While Android and iOS are the dominant force with regards to smartphones, they are not the only choice. Windows Phone 8.1, with a promised upgrade to Windows Phone 10, is a viable alternative.
Continuing to play “Catch-up” and join the major players of Android and Apple in the mobile phone arena, Microsoft has released the Lumia 640 as it first offering to appear without any reference to the Nokia name that was previously associated with the Lumia brand. With its 5-inch touch screen delivering 1280 x 720 pixels at 294ppi, this Windows 8.1 Handset is available in a choice of blue, orange, white and black.
There are a lot of different brands of security cameras about, some very high end, others aimed at the home user. They all have one thing in common wires. Here a truly wireless solution that means not only no drilling through doors but also the ability to move them about at will.
While I have seen several of these demonstrated most bore a higher price and while I did ask to see one it never materialised, so when this was offered to me I took the change to test it with a couple of recent mobile phones and appropriate content.
For anyone who is not sure VR stands for Virtual Reality and it is branded by Thumbs Up who I have reviewed several very good speakers from. Here this items settles on the video side to give you 3D from your standard phone in a near skull cap. Three 3cm wide elasticated strips are at either side and on top of your head they all join at an 8cm triangular patch at the back of your head which forms the virtual skull cap.
Extra measures are a sensible precaution when storing your data on a portable hard drive. One company which offers to help in this respect is iStorage.
While many manufacturers of external hard drives bundle an appropriate data encryption tool to help safeguard the driver’s content from unauthorised eyes, there is one company who takes the responsibility for data protection one stage further. That company is iStorage Ltd with products such as diskAshur Pro. This product is an external, portable drive that is currently available in capacities of 500, 1000, 1500 and 2000GB.
These earbuds are Quad-Driver earphones with phase-coherent crossover design is what it says on a very large box for a pair of earbuds. When you open the box the array of extras that come with the buds is the reason for the box being so large.
I have seen smaller boxes with headphones than this box to contain a set of high end earbuds, the box is 20x14x8cm. Most decent sets of earbuds have extra pairs of silicon buds, often in three sizes. These have two pairs of extra buds in four sizes. The extra-large size – fitted – was far too big for me and I think anyone who needed that size would have a very large ear canal. I used the supplied tool to swap to medium and then all was fine.
As with the Oxford and Go products, this next DAB/FM radio is part of the Goodmans line up of offerings.
With over 90 years of experience in the development of home entertainment technology, covering areas such as loudspeakers, radios, in-car audio and digital television sets, Goodmans has added to its product portfolio with the release of its Canvas offering. This product is a portable DAB Digital and FM radio that can be powered direct from the mains or by batteries. When purchasing this device you have a choice of going with a Slate, Copper or Apple colour scheme.
No sooner do I finish checking an in-car dash camera than another example of this product genre comes my way.
As a child, living near the northern seaside resort of Morecambe, I was sometimes taken to the fairground where a ride on the Dodgems would be a particular treat. Nowadays though, being involved in an incident of cars colliding is an entirely different matter even if nobody is injured, the possibility of financial penalties can be afflicted on the guilty party.
This is a fast and powerful Gaming Notebook yes the screen is not huge but it does display a huge screen resolution. When I first saw it I could not believe the clarity and sharpness which of course along with sound quality is what gamers demand.
This is the first notebook – of any size that I have seen – that has natively displayed 3200x1800. It is 32.5x23x2cm and the screen is 31x17.5cm. On first startup after entering the normal Windows required information a screen opens on the Desktop with a range of fifteen items that Aorus think you might need to adjust. This is part of SmartManager V3. This is a very powerful machine with an Intel i7 processor running at 2.5GHz.
In the past I have checked out numerous All-in-One, Multifunction and standalone printers, either of the inkjet or laser variety, from various manufacturers. On this occasion, however, the printer under the microscope is the first printer product that I have had the opportunity to check out from Ricoh. The product in question is the Aficio SG2100N model which offers colour print facilities.
With dimensions of 395 x 360 x 215mm (W x D x H), the Aficio has a sturdy and solid box-like appearance. Predominately black in colour, with white front and rear face plates, this printer’s connection options are located on the left side of the unit. Here you will find the mains power socket plus USB and wired Ethernet ports – sadly there is no Wi-Fi connectivity with this model. Both the USB and Ethernet ports are initially concealed within a covered compartment.
On first look, this looks like any number of other recent panels, however looks deceive as it is flicker free after all we all only get one pair of eyes and just for good measure it is QHD which means it can display up to 2560x1440 resolution.
It is 33x57x1.5cm at the edges. It sits on a rectangular stand 21.5x18.5cm which raises it by between 6-15cm from whatever you are sitting it on. The unit can also rotate to be used in portrait mode and this is effortlessly accomplished with the telescopic arm that sits just within the depth of the stand. The viewable screen is 54x31cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 25inches.
