Today's implementations of Bluetooth are a great way to set up wire-free audio connections. But although Bluetooth has become a standard among handheld devices few home hi-fi systems are equipped to receive it. This is where the Kanex AirBlue comes in.
My old Harman-Kardon AVR630 hi-fi system dates from the CD era. But these days all my music is either on my phone, or fed to my phone from servers in the Cloud or up in my office. I haven't listened to a CD through the faithful HK since about 2008. Mainly because there's no elegant way of connecting it to my local area network. Until now, that is. As I write this, John Coltrane's classic "A Love Supreme" is squealing deliciously from my 5.
I seem to have an affinity with speakers that have unusual shapes. This is not another example but this time from a company I had not heard of before.
Developed by Nakamichi, the NBS 10 is a portable Bluetooth Stereo Speaker product. For those not too familiar with Nakamichi, and until recently I would have counted myself among this group, I should explain that this company has been involved in the research and development of electromagnetism, magnetic recording, acoustics and communications since 1948.
Despite smartphone and tablets now having cameras with more and more megapixels, the results cannot match those of a good quality bridge camera and certainly not the performance of a digital SLR both of which have a range of advanced features including optical zoom. Eye-Fi Mobi, provides the best of both worlds as it enables one to use Wi-Fi to transfer camera images directly to ones smartphone or tablet.
The Mobi SDHC Class 10 cards are coloured orange and clearly state “mobi” and also their capacity – 8, 16 or 32GB. They can just replace an existing SD card in a camera and create an 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi hotspot. Having downloaded and installed the app from www.eye.fi/mobi via the Android Play Store or the iOS app store onto the smartphone or tablet and then switched on the camera one will be prompted to key in the mobi activation code to “pair” phone and camera.
These are both mature products and for not a great deal of money give you lots of control over your data. Both packages work with music and give the best output available from the data input. They are Samplitude Music Studio and Music Maker both from Magix and both 2014 versions.
Without spending thousands of pounds you can produce great sounding music. While it will work with Windows XP the other specifications probably mean it will be a Windows 7 or 8 PC as you need 1.5 GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. 4.3GB of hard disc space and at least a 1024x768 display. Finally to load the software you need a DVD Drive. This product has won awards between 2005 and 2013 for its software.
With first living spaces getting smaller one solution is to cut the kitchen. With people of working age and no children eating out for time saving or pleasure is often more important than preparing a meal from scratch so oven.
Here is one solution that takes little room and can be used from a standard 13amp plug. In actual size it is smaller than a microwave. The glass container is round at 30cm it is 30cm tall to the top of the control unit and 36cm either side where the stand and handles jut out. Unlike a microwave that cannot use anything metallic there are no restrictions as to the material you use here. You can even cover the food with metallic foil.
Motorola, Google and Lenovo sounds as if it could be a pop group of the sixties while Moto X might well be the name by which a high profile political figure, of the same period, might be known. However the technology associated with these names is most certainly of the current era.
While the Motorola Moto X smartphone has a similar appearance to the company’s earlier Moto G offering, there is enough difference between the two models to mean that the accessories launched with the Moto G are not compatible with the new Moto X – a mistake in my opinion. As the last smartphone developed under the ownership of Google and now part of the Lenovo family of products, the Moto X will be available in a choice of Woven Black or Woven White.
A pair of speakers and a rather nice sub woofer that might even pass the other halfs scrutiny as it is in fact shiny white and therefore is more likely to go with whatever the lounge police think is acceptable whereas black probably will not.
The subwoofer is diagonal in shape 24.5x10x29.5cm. the pair of speakers are the 9.5x23.5x12cm, the total weight is just over 4kilos. While they are sold as Bluetooth speakers they also work perfectly well as a wired unit using a 3.5mm cable to the Auxiliary Input socket.
Last year I attended a press event and requested to review a couple of monitors from one company. The first one to arrive is the subject of this review.
