What would you do with an extra 8 terabytes of available storage? In my case I opted to use this storage space for a full system backup plus my collection of digital music and videos for starters.
As can sometimes happen, especially when an occasional urge prompts me to start (and rarely finish) one of my infrequent clear-out sessions, I came across a couple of 5.25-inch floppy disks just as I was about to begin this review. Those were the days when fully-fledged applications could fit on a single 720K disk with room to spare. Nowadays DVDs, or large downloads eating into data quota, are required when installing applications and games (smartphone and tablet apps aside).
Based on a H. P. Lovecraft novel, this next game places you in the role of a detective attempting to defeat a recently raised-from-the-dead murderer.
Dark Mysteries: The Soul Keeper is described on the box as a “thrilling and supernatural Hidden Object Adventure” game. This title, developed by Cerusus Media, is now available in Collector’s Edition format from Avanquest’s GSP games’ label. Along with the main game, there are some bonus items which I will return to a little later.
With a lot of people downloading everything I rarely get the chance to review few audio systems with a CD now. While the number of us still buying media is falling we are still a substantial part of the market and CDs need to be played.
While my own unit is smaller in width the total size of this includes the speakers so with everyone having less space for everything this could make an extremely good multi-unit. It is 34x20x11cm, the middle figure is with leads inserted in the rear. The only other requirement is for the built in five piece rod aerial that rises 68cm when fully extended. On first switch on make sure the rod aerial is extended and it should Auto tune for DAB in my case it finds 67 stations very quickly.
While desktop and lap systems usually feature an optical drive with burning capabilities, the supported format tends to be of the DVD variety. This next product includes Blu-Ray support.
Whatever others may state, size is important. However it does not really matter what the actual dimensions are as long as they are suitable for the user’s current needs. Currently the IT industry is throwing its not inconsiderable weight (and that is another issue that needs to be taken into consideration) behind mobility and the associated subject of miniaturisation.
Colour lasers are no longer huge, they are no longer that expensive and they print colour at 25% of the speed that mono pages do. In fact the other half could even be happy as it can connect wirelessly so does not need to be in sight.
It is 40x42x31cm no further space is required as the output tray is within those figures. The only thing that protrudes from the bulk of the unit is the input tray at the base by 8cm and I have included that in the overall dimensions. It weights 14kilos. It is ready to work 20seconds after switch on. A 3second push on the on/off button is required to turn it off. All the connections are in a vertical line back right, that is AC power, Ethernet, USB and phone line.
The first a smaller version of the USB dongle I reviewed last year, this one less likely to protrude excessively. Second a large capacity USB stick that has lack of overall size as the connection to the port is interior rather than exterior. The last is a simple thing for a simple job.
If there was a drawback to the AC 1200 reviewed in November it was possibly when moving a notebook around the larger size could possibly cause difficulties. Size or rather the lack of it is both the plus and minus points for this excellent unit. Size is not that important when used in a static unit with lots of free USB ports, size is vital on a notebook or laptop with limited ports available.
I have reviewed a number of large DAB units, a few units that can be considered audio systems but I think only two units previously that are small enough to move out and about without the tether of a mains lead connected.
This is both a DAB and FM unit. It is 16x9.5x3.5cm this figure is without leads inserted into mains input or optional earbud/headphone output or the six piece 67cm total height aerial extended. It is mains or battery powered the latter by four ‘AA’ batteries. I tried both standard and rechargeable units without problem. It was possible to charge the latter in situ by using a tiny flip switch in the battery bay. The left side has a line of three sockets. USB for firmware updates, 3.
It has been a while since I last had the opportunity to check out a HP printer. If memory serves me correct, this unit was a home photo printing model that I reported on in 2008. It was therefore quite a surprise when HPs PR agency rang me up out of the blue and asked if I would like to review the HP Deskjet 2540 product.
The HP Deskjet 2540 is a multifunction device that offers print, scan and copy facilities with the option of either USB or wireless connectivity. With dimensions at the base of 398 x 195mm (W x D), this unit expands through its height of 156.60mm to a top measuring 425.23 x 305.82mm. Decked out in non-reflection off-white, making a pleasant change from the usual diet of black (either of the matte or lacquered hue) models, this device has a fairly clean-cut look with rounded corners.
Like the grandmother in Red Riding Hood, there is a connection between the grandmother in this tale and a creature of the wolf family.
The Curse of the Werewolves is a Hidden Object Adventure game developed by Nordcurrent. The game is available in Collector’s Edition format from Avanquest’s GSP game label. This title bundles a couple of extra items with the main game. You get a jigsaw game with three different pictures to complete plus a similar number of wallpaper options. Both of these bonus items are immediately available from the game’s main title screen.
A set of not that heavy on ear headphones. A novel touch that you notice immediately is the slim red and blue rings that sit in the centre of each earpiece to help you decide which way the earpieces fit without looking for the little L.
They are 18cm from base of earpieces to the top of the headband. There is 2.5cm of expansion on each side of the band so these should suit all but the largest of heads. The total weight is just 200grams. The lead is hardwired into the base of the left earpiece. 15cm down the 1.4metre length is the phone answer silvered toggle. The lead is round and rubber, the 3.5mm plug is of course gold plated.
