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

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.
616205 Dyson Air Multiplier AM01 12 Inch Desk Fa

Dyson Air Multiplier

During the recent long summer spell of hot weather this was a lifesaver to me. The main difference between a fan and air conditioning, the latter costs a fortune to cool the air down, the former does not cool the air but you feel cooler.
Yes you can buy a fan for £20 – in fact I have even seen small ones advertised for under a tenner – but of course they have blades and in most cases only a single power setting. A blade is lethal to birds and nasty for children. Open the box and there are two parts the top ring with a portion of the stem and the rest of the stem including all the electronics and the power lead. The two parts just fit together, site the unit and switch on that’s all you need to do.
It has been a while since I got my hands on a LiteOn product but the arrival of an external DVD Writer brought this wait to an end.
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Handshoe Mouse

This is a very different mouse from the ones we have all been using since the early 80’s when the first graphic interfaces were produces. This works by protecting the wrist from the dreaded RSI (repetitive strain injury).
Forget the normal size and shape this is designed to fit your hand size (small, medium or large), in fact there are three categories so nine possible combinations exist. First the size as above, then the colour black, white or silver and then type transparent, corded or wireless. My hand fits a medium mouse, it was black and cordless. It looks a little like a stealth jet with the whole hand lying over the unit and most importantly this includes your wrist. It is 17cm long 12cm wide and between .
First a rather nice small Bluetooth earpiece from Plantronics. The other item is from Brando those clever USB people in Hong Kong; it is a natty Bluetooth Audio receiver to allow you to remove the wires from almost any audio device.
It is 5x1.5x2cm this does include the clear plastic hook that fits over the ear to keep the unit in place once twisted into position in the ear. Not only is this small but also very light at only 10grams. It is black with silvered edges and a silver stripe down the front.
Sometimes it is not the solving of the crime but more the capture of the criminal that forms the focus of a game. The Unicorn Killer is one such offering.
It is time to bite the bullet and join the FBI as you take on the persona of rookie Agent Jennifer Lourdes.  In this role you become involved in the case to track down and capture the infamous Unicorn Killer who is better known as the murderer Ira Einhorn.  Naturally, as you are only a rookie agent with little experience in such matter, you will be guided in your work by the veteran detective Alan Michaels.
616202 canon PowerShot SX210IS digital compact camer

Canon Power Shot SX210IS

Canon has two styles of cameras in their pocket range the really small Ixus range and the slightly larger Power Shots. Here the latest Power Shot that is still small and sleek while offering more in optical zoom and other features.
The front and back of my unit were gold in colour while the top, bottom and sides were silver. It is 10x6x3cm and the latter figure the width can increase to 8.5cm when fully zoomed. It weights a tad over 200grams. The top has an oval on/off button beside this a rod style wide angle/telephoto rocker and finally a circular shutter release, the flash automatically opens on the left top edge.
Giving my regular printer and flatbed scanner a rest, I have been checking out a multifunction device from Samsung.
Unlike other All-in-One or Multifunction devices that have come my way, the Samsung SCX-4623F is not an inkjet model.  Instead this multifunction offering from Samsung is based on laser technology.  Decked out in a combination of matt and piano reflective black, the SCX-4623F provides print, scan, copy and faxing capabilities although no telephonic connection lead was included with the review sample.  However you do get an ADF (Automatic Document Feed) feature for good measure.
Hidden Objects do not just need to be found, they sometimes need to be replaced as happens in a world that provides an author with inspiration.
Even before I made my first excursion into this Big Fish game, the temptation was great.  It did not take long before I quickly succumbed to making the inevitable pun and offer to enlighten you regarding this new offering from Focus Multimedia’s range of Casual Game title.
The first a cube to sit by your bed – no excuse for not charging the iPod/iPhone – and it has alarm and sleep timer. The second when you do forget to charge your iPod a tiny device that can sit on your key ring will do so.
As far as bed side units go this 9cm cube is tiny but still allows you to use and charge your iPod or iPhone as well as have FM radio and even an auxiliary input all of these are choices to wake you from your slumbers or lull you to sleep. The front has a 6.5x6cm orange alpha numeric screen this is divided into three horizon strips the top one is a line of graphics to say which mode you are, the middle one is day, date and month and finally the bottom line is time.
Adding to its range of audio products, Edifier has released the “On the Go” iF350. This is a portable speaker system designed specifically for the iPod and iPhone.
With the E1480W GE has packed everything that the majority of users will want in a digital camera. Despite having a resolution of 14.1Mpixels, a 3 inch LCD screen and a X8 zoom they have still managed to fit it into a package, at a competitive price, that is small enough and light enough to be carried around at all times.
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Canon MX870 All In One

