Technology is making great inroads into all forms of education. Traditional methods of gaining information and storing content are being superseded by the Internet and computers.
Some may remember that a number of months ago I looked at a product designed for use within educational establishments. This product, from AlphaSmart, was entitled Neo ( ). The Neo, for those who missed my original review, is a lightweight unit that brings together the functionality of a portable word processing, including KAZ Typing Tutor, with features such as USB and Infrared connectivity along with a six-function calculator.
With most All In One or Multi Function units coming with bundled OCR software, is there still a place for a standalone suite not tied to a scanner. For any user who takes time to train for near perfect results the answer is yes.
This is in fact more than just ReadIris as it has other items included the most useful is likely to be CardIris that can scan, read and store information from business cards. I installed everything and ten minutes and three installations later I was 2100MB of hard disc space down.
Here I am looking at Kitchen Scales and an Electric Carving Knife from a chef (Antony Worrall Thompson) who graces the TV screens but as far as I know does not throw tantrums that a number of other celebrity chefs do.
The scale is 21x18x4cm and weights 44ograms. The weighing table is 17x13.5cm and is the left portion of the unit. The scale is powered by two ‘AAA’ batteries (supplied) that fit in the base. Interestingly it looks as if the scale was designed for four battery operation as the area behind the door is laid out for two rows of two batteries but contacts have only been provided for one. There are three round buttons below the 4.
To paraphrase a Lionel Bart song of yesteryear, Toys aint what they used to be.
Toys use to be just toys that you were meant to enjoy without any additional baggage when I was a child. You had your favourites and would play with them for hours quite happily. There were even occasions when you created your own versions of a particular toy that was unobtainable due to financial constraints or other reasons. Nowadays though, toys seem to be weighed down by issues dealing with marketing, licensing and even political correctness.
I first heard about this on a TV program, found the link and arranged to try one. Things do not always go to plan and this certainly was one of those occasions.
While netbooks are the current hot topics, notebooks continue to push boundaries with regards to performance and style.
As part of its energy saving Aspire Timeline series, Acer has released the Aspire 5810T model. Featuring a 15.6-inch HD, high-brightness CineCrystal LED-backlit TFT LCD screen, the Aspire 5810T has an impressive presence that is reinforced by its brushed aluminium cover and its slim-line depth. When closed this unit measures 378 x 259 x 24.8mm while the weight has been kept down to 2.5kg including the detachable battery pack.
The Hidden Object game format continues to be a popular genre with software developers and the game playing public. Various types of storylines have been used to package the concept of finding items that have been positioned in a range of locations and graphical scenes.
This is a digital camera small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Size however is no barrier to the number of mega pixels or the optical zoom it can produce, but before you jump to buy the largest zoom and the biggest mega pixel you need to qualify the image quality.
The FujiFilm Finepix F200 EXR measures 9.5x6x3cm and weights 192grams. Mine was black and silver. This unit has a huge TFT screen that at 6x4.5cm totally dominates the back of the unit. Squeezed in the remaining space on the back is a wheel the ubiquitous five position joystick and four small touch buttons. The left side is bare; the right side has a door covering the USB, HD and A/V outlet as well as wrist strap anchor point.
Starting life as a Shareware product, Paint Shop Pro has developed into a full featured graphics product.
Over the past few years it has become almost a tradition to welcome and review the latest version of Corel’s Paint Shop Pro Photo package on an annual basis. Following version X (the first to be developed under Corel’s ownership) in 2005; versions have appeared entitled X1 and X2. But now Corel has sprung a surprise by not releasing a brand new X3 version. Instead it has released a product entitled Paint Shop Pro Photo Ultimate X2.
Want a second monitor/panel but no connection is available then perhaps the solution could be this little unit from Lindy. Assuming you have enough USB ports you can connect up to six adapters to a single PC.
In the box you get the USB to DVI-I Adapter plus a DVI to VGA converter and a 1metre USB lead together with a six side User Manual and a CD-ROM. The adapter is 10x6x2cm. The installation – in my case anyway – is fairly quick to install the files but then comes up with a message ‘searching’ and this takes at least five minutes before it changes to say installation complete. You then need to reboot.
Over the last couple of years I have reviewed quite a number of items from these clever people in Hong Kong. Here I am looking at two of their best, first a three port hub and four socket card reader, second a bilingual speaking calculator.
