GadgetSpeak Articles

GadgetSpeak has close to 5,000 product reviews and other articles. You can use this page to find others opinions on anything from mobile phones to computers to the latest kitchen appliance

 
Who would have thought when the first mini low-powered notebook made an appearance that we would soon be faced by an influx of netbooks such as a new offering from Packard Bell (now part of the Acer family).
Recently I told you about the Cool-Er the first such device I had reviewed; here is an even smaller unit from Sony. Sony has the advantage of having produced such devices for a while so this is actually something like generation three.
The pocket edition of Sony's popular 'Reader' measures 10.5x15.5x1cm. The viewable screen is 7.5x10cm. It weights 170grams, and sad to say from a male perspective mine was pink. So just like the Cool-Er I needed to review it in the privacy of my own home. No wonder the PR lady apologised to me before sending it out saying it’s the only unit we currently have available. The top has an on/off slider. Both the left and right side as well as the back are clear of controls.
With colours that include Blush and Dusty in their description, it has to be another Sony Ericsson handset that has been the focus of my attention
Joining the ranks of Sony Ericsson slider phones is the W395 model.  Available in a choice of Blush Titanium or Dusky Grey, the handset is constructed of brushed aluminium with a  design and feature set aimed at appealing to the youth market (well that leaves me out of the equation).  The W395 has dimensions of 96 x 47 x 15mm (H x W x D) when closed with the height expanding to 127mm when open.  The handset weight is kept down to a reasonable 96g.
For those who have not had the pleasure previously, let me introduce you to Natalie Brooks. This teenage detective is not only curious and adventurous but also impossibly slim. Having been the heroine of two earlier adventures, Alawar has brought Natalie back to solve the mystery of Hillcrest High.
Following an animated comic book style opening sequence, the Mystery of Hillcrest High opens with Natalie receiving a letter from her old school friend, Chad.  It is the contents of the letter which sets Natalie on the trail of this latest adventure that involves the infamous Black Cat Gang and their attempt to commit the crime of the century.
With things like TV’s continually getting lighter why is it that laser printers seem to be getting heavier? This is not that large but heavy to the point that even strong couriers struggle to carry it by themselves, or course the box does say two to move it.
It is 48x42x40cm with cables inserted, the light grey colour with black area around the control panel will certainly not ingratiate it to the ‘lounge police’ so the wireless ability of this unit could have it stashed away in a cupboard say under the stairs so as not to offend. The stated weight in box is 29kilos it certainly felt heavier to me. The main difference between a laser and an inkjet (apart from the weight) is that the claimed print speed will be achieved.
Not everybody can get on with the ear-bud style of headset. If you fall into this category then a Sennheiser headset is a viable option.
I seem to be in the minority.  I say this as a result of the content supplied with the vast plethora of mobile devices that are currently available.  Otherwise why would the different manufacturers all take the same approach of insisting on including an ear-bud style of headset for personal listening if the majority of users prefer the ear-muff style of headphones.
600482 casio EXILIM Hi Zoom EX H1

Casio Digital Camera EX-H10

A rather nice small digital camera that I have had a chance to review for slightly longer than the normal two weeks which means I can delve more fully into the various styles available with it while taking out and about with me.
It is 10x6x3cm; with the lens fully extended the 3cm width becomes 7.5cm. The camera is quite weighty for a pocket portable at a tad over 200grams. This weight gives it a very solid feel and also helps with the overall balance. The solid battery is stated to last 1000 shots between charges and while I never managed that many images I never charged it after the initial charge. 10x optical zoom is a decent figure that can still be held still without a tripod. 12.
Here I am looking at two of Brandos more whacky gadgets. First what looks like a Hamburger but it is a hand warmer and massager. Second what looks like a largish mouse (not the rodent) but is a card reader with a memo taker.
While you cannot claim any real ‘medical’ powers for this device it is fun. Imagine a lightly browned burger bun with a burger inside and then a rather garish bright green thick layer of lettuce and that is it but don’t stop reading now as it does have a couple of uses. It is 5cm tall and 8cm across.
Oysters are usually associated with pearls and a shell fish that does not appeal to everybody. Now an oyster is offering to add speaker capability to various devices.
My first portable (not quite a luggable) music playing device was a record player with its own built-in speaker (this was the time when mono was still the accepted standard).  It would play the rather larger and breakable records of the hits of that period while keeping my arm muscles well exercised through the need to wind-up the unit in order for it to work.
599724 pure elan II 2 DAB radio receive

