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.
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.