Wireless technology has allowed users the freedom to work untethered with their keyboard and mouse. The same technology can also give greater freedom when listening to music.
When checking out a new headset I usually take it for a walk and/or visit to a location where there would be plenty of noise before concluding with sessions in my favourite armchair listening to different types of music. These tests allow me to check out features such as audio quality, external noise elimination and how comfortable the headset is over a period of time while tethered to an appropriate source of audio content.
Tefal is well known for its kitchen ware but, if you buy it, are you just paying for a brand name? A test on stew pots from its Preference and Sensorielle non-stick ranges showed that they make it easier for the experienced cook and would probably enable the beginner to avoid disasters.
The pots were 24cm. This is a large size as the pots have a useable capacity of roughly 4 litres -- large enough to make a batch of soup for a fairly large family and yet could also be used for cooking far smaller quantities. Although the internal non-stick surfaces look the same, externally they are quite different. The Preference has the traditional vertical sides with a matt finish, a heavy machined base and weighed 1.3kg. The Sensorielle was a stylish design which is pleasing to the eye.
No obvious link but two very useful items, the latter can go on your keyring without damage risk. The first could possibly have saved my life at the start of the year, well certainly my sight according to an A&E doctor.
When I first saw this I assumed that the ‘heart rate’ function was a toy – based on the look of the watch – but I found it accurate and it may even have pointed out a heart problem I had that normal medical checks had not. The last fifteen months have been a bit of a health rollercoaster for me; a nasty virus last year took me months to get over and caused the loss of 20KG of weight.
While not as well known as some of its other products, Serif does have a website design package for those looking to create an online presence.
Continuing its policy of adding the suffix of “Plus” to all its products, Serif’s latest website designer package is entitled WebPlus X5. This product promises to allow the user to create professional-quality websites without needing any skills in the lingua franca of HTM. As with other products in the Serif family, WebPlus X5 comes without any printed documentation. You do get a User Guide but this is in PDF format which is located on the product CD.
This next title places you in the role of an inquisitive young woman as she tries to solve mysteries in foreign lands as part of a two-game pack.
As part of the Hidden Mysteries Collectives series, Lost Realms 1 & 2 is, as you might expect, a two-game pack. This dual offering consists of Legacy of the Sun Princess and The Curse of Babylon with both titles belonging to the Hidden Object Adventure genre. You will need to install each game individually from the same front end. Both games feature Alexia as your on-screen presence as you tackle hidden object scenes plus solve puzzles and riddles.
Two rather different sets of PC speakers both using USB one self powered and the other also needing mains connection. One pair looks kind of normal while the other is definitely more on the side of being a designer product.
You get a pair of speakers that will be equally at home with a Desktop or a Notebook PC. They are predominately cream with silver grey base front and top. They are 3cm taller at the back than the front and 1cm deeper at the base than the top. Overall they are rectangles with the metallic grill stretching over the entire front. So the base is 8x7cm, the top is 7x7cm with the units being 15cm tall at the front and 17cm tall at the backs of the units.
A new headset from Sennheiser, aimed at the youth market, adds a splash of colour with Adidas Blue.
One of the first names that usually spring to mind when considering headsets is that of Sennheiser. This is a company that has a long-established and well-deserved reputation in this particular field. I am regularly accompanied on my daily walks by the Sennheiser PX 200 model, which can be folded up when not in use, for providing my listening pleasure by delivering content from my Clip+ MP3 player.
A lot of software products are now in their mature stage especially when the number gets to double figures. In the case of OmniPage it probably means its been around for around twenty years, so surely it should do things right?
Often software was judged by the weight and size of the box here its smaller than a book and the contents consist of a single A4 sheet of paper folded into four ‘notes before installing’ in six languages and a CD-ROM with the program and manuals. The box with contents weigh just over 50 grams that’s less than a small letter.
Not so much a sat nav although it can do that but a tool to guide you around the countryside for what I am told is a new craze Geo Tagging. People hide clues and you then go on a search for the next and so on using this tool.
Sometimes you will need to prove you have been somewhere so the built in camera can do that with time and place information. It is 12.5x6.5x3cm and weights 225grams. It is powered by two standard ‘AA’ batteries. The base of the face has a gap that either a clip or thin cord can be passed through to enable you to secure the device to say a rucksack.
Usually data-on-the-move makes use of the various USB sticks currently available. Now Verbatim is offering this kind of portability with an SSD device.
In the past I have looked at a number of offerings in Verbatim’s Store’n’Go product range. These items have been USB sticks, generally blue in colour, of varying capacities. The latest addition to the Store’n’Go range, however is totally different in certain aspects to the earlier products.
Another tiny (in size) PowerShot - the Canon PowerShot A3200is from Canon. Since going to the solid battery offering for PowerShots they have managed to fit everything into a body that means the whole unit slips easily into a pocket.
