Aldous Huxley may have foreseen the Big Brother scenario but he does seem to have ignored the possibility of Little Brother. I am referring to the current trend of installing security devices within our homes to provide notifications of any unauthorised activity when you are away for any reason. One such device is Canary No this is not the yellow caged bird found in some households although both the company and its flagship product is named after the bird used by miners to warn them of the presence of deadly gases found underground
Canary is yet another entry into the home security camera sector. Basically tubular in shape, the Canary is available in a choice of white, black or silver with my white review model reminding me of an inside-out liquorice all-sorts sweet. The Canary device has rear-mounted connection sockets for power, security audio and Ethernet. Supplied with this main unit are a 3-pin mains plug with USB connection; black micro-to-standard USB lead; yellow lead with 3.
This is described as a wide format panel from Philips, however to my old eyes it looks the same proportions as most panels, it displays 1920x1080 when you plug in a VGA lead, yes the display is sharp and clear so what is its secret.
The Philips 227E6EDSD measures 50.5x30.5x2cm and its 20cm circular stand raises it 9cm from your desk. It weighs 2.65 kilos with stand and that means the lack of side to side movement is not vital together with the viewing angle is stated to 178 degrees meaning you could sit almost level with and beside the display and read it clearly. There is a small amount of forward from vertical tilt and around 20% of backward tilt.
Continuing my look at various Brother devices, it is the turn of a colour laser All-in-One model.
Forming part of Brother’s latest line up of All-in-One or multifunction devices is the company’s DCP-9015CDN model. This combination of colour laser printer and A4 flatbed scanner delivering print, scan and copy features. The DCP-9015CDN also provides the user with Duplex printing and a choice of connectivity options made up of USB, wired or wireless linking. There is also support for remote print features through the use of AirPrint and Google Cloud Print.
Who would have thought it! Dracula teams up with Van Helsing to thwart an attack on humanity in this next title.
Developed by the Waterlily Development Game Studio, Dracula: Love Kills is a Hidden Object Adventure game. This game, as you have probably surmised, deals with the activities of the blood sucking Count so beloved by horror writers. However it is not Count Dracula (that’s your role) who is the villain of the story for that role falls to the Queen of the Vampires who is intent on destroying the human world.
One problem with a sound bar is that to get a good improvement on the naff sound coming from your TV is that you really need both the soundbar and a sub-woofer, probably expensive and for a lot of people it needs more space, here a different solution a Soundstage.
So there are a few around and they are not cheap but this offering that goes on sale - as with all ALDI specials - when they are gone they are gone and at the price they are selling it at they will not be available for long. In essence it’s a black box measuring 54x31x8cm and it will fit under your TV providing the TV stands legs are not wider than 54cm. It is stated to stand up to 30KG placed on it, few recent TVs weigh anywhere near that.
The Workzone Titanium+ drill & driver kit forms part of Aldis premium range of tools and accessories. It consists of the two most useful battery-powered power tools -- a hammer drill and an impact driver -- packed into a robust storage case so that everything is together when you want to use it.
Both tools have enough power to more than meet most needs, sit nicely in one’s hand, and are comfortable to use. They are also of a practical design so that, for example, they both have belt clips which can be fitted on either side to suit the LH or RH user. The forward/reverse switches on both drill and driver are transverse sliders across the body. They both have a central safety lock position which, while preventing the device operating, still allows the LED work light to light.
Joining the Vodafone series of handsets is a 4G budget offering.
Bucking the trend somewhat with regards to smartphones, and it must be said that tablets follow this same pattern, a new Vodafone offering takes the opposite direction with regards to screen size. While smartphone manufacturers are busy offering users handsets with screens that grow larger in size and features more pixels with each new release, the Vodafone Smart Speed 6 4G comes with a 4.5-inch touch screen. This product is available in a choice of Anthracite grey or silver.
Without doubt this is a semi-professional unit and it takes images of very high quality. What is perhaps a little more surprising is that in my own bumbling way I enjoyed using it and I certainly enjoyed the results that it gave me.
