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!
Sibelius is probably the best music scoring program around, professionals and music students alike both use it, however for the amateur it is rather expensive and to be honest it does a lot more than they might want so this is a good alternative.
While most will love what Sibelius has to offer one thing will make them choke – the price – so a product with somewhat less functionality is always welcome and the new owners of Sibelius Avid have been quick to produce it at a more palatable price so now the amateur musician can benefit from the ease of use of this great scoring package. Let’s start with something that you will not get with the new package free telephone support.
This is said to be the world’s smallest A4 laser printer, certainly I have not looked at a smaller one. However it is a 16PPM mono offering that works with later versions of Windows without even having to install any software.
It is 34x18x22+15cm when paper input tray is open. It is black and weights a little over 4kilos so should work on a shelf. The unit has a simple design the front folds forward to make the input tray, the top folds forward to make the out tray. At the back on the right edge are the two connections, power lead near the base with USB lead near the top. The right of the top has two LED’s and two push buttons as the only controls on the unit, all very simple and straightforward.
Every once in a while a game comes along that adds an individual twist to a popular genre. This next title could be said to fall into this category.
In the past I have played numerous games that were firmly entrenched in the Hidden Object genre. I can honestly state that each one of these games was based on a storyline of some sort that would lead the player through a series of scenes requiring items to be located with some mini-games mixed in to add some variety. Often the mini games would have little to do with the encompassing story.
The Garmin 1490T is a 5 inch screen GPS unit which offers, as well as the basic features, Bluetooth connectivity, traffic alerts and maps of Europe and not just the UK and Ireland. It is intuitive in operations, provides spoken street names and has a high contrast colour screen which is easy to read under most conditions
At first sight the 1490T appears enormous and one wonders whether, once it has been fixed on a car’s windscreen using the provided suction mount, it will obstruct one’s view and will prevent you from actually seeing the road. However, after a few minutes experimentation one finds a place on the windscreen where it can easily be seen, swivelled to a suitable angle and yet does not get in the way of one’s driving vision.
This is a Sat Nav unit from one of the best known names in that field. This is also an in car TV capable of receiving all the digital channels. Why put both in one unit? Well if you have ever travelled with children you will know why.
The Garmin Nuvi 1490TV SatNav measures 14.5x8.5x1.8cm the weight without any holder is 250grams. It can be used in the front of the car as a sat nav, in the back of the car as a TV and should you wish still as a sat nav where it can still give directions. Finally it can be used in Pedestrian or Bicycle mode as well as Car mode. I tested all but bicycle as I no longer ride a bike. The viewable screen is 11x6cm and even with one single aerial attached indoors. I found this amazingly good.
Up until recently my walking music needs were catered for by the Sansa Clip device. This small (55 x 35 x 16mm) silver and black device has been a regular accoutrement clipped (a feature that explains the product’s name) to my belt but now it has been replaced. So it is time to say a fond farewell to the Sansa Clip as I welcome the arrival of the Sansa Clip+.
This small MP3 player is available in a choice of 2, 4, or 8GB capacities. Whereas the original Clip device came in a choice of five colours, this new model can be purchased in sleek black unless you go for the 4GB version which will also be made available in either burgundy red or ice blue. This review is based on the black 4GB model.
I received samples of the glue (two types) and the tape last year, a few weeks later I was rung to find out how I was going with it, my answer was I would review it when I had found the need to use each product in real situations.
For those of you that were introduced to corporate presentations in the form
of acetate slides and permanent markers things have come a long way.
Am I showing my age? Many were the important presentations where I lovingly drew multi-colour slides with charts and text ready to slip onto an overhead projector. That projector in itself was an innovation - as is this new little marvel from 3M the MPro 150. Acetate was seen off in the corporate field with the advent of laptops and then with bulky projectors that would plug directly into the VGA port.
It has been a while since I had the chance to look at an Epson unit. In fact I first saw this last summer and it has taken till well into the New Year – and a lot of nagging – for it to get to me. So a simple question was it worth the wait?
The Epson Stylus PX710W is very compact for an A4 All In One unit at only 43x45x14cm with cables inserted. The only extra space you will need is around 15cm in front when it is printing. It is totally black so it might not meet with approval from the lounge police. Not only is it a standard All In One unit but it can do all sorts of fancy things to images that standard units cannot. There are a total of 20 buttons on a lift up portion of the front 25x6.
According to Sod’s Law, the odds against a hard disk failure, whether due to outside influences or not, decrease substantially the moment you neglect to carry out a backup of your data. While disaster might not strike immediately, when it does you will be sorry and to paraphrase an old saying “It is no use crying over lost data.”
While backups of old (as I well remember) could be long drawn out affairs involving copious amounts pf disks that were of the removable media of the day; the modern backup process is automated and can be scheduled to take place at a time that will not inconvenience you. Offering to carry out this type of task is True Image Home 2010 from Acronis. Described as PC Backup & Recovery software, this product arrives complete with Windows 7 compatibility and an online backup option.
