Although a fully paid up member of the MAGIX family, Xara continues to release its graphics products under its own brand name. The latest title is Designer Pro X.
Ever since Xara first introduced its graphics software to the world, the company has had a deserved reputation for developing software capable of fast performance for the user on a variety of Windows-based systems. The same is true today with the release of its dual offerings of Photo & Graphics Designer MX and Designer Pro X. This review is based on the latter title which is Xara’s flagship product.
It is time to visit an island that has been used for scientific research that appears not to be all that successful.
The game entitled The Missing is described as “a search and rescue mystery”. Actually the game could just as easily be classified as a Hidden Object Adventure. Developed by Sulus Games, The Missing now forms part of Focus Multimedia catalogue of Casual games and is available in Collector’s Edition format.
First a drive to let you easily stream files to an i device and it has USB so getting them from the PC to wi-fi drive is easy too. Second a new generation of internal SSD drive small in size and above all very fast transfer rate.
Transfer files between a PC and an ‘i’ device wirelessly. If your PC does not have wireless then transfer the files photos, videos etc by the supplied USB cable. In both cases download the App from the Apple store. However should you own an Android phone do not worry as there is an Android App for you as well. This 32GB capacity device looks like a small external hard drive which of course it is but it is also a wi-fi device. It is 12x6x.5cm and weights 84grams.
Whether the subject is an Album, Draw, Movie, Page, Photo or Web with a Plus attachment then you can be pretty certain that it is a Serif product that is under discussion. In this case the product is Serifs latest WebPlus title which is now up to version X6. This title comes with the tag line of Professional Quality Websites made Easy.
Following its normal practice, Serif delivers WebPlus X6 without any printed documentation to cut down on costs. A User Guide is supplied in PDF format on the product CD. The product’s installation will hardly win any races for speed but it is straightforward and requires little user input apart from entering the product’s 25-character serial number which is located on the cardboard packaging.
Without the subtitle Real Science, Great Nutrition, and Good Health to Bruce W Perrys book Fitness for Geeks I would not have even bothered to look at this most interesting book. It is not just for the fitness fanatic, it is also worth reading by anyone -- even a couch potato -- who is interested in getting or keeping healthy.
Although the style may be disconcerting at first, and the fact that the book is in general targeted at the “Geeks” who are obsessive about their health, the rest of us can dip into it on any particular aspect that interests us. However, it does point out that: “A geek is someone who spends a huge amount of time analyzing the fine points of what interests her, ad infinitum, to a level that no one around her can possibly understand.
First a set of 2.1 speakers shaped like a helmeted head single unit and no doubt will be sold on the Angry Birds name. Second a set of high specification 7.1 headphones designed predominately for those who are into gaming.
When does a toy or game become a serious product? Here we have a rather nice iPod dock with speaker but I suspect the initial sales potential will be round the ‘Angry Birds’ name and with pester power being what it is… It is 13cm wide and 16cm deep with DC lead inserted, 15cm tall before your iPod or iPhone is inserted my iPod Touch adds 10cm. This is a 2.
The first from USB Kings Brando in Hong Kong and yes you can also charge it from USB as well as from Solar power. The second is something we all need to protect the most delicate part of your phone the tender screen.
It is 19.5cm tall, 6.5cm across at the base and 5cm at the top where the solar receptor sits. It comes with a rather garish shade (mine was red) but without it you have a small but stylish uplighter to give you enough light to see by in a power cut or to make a decent night light for a child. There are six LEDs and these shine down from below the solar panel through a frosted inner shade so no eye damage even from prolonged gazing at the light.
Placing your valuable data on a small portable device can be risky unless the device comes with plenty of protection.
Portable hard drives offer you an easy way to increase the storage capacity of your computer system. You simply need to connect one of these devices to a free USB port. Often you will not even need a separate connection to provide power as the USB port will handle this along with the transfer of data. As well as providing data storage, an external drive can offer portability by allowing you to take your data with you and use it on computers in different locations.
Hands up those of a certain age such as me who used WordPerfect as a Dos product and then as an early Windows offering before Microsoft Word seemed to rule the world, but still in the legal and medical world WordPerfect rules.
Looking good is often a prime consideration especially when distributing images to others. Airbrushing out imperfections is possible with this next product.
The camera never lies or so we are led to believe – or does it? Perhaps we ought to focus (no pun intended) on the photographic evidence produced by the device rather than the camera itself. What with make-up experts and the numerous software tools readily available, what you see is not necessarily the scene or person as originally captured.
With a yet-to-be princess and two of the leading popular singers of that period, High Society was a musical remake of the Philadelphia Story. Now High Society is a Hidden Object Adventure game.
The Snark is back. For those who missed the first two titles in this series (Welcome to the Club and Revved Up!) published by Alawar Entertainment, I should explain that the Snark is a mythical creature that can move so fast you could often fail to spot it. The Snark possesses the useful ability (especially when it comes to avoiding capture) of popping in and out of mirrors in order to travel between different dimensions in time and space.
