A classic toy never goes out of fashion. It's 30 years since I opened BigTrak in the Christmas of 1980, and it's as much fun today as ever. Great toys work through the ages. An excellent present for small kids and to remind big kids of their childhood. A big exciting bit of kid for around £30.
Bigtrak by MB first appeared in UK toy shops in 1979/80. It was a nifty-looking six-wheeled tank with a front-mounted blue photon beam headlamp, and a programming keypad on top.
Robots, a flying house and cartoon graphics all come together in a couple of games developed from two popular films.
One of the first names that tend to pop into my mind when thinking about animated cartoons is that of Disney Pixar. While better known for its cinematic offerings, such as WALL-E and UP, some Disney Pixar’s creations have made the transition from the big screen on to the much smaller computer monitor in the form of games. The previously mentioned Disney Pixar film titles are two examples of this trend. WALL-E and UP are games developed by Asobo Studios.
I remember well the adverts for Sodastream in my childhood, but only now do I have the pleasure of owning this remarkably handy soft drinks machine. It's fast become one of our favourite kitchen gadgets. As it says on the box SodaStream turns tap water into fizzy drinks in seconds.
We love soft drinks in our family, but boy do they take up a load of space in the pantry and in the boot of the car coming home from the supermarket. Then there's always a difference of opinion on what flavours to buy. The Sodastream puts an end to all that heavy lugging and storage problems and it's good for the environment too - saving our landfill from all those nasty plastic bottles. It's a really simple device to use.
Not the absolute latest Camcorder from Sony, but this current version will do everything that most will want. A hard disc to record to, great video in full HD and the ability to take still images at a size that can be reproduced at A4.
The Sony HDR-XR155E measures 11.5x6.5x5.5cm and weights 345grams. With the TFT display open you add 8cm to the width. The TFT can be rotated through 270°. While there are controls on the unit almost everything can be done by touch using the TFT itself and this includes zooming.
The PENTAX Optio RZ10 is the perfect Christmas gift for those wanting a new compact camera. It is a solid little chunk of technology featuring a new-design sensor which reproduces stunningly true-to-life colour and detail.
We haven't been able to experiment with absolutely of the possibilities offered by this excellent and competitive compact camera but as far as taking excellent photos right out of the box - it certainly does! What is clever about the Pentax is the way that the highly intelligent Auto-Picture-Mode works SO well - especially in combination with the rock-steady digital shake reduction - to deliver crystal-clear images with deep colours every time.
A telephone call alerted me to the possibility of being one of the first to check out a new Blu-ray drive from Buffalo.
With more and more companies providing support for Blu-ray technology, it is perhaps time to consider adding a Blu-ray drive to your computer system. You could, of course, opt to just add a drive with read capability but why stop there when there is the greater storage capacity available with Blu-ray burning calling out to you. Maybe a drive with read/write features would be more appropriate. One solution could be the Buffalo Blu-ray product.
While you may have thought that after escaping from Rosecliff Island, you would be able to relax for a period but you would be wrong. Those diabolical and inventive people at Spintop Games have other ideas for your immediate future. Allowing you to believe that you were merely on a peaceful trip through the countryside, the developers came up with the idea of an earthquake which leaves you trapped in an abandoned village. Your only hope for survival is to Escape Whisper Valley.
The vast majority of items I tell you about are sent for review, however just occasionally I purchase something myself as here with this Currys Essential Upright Freezer that replaces a unit that reached end of life.
I am not sure how old my previous offering was, certainly thirty years so when its red warning light started to come on telling me the temperature was too high I knew the time had come to look around. Placing a thermometer inside got a figure of only around minus 13c but at least it kept working although it was running constantly to maintain that. I checked the local independent shops as well as the likes of Comet and Currys.
These earphones are truly impressive. From sharp and clear highs through superbly natural mid-range and right on down to their speciality - a round and resonant bass - the Audeos punch well above their weight in the price/performance stakes.
To save reinventing the wheel, allow me to first quote from the official press release for this genuinely excellent product: "Phonak, the world’s leading manufacturer of hearing instruments, has extended its popular range of earphones with a new model designed for music-fans seeking a dynamic, powerful bass sound.
My early morning slumbers have been interrupted recently as I have been testing a radio alarm clock with iPod and bed shaker features.
