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Septembers nearly over and the prime buying time – to avoid disappointment – from the younger ones is just starting. This time items made of wood, first a game that has been around since before I was a child Chinese Checkers and second a game new to me Shut The Box.
Things made of wood are so much more permanent than things made of plastic, not just from the strength point of view. So a lovely light wood board, the pieces themselves are also made of wood in six shades, black, blue, green, red violet and yellow. For anyone who does not know the game the object is to get your ten pegs into the area opposite the starting area.
649167 serif drawplus x

Serif DrawPlus X5

DrawPlus X5 is the latest version of Serif’s design and illustration software. As with the other titles in Serif’s stable of products, this software is aimed at users who want reasonable levels of functionality but without the price premium demanded by other products such as those available from Adobe and Corel.
650348 roberts sportsdab 2 digital radio DA

Roberts SportsDAB2

Normally small DAB radios require a set of earbuds to be plugged in as they rely on them to provide the aerial, reception is often only so so. Here something different it looks like a small standard radio with a speaker and small rod aerial.
The Roberts Sports DAB radio measures 10x5.5x2cm and weights 127grams. Mine was black front and back with silver grey sides to complete it off. The front has a three line white on grey display showing white on grey display, this is 4.5x2cm display that is easy to read even in sunlight, below this is a 3cm speaker giving acceptable sound while out and about, this is covered by mesh.
It has been a while since I last looked at an Oregon Scientific product. Now I have the opportunity to try a solar weather station.
Whatever the season, you can guarantee that the weather will be changeable as it does its best to thwart your best laid plans for any outdoor activities.
It is time for another mixture of adventure and hidden object game play as you explore a castle in search of a shattered amulet.
Echoes of the Past 2: The Castle of Shadows is a Hidden Object Adventure game that is currently available from Focus Multimedia in Collector’s Edition format.  Along with the main game, you get an integrated strategy guide, concept art, wallpapers and a bonus adventure game.  Apart from the strategy guide, you will need to complete the main game before you gain access to the other extra items.
650345 Brother Pt 7600vp Handheld Labelling Machin

Brother P-Touch 7600

Labelling machines, a one use product, can be very useful in the home and in a business could save you falling fowl of the latest government regulations, either way they have come a long way since I last looked at one.
Mind you that was an old Dymo machine where you punched the letters in one at a time and they appeared onto a metallic tape. There are three models in the latest range and this the P-Touch 7600 is the top of the range model that supports different sizes of tape (non metallic) and you can even send data to it from a computer for complex labels. It is 23x13x10cm maximum size for the majority of the unit the middle size the width is only 8cm.
Having recently run the rule over a number of Brother multifunction devices, both of the inkjet and laser variety, I was a little taken aback with the arrival of the DCP-J925DW model. This is a multifunction inkjet unit that is packed into a box half the size of some of the other models yet felt decidedly heavier as I manhandled it out of the box and placed it in position on the workspace.
At 9.3kg, the DCP-J925DW was around 2kg heavier than some of the other multifunction inkjet devices from Brother.  Now one reason for this extra weight could be an additional feature that was not present in the other models.  The DCP-J925DW allows you to print directly onto appropriate optical media (CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW and Blu-ray).  This process is achieved using a supplied Disk Tray which resides in the scanner lid when not in use.
650344 canon powershot sx220 hs compact digial camer

Canon PowerShot SX220 HS

Since PowerShots went to solid batteries their size can get nearer that of their other range of pocket cameras the Ixus. However they still form a bridge between the tiny Ixus and Canons high end range DSLR offerings.
It is 10x5.5x3cm only slightly more beefy than most portable units however the weight is somewhat more at just over 200grams. But when on full zoom the 3cm width increases to 8cm so the extra weight is needed to stop the unit becoming unbalanced. Also by default the flash raises automatically when you switch the unit on this adds 1cm to the 5.5cm height. So this is a mid size unit hiding in a pocket size skin with lots of features for the intermediate user.
Yes I am well aware that September is still with us, but with the recession now biting hard those presents need even better planning and so the sooner you start…. Here two more items seen from a recent Christmas event.
Having recently told you about items for older children and most recently for Grandad’s here two things for the very young. This is a ride on suitcase that can be pulled along so the child can ride or pull his or her luggage wherever you go. It has a small wheel at each corner and the front has what I suppose can be called two eyes, it has a 2p twist action for the two locks and then a simple flip action to open the case so small amounts of clothing can be accommodated.
The orbit USB stereo speakers are a practical and robust way of improving a laptop or netbook’s sound quality. Directly powered from the machine’s USB port, without the need for external power, model iML247 from Altec Lancing will be a useful and simple extra for the traveller who wants to enhance the audio irrespective of whether it is for playing of CDs or for using Skype.
Each speaker incorporates a 40mm driver which is covered by a metal grid that will prevent damage in the rough and tumble of travel. The orbit is simple to connect and with the volume being adjusted by means of the laptop’s normal audio desktop icon and so gives about 2.5 times the volume of the laptop’s built-in speakers and with better frequency response.
If you are dreaming of a PURE Christmas (with apologies to Irvine Berlin) then the following products might be of interest when deciding which presents to give and possibly receive.
Making up this Christmas wish list are nine products plucked from the company’s range of DAB radios.  All the various models in this roundup provide the dual functionality of DAB and FM reception with many offering additional features to tempt different types of user.  In a couple of cases, with the EVOKE Mio and EVOKE-1S, there are two different versions of the model available.
650342 sony DXC WX7 compact digital camer

