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

 
I've mentioned in previous reviews how one of the most important elements required for good sound is often neglected my media player manufacturers. In this case I review some headphones that not only address the sound quality but also aesthetics.
A number of manufacturers have recognised the opportunity to improve on the audio performance of the standard headphones shipped with most media players. Atomic Floyd have taken this a stage further and recognised that good audio is a necessary requirement, but in these fashion conscious days is not sufficient in and of itself. Portable media players are all about that - being portable, listening on the move and for many people 'on the move' can include moderate exercise.
Unlike the various types of printers which tend to arrive without the required USB lead for connecting to the computer, scanners are more fortunate in this respect.
The CanoScan 8800F comes with both power and USB leads.  This model has recently taken over the desk space, normally the home of my CanoScan LiDE 90 unit, for the purpose of this review.  Decked out in matt silver and reflective black, the CanoScan 8800F has an attractive stylish, if solid, appearance with its bevelled edges.  The effect is diminished a little by the reflective black’s tendency to collect and display finger smears.
With this new game from MumboJumbo, your puzzle solving skills will be put to the test as you attempt to rebuild some historic buildings in various parts of the world.
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Gear 4 BlackBox 24/7

This is what used to be called a clock radio but with the ability to accept input from any device with a 3.5mm jack socket. It also has a dock for almost any kind of iPod. It has FM radio and of course a good sized clock display with two alarms and of course a snooze setting, so now the iPod has invaded the ‘clock radio’ bedroom.
It is 26.5x10x12cm however the power lead protrudes 2.5cm from the rear thus increasing the middle figure the depth to 12.5cm. You will probably not be surprised to hear it is black. My iPod is white and this sits in the multi unit dock on the top increasing the third figure the height by 8cm however this will change according to the type of iPod you have.
Adding to its range of Walkman mobile phones, Sony Ericsson has released the W380 model.
Measuring 92 x 49 x 16mm and weighing 100g, the Sony Ericsson W380 is a clamshell device with a slopping aspect at either end.  The review unit is predominately electric purple in colour with silver embellishments and the familiar Walkman “W” logo in magenta. One immediately obvious feature is the positioning of the handset’s camera.  Rather than the standard rear location, this camera is sited on the front of the unit.
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i-Station Rotate from Logic3

I've reviewed a number of iPod docking stations over the last couple of years. This one has an extra twist to take account of the latest range of video capable iPods.
Technology has marched on allowing Apple to evolve the iPod. From the first generation through to the latest the iPod has progressed from simple music player to a capable multi-media player. While many of the latest iPods are video capable this facility is most evident on the iPod Touch, the new iPod Nano and, of course, the iPhone.
568227 flip mino handheld video camcorde

Flip Video Mino

This is the second incarnation of the rather good Flip Video Ultra. This unit is smaller slimmer and aimed at the teenager and twenties market. Everything else works the same as the original product launched in the UK last year.
It is 10x5x2cm and weights just 75grams. The unit comes with memory to give an hour of video. This is 640x480 but it is truly excellent quality. It can be shown on a TV using the composite leads provided that fit into a TV (2.5mm socket) on the left side of the unit. It is as good as any normal TV picture providing of course the images you take do not suffer from shake. To help with this there is a tripod screw in the base of the unit. Alternatively brace it on any solid object.

Rucksacks and Backpacks

Always popular maybe because they enables everything to be put behind us? A decent backpack/rucksack allows the weight to be carefully distributed across the shoulders and back enabling a larger amount to be carried in comfort. Here I look at offerings from Belkin and Wenger
This is a single strap offering with the strap going from top right to bottom left meaning it goes over the left shoulder. This is designed for a laptop up to 15.4 inches. Mine was black with some red. There are both horizontal and vertical pockets on the face as well as a small vertical pocket on the face of the padded strap, all are zipped. The main compartments double zip allows it to be opened 28cm either side and this reveals an all red interior.
As mobile devices tend to depend on memory cards of carious types, you do need the means to transfer any stored content to your computer.
When it comes to memory cards, it could be said that you are almost spoilt for choice.  However you could also be confused over the various formats when it comes to accessing the data stored on the different card formats.  Fortunately most modern systems come with multi-format card reading facilities built-in as standard.
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Windows 7 is coming

