At one time we used to be known as a nation of tea drinkers. Now, however, there has been a sea change and coffee has taken over as the national beverage of choice for those not hooked on something with a stronger effect.
You only have to walk down any High Street to see the evidence as big brand coffee shops are springing up all over the place and plying their wares of various coffee-based drinks that old-timers, such as myself, find confusing despite the attractive aroma wafting from these premises. Even pubs, with their wide range of alcoholic beverages, are now selling coffee to their customers.
A cordless vacuum means no restrictions on distance from the power plug; it also has two LEDs on the shoe so no excuse for not getting into those dark corners in fact with its smaller overall shoe size it gets into places most cannot penetrate.
Certainly not a quiet unit, this hard floor or carpet cleaner is at best loud and with the brushes going it can drown out most other things. It is 112cm tall, 10cm deep at the base and 25cm wide at the brush bar. The only instructions were printed on the box and related to the battery. Assembly consists of joining the lower part of the body to the top of the body/handle, there is a single screw which is attached using something like a two pence piece to tighten.
Making a change from the numerous wireless headsets now appearing from various manufacturers, Pioneer has released a tethered model.
The Pioneer SE-MX9 is a tethered set of dynamic headphones. Described as providing Superior Club Sound, an environment I must admit to have not visited recently, the SE-MX9 (hardly the most memorable product name) is available in a choice of bright silver, indigo black or red and bright copper colour schemes. My review sample is the latter option which does give the headphones a distinctive metallic look. Keeping this headset company in its sturdy box is a couple of leads.
Anybody who has entered one of the previous Wadjet Eye game environments will have some idea of what is waiting for them in Technobabylon. Here you will find retro-styled pixel art, plenty of dialogue professionally delivered by voice actors and paths that can take you in different directions based on your choice of actions.
Starting life as a series of eight planned freeware episodes (actually only three were released) by indie developer James Dearden, Technobabylon came under the strong influence of Wadjet Eye Games. The game takes place in a dystopian cyberpunk future where genetic engineering is the norm. The use of the addictive Trance phenomena, with its virtual reality environment, has reduced the need for human interaction to a bare minimum.
This small smart phone looks slightly retro but as mobile phones devolve so quickly it would have looked very modern not that long ago. So has this latest budget priced offering got something to make you switch for its charms?
The Alcatel Pop2 smart Android phone measures 13x6.5x1cm and weights147grams. The viewable screen is 10x5.7cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 4½inches. Like most recent SmartPhones there are few external controls, the micro USB port – for charging etc – is on the base and the 3.5mm socket for headphones is on the top.
As part of its new product line-up, Pioneer has released a new Bluetooth speaker with a title that does not refer to its price.
Aptly named the FREEme product is a Bluetooth speaker unit from Pioneer that has been released under the tag line of “Listen in Style”. Unpacking the product reveals the FREEme unit, 2 and 3-pin power plugs with an AC adapter, standard-to-micro USB lead, 3.
Certainly a large panel if you only want to display HDMI 1920 by 1080 and although it will do this via VGA it can do far more if you use other connections, exactly how much more will depend almost entirely on your graphics chip/card.
It is 65.5x40x2cm the last figure is at the edges but there is a thicker rectangle further in which increases the thickness to 5cm. The stand is a circle with a chunk removed at the front so its 27cm deep and 30cm across. It can raise the panel by as little as 4cm from your desk or as much as 19cm with the hydraulic arm. It can of course be rotated by 90 degrees to be used as a landscape panel. Its weight with the stand attached is a tad over 8kilos.
The datAshur USB flash drive from iStorage, available in capacities from 4 to 32GB has been designed to provide military grade protection for ones data from both unauthorised access -- electronic and physical -- as well as loss due to the drive getting damaged.
The drive is 78 x 18 x 8 mm and has a large key ring attached. It is black in colour with a 1 to 0 keypad and LEDs on one side. Its overall weight, with the supplied extruded aluminium sleeve in place, is about 25g and is fractionally larger at 80 x 20 x 10.5mm.
As you reach a certain age what was an easy task with a pair of shears becomes a three cup of coffee job and a long soak in the bath afterwards. So why not let a budget priced electric hedge trimmer make it as easy as it never was?
I do not need reminders that I am getting old, the last few times I hacked away at my hedge and a couple of bushes left my body complaining for days – it used to be hours – so a hedge trimmer was the answer as this year even the thought of me picking up the shears had my body protesting. With the cost of this unit being so reasonable even getting my shears sharpened seemed daft so I gave in.
I once worked as a beach photographer snapping holiday makers in the hope they would purchase these items as a memento. Maybe I could be considered an early form of this next product.
There is one aspect of a smartphone’s use that I am sure never considered during the early development stages of this particular type of mobile device.
With digital cameras being able to capture video its been a while since I have cast my eye over a Camcorder. This was quite a revelation, it should not have been as digital cameras have evolved so have Camcorders and this one can even capture PIP.
The Panasonic HC-W570 camcorder measures 12.5x5.5x6cm and weights 306grams. It is called a twin camera and that is what it is. The normal lens at the front and a further lens at the far-left-edge of the TFT screen. It seems strange and it can be used or not according to the situation.
