As I get older, time seems to pass by at a quicker rate. This thought occurred to me with the arrival of Paint Shop Pro X7. It hardly seemed like a year had passed since I had unwrapped and reviewed Paint Shop Pro X6 and now the all new version of the Corel package was occupying space on my desktop. Actually when I took the trouble to check on the dates, rather than rely on my flaky memory, this revealed that the gap between the two products was less than 11 months so maybe my view on time passing quicker was somewhat distorted.
Now firmly entrenched as part of the Corel family of product since 2004, this latest version of Paint Shop Pro is available in Standard and Ultimate versions. My review is based on the Ultimate offering which comes bundled with Perfectly Clear by Athentech Imaging, Reallusion’s FaceFilter 3 and a Creative Collection of extra images, brushes and textures. When installing this software, a 31-character serial number will need to be entered.
The Freecom Mini Solid State Drive, mSSD, is a small and physically robust portable USB 3.0 device that will meet the needs of the road warrior who needs to have a safe, fast and convenient lightweight backup drive with him at all times.
Available in two capacities, 128 and 256MB the mSSD is 80 x 35 x9mm in size and complete with its 25cm USB 3.0 cable weighs just 42g (1.5oz.). Being solid state with a hard aluminium shell it is robust and so will withstand the shocks and knocks that could well damage a hard drive. It has a brushed metallic finish and the activity LED is on one end adjacent to the USB 3.0 connector. As it draws its power from the connected USB port it does not require any external power source.
Here is one of my occasional forays into large kitchen items. This time an offering from Dixons a Grundig Fridge Freezer. This is quite large so should certainly suit a family as far as the fridge is concerned; its what is called 60/40.
First the all-important dimensions, its 1.85metres tall, 66cm deep and 59cm wide, you should allow at least another 4cm clear behind to allow free air flow. I will deal with the ‘40’ first the freezer. Whenever I review a fridge freezer I take the opportunity to defrost my own freezer, this has 6½ drawers but they are not that deep. This unit from Grundig has 3 drawers but they are large.
A product I have reviewed a couple of times in the past. The 15 in this case refers to 2015 and not to the version number. So for anyone owning an earlier version what does this version have to offer that earlier versions did not?
For those new to Painter it is probably the best way to paint with a PC, in previous versions you had the ability to have Water Colour and Oil paints and even had the ability to see it dry – now you can say that watching paint dry is not interesting – and it can be fun to get effects that otherwise would need a canvas and paint to achieve. In this version there are Particle Brushes, these allow you to draw wisps and swirls and even add colour to shades.
As one of its smallest models, the Samsung 32-inch television is the subject of this next review.
Smaller than the previous models I have checked out, the Samsung Series 6 SMART TV LED TV 32 is, as its model number clearly indicates, a 32-inch unit. As with the previous 40-inch model reviewed earlier, this 32-inch SMART TV needs to be mounted on an elongated “X” shaped silver base. Attaching this base involves the use of seven screws that are included in the package. I found that these screws needed more force than I had expected.
I have reviewed quite a lot of Android Tablets this looks similar but is a Windows Tablet. This means that all your Windows programs will be able to run. It has an SSD and will accept OTG or USB sticks up to 64GB as well.
The supplied short micro USB to USB lead enables standard USB sticks to be read. It also accepts up to 64GB OTG natively without the lead and you also have a micro SD slot so plenty of storage available apart from the supplied 58GB SSD unit. Around 6GB of this is taken by a recovery partition and once the unit has Office and other offers installed you have around 35GB free. Yes I just mentioned Microsoft Office you get 12 months Microsoft Office for up to six people.
A visit to a location known as The Ice Tank introduced me to a product designs to reduce aches and pains.
Over the years, the one area of my body that has caused me the most problems and discomfort has been my legs and feet. It all started with a case of crossed toes which needed to be broken and then straightened. Later an in-growing toe nail, which needed to be removed five times including the trimming of the fleshy part of my toe on the last occasion, caused me problems. Several years later a varicose vein needed to be removed from my left leg.
