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

Stepping back in time to a period when Egypt and Rome were the dominant forces in the known world is a game now available in Avanquest’s Click & Play catalogue.
With various additional historical features from the National Geographic, Mystery of Cleopatra, developed by Merscom Games, is a hidden object, adventure-style game.  This title is based around the mistrust that existed between Rome and Egypt at that time due in part to Marc Antony’s declaration that Cleopatra was the “Queen of Kings” and that she should rule alongside Octavian, the Roman Emperor.  As a result we end up with secret agents, treachery and murder.
These full HD (1080P) in 32inch TV’s are still rare but to get two in a row to review is unprecedented. The size and shape and even some of the menus are very similar. This one however – even though it has the same rear speakers – has acceptable sound.
This Hannspree 32" TV measures 78x51x8cm and sits on a stand 47x25cm that raises the set 4cm above whatever it is sitting on. The 8cm width is maximum. The nine language Quick Start Guide will probably be all that most will need. This is broken into four areas each well illustrated. It does not however cover the first part of unpacking and the attachment of the four screws to attach the stand to the TV.
While networks are extremely useful, there are some tasks dealing with data transfer or peripheral sharing can be carried out with a USB linking solution.
Following the successful introduction of the Margrave family, and knowing MumboJumbo’s love of sequels, it was not surprising to discover a second title in what could become a long series.
Edwina Margrave does seem to attract strange letters bringing news of possessions that are rightfully hers.  First it was the arrival of a letter dated ten years previously that informed her that she was the owner of her grandfather’s residence, the distinctively named Margrave Manor ( ).
620100 GE X5 digital camer

GE X5 Digital Camera

This is called a ‘Bridge’ camera, nothing to do with the card game but it is a bridge between a pocket digital camera and progression to a DSLR camera. The reason is the size and shape is like the latter but controlled like the former.
The GE X5 measures 10x7x6.5cm however the last figure, the width, can expand up to another 6cm when the camera is fully zoomed. The face of the unit has the 15x wide angle optical zoom lens with the pop up flash being immediately above the lens but a minimum of 7cm away. The left side has an anchor point for the provided neck strap and this can also be used to tie the lens cap. The right side has the other neck strap anchor point and A/V socket behind a rubberised bung.
What do you call your first product designed for a new market? In the case of Novero, the answer tells you everything and nothing about the product.
620099 samsung wave s8500 mobile phon

Samsung Wave S8500

This is one of two recently launched phones from Samsung. The other the Galaxy S was launched in a swathe of who's who at a London nightspot. This unit, the Samsung Wave S8500, offers you the chance to do most things from a Smart Phone.
Not long ago you could not do a tiny proportion of what this unit using the BADA operating system can do and as it has wireless you can often do it at no cost as wireless hot spots are widely available to let you browse the Internet or collect your emails, in fact most of what a lot of people today use a full blown computer for.
Here I am looking at two sets of earbuds, the first from a name familiar to all – but not necessarily for earbuds – the second from a company that a lot of people will say just one word WHO? Read on for both sets of details.
The box says ‘superior studio sound’ and once you plug them in you can agree or not. The first impressions are quality, you still need to destroy the box to extract the earbuds but a fitted case is supplied for your buds to travel in style when not in use. You get not only a .9metre long lead but also a .9metre extension lead both of course have gold plated connections. The lead to the earbuds is not of even lengths like most but the right earbud lead is .
Allowing you to play music from a variety of sources is a new product from Yamaha combining a distinctive appearance and ease of use.
In the past I have looked at a number of produces designed to combine FM radio and iPod functionality with an occasional alarm feature thrown in for good measure.  Now I have the opportunity to check out a product that brings together a CD player, FM radio, DAB radio, iPod dock and USB connectivity with a pair of satellite speakers for enhanced output.  This product is the Yamaha MCR-040 which is available in a choice of ten colours.
618303 acer aspire 7745G laptop notebook compute

Acer Aspire 7745G

This is a 17.3inch notebook, in fact quite a nice powerful notebook that verges onto a Desktop replacement. With that size of screen it is only really something to be moved for long distances by private transport unless you go to the gym a lot.
It is 41x26x3.5cm and weights 3250grams. The viewable screen is 38x21.5cm giving the notional 17.3inch diagonal measurement, the resolution is 1600x900. The lid is a pin stripe of grey and black and does not really show fingermarks. Unfortunately the screen and the surround are the normal shiny black reflective that show all the fingermarks. The area either side and behind the keyboard are also that nasty reflective black but the area in front of the keyboard is a far more sensible grey.
617370 Brother MFC 795CW all in one multifunction printe

