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

Having recently joined the Acer family, Packard Bell took the opportunity of Acer’s Global Press Conference 2008 to demonstrate its new product line up. These products included a netbook plus various notebooks and desktop systems with a selection of LCD monitors and storage devices.
Whereas Acer has named its netbook the Aspire One, Packard Bell has opted for the “dot” designation.  Based on the Intel Atom processor with 1GB of RAM, the “dot” has an 8.9-inch display with a resolution of 1024 x 600; 5-in-1 card reader; three USB ports; built-in Wi-Fi (b/g); and a 160GB hard drive.  This netbook comes with Windows XP operating system and has a 6-cell battery as standard.
Love your media player but annoyed about the piece of wire that is forever getting tangled, pulled from it's socket or just isn't long enough to reach the appropriate pocket? You need Bluetooth.
Motorola have joined the small but growing band of manufacturers providing Bluetooth stereo headsets with their Motorokr S9. As well as being a wireless way of listenning to stereo on your favourite Bluetooth enabled media player, it also includes a microphone so should you be using a phone it'll allow you to make calls.
549902 disgo video plu

Disgo Video Plus

For those that remember my review of the ‘Flip Video Ultra’ in June this is a very similar product. However there are ‘swings and roundabouts’ so read on to find out what’s better and what is not.
I would suggest anyone also reads my review of the Flip Video Ultra 30-6-08 as then you will be better able to judge which might suit you best. This is 11x6.5x2cm and weights 150grams; mine was predominately white with a grey rubber material below the small TFT on the back. Let's start with the base, this has a screw for any tripod you might care to use. The right side (from the back) has an A/V socket and a slider high quality to long play that can give twice the length of recording.
Well that's what my 13 year old called it. Perhaps a small exageration, but this is a games console designed to get 8 - 12 year olds moving to it's beat.
Here we have a standalone games console which operates on its own batteries and with no need for a television or hand held controllers. The Swinxs is modelled around good old fashioned party games such as Hide and Seek and Tag. Swinxs has a central console and comes with four wristbands which are worn by the players. The wristbands are individually recognised, so Swinxs knows who is winning at any point in time. Swinxs comes preloaded with seven games.
Having built up a collection of digital images, why not put them to productive use and create eye-catching slideshows.
Xtreme PhotoStory on CD&DVD Deluxe 7 is the rather long title of Magix's latest software for burning photos to optical media so that they can be viewed on a television.  Various options are available from PhotoStory's installation routine.  These options include either accepting or changing the three different default locations used to store the program; templates and files; plus user files.
There are digital picture frames that will enhance your enjoyment of your digital images and then there are other digital picture frames that do little in this respect.
While some digital frame modules have taken the basic premise and enhanced the performance with increased functionality; some other products, fortunately in the minority, offer little in the way of innovation and just deliver an extremely basic performance.  The NuVue 710 digital picture frame from Digital Spectrum definitely falls into the later category as became immediately obvious on unpacking the product.
549900 sonim jcb mobile phon

Tough Mobile Phone : Sonim XP1

Never before have I been presented with a working mobile phone and been invited to throw it against a wall and then drop it on a concrete floor. It was still working afterwards; this is a ruggedised mobile phone.
It is 11x5x2cm and weights only 125grams. It is matt black and as you might expect well padded. While you can store pictures etc it is only really a phone as a camera is always one of the most fragile parts it does not have one.
It is your data and your responsibility to keep it safe by making use of any tools that are available.
When keeping your data safe, especially the sensitive kind that is so attractive to certain individuals, what could be a more appropriate method than to use a safe.  However, rather than the physical metal box used for personal valuables, your data could be placed in the software equivalent of a virtual hidden container on your computer.  This is the rationale behind the Steganos Safe title which is now in its 2008 version and is available from Phoenix Software.
roberts solar dab radi

Roberts solarDAB

Roberts have announced a number of energy efficient radios in the past. The 'solarDAB' combines energy efficient design with an integral solar panel to augment traditional mains power.
The solarDAB is distinctive in a number of ways. Firstly it has a somewhat unusual design, partly due to the need to incorporate the solar panel in the top of the device. Aesthetics are always somewhat subjective, although I did find the design grew on me over a couple of weeks. The second somewhat unusual aspect is the lack of an FM or analogue tuner - this is a DAB only radio. This is in many ways a vote of confidence in the DAB system after some poor press earlier in the year.
canon EOS 1000D Digital SL

