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

Accidents can happen, so can deliberate attacks on your computer system’s integrity. So why not make sure your data has been backed up
As I have mentioned in the past, backing up your hard drive, even in the days when MBs and not GBs were the norm, could well involve long drawn out sessions with a propensity to raise frustration levels to great heights.  Nowadays you do not have that excuse for putting off the task of backing up your valuable data.  There are numerous products available that will carry out an automated backup on a user-defined schedule.  One such product is Drive Backup 9.0 from Paragon.
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Sky Challenger from Picooz

Light-weight radio-controlled flying toys have been available for a couple of Christmases now. This year we look at a clever helicopter design that has the advantage of entertaining two children at the same time.
Flight has always held a fascination for many children so it's no surprise that inexpensive radio controlled flying toys have been somewhat of a hit over the last few years. Traditionally an expensive pastime, the miniaturisation of electronics, motors and lightweight construction materials has enabled this new generation of device. There have been problems though.
I first saw a pre production unit of this tiny printer at the start of the year, I got a working unit around a month or so ago, here just in time for the Christmas party season is my review.
It is very small and runs in a built in rechargeable battery so you can happily print with no mains power around. It is 12x7x2.2cm and weights 220grams. It will fit easily in a bag or at a push in a pocket. The special coated paper comes in packs of ten or thirty. The sheets are 7.5x5cm. Images can be printed direct from a camera or phone using Bluetooth or by direct connection using Pict Bridge.
Here we have two neat little phones for first timers. Easy to use and tiny enough to fit small pockets, Alcatel offers good value Pay as You Go phones which would make ideal first mobiles for your kids.
Two new little phones for little ones from Alcatel this Christmas. The Alcatel OT-V212 Zebra is a neat little starter phone with funky design for younger kids. This phone has the usual calling and messaging functions. It's additional features include alarm, calculator, clock, choice of language for messages and a personal dictionary. There are just two games - Russian and Bricks. There's a radio but no MP3 player.
Sometime ago I reviewed a card reader that I believe claimed to be 27 types, this to me seemed far more than I knew of. Here I am looking at two devices from Brando and one of these claims 80 while the other has 56 and another plus.
I have long transferred data by a four slot card reader and up till now it has always done what I needed. However when the ‘mini’ this and the ‘micro’ that come along they need an adapter so that they adapt to their full size cousins before they can fit in the reader. Here with six slots that is almost solved. It is 10x4.5x1.
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HouseParty 4 from Gear4

This is a neat speaker system for your Apple iPod that also incorporates a good FM radio and can also take input from an external source.
Mains powered and measuring approximately 225 x 165 x 100mm (WxHxD) and sporting a black grill with brushed aluminum trim the HouseParty 4 is a general purpose sound-system for iPod. The product is packaged with five iPod adaptors covering most iPods right up to the latest iPod Nano, Touch and the 3G iPhone. Also in the box is a short 3.5mm jack lead for connecting to other audio source, a small remote control, manual and power supply.
While 3G handsets, such as the iPhone and Blackberry, tend to have high price tags, there is a company that believes it is possible to offer a range of internet-based features via 3G on a more economic basis.
As part of the Hutchison Whampoa Limited family, 3 (the company responsible for launching the UK’s first 3G network offering national coverage for calls and text) has a habit of selecting slightly unusual locations when launching its various products.
Blurb is self publishing book service accessible from the website . The twist is not only can you produce photobooks for yourself, you can also self publish and sell them from the website at a profit!!
Unlike other photo publishing services I have reviewed, Blurb specialises in books and not all the other photo services.  From the website you can download software to turn your own photos into very special books which will make great presents for friends and family.  The books are true coffee table style and the end product is good enough to sell to the general public.
This looks like a conventional radio of a few years ago, what would have been called a room portable. The only thing that tells you it is something more is that it has a display rather than a dial. It can be mains or battery operated.
The Roberts Stream 202 measures 29x15x10cm and weights (without batteries) 1480grams. It takes six ‘D’ cells should you want to go that route. Unlike a lot of DAB/Internet offerings this is stereo. There are a pair of 7cm speakers clearly visible through the thin front grey mesh. The sides have a large black stripe and the middle 18cm of the handle is also black everything else is grey.
555451 ricoh gx200 compact digital camer

Ricoh GX200 professional compact camera

Ricoh has quite a history in camera design and development dating back over fifty years. The latest GX200 camera continues their tradition of robust quality.
My own history with Ricoh dates back around thirty years when the first 'real' camera I was allowed to use was my fathers compact 35mm range-finder camera. I was allowed to take it away on a school trip! The results even in my inexperienced hands were good. That experience led to my 18th birthday present of a Ricoh KR10 SLR camera. Over 25 years later I still have that camera along with a couple of Pentax K-mount lenses.
What’s in a number? It all depends on what the number is related to in the current circumstances.
According to popular legend, when the number belongs to a bus, you will have just missed it with several more only due to appear after a lengthy interval.  If the number concerns your salary then it is never large enough to satisfy your hoped for standard of living.  With phone models it can indicate a multitude of features such as those found on the Nokia N78. This particular handset is a 3G Smartphone that adopts the candy bar style.
Small enough to fit in a pocket, a new product from Gear4 comes with the promise of enhancing your audio listening experience.
The Blackbox Micro is an audio system consisting of a single speaker that lives up o its name in most respects. For a start it is box-shaped and is almost completely black in colour. Admittedly one face of the box does feature a reddish orange pad but as that is on the side which rests of whatever surface is being used, it does not spoil the illusion. I was going to say that you do not really notice it but, in fact, you do – more on that aspect a little later.
557627 geneva labs L ipod speake

