A range of companies have Xmas In July events to show what they consider will be their big sellers or must have items for the Christmas selling period, one of those is the Dixons Store Group who have a help scheme called Knowhow.
Go into most of their stores and you can get help and advice from a Knowhow expert. They have just launched a range of online assist tools to help with twenty one subjects and of course they would make an excellent gift. Often people use something without really understanding it and a lot of users will not feel able to ask for help either because they are too proud or possibly too scared. Some are more basic than others and according to the depth the cost of the course varies.
The Heston Blumenthal precision analogue oven thermometer model 543 HBSSCR by Salter will be a useful addition to the armoury of any person who takes cooking seriously. It can be seen as a useful aid to achieving consistent results.
Constructed with a stainless steel body and a clear glass lens it has a mounting arrangement that enables it to be hung from an oven shelf or, alternatively, to be stood on a shelf or floor of the oven in such a position that that it can be viewed through the oven door’s glass window. Overall the body is 62mm in diameter with its window being 48mm.
Do you like using headphones or earbuds but do not like being tethered to the source of your music? The answer then may be at hand with this small object from Noble Audio that is about half the length of a ball point pen that you plug your buds into.
Of course if you are playing music from a SmartPhone then although slightly larger and heavier the phone could sit in a jacket or shirt pocket. However if playing better quality sound from a larger device then Wi-Fi or Bluetooth is required and this solution is a small easy to use Bluetooth option. However the thing you are playing your music from must send out Bluetooth signals. It is 6cm long and 1.2 to 1.6cm on its sides the larger figure is the pen grip type clip.
Like many young boys I could not wait to begin shaving. However when the time arrived it did not take too long for this looked forward to activity to become a chore. Then technology, in the form of electric shavers, came to the rescue.
I am old enough to remember my grandfather using a cut-throat razor, in conjunction with a leather strap, for his daily shave (he was a publican and needed to look his best for his customers). The leather strap was used to ensure the open blade was sharp enough to remove the daily growth of bristles.
This coffee machine takes coffee beans in the top and grinds them and then prepares the coffee adds the water and then makes your coffee. It is a complete process so you cannot get fresher ground beans as it grinds them to make the cup of coffee.
It is 30cm deep, 23cm wide and 35cm tall at the bean storage area. There is a 28 page A5 booklet that covers operation and setting up as well as cleaning the product in sixteen languages. Seven of these pages use diagrams to cover most things then there is a single page in each language to cover more obscure things like setting up your favourite coffee strengths etc. It also explains the less obvious icons that the front display shows.
This next mobile handset is smart enough to act as a clock while it is being charged or not used for other purposes.
Described as being “Small size, Big heart” by Doro, the Liberto® 820 Mini is a smartphone. It is relatively compact by modern day standards of such devices, hence the “Mini” part of its title. Available in a choice of Silver, White or Red (my review sample), the Liberto 820 Mini has dimensions of 126 x 66 x 11mm (H x W x D) and weighs 132g (including the rechargeable Li-ion 3.
Step back in time to a bygone era as you help a clumsy sorcerers apprentice regain scrolls he had lost.
Unlike the similarly entitled “Games of Thrones”, an epic American television fantasy based on an adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, the “Games of Stones” is a completely different kettle of fish. This rokapublish Makivision Games title may be loosely set in a bygone age of sorcery and the like but its concept is puzzle based rather than sword, sorcery and conquest.
This is a 27inch flat panel designed for those you need accurate and rapid display, yes its something designed for gamers. As it says on the carton Gaming is in the details so this 27inch panel gives all the detail with rapid refresh rates.
This Benq gaming monitor measures 64x37.5x2.4cm, the latter at the edges. Its stand is in the form of an inverted ‘T’ with the front part being 35x7.5cm and the stroke being 13.5cm deep with the uplift being on the stroke. This raises the screen by 10cm from your desk or table. There is a good amount of back tilt and a little forward movement from the vertical. The viewable screen is 59x33.5cm and that gives the notional imperial diagonal measurement of 27inches.
While products sometimes arrived saddled with a model number but no name, this next offering has a name that evokes images of sweet sounds being delivered.
When naming a Bluetooth speaker, an appropriate choice would be that of a breed of bird. After all Bluetooth speakers are generally used to deliver our favourite music stored on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphone while birds have been entertaining us for centuries with their songs. Developed by moremusic, part of the Xoundstar family of companies, the next Bluetooth speaker under review is the Hummingbird device.
Sometimes a ground based tripod is just not possible especially for those who need to capture both still and moving images as they move. So the solution could be to make your body the tripod especially if your camera is large and or heavy.
Two different products both designed to solve a problem. The first to give you power when your battery says no more and the second to let you increase the length of your arm or indeed to take a photo from somewhere remotely.
