Whether to keep your ears warm while still looking fashionable or allowing you to pretend you are unable to hear unwanted questions such as whose turn is it to wash up?, headphones were primarily designed with the idea of allowing you to listen to your favourite music without disturbing others.
While the name may not say it all, it does say enough to possible cause a merry quip or two when the subject comes up. For example imagine going into your favourite audio store and asking “What’s new?” only to hear the response “Nutz”. Of course seen in print the spelling does give a clue that might not be immediately obvious from the spoken word.
Here I am looking at two sets of small speakers, the first from Creative are a wired Bluetooth unit that is similar in size and shape to the second from Bose, a name I associate with high end audio but here at a cheaper price.
These are 20x15x8.5cm the total weight is just over 2kilos. The left speaker has a hard wired 1.4metre lead coming from the rear to connect to the right speaker. The right speaker has a tone knob, a Bluetooth button and an on/off volume knob in a single line. The rear has a column of four connections inset by around 1cm they are earphone out, audio input, to left speaker and DC input, the last mentioned has a 1.5metre lead to the power brick. Each speaker has a main speaker and a tweeter.
Modern technology, in general, has been designed for the modern world in which it is meant to operate. Unfortunately not every aspect of the environment, in which we may live, is capable of handling the demands placed upon it by modern technology. For example many of us do not live in buildings designed to cope with allowing users full access to their wireless network that has been set up for computing and entertainment needs. Brick walls and other immovable impedimenta tend to get in the way. Offering to help in widening and expanding the range of a home wireless network is the NETGEAR WN3500RP product with support for both 2.4 and 5GHz wireless connectivity
This product has the descriptive but rather lengthy title of Universal Dual Band WiFi Range Extender, Wall-plug Edition. Designed to work with any standard WiFi router or gateway, this product consists of five items. These are the main Extender unit, slot in AC plug adapter, power cord with appropriate plug, docking stand and a small Installation Guide. All the hardware items are decked out in white.
Drawn is a magical kingdom with mythical creatures and an on-going battle between the forces of Good and Evil. One defining factor of this land is that pictures play an important role in its existence.
It's been a while since I have had an opportunity to look at one of the excellent Cyber Shot range; in fact from memory the last Sony offering I told you about was the NEX6L almost a year ago. Here a fixed lens offering to fit into your pocket.
Just because it fits into your pocket do not dismiss its capabilities. The Sony CyberShot HX50 is a 20MP offering with 30x optical zoom. It is 10.5x6.5x3.7cm, the last figure when turned off, fully zoom in and the lens can extend by as much as 6cm onto that figure. It weights 273grams. The flash flips up manually from the top left edge of the camera and can never be closer than 5cm from the lens.
Adding to its range of All-in-One devices, Canon has released a product that leans towards quality as against speed of delivery
The Canon PIXMA MG5550 is an inkjet All-in-One product that offers print, scan and copy facilities with a choice of wireless or USB connectivity. Rather unassuming, but not unattractive, in appearance, this predominately matte box with rounded corners and a top that tapes inwards towards the scanner cover, has dimensions of 455 x 369 x 148mm (W x D x H). The unit weighs 13.8 lbs which means it should not be a problem to move the device to another location if the need arises.
For some reason this is classed as a business product. For that reason I am told it comes with Windows 7 Pro but also Windows 8 upgrade ready on the unit at no extra cost so you can choose. I was sent the non-touch version.
The HP EliteBook 840 G1 measures 33x23.5x1cm the last figure increases to 1.5cm at the back. It weighs 1.8kilos. The viewable screen is 31x17.5cm giving the notional diagonal imperial screen measurement of 14 inches, the screen resolution 1920x1080 full HD which is rare for a 14inch screen. The screen itself is non reflective and the black screen surround has a matt finish. The back of the screen is finished in a rubberised black material while the area around the keyboard is grey.
Those of us into our forties or more will remember mobile phones like this in fact some even came with a brief case for the required battery. Here this tongue in cheek offering can be used for real or as a Bluetooth offering, however used it will be a talking point.
The first main difference is the weight 208grams. I can’t exactly remember what my first unit weights but it was a great deal more than that. 20x5x4cm without the dummy aerial that adds another 7cm to the first figure. The display is 3.7x2.8cm and in full colour, six lines of display and the keypad below is also backlit.
Velodyne, the California based design and development company specialising in audio equipment and responsible for the vFree headset reviewed recently, has a second headset model entitled the vQuiet. Manufactured in China, this new headset offers over-the-ear noise cancelling functionality as you listen to your favourite music in solitude but only if you really want to (see later).
Designed by international artist Marta Hall (who I have to admit was completely unknown to me prior to the arrival of this product), who created the signature style and shape of the headset, the vQuiet is predominately matte black in colour apart from the metallic light blue logos on each ear-pad. When not in use, this headset can be folded up and stored in the soft carry-pouch provided in the box. You also get a cord-style 123cm audio lead with “L” shaped 3.
These days kids seem to be using such devices before they can walk. So the age level suggested seem almost pointless to mention. The only mention on the box is a circular road sign with a picture of a young person and a red line. The age beside it is 0-3. 4+ is mentioned on the side of the box, at four most children know far more.
I was on a bus the other day and a baby in a pram was given a smartphone by its mother and it immediately started pushing the screen, I was the wrong side to see what it was doing but as the baby – about 6-9 months -seemed happy it was not I assume the first time it had seen it. At 285grams I would consider this seven inch offering too big for a child that age but at 3 years – or maybe a lot less – I am sure some of the games and other items would engage.
