Washing machines, fridge/freezers, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners and steam irons were just some of the products on the agenda as I embarked on a trip to the IFA show in Berlin.
As August draws to a close so the High Tech companies from around the world set their sights on Berlin as they gather to attend IFA. This is the world’s leading trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances.
First is a DAB/FM radio from Pure Digital. It has a retro feel with a padded handle and wipe clean material covering it. Second a portable offering called Blighty with a union jack covering the back so you will be unlikely to misplace it.
The Pure Evoke Mio is 21x12x16cm, mine was blue/grey and cream and one place Pure think this mains/battery unit will be used is in the kitchen as it includes a kitchen timer. The battery side however only works with the Pure ChargePak. As with a lot of recent quality speakers the unit has a hole in the base to amplify the sound quality. The only other connection on the base is a twist screw to cover the dock for the optional ChargePak.
Recently I have been coming across more and more speaker products that rely on Bluetooth technology as the main method for delivering audio content to them.
Turn the light off and the computer sound up is the way the developers of this next game believe it should be played. I must admit I did not take their advice.
A small digital camera from a company that does a whole raft of electrical items which naturally include cameras. This is perhaps one of their smallest as they also do a range of DSLR units apart from the pocket Lumix range.
The Panasonic Lumix TZ30 measures 10x6x2.5cm and weights 206grams. Almost anyone of a ‘certain age’ will have heard of Leica lens and Panasonic still use them. This small unit has a 24mm wide capture ability 20x optical zoom and takes a 14MP image. The right side has a door behind which is an HDMI out socket above this is the anchor point for the supplied wrist strap. The left side is clear. The base has a door which hides the solid battery and any SD card you may use.
Sitting in front of a computer is not the best way to get and keep fit. Maybe modern technology can provide a way to improve this situation.
The Doro PhoneEasy 612 is an easy to use cellphone that incorporates emergency call facilities. It can enable a person to initiate an emergency call and so will be of particular interest to the elderly or infirm together with those who want to ensure the safety of their relatives. At the same time it is a versatile phone that is easy to use and incorporates a camera as well as the wide range of other features that today's users want.
This is a clamshell phone which is 100 x 50 x20 mm and weighs 80gm. The outer shells are black in colour and have an easy-grip texture. The claimed battery life is up to 12hours talk time and 533 standby. The provided drop-in docking station makes it less likely that the user will overlook to recharge the phone and so won't end up with a dead phone at some critical moment.
A small black unit that can print, copy and scan. If it does not suit the colour scheme then it can sit in a cupboard or behind a sofa as not only can you use it with USB but also by connection to a wireless router if you wish.
It is 39x36x15cm, if you allow another 5cm to the last figure the height then this is all the space that this unit requires. There is a paper input tray (printing stock face down) at the base and printed output is delivered face up just above it. The four printer cartridges are input behind a door just to the right of the paper trays.
A small unit that can be left to record movement and also record sound. It sounds like a James Bond type device. Well now it is available at a price that can tell you who came to your door while you were out or even while you slept.
The CATs-i Mini Video Recorder measures 7.5x4x3cm and weights less than 50grams. It can be placed somewhere in a sort of rubberised chair and its position adjusted for the best angle. Alternately there is a tripod screw in the rear of the unit to help correct placement. The instructions I saw were on an A3 sheet of paper and needed a little refining which I am told has taken place. It comes with a wall plug USB charger in the box but can also be charged via USB.
I can remember when photos used to end up stored in boxes or the occasional album if they were particularly precious. This was the time when photos were predominately black and white and were printed on photographic paper rather than the digital variety we have today.
Some photo collections are still stored in a kind of box that is referred to as the hard disk in your computer. Instead of just storing these photos in your computer, you could use the computer to display your images to interested parties using a software package such as PhotoStory. This product provides you with tools to turn your photos into slideshows that incorporate various effects.
Not a DSLR but not a unit that fits easily into a pocket. This is larger than most digital cameras as it charged by AA batteries and therefore the right hand has a solid grip should you decide not to use the supplied neck strap.
The Nikon Coolpix L310 weighs 440grams and measures 11x8x7.5cm (WxDxH) when the camera is closed. A fully extended lens adds 3.5cm to the depth and pop up the inbuilt flash and that adds 3cm to the height of the unit, both those extensions would only be when shooting. The left side has DC in and AV out behind a rubber bung and the flash pop up is on the left edge of the flash pop up.
Taking up a prominent position on the left of my work area is the latest Samsung mono laser printer to arrive for testing. This is the Samsung ML-3710ND model. It is not the most appealing peripheral that has decorated my work area.
