Since its first appearance, many years ago, as the software of choice for many users when it came to burning content to disc, Nero has developed into a HD Multimedia Software Suite of tools. Nero is now available in its 2016 version with Classic and Platinum flavours depending upon your needs. I have been looking at the Premium product which comes with a Content Pack that is made up of video effects and themes for use to enhance your own projects.
When installing Nero Platinum, there are separate routines covering the main program, requiring the entry of a 39-character serial number, and the bonus Content Pack. In both cases you do have the option to join the Nero Product Improvement Program which collects anonymous data regarding the use of the software. The installation of the product can prove to be rather time consuming, giving you time for a cup of coffee and a chance to raid the biscuit barrel.
While a lot of computer items get smaller, Modem Routers seem to be an exception. Of course a lot of this is down to having the ability to work on more than one bandwidth and also to have far greater Wi-Fi range to mention just two features.
This however is the largest I have seen and will need more desk/table space unless you utilize the two holes in the back and hang it on a wall. It is 28cm wide, 22cm deep and 4.5cm tall all those are without any stand or cables connected. It weights 855grams; if you add the antennas this adds 31cm to the width and around 18cm to the height.
New from MAGIX is the latest version of the companys video editing software. This 2016 version of MAGIX Movie Edit Pro is available in Standard, Plus and Premium editions. My review is based on the basic Standard offering.
When installing Movie Edit Pro 2016 you have a choice of custom or standard procedures with the former allowing you a degree of choice in the modules that will be included in the process.
Bringing together the Dragon and Phoenix Kingdoms is the task set you in this Hidden Object Adventure game.
Spirits of Mystery: Song of the Phoenix is a Hidden Object Adventure game available for downloading from site such as GameHouse and Big Fish Games. My review is based on the Collector’s Edition version of the game which includes bonus game play that becomes available once the main game has been completed. These bonus items include music, concept art, wallpaper, screen saver and an additional chapter. As usual with such games, you can create profiles for individual players.
A number of such devices are now available this one from Buffalo offers 500GB (1TB also available) of storage. It can be used to automatically backup items from your phone should you wish, it uses its own Wi-Fi network.
The Buffalo MiniStation Air 2 measures 14.5x8.5x1.5cm and weights 250grams. The front edge has power input, USB3 port and connection button. The right side and back are clear while the left side has a USB2 port for charging of other devices. The front part of the top has a single on/off button and behind it four LEDs to denote various things.
The Kurio Tab 2 is a tablet that has been designed for young children to use. Arriving with the claim of being the safest tablet for kids, the Kurio Tab 2 is a 7-inch Android device that is supplied preloaded with 40 educational and fun apps that should appeal to its targeted audience.
Providing visual evidence that the Kurio Tab 2 tablet has been designed specifically for young children is the presence of a protective, blue, compressed rubber jacket that fits over each end of the tablet. The back section of this jacket features cut-out areas so as not to obstruct the rear-mounted 2.1MP camera and a detachable plate whose purpose is to act as a stand for the tablet when it is inserted into a slot in the jacket.
When I saw the first version of Chromecast it was around the same time as a similar product from Roku, to my mind the latter was a better product at a near similar price. So what will the second version have to offer to change my mind?
To start with its an all in one design with an 8cm lead hard wired to the side of the unit to avoid the possible connection problems associated with poor TV design that puts the HDMI ports very close together. When not in use this lead will not dangle as there is a magnetised back that pulls the HDMI lead to the main 5cm circular disc that is the new Chromecast it is less than 1cm thick.
I think of Sennheiser as a maker of quality headphones but at a reasonable price, to give an example one top of the range audio store stocks Sennheiser as their lower priced range. Here is something new for me anyway earbuds from Sennheiser.
