Not to be confused with a similarly entitled graphics product from the same company, Xara Photo & Graphics Designer 11 combines elements of creative design and photo editing software within a single package.
With this latest version of the Photo & Graphics Designer, Xara has integrated a number of new and enhanced features, which you might well expect with a new version, but, more surprisingly, has reduced the price being asked for this software by almost 30% and that is for new users. If you are upgrading from the previous version of the product then this software is currently available, as an introductory offer, at less than half price.
When you are out and about with your Tablet or Notebook there are many times when you want Internet access. The vast majority of such devices do not have mobile SIM slots so up until now you have to rely on café and other places open Internet, not any more.
At a recent Christmas In July event by the Dixons Store Group this was the stand out device that I saw on the day and I got the chance to test it. It is an EE device that provides a mobile hot spot for I am told up to ten devices, I tried it with three. The device is 7.5x7.5x1.3cm and weights 92grams with band attached. Three different coloured bands are supplied which could be used to identify the network or just for fashion purposes.
With the tag line of Liberate your Sound, the CHANT is a portable Bluetooth audio speaker developed by the House of Marley. This product is available in Mini and BT versions with this review being based on the larger BT model which shares many of its features with its smaller brethren.
The CHANT BT is available in a choice of Black, Navy or Blue Hemp. Unpacking the product reveals the CHANT unit; a recyclable aluminium carabineer clip for attaching the CHANT to a belt or other accessory; one of the shortest standard-to-micro USB leads, measuring just 20cm, I have seen; and a folded sheet of instructions using a font size that immediately had me reaching for my magnifying glass.
Eastville Chronicles: The Drama Queen Murder describes itself as a whodunit Hidden Object game full of love, passion and intrigue. Developed by Queen Media and published by TAG, this game is now available as part of the Avanquest GSP catalogue.
As usual with games of this genre, you can set up profiles for individual players containing their own range of settings. Adjustments can be made to the volume levels for music and sound effects. As the sound effects just consist of a couple of noises that occur when you locate one of the hidden objects, you may want to reduce this particular volume level.
There are numerous streaming services available; few however allow you to stream in high quality. Qobuz even have a service that lets you download and keep the music that however is not that cheap. Here is a service that works providing they have the music you want.
Before you commit yourself you can try it out with the normal proviso that you only get 30seconds of a track. The two stream qualities that I had available were MP3 320mbps which is quite good and the excellent FLAC 44.1kbps which is CD quality. However even with the higher quality selected some of the time only the MP3 standard was available, this was often with music that was recorded a number of years ago.
The Ricoh SP 3600DN product is a mono laser printer. This particular unit has been developed to replace the Ricoh SP3500N, SP364510DN and SP4100NL models. As such Ricoh believes this product would be best suited for use in a small office or home office environment where it could service the printing needs of between 2 and 5 users.
Decked out in light and dark shades of computer grey, the SP 3600 has a sturdy appearance which is backed up by the unit’s weight of 14.5kg and dimensions of 370 x 392 x 268mm (W x D x H). The DN part of the product’s model number gives the indication that this device has both Duplex and Network capabilities built into the unit.
The Heston Blumenthal Dual Platform precision kitchen scales from Salter greatly improve the accuracy in weighing of ingredients and so will find favour with anyone who takes their cooking seriously.
They cover a wider weight range than the majority of scales and also enable one to weigh out small quantities accurately -- something that is beyond the ability of the majority of kitchen scales. The scales, which come supplied in a storage case, are solidly built with the metal body matt black and roughly 260 x 165mm in size overall while the two stainless steel platforms, each of which has a red styling line around its edge, are respectively 165 x 145 and 80 x 70mm in size.
Security in one form or another is a big market. Here I am talking about home security in this case an easy to install and setup solution supplied to me with a single camera but the software with it is able to handle many more cameras.
The outside of the box has a simple strap line, “Connect a camera, create an account, see your stuff”. They go on to say “The only cloud camera that stores the last seven days for free, with no subscription’ So lets see how I go in proving the claims made above. The camera itself is 12cm long and with the light shield is round at 7cm. The supplied wall mount fits underneath the rear of the unit and can protrude by up to 5cm.