While I have nothing against the two-tone grey colouring for this box-shaped unit, I found the ribbed embellishment running around the full sides of the unit to be rather ugly and they added nothing to the aesthetic quality of the printer. On top of that the ML-3710ND is larger than most of the printer that tend to come by way. The ML-3719ND has dimensions of 366 x 368 x 252.9mm (W x D x H) and weighs in at over 9kg which would certainly discourage me from moving it around.
According to the packaging the Tini-copter is a gadget but that could cover a multitude of sins. Actually it is a miniature remote controlled helicopter that has been designed and created by 50 Fifty Gifts, a company which specialises in the novelty gift market. Aimed at those aged 8 years and upwards, the Tini-copter is available in either black or red as was the review unit.
A certain amount of setting up is required with this kit once you have removed it from the packaging. The kit consists of the Tini-copter and a remote control unit shaped a little like the letter “W”. While the Tini-copter was held in place within the box by sellotape, the remote control was secured with two screws and what looked like some throw-away plastic pieces.
This 22inch LED backlite unit has a circular base and support arm that allows much more adjustment than with other such units. It also has a range of multiple video modes for those who like the colour set to go with changes.
The screen surround is 51x30.5cm and the screen is 2cm thick. The base is 24x22cm and in its shipped format raises it 12cm from the desk. There is a pin in the back of the stand remove this and it can be as much as 21cm above your desk. There is no side to side or forward movement but there is plenty of back movement available. Looking at the rear of the unit there are four connectors under the overhang from the screen mount. Power, speakers, VGA and Digital.
As part of its all-encompassing range covering all aspects of modern-day living, SODs Law makes reference to batteries and their habit of choosing the most inconvenient time to run out of power.
You could be 100% certain that you recharged the device that you now need for a vital task, but the device will have another opinion and you will be left to stew on the situation. You have probably encountered occasions such as this at least once if not many times. Low battery warnings are all well and good but only if you are in the close vicinity of an appropriate charging point for the uncooperative device.
Due to a rearrangement in the way Acer contact their press relations it has meant an extended period with no new products being available for review. Here the first to emerge an Intel i5 2450m bearing the Acer Aspire V3 571 name.
It is 37x25x3.5cm. The viewable screen is 35x19.5giving a 15.6inch diagonal imperial measurement and the screen display is 1366x768. The weight of this full featured unit is just under 2.6kilos. It is –sad to say– shiny black. The left side has DC input, Ethernet port, VGA out, HDMI out, USB3 port and external headphone and microphone connections. The front edge has SD card port and a line of four pin hole LED’s.
Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and cable now offer faster broadband speeds even though they are still lower than can be achieved over the LAN. Despite this users are demanding higher wired and wireless LAN data rates. TRENDnets TEW-692GR 802.11n router has Gigabit wired ports as well as 450Mbps concurrent dual band wireless and so is targeted at those who want the highest possible level of performance for gaming and video streaming around the house.
TEW-692GR is black in colour, roughly 6 inches square with the three external antennas permanently attached but because they can be swivelled the unit can be used horizontally or, using the provided clip-on stand, mounted vertically. In this case the total height is about 11 inches. On the rear of the unit there are five Ethernet ports: four Gigabit LAN ports and a separate one, coloured differently.
First a rucksack that charges items while on the move, second a four gang surge strip that also allows you to charge USB devices. The first uses light to charge the second normal mains power but protects your items from surges.
Keep all your electrical devices powered and charged even when you are miles from a mains supply. This rucksack has power tips to fit most devices and can store quite a lot of items, sadly the solar power only relates to charging and not to carrying the rucksack, which you still need to do yourself. It is a very solid rucksack which weights close to two kilos before you place your laptop and change of socks in it. The straps are wide and comfortable and the adjustment is good.
Continuing my look at product line-ups available for the festive season, Gear4 takes central stage.
While Christmas comes but once a year, the month of July often see a proliferation of events that are labelled as Christmas in July by various companies. The reason for the temporary time-shifting of the festive season is so that interested parties get the chance to view the goods that manufacturers expect to feature, and hopefully be placed at the top, on the must-have lists of consumers.
The Doro PhoneEasy 614 is the first 3G phone from Doro. While it may seem rather late in the 3G lifespan it does mean a Doro phone user can benefit from what Doro is good at, loud ring tones, bright and large displays and now the things other phones have.
While an FM Radio is included a camera is not so while you can email and send and receive messages not photos. Booting time is only 12 seconds and shutdown less than 3 seconds. It is 10x5x2cm when it is closed; flip it open the first figure becomes 18.5cm. The weight of the unit is 116grams.
Combining a patriotic look with a portable DAB radio, View Quest has gone for a slang name for England when naming its product.