Canon EOS 1000D

Having just reviewed the excellent EOS 450D (29-08-08) I was more than chuffed to be offered the very new EOS 1000D. At this time of year everyone wants to tell you about what they have to offer for Christmas are you listening Santa?
It is 12x8x9.5cm, add the 18-55mm lens and this adds up to another 7cm to the second figure the width. The main difference between reviewing a digital camera and a DSLR for me is that the manual is essential reading. With a multi language digital you might get a dozen pages in English and what they have to say you probably knew anyway. Here it is 196 and all in English and unless you are a professional photographer I doubt that you could claim I knew that most of the time.
These are a very unusual set of speakers from Harman Kardon a name that often comes up with speakers in notebook computers. However I doubt any other company has ever produced anything like these before.
What you get are a pair of sound sticks each with four speakers and a sub woofer. The first difference is that both the sound sticks and the sub woofer are see through. They look like glass but are plastic. Each sound stick is 25cm tall around 5cm across and at points 5cm deep. The sub woofer has the advantage that it is not as heavy as it looks and can be placed on the floor out of the way but of course being unusual you will want it on display. It is 20cm round and 25cm tall.
Michael Fereday joined up with Acer in Budapest to bring us this report on the company’s latest batch of desktop and notebook models.
Never the one to sit back and contemplate past achievements, Acer took the opportunity, offered by its Global Press Conference, to announce several new products to help consolidate its position as third in the total PC market and second with regards to worldwide notebook sales.
If you or your kids love marble runs, this magnetic construction kit will take you to the next level of marble play.
You can tell it's the run up to Christmas when more toys start arriving at Gadgetspeak. We were pleased this week to try out the new Magnext iCoaster. If you have kids that enjoyed marble runs when they were younger, this could be the next step up - a roller-coaster marble run with magnetic technology. There are 17 pieces of track and 10 towers of 3 different heights which can be configured in at least 10 different ways to make an exciting ride for the marbles.
sony BDP S300 blu ray dvd playe

Sony Blu-ray Player BDP-S300

I have used this for several weeks, however only around ten days ago did the HDMI cable arrive. Do not try using a Blu Ray player without the HDMI cable as you will hear music, sound effects but no speech when using Composite cables supplied.
A couple of recent reports say that within three years we will all be using Blu-ray, well if the quality of sound and video I achieved using this unit and the Sony TV (reviewed four days ago) are anything to go by I say yes please. Once you have connected the Blu-ray player to your TV and tuned it to whatever setting you are connected by (anything but HDMI will be inferior) it should when switched on go to easy setup if not follow the instructions in the 64 page instruction manual.
While ensuring that your computer is protected from outside nefarious influences is a recommended approach, sometimes you do need to take further precautions regarding the use and security of the data residing on your system.
Offering to provide various forms of protection is Steganos Privacy Suite 2008 which brings together nine tools covering different aspects of privacy.  Once installed, and you do have the choice of which tools are included, Steganos Privacy Suite 2008 will need to be activated via an Internet link and the entry of a 39-character product serial number.
Boiling a cup of water is quicker than boiling a full kettle so saving on time and energy consumption. That's the idea behind the Tefal Quick Cup.
Saving energy is important for both conservation issues and, especially with the ever-increasing spiral of rising costs, financial concerns.  Arriving with accreditation from the Energy Saving Trust, the Tefal Quick Cup product offers to help by delivering a significant reduction in energy consumption when compared against that of the average kettle.
adobe photoshop cs4 extende

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Coming Soon

I first saw a very early build of the new version of CS4 at the start of August but I was prevented from telling about it till now. There are of course lots of new goodies large and small and when I finally get a copy I will tell you in detail about some of them.
As always there are a series of different products (six I understand) but here let's concentrate first on Photoshop CS4. Content Aware is an amazing feature - if it works as shown - in the one slide I have seen, the scenario four people running along a beach spaced out in the original, this is then altered to fit a column and although the image has a lot less width and more height all are still shown more or less in situ.
Keeping in touch with friends and family has never been easier with the wide range of communication devices that are currently available. A recent addition to home-based communication is the Gigaset S675.
Adding to the Siemens range of DECT phones is the black and silver Gigaset S675 model.  Consisting of a base station, which can be wall-mounted or free-standing, and a handset, this DECT phone features an integrated calendar, address book, SMS functionality and an answering machine.  It also brings a splash of colour to the user experience.
myvu crystal iPod video glasses ambe