Pure Elan II

As you might guess this is based on the Pure Elan however it is rather different. While the sound quality – as with all Pure units – is excellent I suspect the style police have had something to do here and this would look good almost anywhere.
The Pure Elan II measures 38.5x15.5x10cm (without the rod aerial extended), the six piece rod aerial fully extended will add 64cm to the last figure the height. The whole unit apart from the silvered handle ends and the control area on the top is a wonderful matt black so if you have this in the kitchen no finger marks are likely to show as they do with a shiny surface. It can be run on batteries or even a Pure ChargePak (optional accessory) however most of my tests were run on mains power.
As house guests go I would not normally consider allowing a gorilla to share my abode but in the case of this minigorilla I might well make an exception.
When is enough considered enough?  If the question refers to computer storage capacity or speed of operation then the answer is probably “Never”.  The same is, no doubt, true when making up a wish list for the battery life length for our various portable devices.
Feeling peckish? Then maybe you would like a snack but not one that will interfere with any dietary issues. Recently I came across a number of games which could be described as Snack titles. Each one is priced at under a fiver – admittedly by just a penny – which could help with any budgetary restraints.
599723 sharp Aquos 32 inch LCD T

Sharp 32inch TV (LC-32LE600)

A rather nice 32inch LCD HD Ready TV from Sharp. Considering what even a small flat panel of a few years ago used to weigh, this even with its stand is light. However when you remove it from its box without the stand fixed its very light.
Without the stand it is 76x50x10cm (max), the stand lifts it a few centimetres above whatever it is sitting on. The stand is 38x28cm. The importance of the remote control is perhaps best stated by the fact that page three of the Operation Manual describes it before it even mentions the TV. In fact the only times I go to the TV is to turn it on/off using the flip button on the left edge or to connect or remove a cable for some external device that is connected to it.
While Sony Ericsson’s main market push seems to concentrate on the feature-rich, high-end products, the company has released models designed for the less-demanding user.
Of all the various Sony Ericsson handsets I have looked at, the S312 is perhaps the smallest unit yet.  Even down to the packaging and the folded User Guide, this product goes for the compact look.  Adopting the candy bar style, the S312 is available in a choice of Dawn Blue or the Honey Silver of the review unit. As mentioned, compact is the name of the game for this handset which measures 100 x 46 x 12.5mm (L x W x D).  The S312 weighs in at 80.1g.
599722 sandisk sansa clip mp3 playe

SanDisk Sansa Clip+

The latest incarnation of one of the best and easiest to use MP3 players the Sansa Clip, this one comes with 4GB of internal memory plus it also has a micro SD card slot so if 4GB is not enough you can add even more memory.
On first glance it looks very similar to the previous incarnation of the Sansa Clip but the clip on the back is more substantial and this unit has no rounded corners. It is 5.5x3.5x1.5cm and weights 28grams. The screen is 2.3x1.2cm but can still show four lines of very readable information. The USB connection (transfer data and charge) is on the left side near the top with the volume rocker below it. The top has just the on/off button while the bottom is clear.
First two are a wooden (yes wood) mouse and a wooden keyboard that both feel wonderful to the touch, they really look the business when on a desk. Third a USB Card Reader that is wonderfully compact and easy to fit in a pocket this also has another purpose.
When I saw these advertised I was intrigued, how do make a wooden (working) mouse and perhaps more complex a (working) wooden keyboard. Both are supplied by those all things USB Brando in Hong Kong. The mouse is 10x6x2.5cm and weights 93grams, it has a 1.4metre USB lead, the top and sides are bamboo with only the clear plastic scroll wheel spoiling the overall light wood effect.
It was a case of déjà vu as a new game arrived from Playrix with yet more aquarium building and Match-3 game play.
599720 ecool er reader eboo

COOL-ER Book Reader

Over the last months I have requested to look at several of these book reading devices about the size of paperback but definitely lighter than a hardback. This is the first of them to arrive this one is called the COOL-ER.
The colour was shocking pink (they do other colours) and while I have seen others using these devices on a train as a mere male without a great feminine side I decided to do my reading behind closed doors as pink and I don’t really mix. It is 18.5x12x1cm and it weights 190grams, the screen is 12x9cm. I was somewhat put off by an off icon in the centre of the screen all the time it is not on. Still if it’s not on you are unlikely to be looking at it that much.
Some laptops are used as a travelling companion while others are more suited for providing your computing needs in the home. Falling into the latter category is the Asus K50IN.
While netbooks are being targeted specifically at the user who requires a travelling companion with Internet access, communication facilities and other similar features, the laptop is moving outwards and onwards with the object of usurping the desktop unit as the living room computer system.
While we often make visits to a virtual environment, there are some who spend their whole lives in this king of environment. I’m referring to those characters that belong to that tribe known as Virtual Villagers.
Malleable little people form the basis of a new offering from Focus Multimedia catalogue of titles which consists of not one but two separate games that need to be installed individually.  Making up the Virtual Villagers package are A New Home and The Lost Children. Following the destruction of their original home by a volcano, a small group of islanders escape by boat and end up being washed ashore on what appears to be an empty and isolated paradise.
599719 lg pop gd510 mobile cell phon