It should not come as a surprise to hear that the latest offering in the Witch Hunters series of titles has a strong element of witches running through the action.
Witch Hunters: Full Moon Ceremony is a Hidden Object Adventure game from the Big Fish catalogue of titles. This particular offering is available in Standard and Collector’s Edition format with this review being based on the latter version of a game that deals with an attempt by a gang of evil witches intent on taking control of the world.
A lightweight upright cleaner with a narrow cleaning head ideal to get into small spaces. Add to this that it runs on an internal battery and you may just have discovered the ultimate floor and carpet cleaner. So is the Hoover Unplugged nirvana?
The Hoover UnPlugged 300R is 122cm tall, the body is a maximum of 13cm wide and deep, the top 55cm is considerably less as is the bottom 20cm. The cleaning head is 23cm wide and from the front to the back of the unit’s two wheels is 17cm. The internal battery has enough charge for 60 minutes of use. This may not seem long but anyone who can hoover for 60 minutes non-stop is doing well.
With Bluetooth speakers now a popular option, some manufacturers are adding extra features to their offerings to make it stand out from the competition.
From its beginnings as a small research institute in 1948, Nakamichi has developed into a company producing design-oriented home cinema audio systems, mini Hi-Fi systems and automotive stereo product plus DVD offerings and the subject of this next review. The product in question is the Nakamichi NBS 8 portable Bluetooth speaker. Arriving attractively packaged, the NBS 8 weighs 400g and has dimensions of 180 x 45 x 55mm (L x W x H).
As we move increasingly towards FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) for higher performance internet, there is an increasing requirement to separate the router from the modem. D-Links DIR-880L Wireless AC1900 Dual Band Gigabit Cloud Router is a high performance unit which ticks all the right boxes for those who are also moving to file sharing and media streaming.
It is roughly 190 x 240 x 45mm in size and can sit flat on a desk or shelf or, alternatively, wall mounted. The keyhole slots in the rear face are double-ended so that the unit, when wall mounted, can be arranged with the antennas above or below the unit. In practice, when wall mounted, it makes sense to have the antennas above and the unit at a height where the WPS button and the USB ports can be easily reached.
On the face of it a slightly oversized screw threaded bulb that can be controlled from an App to increase or decrease the brightness seems a good idea, add the ability to play your Smart Phone music through the bulb seems a great idea, does theory work?
I read the miniscule instruction sheet – with the aid of a magnifying glass – and managed to get my Android phone to control the light with just one permission to turn on Bluetooth. The music played but through the speaker of the Smart Phone. I tried another recent Smart Phone and reached the same point, read the press release again and then tried a third phone all got the bulb working, all failed to play music through the bulb.
First a Smart Phone projector for £15.95, does that sound too good to be true then read on to find out the facts. Second something that requires no assembly a red Chilli Pepper that is a four port USB hub, simple but still useful.
This is a box, a clever box but a box. If you are good at puzzles or assembling flat pack furniture then this is right up your street. There are instructions and plenty of part numbers, but the easiest way is to watch the video guide.
No sooner do I reacquaint myself with the ArtRage graphics software than Ambient Design brings out a new version of this realistic art product for cross platform systems
The latest edition of ArtRage is now up to version 4.5 for Mac and Windows platforms. Just in case you may have missed my review of the earlier ArtRage 4 product, I will recap on some of the salient points of the product before moving on to the new and enhanced features introduced in the latest version 4.5 of the software. ArtRage is a package designed to provide art enthusiasts with the digital means of putting their creative ability to good use.
This is a stereo Bluetooth speaker unit built almost like a triangle without coming to a point meaning that the speakers have a larger surface area to height than would otherwise been possible in a unit of this size and shape.
I saw this at another of the numerous Christmas in July events, strangely although it was connected I could hardly hear anything and it was not that noisy a room. However I was listening to something on my audio unit when I unpacked this and plugged the supplied 3.5mm lead in, I immediately had to turn the sound down 25% on my audio device to avoid being deafened, so nothing wrong with sound output on my unit.