This book reader is one of the backlit type and so colour is available. Archos have a background in screens, often smaller than this as it was with early devices just larger than phones, but of course they also do computer type items.
The Archos 7od eReader measures 17.5x12.5x1cm, this last figure is at the edges but it bulges so slightly more towards the centre of the back. It weights 277grams. The viewable screen is 8.5x15cm. The top right corner has a 3.5mm jack, just round the corner at the top of the right side are a micro USB port and a micro SD card port. The bottom right edge has the on/off button. All the other controls are to the right of the screen in a single column.
This next product is described as the worlds fastest drawing program and I am not going to argue with this statement.
Described as “the world’s fastest drawing program”, Xara Photo & Graphics Designer MX is now up to version 8. Xara (part of the MAGIX family of multimedia products) is targeting this offering at the graphics enthusiast, small company or academic user looking for general purpose photo and graphics design tools that will not overstretch the budget in times of cut-backs.
Think back a generation and perhaps your TV had a basic remote to change the channel or increase/decrease the volume. Now almost any electrical item that is not tethered to you has a remote. So here a control that uses your i device to control most of your device whose remotes have vanished, been eaten by the dog or just stopped working.
The one device that most – especially the young - never lose is their music player and all the ‘i’ devices can do that, of course it may run out of power but that’s another story. Here a device that turns your iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad into a remote control so whether it is a TV, Blu-ray player, Hi-Fi or other such device your ‘i’ can control them all.
The AOC Model E2251Fwu Portable 22inch LCD display can be configured to work as a duplicate monitor to that on the PC or to provide an extended display so that it is a versatile solution for those who need to be able to use large spreadsheets or give presentations when away from their home base.
The monitor provides a full 1080p display in the 16:9 format and is unusual in that it draws its power from the USB ports of the PC to which it is attached. Roughly 51 x 32cm in size and just 10mm thick over most of its area and only about 25mm at its thickest and weighing a little over 2.5kg it can easily be carried under one’s arm even though, obviously, care must be taken not to damage the screen.
A recent trip to the London Book Fair was to see the launch of a new book reader. However when walking round waiting for that presentation I found a very interesting stand with a number of gadgets to aid book reading.
It is 30cm long, less than 2cm wide at one end and only 1.5cm wide at the head (light) end, 15cm of the length is only .5cm wide tightly twisted wire that can be formed and turned as you wish, it weights only 39grams. The back end where a single ‘AAA’ battery is inserted also has an opening jaw that can grip anything up to 2cm deep. So it can be clamped to a table or a headboard or even a book. The whole purpose is an LED light to provide a reading source.
When you take up residence at the Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital you enter the world of the television series known as House M.
Now available as a computer game developed by Legacy Interactive and part of the Focus Multimedia extensive catalogue of titles, House M.D. features the same team of characters beloved by fans of the television series. Not only will you meet up with Gregory House but also the doctors Remy Hadley, Eric Foreman, Chris Taub, Robert Chase, Allison Cameron, James Wilson and Lisa Cuddy.
It used to be that Canons smallest cameras were the Ixus brand. When this PowerShot arrived I had to look at the box to be sure it was a PowerShot as it is truly tiny and only the Canon Ixus offerings have been this small.
The Canon PowerShot A3400IS measures 9x5.5x2cm, the last figure can increase to 4.5cm with full zoom but unlike some other small cameras the amount the lens expands varies little according to the amount of zoom. While 5x is not huge by some recent cameras it means that you should be able to hold the unit securely in normal conditions. The unit weights 140grams.
Unlike my usual desktop flatbed scanner, which copies single-sided documents, this next scanner can copy both sides of a document simultaneously.
The Brother DS-700D was almost one of those chicken and egg situations when I opened the packaging encasing a new scanner from Brother. There was no Set-up or Quick Start Guide in the box. Should the hardware be connected before or after the software, I asked myself? Fortunately on examining the supplied USB cable, I noticed it had a sticker on one end that advised me that the software installation should come first.
Having appeared as a book, film and television series, this classic fairy tale of love conquering adversity reaches the gaming platform.
Although the titles might be the same, the actual content is decidedly different. I am referring to Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont’s original novel and PlayPond’s take on the tale of Beauty and the Beast as the developers have turned it into a Hidden Object Adventure game. Described as “a dark twist on a classic tale”, this game is available from Focus Multimedia in Collector’s Edition format.
One of the discoveries I made at the Gadget Show is a company with a range of speakers otoneaudio.co.uk I have started by looking at their two smallest offerings the Aporto and the Avcento, both give good quality output.
