A pre-Christmas evening of magical card manipulation introduced me to a new camera from the Panasonic range. This was a pocket camcorder device.
Cisco has its Flip, whether of the Ultra or Mino variety; Kodak offers users a choice of its PlaySport or PlayTouch models; and Sony is pinning its faith in the Bloggie. With this in mind you might expect Panasonic to come up with something equally memorable as a title to bestow on its initial offering for those looking to purchase a pocket camcorder. In its wisdom Panasonic has decided that HM-TA1 will really grab public attention.
Gather your casino chips together as we are off to Las Vegas to solve a mystery in a hidden object escapade.
As part of its extensive range of casual game titles, Avanquest has released Mysterious City: Las Vegas. Unlike the other numerous game titles in its portfolio, Mysterious City: Las Vegas has been released as a downloadable product only. I am unsure as to the reasoning behind this decision which does seem a little strange especially as Avanquest is charging the same price for the download version as it does for its other boxed game offerings. The actual download is 53MB.
I have been fortunate to have this longer than a standard test which means I have been able to test a larger range of software and hardware with it than normal. This is a high end offering and the differences can be found.
It is black but not that horrible shiny black that shows every finger mark, this is matt black everywhere apart from the keyboard surround that is a sort of slate marble finish but still a lovely matt finish. It is 37x25x3cm in size. The weight is a little under 2.5kilos. The front has a discreet SD card slot along with a row of seven tiny LED’s. The left side has VGA out, HDMI out, USB port, E-Sata port and 3.5mm sockets for microphone and earbuds.
The arrival of a product with the number 6 attached had me thinking that I had missed out on the first five titles in the series but that was not so.
To avoid any confusion I should make clear that Designer Pro is not a brand new product from Xara but rather the new name for what was the company’s flagship graphics title, namely Xara Xtreme Pro 5.0. With this name change, Xara has taken the opportunity to carry out a major make-over on the product. At the heart of this latest version of the product is a new UI (User Interface).
Unlike the earlier version of this that I was ashamed to be seen with in public I have been happy to be seen reading this in public. In case you are wondering why the first one needed to be used in private it was PINK.
The time the Sony Reader, Pocket Edition (PRS-350) is a more normal silver colour. Being a pocket edition the size (or lack of) is important, it is 14x10.5x1cm and it weights 150grams. Being able to use it outdoors during the winter can test several things, the effect of light and tempreture being uppermost in my mind. This is E Ink and as such having a page open uses no power at all, the only drain on power is when you turn a page and the new words need to be reprinted on the screen.
Two interesting little gadgets both connect via USB and for regular readers only one is from Brando. A USB powered electric razor is something to keep in a desk drawer. The mouse has bolder claims 'change the way you will use your laptop'.
Certainly the smallest mouse I have ever used and a great alternative for those who just can’t get on with a notebook trackpad. It is a maximum of 5.5x4x3cm and weights only 25grams. There are no cables as it is a wireless mouse and even the charging of the battery takes place via USB. The wireless sender is also tiny at 2.7x1.5x.5cm and it is magnetised. Mine was black with a red left side where your right thumb sits, the rest of the controls are controlled by your next finger.
You would have thought that notebook users would be satisfies with the devices touchpad rather than spend extra on a mouse but often this is not the case.
A squat black box, this will be unlikely to pass the lounge police unless they are goth but it can be used wirelessly, however for those with no fashion taste like me I am only interested in quality of printing, copying and scanning.
The Canon Pixma MP495 measures 42x32x15cm when closed, put paper in the rear tray for printing and the second figure the depth increases by 4cm and lower the front output tray adds a further 16cm, finally raise the scanner lid by 15cm to get pages onto the flatbed. So a total size to put on a shelf - for instance – 42x52x30cm should allow you to use it. The scanner lid is flush to the top and opens landscape towards the waiting paper stack at the rear.
I have to confess that the continued popularity of digital photo frames has surprised me a little to say the least. Initially I suspected that they would be a passing fad and would quickly loose their original appeal for users.
Mixing together adventure game play with hidden object finding and puzzle solving set in an undersea environment is a game that will run on the Windows or Mac platforms.
