Smartphone prices are falling fast, reaching the point where you may be thinking of buying your next one outright and topping up monthly with PAYG. Budget smartphones are the sweetspot, but you'll need to choose carefully if you're not going to end up lumbered with rapidly obsolescent technology. The brand new Moto G LTE at around £150 looks like a pretty good bet.
Let's first clear up the distinction between this new LTE (4G) version of the Moto G and the now year-old previous version, because I foresee some considerable confusion, not least because the two models are externally physically identical. There's a good deal of confusion too about what 4G (Fourth Generation) and/or LTE (Long Term Evolution) actually mean.
This is the latest small and powerful option from Gigabyte who are best known for their Motherboards. They do however make some rather nice powerful notebooks that may even satisfy the lust for speed of the modern gamer.
It is 33.5x23.5x1.7cm and weights 1719grams. The viewable screen is 31x17.5cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 14inches. The screen is full HD 1920x1080. Going round the perimeter finds a Kensington Lock port, Ethernet port, VGA out, two USB3 ports and a dual external headphone/microphone 3.5mm socket; these are all on the left. The front is clear apart from five pin hole LEDs.
First a small round ball with a rubber strap to allow it to be attached to a bag or belt, the result you can take photos remotely on more than one device. Second a tiny 32GB microDuo OTG flash drive for transfer of data and this is USB.
With the amount of available content, either free or subscription based, you might need help to access it. This next product could help.
The Roku Streaming Stick, as it name might imply, is a product for adding streaming capabilities to a device. In this case it is your television set. Resembling one of the original flash sticks, the purple coloured Roku Streaming Stick has body dimensions of 70 x 25 x 10mm (L x W x D) and simply slots into a HDMI port of your television set.
This can work as a single triangular speaker or via a hub form a multi room offering. It can work wired, wireless, Bluetooth or even via an Auxiliary cable. If this is not enough with the right sort of TV you can improve the TV sound with the M7.
They are useable with or without a provided prop. The shape is rather like a large section cut from a round of cheese. Front to back the speaker is 20cm. Side to side it is 39cm. It is 13cm tall. The prop fits in the back near the connections and makes the unit stand firmly at 36cm. There is a curved cover for the back and remove it to reveal, mains lead connection, Ethernet, Service Port, 3.5mm input and two plus buttons for additional speaker link and WPS router connection.
Not everybody needs a printer with various bells and whistles such as Wi-Fi and remote printing capability. The subject of this next review is just such as basic device.
The Canon PIXMA iP2850 is an inkjet printer. This model concentrates all its functionality on the print aspect using two ink cartridges (Black and Colour). Connectivity is via Hi-Speed USB 2.0 with the user providing the necessary lead to link the printer to a computer. Apart from a couple of Canon Logos and a Fine Print sticker, the printer is decked out totally in Apple White signifying that Canon feels this unit has been designed specifically for home use rather than in an office.
Redemption Cemetery is a series of Hidden Object Adventure games, currently standing at five, published originally by Big Fish Games. Focus Multimedia has taken two of these titles and bundled then together in a single package which is priced at the companys usual £10.20 level.
Having done an excessive amount of walking over the recent weeks at the range of Christmas In July events this was lovely. In previous years shoulders and then backs have had Shiatsu attention, this year it is the turn of feet.
This device can be controlled by a toe as no need even to bend down to turn it on or off. It is 33cm wide, 35cm deep and 9cm tall at the edges just slightly higher between your two feet so it can even slide under a lot of furniture. Come in, shoes and socks off and relax the pressure of the day away and get your feet ready to face more work. The two feet panels are 20cm long 8cm wide at the heel and 10cm wide at the toes so all but the largest feet can be totally massaged.
If a wireless network does not work for you then this next Devolo product might provide a solution.
While Wi-Fi is the choice of many when setting up a home network, the technology does not suit every environment especially when obstructions can cause dead areas. A popular alternative solution is that provided by Powerline technology with products such as those developed by Devolo. The company’s latest addition to its dLAN Powerline series is the dLAN 650 Triple+ product.
Archos are a company that has made Tablets but a quick rack of my brain cannot remember any phones from them in the past. While this is a phone it is of course also a PDA and as it runs Android also a Tablet so a three in one device.
A Quad Core Processor with 4G capability, a 5inch screen, 8MP rear camera and 8GB of memory are just the main features. The screen resolution is 1280x720 so far nearer that of a PC than a lot of phones and web pages are very readable. It is 14.5x7x.7cm and the viewable screen is 11x6.2cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 5inches mentioned above.
The latest version of Dragon Naturally Speaking (DNS) speech recognition software, Version 13, is more accurate, easier to train and works with a wider range of applications than previously. Consequently, an even wider range of people should be able to benefit from its use.
DNS is arguably the most popular speech recognition application with this latest incarnation, which is claimed to be 15% more accurate and easier to use than previously, available in Home and Premium versions. Hence, there is a one to suit most people's needs and make it easier to create and edit documents as well as sending emails. Advances in speech recognition technology have enabled Nuance to make the "training" far simpler than before.