As part of its extensive range of monitors AOC has released the e2451Fh model. This monitor forms part of the company’s Style Line that makes use of the latest LED-backlit LCD technology for displaying its full HD images on a 24-inch screen. Both the stand and the surrounding bezel are decked out in a lacquered white finish. While I personally prefer a black finish for a monitor, I have to admit that this white offering does tend to grow on you over a period of time.
This is one of those occasions when a game arrives for review just after seeing a film based on the same subject matter that was the prequel to the game.
The sixth title in the Dark Parables series of Hidden Object Adventure games is entitled Jack and the Sky Kingdom developed by Blue Tea Games. As usual with Dark Parable titles, the game’s designers have taken a well known fairy story and looked to see what might have occurred after the original tale had ended.
This is an All In One unit, that means it can Print, Scan Copy and Fax. It is very compact and you can print by normal use from a PC or by sending items across the Network or even across the world by using your special email.
The HP OfficeJet 4630e measures 41x33x17cm with the paper tray shut but the difference between shut and open is only 5cm and the paper is within that. No further increase on the 17cm height is required if you are using the sheet feed. The connections are all back left of the unit. All the controls are on the fixed sloping front lid, twenty two buttons and the 4.5x3cm six line display. Unlike some such units there is less dead time before a simple page is printed.
While many printers now offer a remote print solution through their own dedicated app, this next product offers a wide ranging solution for multiple printers.
The xPrintServer Cloud Print edition is a product that has been designed by Lantronix to allow users the functionality to send print jobs from Android based mobile devices to network based printers. Developed as part of the company’s family of mobile print solutions, the xPrintServer can also handle those devices that are running Google’s Chrome Browser and the Chrome operating system plus other units running off the network.
The Kanex DualRole Gigabit + 3-Port Hub, which is compatible with those Macs and PCs that have a USB 3.0 port, will be of interest to users of machines lacking an Ethernet port. When plugged into a USB 3.0 port it provides that missing Gigabit connection as well as extra USB 3.0 ports.
Although wireless LAN is increasingly seen as an alternative to an Ethernet connection – especially in the small screen lightweight and yet high performance laptops -- many will find the additional connectivity provided by the DualRole a major benefit. After all, a wired Gigabit connection is more secure than Wi-Fi, faster and often more convenient.
After their ground breaking Moto G handset recently reviewed what could Motorola produce next. Its called the Moto X and it looks very inviting, you can get it to answer your questions and the curve in its back suits your hands shape.
The Motorola Moto X measures 12.5x6.5x1cm the last figure is at the centre of the back, at the sides it is .5cm and it weights 137grams. The case is sealed meaning the battery cannot be changed and you have no expansion possibilities as there is no micro SD card slot. The top has a 3.5mm socket for headphones; the right side has bar buttons for on/off and a volume up and down rocker. The base has input for the supplied micro USB cable to charge it.
Two items that may suit those with a recent iPhone (it also works with a 5th Generation iPod Touch) a clip on camera to give both zoom and macro. Second a slip case that cleans your screen every time you place it in the case.
I see from the olloclip web site that this should also work with iPhone 4 models but as I do not have one I would check before purchase to make sure. It is an attachment that clips over the edge of your iPhone 5, 5S or iPod 5 generation device that gives four different possible views. Connect the red lens one way and your compatible ‘i’ device has a fish eye view, switch it round and you have a wide angle view.
Arriving looking like a drowned rat, due to one of the heavy downpours that occurred recently, I was introduced to this next makeover product. Unfortunately it only worked on digital images and not bedraggled reviewers.
Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. It is also said that the camera never lies. However, in this digital age, the camera’s output can be manipulated to tell less than the whole truth. One product that offers to help in this respect is FaceFilter from Reallusion. As it tiles clearly indicates, this software product concentrates its functionality on the facial area of the subject matter rather than general body sculpture. Now up to version 3.
