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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!

Learning Windows 8

Published in Software by paul_smart on May 22, 2013
Rather than a book this is a software package that will work on Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8. It has text to read – this can also be read out – and things to do after it has explained them using a dummy Windows 8 interface.
It will not proceed until you have clicked the correct item and whatever you are then meant to do correctly, a good way to learn. At this point let me say I have used Windows more or less since it first came out and gone through all the incarnations since. Yes I admit that Windows 8 is very different but I would liken it to driving an automatic car after driving a manual one for years.
691157 Garmin 2598LMTD sat na

Garmin's New Generation Satnav

Published in Misc by adrianmorant on May 19, 2013
Over the years satnavs have got more user-friendly and more sophisticated. Garmin’s 2598LMTD is a vast improvement over products available even just one or two years ago. It comes with maps covering 45 European countries and free lifetime map updates so will meet the needs of the traveller both today and into the future. Consequently, as well as the first-time buyer, many existing users could well consider that it is s worthwhile upgrade.
The 2598 is matt black in colour with the exception of the silver styling strip below the 5 inch screen. It is provided with a windscreen suction mount and a 170cm “traffic-compatible” power cable terminating in a mini-USB connector at one end a cigar lighter plug at the other. The mount has a quick-release catch that it would be possible to leave the mount permanently on the windscreen and just quickly detach the unit itself.
Over the years I have been asked quite often what e-mail clients can read the Outlook Express files. This now becomes more pressing as Windows XP support ends very soon. Here is one item that reads these and other file formats, and, if you have one or two mail accounts then it’s FREE.
687811 Creative Sound Blaster Tactic3D Rage USB Gaming Headse

A Wireless Headset

Published in Wireless by mfereday on Apr 18, 2013
If you are a gamer, one of the hard core brigade, then you will appreciate the need for the appropriate tools that have been specifically developed to fulfil certain tasks. You need to purchase or build the system box with high-end components such as the motherboard and graphics cards and boost its performance with a gaming keyboard and mouse. You might also want to complete the line-up with a gaming headset. One such product is the Sound Blaster TACTIC 3D RAGE unit.
Developed by Creative, the Sound Blaster TACTIC 3D RAGE has been designed specifically with gamers in mind, although that should not preclude others from sampling its performance.  This headset breaks what I thought was a rule for gaming peripherals.  Rather than a tethered device, which is meant to give a faster performance, this TACTIC 3D RAGE offering is a wireless headset that comes with a USB receiver already paired to work with the headset.
683984 Sony NEX6 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camer

Sony NEX6L Camera

Published in Cameras by paul_smart on Feb 25, 2013
Since reviewing The NEX5 a couple of variety’s have emerged, however new cameras from Sony are not frequent so when I saw a prototype some months ago I immediately requested to review the new NEX6 when it was available.
Small enough to be a digital camera but it’s not. Small enough to fit in a pocket but it has a neck strap. It can have different lenses and mine came with a 16-50mm lens, this can also zoom to 2.8 times. Another reason why this is a DSLR – although Sony just call it an interchangeable lens camera - is that it has something most digital units do no longer have, a viewfinder.
682650 canon pixma mg5450 all in one printe

Canon PIXMA MG5450

Published in Printers/Scanners by mfereday on Feb 14, 2013
The Canon PIXMA MG5450 is a Photo All-in-One product offering print, scan and copy functionality with a choice of USB or WiFi connectivity. You also get a built-in facility that allows you to print labels directly on to appropriate optical media as part of a second paper input tray.
With a plinth-like top, which houses the A4 flatbed scanner module, mounted on top of the box-shaped ink-jet printer unit, this product has dimensions of 455 x 369 x 148mm (W x D x H).  The MG5450’s outer coating of lacquered black seems to want to tempt you to reach out to touch and feel its smooth lines – especially if you share my hang-up about finger smears that tend to congregate on this type of surface.
All Android tablets are the same is something I have heard stated, well I disagree and here is a great example of a company giving more than you normally get, one such added extra is a full size USB port so importing or exporting is just a matter of attaching a USB stick.
This particular Android table is from Polaroid and measures 26.5x16.5x1.3cm while weighing 672grams. The viewable screen is 22x12.5cm. The system is delivered with Android version 4 (Ice-cream Sandwich). There is a small 28 page User Manual that is well laid out with illustrations to explain all the controls and connections. The screen is capacitive and multi touch so enlarging or reducing something is just a matter of opening or closing two fingers.
680507 acronis true image 201

True Image 2013

Published in Software by mfereday on Jan 22, 2013
Storing your documents, images and music in digital format on your computer is now the de facto choice of many. But how would you manage if this data became corrupted especially if you did not have a backup?
Over the years Acronis has built up an excellent reputation for producing back-up software for the Windows platform.  The company’s flagship product of True Image is now available in its 2013 edition.  This product features a set of tools designed for back-up and recovery tasks and includes support for Windows 8.
680344 Nikon D3200 Digital SLR Camer

Nikon D3200

Published in Cameras by paul_smart on Dec 21, 2012
The Nikon D3200 is the DSLR has the ability to capture the largest images, at 24mega pixel, the highest definition I have ever reviewed. Just think for a moment one tenth of the image size should be enough to print an A4 image if you use it all.
The Nikon D3200 I am looking at comes with an 18-55mm lens and, , this does come with built in flash. Quite unusually I have been able to use this for a longer than normal test period, sometimes this is because the company need it back to go to another journalist or other companies have sent me cameras and either way on this occasion I was able to test and retest under a range of conditions.
674307 Motorola XT890 RAZR i android smart phon

