With temperatures rising during July, many companies are keen to show off their Christmas wares.
As you would expect with the UK’s largest IT and Home Electronics High Street retailer, the combo of Currys & PC World has made extensive plans well in advance for the coming festive season. It has even product a Top Ten list of predictions for the must have tech gifts but more on this a little later. With its belief in a “Smart” future, the company has created while offering a range of gifts aimed at different customer groups.
For those who have Wi-Fi but do not have a TV that accepts Wi-Fi input then assuming your TV has a spare HDMI port then this offering from Roku could be the answer. It is somewhat easier to install than the recent Chromecast was.
A little bigger than an oversized USB stick at 8x2.5x1cm it weighs only 20grams. This product streams from the Internet such sites as YouTube are always popular but standard catch-up sites from the UK broadcasters such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD and Demand 5 should also appear in the list of Popular Programs to choose but there are many other categories available. One end has an HDMI plug and the other end a micro USB socket.
Adding to the already large number of Bluetooth speakers in the marketplace is the latest offering from Edifier.
I suppose it had to happen sooner or later as I come across one of those “as rare as hen’s teeth” events such as the appearance of an Edifier speaker product that adopts a fairly regular shape rather than one of those used by the company with its earlier offerings. In this instance the product is the Edifier Extreme Connect. This is a portable Bluetooth speaker system.
Nightmares from the Deep: The Sirens Call is the sequel to Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart which was reviewed earlier on this site. Do not worry if you have not played the first title as, although your character is the same in both games, The Sirens Call is a self-contained offering.
Available from Avanquest GSP game catalogue, Nightmares from the Deep: The Siren’s Call is a Hidden Object Adventure game in Collector’s Edition format. Along with the main game, this title comes with a number of bonus items, the majority of which are immediately available. Right from the start you can access the concept art, cut-scenes, Hidden Object puzzles, wallpaper, music and the Strategy Guide.
Olympus is a name big in cameras and voice recorders. So here a slight deviation of the latter into music recording and indeed the microphones needed to impart full range audio recording required for such a complex task.
I have used several audio recording devices and while the sound is normally recorded correctly the main problem is that the range is lost and this is mainly reproduced with treble heavy and bass light results. So any unit with a separate microphone to record bass is certainly worth a good test.
While the presence of coffee shops on the High Street continues to grow, we still need a means of providing our favourite beverage in the home.
Don’t get the wrong impression if I mention that I am a Mug sort of guy. Let me explain what I mean by that remark. I am the type of person who has always preferred having their hot beverage, whether it was tea of coffee, in a mug rather than a cup. Mainly because a mug holds more of the refreshing liquid but I suppose there is also some of my northern upbringing in there as well.
A small device designed to transfer files without the aid of wires in fact it is a mini direct Wi-Fi network to work between itself and a PC or a MAC or an iOS device or an Android device, it also has some subsidiary uses.
It is 9.5x6.5x1.3cm and weights 84grams. Most of this weight is its internal solid battery that means you need no other leads for file transfer. There is a Quick Start Guide a good quality sheet with a single side in English together with another side that is a diagram of the unit and what does what.
Yes its true, the oh so vital tool we all hate doing is now available for FREE from Paragon Software. The most important thing on your PC is your data. If your hard disc crashes money can replace it, can your unbacked up data be replaced?
While it does not make the time required to complete the task any easier to find the fact that you have not paid for the software – from a reliable company – can lessen the pain. The software is a download I will give the link at the end of this article. I have tried it myself on both my test machine and my own main PC.
Despite a couple of changes in ownership, Motorola continues to develop an interesting range of new handsets for the smartphone market. A recent addition to this range is the Moto E. This handset has been designed with the first-time smartphone owner in mind especially those who are looking for a well made handset at an affordable price.
Slightly smaller than the extremely popular and ground-breaking Moto G (currently fulfilling the role of my smartphone device), the Moto E has dimensions of 64.8 x 124.8mm for the width and height with the curved back varying between 6.2 to 12.3mm. With its permanently attached battery, this handset weighs 142g.
A low slung three in one unit, it prints, scans and copies. You can connect by Wi-Fi or USB. So if the black colour is not to your liking then it can be kept away from the eyes of the loan police and anyone else that must be obeyed.
It is 44x37x16cm; add another 10cm to the middle figure when the paper input tray is lowered. Setup is straightforward but can take up to around 20 minutes and uses close to 800MB of hard disc space if everything is installed. There are just eleven buttons on the front edge and the ubiquitous five position joystick control. The controls are around the 5x3.7cm display. The display is bright and easy to read and while not touch screen the three buttons underneath it control the actions on it.
Whether stored on your computer or mobile device, MAGIXs latest audio product offers to provide cleaning facilities.
MAGIX has released the latest version of its Audio Cleaning Lab software for working with audio files. Following the pattern introduced with last year’s offering, this new version is identified by the 2014 year’s designation. Unlike the 2013 version of MAGIX’s Audio Cleaning Lab, which came with a couple of bonus software items (MP3 deluxe MX and muffin player 2.5), this latest version of the product dispenses with the additional offerings.
The next game is one of those that is easy to play but can be extremely addictive.
While there are numerous games that owe their appeal to some incredible graphics as the player sets out to defeat overwhelming forces, construct futuristic environments and control extremely powerful machinery in competitive racing, other types of games have a more laid-back approach with regards to in user appeal. The use of logic within a simple graphic environment is all they need to grab and hold on to the user’s attention.
While I have seen TVs with curved screens, in fact I seem to remember one vendor claiming it had the first one in the UK. Now around a year later I get one to review. This 48inch offering from Samsung has a great deal to offer.
106x62cm is the height and width but this does take into account the up to 6cm concave in the central area of the screen. To work out the size of the screen would be beyond my ‘O’ level maths so in this case I take Samsung’s word that it is 48inches using the diagonal imperial measurement method. The stand is made up of two semi circles the front larger one is 88cm wide at the two edges. The rear semi circle is 55cm at the edges and they face away from each other.
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.