No sooner do I reacquaint myself with the ArtRage graphics software than Ambient Design brings out a new version of this realistic art product for cross platform systems
The latest edition of ArtRage is now up to version 4.5 for Mac and Windows platforms. Just in case you may have missed my review of the earlier ArtRage 4 product, I will recap on some of the salient points of the product before moving on to the new and enhanced features introduced in the latest version 4.5 of the software. ArtRage is a package designed to provide art enthusiasts with the digital means of putting their creative ability to good use.
This is a stereo Bluetooth speaker unit built almost like a triangle without coming to a point meaning that the speakers have a larger surface area to height than would otherwise been possible in a unit of this size and shape.
I saw this at another of the numerous Christmas in July events, strangely although it was connected I could hardly hear anything and it was not that noisy a room. However I was listening to something on my audio unit when I unpacked this and plugged the supplied 3.5mm lead in, I immediately had to turn the sound down 25% on my audio device to avoid being deafened, so nothing wrong with sound output on my unit.
Sad to say the VHS era is now history as digital format takes over with devices such as the product forming the focus of this next review
The Samsung BD-H6500 is a Blu-ray player that has a range of built-in features. With its metal shell encased within a lacquered black casing, this multi-function device will not look out of place in a living room as it acts as the central point of a home entertainment system. This stylish looking box has dimensions of 196 x 360 x 40mm (D x W x H).
With an organisation known as H.E.L.P., you are set the task of solving the case of the Hope Diamond in a Hidden Object Adventure game.
Putting together the combined influence of Big Fish Games and the Smithsonian with the expertise of the development team from EIPIX has resulted in the game entitled Hidden Expedition: Smithsonian Hope Diamond. Available in Collector’s Edition format, this is a Hidden Object Adventure game that takes the legend of the Hope Diamond as its central theme.
The latest entry level phone offering from the company that first brought you a SmartPhone at a price that broke through the glass ceiling. Here is a smart phone that has corners cut to produce something acceptable at a lower price.
12.5x6.5x1cm are its dimensions and it weights 141grams. A well placed fingernail will remove the back to allow you to insert a micro SIM and a micro SD card. However the battery is not user changeable and is a little less powerful than most at 1980mAh. The right side has the on/off button and the volume up/down rocker. The base has a micro USB slot for charging, the right side is clear and the top has a 3.
Our data is often personal and we like to keep it with us when out and about. This next product offers to help in this respect.
While the title of this next product might make you think of a comic book Super Hero character, I was a fan of Captain Marvel in my youth, and some might feel its functionality is such that there is a definite link in there somewhere. And of course there is the design emblem that could re-enforce the Super Hero connection but more on that a little latter.
Power users will often find that increasing the amount of RAM over and above the basic amount that is generally installed in a PC will produce a worthwhile increase in performance as the performance of serious gaming or video type applications is frequently tied to the amount of available memory. Using the Memory Search on the Kingston Technology (KT) website enables one to identify what RAM is required for a particular machine and provides guidance in carrying out the upgrade so that the user can tackle the job with confidence.
Although KT’s goal is to sell its RAM, and it claims to be “the world’s independent memory leader”, it does not over-hype the benefits. One of the FAQs points out that: “Additional memory will not necessarily increase the performance of your computer. It will allow you to run more programs or processes at once or more memory intensive programs.
Having just packed up a 23inch panel and then unpacked this and put it in the same place I am amazed how much smaller this unit is. So size is not everything how does this compare in display, brightness, contrast and other ways.
This Viewsonic monitor measures 40cm tall, 52.5cm wide and 1.5cm thick at the edges. The stand is 16.5x2cm and it raises the screen by 9.5cm from the desk. The viewable screen is 52.5x31cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 23inches. All the connections point down from a central area of the back, 3.5mm sockets for headphones and audio input the latter for those who use D-Sub. Next is the D-Sub (VGA) connection and then two HDMI connectors and finally DC input.
With such a name you would expect this machine to be made in Italy after all the Italians can make a very good cup of coffee. This machine however is made in Germany a country perhaps more famous for making quality cars, it is made by AEG.
This is a pod machine where the operation is so easy they state an 8 year old child should be safe to use it. Once unboxed and the ten pieces of tape that secure it are removed you just have to remove the foam strip from under the water container and follow the rinsing instructions.
