Although misnamed as they generally sit below instead of on top of the television, set-top boxes have become a must have feature for the modern living room. With its flag firmly attached to the Good Ship Freesat, Humax has delivered numerous set-top boxes including its HDR-1100S model.
There are set-top boxes and set-boxes. Some of these units provide access to free services, such as offered by Freeview and Freesat, while others deliver a gateway to the various paid for channels available from Sky, Virgin and BT. The Humax Freesat HDR-1100S belongs to the former category (its title gives it away) and can provide the viewer with a choice of over 200 channels on a no subscription basis once a satellite dish is in position.
This is the first unit I have reviewed that was supplied with Windows 10 pre-installed. This told me several things including the fact that my upgrade on an old notebook just before launch had not gone entirely as it should have done.
The ASUS Transformer Book T300 measures 31x19x1cm, the last figure varies from .8cm at the front edge to 1.4cm at the back edge. It weights 1425grams all these figures assume you use the unit as a notebook. It can also be used as a tablet without the keyboard when the weight is only 720grams. So let’s deal with the keyboard first. It is an 84key unit with alpha and numeric keys being full size.
Providing the dual functionality of battery charging and storage capacity is a small device for use with Apple devices.
The Imation LINK Power Drive combines battery charging functionality with flash storage capability. Designed specifically for use with various iOS mobile devices, the product is available in 16, 32 and 64GB capacity models. My review is based on the 16GB version of the product which is currently available from selected Currys / PC World stores plus Amazon.co.uk and Tesco Direct.
Swans with nettle vests and a speechless Queen accused of black magic feature in this Hidden Object Adventure game.
As the second title in the Grim Legends series, Song of the Dark Swan is available in Collector’s Edition format from the Avanquest GSP catalogue of games. This Hidden Object Adventure game comes with a number of bonus items, some of which are available immediately while others, such as replaying the Hidden Object scenes and watching various cut-scenes, require the main game to be completed before you are granted access.
This is an interesting item. The light effects around the forward facing mirror give an indication of volume level and things like drums tend to activate them more. Apart from that you have a reasonable pair of speakers giving a good sound, welcome to Infinity.
The Infitiy Bluetooth speaker measures 17x8x5.5cm the corners are rounded making it appear as an oval. The front is a mirror. The sides are the 3watt speakers. The figures assume you use it without a 3.5mm connection if you have a lead connected this will add 2cm to the last figure the depth. The top has touch buttons to increase or decrease the volume. The back has an on/off slider an LED beside it to denote it’s on then a 3.
While computers have recently been given the ability to talk to use through the use of applications such as Siri and Cortana, we have been able to talk to our computers for a number of years and have our spoken words transformed into editable text using specialist software. A leading product in this particular area is Dragon Naturally Speaking with the latest version of this speech recognition software package being available in Professional Individual and Professional Group editions. This review is based on my experiences with Dragon Professional Individual product.
When Dragon Professional Individual is first fired up, it will be in trial mode allowing the user up to five launches to check out the software. You will need to enter the supplied serial number in order to activate the software and remove the launch restriction. If the software detects a previous version of the product, it will offer to upgrade your user profile using the data gathered by the earlier version.
Almost a bridge unit, just larger than most small point and shoot offerings, certainly a little heavier, however smaller than all DSLR units, this camera has a surprise that I have only seen recently in one other camera it has a fixed focus lens.
My routine is unpack the unit, insert the battery and an SD card and switch on assuming the battery has power I take a few test shots and this was when I discovered there was no zoom available. I check on the lettering on the front of the lens confirmed this. Fixed focus means that you need to think about your position far more than if you have zoom. It is 11.5x6x5cm, the last figure is when the unit is on this reduces to 3.4cm when the lens retracts. It weights 246grams.
I have used Nero for many years it is something that gets added very quickly to any new PC. This started as a CD burning program but now although that can still be done very efficiently it is now so much more as for this feature to not even merit a mention.
Like most recent programs even though this launched in September 2015 new updates were available from launch day and some parts did not even make the media and need to be downloaded. Also like so many software programs it relies of various third party programs that often need downloading as well even on a very recent PC. Once installed the main menu has five main menu choices. Manage & Play, Edit & Convert, Rip & Burn, Backup & Rescue and Extras.
This is a small portable DAB/FM/Bluetooth radio shaped rather like a small intercom radio. It has a very solid belt clamp but instead of an earpiece being an essential part of the unit there is a small but very effective top mounted speaker.
The Roberts PlayBT radio measures 18x7x4cm with the solid collapsible aerial adding 10cm to the first figure when deployed. The unit weights 243grams. At the base of the back is a snug fitting rubber bung that covers Auxiliary and DC inputs. Above this is the substantial belt clip. The base has four tiny rubber feet that allow you to place it on a table or desk. The left side has a silver flash and the right side is where the aerial is stored. The top has the 3x2.