This is a small inkjet all in one unit. That means not only can it print, but it can also scan, copy and for those who still need it fax. It also has the ability to print from memory stick and even to scan to memory stick if the PC is not available.
The Canon Pixma MX390 measures 42x32x20cm, add 18cm to the second figure the depth when the paper tray is open, you will need to add a few centimetres to the last figure the height to use the flatbed. The external connections power, USB fax lead etc are all back left of the unit.
Although it did not arrive via remote control delivery, this next Amazon product quickly made itself at home.
It is not often that I get the opportunity to check out the original version of a product and the new all-singing and dancing version of the follow-up version. However this rare occurrence has happened with the Kindle Fire HD and the Kindle Fire HDX versions of the seven-inch tablet. The former offering was a Christmas present that had been bundled with a one-year subscription for a national newspaper while the latter was supplied for review by Amazon.
Even before I had the opportunity to get into this next game, I had received an email announcing a price drop for this Match 3 offering.
Developed by NordCurrent and available as a download from Avanquest’s GSP game catalogue, Jewel Keepers: Easter Island is a Match 3 title. Profiles can be set up for three different players with adjustable volume levels for rather distracting and repetitive background music and sound effects plus whether to play in full screen mode or not.
TV sound even on an expensive unit is not great so a sound bar can improve the quality and clarity of the volume. My own bugbear is movies where they tend to speak in a whisper and even turning up the TV volume cannot always help.
The soundbar is 88x10x11cm, the middle figure is the measurement at the front, at the back it is only 7cm. I used it in a variety of places as it is far more than a TV soundbar. I used it sitting on tables and stands as the shape allows sound from the small 7cm under speakers to come out. It can also be wall mounted but as it is not light do check your wall can support it, in this case the mountings are on the rear. The main speakers are behind the grill that runs the length of the unit.
A tube strike, while making it difficult to get t0 my destination, did not hinder my attendance at an event to promote the release of a USB 3.0 flash device.
Kingston Digital Inc., an affiliate of Kingston Technology Company Inc., the world’s largest independent manufacturer of memory products, has just released an all-new version of its DataTraveler® product. This is the DataTraveler Locker+ G3 USB 3.0 Flash drive which, depending upon your needs, will be available in 8GB, 16GB, 32GB or 64GB capacities. My review sample was the 16GB version.
In much the same way that Windows 8.1 is an updated version of Windows 8.0, Windows 8.1 the missing manual is an updated version of the original book. As such, it covers the Windows 8 tile and touchscreen interface together with the enhancements introduced with Windows 8.1. Hence, it should meet the needs of the power user who may or may not have been initially using 8.0 as well as the person who is coming fresh this latest version of Windows.
As with its predecessor this volume, which has over 900 pages, is divided into logical sections to enable users new to Windows 8.1 to become conversant the various aspects of this new operating system a key feature of which is its touch-screen interface. It also covers Windows RT which is, in essence, a variant of Windows designed to run on the lower power ARM chips that are widely used in tablets. The opening section deals with the basics of the tile-based touchscreen-focused face of Windows 8.
The last unit from Gigabyte had a problem with battery loss when not in use so one of my first jobs here was to charge this fully and then leave it, four days later it still had 99% so no problems there. Maybe it was the lid colour that was bright yellow this is a more sober orange.
The Gigabyte P27 latop measures 51x27x4cm, the last figure at the back and this is 2cm at the front, it weights almost 3.2kilos. So this is a desktop replacement and if you took it anywhere then may I suggest by car rather than public transport as walking around with it could soon have muscles complaining. It has a solid feel, the left side has a Kensington Lock port, a USB2 socket, three 3.
The word Wireless is often misunderstood to mean Bluetooth and sometimes people think Bluetooth means Wireless so just to help things here I have a set of Bluetooth called Wireless Conspiracy and a set of Wireless from Geemarc.