This item would be for those who go out and about a lot. As soon as a say high quality it also means high price but the two can go together to produce an excellent well-made product so if you walk a lot then you are made for this item.
This back pack is manufactured to take a notebook first and everything else second. It’s weight when empty is 1565grams. It is 46x30x13cm but the last figure the width does stretch. There is a filled 13cm long handle on the top for comfortable carrying when it’s not in residence on your back. The outside back is packed with an airmesh material that lets your back breathe and so lessens sweat. The top collar is 6cm wide leading down to the straps that are 7.
This mono laser can print, scan and copy. It is a quite small unit so would easily fit into a cupboard or even onto a strong shelf, being black or perhaps more accurately very dark grey it is unlikely to pass the tests imposed by the lounge police.
The Brother DCP-L2520DW mono laser printer measures 40x35x30cm and just add enough to insert items onto the flatbed so say make the last figure 35cm and that is all the space it requires as paper is delivered once printed within the units confines. The unit weights 9.7kilos. If you use USB the cable is inserted back left and the power lead back right. You may find that you need a USB lead to make the Wi-Fi linking easier as otherwise you have a harder job to make the initial connection.
The Smart Prime 6 is a new member of the Vodafone family of smartphones. In this particular case, the Smart Prime 6 offering is a Vodafone 4G enabled model that is being targeted at the budget market sector with a price point of £80.00 on a PAYG basis.
While budget smartphones can have a tendency to look the part, this is not true of the Vodafone Smart Print 6 model. While the unit’s casing might be constructed of plastic, its overall appearance gives you the impression that you are handling a device that would be acceptable in more exalted company with its smooth lines and round corners. Available in a choice of silver or gun-metal grey (my review sample from Vodafone), the Vodafone Smart Prime 6 has dimensions of 141.
Motorola certainly opened a Pandora style box with the release of its Moto G smartphone. As a result other companies are now developing handsets that combine reasonable specifications with a price point that does not cause you to catch your breath or feel a pinch on your wallet. One such example of this trend is the Idol 3 from Alcatel OneTouch. For those unfamiliar with Alcatel OneTouch, I should explain that the brand is the result of a joint venture between Alcatel Lucent of France and TCL Communication of China.
This handset is available in either 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch screen sizes with this review being based on the latter version. The Idol 3 adopts the standard smartphone look of a slab appearance with the screen dominating the front of the unit. In this case the Idol 3’s body, predominately dark grey in colour with silver faux metal trimming, has dimensions of 152.7 x 75.1 x 7.4mm (H x W x D). The Idol 3’s 5.
Placed on a remote island, your task is to locate various dinosaurs buried beneath the scenery. Are you up to the task?
With all the hype surrounding the latest movie to be released in the Jurassic Park franchise, it does seem appropriate to revisit a game I first encountered nearly ten years ago. Actually I had totally forgotten the game but memories came flooding back when a copy of the game turned up for review and I fired up the software and saw the Enkard logo decorating the screen. This was quickly followed by the title of Jurassic Realm.
The latest offering from Braun to keep your face perfectly smooth, it is both a wet and dry shaver but unlike the last version I reviewed that had rubber sides this has a chrome effect and is therefore easier to drop if wet really means wet, like in the shower or bath.
The Braun Series 9 wet and dry shaver measures 13x5.5x3cm and weights a not insubstantial 220grams. The shaver comes in its own zip up case with a leather look outside and a solid inside. Before I tell you about my shaving with this latest offering from Braun lets mention the extras as without them this could be sold in a much smaller box then the 25x15x15cm offering it comes in.
When thinking about devices for providing navigational aids and other kinds of driving assistance, such as SatNav units, one name that immediately springs to mind is that of TomTom. This is a company that concentrates its expertise on the particular area of SatNav and has developed various ranges of products including the Start brand. One such offering is the TomTom Start 60 product, supplied by QVC for the purpose of this review.
Unpacking the TomTom Start 60 product reveals the SatNav unit, a car lighter adapter plug that links to the supplied standard-to-micro USB lead and a User Manual booklet covering major European languages. As the largest model in the Start range, this product has dimensions of 16.99 x 10.48 x 2.22cm (W x H x D). The SatNav device is predominately black in colour apart from a grey band trimming the front of the unit and a silver TomTom logo.