They measure 1.4metres from buds to the ‘L’ shaped 3.5mm plug. 12cm down the left bud lead is the comprehensive control, another 20cm on the two cords become one for the rest of the distance to the plug. There is a slider that can hold the two cords as one if 32cm from the ears is too much. There are two pairs of smaller silicon earbuds in the packaging along with a hard sided zip up case to store the earbuds in. Finally there is a small fold out multi-language Safety Guide.
Rather than concentrating on audio features, this next speaker also promises a visual attraction but then failed to deliver.
The Thumbs Up! Infinity speaker is an oval shaped unit that arrives attractively packaged in a solid box that helps inspire some confidence in the enclosed product. Included in the box, with the speaker unit, are a micro-to-standard USB lead for charging purposes, an audio lead with 3.
This starter kit promises to finally give you Wi-Fi Anywhere. This is a bold statement especially if your property is a strange shape or you have lots of solid walls. There is another problem in that these devices used to do the job but slowly.
This starter kit consists of two units the main unit to be placed fairly close to your router is 15x8x5cm with the built in 13amp plug at the base, the top has two Gigabit Ethernet ports. The front has a 13amp plug face so other items can still be plugged in to the unit. The second unit is slightly smaller at 13x6.
Combining stylish appearance with quality audio, this next headphone product offers support for iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices.
With the promise of being the world’s lightest closed-back planar magnetic headphones, the OPPO PM-3 product belongs to the over-the-ears style of headphones. Weighing 320g, the OPPO PM-3 brings together a brushed metallic frame with plush padding materials surrounding the headband and ear pieces. The padding is encased with durable synthetic leather that helps add to the comfort of this product when worn for lengthy sessions of entertainment.
Computer gaming has come a long way since those early days when blocky monochrome pixels, simplistic sound effects and a storyline that could put a great deal of pressure on the players imagination. Nowadays, with photo-realistic graphics, smooth fast animated action, Dolby surround sound and an all-engulfing storyline set in an atmospheric environment, the game provides us with a virtual world to inhabit. This next title comes somewhere in between these two extremes.
Entitled Retro RPG Bundle, this offering, part of the Avanquest GSP game catalogue, brings together three retro role-playing adventure games in a single package. The titles in question are Deadly Sin, Skyborn and Deadly Sin II. I was rather surprised to discover that the earliest of these titles only dates back a mere six years – I expected it to be far older than that. Each of the titles needs to be installed separately from the same front-end menu.
This is another very mature product. When it first came out it was a new way of working by speaking to your computer, now many imitators are available, even Microsoft spawn Cortana. Here however is a product that requires almost no correction.
The previous version that was on my work PC was 11.5 and once you start the installer this version 14 requires that the earlier be removed before install but you can keep your speech files. Enter your serial number and then the installation starts with nothing appearing to happen apart from the DVD drive spinning then after around four minutes files start installing.
The Netgear Nighthawk X4S AC2600 WiFi VDSL/ADSL D7800 MU-MIMO modem router is aimed at ticking all the boxes for gamers and heavy users as well as for those who are keeping an eye on tomorrow's needs.
The X4S, which can sit on a shelf or be wall mounted, has four Gigabit Ethernet, an eSATA and two USB 3.0 ports together with four external WiFi antennas. The MU-MIMO (multi-input/multi-output) WiFi technology minimises wireless dead spots while the added power increases the range of the X4S which has a theoretical aggregate throughput of some 2.6Gbps made up of 800Mbps and 1.73Gbit/s respectively on the 2.4 and 5GHz bands.
As a regular source of gadgets and the like, Sandberg has developed a Bluetooth QWERTY keyboard.
Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, have proved to be extremely useful in many ways. You have only to consider how many times each of us rely on such devices to provide a service that we feel we could not manage without, to realise how we have fully integrated such products into our lives or perhaps it would be more accurate to state that these devices have integrated themselves into our lives.
Archos are a French company that have had a presence in the UK for many years. Like many other companies they have decided that mobile phones are a field they wish to participate in. Here an entry into the 4G market the 4G LTE.