A set of earbuds with a twist literally that enable you to increase or decrease the bass heard at a twist of the earbud housing, so could this be a first adjusting the sound frequency level while a song plays and going only to your ears.
The buds are 2cm long and 1cm across, the lead is flat and 1.23metres long it ends in a right angled gold plated 3.5mm plug. The left earbud has 15cm of lead before the inline control and then another 18cm before it joins the right earbud to form a single flat lead to the plug.
Have you considered how boiling a kettle can help keep a watchful eye on the elderly? 3 rings have.
Set up by Steve Purdham and fellow tech entrepreneur, Gareth Reakes, 3rings is a start-up company concentrating its expertise on the Internet of Things (IoT) with products such as its initial offering of a 3rings electric plug. The company’s stated aim is to showcase how technology can help in assisting society (that’s you and me) care for the elderly, especially those who are considered at risk and dear to us.
This is quite a small Bluetooth speaker that can also be connected via 3.5mm cable. Being small I initially thought that sound quality would suffer. I was wrong and I was very pleasantly surprised with the sounds in gave out.
Not only can this give good sound both indoors and out but it also has a bicycle mount and a rubber suction cup both which connect to it using a tripod screw set in its base. As I as compiling my figures for charge and discharge times I began to wonder if I had a different model as my figures were vastly different to the claims. As an example the claimed recharge time was 150 minutes from empty my unit took 100 minutes for a full recharge.
As the main competitor to the Amazon Kindle range of eBook readers, Kobo has released it Kobo Glo HD product. Arriving with the claim of being the highest quality eReader at the best possible price, the Kobo Glo HD is, presumably, the companys direct challenger to the Amazon Kindle Voyage, a device I have yet to check out.
The Kobo Glo HD has a 6-inch Carta E Ink HD touch screen that has a high-resolution of 1448 x 1072 pixels which works out at 300dpi. This screen is encased within a body that is made up of a black plastic front and a tough black rubber dimpled back plate. The side bezels are of a size that allows you to get a good grip of the device. While reading you can rest a finger on the bezel ready to be used to activate a page turn either with a swipe or a tap at the edge of the screen.
While designed to accompany one of the many recent technological devices, this next product could bring back memories of your youth as it did with me.
My first experience of a bean bag, like many others I’m sure, was during school days during PE lessons. Small bean bags would be used for various tasks and exercises, some more enjoyable than others. Later the bean bag grew in size as a large bean bag being a fashion item. This bean bag was pear shaped with a strong plastic or leather covering skin. When placed on the floor, this bean bag could magically turn itself into a chair when it was sat upon.
Forget about capturing video in HD how about 4K, yes this tiny unit captures nice quality 4K images on micro SD card and you can then play it back on a TV or panel in 4K and of course it can get absolutely stunning images.
It is 4.5cm tall and 4cm wide and deep, it weights 95grams. However this is without any of the range of fittings that it comes provided with. Before you start thinking that you might shoot an epic production with it the 4K mode it is at almost half the frame rate that you are used to with normal TV so not ideal for fast moving action but for slow panning of a landscape scene excellent. It can of course capture at lower quality, there are two 4K settings 15FPS and 12.5FPS, 2.
When the name of BenQ pops up, my thoughts immediately turn towards the range of display units produced by the company. However BenQ does have other strings to its bow as the arrival of a new product clearly indicates. This product is the treVolo which is claimed to be the worlds first portable electrostatic wireless speaker. Just in case you are not familiar with the term then I should explain that electrostatic drivers emit sound both forwards and backwards with mid and high range frequencies their target area.
When you first remove the treVolo from its packaging, it is a wedged shaped solid device that is encircled by a dark grey metallic collar. In this state, the unit has dimensions of 176.6 x 134.6 x 78.5mm (H x D x W). On either side of the device are panels which, when flipped out, add a bird-swooping like effect while increasing the width to 275.1mm. These wings provide the electrostatic output with audio delivered from the front and back.
I visited the Withings stand at the Wearable Technology Show early in the year. You have already heard about their health watch, here something else that was on display at the show a camera to monitor your home but with an extra feature.
This is a French company that is perhaps best known for computers especially smaller offerings. Here as far as I know their first venture into weather prediction with a very comprehensive range of parts to give you accurate readings.
You get three modules that can connect to a range of devices. They are a ball shaped indoor monitor mounted on a stand, a half ball shape that attached to a wall or shed side and a probe shaped soil monitor. The indoor monitor needs mains power and the required items are supplied. The outdoor monitor runs of batteries as does the soil monitor. All three devices report to an App that you can download to either an Android or iOS device from the appropriate Store.