Sad to say the VHS era is now history as digital format takes over with devices such as the product forming the focus of this next review
The Samsung BD-H6500 is a Blu-ray player that has a range of built-in features. With its metal shell encased within a lacquered black casing, this multi-function device will not look out of place in a living room as it acts as the central point of a home entertainment system. This stylish looking box has dimensions of 196 x 360 x 40mm (D x W x H).
With an organisation known as H.E.L.P., you are set the task of solving the case of the Hope Diamond in a Hidden Object Adventure game.
Putting together the combined influence of Big Fish Games and the Smithsonian with the expertise of the development team from EIPIX has resulted in the game entitled Hidden Expedition: Smithsonian Hope Diamond. Available in Collector’s Edition format, this is a Hidden Object Adventure game that takes the legend of the Hope Diamond as its central theme.
The latest entry level phone offering from the company that first brought you a SmartPhone at a price that broke through the glass ceiling. Here is a smart phone that has corners cut to produce something acceptable at a lower price.
12.5x6.5x1cm are its dimensions and it weights 141grams. A well placed fingernail will remove the back to allow you to insert a micro SIM and a micro SD card. However the battery is not user changeable and is a little less powerful than most at 1980mAh. The right side has the on/off button and the volume up/down rocker. The base has a micro USB slot for charging, the right side is clear and the top has a 3.
Our data is often personal and we like to keep it with us when out and about. This next product offers to help in this respect.
While the title of this next product might make you think of a comic book Super Hero character, I was a fan of Captain Marvel in my youth, and some might feel its functionality is such that there is a definite link in there somewhere. And of course there is the design emblem that could re-enforce the Super Hero connection but more on that a little latter.
Power users will often find that increasing the amount of RAM over and above the basic amount that is generally installed in a PC will produce a worthwhile increase in performance as the performance of serious gaming or video type applications is frequently tied to the amount of available memory. Using the Memory Search on the Kingston Technology (KT) website enables one to identify what RAM is required for a particular machine and provides guidance in carrying out the upgrade so that the user can tackle the job with confidence.
Although KT’s goal is to sell its RAM, and it claims to be “the world’s independent memory leader”, it does not over-hype the benefits. One of the FAQs points out that: “Additional memory will not necessarily increase the performance of your computer. It will allow you to run more programs or processes at once or more memory intensive programs.
Having just packed up a 23inch panel and then unpacked this and put it in the same place I am amazed how much smaller this unit is. So size is not everything how does this compare in display, brightness, contrast and other ways.
This Viewsonic monitor measures 40cm tall, 52.5cm wide and 1.5cm thick at the edges. The stand is 16.5x2cm and it raises the screen by 9.5cm from the desk. The viewable screen is 52.5x31cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 23inches. All the connections point down from a central area of the back, 3.5mm sockets for headphones and audio input the latter for those who use D-Sub. Next is the D-Sub (VGA) connection and then two HDMI connectors and finally DC input.
With such a name you would expect this machine to be made in Italy after all the Italians can make a very good cup of coffee. This machine however is made in Germany a country perhaps more famous for making quality cars, it is made by AEG.
This is a pod machine where the operation is so easy they state an 8 year old child should be safe to use it. Once unboxed and the ten pieces of tape that secure it are removed you just have to remove the foam strip from under the water container and follow the rinsing instructions.
In the past I have looked at a number of products from the HMDX range of Jam audio devices. Up till now these devices have been Bluetooth speakers but this next offering, while supporting Bluetooth and providing audio output, belongs to a different category of product. It is the Jam Transit. This is a set of wireless stereo headphones.
Attractively packaged in a clear plastic case with a carry handle, the Jam Transit arrives partially charged so that it can be put to immediate use. Included in the case with the headphones is a micro-to-standard USB lead plus documentation that consists of a folded sheet of instructions and details of HMDX two year warranty offered with the product. Following Henry Ford’s concept of marketing, users have a choice of purchasing this headset in black only.
