One aspect of a laptop or netbook that often gets ignored is that of audio output with speakers that do not enhance your listening pleasure.
It has been quite a while since I last had the opportunity to review an Altec Lansing speaker system. If memory serves me correct, it was the Altec Lansing Orbit 360 product which appeared nearly three years ago. Perhaps, surprisingly, considering the speed at which technology advances and new products make an appearance, Altec Lansing is still developing new offerings for the Orbit family. The latest addition to this family is the Orbit USB Stereo.
Pack your bags; it is time for a sea cruise. You better make sure you include your magnifying glass and puzzle solving hat as you will need them if you hope to survive the trip.
A sea cruise is meant to be a relaxing and beneficial experience. What with sea breezes, enjoyable company, sumptuous surroundings and attentive staff at your beck and call – could you wish for anything more. But, of course, that was before those devious people at SpinTop Games decided that an element of mystery and adventure was missing from this scenario. The result of this intervention can be seen in Escape the Emerald Star, a new game that is published by PopCap.
This is a company owned by Hauppauge who were one of the first to produce TV cards in the UK. Of course with more notebooks sold than desktops you need a USB stick and not a PC Card, so is this what we all now need?
I have reviewed a few other USB sticks but always although the aerial connection has been the same performance has been less than sparkling. So would this unit fail to shine or would a manufacturer has got things right. The USB stick/receiver is 8x2x1.5cm with the aerial adapter inserted in the end. The only possible problem is with USB ports stacked on top of each other where you may require an extender lead (supplied) to make all ports available.
My first disk-based computer stored its operating system and additional software on a single 360K floppy (yes it was bendable) 5.25-inch disk. Oh how things have changed.
Sometimes when friends and colleagues get together, the topic of conversation can turn towards the subject of size. An occurrence of this situation arose recently but while the topic was size related, it was more to do with the lack of, rather than excessive, size.
This is the size of a Netbook but it is an Android tablet, as far as I know this is the first non screen type device produced by Hanns.G although of course it has a screen, a rather nice touch screen at that, but its all about whats inside.
It is 26x17x1.5cm and weights 750grams. The viewable screen is 22x12.5cm that is 10.1inches diagonal measurement. The back is matt black, the edges are silver why then must the screen surround be shiny black and show all the finger marks! The screen is also rather reflective so when out and about in sunlight you need to get the angles right. The bottom left of the face has three LED’s power on (green) charging (red) and wireless connected (green).
The first device for all those who have important data on IDE drives, the second for those with more modern kit who simply want to copy or clone the data onto another drive. The first needs USB and second can work independently.
Ever needed to transfer data from one device to another, those who know can easily do so from one similar device to another in a PC however older IDE and PATA drives often no longer have a home so this device can help. For SATA drives you just place them in the top of the unit, connect the power lead and the USB one and the PC you connect the other end of the USB lead to sees that drive just as it would any other USB device and it gets a drive letter.
As we become users of multiple devices that we find it difficult to manage without, so the problem increases as to how to ensure these devices are charged when we need them.
Despite efforts from some manufacturers, there remains a wide variety of connections for linking to a power source. This would not be a problem when access to a number of power sources is available but sometimes only one power socket is currently free. For situations such as this, a product that could handle power-charging for a range of devices would be useful.
The 500GB Hitachi LifeStudio Mobile is an external 2.5inch hard drive does not require external power. It is in an attractive light blue and grey shell and comes supplied with desk cradle complete with a double-headed cable about 1 metre long plus a separate USB cable about 50cm long. Thus, together, the user is provided with the cradle for desktop use and the short cable for use while on the move.
Software is supplied, not on a separate CD, but on the drive itself. It was straightforward to install. Unfortunately, it also requires Adobe Flash Player 9 and requests that it be downloaded from get.adobe.com/flashplayer. As there is no reference on the box to indicate this, and I had no broadband where I was staying, I had to wait till I returned to the office to complete the installation. Once that was done the drive was ready for use as it was pre-formatted FAT-32.
The first item for those who like to record what they are doing even with still images or video while out and about. The second is a lead that is always not where it should be or just not long enough to connect without movement.
While I have reviewed a similar type of unit previously this is the first one that has a degree of waterproofing built in. The camera itself is 5x3x2.5 and weights 28grams with a micro SD card (not supplied) inserted. There is then a silicon sleeve and finally a sturdy plastic outer that increases the overall weight to 65grams. Overall dimensions are 6x5x3.5cm. The outer case has a tripod screw in the base and a slide into fitting on the back, several accessories are provided in the box.
Do you flaunt it? Or maybe you opt for a more low profile approach during your travels. To avoid any confusion and to stop wild flights of fancy, I should clarify that the it referred to is your notebook / netbook and your choice of receptacle for carrying a portable computer between various locations.
Many of the bags currently being used for carrying your notebook or netbook have been designed to make a fashion statement and, as a result, do give a clear indication as to the content of the bag. This type of bag also has a third unintentional attribute which will certainly not appeal to the user but it will be like a beacon to those others who are only to willing to relieve you of your property.
