The majority of us are not natural designers who know HTML and can produce an attractive and effective Web design at the drop of a hat. We need all the help that we can get. Xara Web Designer MX -- which is available in two versions -- is a WYSIWYG template based program that brings the design and publishing of effective web sites within range of most people.
Web Designer MX offers a wide range of templates, each of which comes with linked pages, from which to choose. Once one has selected a particular template as a starting point from which to develop one’s ideas there is a full range of tools to manipulate text, graphics and photos without having to struggle with, or even concern oneself with, the underlying HTML.
Another recent release from Canon, this one definitely for those who print a little, scan a little and copy occasionally. Just the single open input tray with the non automatically opening exit tray above it and just two cartridges.
The footprint of the Canon Pixma MG2150 is 45.5x30x15cm. If you place it on a shelf you will need maybe another 5cm to the 15cm height to slide items under the flatbed lid. Both the USB connection and the power lead enter at the back left of the unit. There are a total of nine buttons all in a column to the left of the landscape flatbed lid.
It is not often that a pair of quality headphones arrives at the same time a quality set of earbuds. Regular readers will know my aversion to the in ear stuffing of so many earbuds, so it was nice that the earbuds were over ear.
Focal have been a top brand of speakers for some time and more recently known for excellent Studio Monitors, here their first headphones, described as lightweight and able to remove most external sound and best of all deliver accurate sound. My one slight difficulty with the statement above is the term ‘lightweight’ as they weigh 250 grams with lead attached. The dimensions are 9x7.
Some games immediately grab your attention while others tend to grow on you. This next offering falls into the latter category.
Mystery Trackers: The Void is a Hidden Object Adventure game available in Collector’s Edition format from Focus Multimedia. The game is based on the Void Mansion which was built in 1890 for the Void Family. Originally regarded as a residence to be desired, the building fell into disrupt following it being inherited by Dr Mallens Void who used the mansion to conduct terrible experiments before abandoning the building.
I recently spent a couple of hours at the Broadcast Video exhibition, a great deal of what was on show was very expensive Broadcast equipment but then some stands had almost the opposite. I know Manfrotto for various photographic accessories. I have reviewed portable flash units, tripods and monopods, here something different.
Walking by their stand I saw a clothing rail with a several reinforced jackets and for want of a better word waistcoats – jackets without sleeves – all seemed to be toughened with Kevlar. I asked surely you are not producing these for war zones, I was told no just for normal photographer use. I know some fashion shoots can get tough and of course those photographing Celebes must expect the odd bodyguard to get a bit physical.
The arrival of this next game from Alawar Entertainment immediately brought back memories of a film I saw in my youth. This film was based on a story from the pen of Mark Twain. Both the story and film are entitled A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthurs Court while the game has adopted the title of New Yankee in King Arthurs Court a subtle difference that permeates throughout the game version of this story.
Time has a major influence to play in this latest title developed by Alawar Games and published by Alawar Entertainment. Like Twain’s original offering, the game’s main character, and your role, is transported from their own time period and location to a distant past when King Arthur ruled Camelot. This time travelling feat is brought about as the result of a lightning bolt striking you while you are busy with your farming activities.
A quick check of my work system revealed 3762 MP3 tracks. Further investigation brought to light that these tracks occupied just over 12GB of storage space and, if played continuously, would take 9 days and 13 hours in order to work through the full list. This information came courtesy of MAGIXs latest MP3 deluxe software.
Following its recent practice of replacing version numbers with its product titles with the letters “MX”, this latest release of this product is entitled MAGIX MP3 deluxe MX. Installing this collection of tools for organising and managing your digital music collection is straightforward if a little time consuming. You can select the destination drive and folder for the software while a 30-character serial number will need to be entered when you first fire up this product.
This little black offering fits into the smallest pocket but can take HD video as well as rather nice still images. Even if you have a larger and more powerful unit, this can be ready even before that comes from the bag.
The Canon PowerShot S100 measures 10.5x6x2.5cm and weights 192grams. 12.1MP, 5x optical zoom, a highly sensitive CMOS, ability to shoot RAW, GPS function, Full 1080P videos, high speed burst, 24mm ultra wide lens and intelligent IS for better low light capture. The face has the 5.2x26mm lens with the 2x.5cm flash emerging from the top when required and it is never nearer than 4cm from the lens, even then there is a tiny cut out on the bottom left of the flash to avoid flashback.
This next product arrived with a two-pin power lead which was hardly the best start. Fortunately I was able to work round this problem.
