A visit to a location known as The Ice Tank introduced me to a product designs to reduce aches and pains.
Over the years, the one area of my body that has caused me the most problems and discomfort has been my legs and feet. It all started with a case of crossed toes which needed to be broken and then straightened. Later an in-growing toe nail, which needed to be removed five times including the trimming of the fleshy part of my toe on the last occasion, caused me problems. Several years later a varicose vein needed to be removed from my left leg.
It should not come as a surprise to hear that the latest offering in the Witch Hunters series of titles has a strong element of witches running through the action.
Witch Hunters: Full Moon Ceremony is a Hidden Object Adventure game from the Big Fish catalogue of titles. This particular offering is available in Standard and Collector’s Edition format with this review being based on the latter version of a game that deals with an attempt by a gang of evil witches intent on taking control of the world.
A lightweight upright cleaner with a narrow cleaning head ideal to get into small spaces. Add to this that it runs on an internal battery and you may just have discovered the ultimate floor and carpet cleaner. So is the Hoover Unplugged nirvana?
The Hoover UnPlugged 300R is 122cm tall, the body is a maximum of 13cm wide and deep, the top 55cm is considerably less as is the bottom 20cm. The cleaning head is 23cm wide and from the front to the back of the unit’s two wheels is 17cm. The internal battery has enough charge for 60 minutes of use. This may not seem long but anyone who can hoover for 60 minutes non-stop is doing well.
With Bluetooth speakers now a popular option, some manufacturers are adding extra features to their offerings to make it stand out from the competition.
From its beginnings as a small research institute in 1948, Nakamichi has developed into a company producing design-oriented home cinema audio systems, mini Hi-Fi systems and automotive stereo product plus DVD offerings and the subject of this next review. The product in question is the Nakamichi NBS 8 portable Bluetooth speaker. Arriving attractively packaged, the NBS 8 weighs 400g and has dimensions of 180 x 45 x 55mm (L x W x H).
As we move increasingly towards FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) for higher performance internet, there is an increasing requirement to separate the router from the modem. D-Links DIR-880L Wireless AC1900 Dual Band Gigabit Cloud Router is a high performance unit which ticks all the right boxes for those who are also moving to file sharing and media streaming.
It is roughly 190 x 240 x 45mm in size and can sit flat on a desk or shelf or, alternatively, wall mounted. The keyhole slots in the rear face are double-ended so that the unit, when wall mounted, can be arranged with the antennas above or below the unit. In practice, when wall mounted, it makes sense to have the antennas above and the unit at a height where the WPS button and the USB ports can be easily reached.
On the face of it a slightly oversized screw threaded bulb that can be controlled from an App to increase or decrease the brightness seems a good idea, add the ability to play your Smart Phone music through the bulb seems a great idea, does theory work?
I read the miniscule instruction sheet – with the aid of a magnifying glass – and managed to get my Android phone to control the light with just one permission to turn on Bluetooth. The music played but through the speaker of the Smart Phone. I tried another recent Smart Phone and reached the same point, read the press release again and then tried a third phone all got the bulb working, all failed to play music through the bulb.
First a Smart Phone projector for £15.95, does that sound too good to be true then read on to find out the facts. Second something that requires no assembly a red Chilli Pepper that is a four port USB hub, simple but still useful.
This is a box, a clever box but a box. If you are good at puzzles or assembling flat pack furniture then this is right up your street. There are instructions and plenty of part numbers, but the easiest way is to watch the video guide.
No sooner do I reacquaint myself with the ArtRage graphics software than Ambient Design brings out a new version of this realistic art product for cross platform systems
The latest edition of ArtRage is now up to version 4.5 for Mac and Windows platforms. Just in case you may have missed my review of the earlier ArtRage 4 product, I will recap on some of the salient points of the product before moving on to the new and enhanced features introduced in the latest version 4.5 of the software. ArtRage is a package designed to provide art enthusiasts with the digital means of putting their creative ability to good use.
