If you are a gamer, one of the hard core brigade, then you will appreciate the need for the appropriate tools that have been specifically developed to fulfil certain tasks. You need to purchase or build the system box with high-end components such as the motherboard and graphics cards and boost its performance with a gaming keyboard and mouse. You might also want to complete the line-up with a gaming headset. One such product is the Sound Blaster TACTIC 3D RAGE unit.
Developed by Creative, the Sound Blaster TACTIC 3D RAGE has been designed specifically with gamers in mind, although that should not preclude others from sampling its performance. This headset breaks what I thought was a rule for gaming peripherals. Rather than a tethered device, which is meant to give a faster performance, this TACTIC 3D RAGE offering is a wireless headset that comes with a USB receiver already paired to work with the headset.
As part of the latest batch of games to arrive from Focus Multimedia is that one that continues the adventures of a young journalist in search of her husband.
In the follow up to Green Hills Sanatorium, Haunted Halls: Fears from Childhood returns you to the role of a young journalist who continues in her quest to rescue her beloved Tim from the hands of the villainous Doctor Blackmore. Following his fortunate escape at the end of the previous title, Blackmore flees through a portal to a strange world with the captured Tim. You follow in close pursuit in this Hidden Object Adventure game.
This is the current latest version of Microsoft Office, it has a very new and somewhat sinister edge to it in that it is now a item that comes with a licence to allow its use for 12 months after that you need to pay to keep using it.
The latest Canon printer to arrive in my work space belongs to the companys small office/home range.
As part of its latest refresh of small office / home range of units, Canon has released its PIXMA MX395 model. This is a multifunction device that provides print, scan, copy and FAX capabilities with a built-in ADF (Automatic Document Feed) feature. While this is a fairly standard combination of features, this particular model does lack one aspect that has been a regular feature of the other Canon models I have looked at recently.
This is another large flat panel, and, what a unit this is. Not only is it big at 27inches but it also can display a lot more that that seen on most other panels as the maximum resolution is 2560x1440 and not the glass ceiling of 1920x1080.
It is 64x39x1cm the latter at the edges; it does become 2cm thick further in. The stand is circular at 25cm and2.5cm thick. The arm that connects it to the panel can collapse to 6cm or raise to 16cm and the movement is so smooth. Almost all monitors and panels I have ever reviewed have a dumb stand meaning that its purpose is simply to support the panel. Here while the connection method is still into the back of the panel the base has a USB hub.
Although an ordinary flat-bed scanner handles individual documents and photos without any difficulty, there are problems when one needs to scan pages in a book or any other bound material. This is because the spine prevents the pages being held flat on the scanners platen and so you get a very distorted portion of the image. With its OpticBook 3800, Plustek has produced an effective solution to this problem in a machine which does not take up too much desk space and is ideal for the serious student, library or SoHo worker.
It is black and silver in colour and is roughly 11 x 18 x 4inches high. With its large Cancel, Colour, Grayscale and B&W buttons it has a business-like appearance. Unlike normal flat-bed scanners, where the edge of the glass platen is an inch or more from the edge of the machine, this is very much reduced in the OptiBook where the platen, together with the scanner head, extends to within about 0.25 inch of the edge of the machine.
Here I am looking at two full size headphones. First a set from Creative primarily designed for gamers but also great for other uses. Second a name most known for quality in Formula One Ferrari and marketed by Logic 3.
Most gamers refuse a wireless headset on the basis that the supposed latency gives them a disadvantage. Not so with this offering as people who use it have even been accused of cheating as they can hear things with more direction early enough to move away, so it is possible for a wireless headset to even give you an advantage. My interest however is not the 16 hours of use between charges but simply the fact that a volume level once set can be held.
As its title indicates, Letters from Nowhere 2 is a follow up to the original Letters from Nowhere. In this second offering you continue in the role of Audrey who is still searching for her missing husband Patrick. As I missed out on the first episode, I have no idea how that game ended but I believe the style of game play remains fairly similar in this follow-up offering.
Available on Avanquest’s GSP game label, Letters from Nowhere 2 is a Hidden Object game that spreads itself over 11 episodes. From the game’s opening menu, you can create your profile and make adjustments to the volume level for both the background music and various sound effects. This set of options also includes Help information for the game which you can check out. There is no choice of difficulty level when playing this game.
Having recently looked at larger TVs from LG and Samsung it seems only right to look at another of the major manufacturers Toshiba, while most will think of Toshiba for notebooks they also do TVs and other home items.
It is 91x52x4cm and it is only 2cm thick at the edges. The viewable screen is 89x59cm giving the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 40inches, the stand is glass and is 38x20cm it raises the screen by 7cm from the table or whatever you stand it on, four fittings are supplied to allow you to fit into a wall kit should you want to wall mount. The stand allows around 15degrees of side to side movement. The screen however is fixed in the normal vertical position.
Older readers, and perhaps those of a younger age, can, no doubt, remember their first computing experiences especially with regards to the storage capacity of the media used to hold programs and a data files. Personally I can remember using floppy disks (they bent if you waved them about) that had a pre-formatted capacity of 180K a disk could hold the operating system, word processor and numerous documents. Later my first hard disk raised the storage level to a then massive 20MB that some experts claimed was all you would ever need. Those were the days.