The Samsung ML-2955DW is a mono laser printer. The “D” and “W” designation part of its title refers to its Duplex and Wi-Fi capability. This mono laser gives the user a choice of Ethernet, USB or Wi-Fi connectivity with you providing any leads (other than for mains power) that are required.
This sometimes called Mi-Fi - allows you to create a wireless network with up to five devices all using the same mobile signal so if your broadband dies or maybe you live in an area where dial up is your only solution providing you have mobile this could be the answer.
If you run a small business what do you do in a power cut, unless you have a standard BT type phone that will be down, Broadband will be down as your modem requires power, unless you keep your notebook charged you will not even have that. So what do you do, sweep the floor – you certainly can’t Hoover it – as you have no power. This then can keep you going for the - hopefully short - time without power providing you have charge in your notebook or Smartphone.
Internal SATA SSD drive v external USB3 drive. The second is four times the capacity of the first. The first is very fast, but the second is no slouch. The first is a bare drive but cased, the second shiny black and silver with lead.
This small unit overall size 10x7x1cm looks like an external device as it is sealed and other ‘bare’ drives have been exactly that with the component parts on view. This however has just one thing open that is the fitment to attach to a SATA port. A nice idea as some people are less than careful when they handle bare devices and can damage then during installation.
Success in game playing often requires you to keep your cool so it is vital you do not loose your head in this next offering from Focus Multimedia.
Inspired by a Washington Irving short story first published in 1820, the PlayPond developed Mystery Legends Sleepy Hollow game relates the story of The Headless Horseman who is out for revenge for the removal of his upper appendage. The game is described as a Hidden Object Adventure but I will have to take issue with this.
This is a Tablet designed for business use. This means that it will not be cheap and just for once the screen surround will not be shiny black so although the fingermarks will still be there they will not show up unless you look.
I saw a very slick demo early last summer with promises that it will be available ‘within two weeks’ if you made a baby around that time it would probably now be close to birth. Still I remembered the important demo points. While there was a raft of documentation including the thickest ‘safety instructions’ book I have ever seen no documentation.
It is a fact of Windows life that your computers performance will decrease directly proportional to the use to which it is put much to the delight of those who develop software to remedy this situation
Checking my records, which tend to be far more reliable than my memory, revealed that I had first come across iolo’s collection of utilities, known as System Mechanic, eight years ago with the arrival of version 5. Back then the product made great play of the software’s toolbox approach and even used a desktop icon showing a red toolbox.
A missing wife and a black cat are just two of the elements making up a game based an Edgar Allan Poe story.
Following the successful conclusion of the Murder in the Rue Morgue, Chevalier Dupin returns to lead the investigation into the disappearing and possible murder of Sara, wife of Monsieur Mark Davies. Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat, this is a Hidden Object Adventure game with the player cast in the role of Dupin’s assistant.
Small and light is not something that used to be applied to 24inch monitors or for that fact to early 24inch panels, however both can be applied to this offering from Hannspree the HL249 Hanns.G with LED Technology.
The first joy is a not very reflective screen although the screen surround is still a somewhat shiny black finish. The screens dimensions are 55.5x35.5x2cm. It comes with a one screw base that is oval at 29x22cm and this raises the screen 6cm from your desk. There are five buttons sitting just proud of the base near the right side these are there to make any adjustments needed. Power input is just to the right of where the base fits onto the screen. To the left of this are 3.
It is small enough to fit in a pocket and can handle your productivity and entertainment needs but takes a different path to other non-Apple tablets.
The BlackBerry PlayBook is a 7-inch tablet that is decked out totally in black. With a weight of around 425g and dimensions of 130 x 194 x 10mm, the PlayBook could be slid into a pocket when not required or held comfortably in one hand for most tasks. I say “most tasks” because I found it a little uncomfortable to hold when getting my regular fix of Angry Birds. Still as I tend to restrict myself to one session of bird-projecting a day, this is a minor issue.
A lot of phones have naff sound and provide a naff set of cheap earbuds to allow you to suffer in private. Here the sound is better and they provide a set of Monster Beats by Dr Dre so listening to music can be a pleasure.
The HTC Sensation XL measures 13x7x1cm and weights 162grams. The phone is creamy white with a metallic look back only broken by the ‘b’ red circular logo. Sound quality also includes that old fashioned thing that phones used to be for making calls and the caller always sounds clear, it is also possible to increase the sound level higher than with a lot of other such devices.
This is my first look at ArtRage now on version 3.5. Before delving into the manuals I always try to see what it can do with just the icons on the screen, the results are of course strange, sometimes great sometimes not what you thought.
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.
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 TVs 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.
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.