As part of its Hidden Mystery Collectives series, Focus Multimedia has come up with another 2-game pack. This time the two titles are Mystery of Another World and The Noise She Couldnt Make from the Big Fish Games Surface series. In both cases the games belong to the popular Hidden Object Adventure genre and have their own installation procedure that is accessed from a basic front end module.
Taking the games in the order in which they are featured on this two-game pack, Mystery of Another World provides you with options to adjust the volume level for environment, sound effects, music and voices. You can then select the difficulty level with a choice of three being available. Casual mode offers sparkles for active areas plus a faster recharge of the Hint and Skip appearance features. Advanced mode does away with sparkles and slows down the Hint and Skip features.
Nowdays there are far fewer audio systems about. A few years ago there were dozens and now for those of us whose system are coming end of life the choice is far more limited. Here a rather nice compact system from a known name Yamaha.
The Yamaha Audio System MCR-042 is actually in three pieces –although most illustrations make it look like one – the central item with all the controls and two separate speakers that can be placed anywhere within the length of the provided 1.5 metre speaker wires. Lets deal with the other items supplied, a 32 page manual all in English, a DAB/FM aerial, a dock cover for the ‘i’ device and a remote control that includes the required button battery.
Bringing together the latest versions of four of its software products, CyberLink has created a new version of its Director Suite offering.
CyberLink has released a new version of it Director Suite product. The gap of approximately ten months between the arrival of the original offering and this latest version has allowed CyberLink to produce upgrades for each of the suite’s four main elements. Director Suite 2 consists of PowerDirector 12, PhotoDirector 5, ColorDirector 2 and AudioDirector 4. You also get two NewBlueFX Effects packs and three CyberLink Creative Design packs.
By combining two Shadow Wolf Mysteries Hidden Object Adventure titles into a 2-game pack, Focus Multimedia has added another offering to its Hidden Mystery Collection series. The two Shadow Wolf Mysteries titles are Bane of the Family and Cursed Wedding and really, for maximum enjoyment, should be played in that order. Each of these two titles, originally published by Big Fish Games, has its own installation procedure which is accessed from a basic front-end menu.
In Bane of the Family you are cast in the role of a detective who has been called in to investigate the appearance of a supposed werewolf in the city. Spread over eleven chapters, the game can be played in a choice of three difficulty levels. With Regular mode you get a faster recharge of the standard Hint and Skip features while active zones are highlighted with sparkles.
This has 20x optical zoom and its added weight is well distributed to make it holdable even with a substantial amount of zoom. While some may consider that 12.1MP is a little small it is all down to the quality of the CMOS chip.
The Canon PowerShot SX280 measures 10.5x6x3cm and weights 230grams. The right side has the wrist strap anchor point and a rubber bung to cover the AV and HDMI connections. The left side is clear, while the base has tripod screw and a door behind which the solid battery resides as well as any SD card you may insert. The face has the 20x zoom lens 4.5-90mm, this can extend by 5.5cm when fully zoomed in.
When Serif adds a new product to its portfolio of graphic based offerings (WebPlus, PagePlus, DrawPlus and MoviePlus to mention just some), you could be forgiven for expecting this new title to feature the Word Plus as part of its name. However this is not the case with this particular new title. As this software is concerned with photo editing and management, the obvious title would have been PhotoPlus but Serif already has a product with this name. Therefore the company has put its thinking cap on and come with PhotoStack as the title for this software which is claimed to have been designed with speed and simplicity in mind.
PhotoStack combines the functionality of an organiser, editor and library for your precious photos. As usual with a Serif product you will be required to enter the appropriate serial number for the software during the installation procedure. At this point I should mention that I have been sent a pre-release version of the software which meant I was unable to access and check out the various on-line tutorials that only become available when the product’s release date is reached.
The Libratone Zipp is a tubular speaker that projects sound through 360 degrees, it also has an internal battery, it can work via Wi-Fi with or without a Wi-Fi network and comes with a range of skin colours to keep those who must be obeyed happy.