With its expertise in producing stylish and quality headsets, Sennheiser does not disappoint with its Urbanite XL Wireless model.
While there is a tethered Urbanite XL headset, I have recently being trying out the wireless version of this stylish Sennheiser product. Included in the box with this collapsible headset is a standard-to-micro USB lead for charging the headset’s internal Lithium battery, an audio lead with built-in remote and mic, a draw-string soft cloth carry pouch and a folded sheet of Quick Start instructions in various languages.
Considering you have been sent to look into the disappearance of a young boy called Simon, the name of the location where this event happened does seem rather inappropriate as you travel to Joyville. But then you have entered the virtual reality that is known as the world of Puppet Show.
Belonging to the Hidden Object Adventure genre, Puppet Show: The Mystery of Joyville casts you in the role of a detective sent to investigate the disappearance of a young child. As usual with titles on this genre, you can make some adjustments to the game’s environment. These adjustments relate to the volume levels for background music and sound effects plus whether to opt for a full screen approach with the use of a custom cursor.
A single cylinder shaped unit that has reasonable battery life, it supports Bluetooth, NFC and even connection via 3.5mm lead. Perhaps the most important factor is sound quality and here I was certainly perfectly satisfied with it.
It is 19.5x7.5x6.5cm and weights 567grams. It is almost a cylinder with two opposite edges slightly flattened. It can be used either horizontally or vertically, assuming the former the back has a large rubber bung behind which are connections for Micro USB, 3.5mm lead (not supplied) and an on/off slider. A 25cm micro USB to USB lead is supplied to charge the unit.
While the Cloud is available to store data accessible in different locations, some still prefer having personal control provided by a portable hard drive.
Adding to its family of MiniStation™ products, Buffalo Technology, a global manufacturer of innovative storage, multimedia and wireless network products for the home and business users, has released its MiniStation Extreme model. This particular product is a portable storage hard drive that is available in either 1TB or 2TB capacities. My review unit is the 1TB version of the MiniStation Extreme.
I confess the Canon i-Sensys MF4730 left me scratching my head for some time. It is a small mono laser All In One unit capable of connection by USB or Network. The reason for my head scratching is that it seems to only work on 32bit systems.
The printer is a near cube at 36x36x34cm and as the last figure the height you need as least a couple of extra centimetres to place anything on the flatbed then it’s even nearer a cube. It weighs just under 12kilos. The software refuses to install on 64bit systems and although I looked on the Canon site and there were a couple of drivers that claimed to be for 64bit Windows they refused to install for me, so I installed it on a 32bit system and it installed without problem.
First a portable very portable rechargeable reading light and from a company that does reading lights, this is tiny. Second a candle made of wax that has a light but no flame and as there is no flame then importantly no danger of fire.
A 25cm long rubber coated strip that can be bent to any angle. One end has two LEDs in the underside, the other end has a crocodile type clip and just behind this an on/off button. The first 18cm are 1cm wide and the last 7cm are 2.5cm wide. Attach to any book and you have nice even light that is sharp and crisp and yet not hard on the eyes. The crocodile clip can extend to 2cm. The on/off switch has on, lower intensity on and off so from on its two pushes to get to off.
Continuing my look at mobile devices available from Vodafone, it is the turn of the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua offering.
The Xperia M2 Aqua is a member of the Sony family of smartphones. This handset is available in a choice of purple, white or black with the latter being the colour of my review sample kindly provided by Vodafone. The Xperia M2 Aqua has dimensions of 139.7 x 71.1 x 8.6mm (H x W x D) and weighs in at 148g as Sony seem to be positioning this model at a middle of the road market sector.
A modem router is not something you change that often, unless of course you get a fault. For most people it either does the job or it does not, the one real exception is the Wi-Fi if you have a property where it only just covers then you may change.
This unit has a more powerful Wi-Fi than most units so this may be a solution struggling with Wi-Fi reception. It is a near round unit at 10.5x8.5cm and is 22cm tall there are no external aerials, so just add a few centimetres for any connections to the 10.5cm depth and that’s it. The connections on the rear from bottom to top are DC input, power on/off button, flush Wi-Fi on/off button, four Ethernet ports, a USB2 port, a USB3 port and finally DSL input port.
Recently my late evening television viewing habits have changed. The reason for this has been the arrival of the Amazon Fire TV Stick product. This piece of kit consists of the Fire TV Stick device, USB lead and power adapter, remote control with AAA batteries and a HDMI extender cable.
The Fire TV Stick, with dimensions of 75 x 25 x 10mm (H x W x D), has the appearance of a flash drive on steroids. Driving this device is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064 quad-core processor that is rated at 1.7GHz and backed up by an Adreno 320GPU delivering 1080p output at up 60fps. There is 1GB of memory and 8GB of flash storage. Dual band Wi-Fi is built in along with Bluetooth 4 and support for Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound.
It is brother against brother in a Match-3 adventure game with a magic element.
