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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!

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.
637419 Universal battery charger IDAPT i4 blac

Universal Desktop Charger

Published in Misc by mfereday on Mar 26, 2011
With smartphones, mobile music devices and other electronic gadgets it can sometimes be difficult to find all the power points necessary for recharging purposes. One solution could be to use a universal desktop charger.
Several months ago I was introduced to a product from Inoitulos, a Spanish technology consultancy.  This product was the .  The “i3” part of the product’s title indicates that it was capable of charging up to three different devices simultaneously.  Now the company has come up with an enhanced version of the product.  This new version provides the means for powering four devices at the same time.
634157 nuance naturally speaking 11 premiu

Talking to your Computer

Published in Software by mfereday on Mar 1, 2011
Give your fingers a rest and instead use your voice to communicate with your computer by using the latest software from Nuance.
Having first seen an early example of this product at a Panasonic hosted event in Munich, early last year, it has taken until now for me to get my hands on a sample for reviewing. I have to say the wait was worth it.
What was often referred to as “that box in the corner” or the “goggle box” has now become the dominant and central feature of numerous living rooms.  At the same time televisions has shrunk considerable in depth but increased in width with many families feeling they could not manage with anything less that a 40-inch display for their viewing pleasure.  However not everybody has the space to accommodate one of these wide screen offerings.
629948 bitdefender 2011 total securit

BitDefender 2011 Total Security

Published in Software by mfereday on Jan 13, 2011
Following its normal policy, BitDefender 2011 product line-up consists of the three titles of Antivirus Pro, Internet Security and Total Security.
BitDefender 2011 Total Security offers antivirus protection, firewall capability, network management, file encryption and online back-up in its feature set.  As part of its installation routine, which is not the quickest I have encountered by a long chalk, the software checks out your system for any issues that could cause conflicts at a later date.  It will recommend that Windows Firewall and Microsoft Defender are turned off and does carry out the task for you.
626927 TuneUp Utilities 201

TuneUp Utilities 2011

Published in Software by mfereday on Dec 23, 2010
Keeping your computer running at its optimum capacity is a never-ending task. Why not take the approach of letting software do the job for you.
For those unable to justify the cost of the full Photoshop package then the ‘Elements’ offering has a good percentage of the same content at a small percentage of the price of the full products. If you need both still and movie editing then save again by buying the joint package.
Today the space between Movie and Still editing is shrinking so while these are still two products they are closely linked. However it is still two different DVD’s and also separate installs. Photoshop Elements 9 took ten minutes on a reasonably fast PC and used 2,740MB of hard disc space. Premier Elements also took ten minutes but used only 1,412MB as there is some shared code, officially called ‘shared technologies’.
628294 orbitsound t4 ipod doc

Orbitsound T4

Published in Wireless by paul_smart on Dec 15, 2010
Unlike the T3 and T12 (reviewed in 2008) this is far more than a speaker unit. It does have a speaker as an output but this is an Internet, DAB, FM radio, iPod dock as well as being able to be used as an Auxiliary unit to project sound.
The Orbitsound T4 is also a lot smaller than any such units I have reviewed previously at only 10.5x10.5x14cm, the unit is matt black. The front has a 6x3.5window that shows up to six lines of information, white on grey and it’s very readable even from a distance. Below this is the single speaker but as you would expect from Orbitsound its good quality. The top has the iPod dock and there are fifteen buttons, five along each side and the other five along the front.
If someone told you you could make a ball fly in the air using the power of your mind - would you believe it. We were certainly sceptical - but it's true! This game is just brilliant top notch fun!
If you're looking for a great Christmas present this year then the Mind Flex is one to consider. I was intrigued at the idea of a game that could be controlled by the mind. You can make a ball go up and down, through hoops, land on a see saw and fly through the air just by concentrating. There are two parts to the Mind Flex, the roller-coaster style console and a headband through which you control the ball on the maze of different games.
A classic toy never goes out of fashion. It's 30 years since I opened BigTrak in the Christmas of 1980, and it's as much fun today as ever. Great toys work through the ages. An excellent present for small kids and to remind big kids of their childhood. A big exciting bit of kid for around £30.
Bigtrak by MB first appeared in UK toy shops in 1979/80. It was a nifty-looking six-wheeled tank with a front-mounted blue photon beam headlamp, and a programming keypad on top.
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