The Pentax K-3 II DSLR measures 13x9.5x14cm and weights a tad over 1kilo. It was supplied with an 18-55mm lens and this fully extended added around 1.5cm to the width. This was one of the few DSLR units that I fitted with the neck strap as carrying a kilo in your hand for a long period can be somewhat tiring however when shooting at a gig where it sits on a table between shots I still prefer not to have the strap getting in the way.
Any device with an unprotected screen whatever it is made of needs covering or it will at the very least get scratched or worse it will get damaged beyond repair even if kept in a bag, other items rubbing against it like keys can damage it.
The model I had was designed for the iPad Mini 3 and came in at the same time as the iPad, review very soon. Initially I was not that keen as I was still getting used to the iPad and trying to use it as a small mobile device that most would slip in a pocket or side of a bag and even though the screen is less than 8 inches when you have this zip up case and bits around it the overall size is 23x17.5x3cm and its weight with iPad and paper pad is 690grams.
A trip down Londons Brick Lane introduced me to a new smartphone from Huaweis Honor range.
Following the release of its top-of-the-range P8 smartphone, Huawei has now refreshed its Honor range which is aimed more at the budget section of the market. The Honor 7 is a 5.2-inch smartphone that comes with the tag line of “For The Brave”. In appearance, this smartphone certainly fits the bill with its fully metallic body that has been air-brushed with a ceramic coating.
The StorenGo super speed USB 3.0 500GB portable hard drive is one of a new series from Verbatim that provide a convenient way to back up the files on ones laptop.
In addition to this 500GB drive the others in the series have capacities of 1 and 2TB. They each incorporate a 5400rpm, 2.5inch drive in a unit which is 119 x 81 x 14.5mm in size and weighs 150g so that it is easily carried around in a pocket or rucksack. They are available in a choice of colours -- black, silver, blue, red and white -- with a diamond check pattern embossed front surface together with the Verbatim name and logo. They are supplied with a 21cm USB 3.0 cable.
This is a multi-function device which means it not only prints, scans and copies but for those who still use or need it the unit also has fax. It is quite small and light and runs with two cartridges, it is black but here thats OK as this is an office product.
The HP OfficeJet 3830 measures 43x48x30cm the figures I have given are with the paper output shelf extended and paper in the rear upright paper tray. At the back left of the unit is where Ethernet or USB leads are inserted and the centre of the back is where the mains lead connects. A sloping front edge has the on/off button on the left and the 5x2.
If available space on your desktop is at a premium then this next monitor might be able to squeeze into a small gap.
While hardly the most descriptive of titles, the 227E6E model number is the one given to a Philips SoftBlue 22-inch monitor. Actually if I was being really picky then it should be made clear that the panel size for this monitor is 21.5-inches or 54.6cm. However to the naked eye (or even wearing glasses as I do) I would not be able to notice the 0.5-inch difference in size. Having cleared up the slight size issue, I should explain about the SoftBlue aspect of this product.
While I have heard them referred to as vanity sticks, especially in the hands of certain individuals, manufacturers and many users prefer the term Selfie for this type of device which allows users to grab a self portrait of themselves in various locations. The latest product of this type to arrive for testing is the Selfie Pole from Kaiser Baas.
I have to admit that until the arrival of the Selfie Pole, I had never heard of the company known as Kaiser Baas. Not surprisingly, due to the company’s name, I could be forgiven for thinking that this was a German company but that thought would be well wide of the mark. Kaiser Baas is actually an Australian company that has been involved in the design and development of innovative gadgets since 2006.
This latest offering from Gigabyte will have gamers interested, as most will know the Gigabyte brand is built on fast motherboards and everything else builds on that, a lot of Desktops have Gigabyte motherboards but they brand notebooks themselves.
The Gigabyte P34W measures 33x23.5x2cm and weights 18.17grams. Like a lot of recent full size notebooks size and weight have been saved by the non-inclusion of an optical drive. If one is required you could always attach a USB one. So just what connections do you get. Starting from the back left a Kensington Lock fitment then an Ethernet Port and VGA out, two USB3 ports and finally headphone and microphone 3.5mm socket.