This is a trendy looking way to charge your latest ‘i’ device that uses Lightning. It is 2.5cm square and 10.5cm tall. It weights 84grams. Mine was matt black with a silver effect band forming part of the flip off lid. There is a 5cm lead in red emerging from a tad below the lid which is cleverly retained by the Lighting lead which in practice is only 4cm long meaning your device needs to be close.
Nuisance call blocking, Android apps and Internet access are all supported by this next phone.
I can remember, in the dim and distant past, when households with a phone were the exception rather than the rule with just BT providing both the kit and telephony service. Those were the days when, having just left home attracted by the bright city lights, I would have to ring the one neighbour with a phone to pass on a message to my parents.
A large SmartPhone running Android 4.42, it looks like many recent offerings from a range of companies it has two SIM slots so those who get an allowance for a work phone can save the problem of having to carry two phones around.
The Archos 52 'Platinum' measures 15x7.5x.7cm and weights 156grams. The viewable screen is 11.6x6.6cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial screen measurement of 5.25inches. The screen resolution is 1280x720. It has a Quad Core Processor with 8GB of memory. As with almost all recent phones you have a front camera for those 'selfie' moments and a rear camera that has an LED flash and it takes 8MP images.
As a breed apart, dedicated hardcore gamers demand the ultimate performance from their computer equipment set up. Issues, such as motion blur, flicker-free, refresh rate and response time, are considered to be paramount in the gaming world. This is the arena where milliseconds can mean the difference between success and failure. Naturally the monitor, providing the window into the world for ultimate achievers, has an important role to play.
Recently I have been checking out the BenQ XL2720Z ultimate gaming monitor. This kit consists of a 27-inch LCD monitor, two-piece stand, a selection of leads for power, D-sub, DVI-D dual link and USB connections. There is also an S Switch device which acts as a remote control for switching between display settings that can be designated for gaming, work and entertainment.
While you may not be able to see round corners or over high walls, a smartphone with a Selfie Stick could.
While the concept behind Selfie Sticks might seem like a fairly modern phenomena in the world of photography, evidence does exists that this is not the case. According to Wikipedia, the concept originated in 1983 with the “Minolta Disk-7” product. This was a camera with a convex mirror on the front to allow the composition of self-portraits. The product’s packaging showed the camera mounted on a stick.
A 360degree speaker that comes with a woollen cover so for those who need everything to match you can purchase another coloured cover, in fact there is a voucher in the box to get one free when you register your product.
What was not in the box were any instructions but these days you just go to the website to get access to not only a user manual but video setup instructions and as it can be setup in several ways according to your device they may be required. I have no doubt there were instruction initially but this product was not new when it arrived with me. If you have an ‘i’ or MAC device there is a fool proof way of setup.
The use of security cameras, of various types, shapes and sizes, is a current hot topic of late. I have checked out a number of these devices for use in either the home or in-car. Generally these devices require little disruption to the location where they will be positioned and can be set up within around five to ten minutes. However this next offering is a different proposition to say the least.
The product in question is the HD Video Security System which has been developed by Samsung Techwin. This company forms part of the Samsung Group and was set up in 1977 to cover aspects of consumer, professional and industrial security. This particular product comes with the promise of providing a 4-camera All-in-One security solution. Both in the size of the product box and the array of content it contains clearly mark this product down as one that expects to be taken seriously.
The IXUS range are the nearest thing to a point and shoot camera from Canon who are best known for their high end DSLR cameras used by the majority of professional photographers. This is small fits easily in a pocket and is very easy to use.
The Canon Ixus 170 compact digital camera measures 9.8x5.5x2cm when closed; the last figure can increase by up to 4cm when the lens is fully extended. It weights 138grams. My unit was metallic blue but they do other colours. Just because it is small does not mean it lacks quality in fact it can capture images up to 20MP and they are excellent. You have only to choose the resolution L, M1, M2, S or W.
A speaker and an amplifier in what looks like a very retro case. The modern touch is that apart from having two wired inputs it can also be used as a Bluetooth speaker. So what may initially look like a 40s or 50s radio is not that at all.
The GPO Westwood speaker measures 26x16.5x10cm, weighs 1832grams and comes with a 1.7metre mains lead ending with a small power brick. Mine was covered in a brown material with metal corners coated with varnish that make it look aged there is also a leather handle on top that also has metal connections again coated with varnish making the old look realistic. Both the front and back have a realistic cloth grill coating in a similar colour.
With capacities from 30 to 240GB the datAshur SSD USB 3.0 flash drives provide the security-conscious data-hungry user with a satisfactory means of storing and transporting files. These drives are robust pocketable units that offer military grade protection from unauthorised access.