This is a stereo Bluetooth speaker unit built almost like a triangle without coming to a point meaning that the speakers have a larger surface area to height than would otherwise been possible in a unit of this size and shape.
I saw this at another of the numerous Christmas in July events, strangely although it was connected I could hardly hear anything and it was not that noisy a room. However I was listening to something on my audio unit when I unpacked this and plugged the supplied 3.5mm lead in, I immediately had to turn the sound down 25% on my audio device to avoid being deafened, so nothing wrong with sound output on my unit.
Sad to say the VHS era is now history as digital format takes over with devices such as the product forming the focus of this next review
The Samsung BD-H6500 is a Blu-ray player that has a range of built-in features. With its metal shell encased within a lacquered black casing, this multi-function device will not look out of place in a living room as it acts as the central point of a home entertainment system. This stylish looking box has dimensions of 196 x 360 x 40mm (D x W x H).
With an organisation known as H.E.L.P., you are set the task of solving the case of the Hope Diamond in a Hidden Object Adventure game.
Putting together the combined influence of Big Fish Games and the Smithsonian with the expertise of the development team from EIPIX has resulted in the game entitled Hidden Expedition: Smithsonian Hope Diamond. Available in Collector’s Edition format, this is a Hidden Object Adventure game that takes the legend of the Hope Diamond as its central theme.
The latest entry level phone offering from the company that first brought you a SmartPhone at a price that broke through the glass ceiling. Here is a smart phone that has corners cut to produce something acceptable at a lower price.
12.5x6.5x1cm are its dimensions and it weights 141grams. A well placed fingernail will remove the back to allow you to insert a micro SIM and a micro SD card. However the battery is not user changeable and is a little less powerful than most at 1980mAh. The right side has the on/off button and the volume up/down rocker. The base has a micro USB slot for charging, the right side is clear and the top has a 3.
Our data is often personal and we like to keep it with us when out and about. This next product offers to help in this respect.
While the title of this next product might make you think of a comic book Super Hero character, I was a fan of Captain Marvel in my youth, and some might feel its functionality is such that there is a definite link in there somewhere. And of course there is the design emblem that could re-enforce the Super Hero connection but more on that a little latter.
Power users will often find that increasing the amount of RAM over and above the basic amount that is generally installed in a PC will produce a worthwhile increase in performance as the performance of serious gaming or video type applications is frequently tied to the amount of available memory. Using the Memory Search on the Kingston Technology (KT) website enables one to identify what RAM is required for a particular machine and provides guidance in carrying out the upgrade so that the user can tackle the job with confidence.
Although KT’s goal is to sell its RAM, and it claims to be “the world’s independent memory leader”, it does not over-hype the benefits. One of the FAQs points out that: “Additional memory will not necessarily increase the performance of your computer. It will allow you to run more programs or processes at once or more memory intensive programs.
Having just packed up a 23inch panel and then unpacked this and put it in the same place I am amazed how much smaller this unit is. So size is not everything how does this compare in display, brightness, contrast and other ways.
This Viewsonic monitor measures 40cm tall, 52.5cm wide and 1.5cm thick at the edges. The stand is 16.5x2cm and it raises the screen by 9.5cm from the desk. The viewable screen is 52.5x31cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 23inches. All the connections point down from a central area of the back, 3.5mm sockets for headphones and audio input the latter for those who use D-Sub. Next is the D-Sub (VGA) connection and then two HDMI connectors and finally DC input.
With such a name you would expect this machine to be made in Italy after all the Italians can make a very good cup of coffee. This machine however is made in Germany a country perhaps more famous for making quality cars, it is made by AEG.
This is a pod machine where the operation is so easy they state an 8 year old child should be safe to use it. Once unboxed and the ten pieces of tape that secure it are removed you just have to remove the foam strip from under the water container and follow the rinsing instructions.
In the past I have looked at a number of products from the HMDX range of Jam audio devices. Up till now these devices have been Bluetooth speakers but this next offering, while supporting Bluetooth and providing audio output, belongs to a different category of product. It is the Jam Transit. This is a set of wireless stereo headphones.
