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!
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.
As you reach a certain age what was an easy task with a pair of shears becomes a three cup of coffee job and a long soak in the bath afterwards. So why not let a budget priced electric hedge trimmer make it as easy as it never was?
I do not need reminders that I am getting old, the last few times I hacked away at my hedge and a couple of bushes left my body complaining for days – it used to be hours – so a hedge trimmer was the answer as this year even the thought of me picking up the shears had my body protesting. With the cost of this unit being so reasonable even getting my shears sharpened seemed daft so I gave in.
Recently my late evening television viewing habits have changed. The reason for this has been the arrival of the Amazon Fire TV Stick product. This piece of kit consists of the Fire TV Stick device, USB lead and power adapter, remote control with AAA batteries and a HDMI extender cable.
The Fire TV Stick, with dimensions of 75 x 25 x 10mm (H x W x D), has the appearance of a flash drive on steroids. Driving this device is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064 quad-core processor that is rated at 1.7GHz and backed up by an Adreno 320GPU delivering 1080p output at up 60fps. There is 1GB of memory and 8GB of flash storage. Dual band Wi-Fi is built in along with Bluetooth 4 and support for Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound.
With a choice of connection options and added technology, a new monitor from Philips certainly has eye-appeal.
With the less-than-descriptive model number, the 274E5 is a 27-inch LCD monitor that belongs to the Philips E-Line family of products. Featuring an ultra-narrow black bezel, this monitor gives the user an effective viewing area of 597.89 by 336.31mm with an aspect ratio of 16:9. This monitor has an optimum resolution of 1920 x 1080 @ 60Hz. Unpacking the kit reveals the 27-inch panel, an oval shaped black stand, a two-piece AC/DC power adapter, audio cable with 3.
I saw a pre-production model of this unit back in the summer. Now finally as winter grips us all the chance to review it arrives. For me a first, a removable lens camera marketed with the ability to take selfies high on its tick list.
It is 12.5x6.5x8.5cm and weights 453grams without neck strap or flash attached. The lens it came with is a 14-42mm and the action is very smooth. The left side has only the neck strap anchor point while the right side has the matching anchor point as well as a rubber bung behind which are mini HDMI and AV out sockets. The base has a tripod screw and a door behind which is the solid battery and any SD card you insert. The face has just the lens and the light sensor.
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.
It is your responsibility to keep your computer safe from those who are intent on gaining unauthorised access.
An anti-virus product, at its basic level, is like an insurance policy. It appears on an annual basis with an offering of protection, from the machinations of the less desirable elements of society, for the next twelve months. Norton has been a leading name in the field of security. The latest offering from the company is entitled Norton Security which offers protection for a PC, Mac, iOS and Android device.
When was the last time you made a backup of your valuable computer data? Hopefully it was within a period that could be called “recent”. I know it can be a bind to fit such activities into busy modern day living but back-up software, such as Acronis True Image, can be set to schedule this type of operation and automate the process for you so you do not have to bother.
Available in a variety of editions, Acronis True Image 2015 comes with the claim of being “the most complete, easy, and safe full system backup solution for personal use” while offering both dual protection (local and Cloud based) plus multi-platform (Windows and Mac) environments. When installing Acronis True Image, the software conducts a search of your computer system for a previous version of the product.
This looks like a conventional DAB/FM radio and indeed it has both those functions, it is also able to be an Auxiliary output, play anything from a Media server and is also the best – and easiest to use – Internet Radio I have seen.
The Roberts Stream93i measures 24x17x19cm, the last figure is the height to the top of the built in carry handle, the middle figure assumes you have the mains lead plugged into the back. It has a 45cm five piece rod aerial for reception of DAB/FM radio. My unit had shiny black sides, top and bottom, the front and back are matt black. It has a 6x4.5cm colour display in the centre of the front in the top half of the unit, level with this are two large knobs on the left volume and the right tuning.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.