The level of protection and the cost of these drives is above and beyond the needs of a great many users. However, for those for whom data security is of prime importance who have files or data which must be protected and yet must be moved around could well consider that these drives provide the ideal solution. The drives are relatively large being 95 x 25 x 13mm including the protective sleeve and weigh about 50g. They feel very solid and have been designed to be crush resistant.
A visit to a Bluetooth event held recently in London introduced me to a rechargeable battery product designed specifically for Apple devices.
As its title indicates, the Power Tube 3000 is a battery charger that has a capacity rated at 3000mAh. Developed by MiPOW, this is a portable device designed specifically for use with the iPod and iPhone family of products. This Power Tube can not be used with Android devices due to the restrictions of its built-in lead capability. Available in a choice of black, red or blue, this battery charger is eminently portable with dimensions of 105 x 25 x 25mm (H x W x D) and weighing 85g.
This panel will give almost all users a little bit more automatically and assuming you have a suitable graphics card/chip a great deal more. Out of the box using an HDMI cable I got 2048x1152 and once things are adjusted 3840x2160 is available.
It is 63x37x2.5cm the last figure at the edges. The viewable screen is 59.5x34cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 27inches. The telescopic arm can raise the landscape screen by 15cm from its lowest to its highest position, minimum 9cm from your desk and maximum 24cm above your desk. The display can be pivoted to be used in portrait mode.
Thos innovative people at Sandberg have come up with a product that I have a tendency to mistakenly refer to as Steamboat which, obviously, it isnt.
The enigmatically named StreamBoard is just that. This product is simply (concealed technology aside) is a board that streams your commands to an attached device via wireless frequency of 2.4GHz. The recipient attached device could be a computer or Smart television with the StreamBoard acting as a remote keyboard device from which to issue your commands.
Having worn glasses for over half my adult life, I found that I needed to remove this aid to my vision when reviewing this next product.
We live in a world that has depth as far as the eye can see in any direction. Several attempts have been made to imitate this situation within other environments namely 3D and virtual reality (VR). Generally the approach to the deliverance of these environments has involved headgear of some sort that helps persuade the eyes to convince the brain that the supplied images are not all that they might seem.
A few days before the 29th July I was send a USB with a late build of Windows 10. As with all major alterations I approached this with more than a little trepidation, below is the story of what happened on Monday 27th July 2015.
A visit to a central London hotel introduced me to a new product that promised to keep a watch on my home when I was away.
Better known for its home networking, storage and media products, NETGEAR has now entered the arena of home security with the release of the Arlo™ Smart Home Security Camera kit. This product sets out to provide video evidence of what is occurring in targeted rooms within your home when you are not there.
A four in one unit as it has fax as well as printing, scanning and copying ability. This is quite a sleek unit but as its black it is unlikely to pass the lounge police so having Wi-Fi as well as USB could be a benefit as it could sit behind the sofa.
The Canon Pixma MX535 measures 43x44x18cm with paper in the drop down input tray. For those wanting to print the odd page you have to remember to open the paper output tray at print time or you get an annoying message to remind you to do so. This would be no problem for most but when you see a lot of different unit some open automatically and some you need to do so manually.
Two items that each have several uses. First a Smart Clock that can be used to sync a smartphone and also double up as an alarm. Second something that fits in your wallet and that has so many tools that all have their separate uses.
It is small at 6x6x2.5cm and weights 70grams with its supplied two ‘AAA’ batteries inserted. I am sure all of us – of a certain age – had a small battery operated travel clock, in fact I still do and on my occasional journeys away it accompanies me on a belt and braces and safety pin basic as I hate to be late. This clock however is digital – no hands – and it takes its setting from your phone either Android or Apple.
As part of its new range of inkjet printer models, Brother has released the DCP-J4120DW. This particular model is an All-in-One device that includes A3 print capability and automatic 2-sided printing along with its basic print, scan and copy functionality.
With a black layer mounted on top of a computer grey base, the J4120 has dimensions of 480 x 290 x 163mm (W x D x H) and weighs 8.1 Kg. Setting up this scanner and printer combo is relatively quick and straightforward. That is once you have got your head around the concept of paper being inserted into the 150-sheet capacity input tray in landscape orientation for documents printed in portrait mode. Once power is fed to the J4120, instructions will be displayed on the unit’s 6.
While i devices battle it out for supremacy with Android there is another player in the field and that is Microsoft with Nokia to mention but one. This the a rather nice Windows phone here sent courtesy of Vodafone in the UK.
The Nokia Lumia 930 Windows based smart phone measues 13.5x7x.8cm and weights 165grams.My unit looks normal from the front with a not that reflective screen and matt silver looking edges, my back however was a very vibrant green but I am sure there are more sober colours available such as white or black or even orange. Switch on was a very respectable 22 seconds and switch off only three seconds. The viewable screen is 11x6.3cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 5inches.