A last minute invitation saw me attending the launch event for Kobos latest eReader device.
Adding to is range of eReader products, Kobo has developed its Aura HD Reader. Described as being designed for the world’s most passionate book lovers, the Kobo Aura HD unit is available in luxurious Ivory, Expresso and Onyx. The sample under review is of the Ivory hue. Built around a 6.8-inch WXGA+ Pearl E Ink touch-screen, the Aura HD comes with the claim of offering the highest resolution currently available of 265 dpi at 1440 x 1080. With dimensions of 128.3 x 175.
Witches never seem to rate highly on most people's popularity lists. Part of this unloved quality could be down to the actions of the Snow Queen, a central character in this next game.
Originally published by Big Fish Games, Dark Parables Rise of the Snow Queen is now available from Focus Multimedia in Collector's Edition format. As is usual in such cases, the bonus items making up this title, apart from the Strategy Guide, only become available once the main game has been completed.
While I saw a prototype unit a couple of years ago at Google, earlier versions of Chromebooks have passed me by. Rather different to a PC notebook and also different from a Google Tablet a Chromebook is a category of its own.
When I first saw one the things you noticed were that the keyboard had no function keys, this is still true. No local storage was possible and so therefore if you had no Internet connection you had a unit that could do nothing, this is no longer true. Not surprisingly it is chrome in colour and of course this has a huge advantage over a normal black screen surround in that your fingermarks do not show. The Samsung Chromebook, series 3 measures 29x20.5x1.5cm and weights 1090grams.
The Boxee Box could be regarded as a hybrid product. D-Link, the source of this particular offering, has combined the free Boxee media software with its own hardware kit in order to offer the user a solution to the conundrum of creating a home-based media centre for their entertainment needs.
Recently I have been checking out the Boxee Box as part of my home network computer set up. The results were not always as positive as I would have liked as the Boxee Box proved to have a temperamental side to its make-up. Lets start with the actual kit before getting down to the performance.
This is a multi-function unit which means it also has fax as well printing, scanning and copying, I actually recently found a business that still uses fax, my local Pharmacy as urgent prescriptions can be sent from doctors surgeries.
The HP PhotoSmart7520 measures 48x35x21cm, you will need a few more centimetres on the last figures to place items on the flatbed but not if you use the page feed. However anyone thinking of placing it on a shelf should make sure it’s strong enough. While this is capable of working on USB some of the features are only available via Wi-FI and this includes scanning to PC although you can scan to USB memory stick or SD card on the unit and then transfer the file to the PC.
Now that Windows 8 is well and truly here -- even though an updated version will probably be out within the year -- there is a need for a detailed manual. This is particularly important because it is a significant redesign focussed on a touch-screen interface. "Windows 8 The Missing Manual" should meets the needs of power users as well as the rest of us who need to get to grips with this new environment.
This massive 900 page volume is divided into logical sections to enable users new to Windows 8 to get to grips with the various aspects of this new operating system a key feature of which is its touch-screen interface. It also covers Windows RT which is, in essence, a variant of Windows designed to run on the lower power ARM chips that are widely used in tablets.
Like most men I spend a lot of time in trainers for one reason only, they are comfortable, these however are rather different. Like most there are occasions that a notebook needs to travel with me and this bag from STM is also a little different.
These trainers are described as multi terrain shoes. They are trainers to look at but the sole is tricker and gives added support to all parts of the foot. I looked through all my trainers – old and new – and could not find one pair with a sole configuration anything like these. To begin with there is a slight heel, then the sole from the toe back is thicker and the really unusual bit is that there is support on either side in the mid sole area.
Why would some unknown person murder a travelling opera singer? It is up to you to solve the crime by playing a series of Match-3 boards.
Combining elements of Adventure, Hidden Object and Match-3 game play is Night in the Opera which is available as part of Avanquest's GSP label. Described as a thrilling operatic adventure, the game revolves around the murder of Prima Donna Madame Agnes who is a travelling opera singer. On discovering the crime, Alfonso del Pino, the theatre director of the Opera sends for you to search for clues and discover the perpetrator of this dastardly crime.
By the time anything gets to version 4 it should be mature; however this has something that few such products have and that is the ability to work just as well with touch screens such as those for some recent Windows 8 PCs it supports fully.
Rather than give this next product an easy-to-remember name, its developers have opted for the model number of i2360P.
Asked to list the top ten world influencing events of the past 50 years, I am sure many, if not all, would include the event that happened on the 22nd November 1963.
It was one of those events that are indelibly etched on the memory of those of us who were alive at the time. My less-than-perfect recollection of this event places me at a Friday evening social Badminton event. The social aspect of this burning off of excessive energy (I was a good deal younger then) can be judged by the players’ habit of listening to radio broadcasts, such as “The Navy Lark” as they played.
How do deaf or hard of hearing parents manage to hear when their baby is crying? Something like this offering Amplicomms the people known for ultra-loud phones have produced this small module to allow them to see as well as possibly hear.