The Zipp is circular and 26cm tall while it is 12cm across, should you insert any cables these will increase the width by at least 3cm where they emerge. It is not light as it weighs 1900 grams. However once charged no cables – not even power – are required when you use Bluetooth. Having a wool cover is as far as I know unique it is easy to remove and replace when the ‘lounge police’ say that colour is no longer correct.
A laptop bag is as much a tool as the laptop that goes in it. Consequently, it must be comfortable to use while protecting the machine and its associated accessories together with any other necessities. The Stockholm 16 inch notebook backpack in Verbatims Bags for Business range has been designed to meet these criteria.
The Stockholm is for notebooks of up to 16 inches as well as being able to accommodate a tablet of up to 10.1 inches together with everything else that one needs to carry. It certainly does not appear to be flimsy in any way and seems to be well made and robust and looks as if it will provide a very reasonable degree of all round protection. Coloured black overall with red detailing the fabric and zips all appear to be heavy duty. It is 45 (H) x 36.5 (W) x 21cm (D) and weighs 1kg.
Two items from Lakeland, ideal for those who like to buy from catalogues; first a string puzzle called Brain String that I suppose is a bit like Cats Cradle, second a puzzle cube that you need to transform into the Puzzleman character.
While Lakeland are best known by many for their catalogues they also have a web site and I see 64 shops around the UK. Only a couple of months till Christmas and the top of everyone’s list are presents for the kids. Yes even in my day we preferred cash but relations such as grandparents and aunts etc. often prefer to give something different and this is certainly that. A puzzle a little like ‘Cat’s Cradle’ for those readers old enough to remember this string game.
Offering to increase the connectivity options of your laptop is a new product from Sandberg
Modern desktop systems usually offer a reasonable collection of USB ports often split between the front and rear of the box. Currently taking up space in my work area are a couple of tower systems that feature a pair of front mounted USB ports for those occasions when you need quick and easy temporally access. Several more USB ports are located at the rear of these boxes for more permanent connection such as peripherals (scanner, printer, etc.).
Is a soundbar a good investment? A simple question but as often the answer has several ifs and buts mainly around how you use it and what for, this is not a cop out as a decent soundbar now need not be tied only to your TV.
While I tested it in several ways with two separate TV’s neither were 47inches the size of TV this bar was designed to be used with. However as it sat either on the floor or in front of the TV in one case on the TV table in front of the TV it matters not as it just overlaps the end of the table. It is 107x9x4.5cm and weights two kilos. For those who have their TV on a wall you can mount this on the wall below the TV just as easily.
As Nero fiddled, it is claimed, while Rome burned, so the software of the same name will burn your multimedia content and other data to optical media. This feature, however, has been just one element of the Nero software for a while now as other features have been added to create a multimedia suite offering. Rather than stick with the numbering system that was used with earlier versions of this software, Nero has opted to switch to a date designation with the latest version. So instead of version 13 (maybe superstition had a role to play) we have Nero 2014.
As with recent versions of this software, Nero 2014 is available as Standard or Platinum offerings. The latter version does provide the user with built-in support for Blu-ray. This review is based on the Platinum version of the product. As part of the product’s installation procedure, you will need to enter the supplied, lengthy serial number in order to activate the product.
There is always a first time for everything. In this case it is a game that opens with a proposal of marriage by the character whose role you adopt. As things turn out, the proposal is not immediately accepted and thus we have the Hidden Object Adventure game entitled The Lake House Children of Silence. This Alawar game is now available from Focus Multimedia in Collectors Edition format.
As usual with Collector’s Edition games you get some additional items that include bonus chapters, wallpaper, home movies from the game and concept art but you do need to have completed the main game before being granted access to the bonus area. There is also an integrated Strategy Guide which is available immediately.
A silvery bronze colour is a good start as it looks far better than a shiny black offering. This notebook is rapid in response and if you do want Windows 8 then it must surely be with Touch so this could be exactly what is required.
