When thinking about devices for providing navigational aids and other kinds of driving assistance, such as SatNav units, one name that immediately springs to mind is that of TomTom. This is a company that concentrates its expertise on the particular area of SatNav and has developed various ranges of products including the Start brand. One such offering is the TomTom Start 60 product, supplied by QVC for the purpose of this review.
Unpacking the TomTom Start 60 product reveals the SatNav unit, a car lighter adapter plug that links to the supplied standard-to-micro USB lead and a User Manual booklet covering major European languages. As the largest model in the Start range, this product has dimensions of 16.99 x 10.48 x 2.22cm (W x H x D). The SatNav device is predominately black in colour apart from a grey band trimming the front of the unit and a silver TomTom logo.
Earlier this year I found a device that you do not need to wear that analyse your sleep patterns, that device came from Finland. Now a second somewhat similar device and they also come from Finland, my geography is not that great but two companies producing sleep analyst tools from a single European country is surely something a little unusual.
The similarity is that both get data from your body without contact as both have a thin strip of plastic material that sits under your bed sheet or mattress. The way it is transferred to be interpolated is very different, the first used Bluetooth and this current device uses your Wi-Fi. There is something to be said for both, Bluetooth uses power in your SmartPhone while Wi-Fi is sending data via your Wi-Fi router; all in all I find the latter method preferable. The device is circular at 5.
The Microsoft Lumia 640 from Vodafone is a slim 4G 5 inch versatile smartphone which, being Windows Phone based, will also provide the compatibility with Microsoft Office applications that will be a boon to many serious users.
This 5 inch smartphone currently runs on Windows Phone 8.1 so that those using Office 365 Home or Personal will be able to edit Office documents on the phone and work seamlessly between phone and desktop. Now that Microsoft has released Windows 10, before too long there will be the Windows 10 upgrade for the phone which should bring enhanced compatibility. It is roughly 140 x 72mm in size and weighs 147g.
Even if you have good vision for things like driving and TV as you get older you are likely to need glasses for reading. While some can go to a pound shop and find something that works for you perhaps size is something to temp you.
If your eyes are different in their viewing ability you need a prescription but if you are just find the daily paper harder to read – and I do not mean the small print at the bottom of adverts – then something off the shelf may well fit the bill. If the glasses look the part then the ribbing a non-glasses wearer might otherwise get will evaporate. These glasses from Compact Lenses are flat-folding reading glasses.
Currently Withings has two different products offering a combination of an analogue time keeping device and health tracking features. These products are the Withings Activité and the Activité Pop. Having reviewed the Activité Pop (see http://www.gadgetspeak.com/gadget/article.rhtm/752/841117/Withings_Ativite_Pop.html), it is now the turn of the top-of-the-range Activité model.
Unlike the Activité Pop, which proved difficult to extract from its packaging, the Activité’s packaging was far more accessible. This device comes in an elongated box featuring a pull-out drawer-like compartment that holds the product and various accessories located beneath the watch. These accessories include a spare watch strap, button battery and a tool for resetting and opening the watch back cover plus a small Quick Start Guide.
A small box that allows you to beam your TV signal anywhere across your Network, it can work with Windows, MAC, Android or even Linux. So once connected you should be able to view your TV signal aerial or cable anywhere in your home.
The instructions consist of a single sheet, attach your aerial the supplied Ethernet cable and the DC power brick lead. The unit should now be showing green then download the software from the link supplied. If all is well it will discover the box and then find sixty or so Freeview TV channels. The first system I tried worked perfectly it was a Windows 8.1 desktop machine via Wi-Fi and everything worked as it should using the default software.
Bluetooth Speakers continue to be a popular item with regards to new products. This latest offering arrives from Lindy.
Under the tag line of “Connection Perfection”, Lindy has released its BTS-360 product which is a Bluetooth speaker with NFC (Near Field Connection) functionality. Included in the box with this compact speaker is a micro-to-standard USB lead for charging the unit’s 1000mAh Lithium Polymer battery and a small User Manual covering English, German, French and Italian languages.