Like many others, Im sure, I tend to carry out various activities while listening to music being played in the background. However this next speaker unit, which is currently delivering my favourite music, has been trying to distract my attention from other tasks with a display of lights.
The product in question is the JAM Trance Mini which is described as a Bluetooth Wireless Light Show Speaker. Attractively packaged in a Perspex box with a yellow lever that can be used to test the product's Light Show feature while it is still boxed. Unpacking the product reveals that the speaker comes with a small pinhole type tool, short micro to standard USB lead for charging purposes and a folded sheet of paper containing instructions in a multitude of languages.
Along with its various WiFi routers, NETGEAR also manufactures products that provide a cable route for creating a LAN.
While wireless technology, in the form of Wi-Fi, is generally a straightforward method of setting up a home network system, the layout of many residential buildings is not always the most conducive environment to cope with a W-Fi network. Obstructions, such as walls and the like, can block signals with the result that dead areas can appear, usually in the location that you want to use.
Television continues to provide fertile ground for games developers looking for inspiration. This is one such occasion.
Psych, as you may guess from its title, is an offering based on the popular television series that revolves around the two central characters of Shawn Spencer and Barton Guster, better known as Gus. Shawn is a private detective who has an almost Sherlock Holmes observational skill which allows him to market himself as a psychic detective while Gus acts as a Dr. Watson type sounding-board for his theories.
Certainly a first for me, a Sat Nav designed for use on a bicycle, most car Sat Navs are totally unsuitable for such a job as their batteries have at best only a few hours of use before they expire without help from a cars battery.
This unit has a battery that last a good ten hours which should be a decent days cycling even for an enthusiast, after ten minutes of inactivity the screen blanks and that saves power as well. The main difference between a car sat nav and one for a bicycle is no voice just beeps. As I do with all Sat Navs I take it on a bus and sometimes even a train to get to know what it shows and how it shows it.
Offering DECT phone functionality, plus both waterproof and dustproof features, is a handset from BT.
The BT Elements 1K is a DECT phone but not your ordinary common or garden device. On second thoughts the “common or garden” reference could be descriptive of where this phone might well be used. This is, after all, a rugged handset designed for use in the outdoors such as playing on the common or working in the garden where the products promised range of one kilometre would be a distinct advantage.
This is an All in One unit, meaning it prints, scans and copies. However as with most recent units the selling point is the ability to print from all your mobile devices. It can still be a Windows unit with connection either by USB lead or Wi-Fi.
The Canon PIXMA MG5750 measures 42x44x15cm and if you allow a few centimetres more to the last figure the height you could even put it on a shelf, this would enable the laid back flatbed to be lifted to place pages on to be scanned, most importantly you would not offend the lounge police as the black colour of the machine might not suit some household colour schemes.
With the Salter Electric Soup Maker one can make a hot nourishing soup in about half an hour. Now that the days are getting colder it will make a useful addition to the kitchen for both the experienced or beginner cook.
This is a reasonably priced and small portable Wireless speaker that features NFC to enable quick and easy connection. However for those who have not got NFC then it can still be connected in the more traditional way to give great sound.
At the front it is 20x5.5cm it is 6cm deep and at the back it is 19x3.5cm. It is White with a Black mesh grill that is the front and sides of the unit. I am told they are also available in Black and Silver for the main colour. The base has two anti-slip strips. The back has an on/off button, 3.5mm Auxiliary connection and a micro USB port for charging a 1metre long cable to charge the unit from any USB port is supplied. Beside the port is an LED that glows red when power is connected.
As another year passes by, so the latest version of a popular backup package makes an appearance.
Often regarded as an optional task until problems arise, having a backup schedule can be extremely useful and a great time saver when circumstances occur. Offering to provide a comprehensive range of backup/restore facilities is the latest version of Acronis True Image. This product allows you to create backups of your entire computer system, user-specified folders or particular types of files with the data being stored locally or in a Cloud Storage allocation.
Chromecast has been around for a while, there is a new version just out which I shall tell you about another time. This however is a totally new product that allows you to cast your music to speakers anywhere without draining your devices battery.
Yes even those speakers that do not have Bluetooth can now play your music not only from your SmartPhone but also from other devices like your PC providing you have a Chrome browser. The unit is supplied with a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable but providing you have the correct lead you can even connect to speakers with Phono Sockets and hence to units that even say have a sub-woofer so your music can now have much more grunt. The unit consists of a small circular disc 5cm across and only 1cm thick.
Originally developed as a kitchen-table product by a jet plane enthusiast, this next title is a popular member of the Corel family and a long term favourite of mine.
Regularly featuring as part of my various computers, dating back as far as Windows 3.1, is Paint Shop Pro. Over the years this software has expanded its range of functionality from basic file conversion capability and now can be considered as a tool for photo editing and basic graphics design work. The latest version of this software, available in 32 and 64-bit flavours, is now up to X8 with Standard and Ultimate editions.
