Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 12 is the latest incarnation of a long established speech recognition program. In step with increases in PC power, its speed and accuracy has been steadily improving. In fact, it can be argued that the performance is now such that even touch typists could find it worthwhile.
Despite the increase of texting, there continues to be a massive growth in the size and number of documents generated and stored on computer. While a proportion of those involved can type effectively, even more would benefit from the use of modern speech recognition technology which, for a great many people, will be faster and more accurate than what they would otherwise be able to achieve.
This is both a DAB and FM radio but it has an extra twist. This is not the slightly unusual shape, however the upright form factor may give a clue as this could be most often found in the family room or perhaps even the kitchen.
The Roberts MessageR measures 20x12x14cm the last figure with leads inserted in the back. It can be run of 4x‘C’ cell batteries but most will use mains power. The rear has connections for headphones/earbuds, DC input, Auxiliary in and the aerial. The DC lead is adequate at 1.4metres to the power brick that is in the plug. However the .65metre length of the aerial lead is short and most will tie something to the end to allow a decent signal. There is a 7.5x2.
There are numerous products offering to protect your computer from malware. One such offering is ESET Smart Security.
There is an old expression that begins “There is more than one way to skin a ****” – I leave you to replace the asterisks with your choice of object whether living or not. A similar kind of sentiment could be applied to your computer as there is more than one way to protect your computer from the masses of nasties that are trying to do their best to invade your personal data.
TVs are getting larger and are no longer just a device to take external connections, hence the word Smart as now they do not even have to have an Ethernet connection as a reasonably good wireless link will do it all for you.
My own LCD TV was one of the early ones after the tube was superseded and is now showing its age. So I was glad to have this offering from Samsung during part of the Olympics. Not just for having HD built in but also the BBC app that allows even more streams than the six available with a standard recent TV, so almost anything that is live is viewable. The screen dimensions are 91x52x2cm the only place that is thicker is where the stand connects to the rear of the unit.
When I think of Brother my thoughts go towards inkjet and laser printers but the company does have another printer string to its bow with a thermal Label Printer.
While most printers are generally regarded as multi-purpose devices carrying out a range of printing tasks as they churn out documents of different types with the occasional photo tossed in for good measure, there are one or two types of printers designed for a specific purpose. One such one-trick pony printer device is that developed purely for producing labels that can be attached to all-manner of objects and even people.
Are you ready for a journey that will take you to five different locations? If so then maybe it is time to join the Unsolved Mystery Club.
Unsolved Mystery Club: Ancient Astronauts is a Hidden Object Adventure game based on an organisation that sends out explorers to unlock the ancient secrets of the past. According to the game’s opening sequence the game is a fictional dramatisation based on a true story and real events.
Switching a light on or off remotely via your iPod Touch or iPhone is just a very basic feature available in this product. The ability to do it from one hundred or one thousand miles away makes this a far more interesting feature.
A light is one thing, raising or lowering a blind is just another example and while some may consider this in the realm of James Bond it is not and I have seen it demonstrated and now anyone with a little basic knowledge can bring their home into the twenty first century. Once you have the basics then using Z-Wave the possibilities are huge. Z-Wave is an open standard but it is the base of the switches and controls that Honeywell Astra MK range is built on.
What is small, round, dangles from a cord and can attach to your smartphone? For the answer read this next review.
A mono laser printer is the business-like tool for the small club, office or the busy person working from home who needs to send out a number of documents and who does not require colour. The Brother HL-2135W, which offers both USB and wireless connectivity, is targeted at this market.
Roughly 14.5inches square and 7 inches high, the printer weighs about 15lb. It is finished in a light grey colour that will be attractive in an office and yet not likely to stick out like a sore thumb in the home even though it is a tad noisy when actually printing. The printer can be connected either by USB cable (not supplied) or WiFi. However, even if one intends to use the latter, it is worth getting a cable as this is the recommended way of setting up the wireless connectivity.
Not just another thin notebook - it is very thin but this has a far bigger selling point. Simple figures, initial boot time 70 seconds, initial shutdown time 25 seconds, once the 16GB SSD second drive gets to work boot is 20 seconds and shutdown 10 seconds
I have not reviewed any other Windows notebook that boots in 20seconds and 10seconds shutdown is also rapid. However before the first set of updates and changing the way Samsung send in their products to go to Standby rather than Shutdown the story was very different 70 seconds to boot and 25 seconds for it to shut down. It weights 1740 grams and measures 33x22.5x2cm.
Two more items from Brando in Hong Kong. Who have a huge range of fans available. The first is described as a Desktop Fan and the second as a Bladeless Fan something I have only seen previously from Dyson in a high priced unit.
It is 27x10.5x12cm and can be controlled by USB or by 3x‘AA’ batteries. It has two rotateable fans mounted above each other. The lower fan looks bigger but it is only the surround fitment that is larger, both have three blades and are 8cm diameter.
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.