This next title transports you back to the year 1450 as you enter the world of Royal Settlement created by the German based team of Magnussoft.
This game, entitled Royal Settlement 1450, is available as a software download from Avanquest’s GSP website. For some reason this game has been categorised as belonging to the Jewel Match-3 genre which it definitely isn’t. Royal Settlement 1450 is a time management offering. Times have been extremely hard in the kingdom on which this game is based. The king, who is the Supreme Head of the Empire, is not best pleased with the situation and you can hardly blame him.
A full featured SmartPhone for £79 is something to make anyone stop and listen, the logic is that corners must have been cut, as far as I can see this has not been the case so I say again a full featured SmartPhone for £79 is this offering from Vodafone.
Vodafone Smart Prime 6 measures 14x7x.7cm and weights 156grams. The viewable screen is 11x6.3cm and for those who think imperial the notional diagonal imperial measurement is 5inches. The display is 720x1280 which gives nearly 300ppi. Not long ago a 5inch screen would have been big and bulky to hold now it just seems comfortable in the hand. While – like all – recent phones the screen is reflective but certainly not reflective enough to do your hair and or make up.
According to the College of Policing if your home does not have any security measures in place then you are five times more likely to be the victim of a burglary than those homes who have implemented simple measures. To give you some idea as to the scale of this type of crime, burglary remains a fixture in the Top Ten crimes committed each month with 33,084 instances reported during April 2015. While this next product will not guarantee to keep your home safe from a break-in, it does offer help that could result in the possible return of your property.
The product under review is the Y-CAM developed HomeMonitor HD Pro Outdoor Security Camera (model HMHDE05) which comes with free Cloud recording and alerts regarding detected events. This kit consists of a HomeMonitor HD Pro camera, wall mount, Ethernet cable, power lead with replaceable UK/US/EU adapter plugs, Wi-Fi antenna plus screws, rawl plugs and tools for use when fixing the wall mount.
A range of companies have Xmas In July events to show what they consider will be their big sellers or must have items for the Christmas selling period, one of those is the Dixons Store Group who have a help scheme called Knowhow.
Go into most of their stores and you can get help and advice from a Knowhow expert. They have just launched a range of online assist tools to help with twenty one subjects and of course they would make an excellent gift. Often people use something without really understanding it and a lot of users will not feel able to ask for help either because they are too proud or possibly too scared. Some are more basic than others and according to the depth the cost of the course varies.
The Heston Blumenthal precision analogue oven thermometer model 543 HBSSCR by Salter will be a useful addition to the armoury of any person who takes cooking seriously. It can be seen as a useful aid to achieving consistent results.
Constructed with a stainless steel body and a clear glass lens it has a mounting arrangement that enables it to be hung from an oven shelf or, alternatively, to be stood on a shelf or floor of the oven in such a position that that it can be viewed through the oven door’s glass window. Overall the body is 62mm in diameter with its window being 48mm.
Do you like using headphones or earbuds but do not like being tethered to the source of your music? The answer then may be at hand with this small object from Noble Audio that is about half the length of a ball point pen that you plug your buds into.
Of course if you are playing music from a SmartPhone then although slightly larger and heavier the phone could sit in a jacket or shirt pocket. However if playing better quality sound from a larger device then Wi-Fi or Bluetooth is required and this solution is a small easy to use Bluetooth option. However the thing you are playing your music from must send out Bluetooth signals. It is 6cm long and 1.2 to 1.6cm on its sides the larger figure is the pen grip type clip.
Like many young boys I could not wait to begin shaving. However when the time arrived it did not take too long for this looked forward to activity to become a chore. Then technology, in the form of electric shavers, came to the rescue.
I am old enough to remember my grandfather using a cut-throat razor, in conjunction with a leather strap, for his daily shave (he was a publican and needed to look his best for his customers). The leather strap was used to ensure the open blade was sharp enough to remove the daily growth of bristles.
