GadgetSpeak Articles

GadgetSpeak has close to 5,000 product reviews and other articles. You can use this page to find others opinions on anything from mobile phones to computers to the latest kitchen appliance

 
If you are looking for inspiration for selecting Christmas gifts, either for your own wish list or for giving to friends and family, then Altec Lansing and Plantronics have provided me with details of some products you might like to consider.
With the popularity of the Apple iPod / iPad family of products, it is not surprising that kits supporting these devices are well represented. The Altec Lansing Octiv™ 450 lets you dock, charge and play music from your iPad / iPAD 2 / iPhone / iPod unit. The Octiv 450 product uses Altec Lansing's Audio Alignment technology to deliver superior sound quality for playing HD video and music.
Having recently reviewed the Marshall Minor it seems natural to try the Marshall Major. Almost at the same time one of the latest offerings from Sony the MDR-570LP so here I give my thoughts on both these headset units.
A name that has been around in music for over 50 years – initially in amplifiers – the headsets came later but have always been at the better end of the market. Even now they do not go in for glitzy packaging just a cardboard box. The headphones sit comfortably over the ears without being huge so they are wearable for long periods a thing musicians often need to do. Sound quality is of course uppermost but then comfort comes very close behind.
648767 Plextor PX B120U External Slim Blu ray Playe

Plextor PX-B120U

While your laptop or desktop computer may have an optical drive, it is probably that is does not support Blu-ray. Plextor offers an upgrade solution.
With Blu-ray becoming increasingly popular as the means to distribute media, it does make sense to ensure that your computer system has the means of handling this type of optical media.  While manufacturers are now adding this feature to new models, those with legacy machines will need to upgrade their computer with an appropriate drive.  One option would be to go for a drive such as the Plextor PX-B120U.
Normally when you awake from a dreamless sleep you find yourself in the familiar surroundings of your bedroom. However that is not the case with the opening scene of Sacra Terra: Angelic Night. In this Alawar game you awake to find yourself in an insane asylum without any idea as to how you got there or why you are there
Sacra Terra: Angelic Night belongs to the popular genre of Hidden Object Adventure game play.  Alawar has opted to introduce this game as a Collector’s Edition.  Not only do you get the main game but a bonus chapter, concept art, wallpaper and a Strategy Guide all bundled together.
Two different products for two different market sectors the link they are both produced by Jabra. The first for conference calls including Skype, the second to fit over your cars sun visor to allow the user hands free phoning.
This is a flat circular unit at 12cm across and it stands around 2.5cm tall, it comes with an 87cm USB lead hard wired that can curl round the base off the unit when not in use. It has a small white LED when power is received, around the edge at 9 is a – sign to reduce the volume, at 3 a + sign to increase the volume, at 12 a microphone mute point and at 5 a call end button while 7 has the call start button.
If disaster strikes are you fully prepared. Freecom offers a product that could help rescue data from an old hard drive.
As its title might suggests, the Freecom Hard Disk Dock allows you to attach a hard drive to your computer without the necessity of opening up the system box.  This might seem like an unnecessary device as you could easily attach additional storage with one of the numerous external hard disks, including those from Freecom, that are currently available at reasonable prices.
649211 brother DCP J925DW all in one print scan cop

