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Gardening is often regarded as a relaxing pastime or so they tell me but not when you are faced by the plants that inhabit a new game from Alawar.
I have long been a fan of the Science Fiction genre.  One of the first novels of this type that caught my attention was John Wynhams’ Day of the Triffids which dealt with plants that moved about and killed people.  I was reminded of this story when starting to play Natural Threat: Ominous Shores.  This is a Hidden Object game from Alawar based on plants that have been genetically enhanced with some rather disastrous effects.
This is another in a range of decent good sized panels recently seen. This one from Viewsonic offers a not particularly reflective screen and joy of joys someone has produced a panel surround that is not reflective shiny black.
The Viewsonic VX2336S panel measures 55x33x6cm but only 2.5cm thick at the edges. The viewable screen is 50x28.5cm giving the diagonal imperial 23inch measurement. Under the viewable screen are five clearly marked buttons to allow any adjustments you may wish to make, these are on the face and not hidden on the bottom edge where knowing what each does means trial and error.
660421 Sennheiser PX 100 IIi Dynamic Open headse

Folding Headset : Sennheiser PX100 IIi

Headsets tend to be a very personal choice with regards to style and functionality. I prefer the over-the-ear style for my listening pleasure.
Time for some destructive action as Alawar releases a new title in the popular Arkanoid genre.
One of the first, some would say the actually first such offering, computer game was that of Pong.  For those not old enough to remember this ground-breaking, black & white offering with simplistic chunky graphics, the object of the game was to direct a constantly bouncing ball into your opponent’s protected goal playing against another human being or the computer.
Once again Birmingham has five days of mayhem with the Gadget Show taking centre stage, amongst the outrageous and unlikely are some more grounded items. In the storage arena these are shown by Verbatim on their stand.
You can see everything at the show between today and Sunday although please check before travelling as I understand some days are sold out. So when I say Verbatim what comes to mind, well for me anyway it is CD and DVD media. Of course they also do larger capacity flash drives, SSD drives - review of one such item coming shortly – hard drives, floppy discs - yes some people still use them – digital video cassettes, UDO discs which have a capacity of 30GB three times that of MO discs.
Maybe because I have a sweet tooth, this next product reminded me of a monster-sized Liquorice Allsorts but it was definitely not for eating.
While watching digital content on a computer screen may be fine when it is being conducted on a one-on-one basis, there are often occasions when the audience consists of more than one person.  You could be watching a movie, viewing family photos in a group, or maybe demonstrating a particular application.  Then again you could be indulging in a brainstorming sessions with others gathered around a screen.
At last shiny black all over is not what all notebooks seem to be. Here a 15.6inch screen offering with a quad core Intel i3 processor. While the base is matt black the lid is patterned grey, sadly the screen surround is still shiny black.
The Acer Aspire Notebook 5749 measures 38x24.5x3.5cm at back and 2.5cm, it weights 2.3kilos. The right side has a DVD multi drive and two USB2 ports. The front has a card port and two 3.5mm sockets for external microphone and earbuds. The left side has DC power input, VGA output, Ethernet, HDMI out and a USB port. Open the lid and the screen can tilt back to around 150 degrees slightly over the back of the casing so no ports there. The viewable screen is 34.5x19.
The first is a board game for teenage to adult based on a popular TV gameshow called The Million Pound Drop. The second is a box of shocks; in fact it is called The Box of Shocks, the idea to get your victim to shriek.
If my memory serves my right the last one of these type of games I looked at was Deal or no Deal and I suspect everyone has watched that at some time or other. Here I must admit that I have never watched – more than a trailer – for The Million Pound Drop. It is a team game for those aged twelve to adult.
Butterflies, a fairy, dragon and a princess combine their talents to defeat the evil machinations of a wicked witch.
Witch’s Curse 2, as you might expect from its title, is the follow up to Witch’s Curse.  As with the original title, Witch’s Curse 2, subtitled Return of the Curse, continues with the adventures of the very determined Princess Isabella.  With this offering developed by Gogii, the story is taken up after a year’s interval.  Not only is Princess Isabella now married but she also has a baby daughter who has becomes the new target of the evil witch.
A lot of these Smart TV’s are too big for the average room but Samsung have a 40inch version. This fits remarkably easily into the space my heavier older 32inch offering took. It has so much more than TV to offer.
The Samsung UE40D6530WK television is a thin 40inch TV, it measures 92x54x2cm, it comes with a stand 47.5x25.5cm that raises the TV 8cm from whatever you stand it on. If you prefer you can purchase a wall mounting kit and it is not as heavy as you may think. The initial tune of this Freeview HD unit found 115 channels made up of 75TV, 24Radio and 16Data. It took around four minutes and gave you the option to exclude Analogue where it also found the standard five channels.
659872 serif movieplus x6 video softwar