This coffee machine takes coffee beans in the top and grinds them and then prepares the coffee adds the water and then makes your coffee. It is a complete process so you cannot get fresher ground beans as it grinds them to make the cup of coffee.
It is 30cm deep, 23cm wide and 35cm tall at the bean storage area. There is a 28 page A5 booklet that covers operation and setting up as well as cleaning the product in sixteen languages. Seven of these pages use diagrams to cover most things then there is a single page in each language to cover more obscure things like setting up your favourite coffee strengths etc. It also explains the less obvious icons that the front display shows.
This next mobile handset is smart enough to act as a clock while it is being charged or not used for other purposes.
Described as being “Small size, Big heart” by Doro, the Liberto® 820 Mini is a smartphone. It is relatively compact by modern day standards of such devices, hence the “Mini” part of its title. Available in a choice of Silver, White or Red (my review sample), the Liberto 820 Mini has dimensions of 126 x 66 x 11mm (H x W x D) and weighs 132g (including the rechargeable Li-ion 3.
Step back in time to a bygone era as you help a clumsy sorcerers apprentice regain scrolls he had lost.
Unlike the similarly entitled “Games of Thrones”, an epic American television fantasy based on an adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, the “Games of Stones” is a completely different kettle of fish. This rokapublish Makivision Games title may be loosely set in a bygone age of sorcery and the like but its concept is puzzle based rather than sword, sorcery and conquest.
This is a 27inch flat panel designed for those you need accurate and rapid display, yes its something designed for gamers. As it says on the carton Gaming is in the details so this 27inch panel gives all the detail with rapid refresh rates.
This Benq gaming monitor measures 64x37.5x2.4cm, the latter at the edges. Its stand is in the form of an inverted ‘T’ with the front part being 35x7.5cm and the stroke being 13.5cm deep with the uplift being on the stroke. This raises the screen by 10cm from your desk or table. There is a good amount of back tilt and a little forward movement from the vertical. The viewable screen is 59x33.5cm and that gives the notional imperial diagonal measurement of 27inches.
While products sometimes arrived saddled with a model number but no name, this next offering has a name that evokes images of sweet sounds being delivered.
When naming a Bluetooth speaker, an appropriate choice would be that of a breed of bird. After all Bluetooth speakers are generally used to deliver our favourite music stored on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphone while birds have been entertaining us for centuries with their songs. Developed by moremusic, part of the Xoundstar family of companies, the next Bluetooth speaker under review is the Hummingbird device.
Sometimes a ground based tripod is just not possible especially for those who need to capture both still and moving images as they move. So the solution could be to make your body the tripod especially if your camera is large and or heavy.
Two different products both designed to solve a problem. The first to give you power when your battery says no more and the second to let you increase the length of your arm or indeed to take a photo from somewhere remotely.
This is a trendy looking way to charge your latest ‘i’ device that uses Lightning. It is 2.5cm square and 10.5cm tall. It weights 84grams. Mine was matt black with a silver effect band forming part of the flip off lid. There is a 5cm lead in red emerging from a tad below the lid which is cleverly retained by the Lighting lead which in practice is only 4cm long meaning your device needs to be close.
Nuisance call blocking, Android apps and Internet access are all supported by this next phone.
I can remember, in the dim and distant past, when households with a phone were the exception rather than the rule with just BT providing both the kit and telephony service. Those were the days when, having just left home attracted by the bright city lights, I would have to ring the one neighbour with a phone to pass on a message to my parents.
A large SmartPhone running Android 4.42, it looks like many recent offerings from a range of companies it has two SIM slots so those who get an allowance for a work phone can save the problem of having to carry two phones around.
The Archos 52 'Platinum' measures 15x7.5x.7cm and weights 156grams. The viewable screen is 11.6x6.6cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial screen measurement of 5.25inches. The screen resolution is 1280x720. It has a Quad Core Processor with 8GB of memory. As with almost all recent phones you have a front camera for those 'selfie' moments and a rear camera that has an LED flash and it takes 8MP images.
