WiFi's become an almost indispensable adjunct to our computing and home entertainment, but it has its quirks. It passes easily through interior stud walls - unless they happen to be foil-insulated - but can grind to a halt when confronted with brick. UK regulations limit transmission power, and hence the range, and dead spots are not uncommon in traditionally-constructed British homes. Sod's law dictates that these will exactly coincide with the location of your Net-connected set-top box, or your favorite place for using your laptop or tablet.
It's a problem that happily has a neat solution. But until the Netgear WN3000RP arrived on my desk I had no idea how simple it could be to set up a Wi-Fi extender.
Ever since the original launch, my smartphone of choice has been the Motorola Moto G device which combines good performance with a reasonable price point. Motorola has recently upgrading this excellent handset with the new second generation version which is available in single or dual SIM flavours with a choice of either 8GB or 16GB. Also included with this second generation of the product is a micro SD card slot enabling the user to increase storage by a further 32GB.
When purchasing this new Moto G handset you have a choice of colours while Motorola has retained the customisation feature of replaceable back and flip type shells. The new version of the Moto G is slightly larger at 70.7 x 141.5mm (W x H) than the original offerings 66 x 130mm (H x W). As a result any peripherals, such as covers, from the original model will not fit with this all-new version. There is also an increase in the weight which rises by 6g up to 149g.
This is a wireless (Bluetooth) Boombox that is able to get reasonably wet and has an uncanny look like a sculptured shape with its fourteen upward facing edges which are there to project the sound, twelve of them have a speaker grill finish.
I remember the Sunday morning when I removed this from the box and bleary eyed thought for a long time – without reading the instructions – the difference between ‘in’ and ‘out’. Then slowly the penny dropped as this is not only Bluetooth speaker but also a battery charger.
The Linksys WRT 8-port Gigabit Ethernet switch model SE4008 provides an easy means of adding additional Ethernet-connected devices to ones home network. It is simple to install and has been styled so that it will not look out of place in a family room.
This is the second portable untethered unit I have looked at this autumn; my home is looking rather clean by my standards anyway. This unit that is not heavy comes in a very large and heavy box as it comes with not one but two batteries and a charger, these are the weighty bits.
When assembled it weighs 3.4kilos, it is 1.1metres tall, 28cm wide at the cleaning head and a maximum of 25cm deep also at the head, the top 40cm is the handle and unlike the Hoover recently reviewed this does obediently stand in the corner when not in use. The reason this stands is that it locks in an ‘L’ shaped position when not in use, unlike some cleaners that are difficult to get ready to work a small pressure on the foot of the unit is all that is required.
Everybody enjoys their private moments and the next product allows you these moments when listening to your favourite music.
This is an inkjet unit and it can also print A3 as well as the normal A4. Two sided printing as standard and as it has four separate cartridges only the required empty ones need changing so you should also save money with this unit.
Available from Samsung, the SD590 takes a different approach to adjusting its settings.
While the model number of this next product, which is SD590, gives little away with regards to the functionality of this item, the tagline of “Minimalist design. Maximum vision” does provide a pointer as to what it might be. This Samsung product is a 24-inch LED monitor offering the user a choice D-SUB or dual HDMI connectivity. My review sample was supplied with a HDMI lead and a two-piece power lead.
In this next game you play not one but two different characters with one investigating the other.
Mystery Agency: Visions of Time is a Hidden Object Adventure game available on Avanquest’s GSP label. Before embarking on this Hidden Object Adventure game, developed by Cranberry Productions, you can make various adjustments that include the volume levels of music and sound effects plus whether to play in full screen mode. This game has two difficulty levels referred to as Beginner and Pro while those with an understanding of German can play the game in that language.
I normally think of Olympus as a manufacturer of removable lens cameras which normally makes then larger than pocket size. Here a unit that will easily fit in a pocket and also one that can survive the odd drop or immersion in water.
The Olympus Tough TG-850 measures 11x6x2.5cm and weights 216grams. Because it is waterproof the zoom is internal so the dimensions given are maximum. There is a printed ‘Basic Manual’ in 29 languages, the full manual together with software is on a supplied CD-ROM. Charging is by USB but lose the supplied lead as the end that fits in the camera is not standard. The face has the lens top right with the flash beside and slightly behind it 1.5cm away.
Adding to its range of multifunction inkjet device, Canon has developed its PIXMA MG6650 model.
The Canon PIXMA MG6650 is a multifunction device offering print, scan and copy capabilities. When connection this device to a computer system you have the choice of USB, wired or wireless connectivity with the access points for the first two being located at the rear of the unit. The rear also houses the mains power connection which is recessed into the body of the device.
I think of Epson as a producer of printers and projectors, their parent company is Seiko so timing systems and quality watches are their bag. Here however a health product that combines a watch with a whole range of other features.
