As I am sure everyone knows the Digital Changeover is coming (in fact it has already arrived in some places), so to keep perfectly good Analogue TVs working set top boxes were made to translate the signals, then the PVR (to replace the video recorder), then the PVR had Freeview built in. Now something slightly different.
Here not one but two exciting precision tools for the home hobbyist. First do not confuse these items with toys they are definitely not, these items are tools for the home hobbyist. First an engraving stylus and then a quality soldering iron.
First the dual tin that it comes in, the top part is divided into various compartments to store bits and pieces while they are a work in progress. The second larger part is what holds the stylus and the charger as well as various parts to fit on the stylus. It is powered by a Lithium-Ion battery to enable you to work in restricted areas. The stylus itself is shaped like a backward facing gun. The holding arm is 10.5x3.5x4.5cm.
The proliferation of mobile devices using different video standards has created a market for companies to develop video conversion product such as the subject of this next review.
You may remember that a few months ago I took a look at a product that had been developed to aid the conversion and transfer of multimedia content from one format to another. Unfortunately I was less than impressed with the results I was able to achieve with this title which shall remain nameless. Now a competitive product, offering similar functionality, has appeared. This product, from Avanquest, is entitled TransferMy Video.
The SP200 is one of the newer budget additions to the GN Netcoms Jabra range of Drive N Talk Easy Bluetooth Speakerphones. It is easy to use without taking ones eyes of the road and so is possibly safer to user than a number of products on the market.
It is a neat matt black unit which fits comfortably in the palm of the hand. While at first glance the visor clip, made of blackened spring steel wire, appears cheap it is extremely effective and is able to accommodate quite a range of different visor thicknesses. I did, however, feel that with a thick visor it is quite likely that unsightly marks would remain on the visor where the wire clip had been.
Two different phones both designed for people with a disability the first for perhaps the more serious disability the HandlePlus 334gsm. The second the PhoneEasy 342gsm for those with less agile fingers.
It is 12x5.5x1.5cm mine had a white face with a black back. The face has a 3.5x2.2cm display and under this only eight keys. Two rows of two and under this the letters A to D in a single column with space beside to put a name. These can be the numbers of anyone you wish such as a son or daughter a neighbour or a close friend. This phone would enable someone with very limited digit control some range of independence to lead some form of life.
Browsing the web using a mobile phone used to be a painful experience. Low-fi WAP sites were a pathetic shadow of the real internet and the cost could be astronomical. It's good to see that things are changing!
Now all the networks – Orange, O2, 3, T-mobile, Vodafone and Virgin - offer high-speed ‘3G’ internet access, allowing you to get online at decent speeds so you can browse the web and access email on the move. Even better, you can skip the phone entirely and pick up an affordable mobile broadband deal. What a mobile broadband package does is allow you to connect to the internet using a mobile phone network, but without having to use a phone.
When is a mouse not just a mouse? The answer, as I discovered recently, was when the mouse is also a presenters tool.
As part of its new line up of SlimBlade mice, Kensington has come up with a device that combines the usual functionality of a mouse with those of a tool to control a presentation via Bluetooth connectivity. Appropriately enough this product goes by the title of SlimBlade Bluetooth Presenter Mouse.
Time to put your hidden object finding and puzzle solving skills to the test as you enter the world of Mystery Case Files.
This is yet another nice Netbook; it boots and shuts down quickly but still runs Windows XP. The finish is nice and all in all it is a rather nice unit that you could whip out of a smallish bag or case without having to grow extra muscles.
The Samsung N310 Netbook is 26x18x3cm and weights 1225grams. Mine was a light blue colour and the case feels almost rubberised thus giving it a little extra protection. The left side has Kensington lock anchor point, a USB port, a covered Ethernet port and the two 3.5mm sockets for microphone and headphones. The front has an SD card socket. The right side has two further USB ports and a rubber bung over the VGA out. Finally the power input connector.
Having just spent time updating my sisters television set up, and getting different pieces of kit to work in harmony, in preparation for the digital switch-over, I just wish I had waited a little longer until this next product came along.
Like London buses or any other kind of public transport for that matter, there are some products which you do not see for ages and then two turn up in close proximity. No sooner had I completed my look at one set-top digital box than another one popped up to start vying for my attention. Developed by Digital Vision, this product is the DV-DTR1 Digital TV Recorder (Gigo to its friends) which combines Freeview channel access with recording capabilities using USB 2.0 technology.
