Tea used to be a very expensive substance, and a couple of centuries ago was always kept under lock and key and mixed at the table by the lady of the house, normally a mixture of green and black teas. Then half way through the last century the tea bag was invented. Even today there are still a minority who prefer leaf tea and here a device that allows leaf tea mixed in the cup with the convenience of a tea bag.
Imagine a take away coffee cup with lid and then shrink it down. The lid is rubber helping it to float and the sides and base are metal with thousands of tiny holes – like pine holes – and you have the Magisso Lippa floating tea infuser. It is 6cm tall, circular 3cm across at the base and 4.5cm across at the top. Unlike a tea bag this will stay upright with the silicon rubber top remaining on the top.
This A4 colour desktop LED printer is a versatile workhorse that will meet the needs of the small office or, for example, the busy student who needs to print out essays or lab reports.
Light grey in colour with a black top the printer is 439 mm wide x 461 deep and 252 mm high. It then needs about a further 5cm to the rear for access to the USB, Ethernet and power connections. In view of the fact that, being a colour printer, it has to incorporate colour toner cartridges in addition to the normal black one this is not an unreasonable size and, as it weighs 18.3kg, it has a robust feel about it.
This is an Android phone produced by Google. It is not a cheap phone as the Google Pixel brand only seems to do quality offerings and it is also no surprise to me that is was one of the first to get Android 9 as its operating system.
The Pixel 3 XL from Google measures 15.6x7.6x.7cm and weighs 137grams, although it is shiny black apart from the majority of the back – a light grey – it seems to repel finger marks quite well. I note that a while colour is also available. The left side has the on/off button and then the volume rocker. The base has USB ‘C’ connection for charging and connection of an OTG device or the headphones via the USB ‘C’.
First a big thank you to Cello for extending the loan of their recently reviewed TV that has enabled both this and the other 4K box recently reviewed so as to get the best from anything with ‘4K’ in the name is something that will display ‘4K’.
When the Fire TV stick first appeared it was quite naturally for HD TV’s now as the number of 4K enabled TV’s have ‘increased by 40%’ in the last year Fire have joined the party and hence a Fire TV stick that works in 4K. The stick is 10x3x1.5cm and because this is ‘oversize’ you will almost certainly need to connect the small 12cm long extender unit to get you clear of other HDMI connections at the back of your TV or panel.
The Manhattan SX Freesat HD set top box is a very convenient way for those who have a suitable satellite dish to access the wide range of Freesat TV channels.
As the Freesat transmissions come from a satellite located in the same orbital position as those from Sky, a redundant Sky dish (as long as it is working correctly, has not been used for Sky Q, and is still correctly in situ) will provide access to all the Freesat channels so as to provide, as it says on the SX box, “Subscription Free Satellite TV”. (Sky Q uses a different LNB (low noise block) which is the small receiving unit mounted on the arm attached to a satellite dish.
The first thing that encouraged me to test out this security device is that it only costs £19.99 yes the decimal point is in the correct place. So while it is on sale from a company that make their money from Insurance but at that price for a retail purchase it must be a no brainer. If you then go on to get discounted home insurance that’s another win.
This is not a cheap no frills offering in fact it offers more than other cameras recently reviewed which cost a great deal more. Now available for all without their insurance for a little more. This camera offers Full HD 1080p images and video, a lot of others only offer 720p. In my tests the infra-red night vision was excellent and in good daylight it automatically gives colour however at this time of year there is not much of that, room lighting also gives a good colour image.
If it is hidden then find it and you might end up at Atlantis.
Developed by Domini Games, Mysteries of Ancient Inventors Atlantis is a Hidden Object game with a fair sprinkling of mini-game puzzles to help break up the steady diet of Hidden Object action. In this game you are cast in the role of a young woman archaeologist who, with the aid of her grandfather, sets out to discover the lost city of Atlantis and the mysteries this hot bed of inventors produced.
If you know what Amazon Alexa can do then this Hub from Google goes one stage further. It is a 7inch Landscape touch Tablet with the extended back being the speaker to give excellent sound and it sits like a triangular object.
A small amount of documentation that came with the unit led to link my Nest camera to the unit at first I could find no way to get it to give the cameras live view but the moment I said ‘Hey Google show Nest Camera’ I got the live feed shown by my camera, I realised that this device does really learn and as it currently understands 444 Apps….
While this bar does not serve alcohol, it does deliver an audio experience.
Think Edifier, think speaker systems and it is but a small step to switch focus on to the company’s S50DB Active Speaker System or to give the product’s its common name of Soundbar. Measuring 114 cm in length with a depth of 14cm, this soundbar can be positioned on the floor or wall-mounted to deliver its audio output to its audience. Accompanying the soundbar in this package, you are meant to find a fibre optic cable, 3.5 mm jack to dual RCA audio cable, dual RCA to 3.
