Whether referred to as Griddlers, nonograms or Hanjie, there is one type of puzzle game which I found hard to resist. You could almost say it was a kind of addiction as I can find myself attempting to solve just one more of these puzzles when I should be getting on with something entirely different. This is yet another case as I struggle to break away from playing to write this review.
For those not familiar with the Griddler, nonogram or Hanjie type of puzzles, I should explain what these addictive puzzles involve. The puzzle’s basic playing field consists of a grid of cells arranged in rows and columns. Aligned along the top of the columns and down the left side of the rows are a series of numbers. These numbers provide the clues as to which cells in that row or column need to be blocked in by the player.
A rather unusual piece of kit that can be used to solve problems that you thought were not resolvable. In effect this plugs into a USB3 port to give you HDMI, VGA and Ethernet connections and increase the range of your PC/Notebook.
It is 12.5x5.5x2cm and weights 78grams with the hard wired 10cm USB plug that flips out. Often when I get to review notebooks I mention that a docking station is available to add the bits that were not on the main device, this is normally a proprietary product and has a high price as it is manufactured for a single system so made in small numbers. Here a solution to solve most of the problems from a generic box that plugs into a USB3 port.
Until we get self-charging mobile devices, a popular accessory for smartphone and tablet users will be a lightweight battery charger.
When reading a review of a mobile device, there is a good chance that one area that will engender some criticism will be that involving battery life. While advances in other areas continue at a pace, the important factor regarding the length of battery life can often be a disappointment with the result that a recharging source becomes increasingly important.
As can happen with dreams not everything is as it appears in a new addition to GSPs game catalogue as you attempt to free your family.
The Emerald Maiden Symphony of Dreams is a Hidden Object Adventure game available in Collector’s Edition format on Avanquest’s GSP game label. As usual with Collector’s Edition format, this game comes with a number of bonus items, some of which are available immediately while others require a certain degree of progress to have been made before they can be accessed.
This is the last of five items requested from a press event I attended last autumn. I remember it being demonstrated around a course of obstructions to show its versatility and ease of twisting, only then was the extra feature unveiled.
It is 106x15x26cm, the middle figure the width is a maximum and does not apply to the top 64cm of its length. Unlike some other upright units I have looked at recently this will stand up when not in use either in its docking / charging station or on its own.
This is one of those Big Red Bus moments when no sooner do I finish looking at a product when something covering a familiar area arrives. In this case the subject matter concerns charging multiple devices simultaneously from a single source.
Just how many mobile devices do you own? I am almost embarrassed to answer my own question with the number of devices that I have collected over the last few years. Each of my devices requires regular access to a power source for recharging which does put a strain on the available sockets at my disposal. While mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, etc.
This is a slightly smaller unit than the offering I reviewed last summer, as a more basic version it lacks a few of the features but for anyone without something to play and or transfer their LPs on this is certainly well worth consideration.
It is 37x31.5x11cm and unlike the previous unit the deck on this unit is totally covered. All the controls and connections are on the back. A volume knob to allow you to monitor what you are playing or transferring. A USB socket and two hard wired leads one for mains and the other for phono Sockets. If you have a phono plugs to 3.5mm lead – cheaply available – you can plug the 3.5mm end into the microphone input on a PC or notebook.
While Doro phones are extremely easy to use and have lots of features to suit those with sight and or hearing problems why should those people have to accept a phone that does not have basic features that other able bodied have, none whatsoever hence the PhoneEasy 632.
It is 10x5x1.5cm when closed, the first figure increases to 19cm when flipped open for use. Unlike most Doro phones when in use the emergency button – although still there on the back – is not that obvious, it sits beside the speaker at top of the base half of the phone. Somewhat more unusually the camera is at the base of the top part of the phones back. The volume up and down buttons are on the right with the micro USB charge point on the left with the headphone socket beside it.
We often use labels to identify items for our personal benefit and that of others. These labels can be tags which we add to digital data or physical markers such as name badges. This next product offers the means to give those physical labels a professional appearance.
Unlike the other Brother label printers that I have looked at over the years, this next model immediately stands out due to the fact that it arrives with its own carry case. This is the Brother P-touch D450VP product. Possible to justify the presence of its business-like carry case that reminds me of an old portable typewriter, this product is described as being a “professional PC labelling machine”.
I saw a pre-production model of this unit back in the summer. Now finally as winter grips us all the chance to review it arrives. For me a first, a removable lens camera marketed with the ability to take selfies high on its tick list.
It is 12.5x6.5x8.5cm and weights 453grams without neck strap or flash attached. The lens it came with is a 14-42mm and the action is very smooth. The left side has only the neck strap anchor point while the right side has the matching anchor point as well as a rubber bung behind which are mini HDMI and AV out sockets. The base has a tripod screw and a door behind which is the solid battery and any SD card you insert. The face has just the lens and the light sensor.
This next product has certainly taken its time in getting to me. I hasten to point out that the extended delay was not down to the developers of the product but the inability of the courier service to do its job and deliver the product. I should point out that this company was not the one to go into receivership recently.