As part of Goodmans range of radios, this next offering adds a number of extra features.
With the short, snappy title of Go, this next product from Goodmans is a radio that could easily be described as a multifunction device. It does not limit itself to just providing DAB+ and FM radio signals but has a number of other functions to which I will return to a little later. Initially I will concentrate on the appearance and its radio features.
Certainly not the smallest external hard drive but still just about able to fit inside a jacket pocket. It comes with an integral short USB3 cable that is hard wired into the unit, its main selling point will be its rugged design so it will stand the odd knock or three.
It is like a small book even to having rounded corners at the spine side, the dimensions are 14x10x2cm and it weights 276grams which of course includes the ‘Integrated Flex Cable’ that emerges from the top left and is channelled along the top and right side a total of 14cm to the USB3 plug so that is the maximum distance you have between drive and target.
Whether you refer to them as Cold Calls or, probably more appropriately, Nuisance Calls, they are unwanted interruptions to your daily living routine. While some of these calls are merely annoying, to say the least, others are more criminal orientated in that they are designed to relieve you of your hard earned cash by illegal methods.
Recently I took a look at BT’s solution for dealing with these Cold Calls and now it is the turn of Gigaset, a German manufacturer of telephones, tablets and baby monitors, with the company’s C620A Duo product. As the “Duo” part of the product’s title indicates, this kit consists of two DECT phones each with its own base station.
Mens shavers tend to fall into a wet or dry category. However there are some products, of a more recent development, that are classified as being both wet and dry devices for use when removing the stubble that continues to appear on our faces.
This next offering is meant just for dry use when shaving although you can use water to clean the head which, I suppose, almost classifies the unit as both a wet and dry product. The product in question is the Braun MobileShave M-90 model.
This is an Inkjet All In One offering but not the basic two cartridge offering as this has no less than x inks. So this has to be something to consider if the printing output is more important than basic mono or quick print output to you.
The Canon Pixma MG7550 measures 42x36x15cm. Add 14cm to the middle figure the depth when the automatically opening paper output tray is lowered. This is a six ink unit the quality is excellent and just for good measure a single mono page will print in only ten seconds from switch on which is exceptionally good for those wanting a single page. Installation on a windows machine was not quick at 19 minutes and it took 1.
While devices, such as televisions, smartphones and tablets, have their own speaker facility, you can enhance this output with the addition of a soundbar.
While the product number SB-2501 gives very little away regarding this piece of kit, an inspection of the packaging from Evolve Audio reveals that it is a soundbar with wireless sub-woofer and wireless headphones. Accompanying these elements are an assortment of leads, remote control and button battery plus a Quick Start Guide and User Manual. The leads cover mains power, USB charging facility and connectivity between the soundbar and a television.
By the Ghetto Blaster standards when they were popular this is small, but it is powerful and not only has it an FM radio but also Bluetooth, ability to play SD Cards and USB sticks and has impressive sounds and speakers built in.
The actual name on the box is ‘groov-e wireless portable soundblaster’. It is 38x15x12cm. There are two forward facing 3inch speakers at either end and two 2½ passive radiators on each end. The central ara between the speakers has all the controls and most of the connections. The exceptions are the mini USB power input, headphone out, auxiliary in and USB for charging other devices that are in a line along the back all inset below an overhang.
Millenial discs (M-Discs) are claimed to have a life of 1,000 years. While we cannot actually put this to the test, these discs from Verbatim provide a reliable means of storing all those irreplaceable photos and documents as well as a vast music collection.
These noise cancelling earbuds from Creative start with a puzzle, how do you get them out of the very solid packaging, the answer lies in a small sheet that lives inside the packaging. Having spent a while solving the puzzle the result was worth the wait.
They are of the ear stuff type which as they are noise reducing they have to be, they come with three sizes of silicon plugs that should fit anyone from an older child upwards. A small 13 language manual should get most up and running as the most important facts are in diagram form, luckily for me the first language was English.
While most wearable technological devices are meant for every day use, this next product is not the type you would wear when out and about.
One thing you can say about 3D, without fear of any major contradiction, is that this is a technology that refuses to admit defeat with regards its general acceptance by the public. There have been at least two major attempts to bring the technology to the big cinematic screen as the next big thing to make a lasting impression.
A 4inch screen phone may seem small today it certainly did to me as I put my own phone away for the duration of this test but as I got used to it I found it did everything I needed so this is not only about the phone but also the service.
To test the service I deliberately went to several places that I know are ‘dead spots’ where my own phone struggles, one such place gave a good service, another that is notorious dead spot on the line from Waterloo to Wimbledon where you so frequently here peoples conversations come to stop with ‘Hello, Hello’ again still in service. It is 12x6.5x1cm and weights 111grams. The right side has on/off button and below this the volume rocker.