This product arrives with the claim of being able to back up and recover your hard disk with ease and is made up of one, two and free (no thats not a misprint) elements. For more information about this product from Paragon, read on
This is claimed to enable one to get connected in over 150 countries worldwide. Consequently, it will meet most peoples needs and yet only weighs around 150gm and so is an ideal travel accessory for the computer user.
It meets the need of the traveller who wants freedom from hassle and the ability to charge one’s notebook, cellphones, PDAs, and iPods etc. while carrying the minimum number of chargers and mains adapters. This device, from Swiss Travel Products and sold in the UK by PowerTraveller, a specialist in essential travel accessories, consists of a roughly cylindrical base unit into which all the mains connect pins retract when not needed.
Anyone who can follow a receipt can make bread successfully with a decent bread making machine as it does all the kneading, proving and cooking it will then even keep it warm for you to eat when ready.
There are two tantalising smells freshly brewed coffee and freshly baked bread, either will get most happily out of bed in the morning. The Antony Worrall Thompson (AWT) breadmaker from Breville measures a maximum of 41x27x30cm with the right hand part where the controls are being somewhat less. There is a hard wired power lead emerging from the bottom back right, above this are a couple of protrusions to allow you to wrap the 1.2metre lead around when not in use.
For its latest game, Enkord has delved into the fascination that the ancient Inca civilisation had for the building of pyramids full of passageways and secret chambers. Entitled Inca Tomb, the game requires the player to explore a series of Inca pyramids in order to reveal what is concealed in each one.
Shake it, flick it and listen to the music hardly seems like an appropriate introduction to a mobile phone but this is a Walkman phone
Taking over the role of its flagship Walkman phone is the Sony Ericsson W980. Released with the tag line of “Discover Music Reborn”, this clamshell handset measures 92 x 46 x 17mm (L x W x D) and weighs 100g. As is Sony Ericsson’s usual habit, some precise colour naming is apparent as you are offered a choice of Violin Red, Opera Brown or Piano Black model. In its closed state, the handset presents a reflective face featuring three overlapping circles.
This is a multi function unit (as it has fax capabilities) but it can be used in a more normal on/off mode that certain of these types of units cannot. It is cream with a black top and sad to say even with the ADF folded it has no chance of passing the lounge police.
The Canon Pixma MX330 measures 44x50x20cm and is cream/black. I am always puzzled why manufacturers still bring out multi function (as opposed at All In One) models out for the home market as I know very few people who still use the fax function. First the print speeds. I normally use the Custom mode adjusted to fast as the timing method but here there is also a fast mode and in my tests this was just as fast as the custom mode but gave a nearer black image.
Each year my car sets out on its annual pilgrimage for its service and MOT testing. Generally this is the total requirement necessary to ensure I have twelve months of trouble-free usage (petrol, road tax and insurance cost issues aside). I just wish I could say the same for my computer system.
An on-going process of regular checks and maintenance sessions are required to make sure that overall performance of your computer is not handicapped by a variety of hardware and software related factors. One of these maintenance checks should deal with hard disk performance which can be compromised by the defragmentation brought about by normal everyday activity as files are deleted and the regained space allocated on a first-come basis to new files.
Two mice from Kensington, first the SlimBlade Media Mouse ideal for those out of office moments. Second the SlimBlade Trackball Mouse that has the box claim finally a mouse that works everywhere
This is a USB wireless mouse but amazingly ‘slim’ so certainly for mouse anyway SlimBlade is a good name. The Kensington SlimBlade media mouse measures 10.5x6x2.5cm, shiny black with grey rubberised sides. The face looks almost conventional with the left and right buttons but instead of the conventional wheel in between you have a tiny solid ball that is less than a centimetre across.
Two very useful gadgets, the first when you need an accurate adjustable spanner. The second when the cars cigar lighter needs to work overtime as you are out and about and need to charge more than a USB device as this is an inverter and also allows you to power 13amp items from the car battery.
At first glance you may think this is like most other adjustable spanners, it isn’t - this will never slip – in fact it is designed for use by both left and right handed people and perhaps most important can be pre set to any metric nut size up to 32mm. It is 21cm long between 7 and 8.5cm wide and up to 1.5cm thick. Solidly and precisely made it weights 280grams. If you check out the link below you can see a demonstration of the Milli-grip.
Considering the importance of having an up-to-date backup, it is not surprising that there are numerous products developed to carry out this task. One such offering, aimed at the home user, is Acronis True Image Home.