Attractively packaged in a clear plastic case with a carry handle, the Jam Transit arrives partially charged so that it can be put to immediate use. Included in the case with the headphones is a micro-to-standard USB lead plus documentation that consists of a folded sheet of instructions and details of HMDX two year warranty offered with the product. Following Henry Ford’s concept of marketing, users have a choice of purchasing this headset in black only.
This device can take the guesswork out of grilling food. It has special settings according to how well or rare you like your food cooked. It even has a mode to allow you to cook from frozen as well as special programs for certain items and even sausages grilled are healthier than fried.
The Tefal OptiGrill measures 34x34x17cm those measurements are the shelf or table space it will take. The grill itself is 32x21cm, as it slopes forward you will need extra space in front when in use for the supplied 29.5x18cm drip tray. In storage this can sit under the unit. The hard wired mains lead emerges a centimetre above the base of the right back support. The rest of the controls are on the lifting arm which is in front of the grill well away from the hot area.
If, in the early part of 1991, you were looking to purchase Desktop Publishing (DTP) software then your choice would have been limited to xPress from Quark or Adobes InDesign. In both cases a price tag of several hundreds of pounds would have been involved. However if you had waited a few months then a third option would have entered the marketplace in the form of Serifs PagePlus product. The launch of this product caused quite a stir as it came with a sub £100 price point.
Now up to version X8, PagePlus continues the practice of arriving priced at a level that will appeal to those on a limited budget. As usual with Serif software, PagePlus X8 requires the entry of a lengthy serial number as part of its installation process. In this case the serial number consists of 25 alphanumeric characters.
Mystery, darkness and hope come together in a triple pack from Focus Multimedia. Originally published by Big Fish Games, the three offerings making up this pack are Hidden Object Adventure games. The three titles are Teslas Tower: The Wardenclyffe Mystery, Fantastic Creations: House of Brass and Dark Heritage: Guardians of Hope.
If you have seen the recent Dulux adverts on television then you will appreciate the idea behind the Tesla’s Tower game. Due to an experiment that did not turn out as expected, the concept of colour has been banished. The scientist responsible for this state of affairs was Nikolai Tesla who now only exists as a ghost in the Ether where he can communicate with you in the role of Maria Tesla, his great grand-daughter.
This is a camera as it has a conventional lens, flash, and shutter release; however it is also an Android unit that does everything that such units do, so maybe someone needs to create another word to describe a camera with extra features.
The Samsung Galaxy 2 compact digital camera measures 13x7x3cm and weights 285grams. The lens can expand up to another 5.5cm when fully zoomed. 21x optical zoom needs a firm base or better still a tripod. However just because it has got it, try getting the image you want without the zoom you will be pleasantly surprised with the results even in low light. The flash when required is efficient without being over intrusive as it can never be closer than 5cm behind and to the left of the lens.
As our personal store of data grows so does our need to access it from various locations. This next product offers a solution.
The Buffalo LinkStation 210 is a single drive network storage device. Offering a capacity of 2TB, the LinkStation 210 provides the user with the means to create their own personal cloud along with the ability to store, organise and back up data. Provided with the external drive unit, this kit contains a power lead with both two and three pin adaptors, flat style Ethernet lead, software disc and various items of documentation.
Here I am looking at two recent items from BoomBotics. Regular readers will remember their first UK offering last year a device for use on a bike among others. Here a Wireless (Bluetooth) Portable Speaker and a set of Headphones.
It is 8.5cm round and a maximum of 4cm deep in the centre. Mine was smooth matt black it can easily fit in a bag or even a pocket. The only shiny bit never shows is part of the cut away underneath. Other colours are available. Just one connection a micro USB that can be used for charging or with the cable provided also provide wired input. One slider switch on/off. Slide the switch and it tries to pair a LED flashes blue or blue and red dependant on the pairing.
