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Highly commended

Highly Commended

Some products just miss out on our coveted 5x5 smiley award - a product has to be just about perfect in every way to receive that award! That doesn't mean there aren't a lot of very good other gadgets out there!

To recognise those products that missed out on a 5x5 award by just a whisker, we've introduced the 'Highly Commended' status. Products still have to be pretty good to get one of these and out of almost 3,000 reviews on GadgetSpeak (as of December 2010) only around 180 have gained the required marks to be Highly Commended!

Tell me more about the GadgetSpeak Awards!

836620 canon pixma mg7550 all in on

PIXMA MG7550

Published in Printers/Scanners by mfereday on Oct 25, 2014
Canon has refreshed its inkjet product line up with various models including the subject of this next review.
The PIXMA MG7550 forms part of Canon’s new inkjet printer line up.  This model combines print, scan and copy functionality with a choice of USB, wired or wireless connectivity to your computer system. Removing the various elements of packaging and preparing this multifunction device for use took a little longer than other similar units I have looked at in the past.
836456 kobo aura h20 ebook reade

A Waterproof eReader

Published in Misc by mfereday on Oct 16, 2014
No doubt you are familiar with “Singing in the Rain” whether in its original Gene Kelly version of the Morecambe & Wise comedy routine. Now it could be said that we have “Reading in the Rain” with a new product from Kobo.
Described by Kobo as the world’s first premium waterproof E Ink eReader, the Aura H20 is available in a one-colour-suits-all black.  With regards to its waterproofing capability, the Aura H20 is IP67 certified which means it can be immersed in 1 metre of water for up to 30 minutes as well as being able to ignore water splashes.  Approximately 18% thinner than the original Aura HD, this model has dimensions of 129 x 179 x 9.
As we move increasingly towards FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) for higher performance internet, there is an increasing requirement to separate the router from the modem. D-Link’s DIR-880L Wireless AC1900 Dual Band Gigabit Cloud Router is a high performance unit which ticks all the right boxes for those who are also moving to file sharing and media streaming.
It is roughly 190 x 240 x 45mm in size and can sit flat on a desk or shelf or, alternatively, wall mounted. The keyhole slots in the rear face are double-ended so that the unit, when wall mounted, can be arranged with the antennas above or below the unit. In practice, when wall mounted, it makes sense to have the antennas above and the unit at a height where the WPS button and the USB ports can be easily reached.
The D-Link DSL-320B ADSL 2+ ADSL Ethernet modem supports speeds of up to 24Mbps downstream and 2Mbps upstream and provides a simple and straightforward way of connecting a single PC to the Internet. It can equally well link the wireless router at the heart of one’s network to the outside world.
It is a small black unit 11cm wide and 10cm high and, although it is only 4cm deep, the attached cables add to the space it takes up. Nevertheless, it just sits inconspicuously on the corner of one’s desk where you can see its four status LEDs. It is supplied with the cable (and the associated filter) to connect to the phone line; the Ethernet cable to connect to the PC and the power cable. Unlike USB modems it does not require any drivers and is easy to set up.
835830 dragon naturally speaking 13 speech recognitio

Dragon Naturally Speaking 13

Published in Software by mfereday on Sep 18, 2014
Nuance’s market leading speech recognition software is now up to version 13 with the latest edition of Dragon Naturally Speaking. As with the previous versions of this package, Nuance has developed offerings aimed at different sectors of the market. With this version 13 of the product, you get the choice of Premium, the software used for this review, or that of the lower priced Home offering.
Installing Dragon Naturally Speaking (DNS from now on), including the initial set-up procedure, is not a particular quick operation.  It does require some user interaction which is mainly due to the initial creation of your specific user profile.  You will need to enter the product’s serial number to switch the product from trial mode to that of full application use.
834966 MobileLite Wireless G2_MLWG2_hr_20_05_2014 17_1

Next Generation Streaming

Published in Wireless by mfereday on Aug 14, 2014
This time last year I checked out the Kingston MobileLite Wireless product. This device allowed you to stream content wirelessly to various mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. The content being streamed was stored on SD memory cards and USB flash sticks. Since my original review Kingston has been busy developing the next generation of this product which, appropriately enough, is entitled MobileLite Wireless G2.
Predominately black in colour with a white trim around the sides, the MobileLite Wireless G2 is similar in general size to most of the smartphones it has been designed to work alongside.  It has dimensions of 129.14 x 79.09 x 19.28mm (H x W x D) and weighs 171g which means it is eminently portable.  Connections for standard USB and SD memory card are located on the top of the unit.
834714 Olympus LS 14 4GB Linear PCM Recorde

