Very decent home cinema projectors can now routinely be had for around 500 quid. But how do you pick a winner you'll be happy to live with from this cheap and cheerful bunch? As the TV industry hurries us ever upwards towards 4K (four times the number of pixels in a regular HD TV screen) punters tend to view pixel count as the prime requirement. Chris Bidmead thinks there are more important factors to look out for.
Epson's entry level EH-TW490 is "HD Ready". It's a confusing industry label (designed to confuse?) that in this case means it projects a screen into which it's possible to fit a 720x1280 pixel matrix with a few pixels to spare at the top and bottom. Hang on, though? Isn't that not much more than half what a true 1080p HD screen ought to be? And can't I pick up a proper 1080p projector for around the same price? The answers are yes and yes. And my response is fergetaboudit.
The latest headset to arrive from Creative contains some features I had not previously encountered before.
Unlike the previous two headsets from Creative (TACTIC 3D and Evo Zx), which were coloured a distinctive and eye-catching red, the company’s new Hitz WP 380 headset has a more subdued appearance. This headset is predominately black in colour apart from brushed silver ear piece attachments. Another difference is that this headset has a more compact and lightweight feel to it.
Described as an epic makeover of the ancient tile matching board game, Age of Mahjong (one of the various spelling used for this Chinese board game) combines a series of Mahjong board layouts with a story line that spreads over 56 levels. This Adept Software developed game was originally published by Alawar and now forms part of Avanquests GSP games catalogue.
Certainly a unit to be considered as a Desktop replacement, it is large and heavy and for me anyway does not sit comfortably on the lap. It is however very fast and powerful. One feature I have not come across previously a yellow lid.
The Gigabyte P25 measures 39x26x4.5cm, the last figure at the back which narrows to only 1cm at the front, it weights a mighty 2.74kilos. The viewable screen is 34x19.5cm and the notional diagonal imperial measurement is 15.4inches, the screen resolution is full HD 1920x1080. The screen goes back 45degrees beyond vertical. There is a built in webcam. The edge of the screen is silvered and the screen surround is grey rather than black and joy or joys has a matt finish.
Just before Christmas I attended a Braun event that included the companys latest range of electric shavers.
Braun is part of the P&G (Procter & Gamble) family of popular brands found in many homes. This family includes Ariel, Fairy, Oral-B, Duracell, Gillette and Febreze. As such, with its range of products classified as Male Grooming, Female Grooming and Hair Care, Braun believes by combining design and functionality into its products this will improve the customer’s lifestyle. One such product range is the company’s new line-up of electric shavers.
Often such devices fail after a few feet, here is one I could leave my lounge, move to front door and then out into the street. Now that is what I call Wi-Fi and unlike some that only work for things with a 3.5mm jack these will work with RCA jacks as well.
They are lightweight at only 252grams, the size is not huge considering they are over ear offerings at 18cm from base to top and 17cm at the widest point. Each arm has 3.5cm of expansion. The expansion joint is also where the earpieces can collapse to enable them becoming smaller for transportation. Total size is 15x10cm. It is possible to use them as standard headphones with a 3.5mm lead plugging into the base of the left earpiece.
First Deezer a free streaming service most will have heard of but it can for a fee offer far more and its rather good. Second a SIM for those who just require Mobile Data or for those with dual SIM units at a very good price.
If like me Deezer is on a long list of things to try – when you have a moment – you may not have done so. A chance to visit somewhere I have not been for a very long time enticed me. The more I use Deezer the more useful I find it. As regular readers will know my passion is Jazz and most services of this sort seem to think Jazz starts with Miles Davis and ends with Dave Brubeck, both excellent artists but it has a lot more to offer.
Somewhere in the virtual world of adventure game play is the Palace of Laroche. Built to serve and protect the family of De La Roche as they rule their kingdom, Laroche Palace has recently become a place of mystery as everybody within this magnificent building has succumbed to a deep sleep - everybody that is until you awake. Initially you will have no memory as to who you are or how you came to be there. So starts the game of Mystery Murders: The Sleeping Palace.
Available from Avanquest’s GSP games’ label, Mystery Murders: The Sleeping Palace is a Hidden Object Adventure title. Before starting the game, which is spread over six chapters, you can adjust the volume levels for music and other effects including the spoken dialogue that occurs throughout the game. You can also opt to play in full screen mode and use the rather stylish mouse cursor which changes shape to indicate when various actions are possible.
I first saw some Sonos speakers around eight years ago, great sound but very expensive and only at that time for Apple. Over the years they have become more affordable and now useable with Apple, PC, Android and IOS.
I was sent two Play 1 speakers and a Bridge but you can work with just a single Play 1 unit. Setup should be straightforward and the supplied Quick Start Guide lists just four things to do. The one thing you need to download is a controller app and this varies according to which of the four device categories you are using it with. I downloaded one for PC around 10MB and one for Android around 7.5MB but iPhone and iPad (different controllers) or MAC are also available.