No doubt you will long ago have accepted that your mobile devices regularly require recharging. As your family of devices grow you will quickly find that these devices have a habit of requiring the recharging service at the same time. At times I am convinced that my smartphone waits until my tablet or wireless headphones need recharging before announcing that it also needs immediate access to an available power source.
Can you help rescue Pennys father and locate the hidden Relics of Fate in this Hidden Object Adventure game?
Belonging to the Hidden Object Adventure genre, Relics of Fate is a Penny Macey Mystery which is now available on the Avanquest GSP game label. In this game you take on the role of Penny Macey, the daughter of Newtown’s local PI Jack Macey. While investigating a series of robberies, Jack Macey is kidnapped, leaving Penny to continue the investigation and rescue her father.
I have looked at a number of high priced Smart TVs here something for a lot less with of course a lot less features it has Freeview and is an HD TV, but a lot of the extras like optical out are not included in this bargain buy.
The Blaupunkt BLA-40/233 measures 90x51x1.2cm the last figure is at the edges, the stand is 44x21cm and this raises it by 7cm from whatever you put it on. This is a terrestrial TV as it has an aerial input, it also has three HDMI and a USB as well as composite and component connections. So while it is not the very latest ‘Smart TV’ it can be tweaked with a PVR and something like a ROKU box to bring it up to date.
While various mobile devices allow us to listen to music, sometimes the quality lacks a little in volume and certain functionality. Lindy believes this next product can help in such circumstances.
Back in the day when personal computers were just beginning to take a firm hold on our everyday lives, you could guarantee that a new piece of equipment, whether of the software or hardware variety would come with its own extensive User Manual in printed format. This would provide a reference guide as to what was possible and how to achieve various aims when using the particular kit. While not always perfect, the User Manual was a useful fall-back option.
Another unit from Canons excellent PowerShot range. Here a small unit with periscopic zoom as this is a waterproof unit and this is essential for those wanting to takes images under water. It also takes excellent dry land images.
The Canon D30 digital camera measures 10.5x7x2/5cm and weights 210grams. My unit was metallic blue and black, the later mostly rubber with a thumb rest top left of the back and finger holds on the front. The right side has AV out and DC in both behind a door. The left side is clear, the base has tripod screw and a secure door behind which the solid battery is as well as any SD card you use. The front has the lens top left with the bar flash 1cm to its side.
Orbotix labs latest creation Ollie arrived with me a little late for Christmas but anyone with money to spare should still consider Ollie as he can do things that Sphero and Sphero 2 could not, sometimes he even has a mind of his own.
Ollie is round and 12cm long and is 8cm across. As with the majority of recent remote control items you need either iOS or Android to control him. When you remove him from his box you need to attach his tyres and then his wheel trims, easy to do and the steps required are explained in a full colour fold out sheet. Next download the appropriate App from either the IOS or Android store. There is a provided Micro USB to USB lead that you charge Ollie with. Once charged away you go.
When the local inhabitants come into conflict with nature, who do they send for but you. Can you help restore peace and harmony to Dire Grove?
With its elongated title of Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Sacred Grove Collector’s Edition, this next game has a touch of de ja vu especially for those who enjoyed the challenge of an earlier visit to this Dire Grove inhospitable environment seeped in Celtic legends.
Its been a while since I have looked at speakers from TDK. Here a small unit called Trek and then a larger unit designed to give 360degree sound. Both give good sound and the decision on which to buy could be made on size alone.
It is a near cube shape at 15x15x16cm, it weights 1.93kilos. It has a solid battery which lasts for a good time between charges. The middle of the front has three buttons, a larger one on the left for volume with LED’s that light around it. Towards the right two smaller buttons for connection type, Auxiliary or Bluetooth and then a dual Treble and Bass button both have LEDs beside them to show which part you are working with.
Like skimming stones on water, Wi-Fi Range Extender technology can expand the reach of your local Wi-Fi network.
While ideal for open plan environments, Wi-Fi technology can struggle when faced with structural layouts found in many homes. Walls and other obstructions can create dead spots within a local home Wi-Fi network structure. Offering to help with this type of situation is a product such as the TL-WA860RE. This particular offering is a 300Mbps Wi-Fi Range Extender with AC Passthrough functionality from TP-Link.
Providing a break from actual game playing, the next two offerings contain a pictorial reference to a time when death was but an assassins blade away.
Throughout time conflicts have arisen between specific groups for reasons often shrouded in mystery. Take for instance the conflict between the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Knights of the Templars which forms the basis for a series of Assassin’s Creed titles that currently consists of more than eight main games and a number of support material offerings available for the main gaming platforms.
This is a DAB, FM, CD, SD, USB and Bluetooth sound system. There are many other systems that can do some of the things mentioned, but very few can record to SD or USB this system gives you the option to record to both.
The Blutune 200 DAB radion from Roberts measures 35.5x26x14cm, the middle figure the depth includes cables inserted in the back. The last figure the height does not include the rod DAB aerial which extends to seven pieces and 63 cm. The controls are either by the supplied remote control or the nine silvered buttons three rows of three and large silvered knob on the top centre of the unit. The central area of the front has a 7x2.