This is the smaller of the two and has a solid battery that enables you to play output from any device that has a 3.5mm socket. It is 17.5x6x4.5cm and weights xxxgrams. The 17.5cm length will increase by 5cm when you have 3.5mm jack in the left of the unit and USB cable in the right of the unit. Both are supplied but the USB cable is only required whilst charging the battery. From complete discharge this takes around 90 minutes when it is not in use.
While databases are not everybodys cup of tea or coffee for that matter, they can fulfil a useful task in keeping your data organised.
FileMaker Pro has a long and slightly unusual pedigree. It is not often that you get a product developed by an Apple company (Claris) for the Windows platform (QuickTime being one exception). I can still remember my initial introduction to the first version of this database software. However it was not until version 3 of the product that I started using FileMaker Pro as my database software. In those days the product was supplied on three HD 3.5-inch floppy disks.
With so many people turning to iPods or MP3 those like me who have large CD collections need a way to condense the output and this offering allows an easy way to transpose to WAV, MP3, Flac or Ogg Vorbis with little effort from you.
This comes with a rather good database that identifies most published recordings and fills in all the information for you while it is ripping your CD’s. Then with your library stored you can create playlists of simple select by Album or Artist what to play by just using the remote and the units display, just attach headphones or speakers.
The Doro wired Comfort 3005 phone, with built-in answering machine, is easy to use and has the features needed by the mature people who form a large portion of the Doro target market. It has an extra-loud facility, is hearing aid-compatible and is a hands-free speakerphone as well as having an easy to read high-contrast display.
It is an attractive desk feature phone and does not advertise the fact that it aimed at meeting the needs of those whose hearing and sight are not quite as good as the rest of us. It has a footprint of roughly 190 x 170 mm, it is matt black in colour with numbers and symbols in white that stand out clearly. There is a vertical green line on the body of the instrument which is a Doro style feature.
I have come across some non descriptive names before but the one above tells me only one thing, its from Bosch. It is a tool for tacking things to things most normally a fabric, plastic or paper to a solid surface such as wood.
My mind immediately thinks of things of a temporary nature such as for an amateur play or for Christmas or such other event lasting for a few days. However I have used this around my home and garage and shed and everything I have tacked has stayed tacked and I suspect that the fabric, plastic or paper will decay before the tacking. In effect this is a stapler with ‘guts’. It is 15cm tall and 15cm deep while it is 4cm wide; it is an overall ‘n’ shape.
When I think of Sony, my thoughts gravitate towards hardware such as BRAVIA televisions, PlayStation consoles, VAIO laptops and a range of mobile phones. However, as the subject of this review goes to prove, Sony does have a software department that is responsible for the Windows-based Imagination Studio. Now up to version 3, this package brings together tools for video, photo and audio tasks plus DVD authoring.
When installing this product you are offered a range of options. For a start there is the main Imagination Studio software. This consists of ACID Music Studio 8.0, DVD Architect Studio 5.0, Sound Forge Audio Studio 10.0 and Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 11.0. In each case you will need to activate these applications by entering their specific serial number and provide registration details.
The latest do everything phone from Sony - the Xperia S. In a form factor little bigger than just a mobile phone you can surf the Internet, get your emails, make and receive phone calls and use third party Android software to keep in touch.
Being Sony of course they also have their own ‘Apps’ so not only do you have the complete range of Android offerings but Sony’s own as well as those which may be offered by the Network supplier in this case it is Three. The Sony Xperia S measures 17x6.5x1cm, in the case of the last figure the width it is a maximum of 1cm and the edges are only .5cm thick. However despite its lack of thickness this is still a very strong feeling unit and it weighs a substantial 145grams.
I suppose you could call this next product, a multi-function device as it will wake you up and charge up to two other devices.
My first memories of TDK revolve around the company’s magnetic tape products. This tape would have been used on my Grundig reel-to-reel tape recorder used to capture the latest hit records (45s) broadcasted on the radio and picked up by the tape recorder’s small microphone along with any other background sounds over which I had no control. You have to remember this was at a time when no direction connection was possible for home equipment such as I had access to.
Following their work with Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Black Cat, ERS Game Studios has turned its attention to a third Edgar Allan Poe story
The Premature Burial is available in Collectors’ Edition format from Focus Multimedia. Making up this Collector’s Edition is the main Hidden Object Adventure game, bonus chapter, Strategy Guide, wallpaper, screensaver, concept art, music plus a printable version of Poe’s original story. While you will have access to the Strategy Guide right from the start, the other bonus items only become available once you have completed the game and the bonus chapter.
This is another small digital camera from a name more associated with lenses rather than cameras. But they do make rather good cameras as well. This offering has a feature that I have never seen before on any camera I have reviewed.
The Pentax Optio VS20 compact digital camera measures 11x6x3.5cm the last figure increases by between 3 and 5.5cm dependant on the amount of zoom. It weights 234grams. The left side has a tripod screw fitment as indeed does the base which also has a door covering the solid battery and any SD card you might use. The right side has two strap connection points as well as a rubber bung to cover the AV connection socket.