This starter kit promises to finally give you Wi-Fi Anywhere. This is a bold statement especially if your property is a strange shape or you have lots of solid walls. There is another problem in that these devices used to do the job but slowly.
This starter kit consists of two units the main unit to be placed fairly close to your router is 15x8x5cm with the built in 13amp plug at the base, the top has two Gigabit Ethernet ports. The front has a 13amp plug face so other items can still be plugged in to the unit. The second unit is slightly smaller at 13x6.
Combining stylish appearance with quality audio, this next headphone product offers support for iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices.
With the promise of being the world’s lightest closed-back planar magnetic headphones, the OPPO PM-3 product belongs to the over-the-ears style of headphones. Weighing 320g, the OPPO PM-3 brings together a brushed metallic frame with plush padding materials surrounding the headband and ear pieces. The padding is encased with durable synthetic leather that helps add to the comfort of this product when worn for lengthy sessions of entertainment.
Computer gaming has come a long way since those early days when blocky monochrome pixels, simplistic sound effects and a storyline that could put a great deal of pressure on the players imagination. Nowadays, with photo-realistic graphics, smooth fast animated action, Dolby surround sound and an all-engulfing storyline set in an atmospheric environment, the game provides us with a virtual world to inhabit. This next title comes somewhere in between these two extremes.
Entitled Retro RPG Bundle, this offering, part of the Avanquest GSP game catalogue, brings together three retro role-playing adventure games in a single package. The titles in question are Deadly Sin, Skyborn and Deadly Sin II. I was rather surprised to discover that the earliest of these titles only dates back a mere six years – I expected it to be far older than that. Each of the titles needs to be installed separately from the same front-end menu.
This is another very mature product. When it first came out it was a new way of working by speaking to your computer, now many imitators are available, even Microsoft spawn Cortana. Here however is a product that requires almost no correction.
The previous version that was on my work PC was 11.5 and once you start the installer this version 14 requires that the earlier be removed before install but you can keep your speech files. Enter your serial number and then the installation starts with nothing appearing to happen apart from the DVD drive spinning then after around four minutes files start installing.
The Netgear Nighthawk X4S AC2600 WiFi VDSL/ADSL D7800 MU-MIMO modem router is aimed at ticking all the boxes for gamers and heavy users as well as for those who are keeping an eye on tomorrow's needs.
The X4S, which can sit on a shelf or be wall mounted, has four Gigabit Ethernet, an eSATA and two USB 3.0 ports together with four external WiFi antennas. The MU-MIMO (multi-input/multi-output) WiFi technology minimises wireless dead spots while the added power increases the range of the X4S which has a theoretical aggregate throughput of some 2.6Gbps made up of 800Mbps and 1.73Gbit/s respectively on the 2.4 and 5GHz bands.
As a regular source of gadgets and the like, Sandberg has developed a Bluetooth QWERTY keyboard.
Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, have proved to be extremely useful in many ways. You have only to consider how many times each of us rely on such devices to provide a service that we feel we could not manage without, to realise how we have fully integrated such products into our lives or perhaps it would be more accurate to state that these devices have integrated themselves into our lives.
Archos are a French company that have had a presence in the UK for many years. Like many other companies they have decided that mobile phones are a field they wish to participate in. Here an entry into the 4G market the 4G LTE.
The Archos 50d Helium smart phone measures 14.5x7.2x.8cm and it weights 150grams. Like the vast majority of mobile phones today it is touch screen and this is shiny so finger marks are a big problem. The screen is 11x6.2cm which gives the diagonal measurement of 5inches. Dual SIM phones are still not that prevalent in the UK so it you want one here is your chance. The sides are chrome and the back can either be stone blue or stone grey, mine had both backs in the box.
Music while you ride could well be what you do with this product as it is supplied with a handlebar mount. However it is still a perfectly good set of speakers for those of us who prefer music from the comfort of their armchairs.
Some of the lounge police might object to the bright orange of the unit that predominates, the front and back are covered in black mesh. It is 13x6.5x6cm and without the bicycle mount it weights 423grams. It is reasonably water resistant as the orange is rubber and the front and back mesh is very fine. The only external connections are on the left end under its handle and they are covered by a tight fitting bung. The connections are micro USB for charging and an Auxiliary input 3.5mm socket.
Although misnamed as they generally sit below instead of on top of the television, set-top boxes have become a must have feature for the modern living room. With its flag firmly attached to the Good Ship Freesat, Humax has delivered numerous set-top boxes including its HDR-1100S model.
There are set-top boxes and set-boxes. Some of these units provide access to free services, such as offered by Freeview and Freesat, while others deliver a gateway to the various paid for channels available from Sky, Virgin and BT. The Humax Freesat HDR-1100S belongs to the former category (its title gives it away) and can provide the viewer with a choice of over 200 channels on a no subscription basis once a satellite dish is in position.
This is the first unit I have reviewed that was supplied with Windows 10 pre-installed. This told me several things including the fact that my upgrade on an old notebook just before launch had not gone entirely as it should have done.