MoviePlus X6 : Serif MoviePlus X6

Serif has always targeted those who operate on a limited budget while looking for ease-of-use with their software. The latest Serif product to take this path is MoviePlus X6.
Now up to version X6, MoviePlus is Serif’s video editing software that features support for high definition among its feature list.  To be honest the high definition feature is not actually new as it appeared in the previous version of the software but it is a must-have feature for the modern video editing fraternity.
Counting all the doors in my home, I arrived at the total of 11. Why, you may wonder, was I spending time in this unusual stock taking activity? The reason for this door counting exercise was the arrival of a new game entitled House of 1000 Doors: Family Secrets from Alawar Entertainment. This could make for an awful lot of opening and closing when it comes to playing this game.
House of 1000 Doors: Family Secrets is a Hidden Object Adventure game which is supplied in Collector’s Edition format.  This means that, along with the main game, you get a bonus chapter, available when you complete the game, and a strategy guide that you can access whenever the need arises.  When playing the game you have the choice of Casual or Expert mode.
659892 Lenovo G570 15 6 inch Laptop compute

Lenovo IdeaPad Z570

Several people have pointed out to me that it has been a long time since anything from Lenovo has been reviewed so here is one of their latest notebooks a very powerful Intel i5 quad core machine with 6GB of RAM.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Z570 measures 37.5x24x3cm the latter at the rear and only 2cm at the front. It weights 2.6kilos. The viewable screen is 34x19.5cm which gives the notional imperial diagonal measurement of 15.6inches. Mine was two shades of grey except around the screen where it is the normal shiny black. The screen is reflective but a lot less than some. The left side starts with Kensington Lock port, then the DC input, VGA out, HDMI out, e-SATA and finally a USB2 port.
Rather than add to cable clutter, why not make use of existing cables such as those used for electricity when setting up a network.
Although standards do exist, and are sometimes held to, in the world of computing, we do tend to have different needs and set-ups with regards to our personal choice of equipment combinations.  Often the actual physical set up of your equipment will be governed by the environment in which you plan to operate.  This is particularly true when needing to create a home network system as walls and other obstructions have a habit of getting in the way.
659891 Tefal QB400DA4 Kitchen Machine Jug Blende

Tefal Kitchen Machine

The first such device I remember using was a Sunbeam Mixmaster and that was certainly more than fifty years ago. So how have such machines developed and evolved over that time scale, certainly they have a lot more tools.
This device offers to do almost all the jobs that you do not do by hand and also those jobs that you can do by hand – such as whipping cream – but take time and are tiring. This machine does all those jobs as well as some you may not have yet thought of. It is not just a mixer, it’s a juicer, a mincer and much more, so far the only things it refuses to do are the washing up and hovering.
659890 FiiO E6 Portable Headphone Amplifie

