StarOffice 9 is an office suite that is file compatible with Microsoft Office and will meet the needs of the majority of people especially as it has the same look and feel with which we are familiar with in MS Office 2003. This could be an important benefit as many people find it difficult, in view of the major changes that have been introduced, to migrate to MS Office 2007.
Using it, one is able to carry out the usual range of tasks in: word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases and drawing & graphics. Completed documents can be saved in a wide range of formats including PDFs. StarOffice 9 is based on the OpenOffice.org project and so is, in effect, a chargeable version of the free downloadable office suite. In fact, when comparing the two, with the exception of cosmetic differences, it is not easy to find the differences.
When is a mobile phone just a mobile phone, plaun and simple? The answer is when it is a Doro.
Mobile phones have quickly developed into a sort of Frankenstein monster with their multi-functional make up. Where ever you look, mobile phones are appearing with PIM software, email receiving and Internet browsing options plus photographic capabilities, music downloading and playing features, video watching and game playing activities. Just by checking on your own mobile phone you can see how true this observation is.
Sometimes having to wait a while to see something is a good thing. If it is still around a year after you requested it then it probably does the job it is meant to, sometimes however the world has moved on. Here I am looking at a very small projector either hand held or mounted on a tripod.
The projector is 12.5x5.5x2cm, silver grey top and bottom and matt black around all four sides. It weights 158 grams. Do not expect to get a huge image but I happily displayed an image 60cm away on a white wall and this gave a near 40x30cm image from jpg images, The stated resolution is 640x480 which is considerably better than its sibling the T10 that is only £80 less than it, it can also display movies and play MP3 files.
Two unusual items from those clever Hong Kong people. Neither of which will break the bank. First a combination lock to fit on a USB stick to keep your data safe. Second what looks like an old cassette tape but of course it isnt.
Basically the sort of thing you have to lock a bicycle chain. However no chain is attached. There is a small keyring on the edge so you can attach it to a bunch of keys. It is 2.7x2.5x1.2cm and weights just 5grams. Of course it will not stop your USB stick being stolen but it might deter people if they are just after ‘nicking the stick’. If you are using the two piece USB stick the top covering the connection is what normally disappears and this can replace that.
Wireless mice have many advantages but can cause frustrating when their battery dies in the middle of carrying out an important task. Perhaps a rechargeable mouse might be the solution.
Unless you are quite young you (or your parents) will remember the Polaroid camera. Take an image and it was printed on rather yucky paper and the image that soon faded if left in sunlight. This is something rather different.
It is 12x7.5x3.5cm and weights 315grams. It is predominately matt black with the tops and side silver grey. It is a conventional digital camera with the Polaroid Zinc printer built in. However unlike the earlier offerings you do not have to print everything. In fact should you wish take ten or twenty images and then only print what you want as it has a TFT screen where you can review everything you take.
To produce decent drawings a suitable drawing program is needed. Version X3, the latest incarnation of Serifs DrawPlus program appears to be easy to use as well as being very versatile and so can be used for a wide variety of different types of drawing.
It is quite easy to get started with the program and produce acceptable results. The on-line videos give one a good idea of what can be done even though they move too fast to enable one to really learn how to do things. On the other hand, I found the program’s help, accessed as usual via F1, was both appeared comprehensive and easily understood. This is due to a large extent to the fact that the text is often supplemented by illustrations.
A trend that is becoming increasingly popular is to use a laptop as a desktop replacement. Falling into this category is the Asus F70SL model.
On reflection I have to admit that reflective surfaces do not rank high in my list of attributes for a variety of devices. It is not just that they reflect images, including that of my visage, but they tend to become disfigured with finger smear and the like. However I shall put these feelings to one side as I report on the Asus F70SL laptop which definitely falls into the category of desktop replacement model.
Usually sequels follow on pretty quickly from the original offering. However there are exceptions but they do not normally take five years to make an appearance.
This is not just an Analogue and Digital TV but also (as far as I know) Panasonic are the only manufacturer to put Freesat inside the unit, so just add your satellite dish for the complete solution with both Freeview and Freesat.
The Panasonic TX-L37G10B TV measures 89x55x10cm the latter figure with leads inserted in the back. The viewable area is 82x46.5cm giving the notional 37inch measurement. The base raises it by 6cm and is 40x28cm. First tuning on Digital also finds however Analogue channels you have. In my case six as I still have my video recorder connected. The channels on Digital are shown in four categories. TV ‘Free’ 59 ‘Pay’ 5 ‘Data’ 11. Finally Radio 23.