It was at a Christmas In July event in 2013 that I first saw one of these. As sometimes happens there was glitch and it was only at their Christmas In July event at 2014 that one was available, however my tests seem to prove it was worth the wait.
Jam Plus Rechargeable Speaker is round at 7cm tall and a maximum – at the base of 8cm across. It weights 258grams. A number of such small devices require whatever they are sitting on to amplify the sound. This is not the case with the Jam Plus that produces all its sound internally. It is designed predominately as a Bluetooth speaker but it also works perfectly well with a 3.5mm lead using headphone socket on your music device and Line In on the Jam Plus.
While this next product allows you to recharge two mobile devices simultaneously, it is not particularly quick at providing this service.
Described in some quarters as the “essential travel kit”, the Power Cube™ 7800 is a portable battery charger for those mobile devices we find indispensible when out and about. This particular portable battery charger has been developed by MIPOW (pronounced MY POW) a company founded in Hong Kong in 2010. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Baojia Investment Group and has offices in the UK, USA and Hong Kong.
The D-Link DSL-320B ADSL 2+ ADSL Ethernet modem supports speeds of up to 24Mbps downstream and 2Mbps upstream and provides a simple and straightforward way of connecting a single PC to the Internet. It can equally well link the wireless router at the heart of ones network to the outside world.
It is a small black unit 11cm wide and 10cm high and, although it is only 4cm deep, the attached cables add to the space it takes up. Nevertheless, it just sits inconspicuously on the corner of one’s desk where you can see its four status LEDs. It is supplied with the cable (and the associated filter) to connect to the phone line; the Ethernet cable to connect to the PC and the power cable. Unlike USB modems it does not require any drivers and is easy to set up.
I had a few days of watching my own 32inch TV before I had at accommodate yet another 48inch TV from Samsung; this was not a curved screen offering so it was even a little bit larger than their recently reviewed item.
I was expecting the 40inch model and to accommodate 48inches is always a squeeze. Its not the overall weight as they are all very light these day but the size to sit on the unit I place them on, its all down to the size of the stand as an overhang of the screen either end is acceptable. It is 107x71.5x4cm on the stand. The stand itself is a sideways ‘x’ shape this is 67cm wide at the front and back and 34cm wide at the sides.
Nuances market leading speech recognition software is now up to version 13 with the latest edition of Dragon Naturally Speaking. As with the previous versions of this package, Nuance has developed offerings aimed at different sectors of the market. With this version 13 of the product, you get the choice of Premium, the software used for this review, or that of the lower priced Home offering.
Installing Dragon Naturally Speaking (DNS from now on), including the initial set-up procedure, is not a particular quick operation. It does require some user interaction which is mainly due to the initial creation of your specific user profile. You will need to enter the product’s serial number to switch the product from trial mode to that of full application use.
At some time in your life you will have played a game of hide and seek. I can remember one instance of playing the game in my grandparents pub. Unfortunately nobody realised I was playing the game and panic set in as they thought I had gone missing. Eventually I was discovered and everything returned to normal. Neither my version of the game or any that you have played would bear any resemblance to the Big Fish Hidden Object Adventure title of Rite of Passage: Hide and Seek.
I have been checking out the Collector’s Edition of Rite of Passage: Hide and Seek which comes bundled with a number of bonus items. These bonus items include the soundtrack, gallery, achievements, collectibles, Strategy Guide, alchemist table and Forest Runner. While some of the items will need to be unlocked by completing the game, you need to create your named profile before this title will even allow you to see what is available.
All PVRs work in slightly different ways to achieve the same goal. This is not important providing you know how your machine works. Here however is a machine that works differently in that you can watch items from up to a week before which you forgot to record.
There is a basic ‘Getting Connected Guide’ and a ‘Your You View Guide’ that is a sort of User Manual, I say sort of as you need to read it all to find out things you had figured out as well as those that you had not and it has no index. The machine is 35x34x4cm not including the extra couple of centimetres required for leads to fit into the back of the unit. The front has a small white LED on the front left when power is on but the machine is in standby.