I am tempted to start this review by stating there has been a sea-change recently with regards to the subject matter used by Playrix. After a series of titles with an aquatic theme, this latest title from the company to arrive on my system switches its focus to the land as you are required to help restore a farm to its former glory in Farmscapes.
Now available from Focus Multimedia in Collector’s Edition format, Farmscapes consists of the main game with 30 bonus match-3 levels and some extra hidden object levels. You also get an animated screensaver, farm wallpaper, an original soundtrack plus a walkthrough to help you complete the game. Apart from the bonus levels which only become active once you have fully upgraded the farm, all the other components are immediately available.
Often having a Blu-ray drive in a notebook or PC makes it a high price purchase and buying an external unit can be cheaper. I recently purchased a new PC and it came just with a DVD multi drive, add this Plextor unit and its complete.
The Plextor PX-B120U blu-ray player measures 19x16x3.5cm the first figure the depth, includes the USB inserted this adds 2.5cm to the total depth of the unit. The actual drive connection was just a matter of connecting the supplied USB lead to the drive and then to the PC, I used both USB2 and USB3 ports both worked without problem although when copying files from the drive the latter was of course quicker, in my various tests maybe three times as fast overall with a mix of file sizes.
As you browse through your collection of digital images stored on your computer, you can sometimes notice blemishes and other features that you wish could be removed or enhanced in some way. It is for times like these that a product such as Serif's PhotoPlus has been developed.
The latest version of this software is entitled PhotoPlus X5 and comes with the promise of providing “powerful digital photo editing” as you organise, edit, enhance and share images. Following the usual Serif pattern, the PhotoPlus X5 installation routine requires the user to enter a 25-character product key. You will also need to select from either US or UK English and choose from a list of file associations you wish to set for this software.
On first glance this unit the CMT MX750Ni looks like the recently reviewed CMT MX550 but it has the ability to do and play everything of the latter but it can also stream music from a server either via Ethernet or by Wi-Fi.
The unit is 31x29x11cm with cables inserted in the rear, only the upslant of the wireless aerial makes the last figure increase by 5cm. This extra should also accommodate most iPods and iPhones inserted in the players dock. There is an 80 page Operating Instruction book and joy of joys it is in a single language, also a large double sided sheet folded into four, Quick Start Guide that should be enough to get most people doing things without problems.
Here one brand new toy and two small games the latter useful when space is just not available like on a long car journey. Light Strike (just about to hit the shops) and the small ones Pass the Bomb and a small version of Shut the Box.
This is so new that it only just made this last part of my Christmas toys and games features. It is a range of products. If you are anti toy guns then perhaps you should move on to the second item in my last feature.
A visit to one of theUKs major distributors annual show brought to my attention a recently released smartphone that possessed a feature that I had not often seen in similar products.
While not in the same category as Big Red Buses, which have been known to hunt in convoys, I have recently come across two mobile handsets from different companies that both have a feature I have not seen in other products. The feature in common is that both these handsets have dual SIM capability. You can insert two different SIMs either for use as personal or business tasks or to give you communication support for different areas of the globe.
Finally I think some manufacturers are listening when people moan about the black surrounds showing fingermarks. The solution is to simply remove the black, on this only the base and the keyboard area are the dreaded black.
The Samsung RV720 is a large unit at 40x28x2.5cm, more importantly the viewable screen is 38x21.5cm giving the diagonal imperial measurement of a tad over 17inches. Now the first disappointment the screen resolution is only 1600x900. The left side has the DC input, Ethernet, two USB2 ports, VGA out, HDMI, microphone and earbud sockets and an SD card port. The front is clear and the row of five pinhole LEDs that live in front of the trackpad are invisible when the lid is shut.
It is time for a trip to 19th CenturyNew Orleans as you tackle a mystery with help from the dead in a battle against evil.
With a title of Voodoo Whisperer Curse of a Legend you can be pretty sure that supernatural forces will be to the fore – and you would be correct. Available as part of Avanquest’s Click & Play series, Voodoo Whisperer Curse of a Legend is a Hidden Object Adventure game with ghosts, spells, black magic and dastardly deeds. The game is set in New Orleansin the 19 Century when dark forces are making a concentrated effort to take over the town.
While I have been a long-time user of WinZip, both prior and after its integration into the Corel family, this is the first time I have come across WinZip System Utilities Suite.
Consisting of 23 tools covering different aspects of your PC’s performance, WinZip System Utilities Suite comes with a user license that allows you to install the product on three different computers running Windows XP and later. It has to be said that my initial experiences with this software did not get off to the best of starts but matters improved a little later on. Part of this blame could be put down to the total lack of any documentation supplied with this product.
While Pure were the first to offer SD card recording with The Bug many years ago. This version of Pure One, the 'Classic Series II', has a different approach by recording onto internal memory this allow you to listen later at a time to suit you.