Brother MFC-795CW

Continuing my examination of various Brother All-in-One devices brings the MFC-795CW into focus.
This All-in-One offers the standard diet of copy, print and scan functionality plus additional features of fax, telephone and answer machine capabilities making this model more suitable for a small office environment rather than a basic home user.  As is Brother’s usual practice, the “CW” part of the product’s designation refers to the unit’s cable and wireless connectivity options.
When there are issues with growing crops and solving problems with sick animals there is only one person you can call upon. That person is none other than Scarlett the green-fingered lead character of Alawar Melesta Farm Frenzy series.
The latest title in the farm management game is Farm Frenzy 3 Madagascar.  Not surprisingly the action in this game takes place in a Madagascan wildlife reservation where the animals have suddenly started to become sick for an unknown reason.  Following an opening comic book sequence as Scarlett learns of the problems facing the reservation and offers to help, you get to start the game which has two modes.  Initially you are restricted to selecting the Career options.
618302 samsung PL150 Compact Digital Camer

Samsung PL150 Digital Camera

This is a small – almost dainty – digital camera that will easily fit in a pocket or purse. It is predominately black with certain silvered buttons and a grey band along the top and one side. I would even consider it stylish.
Samsung PL150 digital camera measures 9.5x5.5x2cm and it weights 150grams. The face has the 4.9-24.5mm Samsung Zoom Lens (5x) and the slit flash mounted above and to its right a minimum of 3cm and a maximum of 4cm behind the nearest part of the lens. The base has a tripod anchor point as well as a door that hides the solid battery as well as any SD card you use. The only thing on the left side is writing to say it’s a 12.4MP unit.
Having spent time, energy and possibly a good size wedge of your disposable income building up a collection of vinyl records and audio cassette tapes, it makes sense to protect your investment.
Of course you could carefully wrap and pack away your collection for prosperity but that could well deny you the opportunity to listen to the music that forms an important part of your life.  An alternative or perhaps additional approach would be to transfer the content of your vinyl and cassette collection to optical media before storing the original material in a suitable environment.
618301 philips DTR5520 Freeview HD Digital Terrestrial Receiver Zappe

Philips SetTop Box DTR 5520

For those with an Analogue TV you will soon either need to buy a new TV or – a cheaper option if it is working well – purchase a digital box. If you are disabled or certain elderly then you may get help, if not you need to pay, and, this offering from Philips may fit the bill.
Philips DTR 5520 Set Top Box black and measures 28x15x3cm. The front has a blue display that once on displays only the channel number that you are viewing. The installation consists of inserting your aerial lead in the back of the box. Philips provide a fly lead (something that a lot of other manufacturers do not) and this is essential for you to still view analogue signals while they are still available.
Regular readers will know that I looked at some rechargeable batteries and chargers earlier in the year (12-5-10). Since then it has become apparent that I was not the only person who did not know Duracell did rechargeables.
When I looked at the ‘AA’ and ‘AAA’ I was told they also did ‘C’ ‘D’ and 9volt so here the even better guarded secret the rest of the Duracell range. Since reviewing the ‘AA’ and ‘AAA’ I have seen the former in the wild. Finding ‘C’, ‘D’ and 9volt rechargeable batteries of any make is difficult and chargers for other than ‘AA’ and ‘AAA’ is also not that easy.
613203 smithmicro pose

3D Characters : Smith Micro Poser 8

Fancy a change of style? Then maybe this next product will help you experiment with your appearance.
618299 belkin Play Max Wireless Modem Router NN+80211

Belkin Play Max

I had just installed this on my test system when my own modem/router decided to pop its clogs. So what would have been a ‘test’ suddenly became real life with my day to day communications relaying on the Play Max.
It is 19x16x3cm and sits on a 18x5cm base that raises the vertical unit .5cm from the desk but as cables protrude 3cm from the back its really 19x19x5cm for its overall footprint. There is a small angle cut from the front edge that has a large green (or orange) LED and a single push button, these are the only controls on the unit. The whole system is sold on ease of installation and as leads come attached the three point install is exactly that.
Keeping your computer running at its optimum capacity can be time consuming. Fix-It Utilities offers to take over this task.
Now up to version 10, Fix-It Utilities has been around for a good number of years during which it has racked up impressive sales figures and won a number of awards.  This latest version of software that promises to “keep your PC running like NEW”, supports both 32 and 64-bit Windows including Windows 7.  As with some of the previous versions of this title, you are granted a three-user license allowing you to run the software legally on more than one system.
A puzzle solving adventurer is required to help a girl with the power to produce paintings that let you enter the depicted scene as a new game in the Drawn series appears.
618298 intempo modo dab radio nxt tec

Intempo MODE

A sleek and slim DAB and FM radio with Auxiliary input. It is black with a two line display top right and various touch controls below it, the other controls are on the right side of the unit. It is ideal for a bedside table.
It is 31x15x4cm. There are two swivel feet that can increase the last figure the width by up to another 6cm dependant on the amount of swivel. The rear of the unit has DC input and the 3.5mm jack socket beside it, on the top left of unit is a six piece (42cm) rod aerial that gave good reception wherever I used it including my office that on occasion is not that good on DAB reception especially with units that use wire aerials rather than the rod type that to me always seem superior.
618732 devolo homeplug avsmart plus network adapto

