Who could have imagined that Ridley Scotts 1979 film, with its never-to-be-forgotten scene of a ravenous alien emerging from John Hurts stomach, would be the instigator for a massive industry of follow up films, games and other creative offerings. Not me for one.
Some 35 years later, there have been numerous films and computer games based on the Alien franchise. Now we have a coffee-table book taking as its inspiration the latest computer game entitled ALIENS: ISOLATION™ that continues the Ripley theme through Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, taking a central role. Published by Titan Books, this hardback offering is entitled The Art of Alien Isolation.
If you are of mature years old like me then you think of Sound Blaster for sound cards and speakers but of course they do a lot more. Here I am looking at two headphone amplifiers and the second one is also a DAC as well.
Only a small proportion of headphones have the ability to amplify sound so if the level produced by your MP3 or SmartPhone is low that is what your output is. Here a small 6.5x3.2x2cm device that can amplify the sound you give it without destroying the original. The last figure includes the clip that can fit onto a pocket or belt, the device weights only 24grams. It is powered by its own internal solid battery that you charge by USB – lead supplied – and it also comes with a 3.
Arriving from the Netherlands is a means of transporting and powering devices when on your travels.
Phorce, a company based in the Netherlands and the creator of the world’s first interactive smart bag, has followed up its original offering with its second generation product. This is the Phorce Freedom, a bag designed for everyday use with the capability to power various devices when on the move. Like the Transformers, stars of the silvery screen and toy resellers’ shelves, the Phorce Freedom has shape-shifting capabilities.
Having looked at various Weather Stations over the years this was an item to cast my eyes over. Various units have been powered by battery and even solar power. This unit is powered by three AA batteries the forth supplied battery powers the outside unit.
The Oregon Scientific [email protected]
unit measures 18x9x4cm, the last figure is only at the base it slims to only 1.18x9x4cm the last figure is only at the base it slims to only 1.5cm within a few centimetres. The external unit is 9x5x2cm and should be sheltered from rain and snow. The main unit has a 10x7cm display that is split into three areas. Below this are the controls also split into three areas with two rocker buttons and a back light button in between.
The Philips 231P4 Notebook Docking Display is an ideal complement to users who wants to use their laptops back at base as well as on the move. With its inbuilt docking station, it is only the work of a few moments to make a single USB connection and then be up and running with this 23inch monitor.
This 23 inch 1920 x 1080 pixel LED monitor with its silver bezel is mounted on a stand which provides a useful range of movements. It can be rotated laterally through 130 degrees; has a spring-counterbalance that makes it easy to raise/lower through about 12cm and has a reasonable amount of "tilt". When removed from its stand it can also be attached to a standard VESA mount. The connections are sensibly grouped with the USB 3.0 input and the two 3.0 and one 2.0 outputs are on the LH side.
Both of the phones I am looking at here are designed for those with a hearing impairment, before you think this is not you, just think does anyone complain your TV is up too loud, do you often have to ask people to repeat what they are saying?
I was standing on my patio recently talking to a friend who said is that your phone, it was and yet I never heard it ring. This is a standard phone with keys and a small 3.5x3cm screen, however everything is big, the keys, the colours and most of all the sound. It is 12.5x5x1.5cm and weights 395 grams. Below the screen all the buttons are backlit for around 35seconds easily long enough to find what you are looking for even for someone with slow responses.
Instead of music while you work (more relevant to older readers), this next product lets you have music while you shower or have a bath.
Splish, splash, I was taking a bath – actually it was a shower but that would not fit in with the rhyme – with the musical accompaniment being provided by a small device developed by Sandberg. The device in question is a Shower Bluetooth Speaker with built-in microphone. As you might suppose from its title, this product has been designed for use in the bathroom.
The most frequent complaint with smartphones is the duration of the battery. If you're lucky enough to have a phone with a removable battery, the answer is to carry a spare. But the trend for today's phones seems to be towards inaccessible batteries embedded in an enclosed shell.
Brighton-based tech accessory specialist Proporta has come up with a solution. Most of us carry wallets for our cards and cash, so why not design a wallet that includes an emergency phone charger?
In fact this is one of a range of three new phone chargers the company introduced at the end of last year. On its own the Gizmo TurboCharger 1000 (the number denotes the charge capacity in milliamp-hours) sells for £14.95, but it's included in the £34.95 price of the credit-card-sized Safekeep Gizmo Wallet. The wallet is made from black, satin-lined leather, with one of the six credit card pockets picked out in red, and it folds into a pocketable rectangle, approximately 9x11 cms.
A lot of homes these days do not have a proper kitchen so a small oven type device can have its place. This small unit can fry without fat grill roast and more. The nearest thing I have previously reviewed is the Philips Airfryer.
The Russell Hobbs Purifry fryer measures 32cm tall and 25cm deep (30cm with handle) and 25cm across. It runs from a standard 13amp plug. The bowl/basket/partition and handle – the bits that are removable – are all dishwasher proof. Almost anything that you would cook in a conventional oven can be cooked in the Purifry in fact when I saw this demonstrated they were cooking cakes and scones in it. The instructions say it can be used by children from eight years upwards.