This is one of those big red bus occasions when two products with similar functionality turn up in close proximity. The functionality concerns a bed-shaking alarm facility. Following the arrival of Doro’s vibrating amplified alarm clock, it is the turn of the bed shaker alarm clock from iLuv.
D-Links Wireless ADSL router model DSL-2740R is aimed at both new users as well as those who want to upgrade their router so as to get the benefit out of the improved performance of the ADSL2/ADSL2+ now widely offered by ISPs.
It is a small rectangular box roughly 200 x 120 x35mm high with power, the four Ethernet, WLAN, DSL and Internet LEDs on the front. All the connections are on the rear: ADSL phone line; four 10/100 Ethernet ports; power connectors as well as power and reset buttons plus the three wireless LAN antennas which are hinged and stick up vertically. In the box, as well as the router itself, are two ADSL filters, mains power adapter, CD and Quick Installation Guide.
This is a small Camcorder weighing little more than the budget Flip type units. However this unit has all the abilities of a Camcorder but is small and light so easy is easy to slip into a pocket or bag and is easy to use.
When closed The Samsung C20 camcorder measures 10.5x5.5x3.5cm. The left side hinges out by 9.5cm to provide a TFT screen of 6x3.5cm and this can rotate through 270 degrees. The diagonal measurement of the TFT screen is 2.7inches. The top has the wide angle/telephoto rocker and beside this a button to capture still images, the back has one of two start capturing buttons mounted on a door behind which are an AV socket, mini USB and DC power input.
Your PC or Laptop is working fine with one exception you are rapidly running out of hard disc space. Simple answer get a larger hard disc but this means starting again from scratch reinstalling everything again, or does it?
With a desktop PC you probably have another drive bay but try as you might Windows still prefers to install everything on drive ‘C’. With a Laptop or Notebook you probably do not have room to install a second hard disc. The solution could be to Clone your hard disc onto another larger drive. In theory anyway such software products exist and used correctly they do work, or course you would still need that second drive bay to make this work.
While the majority of titles in the Avanquest Click & Play catalogue consist of a single game per product, some more recent additions include a bonus title. In fact the latest Click & Play title I have been looking at has four different games.
This bundled collection of four games is entitled Hidden Mystery Triple Pack. To avoid any confusion over the “Triple” part of the title and the earlier reference to “four”, I should point out that there is a bonus free game (previously available at £9.99) included on the DVD.
Fancy a large monitor? How about 23 inches? This is a Full HD 1920x1080 offering, what I found surprising as I moved my 20inch panel aside to review the Samsung SyncMaster BX2350 is that it weights around half that of my own smaller panel.
The Samsung measures 55.5x33x2cm. The stand is an inverted ‘V’ shape 23.5x35cm and it raises the screen 9cm above whatever you place it on. The actual screen area is 50x28cm giving the diagonal 23inch measurement. It can display full HD 1920x1080. One reason that it weights less is that it does not have internal speakers, the main one however is that technology moves on and my five year old unit has far heavier materials both internally, externally, and, in the stand.
Better known for its mobile phones, DECT handsets and walkie talkies, Doro has developed an alarm clock with a choice of wake-up methods
While you might think I had a chip on my shoulder, it is more likely to be a chimp.
While there are many tiny (non powered) 500GB hard drives around this 1GB unit is not one of them, its large and needs its own power but has a range on interesting LEDs and a whole raft of software provided on a CD-ROM.
It is 18x17x4.5cm, the first figure the depth is when cables are plugged in. The unit weights 1135grams and it is shiny black in colour. Why do not manufacturers make such unit a non shiny colour so that fingermarks are not a problem? The front has a small square on/off button and when off it appears to have three small graphics to its right to show full, half full or empty. In fact when on there are a line of blue square LEDs that show the amount of free space on the drive.
Think protection and one of the first names that springs to mind is Norton with a range of offerings being available.
Two items from Oregon Scientific one firmly in their Wellness range and other for relaxation so this loosely fits in. First a Heart Rate monitor that does far more than just check the rate. Second a Soothing Sounds clock that can also be used to play from an MP3 of iPod.
Oregon make several different Heart Rate Monitor, unlike a blood pressure monitor that has a single job of measuring your blood pressure the various heart rate monitors can check your rate before, during and after exertion. The other difference is that a blood pressure monitor is attached and used while the heart rate monitor is worn all the time. So a fast walk or run should produce a vastly different reading to a slow walk or sitting reading a book or doing the vacuuming.
