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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!

652552 nero 11 platinum multimedia softwar

Nero 11 Platinum

Published in Software by mfereday on Dec 20, 2011
From their base inGermany, the people at Nero have been busy developing the latest version of the company’s multimedia software which is the subject of the review.
The latest version of Nero’s multimedia software is available in Standard and Platinum flavours.  This review is based on Nero II Platinum which contains a tool set that allows you to rip, burn, convert, edit, backup and organise your media to suit your individual needs.
653898 ViewSonic VP2365 LED LCD displa

Viewsonic VP 2365

Published in Laptops/PCs/Apple by paul_smart on Dec 19, 2011
This is a wide screen pivot enabled 1920x1080 display. You have a choice of VGA or DVI connection and for good measure it has a four port USB hub built in. Is this the sort of display to give your office that extra wow?
The screen is 54x32cm; the viewable area is 51x28.7cm giving the notional imperial diagonal measurement of 23inches. It certainly looks nice and a telescopic arm means it could be anywhere between 11 and 26cm above your desk in landscape mode. The depth of the unit is between 6 and 11cm and the fixed circular base that it sits on is 24cm across. The connections are all on the rear under an overhang from the thickest part so nothing connected shows below the screen level.
652002 corel paintshop pro x

A Long Time Favourite Program

Published in Software by mfereday on Dec 6, 2011
Many more years ago than I care to admit or can even remember some of them, I came across a piece of software that had been released as unprotected Shareware. The software had been developed by somebody whose main interests were jet planes and developing software which explains why he named his company JASC – that software was Paint Shop Pro.
Since those early days, Paint Shop Pro has developed into a well-respected commercial product which now forms part of the Corel family.  It has also been a permanent fixture, through numerous versions, on my various systems.  As I write this introduction, the current version of this photo and image editing package is installing itself on my work system.
652718 Kodak Hero 7.1 All In One WiFi Printe

Kodak Hero 7.1

Published in Printers/Scanners by paul_smart on Dec 2, 2011
The latest range of Kodak All In One devices, USB and Wireless and software that can do more than the average software package. Here I am looking at the basic All In One offering units cost less than they did and ink is cheaper as tanks are larger.
The Kodak Hero 7.1 All-In-One printer measures 45x41x19cm, all black and rather boxy, certainly not something to please the lounge police but it can be USB or Wireless and of course the latter means it can live out of sight in a cupboard or maybe behind a settee.
652712 nikon coolpix L23 Compact Digital Camer

Nikon Coolpix L23 Digital Camera

Published in Cameras by paul_smart on Nov 21, 2011
I hesitate to use ‘entry level’ about any camera from Nikon. The Nikon Coolpix L23 is a small digital camera and probably the nearest thing they do to ‘point and shoot’ however this is still a more than competent piece of camera equipment.
This is the only Nikon unit I know that is powered by two ‘AA’ batteries. It weights 165grams and is 9x6x2.5 cm. The unit was a glorious matt black meaning that even the TFT is matt and therefore does not show finger marks. The only non black bits are the lens surround, the two buttons on the top and a central line all in chrome. This is still a Coolpix camera and it takes excellent images while ‘Easy Auto Mode’ is the default a single button press can change this.
651170 symantec norton internet security 201

Norton Protection

Published in Software by mfereday on Nov 8, 2011
As we approach the final quarter of a year, it means the release of titles bearing next year’s designation will begin to pick up speed. This is especially true of titles that provide protection against the various malware threats that attempt to take control of our computers.
The latest protective title to come my way is Norton Internet Security 2012 (NIS 2012 from now on).  Positioned between the company’s 360 All-in-One Security package and its Antivirus product, NIS 2012 offers to provide protection against a range of malware threats including online identity theft, infected and unsafe websites, phishing, spyware and social network threats.. Installation of NIS 2012 is straightforward and relatively quick.  On the test system, a 1.
650986 acronis true image home 201

True Image Home 2012

Published in Software by mfereday on Oct 27, 2011
While a product that I use on a regular basis, this next title does have a feature that annoys me from time to time. That time being when I install a new version.
When faced with a new software product, your first experience of the software will be with its installation routine.  While many software packages make this introduction to a title as user-friendly as possible by keeping the user intervention to a minimum, this is not always the case.  Sometimes an installation will go out of its way to make things more difficult than they need to be.
650722 BitDefender Total Security 201

