Christmas is past and no doubt we all feel those pre festivity clothes have shrunk even sitting in the wardrobe a check on the scales tells a different story and those extra puddings are now sitting around your waist and hips.
A visit to a health club or gym is a possible solution but it is expensive and at this time of year costs need to be cut not increased so why not try a device that can fit on your wrist or even not show at all. Perhaps best of all the cajoling is done by email or SMS so no embarrassment in front of a class of people so much fitter – and leaner – than you.
When considering a new smartphone, do you look for the latest, high price model with all the latest bells & whistle or check out the more economical models?
The ownership of smartphones, in the opinion of Motorola, is divided between those who are willing to pay over £400 (in some cases well over) for the latest technology plus the kudos of possessing the appropriate status symbol and those on a more practical and restricted budget that put pricing at the head of the queue when a new handset comes under consideration.
This is a rather unusual watch in so much as the person who markets it in the UK is a serving pilot. So what better recommendation could there be, a pilots watch promoted by a pilot. It looks good and of course keeps perfect time.
Very many years ago I remember a very funny sketch by Dave Allen about teaching a child to read a watch the hours were fine but the minutes on the face caused great difficulty and the end result after several minutes was oh have a digital watch. The above was hilarious but having myself had a digital timepiece on my wrist for years and of course most phones show you the time digitally it took a few minutes of use to get my mind back to thinking in the way of telling the time.
While the PC is still more popular than Android or IOS devices we still need a keyboard and within reason the smaller the better. The second item is something for those using almost any modern Android device or Smartphone.
With the amount of space available on each desk getting less every item on it gets squeezed so if something can do the same job and take a lot less space to do it then this must be a better use of the available space hence the Compact Keyboard from Cherry. 45x19x5cm – or more - is the space taken by a full size keyboard that has been used with most PC’s for years.
Adding to its expanding range of audio products, HDMX has released a wireless headset.
Not so long ago I took a look at a small Bluetooth speaker unit developed by HMDX. This product was delivered in the style of a pot of jam and was appropriately enough entitled Jam. Now it is a turn of a second product in the Jam series from the same source. This is a set of on-the-ear type wireless stereo headphones which are available in a choice of red, white or black and bear the title of Jam Fusion.
As with all such devices it is not just a TV but also an entertainment centre so you can send and receive emails, Skype, search the web as well as watch catch up TV all via Ethernet or Wi-Fi so the review period always needs to be longer.
Let’s start with the TV itself it is 95x54.5x5cm, the viewable screen is 89x50.5cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial screen size of 40inches. The stand protrudes beyond the base to 97cm at the front and 75cm at the rear of the pair of feet that support it. So whatever you stand it on will need to be at least 27cm deep and support a 10kilo item. You can of course get a kit to hang it on a wall.
Rather than let the train take the strain, you can take the train in this next Hidden Object Adventure game and not worry about being punctual because it is a Timeless experience.
Released on Focus Multimedia’s budget BlackLime Games label, Timeless: The Forgotten Town is a Hidden Object Adventure game. It places you in the role of a train traveller who is mysteriously snatched from his normal reality and transported to a town that time forgot.
According to popular conception, every picture tells a story. So why not use your collection of pictures or photos to create a story of your own. Offering to help in this respect is MAGIXs Photostory software in its latest 2014 Deluxe edition.
Those of you who are familiar with MAGIX products will not be surprised to hear that this German-based company has bundled one or two extra bonus items with the main slideshow creating software. In this case you get a copy of MAGIX’s Mufin 2.5, offering MP3 audio management and playing functionality, and Catooh Free bonus pack containing various sound effects and the like.
This is probably the best hard disc full duplication software on the market. Currently on offer with an amazing 250GB of free Cloud storage available, available for the same price (as a special offer) as the more normal 5GB offering.
I have used several previous versions of this software, but always previously the versions supplied by third parties with their hardware. Those versions did just the basic job of cloning or moving data from one place to another. To find out about the new features and especially the Cloud options – for those worried I found their Cloud resides just over the channel in France and not as so many in the USA – I was due to meet with Acronis bosses in September.
As part of its Signature Series of audio products, Creative has released the T30 Wireless speaker system. The T30 is a 2.0 speaker system consisting of left and right satellite units that offer support for Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity with NFC (Near Field Communication) technology.
Along with the two satellite speakers, this T30 kit contains a two-piece mains power lead that gives you a 2.6m of positioning play when the two elements are joined together. You also get a 2m audio lead, for when Bluetooth is not supported, and an adapter should you prefer using a RCA type dual connection. Various items of documentation cover set-up and safety issues plus a €10 EMUSIC card and a voucher for a free audio book.
A basic Blu-ray player did just that and played Blu-ray and DVDs and possibly also CDs. Now this offering from Samsung can update any TV that has an HDMI port to connect to the Internet and also connect to iPlayer and ITV Player etc.
