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

648426 mars custom P

Mars PC from OP3

Sometimes you discover a little gem; I did earlier this year at a twice yearly press event. They are a PC manufacturer who return your calls and even deliver exactly what you ask for, something certainly worth considering.
Unlike most manufacturers today you can have exactly what you want, find a unit that is close to what you require and then modify it to give you exactly what you want, the price updates with every change that you make. The OP3 Mars seemed a reasonable starting point, a small tower with a reasonable sized power supply a 3.06GHz processor (over clocked to 3.5GHz) an Asus Motherboard that has both USB2 and USB3 ports as well as eSATA, the memory was only 2GB so I doubled that.
I know we are at the height of summer but the round of Christmas offerings are already happening, the two jig saws I am talking about here were actually shown at the Toy Fair to the trade last January for sale for this Christmas.
Still with memories of the 5000 piece offering that defeated me early this year I reverted to the other end of the scale with a 100 piece ‘XXL’ puzzle. This is aimed at 6+ with the average piece size being around 6x3.7cm. The overall puzzle size is 49x36cm and features Dr Who and Amy Pond along with something that looks rather like one of my school teachers as well as a Dalek and what I think is a stone monster in a very blue scenario.
648277 Dragon Naturally speaking 11.

Dragon Gets Even More Natural

Dragon speech recognition software has been around for many years and is increasingly able to take advantage of faster processors and larger amounts of memory. The latest version Naturally Speaking 11.5 appears to have the same recognition engine as version 11, and so is also able to take advantage of today’s multiple processor cores and 64-bit systems, but has been enhanced to make it this more user-friendly.
One important factor with speech recognition is that it should be provided with the best quality input possible. Consequently, once the software has been installed the audio performance (level and quality) of the microphone and the PC’s sound card is checked prior to the user training the system to his or her voice by reading from a choice of texts. This only takes about ten minutes or so before one can start actually using the software.
Acting as a link between various sources of media content and your high definition television, is the role of a product from Eminent
Once upon a time home entertainment was relatively basic and straightforward.  Mum, dad and all the other family members would huddle together around the wireless to listen to the best that the BBC could offer.  Later the wireless would be replaced by the box in the corner as television, first in black & white with the BBC and then colour plus ITV to add some choice, took over.
648032 Livescribe ECHO 8GB Smartpe

Echo Smartpen

Not the first version of this, but the first I have seen. Earlier versions had only 1GB of memory, now they come in 2GB, 4GB and 8GB versions. There are also other improvements to this interesting unit that is not just a pen.
While this functions as a pen on ordinary paper on the special paper (coated with almost invisible tiny dots) it does far more. You can set it up to record – ideal for students – and just write the odd word or phrase as a reminder to a salient point. Press the pen on the paper at that point and once you replay the recording it will skip to that point. If you have recorded a two hour lecture and the point you want is five minutes before the end you can see the time that can be saved.
When is an MP3 player not an MP3 player? It is when it also includes record, video, FM radio, camera and ebook reading capacities.
Those of us of a certain age will, no doubt, remember with some affection when our mobile entertainment came in the form of a portable cassette player with the Walkman being the popular option.  Admittedly this entertainment was only of the audio variety but we were in seventh heaven as we listened to our favourite music.  Then along came digital.  Now we could select from a range of MP3 players with the incredibly successful Apple iPod taking the lead.
A Hidden Object Adventure game with a difference and a bonus game based on riddles come together with a new offering from Focus Multimedia.
While most Hidden Object Adventure games present the player with lists of items that need to be located within specific scenes, there is an exception to this approach.  Enlightenus rather than expect the player to identify items in a scene, requires the player to position objects in their correct location within a scene.  A follow-up to the original Enlightenus, not surprisingly entitled Enlightenus 2, follows a similar pattern.
648018 canon pixma mg8150 all in one printer scanne