When a company known for something launches a new product in a different field it always takes a while to bed in. This product from Epson is no exception. There are a range of products on the market in fitness and health, none that I know on can do everything that Epson is trying to do in a single product.
Two items that are both connected with telecommunications, the first a rather patriotic telephone that I can see being popular is places like Notting Hill and the Leef Bridge 3.0 a high speed USB 3 flash drive offering a standard USB connector at one end and micro-USB at the other for Android devices.
This is a very conventional well-made push button telephone. Maybe it will find its market in posh stores for its decoration as it is tastefully decorated with the union jack, while the red, white and blue are all correct the finish is matt. It is 23x21x12cm these are maximum dimensions as it is less than 3cm at the front. The shape is one that was favoured by BT in their later years and it bears the GPO label which is not to convey that they are old stock but the current owner of the GPO brand.
This next product could give you the opportunity to improve your street cred as you wear a music output device on your hip.
Unlike the other speaker units in the Jam range from HMDX that I have looked at in the past, this next offering has been designed specifically for use outdoors as you “strut your stuff” when out and about. The product in question is entitled the Jam Street. This is a wireless tubular stereo speaker unit. With dimensions of 2,5 x 1.8 x 6.
Canon make two ranges of small cameras the very tiny but powerful IXUS and the slightly larger but a lot smaller than they used to be PowerShot. Here an IXUS offering dont dismiss it because its small as its still a very good camera.
The Canon IXUS 155 measures 9x5.6x2.5cm and weights only 140grams. The last measurement the thickness can increase by up to 3.5cm when the lens is fully zoomed. This is a 20MP camera with 10x optical zoom. These are impressive figures backed up by the quality of its CMOS which is what determines the quality of the images you shoot. Press the Function Set button to get a simple range of choices. Canon use L, M1, M2, S and Wide as there way of showing the capture size.
Sometimes due to the layout of the environment and traffic demands, a wireless network can struggle to deliver. This next product offers to help.
Sometimes modern technology can encounter problems regarding its performance within a more traditional environment. Take for example the case of wireless technology attempting to provide the required connectivity in many homes especially when entertainment is available from various online streaming sources.
Avanquest has gathered together four Match-3 games for this next offering from the companys GSP label.
Jewel Legends is a new addition to Avanquest’s 4-Play series of games available on the company’s GSP label. This offering consists of four Match-3 titles developed by Rokapublish. The four titles are Farm Quest. Jewel Venture, Safari Quest and Yeti Quest. Each of the four titles needs to be installed individually from the same front end which has to be reloaded after each installation.
This is a rather nice square speaker from Polk; it can be used with Bluetooth or via a 3.5mm lead to connect to older music devices. This has an internal battery so in Bluetooth mode no cables are required so it can be placed almost anywhere.
The Polk Audio Camden Square bluetooth speaker, as the name suggests, is square measuring 17.5x17.5cm and 8cm deep. It is not light as it weights 1935grams. The face is one large speaker with a white patterned grill. Both sides have a more conventional grill mesh 11.5x6cm. The base and top are covered in leather and the back has a grip to enable movement as well as four 15mm round rubber feet as it can be used lying on its back.
Arriving with the promise of containing your 10 most wanted new features is Neros latest version of its multimedia product. Now up to version 2015, this product is available in either Classic or Platinum editions with my review being based on the latter product.
The installation process of the Nero 2015 collection of tools is not particularly quick. It requires the entry f a lengthy serial number as well as the acceptance or rejection of a number of options. Firing up Nero 2015 brings up a Windows 8-like launcher with tiles grouped into specific categories that are displayed against a white background. These categories are entitled Manage & Play, Edit & Convert, Rip & Burn plus Backup & Rescue.
This is a 7.85inch Android Tablet from a company that has loads of other brands Binatone. It has almost the latest version of Android operating system and something that a novice user will appreciate a 68 page printed User Guide.
It is 13.5x20x1cm and weights 380grams. The native display is 1024x768. Unlike most other basic Android Tablets this marks every socket and connection which are all in one corner of the unit on the top and left side. Micro SD card, Volume rocker – and + and once onto the top the power on/off button, 3.5mm headphone socket, micro USB for charging and pin hole microphone. On the back near the top is the units camera and to its right the internal speaker.
Here I am looking at two pans from different sources, the first an exclusive to Lakeland a different shaped saucepan. Second from JML a frying pan that is coated with stone and it then becomes truly non stick even in a dry pan.
This is truly different saucepan in that it has fins, so the normal round shape is somewhat changed. At the top it is still circular but around 3cm below the top on the outside the fins finish. At the base this 20cm saucepan is only around 15cm across inside the 24 separate fins that surround the outside of the unit. The inside is of course still circular. Filling it to the top takes over 4pints of liquid.
