In a previous life this was one of the first really useful products. Corel came out with their excellent CorelDRAW product and made the purchase of PaintShop Pro an early capture and now this is a very mature product at version 18 (X8).
CorelDRAW started the ‘bonus’ software by offering lots of Clip Art and extra fonts. So when you buy anything Corel you expect ‘more’ and you get more with the Ultimate version of PaintShop Pro you get Perfect Effects 9.5, After Shot 2 and Perfectly Clear 2 SE as well as the main PaintShop Pro package all for no extra cost. If you have a qualifying earlier version you qualify for a 25% discount when purchase is made by download from the Corel website.
Offering to help reduce the bottleneck that can occur for those who are involved with streaming videos and on-line gaming activities is a modem router from NETGEAR.
Sometimes the arrival of a new product for review brings back memories of an earlier period of my involvement in the world of computing. Such was the case with the NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 WiFi VDSL/ADSL Modem Router product.
In this game your on-screen persona makes a mistake that releases an evil demon. Will you be able to correct this mistake and recapture the demon?
Theatre of the Absurd is a Hidden Object Adventure game. Developed by GoGii, this game is now available from Avanquest’s GSP game catalogue. Although the packaging does not actually mention it, this game comes with a number of extra features that usually qualify such titles as being a Collector’s Edition game.
The days of this being just an Anti-Virus product are long gone. In fact the only products that seem to have only Anti-Virus are the free ones and even then when you update them you have to be careful to click the correct box or you get the whole package and then you will start paying.
Panda have four products, AntiVirus Pro, Internet Security, Global Protection and Gold Protection. I am looking at the third of these Global Protection. I installed it on both a Windows 8.1 and a test system with Windows 10. While some products make a great show of saying ‘I am working at protecting you’ this just sits in the background and does the necessary. The install took around five minutes and around 400MB of hard disc space.
While queuing is an established practice, it is not one that is well received when we need to wait in order to charge a mobile device when there is just a single power source available. Sandberg believes it has a solution to this problem.
It was not so long ago that I checked out a product that allowed you to charge up to four separate devices simultaneously. This task was carried out from a single power point socket. While this would be fine for many users, there are those whose needs call for an even more extensive number of access points in order to recharge power hungry devices simultaneously.
Nobody wants their Sunday joint burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. The Heston Blumenthal 5-in-1 digital thermometer from Salter is a useful tool in preventing that and similar problems in the kitchen. But that is not all it can do
As well as for roasting it can also be used for checking the temperature in a deep fat fryer, act as a jam thermometer etc. or, when in the manual mode, provide an audible alert when a predetermined temperature has been reached. Normal oven thermometers measure either the temperature in the oven or that within the item being cooked -- but not both.
A new DAB and FM offering from Roberts that looks more like something from many decades ago. It is however packed with modern technology, so instead of having to continually move around to get a good signal and sound its just there.
It is 17x12cm at the back and 15x12cm at the front and 12cm deep. The front has a grill behind which is the speaker this is 9.5x8.5cm. Both sides are clear with only a connection point for carry handle that is in the same fabric that covers the whole unit, my unit was in a lime green colour. The exceptions are the back that is a gold colour as is the top. The back has a battery bay which optionally takes 4 x ‘AA’ batteries.
The price of this group of in ear headphones seems to vary according to their colour. With Midnight being nearly 50% more expensive than curry, here I am listening to a mid-range unit called Fire at least I think I am as the box has no part number.
The length of the supplied lead is 1.3metres. From the ears it is 30cm to the point where two leads become one. Around 10cm from the left ear is the now near ubiquitous control to stop/play, back and forward control. The lead itself is fabric in spirals with red yellow and green then black and this is repeated for the whole length of the lead. Finally the plug at the player/phone end is the ‘L’ type to sit flush with whatever you connect it to.
This next product from Fujifilm adopts an almost retro style of photography.
I can remember, back in the day, the launch of a camera that could capture and then develop photos giving you almost “instant” hard copies of photos that had just been taken. Named after the company responsible, or was the company named after the camera, the Polaroid was one of those devices that was almost a status symbol or a fashion accessory. I have to admit that I was an early adopter of this camera capable of capturing and delivering monochrome images.
This phone is only available from Vodafone and as such needs a Vodafone SIM. It is part of the Smart 6 series of phones. Android Lollipop 5.02 is the operating system and while some of the installed Apps are Vodafones it is still an Android Phone.
The basic dimensions are 15.5x7.5x.7cm and it weights 153grams. It has a front camera for those Selfies which at 5MP is better than some rear cameras. The excellent 13MP rear camera has an LED flash the auto focus means no more blurry rushed shots. This has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor which is stated to be octa-core 64-bit CPU architecture. Not long ago a 2000mAh battery was top end and it was able to last a full days use, this unit has a 3000mAh battery which lasts two days.
While standalone flatbed and All-in-One devices can cope with many scanning tasks, sometimes you need a more specialised piece of equipment to handle this aspect of your document management needs.
The Brother DS-920DW is a device described as an “anywhere, anytime, portable scanner”. As the “DW” part of the product’s model number might indicate, this scanner offers both Duplex or double sided scanning and wireless connectivity.