The Samsung BD-F7500 blu-ray player measures 31x21x4cm. It is described as a Ultra viewing unit with 4K upscaling. Don’t be put off by that if like 99.9% of the country you only have a TV capable of 1920x1080 it works fine and even the 3D works (three display choices). I note that some other units do not support all of iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD and Demand 5 but this product does. My own TV has the ability to connect via Ethernet but where it is means a very long cable.
It looks like a plastic ball, it runs via solid battery a charging station is supplied. It works on IOS or Android devices via Apps free from either the Apple or Android store and not only will it work on the floor but also in water.
A trip to the London-based version of the Gadget Show introduced me to a product designed for those far more energetic than myself.
The iON Air Pro 3 is a high-definition video camera designed to appeal to those who have an energetic lifestyle but could still appeal to those of us who prefer a more relaxed environment. This third-generation POV (point-of-view) camera combines features such as being Wi-Fi enabled, waterproof and wearable to add to its ability to record HD video at up to 60 frames per second for 1080p quality output.
CyberLink are one of the main video and audio companies in the PC field. Director Suite is a very comprehensive package. You can buy online and download, or be a Dinosaur like me and install from DVDs and get printed manuals.
Director Suite is four distinct packages. Audio Director 4, Photo Director 5, Colour Director 2 and Power Director 12. All are on the first of two DVDs and once installed take close to 5.46GB of hard disc space and on a reasonably fast Windows machine it took 15 minutes. All the installs follow one another and the only time I thought there was a problem when Power Director did nothing for around three minutes.
A long time resident on my various hard disks over the years has been different versions of WinZip. The latest version of this software now supports add-ons.
Do you remember when local storage capacity was at a premium? I am referring to a time when hard disks often gave users a capacity of under 100MB (that’s megabytes not gigabytes) and prices were in the vicinity of £200 or thereabouts. The promise of terabytes, cloud storage and transferring data via the Internet were features not even on the horizon during my initial steps in the world of computing.
Many modern games strive to be as realistic in the appearance of graphics as possible but some of us can remember when things were different.
Back in 2006, a New York City based indie game developer, named Wadjet Eye Games, offered, as its commercial debut, a point-and-click adventure game. This was The Shivah, a game that was set mainly in a New York City synagogue that had fallen on hard times with a reduced congregation. Now, some seven years later, Wadjet Eye Games feels the gaming community is ready to face up to the challenge of a remastered version of the game as it is rereleased on the PC and iOS platforms.
I always hesitate to be hard on review units, however the RangerX tablet is one that is designed to take more vigorous day to day use than standard products not survive. Here an Android device designed for the harder life.
28x19x3cm are the basic dimensions with the extra rubber padding at the corners and the fixings that allow it to work much like a glove leaving one hand free to use the attached stylus to work with whatever specialist software you are using. With protective sleeve and stylus attached it weights 1134grams.
Described by Epson as the Photographers Best Friend, the Expression Photo XP-950 is an A3 All-In-One device. Predominately lacquered black in colour, with a matte silver band and Epson identifier on the front face, this unit offers scan, copy and print functionality with a choice of Wi-Fi, Ethernet or USB connectivity.
With the standard arrangement of an A4 flatbed scanner mounted on top of a six-colour inkjet printer, the Photo XP-950 unit has dimensions of 479 x 358 x 148mm (W x D x H) and weighs in at 8.8 kg. Taking up a prominent position on the front of the unit is an adjustable flap that can be set at an angle to suit the user. This flap containing the on/off button and a touch-sensitive 8.8cm colour LCD screen.
The first for those who cannot bare to be without music even in the shower or bath its called HDMX Jam Splash. The second a set of headphones for one or two people to listen via Bluetooth this is called HDMX Jam Fusion.
It is 15x10.5x3cm and weights 246grams with stand attached. It can also be wall mounted with suction caps also provided. First job is to connect the micro USB to USB lead to charge the unit, a full charge takes two hours and should give around six hours of playing time. The face has a fine mesh speaker grill 10x8.5 and the back has a four centimetre round speaker to give a good allround sound.
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One of the biggest outcomes of improving technology is increasing convenience. Information at your fingertips, making monetary transactions with the click of a button, buying and selling things from the comfort of your own home – all these activities that were unimaginable just a few years ago have been made possible through continuous innovations.
First a multi card reader that works via USB 3, this is designed for USB 3 ports but will work with most USB 2 ports. Second a large capacity SD Card, so this can transfer large amounts of data via the card reader above and it is 64GB.
It is 8x5.5x.5cm and weights only 33grams so ideal to fit in a wallet for those who travel a lot, the connector to any USB port is built into the back and when opened extends it 4.5cm. The flip out cable is USB2 but beside it is a USB3 port so you can connect your card reader via a 40cm lead included in the pack and get USB3 speeds. While this may not be that important with small files some files that include video ones can be very large and USB3 performance can be ten times that of USB2.
