Now part of the MAGIX family, Xaras flagship graphics photo and designer product has reached version 9.
I first came across Xara when the company so impressed Corel, with the rate at which its software handled tasks that tended to be time consuming when run on CorelDRAW, that the Canadian Graphics company licensed the UK software to release under its own banner. Ever since this event, which took place at an early Windows show, Xara has continued to emphasise the speed aspect of its graphics software over numerous releases.
The most recent notebook I reviewed had Windows 8 sadly without touch it also had a Gigabyte motherboard. This is an All in One PC from HP with Windows 8, touch and it has a Gigabyte motherboard and even a TV tuner.
Windows 8 no longer contains Media Centre, so here the card required for TV is provided by Aver Media and of course the remote control to make channel changing easier. Here ‘All In One’ means that the screen contains the PC as well as being a touch flat panel. The external parts are only the Wireless Keyboard, Mouse and Remote Control. The screen is 57x40cm and the stand is attached to raise this by 7cm above your desk.
A rather large remote controlled car that some children may find difficult to stop their parents using, it is stated at 8+. The Second a reaction testing device designed for children or almost any age and even those of pre-school seem to love trying it.
This is a 1:18 scale car that works by remote control on the 2.4GHz band. It is 29cm from back to front and 14cm wide at the rear wheels, the maximum height is 9cm. It weights 550 grams. Apart from the car you also get a rather large remote, a charger unit for the cars battery and a plastic coin that allows you to turn the screw on the battery bay to remove it for charging.
One-eyed stone heads, a town that is only visible for a short period every 300 years and a missing boyfriend are all present in this next game.
The Cyclops was not, as we have been led to believe, a one-off monstrosity found in Greek mythology. The Cyclops was, in fact, a race of visually restricted beings that were based in a town located not too far from Skye. In case you are wondering why this fact is not common knowledge then I should explain that this Cyclopean town was, and is, in the grip of a magical force which caused the town to be visible only for a short period every 300 years.
First a handheld vacuum to get where the normal cleaner cannot like behind central heating pipes and into those congested corners. Second a very bright LED torch to see into those corners that always manage to hide the dirt from sight.
This is a handheld cordless vacuum, unlike a lot of other units that often get consigned to cleaning out the car this has a place in any home or office. It is 42cm long, at either end it is less than 2cm thick this increases to around 10cm for the central 20cm of the unit and it is 7.5cm in the same central area. The weight is 612grams. It is equally useable by those like me who are left handed as the on/off button is on the top and can be controlled by either thumb.
Monitors are increasingly becoming multifunction devices as can be seen with a Philips model with a built-in USB 3.0 Hub.
If memory serves me correct, which does happen occasionally, my first dedicated monitor had a single connection on the rear. Not only did this single input provide the conduit between the display and computer for the video signal but also the power needed to drive the monitor. Now computer displays have started to spout various physical connections to offer users a choice of facilities.
With different types of tiles, multiple layouts and two styles of game play, this Mahjongg offering might well appeal.
This is a four in one device and somewhat larger than recent items of this sort. Being black it will either need to work in an office, in the home of a Goth or be secreted away behind a sofa or in a cupboard, with Wi-Fi or Network it can be.
It is 48x42x35cm, you will need to add a few centimetres to the last figure if you wish to use the flatbed scanner rather than the page feed. The front is dominated by the pull up 9.5x5.5cm TFT display. Just above this are five LED lights with clear markings. The on/off switch is towards the base under the TFT overhang. A substansial paper input tray is in the central part at the base with the output being delivered on top of this. A USB stick input is to the left of the paper tray.
Tablets have been able to offer users the ability to act as an eBook Reader for quite a while now. You just need to download the appropriate free app and your tablet can transform itself into a Kindle, Kobo or Nook in the blink of an eye. Now, with the arrival of products such as the Nook HD+, we are beginning to see a turn of the tide as devices, whose primary function is that of an eBook Reader, appear with tablet-like capabilities to enhance their appeal to the discerning user fraternity.
Recently I visited the London Transport museum, surely one of the cleverer places to launch some Satellite Navigation devices. They launched three and I was allowed to take the top end device and give it a good testing.
At first glance two items with little in common. However all those original recipes mixed with the hand mixer need to be written down somewhere and of course its not only recipes but also designs and patterns that it can hold for posterity.
As it approaches its one hundred year anniversary, John Buchans classic tale of murder and spies makes its appearance on the Windows PC platform.
First published in 1915, John Buchan’s classic adventure spy novel, entitled The 39 Steps, has appeared in a variety of guises including print, of course, cinema, theatre and television. Now a further format is added as this tale of skulduggery and a German invasion plot makes the transition to the PC platform. Classified as a digital adaptation, the PC version of The 39 Steps is available on Avanquest’s GSP label.
Two methods of listening to music, first a rather nice Bluetooth speaker that can also work with a 3.5mm lead. Second a pair of earbuds from Sony that seem to stay in place without swelling the ear canal as so many do for me.
With the functionality now available from various devices such as smartphones and tablets, the manufacturers of SatNav products face an increasing challenge to persuade would-be purchasers to loosen their purse strings. Why should customers spend their hard-earned disposal income on a new SatNav product when they already possess the tools that are capable of providing basic navigational information through the use of GPS and mapping apps? Garmins solution to this conundrum is to bundle free lifetime services with its new SatNav line up of models.