As part of the latest refresh of its Business Printer line up, Brother has released the MFC-L2700DN model. This All-in-One device combines a mono laser printer with copy, scan and Fax capabilities. The letters DN, forming part of the products model number, indicate that Duplex printing and Network connectivity are part of this units feature set.
Befitting its business status, the MFC-L2700DN has a solid appearance with a predominately gun-metal grey colour scheme that would probably not be acceptable in a home environment. The only exception to this mass of grey is the front mounted control of which more a little later. Considering it is meant to be used in an office, this All-in-One is reasonable compact with dimensions of 409 x 398.5 x 316.
I received this unit four months ago only to find nothing I had was compatible. I consulted the list and eventually I got something that worked with it; ironically this was the first iPad to pass over my desk, me being a confirmed Android person.
The TabletTV portable tuner has been designed for use when you are out and about. On first use you have to answer that you are in possession of a UK TV Licence. It consists of a 9x5x1cm box that has a tiny three piece 15cm rod aerial at one end, the other end has a micro USB port to charge the units battery, there is a micro USB to USB cable supplied.
This has been waiting since early 2014 to be reviewed; it came at the same time as the Pulse Oximeter and the Blood Pressure Cuff. The Pulse Oximeter worked immediately, the Blood Pressure Cuff when Android went to V5 but this had to wait for an iPad to arrive.
It is a watch but until it can be linked to something it is just something that flashes a Bluetooth symbol. Once it talks to an operating system it understands then you have a usable watch and it has travelled with me for the last ten days. It comes with two surrounds and bands blue and black. In fact it also comes with a clip if you prefer to fit it to a piece of clothing rather than a wrist.
Since its first appearance, many years ago, as the software of choice for many users when it came to burning content to disc, Nero has developed into a HD Multimedia Software Suite of tools. Nero is now available in its 2016 version with Classic and Platinum flavours depending upon your needs. I have been looking at the Premium product which comes with a Content Pack that is made up of video effects and themes for use to enhance your own projects.
When installing Nero Platinum, there are separate routines covering the main program, requiring the entry of a 39-character serial number, and the bonus Content Pack. In both cases you do have the option to join the Nero Product Improvement Program which collects anonymous data regarding the use of the software. The installation of the product can prove to be rather time consuming, giving you time for a cup of coffee and a chance to raid the biscuit barrel.
While a lot of computer items get smaller, Modem Routers seem to be an exception. Of course a lot of this is down to having the ability to work on more than one bandwidth and also to have far greater Wi-Fi range to mention just two features.
This however is the largest I have seen and will need more desk/table space unless you utilize the two holes in the back and hang it on a wall. It is 28cm wide, 22cm deep and 4.5cm tall all those are without any stand or cables connected. It weights 855grams; if you add the antennas this adds 31cm to the width and around 18cm to the height.
New from MAGIX is the latest version of the companys video editing software. This 2016 version of MAGIX Movie Edit Pro is available in Standard, Plus and Premium editions. My review is based on the basic Standard offering.
When installing Movie Edit Pro 2016 you have a choice of custom or standard procedures with the former allowing you a degree of choice in the modules that will be included in the process.
Bringing together the Dragon and Phoenix Kingdoms is the task set you in this Hidden Object Adventure game.
Spirits of Mystery: Song of the Phoenix is a Hidden Object Adventure game available for downloading from site such as GameHouse and Big Fish Games. My review is based on the Collector’s Edition version of the game which includes bonus game play that becomes available once the main game has been completed. These bonus items include music, concept art, wallpaper, screen saver and an additional chapter. As usual with such games, you can create profiles for individual players.
A number of such devices are now available this one from Buffalo offers 500GB (1TB also available) of storage. It can be used to automatically backup items from your phone should you wish, it uses its own Wi-Fi network.