Although my laptop has the standard touchpad for controlling the cursor, it is a device that I have never felt comfortable with despite several attempts to adjust. As a result I always attach a mouse such as the one which is the subject of this next review.
This is the latest digital camera from GE a name that entered the digital camera market at the beginning of 2008. This is therefore the second generation of their E range. It is a camera that on the face of it offers a lot.
This is a 12.2mega pixel offering with 5x optical zoom. The matt black colouring together with chrome highlights make it look very smart as well as practical as it shows less fingermarks. It is 9x5.5x2cm and weights only 156grams but still has a very positive feel. The base has tripod screw and a door that covers any SD card you use as well as the solid battery.
Two items that fit rather well together the first something to allow you to save as much power as possible in your computer. The second something we will all need if power is not saved so here some batteries that last and last.
If you are one of the millions that leave a computer turned on and unattended you could be flushing money down the drain. Apparently this will not work with MAC’s but as MAC owners already pay over the odds what’s a bit more. It is a power save mode that works instantly and even tells you how much power and money you have saved by doing so.
While viewing digital content on your computer monitor is fine for certain activities, for a more enjoyable experience you might prefer to use your television screen.
Adding to its FreeAgent family of products, Seagate has released FreeAgent Theater. Described as a HD media player for use with your television, the FreeAgent Theater is decked out in black with the top having a fingerprint retaining lacquered effect. Measuring 31 x 183 x 180mm (H x W x L), the player unit comes with a small remote control, mains power lead with replaceable two and three-pin plugs, composite video stereo/audio cable, SCART adapter, setup guide and software CD.
Over the years Camcorders have got both smaller and lighter. The optical zoom has increased and in almost all cases they have got easier to use. However now with huge zooms have they become just impossible to hold still at or near maximum zoom?
, red still camera and inverted green arrow. This is simply off, take movie, view movie, take still image, view still image. Very user friendly. Also on the back is a flip up door covering A/V output and DC input. The top has the wide angle/telephoto toggle and two other labelled buttons. The base has the all important tripod mount point and the solid battery cover. The right side has the leather finger strap while the front has the lens and microphone.
A Wireless Mobile Mouse
While Microsoft is best known for its software, the company also has a well-establish hardware business. A long standard element of the hardware side of the business is the development and manufacture of numerous mice. Joining the ranks of Microsoft mice is the Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000. As its title suggests, this mouse uses wireless technology for communicating with the computer and has been designed more for the notebook rather than desktop market.
Diamonds, according to the song, are a girls best friend. They are also a popular topic of interest when developers are looking for a hook on which to hang the storyline of their latest game.
The latest example of a game with a diamond theme to make its presence felt on my desktop is Amazing Adventures Around the World. This is a Popcap re-release now available from Focus Multimedia. Those familiar with the SpinTop Games developed Amazing Adventures series will not be surprised to discover that this title combines hidden object and puzzle solving game play. The game sets you the task of finding the World Diamond.
A phone with a keyboard that slips out of the side. It of course does everything else a phone does nowadays such as email, messages, Internet, camera, ironing and washing up, well maybe not the last two but they well could soon.
The GW520 from LG measures 10.5x5x1.5cm, with keyboard out the middle figure the width increases to 8.5cm. It weights only 125grams. It has a black screen surround and sides the rest is silver grey. The touchscreen is 6x3.5cm. There are just three buttons below the touchscreen, these are ‘call’, ‘multi-tasking’ and ‘end’, the last mentioned is also the on/off button. It takes four seconds to switch it off and sixteen seconds to switch the unit on.
One way to keep your computer virus-free is to invest in the protection offered by a product such as BitDefender Antivirus.
It is always nice to be stretched by a DSLR unit. This one from Nikon would make an ideal stepping stone for a competent Digital Camera user before going on to a professional unit if indeed they intend to progress further.
The Nikon D3000 Digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera measures 12x9.5x15cm to the end of the closed lens. This unit is a kit and comes with an 18-55mm lens. The total weight with neck strap fitted is 840grams. Unusually for a DSLR it has a Quick Start sheet to help those you have not used one before. There is also a 64 page User Manual to let you adjust to doing more than ‘point and shoot’.