The Canon PowerShot A3200is measures 9x5.5x2.5cm with the unit off. With the lens fully extended the last figure the thickness extends by another 2.5cm. The total weight of the unit is 146grams. My unit was orange but they do more sober colours as well. The unit has 5x optical zoom and can capture images up to 14.1MP. The 35mm equivalent lens setting is 1.28 – 5.9. The bar flash is mounted to the right and above the lens with it being at least 2.5cm away from it.
They saw the camera never lies but some assistance a cameras images can be edited to change the scene.
Utilities, and certain other types of applications, tend to fall into one or two main categories. They can either attempt to spread their functionality as wide as possible, in a kind of jack-of-all-trades approach (maybe master-of-none) which can give the illusion you are getting your money’s worth or take the one-trick pony route by concentrating on delivering one particular function. Fluid Mask from Vertus definitely falls into the latter category.
Vampires, and their blood-drinking propensities, continue to be a popular theme with games developers. The latest such offering to come my way is entitled Vampire Saga: Welcome to Hell Lock.
Developed by Alawar Games and Go Games, Vampire Saga: Welcome to Hell Lock is an excursion into the world of vampires and the undead. This game is yet another example of the popular hidden object adventure genre. The game opens with a series of comic book style scenes showing your character being involved in a motor-cycle crash which results in you suffering a bout of amnesia leaving you in a state of confusion.
This is the middle one of three security cameras recently released by Swann. The catchily named Pro-670 with the others 660 and 680. The 660 being wide angle and the 680 having optical zoom. So it fits between the others.
The overall dimensions of the camera are 18x8x7.5cm. It is supplied with 18 metres of twin cable, one for video the other for power, an adapter to allow fitting direct to the back of a TV, screws and raw plugs for three holes in the back of the fitting, some warning notices and a four side connection guide complete the items.
Do you defrag? If not then maybe your hard disk will not be performing at its full capability. This next product could help.
Whenever I set up a new computer, either desktop or laptop, one of the first applications that I install, once Windows is bedded in, is that of the current version of Diskeeper. This particular piece of software, which has been around for a number of years with a cut-down version formed part of earlier versions of Windows, has been developed to help speed up the performance of your system by organising the files on your hard disk.
Sometimes you discover a little gem; I did earlier this year at a twice yearly press event. They are a PC manufacturer who return your calls and even deliver exactly what you ask for, something certainly worth considering.
Unlike most manufacturers today you can have exactly what you want, find a unit that is close to what you require and then modify it to give you exactly what you want, the price updates with every change that you make. The OP3 Mars seemed a reasonable starting point, a small tower with a reasonable sized power supply a 3.06GHz processor (over clocked to 3.5GHz) an Asus Motherboard that has both USB2 and USB3 ports as well as eSATA, the memory was only 2GB so I doubled that.
I know we are at the height of summer but the round of Christmas offerings are already happening, the two jig saws I am talking about here were actually shown at the Toy Fair to the trade last January for sale for this Christmas.
Still with memories of the 5000 piece offering that defeated me early this year I reverted to the other end of the scale with a 100 piece ‘XXL’ puzzle. This is aimed at 6+ with the average piece size being around 6x3.7cm. The overall puzzle size is 49x36cm and features Dr Who and Amy Pond along with something that looks rather like one of my school teachers as well as a Dalek and what I think is a stone monster in a very blue scenario.
Dragon speech recognition software has been around for many years and is increasingly able to take advantage of faster processors and larger amounts of memory. The latest version Naturally Speaking 11.5 appears to have the same recognition engine as version 11, and so is also able to take advantage of todays multiple processor cores and 64-bit systems, but has been enhanced to make it this more user-friendly.
One important factor with speech recognition is that it should be provided with the best quality input possible. Consequently, once the software has been installed the audio performance (level and quality) of the microphone and the PC’s sound card is checked prior to the user training the system to his or her voice by reading from a choice of texts. This only takes about ten minutes or so before one can start actually using the software.
Acting as a link between various sources of media content and your high definition television, is the role of a product from Eminent
Once upon a time home entertainment was relatively basic and straightforward. Mum, dad and all the other family members would huddle together around the wireless to listen to the best that the BBC could offer. Later the wireless would be replaced by the box in the corner as television, first in black & white with the BBC and then colour plus ITV to add some choice, took over.
Not the first version of this, but the first I have seen. Earlier versions had only 1GB of memory, now they come in 2GB, 4GB and 8GB versions. There are also other improvements to this interesting unit that is not just a pen.
While this functions as a pen on ordinary paper on the special paper (coated with almost invisible tiny dots) it does far more. You can set it up to record – ideal for students – and just write the odd word or phrase as a reminder to a salient point. Press the pen on the paper at that point and once you replay the recording it will skip to that point. If you have recorded a two hour lecture and the point you want is five minutes before the end you can see the time that can be saved.
