It's a while since I've looked at a hard-disk video recorder so I was eager to see what innovations
the SmartBox 8320HD could bring to our family entertainment.
First of all the basics. The product name, "SmartBox 8320 ", should be the first clue that this is one of the recent FreeView HD receivers. It includes two independent tuners allowing various combinations or watching and recording different channels.
I requested to see this in the early summer, now shortly before Christmas after many delays it has arrived. I can see why a touchscreen notebook would be possible but unless short sighted I think reaching out to touch this screen puts it a little near.
The IdeaCentre B Series touch screen computer measures 56x42x8cm. The viewable screen is 50x28.5cm giving the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 23 inches. Behind the screen – in and around the support – are power input, two HDMI ports, Ethernet, SPDIF, A/V in, two lines of two USB ports and Co-Axiel socket. The rest of the connections are found on the sides of the screen.
Calling all budding pop stars!! If you love Simon Cowell's flagship TV pop phenomena then this a fun item built just for you.
The X-Factor Lucky Voice Karaoke Party Box from Gear 4 is a straightforward kit comprising a microphone, a mixer and all connecting leads necessary to connect up to your laptop or PC. The mic and mixer are both well-built and very much up to the job. The little mixer features a great 'echo' effect to add a bit of production spice to the voice. You can connect up to your usual PC speakers with ease.
Those kind people at Laptops Direct were responsible for supplying this next product from the Acer stable of netbook/notebook catalogue.
When you add the suffix “Happy” to the title of a product, as has happened with Acer and the latest version of its Aspire One, you could be accused of tempting fate. After all while users might be happy when everything works as it is meant to; any mishap or connection issue could bring about a complete change of emotion even if the problem was the result of elements outside the direct control of Acer.
This gadget is highly recommended as a great value item - you could invest in several job-specific power tools and find that each one in itself was not as accomplished in its job as the Bosch PMF. This is a genuine all-rounder and it is hard to find fault with its design, ability and versatility
Teutonically solid and rugged in your hand, the Bosch PMF 10.8 Li power tool can tackle a multitude of jobs around the home and is also built well enough for professional use. Being a sawing, cutting, scraping and sanding tool, with just this and a power drill you could take on most of the DIY tasks you might need to tend to around your property.
A neat cube shaped coffee machine, with Douwe Egberts coffe pods, certainly packs a punch.
Since the Senseo Quadrante coffee machine from Phillips/Douwe Egberts arrived for review around two weeks ago I would say that I have become a little hooked. I've only drunk one cup of my usual Instant in that time. This little beastie makes tasty, strong coffee with the greatest of ease. Fill the large eight-cup water tank in seconds and then simply pop a Douwe Egberts coffee pod into the tray.
This is described as a business inkjet. It is reasonably fast but its big selling point is that the cost per page is less than 1ppp when printing in monochrome. Mind you every plus has a minus it is unlikely to ever pass the lounge police.
Someone being less than polite could call it ugly, a more polite statement would call it boxy. The Epson 310N business inkjet printer measures 47x40x30cm with the rear paper tray closed. Mainly cream in colour with a mid grey back panel and various dark grey to black shades at the front. However as no style icon myself I am not really the person to criticise colours. There are two paper trays a built in one at the base that holds 500 sheets and a flip open near vertical one behind.
The Tefal Actifry Family, lets you cook fried-style food with a fraction of the calorie count. Healthy fried food, made easy.
Let's face it - we all like chips - don't we? But these days most of us are a bit concerned about the health consequences of munching on fatty, processed foods. The ActiFry range of food fryers is about as healthy a cooking device as you can get. I was expecting some kind of deep fat fryer to review but this piece of kitchen kit bears only a passing resemblance to one of those greasy old heart attack machines.
While this is only a smallish shop they do have a thriving mail order business. I am telling you about just two items from their wide range of gift items that are sourced from places around the globe and I understand the makers are paid a fair wage.
Known for their small precision craft drills Dremel have now introduced the Trio - similar is styling to a
small hand-held router or electric jigsaw this versatile tool will cut, rout and sand.
For those familiar with a standard DIY plunge-router the Dremel Trio will look very familiar. Rather than the usual two post sprung pillars Dremel have gone for a single unsprung post. This is intended to be used to set the depth of cut before use. Once the depth is selected a screw holds the post in the desired position. Power is provided by a 200W motor with a variable speed control allowing you to select anything from 10,000 RPM through to 20,000 RPM. The colette accepts 4.
If you have built up a collection of business cards then you will know that the card you want is never the easiest to find. Dymo have a solution to this problem.
Despite the capability of Bluetooth to beam personal information over short distances, the more traditional business card continues to hold sway when it comes to delivering contact details to others. One example of this situation could be seen at a Bluetooth awareness event when delegates were observed to be busily exchanging business cards rather than use the Bluetooth technology.