Windows 7 is now in public beta for anyone to download. I was told in a briefing earlier this week that Windows 7 will run on a Netbook in only 1GB. No release date is yet available but I am informed it will be within twelve months.
I was told that the public beta became available on the 9 January. No exact size is currently available but an ISO download done by the presenter earlier this week was 2.7GB, it is expected that this will probably be smaller by launch date. This should use the same or less resources than Vista and you should be able to install it on top of a Vista installation. When I asked about XP I was told you would need to do a full install so you would need to reinstall all your applications afterwards.
If you need a set of kitchen scales that are supremely accurate and look great as well, then take a look at the Salter Mix 'n' Measure
January is still shiny and most of us haven’t had the chance to break our resolutions yet.  If you decided to lose weight or spend more time cooking gorgeous meals from scratch, I have just the product for you – the Salter Mix ‘n’ Measure scale.  Now if you thought weighing ingredients was just a matter of chucking some flour or sugar in a bowl let me enlighten you.  Most scales either leave you peering at a dial or work in increments of 5 grammes.
Sometimes a product’s title gives you an excellent idea as to its functionality. However I am not sure this particular product falls into this category.
Trends, whether they are fashion-based or of a more environmental orientation and social awareness, tend to come and go over time. Currently the trend is to emphasise the importance of implementing a Green approach especially with regards to power consumption. Add into the mix the demands made by various portable devices and you have the rationale behind the rather unusually named powermonkey-eXplorer product. Developed by Powertraveller Ltd.
It was like a trip down memory lane when I received a copy of Etch A Sketch. No, this was not the drawing toy of old with vertical and horizontal controls encased in a red box. Instead it was a computerised version.
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Tefal Quick Cup

Fancy a piping hot cup of water in three seconds, yes three seconds, then this could be for you. Of course it’s up to you to decide if you want water, tea, coffee, soup or many other beverages this just heats the water very quickly.
This is really two products in one. First something that heats or dispenses tap water quickly and second one that heats and dispenses filtered water quickly. The Tefal Quick Cup is 21cm tall and 15cm round at the base it gradually gets wider towards the top and at the protruding spout it is 25cm from front to back and 18cm wide. The 70cm long 13amp lead comes out of the base at the back.
Your social mobile phone is not always suitable for a more energetic lifestyle which is where Sonim Electronics might be able to help.
While the design concept followed by for the greater majority of mobile phones manufacturers concentrate on aspects of size, weight and features with varying degrees of style, there is a place for a more rugged approach for both industrial and outdoor use.
It is not always possible to map items together in perfect harmony. For a start this is not a computer mouse but a sanding device. The second item is a small tabletop Tripod ideal for anything (not only cameras) that need to be kept steady. They do have one thing in common they both work extremely well, also both make ideal ways of spending Christmas money.
While this of course can sand wood it can also clean old paint and rust from metal. It also has the capability to be used as a polisher. It is 18x8x10cm with a shoe like the base of an iron 17x9cm. The pointy nose is the secret of being able to get into places that a standard sander cannot. It seems to come with a kit that includes a range of sander discs and even a case to keep it in. The reason that a fabric case ids required is that you virtually have to destroy the box to remove it.
With the pound seeming to fall a lot, these purchases need to be checked more carefully as you are buying in dollars. Here a keyboard ideal for limited space and second a dual slot MS ProDuo adapter to allow your Micro SD cards to be read from the same adapter on a single read.
This comes with what looks like a standard USB stick that is the wireless adapter. The keyboard is 25.5x11x2cm (this is very different from the measurements stated on the package). The required two ‘AAA’ batteries for the keyboard are supplied. This is a seventy eight key keyboard with the alpha numeric keys being the largest at 1.5x1.3cm each. However there are also four volume keys on the left edge.
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Polar FA20

Have you ever wondered how much activity you do in a day? Do you want to set yourself targets to achieve better all round fitness? Polar have a new, easy to use gadget that is worth checking out.
Polar FA20 £94.50 January is the busiest time of year in gyms all over the country as those of us that were found face down in the Quality Street over Christmas try to get fit again.  I have to be honest but I hate going to the gym so I am always looking for gadgets that make getting fit easier.  This year I have been testing a new fitness device from the nice people at Polar which looks like a neat watch but is in fact my conscience.
Adding a more personal touch to interaction with your computer is often the main reason for using a headset.
While you may enjoy listening to music, watching videos and playing games with enveloping sound effects on your desktop or notebook computer, the audio output will not necessarily appeal to others who are in the vicinity.  Of course you could turn down the volume level so as not to disturb others but this might reduce your listening pleasure and all-round entertainment of the current activity.
567018 canon selphy es30 photo printe