Devolo DLAN 200 AVsmart+

I've been a convert to HomePlug networking for quite some time now - it wins over Wireless in so many ways. Devolo have recently introduced a new range of adaptors adding some useful features.
For those that don't know, HomePlug is a way of creating a network in your home (or small office). The is the latest adaptor from Devolo and supports the faster 200Mbps data rate of the HomePlug AV standard. You can . To recap , rather than string long pieces of wire around the place HomePlug instead sends the data over your mains electricity cables.
613201 tvonics mdr240 freeview tuner receive

TVonics MDR-240

With the digital switch-over already under progress, the thoughts of many viewers are turning towards the subject of a set-top box to work in conjunction with their existing analogue television set.
One company in the forefront of producing set-top boxes is the UK-based TVonics.  Recently released by the company is its MDR-240 model which is the first unit I have seen that conforms to the Government’s “Core Receiver Requirements”.  This initiative decrees that digital receivers should be suitable for the elderly and people with disabilities by including features such as automatic retuning when the need arises.
Speech recognition has come of age with the launch of Dragon Naturally Speaking version 11. After just a few minutes training I was able to achieve a very high level of transcription accuracy and was starting to get acquainted with the voice commands for editing and other purposes. This program could well change the way that many users interact with their PCs.
Although speech recognition has been around for many years the increased sophistication of the software combined with the improved performance of today’s PCs has resulted in far more effective technology. In particular, this new version of Dragon recognises the presence of multiple processors, and both 32- and 64-bit systems and is thus able to take advantage of today’s multi-core PCs with 2GB or more of RAM.
Apparently these units have been available in Australia and China for two years, now they are available in the UK. Full HD 32inch TV’s are still quite rare with most only starting at 37inch and ‘HD Ready’ still being the norm at 32inch.
The Pangoo S700 LCD television measures 77x47.5cm with the attached stand raising it 3cm above whatever you stand it on. Thanks to edge-lit LED back-lighting the unit measures only around 2cm deep. The first surprise was that the stand comes attached and it is quite easy to just remove from the box as the mains lead is hard wired into the unit you only need to put in place and attach the aerial lead and you are ready to switch on. Find the menu on the remote control and then set up.
As more eSATA devices arrive those with eSATA on the motherboard could find this solution from Lindy very useful. The second is another item from Brando in Hong Kong this time a 13 (yes thirteen) port USB switch.
The Lindy USB 2.0 eSATA Adapter measures 6.5x3x1cm and plugs into any USB port. Reading the blurb I see it will work (at a slower speed) with USB 1.1 systems and even with versions of Windows as early as ME, it is also stated to work with Mac OS10 but I have not tried this as I do not have a Mac. It will work with both Desktop and Notebook (even Netbook) PC’s; this will work with any single SATA/eSATA disc drive but will work with Port Mtiplier functions.
With over 15 million players worldwide, the Jewel Quest series can justifiably claim to be one of the most popular games in the Match-3 genre. To the original Jewel Quest I, II and III titles plus a couple of offerings in the Jewel Quest Mysteries series, we can now add Jewel Quest Heritage.
Jewel Quest Heritage reverts back to the original format of completing numerous Jewel Boards that are completed by creating groups of three or more similarly coloured jewels.  In the earlier Jewel Quest titles, Rupert Pack and his wife Emma searched for and discovered the fabulous Golden Jewel Board treasured by the ancient Aztecs.  This board was then presented to the Rupert Pack museum where it could be seen by the general public.
At the start of the year it appeared as ‘betas’ on some magazine discs. Then absolute silence until June when I saw a couple of distributor adverts, it transpired the launch had happened, a quick skim of my journalists friends and no one knew, so now it seems Microsoft – or do I mean their numerous PR agencies - tells no one about the arrival of products.
There are three paid for versions available. They are Home and Student at about £100, Home and Business at around £200 and Professional at about £400. All these figures are ‘ball park’ but it gives an idea of the differential. All these versions now have the ‘ribbon’ interface, the Office interface called Backstage are still opened from the ‘File’ menu as not even Microsoft would dare to change that Holy of Holies.
What do you call a device that combines an external hard disk with an iPod docking station? To answer my own question – the device is called Dualie.
So just what is a Dualie when it is at home?  Developed by Buffalo Technology, the Dualie consists of a brushed aluminium and black docking station with two bays and an external hard disk.  The front bay is used to mount your chosen iPod device while the rear bay is for the supplied 500GB external hard disk. Measuring 70 x 101 x 96mm (H x W x D), the docking station features the connections for attaching the iPod device and the external hard disk in the appropriate bays.
They are small, cute and loveable – no I’m not referring to the people responsible for Gadgetspeak but the characters of a puzzle game from Wadjey Eye.
While not in the same class as the robots envisaged by Isaac Asimov in his numerous science fiction novels, the creations developed in Dr Hugo’s Robot Family are both loveable and amusing in their antics and appearance.  These micro-characters are never put off their failures as they attempt a range of tasks that form an important part of their existence.  But we are getting a little ahead of ourselves here as we take a look at Puzzle Bots.
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