The ASUS Transformer Book T300 measures 31x19x1cm, the last figure varies from .8cm at the front edge to 1.4cm at the back edge. It weights 1425grams all these figures assume you use the unit as a notebook. It can also be used as a tablet without the keyboard when the weight is only 720grams. So let’s deal with the keyboard first. It is an 84key unit with alpha and numeric keys being full size.
Providing the dual functionality of battery charging and storage capacity is a small device for use with Apple devices.
The Imation LINK Power Drive combines battery charging functionality with flash storage capability. Designed specifically for use with various iOS mobile devices, the product is available in 16, 32 and 64GB capacity models. My review is based on the 16GB version of the product which is currently available from selected Currys / PC World stores plus Amazon.co.uk and Tesco Direct.
Swans with nettle vests and a speechless Queen accused of black magic feature in this Hidden Object Adventure game.
As the second title in the Grim Legends series, Song of the Dark Swan is available in Collector’s Edition format from the Avanquest GSP catalogue of games. This Hidden Object Adventure game comes with a number of bonus items, some of which are available immediately while others, such as replaying the Hidden Object scenes and watching various cut-scenes, require the main game to be completed before you are granted access.
This is an interesting item. The light effects around the forward facing mirror give an indication of volume level and things like drums tend to activate them more. Apart from that you have a reasonable pair of speakers giving a good sound, welcome to Infinity.
The Infitiy Bluetooth speaker measures 17x8x5.5cm the corners are rounded making it appear as an oval. The front is a mirror. The sides are the 3watt speakers. The figures assume you use it without a 3.5mm connection if you have a lead connected this will add 2cm to the last figure the depth. The top has touch buttons to increase or decrease the volume. The back has an on/off slider an LED beside it to denote it’s on then a 3.
While computers have recently been given the ability to talk to use through the use of applications such as Siri and Cortana, we have been able to talk to our computers for a number of years and have our spoken words transformed into editable text using specialist software. A leading product in this particular area is Dragon Naturally Speaking with the latest version of this speech recognition software package being available in Professional Individual and Professional Group editions. This review is based on my experiences with Dragon Professional Individual product.
When Dragon Professional Individual is first fired up, it will be in trial mode allowing the user up to five launches to check out the software. You will need to enter the supplied serial number in order to activate the software and remove the launch restriction. If the software detects a previous version of the product, it will offer to upgrade your user profile using the data gathered by the earlier version.
Almost a bridge unit, just larger than most small point and shoot offerings, certainly a little heavier, however smaller than all DSLR units, this camera has a surprise that I have only seen recently in one other camera it has a fixed focus lens.
My routine is unpack the unit, insert the battery and an SD card and switch on assuming the battery has power I take a few test shots and this was when I discovered there was no zoom available. I check on the lettering on the front of the lens confirmed this. Fixed focus means that you need to think about your position far more than if you have zoom. It is 11.5x6x5cm, the last figure is when the unit is on this reduces to 3.4cm when the lens retracts. It weights 246grams.
I have used Nero for many years it is something that gets added very quickly to any new PC. This started as a CD burning program but now although that can still be done very efficiently it is now so much more as for this feature to not even merit a mention.
Like most recent programs even though this launched in September 2015 new updates were available from launch day and some parts did not even make the media and need to be downloaded. Also like so many software programs it relies of various third party programs that often need downloading as well even on a very recent PC. Once installed the main menu has five main menu choices. Manage & Play, Edit & Convert, Rip & Burn, Backup & Rescue and Extras.
This is a small portable DAB/FM/Bluetooth radio shaped rather like a small intercom radio. It has a very solid belt clamp but instead of an earpiece being an essential part of the unit there is a small but very effective top mounted speaker.
The Roberts PlayBT radio measures 18x7x4cm with the solid collapsible aerial adding 10cm to the first figure when deployed. The unit weights 243grams. At the base of the back is a snug fitting rubber bung that covers Auxiliary and DC inputs. Above this is the substantial belt clip. The base has four tiny rubber feet that allow you to place it on a table or desk. The left side has a silver flash and the right side is where the aerial is stored. The top has the 3x2.
Like many others, Im sure, I tend to carry out various activities while listening to music being played in the background. However this next speaker unit, which is currently delivering my favourite music, has been trying to distract my attention from other tasks with a display of lights.
The product in question is the JAM Trance Mini which is described as a Bluetooth Wireless Light Show Speaker. Attractively packaged in a Perspex box with a yellow lever that can be used to test the product's Light Show feature while it is still boxed. Unpacking the product reveals that the speaker comes with a small pinhole type tool, short micro to standard USB lead for charging purposes and a folded sheet of paper containing instructions in a multitude of languages.
Along with its various WiFi routers, NETGEAR also manufactures products that provide a cable route for creating a LAN.
While wireless technology, in the form of Wi-Fi, is generally a straightforward method of setting up a home network system, the layout of many residential buildings is not always the most conducive environment to cope with a W-Fi network. Obstructions, such as walls and the like, can block signals with the result that dead areas can appear, usually in the location that you want to use.
Television continues to provide fertile ground for games developers looking for inspiration. This is one such occasion.