The Samsung Series 5 laptop 31x21.5x1cm, the last figure is the width at the front while it grows to 1.5cm at the back, it weights 1680grams. Open the lid and you find the screen is quite reflective and sadly the screen surround is shiny black. The viewable screen is 29.5x16.7cm giving the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 13.3inches the default screen display is 1366x768. A 1.3MP webcam is mounted in the centre of the top border of the screen.
This is one of those occasions when the review product was used to produce the text review of which it is the subject matter.
While some companies, no names – no pack drill, seem to be hell-bent on driving computer users towards a predominately touch screen environment, there are other firms who realise that there are a number of tasks, including the writing of this review, that require tools more suited to general work tasks. I am, of course, referring to the familiar element of a keyboard and mouse which is commonly referred to as a desktop set.
If one is upgrading from an older 4 x 3 monitor, or even a smaller wide screen display, it pays to consider the current generation of LED backlit larger screen units which will provide an improved user experience. With its 1920 x 1080 (HD) resolution the 23 inch AOC i2360 fits the bill both in size and performance.
This wide screen monitor has been designed with the user in mind. It provides a bright high contrast image which can be viewed comfortably under most lighting conditions. Its fast response, claimed to be 5mS, ensures fast moving images are not blurred. In practice, I found that it gave sharp, crisp images, especially at full resolution, with a good colour rendition together with a wide range of setup adjustments. Hence, it is a quality monitor that is suitable for both business and pleasure.
Here I am looking at two different Doro phones. Doro are a company that started in land line phones and soon found their niche in supplying mobile phones for the hard or hearing and or those with limited sight at a reasonable price.
This is a small flip open phone and simple to use. It is 10x5x2cm when closed, flip it open to show the keypad and screen and the length becomes 19cm, it weights less than 100grams. Once you have inserted your SIM and the battery run the Setup Wizard and the seven things include setting time and date, ringtone, volume level and text size, total time less than three minutes.
The first does sound like a toilet cleaner but is a brand sold by a supermarket chain of bargain price small electrical products, here an electronic toothbrush. Second a name known by all for ball point pens but here there is a twist.
In October 2008 I told you about a sonic Toothbrush by Philips and I have been using it ever since. I have one problem the replacement brushes are very expensive. Here a LIDL own brand offering that is the same price for three brush heads and the toothbrush as a couple of brushes for the Philips. In the UK while the names on every high street are Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury and Morrison look a little further and you may find a LIDL or ALDI.
I am old enough to remember sitting with the rest of the family around a small box in the corner of the room and watching a potters wheel in operation. I may have forgotten many of the light entertainment programs being broadcast by the BBCs sole channel during that period but that potters wheel is firmly entrenched in my memory of early television. Nowadays the screen of that box in the corner has expanded in size while the boxs depth has reduced considerably as it grants the viewer access to numerous channels that attempt to cover a wide range of subject matter. One such modern style television, or should that be media display centre, is Samsungs SMART TV UE40F6400AK offering.
This is the third model that I have checked out from the Samsung SMART range of flat-screen TVs. As its title might indicate, this unit has a 40-inch display which is mounted on a silver base in the shape of an elongated “x”. Eight screws are provided to ensure the base is firmly attached to the display panel. This operation, including removing the parts from the packaging, is best carried out by two people although it is possible for one person to perform the task.
Gigibyte are best known for making motherboards for both desktop and notebook computers. They also make rather good notebooks as the motherboard is itself perhaps the single most important component in the notebook.
The Gigabyte i7 Notebook U2442F measures 33.5x23x2cm, the last figure is thickness and the figure quoted is at the front add another.5cm at the rear. It weighs 1.6kilos. The screen display is 1600x900. Model numbers for some computers often give no indication as to what is on offer, for instance I recently reviewed a U2442N little thinking that the next offering from them would be a U2442F but there are many differences.
Spending time on a computer can be productive and entertaining but it can also produce some other less appealing side effects which this next monitor offers to alleviate.
Back in the early days of movie making, and I am referring to those first black & white offerings, the audience had to put up with a great deal of on-screen flicker as the images were being constantly updated. This flickering phenomenon was the reason why a visit to the cinema was later often referred to as “going to the flicks” or in some cases “going to the bug hut” but this was for another reason and had nothing to do with flicker.