First let me admit I am a frustrated drummer, second as regular readers will know I am a big jazz fan. However life does not always/sometimes/hardy ever give you what you want, here however for £25 I can enjoy myself.
While the keyboard and mouse provide the main means of communicating with your computer, it is the screen that tends to let the computer communicate with you. As you tend to view the screen constantly, it does help if it can perform to your satisfaction and not be distracting. Read on
Following the announcement regarding the emphasis being placed on features such as picture quality, energy saving credentials and LED technology to replace the older CCFL displays, ViewSonic has launched a number of new models. These new products include the VA2231w-LED unit which is the focus of this review.
This is a multi function unit (it has fax). It is almost all cream in colour apart from a black band and black vertical paper tray. As an All In One it would cost less, if anyone out there still uses fax either at home or in a small business write a comment.
The Canon Pixma MX340 is 44x41x32cm with paper loaded in the rear vertical tray. There are a total of 27 buttons on the front edge (12 are redundant if you don’t use fax) either side of the two line black on grey display. Let’s start with copying; this can be done from within Windows or direct from the unit that does not even require the PC to be connected. A one off black A4 page took 10 seconds while in colour the time taken was 25 seconds.
Although there have been bearded times in my life, like many men shaving is an integral
part of my daily routine so I'm always keen to try the latest technology in this area!
The Braun Series 7, 790cc is the latest in their Series 7 range and is of the foil style. To do justice to any shaver review one has to use the product for more than the occasional shave - each shaver is unique and you have to adapt to it's particular style. For the purposes of this review I've been using the 790cc for just over two weeks.
A new Doro handset has been keeping me company recently as I check out its performance.
The various Doro mobile handsets that I have looked at in the past could all be considered rather chunky in appearance. These handsets were designed for those looking for a device that had large, easy-to-identify buttons and a basic range of features. While still retaining some of the features of early models, Doro’s latest mobile handset, the PhoneEasy 332gsm, is certainly different in at least one aspect – that of size.
One thing that I can say for certain is that those creative people at Playrix obviously do not suffer from ichthyophobia. The reason I say this is that if they did then they would not have developed so many titles based on aquatic themes and the building up of aquariums. The latest title to fall into this category is Fishdom 2 Premium Edition.
Get used to it as it will not go away Christmas is coming and this rather special DAB radio would make an ideal gift based on the Evoke 1S it has a rather high quality finish and look. This is certainly a gift that will be in constant use.
It is 21x8x15cm and weights 1524 grams. The top has a nice solid grab handle but unless you purchase the optional ‘charge pack’ that allows it to be run on batteries I doubt it will move around much. The top also has 65cm seven piece rod aerial gold in colour. Overall the unit is covered in black leather with the corners having black plastic padding for extra protection. Both sides are clear as is the base apart from four chunky feet.
As a long time user of the various versions of Paint Shop Pro, I always look forward to seeing what the latest software can deliver. This time I encountered some good points and one element that failed to work.
With a pedigree that stretches back 18 years, PaintShop Pro has gradually developed from a graphic file conversion tool into a fully fledged application capable of handling the organisation, editing and enhancing of your digital images. The latest version of this software, now firmly entrenched as a Corel product, is PaintShop Photo Pro X3 (a less superstitious way of indicating it is version 13).
According to the Worx literature, the Sonicrafter is probably the most useful invention since the Swiss Army knife. While I think that is rather an exaggeration it is, nevertheless, an extremely useful and versatile power tool that is able to tackle a range of jobs that more conventional power tools cannot deal with. Consequently, it could well enable one to deal with a difficult task and thus be a useful addition to ones tool kit.
The Sonicrafter is not intended to replace your existing power tools but to complement them because it can deal with many of those jobs which are beyond their scope. It could well be worth having because it will plug a gap in the tasks that can be handled effectively with the tools at your disposal. This tool operates in an entirely different manner from your other power tools.
Frying Pan, Saucepan and Pressure Cooker all from Tefal. The first one of the range bearing Jamie Olivers name. All were replacing antiquated items and as with most decent new products you wonder why you waited to renew.
This was actually a gift but as I used two previously it replaced one that was bowed by heat so it gave a poor contact and the other was less than perfect in the non stick department. So two pans recycled and a bit more kitchen space. This is either 23 or 26cm depending on if you measure the base or the rim of the pan. It weights 890grams. A very heavy grade so it would stand a gas ring.