Olympus LS-14

Published in Entertainment by paul_smart on Aug 6, 2014
Olympus is a name big in cameras and voice recorders. So here a slight deviation of the latter into music recording and indeed the microphones needed to impart full range audio recording required for such a complex task.
I have used several audio recording devices and while the sound is normally recorded correctly the main problem is that the range is lost and this is mainly reproduced with treble heavy and bass light results. So any unit with a separate microphone to record bass is certainly worth a good test.
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Garmin’s useful voice commands

Published in Misc by adrianmorant on Jul 21, 2014
The Garmin nüvi 3597LMT is a top of the range satnav providing European coverage. It has a high resolution 5inch display and incorporates a wide range of features aimed at improving navigation and enhancing its usability.
It is roughly 5.5 x 3 x 0.5 inches and is supplied with the necessary cables and a suction mount that can be left permanently on the windscreen. The unit is placed on the mount where it is held in position magnetically and, at the same time, makes the necessary electrical connection. This is far more convenient than the common arrangement where the cable must be plugged each time directly into the satnav unit.

A Crucial question

Published in Laptops/PCs/Apple by adrianmorant on Jul 14, 2014
Within reason, the more RAM you have, the faster your PC will run. A RAM upgrade in an existing machine could well be a viable alternative to buying a new machine that, most likely, will come supplied with Windows 8 installed. The Crucial website offers the information and guidance to make this a realistic option.
796910 AOC A2472Pw4t 23 inch touch screen monito

AOC Android All In One

Published in Laptops/PCs/Apple by paul_smart on May 14, 2014
This is a Touch Screen Unit from AOC, it is also an Android unit in the same case, however it can also be used to connect to a PC/notebook via D-Sub or HDMI and if you add the supplied USB cable this gives you a PC/notebook with full touch screen ability.
The AOC A2472Pw4t measures 60x37x3cm and has a viewable screen area of 51x29cm, which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 23inches. The screen looks bigger as there are two borders, the border to the screen and then the actual units surround. To change from HDMI or D-Sub to Android you use the touch screen controls at the bottom right of the screen. This action can be done before boot or even when the Android system is running and it is possible to switch between the two.
782385 Kingston Digital 32GB Data Traveler MicroDu

External Android Content

Published in Misc by mfereday on Apr 19, 2014
If you do not have enough storage space on your Android device for your music and videos then this next product could solve your problem.
Recently I was introduced to OTG (On The Go) technology with the arrival of a small piece of kit.  This kit consisted of a lead with a male micro USB plug at one end and a female standard USB plug at the other end.  The purpose of this product was to allow the user to add additional storage and content to their Android Smartphone or Tablet.  You attach the OTG kit to the mobile device and then plug in a flash stick to the vacant USB plug.
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Roberts Stream 205

Published in Wireless by paul_smart on Mar 21, 2014
This is a DAB, FM and Internet radio; however it is also a music player and has a full Last FM trial. Roberts are one of the main names in these devices so how does this mid sized unit shape up overall for both quality and value.
The Roberts Stream 205 measures 28x22x9cm which include the handle but not the five piece rod aerial that will add 60cm if used vertically. It can be used on mains or on batteries but the latter requires six ‘D’ cells. The control panel is on the sloping top of the unit there are 15 well marked buttons of different size and shape spread along the top and a large silvered knob to change station. There is a large clear display 6.5x3.4cm which shows relevant information.
756503 Moto G 8GB Sim Free Smartphon

Moto G Budget Priced Smartphone

Published in Phones by paul_smart on Feb 3, 2014
Until now budget in the Smartphone market meant at least £200 and probably more. Here is one that launched SIM free at £139 or less. So does the new Moto G have it all at a price far less than others have offerings in the market?
I have been using the Motorola Moto-G for the last couple of months and I can say it probably is the best budget phone around at the start of 2014. It runs Android 4.3 but the promised upgrade to Android 4.4 Kit-Kat is due very soon. It upgraded on my phone on the 15 January. The phone measures 12.5x6.5x and even with a case attached weighs less than 174g.
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AOC i2460Pxqu Panel