Bitdefender Total Security 2012

Published in Software by mfereday on Oct 18, 2011
It is about that time of the year when software packages begin to appear bearing next year’s date as part of the title.
The first such offering to find its way into my hands this year is Bitdefender Total Security 2012.  As you can probably surmise from the title, this is Bitdefender’s all encompassing protection offering product that includes antivirus, antispyware, backup, firewall, parental control and home network management in its feature set.  My review is based on the one year, one PC licence product – a three-user version is also available.
650907 hp Pavilion DM1 3200SA 11.6 inch Noteboo

HP Notebook DM1

Published in Laptops/PCs/Apple by paul_smart on Oct 14, 2011
During my visit to the Gadget Show in Birmingham last April I saw one of these on the HP stand. There and then I requested to review this cross between a Netbook and a Notebook, the HP Notebook DM1, that has an extra front end feature to use.
The HP Notebook DM1 measures 29x20x3.5cm at the back and only 1.5cm at the front and it weights 1560grams. Unlike the majority of small units I have reviewed this has an AMD chip and not an Intel one, in use it seems just as good. The Windows Experience gives an overall figure of 3.7 made up of Processor 3.7, Memory 5.5, Graphics 4.2, Gaming Graphics 5.6 and Hard Disc 5.9.
646866 PCTV Systems DVB T2 290e nanoStick HD TV Tune

PCTV nanoStick T2

Published in Entertainment by paul_smart on Jul 27, 2011
This is a company owned by Hauppauge who were one of the first to produce TV cards in the UK. Of course with more notebooks sold than desktops you need a USB stick and not a PC Card, so is this what we all now need?
I have reviewed a few other USB sticks but always although the aerial connection has been the same performance has been less than sparkling. So would this unit fail to shine or would a manufacturer has got things right. The USB stick/receiver is 8x2x1.5cm with the aerial adapter inserted in the end. The only possible problem is with USB ports stacked on top of each other where you may require an extender lead (supplied) to make all ports available.
647065 alawar the treasures of montezuma

Treasures of Montezuma 3

Published in Entertainment by mfereday on Jul 20, 2011
Be warned as this next title can grow on you as you build up points to progress through levels and collect the treasures of Montezuma.
As the title of Alawar’s Friday Games “The Treasures of Montezuma 3” indicates, this is the third offering in this Match-3 game series.  Following the pattern set in the earlier titles in this series, this game belongs to the Match-3 style of play where you have to exchange two adjacent tiles or tokens in order to create a horizontal of vertical group of three or more of the same colour.
646859 Q2 Cube Wireless Internet Radi

Q2 Internet Radio

Published in Wireless by paul_smart on Jul 15, 2011
At a recent one evening exhibition to show off new products I saw much of the same that I saw last year however there were a couple of interesting items and this cube is perhaps the star of the show its ingenious.
Often the opening sentence says it all however I doubt anyone has the faintest idea of what this cube does from what is written above, however if you stop reading now I can guarantee it will be you who will be the loser. This is a truly innovative Internet radio. The First of its kind that I have seen. Simple in operation, it does one thing, its brilliant. It is a 10cm cube available in many colours. The only connections are on the back a mini USB to charge it. A 3.
646225 avanquest jewel quest 5 the sleepless sta

Jewel Quest Returns

Published in Entertainment by mfereday on June 29, 2011
As a fan of match-3 games I always look forward to the next title in the Jewel Quest series. This time the game covers locations such as the American West andEngland.
Each time I come across a new title in the popular Jewel Quest series, I am convinced that the developers will not have been able to come up with some new features to enhance the basic jewel swapping concept.  Each time I have been proved wrong as new board designs, types of game play, bonuses and well-constructed storylines have been implemented into various titles.  The latest Jewel Quest offering to take up residence on my hard drive is Jewel Quest 5 The Sleepless Star.
644977 livescribe echo digital pe