It consists of two units both small the first that can watch over the baby and for a hearing parent it is even sensitive enough to hear the child breathing as well as to let you see it over a Wi-Fi link. The second is the receiving unit that has a 4.5x3.7cm screen as well as a speaker. The camera unit is 10x6x2cm on an 8x8cm base to keep it stable a small microphone is on a 5cm flexible arm. The receiver unit is 12x7x2.
Never having eaten an oyster, I am unsure whether this delicacy would suit a side dish of damsons but why talk of food when technology is available.
It wasn’t so long ago that I had the opportunity to look at my first product from Damson. This was a portable Bluetooth audio streaming device that was entitled Twist. This model made use of Incisor diffusion technology to deliver its audio output. Now it is the turn of one of Damson’s other product, namely the Oyster, which makes use of Wave Field Synthesis 3D sound technology.
A somewhat different book reader in that the shape of this near 7inch offering is more like a book with the bulge in the middle makes it easier to hold. It also has a backlight when lack of daylight means you need it.
The Kobo Aura HD eReader measures 17.5x12.7x1cm but the width is only 0.5cm at the edges. The screen is 13.5x10.5cm giving the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 6.8inches. The screen display is 1440x1080 made up of 265DPI. The unit weight is 240grams. It is an e-ink display and according to the Kobo CEO it is the biggest e-ink display in the world. In the box are the Aura HD a micro USB to USB cable and a small Getting Started Booklet. The reader is totally touchscreen.
As smartphones, tablets and other devices, upon which we are now totally reliant, get more powerful and have faster processors and more memory they impose a heavier battery demand. Mophie's Juice Pack Powerstation Duo external battery pack has enough capacity to provide a useful safety belt that can be used to increase the time before one needs to use a mains charger.
The Powerstation Duo is rectangular with slightly rounded corners and is just 110 x 58 x 20 mm in size. Its top and bottom faces are of a hard matt black material (which, unfortunately, gets badly smeared with fingerprints) and sides in stainless steel and feels very robust overall. Despite being a 6,000mAh battery pack it is relatively small and only weighing about 220g complete with the supplied 87cm USB cable and can be slipped easily into a laptop or other travel bag .
Two different rather nice value sets of earbuds from very different places, First from Crystal Acoustics their i-40 offering. The second set from a name more known as a motherboard producer the H11 from Gigabyte.
A stylish looking set of ear plugs and because your ears are plugged there is a noise reduction element as well as a bass increase. 15cm down the black lead from your left ear is the normal mute and answer option found to allow you to take phone calls without needing to extract the smartphone from your pocket. The total lead length is 1.2metres and after .35 metres the two flat leads merge into one, this can be adjusted to suit.
You probably do not know much about Grey Mist Lake. Not many do especially since the mysterious fog engulfed the town and when it disappears, so had the town. There were rumours of occasional reappearances of the town with ghost-like inhabitants but now you can check it out for yourself.
Available from Focus Multimedia's extensive catalogue of titles, Strange Cases The Secrets of Grey Mist Lake is a Hidden Object Adventure game. With this Collector's Edition version, you get a number of bonus items. As is the usual practice, items such as a bonus chapter, concept art, wallpaper and music soundtrack only become available when the main game has been completed.
Most radios I have reviewed from Pure rely on mains power, some have worked on batteries if you play extra for a ChargePAK, however this unit is designed to work on its internal batteries charged by USB, no mains lead in sight.
It is 15x8x2.5cm and weights 296grams. In use the second figure the height can be as much as 50cm when the 42cm six piece rod aerial is fully extended. The connections are on the right side at the top a silvered lock button. Below this the micro USB connection, Auxiliary I and Headphone 3.5mm sockets and finally a Pin Hole reset button. The back has an easel type stand that tilts the radio back by around 15degrees when extended. The top and the left side are clear.
Yet another Canon multifunction device has arrived on my workspace for testing.
Decked out in a coating of matte black, the Canon PIXMA MX455 is a multifunction device offering print, copy, scan and fax functionality. There is also a built-in ADF (Automatic Document Feed) facility and a choice of USB or Wi-Fi connectivity. All connection options (power, USB and telephone line) are located at the rear of the unit.
Originally published by Alawar and now available on the Avanquest GSP label, The Worlds Legends Kaschey The Immortal is a Hidden Object Adventure game. Based on an ancient Russian storyline, the game opens with a narrated introduction that involves a magic mirror, a beautiful woman and an evil sorcerer. As you might suppose the evil sorcerer is the Kaschey of the games title and he is in the market for a wife.
This game opens as Kaschey, using his magical powers, kidnaps and spirits away the royal Tsarita. Her eldest son sets out to rescue his mother but he disappears as well. The second son then sets out on the same task but a similar fate befalls him. Now it is the turn of the third and youngest son to ease his father’s unhappiness and rescue the queen and his mother. This is your role in the game.