This black and grey Multi Function unit (it has Fax) from Canon is both easy to use while allowing the more experienced user to get more out of it with ease. My only doubt is how many people today still require the fax function.
The Canon MX870 is 47x44x32cm with the rear tray open but unfilled and the automatic front delivery tray closed. Once you place paper in the rear input tray it will increase the last figure the height by around 18cm and with items printed sitting in the output tray it will increase the space required for depth (the middle figure) by around 16cm. There are a total of 36 buttons on the front edge of the unit surrounding the 5x3.7cm TFT screen.
A lot of Bluetooth items require that you enter text either with an on screen keyboard and stylus or perhaps even more daunting - for the occasional user - via a phone type keyboard with up to four characters per key touch.
Here I offer two solutions both small but both have a standard keyboard layout that only needs to be paired to your device, neither are large so I doubt you will be touch typing but they are a distinct plus on the choices above. This is 11x6x1cm and weights 69grams. Mine had black sides and back with silvered surround to the face and the keys were grey with black letters. It has 52 keys with 30 keys having a second function in blue via the ‘FN’ key. The alpha and numeric keys are .
Getting the balance right between ease-of-use and a difficulty level can cause problems. This next game only really succeeded in one of these two areas.
Imagine the scene.  You are driving your car along a country road with your two children sat on the back seat.  Obviously it has been a long journey as the children and yourself are rather tired.  Maybe this tiredness plays a part in your decision making as you decide to stop for a break outside an old fashioned house that looks as if it could heave been built by the crooked man of nursery rhyme fame.  After warning your children not to get into trouble you fall asleep.
616198 creative ZEN Style 300 mp3 video playe

Creative Zen Style 300

Way back in time – before the iPod – Creative had one of the early MP3 players. Here one of the latest generation of such devices called the Zen. Of course time moves on and so does what we expect from such a device.
The Creative Zen Style 300 is 8x3.8x1cm and for such a device quite chunky hence the weight of 43grams. However this unit does include a speaker. These days this sort of device needs to do than just play music and the Zen does. It has a 3.5x3cm screen which in imperial has a diagonal measurement of 1.8inches. Not only does it play music, it can play photos and videos and for good measure it also has a quite decent FM radio.
Portability, Bluetooth, solar energy and analogue connectivity all come together in a new speaker system designed to work with a range of music sources.
Solar Sound 2 is a portable speaker unit that combines Bluetooth connectivity with the ability to use solar energy to recharge its internal Lithium Polymer 1600 mAh battery.  Developed by Devotec Industries, a company set up in 2005 with the aim of developing high quality products for today’s modern gadget users, this product comes with the promise of delivering features for those who like to listen to music when out and about.
Avanquest gives you the opportunity to explore a Pharaoh’s tomb and various sites in America with a Click & Play title.
Sometimes referred to as the boy Pharaoh, Tutankhamen ruled Egypt from 1333BC until his untimely death in 1323BC.  As was the custom, his body was preserved and buried with the great riches according to his status.  The discovery of his tomb by Howard Carter posed more questions than answers with the result that Tutankhamen has become a popular topic for discussion and also the framework on which several computer games have been based.
616197 samsung r580 laptop computer re