When an area is called Fogmere, you would expect the local inhabitants to be use to limited visibility in their neighbourhood but not the kind of darkness cast by the Dark Magic of an evil sorcerer. The Fogmere Archipelago has been affected by a reign of darkness causing distress to the people as they suffer from this manifestation of evil intent. Fortunately help is at hand.
Think of it as a vacuum cleaner that washes and dries and you are on the right track. If you have empty rooms its brilliant as you work in straight lines, it washes and dries as at goes along so clear everything away for those new looking carpets.
It is 111cm tall, 33cm wide and 35cm deep and the total weight is 9.5kilos. It comes more of less assembled in a 67x47x40cm box and it evens contains two bottles of carpet cleaner fluid in the box. Assembly is straightforward just add the handle to the base and clip in see through containers to the front of the unit. Joy of joys it comes with a good length of cable at 8metres.
Typed the characters P8 into your favourite search engine and you are likely to get hits that refer to aircrafts, pistols and even electrical engineering software. You should also get links to a new smartphone from Huawei. This is the companys latest addition to its P series of handsets, namely the P8 which was presented to the world at large at Londons Old Billingsgate event centre.
The Huawei P8 will be available in either standard or premium versions in colour schemes based on silver, gold, black and grey. My review model, on which this report is based, is the standard Champagne Gold offering which was supplied without any printed documentation. Fortunately this lack of documentation was not too great a handicap in my testing of the product. The P8 handset has dimensions of 144.9 x 72.1 x 6.4mm (H x W x D) with a weight of 144g.
Previous items I have reviewed from Thumbs Up have taken the sound from the SmartPhones speaker and given you a better result. This unit uses the same idea common to most in that the signal is sent via Bluetooth to give an excellent sound.
The Bass Connect bluetooth speaker measures 7x7x3cm and weights 192grams. The sound from it is amazing, remember the only input is via Bluetooth so what it is receiving is most like to be MP3 files.
A name that I reviewed several items for some years ago, now perhaps more famous for it being on the shirts of Southampton Football Club in the Premier League. So what have these earbuds to make them stand out from the crowd?
To start with the colour a flat cord – always a good idea to stop knotting when in the pocket or bag – it’s yellow on one side and black on the other. The next thing is the fitment it’s the type that goes over the ear so less stress on the ear itself. The cord itself is 1.2metres long, the first 40cm from the ears are two cords and then they become one for the final 80cm to the gold plated 3.5mm plug.
The Zagg Pocket Keyboard connects via Bluetooth and offers a quick and convenient method of typing notes or even larger amounts of text onto ones iOS or Android tablet.
At first glance the Zagg Pocket Keyboard just looks like a solid lump of black anodised aluminium that is roughly 225 x 55mm x 15mm thick and weighing 200g. When not in use it can slip easily into a jacket pocket or a handbag. It is only when unfolded that it becomes a keyboard that is large enough for touch-typing combined with a stand for one’s tablet, phablet or smartphone.
Ever since it was founded in 1996, CyberLink Corp has built up a reputation as a world leading consumer multimedia software company. A recent release from the company is its PowerDVD product which is now at version 15.
Describing itself as the “World’s No 1 Movie and Media Player” and able to call on over 100 patented technologies, PowerDVD 15 offers to act as your all-purpose entertainment deliverer whether the content is stored on a local computer, network system, mobile device, social media or the Cloud with CyberLink offering up to 20GB of Cloud storage space depending upon which version of the product you have. PowerDVD is available in a choice of four versions.
When bleary eyed I viewed the first night sleep statistics on my Android phone I almost let out a cheer as at last a sleep monitor gives a real figure so you no longer feel you are going crazy with what other devices claim for sleep periods.
In the past I have tried skull caps, arm bands and various other devices they all claim I sleep well even when ‘not in bed’. A 3cm wide and 64cm long strip of a thin plastic type material goes under your bottom sheet in a position around the buttock to chest area. This strip ends in what looks like an early iPod – but with no screen – and hard wired out of the base of this is a 1.
It does not seem all that long ago that I was first introduced to the Piper product. Actually it was around two months ago that I came across this home security device which streams live images to your smartphone and sends out warnings regarding events that are taking place within the area it is protecting. Now the next version of the product, originally created by Russell Ure in 2012 and powered by IControl Networks, is available. This latest version goes by the name of Piper nv. I will leave you to work out what nv stands. I was 100% wrong with my guess of new or next version.
Like the original version of the product, Piper nv is available in a choice of black or white. The product has grow slightly in size and now has measurements of 164 x 87 x 65mm (H x W x D). This increase in size has possibly allowed some new features to have been introduced to those already present in the original version of the product. This latest version of the Piper gives you night vision, a 3.4MP camera and a faster ARM processor.
While Frankenstein is often regarded as the villain, this is not the case in this Hidden Object Adventure game.
It is time for some Gothic horror with a game that was developed by the combined talents of Fineway Studios and Jet Dog Studios. The game, which forms the basis of this next review, is entitled Frankenstein Master of Death. This title belongs to the Hidden Object Adventure genre. From the game’s main title screen you can create named profiles for individual players.