This is one of the Predator gaming range, most of which are big heavy powerful notebooks, this is slightly different in that it is a big heavy Tower system, it has a rather unusual configuration of external connections in the supplied unit.
It is 56cm tall, 52cm deep and 22cm wide. The front has a couple of blue LED lines as well as the on/off button and an optical (DVD) drive. The front of the top of the unit has a pair of USB3.1 ports, another USB3.1 and a USB ‘C’. The rear has a pair of USB2 ports, a line of four USB3.1 ports, a pair of USB2 ports and an Ethernet port. Six audio ports next taking two of the eight expansion bays two Display Port sockets, one HDMI socket and a further Display Port.
Adding to the list of available smartphones, Xiaomi offers its Mi family of devices.
Recently waves have been made in the UK marketplace by the company known as Xiaomi with launch events and shop-opening sessions.. Founded in April 2010 and listed on the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in July 2018, Xiaomi has built up a reputation of being friends with its users as it developed a range of smartphones and other smart devices connected via an IoT platform. Included in the company’s range of smartphones is the enhanced Mi family of devices.
A product I have used since its very early days when it was ‘shareware’ it was purchased a good while ago by Corel who do what they do to improve and enhance its features, then they add lots of extras so this basic product is now anything but basic.
Like most products this has a lot of extra features so while the 442MB of download is not large this then swells and while the initial install took around 16minutes you may still find that some features need extra time. These days most packages have lots of tutorials and I suggest you give yourself time to watch them just to see exactly what some of the effects can do.
The Brother MFC-J6945DW is one of Brother’s Business Smart X-Series and is a versatile 4-in-one A3 colour inkjet machine targeted at the varied needs of today’s small offices.
As must be appreciated, as this a full A3 machine, it is both weighty (at 24kg) and occupies a fair amount of office space. It is 58cm wide by roughly 70cm deep when one takes into account the bypass hopper at the rear and the amount that the A3 paper tray projects at the front. Although the machine is only about 38cm high, in use it needs additional headroom. In fact, the total height increases to 67cm with the ADF (automatic document feed) raised to expose the platen.
Next in line to deliver my favourite music is the Edifier S1000DB product.
Multimedia speakers come in a variety of shapes, sizes and weights. In the case of the S1000DB product from Edifier, it was the weight of the two units that caught my attention and was a defining factor. I should have guessed from the early sight of the courier struggling with the multimedia speaker product perched on his trolley as he approached along the path to my front door.
Another useful gadget from those clever people In Hong Kong, this time a padlock that can truly only be opened by you because it has no key and can only be opened by your finger so be it a box, a door or anything else the contents inside are yours alone.
Things like SmartPhones or Notebooks have had the security from Finger scans for a while now you can protect bigger things from your kids or others and you cannot lose the key as it is controlled by your finger. The hasp is .5cm so quite substantial, the lock itself is 4.6x4.6x1.5cm and the total weight is 126grams. Setting up the padlock is fully described in the instructions. You become the Administrator.
With a good looking appearance, this next handset does have some faults.
Available in a choice of Liquid Silver, Deep Green, Ash Pink or, as in the case of my review sample kindly supplied by Vodafone, Liquid Black, the Xperia XZ2 is a Sony smartphone. This product certainly reminded me of Sony’s habit of using descriptive colours when describing the company’s products.
Recently a range of small home security cameras have been received to review. The trend is for them to be Wi-Fi operated so requiring where you place them just needs to be within the reach of a power point, this is one such device.
D-Link describes this as their smallest camera it is round at 3.5cm and 9cm tall. The face has no less than five things on the front, first Infra-Red illumination, below this the microphone, next in the centre of this column the lens, next light sensors that determine if it will show images in colour or infra-red and finally status LED it colours and what they determine are shown on the online manual. The rear has connection for the supplied Micro USB to USB lead.
Well-known for its work in the development of E ink display phone cases, Oaxis the award-winning technology company, has branched out with its product line up. This new addition, launched via the Kickstarter route, is entitled Timepiece with a price tag of £95 for Early Bird backers.
As its title might indicate, this new product is a wrist watch of the analogue variety. Designed as a fashionable device, the Oaxis Timepiece is available in a choice of four distinct styles featuring different colours and strap combinations. In the case of my review sample of the Timepiece, the watch consisted of a black, stainless steel case with a double domed glass face covering a black face with red pointer arms plus indicators at five minute intervals.
The latest Bluetooth earbuds to cross my desk arrived close to same time as a couple of recent SmartPhones neither of which have a standard 3.5mm socket so ideal to test these earbuds with so they have had a thorough work out.
From one bud to the other is 54cm as these are the type of earbud that have a cord connection between the buds. This enables you to link them behind or in front of your neck according to your preference. There is a tiny 1cm button in the lead that enables those with small necks to get any excess lead out of the way. A 4.5x1x.6cm box sits 10cm down from one bud that allows you to make music choices, answer phone calls etc.