While panels over 20inches are becoming normal, 23inches is no longer regarded as large but this monster from Acer at a true 27inches must still qualify. Remembering the weight of my first 17inch monitor this panel is far less.
At this size I suspect it will be used mainly for those who connect external devices via the two HDMI sockets but as it has a VGA port you can still connect it to a PC, Notebook or Netbook and use the 1920x1080 resolution. The height when vertical is 64.5cm mounted on its base. The width is 47cm while the depth at the base is 20cm before you insert any cables so for those you would need around another 6cm of clearance at the back of it. The screen is 64.5x35.
I'm sitting in my living room listening to 2Day FM - my daughters favourite Austrailian
radio station. Welcom to Internet Radio!
Now that's a long way for your average radio signal to reach - unless you're on Long Wave, in which case the audio will be awful. I'm not and it's not. I'm listening to an excellent quality broadcast that could be transmitted from just down the road. I am of course listening across the Internet. While my daughter discovered 2Day FM by listening using her laptop I have the luxury of listening using a 'real radio'. In this case the Roberts Stream 205.
The presence of a pair of cardboard glasses gives you the clue that the latest version of Roxio Creator is venturing into another dimension.
Where as in the past Roxio and Nero have indulged in the game of leapfrog as they set about enhancing their products along similar lines, this year sees a divergence in the paths taken by each company. Nero has been working hard on developing Blu-ray functionality while Roxio, with Creator 2011, offers users the tempting bait of creating 3D photos and videos. A pair of cardboard red / cyan glasses is included in the package so that you can view your creations.
Games at ten-a-penny might seem like wishful thinking but that is what you get with an offering in the GSP Click & Play series.
Over the years I have reviewed a large number of games but this is the first time I have been faced with the task of looking at 10,000 games in a single package. The title in question is the appropriately entitled 10,000 Games which is available on Avanquest’s GSP Click & Play label.
This is another small Netbook this time from Samsung. Like the Acer one in the previous review it has remarkable battery life in fact I used wireless for a continuous review period of very close to seven hours use.
The Samsung N210 Netbook measures 26x19x3cm. These are the maximum as the last figure, the thickness, is only a tad over 2cm everywhere but at the back where the battery increase to the maximum. It weights 1280grams. It is black but only the face of the lid is shiny. This means that fingermarks only show on the lid, while the area around the keyboard and the screen do not show them. The keyboard has 84 keys with the alpha and numeric keys being fullsize at 1.5x1.5cm and .
It's about a year since I last looked at a digital photo frame. The latest incarnation
from Kodak has a number of excellent innovations that make loading your images that much easier
and at the same time provide a marked improvement in the screen.
While a year or so ago a 7" screen was often the norm and a premium would get you an extra inch the Kodak Pulse provides a bright clear 10" LED backlit display. The screen is bordered by a modest black surround about an inch deep. The device includes an integral stand holding the display at about 85°. All configuration of the device is accomplished through the touch-sensitive screen - resulting in an almost button free product.
Unlike most of my reviews, this next product requires an oven and a bowl of water rather than a computer and a mouse.
You either love the product or just can not resist the temptation it offers. Opinions are divided as to any health issues and hostile take-over bids have been fought over the ownership of our favourite brands. If you have not already guessed (there is a clue in the title) then I will reveal that the subject matter is chocolate. However I am not referring to those tempting bars that are available from numerous shops we tend to visit on a daily basis.
Christmas is on the way - and if you need a gift idea for a man in your life then
you might want to take a look at the WAHL Deluxe Gift Set. That is if the man in question
takes his grooming seriously!
While I'm not an expert it would seem this set has everything one would need to keep their hair, and beard, in check. On the 'manual' side there is a comb and a pair of hairdresser scissors suitable for trimming an errant fringe. The main interest though will be the three electrical appliances. Smallest in the collection and the only one I felt qualified to try in anger is a nasal trimmer.
This is a name that has been huge in lenses for longer than even I can remember. Here a small unobtrusive matt box that would not attract a second look. Will the images it takes move it up from the mundane to the yes please?
The Pentax Optio H90 compact digital camera measures 9.5x5.5x2cm however you can double the last figure the width when the camera is zoomed in. It weights 128grams. The colour scheme is matt black and matt silver, the face has the 5.1 to 25.5mm lens that gives up to 5x zoom and above and to the right of this the slit flash that is never nearer than 3cm to the lens. The only other thing on the face is a rubber strip down the right edge to improve grip.
If someone told you you could make a ball fly in the air using the power of your mind - would you believe it. We were certainly sceptical - but it's true! This game is just brilliant top notch fun!