It is relatively straightforward to stream and share your media content over various devices when you have access to your home wireless network but away from this environment matters may not be so cut and dried.
The PNY Wireless Media Reader is a product that offers to provide a solution to sharing and streaming media content between devices when you are away from your home network environment. It does this by setting up its own Wi-Fi network to which mobile devices can log into and receive content that is stored on USB flash sticks and / or SD memory cards. The main unit of this product is a black box, slightly smaller than a pack of playing cards, with dimensions of 95 x 66 x 13mm (W x D x H).
Adding to the Dark Parables series of games is an offering with mermaids and a tide that destroys everything in its path,
Available from Big Fish Games in Collector’s Edition format, Dark Parables The Little Mermaid and the Purple Tide is a Hidden Object Adventure game. As usual with a Collector’s Edition title, this game features a number of bonus items. Some of these items, such as Picture, Music and the Strategy Guide, are available immediately while others require you to make progress or even complete the main game before you can gain access.
This neat electric shaver can be used as a dry shaver or as a wet shaver. For that top up before a night out when leaving the office its ideal. It also works exactly like a wet shaver when required, just lather up and shave in the normal way.
The Braun WF2S WaterFlex shaver measures 15.5x5.5x4.5cm and weights 279grams. The stand is light – some might say flimsy – and consists of a base and sloping back that slot together, the 1.5metre power lead plugs into the base and as seems the fashion for shavers goes to a two pin plug.
Working from home, I regularly find myself having to put up with unwanted calls from companies wanting to provide a so-called service I do not want or have asked for. Maybe this next product could help.
A fairly recent modern phenomenon concerns the numerous cold calls we have to put up with from companies who have so little concern for the general public and think we have nothing better to do than listening to their marketing spiel. There are also those calls asking for our opinions so that the data can be sold on to others or claiming we have been involved in an accident.
These are powerful headphones designed predominately for gamers as they are 7.1 channels, so you should be able to hear the slightest noise from far away and for a gamer this is possibly the difference between life and err death.
Here I am looking at two different portable speaker systems. The first a retro design called Jam Rewind. The second from a company that has a broad field of products Lindy, this like the Jam Rewind is both Bluetooth and Auxiliary input.
It is 17x6x2.5cm and weights 170grams. For those old enough to remember cassette tapes it looks like a bloated version of one. Each reel is a speaker so you have two on one side and two on the other. My unit was grey with red rubberised edges and the back edge has touch buttons. Here you need good feel as the buttons are the same red colour as the back colour. Volume -, Volume +, Track back, Play/Pause, Track forward and on/off with a pin hole microphone in between the last two.
Whatever the type of threat, it is up to you to ensure your computer is protected with a product such as developed by BullGuard.
While maybe not the first name that springs to mind when the topic turns to Internet security and anti-virus protection, BullGuard has been around since 2002 and has built up a well-respected reputation. The company’s latest product entitled, not surprisingly, BullGuard Internet Security is available for £49.95 covering three PCs either as a download or a boxed product from various retailers.
Motorola are one of the most up to date phone manufacturers, they seem to be first to update to the latest version of Android this is 4.4.4 which is still the latest apart from the supposed version 5 available on a very few selected devices.
The Moto X Version 2 measures 14x7x1cm the last figure is at the centre of the top and bottom where the headphone and micro USB connections are, at the rest of the edges it is only .5cm, it weights 143grams. The back is fixed and your Nano SIM goes in to the top and a special pin is provided to allow insertion. The only other buttons are on the right edge on/off and a larger rocker for volume up and down. The viewable screen is 11.5x6.
They say small is beautiful, and in the form of a microSD card, it can also contain enough entertainment to keep me happy.
The phone in your pocket (with appropriate apologies for the original saying) has tended to grow in both power and functionality with each new version. However there is one aspect of your mobile friend that is sometimes neglected. That area is the one of storage capacity. Often manufacturers believe that by offering devices with a MicroSD card slot, the needs of their customers will be satisfied and this approach will allow them to keep their costs down.
The Empress of the Deep returns for the third instalment of this Hidden Object Adventure game as twin sisters take on the faces of good and evil.
Legacy of the Phoenix is the third title in the Empress of the Deep series featuring the on-going conflict between Anna and her evil twin sister Pandora. This Hidden Object Adventure game is now available on the Avanquest GSP label in Collector’s Edition format. As usual with Collector’s Edition titles, there are some bonus items which can be unlocked as you progress through the game plus a Strategy Guide that is available immediately.
This is a true A3 printer as well as a unit that scans, copies and faxes, it prints A3 from within the outline of the machine yet is a good deal smaller than you would expect as paper is stored in landscape rather than portrait format.
