Little did I think three months ago that this feature would run to thirteen parts? First something large not costing a fortune and second something rather small that you will see all over London in 2012 transport with the Olympic logo.
Fancy letting your six year old loose with saws, hammer and nails? No nor would I, but here it is reasonably safe and the wood provided is made of expanded polystyrene (like the packing round almost any product you buy) but brown instead of white and grained so it looks like wood. The saw has plastic teeth and when I ran it over my hand I did not even graze my skin. Perhaps another important fact there is no saw dust when the material is cut.
The iGo Memphis is a solidly made over-ear stylish stereo headset with built-in microphone for those who dont like in-ear headphones. With its nicely padded -- but not too large -- ear cushions and headband it will provide a convenient companion for smartphone users who want something better than the headset normally provided with their phone.
This headset is ideal for regular use when one wants to listen to music or the radio on one’s smartphone and yet be able to be readily accessible on the phone. Calls can be accepted, and then terminated, just via the push-button on the in-line microphone. I have no way of checking on the 20Hz to 20KHz claimed frequency response of the 40mm drivers.
Adding to its already impressive range of laptops is the Aspire Timeline X from Acer.
While first impressions, especially when they are visual ones, are not always totally defining, they can have a positive effect. The Timeline X 5830T model certainly gets off to a good start with its sleek appearance enhanced by a blue, black and silver colour scheme plus a top that has a downward slope at the rear along with circular hinges. In its closed state the Timeline X dimensions are 380 x 245 x 28mm (W x D x H) and weighs around 2.
The Sony NEXC3KB is described as an Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera, what a lot of people would call a DSLR, it is small and easy to use but still has most of the ability you would expect from a DSLR unit, meaning excellent images.
Before I go on to describe this rather neat small unit there is one thing that dissuade some from buying it. While it can capture both RAW and JPG images (at the same time should you wish) it does not have any 4:3 options. Your choices in a range of capture sizes are either 16:9 or 3:2 so should you want to print an A4 image you will need to think before you capture about how you frame your shot.
While not a fan of his music, I was keen to check out a headset bearing Bobs Marleys name especially due to its eco-friendly slant.
Bob Marley, the Jamaican Reggae star who died in 1981, had a vision of One Love, One World. This vision inspired the setting up of The House of Marley to develop a range of eco-conscious, innovative products based on the guiding principles of superior quality, sustainably sourced, cause minded and waste conscious.
A recent arrival from Mumbo Jumbo reminded me of a game I played many years ago on a computer system that was long assigned to the scrapheap of failed brands. While I have forgotten the games title, I do remember that it involved guiding a submarine through a series of underwater caverns avoiding land mines, depth charges and laser beams while destroying enemy vessels.
With the Mumbo Jumbo title of Glowfish, you take control of an aquatic hero as you embark on an underwater adventure. An introductory sequence with colourful graphics and layered scenery leads you through a story of how an underwater paradise was turned into a dangerous environment with enemies lurking in every nook and cranny, behind rocks and plants plus waiting to pounce of our unwary hero as he swims through passageways.
This is a multi function unit (it has fax) and it can connect either by USB or Wi-Fi. In fact I used both with equal success. I did however have a failure as no matter what I tried it refused to feed photo paper in any way.
The Brother MFC-J430W measures 40x37x18cm, the last figure the height will need a little extra to slip an A4 landscape page onto the flatbed, probably around 5cm which is around the same amount as using the ADF which flips open from the top. This is a four ink and four cartridge unit.
DAB radios come in all shapes and sizes including the ET appearance of the BUG. While the Pure Twilight model does not quite fall into the BUG category, its shape does help it stand out from the pack.
My first thoughts on seeing this DAB/FM radio were “was it modelled on the Kilroy graffiti of old or maybe the top half of Humpty Dumpty”. The Twilight is a domed shaped unit with a translucent lamp module perched on top of the main radio component and is certainly eye-catching with its modern day styling. Measuring 360 x 180 x 120mm (W x H x D), the Twilight is a fairly sturdy piece of kit that weighs in at 1.65kg.
I hesitate to use entry level about any camera from Nikon. The Nikon Coolpix L23 is a small digital camera and probably the nearest thing they do to point and shoot however this is still a more than competent piece of camera equipment.
This is the only Nikon unit I know that is powered by two ‘AA’ batteries. It weights 165grams and is 9x6x2.5 cm. The unit was a glorious matt black meaning that even the TFT is matt and therefore does not show finger marks. The only non black bits are the lens surround, the two buttons on the top and a central line all in chrome. This is still a Coolpix camera and it takes excellent images while ‘Easy Auto Mode’ is the default a single button press can change this.
First a toy for the pre school child that is very clever and will help the child to recognise letters and even three letter words, the letters are magnetic hence Fridge Words. Second a game for two teams of two or more Best of British.
Here a toy for a younger child that even three has a great Edutainment use. It uses large letters that fit into a pod and as they are inserted the letter is spelt out, it claims that over 250 three letter words can be produced and there are three games included to make spelling fun. It is 23x15x4cm and joy of joys it comes with the required batteries installed. Each letter is 4.5x3.5x2cm; all letter surrounds are identical and with the rounded top will only fit one way.
While I have had the opportunity to check out various Acer laptops, this is the first chance I have had to take a close look at a Packard Bell laptop.
With its tastefully decorated maroon top, the Packard Bell EasyNote TS does tend to stand out when resting on your workspace or lap. No doubt the laptop’s dimensions of 381 x 258 x 38mm (W x D x H) helps in this respect and makes me thinks that for many users this particular model will be regarded as a desktop replacement rather than a travelling companion especially with its weight of 2.6kg. This Packard Bell laptop comes in a range of flavours.
This has a rather special extra, it is a four port router it is a modem and it has a USB port and while a lot of other modem routers also have a USB port few (if any) can not only print but also scan and do other MFU tasks.
Assuming you stand the vertical the Buffalo AirStation HighPower ADSL Modem Router measures 17x18x3cm with leads plugged in but not including the two external aerials, these add another 9cm to the height. I am not going to say this was breeze to setup, as far as the modem and router side it was probably the easiest I have ever used.
My recent print jobs have been carried out by a new Epson multifunction device. Read my report.
The Epson BX635FWD is a 4-in-1 multifunction device that Epson describes as being the ideal office printer. Providing print, copy, scan and fax capabilities, this product allows for USB, Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection to your computer system. You also get an ADF and duplex printing functionality. Recently this multifunction device has been taking over the various print, scan, copy and fax duties for my home office.
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.