Ancient Rome is a popular location for game developers. In this case the location shares the stage with the Mahjong board game.
7 Hills of Rome comes from the same team responsible for the recently reviewed Treasures of Rome. While both games are played out against a storyline and backdrop of Ancient Rome, the style of play has switched from Mathc-3 action to that of the Mahjong board game. This latest offering is available as a download purchase from the Avanquest GSP catalogue of titles. Profiles can be set up for individual players.
This is a multi-function unit which means, print, copy, scan and for those who still want/need it fax. However this unit has something extra the ability to print up to A3 and while it is a good deal wider than most A4 units it is not that much deeper or taller.
The HP OfficeJet 7510 all-in-one printer measures 45cm deep including the paper tray, 48cm wide and 28cm tall to the top of the sheet feed. It weights 13kilos. The unit has a single substantial paper tray at the base which has a good weight of lid which is the output tray. The tray will take 250 sheets of standard weight paper and according to the specifications up to 60 sheets of photo paper (15x10cm size).
Developed by Smanos (a combination of Chuango Security Technology Corporation, Chuango Europe B.V. and Smanos Holdings), the WiFi Alarm System forms part of the companys Smart Home System line up. This particular product has been designed to provide protection against unauthorised entry to your home via doors and windows.
The WiFi Alarm System consists of a W020 Control Panel, two DS2300 Door/Window contact units and a RE2300 Remote Control Unit. You also get a set of four AA batteries, an SA-A12 3-pin power adapter and lead, reset pin, User Manual and Warranty Card. There is also an app which will need to be downloaded from the Play Store or App Store and installed on a smartphone. Central to this kit is the W020 Control Panel which links together the various elements of this protection package.
Its been a while since I have been sent a camera that stretches me a little. Providing the amount of stretching is a little I like it as it stops you getting into a rut that allows the camera to make all the choices without you having to think.
The Pentax K-S2 DSLR measures 12x11x9cm and it weights 848grams (without neck strap attached). The second figure the width is achieved by the lens being locked in closed position which makes the 18 to 55mm lens smaller than it would otherwise appear, as unlocked (ready to shoot) it is at least 3cm bigger. My unit was predominately white with grey covering the entry points and buttons and viewfinder being the normal black.
With the perfusion of cookery programs on TV the things that comes through is accuracy, both in weight and timing/temperature so these two items can help with those things. First an accurate kitchen scale and second an oven temperature gauge.
This scale can weigh up to 5kilos. They are rectangular at 25x18x2cm as a maximum as they are slightly less at the back. They run on two ‘AAA’ provided. There are just two buttons one each side of the 5.5x2.2cm oval display, this display is black on grey. The right touch button zeros the display when whatever you are using to measure your items in is placed on the scale, if you continue to press this button it turns the scale off.
Standing for Paris New York, PNY is a company that designs and manufactures products to make some aspects of modern living easier.
Summer comes and summer goes. However due to the vagaries of the British weather sometimes you could miss the season if you happened to blink. Yet there are still organisations that have targeted this particular season as the ideal time to launch some mew offerings. Recently at a meeting with PNY, I was informed that the company had just released a number of products in its summer line up.
This is a DAB/FM/Internet radio that works via Wi-Fi and can be used as an input or output as well as having Spotify built in. It can be run off batteries which can be rechargeable and even off a battery pack for when mains power is not available.
The Roberts Radio Stream 207 radio measures 29x13.5x6cm; this figure is without the seven piece rod aerial extended which can add 66cm to the middle figure. The case is made of black plastic which does show fingermarks and rubber buttons that do not. The front has a 7cm circular speaker on each side the 8.
Did you know that 84% of smartphone users feel they cannot go a single day without using their device; 60% of users admit they sleep with their phone; while 17% claim to have showered with their handset?
2013 marked what some regard as a sea-change with regards to the choice options open to users looking to purchase a new smartphone. Previously the accepted options were either expensive or old technology. However in 2013 Motorola released its ground breaking Moto G handset which offered reasonable up-to-date technology at a price point within the reach of many.
Taking the old favourite of Match-3 game play and placing it within an ancient Egyptian environment with a touch of high culture is a Legend of Mystery or so the title says.
Developed by Magnussoft, a German based company, The Legend of Mystery: High Culture is a Match-3 game. This title, available as a download from Avanquest GSP website priced at £10.20, is spread over more than 100 levels. Set in an ancient Egyptian environment, the game requires you to unlock a series of treasures that become available throughout the course of the game. Profiles can be created for individual players with a choice of three levels of difficulty.
This small touch notebook is ideal for anyone needing to travel with a Windows PC. With most standard notebooks having the connections on the sides this goes about things differently, having almost everything at the rear.
The Acer Aspire V3 touch screen laptop measures 28.5x21x1.5cm and weights 1308grams. The stated battery life is seven hours so a day’s work on the road away from power is just about possible. The left side has a 3.5mm headphone socket on the left side as well as an SD card slot. The rear has an HDMI slot, USB3 port, USB2 port, Ethernet port and power input. Unlike a lot of small notebooks that use special leads all these sockets are full-size.