Geneva Model L

This is the big brother to the recently reviewed Geneva M (18/07/08), there is an even larger unit (to big for my place) the XL full details on their site. So what does this large unit have to offer?
It is 44x35x28cm mine was black but they also do white and red. It weights just over 17 kilos. Like it’s smaller brother it is a rather good iPod playing device, that just for good measure can play CD’s – of various types – has an FM radio and an ‘Aux’ input to play anything that can connect via a 3.5mm jack plug. Unlike the ‘M’ it has a built in iPod dock and this does have four buttons but they are to control any item attached to the 3.
Routers, and often wireless ones, are increasingly being used for broadband access and often enable more than one PC to access the internet. Consequently, it is only a relatively small step to add a network printer which can be shared by all users on the network. The Brother HL-2170W, weighing just a few pounds and having a footprint of less than 15 inches square, is ideally suited for moving around the house or small office.
In the past the majority of network laser printers have been both too heavy and too expensive as they were intended for heavy-duty office use. Everything has changed with the introduction of products such as the HL-2170W, which is the most versatile of Brother's HL-2100 series of compact mono laser printers. Providing both wired and wireless network connections as well as USB it offers a range of facilities that will fit the needs of many users who have more than one computer.
Dipping into the Sandberg product portfolio produces a device for copying files from one computer to another.
Transferring files from one computer to another used to be a time consuming and user intensive operation as floppy disks were filled with data that could then be copied to the second system. Nowadays with wireless networks dominating the home environment, the task is far simpler and quicker. However not everybody has a network or maybe the transfer operation involves copying to a new computer before it is integrated into a network.
Also called the 'GlowTime', the CRD-51 is a neat little bed-side clock radio that's available in black, white or pink and offers a very flexible alarm system.
I've been provided with the 'pink' version for this review, a fact that was not lost on my daughter, who promptly disappeared with it to her room where it remained for a good few days until I could rescue it and put it through its paces. This is a particularly attractive product (not only my opinion - my daughter helpfully agreed!) measuring 166 x 60 x 150mm (WxHxD) and weighing around 450g.
Three small methods of moving data via the USB port. The first nicknamed the Jelly Bean from Dane-Elec the second and third from Hong Kong courtesy of Brando the people that send anything anywhere in the word for $3 P&P.
I understand blue is now an acceptable colour (Smarties wise) as it now does not have harmful colourings if the TV ads are anything to go by. This is a small rubberised 2GB memory stick. It is 4cm long less than 2cm wide and only .5cm thick. It could look something like a sweet so do not leave it near a child.
A great little dustbuster vacuum cleaner for your car which runs off the car battery and has a pivot nozzle to reach awkward places.
The Black & Decker Pivot Auto car vacuum cleaner is a very handy little gadget.  It is so much easier to use than taking your regular home vacuum cleaner out complete with extension lead!  And the suction is good for such a small unit which runs off your car battery. The Pivot Auto has a car lighter jack, so all you have to do is plug it into the car and away you go.  The Pivot name refers to the nozzle which pivots from the base to various different positions.
This is the last of the items I saw at Marks & Spencer’s Christmas in July event. This unlike some of the previous items I have reviewed has a real purpose. With all the talk of black outs a radio driven by a alternator certainly has a place.
Slightly blocky in shape and unusual in layout for a DAB/FM radio and add the hand crank on the rear it is unusual. It is 20x12x8cm and weights1060grams. Remember the extra weight of the built in Ni-MH battery and the alternator. The face has a single 8cm round speaker housing, eight silvered well labelled buttons, a grey volume knob and a double tuning knob the outer one for FM and the inner one for DAB.
JBL have produced an excellent speaker system that isn't tied to any specific sound source - use it to play back whatever you want : iPod, CD player, TV - anything.
I recently had the pleasure of reviewing the excellent . The JBL Spyro is built on the same technology to deliver a powerful rich sound system for a variety of uses. The Spyro comprises a central 'bass' unit (the sub-woofer) that provides 24W output using JBL's 'Atlas' transducer. Higher frequencies, and hence the stereo effect, are generated from two rather attractive 6W satellite speakers that look very much like four-petal flowers.
Following its recent acquisition, Magix has integrated some new technology into its graphic design product.
The recent purchase of Xara by Magix has seen both companies continue to develop their own products for the benefit of the user. However this purchase has also allowed Magix access to the technology behind Xara’s graphics software. One result of this can be seen with Magix’s Xtreme Photo & Graphic Designer 2 title which not only includes the technology but also the name of Xara’s Xtreme product.
This console is a mine of information, putting the Oxford Dictionaries of English, Quotations and Modern Slang, along with the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, Oxford Thesaurus of English and Fowler's Modern English Usage into a pocket sized unit.
Seiko have teamed up with Oxford University Press and Encyclopedia Britannica to put their weighty publications into a handheld console similar in size to the Nintendo DS. It's quite amazing to think that a good sized bookshelf's worth of knowledge has been squeezed into this little handy unit. This console would be handy for anyone interested in words and their meanings. Equally useful for crossword fanatics, quiz lovers and students of English.
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Sony Cyber-Shot DSC H50