As well as being the slang name that was often used especially in years gone by to refer to England, Blighty is also the name that View Quest, a British company, has bestowed on its Union Jack personal DAB/FM pocket radio. There is no doubting this radio’s patriotic allegiance and the reason for the inclusion of “Union Jack” in this product’s description as the UK flag is prominently displayed on the rear of the device even spreading out over to the sides.
You could find yourself burning the midnight oil as you try to complete just one more puzzle board in the latest Jewel Quest title.
And still the Jewel Quest saga continues. This is not meant as a criticism, more a statement of fact brought about by the arrival of Jewel Quest 5: The Sapphire Dragon. The developers of this popular game series have come up with yet another combination of jewel board puzzles and storyline. For those unfamiliar with Jewel Boards, I should explain that these boards need to be turned gold by creating match-3 groups of jewels by swapping two adjacent jewels.
Not entirely new as I am told this first launched more than eighteen months ago. However at an event specifically to showoff its larger sibling I left with one of these smaller units to review. The brand new larger unit will follow later.
It is 15x4x5.5cm and weights 340grams. Mine was orange top and bottom and black metallic grill over the four sides. Very like an ice cream brick - not that I think you can still get them – they do a range of other colours. The centre of the top has three buttons – also in orange – ‘O’ ‘-’ ‘+’. The last two control the volume wired and wireless.
Tt can be worrying (well only slightly) if you are put in the situation where you come across a product with the word "Retro" in the title and you realise that you can remember this particular look from your youth or even later. Surely Retro has to mean before "my time" but sadly that seems to be no longer the case. In my defence I will state that with this next item, the Retro designation did refer to the appearance of the product rather than its in-built functionality which did feature an impressive array of some of today's modern technology.
As part of its retro series, View Quest has released its Wi-Fi Radio model. This product is available in a choice of black or white face with the rest of the unit coloured matte black. Box-shaped, this radio with a useful carry handle, has dimensions of 284 x 94 x 170 mm (W x D x H).
Many older people do not want or need lots of texts and mobile use as well as mountains of calls a month. So a service that offers some of everything at little or no cost seems nirvana. I have been testing one such service from Ovivo.
Many years ago a single PAYG call cost 49p a minute but in the early days your credit was still there if not used straightaway. I remember one such service that charged 15p a minute for the first five minutes in a day and then 5p a minute after that. Nowadays the main problem – for a lot of people – is using their allowance before the month comes to an end.
A while ago someone who knows more about audio than most, told me that the CD would become niche like vinyl I was unaware such a revolution was taking place, but it does mean that higher quality audio is now downloadable.
I selected four albums from the Linn and Universal offerings that have been remastered. I am told there are over 400 currently on offer. While my passion is Jazz there are some popular and a lot of classical with a few other genres available. With MP3 downloads you may get a picture of the sleeve so your player can display it, with these you get the sleeve (printable format) and in some cases the booklet as well. I have an original recording of this so was able to compare the two.
Recently the Sony team was out in force at a Central London location to demonstrate some of the companys new products that could end up on your wish list for the Christmas season.
Wishing attendees a “Very Sony Christmas”, the company had various products on display. These products were categorised as Home Entertainment, Imaging, Computing, On the Go and At Home. While the constriction of available space means I can not cover all the various products, I will include at least a couple of offerings from each category. Lets begin with Home Entertainment and, in particular, televisions.
A multi function unit as it has Fax, when I speak with manufacturers they still claim there is demand, my findings are somewhat different, this is rather like the PX730 recently reviewed but this is black rather than cream.
The Epson PX830 MFU measures 44x50x20cm the rather large depth figure is solely because of the built in Duplex that adds to the depth, the colour may put some off but if it resides in a cupboard then it need not be seen. The wireless option works very well. The whole control panel 30x8cm flips from vertical to horizontal hinging on the top so is viewable from any angle. With the exception of the on/off button which is to the left of the huge 21x6cm screen everything is controlled by touch.
Those innovative people at Kingston have come up with a possible solution to increasing the storage capacity available to your mobile device.
While you nice, new, shiny smartphone or tablet will come with a certain amount of available storage space, there will come a time when you will struggle to find the space to store items you would not want to be without. This occasion is bound to happen sooner or later depending upon factors such as the manufacturer and the percentage of your disposal income you were prepared to part with when making the purchase.
Friendly ghosts, shimmering portals and dual locations meet up with an evil spirit in a Hidden Object Adventure game available from Avanquest
It all began with an unexpected phone call from a lawyer. This phone call informed you that you had inherited a house in its own grounds but, apart from it location, the lawyer could supply no further details. I should explain that you are cast in the role of the beneficiary; a young woman named Sara Haverston who immediately sets out to check this dilapidated dwelling that is meant to be empty but is home to several restless spirits.