If you're looking for a great Christmas present this year then the Mind Flex is one to consider. I was intrigued at the idea of a game that could be controlled by the mind. You can make a ball go up and down, through hoops, land on a see saw and fly through the air just by concentrating. There are two parts to the Mind Flex, the roller-coaster style console and a headband through which you control the ball on the maze of different games.
Late this summer I discovered a charming gift shop not that far from London. It has a whole range of items at affordable prices. Just in case you do not live that near they have a web site and of course they do mail order.
Edutainment is a dirty word – among children – it describes products that educate as well as entertain, here two such items first a Kaleidoscope Making Kit, I certainly remember having one as a child here with the aid of the bits you can make your own. Second a Doodling Robot that once again a child can make so both have Educational value. This kit is described as suitable for children over eight years.
Put together famous paintings, kidnappers and a criminally inclined collector of works of art results in a new game published by Alawar.
Developed by Blitpop and published by Alawar Games, Grace’s Quest: To Catch an Art Thief takes you on a journey to various cities as you enter the world of art, museums and criminal activity. All this is encased within a hidden object environment. You take on the role of Grace, who is an American art graduate, although at times you will need to switch persona and act as Grace’s best friend, Chloe who makes a habit of getting captured by the criminal element.
Cooking for Geeks is as much a workshop manual as a cookery book. It discusses the tools, and how to use them; and the components, and how to assemble them; as well as, finally, some plans -- sorry, recipes. It should be very useful to those who want to learn about cooking but need to know what actually is going on. Furthermore, it gives quite a number of tips that could well be new to many experienced cooks.
There are a large number of people who are confused by the average cookery book which assumes that they already have a fair amount of knowledge. The authors frequently take if for granted that all the reader needs is the list of ingredients and then their experience will enable them interpret the (often somewhat brief) instructions.
In the early summer I saw a range of Sony audio and photography items. I have already told you about both the photography items I selected. Here is a rather neat stack system that for me stood out as the item to request.
Nothing flashy just a black box but everything works as it should and as you would probably expect it to do no nasty surprises. It is 31x21x14cm with leads plugged in the rear so this is the space you will require, however if you place it on a shelf the 21cm height figure will need extra space for any iPod you might insert as this dock is on the top of it. The speakers are 14x24x20cm and each have a 1.5metre lead to connect to the rear of the main unit.
Having built up a store of digital music you might like to consider a software title that offers to help manage and make the most of your collection.
Although probably better know for its various video and graphics software titles, MAGIX’s original expertise and reputation was built up in the area of audio. The company still retains its interest in the particular field with various software and hardware solutions aimed at transferring and managing digital music. One of these solutions is MAGIX MP3 Deluxe 16 which offers to get the most out of your music collection.
An evil witch, broken mirrors, a helpful fairy and a cursed castle all play their part in a Gogii title now available on the Avanquest GSP label.
It is time to gird your loins (or the nearest equivalent) as you set out to help a young lady to remove the evil presence that is threatening her forthcoming marriage. The young lady is none other than Princess Isabella and her bridegroom-to-be is Prince Adam. Unfortunately when Princess Isabella returned from a trip she discovered than an evil curse has been placed on her castle by a mysterious witch.
This is another small Netbook. Here with Windows 7 Starter edition and Office 2010 Starter. So although everything is basic it does mean that you are still using the program and tools that almost any modern business does.
The Acer Aspire One D260 measures 25.5x18x2.5cm and weights only 1200grams. The visible screen is 22x12.5cm giving the diagonal 10.1inch measurement. On this the 1024x600 display is clear sharp and readable even in sunlight, or direct light. There is an 85 key keyboard that is just about touch typeable for a stubby fingered man like me. The alpha and numeric keys are 1.5cm deep and 1.6cm wide while the function keys and a few of the symbol keys are smaller.
My first external hard drive, still in active service as a backup device, has a fairly substantial presence with its own power supply. More recent models have decreased in size while offering plenty of storage capacity and accepting power via the USB connection. Now a drive arrives with a choice of connectivity.
Lets start off with a little history lesson which, I must admit, came as a bit of a surprise to me and maybe it will be the same with you. Plextor, the company responsible for the external hard drive, currently occupying one of the ports of my trusty workhorse of a computer, was founded back in 1918. Back then the company was better known as the Shinano Kenshi Corporation and, quite naturally, was not involved in the computer industry as it did not exist at that time.
For those of you who need to get up before dawn during these winter months, the Lumie Bodyclock will wake you up gently with a simulated dawn experience and an alarm.
The Lumie Bodyclock is a stylish bedside light which comes on slowly to simulate a dawn experience at a time determined by you. Especially useful in these winter months, you can wake up gently without harsh ringing noises and without having to turn on a bright light in your bedroom. The set up for the Bodyclock is simple to use, with a select button for functions and an up and down button to make the settings.