With the type of opening that immediately grabs your attention, Empress of the Deep: The Darkest Secret introduces you to a beautiful young woman as she is awoken from a deep sleep to find herself in a vast and mysterious undersea temple. She quickly learns that she has been in a frozen state for over a hundred years but has no idea who she is or why she is in this location.
I have owned a Flip since the very first model, to me anyway, it is the best pocket camcorder, the latest software release has improved the compression algorithm when sending items to other people, making it even better.
Recently my own first generation Mino developed a fault, I was lucky the first time, a night to let the battery go flat and it recovered, then a few weeks later it did it again this time there was no recovery so this came along just at the right time. The new Flip Mino 8GB measures 10x5x1.5cm and weights 100grams. It looks very swish to me; mine was black with all but the back a lovely matt black that does show any finger marks. Sadly the back is a shiny black but finger marks rub off it okay.
Adding to its popular Aspire One family of products, Acer has released the D255 model. This is a 10.1-inch netbook.
As with the Aspire One Happy reviewed recently, the D255 model is a dual-booting netbook giving the user the choice of opting to use Windows 7 Starter Edition or Google Android 2.2. While the review unit, as supplied by , came in Diamond Black, I believe other models are available in Aquamarine, Sandstone Brown, Ruby Red and Seashell White for those looking to be a little different. As you would expect with a netbook, size and weight are a prime consideration.
As my search continues to find a perfect HD box with PVR I move onto this Humax box that I first saw it as a prototype in early summer, now deep into winter one has arrived to be thoroughly tested to see if it meets my high standards.
As so many boxes fail to deliver power through the pass through when in standby that became one of my first tests, after changing a few settings (it does now peak at just over 1watt) it can deliver a perfect signal in standby. The reason it does not do this out of the box I was told is that ‘standby’ standards demand less than 1watt of power. It is 37x25x5cm but add another 3cm to the 25cm depth for any cables.
Some of the pocket camcorders can also take still images. This unit from Aiptek can take still and movies in 2D and it can also do the same in 3D. It has built in software to allow an interface on the PC, all fine in theory.
The Aiptek 3D HD Camcorder measures 11.5x7x2cm, the middle figure the width reduces to 6cm below the TFT screen which is 5x3.7cm. Viewing 3D images on the units screen is quite impressive, however you will not see 3D on your computer just a red and green haze on the edges of items in it. The same can be said for movies 2D are okay but 3D is a mess. The front of the unit has twin lenses 4cm apart and twin microphones 1.5cm below the lens.
Archos has brought together media player features and Internet tablet functionality with the Android operating system
A lot of people want a second TV and with the Digital switchover due to be completed next year that old portable will only work with an external box, so now might be the time purchase a TV that can also be a replacement panel.
The ACER AT 2358ML LCD TV/Panel measures 55x35x4cm and comes with a stand (attached by three screws) to this TV/Panel; the stand is 32x14x4cm. The viewable screen size is 51x29cm giving the notional imperial screen size (measured diagonally) of 23inches. One of the few weak points I found was how you attach the three screws into the units stand. You are of course likely to do this only once but you will probably curse their connection for a long while.
As hard drive increase in capacity so does the demand for faster data transfer. Verbatim offers a solution.
The arrival of USB 3.0 brings with it the promise of a data transfer rate at 10 times faster than that achievable with the previous version of the technology. However not everybody has a computer system that can currently take advantage of this new technology due to the lack of suitable USB ports. Fortunately USB 3.0 interface cards are becoming available so that existing systems can be upgraded to accept the faster data exchange rate from appropriate devices.
Tropical fish, coral, air pumps and match-3 game play are bad on the menu as Playrix returns to its popular Fishdom series.
Three things are certain to start an argument, religion, football and coffee. Stearing well away from the first two I look at my first machine from Nespresso, I have looked at several Dolce Gusto machines but this is my first Nespresso.
The first thing I noticed is that it does what coffee should – keep you awake – I had two shots late afternoon and it was twelve hours later before I could get to sleep, not what I wanted but in future I will keep my Nespresso hits till the morning. It is 36x18x28cm and you will need another 10cm of clearance on the 28cm to allow the top to open to pop the coffee pod in. The 36x18cm figure is an elongated oval shape well actually two long straights and two curves at the end.
