If you have a PC or Notebook with poor speakers then your normal option is to lump it or use headphones/earbuds, here some rather nice headphones great for privacy but also a second option is external speakers.
First the headphone solution, this is not a cheap solution but one anyone who sees it will think a single word quality. In their non expanded state they are 16cm across 15cm high and a maximum of 5cm across at the earpieces. However the earpieces flip in and the whole will fit into a supplied zip up case 17x12x4cm so ideal for travelling. Apart from the supplied 1.2metre micro USB to USB lead and a 1.5metre 3.5 to 3.
While hard disk sizes have increased and Broadband allows for faster download speeds, the need to compress files is reduced. However I still feel there is a place for produces such as WinZip.
Over the years, and involving numerous computers running various flavours of Windows, a regular, you could almost say “permanent”, resident application on my system has been WinZip. Unlike a number of other titles in its portfolio, Corel has taken the decision with WinZip to retain the traditional numbering method rather than replace the “10” with an “X”.
This is the Worlds Smallest Laser unit, smaller than most basic inkjet printers, the main differences are that this is of course only monochrome but the claimed printspeed is the actual printspeed something you certainly cannot say for inkjets.
The Samsung Laser ML1865W measures 34x22x17cm with the paper input and output trays closed. Open these and the 22cm depth increases to 33.5cm. This is a unit with minimum connections and minimum controls but it does not mean it has little to offer the user. The ML1865W is rather like the ML1665 reviewed last summer. This unit has connections so it can be used as USB or Wireless. Both the power and USB connections are on the back right hand edge of this compact unit.
While multi-function devices tend to be based on an inkjet printer, this is not always the case. For example the Brother DCP 7055 is a multi-function device that provides print, scan and copy features based around a laser technology for providing hard copy.
Decked out in a fairly standard computer grey, the DCP 7055 expands from a base measurement of 375 x 365mm out to 405 x 398.5mm at the top. Brother has fitted a paper tray, laser printer and an A4 flatbed scanner into the unit’s height of 268mm. Although larger, especially with regards to the height aspect, than an inkjet multi-function device, the increase is not too excessive. Setting up the DCP 7055 is relatively straightforward.
While the description Hidden Object Adventure has a nice ring to it, sometimes a better description for a game would be Adventure with Hidden Objects.
Love Chronicles: The Spell describes itself as a Hidden Object Adventure game. Unlike other games of this type, which tend to concentrate on locating a list of items within a scene, Love Chronicles: The Spell puts its main emphasis on the Adventure aspect. In this game you need to travel through a kingdom that is held captive by a witch’s spell and collect objects that form the tools required to complete tasks as you set about rescuing a beautiful princess.
A webcam is normally something that notebook users take as a given, however for some reason I do not think I have ever seen one in the top of flat panel and certainly not one in a monitor, this then is for those who use these devices.
With most notebooks coming with a built in webcam it is likely that this will me used with a flat panel and the arm behind the camera is made for this purpose. Again the Face Vision FV TouchCam N1 is not a cheap alternative but it’s not only for still but also higher quality video use. With most modern video cameras smaller is more desirable.
As one of the survivors of the software developers, Serif continues to produce applications that provide functionality at a price point that should not break the bank.
If, twenty years ago, you were interested in DTP (Desktop Publishing) then you would have needed to hand over a very sizeable wedge of your disposable income for the necessary software to run on your hardware. Fortunately for those interested in creating their own magazines, brochures, flyers, catalogues and the like, along came a company entitled Serif with a software product that could handle these types of task at an economical price. That product was PagePlus.
Yes I know its been a long time since I have reviewed any HP PCs but once a company changes agencies it often takes a long time to get involved again. Now of course almost everything is Notebook, Netbook or touchscreen Tablet, here all three.
The HP TouchSmart TM2 measures 31x23x4cm as a maximum as it is only 2.5cm thick at the front. It’s not that light at two kilos and can be a little rear heavy. The left side has an HDMI out, a USB port and a headphone/earbud socket. The front is clear while the right side has a multi card slot, two USB ports, the DC power input and two buttons the first for on/off and the second for wireless both have bright LED’s built in.
Two of the latest offerings from Doro who make both mobile and home phones for those who difficuty in using a conventional phone for whatever reason, bigger buttons, brighter displays and louder rings are some of their features.
Here I am looking at phones for your home use, both the phones I am reviewing here look very similar and have very similar model numbers the main difference one has an answering machine built in the other does not. It is 18x5.5x3cm, white with black buttons that have white writing on and this makes then extremely easy to read. The display is 4x2.5cm made up of only two lines the top smaller line for symbols and the bottom line 1cm tall numerals. Below the display a total of twenty one buttons.
As many of us our now on our second (or even third or more PC) it is quite common to find that people have removed and kept the hard disc from the out-dated machine. However, having retained the drive, we may find that we dont have the means of taking data off it. Freecoms Hard Drive Dock Pro could well be the answer as it designed to connect a bare SATA or IDE drive to a USB port.