LG Fun Mobile Phone Pop GD510

This phone is clearly marked GD510 on the box and while the initial press release called it the LG Fun their website (link at the end) calls it the LG Pop. Either way this phone packs a lot in and I can see it being popular.
The LG POP GD510 mobile phone measures 9.5x5x1.3cm and it weights 85grams. Perhaps the fun name came as the range of shades it has. The face is black apart from the single button area near the base that is grey, as are the sides with the exception of the top left corner that is a chrome colour, finally the back is a gun metal grey. The viewable area of the face is 6.5x4cm.
One name that immediately springs to my mind when I think of SatNav products is that of TomTom. With over 3,300 employees spread over four business units (TomTom, Tele Alias, AUTO and WORK), the company is a world leading provider of navigation solutions and digital maps.
599718 canon powershot d10 waterproof compact digital camer

Canon PowerShot D10

This is quite a squat offering and it looks almost child like with large buttons and rather garish colouring, very unlike recent PowerShot offerings, there is however a rather good reason for the PowerShot D10 strange appearance.
This digital camera is usable under water and I assume this is the reason for the electric blue front. The shape is also probably for the same reason. I am afraid taking it out in heavy rain and putting it a bath is the nearest I got to 10 metres under water, but in this weather the thought of swimming is not really top of my hit list of things to do in the UK in winter, not even in an indoor pool and I doubt if ‘health and safety’ rules would allow a camera anyway.
599717 powermat home office ma

Powermat Wireless Charging

For once the first word describes this product exactly, it is a Power Mat, you lay your supported devices on it and it or they are recharged, in some cases quicker than they would be if they were recharged by a conventional cable.
There are two styles a solid mat and a collapsible one that folds into three for ease of movement (a zip up case is supplied) either way the mat when open is 30x9x1cm. The names given to them by Powermat are Home & Office Mat or Portable Mat. To give an idea of what can be charged by category you can charge Bluetooth Headsets/Headphones, Mobile Phones, Digital Cameras, Digital Readers, Handheld Game Systems, MP3 Players and even some portable GPS units.
While nowhere as near as prolific as new mobile phone handsets that appear on a regular basis, its near-cousin, the DECT phone, does come in a variety of models from different manufacturers.
599001 olympus WS 560M Digital Audio Voice Recorde

Olympus Voice Recorder WS-560M

Voice Recorders have been around for a long time, mainly as an office tool for the executive wanting to dictate notes or letters when away from the office. Of course many other devices such as MP3 players can do this now.
It is 9.5x3.7x1cm and weights 44grams when the single ‘AAA’ battery is inserted. I always try to use such devices without – initially – resorting to the manual. Here I was able to record and replay messages I left on the unit without any problem. Looking at the controls one thing seemed to be missing and that was an off switch, however I found after a period of inactivity it shut itself down. The face has a 2.
Have you noticed how inanimate objects have a habit of developing the ability to conceal themselves in a variety of locations? You may also have come to the conclusion that the effectiveness of this ability increases with the relative importance of the object at the given moment you need it.
Car keys, purse/wallet, travel pass or even your mobile phone never seem to be where you clearly remember leaving them.  While some may suggest that it is your memory that is at fault, there is a theory that the Borrowers have been up to their old tricks.  Whichever point of view you subscribe to, maybe a new product from Doro could help alleviate the problem. This product is the MemoryPlus 335.
An Egyptian artefact, robbers, a train journey and plenty of puzzles and hidden object searching make up an offering from Focus Multimedia.
Adding to its portfolio of games, Focus Multimedia has released Serpent of Isis.  Developed by Gamgo, this game is based on the search to track down those responsible for the theft of a rare Egyptian artefact, not surprisingly entitled the Serpent of Isis.  In order to solve this mystery you will need to get involved with hidden object game play, inventory-based puzzle solving and various mini-games playing in either relaxed or timed mode.
Earlier this year I saw a demonstration of Solid State Storage demonstrated at an event currently I understand it is available in 64 and 128GB. I was sent a 64GB unit to review by Kingston, their price seems quite reasonable.
So what do you get. A 64GB module that fits into a SATA slot in a PC, a copy Acronis True Image software and an external USB case to insert your old SATA drive. try to insert the SSD in the external case it will fit but it will work. You cannot format the unit while it is a USB drive, full instructions are supplied in the box. The box is called SSD with Accessory Kit. My kit was for a notebook but they also do a similar kit for desktop machines.
Whereas speakers have traditionally been box-shaped in appearance, today’s users tend to look for a more stylish appearance especially with regards to shape.
While speakers are meant to be listened to, there are times when you might like to consider their appearance as well as audio quality.  At least one manufacturer takes this viewpoint and attempts to add some style to its products.  That manufacturer is the Canadian-based Edifier Enterprises.
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