MyVu Crystal video glasses

All the latest generation iPods, with exception of the tiny shuffle, are capable of video storage and playback. This can be an excellent way of passing time, either on long trips or even if you're having trouble sleeping.
I'm a complete convert to video on the move with around 20 hours of my favourite videos on my . I've watched on the train and in a camp-site during particularly bad weather. I've even used it on a car journey to keep the kids entertained. There is however a problem - it's not comfortable watching the iPod screen for any length of time. It's not the quality of the screen, which is brilliant. It's having to either hold the screen up to watch (if laying down) or a sore neck having to look down.
Huge Plastacine rabbits, that’s what I think of when I think of the latest Sony TV’s they were used to promote the vivid colours that these are capable of. Of course they are great TV’s but are they worth the premium the name brings.
This is the KDL-32E4000 the instruction book lists seventeen models that all work the same way, maybe that says something that a whole range from 26 to 52 inch operate without difference. There is of course one that the screen will operate at a lower resolution for models less than 37 inches. I am told there are a couple of 32 inch around that work at 1080 but this is the first one I have reviewed.
While most photo frames are larger maybe there is a place for a smaller one. Secondly a solar mobile phone charger that can hold enough charge for two complete charges of almost any mobile phone.
This is a unit from Cenomax. Mine was cream in colour with a reflective surround to the viewable area. It is 9.5x7.5x1.3cm. The actual screen is 7x5.4cm giving the notional 3.5inch diagonal measurement. It has a rechargeable battery but even though the charge method is USB no PC is required as the lead goes to a special 13amp plug so all that is required to recharge it is a mains socket.
Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to look at a number of multi-function or all –in-one printers from various manufacturers. However this is the first time that the product comes with the Kodak brand.
The Kodak ESP 3 is an all-in-one printer that immediately catches the eye due to its clean-cut appearance.  Box shaped with curved edges, and measuring 422 x 298 x 173mm, the combination of matt and reflective black, with a patterned top, certainly gives a stylish look to this piece of kit. As is standard with all-in-one devices, the ESP 3 brings together a printer with a scanner and includes photocopying capabilities.
Normally you would get my opinion as an experienced computer user but a very basic musician. Here something different the view of a very experienced musician but almost a computer novice.
My friend Don has been a semi pro musician (keyboard player) for more than forty years. He has only a few years computing knowledge and only a few months with Broadband. He had some software by Finale -Print Music- but he always wanted more than it could give, and Sibelius will import Print Music files. So around five months ago I gave him Sibelius 5.
In the past I have checked out various digital voice recorders from different manufacturers but this is the first time that the voice recorder bears the LINDY brand name.
It was certainly not what I expected when I requested a review unit.  Unlike the other voice recorders, this LINDY Wireless Voice Recorder requires to be connected to a computer running appropriate software before you gain access to its functionality which is rather restrictive when compared to some other voice recording devices.
Remote control flying devices come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The latest offering to fall into my hands is a mini-helicopter.
My skill, or perhaps lack of skill would be a more appropriate description, as a helicopter pilot is renowned in my family circle.  Amusement is rife as I make valiant attempts to perform even the most basic manoeuvres of flight with various remote control flying machines.  In my defence I do try to claim that I am testing the crash capabilities (of which I am an expert) of the current device but this feeble attempt at justification rarely succeeds.
lg kc550 mobile phone 5M pixel camer

LG KC550 Mobile Phone

This is another in a growing band of phones with a 5mega pixel camera. While I doubt this will ever replace a digital camera for a photographer but, as everyone always seems to take their mobile phone with them it can be where a digital camera is not.
This phone certainly has a solid feel. It is 10x5x1.5 when closed and this increases by another 3.5cm when the screen is moved up to reveal the 12 key keypad. The phone weights 90grams. The screen on the KC550 is 4.9x3.8cm and is clear and easy to read. The first unusual thing is a slide on the rear that hides/exposes the 5 megapixel auto focus camera lens. When pulled down it exposes not only the lens but the flash and the self image mirror.
As your hard drive is probably the slowest component of your computer system, it certainly makes sense to ensure you are getting the maximum possible response from this device.
One way to help is to ensure that the drive is regularly defragmented so that files are stored contiguously rather than being scattered willy-nilly in different locations.  The situation of files being broken up and scattered to various locations on your drive occurs through the normal use of the operating system.  Rather than spend time looking for a space large enough to accommodate a file, the operating system will fill up spaces with portions of a file.
humax pvr 9150T personal hdd digital video recorde

Humax PVR-9150T

This new Personal Video Recorder (PVR) from Humax provides 160Gbytes of storage, enough for around 100 hours of recorded TV.
The PVR-9150T joins the established and the PVR-9300 product. We were impressed with the 9200 - it was the products stability and reliability that made it stand out from the crowd as much as price and features. Connections on the 9150 have been significantly simplified from those of it's older stable-mate and it's clear that this product is aimed at the majority of people that want an easy to use, no fuss video recorder that attaches to their TV with the minimum of hassle.
Here I am looking at the latest offering from Pure Digital the One Mini. Just as this arrived Pure announced they had sold 2,000,000 DAB radios this is of course DAB but also FM and you can connect an iPod or portable CD.
It is 14x13x6cm a lot smaller than most DAB/FM units, probably the reason for the name 'Mini'. It has an eight piece rod aerial that increases the second figure the height by 44cm if it is extended vertically. The rear has input for the A/C adapter, there is a battery bay but this can only accept a 'ChargePAK' and not standard alkaline batteries. The top has six silvered buttons, the large one on the left on/off and the other five all labelled as to their job.
brando 4 in 1 usb web cam with fa

Webcam and Fan

Yes now with this rather good quality webcam and microphone on a stand you also get an electronic fan to keep you cool while you have your video conversations. You can of course use either one individually.
It looks rather futuristic on its chromed articulated arms that can be bent to whatever position you require. The camera can be as much as 18cm from the base. While the microphone that emerges on its own chromed articulated lead from the base of the camera and is 12cm. Yet another chromed articulated lead emerges from the base and this is 12cm with the fan on its end there is a small push button to operate the fan on the base. The base is 6.
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