Livescribe Echo

Published in Misc by mfereday on June 2, 2011
Not so long ago I took a look at the Livescribe smartpen. This was the Pulse model and I was impressed with its functionality. Now Livescribe has produced a new model which goes by the title of Echo.
If you are unfamiliar with this type of device I should explain that a smartpen, at its basic level, saves a digital copy of any notes you make and then allows you to transfer them to a computer for editing purposes so that they can be integrated into other work.  In the case of the original Pulse you could also record the audio from a conversation or presentation while you were taking notes.  This audio recording would be digitally linked to the transcript of your notes.
644476 GE DV1 Pocket Digital Camcorde

GE Camcorder DV1

Published in Cameras by paul_smart on May 25, 2011
Often not being the first to market is a plus as is the case here. The ‘Flip’ has long been the best pocket camcorder around; many have tried to copy or improve. Here with the best bits from several is this offering from GE.
GE have been in the small –pocket size- digital camera market for a few years now, last year they brought out a DSLR like unit that was a good bit larger. Here they go smaller with a pocket camcorder that has bags of features. It is 10x5.5x1.8cm and weights 146grams. It is stated to take full HD movies (1920x1080) but importantly it can take lesser sizes. It is stated to be shockproof with a 1.
A new netbook from Asus comes with two "firsts". One was to do with Asus while the other was a first for me.
As part of its Seashell range of products, Asus has released the Eee1015PEM.  Available in a choice of white or black (the review model), this netbook is the first Asus model to feature Intel’s dual-core Atom processor within its slim line casing.  With dimension of 262 x 178 x 23.6mm (W x D x H) in its closed state and weighing 1.27kg (6-cell battery included), this netbook should not inconvenience the user too much in its role as a travelling companion.
643627 magicbox tower iPod dock station DAB radi

Magicbox Tower

Published in Wireless by paul_smart on May 4, 2011
To me this name makes it sound ‘large’ and it certainly isn’t, in fact I am fairly sure it’s the smallest DAB, FM and iPod dock unit that I have seen, it is of course a tower shape but only very little, however the sound it gives is not small.
The maximum height of the Magicbox Tower is only 16.5cm tall (1.5cm less at the front) 8cm wide and 6.5cm deep, these figures do not include any iPod or iPhone that gets inserted 2cm below the top. The unit I reviewed was metallic red apart from the front and top that was black. I see that purple, blue and all black are also available. The front edge of the top has volume – and + buttons with a snooze control between them.
This is a small neat Netbook with the faster Intel 1.66GHz processor and Windows Starter edition. Ideal for travelling as with the larger battery you could get a days use. While colour is not important to me this cream and grey offering is nice.
The Packard Bell Dot SE Netbook is 25.5x18.5x2cm and it weights just 1125grams in the provided slipcase, as stated mine was cream with silver grey surround to the keyboard, the keyboard itself was cream with black lettering, this means no visible fingermarks, the viewable screen is 22.5x12.5cm giving the diagonal 10.1inch imperial measurement.
639871 brother dcp 7055 laser multi functio

A Laser Multi-Function

Published in Printers/Scanners by mfereday on Apr 21, 2011
While multi-function devices tend to be based on an inkjet printer, this is not always the case. For example the Brother DCP 7055 is a multi-function device that provides print, scan and copy features based around a laser technology for providing hard copy.
Decked out in a fairly standard computer grey, the DCP 7055 expands from a base measurement of 375 x 365mm out to 405 x 398.5mm at the top.  Brother has fitted a paper tray, laser printer and an A4 flatbed scanner into the unit’s height of 268mm.  Although larger, especially with regards to the height aspect, than an inkjet multi-function device, the increase is not too excessive. Setting up the DCP 7055 is relatively straightforward.
641652 nuance naturally speaking 11 premiu

Dragon, the best way to speech

Published in Software by paul_smart on Apr 15, 2011
The numbers of people producing speech software are reducing and Dragon is the main player in the PC part of the market, they are now part of Nuance. So what advantages does version 11 have to make you rush out to purchase?
First the bit that may confuse, the various versions now have new names, what was Standard is now called Home, what was Preferred is now Premium (the one I am looking at) and then there is Professional and Legal. While I am not a heavy user of speech software I have used it in some form or other for around ten years. The main difference now is that ‘training’ is not essential to get reasonable results.
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