This is a rather nice camera. It takes great still images and good movies. It is not a pocket camera and not a large (DSLR size) unit. Therefore my only doubt is where in the market it will fit, the other slight problem is that it stores images on MS Pro cards but as a Sony you should expect that.
The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC H50 is 11x9x8cm, the middle figure can increase by 3.5cm when the lens is fully extended. It weights 440grams, this again makes it an in between unit, it comes with two fairly substantial anchor points for the supplied neck strap, again I am undecided about this. The rear has a huge 6x4.5cm TFT display and this not only sits flat but can be tilted either up or down by up to 90degrees by a very clever articulated arm.
Video projectors are not new although they have only recently started started to appeal as an option for those (with the room) that want the full cinema experience in their own home. With the advent of high-definition, new projectors are required, spurring Sony to announce the VPL-HW10.
Whether you're a fan of the high-definition broadcast systems now on offer or have hailed the end of yet another format war and opted for a Blu-Ray DVD player there's just one problem... All the components are there - all the technology you need to create your own cinema. But how do you get the effect of a huge screen in your home? Well, the answer is to get a huge screen.
Freesat is a digital television service that has come about as the result of a co-operative venture between the BBC and ITV.
This offering will provide subscription free access to satellite delivered television channels and services without the need to tie a customer to a contract.  Currently the Freesat offering stands at 80 channels featuring those available via Freeview with one or two extra morsels.  While this is subscription-free, some expense will be necessary in order to receive this service.  For a start you will need a Freesat digital box or a television with built-in Freesat capability.
It is no secret that I like puzzle games. As a result I was keen to take up the challenge of a new game from Legendo even if it meant tackling spooky spirits.
Some games immediate grab your attention and hold you enthralled while others have the ability to creep up on you as they keep drawing you back for one more attempt.  Spooky Spirits falls into the latter category especially if you enjoy the challenge of solving puzzles in order to proceed to the next level.   Developed by Legendo, Spooky Spirits, as its title indicates, has a strong Halloween theme as various spirit-world creatures roam the Earth.
554569 kodak esp5 all in one printe

Kodak ESP5 AIO

This has been a long and frustrating review. The first unit was incomplete so it was replaced. The second had several paper jams and then decided ‘cannot detect edge of paper’ was it’s message of choice, so it was replaced so this is unit number three.
I have therefore given it a far more exhaustive test than in normal simple to see if the problems return. So far they have not I suspect that the initial problem unit was a ‘Friday afternoon’ unit. It is 40x30x14cm when closed. The front has a drop down door that you store the paper waiting to be printed on, this increases the 30cm depth by another 20cm. The USB lead and the power leads both enter the unit back right.
Tefal have teamed up again with Jamie Oliver to give us the fantastic Advanced Silicone Bakeware. Their claim that "unbelievable cakes will pop out!" is well and truly justified with a range of baking moulds to make you smile.
It's been one of those weeks! And my Mum always said "Whenever you're down bake a cake - you'll always feel better". She's right and I'm sure Jamie Oliver would agree. So between my Mum, Jamie and Tefal my long hard day was brightened up by cake making with the Jamie Oliver Professional Series Advanced Silicone Bakeware (that's a mouthful bigger than the one of the muffins I've just made). I am now eating one of the most delicious cherry muffins I have ever tasted.
Looking more like a toy than a serious piece of equipment, the Flip is one of those devices whose performance exceeds its appearance.
Why, when you probably have a mobile phone that is capable of capturing video clips as part of its functionality, would you also want to weigh yourself down by carrying a camcorder? Two obvious reasons immediately spring to mind. These are ease of use and image quality. Both of these attributes form part of the concept behind the Flip Video Ultra camcorder from the appropriately named Flip Video UK Ltd.
554871 o2 ignito htc touch diamond weathe

O2 XDA Ignito mobile phone

Phone doesn't really cover what O2 have managed to shoe-horn into the latest incarnation of their XDA smart phone manufactured by High Tec Computers (HTC).
Marketed by O2 as the Xda Ignito and manufactured by HTC as the 'Touch Diamond', this devices measures a mere 102 x 52 x 11 mm, weighing 110g. Into this very modest enclosure the Xda Ignito/Touch Diamond provides a wealth of functionality hosted on the Microsoft Mobile 6.1 Professional operating system. As is popular these days the primary interface is a touch sensitive screen, although the Ignito should really be considered a hybrid device.
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