Canon Pixma MG8150

A sleek black All In One unit that works wirelessly or with USB. It is totally black apart from the front edge of the landscape scanner lid that is grey, even the LED screen sits flat on top of the unit when not in use, the only visible control is the on/off button.
It is 45x39x19cm so slightly larger than some, it is a six ink offering with red, blue, yellow, two blacks and a grey cartridge. Two seconds from pressing the on button you are ready to copy and if you want just a straightforward duplicate this can print quickly, however you can reduce to 50% and increase to 400% as well as change the intensity.
As files get larger so the need for greater storage capacity increases with a corresponding improvement in data transfer.
As part of its new product line-up announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show inLas Vegas(unfortunately my invite and plane ticket somehow got lost in the post so I was unable to attend),Buffalointroduced the DriveStation Axis USB 3.0.  This external desktop hard disk is available in either 1 or 2TB versions and comes with the promise of high speed access for the user.  My review is based on the 1TB model which I have seen listed at £69.99.
A package that by its number you know has been around for a while. However what was first important for one job – file size reduction – is now less so now it has three other uses that make it a product still useful today.
For a while now WinZip has been owned by Corel, this gives it stability as they tend to develop things and increase functionality and with that value. However here when you install think first as one question you need to answer is will you require it to work with currently existing Zip files if so make the choice with care as new (recent) technologies may not work that well with earlier files.
648017 Shark Steam Pocket Mo

Shark Steam Pocket Mop

Although I have reviewed a number of vacuum cleaners I have to confess this is my first mop. However this is not your ‘bucket and mop’ type mop. In trying to position it correctly it is really a vacuum for all hard floors.
On first glance it could be confused with a vacuum cleaner it comes with a 8metre mains lead and part way down the arm is a bulge that could be confused with a dust collector in fact this is where the steam is produced. Like so many products today you need to assemble it – this even applies to vacuum cleaners – however its not that difficult and the Owners Guide and ‘Quick Start’ which are combined in one run to eighteen well illustrated pages.
The Manfrotto Compact MKC-PO2 tripod (in grey) has been designed to provide a firm base for cameras weighing up to 1.5kg and so is suitable for compacts and the majority of DSLRs. With a packed length of less than 43cm and a weight of only 1kg, it is an acceptable burden for the keen photographer and yet will reach a maximum height of 165cm when the 30cm centre column is full extended.
The tripod consists of 5-section oval legs with simple quick release clamps to that the height can be quickly and easily set anywhere within its range irrespective of whether or not the ground is level. A simple screw is used to lock the centre column, which has a roughly hexagonal profile, in any required position.
If you enjoyed the Wallace & Gromit Claymation shorts then you might like to try your hand at creating your own videos using stop-motion captures.
I have to admit to being a little nonplussed when this next product arrived.  As I struggled to think of who would send me a small toy dog with articulated limbs, a closer examination of the package revealed that the product was Claymation Studio 3.0 Deluxe and it came with a plug & play USB PC camera in the form of the dog mentioned earlier.  A 115cm USB lead is provided in the box and I will leave it to you to guess where you insert the lead into the dog’s body.
If like me you can remember the early floppy disc – long before hard discs – then a MB was a great deal of space, early hard drives were a few MB, now we talk is hundreds of GB and so on till we arrive at the TB an even larger measure.
The DriveStation Duo is - as it rather gives away in the title – two drives in a single case. In my case they were two 1TB drives. You could purchase larger drives and it’s to you which sort of array you set them up into.  The box is 21.5x12.5x8.5cm without the cables inserted in the rear and it weights a not insubstantial 1.91kilos. The front cover pulls off to reveal the two drives that just slide in and out of the drive bays.
646780 nuance omnipage 18 ocr softwar