Earlier this year I found a device that you do not need to wear that analyse your sleep patterns, that device came from Finland. Now a second somewhat similar device and they also come from Finland, my geography is not that great but two companies producing sleep analyst tools from a single European country is surely something a little unusual.
The similarity is that both get data from your body without contact as both have a thin strip of plastic material that sits under your bed sheet or mattress. The way it is transferred to be interpolated is very different, the first used Bluetooth and this current device uses your Wi-Fi. There is something to be said for both, Bluetooth uses power in your SmartPhone while Wi-Fi is sending data via your Wi-Fi router; all in all I find the latter method preferable. The device is circular at 5.
The Microsoft Lumia 640 from Vodafone is a slim 4G 5 inch versatile smartphone which, being Windows Phone based, will also provide the compatibility with Microsoft Office applications that will be a boon to many serious users.
This 5 inch smartphone currently runs on Windows Phone 8.1 so that those using Office 365 Home or Personal will be able to edit Office documents on the phone and work seamlessly between phone and desktop. Now that Microsoft has released Windows 10, before too long there will be the Windows 10 upgrade for the phone which should bring enhanced compatibility. It is roughly 140 x 72mm in size and weighs 147g.
Even if you have good vision for things like driving and TV as you get older you are likely to need glasses for reading. While some can go to a pound shop and find something that works for you perhaps size is something to temp you.
If your eyes are different in their viewing ability you need a prescription but if you are just find the daily paper harder to read – and I do not mean the small print at the bottom of adverts – then something off the shelf may well fit the bill. If the glasses look the part then the ribbing a non-glasses wearer might otherwise get will evaporate. These glasses from Compact Lenses are flat-folding reading glasses.
Currently Withings has two different products offering a combination of an analogue time keeping device and health tracking features. These products are the Withings Activité and the Activité Pop. Having reviewed the Activité Pop (see http://www.gadgetspeak.com/gadget/article.rhtm/752/841117/Withings_Ativite_Pop.html), it is now the turn of the top-of-the-range Activité model.
Unlike the Activité Pop, which proved difficult to extract from its packaging, the Activité’s packaging was far more accessible. This device comes in an elongated box featuring a pull-out drawer-like compartment that holds the product and various accessories located beneath the watch. These accessories include a spare watch strap, button battery and a tool for resetting and opening the watch back cover plus a small Quick Start Guide.
A small box that allows you to beam your TV signal anywhere across your Network, it can work with Windows, MAC, Android or even Linux. So once connected you should be able to view your TV signal aerial or cable anywhere in your home.
The instructions consist of a single sheet, attach your aerial the supplied Ethernet cable and the DC power brick lead. The unit should now be showing green then download the software from the link supplied. If all is well it will discover the box and then find sixty or so Freeview TV channels. The first system I tried worked perfectly it was a Windows 8.1 desktop machine via Wi-Fi and everything worked as it should using the default software.
Bluetooth Speakers continue to be a popular item with regards to new products. This latest offering arrives from Lindy.
Under the tag line of “Connection Perfection”, Lindy has released its BTS-360 product which is a Bluetooth speaker with NFC (Near Field Connection) functionality. Included in the box with this compact speaker is a micro-to-standard USB lead for charging the unit’s 1000mAh Lithium Polymer battery and a small User Manual covering English, German, French and Italian languages.
This next title transports you back to the year 1450 as you enter the world of Royal Settlement created by the German based team of Magnussoft.
This game, entitled Royal Settlement 1450, is available as a software download from Avanquest’s GSP website. For some reason this game has been categorised as belonging to the Jewel Match-3 genre which it definitely isn’t. Royal Settlement 1450 is a time management offering. Times have been extremely hard in the kingdom on which this game is based. The king, who is the Supreme Head of the Empire, is not best pleased with the situation and you can hardly blame him.
A full featured SmartPhone for £79 is something to make anyone stop and listen, the logic is that corners must have been cut, as far as I can see this has not been the case so I say again a full featured SmartPhone for £79 is this offering from Vodafone.