Brother DCP-J925DW

A rather neat All In One (not multi function as it does not have fax) from Brother. This unit not only, prints, scans and copies but also prints photos and for good measure not only does it has USB connection but also Wi-Fi.
It is 38x37x16cm the grey and black design on the scanner lid is nice but the glossy black elsewhere means finger marks will show. Installation is straightforward your choice is USB or wireless with the latter supporting the more recent routers with one touch activation, but if yours does not that is not an insurmountable problem. Either way its quite simple.
Yes I am well aware that September has only just dawned, but with the recession now biting hard those presents need even better planning and so the sooner you start…. Here two items seen at a recent event to start you off.
I have never heard of T-Pain but I assume from information on the box that the kids of today will have done so. This is a portable microphone that can transform your voice to sound like he does, he has – so says the box – had 16 top ten singles. The microphone is 23cm tall and has inbuilt batteries. The front has an on/off button near the base and a line of three blue, red and green near the top.
Christmas might seem many months away to most of us but Sony has already come up with a list of gadget gift ideas that could feature prominently on your Christmas wish list. The following examples from this collection feature products from the Sony Network, Essentials, Digital Imaging and Home ranges.
Described as the world’s first “Double Full HD” 3D consumer camcorder, the has an integrated dual lens system for creating 3D content. This product can play back Full HD 3D on any 3D capable HDTV or 2D on non-3D displays. For a smaller viewing experience you can use the camcorder's Xtra Fine 3.5-inch LCD touch screen that can deliver 3D footage without the need for special glasses. The HDR-TA10 has a 10X optical zoom and comes with 64GB of flash memory.
Here I am looking at a 32GB external USB3 SSD drive from Verbatim and a more normal 32GB stick type flash USB drive from Kingston. While lots of people make stick drives in all sizes 32GB is certainly a serious size.
While I have reviewed a number of internal SSD drives this is the first that I have looked at that is designed as a USB offering, to get the best speed out of it you will need USB3 but it will work on a USB2 port quite well. It is small enough to fit easily in a top pocket. Its dimensions are 9x4x.6cm; the USB3 lead provided is only 13cm so it will need to be placed close to a port. It comes in brushed aluminium with the two ends in a light grey plastic.
648262 cyberlink powerdvd 11 ultr

Cyberlink PowerDVD 11

While Windows comes with its own built-in media player, it does not support the full range of media options by default. For example it fails to perform when faced with Blu-ray and 3D. A possible alternative is…
Describing itself as “The Player for all your media on PC, Device, Home & Social Cloud”, Cyberlink’s PowerDVD 11 product is the company’s latest movie and media player software.  The product is available in Standard, Deluxe and Ultra versions.  This review is based on the top of the range Ultra product which contains all the bells and whistles that you could hope for including Blu-ray and 3D (if you have the necessary hardware components).
Taking on the role of Detective Sergeant Cuff, you are set the task of recovering the Moonstone and identifying the perpetrator of the theft.
Credited with being the first true detective novel, Wilkie Collins “The Moonstone” is the basis for a hidden object investigation game now available as part of Avanquest’s Click & Play label.  As I have not read the Wilkie Collins novel I can not comment on how closely this game follows the original version.
649200 Swann SW361 OBC Surveillance Network Camer

Swann Outback Cam

Anyone who has seen wildlife shows on the TV will have seen larger versions of something like this. What has made that hole, who has done that, where has this come from, all things that this still and movie offering may solve.
It is 12x10x4.5cm grey in colour and weights 315grams with the canvas strap attached that allows fixing to trees etc. It takes colour images during the day and monochrome ones at night, it is really down to the available light level. While it is described as waterproof this does not mean you can immerse it in water.
Everybody should be responsible for the protection of their data where ever it is stored. This next product could help in this respect when data is stored on an external hard drive.
External hard drives provide an easy way of solving your storage needs.  You simply attach the drive via USB to the appropriate system and then transfer data in whatever direction you require as you access or add files.  This type of drive also brings the useful functionality of allowing you to move data between different locations.
648435 Dragon Naturally speaking 11.

