Do vampires ever die or just hibernate until the next walking blood bank arrives on the scene?
While the names of Count Dracula and Van Helsing may be known to you, especially if you are a fan of the Gothic genre, those of Michael and Quinn Harker might not have the same familiarity. Yet these characters appear in the Tech Front Studios game entitled The Dracula Files now available on Avanquest’s GSP Click & Play label.
This is a program that I have known for many years. I think it was version two that I first used. Due to a change of agencies the previous version I reviewed (and in fact still use) was version 6. Now I am looking at version 11.
So there are numerous changes (including file type extensions) but on trying to open one of my much used databases it was only a case of renaming the file with an old extension and the new version had the required extension and opened with no problems in FileMaker Pro 11, while this database has only three fields one is a multi field entry and there are a total of close to 7000 files in the database, all were intact and opened without problem.
Although ratified towards the end of 2008, USB 3.0 devices are only just being to appear. An external hard drive is my introduction to the technology.
As sure as eggs are eggs, over the next coming months we are going to see various devices that come with support for the new USB 3.0 specifications. This technology has taken a little while to make the transition from ratification to device-enabled but the wait is over as products such as the Buffalo Ministation Lite USB 3.0 external disk drive make an appearance. This external drive is available in either 500GB or 640GB capacity.
Having looked at a smaller model the HC-20 around six weeks ago what has the bigger HC-30 got to offer that the HC-20 does not have? From the outside if you just think slighter bigger with all the fitments then you have it.
The Panasonic HC-30 measures 48x19x9cm and the last figure the width is less at the top of the unit. The 9cm only applies near the base where the aerial lead and mains power enter the unit on a protrusion at the rear of the unit. There are other differences the first is that it is wall mountable and quite a substantial bracket is provided to facilitate this.
Don't bother trying to link these two items, the best I could come up with is that with the hub you dont need to ferret round the PC and the Vacufresh you feel better because you wine keeps longer, yes I agree very tentative.
This is on the face of it another very simple (but nevertheless very useful) item. It is a vacuum wine bottle sealer. It is 8cm long and 3.3 wide at the base. It weights 45grams. The one I tested was black. As it says on the packaging ‘pump out the air … and lock in the freshness’. So any wines shelf (or fridge) life is extended as the vacuum in the bottle means that little or no air born contamination can get in to spoil your wine.
Free-to-air HD television is now with us and available from a device such as Sagemcom HD PVR that also includes dual channel recording.
With all the hype that is emanating from various quarters regarding 3D viewing, it is possible that you might have over-looked the announcement dealing with the arrival of Freeview+ HD. Although the various adverts featuring actors performing against high definition backdrops should have helped drive the message home that Freeview now offers support for high definition content.
A small, easy to use and reasonably priced camera from a maker who does lots of more expensive units both pocket and DSLR unit. Every maker has to have something at the lower end of the market both in price and functionality.
It is 9x6x3cm and weights 173grams with the two ‘AA’ batteries inserted. With the lens fully zoomed it adds close to 3cm to the 3cm width. The flash is almost above the lens (actually very slightly to the right) and is never nearer than 2.4cm to the lens. The top of the camera has an oblong on/off button and a larger round shutter release to its right, the latter has a very fine trigger mechanism so the normal half way down to focus before capture can need practice to achieve.
This is almost one of those big red London bus moments. You know the kind of thing. After a period of waiting patiently, two products delivering media control arrive within days of each other. First it was the recently reviewed Verbatim MediaStation and now it is the turn of Conceptronics FullHDMediaPlayer Gigabit offering.
In the world of magic, nothing is what it seems as you quickly discover in a new game from Alawar.
This is said to be the worlds smallest A4 laser printer, certainly I have not looked at a smaller one. However it is a 16PPM mono offering that works with later versions of Windows without even having to install any software.
It is 34x18x22+15cm when paper input tray is open. It is black and weights a little over 4kilos so should work on a shelf. The unit has a simple design the front folds forward to make the input tray, the top folds forward to make the out tray. At the back on the right edge are the two connections, power lead near the base with USB lead near the top. The right of the top has two LED’s and two push buttons as the only controls on the unit, all very simple and straightforward.
Tired of waiting for data to be transferred using USB; then the wait could be over with the arrival of the latest 3.0 technology.
Unless you have been particularly quick off the mark, it is more than likely that your current system, no matter how powerful a speed hog it is, will not be capable of delivering the delights offered by SuperSpeed USB otherwise known as USB 3.0. This is the technology that promises to increase data rate transfers by as much as ten times over the previous version as well as offering simultaneously sending and receiving data through its duplex ability. While the USB 3.
When this first came out Corel started a trend - which they still continue today of offering extra value. It came with lots of extra clip art and fonts. Remember initially there were very few of either around. They were also I believe the first to go from discs to CD.
However anything getting to version 15 must either have been rather naff in the first place – not so. Or have spread itself very thinly or added extra features. So if you already have version 14 (X4) should you spend on yet another upgrade. Having used CorelDraw from a very early time it bears little resemblance to early versions. It is a far broader product and in many areas now can challenge Adobe but of course at a smaller cost to the user.