Be warned as this next title can grow on you as you build up points to progress through levels and collect the treasures of Montezuma.
As the title of Alawar’s Friday Games “The Treasures of Montezuma 3” indicates, this is the third offering in this Match-3 game series. Following the pattern set in the earlier titles in this series, this game belongs to the Match-3 style of play where you have to exchange two adjacent tiles or tokens in order to create a horizontal of vertical group of three or more of the same colour.
No I have not started to speak in language post 1980, here I am looking at two of the three latest offerings from Jabra, what I believe are called by all, earbuds, first the mid range offering and then the entry level earbuds.
All three sets in this series come in a clear plastic tube so even on the dealers rack you can see what you are getting, easy to remove – no industrial scissors – great, but has anyone tried to put them back in the packaging again? The leads on this set of earbuds are 1.3metres to the left ear and 1.6metres to the right ideal for those who wind one lead around their neck.
A popular American television series, appearing several years ago, was entitled Hart to Hart and featured a husband and wife crime fighting duo. I mention this because the couple had a dog named Freeway which is also the name of a new device from Jabra. This Jabra Freeway is a Bluetooth speakerphone device for use in the car for hands-free operation. As an additional bonus, the Freeway has some entertainment based features.
No shiny black, is the first thing most will notice about this latest Notebook from Samsung, if only there was not a reflective screen nothing would be shiny at all. So what does the RC510 have to offer once you start it up?
The Samsung Notebook RC510 measures 38x25x3cm and weights close to 2.5kilos. The lid is matt black, as is the back, open the lid and the screen surround is grey, so is the area from the keyboard back, the area in front of the keyboard is shiny but in tiny silver and grey diamonds with the trackpad coated in a Teflon (dark grey) type substance and the only shiny bits are the two mouse keys that are chromed. It has a 107 key keyboard which unlike some 15.
Not the sort to appeal to children in fact they are sold from a catalogue that has medical items and even devices to make life easier for the disabled and elderly, the two I am looking at are Bridge Mate and Brain Training.
It is described as pocket size and is 12.5x6.5x2cm and weights 175grams with the required (not supplied) 3x ‘AAA’ batteries inserted. The viewable screen is 7.5x6.5cm. The left side has the on/off slider. The back is where you insert the batteries behind a door controlled by a Philips screw; there is another door for those who want to link more than one such device together. The controls to use while playing are all well marked below the display screen.
When you are in trouble and need rescuing from a dangerous situation, who do you send for? It could well be Veronica Rivers, the heroine of the next two titles.
Up until the arrival of this next product from Focus Multimedia, I had not encountered Veronica Rivers. This young lady is a rescue specialist and the central character in the dual offering of “Portals To The Unknown” and “The Order Of Conspiracy”. Each of these hidden object adventure games requires its own installation routine and places an icon on your desktop.
At a recent one evening exhibition to show off new products I saw much of the same that I saw last year however there were a couple of interesting items and this cube is perhaps the star of the show its ingenious.
Often the opening sentence says it all however I doubt anyone has the faintest idea of what this cube does from what is written above, however if you stop reading now I can guarantee it will be you who will be the loser. This is a truly innovative Internet radio. The First of its kind that I have seen. Simple in operation, it does one thing, its brilliant. It is a 10cm cube available in many colours. The only connections are on the back a mini USB to charge it. A 3.
Working for FBI is not always the glamorous scene portrayed in films and television series. Often it involves a lot of hard work as information is gathered and mind-bending puzzles are solved. This is the approach epitomised by the FBIs outstanding puzzle expect Nelson Tethers.
Following his initial appearance in Telltales Games Puzzle Agent, Nelson Tethers returns for a second outing in the rather obviously named Puzzle Agent 2. While the FBI believes that Tether’s original investigation of Scoggins,Minnesotaand its eraser factory was brought to a satisfying conclusion and so closed the case, Tethers was far from convinced. He still had issues especially with the disappearance of the factory’s foreman.
While netbooks do not come with an optical drive there is nothing to stop you adding this useful facility to your portable device.
Netbooks continue to be a popular choice with users who are looking to enhance their mobile computing experience. However once the initial glow that often accompanies any new purchase has faded, as it surely will, you might feel a little like a second-class mobile computer users as your latest device does not have the means to easily add new applications to the system or even let you play the latest DVD movies to entertain you during those moments of leisure.
Two items for home use although the second could have uses almost anywhere. First a Blood Pressure Cuff for all those who need to keep regular checks. The second is a USB temperature sensor that works and reports it.
Not long ago I told you about a very nice Blood Pressure monitor, this one is slightly different and also keeps a lot of readings in memory. It is a rather different design and works in a slightly different way to produce the same result. Unlike in a doctor’s surgery or a hospital these units are designed to be used by the patient and for me anyway when fitting to yourself a little extra length of cord is always useful, this is not required when being fitted onto you.
Looking for a present that is both useful and slightly different then you might be interested in a new offering from iLuv.
