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!
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.
When using your computer on a daily basis you may not immediately notice any slowing down but the difference will become more apparent as you sit waiting for tasks that were completed in seconds now taking minutes.
Like the rest of us (well at least me), a computer’s performance does tend to fall off over time. No matter how careful we are, our computers and the companion operating system will slow down, develop problems and collect unwanted items, sometimes as if they were going out of fashion. Left to your own devices the task of spring cleaning and bring back the computer to a reasonable standard could be extremely time consuming.
In the six weeks between this being first shown and my boxed copy arriving I have made good use of the DVD given to me at the time. I installed it on my Windows 7 system and it was great all my photos and videos are now properly tagged.
However I never review other than boxed products and I reviewed it on a Vista system and it also ran well on that. It takes around 12 minutes to install and just over 1½GB of hard disc space. However I know someone who installed it on an XP system where it took a great deal longer to install. This was designed for Windows 7 and even takes full advantage of touch screens when they are actually around in the real world.
Lex, the cute and friendly bookworm, returns for his third outing in a Popcap developed word creating game. This time Lex stars in the sequel to Bookworm Adventures which, appropriately enough in the style of Hollywood blockbusters, is entitled Bookworm Adventures 2. Yet again your ability to form words from alphabetical tiles, while managing health and power resources, is put to the test as Lex takes on another batch of characters in a series of one-on-one (well some of the time) contests.
I have been lucky enough to be using the shipping version of Windows 7 since the end of August so if there were any real problems there is a good chance I will have found them. Not only on a 4GB powerful notebook but also on a 1GB Netbook.
Only very recently have I reviewed any Vista systems they really seemed to work well with the operating system. Here however I expect Windows 7 to settle down very quickly. No manufacturer has so far offered me a Windows 7 system to look at even under a non disclosure agreement. So my tests have been with my own notebooks.
Another in a superb range of small digital cameras from Canon. This is the forth one I have looked at in the last three years. This one has three subtle tones from silver to grey and it looks are pleasing even to a style dunce like me.
The Canon Ixus 990IS Digital Camera measures 9x5.5x2.5cm and weights 180grams. The last figure, the width, can extend up to 4cm more when on full zoom. The rear is dominated by a huge 6x4.5cm TFT display and it is reasonable in all but the strongest sunlight. To the right of this are four triangular buttons two above and two below the ubiquitous five position joystick. I suspect all but the real camera novice will know what these do from their illustrations.
I always enjoy reviewing a Blu-ray player, one because I do not own one but do have several Blu-ray discs including several that will not play in a PC with a Blu-ray player, even experts do not know why and two its an excuse to watch Blu-ray movies.
Half way through the review period I got a new TV in for review from Sony (review in a couple of weeks) so this has been tested not only with my 32inch TV but a brand new 40inch Bravia as well. In a short space of time The Blu-ray player has developed a lot and indeed I hear that stand alone recorders are soon to hit the shops. There are of course a number of stand alone Blu-ray player/recorders available for the PC but they need a powerful PC to run them.
As “D-Day” (that’s the switch over from analogue to digital television) approaches for certain parts of the country, it is perhaps the appropriate time to look at a digital set-top box.
TVonics, a British privately owned independent design and manufacturing company that specialised in the digital television sector has developed the MDR-250 digital TV receiver to help users make the transition from analogue to digital television. This product consists of a Freeview box; remote control with a set of batteries; mains power, RF and SCART leads; an IR (Infrared) extender; plus Quick Start and User Guides.
Fresh from a mountaineering trip up Everest, I set out once again but this time to explore the Amazon Rain Forest.
Following on from Hidden Expedition Everest reviewed recently, Focus Multimedia has now released the next title in the series, namely Hidden Expedition Amazon. Although this game takes a different approach in some respects, it still retains the basic hidden object style of game play.
Gardening and I have never been even closely compatible as partners but maybe after playing this game I should try even harder.
Whenever I have attempted to place any bulb or seed in the ground, the results have more in common with a buried rather than a planting. Fortunately this next game brings together these two types of event. Appropriately entitled Plants vs. Zombies is a game conceived and designed by George Fan (I would hate to share his nightmares), who was previously responsible for Insaniquarium (a title I seem to have missed out on). Supporting both the Windows and Mac platforms, Plants vs.
My own modem/router started playing up just a couple of weeks ago and a few days before this arrived it gave up working at all, the wireless side had stopped working some months ago and recently I had to reboot it often two or three times a day.
So when a modem/router suggests that you need no knowledge to attach a new unit I took this with a large pinch of salt. Insert the CD and it autostarts. A number of questions are asked – and answered – by the information already held within the PC. A range of tests are conducted – by the unit – and then it reboots itself. Done, no questions at all. However the one proviso is that your PC was live and then this scenario is correct.
A colour laser printer with an RRP of less than £200 surely is worthy of further investigation. The size is not that large something that earlier printers could not say and it prints quite quickly without colour pages printing at ¼ speed.
The Canon i-SENSYS LBP 5050n is 38x4325cm and as printed pages are delivered face down on the top of the unit no extra space is required. It weights around 18kilos so should be easily moveable if required. When I removed it from the box I noticed there is a cardboard sling that makes removing it easy.
Anyone who can follow a receipt can make bread successfully with a decent bread making machine as it does all the kneading, proving and cooking it will then even keep it warm for you to eat when ready.
There are two tantalising smells freshly brewed coffee and freshly baked bread, either will get most happily out of bed in the morning. The Antony Worrall Thompson (AWT) breadmaker from Breville measures a maximum of 41x27x30cm with the right hand part where the controls are being somewhat less. There is a hard wired power lead emerging from the bottom back right, above this are a couple of protrusions to allow you to wrap the 1.2metre lead around when not in use.
Considering the importance of having an up-to-date backup, it is not surprising that there are numerous products developed to carry out this task. One such offering, aimed at the home user, is Acronis True Image Home.
Since the last time I took a look at Acronis True Image Home, the product’s title has changed from using a version number to featuring the year as the means of identification. As a result this latest edition of the software bears the title of True Image Home 2009. This version brings together several new features to sit alongside its main disk image creation functionality.