Vodafone Smart Prime 6 measures 14x7x.7cm and weights 156grams. The viewable screen is 11x6.3cm and for those who think imperial the notional diagonal imperial measurement is 5inches. The display is 720x1280 which gives nearly 300ppi. Not long ago a 5inch screen would have been big and bulky to hold now it just seems comfortable in the hand. While – like all – recent phones the screen is reflective but certainly not reflective enough to do your hair and or make up.
According to the College of Policing if your home does not have any security measures in place then you are five times more likely to be the victim of a burglary than those homes who have implemented simple measures. To give you some idea as to the scale of this type of crime, burglary remains a fixture in the Top Ten crimes committed each month with 33,084 instances reported during April 2015. While this next product will not guarantee to keep your home safe from a break-in, it does offer help that could result in the possible return of your property.
The product under review is the Y-CAM developed HomeMonitor HD Pro Outdoor Security Camera (model HMHDE05) which comes with free Cloud recording and alerts regarding detected events. This kit consists of a HomeMonitor HD Pro camera, wall mount, Ethernet cable, power lead with replaceable UK/US/EU adapter plugs, Wi-Fi antenna plus screws, rawl plugs and tools for use when fixing the wall mount.
A range of companies have Xmas In July events to show what they consider will be their big sellers or must have items for the Christmas selling period, one of those is the Dixons Store Group who have a help scheme called Knowhow.
Go into most of their stores and you can get help and advice from a Knowhow expert. They have just launched a range of online assist tools to help with twenty one subjects and of course they would make an excellent gift. Often people use something without really understanding it and a lot of users will not feel able to ask for help either because they are too proud or possibly too scared. Some are more basic than others and according to the depth the cost of the course varies.
The Heston Blumenthal precision analogue oven thermometer model 543 HBSSCR by Salter will be a useful addition to the armoury of any person who takes cooking seriously. It can be seen as a useful aid to achieving consistent results.
Constructed with a stainless steel body and a clear glass lens it has a mounting arrangement that enables it to be hung from an oven shelf or, alternatively, to be stood on a shelf or floor of the oven in such a position that that it can be viewed through the oven door’s glass window. Overall the body is 62mm in diameter with its window being 48mm.
Do you like using headphones or earbuds but do not like being tethered to the source of your music? The answer then may be at hand with this small object from Noble Audio that is about half the length of a ball point pen that you plug your buds into.
Of course if you are playing music from a SmartPhone then although slightly larger and heavier the phone could sit in a jacket or shirt pocket. However if playing better quality sound from a larger device then Wi-Fi or Bluetooth is required and this solution is a small easy to use Bluetooth option. However the thing you are playing your music from must send out Bluetooth signals. It is 6cm long and 1.2 to 1.6cm on its sides the larger figure is the pen grip type clip.
Like many young boys I could not wait to begin shaving. However when the time arrived it did not take too long for this looked forward to activity to become a chore. Then technology, in the form of electric shavers, came to the rescue.
I am old enough to remember my grandfather using a cut-throat razor, in conjunction with a leather strap, for his daily shave (he was a publican and needed to look his best for his customers). The leather strap was used to ensure the open blade was sharp enough to remove the daily growth of bristles.
This coffee machine takes coffee beans in the top and grinds them and then prepares the coffee adds the water and then makes your coffee. It is a complete process so you cannot get fresher ground beans as it grinds them to make the cup of coffee.
It is 30cm deep, 23cm wide and 35cm tall at the bean storage area. There is a 28 page A5 booklet that covers operation and setting up as well as cleaning the product in sixteen languages. Seven of these pages use diagrams to cover most things then there is a single page in each language to cover more obscure things like setting up your favourite coffee strengths etc. It also explains the less obvious icons that the front display shows.
This next mobile handset is smart enough to act as a clock while it is being charged or not used for other purposes.
Described as being “Small size, Big heart” by Doro, the Liberto® 820 Mini is a smartphone. It is relatively compact by modern day standards of such devices, hence the “Mini” part of its title. Available in a choice of Silver, White or Red (my review sample), the Liberto 820 Mini has dimensions of 126 x 66 x 11mm (H x W x D) and weighs 132g (including the rechargeable Li-ion 3.