This is a small but powerful digital camera from Pentax. Having recently tested myself on a DSLR offering I now downsize but not as far as point and shoot as this digital camera has a lot to offer yet it can still fit in most pockets.
It is 12.5x6x6cm the last figure the width is with lens cap on and the unit switched off. Add 3cm to the width when switched on and fully zoomed in. The body is metal and that is why the units weight is 398grams. 12MP may seem small as some less impressive units offer as much as 20MP but its how good the sensor is to give the quality and depth of the overall images taken.
Branching out from its normal target market of the older generation, Doros latest handset is aimed at those working and enjoying the outdoors.
Described as an easy-to-use durable unit for a user who enjoys an outdoor lifestyle, the Doro PhoneEasy 520X is a 3G candy-bar style of handset. Predominately black in colour, with a silver trim running around the front face, my review sample of the 520X has dimensions of 118 x 53 x 13 mm (H x W x D) and a weight of 95g (including the battery pack).
This is another quality panel from a company in Holland who produce excellent panels but as they do not sell them under a well-known name you the user get the benefit without the added price that a known name carries in a premium.
It is 52x32x1.5cm the last figure at the edges, this however does increase to 5cm further in. The stand is circular and raises the panel by 6cm from your desk. The unit weights 3855grams with stand attached so side to side movement is possible as the whole unit moves comfortably. There is around 20% of backward tilt and around 10% of forward tilt. The unit is stable in whatever position you have it. The viewable screen is 50.5x28cm giving the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 23inches.
PowerDesk is the file manager that Windows Explorer should have been. It is easy to use and has a wide range of features that make it a valuable tool for the serious PC user. The recently released version 9 adds even more features and is also compatible with Windows 8.
Even though it is more advanced than Windows Explorer the interface is straightforward and the basic search, find, delete, copy and move file management tools are easy to use. In addition, there is the Go menu that enables one to navigate directly to a specific folder. The file viewer, which supports a very large range of file formats allows one to view the contents of a file in a preview pane or as a thumbnail even when one does not have the original software.
Bluetooth speakers both from iLuv. The first a near cube called the MobiOne. The second looking more like a standard speaker the MobiTour. The lady who sent them must have a wicked sense of humour as they were suggested for Fathers Day one was lipstick red and the other pink.
It is 8x7x7cm and thickest just above the rubberised base. While the speaker itself outputs through the top the base is always a tad tacky and so grips whatever you sit it on. While it is not resonating the tone does vary according to what surface you place it on. The on/off slider is on the base while the area just above it has the two external connections micro USB for charging on the back and 3.5mm Auxiliary input on the right side. A line of five buttons take the width of the front.
Often it is easy to recognise an Edifier speaker system just by looking at its usual design concept.
I know I am guilty of repeating myself but it has to be said that the company Edifier has never been constrained by the usual conventions when it comes to the design and shape of its various speaker systems. In the past I have set up and checked out Edifier systems that have been based on a cylindrical, spherical, decapitated pyramid and the large one-eyed monopod unit shape. Now with the latest 2.
For anyone of a certain age this was an iconic brand when you still paid 7 shillings and 6 pence deposit when you got a syphon of soda from the off licence. Long before you could buy a bottle of soda water from a supermarket.
Yes a name that seemed to disappear from most people’s vocabulary. In fact when the courier delivered it to me he said ‘I thought this was a name from the past but I have delivered lots of these just recently’. Of course it’s very different from the upright chromed offering only now seen in antique and collectables stores and auctions.
Backward compatible with previous versions of the technology, the latest incarnation of USB offers various enhancements that might appeal.
Originally developed back in 1996, the Universal Serial Bus (commonly referred to as USB) was meant to be the panacea for the connection issues between computers and attached peripherals that were causing users headaches. As often happens, especially in the field of computing, the first incarnation of the technology promised more than it could deliver as it struggled to cope with compatibility and the ever-increasing demands for more speed. USB 2.
Bringing together The Maze, Paranormal and the Guardians, Focus Multimedia has come up with a Haunting Mysteries Triple Pack. Originally published by Big Fish Games, these three titles of Urban Legends: The Maze, Paranormal Criminal Investigations: Brotherhood of the Crescent Snake and Guardians of Beyond: Witchville will need to be installed separately. Each title will add its own icon to your desktop.
When tackling Urban Legends: The Maze you are called into action to investigate the disappearance of the contestants who were taking part in the final of the televised The Maze. Actually I thought that the whole idea of such televised reality programs was for the contestants to gradually be eliminated and disappear. However in this case the disappearance was a wholesale vanishing and not part of a planned schedule. As a result your skills are required.
Rather than a book this is a software package that will work on Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8. It has text to read this can also be read out and things to do after it has explained them using a dummy Windows 8 interface.
It will not proceed until you have clicked the correct item and whatever you are then meant to do correctly, a good way to learn. At this point let me say I have used Windows more or less since it first came out and gone through all the incarnations since. Yes I admit that Windows 8 is very different but I would liken it to driving an automatic car after driving a manual one for years.