to focus on, well that’s the way Tens devices used to work.
As part of its Hidden Mystery Collectives series, Focus Multimedia has come up with another 2-game pack. This time the two titles are Mystery of Another World and The Noise She Couldn’t Make from the Big Fish Games Surface series. In both cases the games belong to the popular Hidden Object Adventure genre and have their own installation procedure that is accessed from a basic front end module.
Taking the games in the order in which they are featured on this two-game pack, Mystery of Another World provides you with options to adjust the volume level for environment, sound effects, music and voices. You can then select the difficulty level with a choice of three being available. Casual mode offers sparkles for active areas plus a faster recharge of the Hint and Skip appearance features. Advanced mode does away with sparkles and slows down the Hint and Skip features.
Nowdays there are far fewer ‘audio systems’ about. A few years ago there were dozens and now for those of us whose system are coming end of life the choice is far more limited. Here a rather nice compact system from a known name Yamaha.
The Yamaha Audio System MCR-042 is actually in three pieces –although most illustrations make it look like one – the central item with all the controls and two separate speakers that can be placed anywhere within the length of the provided 1.5 metre speaker wires. Lets deal with the other items supplied, a 32 page manual all in English, a DAB/FM aerial, a dock cover for the ‘i’ device and a remote control that includes the required button battery.
Bringing together the latest versions of four of its software products, CyberLink has created a new version of its Director Suite offering.
CyberLink has released a new version of it Director Suite product. The gap of approximately ten months between the arrival of the original offering and this latest version has allowed CyberLink to produce upgrades for each of the suite’s four main elements. Director Suite 2 consists of PowerDirector 12, PhotoDirector 5, ColorDirector 2 and AudioDirector 4. You also get two NewBlueFX Effects packs and three CyberLink Creative Design packs.
By combining two Shadow Wolf Mysteries Hidden Object Adventure titles into a 2-game pack, Focus Multimedia has added another offering to its Hidden Mystery Collection series. The two Shadow Wolf Mysteries titles are Bane of the Family and Cursed Wedding and really, for maximum enjoyment, should be played in that order. Each of these two titles, originally published by Big Fish Games, has its own installation procedure which is accessed from a basic front-end menu.
In Bane of the Family you are cast in the role of a detective who has been called in to investigate the appearance of a supposed werewolf in the city. Spread over eleven chapters, the game can be played in a choice of three difficulty levels. With Regular mode you get a faster recharge of the standard Hint and Skip features while active zones are highlighted with sparkles.
This has 20x optical zoom and its added weight is well distributed to make it holdable even with a substantial amount of zoom. While some may consider that 12.1MP is a little ‘small’ it is all down to the quality of the CMOS chip.
The Canon PowerShot SX280 measures 10.5x6x3cm and weights 230grams. The right side has the wrist strap anchor point and a rubber bung to cover the AV and HDMI connections. The left side is clear, while the base has tripod screw and a door behind which the solid battery resides as well as any SD card you may insert. The face has the 20x zoom lens 4.5-90mm, this can extend by 5.5cm when fully zoomed in.
When Serif adds a new product to its portfolio of graphic based offerings (WebPlus, PagePlus, DrawPlus and MoviePlus to mention just some), you could be forgiven for expecting this new title to feature the Word “Plus” as part of its name. However this is not the case with this particular new title. As this software is concerned with photo editing and management, the obvious title would have been PhotoPlus but Serif already has a product with this name. Therefore the company has put its thinking cap on and come with PhotoStack as the title for this software which is claimed to have been designed with speed and simplicity in mind.
PhotoStack combines the functionality of an organiser, editor and library for your precious photos. As usual with a Serif product you will be required to enter the appropriate serial number for the software during the installation procedure. At this point I should mention that I have been sent a pre-release version of the software which meant I was unable to access and check out the various on-line tutorials that only become available when the product’s release date is reached.
The Libratone Zipp is a tubular speaker that projects sound through 360 degrees, it also has an internal battery, it can work via Wi-Fi with or without a Wi-Fi network and comes with a range of skin colours to keep those ‘who must be obeyed’ happy.
The Zipp is circular and 26cm tall while it is 12cm across, should you insert any cables these will increase the width by at least 3cm where they emerge. It is not light as it weighs 1900 grams. However once charged no cables – not even power – are required when you use Bluetooth. Having a wool cover is as far as I know unique it is easy to remove and replace when the ‘lounge police’ say that colour is no longer correct.