Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 9 does what it says on the tin and is aimed at having broad appeal. On the basis that not all users are experts, it incorporates extensive help and guidance which is so important to enable new users to edit their photos and get to work with their drawings. It also incorporates the wide range of features that will satisfy the needs of the advanced user.
Although the opening screen looks very busy it is well laid out with the working desktop having controls on all four sides. As one would expect with a Windows program, there is the title bar and the menu and formatting bars at the top. Then the main toolbar is down the left hand side. Some of these tools have fly-out bars containing more tool icons. The colour “line” along the bottom shows the current line and fill colours as well as providing access to all the colour palettes.
An item from a newish company in the speaker area. This one offers easy Bluetooth and 3.5mm lead connectivity. So in this very crowded area is there space for another company, read on to see what I think of the Damson Oyster.
A week before the Gadget Show in Birmingham where this was launched, journalists were given a chance to hear it in use and meet the CEO of Damson. The place chosen was a large room on an upper floor of an event venue called The Hospital. I got there at the prescribed time and had a long chat the CEO. I was expecting to take away a review unit but these did not arrived until several weeks later. However as soon as I plugged it in I knew this was worth waiting for.
While I have reviewed similar products on a PC there are probably an awful lot of younger people that live with their i device. While the cost of Apps for these devices is minimal if you sell a lot of them then you make a lot of money.
Many years ago before the time of separate Theory and Driving Tests I used to be a Driving Instructor. The Highway Code was a few questions after your practical test, often the questions would be aimed at part of your test that was borderline and the result might have influenced the result. Now of course unless you pass the Theory Test and Hazard Perception modules you do not get to take the Practical Test.
Without wanting to sound sexist, Gigabytes decision to use attractive female presenters for its latest product tour certainly appealed to yours truly
Let me start this review with a question. What type of device would you expect if it was called “Fly”? Maybe you would consider that it might be connected to aeronautics in some way or perhaps entomology might be a more logical theme. In either case this would be an incorrect choice. I just wonder how many of you would be on the same wave length as Gigabyte, the company responsible for naming the subject of this next review.
Its been a while since I have looked at an Freeview HD PVR, in fact I have never looked at any TV device from Pure, a huge name in DAB radio. This unit is a twin tuner PVR and it can also connect to the Internet via Ethernet or Wi-Fi.
It is 43x13x4cm but you will need around 4cm more on the 13cm depth to allow for cable insertions in the rear. It weighs 2.9kilos. Before switching on for the first time insert your aerial lead in the rear and also attach the supplied DC lead and HDMI cable. It will then briefly show the Pure logo and then go into tuning mode in the first minute mine found 77 TV channels 25 radio channels and 18 data channels. This will vary according to where you are.
Having destroyed the alien invaders or rescued hostages being held captive by terrorists, you might want to share your achievements with others. This next title offers to help you record your success for posterity.
While the “Prt Scr” key on your computer keyboard can capture the content of certain screens, it is not omnipotent. There are some types of content that this method fails to capture because it is beyond its scope. Two notable examples are those involving the capture of video content and many game playing action scenes. Pressing the “Prt Scr” during these types of scenario generally just product a blank screen which is hardly what you want.
Ever received an invitation for an event that happened years ago? If so then you will feel at home with the opening of this next game.
Forty years ago the place to go to for your entertainment was the Nightingale Theatre. But then this popular establishment was ravaged by a yet fully explained fire. No one knows for sure who started the fire but a prime candidate was your grandfather who was the owner of the building. His disappearance just after the fire helped feed the rumours that he was responsible for starting the blaze.
A name I know for powerful PCs, here a notebook running Windows 8, it does however not have touch. So is it a desirable thing to have a fast powerful notebook that runs an operating system that uses a front end that restricts it?
This Gigabyte Notebook measures 33x27x1.5cm and weighs 1.7kilos. The viewable screen is 31x17.5cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 14inches. The screen display is 1600x900. The lid has a brownish tinge while everything else is silver grey including – hurrah – the screen surround so those fingermarks do not show. In the top of the screen surround is the 1.3MP webcam.
As technology advances, so older formats tend to go unsupported. However sometimes help is available to convert the older formats into one that can be used on modern equipment.
Over the years, of which there have been many, I have built up a collection of LPs featuring some of my favourite recording artists. Some of the LPs were purchased as new while the more recent additions were found as a result of visits to local boot sales. Despite my best efforts, even with the new products, these LPs are showing signs of their age in both appearance and the audio performance that is delivered from these treasured possessions.
This is an Android phone, however if you can cope with the smaller size it can do quite a number of things that you would expect to need a larger device to complete. This is a 112 gram device that slips easily into a pocket or purse.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini is of course a touch device, the regular creamy white colour means fingermarks do not show apart from on the screen. The official colour is Ceramic White and other colours are available. It is 12x6x1cm. On the right side is the on/off button and on the left side the volume up/down rocker. On top is the earbud connection via 3.5mm jack. The base has the only other connection a micro USB one to charge the unit.