Outwardly it looks like a Pure One however there is of course a big difference in that it has the ability to record in your absence. It measures 21x14x7cm with the second figure, the height, increased by up to 76cm dependant on how much you extend the eight piece rod aerial. The right side has a column of three connections, mini USB, earbuds and Line In.
As we approach the final quarter of a year, it means the release of titles bearing next years designation will begin to pick up speed. This is especially true of titles that provide protection against the various malware threats that attempt to take control of our computers.
The latest protective title to come my way is Norton Internet Security 2012 (NIS 2012 from now on). Positioned between the company’s 360 All-in-One Security package and its Antivirus product, NIS 2012 offers to provide protection against a range of malware threats including online identity theft, infected and unsafe websites, phishing, spyware and social network threats.. Installation of NIS 2012 is straightforward and relatively quick. On the test system, a 1.
This is the smallest tablet I have reviewed and indeed it is running the earliest version of Android at only 2.1. However as they say size is not everything it is still larger than the average smart phone and can well have a place.
During my review period it did several updates and while these are happening you cannot do much with the unit. It is 19.5x11x1cm and weights just over 300grams. The viewable screen is 15.5x8.5cm giving the imperial diagonal measurement of 7inches. Boot time is somewhat disappointing at 35 seconds after an initial five second hold of the on/off button, shutdown takes 10 seconds.
Background noise is all-too-often intrusive and often prevents us listening to music or, what can sometimes be worse, having a meaningful phone conversation. This is particularly troublesome when on the move. The Digital Silence DS-321D in-ear stereo headphones are designed to cancel out a large amount of the unwanted noise electronically leaving the desired speech or music to be passed on to ones ears.
The DS-321-D is just like a conventional headset except that, when switched on, there is a noticeable reduction in background noise so that the wanted speech or music comes to the fore. Consequently, even in a noisy environment one can appreciate the sound quality that this headset offers and so one can have relaxed listening.
This week I will tell you about two games. The first Khet 2.0 a laser game that requires batteries and believe it or not they are supplied, yes. The second is a game that has been around in one form or another for a while called Top Trumps.
Victorian melodrama is used as the source material for a Hidden Object Adventure Game.
Having recently looked at a game based on The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, I was expecting more of the same from another title based on a different novel from Wilkie Collins. In this case the game and the novel bore the title of Woman in White. As with The Moonstone, the Woman in White is based around Hidden Object game play but with more of an adventure feel to the game. When playing Woman in White you have a choice of opting for Casual or Expert mode.
This is described as waterproof, I assume that applies when a partial sleeve is applied. What is more interesting is the zoom is not with the normal lens extension but by using a sort of periscope action inside the unit.
The Ricoh PX Digital Camera measures 10x5x2cm and that is when off or on as the lens zoom is achieved by internal movement thus no hole round the expanding lens to let in water. It weights 158grams. My camera and sleeve were both shades of green. The base has a flip open door that is by design made to fit snugly it has the solid battery, SD card slot and both HDMI and AV outlets. At the far end is the tripod screw unusual that it is not centrally fitted.
It is not unusual for a product category that has been developed to provide a specific function to undergo a metamorphosis and emerge as a multifunction device covering different tasks. One example of this trend can be seen with eBook readers.
Ebook readers were originally conceived as a means to store your personal library of favourite books allowing you to read the text in digital format. Features such as bookmarks, note taking and electronic dictionaries were added without distracting too much from the original core aspect. Now, however, we are seeing devices appear that place both music and video on an almost equal footing with the eBook capability. Falling into this category is the Binatone Readme Daily product.
As an unnamed detective you are sent from the capital to investigate a series of murders and rumours of a werewolf being responsible that have left the citizens of a small city in fear of their lives. This is the premise behind Shadow Wolf Mysteries: Curse of the Full Moon, a Hidden Object Adventure game that is currently available from Focus Multimedia in Collectors Edition format.
As is usual with Collector’s Edition format, you get the main game, spread over eight chapters, with an integrated Strategy Guide plus a bonus chapter, wallpapers, screensavers, concept art and a soundtrack with sheet music. You will need to complete the main game before gaining access to the bonus items. When starting the game you have a choice of playing in Regular or Expert mode.
This is a hot and cold water dispenser, hot means very close to boiling and cold means cool. Unlike water from a tap it goes through a filter (needs changing after six months) and a UV lamp (needs change after a year).
This is the home or small office version, available in a range of colours and I tested one recently in my home. It is 43cm deep (with cup tray open) 35cm tall and 27cm across, these are the actual figures I needed space wise. When you purchase one it needs to be plumbed in to a cold water supply.
The Android influence continues to grow as Googles operating system appears on DECT handsets.
In the past I have looked at, and used, different DECT phones either as a single unit or in various combinations. All these handsets, from manufacturers such as BT, Panasonic and Doro, adopted an upright position when mounted on the accompanying docking station. This next DECT phone, however, prefers a more restful inclination as it lays flat in a sideways position on its docking station.
Serifs PagePlus X5 is the latest upgrade of a well-established DTP program that already meets a great many user needs ranging from business and Christmas cards through to multi-page documents. A large number of individual improvements have now been made in this new version that, overall, enhances its versatility and ease of use.
