When is a speaker not a speaker? The answer could well be when the particular audio output device is called a soundbar.
The Samsung HW-H550 is a two piece Wireless Audio Soundbar product that consists of the main soundbar element and a wireless active subwoofer. Along with the soundbar and subwoofer units, Samsung has packed various accessories into the box.
If you're looking for a projector (and why wouldn't you be - good ones are abundant and cheap these days, and deliver much more screen real estate for your money than TV sets), you don't necessarily have to seek out the top the range get yourself and your family into the home cinema game. True, what I'd call fully-fledged "home cinema" is costly to set up. But if you have a blank wall and an existing hi-fi system there are bargains out there just waiting round the whole thing off for you. BenQ's flagship W1500 may be a candidate.
Sporting a brown, cream and silver styling that wouldn't have been out of place in the 1950s, the BenQ W1500 is a 2200 lumens mid-range single-chip 3D-capable DLP projector that weighs in at 4.5kg and measures 340*120*285mm (width/height/depth).
Having recently looked at a Freeview device from Humax it seems only fair to offer the same for those who use a Satellite to receive their signal. So what if anything can this method offer to persuade those with a decent aerial signal to switch.
The unit is 33.5x26x5cm and as the current custom seems to be has a front that shows only small LEDs and nothing else when on standby, in just there is a small display to show which channel or recorded item you are watching. My first surprise was that it required Ethernet to do ‘catch up’ TV most units today will do the same with Wi-Fi but if Ethernet is close by it is no real problem.
Apart from the Simplicity Linux I looked at nearly two years ago I have only used Linux run from a CD-ROM. So with a Windows XP notebook now redundant it has too little memory etc to upgrade - time to install Linux and try to master it.
I have heard good things about the Mint variant so I found a download of a recent version and the all important USB installer. According to what I have read you should be able to install from a USB stick providing your PC or Notebook supports USB as a boot option. Mine did and after making the required changes in the BIOS I attached a USB stick with the USB installer and Mint variant of Linux.
Adding to the range of budget priced smartphones, Vodafone has released another member of its Smart family.
Vodafone has added to its range of handsets branded with its own name. This new addition is the Vodafone Smart 4 handset. The smartphone is available in a choice of black (as with my review unit) or white. Powering this Android smartphone is a 1.2GHz Dual Core Qualcomm MSM8210 processor backed up by 4GB of RAM and 512MB of RAM. The Smart 4 has dimensions of 134.7 x 66 x 10.6mm (H x W x D) and weighs 152g (battery included).
This is a watch with the ability to count your steps and even with the aid of the chest strap provided also check your heart rate during exercise. So apart from using satellite technology why has this company diversified into this area.
If your car has a Sat Nav it is quite likely that it could be a Garmin. These days this market is contracting as most recent Smart Phones can offer this feature so other markets have to be tested. While I was happy to test this device my first question is why use the chest band to get heart rate when these can cause chafing when worn for extended periods. I have reviewed other devices that fit into watches and while they give pulse rate rather heart rate there is no chafing possibility.
They are small, they are fast and they perform tricks. Welcome to the MiniDrones.
Parrot, the developer of technologically advanced consumer products for smartphones and tablet, opted for one of London’s high-rise locations to announce that we are about to be invaded by a new generation of connected trays. This initial onslaught will be led by the Rolling Spider and the Jumping Sumo that will perform under the control of Parrot’s FreeFlight 3 application for Apple and Android devices.
No sooner do I complete a review of a Brother monochrome laser printer when another Brother product is delivered to my front door.
As part of its new range of colour laser printers, aimed at the SMB (Small Medium Business) market sector, Brother has released six specific models. My review sample is the entry level model known by the designation of HL-L8250CDN. This is a network ready standalone colour laser printer that connects to a computer system via a USB connection. Brother tells me that the reason for using USB rather than wireless is because many small businesses prefer it that way.
It is described as Retro with a leather over the top grab handle to allow movement. This offering from View Quest is up to date in that it has Dab, FM, iPod and Auxiliary Input. The sound is also up to date in that it is Stereo.
My unit was a bright yellow (called mustard) and cream, there are I am told another seven colour combinations in their range of this British made unit. On checking their website the display showed ten different colour combinations. It is 29x9.5x16cm. those figures do not include the soft leather carry handle that can extend 8cm above the last figure or the seven piece bar aerial that when fully extended rises 70cm from its stored position at the top of the back.
Speakers tend to come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Take for example the speaker currently providing the delivery of my music entertainment as I type this review.
"The product in question is the i-box Max. This is the big and more powerful brother of the company’s Trax Bluetooth speaker which, as it titles might imply, features tank track-like treads running around the body of the speaker’s body. Fortunately, for a more aesthetic appearance, the designers of the Max have dispensed with the treads which were merely decorative and served no other purpose. The Max, however, does retain the same basic shape of a tank-like body.