When the king dies in Wonderland an election is called for. However what happens when the voters are blown away is explained in this next game.
While there are various forms of the basic Solitaire concept of removing cards from the playing field, the game of Wonderland Solitaire concentrates its focus on the particular Solitaire variety known as Golf. With this type of Solitaire you are presented with different layouts of cards that need to be removed from the playing field. Some of the cards will be faced up while the greater number will be positioned face down until any overlaying cards have been removed.
At one of the recent Xmas In July events by HoMedics and Salter. Other items will follow as they arrive. Here some items suitable as gifts without costing a fortune. Spatulas, Measuring Spoons, Adjustable Rolling Pin and an excellent Professional Whisk.
I am sure we all try to use a spoon to get into corners of a round saucepan, maybe even a knife. They do not work a finger may be better but as the contents are often hot that is not a good idea even if you are cooking for yourself. Here a set of two spatulas, the smaller one is red and the larger one is black, they are 23cm and 28cm long one edge is nearly flat the other curved and of course they do what they are meant to do.
Developed as different and competing formats, Blu-ray and DVD discs can now be played on the same device such as this next product which adds some extra features.
Opening the product’s box reveals the main player unit with a permanently attached power lead, remote control, two AAA batteries and various items of documentation including a printed User Manual. Coated with a highly polished lacquered black sheen, the player unit goes for a slim-line look with dimensions of 360 x 40 x 196mm (W x H x D) and a single rounded corner to add a touch of style.
Samsung are perhaps one of the top two manufacturers of affordable lounge sized TVs that do far more than offer Freeview HD. In fact this one complete with its two remote controls could for a lot be everything that they need.
It is 90x52x4cm, this can fit on the ‘x’ shaped chromed stand provided or like most recent TV’s be mounted on the wall. I used the former method, the stand raises the TV from whatever you sit it on by 8cm and the ‘X’ is 55x37cm at the extremes. The last measurement – for now – is the viewable screen size which is 89x50cm which gives the notional imperial diagonal measurement of 40inches.
Irrespective of what Microsoft may claim, Windows 8 is not truly intuitive even on the touch screen of a tablet computer. Consequently, Windows 8 for Tablets in the Plain & Simple series from the Microsoft Press is of great value in getting started with a Windows 8 tablet and then customising it to meet your needs and then being able to get the best out of it.
This book is task-orientated so that one can dip into it as and when required. This will, no doubt, start when one first gets the tablet and needs to get to grips with the start screen and the new vocabulary of tiles and charms as well as learning how to use a touch screen.
I am sometimes asked what is a gadget my answer is anything produced to make a job easier. Both these products fall into that category, first a microphone aimed at a vocalist and second a very flexible five port gang socket.
While the quality of this good it is not aimed at professional musicians for one basic reason it is supplied with a 3.5mm jack suitable for insertion in an ‘i’ or Android device, which would using the free downloadable software be ideal for practice or for getting a rough draft of your song onto media. The microphone itself is of good quality and suitable for vocalists because it only accepts sounds from the front of it, spurious sound from behind or the sides are not carried in.
Taking you back in time, with regards to both period and style of game play, this next game opens with your character being shot at point blank range.
The first is an item I saw at the Wilkinsons Xmas In July event, an ideal stocking filler for those who expect their tea to be stirred for them. The second is another stocking filler this time from Brando in Hong Kong to get your Smartphone at the correct viewing angle.
Both these items are value purchases for the person in your life who has everything – even when they do not – and best of all can say it without costing too much. It is 13cm tall with the removable lid attached. It has a handle made in the same see through plastic material as the mug which will hold just over half a pint of liquid. It is circular 8.5cm across at the top and 6.5cm across at the bottom.
Packaging can play an important role when presenting a product to a customer. Take this next Bluetooth speaker for instance.
When the product has the word “Jam” as part of its title then you should not be too surprised to discover that it arrives in a jam jar. I am referring to the more stubby style of jam jar appearing on retailers’ shelves rather than the slim type that I can remember from my childhood and is still used by some firms.