Now disks holding gigabytes are the accepted standard for new systems with terabyte drives forcing their way to the head of user’s must-have lists. The latest hard disk to arrive on my work space shows how capacity has increased at a prodigious rate. This new hard disk is a G DRIVE from G-Technology. My review model is an external 4 Terabyte drive with support for the Mac or Windows platform giving users the choice of Firewire 800/400 or USB 3.0 / 2.0 connectivity.
A missing sister, secret sect, hidden objects and puzzles come together in a Collectors Edition game from Focus Multimedia.
Its not often I get to review products made in Australia. In fact to my immediate knowledge I have reviewed only one product previously and that was an excellent software package. Here I am looking at two bags for your notebook.
I picked two of slightly different size, both allow your shoulders to take the strain, I have worn both while out and about. Which of the many bags that STM do that you pick will depend on the size of your notebook and the other items that you need to carry so this look concentrates on the quality of construction as well as overall size. This is available in a light green or a pale brown colour, mine was the latter. The name describes it perfectly as it has a portrait shape.
Where once it was enough for a device to satisfy discerning users by performing a single function, now devices need to be multi-functional in order to loosen customers purse strings and make a sale.
When is a mouse not a mouse? The answer to this riddle could well be when it is a new classification of product that owes its concept to an innovative Belgium company. This company is I.R.I.S. and the product in question is its IRIScan Mouse which, as its title indicates, combines the features of a pointing device with a hand-held scanner. The IRIScan Mouse comes with the tag line of “You swipe, it scans.
This is a 10inch Android Tablet with a few extras that are unique to Samsung. A lot has been written about a device made by Apple and the apparent similarities this bears to it, as I have no close knowledge of the former I cannot comment.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 measures 25.5x17.5x1cm and weights 583 grammes. My unit was white. The viewable screen is 22x13.5cm giving the imperial diagonal measurement of 10.1inches. The screen display is 1200x800 which with excellent zoom in and out gives a screen nearly the size of a PC or a notebook and of course good battery life and lack of weight. The unit comes with a proprietary lead to charge it and this can either go to a USB port or to the supplied plug to charge from the mains.
From Roxette to the Rednex, can the Earphone-12 put the X-factor into your audio XTZ?
With the resurging popularity of headphones amongst the young folks, many retailers have started to offer in-store demonstrations. However, due to hygienic reasons you can't usually try out the in-ear variety before committing your money, money, money. Heeding the call is Swedish high end hi-fi manufacturer, XTZ. Their first set of in-ear earphones the EarPhone-12, are available to purchase directly from their website on a trial basis.
You are out and about and nowhere near a 13amp plug so what do you do to charge your flagging battery in your portable device. Of course there are solar devices but can you guarantee the sun here two portable battery packs.
The basic idea is before your device shuts down to attach the device and the power flows into your unit to power it immediately and in a lot of cases it will also recharge your unit at the same time so in a few hours it could be fully charged. This device has the Sony name and will charge all those items using USB to charge there is a 10cm lead micro USB to USB in the box. The unit consists of a semi circular battery of 2000mAh with input of .5A and output of 1A both of these figures are at 5V.
A change is as good as a rest or so they say. Maybe that was the reasoning behind the decision taken by RIM to change its company name. In common with a number of other companies who have ventured along the same route, RIM is now known by its flagship product. As a result RIM is BlackBerry. The first product launched under this new nomenclature to reach me is the BlackBerry Z10. My review sample has been supplied by Vodafone.
The BlackBerry Z10 has not wandered far from the standard slab appearance we have come use to with the numerous smartphones that are currently available. This black unit has dimensions of 130 x 65.6 x 9mm (H x W x D) and weighs 137.5g (including battery). A 4.2-inch screen, with a resolution of 1280 x 768 pixels, is encased by a black plastic bezel that is thicker at the top/bottom than the sides.
Here I am looking at two sets of earbuds from Audio-Technica, both are designed for use for those who move about a lot and dare I say the word RUN. The main difference between is the fitment in or over your ear.
Often earbuds come with very long leads which normally get knotted very quickly. Here the basic lead is very short at .6metre however before you think that will never reach the pocket in my shorts or jogging pants there is another .6metre extension lead in the box. Normally the silicon earbuds are smooth as indeed are the pair fitted but for those who want or need them then ridged ones are in the box.
As part of its range of software titles designed specifically for the less experienced user, MAGIX has released Photostory Easy. This product, as it titles might suggest, allows the user to combine various photo images, transitions and a sound track into a slideshow. Boxed and downloadable versions of the software are available with my preview copy being of the latter type.
When selecting to create a new project, a Wizard will lead you through the initial steps of the process of creating a slideshow. You can either accept the default file name format, which combines the current system date with the word “slideshow”, or enter one of your own choosing. The next step involves deciding whether to import images from a digital camera or opt for content already stored on your computer.
Just how and why was a young woman attacked and murder in a locked room? And how did the murderer escape? These are the mysteries facing you in the game of Victorian Mysteries: Yellow Room. Categorised as a Hidden Object Investigation, this game is available as part of Avanquests GSP catalogue of titles.