Even when installed on a Windows 7 machine, where many of the newer applications will employ the Ribbon interface, it still has a traditional look. This makes upgrading from previous versions a straightforward task as well as being very convenient for those users who are conversant with Microsoft Office 2003 and earlier. This is particularly useful as PagePlus is widely seen as the DTP for business users.
While Pure are best known for DAB radios, this is certainly far more than that, I can remember a couple of units that have CD and another few that have Internet Radio, here the Sirocco 550 has the whole range of items.
The unit is 22.5x33.5x12cm, the middle figure (depth) is with the supplied wire radio aerial inserted in the rear and the last figure (height) without an iPod or iPhone inserted, even one of the smaller iPods will add around 8cm. The speakers are quite beefy at 17x25x26cm, these have 13cm mid range speakers and 2.5cm tweeters all in black wood.
Here a childs first computer from a company known best for really young childrens toys. Second a set of walkie talkies great fun for kids but they also have a serious use for when normal phone signals are not available.
A child's first notebook aimed at 4 to 9 year olds. While it is a toy it is also an educational product what used to be called edutainment. Unfortunately they missed the first chance to make the child appreciate their toys by placing it in packaging that really cannot be used again as even removing it carefully really does not give you anything to replace it in. It is 23x18x2.5cm and weights 575grams with the required 4x'AA' batteries (not supplied) that are required to make it work.
With a title of Queen of Spades you would expect playing cards to have a major role to play and you would be correct. As part of the Haunted Legends series, this Collectors Edition is a Hidden Object Adventure game that is available from Focus Multimedia.
Queen of Spaces casts you in the role of a police Inspector who has drawn the short straw by being next in line when the previous officer goes missing in mysterious circumstances when conducting an investigation. You are ordered to investigate a haunted mansion owned by a strange countess who is rumoured to possess a mysterious deck of powerful playing cards that are believed to give their owner everlasting life.
Last year I told you about my freezer purchase, since then I have asked several manufacturers for review units, most seemed not interested but when I met a gentleman from SMEG at a recent event he was, so here is there current offering.
SMEG are best known for their high end retro fridges. Here however a fridge freezer that still has that retro look, however the energy rating is A+, just like exams the smaller the letter the better for energy use – it costs less to run. They do a range of ten colours. Mine was pillar box red but even brighter and the finish is exactly like a brand new car, what surprised me was that even after two weeks of use it still looks bright and shiny after a damp cloth wipe-over.
While a product that I use on a regular basis, this next title does have a feature that annoys me from time to time. That time being when I install a new version.
When faced with a new software product, your first experience of the software will be with its installation routine. While many software packages make this introduction to a title as user-friendly as possible by keeping the user intervention to a minimum, this is not always the case. Sometimes an installation will go out of its way to make things more difficult than they need to be.
It is time for all heroes to gird their loins and come to the aid ofHellasin the latest version of Alawars match-3 game. Will you answer Athenas call?
Heroes of Hellas 3 is not just the third game in this particular series but also a game that belongs to the match-3 category. Unlike some of the other titles that fall into this genre, you are not expected to make your own groups of 3 or more similarly embellished tiles by moving adjacent piece but, instead, locate already existing groups within an assortment of playing areas.
Its been a while since I have indulged my passion with you, but here is probably the best guitarist in the UK. Yes I have heard Jim Mullen and Martin Taylor and numerous others but for me Nigel Price has an all round quality to his work.
I have been lucky enough over the years to hear Nigel in a range of small groups and often just as a backing member whatever the context he adds something to the mix, here first in his latest double CD and then as an integral part in a CD by a fantastic tenor saxophone player that I would probably never have heard but for Nigel. Even on this double CD you see two different sides to Nigel, first in the environment he is found most often with his organ trio.
The first Samsung mobile handset I reviewed was a clamshell unit that could automatically open and close itself at the press of a button. It also came with two battery packs. Neither of these features can be found with this next Samsung handset.
The Samsung GT-S5260 model, otherwise known as the Star II, is a candy-bar style smartphone. Predominately lacquered black (in the case of the review unit), apart from the combination of matte and reflective silver bands running around the sides, the Star II has dimensions of 107.5 x 54 x 12.4mm (H x W x D) and weighs 94g. At this weight and size, the handset should fit comfortably in the hand and give easy access to the various controls.
The other Tablets I have looked at recently have had v2.2 of the Android system; the Acer Iconia TAB A500 has v3.1. So what can this unit offer that the others cannot, so what does this have that the other units do not have in them?
The Acer Iconia TAB A500 measures 26x17.5x1cm and weights 760grams. It has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The box contains the A500 Tablet, a small user guide, a mini USB to USB lead and a power adapter to charge it. The base has a Docking Port (I did not see the dock itself which is an extra). The left side has a micro HDMI port, headphone/earbud 3.5mm socket and the on/off button this needs to be held for around five seconds to switch on.