The Dock is roughly 145 x 90 x 60mm high and comes provided with its external power brick and a USB cable. A 2.5 or 3.5 inch SATA bare drive can be plugged directly into the aperture in the top of the dock and will appear as another drive in My Computer or Windows Explorer etc. It is then a simple matter to view files in the normal way and then copy and paste them as required. There are 3.5 inch PATA/IDE drive connections on the side of the Dock.
During a visit to the BETT educational show held each year in London, I was introduced to the latest animation software from Reallusion.
Many more years ago than I care to remember, I took my first faltering steps in the field of computer graphics animation. The software being used for this purpose was entitled “Do It On Your Desktop” from Moon Valley Software. Designed for use on the Windows 3 platform, this software allowed the user to create animated icons made up of a series of GIF images.
The numbers of people producing speech software are reducing and Dragon is the main player in the PC part of the market, they are now part of Nuance. So what advantages does version 11 have to make you rush out to purchase?
First the bit that may confuse, the various versions now have new names, what was Standard is now called Home, what was Preferred is now Premium (the one I am looking at) and then there is Professional and Legal. While I am not a heavy user of speech software I have used it in some form or other for around ten years. The main difference now is that ‘training’ is not essential to get reasonable results.
Computerised assistance in helping you get from point A to point B when travelling has come a long way (no pun intended) since the days when Auto Route was introduced. Incidentally Auto Route was the first product that I came across which required the user to activate the software with a phone call.
Now we have a number of GPS products that can provide almost instant feedback as to the route and current position plus offer details about points of interest, speed camera locations, traffic updates and different viewing modes. One of the companies offering this type of technology is Prestigio with its GeoVision range of devices. Recently the GeoVision 5120BT model has been taking on the role of my driving assistant. The results form the basis for this review.
Rescuing captured fairies and defeating a pirate named BlackLore is the name of the game with a title developed by BC Soft Games.
As its title indicates, The Magician’s Handbook II is a follow-up to the original offering that set you the task of exploring and rescuing a valley that was seeped in evil. This time you need to embark on a quest to release fairies that have been captured and held prisoner by the evil magician pirate BlackLore which explains why this game is subtitled BlackLore.
Another of the items received in part last autumn after a briefing, however they were not reviewed as the star item a potato/vegetable peeler despite requests never arrived, spring cleaning has taken place and so now the belated reviews.
First a 19cm green bowl designed by morph. It has two handles ideal for salad etc as the handles extend from the side it is easy to clean. For me the highlight is the black rubber .5cm ring around the bottom that lifts it just that smidgeon from whatever surface you place it upon. While I do not use a dishwasher there is nothing to say it cannot be cleaned in one. It does however warn not to use it in the microwave, for me anyway it’s for cold/cool use.
Combining your existing electronic cabling set-up and WiFi is the approach of the latest HomePlug product from devolo.
In the past I have looked at a couple of products from the dLAN HomePlug series that has been developed by devolo. Now it is the turn of the dLAN 200 AV Wireless HomePlug AV Starter Kit. This latest devolo product combines Powerline technology, whereby you make use of the already existing electric power cables running through your establishment to provide networking linking, and WLAN capability.
The first is somewhat unusual in that it is battery operated and stated to give up to 20 hours between charges. The second a far more conventional unit being a pair of speakers requiring mains power, both can have a useful place.
It is 12x6x2cm and weights 218grams. It comes with a mini USB to USB lead to charge its internal battery and this can take several hours. Once charged you can take it anywhere with any device that connects via a 3.5mm lead. So it can be an iPod MP3 player or other device you could even connect it to a notebook should you wish to improve sound. The only connections are on one end being the mini USB socket and the 3.5mm jack.
The first is a set of red and white lights to attach to yourself ideal for cyclists to be seen at night. The second who has tried using the modern touch screen in gloves? This normally will not work, however with these gloves it will.
Let’s first of all think cycling and then think whatever else they might be useful for. When I was growing up – long time ago – you did not leave your cycle pump on your bike - now it seems the whole bike will be pinched. So while dark mornings or evening require lights it seems the police are quite happy if a white and red light static or flashing are displayed somewhere. One such way is on the front and back of a helmet.
It is time for another dip into the bag of hidden object games as you investigate a large house with an air of mystery.
Adding to the list of young female investigators of popular fiction is Becky Brogan. A resident of Old Haven and a pupil at the High School, Becky loves solving puzzles and has ambitions to become a detective when she is older. As part of her latest homework project, Becky needs to discover more about the history of the mysterious Meane Manor. This is the opening premise of a Mumbo-Jumbo game developed by the unusually named Let It Rain So I can play games all day.
For many people the single function inkjet printer is giving way to the multi-function machine that, as well as printing, copies and scans. The Canon MG 5250 is the latest such device and is targeted at those who want a SoHo (small office/home office) machine that is easy to use and gives good all round results.