It is 47x35x30cm only a tiny bit larger than most A4 units and remember this can store A3 paper within the unit, the secret is that the unit stores in Landscape format – don’t worry it still prints in portrait – with the page appearing sideways has another advantage in that it needs less space in front for paper to appear.
Now firmly entrenched as part of the Corel family of products, the latest version of WinZip is now available.
Starting out as a product whose sole aim was to compress data that could fit on the floppy disks measured in kilobytes and hard disks in megabytes, WinZip has developed into a software product that adds encryption, conversion and file management, both local and Cloud based, to its original concept. Thinking back I could easily store the original WinZip software on a 180KB floppy disk and still have room for other files.
This is the latest and largest Fire I have seen. Unless you have a poachers pocket in your coat I doubt it will fit. The latest Amazon Fire version 4.51 is installed and this gives some significant advantages for the user to have.
The Amazon Fire HDX 8.9" tablet measures 22.5x15.5x.5cm where the last figure is thickness at the edges, it is slightly thicker once you are 1.5cm in, and it weights 372 grams. As with a lot of tablets it comes naked and to fully protect the screen you need a case and both Amazon and third parties sell such items, if you spend a lot of time typing then a keyboard might be useful addition to the unit I was sent both a case and a keyboard, they work correctly. The viewable screen is 18x11.
I have seen several versions of this software over the years, all were previously tied to a hard disc that enabled you to clone a disc to your new hardware. Here this is the full boxed version that not unsurprisingly can to this and much more.
I have entered some long serial numbers over the years but this seems to be the longest if you count the blanks its 71 characters. A full disc Backup took 77 minutes to USB2 disc, it took 110.4GB, the disc copied has 134GB used. One week later the incremental backup took 20 minutes and was 21.2GB in size. Two weeks later the next increment took 16 minutes and was 22.3GB in size.
Unlike the TARDIS, this next product projects time rather than travels through it,
Generally, but not always, I tend to use the term “multifunction” in regards to devices that provide print, copy and scan functionality. However this is not one of those occasions. The subject of this review, while offering various features, can not print, copy or scan. Instead this is a timepiece with alarm and indoor / outdoor temperature readings plus the ability to project the current time on to an appropriate surface such as a ceiling or wall.
Having recently looked at two bagless upright cleaners it seems only right to review a similar bag less cylinder option. Here a 700watt option from Hoover that is an immediate winner from me for one small feature that it has.
The Hoover XP71 vacuum cleaner measures 43cm long, 27cm wide and between 10 and 30cm high. It weighs 6.4kilos. As with any corded machine you need to work out the best position to plug the unit in to enable the least number of plugins to do the whole property. As I live in a bungalow I had previously found that 7.5metres from a central point covers everything.
With four main components and plenty of free add-ons, this next title will certainly take over a sizeable chunk of your hard disk.
What do you call a combination of PowerDirector 13, ColorDirector 3, AudioDirector 5 and PhotoDirector 6 plus shed loads of graphical add-ons? There is a clue in the constant element making up the various titles. The answer is Director Suite 3 from CyberLink. This product arrives with the claim of being the most complete video and Photo editing solution for creative experts and maybe those of us who are not quite as skilful.
Put your investigation powers to the test as you solve a mystery that it seeped in magic.
Originally released as part of the Alawar catalogue of game titles, Panopticon Path of Reflections is now available from the Avanquest GSP label. This is a Hidden Object Adventure game. In this game you take on the role of Senior Inspector John Perry who has been set the task of investigating the mysterious disappearance of the stage magician Andy Fox and his assistant during a performance.
This is a PowerShot offering which along with the Ixus brand are Canons two non DSLR offerings. This is one of the larger small units as such it is almost as large as some smaller DSLR units and it comes with a neck strap not a wrist strap.
The Canon PowerShot G16 compact digital camera measures 9.5x7.5x4cm, the last figure can double when fully zoomed. The unit weights 354grams. As with most recent offerings it has Wi-Fi to transfer images and of course to let you know where you took that great sunset. The right side has neck strap anchor point and a door behind which are connections for AV and HDMI so you can show your videos direct to your TV.
If your plates of meat are giving cause for concern then maybe this next product can be of assistance.
An often neglected part of the body is the foot. Yet this pair of body parts has a vital role to play in most aspects of modern day living as we sometimes discover when their develop problems. Offering to help provide a degree of relief to overworked and tired feet is the Deluxe Shiatsu Full Foot Massager from HoMedics. As well as providing a deep kneading massage to the feet, this piece of kit also has a relaxing Heat feature for an extra soothing experience.
Last autumn I visited a venue called the Ice Tank, it was for a presentation from a company based in Germany that has a product to efficiently control your central heating, it even knows when the last person leaves or the first arrives back at your home.
This big brother scenario might sound rather frightening but for a home where people work different hours this can save a good deal of money so you do not end up heating an empty home. A bold statement was made during the presentation that they could control any heating system however old. I know my gas boiler is at least 50 years and its controller probably of the same vintage. So I agreed to test it out. Everything can be done from their website.