E6 and Bondi : FiiO E6 & Bondi

Here two items from different companies that apart from their individual uses also will work extremely well together. E6 is a headphone amplifier so is great when output is just too low, and, Bondi will hold lots of things like an iPhone in position for all sorts of uses.
This is a tiny amplifier supplied with two 3.5mm jack leads – different lengths - and a USB lead to charge the internal solid battery. Connect one 3.5mm lead to the earphone outlet of the device that needs a boost, connect the other end to the input on the E6, next connect your earbuds/headphones to the output on the E6, switch on the E6 and your music device and you can have a much raised volume level. A simple one purpose device that does what it should. It is 4x4x.
When faced with Murder, Mystery & Madness you might well go for the whole hog and tackle a triple pack offering from Focus Multimedia.
This three game pack bundles together Shades of Death Royal Blood to take care of the murder aspect; Time Mysteries Inheritance for a dose of mystery and Doors of the Mind Inner Mysteries to add the ingredients of Madness.  Apart from the fact that each of these games was originally published by Big Fish Games and belongs to the Hidden Object Adventure category, there appears to be no obvious connection between these titles. Each of the three games has its own installation routine.
659889 Canon Pixma MG5350 all in one printe

Canon Pixma MG5350

Another in the range of All In One units from Canon. This is a five ink offering (two sizes of black), if you of Goff persuasion the all black finish will delight, for everyone else – apart from the lounge police – who cares about colour just performance.
The Canon Pixma MG5350 measures 43x35x16cm, these figures are with paper in the rear paper tray but with the exit tray closed, opening that (a task that happens automatically at print time) adds 10cm to the middle figure and you would also need another 10cm clear in front for output to stack. The scanner lid would need around another 6cm to let you insert or remove items. So total area required to use it would be 43x55x22cm, the last figure the height means a strong shelf should be fine.
Last year Alawar Entertainment published Behind the Reflection, a game that I missed out on for some reason. Now I have the opportunity to catch up on the game’s main characters who reappear in the follow-up title which is also published by Alawar. Nor surprisingly this follow-up game is entitled Behind the Reflection 2 and sub-titled Witch’s Revenge.
This is a Hidden Object Adventure game that takes in 36 locations which often need to be revisited several times.  The game opens with a short video sequence that links the two Reflection titles together as the Witch manages to escape from prison.  She immediately sets about getting her revenge as she kidnaps your young son Jacob.  It is now up to you, in your role as Jacob’s mother, to rescue the boy and thwart the Witch yet again.
Where once tablets were a form of medication, now they take on the role of an entertainment and information delivery device.
When the words “Galaxy” and “Tab” appear in close proximity then you have a clear idea that the subject matter is a Tablet device from Samsung.  In this case it is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 product.  The 10.1 part of the unit’s title refers to the size of the WXGA screen that delivers a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels encased within a body that has dimensions of 256.7 x 175.3 x 8.6mm (W x H x D).
While there are more expensive earbuds around than the second set to be looked at here, I doubt there are too many ‘named’ earbuds sold for a more reasonable price than the Cygnett Groove Atomic that I will look at first.
I went to a rather uninspiring press/dealer event towards the end of last year and when I got home I found these in the bag of information everyone was given at the event, here some time later it’s the most memorable thing. The earbuds are cylindrical 2cm long and 1cm across. One day when my own earbuds had hidden themselves more thoroughly than normal I took these off the shelf and was surprised with the sound quality they gave. The cable length is 1.
659159 pentax q compact system camera fron

A Small Pentax Camera : Pentax Q

The Pentax Q has the appearance of a compact camera yet it offers the user an interchangeable lens facility.
At its launch, the Pentax Q was described as having the smallest and lightest camera body that was capable of accepting different lenses.  With dimensions of 95 x 57 x 32mm (W x H x D) and a weight of just 190g, admittedly without a lens attached, you could understand how this claim could be justified.  The Pentax Q is available in a choice of black or white featuring a faux-leather coating.  The review sample was the black model and it came with a 3.2mm f/5.
659887 Pogoplug Mobil