The MG5250 would not be out of place in either the home or office. Its case is in a trendy shiny black plastic, is box-shaped and, being 455 x 368 x 160mm with rounded corners does not take up an unreasonable amount of real estate. Both USB and 802.11b/g/n wireless connectivity are supported and the machine has a built-in power supply so that there is no power “brick” to cause added clutter.
I certainly remember a radio that had this retro look many years ago; of course it was not DAB. In fact the View Quest Retro DAB radio has most modern controls, easily implemented and of course it has an iPod/iPhone dock but it just has the retro look.
The maximum dimensions for the View Quest Retro DAB radio are 29x17x9cm this assumes you have the unit powered by mains as this adds 3cm to the depth. My unit was red with a leather like fabric covering all but the front and the back with the carry handle in the same finish. All the controls and connections are on the back and front. The back has the battery bay, the 66cm seven piece rod aerial, on/off slider, Auxiliary in and DC in sockets. The front has a two line 6.1.
A visit to a press event introduced me to a Hitachi product that attempted to combine style and an innovative approach to hardware and software.
I am not sure how to classify this next product. Is it a docking station? Or perhaps it could be referred to as a portable hard drive. Then again there is a 4GB USB key device that actually acts as a standard flash drive. Combining everything together is the media management software which deserves a mention as does the back-up capability of this product. So how best to define this LifeStudio Mobile Plus product from Hitachi.
With this next title you get two games that involve mechanical puppets, hidden object sessions and puzzle solving.
As part of the Hidden Mystery series, Focus Multimedia has bundled together two PuppetShow titles from Big Fish Games. These Hidden Object Adventure games are entitled PuppetShow Mystery of Joyville and the sequel PuppetShow 2 Souls of the Innocent. Separate installation routines are required for each title from an initial opening menu. You can run either game from the Big Fish Game Manager or directly from its own desktop icon.
This is an All In One (no fax) but I doubt if very many people still use that facility. This can scan, print and copy and while it is USB you only have to then convince the lounge police that black is the 2011 colour of choice.
The Canon Pixma MG5150 measures 45x35x15cm when closed, the front paper exit tray opens automatically when something is being printed and this adds 10cm to the 35cm depth. The USB lead exits back right while power goes in back left neither add to the size. This is a five ink offering with a small black for photos and a larger one for text printing as well as the standard three colour inks.
It can prove extremely useful if you can switch the orientation of certain Apple devices when they are attached to a speaker enhancing product.
According to a popular expression, “Love makes the world go around.” Now it might appear that music, or perhaps entertainment, would be a more appropriate suggestion, for attempting to take over this planet-revolving task with the arrival of a circular device from iLuv. This device, designed specifically for providing docking and speaker enhancement features for various members of the iPod family, has a circular shape.
I am told there is an earlier model that did not have the DAB radio. This has it all and just for good measure an external speaker and bed shaker for those who never seem to hear the alarm go off, this you will not be able to ignore.
The iLuv iMM178 main unit is oval measuring 25x10x9cm, the bed shaker unit is also oval at 11x6.5x2.5cm. The lead that connects the shaker to the main unit is 2metres long and this I found was adequate. The mains lead ending in the power adapter plug is 1.7metres and this to me is a tab short unless the electric socket is the same side of the bed as the table/stand. The extra 30cm that the shaker unit has just gives that extra amount to allow easy placement.
An interesting mix an executive toy and something that never existed in my childhood pens designed especially for use for left or right handed children, they even do different models according to the age of the child.
Match-3 titles have been around for quite a while using different methods of creating matches and various types of layouts. This next game allows you to pick and choose from these different features.
Developed by Seppia Interactive and now available as part of Avanquest’s GSP Click & Play series, The Lost Inca Prophecy brings together Match-3 game play with a sprinkling of Hidden Object interludes. In this game you take on the role of Acua, a young Spanish librarian and a dreamer, who lived around the time of Spain’s attempt to colonise the New World.
This is one of a long range of cameras with the PowerShot name produced by Canon. It is also a contender for one of the best; it allows both the novice and those more advanced to get the best from it as well as from themselves.
The Canon PowerShot SX30is measures 12x11.5x8cm however with the lens fully zoomed the 11.5cm can increase by another 6cm. It weights 635grams. This camera does not need a case – apart from keeping it dry – as the TFT rotates on itself as is the fashion with camcorders. It can be totally operated without the using the TFT so people who come from 35mm film can still use the viewfinder to capture and here even for quick review.
With so much of our favourite music being stored digitally, it makes sense to include a speaker system as part of your computer set-up.
Continuing with its preference for including a cylindrical shape within its design concepts, Edifier has developed its MP300 Plus product as part of its IT Lifestyle catalogue. This is a multimedia speaker system that is also known as the Aurora. I’m guessing that the reason for it being called Aurora is due in part to the rainbow effect as the product is available in a range of colours.