Dragon 11.5 : Dragon 11 5

This is the latest version of the excellent voice recognition software from Nuance. Dragon were at one time a competitor and some years ago they became a Nuance purchase, now it is not only the best speech software but the easiest to use.
Installation is straightforward, it took 12 minutes and installed 3.5GB of files including extra Microsoft files not already on the PC, you will need to speak into the provided headset to test your audio, and somewhat surprisingly to me it said my audio test failed. I repeated it and it failed again but I saw it also said I could continue. While ‘training’ is no longer essential you do really need to speak some sentences to allow it to get used to your voice.
648433 panda internet security 201

Panda v Vipre

Prize won for the first to mention 2012 not in terms of the Olympic Games, however when people launce 2012 versions half way through 2011. Second a different approach from Viper offering whole (PC) life cover for a single fee.
Not quite sure what people think they gain by giving a year date like 2012 half way through 2011. Mind you some magazines do it with the month, as I write this at the start of August October issues are already in the shops. While most of us still think of these packages as Anti Virus most now do far more including Firewall, Identity Theft and even Parental control. Installation from the CD took only two minutes on a reasonably fast PC.
Wireless technology has allowed users the freedom to work untethered with their keyboard and mouse. The same technology can also give greater freedom when listening to music.
When checking out a new headset I usually take it for a walk and/or visit to a location where there would be plenty of noise before concluding with sessions in my favourite armchair listening to different types of music.  These tests allow me to check out features such as audio quality, external noise elimination and how comfortable the headset is over a period of time while tethered to an appropriate source of audio content.
648640 Tefal Preference Stew Po

Tefal Stews Well

Tefal is well known for its kitchen ware but, if you buy it, are you just paying for a brand name? A test on stew pots from its Preference and Sensorielle non-stick ranges showed that they make it easier for the experienced cook and would probably enable the beginner to avoid disasters.
The pots were 24cm. This is a large size as the pots have a useable capacity of roughly 4 litres -- large enough to make a batch of soup for a fairly large family and yet could also be used for cooking far smaller quantities. Although the internal non-stick surfaces look the same, externally they are quite different. The Preference has the traditional vertical sides with a matt finish, a heavy machined base and weighed 1.3kg. The Sensorielle was a stylish design which is pleasing to the eye.
648434 Canyon CNS SW8 Sports Watch

Data Traveller and Heart Rate Watch

No obvious link but two very useful items, the latter can go on your keyring without damage risk. The first could possibly have saved my life at the start of the year, well certainly my sight according to an A&E doctor.
When I first saw this I assumed that the ‘heart rate’ function was a toy – based on the look of the watch – but I found it accurate and it may even have pointed out a heart problem I had that normal medical checks had not. The last fifteen months have been a bit of a health rollercoaster for me; a nasty virus last year took me months to get over and caused the loss of 20KG of weight.
648111 serif webplus x5 website too

Serif WebPlus X5

While not as well known as some of its other products, Serif does have a website design package for those looking to create an online presence.
Continuing its policy of adding the suffix of “Plus” to all its products, Serif’s latest website designer package is entitled WebPlus X5.  This product promises to allow the user to create professional-quality websites without needing any skills in the lingua franca of HTM.  As with other products in the Serif family, WebPlus X5 comes without any printed documentation.  You do get a User Guide but this is in PDF format which is located on the product CD.
This next title places you in the role of an inquisitive young woman as she tries to solve mysteries in foreign lands as part of a two-game pack.
As part of the Hidden Mysteries Collectives series, Lost Realms 1 & 2 is, as you might expect, a two-game pack.  This dual offering consists of Legacy of the Sun Princess and The Curse of Babylon with both titles belonging to the Hidden Object Adventure genre.  You will need to install each game individually from the same front end.  Both games feature Alexia as your on-screen presence as you tackle hidden object scenes plus solve puzzles and riddles.
Two rather different sets of PC speakers both using USB one self powered and the other also needing mains connection. One pair looks kind of ‘normal’ while the other is definitely more on the side of being a designer product.
You get a pair of speakers that will be equally at home with a Desktop or a Notebook PC. They are predominately cream with silver grey base front and top. They are 3cm taller at the back than the front and 1cm deeper at the base than the top. Overall they are rectangles with the metallic grill stretching over the entire front. So the base is 8x7cm, the top is 7x7cm with the units being 15cm tall at the front and 17cm tall at the backs of the units.
A new headset from Sennheiser, aimed at the youth market, adds a splash of colour with Adidas Blue.
One of the first names that usually spring to mind when considering headsets is that of Sennheiser.  This is a company that has a long-established and well-deserved reputation in this particular field.  I am regularly accompanied on my daily walks by the Sennheiser PX 200 model, which can be folded up when not in use, for providing my listening pleasure by delivering content from my Clip+ MP3 player.
648431 omnipage 18 scanning ocr softwar