This is a 64bit Windows Notebook that does not cost the earth. The first commercial (rather than an upgrade) product I used was an expensive disappointment, this however should made the juices move, and for an added touch it has touchscreen technology.
It is 38x24x4cm maximum as the edges are slightly curved and the rear is about one centimetre larger than the front it weights 2.3 kilos. Mine was an electronic blue colour meaning in certain lights it appears black in colour. The rear is clear as the lid opens over it. The right side has a Kensington lock port, Modem socket, the DVD multi drive and two USB ports. The front has a slider to lift the lid and a multi card port.
I have had a satellite disk for years – so long in fact it predates Sky – however the box with it has long been faulty. Humax now have a service that installs a dish and your unit, when the installer arrived my original disk position was unsuitable because of trees in neighbouring gardens.
So he found a new position on the side of the property, fitted a new dish (with dual LMB’s) nearly fitted the cables and drilled through into my lounge. The Humax Foxsat-HD unit came out of its box and was switched on. It then tuned to the satellite (far faster than Freeview tuning) and that was it, less than one hours work and I was up and running.
Completing my round-up of the latest security offerings from BitDefender is the company’s Total Security 2010 title.
BitDefender Total Security 2010 sits at the top of the company’s current range of security protection titles. This product combines the features found in the BitDefender Antivirus and Internet Security offering with the addition of Tune-Up and Backup facilities. A couple of the elements in the product’s installation routine produced the standard dialogue box stating that they had not passed the Windows Logo certification process for Windows XP.
This is the third such device I have seen recently; it is probably good news for both the others that I have seen the Kindle third. However if I had not seen the Kindle third I would never have been able to recommend it for a highly commended award.
This is somewhat different from the other two, yes you can still buy books as you would expect and you can also upload documents and even PDF files to it. Firstly it has a keyboard (45 keys) and second when you purchase items they are sent wirelessly to the Kindle (normally in less than a minute) so you do not even need a computer. By wireless the service is called Wispersync and it uses the mobile phone network, you do not even need to own a mobile phone. It is 20x13.5x.
This is probably the best mini camcorder I have used, image quality is excellent and the sound is also better than other such devices. It is however not perfect as the camera side could definitely be improved from what is available.
The Veho Kuzo Camcorder measures 2x6x10cm, open the TFT screen and the 2cm width becomes 9cm, the total weight is just less than 100 grams. If this were just a camcorder I would seriously consider recommending it for a 5x5 award, the quality is that good. However as it also has a still camera capability that is less than perfect the total mark will have to be less. The rim of the TFT is 6.5x5.4 with the viewable portion of the screen 5x3.8cm; it can be turned through 270 degrees.
Earlier this year I saw a demonstration of Solid State Storage demonstrated at an event currently I understand it is available in 64 and 128GB. I was sent a 64GB unit to review by Kingston, their price seems quite reasonable.
So what do you get. A 64GB module that fits into a SATA slot in a PC, a copy Acronis True Image software and an external USB case to insert your old SATA drive. try to insert the SSD in the external case it will fit but it will work. You cannot format the unit while it is a USB drive, full instructions are supplied in the box. The box is called SSD with Accessory Kit. My kit was for a notebook but they also do a similar kit for desktop machines.
I have been enjoying the vast range of sounds from this unit for a couple of months. Just about time to buy for Christmas as this item that would make a perfect gift/purchase for anyone who loves their music.
Within this small unit it has the ability to play CD’s, FM and DAB radio, an adapter is supplied to incorporate your iPod or iPhone and of course you have an auxiliary input so anything from your MP3 player can benefit from the speakers provided. It also accepts input from SD card and even has a USB input; alas so far it has steadfastly refused to make the tea or even do the washing up. It is 25x14x16cm with cables fitted.
Another in the range from Canon of their superb Ixus Digital Cameras. If anything I think this one is even smaller, but, this does not mean the image quality suffers in any way. This unit is an amazing 12.1MP and gives superb images.
The Canon IXUS 120IS measures 8.5x5.5x1.5cm but it still manages a TFT of 5.5x4cm. It weights 135grams. My unit was two tone gun metal grey. The face has only the lens and the flash, the later cuts into the side of the lens surround but it is never closer than 3cm from the lens when in use. The optical zoom is 4x and it can take images up to 12.1MP. The right side has an almost invisible wrist strap anchor point. The left side has nothing.
Venturing out on to the World Wide Web can be fraught with danger unless you are protected by appropriate software and security measures.
Something that has been improving the TV sound for a number of years, this one I saw in the early summer when I requested it and several other items at a Sharp presentation, this is the first of their items to arrive.
Although I have seen a couple before from other manufacturers in closed demonstration areas this is the first I have had one to review. The Sharp Soundbar measures 77x8x6cm the middle figure is with cables inserted. It should ideally sit just in front of your TV but it can sit anywhere within the two metre length of the supplied audio out cables from your TV. Two word of caution block the line of sight to your TV’s remote sensor that is normally along the front edge of the TV.