The Archos 50d Helium smart phone measures 14.5x7.2x.8cm and it weights 150grams. Like the vast majority of mobile phones today it is touch screen and this is shiny so finger marks are a big problem. The screen is 11x6.2cm which gives the diagonal measurement of 5inches. Dual SIM phones are still not that prevalent in the UK so it you want one here is your chance. The sides are chrome and the back can either be stone blue or stone grey, mine had both backs in the box.
Music while you ride could well be what you do with this product as it is supplied with a handlebar mount. However it is still a perfectly good set of speakers for those of us who prefer music from the comfort of their armchairs.
Some of the lounge police might object to the bright orange of the unit that predominates, the front and back are covered in black mesh. It is 13x6.5x6cm and without the bicycle mount it weights 423grams. It is reasonably water resistant as the orange is rubber and the front and back mesh is very fine. The only external connections are on the left end under its handle and they are covered by a tight fitting bung. The connections are micro USB for charging and an Auxiliary input 3.5mm socket.
Although misnamed as they generally sit below instead of on top of the television, set-top boxes have become a must have feature for the modern living room. With its flag firmly attached to the Good Ship Freesat, Humax has delivered numerous set-top boxes including its HDR-1100S model.
There are set-top boxes and set-boxes. Some of these units provide access to free services, such as offered by Freeview and Freesat, while others deliver a gateway to the various paid for channels available from Sky, Virgin and BT. The Humax Freesat HDR-1100S belongs to the former category (its title gives it away) and can provide the viewer with a choice of over 200 channels on a no subscription basis once a satellite dish is in position.
This is the first unit I have reviewed that was supplied with Windows 10 pre-installed. This told me several things including the fact that my upgrade on an old notebook just before launch had not gone entirely as it should have done.
The ASUS Transformer Book T300 measures 31x19x1cm, the last figure varies from .8cm at the front edge to 1.4cm at the back edge. It weights 1425grams all these figures assume you use the unit as a notebook. It can also be used as a tablet without the keyboard when the weight is only 720grams. So let’s deal with the keyboard first. It is an 84key unit with alpha and numeric keys being full size.
Providing the dual functionality of battery charging and storage capacity is a small device for use with Apple devices.
The Imation LINK Power Drive combines battery charging functionality with flash storage capability. Designed specifically for use with various iOS mobile devices, the product is available in 16, 32 and 64GB capacity models. My review is based on the 16GB version of the product which is currently available from selected Currys / PC World stores plus Amazon.co.uk and Tesco Direct.
Swans with nettle vests and a speechless Queen accused of black magic feature in this Hidden Object Adventure game.
As the second title in the Grim Legends series, Song of the Dark Swan is available in Collector’s Edition format from the Avanquest GSP catalogue of games. This Hidden Object Adventure game comes with a number of bonus items, some of which are available immediately while others, such as replaying the Hidden Object scenes and watching various cut-scenes, require the main game to be completed before you are granted access.
This is an interesting item. The light effects around the forward facing mirror give an indication of volume level and things like drums tend to activate them more. Apart from that you have a reasonable pair of speakers giving a good sound, welcome to Infinity.
The Infitiy Bluetooth speaker measures 17x8x5.5cm the corners are rounded making it appear as an oval. The front is a mirror. The sides are the 3watt speakers. The figures assume you use it without a 3.5mm connection if you have a lead connected this will add 2cm to the last figure the depth. The top has touch buttons to increase or decrease the volume. The back has an on/off slider an LED beside it to denote it’s on then a 3.
While computers have recently been given the ability to talk to use through the use of applications such as Siri and Cortana, we have been able to talk to our computers for a number of years and have our spoken words transformed into editable text using specialist software. A leading product in this particular area is Dragon Naturally Speaking with the latest version of this speech recognition software package being available in Professional Individual and Professional Group editions. This review is based on my experiences with Dragon Professional Individual product.