When is an MP3 player not an MP3 player? It is when it also includes record, video, FM radio, camera and ebook reading capacities.
Those of us of a certain age will, no doubt, remember with some affection when our mobile entertainment came in the form of a portable cassette player with the Walkman being the popular option. Admittedly this entertainment was only of the audio variety but we were in seventh heaven as we listened to our favourite music. Then along came digital. Now we could select from a range of MP3 players with the incredibly successful Apple iPod taking the lead.
A Hidden Object Adventure game with a difference and a bonus game based on riddles come together with a new offering from Focus Multimedia.
While most Hidden Object Adventure games present the player with lists of items that need to be located within specific scenes, there is an exception to this approach. Enlightenus rather than expect the player to identify items in a scene, requires the player to position objects in their correct location within a scene. A follow-up to the original Enlightenus, not surprisingly entitled Enlightenus 2, follows a similar pattern.
A sleek black All In One unit that works wirelessly or with USB. It is totally black apart from the front edge of the landscape scanner lid that is grey, even the LED screen sits flat on top of the unit when not in use, the only visible control is the on/off button.
It is 45x39x19cm so slightly larger than some, it is a six ink offering with red, blue, yellow, two blacks and a grey cartridge. Two seconds from pressing the on button you are ready to copy and if you want just a straightforward duplicate this can print quickly, however you can reduce to 50% and increase to 400% as well as change the intensity.
As files get larger so the need for greater storage capacity increases with a corresponding improvement in data transfer.
As part of its new product line-up announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show inLas Vegas(unfortunately my invite and plane ticket somehow got lost in the post so I was unable to attend),Buffalointroduced the DriveStation Axis USB 3.0. This external desktop hard disk is available in either 1 or 2TB versions and comes with the promise of high speed access for the user. My review is based on the 1TB model which I have seen listed at £69.99.
A package that by its number you know has been around for a while. However what was first important for one job file size reduction is now less so now it has three other uses that make it a product still useful today.
For a while now WinZip has been owned by Corel, this gives it stability as they tend to develop things and increase functionality and with that value. However here when you install think first as one question you need to answer is will you require it to work with currently existing Zip files if so make the choice with care as new (recent) technologies may not work that well with earlier files.
Although I have reviewed a number of vacuum cleaners I have to confess this is my first mop. However this is not your bucket and mop type mop. In trying to position it correctly it is really a vacuum for all hard floors.
On first glance it could be confused with a vacuum cleaner it comes with a 8metre mains lead and part way down the arm is a bulge that could be confused with a dust collector in fact this is where the steam is produced. Like so many products today you need to assemble it – this even applies to vacuum cleaners – however its not that difficult and the Owners Guide and ‘Quick Start’ which are combined in one run to eighteen well illustrated pages.
The Manfrotto Compact MKC-PO2 tripod (in grey) has been designed to provide a firm base for cameras weighing up to 1.5kg and so is suitable for compacts and the majority of DSLRs. With a packed length of less than 43cm and a weight of only 1kg, it is an acceptable burden for the keen photographer and yet will reach a maximum height of 165cm when the 30cm centre column is full extended.
The tripod consists of 5-section oval legs with simple quick release clamps to that the height can be quickly and easily set anywhere within its range irrespective of whether or not the ground is level. A simple screw is used to lock the centre column, which has a roughly hexagonal profile, in any required position.
If you enjoyed the Wallace & Gromit Claymation shorts then you might like to try your hand at creating your own videos using stop-motion captures.
I have to admit to being a little nonplussed when this next product arrived. As I struggled to think of who would send me a small toy dog with articulated limbs, a closer examination of the package revealed that the product was Claymation Studio 3.0 Deluxe and it came with a plug & play USB PC camera in the form of the dog mentioned earlier. A 115cm USB lead is provided in the box and I will leave it to you to guess where you insert the lead into the dog’s body.
If like me you can remember the early floppy disc long before hard discs then a MB was a great deal of space, early hard drives were a few MB, now we talk is hundreds of GB and so on till we arrive at the TB an even larger measure.
The DriveStation Duo is - as it rather gives away in the title – two drives in a single case. In my case they were two 1TB drives. You could purchase larger drives and it’s to you which sort of array you set them up into. The box is 21.5x12.5x8.5cm without the cables inserted in the rear and it weights a not insubstantial 1.91kilos. The front cover pulls off to reveal the two drives that just slide in and out of the drive bays.
Rather than retype text from a printed document, you might prefer using current technology to scan the original document before converting the results into editable text.
A scanner, whether of the standalone variety or part of a multifunction device, will probably have come with software capable of carrying out OCR (Optical Character Recognition) duties. This is when scanned documents are converted into editable text for use within your word processor.