Here two items from Griffin to enable you to power iPods. The first PowerDock 2 allows you to charge two iPods simultaneously. The second allows you to power an iPod from either in the car or by inserting an AA battery to give you a Power Boost when out and about.
I am told they also do a PowerDock 4 but I find it hard to imagine anyone having four iPods, still in a large family it could be possible. It is 18x7.5x3cm, brushed metal top with black inserts and sides and grey rubber base. The back has the input for the power lead. This lead comes with one of those multi plug devices that has different plug ends to clip on for Europe, the USA/Japan, Australia/New Zealand and of course the UK. The lead is 1.4metres.
First a Digital Luggage Scale that is easy to use and it could save you pounds of money by not having an overweight case. Second a Solar recharger for USB devices that comes from Brando those clever USB people in Hong Kong.
Have you ever tried to weigh luggage? The bathroom scales are favourite as of course the kitchen scales never go up enough. The problem is are they accurate and even if they are is the whole weight on the scales? This is a simple device but it can save you pounds (that’s the money pounds) as overweight at the check in is expensive. The alternative is to leave something behind and if you choose that do you have someone nearby to leave it with? It is 16x6x2.5cm maximum.
Bamboo has many uses but I never thought I would come across one that would involve my computer and various software mini-apps.
According to my Concise Oxford Dictionary, bamboo is a “Genus of tropical giant grasses; the stem, used as stick or material”. Wacom, however, would prefer you to look on Bamboo as a family of consumer pen tablets with, as far as I can see, absolutely no connection to the natural material. (Asus also has a Bamboo product – a notebook that is encased in bamboo.) The Wacom Bamboo family comes in three versions, namely Bamboo, Bamboo Fun and Bamboo One.
This is another HP OfficeJet that is predominately black with a white base and part of the sides; sadly it will never pass the lounge police. However as it is Ethernet/Wi-Fi/USB you could possibly hide it in a cupboard, the latter is also a good idea as when it prints it is quite noisy especially when in fast draft mode.
The HP Officejet 6500 is 46x42x24cm. It is stated to give professional colour for 40% less than a laser this is energy and cost per page, but read the HP site for how that is calculated. There are 36 buttons on the front sloping edge of the unit together with a two line black on white display. There are two card slots for MS and SD/xD on the front left edge. All the connections USB, Ethernet, Power and Phone lead are back left located close together.
Never mind toys for the boys keep them kids occupied whatever the weather. I've been having a look at some of the great toys out there for the kids this summer. Bearing in mind our lovely weather I've included a good selection of active toys for indoors as well as the great outdoors.
This is a fantastic playground toy which can be used both inside an out an ingenious combination of space hopper and 360 degree see-saw. The metal frame allows the Spirohop to go up and down like a traditional see-saw whilst going round and round like a roundabout.
According to recent figures, notebook sales are outnumbering desktop systems in some quarters. In many cases the notebook is being purchased as a direct replacement for a desktop system. However this approach could raise a problem with regards to connectivity.
Forget conquering a single country. There is a whole galaxy out there waiting for just the right person to take complete control.
As its title indicates, Sword of the Stars Ultimate Collection is just that – a collection. This product comprises the original Sword of the Stars title plus the two expansion packs of Born of Blood and Murder of Crows. Installing the whole kit and caboodle gives you the single desktop icon as the various titles are integrated together thus introducing addition alien races and equipment to the original package of turn-based intergalactic empire building.
This unit has a built in Freeview box so anyone with only an Analog TV can now move on and since it can play (and record) DVDs as well as record either to the HDD or direct to DVD you have the best of both in a single unit.
The LG RHT497H measures 43x30x5cm with leads inserted. The front has a four position circular control and two drop down flaps (more on these in a bit) while the front edge of the top has a button at each end. The sides, underneath and rest of the top are free meaning something else could be stacked on top. The rear has A/C input, HDMI out, two SCART sockets, the five Component sockets, S-Video, Coaxial, Optical and Aerial In and Out sockets. You can record to the HDD or to a DVD.
Some great toys from ECOutlet the online store for eco-friendly items. We checked out some fab environmentally friendly toys.