When fully collapsed they are only 16cm from the top of the headband to the base of the earpiece. The earpieces are 5.5cm across and the extension is 3.5cm per side. I needed 1.5cm of extension so someone with a large head may struggle. They are very light at 127grams and as mentioned the earpieces are small so definitely an on ear offering. The padding on the inside of the headband is soft so even if you are bald they are comfortable.
Small enough to fit into your pocket, a product from Sandberg proves that not all Android devices are created equal.
TLAs (that’s Three Letter Acronyms) are not restricted to the IT sector but they are certainly a favourite with many who occupy this particular environment. One of the more recent TLAs to come to my attention is OTG with the arrival of a product from our friends at Sandberg – more on this product a little later. OTG is not to be confused with the similar OTT.
Cameras that fit in a pocket or purse are often considered only for novices, not so this offering from Canon. The SX270HS is a member of the PowerShot range which used to be larger until they swapped to using solid batteries. Now its only the size that's small.
The Canon PowerShot SX270HS measures 10x6x3cm the last figure can increase to 8.5cm when fully zoomed, it weights 225grams. It feels solid without feeling heavy in the hand. Looking from the rear the right side has a wrist strap anchor point and a rubberised bung behind which is a multi out port for HDMI, Digital and A/V. The left side is clear. The base has a tripod screw and a door behind which is the solid battery and any SD card you may use.
Google bought Motorola Mobility $12.5 billion in 2012 and has now sold it on to Lenovo for a mere $2.91 billion, retaining, however, a raft of valuable patents. The Moto X is the culmination of Google's breath of life into the previously moribund mobile phone pioneer. Chris Bidmead assess this final fruit of the transitory relationship.
Why do we still call these things phones? If my own usage is anything to go by, traditional point-to-point voice communication is no more than 7 per cent of the work we put them to. Tweeting, email, online shopping, Web browsing, photography, photo-copying, ebook reading - these all take up far more of my head-down hand-held screen focus time. My phone's a pocket tablet. I'm using it, for example, to write this blog.
From its Belgium base, as part of its Document to Knowledge mantra, IRIS has released the latest version of its IRISPen product. This is the IRISPen Executive 7 offering which boasts You scan, it types as it performs its designed role of a hand-held scanner.
While the product’s title refers to the scanner element of this package as a “pen”, it is more like a black magic marker or highlighter in appearance right down to the removable cap at one end. It is this end that contains the scanner element which is protected by the cap when not being used. This “pen” unit has dimensions of 15 x 140 x 25mm (H x L x W) with a mini USB port at the opposite end to the cap.
Set in southern Indian, this next game challenges you to complete Match-3 grids to make progress in a treasure hunt.
The Ricoh HZ15 is a small digital camera from a brand that is both Pentax and Ricoh as they are now one company. A lot of people think of Ricoh for printers but cameras are also their thing both digital and DSLR. Here one to fit into a small pocket or purse.
The Ricoh HZ15 digital camera measures 10.5x5.5cm these figures are width and height, the depth is interesting when off and the lens is retracted a single figure would normally suffice here at the right end its 3cm and at the left end little more than 2cm. With the lens fully zoomed it is 8cm. This is a 16MP and 15x optical zoom offering. RICOH produce their own lenses and this offering is24-360mm.
Vendors Verbatim and Kingston Technology are both using the USB OTG (On-The-Go) technology to enable users to overcome the lack of a micro-SD slot in some Android tablets or smartphones which prevents additional memory being added. This technology provides the means of expanding the storage of compatible devises to as much as 64GB.
OTG is an enhancement to the USB specification. It allows a compatible tablet or smartphone to act as a host to which flash drives and other USB devices can be attached. This is a very useful facility as it can be used to provide a device with additional memory as well as enabling files to be backed up without the need of a PC connection. Then, in due course, as the flash memory stick has a standard USB connector, it is also a simple task to subsequently transfer files to/from a PC.