This device can take the guesswork out of grilling food. It has special settings according to how well or rare you like your food cooked. It even has a mode to allow you to cook from frozen as well as special programs for certain items and even sausages grilled are healthier than fried.
The Tefal OptiGrill measures 34x34x17cm those measurements are the shelf or table space it will take. The grill itself is 32x21cm, as it slopes forward you will need extra space in front when in use for the supplied 29.5x18cm drip tray. In storage this can sit under the unit. The hard wired mains lead emerges a centimetre above the base of the right back support. The rest of the controls are on the lifting arm which is in front of the grill well away from the hot area.
If, in the early part of 1991, you were looking to purchase Desktop Publishing (DTP) software then your choice would have been limited to xPress from Quark or Adobes InDesign. In both cases a price tag of several hundreds of pounds would have been involved. However if you had waited a few months then a third option would have entered the marketplace in the form of Serifs PagePlus product. The launch of this product caused quite a stir as it came with a sub £100 price point.
Now up to version X8, PagePlus continues the practice of arriving priced at a level that will appeal to those on a limited budget. As usual with Serif software, PagePlus X8 requires the entry of a lengthy serial number as part of its installation process. In this case the serial number consists of 25 alphanumeric characters.
Mystery, darkness and hope come together in a triple pack from Focus Multimedia. Originally published by Big Fish Games, the three offerings making up this pack are Hidden Object Adventure games. The three titles are Teslas Tower: The Wardenclyffe Mystery, Fantastic Creations: House of Brass and Dark Heritage: Guardians of Hope.
If you have seen the recent Dulux adverts on television then you will appreciate the idea behind the Tesla’s Tower game. Due to an experiment that did not turn out as expected, the concept of colour has been banished. The scientist responsible for this state of affairs was Nikolai Tesla who now only exists as a ghost in the Ether where he can communicate with you in the role of Maria Tesla, his great grand-daughter.
This is a camera as it has a conventional lens, flash, and shutter release; however it is also an Android unit that does everything that such units do, so maybe someone needs to create another word to describe a camera with extra features.
The Samsung Galaxy 2 compact digital camera measures 13x7x3cm and weights 285grams. The lens can expand up to another 5.5cm when fully zoomed. 21x optical zoom needs a firm base or better still a tripod. However just because it has got it, try getting the image you want without the zoom you will be pleasantly surprised with the results even in low light. The flash when required is efficient without being over intrusive as it can never be closer than 5cm behind and to the left of the lens.
As our personal store of data grows so does our need to access it from various locations. This next product offers a solution.
The Buffalo LinkStation 210 is a single drive network storage device. Offering a capacity of 2TB, the LinkStation 210 provides the user with the means to create their own personal cloud along with the ability to store, organise and back up data. Provided with the external drive unit, this kit contains a power lead with both two and three pin adaptors, flat style Ethernet lead, software disc and various items of documentation.
Here I am looking at two recent items from BoomBotics. Regular readers will remember their first UK offering last year a device for use on a bike among others. Here a Wireless (Bluetooth) Portable Speaker and a set of Headphones.
It is 8.5cm round and a maximum of 4cm deep in the centre. Mine was smooth matt black it can easily fit in a bag or even a pocket. The only shiny bit never shows is part of the cut away underneath. Other colours are available. Just one connection a micro USB that can be used for charging or with the cable provided also provide wired input. One slider switch on/off. Slide the switch and it tries to pair a LED flashes blue or blue and red dependant on the pairing.
It was at a Christmas In July event in 2013 that I first saw one of these. As sometimes happens there was glitch and it was only at their Christmas In July event at 2014 that one was available, however my tests seem to prove it was worth the wait.
Jam Plus Rechargeable Speaker is round at 7cm tall and a maximum – at the base of 8cm across. It weights 258grams. A number of such small devices require whatever they are sitting on to amplify the sound. This is not the case with the Jam Plus that produces all its sound internally. It is designed predominately as a Bluetooth speaker but it also works perfectly well with a 3.5mm lead using headphone socket on your music device and Line In on the Jam Plus.