As a store within a store, Kobo offers readers a viable alternative to that available from the Amazon Kindle family. Kobo even offers a full fledged tablet option.
The Kobo Arc 10 HD+ could be accused of having a split personality. The device could be considered to be your personal eBook Reader or you might prefer to regard it as an Android tablet with all that that entails. In fact the Kobo Arc 10 HD+ fulfils both of these functions within a single device.
Set in a nightmarish world, this next title sets a mother against a clown in a battle over a husband and a daughter. Just who will win?
Released as a sequel to Alawar’s Stray Souls: Dollhouse game is Stray Souls: Stolen Memories. This Hidden Object Adventure game is now available as part of the Focus Multimedia extensive game catalogue in Collector’s Edition format. Along with the main game, this offering contains a range of bonus items made up of wallpaper, concept art, music, character art, video clips and mini games.
A while ago I told you about Philips Hue lights which change to any colour and intensity you want using an IOS App. Now a link up with Disney and various story books linked to a Philips Hue Mickey Mouse light that works in a similar way.
Mickey consists of a 13.5cm round face with a Philips Hue bulb fitted behind it in a sealed unit. His ears are plain black rubber and circular at 7cm across. The rear of the fitting is red and angled top fit on a wall of fitment to be looking down at the child. The DC connection is hard wired into the back with a small inclusion in the base to let the wire track away a push in connector comes after 40cm so it can be disconnected by a parent.
In the past I have reported on a Sandberg Bluetooth speaker and now it is the turn of a Bluetooth headset from the same company.
Headsets come in a variety of shapes and sizes with feature sets to suit the needs and budget constraints of individual users. For example there are in-the-ear, on-the-ear and over-the-ear styles with choices such as tethered, noise-cancelling and Bluetooth connectivity plus a range of colours that could put a rainbow to shame. And of course there is always the issue of the price tag.
Until now budget in the Smartphone market meant at least £200 and probably more. Here is one that launched SIM free at £139 or less. So does the new Moto G have it all at a price far less than others have offerings in the market?
I have been using the Motorola Moto-G for the last couple of months and I can say it probably is the best budget phone around at the start of 2014. It runs Android 4.3 but the promised upgrade to Android 4.4 Kit-Kat is due very soon. It upgraded on my phone on the 15 January. The phone measures 12.5x6.5x and even with a case attached weighs less than 174g.
On this occasion both sets are available at almost the same price. Both have wired connections so have at least two things in common. So would I prefer the Giotech EX-06 or the Nine Audio Vega, read on to find which my ears preferred.
When closed the headphones are 21cm from top to the base of the over ear cups, each arm has 3cm of movement. The total weight is 246grams. Each earpiece can rotate by 90degrees forward to enable easier storage. The headband is well padded useful if like me you are folicly challenged. More unusally the top part of the earpiece moves inwards by around 15degrees to accommodate all shapes of heads. The 1metre long lead has standard 3.
Having looked at various Philips toothbrush products in the past, it was time to check out a process that some dentists consider to be even more important with regards to the health of your gums and teeth.
Do you floss or just rely on brushing for your oral hygiene needs? According to a survey conducted in 2008, admittedly in America, 49% of those questioned confirmed that they flossed on a daily basis while 10% admitted that they never flossed. I somehow think that these figures would not be a true reflection of the current situation in the UK with the first figure being lower and the latter percentage being far higher.
During the time I had this unit my own oven and grill remained unused. Often today with small flats/bedsits there is no real kitchen, people make do with a microwave but for little more than that size you can have the Samsung MC32F606TCT.
So what is this multiple unit, well it is a Microwave, an Oven, a Grill, a Convection Oven and for good measure it can ferment dough and even yogurt. It is 52x47x29cm. The oven door opens downwards to form a flat surface in front of the oven which allows you to remove things to check the cooking process and turn items etc. The oven itself is 33x34x20cm and this contains a circular glass turntable plate 33cm across.
Like the recently reviewed Moto G, the ZTE Blade V considers itself to be a smartphone for those on a limited budget.
With the release of the Blade V handset, ZTE (recognised as the 4 largest smartphone manufacturer in the world) has added to its range of budget-priced smartphone models. This particular model is currently exclusive to Virgin Media in the UK priced at £71.99 on a PAYG basis.
If you are hoping for a relaxing sea cruise with this next title then you could be disappointed as gigantic waves make an appearance.
Epic Escapes Dark Seas is a Hidden Object Adventure game that was originally released by Alawar Games and is now available as part of Avanquest’s GSP catalogue of games titles. Your role in this game is that of a character who decides to combat her fears by facing them head on with a sea cruise.
Colour Lasers used to cost a lot and were also rather big. The next problem was that colour pages printed at only 25% of the speed of monochrome ones. Now all that has been solved with a unit little larger than an inkjet offering.