With Christmas no longer a distance away, time for serious thought. Here first a game suitable for either two players or solo. Second another of Ravensburgers great jigsaws maybe a gift for someone on their own to enjoy.
The recessed game boards are 22x22cm with a playing area of 14x14cm that is exactly the same size as 16 labyrinth tiles (four by four) that fit in the space. Although the tile faces are cardboard they fit in red and blue plastic holders so to protect them from wear. If you add two magicians, sixteen 7x7cm object cards and the book of rules (24 pages in six languages) you have the contents of the box. It is based on a game by Prof. Dr. Max Kobbert that is now over twenty years old.
No matter how much hard disk storage space we start with, there will come a time when more is required either for local use or as a means of transporting data.
Described as a compact, lightweight, portable storage solution, the Buffalo MiniStationLite is an external hard drive. This product is available in Crystal Black, Ruby Red or Pearl White with a choice of 250, 320 or 500GB capacity. This review is based on the Ruby Red 250GB model. Comparable to the Seagate’s FreeAgent Go with regards to size and weight, the MiniStationLite dimensions are 129.6 x 80.6 x 15.5mm and weighs 190g.
This is a Netbook but not with the normal 1.6GHz Atom processor. This has a 1.33GHz Atom processor meaning it uses less power so you should be able to get eight hours of battery life. The slightly larger screen displays 1366x768.
This Acer Netbook measures 28x21x3cm and weights 1.35kilos. It has a shiny lid (shows fingermarks) a matt black base and silver grey keyboard surround. The larger battery (to give the eight hour battery life) sticks out 2cm from the back and the back of the sides are chamfered slightly meaning that the items at the back of each side (Ethernet and VGA) protrude back slightly. The left side has Ethernet, AC input, two USB ports, and microphone and headset sockets.
Described as archaeology meets adventure style offering, Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle is an adventure-style game that is set in Cornwall.
According to Sods Law, the battery on your mobile device will run out when you need it the most. But, like a boy scout, you can be prepared.
At the beginning of the year I reported on my first encounter with a product from Powertraveller Ltd. This is a company that supports the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation ( ) which funds long term projects in Africa and Asia aimed at species survival in their native habitat. The product was the unusually named powermonkey-eXplorer.
Two very different approaches to music through a speaker. First the rather grand Yamaha offering that enables your iPod to be located away from the speaker. Second a small (fits in pocket) speaker to give a good sound for iPod or MP3.
This seems like an easy mix. Place your iPod in the wireless sender that fits around your iPod it sends signals to the speaker and sound comes out. Not what happened for me, I assumed (wrongly) that the speaker was faulty and a replacement was sent, still no joy. Then it was suggested I upgrade the firmware in my series one iPod Nano, now upgraded to version 1.31 all works correctly.
Time travel, friendly animal characters, hidden objects and numerous mini games all features in this Alawar title.
Recently my nightly slumbers have been interrupted on a number of occasions by shrieking sounds. It didn’t take me too long to discover that the sounds were coming from a family of urban foxes as they explored the local rubbish bins. Maybe the developers of this next title encountered a similar state of affairs thus giving them the idea of the trouble that two inquisitive fox cubs could get up to without too much effort.
First another in the range of Doro mobile phones for those less agile and or with disabilities. Second a DECT cordless phone suitable for anyones home and it includes a built in answering machine for those times you are not there
This is almost like a normal mobile phone except it has the larger buttons and an easy to read display. It has Bluetooth and MMS and even a built in FM radio. It is a flip phone and when closed the black back makes it look like ant other phone. However open it up and the white face with vibrant green piping around the edges make it stand out for the visually impaired. There are just 18 keys all well spaced apart. The bottom four rows are the normal 1-0 and * #.
Either of these items would make a great Christmas gift, but give some thought to the receiptant as the first one runs backwards. The second is a more conventional al la Wallace and Gromit conventional both are great fun.
At first look this may seem bizarre, however it works exactly like a normal Quartz clock with the twelve at the top and the six at the bottom but there the similarity ends as to the right of twelve is eleven and the sweep second hand goes anti clockwise (as do the hour and minute hands) if you are still confused look at the clock in a mirror and all will make sense. This is great talking point and during my tests it kept perfect time.
Photos and video clips are meant to be viewed not hidden away on your hard disk. So put them to some productive use.