In the past I have had the opportunity to look at a number of products that have been specifically designed to increase the volume level delivered from your personal portable music player so that more listeners can hear the music. I have also checked out a variety of products that offer to make it easier and possibly safer when carrying your iPod or other similar device. Now it is the turn of a product that combines both these types of feature within a single unit.
It is amazing the difference viewing a video or photo using a decent flat panel makes even if the source is a decent laptop. Most videos today are shot in HD and viewing at less whatever the size of the panel is a determent.
The Viewsonic VG2436wm is not as you may think 24inches however it is close. The overall dimensions are 55x42x18cm, the panel is 55x35cm while the viewable portion of the display is 52x29.5cm which gives the diagonal measurement of 23.5inches. Like all recent panels from around 17inches upwards the maximum resolution is 1920x1080.
The first from IDAPT a device to charge all sorts of things using mains power so no bundle of wires and piles of adapters. The second even more simple a small light bulb attached to a length of toughened twistable wire.
Compatible with over four thousand devices is the claim made for this device. The one I had the i2+ comes with six major heads and as the ‘2’ suggests any two can be connected to be charged by the device simultaneously.
Once upon a time we used a projector and slides to show off our favourite memories of family events and holidays. Now we can use our digital images to produce a slideshow that can be burned to optical media or posted in an appropriate website.
Described as a tool for creating multimedia slideshows for TV, PC & Web, MAGIX’s PhotoStory CD & DVD product has recently been upgraded to version 10. When installing this product, which isn’t the quickest operation, you are given the option of selecting a Standard or Custom install. With the latter you can choose whether to include or not various extras such as design elements, menu templates, slideshow maker styles and transition effects.
Wow seems a good starting point, I unpacked it and plugged it in found my iPod and switched on, as I have said once WOW, my iPod has never sounded better of course I also tested the speaker unit with other music sources.
The Altec Lansing Octiv 650 is 31x20x18cm with power adapter lead inserted in the rear, when in use you see a single blue LED showing through at the top left of the black fabric covering the pair of front facing speakers. Up to four other blue LED’s show when making adjustments using the control buttons on top of the unit. The sound is not just the two speakers but a rather nice bottom mounted sub woofer and you can experiment with this by what surface you place the unit onto.
On occasions a product can be rather shy when it comes to proclaiming aspects of its functionality from the user. This type of situation is definitely not the case with a new external drive from Plextor. The PX-LB950UE may give little away with its title but it is far more forthcoming with its appearance.
With dimensions of 163 x 51.5 x 224.7mm, this product is a 12X Blu-ray Disk Writer. It combines a lacquered black (just right for collecting fingerprints from all and sundry) body with a large blue logo on the top panel. If the presence of this logo was not enough indication to get the message across, Plextor has already placed the words “Blu-ray Disc” written large and in the same shade of blue beneath the logo.
Vampires and their blood drinking activities have been the focus of a number of entertainment projects recently including a game from Avanquests Click & Play label.
Generally games that feature vampires tend to cast these blood-drinking creatures in the role of villains that need to be avoided at all costs. However this is not always the case. An example of this sea-change in attitude with how vampires are perceived can be seen in Vampireville from the iWin stable of titles. This game, which is described as a Hidden Object Mystery, is now available on the Avanquest GSP Click & Play label. Vampireville is set inMalgoryCastle.
A company perhaps better known for photocopiers and large printers but they have produced digital cameras for a while. However this is the first of their units to have come my way, but all decent recent units have similar features.
Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera is a black unit that is a bit larger and heavier than some. It is 10x6x3cm and it weight is just on 200 grams. It has a 10.7 optical zoom lens which is probably in the region where you need a wall or tripod to hold it still, however just because the camera has that amount of zoom there is no reason to try and use it on every shot you take. The lens extends by 4cm from the 3cm width when fully zoomed in. To the right and above the lens is the small 1.5x.
Apps stores are becoming a popular means of supplying software. Nero has entered this particular market sector with some free-to-download software.
A popular expression claims that “there is no such thing as a free lunch”. Nero obviously does not adhere to this belief as it launches its Kwik Media software. Described as an all-in-one media manager, this software can be downloaded free-of-charge from the Nero website ( ). Once installed, the Kwik Media’s opening interface divides its media manager functionality into four main categories.
Although we have all known that LED lamps offer the benefits of robustness and high efficiency, they have been long awaited in the field of general lighting. One of the main issues is that they cannot compete on price with the compact fluorescent lamps (CFCs) which, in smaller wattages, can be obtained at seemingly ridiculously low prices. CFCs have been widely adopted despite the fact that they emit UV and contain mercury. Now, however, Verbatim has launched a range of replacement LED lamps -- so far in a limited range of wattages and fittings.
Although these lamps (as well as those from other vendors) are appreciably dearer than CFCs they should find a number of immediate applications, despite their price, because of the benefits they offer and the fact that they can be used as direct replacements of existing lamps. Furthermore, it is sensible to avoid exposure to UV wherever possible. In particular the Verbatim LED Classic A 6.