GadgetSpeak Articles

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While laptops come with a built-in microphone, this is really only suitable for minor tasks. For professional recording tasks, you need a microphone built to professional standards.
While many will regard the Yeti as being kin to Big Foot and the Abominable Snowman as a member of the legendary ape-like family, the people at Blue Microphones are of a different opinion.  They know that the Yeti is the brand name given to a microphone developed by the company.
PC World and Currys have several brand names exclusive to them and one of these is Sandstrom. Here I am looking at a DAB and FM radio that also accepts MP3 input as well as having an iPod dock built into the unit.
It is 24x13x9cm but you will need to add another 2cm to the second figure the depth for the D/C lead to be inserted. This includes the eight piece rod aerial that expands to 70cm when fully extended for optimum sound.  My unit was shiny black except for the front that was matt black, surely the whole thing in matt black would look better as the matt black does not show finger marks to the same extent so it will look cleaner to the casual glance.
Octobers here and the prime buying time – to avoid disappointment – from the younger ones is well under way. Here two more items that could be of interest to the younger ones, these just maybe, for the slightly older and just for a change both only require a single child to play them.
Apart from being marked as for ‘8+’ this is also small so could well be useful for travel that might lessen the ‘are we there yet’. 10,000+ Brain Busting Puzzles is what the front of the product claims and, joy of joys the batteries are included.
The Desire S is a recent addition to the range of Android phones from HTC and, as a result, has benefitted from the company’s experience. It is of a nice size and feels right in the hand and, having a fast enough processor and 1G of memory will meet the needs of the great majority of smart phone users. With built-in GPS, FM radio and torch it is also aimed at being the Swiss Army knife of smart phones.
As one would expect of a smartphone, with full connectivity, including WiFi and Bluetooth, and running Android 2.3 it is extremely versatile. The wide range of features and apps already incorporated are conveniently accessed via the seven home pages so that one can go from, for example, listening to an MP3, to checking appointments in Google calendar and then sending an email -- and there is also a vast range of other Android apps available.
A trip to a Central London hotel, which used to be a multi-storey car park, introduced me to a new product from Hitachi and gave me the opportunity to see the ET movie.
While some companies identify their hardware products with a combination of letters and numbers (for example the PX-2611U reviewed recently), others bestow a name upon the product.  Sometimes the name is appropriate and gives you a clear idea as to the use to which the item can be put but this is not always the case.  Take for example the Touro Mobile Pro from Hitachi which gives little away regarding the product other than it is portable.
650346 Sony CMT MX550i compact hifi syste

Sony CMT-MX550i

The Sony CMT-MX550i is a elongated rather nice audio unit, it has DAB and FM radio, tray CD player, external audio in as well as the ability to play iPod and iPhone and to cap it off it can also play input from a USB stick drive for good measure.
With leads inserted in the rear it measures 31x28x12cm, the last figure the height might increase according to the size of your iPod. The iPod dock is a drop down open unit on the front and is 9.5cm from the top of the unit. It is supplied with two 1.5metre long wide aerials that push onto the DAB and FM aerial sockets at the rear of the unit, it looks crude but they work surprisingly well giving me excellent reception in my area by just extending the wire to around 80degrees.
649451 Edifier Prime 2.0 Dynamic Multimedia USB Hub Speaker Syste

Speakers and USB : Edifier Prime USB

The arrival of a new product from Edifier always gets my imagination going as I wonder what geometrical shape will have been used for the speakers that make up the new system.
For those who have not come across a speaker system from Edifier before, the company has a habit of designing speaker systems whose appearance has an eye-catching effect.  In the past I have taken a look at Edifier systems of different colours and those featuring cylindrical, spherical and decapitated pyramid units.  Now it is the turn of the Prime USB model which belongs to the Edifier IT Lifestyle range of products.
As the Shaman of the tribe, it is your duty to protect it from the evil forces that are threatening to destroy the village in a couple of titles from the Mystery Age series.
As part of its Hidden Mystery Collections, Focus Multimedia has brought together a couple of titles from the Mystery Age series.  These two titles are The Imperial Staff and The Dark Priests.  Both offerings fall into the Hidden Object Adventure genre and were originally released by Big Fish Games.  Each title needs to be installed separately and it will place an appropriate icon on your desktop for easy access.
650349 Acer Aspire 5750G 15.6 inch Noteboo

Acer Aspire 5750G

This is probably the most powerful notebook that I have ever used. A look at the Windows Experience index will show that. If you are looking for a powerful notebook then this should certainly be on a very short list of items.
The Acer Aspire 5750G measures 38x24.5x3cm the last figure the width is at the back with the front being only 2cm. For those - like me – who hate the finger marks left on shiny black plastic there is very little of it. The top is metal mine was ice blue and this was repeated around the keyboard, the base is matt black while only the screen surround is shiny black. The screen is 34.5x19.5cm giving the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 15.
After a gap of several years, I was re-introduced to Binatone and its range of telephonic and IT devices which include the subject of this next review.
The L1i Twin is part of Binatone’s iDECT range of phones for those who prefer a landline connection with a degree of mobility.  As the “Twin” part of its title indicates, this product consists of a pair of handsets allowing you to set up a handset in two different rooms.  There is a choice of colour schemes available as you select from black, silver or black & silver.  The review model was of the latter colour scheme.
I have reviewed a number of these small (they still print A4) printers, however the last was a while ago and this has just been launched by HP. So if you work away from power will it do what you need to do or is portable not on?
The HP OfficeJet 100 measures 33.5x19x8cm either with leads plugged in or with the supplied battery pack plugged in, in the latter configuration it weights 2.585kilos. It comes with decent sized ink cartridges – something other mobile units have not seemed to have – it is also stated to have battery power to print ‘up to 500 pages’ between needing power.
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.
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