The latest Garmin product line up consists of its nüvi SatNav devices categorised as Essential, Advanced and Premium models. This review is based on the Advanced range of which there are three distinct models. My review sample is the 5-inch version rather than the 4.3-inch or 7-inch units.
Time to enter into the spirit (no pun intended) of the game as you attempt to solve murders committed in two different locations and time periods.
Angelica Weaver is a detective on Chicago’s Special Task Force. This detective has the dual ability of being able to communicate with dead spirits and use super-sensory visions to jump back and forth between crimes committed in a historical London and present-day Chicago. Known as the Psychic Detective, Angelica Weaver sets out to solve the mystery of a murderer who taunts the Special Task Force with the message of “Catch me when you can” in this next game.
Duplicating a drive is something that can normally only be done by specialist software and certainly not from within Windows. Here a piece of hardware that can duplicate two bare drives or a single bare drive and one connected via eSATA or USB2.
It is 14x13x7cm with grey sides and base and black top. The rear has the DC input, USB and eSATA sockets. The other three sides and the base are clear. The top has two flip down lids where you insert either one or two drives and in front of those three touch buttons, power, duplicate and start. All the buttons have LEDs in them and the colour varies according to what is being done.
Normally when I get to see a colour printer, it is an inkjet model but in this case the printer is a laser unit.
Decked out in a rather subdued combination of light and dark grey, the HL-3140CW is a Brother laser printer. Unlike my own Brother HL-2030, which has provided sterling service for several years, this new Brother unit features two major differences which are indicated by the “CW” part of the unit’s model number. The HL-3140CW supports wireless connectivity and is a colour laser printer.
This is a small DSLR unit ideal for the amateur who enjoys their photography or for someone coming on from a Digital Camera wanting to improve. The most different thing for the latter group is that there is a viewfinder available.
It is 12x8.5x12.5cm the last figure with the 18 to 55lens fitted and fully in, fully out it extends another 3cm. It weights 618grams without the supplied neck strap. The right side has a flip door behind which are micro USB and micro HDMI connections. Both sides have anchor points for the supplied neck strap. Moving to the base the flap door has the solid battery and any SD card you might use behind it.
Three different items from Breffo, two that grip, first a Smartphone and second a Tablet. The third device allows your camera to get a hold in places where it normally could not, round a pole on top of something with no flat edge etc.
It has eight legs and these surround the device, either with four extended to make a stand or with two extended to make a slope. This is a simple device that works well to do just a single job. Each leg is around 8cm and each has three joints. My unit was white and the soft touch grippy plastic outer covers a wire inner so it can bend to almost any shape. The box shows it’s obvious use on a desk but also on a bicycle and in a car.
Simple ideas are often the best especially when the solution can be applied to different problems.
I recently came across a company called Mobio at an IT event. This company has launched itself with the strap line of “The smart way to use mobile devices”. With its headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, this American company has set itself the task of developing innovative, high-quality products that have been designed to enhance the use of mobile devices.
Coffee makers seem one of the most popular reviews on Gadgetspeak so when I got my chance to try the Dualit Coffee system it seemed to good a chance to miss. While I prefer white coffee this can make both black and white.
Looking at the unit it seems very like a small version of the soft of unit you see in thousands of coffee shops in the UK. It is 20x26x32cm and is of course chromium for easy cleaning. The exception is the back that has a clear plastic with blue tinge and black lid removable water container that lifts out it can contain up to 1.5 litres of water. Hard wired into the back is a 1metre mains lead.
When was the last time you discovered your mobile device was power deficient when you needed it in an emergency?
For many of us, it is apparent that our reliance on mobile devices is paramount. It seems we can not leave home without the comfort and support that is offered by a range of products whether they are basic handsets, tablets, music players or the all-encompassing promise that smartphones deliver. Even when we are safely ensconced in our dwelling space these devices often take the lead with our communication and entertainment needs.
A trip to India in search of the reason why people are disappearing as you switch between a male and female character is on the cards with this next game.
It is time to meet up with Saraja and Scott who are agents working for the Indian branch of the Mystery Agency. This duo of investigating agents is called upon to track down a powerful talisman and solve the mystery of people who have disappeared from the slum area of an Indian city. The action takes place in the game of Mystery Agency: Secrets of the Orient which is available on Avanquest’s GSP label.
My first flat panel was 1600x1200 and had a 4:3 display. When I moved to 1920x1080 and 16:9 where I have been since it initially looked strange now Philips have a 16:10 and at 1920x1080 this is weird but install the software and view at 1920x1200 its good.
In fact to get the display just insert the CD-ROM and then right click on your Desktop and then Screen Resolution and identify and accept the 1920x1200 offered. I loved my initial 1600x1200 screen and always missed the added screen depth especially when viewing web pages, you might say it’s not much different but it’s close to an extra 13% and that shows a lot more on most web sites.
Up until recently I was of the firm opinion that the living room in my home was of a reasonable size. Now, however, I am not so sure. The arrival of a product from Samsung has put a different perspective on how I regard my personal living space.
You have probably seen the advert and, maybe as I did, wonder just what the heck was going on until the punch-line was finally delivered. You know the advert I mean. It is the one where hordes of people, dressed in all manner of costumes from throughout history, along with animals and vehicles, charge along a beach causing mayhem as they descend on a solitary person sitting comfortably in an armchair.
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.