A mobile charging device, not just a standard device but one that should be able to charge your devices it can do several at once for no additional cost after you have purchased the Freeloader. This feat is accomplished by using solar power.
The Freeloader iSIS measures 13x7.5x1.7cm and weighs 228grams. While no great claims are made about its rugged uses the rubber sides and ends are very extensive and should save it should it be dropped in most situations. The box states the case is impact and water resistant, the claim is a one metre drop which probably corresponds from most peoples waists. The back of the unit has a substantial belt loop 4x4cm belt loop and there is also a Velcro strap included.
This is not a case of Jam tomorrow as offered in Lewis Carrolls Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Did Next. Instead it is, in fact, Jam today as HMDX adds another device to its series of Jam portable speakers. This is the Jam Plus which, as you might suppose from its title, is the slightly larger sibling of the companys original Jam device that I reviewed last year.
The Jam Plus device is a Bluetooth speaker which adopts a barrel shape as it rises to a height of 8cm from a base with a diameter of 8cm. Living up to its Jam designation, the product arrives packaged in a container than could easily be mistaken for a jam jar. The resemblance to a jar of jam is enhanced by the various colours schemes used for these devices. You have a choice of blue, red, grey, pink or purple for this device.
This unit is designed to take up to a 15.6inch notebook/laptop. It does however have room for a few extras so could be just about big enough to contain a spare shirt and socks etc so could just about constitute an overnight bag.
The first thing I do is discover how many pockets in unusual places such an item has. This I found even has its own raincover in a little zipped compartment near the base of the outside, something I think you will never find in normal use as it will be on its base. Unzip the main compartment and you have the padded blue area at the rear for your notbook/laptop in front of that a 21x28.5cm padded area which could be for say a Tablet on the outside of this two 10.
While not everybodys favourite household task, a vacuum cleaner, especially a cordless one, can help.
Some company names have been known to take on an even greater significance through common usage. Rather than just representing the company and/or its products, its name is used as the generic term for a particular concept. One of the more recent and a prime example is that of Google with the name representing the company and that of a verb used to describe the act of searching for information.
With the various conspiracy theories, the assassination of J F Kennedy is an obvious target (no pun intended) on which the developers of games can base their work. One example of this is Hidden Files Echoes of JFK. Available from Avanquest GSP label, this game sets you the task of investigating more modern day events that are meant to have a connection with the assassination of JFK on the 22nd of November 1963.
This pair of speakers are described as Monitors which for those who do not know is a term used by musicians to have speakers facing themselves so they can hear what they are playing. Here there is a twist in that they can accept Bluetooth input.
Music is important to me, while journalism is my job; my hobby is photography and music especially Jazz is my passion. So little things like quality of sound in recorded music are something that I very much appreciate, enjoy, savour and even dare I say the word love.
While perhaps not as cheap as chips as one television presenter is inclined to mention when discussing the value of an item, the cost of additional storage for either Windows or Apple computers is becoming increasingly affordable as the amount of storage capacity on offer increases.
As I have mentioned before, on more than one occasion, my first hard drive was a 20MB model and this was considered more than ample at that period of time. However, as I am sure we are all aware, our appetites for storage has increased greatly as we need storage space for videos, music, images and software to satisfy our productivity and entertainment needs.
Now that Motorola has launched its Moto G 4G, users will be able to choose between the 3G and the new 4G version. It is an upgrade to its existing 3G version -- a powerful Android smartphone which has already attracted a great deal of attention because of its performance and value for money and which has already become the phone of choice to many who have been deterred by the high prices of other smartphones.
The new 4G weighs just 144g, is available in both black and white, and is the same size, 66 x 130mm, with a thickness ranging from 6 to 12mm because of the back is curved to enable the phone to sit comfortably in the hand. The 3.5mm headphone jack is at the top and the microUSB port on the bottom edge while both the power and audio buttons are on the right hand side. The (non-removable) 2070mAh battery is claimed to provide up to 24 hours of mixed usage.
Yes the round of Christmas shows has started, I know September has only just begun but various companies show what they think will be on your Christmas wish lists in JULY and here are the first two offerings from one such event held at the Ice Tank in London on what was one of the hottest days of the year and the venue certainly was not even cool.
As an ex chef I know the importance of knowing if food is cooked, while some like certain things rare, other items like chickens and turkeys must not be served pink simply because bacteria that lives – even in the dead carcass – and can only be killed by heat. In the box are the Digital Probe and circular battery to power it. A sleeve to keep the probe in when not in use and a small chart with recommended temperature to know if the item is cooked.
Most of us have two hands but often for taking photographs especially selfies another would be useful. So here something from Autograph designed for that purpose among others, not another hand but mounts that leaves your hands free.
In fact they also sent me three other devices that are useful to hold or steady a camera in specific situations. First a handlebar camera mount so those on bicycles can capture images as they cycle this from a company called ARKON. Next something called a Bottle Pod that will fit into most wine bottles which can be useful when flat surfaces at the right height are not accessible, this item from Polaroid. Lastly a near standard Mini Tripod called PIXI from Manfrotto.
