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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.
I saw this at a recent event which was itself In The Cloud as 27 floors up on a misty damp day is certainly in the clouds. However while this storage and backup package lives in your home or office, not as The Cloud often means far away.
It is 17x5x17cm and stick the power adapter and Ethernet cable in the rear and you add another 3cm to the depth. To get started on your PC or MAC just follow the link given in the well illustrated Quick Start Guide. If you have plugged in your power adapter and supplied Ethernet cable then by the time you have filled in the few required answers the LED on the front of the unit will have turned from purple to blue and you are ready to move data.
With the title of vFree you might wonder just what this next product could be. In fact it is a set of headphones.
Perhaps I should start this review with a brief explanation regarding the title of this product as I see it. The “v” part of vFree indicates the company responsible for the development and manufacture of this headphone product. Founded in 1983 and based in California’s Silicon Valley, Velodyne Inc is a technology company with specific expertise in the field of high-performance audio equipment such as in-ear and over-ear products.
Not everybody likes snakes, myself included, and this next title has more than enough of this reptilian species for my taste
9 Clues: The Secret of Serpent Creek casts you in the role of a paranormal private investigator. Following a rather worrying telephone call from your reporter friend, Helen Hunter, you set out to come to her aid at the coastal town of Serpent Creek.
This is a nice sharp panel, it has the ability to be used as one of a multiple panel display and can also be rotated 90degrees to be used as portrait which for those writing long items or viewing endless web pages saves a lot of scrolling.
I did not mention what for a lot of people would be an added plus point the ability to display 1920x1200 or of course 1200x1920 and to save you checking the default for most panels is 1920x1080. The screen is 55x35cm giving the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 24inches. The stand raises it a minimum of 10cm from your desk but this can be as much as 22cm using the hydraulic touch control on the back to raise it. The stand footprint is 25x17cm and the total depth of the unit is 22cm.
At the moment I am in the doghouse well not literally but my cat no longer considers me his best mate and is doing his best to ignore me. The reason for this unfortunate state of affairs is the arrival of the Sphero 2 from Orbotix. I have been testing this device much to the cats disgust and annoyance as he can not understand what it is or why it does the things it does.
For those not familiar with the Sphero, either in its original incarnation or this latest version, I should explain that this cat-annoying piece of kit is a robotic ball. It can perform a range of activities under the control of a number of apps developed for the iOS and Android platforms. I almost wrote “under my control” but, as yet, that description would fall somewhat short of the truth but I am improving if only rather slowly at making it do what I want.
The Ixus units are perhaps the best small camera range on the market, and while some may scoff the size is everything group just examine the results with any similar costing camera on the market and the results will show.
The Canon Ixus 140 compact digital camera measures 9.5x5.5x2cm when closed; the last can increase by 3cm when fully zoomed. It weighs only 132grams. Being an older user my brain says all cameras should be black; however the dark red of this unit almost looks right. For the novice there is a multi language Getting Started Guide with the first ten pages in English, for more detailed help there is a .PDF manual on the CD-ROM which also has some rather good software.
As winter draws on it is becoming more and more useful to have a torch with you. Not only does the ifrogz GoLite meet this need it also provides a pocket sized universal battery backup for virtually any smartphone.
The GoLite has a polished black plastic surface and is 105mm long. It has a roughly square cross section with its gently curved sides being patterned over two-thirds of their length. This makes it easier to find the “business end” in the dark when needing to use the torch. Conveniently positioned to be reached with one’s thumb is the three-position slide switch: torch on / off / charge external device.
This is a DAB and for the regions that support it DAB+ radio, however you can also use it as an Auxiliary player via 3.5mm lead and perhaps more usefully a Bluetooth output completes this black boxes understated offerings.
The Tivoli Audio Alber o+ measures 17.5x11x12cm and a meaty 62cm eleven piece rod aerial extends from the back, this can clip into the back when not in use. The unit weights one kilo. Slightly indented into the back are four connectors, headphones, external speaker, Auxiliary input and DC input. The DC input lead is 1.8metres ending in power brick with mains at the top of the back so be aware if you have shirting board sockets.
While familiarity breeds contempt might not totally be the appropriate comment, in some respect it could apply in this situation. After all the more we use our Windows computers, the less responsive they become when reacting to our needs and commands. Often we are kept waiting for a boot-up sequence to be completed and programs, which previously loaded speedily, now appear to crawl as if they are spending time admiring the innards of the computer and its operating system. Of course we could just sit back, twiddling our thumbs or contemplating our navels, while time ticks away or we could attempt to tackle the problem at source with software designed for the purpose. One such product that I have used over a number of years is TuneUp Utilities which is now available in its new 2014 version.
When installing TuneUp Utilities you will need to enter a 35-character product key. A search will be conducted for an earlier version of the software and if one is found then it will be removed. Options will be made available to include TuneUp Shredder and TuneUp Disk Space Explorer as part of the installation plus adding TuneUp Undelete facility to the Recycle Bin Context (following a right mouse click) menu.
The Jabra Solemate is a small portable speaker capable of being totally wireless, it can be connected via Bluetooth or 3.5mm lead and as it runs on a solid battery does not even require a mains lead so here a small speaker that really can claim to be wireless.