This is a device that could persuade me to clean windows more often. As I live in a bungalow height is not a problem, the main problem is that previously when cleaned they look no different than they did before I cleaned them.
There are currently three models in the Karcher range WV50, WV60 and WV70. I have been sent the WV50 and WV70. The WV50 is the cheapest at around £50 and has the least in the box basically a wiper blade attached to a handheld vacuum. Of course there is more to it than that but just looking that is what you see. I am old enough to remember newsprint, rather different to the newspapers of today as the print could come off onto your hands as it was printed ink onto a press.
As technology advances, data stored on legacy devices needs to be transferred to the latest format to ensure the content continues to be readily available.
You may remember that the last Honestech product that I reviewed was entitled Audio Recorder 3.0 Plus. This product’s aim was to help you transfer and convert audio content from analogue format stored on cassette tape to digital audio on your computer for later transfer to optical media. Now the company has released a product which performs a similar task but this time aimed more at video content that is stored on VHS media and various devices. Entitled VHStoDVD 7.
Doro are the biggest UK name in phones for the hard or hearing or those with limited sight. I have looked at at several designs and shapes over the years. So when one arrives with a new feature it immediately gets my interest.
The Doro PhoneEasy 520X measures 11.5x5x1cm and weights 93grams. Things you now expect and get from Doro, are different colour schemes for those sight is poor, very loud ring tones for those who hearing is poor, big buttons for ease of use for those who have difficulty in being precise with movements and now a back that is simple to remove using a coin twist mechanism to easily remove the back by turning a screw through 90 degrees. A simple thing that I am sure others will soon follow with.
A last minute invitation saw me attending the launch event for Kobos latest eReader device.
Adding to is range of eReader products, Kobo has developed its Aura HD Reader. Described as being designed for the world’s most passionate book lovers, the Kobo Aura HD unit is available in luxurious Ivory, Expresso and Onyx. The sample under review is of the Ivory hue. Built around a 6.8-inch WXGA+ Pearl E Ink touch-screen, the Aura HD comes with the claim of offering the highest resolution currently available of 265 dpi at 1440 x 1080. With dimensions of 128.3 x 175.
Witches never seem to rate highly on most people's popularity lists. Part of this unloved quality could be down to the actions of the Snow Queen, a central character in this next game.
Originally published by Big Fish Games, Dark Parables Rise of the Snow Queen is now available from Focus Multimedia in Collector's Edition format. As is usual in such cases, the bonus items making up this title, apart from the Strategy Guide, only become available once the main game has been completed.
While I saw a prototype unit a couple of years ago at Google, earlier versions of Chromebooks have passed me by. Rather different to a PC notebook and also different from a Google Tablet a Chromebook is a category of its own.
When I first saw one the things you noticed were that the keyboard had no function keys, this is still true. No local storage was possible and so therefore if you had no Internet connection you had a unit that could do nothing, this is no longer true. Not surprisingly it is chrome in colour and of course this has a huge advantage over a normal black screen surround in that your fingermarks do not show. The Samsung Chromebook, series 3 measures 29x20.5x1.5cm and weights 1090grams.
The Boxee Box could be regarded as a hybrid product. D-Link, the source of this particular offering, has combined the free Boxee media software with its own hardware kit in order to offer the user a solution to the conundrum of creating a home-based media centre for their entertainment needs.
Recently I have been checking out the Boxee Box as part of my home network computer set up. The results were not always as positive as I would have liked as the Boxee Box proved to have a temperamental side to its make-up. Lets start with the actual kit before getting down to the performance.
This is a multi-function unit which means it also has fax as well printing, scanning and copying, I actually recently found a business that still uses fax, my local Pharmacy as urgent prescriptions can be sent from doctors surgeries.
The HP PhotoSmart7520 measures 48x35x21cm, you will need a few more centimetres on the last figures to place items on the flatbed but not if you use the page feed. However anyone thinking of placing it on a shelf should make sure it’s strong enough. While this is capable of working on USB some of the features are only available via Wi-FI and this includes scanning to PC although you can scan to USB memory stick or SD card on the unit and then transfer the file to the PC.
Now that Windows 8 is well and truly here -- even though an updated version will probably be out within the year -- there is a need for a detailed manual. This is particularly important because it is a significant redesign focussed on a touch-screen interface. "Windows 8 The Missing Manual" should meets the needs of power users as well as the rest of us who need to get to grips with this new environment.
This massive 900 page volume is divided into logical sections to enable users new to Windows 8 to get to grips with the various aspects of this new operating system a key feature of which is its touch-screen interface. It also covers Windows RT which is, in essence, a variant of Windows designed to run on the lower power ARM chips that are widely used in tablets.
Like most men I spend a lot of time in trainers for one reason only, they are comfortable, these however are rather different. Like most there are occasions that a notebook needs to travel with me and this bag from STM is also a little different.