This next product has been designed as a container to turn a smartphone into a more appealing educational tool.
In the past I have reviewed a number of soft toys designed to pets. This list includes a Dragon’s Den bear (it had a tape recorder built into its stomach), cats, dog, penguin and a parrot. Now I can add the Ubooly which, unlike the other pets mentioned, is of a breed previously unknown to the public at large. So perhaps a few words of explanation would be beneficial.
The Pentax K3 is a weighty and powerful 24M pixel DSLR unit. I was sent the body and a 18-135mm lens. It went on my various journeys for several weeks, so not only did I get my normal range of test shots but some interesting Landscape offerings.
The K3 measures 13x9.5x15cm the last figure with the lens fully in, add another 6cm for fully zoomed out, surely a situation that should be used very rarely and then only when mounted on a weighty tripod. The camera and lens weight is 1250 grams. The right side has neck strap anchor point and below this a flip door that hides two SD card slots. Below this a rubberised door to take (optional) DC power.
The Tablet Tail is also called a Monkey Kit useful to hold your Android or IOS device in a viewable position. Parrot Flower Power is a device to stick in the soil near your plant and it will notify wirelessly when it needs watering or is too hot or cold.
This is in fact two items in one. First a suction device to fit onto the rear of a Tablet or large Smartphone or IOS device. Second a long bendable tail much like a monkeys that can be used in similar way to grip onto things that otherwise would require more permanent fixings. First the suction device it is circular at 9cm across and around 4.5deep. It has 5cm rounded strip that you depress to remove the air once attached.
Alex Hunter is your typical Private Eye or some might prefer the term of Gumshoe. Typical that is if you exist in a world inhabited by characters created by authors such as Mickey Spillane and Raymond Chandler. This slightly more refined Private Eye, than those Spillane and Chandler originals, is your role in the Epic Star developed game of Alex Hunter Lord of the Mind.
Available as the Platinum version from Alawar, Alex Hunter: Lord of the Mind belongs to the Hidden Object Adventure genre. I presume that the “Platinum” designation is just another way of stating that this is a Collector’s version as the game as both contains similar bonus items. Some of these bonus items, such as concept art, music and a secret room, can only be accessed once the main game has been completed.
Two software packages, first one to do backups and even duplicate your hard drive. Second one that works with your Web Cam lots of notebooks and laptops come with version 3.5 which was fun, this however is version 6 that does far more.
A lot of items are now only available via downloads and this is one. While it may still be in the shops only the download is available for review. This version supports Windows 8 and the various tools even appear as separate icons in Windows 8 style when used on a Windows 8 system. It is also able to support the very latest Windows 8.1. I also tested on Windows 7. I am told – although I did not test it – that it supports Server 2012 R2 and VMware’s ESX hypervisor.
Very decent home cinema projectors can now routinely be had for around 500 quid. But how do you pick a winner you'll be happy to live with from this cheap and cheerful bunch? As the TV industry hurries us ever upwards towards 4K (four times the number of pixels in a regular HD TV screen) punters tend to view pixel count as the prime requirement. Chris Bidmead thinks there are more important factors to look out for.
Epson's entry level EH-TW490 is "HD Ready". It's a confusing industry label (designed to confuse?) that in this case means it projects a screen into which it's possible to fit a 720x1280 pixel matrix with a few pixels to spare at the top and bottom. Hang on, though? Isn't that not much more than half what a true 1080p HD screen ought to be? And can't I pick up a proper 1080p projector for around the same price? The answers are yes and yes. And my response is fergetaboudit.
The latest headset to arrive from Creative contains some features I had not previously encountered before.
Unlike the previous two headsets from Creative (TACTIC 3D and Evo Zx), which were coloured a distinctive and eye-catching red, the company’s new Hitz WP 380 headset has a more subdued appearance. This headset is predominately black in colour apart from brushed silver ear piece attachments. Another difference is that this headset has a more compact and lightweight feel to it.
Described as an epic makeover of the ancient tile matching board game, Age of Mahjong (one of the various spelling used for this Chinese board game) combines a series of Mahjong board layouts with a story line that spreads over 56 levels. This Adept Software developed game was originally published by Alawar and now forms part of Avanquests GSP games catalogue.
Certainly a unit to be considered as a Desktop replacement, it is large and heavy and for me anyway does not sit comfortably on the lap. It is however very fast and powerful. One feature I have not come across previously a yellow lid.
The Gigabyte P25 measures 39x26x4.5cm, the last figure at the back which narrows to only 1cm at the front, it weights a mighty 2.74kilos. The viewable screen is 34x19.5cm and the notional diagonal imperial measurement is 15.4inches, the screen resolution is full HD 1920x1080. The screen goes back 45degrees beyond vertical. There is a built in webcam. The edge of the screen is silvered and the screen surround is grey rather than black and joy or joys has a matt finish.
Just before Christmas I attended a Braun event that included the companys latest range of electric shavers.