The Jabra Solemate Bluetooth speaker measures 16x6x6cm and weights 603grams. While I quite often moan that boxes once opened are impossible to close up again as you have to break them open to extract the contents. Not so here as the plastic sleeve is opened by holding the ends and being solid it will protect the 'Solemate' when reinserted.
A flip book was the method use to create moving images when I was a child. Now modern technology can be used to create a similar effect.
Described as an Edutainment product, Stopmotion Studio 4.0 is a tool designed for the creating of stop-motion videos as you capture a stream of images posed slightly differently. Released by Honestech, this product is being marketed as a fun educational software offering for the creation of movies for school projects. Naturally the budding movie maker will need to provide their own capture device which could be a webcam, camcorder or DSLR camera.
Hotels appearing in games tend to be portrayed as establishments where you would not want to spend too much time. The hotels reputation is often sullied with tales of misadventure, missing residents, wandering spirits of which many are evil, and even the occasional murder. Take the Haunted Hotel featured in this next game for instance.
Subtitled Charles Dexter Ward and available in Collector’s Edition format from Focus Multimedia, this Haunted Hotel Hidden Object Adventure game sets you the task of finding the aforementioned Charles Dexter Ward who happens to be your brother who has mysteriously gone missing. While the police and press believe Charles has just left town but you known differently as your brother always kept you informed as to his whereabouts.
These are designed for Gamers as their life or lives may depend on hearing tiny sounds that most sets of headphones cannot pick up. The result is something that some may think is overkill others may rejoice that they are not killed.
The headset itself is comfortable; any gaming headset has to be as it is often worn for many hours at a time. The earpieces are coated in a breathable material and for any folically challenged person the headband is well padded. The Quick Start Guide is eight sides of heavy card, unfortunately it is multi language and what it says would surely be said better in a single page per language. There are two models but the only difference is colour, either white or black.
Western Digital, or WD as it is referred to by friends and family, is best known for its hard disk products in various formats. It is therefore not surprising that the companys next product is based on one of its hard drives. Basically this is a method of providing the user with Cloud-like services while retaining full control over their content from their local base.
This Western Digital NAS solution, appropriately entitled My Cloud, is currently available in 2 and 3TB versions with a 4TB product due in the near future. Along with its local and network capabilities, the My Cloud offers Cloud-like access to remote devices via free downloadable apps for the iOS and Android platforms but more on this aspect a little later. Encased in an upright white box with dimensions of 170.6 x 139.
This is a small and light Windows 8 notebook with touch. On a unit of this size touch makes sense as it will be within reach of a finger, so if Windows 9 is for you then this latest offering from Samsung may have everything you need.
The Samsung Ativ Book 915s measures 21.5x31x1cm and weights 1560grams. The viewable screen is 29.3x16.5cm which gives a notional diagonal imperial measurement of 13.3inches. The default screen resolution is 1366x768. This unit comes with a 128GB SSD drive and for most without further storage may be a little snug with today’s bloated applications. The available space is 99GB with around 35GB used so you have around 64GB available.
Two items that would make ideal gifts that would get used there's a battery charger to charge Ni-MH AA or AAA batteries, both things almost everyone uses and not just live in a cupboard. Second a pen and more - from a well-respected company, second .
This charger can also charge the smaller 'AAA' batteries as well as 'AA' ones. As sent to me it was the charger fitted with four 'AA' batteries. Unlike the design of some other units it externally looks like it is made solely for 'AA' use but remove the supplied batteries and 'AAA' one will fit lower at the front and sit into the same chamber at the back. It is 12x7x6.5cm but 1.5cm of the first figure the length and around 1cm of the width is the overhang of the fitted 13amp plug.
As part of its family of protection software, Norton has released the latest version of its popular Norton Internet Security product.
I am sure whether to claim that this next product is the latest version or not. Having checked the product box carefully, I could find no indication that the version of Norton Internet Security was, in fact, the 2014 offering. However the box does clearly state that this product is always up-to-date as it automatically updates to the latest version so presumably Symantec feels there is no need to add a version identifier to the product’s title.
A small Tower PC but with everything you need apart from a Panel and speakers and if you connect via HDMI you do not even require speakers. While they are no longer fashionable this is small and has far more connectivity than a notebook.
The Acer XC600 small tower system measures 37x10x26cm and while it will work horizontally it is designed to work vertically. The front has two USB2 ports and a multi card slot it also has 3.5mm sockets for microphone and headphones. Behind a flip open door is a DVD multi recorder drive. The right side and top have extensive ventilation slots.
In its various versions, Paint Shop Pro has been a regular resident on my computer systems dating back to its Shareware days. This product is now a popular member of the Corel family.
Back in 1991, Robert Volt, a qualified pilot and software engineer, developed a graphics program entitled Paint Shop Pro. This software, which originally could easily fit on a 5.25-inch floppy disk with space to spare, has grown in size and increased in functionality so that the latest version comes on a DVD. This is Paint Shop Pro X6 which is available in Standard and Ultimate versions.