Psych, as you may guess from its title, is an offering based on the popular television series that revolves around the two central characters of Shawn Spencer and Barton Guster, better known as Gus. Shawn is a private detective who has an almost Sherlock Holmes observational skill which allows him to market himself as a psychic detective while Gus acts as a Dr. Watson type sounding-board for his theories.
Certainly a first for me, a Sat Nav designed for use on a bicycle, most car Sat Navs are totally unsuitable for such a job as their batteries have at best only a few hours of use before they expire without help from a cars battery.
This unit has a battery that last a good ten hours which should be a decent days cycling even for an enthusiast, after ten minutes of inactivity the screen blanks and that saves power as well. The main difference between a car sat nav and one for a bicycle is no voice just beeps. As I do with all Sat Navs I take it on a bus and sometimes even a train to get to know what it shows and how it shows it.
Offering DECT phone functionality, plus both waterproof and dustproof features, is a handset from BT.
The BT Elements 1K is a DECT phone but not your ordinary common or garden device. On second thoughts the “common or garden” reference could be descriptive of where this phone might well be used. This is, after all, a rugged handset designed for use in the outdoors such as playing on the common or working in the garden where the products promised range of one kilometre would be a distinct advantage.
This is an All in One unit, meaning it prints, scans and copies. However as with most recent units the selling point is the ability to print from all your mobile devices. It can still be a Windows unit with connection either by USB lead or Wi-Fi.
The Canon PIXMA MG5750 measures 42x44x15cm and if you allow a few centimetres more to the last figure the height you could even put it on a shelf, this would enable the laid back flatbed to be lifted to place pages on to be scanned, most importantly you would not offend the lounge police as the black colour of the machine might not suit some household colour schemes.
With the Salter Electric Soup Maker one can make a hot nourishing soup in about half an hour. Now that the days are getting colder it will make a useful addition to the kitchen for both the experienced or beginner cook.
This is a reasonably priced and small portable Wireless speaker that features NFC to enable quick and easy connection. However for those who have not got NFC then it can still be connected in the more traditional way to give great sound.
At the front it is 20x5.5cm it is 6cm deep and at the back it is 19x3.5cm. It is White with a Black mesh grill that is the front and sides of the unit. I am told they are also available in Black and Silver for the main colour. The base has two anti-slip strips. The back has an on/off button, 3.5mm Auxiliary connection and a micro USB port for charging a 1metre long cable to charge the unit from any USB port is supplied. Beside the port is an LED that glows red when power is connected.
As another year passes by, so the latest version of a popular backup package makes an appearance.
Often regarded as an optional task until problems arise, having a backup schedule can be extremely useful and a great time saver when circumstances occur. Offering to provide a comprehensive range of backup/restore facilities is the latest version of Acronis True Image. This product allows you to create backups of your entire computer system, user-specified folders or particular types of files with the data being stored locally or in a Cloud Storage allocation.
Chromecast has been around for a while, there is a new version just out which I shall tell you about another time. This however is a totally new product that allows you to cast your music to speakers anywhere without draining your devices battery.
Yes even those speakers that do not have Bluetooth can now play your music not only from your SmartPhone but also from other devices like your PC providing you have a Chrome browser. The unit is supplied with a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable but providing you have the correct lead you can even connect to speakers with Phono Sockets and hence to units that even say have a sub-woofer so your music can now have much more grunt. The unit consists of a small circular disc 5cm across and only 1cm thick.
Originally developed as a kitchen-table product by a jet plane enthusiast, this next title is a popular member of the Corel family and a long term favourite of mine.
Regularly featuring as part of my various computers, dating back as far as Windows 3.1, is Paint Shop Pro. Over the years this software has expanded its range of functionality from basic file conversion capability and now can be considered as a tool for photo editing and basic graphics design work. The latest version of this software, available in 32 and 64-bit flavours, is now up to X8 with Standard and Ultimate editions.
Bringing together two classic murder mysteries in a single offering, Avanquest has published, as part of its GSP catalogue, an Agatha Christie double pack. The two games are of the Hidden Object genre and feature Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple as the leading characters. Hercule Poirot is the detective in charge of solving the mystery of Dead Mans Folly while Miss Marple steps in to take charge in the 4:50 from Paddington. In both cases you take on the role of the detectives assistant in order to help solve these murder mysteries in chapter based titles.
Both of the titles in this pack are installed from a single installation procedure that creates a single desktop icon. This icon gives you access to a front-end menu that allows you to select from the two games. Profiles can be set up for individual players with each of the games. You can set the volume level for music, ambient sound and general sound effects.
As you get older you do not function properly in the morning without your first fix of coffee. If it requires little or no effort to make it so much the better. Here a small device that youre only real input is to switch it on and insert a pod.
The smell as it mixes with the water in the cup – you did put the cup under the output – is enough to start your senses maybe even open your eyes and see that it’s not raining so maybe today will not be that bad after all. It is 30cm deep, 14cm wide and 25cm tall, these figures are with power lead inserted and water in the rear tank so these are figures ready for you to stagger in and push the power button.