Set in 19 Century France, the game of Victorian Mystery: Yellow Room casts you in the role of Sainclare, a photographer who is aided Joseph Rouletebille, an investigative reporter for the Epoque. The two men have been set the task of investigating the murder of Mademoiselle Stangerson at the Chateau du Glandiers. Different players can set up their game profiles with volume levels for sound effects and background music plus whether to opt for a widescreen view or not.
This is a printer, and this unit has multiple connection types, USB, Ethernet and Wireless, so it can work in the home, SOHO, small office and even larger office settings as a workgroup unit, so it is an all round unit.
It is quite beefy in size at 45x55x44cm with paper output tray extended. You can subtract 18cm from the last figure the height when you do not have thick paper, letterheads or envelopes in the back top 80 sheet capacity paper feed. All the controls are on the sloping front panel, there is no display so you rely on the eight LEDs and seven well marked buttons. The main paper tray at the front base takes 250 sheets so it should work without attention for a reasonable time.
Bringing together the various streams of entertainment content that is readily available is the stated aim of a black box from Samsung.
The Samsung STB-E7500M is a Freeview dual tuner personal video recorder (PVR) box that comes with a built-in 500GB hard drive for storing content. While not the smallest device of its type, this reflective black box, with dimensions of 330 x 270 x 45mm (W x D x H), is not too demanding with regards to space and it does look stylish enough to fit in with most home environments as you control its range of features with the supplied full-size remote control unit.
Here I am looking at a Gaming Mouse capable of 3500DPI, it has the name of Death Adder. I am also looking a keyboard, both these items are branded Razer and both connect to the PC using USB as their connection method.
You could connect to any PC and it would work out of the box as a standard mouse however it offers a lot more for the Gamer. It is 12x7x5cm these are maximum sizes. The top has normal left and right buttons with a scroll wheel in between. The left side is waisted and has two further Gaming Buttons cut into the waist to give extra gaming features. It has an infra red sensor in the base which is stated to react at 3.5G, beside this sensor is a Profile change button.
Lego has been around for a long time, I seem to remember that originally there was one shape of brick and possibly just a single colour. Now things are very different and this set here is a case in point to produce a specific object.
I am old enough to remember time before Lego when the only construction toy was Meccano and you constructed most things from within your head. Now you have sets with a specific purpose and although some of the bricks are still the basic shapes a lot of them are specific to the task of constructing your Super Hero.
A visit to the dentist does not rate high on my list of favourite tasks. As a result I am always on the look-out for ways of keeping my teeth and gums in a healthy state.
Diamonds, for James Bond fans, are forever. These precious stones are also, according to a classic Hollywood movie, “a girls’ best friend”. Now, so Philips informs me, diamond (note the switch to the singular from the plural) is the latest high standard of oral cleanliness that is available from the company’s new electronic toothbrush.
This is a thin and light notebook claimed as the thinnest but as soon as you boot it up you notice it is also very fast so without looking you know that a ten second boot and seven second shutdown means it has an SSD drive.
The Samsung Series 9 NP900X4C measures 35.5x23x1cm maximum and weights 1665grams. The screens diagonal imperial measurement is 15inches. The viewable screen is 34x19cm with a near invisible webcam mounted in the centre of the screen top. It is capable of displaying up to 1280x1024.
Corel has never been afraid to open its purse strings to purchase software companies especially when it concerns graphics offerings. One of its latest purchases was ROXIO.
On one of its recent shopping trips Corel purchased ROXIO and its various software products. One of these titles is ROXIO Creator which provides the user with a range of tools for capturing, creating and sharing media content plus burning this content to optical media. The latest version of this software still bears the ROXIO name and is entitled Creator NXT. Included with the ROXIO branded software is a full copy of Corel’s Paint Shop Pro image editing package.
As part of the Hidden Mystery Collectives series, Focus Multimedia has bundled together two Haunted Manor titles in a two-game pack. The two titles are Lord of Mirrors and Queen of Death with both being classified as Hidden Object Adventure games. Using the same front end, each of the two titles has its own installation routine which needs to be instigated separately.
A slim and light panel from Philips, it is capable of 1920x1080 and the unit has a good range of forward and backward movement available on its base. There is no side to side movement but as its light its easy to move around.
The 27inch Philips Gioco monitor measures 62x37x2.5cm, the stand is 31x20cm. It raises the unit by 10cm from your desk. There is around 15% of back movement and around half that in forward movement. As the unit is light – but well balanced – moving it to the sides is easy. However as you can view it from close to being beside it little movement should be required. The viewable screen is 60x33.5cm and the diagonal imperial measurement is 27inches.
I can remember my grandfather using a cut-throat razor which he would sharpen using a leather strap. Now we have safety razors, disposable blades and electric razors.
According to a recent survey, conducted by a sock subscription service for gentlemen (I had not realised that such an establishment existed), men have now overtaken women in what previously was considered to be an area that they dominated. According to this survey, a man can now spend up to 75 minutes over his daily getting ready routine. Women, on the other hand, only spend 70 minutes on their beauty regime.