As a breed apart, dedicated hardcore gamers demand the ultimate performance from their computer equipment set up. Issues, such as motion blur, flicker-free, refresh rate and response time, are considered to be paramount in the gaming world. This is the arena where milliseconds can mean the difference between success and failure. Naturally the monitor, providing the window into the world for ultimate achievers, has an important role to play.
Recently I have been checking out the BenQ XL2720Z ultimate gaming monitor. This kit consists of a 27-inch LCD monitor, two-piece stand, a selection of leads for power, D-sub, DVI-D dual link and USB connections. There is also an S Switch device which acts as a remote control for switching between display settings that can be designated for gaming, work and entertainment.
While you may not be able to see round corners or over high walls, a smartphone with a Selfie Stick could.
While the concept behind Selfie Sticks might seem like a fairly modern phenomena in the world of photography, evidence does exists that this is not the case. According to Wikipedia, the concept originated in 1983 with the “Minolta Disk-7” product. This was a camera with a convex mirror on the front to allow the composition of self-portraits. The product’s packaging showed the camera mounted on a stick.
A 360degree speaker that comes with a woollen cover so for those who need everything to match you can purchase another coloured cover, in fact there is a voucher in the box to get one free when you register your product.
What was not in the box were any instructions but these days you just go to the website to get access to not only a user manual but video setup instructions and as it can be setup in several ways according to your device they may be required. I have no doubt there were instruction initially but this product was not new when it arrived with me. If you have an ‘i’ or MAC device there is a fool proof way of setup.
The use of security cameras, of various types, shapes and sizes, is a current hot topic of late. I have checked out a number of these devices for use in either the home or in-car. Generally these devices require little disruption to the location where they will be positioned and can be set up within around five to ten minutes. However this next offering is a different proposition to say the least.
The product in question is the HD Video Security System which has been developed by Samsung Techwin. This company forms part of the Samsung Group and was set up in 1977 to cover aspects of consumer, professional and industrial security. This particular product comes with the promise of providing a 4-camera All-in-One security solution. Both in the size of the product box and the array of content it contains clearly mark this product down as one that expects to be taken seriously.
The IXUS range are the nearest thing to a point and shoot camera from Canon who are best known for their high end DSLR cameras used by the majority of professional photographers. This is small fits easily in a pocket and is very easy to use.
The Canon Ixus 170 compact digital camera measures 9.8x5.5x2cm when closed; the last figure can increase by up to 4cm when the lens is fully extended. It weights 138grams. My unit was metallic blue but they do other colours. Just because it is small does not mean it lacks quality in fact it can capture images up to 20MP and they are excellent. You have only to choose the resolution L, M1, M2, S or W.
A speaker and an amplifier in what looks like a very retro case. The modern touch is that apart from having two wired inputs it can also be used as a Bluetooth speaker. So what may initially look like a 40s or 50s radio is not that at all.
The GPO Westwood speaker measures 26x16.5x10cm, weighs 1832grams and comes with a 1.7metre mains lead ending with a small power brick. Mine was covered in a brown material with metal corners coated with varnish that make it look aged there is also a leather handle on top that also has metal connections again coated with varnish making the old look realistic. Both the front and back have a realistic cloth grill coating in a similar colour.
With capacities from 30 to 240GB the datAshur SSD USB 3.0 flash drives provide the security-conscious data-hungry user with a satisfactory means of storing and transporting files. These drives are robust pocketable units that offer military grade protection from unauthorised access.
The level of protection and the cost of these drives is above and beyond the needs of a great many users. However, for those for whom data security is of prime importance who have files or data which must be protected and yet must be moved around could well consider that these drives provide the ideal solution. The drives are relatively large being 95 x 25 x 13mm including the protective sleeve and weigh about 50g. They feel very solid and have been designed to be crush resistant.