PogoPlug Mobile

I first heard of this last September, unfortunately the PR promises seem shall we say optimistic and it only arrived with me this year. Not the longest wait for something but certainly worthy of a reason as to why it was delayed.
The first PogoPlug – strange shape and colour – appeared in early 2010 and was probably before most had discovered ‘cloud’ storage. This unit is a far more sensible black in colour and is far smaller and better balanced but at the cost of extra connections. It is 10x12x3.5cm and without connections the little black box weights only 175grams. Looking at the front there is a bar LED under the logo when power is on. The left side has an SD card slot.
Here I am looking at two different but similar small keyboards from Brando in Hong Kong; the first is Wireless with IR Remote. The second is a wheel micro wireless keyboard mouse with added presentation abilities.
About the size of a TV remote at 14x6x1cm, it weights 107grams. However the functionality does not end there as it not only a 75key keyboard, to its right is a track pad under this two mouse key buttons and the ubiquitous five position joystick. Believe it or not this little marvel is not finished yet as the back has another five position joystick with no less than another ring of six controls outside this, also a slide out section where the wireless USB connector is.
By coincidence I started looking at this next game on the same day that I paid one of my irregular visits to the local barbers. With such a clue you should have little difficulty in working out that the game is about that demon barber of Fleet Street, Sweeney Todd.
To give the game its full title, this is Penny Dreadful™ Sweeney Todd.  Developed by PlayPond and originally published by Big Fish Games, this game if now available from Focus Multimedia in Collector’s Edition Format. The main game, which is divided into six chapters, needs to be completed before you gain access to most of the extra content making up this Collector’s Edition.
659885 Canon PowerShot SX40 HS Digital Camer

Canon PowerShot SX40HS

PowerShot are the larger of two small Digital Camera ranges offered by Canon. This unit is larger than most and on first glance could be mistaken for a DSLR unit. The main difference is that its lens is not interchangeable.
The Canon PowerShot SX40HS measures 11x11x9cm but the width can increase by another 6cm when fully zoomed, it weights 605grams without neck strap. The right side has a door behind which are HDMI and AV sockets, there is also neck strap anchor point. The left side has only the other neck strap anchor point. The base has solid battery behind a door where any SD card you might use also resides and there is also a tripod screw. The face has the 35x zoom lens (4.3-150.
A quick check of my laptop revealed that it was about time a new Norton security package was due – and so it was as the latest version of Norton 360 made an appearance.
Now up to version 6, Norton 360 is Symantec’s all-round security product that can be installed on up to three computers to protect the user from a range of malicious threats.  The product is available in either Standard or Premium versions.  The former comes with 2GB of online storage space for the duration of your subscription while the latter edition increases this figure to 25GB of online storage. Installing Norton 360 is both straightforward and quick.
Adding to its extensive collection of Hidden Object Adventure titles, Focus Multimedia has brought together two offerings developed by Stargaze Studio and originally published by Alawar Games. Both games are based around a character named Angel who may be the villain or victim of a mystery involving ghosts, zombies and all-manner of horrors.
This double pack is made up of the Twisted Lands titles of Shadow Town and Insomniac.   Both titles are classified as being of the Collector’s Edition variety which means that some extra items are included with the main game.  In the case of Shadow Town you get a walkthrough to help keep you on the right track plus an option to replay any of the video cut-scenes that are interspersed throughout the game once they have already appeared.
Certain things take a long time, this certainly in one such item, I remember seeing a pre production unit in the late spring with promise that it would ship in September 2011 but it arrived with me after the start of 2012.
The Archos Tablet G9 is a rather nice 10.1 inch Tablet running Android 3.2.5; the overall size is 27x16.5x1cm and it weights 640grams. The screen has a resolution of 1280x800. The viewable screen is 21.5x13.5cm giving the notional imperial measurement of 10.1 inches. There is 8GB of storage and 512MB of RAM. I never saw the Archos 80 (8 inch version) but I am told the inside was exactly the same. For a dual core Android Tablet with version 3.2.
Sections of the entertainment industry are never shy about borrowing ideas from each other. In this case it is a computer game borrowing from a television series.
Crime does not pay.  This statement may or may not be true.  I don’t just means with regards to criminals but also those who are involved in the production of various crime-based offerings that form a major part of the entertainment industry.
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