The Garmin nüvi 3597LMT is a top of the range satnav providing European coverage. It has a high resolution 5inch display and incorporates a wide range of features aimed at improving navigation and enhancing its usability.
It is roughly 5.5 x 3 x 0.5 inches and is supplied with the necessary cables and a suction mount that can be left permanently on the windscreen. The unit is placed on the mount where it is held in position magnetically and, at the same time, makes the necessary electrical connection. This is far more convenient than the common arrangement where the cable must be plugged each time directly into the satnav unit.
As regular readers know I rarely go beyond two items in a single review. Here I break my own rule by covering three. First the Touch Speaker, a close sibling of this earned a 5x5 award earlier this year. Also covered here are Zip Earphones and iPlunger.
First what could be called a standard device a solid battery that transfers stored power to the device. Second something that looks like a larger standard battery and in effect it is as it uses three AAA batteries to do the charging.
Making a change from the usual offerings from Doro, this next handset has a name change to reflect its additional functionality.
In the past I have looked at numerous Doro handsets that have been designed primarily for the more mature user or those with visual or mobility issues. All these various handsets, whether of the clamshell or candy bar style of unit, could be classified as feature phones. This next Doro offering however, while retaining some of the same design concepts of the earlier models, is the company’s first smartphone offering.
It is a rare treat for me to get a DSLR unit in for review. This is one of the few occasions I can persuade Canons PR to send me one rather than their choice which is usually a pocket unit. These are still good units but for a different market.
It is 12.5x10.5x15cm with the supplied EFS 18-55mm lens attached. It weights 624grams. This is a unit suitable for those who have progressed beyond what a basic digital camera can offer. Your first job will be to get used to using a viewfinder that has almost entirely disappeared on its smaller sibling. The screen is used to display a lot of important information about the shot you are about to capture. Once captured it can still be viewed on the TFT.
While multifunction capabilities and various bells & whistle features have their obvious appeal when considering a new printer purchase, the needs of some users can be satisfied with basis printing operations in monochrome. In such instances, the Brother HL-1110 monochrome laser printer is a possible candidate.
I have to state right from the start that I was surprised at the arrival of the Brother HL-1110 printer for review. It was not the model I was expecting and had requested following my recent briefing with Brother. Plus this model arrived in a plain brown box rather than the usual blue and white Brother box. But maybe Brother is taking the opportunity to offer me the chance to compare a competitive product to the Samsung M2022W which I reviewed recently.
This next game is aimed at those who enjoy puzzle type game play.
I am uncertain as to what the title is for this next game. The reason for my confusion is not difficult to understand. For a start when you fire up this game there is no mention of a title. Apart from the GSP logo, you are taken straight to the main menu choice screen. Checking the Avanquest website, which was my source for this game, it revealed that this title was listed as Metro Tour in the Cards and Puzzle section.
This is a panel with that little bit extra. Instead of it being the now norm 1920x1080 this is 1920x1200 and that little extra means that bit more depth, great for viewing more of anything be it a spreadsheet a word processing document or a web page.
The BenQ BL2411PT measures 55.5x36x2.5cm at the edges. The 25.5x21cm rectangular stand raises it by 8cm from whatever you sit it on. All these figures assume you are using it in landscape mode. The fact that it can be rotated to portrait is the reason for the large arm towards the back of the stand. While on about the rear there are three connections available in a horizontal line on the back left VGA (D-Sub), Digital and Display Port.
With its menu of cameras and recorders, a recent Olympus event introduced me to the companys range of hand-held audio recorders.
It has been several years since I last had the opportunity to check out an audio recorder from Olympus. That period of separation has been brought to a conclusion with the arrival of the company’s LS series of smart Linear PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) recorders. Unlike those earlier recorders, this device is aimed specifically at the musician but could also prove useful for other types of customer. The new range of Olympus LS Linear PCM recorders features three models.
Smart TV sets these days are Internet-connected, offer a bewildering variety of programme channels you've never heard of, and can also connect to your LAN to play your music tracks, show your holiday photos and run your home movies. But what if you're perfectly happy with your old, non-smart TV, but fancy getting your hands on these features?
Here comes the Roku Streaming Stick to the rescue. For around £50 it promises to upgrade the IQ of your dumb TV and bring it into line with the latest fashion. But how good a job does it actually make of this?
The device itself closely resembles a large USB memory stick. But instead of using a USB connector it plugs directly into a spare HDMI socket on the back of your television set. It also requires extra power, which is supplied through a microUSB socket that you can connect to the mains, using the mains power adapter Roku supplies, or to any conveniently nearby USB socket.