Enigmatis: The Mists of Ravenwood is the sequel to Enigmatis: The Ghost of Maple Creek, a game that I seemed to have missed for some reason.
Available in Collector’s Edition format from Avanquest GSP game catalogue, this Mists of Ravenwood title is a Hidden Object Adventure game in which you are cast in the role of a female detective who is still on the trail of the demonic preacher from the first title. When playing this game you have the opportunity to adjust volume levels for sound effects and background music.
The Alcatel One Touch Pop S3, available on the EE network as a pay-as-you-go phone for £79, is one of the cheapest if not the cheapest available 4G phones. It is an entry level phone that will meet the needs of a great many people at an acceptable price.
To be able to offer it for such a budget price it is obvious that Alcatel has had to look very carefully at the design and has had to cut corners. The 480 x 800 pixel screen is not over bright although it is perfectly adequate for most applications and its limitations are only apparent when one is actually comparing it alongside a more expensive phone. The 5Mpixel camera is fixed focus even though there is built-in flash – something missing in some other low priced phones.
Sorry not a coffee machine ones in the pipeline but something almost as vital for every home an iron. Certainly nothing like any iron I have used before it looks almost professional as are the claims made for what it does.
My own iron is probably thirty years old, it does not get a lot of use, shirts that do not tumble dry without creases and handkerchief’s being the main things it gets to do. This is totally different the iron itself is hardwired by a 1.7metre lead to its storage base so in effect the ironing board is redundant. The base has a 2metre mains lead and the iron sits at 45degrees on the base, to prevent little hands pulling it off a heavy duty clip holds it in place.
This time last year I checked out the Kingston MobileLite Wireless product. This device allowed you to stream content wirelessly to various mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. The content being streamed was stored on SD memory cards and USB flash sticks. Since my original review Kingston has been busy developing the next generation of this product which, appropriately enough, is entitled MobileLite Wireless G2.
Predominately black in colour with a white trim around the sides, the MobileLite Wireless G2 is similar in general size to most of the smartphones it has been designed to work alongside. It has dimensions of 129.14 x 79.09 x 19.28mm (H x W x D) and weighs 171g which means it is eminently portable. Connections for standard USB and SD memory card are located on the top of the unit.
So you have a Windows 8 notebook or PC but you are interested in Touch, Windows 8 was certainly designed for Touch and with the right Panel maybe this HannsG unit and a USB cable you can turn your notebook or PC into a Touch unit.
The HannsG HT231 Touch Panel measures 57.5x41x2.5cm, this figure is total size as the pull out support is built into the back of the unit so no stand to screw on. The viewable screen is 51x29.5cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 23inches. My unit came without a USB lead but any USB lead such as one for a printer will work fine.
Like the previous Avanquest 4 Play Collection I reviewed recently, this next collection brings together four titles under the banner of Mystery Places.
The four titles in this collection are The Secret of Ghost Manor, The Secret of the Hildegards, Tales from the Dragon Mountain and The Town with No Name. Whereas the titles in the first collection (Ghostly Adventures) were available individually from the Avanquest website, these four titles are currently only on offer in this collection. A front-end menu allows you to select each title for installation individually with the option of including a desktop icon for launching each title.
Is it a laptop? Or is it a tablet? In fact the Pavilion 11 x360 PC is a hybrid as it combines the look, feel and functionality of a laptop with that of a tablet through its screen capability to swivel through 360 degrees, hence the x360 part of the products title.
Basically this is a laptop device that is decked out in eye-catching red livery and is definitely not a product that will easily be overlooked. The HP Pavilion 11 dimensions are 308 x 215 x 21.9mm while its weight is 1.4kg. As you raise the lid of the laptop, revealing its 11.6-inch HD touch screen, you can keep on going until the lid folds back on itself to convert the laptop into tablet mode.
The Brother HL-L250CDN Colour Laser is not a small unit, it is however quiet, fast, and surprisingly to me anyway I managed to accommodate it in my office without too much effort. Certainly not a looker which might be a problem in the home as its USB or Ethernet.
The HL-L250CDN measures 40x30x48cm, however that is with no paper in the unit, open the drop down second input tray and insert some A4 in it and that figure increases to73cm. Yes not a misprint you need 73cm from a wall to be able to print with this unit using the second manual tray. Now you understand why I said it was problem to fit in my office. If this unit had Wi-Fi built in then most would be able to place it in a deep cupboard or at least behind a sofa.
The central problem with projectors has always been the lamp. Power hungry and hot, a typical projector lamp will need a busy fan to keep it cool, further adding to the power consumption, and bringing distracting noise to the party. And lamps can be costly to replace typically between £150 and £250.
Low powered and cool running, LED illumination promises to put a stop to all that. And here's the Optoma ML1500 to show how it's done.
Weighing in at just 1.4Kg, the Optoma ML1500 is a small, light, portable and - in its class - powerful projector that fits neatly into a neoprene case no bigger than a handbag.