In the past I have looked at a number of products from the HMDX range of Jam audio devices. Up till now these devices have been Bluetooth speakers but this next offering, while supporting Bluetooth and providing audio output, belongs to a different category of product. It is the Jam Transit. This is a set of wireless stereo headphones.
Attractively packaged in a clear plastic case with a carry handle, the Jam Transit arrives partially charged so that it can be put to immediate use. Included in the case with the headphones is a micro-to-standard USB lead plus documentation that consists of a folded sheet of instructions and details of HMDX two year warranty offered with the product. Following Henry Ford’s concept of marketing, users have a choice of purchasing this headset in black only.
This device can take the guesswork out of grilling food. It has special settings according to how well or rare you like your food cooked. It even has a mode to allow you to cook from frozen as well as special programs for certain items and even sausages grilled are healthier than fried.
The Tefal OptiGrill measures 34x34x17cm those measurements are the shelf or table space it will take. The grill itself is 32x21cm, as it slopes forward you will need extra space in front when in use for the supplied 29.5x18cm drip tray. In storage this can sit under the unit. The hard wired mains lead emerges a centimetre above the base of the right back support. The rest of the controls are on the lifting arm which is in front of the grill well away from the hot area.
If, in the early part of 1991, you were looking to purchase Desktop Publishing (DTP) software then your choice would have been limited to xPress from Quark or Adobes InDesign. In both cases a price tag of several hundreds of pounds would have been involved. However if you had waited a few months then a third option would have entered the marketplace in the form of Serifs PagePlus product. The launch of this product caused quite a stir as it came with a sub £100 price point.
Now up to version X8, PagePlus continues the practice of arriving priced at a level that will appeal to those on a limited budget. As usual with Serif software, PagePlus X8 requires the entry of a lengthy serial number as part of its installation process. In this case the serial number consists of 25 alphanumeric characters.
Mystery, darkness and hope come together in a triple pack from Focus Multimedia. Originally published by Big Fish Games, the three offerings making up this pack are Hidden Object Adventure games. The three titles are Teslas Tower: The Wardenclyffe Mystery, Fantastic Creations: House of Brass and Dark Heritage: Guardians of Hope.
If you have seen the recent Dulux adverts on television then you will appreciate the idea behind the Tesla’s Tower game. Due to an experiment that did not turn out as expected, the concept of colour has been banished. The scientist responsible for this state of affairs was Nikolai Tesla who now only exists as a ghost in the Ether where he can communicate with you in the role of Maria Tesla, his great grand-daughter.
This is a camera as it has a conventional lens, flash, and shutter release; however it is also an Android unit that does everything that such units do, so maybe someone needs to create another word to describe a camera with extra features.
The Samsung Galaxy 2 compact digital camera measures 13x7x3cm and weights 285grams. The lens can expand up to another 5.5cm when fully zoomed. 21x optical zoom needs a firm base or better still a tripod. However just because it has got it, try getting the image you want without the zoom you will be pleasantly surprised with the results even in low light. The flash when required is efficient without being over intrusive as it can never be closer than 5cm behind and to the left of the lens.
As our personal store of data grows so does our need to access it from various locations. This next product offers a solution.
The Buffalo LinkStation 210 is a single drive network storage device. Offering a capacity of 2TB, the LinkStation 210 provides the user with the means to create their own personal cloud along with the ability to store, organise and back up data. Provided with the external drive unit, this kit contains a power lead with both two and three pin adaptors, flat style Ethernet lead, software disc and various items of documentation.
Here I am looking at two recent items from BoomBotics. Regular readers will remember their first UK offering last year a device for use on a bike among others. Here a Wireless (Bluetooth) Portable Speaker and a set of Headphones.
It is 8.5cm round and a maximum of 4cm deep in the centre. Mine was smooth matt black it can easily fit in a bag or even a pocket. The only shiny bit never shows is part of the cut away underneath. Other colours are available. Just one connection a micro USB that can be used for charging or with the cable provided also provide wired input. One slider switch on/off. Slide the switch and it tries to pair a LED flashes blue or blue and red dependant on the pairing.
It was at a Christmas In July event in 2013 that I first saw one of these. As sometimes happens there was glitch and it was only at their Christmas In July event at 2014 that one was available, however my tests seem to prove it was worth the wait.
Jam Plus Rechargeable Speaker is round at 7cm tall and a maximum – at the base of 8cm across. It weights 258grams. A number of such small devices require whatever they are sitting on to amplify the sound. This is not the case with the Jam Plus that produces all its sound internally. It is designed predominately as a Bluetooth speaker but it also works perfectly well with a 3.5mm lead using headphone socket on your music device and Line In on the Jam Plus.
