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.
Last year I told you about a Guitar (highly commended) and Drums (5x5 award) both from this company WowWee, so their updated Guitar certainly merits a look as does a Microphone to give us all perfect pitch
I very much liked what they produced last year, this offering offers more and just perhaps it gets too near to a ‘real guitar’, the guitars themselves (there are three designs) look more realistic and in fact they do far more and maybe even sound better. You can even download a free app from that allows you to add your own music into the internal memory. It comes with some music pre programmed into the guitar to allow you to strum along as a taster.
While HP may have decided that tablets were not an area worthy of its expertise, other companies have a different opinion. One such company is Binatone with products that include the HomeSurf 705 model that is being priced at under £100.
With dimensions of 192 x 112 x 12mm and weighing 325g, the HomeSurf 705 should easily fit into a pocket or bag without causing an unsightly bulge. Dominating the front of the unit is a 7-inch digital LCD TFT resistive touch screen that has a screen aspect of 16:9 and delivers a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. This screen does give you plenty of practice at polishing as you regularly need to remove the finger smears that quickly builds up on its surface.
This looks a lot like a radio I had in my youth, leather covered with a leather handle, the differences are of course immense with the top manual tuning dial replaced by a rather nice screen display, so I assume we call it retro.
It is 24x10x14cm, the last figure the height is with the six piece 70cm rod aerial retracted. The radio (without optional batteries) weights close to 1.3kilos. The rear has the rod aerial, line out socket and DC input. The left side has a flip clip that opens the back to allow 4x‘D’ cell batteries to be inserted. All the controls are on the top of the unit. The centre of which is a 6x3.5cm black on white five line display.
As technology advances, so old standards get left behind often to gather dust as you are loathed to part with items imbued with memories of yesteryear. One obvious example of this type of situation is with our collections of favourite music stored on vinyl records and audio tapes.
Golden Records, a product developed by NCH Software, offers to convert vinyl records and tape cassettes to CD or MP3 files when working in conjunction with your computer, whether Mac or Windows base, and your Hi-Fi equipment. Opening the box reveals the software on a CD along with various items of documentation (the greater part being a catalogue of other NCH Software products, and a RCA to 3.
Ghostly spirits are a popular element in computer games. In this case the spirit is a helpful assistant to the lead detective character.
Some may remember, as I do, a television series of many years ago that paired the living with the dead. No I am not referring to one of those Zombie based stories. This British television series was entitled Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). It dealt with the adventures of a private detective (Randall) who was helped by his deceased partner (Hopkirk) with the ultimate aim of finding Hopkirk’s killer so that his spirit could be laid to rest.
A number of companies have now brought out these near PC devices. Good for surfing (using Wireless) Ok for collecting email, but perhaps most importantly is to have a decent Web Store for free (or low cost) apps.
This is a unit sold exclusively by Dixons stores group (includes PC World), like most currently it is based on Android v2.2. It is 27.5x18x1.3cm and weights 675grams. The viewable screen is 22x12.5cm (10.1inch), this is probably just too small to view a standard width web page unless you have 20:20 vision but the zoom function is quick and efficient. From fully discharged it took 264 minutes to get to fully charged while it was switched on and in use.
It is about that time of the year when software packages begin to appear bearing next years date as part of the title.
The first such offering to find its way into my hands this year is Bitdefender Total Security 2012. As you can probably surmise from the title, this is Bitdefender’s all encompassing protection offering product that includes antivirus, antispyware, backup, firewall, parental control and home network management in its feature set. My review is based on the one year, one PC licence product – a three-user version is also available.
Verbatims Go Mini Optical Travel Mouse is targeted at the traveller who is counting the grams and, at the same time, wants to keep things simple. It is a USB mouse with a spring-loaded wind-up retractable cable that should suit the need of the busy person on the move.
Although laptops and netbooks incorporate track pads, a great many people still prefer to use a mouse.However, if they want to take one along on their travels, they are faced with the extra weight, the space that it takes up and, all too often, a USB cable that gets itself into a knot. The Go Mini mouse addresses these issues as it is small in size having dimensions 150 x 42 x 29mm and weighing just 44 grams (less than 2 ounces).
It seems about 18 months ago when Google first showed their Chrome operating system, this notebook from Samsung is the first that I have seen that uses it. Can we get used to an operating system that relies on the Internet?
It rather depends on your use, if you have a solid wireless signal – or you work only in hotels and coffee shops with free Wi-Fi – then yes but should your signal die for whatever reason then there is very little that you can do. The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook measures 29x21x2cm and weights just under a kilo and a half. My unit had a white lid, matt black base and only the screen surround was the nasty shiny black that shows every single fingermark even with a cloth always wiping.
Ravensburger one of the biggest name in jig saws are always a hit at Christmas and not just with the kids, here I am looking at a pair of offerings featuring favourite pets in large quantities, Dogs in one and Cats in the other.
When you try to count the number of dogs in an image – several times – and keep getting a different number you either give up counting or you go very strange, I did the former and found completing the jigsaw quite therapeutic. This is a 1000 piece puzzle that has somewhere near to one hundred dogs on it, quite a lot of Labradors some German Shepherds, Huskies and several Dalmatians, not being a dog expert I will stop there before my limited knowledge lets me down.
On a recent trip to Reading I was allowed entry to a research establishment working at ensuring unwanted hair is not a problem.
We have become use to new devices appearing on a regular, some would say daily basis. Yet how often to we stop and consider the various development stages that must have been completed in order for these devices to have reached the position where they are considered suitable for human consumption and arrive as a finished product for the benefit of users such as you and I.
During my visit to the Gadget Show in Birmingham last April I saw one of these on the HP stand. There and then I requested to review this cross between a Netbook and a Notebook, the HP Notebook DM1, that has an extra front end feature to use.
The HP Notebook DM1 measures 29x20x3.5cm at the back and only 1.5cm at the front and it weights 1560grams. Unlike the majority of small units I have reviewed this has an AMD chip and not an Intel one, in use it seems just as good. The Windows Experience gives an overall figure of 3.7 made up of Processor 3.7, Memory 5.5, Graphics 4.2, Gaming Graphics 5.6 and Hard Disc 5.9.