Sony DXC-WX7

A small – very small – digital camera from one of the best camera manufacturers. In fact if you are well built you may find some of the controls a little fiddly this is as a direct relation to the small – even by modern standards – size.
Although I have looked at one or two similar products in the past, this is my first opportunity to check out a Powerline product from Belkin.
Powerline technology makes use of your current electrical cabling as the conduit for a home network system.  Rather than run a new set of cables between rooms, Powerline allows you to send data along the wiring that already exists by making the necessary connections through available wall sockets. Belkin has a number of Powerline products and the one I have been looking at is entitled Share Powerline AV 3 Port.
It is time for “the fat arse of the law” to return to our computer screens as Telltale Games releases the second of its Badge of Carnage point and click adventure game that features the drunken and flatulent Detective Inspector Hector.
As with Episode One, entitled We Negotiate with Terrorists, this second outing of Senseless Acts of Justice combines cartoon-style graphics with wise-cracking humour that is often at a crude and rude level with enough puzzles to ensure you become involved in several head-scratching sessions and midnight oil-burning playing.
649215 blackberry bold 990 smart phon

BlackBerry Bold 9900

This is one of five new BlackBerrys recently launched. It looks similar to a lot of current offerings from them but it has a faster processor so your email, Internet and messaging can be moved from one place to another even faster.
The last BlackBerry I looked at was the Pearl which although it bore the BlackBerry name had the drawback of a less than perfect keyboard as it was both small and each key represented at least two characters so slow input. Here there are 35 keys each .5x.5cm and if you look closely those on the left half of the keypad are chamfered to the left and those on the right to the right, its subtle but it does mean than input speed is enhanced.
They say you net forget your first time. So putting this theory to the test, I cast my mind back to one particular first time. The theory was correct.
I could clearly remember the first Hidden Object game that I played several years ago.  The game was entitled The Lost Tomb and it was the first offering in PopCap’s Amazing Adventures series.  Coincidentally (as if you would believe that) the next title under review is also from the Amazing Adventure series and is entitled The Forgotten Dynasty.
649214 LINDY KVM Switch Compact USB Audio 2 Por

Lindy KVM Switch

During a recent PC review for a product that came without keyboard, video, speakers and mouse I suggested that if you were planning a purchase to run along side another PC that a KVM switch would be a cost effective purchase.
Not only does a KVM switch save the purchase of another keyboard, mouse and flat panel but also a lot of desk space. As both sets of leads are 1.5metres long the technical distance between the two PC’s would be 3metres but in practice probably somewhat less. Looking back it’s a while since I reviewed one and that was an offering where keyboard and mouse were probably PS/2 and not USB, the design was somewhat different with leads not being integral but connecting to the switch.
Yes I am well aware that September has only just dawned, but with the recession now biting hard those presents need even better planning and so the sooner you start…. Here two more items seen from a recent event.
Here I am looking at presents that may appeal to the older members of the family with a couple of jigsaws not this time from Ravensburger but here from a British company Gibsons who have been making quality puzzles for many years. Two puzzles to remind people of the way things were first a delightful unspoiled view of Castle Combe and second Grandad's Workshop perhaps as seen through the eyes of a child who has now become a Grandad himself.
If you are looking for inspiration for selecting Christmas gifts, either for your own wish list or for giving to friends and family, then Altec Lansing and Plantronics have provided me with details of some products you might like to consider.
With the popularity of the Apple iPod / iPad family of products, it is not surprising that kits supporting these devices are well represented. The Altec Lansing Octiv™ 450 lets you dock, charge and play music from your iPad / iPAD 2 / iPhone / iPod unit. The Octiv 450 product uses Altec Lansing's Audio Alignment technology to deliver superior sound quality for playing HD video and music.
Having recently reviewed the Marshall Minor it seems natural to try the Marshall Major. Almost at the same time one of the latest offerings from Sony the MDR-570LP so here I give my thoughts on both these headset units.
A name that has been around in music for over 50 years – initially in amplifiers – the headsets came later but have always been at the better end of the market. Even now they do not go in for glitzy packaging just a cardboard box. The headphones sit comfortably over the ears without being huge so they are wearable for long periods a thing musicians often need to do. Sound quality is of course uppermost but then comfort comes very close behind.
648767 Plextor PX B120U External Slim Blu ray Playe