OmniPage 18 : Nuane OmniPage 18

Rather than retype text from a printed document, you might prefer using current technology to scan the original document before converting the results into editable text.
A scanner, whether of the standalone variety or part of a multifunction device, will probably have come with software capable of carrying out OCR (Optical Character Recognition) duties. This is when scanned documents are converted into editable text for use within your word processor.
From a peaceful opening scene, a Big Fish game takes you on a trip through a Sanitarium where experiments are being conducted.
A car parked in a country road with a view of pleasant green fields is the opening scene of a title from the Big Fish family.  The car driver, a young woman, who is your on-screen persona, is taking a break as she reads a note from her boyfriend, Tim, who is investigating some rumours of wrong doings in a medical establishment.
648014 pentax K r Digital SLR camer

Pentax K-r

By the time you read this you will be able to buy this rather nice DSLR unit in a range of colours as well as the more normal black. To me – providing it’s not pink – I could not care what colour it is providing I get decent images.
For a DSLR unit it is quite small at 12x14x9.5 with the 18-55mm lens fitted and the total weight is 845grams. I suppose I only get to see three or four DSLR units in a year, most are smaller units often the sort to fit in a pocket. So my routine is much the same, charge the battery, find an SD card switch to Auto and with a DSLR activate the Auto Focus. Only once I have done these things and taken a few images do I investigate the differences.
The original version of this review was completed a while ago. I held it back to allow AirTies to check out a possible compatibility problem with an item of equipment I was using. As yet I am still waiting for the results of this investigation and so heave decided to release the review.
As its initial launch product in theUK, AirTies, a company set up by a management and technical team from Silicon Valley and with its headquarters based inTurkey, has released its Wireless Kit for Internet TV.  This kit consists of two small wireless access point devices (90 x 70 x 20mm) plus two 12v power adapters, two Ethernet cables and a software CD.
A novel design for this hard drive has it sitting up in a cradle, it can be removed if you wish, however this unit has a decent front end of software that offers more than just a hard drive and even then there is a little something extra.
I have reviewed several 500GB drives and even a couple of 750GB ones which although they come with extra power leads they have not needed them, here even when the drive is out of the cradle it can need that extra boost. The main drive has a small partition which is seen as a CD enabling it to have software concealed on it. More on this software in a little bit. The usable part of the drive is 465GB with the other GB taken by pointers.
648012 corel painter 12 graphic softwar

Corel Painter 12

One reason I like Corel products is that they are intuitive another is they give you printed documentation. To be fair it’s a Getting Started Guide but as that is a 124 page hard back book you start to see this is not a trivial package.
This is a dual platform product as the DVD installs on both Windows and MAC. Installation of all parts took only around twelve minutes and used 1.3GB of hard disc space. It will run on XP with the proviso that is has a 1GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, certainly my XP system does not have that. I installed it on a 64bit Windows 7 system.
While multifunction devices tend to be based on an inkjet printer, there are some that come with laser printing functionality such as the Brother DCP-7070DW.
The arrival of a large box containing the latest Brother printer unit at my front door had the effect of making my back wonder just what was in store for it when the need came to manoeuvre it into position.  Fortunately, once the unit was unpacked, appearance proved to be somewhat deceptive.
Here a four port Gigabit router and then for those who need more a second ‘switch’ that gives you another eight connections. Both these items are the latest high specification offerings from the Cisco’s Linksys branding.
This is designed as a consumer router but it is fast at up to 450Mbit/s when in 11n. It is actually 150Mbit/s but as it has two transmitting and three receiving antennas so according to whether you are transmitting 300Mbit/s or Receiving 300Mbit/s is possible. It is 12x5x15.5x2.5cm all the controls and ports are on the back so perhaps not the easiest to see.
One aspect of a laptop or netbook that often gets ignored is that of audio output with speakers that do not enhance your listening pleasure.
It has been quite a while since I last had the opportunity to review an Altec Lansing speaker system.  If memory serves me correct, it was the Altec Lansing Orbit 360 product which appeared nearly three years ago.  Perhaps, surprisingly, considering the speed at which technology advances and new products make an appearance,  Altec Lansing is still developing new offerings for the Orbit family.  The latest addition to this family is the Orbit USB Stereo.
Pack your bags; it is time for a sea cruise. You better make sure you include your magnifying glass and puzzle solving hat as you will need them if you hope to survive the trip.
A sea cruise is meant to be a relaxing and beneficial experience.  What with sea breezes, enjoyable company, sumptuous surroundings and attentive staff at your beck and call – could you wish for anything more.  But, of course, that was before those devious people at SpinTop Games decided that an element of mystery and adventure was missing from this scenario.  The result of this intervention can be seen in Escape the Emerald Star, a new game that is published by PopCap.
646866 PCTV Systems DVB T2 290e nanoStick HD TV Tune