OmniPage 18

A lot of software products are now in their mature stage especially when the number gets to double figures. In the case of OmniPage it probably means it’s been around for around twenty years, so surely it should do things right?
Often software was judged by the weight and size of the box here its smaller than a book and the contents consist of a single A4 sheet of paper folded into four ‘notes before installing’ in six languages and a CD-ROM with the program and manuals. The box with contents weigh just over 50 grams that’s less than a small letter.
648430 Magellan eXplorist 710 Waterproof Hiking GP

Magellan eXplorist 710

Not so much a sat nav – although it can do that – but a tool to guide you around the countryside for what I am told is a new craze Geo Tagging. People hide clues and you then go on a search for the next and so on using this tool.
Sometimes you will need to prove you have been somewhere so the built in camera can do that with time and place information. It is 12.5x6.5x3cm and weights 225grams. It is powered by two standard ‘AA’ batteries. The base of the face has a gap that either a clip or thin cord can be passed through to enable you to secure the device to say a rucksack.
Usually data-on-the-move makes use of the various USB sticks currently available. Now Verbatim is offering this kind of portability with an SSD device.
In the past I have looked at a number of offerings in Verbatim’s Store’n’Go product range.  These items have been USB sticks, generally blue in colour, of varying capacities.  The latest addition to the Store’n’Go range, however is totally different in certain aspects to the earlier products.
648429 canon powershot a3200is compact digital camer

Canon PowerShot A3200is

Another tiny (in size) PowerShot - the Canon PowerShot A3200is from Canon. Since going to the solid battery offering for PowerShots they have managed to fit everything into a body that means the whole unit slips easily into a pocket.
The Canon PowerShot A3200is measures 9x5.5x2.5cm with the unit off. With the lens fully extended the last figure the thickness extends by another 2.5cm. The total weight of the unit is 146grams. My unit was orange but they do more sober colours as well. The unit has 5x optical zoom and can capture images up to 14.1MP. The 35mm equivalent lens setting is 1.28 – 5.9. The bar flash is mounted to the right and above the lens with it being at least 2.5cm away from it.
They saw the camera never lies but some assistance a camera’s images can be edited to change the scene.
Utilities, and certain other types of applications, tend to fall into one or two main categories.  They can either attempt to spread their functionality as wide as possible, in a kind of jack-of-all-trades approach (maybe master-of-none) which can give the illusion you are getting your money’s worth or take the one-trick pony route by concentrating on delivering one particular function.  Fluid Mask from Vertus definitely falls into the latter category.
Vampires, and their blood-drinking propensities, continue to be a popular theme with games developers. The latest such offering to come my way is entitled Vampire Saga: Welcome to Hell Lock.
Developed by Alawar Games and Go Games, Vampire Saga: Welcome to Hell Lock is an excursion into the world of vampires and the undead.  This game is yet another example of the popular hidden object adventure genre. The game opens with a series of comic book style scenes showing your character being involved in a motor-cycle crash which results in you suffering a bout of amnesia leaving you in a state of confusion.
This is the middle one of three security cameras recently released by Swann. The catchily named Pro-670 with the others 660 and 680. The 660 being wide angle and the 680 having optical zoom. So it fits between the others.
The overall dimensions of the camera are 18x8x7.5cm. It is supplied with 18 metres of twin cable, one for video the other for power, an adapter to allow fitting direct to the back of a TV, screws and raw plugs for three holes in the back of the fitting, some warning notices and a four side connection guide complete the items.
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