Two rather different products the first for DIY fans that can save expensive redecoration bills as you can get an expect finish via good preparation. The second a tool that could save you a very expensive visit from a plumber.
It is described as a cordless multitool, at a maximum dimension of 17x6.5x4.5cm and weighting 294grams without any attachments. There are a total of 33 pieces all supplied in one bag. The tool, the charger and the accessories come in a single zip up holder. The base of the tool unclips to allow it to sit in the 13amp charger module to recharge the Lithium battery. The top of the unit has a two speed setting ‘hi’ on the left and ‘lo’ on the right.
Turn me, twist me, flip me over could well be the theme tune from a new addition to Acers Aspire series.
Unlike the netbook, which immediately gained popular acceptance, the panel PC has struggled by comparison when trying to ingratiate itself into the public consciousness. But maybe the arrival of the iPad, backed by Apple’s usual high profile marketing hype, could help kick-start this particular notebook concept.
Anyone with an Analogue TV will need either a new TV or a set top box when your area goes Digital. Some regions have already converted. While a few disabled and elderly will get some assistance others will need to deal with it themselves.
This is a very simple box with a SCART cable inserted in the back you need 21x21x3cm space to put the unit. In standby mode the EZBOX LT-105 Freeview Set Top Box uses less than one watt. It has a very efficient pass through enabling a fly lead to deliver perfect signals to the TV while analogue signals are still available in your region. It also means you can have the benefit of all the extra TV and radio channels now as soon as you switch the unit out of standby mode.
Nero and Roxio have been competing for domination of the disk-burning marketplace for several years. Both companies have added feature on feature with the result that the original disk burning facility could be regarded as a minor function.
Naturally this latest version of Roxio’s flagship product comes bearing the Windows 7 logo and supports a wide range of import/output formats for video, audio and photos. Installing the product seemed to be a little quicker than the Nero product on the same system although I neglected to take precise timings to prove this and have to rely on my perception. However both products fire up in 10 seconds to present the user with a front-end.
Every once in a while a game comes along that adds an individual twist to a popular genre. This next title could be said to fall into this category.
In the past I have played numerous games that were firmly entrenched in the Hidden Object genre. I can honestly state that each one of these games was based on a storyline of some sort that would lead the player through a series of scenes requiring items to be located with some mini-games mixed in to add some variety. Often the mini games would have little to do with the encompassing story.
Most people say if it has fax its a multi function unit, why then do Kodak call this an All In One? That I cannot answer but I can be more helpful by telling you about the abilities of this ESP Office 6150 unit from Kodak.
The Kodak ESP Office 6150 measures 41x37x22cm, add another 10cm to the depth when the paper output tray is pulled fully out. It weights 8.5kilos. There are five connections all in a vertical row on the back right of the unit but none protrude as the paper handling causes a protrusion on the rear of the main unit. From bottom up they are phone line in, phone line out, D/C power in, Ethernet out and USB out. The front has a panel that clicks up 45degrees from vertical that has a TFT screen (4.5x3.
The Garmin 1490T is a 5 inch screen GPS unit which offers, as well as the basic features, Bluetooth connectivity, traffic alerts and maps of Europe and not just the UK and Ireland. It is intuitive in operations, provides spoken street names and has a high contrast colour screen which is easy to read under most conditions
At first sight the 1490T appears enormous and one wonders whether, once it has been fixed on a car’s windscreen using the provided suction mount, it will obstruct one’s view and will prevent you from actually seeing the road. However, after a few minutes experimentation one finds a place on the windscreen where it can easily be seen, swivelled to a suitable angle and yet does not get in the way of one’s driving vision.
While the original Flip Ultra camcorder allowed you to capture up to 60 minutes of standard definition video, the latest member of the family increases the capacity to 120 minutes and boosts the quality to 720p high definition.
Now part of the Cisco family, the latest Flip device to enter the ever-growing pocket camcorder market is the Flip Mino HD. As its title suggests, this camcorder is capable of capturing content in 720p high definition mode. The new model, with its brush metal body and reflective black front plate, comes with 8GB of internal memory that will allow you to record up to 120 minutes of video content. With a weight of 4.
Like most quality Microwaves of recent vintage it is far more than a Microwave. It is a grill, convection oven and Microwave in one and the secret lies in its ability to use any combination of the three at any one time.
It is 51x52x32cm. Mine was stainless steel but I believe they also do a white unit. The drop down door allows items to be easily removed to turn as you would say a chicken. As a taster this can be cooked in 30 minutes. There are a couple of metal items supplied with the unit but these should only be used when the grill or oven are being. Do use them when in Microwave mode. A rather nice glass dish is supplied that can be used with all modes.
When you use high end products for high end projects its nice sometimes to use a simple easy to use program that works as you expect it to. However should you need it, then it has all the help you require and much more.