Published in Laptops/PCs/Apple by paul_smart on Jan 24, 2014
This is – as you may guess from the name – a 24inch panel. I have yet to look at any offering from AOC that I would not be happy to put on my desk and use daily and this offering is no exception, a well-made unit with excellent response.
The screen is 54x36x1.5cm the latter at the edges. It sits on a 23cm circular base which raises the screen on a telescopic arm between 2 and 15cm. The viewable screen is 51x32cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 24inches. There is a protruding lip on the rear about 7cm above the base of the screen and this has all the possible connections pointing down so nothing extends outwards and everything is retained within the units dimensions.
This can be lighter than an Android Tablet, however it runs Windows 8.1. The transformer part is a near full size detachable keyboard so all your Windows programs should run and it comes with Microsoft Office installed.
The Asus Transformer Pad T100 measures 26x18x1cm at the front, this increases by .5cm at the rear. It weights 1106grams with keyboard and 516grams without it. While the keyboard supplied is ‘near full size’ the individual keys are 1.4x1.1cm each with .1cm between keys and you may struggle to be a fast typist on it. It has 84keys with the top row of keys being only 1.2x.8cm. There is a 7.6x4.1cm trackpad mounted 8.4cm from the left and 10cm from the right. The viewable screen is 22.
752563 Sony DSCHX50 Compact Digital Camer

Sony CyberShot HX50

Published in Cameras by paul_smart on Jan 15, 2014
It's been a while since I have had an opportunity to look at one of the excellent Cyber Shot range; in fact from memory the last Sony offering I told you about was the NEX6L almost a year ago. Here a fixed lens offering to fit into your pocket.
Just because it fits into your pocket do not dismiss its capabilities. The Sony CyberShot HX50 is a 20MP offering with 30x optical zoom. It is 10.5x6.5x3.7cm, the last figure when turned off, fully zoom in and the lens can extend by as much as 6cm onto that figure. It weights 273grams. The flash flips up manually from the top left edge of the camera and can never be closer than 5cm from the lens.
740719 motorola moto g android mobile phon

Motorola Moto G

Published in Phones by mfereday on Dec 31, 2013
When considering a new smartphone, do you look for the latest, high price model with all the latest bells & whistle or check out the more economical models?
The ownership of smartphones, in the opinion of Motorola, is divided between those who are willing to pay over £400 (in some cases well over) for the latest technology plus the kudos of possessing the appropriate status symbol and those on a more practical and restricted budget that put pricing at the head of the queue when a new handset comes under consideration.
742326 acronis true image 2014 premiu

Acronis TrueImage 2014 Premium

Published in Software by paul_smart on Dec 25, 2013
This is probably the best hard disc full duplication software on the market. Currently on offer with an amazing 250GB of free Cloud storage available, available for the same price (as a special offer) as the more normal 5GB offering.
I have used several previous versions of this software, but always previously the versions supplied by third parties with their hardware. Those versions did just the basic job of cloning or moving data from one place to another. To find out about the new features and especially the Cloud options – for those worried I found their Cloud resides just over the channel in France and not as so many in the USA – I was due to meet with Acronis bosses in September.
737588 BenQ BL2411PT 24 inch Widescreen LCD Monito

Ben-Q Panel BL2411PT

Published in Laptops/PCs/Apple by paul_smart on Dec 4, 2013
This is a nice sharp panel, it has the ability to be used as one of a multiple panel display and can also be rotated 90degrees to be used as portrait which for those writing long items or viewing endless web pages saves a lot of scrolling.
I did not mention what for a lot of people would be an added plus point the ability to display 1920x1200 or of course 1200x1920 and to save you checking the default for most panels is 1920x1080. The screen is 55x35cm giving the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 24inches. The stand raises it a minimum of 10cm from your desk but this can be as much as 22cm using the hydraulic touch control on the back to raise it. The stand footprint is 25x17cm and the total depth of the unit is 22cm.

Aldi 16GB Digital Camera

Published in Cameras by paul_smart on Nov 15, 2013
This Maginon Digital Camera goes on sale in Aldi stores on Sunday, as with almost all of these offers when it’s gone there are no more. This is an ideal Xmas present and rather than having to then purchase an SD card and case both are supplied in the box.
Firstly it looks expensive – it isn’t – second it takes good images – even at lower resolutions – and third as the SD card and case are supplied its ready to go – even a wrist strap is provided – lastly the price is an amazingly low one for such a good camera. My suggestion is get down to your Aldi today as tomorrow they may all be gone. It is 10.5x6.5x3.5cm the last figure is the width which can increase by another 4.5cm when fully zoomed in.
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