As part of its Wireless Smart Home portfolio, Smanos has developed its IP6 HD WiFi camera product. Offering 720HD video of a targeted location, this camera unit can either be used as a free-standing or wall-mounted device. Live video content can be viewed with a free iOS or Android app as you check what is going on in your home when you are away.
This Smanos product consists of the camera unit attached to a circular stand; a packet containing screws. Rawl plugs and a reset pin; a power lead with a 3-pin plug; and a Quick Guide booklet covering the English, German, French and Dutch languages. The supplied power plug has a diamond shape which does require slightly more room that a standard unit. The camera stand has a mounting template which can be removed for attaching the camera to a wall if that is the way you decide to go.
It seems strange to talk about scales that use batteries but of course unless they are the old type that use weights all modern scales need a display and that normally needs at least a small battery. This is the exception it uses no battery.
The overall size is 30x30x1.5cm and they weigh 1845grams. The plate you stand on is glass and it is split into three vertical areas. Either side is a white smoked glass for your feet and the central strip is divided into three an 8x3.5cm display area to show the weight, the central part is clear glass and the lower largest part is made up of light receptors to such in the light to keep the unit charged. The A5 instruction manual covers sixteen languages.
This is a Bluetooth only set of headphones; it is small enough to take up little more space than a set of earbuds simply because of the design which is to fit around the back of the neck rather than the normal one of over the head.
If this sort of headset is new to you then it will seem like a puzzle as you try to straighten out the earpieces. They naturally pair to each other and become almost fixed into a pair that is only 4cm thick and the sprung part is only 7cm wide so how does this untangle to fit around the back of your neck.
JAM Wireless Audio, the company responsible for the number one Bluetooth speaker in the UK according to GFK (March 2015), has increased its range of offerings with five new Bluetooth models with prices that range from £49.99 to £19.99. The first of this new batch of Bluetooth speakers to come under my gaze is one of those at the top end of the price range. This product is the JAM Thrill Wireless Stereo Speaker.
Adopting a slight squashed cylinder shape, the Thrill is available in a choice of red, blue, black (my review unit) or grey. The Thrill has dimensions of 174 x 65 x 68mm (W x H x D) and weighs 390g. This means you are unlikely to want to slip in a pocket but it could fit snugly in a bag when you need to have some extra boost to your music while enjoying the outdoors.
This Android phone is smart and looks that little bit different from the majority, maybe its the copper colour of the back and sides and maybe its the shape with edges that do not shave away, whatever it is its just that little bit different.
The Sony Xperia Z3 measures 14.5x7x.8cm and weights 155grams. At the top towards the left edge is a 3.5mm socket for headphones, on the left side is a fingernail opening to reveal the micro USB socket for charging, further down two contacts for a dock. The right side has another fingernail opening for Nano SIM slot which also has a micro USB card slot, lower is a silvered on/off button then the volume rocker and finally a camera button.
This next review brings together a couple of Belkin products that offer to provide some assistance in protecting your home.
The Belkin Netcam, as its title might imply, allows you to keep a check on what is occurring within an area of your home when you are absent. With my review unit being supplied by QVC, the kit consists of a Wi-Fi camera with night vision, power lead, screws and rawl plugs for wall mounting, plus a Quick Install Guide. You will also need an Android or iOS smartphone along with a Wi-Fi router for Internet connection.
With a title that might discourage you from installing the product, Infected: The Twin Vaccine is described on the packaging as a spine-tingling Hidden-Object thriller. Developed by GoGii and available from Avanquests GSP game catalogue in Collectors Edition format, this game sets you the task of searching the town of Oxford for a missing girl who holds the key to preventing a global epidemic.
As usual with game of this type, you can set up a profile for individually named players. There is a choice of windowed, full screen or wide screen action with a custom of system cursor. Using slider bars you can adjust image quality and the volume levels for music, sound effects and voice dialogue. You can also opt to play in Casual mode which offers a tutorial, help text and quick recharging rates for the hints and skipping mini-games plus the appearance of glints.
This is a piece of software that in its basic form anyone can download for FREE. I tend to be rather suspicious of any software that claims to speed up your PC, in fact hardly a month goes by without me being offered such items, normally from an unknown source.
Here however I know the company as I have used their software for many years in the CD and DVD arena. Here – still with my normal caution – I heaved out a notebook that hardly ever gets to see daylight as it is so slow. I downloaded the software and put it through the ‘free’ tests it found a number of problems, a lot of unnecessary files and offered to uninstall several programs that were redundant.
While the big boys in the arena of Smartphone manufacturing tend to price their hardware at a level that many of us find incompatible with our financial constraints, other manufacturers of these must-have devices have a more economically viable approach to the pricing of their various models. One such company is ZTE, one of the worlds largest manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and mobile phones, with its Blade range of handsets.
Recently I checked out the company’s Blade L3 product and now it is the turn of the ZTE Blade S6 handset. As with the Blade L3, the Blade S6 features a 5-inch HD colour touch-screen with the product being aimed at the young and those of us who often claim to be young-at-heart. However before getting down to the product itself, I need to point out that my review sample, white in colour, arrived without any documentation whatsoever.