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.
Doro have long been the company to look after those who have limited hearing and or sight. Here is what even for Doro is an entry level product. However for not that much money it could for a vulnerable person be a real lifesaver.
One thing that often bothers those less able is the abundance of extras that often confuse. Here most of those are already stripped out but even some basics can be removed from the setup menu so you just have little more than a phone. One thing Doro never remove is the emergency button which can be linked to a relative, neighbour or the emergency services once setup this is a real lifeline for those who do not have regular contacts.
Every year Cyberlink find new features and enhancements to add to their products, these are enhancements which include faster working internally and extras added externally like Mobile Apps, Free Cloud Storage and much more.
Cyberlink now have a subscription option offer like the one favoured by Microsoft but for those who still prefer to own outright the media they still offer that choice in three forms Standard, Pro and the one I was sent the top of the range Ultra.
It has been a while since I last took a look at a Wacom device but a visit to a distributors trade show brought that period to an end.
While the keyboard and mouse combination can fulfil the needs for desktop system users for the vast majority of tasks, artistic creation is one area in which you could struggle. In my case the lack of any talent in this field would play a major part but that’s another matter. Offering to provide assistance in this respect is the Wacom Bamboo Pad. This product is a wireless Touchpad device with digital stylus.
These are marketed as the loudest wireless headphones. This is a bold statement but while I cannot confirm or deny it, they are loud and not only that they have a very good range from the base station, and, for good measure they are comfortable.
I am not wild about over ear headphones as they normally make my ears sweat but these were not too bad. As regular readers will know I am bald, not the modern bald from choice, but simply through old age. I can wear these fully contracted as they fit well over the ears and the large amount of padding on the centre of the headband holds nicely on my head. For those who have a lot of hair or just have larger heads each arm has 3cm of expansion.
Once again my trusted LG flat panel monitor is put into cold storage as I check out a new release from AOC.
As part of its latest batch of products, AOC has released its i2473Pwy model. This is a 23.8-inch IPS monitor that comes mounted on its own rather bulky black stand. Included in the box with the monitor are various leads for power connection, D-SUB 15-pin analogue cable and an HDMI lead plus a CD containing a PDF version of the User Guide and the usual collection of AOC utilities for use with this monitor.
This is four items in one, it prints, scans, copies and for those who still use it Faxes. It is not that large but still has an ADF (Auto Document Feeder) as well as a flatbed. Everything on the unit is driven by buttons and the small display.
The Canon Inkjet Multi Function MX395 measures 43x43x23cm this is with both input and output trays lowered and paper in the 100 sheet input tray. It seems the fashion now to have to manually lower the output tray which if you want to print or copy a quick single page can be a pain to remember as after a few seconds you get a reminder on the screen to lower the output tray.
There are some jobs that never seem to come to an end. No sooner think the task is finished when new problems appear. Take, for instance, the task of painting the Forth Bridge. By the time the painters reach the end of the bridge than the other end is in need of a fresh coat of paint and so the process starts again. You could say that this particular task could be a job for life. Another example of this type of never-ending task would be the maintenance of the Great Wall of China which is the focus of this next title from Avanquest.
They say Every Cloud has a silver lining but perhaps that lining should be chrome.
While laptops and notebooks continue to be a popular choice for many users, there have been a number of attempts to adapt this format with various offerings. Netbooks have come and gone, only to be replaced by the Intel-driven Ultrabook and the browser-based Chromebook. Recently I have had the opportunity to check out one of the latter category. This is the HP Chromebook 14.
Sennheiser make quality headphones, in fact in my recent visit to a high end audio establishment they were the only brand they stocked and sold that I recognised that was on sale in more normal high street outlets as well as online.
These are a set of on-ear offerings that are designed for Apple devices but I can assure you they work perfectly well for those of us not able to afford the Apple brand. They are lightweight at only 165grams. The maximum dimension from base of earpieces to the top centre of the headband is 20cm. There is just over 5cm of adjustment on each earpiece. The leather headband is sueded and split into two linked arms there is just enough padding for those you are follicley challenged.
Another of my rare forays into my passion Jazz before some think of various less pristine pastimes. I have known Nigel for many years and watched his undoubted talent grow and indeed I did feature some of his work in an earlier article.
Here there are two new albums which show his versatility as he is first shown as the powerhouse behind one of the UKs leading vocalists. Second in the format I first knew him in the Organ Trio with the excellent Pete Whittaker. However he has many other sides and I recently saw him light up a seven piece band and he also plays many other styles so ‘jazz guitarist’ must be the only way to describe the man who is at home with all styles of jazz.
Described as an ultra rugged device, the Braven BRV-X is a portable multifunction product. The Braven BRV-X combines Bluetooth speaker functionality with battery charging features. It can also act as a speaker phone unit. While more suited to the outdoors, this device can also prove useful when operating indoors.
Available in a choice of black or grey, with my review sample being of the latter type, the Braven BRV-X is perhaps not the most stylish piece of kit in the market. The product consists of elements that remind me of a wide-angle camera with removable cap, tank treads and a black mess grill covering the front of the unit. This Braven device is encased within a protective compressed rubber skin that is water resistant.