It is 44x44x39cm and weights 23kilos. These figures include the inbuilt paper tray and printed output is also within these figures. This is a four in one offering as it has print, copy, scan and fax, however it will also print from IOS or Android devices remotely via the web and locally. It is a touch control unit and the only button is on/off which is found quite low down on the front towards the right side.
The latest multifunction device to arrive from Samsung offers print, scan, copy and remote printing facilities to users looking for a monochrome environment.
Following the trend I have noticed with recent Samsung multifunction units, he company’s M2070 model combines a two-tone arrangement of a black A4 flatbed scanner mounted on top of a computer grey coloured printer. The arrangement may not be aesthetic pleasing or what I would consider stylist but the overall look is of a solid device that is reasonably compact with dimensions of 406 x 359.6 x 253mm (W x D x H).
I have looked at several devices that record onto SD and Micro SD cards. This is the first such device supplied with a recorder unit. This should therefore give better quality results and therefore provide you with better evidence.
The recorder box is 23x19x4cm with cables inserted. The supplied camera is 16x5.5x5cm. This kit provides everything you require and as a kit you get two manuals one for the security camera and one for the recorder unit. If you need more than one camera it can be supplied with two, three or four cameras.
First from Sony something of a lightweight offering so maybe ideal to take with you out and about the a set of headphones designed to go in an audio outlet for studio quality units but unscrew it and you have a 3.5mm jack.
These are described as Monitor Headphones and are on-ear design. The lead is of the flat type favoured by a lot of recent earbud offerings as it is less likely to knot up. The lead like the headphones are red, 30cm to the point where the leads from each ear link to form a single cable and then .8metre to the ‘L’ shaped 3.5mm plug.
While it wasnt on my schedule for forthcoming reviews, I did not need to think twice when offered the opportunity to review a Toshiba FlashAir Card by the companys PR Agency.
For those not familiar with FlashAir™ and its capabilities, I should explain that this technology combines the flash memory normally resident on an SD card with a wireless LAN chipset plus an antenna to facilitate wireless communication between connected devices. This hybrid construction allows data stored on the card to be accessed wirelessly by other devices without the need of a physical connection.
This is as you may guess from the name a 24inch panel. I have yet to look at any offering from AOC that I would not be happy to put on my desk and use daily and this offering is no exception, a well-made unit with excellent response.
The screen is 54x36x1.5cm the latter at the edges. It sits on a 23cm circular base which raises the screen on a telescopic arm between 2 and 15cm. The viewable screen is 51x32cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 24inches. There is a protruding lip on the rear about 7cm above the base of the screen and this has all the possible connections pointing down so nothing extends outwards and everything is retained within the units dimensions.
The thing that enticed me to look at Roku 3 was its ability to stream sound so that you can have no sound from your TV and still hear sound through the ROKU 3 unit to headphones or earbuds, ideal for those who dont want to disturb others.
I have not seen either the Roku 1 or Roku 2 which I understand are still available. You will need to purchase an HDMI cable to connect the small 8x8x2.5cm box to a port on you TV. It comes with a small power brick – 1.5metre lead – that also connects to the Roku 3 box. Both these connections are on the rear of the box split by an Ethernet connector – you can also connect via Wi-Fi - below the HDMI connector is a Micro USB port.
It is time to embark on a task to rescue somebody who has been taken prisoner by a succubus in a Hidden Object Adventure game.
A visit to the Maxell stand at a recent event introduced me to some of the companys new products including the subject of this review.
As part of the Hitachi Maxell company set up in 1960, Maxell Europe started life manufacturing alkaline batteries. In fact the company’s name was formed from the first three and last three letters of the company’s initial product. This was a MAXimum capacity dry cELL. Since those early days, Maxell has become involved in the development and manufacture of a wide range of products such as the subject of this next review.
Not having to worry about navigation issues can help reduce the stress of driving which is why a SatNav device can be a useful aid for the motorist.
As part of its 2013 line-up of SatNav products, Garmin released a number of new models including the nuvi 3598 LMT-D. This product consists of the main mini tablet-like rectangular unit with various connection add-ons. These add-ons are a suction cup, magnetic mount, standard to mini USB lead and a power lead with a mini USB connection at one end and a cigarette lighter plug at the other. This power lead also has an attached antenna lead to help with signal reception.
This can be lighter than an Android Tablet, however it runs Windows 8.1. The transformer part is a near full size detachable keyboard so all your Windows programs should run and it comes with Microsoft Office installed.
The Asus Transformer Pad T100 measures 26x18x1cm at the front, this increases by .5cm at the rear. It weights 1106grams with keyboard and 516grams without it. While the keyboard supplied is ‘near full size’ the individual keys are 1.4x1.1cm each with .1cm between keys and you may struggle to be a fast typist on it. It has 84keys with the top row of keys being only 1.2x.8cm. There is a 7.6x4.1cm trackpad mounted 8.4cm from the left and 10cm from the right. The viewable screen is 22.