Samsung R580 Notebook

For those who don’t want black here I am looking at a subtle shade of red (dark wine) colour that will pass for black in poor light but still offer that something different in decent light, best of all the fingermarks don’t show as they do with shiny black.
The Samsung R580 laptop measures 38x25x3cm and weights 2.465kilos. The left side has the Kensington Lock socket, D/C input, VGA outlet, Ethernet, HDMI, e-SATA and a USB socket, external microphone and earbud sockets and a PCI (express card) slot. The front has an SD card slot. While the right side has the DVD multi optical drive and two further USB ports. The rear is clear as the screen slips over it.
First came the Lexmark Interpret and this was followed by the Lexmark Intuition. Now it is the turn of the Lexmark S305 which follows the same pattern of being assigned a name beginning with “I”. In this case this multifunction device is known as Impact.
Adopting the familiar box-shaped design with a fold-up 100-sheet paper input compartment at the rear and a pull-out paper output panel at the front, the Impact is predominately matte-black in colour with an appealing band of white piping running around the top of the scanner unit.
The Sennheiser PC11 is a lightweight single-sided, over the ear, headset that, unlike conventional headsets, one can put on and taken off with one hand. Consequently, it is very convenient to use -- especially for road warriors who will also appreciate its small size and weight. After all they often make use of Internet telephony services such as Skype when travelling in the UK and abroad.
Weighing just 31gm, including the 2m cable and ear hook (hooks provided for both left and right ears), it slips easily into one’s laptop bag and so is available whenever needed. It only takes a moment to unwind (and possibly untangle) the cable and plug it in to the computer’s 3.5mm audio In and Out sockets. Then, although it seems strange at first, one soon develops the knack of hooking the headset on one’s ear and adjusting the microphone boom into a suitable position.
614763 suunto Core Extreme sports watc

Suunto Core Extreme

Calling this a watch is rather like calling Big Ben a clock. I do not just mean the size but also the fact that it is a lot of other things as well. Compass, Altitude and Barometer, Stop Watch but sad to say it refuses to make the tea.
The watch is round 5x5x1.2cm. Its face is silver grey surround on the front with a chrome back. The sides are matt black with a grey black rubber strap. There are a total of five well marked buttons at 10, 2, 4 and 8 with the fifth at 3. Despite reading the 54 pages of the User Guide that are in English more than once I still found things out by pushing various button combinations. When I referred back to the User Guide I found they were fully mentioned.
614762 USB Wrist Band Battery9_64

USB Power Devices

Here I am looking at two different devices to provide power, the first fits round your wrist like a bracelet to power your PDA or Phone. The second is a box to provide power to USB devices when the mains are not around.
This is a black rubber bracelet weighting 81grams. It is 26cm long, 3.5cm wide a maximum of 1.3cm thick. It has six battery cells three either side of the seventh cell that is the charging indicator with four white LED’s and a push button which you press when you want to use some of its power. There is a micro USB socket on the side and all the supplied fifteen different heads either fit into that or a coiled 50cm extension unit.
Laptops tend to lose their charm quickly when you’re constantly looking for the nearest power outlet to charge up. How do you keep your battery going for as long as possible? Here are 15 easy ways to do so.
Laptops tend to lose their charm quickly when you're constantly looking for the nearest power outlet to charge up. How do you keep your battery going for as long as possible? Here are 15 easy ways to do so. : Clean your battery's metal contacts every couple of months with a cloth moistened with rubbing alcohol. This keeps the transfer of power from your battery more efficient. . Itunes, Desktop Search, etc. All these add to the CPU load and cut down battery life.
Queen Victoria is said not to have been amused but you could put your sense of humour to work with a product available from Smith Micro.
No matter how old you are, you would be hard pressed to deny that you are not amused by cartoons, especially the animated kind that appeal to all and sundry.  Now, rather than wait for others to produce cartoons for your amusement, you can create animated cartoons with a product from Smith Micro.  This product is entitled Anime Studio™ Debut 6.
Although not a particular TV addict there are times when it's good to be able to tune in. This natty little USB receiver from AVerMedia allows you to so do while on the move.
The AVerMedia Volar HD Pro is the size of a traditional USB memory stick. One end has a standard USB plug while the other has a standard TV aerial socket. Included with the receiver are a small dual rod antenna, remote control, quick installation guide and CD containing the tuner and video recording software (PVR). Signal strength in our area isn't great however I have to report very little success with the built in aerial.
614761 pioneer SE E22 J2 ear phone

Pioneer Headset and Earbuds

A company that I think of for high end audio equipment, however thanks to a recent briefing I find they also do more ‘affordable’ items the first of which is a range of earbuds and a headset that give quality sound at a reasonable price.
They do a whole range of earbuds and here I am looking at two as well as a rather fine set of earphones. The categories they break them into TWeens, Street People, Beat Junkies, Sport and Fitness, Hi-Fi, DJ’s and Commuters. These look fairly conventional earbuds if a little flamboyant (mine were red with a silver circle) and black ear fittings and leads.
613197 nokia n97 smart phone ope

A Nokia Smartphone : Nokia N97

If you are just looking for a mobile phone then you are unlikely to be interested in the Nokia N97. Let me explain.
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