You know the old one - when you buy a kid a present, they invariably play more with the cardboard box. Here's a company that's making the most out of that maxim - ECOutlet. ECOutlet help us to feel a bit better about our purchases by giving us environmental choices, with everything from books to toys and cycling to garden accessories as well as laundry and cleaning products. This is a great place to look for presents with that Eco-touch.
While the majority of manufacturers of external speaker systems have tended to concentrate their support for the iPod platform, Edifier has adopted a more wide ranging approach with the launch of its MP300 Plus Portable System.
The CX1 is the latest in the Ricoh line-up of compact digital cameras aimed at personal use.
The Ricoh CX1 measures approximately 102x58x28mm (WxHxD), almost identical to it's stable mate the . The dimensions are not the only similarity with that model and the CX1 can in many ways be seen as a logical successor.
This is very new notebook (well desktop replacement) from Acer. It has almost everything you might want in a single unit. The 18.4 inch screen means you do not need to skimp of image size and you even have a Blu-ray drive inside.
I was just coming to the end of my review when Windows did yet more updates and these included Internet Explorer 8. All seemed to go well and after the reboot no error messages but IE 8 refuses to load.
120 years ago the electric motor was invented and although it has had minor changes it remains more or less the same as it was then. James Dyson has invented a totally new and considerably lighter offering, just one of the new things in this latest handheld unit.
This will never replace the full sized unit and indeed it is not intended to do so. I remember when I was first shown an early ‘ball’ unit the lady demonstrating it said the ‘ball’ means even a man can use it, I am still not sure how much her tongue was in her cheek. However the ‘ball’ unit does get into spaces and round tight turns that other cleaners cannot get.
As D-Day (thats the switch over from analogue to digital television) approaches for certain parts of the country, it is perhaps the appropriate time to look at a digital set-top box.
TVonics, a British privately owned independent design and manufacturing company that specialised in the digital television sector has developed the MDR-250 digital TV receiver to help users make the transition from analogue to digital television. This product consists of a Freeview box; remote control with a set of batteries; mains power, RF and SCART leads; an IR (Infrared) extender; plus Quick Start and User Guides.
I first saw this unit when it was launched at a show in the spring of 2008, finally I got one to look at in the spring of 2009, however other pressing reviews stopped it being looked at until now with summer flourishing.
Strange how two installations can be vastly different? I first tried installing it on a fast new Vista notebook and I could write a thesis on the problems, eventually solved after a two hour call from technical support. Mind you as I had already read the manual a couple of times and tried everything I could think of I knew the product fairly well. Next my older less powerful desktop running XP, full install without a hitch total install time 3 minutes and not a problem in sight.
Turn a standard mouse upside down and you have an inactive piece of kit but this is not the case with a new product from Kensington.
In the same way that keyboards have been designed with enhanced features, such as multimedia controls and zoom capability, their usual companion, of a mouse, has followed a similar pattern as is exemplified by this next product. This is the SlimBlade Media Mouse from Kensington. This offering is a laser mouse that communicates with the computer via a USB stick receiver with a wireless 2.4GHz signal operating on a range of up to 30 feet.
You are invited to a murder. But can you arrive at the correct solution within the designated time limit?
I do not get to see many Sony units as their agency in the past has not the most cooperative hence this unit being supplied by Jessops. This is a small neat unit but it also has a lot of recent features and certainly worth a look.
This looks like many other small digital cameras with a huge TFT. However apart from a very small amount of internal memory it requires a card and because the camera is from Sony it will require their type of memory and not the far more easily available and reasonably priced SD cards. It is 9.5x5.5x3cm the last figure can double when the lens is fully extended. It weights 175grams and my unit was black with a chrome strip around the unit.
A new candy-bar mobile from Sony Ericsson that provides a wealth of features
in a small package at a good price.
The Sony Ericsson C510 measures approximately 47x107x12mm (WxHxD) and weighs 92g. For the fashion conscious you can have your choice of red, silver or black. The device is very reminiscent of my , although with the addition of a few new features and a loss of around 30% of thickness. In the box with the phone Sony Ericsson provide their standard charger, USB cable, stereo headset, manual and CD.
As we tend to use our computers when listening to music, some thought should be given to the kit that provides the audio output.
Often it is easy to focus on a company’s main field of expertise with regards to products while you ignore other areas in which the company might be active. I have to plead guilty to falling into this trap myself but in my defence I can put forward the excuse that, until very recently, I was totally unaware that Verbatim produced speaker systems.