Bringing together two classic murder mysteries in a single offering, Avanquest has published, as part of its GSP catalogue, an Agatha Christie double pack. The two games are of the Hidden Object genre and feature Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple as the leading characters. Hercule Poirot is the detective in charge of solving the mystery of Dead Mans Folly while Miss Marple steps in to take charge in the 4:50 from Paddington. In both cases you take on the role of the detectives assistant in order to help solve these murder mysteries in chapter based titles.
Both of the titles in this pack are installed from a single installation procedure that creates a single desktop icon. This icon gives you access to a front-end menu that allows you to select from the two games. Profiles can be set up for individual players with each of the games. You can set the volume level for music, ambient sound and general sound effects.
As you get older you do not function properly in the morning without your first fix of coffee. If it requires little or no effort to make it so much the better. Here a small device that youre only real input is to switch it on and insert a pod.
The smell as it mixes with the water in the cup – you did put the cup under the output – is enough to start your senses maybe even open your eyes and see that it’s not raining so maybe today will not be that bad after all. It is 30cm deep, 14cm wide and 25cm tall, these figures are with power lead inserted and water in the rear tank so these are figures ready for you to stagger in and push the power button.
Used correctly, a SatNav device can provide navigational instructions and other related information regarding selected routes.
The nṻvi 65 LM is a Garmin SatNav device. This product comes with free UK and Ireland maps that will be updated for the lifetime of the device via a physical link to a computer. Included in the box with the SatNav device are a vehicle suction cup mount, vehicle power cable for attaching to the cigarette lighter socket, standard to mini USB lead for use with a computer or mains power and a Quick Start manual.
Certainly the smallest PowerShot I have ever seen or used. Its small size means that certain features are in different places. It uses a micro SD card and the TFT display takes all of the rear of the unit, yes it is small, small pocket small.
So while the PowerShot range is still considered to be more advanced than the IXUS this is as small in volume as most IXUS offerings. However even someone using a lot of cameras will need to think here as while finding the on/off is easy as is selecting either still or video mode both are on the side of the unit as are Wi-Fi connection and review on the TFT screen. How do you take a still image, for video you use the TFT to start and stop very easy but for still images this does not work.
Most people will have heard of Spotify, the majority of them will have tried Spotify, the reason I am looking at the Premium version of Spotify is because I have recently reviewed another streaming product and its been a while since I last tested what Spotify has to offer.
After downloading the interface around 140MB I hardy recognised what I saw no difficulty in finding what you want and on not the most recent PC the search was fast. Vodafone is one of the Spotify content partners and you will find Spotify pre-installed on all their 4G offerings. Being able to play things offline on a PC may be less important when most now have broadband but could be useful when broadband is down.
Following on from its Selfie stock product, PNY has developed a lens kit that can be used with various smartphone models.
According to a recent study, 92% of smartphone users take photos with their device Frankly I would have expected the percentage to have been even higher what with the ever increasing popularity of vanity selfies and the improvements that have been made to the photographic capabilities of today's smartphones Even budget handsets now come with a camera capable of 13MP or better images But even with the increase in the photographic capability of smartphones, users are still demanding greater functi
While most vacuums have the floor mastered, most people need to get them upstairs and of course also to vacuum the stairs themselves. The problems of the lead are often solved by an extension but the hose still needs a connection.
When removing from the box I liked what I saw just two main items the cleaner itself and the handle (wand) that just clips onto it, no tools are required to assemble. My next joy was the mains lead its long at 10 metres so even if sockets are a distance apart no extension lead should be required. It is 114cm tall, 30cm wide at the foot and 25cm deep also at the foot. In this format it is a conventional powerful upright vacuum cleaner.
Home security continues to be a popular area for manufacturers with this latest offering arriving from Samsung Techwin.
The last Samsung Techwin security device that I looked at involved multiple cameras (four units), physical cable linking and PVD storage making the product far more suitable for a small business environment. Now it is the turn of a more home environmental based product in the form of the Samsung Techwin SmartCam HD. This is a single camera kit that offers 1080p live streaming and WiFi connectivity as it links to a home network.
With its different types of Hidden Object game play, this next title sets you the task of defeating Eternal Darkness.
7 Roses: A Darkness Rises is a Hidden Object Adventure game developed by Dragonseye Studios and TAG Publishing. This game is now available as part of Avanquest GSP catalogue and evolves solving the riddle of eternal darkness. From the game’s main title screen you can create profiles for individual players. Profiles can contain adjustable levels for the volume levels for music, ambient and SFX audio.
Everyone needs backups, no ifs no buts no maybes, backups are essential. If you have gone through life without needing one so far you are lucky, very lucky. In fact maybe you would like to go halves on a lottery ticket, but one day you will need a backup.
Most people do backups without thinking and that is perhaps almost as bad as not doing a backup. For instance some do a backup say once a month and then do incremental backups for the other weeks in the month. Sods law says the day you will need the backup is the day before you do the full backup.