Call of Ages is a new game developed by Playrix and available from Alawar in Collectors Edition format. This is a match-3 game that has a certain resemblance to some of the earlier titles developed by Playrix but does add one or two extra features to freshen up the concept. Along with the main game you get access to various wallpapers and the music soundtrack which are stored in separate folders plus a number of bonus levels.
The story line behind Call of Ages is told by an initial video sequence complete with a clearly spoken narration. According to this narration, the Calendar of Ages, which is vital to the protection and stability of the world, has been destroyed. This damage has to be repaired to stop the world from slipping into a state of chaos. You are cast in the role of the world’s saviour as you need to track down eight artefacts.
This is quite a meaty DSLR kit unit, however for me a little spoilt by its white colour, while this may be being picky again it does draw attention to the unit and if you are taking images in a less savoury area it could mean you are targeted.
The Pentx K50 Digital SLR (DSLR) camera weighs 885grams and measures 12.5x9.5x15cm with the supplied 18-55mm lens attached. Starting with the rear the 6.2x4.5cm TFT shows what settings you have selected and after shooting using the viewfinder shows the image you have captured. Above the viewfinder is a flash shoe and also the pop up built in flash that is never nearer than 11cm from the lens. To the right of the viewfinder a control that allows you to zoom in or out of the captured image.
While colour can add visual impact, it does add to the cost and is not always necessary for certain documents. In such cases a monochrome laser might be the better option.
The Samsung Multifunction Xpress is a monochrome laser unit. As the multifunction part of its title might indicate, this product is capable of delivering print, copy, scan and fax functionality with ADF (Automatic Document Feeder) thrown in for good measure. Connectivity gives you a choice of USB or wireless depending upon your needs. You could hardly describe this unit as being compact as its dimensions of 401 x 362 x 367mm (W x D x H) will testify.
It all started with a Family Secret. Later the Palm of Zoroaster took the focus of attention. Now we have the third instalment of House of 1000 Doors entitled Serpent Flame. Originally published by Alawar, House of 1000 Doors Serpent Flame, a Hidden Object Adventure game, is available in Collectors Edition format from Focus Multimedia.
As usual with Collector’s Edition titles, a number of bonus items are provided along with the main game of Serpent Flame. Some of the bonus items are available straight away, such as the integrated Strategy Guide plus various wallpapers and concept art, while others, as in the case of cut scenes, mini games and puzzles, can only be access once they have been tackled in the game. There is also a bonus chapter that can be access once the main game has been completed.
Perhaps the name gives a clue to the screen size if not its 8inches. This is an Android Tablet that is ideal to use over Wi-Fi. Of course its touch and with the creamy white surround to the screen it does not show your fingermarks, joy.
The Archos 80 Xenon measures 21.5x15.5x1cm and weights 435grams. The viewable screen is 16x12cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 8inches and the display is 1024x768. It weighs just less than a pound at 440grams. While it works fine with Wi-Fi there are times when out and about you are not near a hotspot and here the 80 Xenon can still function using 3G (any Network) to allow you to keep in touch wherever there is a mobile signal.
On a recent visit to a UK preview of an American Consumer Electronics Show, I was introduced to a product designed to stream content from various sources. This product is Roku 3.
Offering to act as a media centre device, streaming content from different sources, is the designated aim of the Roku 3. This product is rather small, measuring just 27 x 80 x 80mm (H x W x D), and is predominately lacquered black in colour with a matte silver logo on the front face. Included in the box is an enhanced remote control, in-ear headphones set, 2 x AA batteries, AC power adapter and a slim Getting Started booklet.
This unit will immediately find favour with ladies as it is creamy white and far more likely to fit in with the colour scheme. It is also rather stylish being sleeker than most other All In One units. It is fully touch controlled.
It is 46x16x33cm. The two paper input trays are fully inside the unit and the output tray drops open at time of printing adding 17cm to the last figure. Once the output tray is lowered three card slots are revealed on the left of it. Unusually it is creamy white and it totally touch controlled, a 7x5cm is in the centre of the front of the face/top which slopes forward after the back 22cm. The flat piece has the scanner under a lid.
First an offering from one of the largest names in Laptop or Notebook bags STM, second an offering from probably the most used peripheral manufacturer but this time a name associated with quality DSLR cameras.
A backpack has one huge advantage over a handheld bag, you are less likely to put it down and forget to pick it up again. It is 47x34x9cm and weights around a kilo when empty. It is a rather sober grey colour which is suitable when you go into posh meetings. The only bit that is visable that is not grey are the tips of the zip pulls that are orange. However open the various and numerous pockets and more orange is there.
A recent visit to a trade show introduced me to a company that was involved in the development of various products that might stop me moaning about the condition of some hardware items.
As regular readers will no doubt be well aware, one of my big bugbears is the increasing appearance of fingers smears defacing a range of devices. What with manufacturers opting for lacquered black coatings and the headlong rush towards touch being the preferred method of control, then we could well be in for a bumper crops of finger smears decorating, not only on own devices but those that we check out in retail stores or various exhibitions set up to promote such devices.