Canon has refreshed its inkjet product line up with various models including the subject of this next review.
The PIXMA MG7550 forms part of Canon’s new inkjet printer line up. This model combines print, scan and copy functionality with a choice of USB, wired or wireless connectivity to your computer system. Removing the various elements of packaging and preparing this multifunction device for use took a little longer than other similar units I have looked at in the past.
The Canon MG7150 is an All-In-One unit so it can print, scan, and copy. It is a six ink unit and this means that if you use one colour more than the others there is less waste as you can buy just the ink you need. It is also rather sleek.
The Canon MG7150 measures 46x37x15cm with the paper output tray closed; open it and you add 17cm to the middle figure. There are two paper trays near the base, the top one is for photo sheets 6x4inch or 7x5inch and the lower tray is for A4. It weights a tad over 8kilos so you might even place it on a strong shelf as it does not need to be tethered to the PC as it is both USB and Wi-Fi. When the paper output tray is lowered there are three card slots visible on the left side.
When I hear the name of Garmin, my thoughts are generally directed towards satellite navigation and Global Positioning Systems (GPS). However this is not the companys only sphere of interest. Garmin also has its sights set on our personal health with products such as the recently launched vivofit fitness band.
Sometimes referred to as an activity tracker, the vivofit is a device designed to keep a close watch on your personal fitness regime. This kit consists of the small vivofit unit which comes inserted in a rubberised wrist band. A spare wrist band was included with my product. There is also a small open-style USB nano device which is referred to as an ANT stick. This element is used when linking the vivofit to a computer.
Described as a dark and mysterious Hidden Object Adventure game, Small Town Terrors: Pilgrims Hook sets you the task of saving your twin brother from the evil presence that has invaded the community of Pilgrims Hook.
Recently added to the Avanquest GSP catalogue, the game of Small Town Terrors: Pilgrim’s Hook is available in Collector’s Edition format. This title offers a variety of bonus items, some of which are available immediately while others require the main game to be partially or fully completed before you gain access. You can immediately view concept art and wallpaper plus the integrated Strategy Guide.
For a gamer hearing a sound a fraction of a second earlier can be a matter of life and death. So the quality of the headset is almost as important as the speed of the processor and the graphics card that show what they are doing on the screen.
Hyperx is part of Kingston a company best known for PC memory and SSD drives so having fast reliable memory is next door to having a fast headset. The headset is an over ear offering after all when gaming you need 100% concentration so no external noise needs to penetrate your concentration. They need to be comfortable as gamers often play for many hours without a break. They need to be light and sturdy so they are made out of Aluminium.
Samsung continues to develop products that have a tendency to put a strain on my back. Continuing this trend is a colour laser printer.
The Samsung Xpress C1810W is a laser printer. I presume the “C” part of its title indicates this is a colour model while the “W” provides the clue that the product has wireless capabilities. Rather sturdy in its physical presence, as the state of my back testifies to, the Xpress C1810W has dimensions of 420 x 426 x 264mm (W x D x H). Its weight of 16.62kg means you are not going to want to reposition this printer on a regular basis.
The Braun WF2S Blue WaterFlex is both a wet and dry razor, it is equally useable in the bath, shower or at a basin using foam, gel or just soap. However it can also give a dry shave just as easily. So the above are the claims does my extensive testing agree?
This wet/dry shaver measures 15.5x3.5x4cm and weights 192grams. The shaver head can move around 30degrees forward to suit all shaving positions. My unit was an aquamarine blue and black which may be a little garish for some after a heavy night. The unit is rather like an angry wasp in sound but it gets the job done efficiently so if you head is spinning the pain of wasp noise soon goes.
This is a tiny portable Bluetooth speaker. Like an egg without the ends, however twist the centre and then the egg shape expands. So can this be an answer to sharing music in a small space without having to have large speakers?
The X-mini measures 4.5cm high and 6cm across when collapsed, twist it and it expands by 3cm, it weights 129grams which includes a short 10cm long 3.5mm lead for those times when you need to connect by lead or when no Bluetooth device is available. So let’s first deal with cable connection the 10cm lead always seems a little less than a comfortable amount, it does however mean that speaker and playing device remain close together.
Using an assortment of bits and pieces, you are challenged to create some weird and wonderful machines with this next title.
Developed by FAKT Software GmbH, a German company, the Crazy Machines series of puzzle games offers more than a passing acknowledgement of Heath Robinson and Rueben Garret Lucius Goldberg style of constructions. Using the available tools (not always the most obvious in their selection or actual use), the game of Crazy Machines challenges you to think outside the box as you solve problems that have an underlying element of physics as part of their solution.