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!

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.
660423 blackberry playbook 16G reasearch in motion  tablet compute

BlackBerry PlayBook

Published in Laptops/PCs/Apple by mfereday on Apr 17, 2012
It is small enough to fit in a pocket and can handle your productivity and entertainment needs but takes a different path to other non-Apple tablets.
The BlackBerry PlayBook is a 7-inch tablet that is decked out totally in black.  With a weight of around 425g and dimensions of 130 x 194 x 10mm, the PlayBook could be slid into a pocket when not required or held comfortably in one hand for most tasks.  I say “most tasks” because I found it a little uncomfortable to hold when getting my regular fix of Angry Birds.  Still as I tend to restrict myself to one session of bird-projecting a day, this is a minor issue.
This is another in a range of decent good sized panels recently seen. This one from Viewsonic offers a not particularly reflective screen and joy of joys someone has produced a panel surround that is not reflective shiny black.
The Viewsonic VX2336S panel measures 55x33x6cm but only 2.5cm thick at the edges. The viewable screen is 50x28.5cm giving the diagonal imperial 23inch measurement. Under the viewable screen are five clearly marked buttons to allow any adjustments you may wish to make, these are on the face and not hidden on the bottom edge where knowing what each does means trial and error.
659894 Samsung UE40D6530 40 inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p Smart T

Samsung Smart TV

Published in Entertainment by paul_smart on Apr 6, 2012
A lot of these Smart TV’s are too big for the average room but Samsung have a 40inch version. This fits remarkably easily into the space my heavier older 32inch offering took. It has so much more than TV to offer.
The Samsung UE40D6530WK television is a thin 40inch TV, it measures 92x54x2cm, it comes with a stand 47.5x25.5cm that raises the TV 8cm from whatever you stand it on. If you prefer you can purchase a wall mounting kit and it is not as heavy as you may think. The initial tune of this Freeview HD unit found 115 channels made up of 75TV, 24Radio and 16Data. It took around four minutes and gave you the option to exclude Analogue where it also found the standard five channels.
659892 Lenovo G570 15 6 inch Laptop compute

Lenovo IdeaPad Z570

Published in Laptops/PCs/Apple by paul_smart on Apr 4, 2012
Several people have pointed out to me that it has been a long time since anything from Lenovo has been reviewed so here is one of their latest notebooks a very powerful Intel i5 quad core machine with 6GB of RAM.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Z570 measures 37.5x24x3cm the latter at the rear and only 2cm at the front. It weights 2.6kilos. The viewable screen is 34x19.5cm which gives the notional imperial diagonal measurement of 15.6inches. Mine was two shades of grey except around the screen where it is the normal shiny black. The screen is reflective but a lot less than some. The left side starts with Kensington Lock port, then the DC input, VGA out, HDMI out, e-SATA and finally a USB2 port.
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