PCTV nanoStick T2

This is a company owned by Hauppauge who were one of the first to produce TV cards in the UK. Of course with more notebooks sold than desktops you need a USB stick and not a PC Card, so is this what we all now need?
I have reviewed a few other USB sticks but always although the aerial connection has been the same performance has been less than sparkling. So would this unit fail to shine or would a manufacturer has got things right. The USB stick/receiver is 8x2x1.5cm with the aerial adapter inserted in the end. The only possible problem is with USB ports stacked on top of each other where you may require an extender lead (supplied) to make all ports available.
My first disk-based computer stored its operating system and additional software on a single 360K floppy (yes it was bendable) 5.25-inch disk. Oh how things have changed.
Sometimes when friends and colleagues get together, the topic of conversation can turn towards the subject of size.  An occurrence of this situation arose recently but while the topic was size related, it was more to do with the lack of, rather than excessive, size.
646865 hanspree tablet computer 10.1 inc


This is the size of a Netbook but it is an Android tablet, as far as I know this is the first non screen type device produced by Hanns.G although of course it has a screen, a rather nice touch screen at that, but its all about what’s inside.
It is 26x17x1.5cm and weights 750grams. The viewable screen is 22x12.5cm that is 10.1inches diagonal measurement. The back is matt black, the edges are silver why then must the screen surround be shiny black and show all the finger marks! The screen is also rather reflective so when out and about in sunlight you need to get the angles right. The bottom left of the face has three LED’s power on (green) charging (red) and wireless connected (green).
The first device for all those who have important data on IDE drives, the second for those with more modern kit who simply want to copy – or clone – the data onto another drive. The first needs USB and second can work independently.
Ever needed to transfer data from one device to another, those who know can easily do so from one similar device to another in a PC however older IDE and PATA drives often no longer have a home so this device can help. For SATA drives you just place them in the top of the unit, connect the power lead and the USB one and the PC you connect the other end of the USB lead to sees that drive just as it would any other USB device and it gets a drive letter.
646630 IDAPT I2+ BLACK Wireless Charge

Triple Recharging : Inoitulos IDAPT i2+

As we become users of multiple devices that we find it difficult to manage without, so the problem increases as to how to ensure these devices are charged when we need them.
Despite efforts from some manufacturers, there remains a wide variety of connections for linking to a power source.  This would not be a problem when access to a number of power sources is available but sometimes only one power socket is currently free.  For situations such as this, a product that could handle power-charging for a range of devices would be useful.
The 500GB Hitachi LifeStudio Mobile is an external 2.5inch hard drive does not require external power. It is in an attractive light blue and grey shell and comes supplied with desk cradle complete with a double-headed cable about 1 metre long plus a separate USB cable about 50cm long. Thus, together, the user is provided with the cradle for desktop use and the short cable for use while on the move.
Software is supplied, not on a separate CD, but on the drive itself. It was straightforward to install. Unfortunately, it also requires Adobe Flash Player 9 and requests that it be downloaded from As there is no reference on the box to indicate this, and I had no broadband where I was staying, I had to wait till I returned to the office to complete the installation. Once that was done the drive was ready for use as it was pre-formatted FAT-32.
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