Canon Selphy ES30

A 15x10cm (post card) sized printer, however instead of the normal box shape this is rather like a radio or cassette player as it has a built in handle and is a very thin shape the card (printing stock) handling is unique.
The Canon Selphy ES30 measures 22cm wide 23cm tall and 12cm deep. You will need maybe 10cm clear in front of the unit as the card stock is turned in mid air from its landscape stored position to its portrait printing position. It weights less than 2.4kilos even when it has a full pack of 50 cards stored inside. This can be connected to a PC using a standard USB cable or direct to a camera using Pict Bridge both these sockets are towards the base of the left side.
While Windows Recycle Bin does a reasonable job of providing a failsafe when a file is accidentally deleted, sometimes a more powerful tool is required.
Mistakes can happen and, as is usually the case, they occur at the most inappropriate times.  When the mistake is an accidental deletion, or in certain cases the overwriting, of an important file from your hard disk, then the results could cause a great deal of trouble and heartache.  Diskeeper, best known for its defragmentation software, has turned its expertise on file management towards the task of rescuing files that have been deleted by mistake.
Have you thought about the visual quality of your favourite music tracks? Audiosurf has!
Games generally slot into genres such as Adventure, First Person Shooter, Puzzle or Simulation.  Occasionally, however, a title comes along that ventures into new territory either in the form of game style or the resources required by the software.  A recent example of this is Audiosurf, a game developed by Dylan Fitterer and published by Ascaron Entertainment. Audiosurf has been categorised as being a puzzle racer which is really only half the picture.
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TomTom GO 930 Traffic

On the face of it this is just another of the huge range of devices to tell your where you are and how to get to where you are not. However after a few days of use I soon realised it did lots of things that other such devices do not.
The TomTom GO930-T is 11.5x8.5x2cm and has a landscape screen 10.7x5.8cm. While most will of course use it in a car I suggest unless you are a passenger then you first try it on a bus or a train where or course you are a passenger as there is so much to absorb from the screen display and unlike a lot of other units it shows things in different places and often in different ways.
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Jawbone Communication : Aliph Jawbone 2

Hands-free mobile communication is becoming a more popular judging by the number of people who appear to be talking to themselves as I walk past. Sometimes I feel tempted to join in the conversation.
While you may consider a jawbone to be part of your skull, Aliph, a market leader in noise cancelling Bluetooth headsets, prefers to regard the Jawbone (note the capital letter) as “earwear”.  In other words the Jawbone is an ear-piece style headset for hands-free communication when linked to an appropriate Bluetooth-aware device.  Aliph has now upgraded the original product with its replacement being entitled, not surprisingly, Jawbone 2.
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LG Scarlet TV

Another rather nice 32inch Digital TV this one from LG. Called scarlet simply because the back of the unit is err scarlet. It has an intriguing hole below the screen but above the stand, place your finger in it and it turns the unit on/off from/to standby.
What I received was the TV with mains lead, its stand that screws into the TV, the remote control and nothing else. So everything I am telling you about has been by experimentation as it had no instructions. Later I was sent a PDF file, I find searching through 140 pages of a manual designed for 12 different models not that easy, especially when the TV is in a different room to the PC. I printed only a couple of pages; you of course will have the printed manual when you buy a unit.
Here I am looking at two items from John Adams; either have a good chance of the child’s parents having a good period of peace. The first can encourage the drawing skills while the second encourages the creative genes. Wonder of wonder two different toys and neither need a single battery. Possibly even better value now and a good way to spend that Christmas cash.
This is a toy that has been around in one form or another for many years. Here however John Adams have gone one further by not only allowing the drawer to capture static objects on the unit but also things far further away. The base is 30x38cm and it grows to about 34cm tall forming two thirds of a triangle. The whole secret is two (unbreakable) mirrors that allow anything in the right area to be captured and therefore drawn on an A4 sheet of paper.
Now up to version 12, Pinnacle’s video editing Studio software is available in three flavours. These are the basic Studio, Studio Plus and Studio Ultimate.
This review is based on Studio Plus 12 which consists of a DVD, 300+ page User Manual and a Getting Started Guide. The installation routine supplied with this product offers you the options to install the main Studio Plus software and select from additional titles that include Instant DVD Recorder, SureThing Labeler and Adobe Reader 8.1.2.   As part of the Studio Plus installation you will need to enter a 25-character serial number.
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The INQ1 phone from 3-Mobile

3-Mobile continue their trend of launching innovative, feature rich own-brand mobile phones targeted at the consumer market with very competitive price points. The INQ1 is the latest product touted as a social networking phone.
As I saw recently when I reviewed the from 3, the company doesn't compromise on the hardware to deliver these products. The INQ, like the S2, feels well made. Closed the front brushed aluminium facia looks good and frames the 2.2" QVGA screen. The front slides up to reveal the traditional phone keypad. Despite being a budget phone the INQ1 sports a 3.2M pixel camera which takes reasonable pictures in good light.
Having just finished the monster 28inch offering from Hanns-G this big unit seems almost normal in size. It has exactly the same resolution but instead of the notional 27.5inches diagonal measurement it is 25.5inches.
Transferring notes and illustrations to your computer is the task undertaken by this next product supplied by Selwyn Electronics
Earlier this year I took a look at a digital device that allowed you to make notes and draw diagram using a pen and pad.  The data could then be downloaded onto your computer with the minimum of effort.  This product was the DigiMemo A402 developed by AceCad and supplied by Selwyn Electronics.
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