These trainers are described as multi terrain shoes. They are trainers to look at but the sole is tricker and gives added support to all parts of the foot. I looked through all my trainers – old and new – and could not find one pair with a sole configuration anything like these. To begin with there is a slight heel, then the sole from the toe back is thicker and the really unusual bit is that there is support on either side in the mid sole area.
Why would some unknown person murder a travelling opera singer? It is up to you to solve the crime by playing a series of Match-3 boards.
Combining elements of Adventure, Hidden Object and Match-3 game play is Night in the Opera which is available as part of Avanquest's GSP label. Described as a thrilling operatic adventure, the game revolves around the murder of Prima Donna Madame Agnes who is a travelling opera singer. On discovering the crime, Alfonso del Pino, the theatre director of the Opera sends for you to search for clues and discover the perpetrator of this dastardly crime.
By the time anything gets to version 4 it should be mature; however this has something that few such products have and that is the ability to work just as well with touch screens such as those for some recent Windows 8 PCs it supports fully.
Rather than give this next product an easy-to-remember name, its developers have opted for the model number of i2360P.
Asked to list the top ten world influencing events of the past 50 years, I am sure many, if not all, would include the event that happened on the 22nd November 1963.
It was one of those events that are indelibly etched on the memory of those of us who were alive at the time. My less-than-perfect recollection of this event places me at a Friday evening social Badminton event. The social aspect of this burning off of excessive energy (I was a good deal younger then) can be judged by the players’ habit of listening to radio broadcasts, such as “The Navy Lark” as they played.
How do deaf or hard of hearing parents manage to hear when their baby is crying? Something like this offering Amplicomms the people known for ultra-loud phones have produced this small module to allow them to see as well as possibly hear.
It consists of two units both small the first that can watch over the baby and for a hearing parent it is even sensitive enough to hear the child breathing as well as to let you see it over a Wi-Fi link. The second is the receiving unit that has a 4.5x3.7cm screen as well as a speaker. The camera unit is 10x6x2cm on an 8x8cm base to keep it stable a small microphone is on a 5cm flexible arm. The receiver unit is 12x7x2.
Never having eaten an oyster, I am unsure whether this delicacy would suit a side dish of damsons but why talk of food when technology is available.
It wasn’t so long ago that I had the opportunity to look at my first product from Damson. This was a portable Bluetooth audio streaming device that was entitled Twist. This model made use of Incisor diffusion technology to deliver its audio output. Now it is the turn of one of Damson’s other product, namely the Oyster, which makes use of Wave Field Synthesis 3D sound technology.
A somewhat different book reader in that the shape of this near 7inch offering is more like a book with the bulge in the middle makes it easier to hold. It also has a backlight when lack of daylight means you need it.
The Kobo Aura HD eReader measures 17.5x12.7x1cm but the width is only 0.5cm at the edges. The screen is 13.5x10.5cm giving the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 6.8inches. The screen display is 1440x1080 made up of 265DPI. The unit weight is 240grams. It is an e-ink display and according to the Kobo CEO it is the biggest e-ink display in the world. In the box are the Aura HD a micro USB to USB cable and a small Getting Started Booklet. The reader is totally touchscreen.
As smartphones, tablets and other devices, upon which we are now totally reliant, get more powerful and have faster processors and more memory they impose a heavier battery demand. Mophie's Juice Pack Powerstation Duo external battery pack has enough capacity to provide a useful safety belt that can be used to increase the time before one needs to use a mains charger.
The Powerstation Duo is rectangular with slightly rounded corners and is just 110 x 58 x 20 mm in size. Its top and bottom faces are of a hard matt black material (which, unfortunately, gets badly smeared with fingerprints) and sides in stainless steel and feels very robust overall. Despite being a 6,000mAh battery pack it is relatively small and only weighing about 220g complete with the supplied 87cm USB cable and can be slipped easily into a laptop or other travel bag .
Two different rather nice value sets of earbuds from very different places, First from Crystal Acoustics their i-40 offering. The second set from a name more known as a motherboard producer the H11 from Gigabyte.
A stylish looking set of ear plugs and because your ears are plugged there is a noise reduction element as well as a bass increase. 15cm down the black lead from your left ear is the normal mute and answer option found to allow you to take phone calls without needing to extract the smartphone from your pocket. The total lead length is 1.2metres and after .35 metres the two flat leads merge into one, this can be adjusted to suit.
You probably do not know much about Grey Mist Lake. Not many do especially since the mysterious fog engulfed the town and when it disappears, so had the town. There were rumours of occasional reappearances of the town with ghost-like inhabitants but now you can check it out for yourself.
Available from Focus Multimedia's extensive catalogue of titles, Strange Cases The Secrets of Grey Mist Lake is a Hidden Object Adventure game. With this Collector's Edition version, you get a number of bonus items. As is the usual practice, items such as a bonus chapter, concept art, wallpaper and music soundtrack only become available when the main game has been completed.