While a convenient method for storing and transferring data between computers situated in different locations, a USB flash drive could be at risk from issues of security. Small and compact with various storage capacities, USB flash drives could easily be misplaced or attract the unwanted attention of those looking to gain unauthorised access to your data. One method to avoid the possibility of unauthorised access would be to use some form of encryption. Developed by iStorage, the datAshur Personal USB flash drive has its own approach to delivering data encryption.
In the past I have checked out a number of iStorage products. These have been external hard drives featuring a front mounted numeric keypad for entering a personal PIN number in order to gain access to the data stored on the drive. Now iStorage has adapted this PIN number technology for use with a USB flash drive that goes by the name of datAshur Personal.
For around £500 you can pick up a very decent entry-level projector built around Texas Instruments' Digital Light Processor (DLP), an ingenious electromechanical device that turns electrical signals into pictures. I've reviewed several such machines here over the past year or so, ranging up to the £3,000 mark. But if you're shopping around in that area it's definitely worth considering the very different approach pioneered and promoted by Epson. This uses three separate electrical signal to light converters operating simultaneously, one for each of the primary colours. At the entry level end of the market Epson's 3LCD technology requires compromises. But if you're prepared to shell out a couple of grand or so, Epson's near top-of-the-range EH-TW9200 3LCD projector should be a serious candidate.
Weighing in at 8.4Kg and measuring 140 x 466 x 395 mm (height, width, depth) this is definitely a whale of a machine, particularly in comparison with the tiny Viewsonic PLED-W800 I reviewed here recently. It has a full complement of inputs: two HDMI sockets, component video, D-Sub PC, S-Video and composite. It's currently sitting on top of a Yamaha RX-V677 AV receiver but I would hesitate to perch it on any less well-built piece of equipment.
First a unit from Damson who I have reviewed items for in the past, this is a 4.1 speaker system in a single unit. Second a unit from Pioneer described as a Wireless (Bluetooth) Speaker System but again a unit in a single small case.
Hands up all who have not heard of 4.1 speaker systems? You are not alone, 2.1, 3.1, 5.1 and 7.1 are all quite common but 4.1 needs a little thinking about. This is a quality unit that looks rather like a slightly small rugby ball. This works with an internal rechargeable battery. It can take input via 3.5mm lead (provided) or Bluetooth it also supports NFC. There are two connections on the rear for the DC and Auxiliary inputs; it can be used while on charge.
I first came across a crippled version of Nero tied to a CD-Writer. I have used various versions ever since and I still do to write CDs, I know how it works and it has one very useful function that other writing software does not have.
Of course writing CDs is a very minor part of what this suite of programs does. To my mind there are two heavyweights in this are Nero and Cyberlink, both have very comprehensive packages filled with added value features. A very long serial number as well as other questions need to be answered before first use. Once past the hurdles above you get a Windows 8 type interface with the options being Manage & Play, Edit & Convert, Rip & Burn plus Backup & Rescue.
The TP-LINK AV500 Passthrough Powerline WiFi Kit provides three Ethernet ports as well as a local WiFi hotspot access at some point remote from ones router via the mains wiring. This enables one to extend connectivity and minimise wireless dead-spots across the house or office while the up to 500Mbps data rate will support multiple fast data streams.
The TL-WPA4230P Kit consists of two dissimilar power adapters and their associated Ethernet cables together with the quick installation guide and resource CD.
Police work often involves following a set routine and this next game certainly lives up to this theory.
Reviewing a quality TV is always a pleasure it means my elderly 32inch offering can have a rest. This 40inch offering is just about the perfect size for my lounge and while exploring its secrets from my sofa I am still technically working.
Available from Ebuyer.com listed at £169.98 is the Officejet Pro 8620. This product is a HP All-in-One device offering print, scan, copy and fax capabilities along with an ADF (Automatic Document Feed) facility and a Duplex print module powered by a 600MHz processor with 128MB of memory. When linking the Officejet Pro to a computer system, you have a choice of wired, wireless or USB connectivity.
Decked out in a combination of lacquered black and charcoal grey, the Officejet Pro 8620 has a sturdy appearance. With dimensions of 499.3 x 468 x 314mm (including the Duplex module), this device follows the standard layout pattern adopted by such devices. Forming the base of the unit is the paper input/output module which feeds the inkjet printer that makes use of four inkjet cartridges (black, cyan, magenta and yellow).
Who could have imagined that Ridley Scotts 1979 film, with its never-to-be-forgotten scene of a ravenous alien emerging from John Hurts stomach, would be the instigator for a massive industry of follow up films, games and other creative offerings. Not me for one.
Some 35 years later, there have been numerous films and computer games based on the Alien franchise. Now we have a coffee-table book taking as its inspiration the latest computer game entitled ALIENS: ISOLATION™ that continues the Ripley theme through Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, taking a central role. Published by Titan Books, this hardback offering is entitled The Art of Alien Isolation.