Motorola XT890 RAZRi

Published in Phones by mfereday on Oct 30, 2012
Following my favourite breakfast of bacon baps, I was introduced to a new handset that has become my mobile device of choice.
Combining the talents of Google, Motorola and Intel produces the RAZR i.  This Motorola handset is the first smartphone to combine the Android operating system (4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich) with an Intel chipset. Consisting of a sealed unit, therefore no access to the unit’s 2000mAh battery, the handset has dimensions of 61 x 122.5 x 8.3mm (W x H x D) and weighs 126g.  The RAZRi is built around an aluminium frame with a decorated Kevlar padded backing.
Normally to boot a PC you need a DVI or VGA monitor connected. Recently I reviewed a unit that could be a second unit for notebook that had only a USB lead, so this unit was a new thing for me as it has neither DVI nor VGA.
The Samsung C24B750X Smart Station Series 7 monitor has a surround which measures 56x33.5cm and apart from where it joins the stand is only 2cm deep. The screen itself is 53x30cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 24inches. The default resolution is 1920x1080. The screen has no side to side or forward movement but can tilt back up to 20degrees. The stand is quite meaty at 16x23cm and raises the screen around 9cm above your desk.
673611 Dragon Naturally speaking 12 premiu

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12

Published in Software by mfereday on Oct 18, 2012
While you may not fancy holding a conversation with your computer, it can handle your dictation with the help of appropriate software.
To me this is my discovery of the year. One of the items I saw during the ‘Xmas In July’ round of events and if anyone is interested its top of my wish list for Christmas this year. It gave me lots of good workouts during its testing.
A simple seat and back arrangement it will fit on almost any chair. I remember seeing a similar thing at the Harrods Technology Department launch, that however was built into a dedicated armchair and it cost a lot of money. To have a Shiatsu massage to your back and at the same time Thai compression on your lower back and or upper thighs is amazing. Should you want you can also incorporate heat treatment. The massage and compressions both have three levels of intensity.
665262 tuneup utilities 201

TuneUp Utilities 2012

Published in Software by mfereday on Aug 9, 2012
While a new version of an OS (Operating System), such as Windows, might take a number of years to make a commercial appearance, utilities designed to keep the OS running smoothly operate on a short gestation period.
New versions of utilities are generally released on an annual basis with the year appendage being used to identify the current version.  One such product that falls into this category is TuneUp Utilities 2012.  Available with a three user licence this product provides a range of tools covering different aspects relating to the smooth running of your Windows computer system.
664191 condusiv diskeeper 201

A new outlook for Diskeeper

Published in Software by mfereday on Jul 28, 2012
With a different company name and a newly designed interface, there is a new look to an old favourite with DIskeeper 2012.
Once upon a time there was a company called Executive Software.  In 1981 this company turned its attention to the problem of data being fragmented on hard disks causing deterioration in the overall performance of the host computer.  This was, and still is, a big “No, No” for users everywhere.  The solution produced by Executive Software was a product entitled Diskeeper.
664189 htc one s android smart phon

A HTC Smartphone

Published in Phones by mfereday on Jul 26, 2012
NASA technology and a branded set of ear-buds are just two of the features found on a new HTC smartphone.
As part of its One series of smartphones, HTC has released its One S model.  My review unit, kindly supplied by Vodafone, has an appealing if understated aluminium body with dimensions of 130.9 x 65 x 7.8mm (H x W x D).  Weighing just 119.5g (battery included), this smartphone fits comfortably in the hand and slips into a pocket or bag without causing an unsightly bulge or over-burdening you.
662758 Cocktail Audio X10 500GB Network CD Recorder Music Playe

Cocktail Audio X10

Published in Entertainment by paul_smart on June 18, 2012
With so many people turning to iPods or MP3 those –like me – who have large CD collections need a way to condense the output and this offering allows an easy way to transpose to WAV, MP3, Flac or Ogg Vorbis with little effort from you.
This comes with a rather good database that identifies most published recordings and fills in all the information for you while it is ripping your CD’s. Then with your library stored you can create playlists of simple select by Album or Artist what to play by just using the remote and the units display, just attach headphones or speakers.
662753 gear4 pocket loops music creation studi

Gear 4 Pocket Loops

Published in Entertainment by paul_smart on June 10, 2012
This small keyboard allows you – with the aid of a free download from the Apple store – to create small musical masterpieces on your iPod Touch or your iPhone and even for a novice the results can be rather good.
The Gear 4 "PocketLoops" measures 35x13.5x1.5cm and weights 330grams without the iPod inserted. It consists of a two octave keyboard with a dock at the left end for the iPod. The keyboard itself is totally dumb and also completely soundless, it is just of inputting notes into the iPod it has no power of its own any everything is drawn from what it outputs to the iPod.
This is a very sleek unit – almost flattened – so while the height is tiny there is some width and depth increase. It is a six ink offering ideal for those who need to print decent images, however it still scans and copies.
The Epson PX730WD Epson All In One PX730WD measures 43x52x15cm, for those who place things on shelves – it would need to be a wide shelf so maybe the top of a low cupboard would be better - another 5cm should enable things to be slipped under the landscape scanner lid. The power lead enters back left and both USB and or Ethernet cables enter back right of this unit.
661245 mobile wifi from three

Mobile Wi-Fi from Three

Published in Wireless by paul_smart on Apr 23, 2012
This – sometimes called Mi-Fi - allows you to create a wireless network with up to five devices all using the same mobile signal so if your broadband dies or maybe you live in an area where dial up is your only solution providing you have mobile this could be the answer.
If you run a small business what do you do in a power cut, unless you have a standard BT type phone that will be down, Broadband will be down as your modem requires power, unless you keep your notebook charged you will not even have that. So what do you do, sweep the floor – you certainly can’t Hoover it – as you have no power. This then can keep you going for the - hopefully short - time without power providing you have charge in your notebook or Smartphone.
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