Braun is part of the P&G (Procter & Gamble) family of popular brands found in many homes. This family includes Ariel, Fairy, Oral-B, Duracell, Gillette and Febreze. As such, with its range of products classified as Male Grooming, Female Grooming and Hair Care, Braun believes by combining design and functionality into its products this will improve the customer’s lifestyle. One such product range is the company’s new line-up of electric shavers.
Often such devices fail after a few feet, here is one I could leave my lounge, move to front door and then out into the street. Now that is what I call Wi-Fi and unlike some that only work for things with a 3.5mm jack these will work with RCA jacks as well.
They are lightweight at only 252grams, the size is not huge considering they are over ear offerings at 18cm from base to top and 17cm at the widest point. Each arm has 3.5cm of expansion. The expansion joint is also where the earpieces can collapse to enable them becoming smaller for transportation. Total size is 15x10cm. It is possible to use them as standard headphones with a 3.5mm lead plugging into the base of the left earpiece.
First Deezer a free streaming service most will have heard of but it can for a fee offer far more and its rather good. Second a SIM for those who just require Mobile Data or for those with dual SIM units at a very good price.
If like me Deezer is on a long list of things to try – when you have a moment – you may not have done so. A chance to visit somewhere I have not been for a very long time enticed me. The more I use Deezer the more useful I find it. As regular readers will know my passion is Jazz and most services of this sort seem to think Jazz starts with Miles Davis and ends with Dave Brubeck, both excellent artists but it has a lot more to offer.
Somewhere in the virtual world of adventure game play is the Palace of Laroche. Built to serve and protect the family of De La Roche as they rule their kingdom, Laroche Palace has recently become a place of mystery as everybody within this magnificent building has succumbed to a deep sleep - everybody that is until you awake. Initially you will have no memory as to who you are or how you came to be there. So starts the game of Mystery Murders: The Sleeping Palace.
Available from Avanquest’s GSP games’ label, Mystery Murders: The Sleeping Palace is a Hidden Object Adventure title. Before starting the game, which is spread over six chapters, you can adjust the volume levels for music and other effects including the spoken dialogue that occurs throughout the game. You can also opt to play in full screen mode and use the rather stylish mouse cursor which changes shape to indicate when various actions are possible.
I first saw some Sonos speakers around eight years ago, great sound but very expensive and only at that time for Apple. Over the years they have become more affordable and now useable with Apple, PC, Android and IOS.
I was sent two Play 1 speakers and a Bridge but you can work with just a single Play 1 unit. Setup should be straightforward and the supplied Quick Start Guide lists just four things to do. The one thing you need to download is a controller app and this varies according to which of the four device categories you are using it with. I downloaded one for PC around 10MB and one for Android around 7.5MB but iPhone and iPad (different controllers) or MAC are also available.
As a store within a store, Kobo offers readers a viable alternative to that available from the Amazon Kindle family. Kobo even offers a full fledged tablet option.
The Kobo Arc 10 HD+ could be accused of having a split personality. The device could be considered to be your personal eBook Reader or you might prefer to regard it as an Android tablet with all that that entails. In fact the Kobo Arc 10 HD+ fulfils both of these functions within a single device.
Set in a nightmarish world, this next title sets a mother against a clown in a battle over a husband and a daughter. Just who will win?
Released as a sequel to Alawar’s Stray Souls: Dollhouse game is Stray Souls: Stolen Memories. This Hidden Object Adventure game is now available as part of the Focus Multimedia extensive game catalogue in Collector’s Edition format. Along with the main game, this offering contains a range of bonus items made up of wallpaper, concept art, music, character art, video clips and mini games.
A while ago I told you about Philips Hue lights which change to any colour and intensity you want using an IOS App. Now a link up with Disney and various story books linked to a Philips Hue Mickey Mouse light that works in a similar way.
Mickey consists of a 13.5cm round face with a Philips Hue bulb fitted behind it in a sealed unit. His ears are plain black rubber and circular at 7cm across. The rear of the fitting is red and angled top fit on a wall of fitment to be looking down at the child. The DC connection is hard wired into the back with a small inclusion in the base to let the wire track away a push in connector comes after 40cm so it can be disconnected by a parent.
In the past I have reported on a Sandberg Bluetooth speaker and now it is the turn of a Bluetooth headset from the same company.
Headsets come in a variety of shapes and sizes with feature sets to suit the needs and budget constraints of individual users. For example there are in-the-ear, on-the-ear and over-the-ear styles with choices such as tethered, noise-cancelling and Bluetooth connectivity plus a range of colours that could put a rainbow to shame. And of course there is always the issue of the price tag.
Until now budget in the Smartphone market meant at least £200 and probably more. Here is one that launched SIM free at £139 or less. So does the new Moto G have it all at a price far less than others have offerings in the market?
I have been using the Motorola Moto-G for the last couple of months and I can say it probably is the best budget phone around at the start of 2014. It runs Android 4.3 but the promised upgrade to Android 4.4 Kit-Kat is due very soon. It upgraded on my phone on the 15 January. The phone measures 12.5x6.5x and even with a case attached weighs less than 174g.