When Dragon Professional Individual is first fired up, it will be in trial mode allowing the user up to five launches to check out the software. You will need to enter the supplied serial number in order to activate the software and remove the launch restriction. If the software detects a previous version of the product, it will offer to upgrade your user profile using the data gathered by the earlier version.
Almost a bridge unit, just larger than most small point and shoot offerings, certainly a little heavier, however smaller than all DSLR units, this camera has a surprise that I have only seen recently in one other camera it has a fixed focus lens.
My routine is unpack the unit, insert the battery and an SD card and switch on assuming the battery has power I take a few test shots and this was when I discovered there was no zoom available. I check on the lettering on the front of the lens confirmed this. Fixed focus means that you need to think about your position far more than if you have zoom. It is 11.5x6x5cm, the last figure is when the unit is on this reduces to 3.4cm when the lens retracts. It weights 246grams.
I have used Nero for many years it is something that gets added very quickly to any new PC. This started as a CD burning program but now although that can still be done very efficiently it is now so much more as for this feature to not even merit a mention.
Like most recent programs even though this launched in September 2015 new updates were available from launch day and some parts did not even make the media and need to be downloaded. Also like so many software programs it relies of various third party programs that often need downloading as well even on a very recent PC. Once installed the main menu has five main menu choices. Manage & Play, Edit & Convert, Rip & Burn, Backup & Rescue and Extras.
This is a small portable DAB/FM/Bluetooth radio shaped rather like a small intercom radio. It has a very solid belt clamp but instead of an earpiece being an essential part of the unit there is a small but very effective top mounted speaker.
The Roberts PlayBT radio measures 18x7x4cm with the solid collapsible aerial adding 10cm to the first figure when deployed. The unit weights 243grams. At the base of the back is a snug fitting rubber bung that covers Auxiliary and DC inputs. Above this is the substantial belt clip. The base has four tiny rubber feet that allow you to place it on a table or desk. The left side has a silver flash and the right side is where the aerial is stored. The top has the 3x2.
Like many others, Im sure, I tend to carry out various activities while listening to music being played in the background. However this next speaker unit, which is currently delivering my favourite music, has been trying to distract my attention from other tasks with a display of lights.
The product in question is the JAM Trance Mini which is described as a Bluetooth Wireless Light Show Speaker. Attractively packaged in a Perspex box with a yellow lever that can be used to test the product's Light Show feature while it is still boxed. Unpacking the product reveals that the speaker comes with a small pinhole type tool, short micro to standard USB lead for charging purposes and a folded sheet of paper containing instructions in a multitude of languages.
Along with its various WiFi routers, NETGEAR also manufactures products that provide a cable route for creating a LAN.
While wireless technology, in the form of Wi-Fi, is generally a straightforward method of setting up a home network system, the layout of many residential buildings is not always the most conducive environment to cope with a W-Fi network. Obstructions, such as walls and the like, can block signals with the result that dead areas can appear, usually in the location that you want to use.
Television continues to provide fertile ground for games developers looking for inspiration. This is one such occasion.
Psych, as you may guess from its title, is an offering based on the popular television series that revolves around the two central characters of Shawn Spencer and Barton Guster, better known as Gus. Shawn is a private detective who has an almost Sherlock Holmes observational skill which allows him to market himself as a psychic detective while Gus acts as a Dr. Watson type sounding-board for his theories.
Certainly a first for me, a Sat Nav designed for use on a bicycle, most car Sat Navs are totally unsuitable for such a job as their batteries have at best only a few hours of use before they expire without help from a cars battery.
This unit has a battery that last a good ten hours which should be a decent days cycling even for an enthusiast, after ten minutes of inactivity the screen blanks and that saves power as well. The main difference between a car sat nav and one for a bicycle is no voice just beeps. As I do with all Sat Navs I take it on a bus and sometimes even a train to get to know what it shows and how it shows it.