Having recently spent 55 minutes installing one such program it’s nice too when another program that does a lot of the same things takes 8 minutes to install. This requires 1190MB of hard disc space and only a 25 key serial number. The opening screen has offers to show you videos etc but clicking past that gives you an A4 page and if you click the ‘A’ Artistic Text Tool from the iconised menu on the left of the page you can simply start imputing text.
Recently I reported on the diskGenie
, an external hard drive from iStorage
. This device adopts a "belt and braces" approach to security by incorporating AES 256-bit encryption with a PIN Number being required to gain access to the drive. In fact without the correct PIN number being entered, the drive would remain invisible to the operating system.
My original review was based on the 250GB model while the highest capacity available at that time from the company was 500GB. Since then iStorage has added to its range of external drives. One of the new models is the 640GB diskGenie which is currently attached to my computer system. The actual drive is encased within a black rubberised substance with added protection comes from the 16-point, omni-direction shock mounting system.
So many peoples music collection now resides on large capacity iPods that for many a decent speaker system for their iPod replaces the traditional audio stack system to play both CDs and Records as well as the old radio.
This is the first such unit that I have used that your iPod can be either inside or outside the casing of the actual unit. The Intempo Perform measures 35x14x16cm (when the iPod is inside). The rear has sockets for an auxilery input as well as the DC input and the hard wired wire aerial. The top left side has the on/off switch. The right of the top has almost all the controls in an indent and this indent is also a storage space for the 21 button remote control, a novel idea.
Finally small hydro power is available in a custom format! FSP has a free calculator that you can view or download (see www.fsplimted.com) to figure out how much power your stream can produce, plus it provides target RPM based on the turbine diameter that you are using. This which means you can match the perfect turbine to the perfect motor to make an incredibly efficient and very affordable micro-hydro power plant. Their basic kit is available for just over $400, but pays for itself very quickly.
If you have a stream in your backyard, FSP can provide a customized kit to get the maximum energy potential out of it. Their kits are great for off-setting your electric bill, or for providing power to remote areas. The kit can be used with a grid-tie inverter, and many utility companies will begin paying you! Turbines work best when they are spinning at 48% of the velocity of the water stream.
An unexpected offer of a short-term loan gave me the opportunity to try out a Nokia handset that combined 3G functionality and Carl Zeiss optics within a slider format.
The Nokia 6700 Slide is, as its title indicates, a Nokia handset (what else) and of the slider variety. This 3G handset is available in a variety of colours that should appeal to different types of users. Those looking to make a fashion statement can choose from Pink, Petrol-blue, Red, Lime or Purple while, I feel, the greater majority will opt for the aluminium model such as the review unit I have been trying out recently. In its closed state the handset’s dimensions are 95.
Making a complete change from other games I have seen from Alawar is a title that takes its inspiration from Shakespeare.
Described as “the last game without MMORPG features, shaders and product placement”, Hamlet is a new game from Alawar. Developed by MIF2000, this version of Hamlet takes Shakespeare’s dramatic tale of murder and betrayal as the basis for a cartoon game that consists of a constant stream of puzzle presented in a retro style that need to be solved in order to make progress to the next scene.
HD TV down your aerial is now possible, some people do not want it with a PVR and this solution from Humax is one such option. So currently apart from all the standard definition stations channels 50-52 are HD channels.
The Humax HD-FOXT2 is 27x20x4cm but the middle figure the depth will need 5cm added to insert a standard SCART plug in. It has a 57 key remote that for most will need some explaining as it tries to cover items not included and also futureproofing as well as current use. The 16 page Quick Star Guide should get most up and running. The 92 page User Guide starts by repeating the Quick Start Guide but when you delve further you should get your answers.
Unlike the box shaped speakers that those of us of a certain age will have fond memories from our music enjoyment sessions, todays speakers come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit in with more modern living environments. One example of this trend is the Portable USB Tube speaker which is part of Conceptronics Lounge Collection. The USB part of the title immediately gives the clue that this speaker set is for use with a computer rather than a Hi-Fi system.
As the product’s title indicates, this speaker set comes in the form of a tube. Measuring 140mm in length and a diameter of 75mm, this black tube features speaker grills at either end plus a diagonal cut running round the middle section of the tube. Following a firm twist, the tube separates into the two speaker units at the point of the diagonal cut. The sloping end of the two speakers enables them to be positioned so that any output is directed upwards at an angle.
This is a Sat Nav unit from one of the best known names in that field. This is also an in car TV capable of receiving all the digital channels. Why put both in one unit? Well if you have ever travelled with children you will know why.
The Garmin Nuvi 1490TV SatNav measures 14.5x8.5x1.8cm the weight without any holder is 250grams. It can be used in the front of the car as a sat nav, in the back of the car as a TV and should you wish still as a sat nav where it can still give directions. Finally it can be used in Pedestrian or Bicycle mode as well as Car mode. I tested all but bicycle as I no longer ride a bike. The viewable screen is 11x6cm and even with one single aerial attached indoors. I found this amazingly good.