Plextor PX-B120U

While your laptop or desktop computer may have an optical drive, it is probably that is does not support Blu-ray. Plextor offers an upgrade solution.
With Blu-ray becoming increasingly popular as the means to distribute media, it does make sense to ensure that your computer system has the means of handling this type of optical media.  While manufacturers are now adding this feature to new models, those with legacy machines will need to upgrade their computer with an appropriate drive.  One option would be to go for a drive such as the Plextor PX-B120U.
Normally when you awake from a dreamless sleep you find yourself in the familiar surroundings of your bedroom. However that is not the case with the opening scene of Sacra Terra: Angelic Night. In this Alawar game you awake to find yourself in an insane asylum without any idea as to how you got there or why you are there
Sacra Terra: Angelic Night belongs to the popular genre of Hidden Object Adventure game play.  Alawar has opted to introduce this game as a Collector’s Edition.  Not only do you get the main game but a bonus chapter, concept art, wallpaper and a Strategy Guide all bundled together.
Two different products for two different market sectors the link they are both produced by Jabra. The first for conference calls including Skype, the second to fit over your cars sun visor to allow the user hands free phoning.
This is a flat circular unit at 12cm across and it stands around 2.5cm tall, it comes with an 87cm USB lead hard wired that can curl round the base off the unit when not in use. It has a small white LED when power is received, around the edge at 9 is a – sign to reduce the volume, at 3 a + sign to increase the volume, at 12 a microphone mute point and at 5 a call end button while 7 has the call start button.
If disaster strikes are you fully prepared. Freecom offers a product that could help rescue data from an old hard drive.
As its title might suggests, the Freecom Hard Disk Dock allows you to attach a hard drive to your computer without the necessity of opening up the system box.  This might seem like an unnecessary device as you could easily attach additional storage with one of the numerous external hard disks, including those from Freecom, that are currently available at reasonable prices.
649211 brother DCP J925DW all in one print scan cop

Brother DCP-J925DW

A rather neat All In One (not multi function as it does not have fax) from Brother. This unit not only, prints, scans and copies but also prints photos and for good measure not only does it has USB connection but also Wi-Fi.
It is 38x37x16cm the grey and black design on the scanner lid is nice but the glossy black elsewhere means finger marks will show. Installation is straightforward your choice is USB or wireless with the latter supporting the more recent routers with one touch activation, but if yours does not that is not an insurmountable problem. Either way its quite simple.
Yes I am well aware that September has only just dawned, but with the recession now biting hard those presents need even better planning and so the sooner you start…. Here two items seen at a recent event to start you off.
I have never heard of T-Pain but I assume from information on the box that the kids of today will have done so. This is a portable microphone that can transform your voice to sound like he does, he has – so says the box – had 16 top ten singles. The microphone is 23cm tall and has inbuilt batteries. The front has an on/off button near the base and a line of three blue, red and green near the top.
Christmas might seem many months away to most of us but Sony has already come up with a list of gadget gift ideas that could feature prominently on your Christmas wish list. The following examples from this collection feature products from the Sony Network, Essentials, Digital Imaging and Home ranges.
Described as the world’s first “Double Full HD” 3D consumer camcorder, the has an integrated dual lens system for creating 3D content. This product can play back Full HD 3D on any 3D capable HDTV or 2D on non-3D displays. For a smaller viewing experience you can use the camcorder's Xtra Fine 3.5-inch LCD touch screen that can deliver 3D footage without the need for special glasses. The HDR-TA10 has a 10X optical zoom and comes with 64GB of flash memory.
Here I am looking at a 32GB external USB3 SSD drive from Verbatim and a more normal 32GB stick type flash USB drive from Kingston. While lots of people make stick drives in all sizes 32GB is certainly a serious size.
While I have reviewed a number of internal SSD drives this is the first that I have looked at that is designed as a USB offering, to get the best speed out of it you will need USB3 but it will work on a USB2 port quite well. It is small enough to fit easily in a top pocket. Its dimensions are 9x4x.6cm; the USB3 lead provided is only 13cm so it will need to be placed close to a port. It comes in brushed aluminium with the two ends in a light grey plastic.
648262 cyberlink powerdvd 11 ultr

Cyberlink PowerDVD 11

While Windows comes with its own built-in media player, it does not support the full range of media options by default. For example it fails to perform when faced with Blu-ray and 3D. A possible alternative is…
Describing itself as “The Player for all your media on PC, Device, Home & Social Cloud”, Cyberlink’s PowerDVD 11 product is the company’s latest movie and media player software.  The product is available in Standard, Deluxe and Ultra versions.  This review is based on the top of the range Ultra product which contains all the bells and whistles that you could hope for including Blu-ray and 3D (if you have the necessary hardware components).
Taking on the role of Detective Sergeant Cuff, you are set the task of recovering the Moonstone and identifying the perpetrator of the theft.
Credited with being the first true detective novel, Wilkie Collins “The Moonstone” is the basis for a hidden object investigation game now available as part of Avanquest’s Click & Play label.  As I have not read the Wilkie Collins novel I can not comment on how closely this game follows the original version.
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