The Buffalo MiniStation Air 2 measures 14.5x8.5x1.5cm and weights 250grams. The front edge has power input, USB3 port and connection button. The right side and back are clear while the left side has a USB2 port for charging of other devices. The front part of the top has a single on/off button and behind it four LEDs to denote various things.
The Kurio Tab 2 is a tablet that has been designed for young children to use. Arriving with the claim of being the safest tablet for kids, the Kurio Tab 2 is a 7-inch Android device that is supplied preloaded with 40 educational and fun apps that should appeal to its targeted audience.
Providing visual evidence that the Kurio Tab 2 tablet has been designed specifically for young children is the presence of a protective, blue, compressed rubber jacket that fits over each end of the tablet. The back section of this jacket features cut-out areas so as not to obstruct the rear-mounted 2.1MP camera and a detachable plate whose purpose is to act as a stand for the tablet when it is inserted into a slot in the jacket.
When I saw the first version of Chromecast it was around the same time as a similar product from Roku, to my mind the latter was a better product at a near similar price. So what will the second version have to offer to change my mind?
To start with its an all in one design with an 8cm lead hard wired to the side of the unit to avoid the possible connection problems associated with poor TV design that puts the HDMI ports very close together. When not in use this lead will not dangle as there is a magnetised back that pulls the HDMI lead to the main 5cm circular disc that is the new Chromecast it is less than 1cm thick.
I think of Sennheiser as a maker of quality headphones but at a reasonable price, to give an example one top of the range audio store stocks Sennheiser as their lower priced range. Here is something new for me anyway earbuds from Sennheiser.
They measure 1.4metres from buds to the ‘L’ shaped 3.5mm plug. 12cm down the left bud lead is the comprehensive control, another 20cm on the two cords become one for the rest of the distance to the plug. There is a slider that can hold the two cords as one if 32cm from the ears is too much. There are two pairs of smaller silicon earbuds in the packaging along with a hard sided zip up case to store the earbuds in. Finally there is a small fold out multi-language Safety Guide.
Rather than concentrating on audio features, this next speaker also promises a visual attraction but then failed to deliver.
The Thumbs Up! Infinity speaker is an oval shaped unit that arrives attractively packaged in a solid box that helps inspire some confidence in the enclosed product. Included in the box, with the speaker unit, are a micro-to-standard USB lead for charging purposes, an audio lead with 3.
This starter kit promises to finally give you Wi-Fi Anywhere. This is a bold statement especially if your property is a strange shape or you have lots of solid walls. There is another problem in that these devices used to do the job but slowly.
This starter kit consists of two units the main unit to be placed fairly close to your router is 15x8x5cm with the built in 13amp plug at the base, the top has two Gigabit Ethernet ports. The front has a 13amp plug face so other items can still be plugged in to the unit. The second unit is slightly smaller at 13x6.
Combining stylish appearance with quality audio, this next headphone product offers support for iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices.
With the promise of being the world’s lightest closed-back planar magnetic headphones, the OPPO PM-3 product belongs to the over-the-ears style of headphones. Weighing 320g, the OPPO PM-3 brings together a brushed metallic frame with plush padding materials surrounding the headband and ear pieces. The padding is encased with durable synthetic leather that helps add to the comfort of this product when worn for lengthy sessions of entertainment.
Computer gaming has come a long way since those early days when blocky monochrome pixels, simplistic sound effects and a storyline that could put a great deal of pressure on the players imagination. Nowadays, with photo-realistic graphics, smooth fast animated action, Dolby surround sound and an all-engulfing storyline set in an atmospheric environment, the game provides us with a virtual world to inhabit. This next title comes somewhere in between these two extremes.
Entitled Retro RPG Bundle, this offering, part of the Avanquest GSP game catalogue, brings together three retro role-playing adventure games in a single package. The titles in question are Deadly Sin, Skyborn and Deadly Sin II. I was rather surprised to discover that the earliest of these titles only dates back a mere six years – I expected it to be far older than that. Each of the titles needs to be installed separately from the same front-end menu.