Since the last time I took a look at Acronis True Image Home, the product’s title has changed from using a version number to featuring the year as the means of identification. As a result this latest edition of the software bears the title of True Image Home 2009. This version brings together several new features to sit alongside its main disk image creation functionality.
This is certainly big; in fact I was not sure I could fit it in my lounge in the normal place. My first surprise was that I could lift it easily enough onto its stand and then onto the unit where it sits.
The 46" Sharp Aquos LCD television measures 111x67x10cm and assuming you do not select to wall mount it sits on a small oval stand 50x30cm that lifts the unit 10cm. Fitting the stand involves adding a metal bar to the back of the TV and then using a supplied hex key to attach it with four bolts add four bolts to attach this to the stand and the whole thing is solid. There are a total of eleven input sources although most will have less available.
War and diplomacy often go hand-in-glove when nations start to expand their territorial boundaries. Put your strategy acumen to the test with a collection from Paradox Interactive.
A trend that is sometimes used with popular games is for the original publisher/developer to sell on the licence after the first flush of sales to a budget label. The games can then be sold, at a reduced price, to users who might have missed out on the original launch. However when a series of titles, rather than a single game, are involved then another approach is often used. The various titles are bundled together in the form of a compilation or special collection.
Like a car, your computer can benefit from a session with a mechanic such as a package available from iolo
While a car requires a MOT certificate to show it is in good working order, your computer has no need for such documentation. However your computer does require regular overhauls to ensure performance is not hindered by internal and external influences. Just because you do not need a certificate, it does not relieve you of the responsibility to ensure your computer is running smoothly. One software package that offers to help in this respect is System Mechanic from iolo.
A camera that sits very nicely somewhere between the point and shoot and a DSLR. This unit does have a flash shoe but works perfectly well with the excellent built in flash. In fact the 5x wide zoom and 15MP images make this a very powerful unit.
It is 10x7x4.5cm this last figure the width can increase by up to another 4cm when the lens is fully zoomed. It weights a chunky 400grams. Having recently looked at a couple of very powerful units I was concerned that going back to a basic digital camera would be something of a culture shock. However this powerful unit was a very enjoyable experience. Some might even put this on a par with a DSLR. The rear of the unit is dominated by the 6x4.5cm TFT display.
For a number of years Roxio and Nero seem to have been playing leapfrog as their burning/media creating software has fought for supremacy. I recently took a look at the latest Nero 9 product and now it is the turn of Roxio Creator 2009.
Released just before but arriving on my desktop just after Nero 9, Creator 2009 is the twelfth version of a product that used to be known as Easy Media Creator. This review is based on the Ultimate Edition of the software which adds a High-Def/Blu-ray Disc plug-in plus tools for audio and backup that are added to the basic package.
Another rather nice small PC from Asus marketed under the Eee brand. The main difference that will encourage you to look at this unit is that it has a claimed working day of battery life, this is stated to be 9.5 hours. With the average battery life of most notebooks around 3 hours this is huge.
The Asus Eee PC 1000HE measures 26x19x4cm and weights 1.4kilos. The battery does not protrude but is slightly thicker than the rest causing a very slight forward slant but this just aids typing. The screen dimensions are 22x13cm giving the notional diagonal measurement of 10.1inches. The display size 1024x600 and the screen (hurrah) is not that reflective meaning in bright light you do not get that much reflection. Finally on the screen surround there is a 1.3MP webcam built in.
These two objects give you a sample of what can be purchased using USB. First a speaker shaped light a bulls head to give a decent volume from an iPod or MP3 player. Second an SD Card reader that comes in standard and micro sizes.
While you may not be able to call on the resources of a Spielberg or Lucas, your computer and appropriate software will give you the opportunity to wear a Directors hat.
A couple of weeks ago I told you about some very neat (even secret) cameras and excellent software from Logitech, it was however rather expensive. Here a far simpler Ethernet solution that may well fit the job and even the pocket.
While D-Link do a wireless version I am looking here at the wired version of there security camera, the DCS-910. It is 11x7.5x4cm. The Ethernet cable and the A/C power go into the bottom of the unit but do not protrude beyond the casing. There is a screw fitting in back to allow mounting. Doing installation you are asked to note the MAC code on the rear of the camera this you then select from a list (not so important if you only have one) given later in the setup.