Checking your ancestry can cause problems as this next game reveals.
Passwords are a pain, good passwords are a greater pain, but no password or one that is easily cracked are the greatest pain of all. Certainly you should never use words such as names and try not to repeat passwords however tempting.
Rather than Puff the Dragon, we have Puff the Dinosaur.
Dinosaurs have long been a popular topic of interest to young, and some not so young, children. The bigger the better with regards to the animal, while the hungrier they are will add to the appeal to young minds. As a result any recent collection of toys from various manufactures is almost guaranteed to include at least one example, if not a couple or so, of the prehistoric inhabitants in the mix.
In relation to another vacuum – many years ago – its founder said ‘so easy even a man can use it’ he was a man, so am I, his statement is also true of this offering from Philips. Literally you clip the base to the tube and the tube to the motor and storage container and switch on and use it. No screws and because each section fits only one way it’s that easy.
It can of course be used without the tube so you can vacuum things other than the floor – note I said floor – as it goes without changes required between long rugs to carpet to solid floors. So upholstery, curtains and even picture rails can all be cleaned. At its full size it is 114cm tall, the motor/storage container at the top is a maximum of 23cm from back to front and 12cm wide. The connecting tube is 4cm across and the cleaning shoe is 25cm across and 13cm deep.
This toy brings songs and sound effects to a young child’s play area.
With a mantra of “Grow, Develop and Explore”, Vtech has developed a number of products for the younger members of the family. Recently I have had the opportunity to check out one of the Vtech products from the company’s Toot-Toot Animal range. As its title suggests, this particular range consists of various animals including the furry cat that was the review sample that was currently occupying my attention.
To me anyway this is a totally new Chinese phone company, I first heard of them a few weeks ago when I received an invite at short notice to their new UK store at Westfield shopping centre, which due to conflicts I could not make, however I was sent their latest phone the Mi 8 Lite. Looking at their website sees they are far more than just a phone company as they are big – like the world’s fourth largest - in Internet, Connected Homes and Software.
On first look this looks like any of a recent breed of quality mobile phones, however it has plenty to offer. It is 15.5x7.4x.7cm; the diagonal imperial screen measurement is 6.26 inches. The screen is 1080x2280. It weights 171grams. It runs Android 8.1 (the last but one version) with a skin of MIUI which unlike certain other skins does not seem to affect performance. The processor is an Oca-core Max 2.2GHz. It comes with 4GB RAM and 64GB of Internal storage and around 50GB is available.
The Fuzzy family needs help. Are you up to the task?
Gems of Magic - The Lost Family is a Match 3 game that has been developed by Graphium Studios. When playing this game you can create profiles for individual players. These profiles will record the progress of the specific player as they progress through the various levels. You can also adjust the volume levels for sound effects and background music plus opt for full screen mode and use of the game cursor.
Power over Wi-Fi, range extenders and Wi-Fi Extenders are all ways to allow you to get a signal where you may not be able to do so normally, here an offering from Devolo called Magic 2 to allow places that otherwise would need a carrier pigeon to get information in or out help to allow you to stay in touch. Be it loft or basement you can now have connection.
The Devolo Magic 2 Whole Home Wi-Fi Kit consists of three units which each connect to a mains outlet. First the master that needs to be placed near your Modem it is 13x6.5x5cm and has an Ethernet port on the top of the unit and a 13amp plug on the face so whatever was in that socket before you plugged in the Devolo Magic LAN can still be inserted without affecting the Devolo.
Even 45 years later, the Rubik effect continues to be felt.
1974 proved to be a challenging year for those of us who enjoyed the thrill of solving puzzles. In this case the puzzle, that was dominating the brain power of users in 1974, was the creation of the Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture, Emo Rubik. As you have probably already guessed by now, the puzzle was the Rubik Cube, originally known as the Magic Cube until it took on the name of its creator and become a must buy product.
Not everyone can afford all the bells and whistles available from top of the range panels, so here a basic offering that still offers a good sharp image and it is of course flicker free to give an excellent panel available at a budget price.
The AOC 27E1H 27inch Monitor measures 62x37x1.5cm and it sits on a stand that is 20cm square that raises the screen by 8cm from your desk. It has a lot more back tilt than most other such offerings at close to 20 degrees and amazingly offers nearly half that of forward tilt. The viewable screen is 59x33.5cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 27inches. The display is 1920x1080. This is described as a ‘Business’ Monitor.
It is that time of year when many people decide on a route to improve their lifestyle but some care should be taken.
Have you made your’s yet? I must admit to be rather lax in this particular matter and have allowed other issues to take up my time. This situation had already arisen before I received an email that stated “those that do, could well find themselves vulnerable to a particular type of scam.