As part of its Signature Series, Creative has developed its T4 Wireless product.
Arriving in a fairly substantial box, the T4 Wireless kit consists of the subwoofer and two small satellite speakers mounted on their own permanently attached stands. You also get a mains power lead for two and three-pin sockets, a wired control pod, infrared control unit and a RCA to 3.5mm stereo cable plus various safety and setup documentation. Unpacking the kit proved to be a far easier tasks that the actual setting up of the product but more on this a little later.
With the same three main characters, the next episode in the Haunted Halls series arrives to challenge your Hidden Object Adventure game-playing skills.
This story began with Haunted Halls: Green Hills Sanatorium when the evil Doctor Blackmore and his experiments made their initial appearance. Later Haunted Halls: Fears from Children continued the story and revealed further details of the Doctor’s work. In both cases your role was that of a young journalist intent of rescuing her boyfriend Tim from the evil Doctor’s clutches. Now we have the third instalment entitled Haunted Halls: Revenge of Doctor Blackmore.
Not a DSLR and not a Digital Camera this is one of an increasing range of what are called Bridge Units, or in layman's terms a Digital Camera with a lot of DSLR features without it having a removable lens, so this is not a total novices unit
The Canon PowerShot SX510HS measures 10.5x7x8.5cm when off, the lens when zoomed in can add 4cm to the last measurement. It weights 348grams. This 12MP unit has up to 30x optical zoom. It can capture images in 4:3, 16:9, 3:2 and 1:1 each image can be L, M1, M2 or S so a total of 16 image sizes are available. The left side has only the neck strap anchor point and speaker. The right side has the other neck strap anchor as well as a rubber bung hiding HDMI and A/V out.
While mobile devices are extremely useful, and some people seem to be incapable of existing without them, they can run out of power at the most inconvenient moments.
A disaster caused by the loss of your valuable data could be, at least, partially alleviated by the setting up of a regular back-up schedule. In the same way a loss of communication ability, when on the move, could be reduced by the use of a portable battery charging facility to power up your smartphone or similar device. Recently I have had the opportunity to look at a couple of solutions to help in such circumstances.
I am told that the Android Tablet will replace the PC as the way we all connect to the world. Certainly as they get faster, have more memory and get screen resolution nearer to that we all have on our PCs then this could well come true.
This Hannspree Android Tablet measures 28x18x1cm with the viewable screen 21.7x12.7cm and the notional imperial diagonal screen measurement of 10.1 inches. It weights 620grams. This unit has a Quad Core processor and the 10inch screen displays 1280x800pixels in 16:10 resolution. It is of course touch (the ten point type) and a sensor that supports three way movement and acceleration.
The first a name that has been around in audio circles for a long time, the second a name I had never heard before. So here two sets of earphones. The first has quality the second has new ideas so the choice is for your ears, neither of them are expensive.
This is a lightweight on ear offering so let’s start with the weight 132grams. Each arm has 4cm of expansion. While my head is not that large unexpanded they only covered the top half of my ears. So they could suit a child in unexpanded form and those people with very large heads may just struggle. There is a single 1.2metre lead from the base of the left earpiece. No phone answering device of volume control is built into the lead; it ends with a 90degree turn to the gold plated 3.
Fate, they say will eventually catch up with you. In the case of Madame Fate Carnival, the catching up could be considered to last over four years as this was the interval between my looking at the original Madame Fate title and the arrival of the sequel in the form of a Collectors Edition of Mystery Case Files: Fates Carnival from Big Fish Games. This gap was more than long enough for my memory to erase any useful tips I may have gleaned from the initial playing experience.
As usual with Collector’s Edition format, Fate’s Carnival features several additional items some of which are immediately available while others require the main game to be completed first. Among the items that are accessible straightaway are those dealing with wallpaper, music, a shop, concept art and the solitaire card game for earning money to be spent in the shop. Video, Secret Room and an additional game are locked until the main Madame Fate game has been completed.
Certainly not a small and light offering, ideal for a tower/desktop replacement, the native resolution is 1920x1080 just like what a standard panel will display. The advantage it can travel with you when required to do so.
The HP Envy TouchSmart 15 measures 37.5x24.5x3cm and weights a tad under 2.6kilos. The visible screen is 34x19.5cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 15.6inches which shows the same resolution as most panels, it also means you could connect to a panel by VGA rather than HDMI and still get the same resolution. The unit supplied to me has a Quad Core i7 processor running at 2.4GHz and has a massive 16GB of RAM.
Many mobile phones tend to spread their net wide with regards to their functionality but this next handset is aimed mainly at the hard of hearing.
The CL8450 is a GSM telephone with voice amplification from the South African company of Geemarc. This product is being targeted primarily at those with a hearing impediment but it could also be of interest to the elderly members of society. The phone is of the clamshell variety and is available in a limited choice of colour schemes. You can opt for either Black & Silver or, as in the case of my review sample, Red & White.
Everything is not how it seems as this next game goes to prove as your investigations take you to Black Isle.
The life of an investigative journalist working for television might appear to be a glamorous role but that is not always the case. Take, for example, the fate that befell Sarah Steplton. She was investigating Black Isle, supposedly abandoned after an earthquake, when she was seemingly taken prisoner by a mysterious robbed figure with a beak-like nose.
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.