Within reason, the more RAM you have, the faster your PC will run. A RAM upgrade in an existing machine could well be a viable alternative to buying a new machine that, most likely, will come supplied with Windows 8 installed. The Crucial website offers the information and guidance to make this a realistic option.
Not a weapon of war but a rather good small Bluetooth speaker that can vastly improve the sound of audio coming from your iOS or Android device. It is small enough to fit easily in a pocket or bag but it gives a very big sound.
The Acoustiphase MC-1 Blue measures 12.5x6x5cm and weights just 357grams. Setting up is straightforward and explained well in detail in the 12 page User Guide that has a clear easy to read type even for those of us of mature years with less than perfect eye sight. Even though this is a Bluetooth unit it can be connected to devices by a 3.5mm cable (supplied) so even MP3 players of an older vintage can be used.
We all sweat, some like me sweat a lot, partly due to the weather and partly in my case due to my larger size but also because of various medical problems that I have, so a shirt that promises to not show sweat patches was a must to try.
In a strange and unusual way – called chance - this arrived just as we had the hottest period of the year so surely a good test for any shirt worn by someone who sweats a lot. Those of a nervous disposition maybe should not read the next bit. I wore it allday and the inside was soaking, I hung it out and it dried – I warned you not to read, so be it on your own head – the next day I wore it again it was even hotter and again when I got in it was soaking.
From the one-channel television on offer that some may remember, we now have subscription free offerings with over 200 channels for our entertainment.
As one of the world’s largest manufacturers of digital set-top boxes, Humax has recently increased its range of products with the release of a new version of its Freesat HDR-1000S device. This latest model comes with an impressive 2TB hard drive giving the user the capability to store 1,200 hours of standard definition content or 500 hours of high definition programmes for viewing later.
Having recently told you about an Acer Chromebook this has more or less exactly the same specifications but it also has Touch. While touch on a Windows 8 PC gives far more and Touch on an Android or iOS Phone is normal touch on a Chromebook is new.
On the face of it a roughly £100 premium seems quite an extra to pay for the ability to use a finger rather than a mouse or trackpad to move around a screen. So a good amount of my review concentrated on what Touch gives you that is harder to get without Touch.
I was first introduced to the product known as ArtRage back in 2007. Our next meeting was not until three years later with the appearance of ArtRage Studio Pro. Now a further four years have gone by and it is the turn of ArtRage 4 to renew our acquaintance. My memory being what it is and considering the four year gap, my look at this version of ArtRage 4 will be more like a first contact meeting rather than one of catching up with an old friend.
As its title indicates, ArtRage is a painting package that provides the art enthusiast with a digital means of putting their creative ability to use. This software has been developed by Ambient Design, a New Zealand based company that has its own ideas as to how a digital painting package should present itself to the user on a computer screen. Those expecting a traditional interface for their operating system could well be in for a cultural shock.
The Last Door is a point-and-click adventure game developed by The Game Kitchen, a small indie team based in Seville, Spain, and published by Phoenix Online Publishing where Every game has a story.
Entering The Last Door in the role of Jeremiah Devitt, you need to step back in time – not only to the year of 1891, in which this story is set, but also to that time when low-res adventure games with blocky graphics were the norm. Whether deliberate or not, I felt that the use of blocky graphics in this game certainly added an extra layer of difficulty to the game.
If you are like me and have old PCs that you would happily give to charity my oldest is Windows 95 but worry about the wrong people getting access to data on its hard disc, then I may have found a solution. This is really intended for business use on the grounds of cost.
One solution is to take a spade or similar device to the hard drive and physically destroy it but that means removing it and the whole PC becomes less desirable to the charity. Secure deletion of the hard disc and its contents will take time it is no use just deleting the operating system as those ‘who know’ can still get the data back. Things like your bank details etc are there for those who know how to.
While there are numerous covers for our various mobile devices, one company takes this add-on feature a stage further with extra accessories.
No sooner do I finish watching one of the numerous repeats of an episode of “Only Fools and Horses” featuring Del Boy and his precious yuppie Filofax and the classic “pratt fall” sequence, when a press release arrives containing details of some of Filofax latest offerings specific for the digital user. I should point out that this report is based entirely on the information supplied from Filofax.
The TP-Link 300Mbps Universal Wireless N Range Extender model TL-WA850RE provides the means of improving the coverage of your 2.4GHzWi-Fi network. It is a stepping stone to extend the reach of the network, or fill in dead-spots where there isnt a really useful signal as well as improving existing data throughput where signal strength is weak.
The underlying issue is that, all too often, we find that thick walls, ceilings and metal objects can impede wireless connectivity around the house. A suitably located wireless extender can often bypass dead spots so as to provide more reliable connectivity by picking up the available signal and re-radiating it so that, effectively, it becomes a satellite source of the necessary signal while at the same time maintaining the same level of security.