Do you opt for a cheaper inkjet and pay extra for ink cartridges or select a more expensive printer with reduced running costs? Kodak believes the latter is the way to go with kit such as the ESP3250.
Designed as the upgrade to its ESP3 product Kodak has released its ESP3250 model. While the jump from 3 to 3250 might seem rather large, it is more a marketing concept than a technological advance. Taking over the position of the company’s entry-level offering, the ESP3250 is an All-in-One (AiO) product that provides print, scan and copy facilities for the home user.
A little different to the normal iPod dock in that the clock which can be battery operated is in the dock and does not rely on the iPod in fact the dock can support Auxiliary input (MP3 player) and it has inbuilt FM radio.
Two items from Ravensburger, first a puzzle what they are best known for but it has rather unusual twist in its look. Second something most puzzle fiends will require a unit that allows a part finished puzzle to be stored away.
On the face of it his 500 piece puzzle would not be a great test of the more expienced puzzler, the first problem is the subject its Tower Bridge at Night so there is a great deal of blue grey and black, however there is another twist. It glows in the dark so the finished item is quite likely to need to be displayed possibly behind glass as a picture.
Where once Disk Jockeys mixed chat with music, now they are more inclined to be creative with the way music is played. A new MAGIX title shows the way/
A while ago if you had mentioned the letters “DJ” then many people would have thought you were referring to dinner jacket while the thoughts of some others might have veered towards the more prosaic garment known as the donkey jacket. I have to own up to wearing, at one time or another, the latter but not the former.
RockyHydro has devised a system that easily allows a user to choose from over 400 different custom micro-hydro systems to allow the customer to generate electricity from their own water source.
As most will know Canon produce two ranges of small cameras the PowerShot and the Ixus. Having reviewed some tiny Ixus this seems quite large. The main difference is that PowerShot use AA batteries and the Ixus a solid battery.
The Canon Ixus 1000HS measures 10x6x2cm and weights 187grams, my unit was gold in colour except for the face that was a chocolate brown although it's also available in red and silver. This unit is ‘10’ by that I mean 10x optical and 10mega pixel. Perhaps that is why it has the name 1000 to keep with the ‘10’. The 2cm width can increase to a maximum of 4.5cm when you are fully zoomed.
Having played and reviewed numerous computer based games, especially those categorised as "Casual", I sometime wonder how the plot or storyline behind the game came about. Maybe you have had similar thoughts.
Giving my keyboard and mouse a rest from the usual pounding gave me the opportunity to check out an offering from Logitech.
This is quite a large unit that is certainly a multi function unit. My interest was the claim made with that it 'cost 50% less per page than colour lasers'. I am sure we all know normally a mono laser is far more frugal than an inkjet.
The is big and black measuring 50x42x30cm and the middle figure. the depth, is only to the front of the paper tray a shelf to catch printed pages can extend up to another 18cm. All the connections are in a line at the back on the right hand edge. Not only does this have a flatbed but also a document feeder. It also has a duplex printing unit that has to be fitted as otherwise the paper path is not complete.
Maybe James Bond would consider it beneath him but others might find this next product useful for covert photography
Adding to its range of security products, Swann has released its RemoteCam™ device. Combining the ability to capture still images and video clips with an audio accompaniment, the RemoteCam is a pocket size unit that comes attached to a key-ring presumably to avoid suspicion when out and about undertaking covert surveillance. Adopting a kind of flatten ovoid-like appearance, the RemoteCam’s body is constructed of a rubberised material.
This is a triangular shaped box and a wireless USB dongle that lets you show whatever you can see on your notebook or a PC onto your TV screen, so you can show HD movies, play MP3 content or even use it for work stuff like Powerpoint.
Installation was a matter of downloading the software from the Veeebeam site, running it on the PC or notebook and then connecting power to the triangular Veebeam box and finally plug in the USB dongle into a port. Wait a few seconds for them to pair and once your TV is tuned to the correct source you see your PC or notebook screen on the TV. I used the Composite cables provided and all worked correctly. After a few tests I tried an HDMI cable and there my troubles started.