While this next product allows you to recharge two mobile devices simultaneously, it is not particularly quick at providing this service.
Described in some quarters as the “essential travel kit”, the Power Cube™ 7800 is a portable battery charger for those mobile devices we find indispensible when out and about. This particular portable battery charger has been developed by MIPOW (pronounced MY POW) a company founded in Hong Kong in 2010. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Baojia Investment Group and has offices in the UK, USA and Hong Kong.
The D-Link DSL-320B ADSL 2+ ADSL Ethernet modem supports speeds of up to 24Mbps downstream and 2Mbps upstream and provides a simple and straightforward way of connecting a single PC to the Internet. It can equally well link the wireless router at the heart of ones network to the outside world.
It is a small black unit 11cm wide and 10cm high and, although it is only 4cm deep, the attached cables add to the space it takes up. Nevertheless, it just sits inconspicuously on the corner of one’s desk where you can see its four status LEDs. It is supplied with the cable (and the associated filter) to connect to the phone line; the Ethernet cable to connect to the PC and the power cable. Unlike USB modems it does not require any drivers and is easy to set up.
I had a few days of watching my own 32inch TV before I had at accommodate yet another 48inch TV from Samsung; this was not a curved screen offering so it was even a little bit larger than their recently reviewed item.
I was expecting the 40inch model and to accommodate 48inches is always a squeeze. Its not the overall weight as they are all very light these day but the size to sit on the unit I place them on, its all down to the size of the stand as an overhang of the screen either end is acceptable. It is 107x71.5x4cm on the stand. The stand itself is a sideways ‘x’ shape this is 67cm wide at the front and back and 34cm wide at the sides.
Nuances market leading speech recognition software is now up to version 13 with the latest edition of Dragon Naturally Speaking. As with the previous versions of this package, Nuance has developed offerings aimed at different sectors of the market. With this version 13 of the product, you get the choice of Premium, the software used for this review, or that of the lower priced Home offering.
Installing Dragon Naturally Speaking (DNS from now on), including the initial set-up procedure, is not a particular quick operation. It does require some user interaction which is mainly due to the initial creation of your specific user profile. You will need to enter the product’s serial number to switch the product from trial mode to that of full application use.
At some time in your life you will have played a game of hide and seek. I can remember one instance of playing the game in my grandparents pub. Unfortunately nobody realised I was playing the game and panic set in as they thought I had gone missing. Eventually I was discovered and everything returned to normal. Neither my version of the game or any that you have played would bear any resemblance to the Big Fish Hidden Object Adventure title of Rite of Passage: Hide and Seek.
I have been checking out the Collector’s Edition of Rite of Passage: Hide and Seek which comes bundled with a number of bonus items. These bonus items include the soundtrack, gallery, achievements, collectibles, Strategy Guide, alchemist table and Forest Runner. While some of the items will need to be unlocked by completing the game, you need to create your named profile before this title will even allow you to see what is available.
All PVRs work in slightly different ways to achieve the same goal. This is not important providing you know how your machine works. Here however is a machine that works differently in that you can watch items from up to a week before which you forgot to record.
There is a basic ‘Getting Connected Guide’ and a ‘Your You View Guide’ that is a sort of User Manual, I say sort of as you need to read it all to find out things you had figured out as well as those that you had not and it has no index. The machine is 35x34x4cm not including the extra couple of centimetres required for leads to fit into the back of the unit. The front has a small white LED on the front left when power is on but the machine is in standby.
Once as rare as hens teeth, wireless headsets are now appearing regularly including this offering from the BOOMPODs range of products.
As you might suppose from its title, the Wireless Headpods is a Bluetooth 4.0 headset from the BOOMPODS’ family of products that I have been dipping into recently. Available in a choice of matte black or white, this wireless headset comes with a USB lead for charging purposes and an audio cable for connecting to music sources that do not support Bluetooth connectivity. Also included in the package is a zipped Neoprene travel bag for storing the headset when not in use.
I've been "juicing" - supplementing my diet with home made pure fruit and vegetable juices - for nearly a year now. I believe it's helped to keep me healthy; I know for a fact that it's been responsible for my losing about 2 stone of excess weight.
When intrigued friends and relatives who would like to try the same thing discover how much my imported Korean juicing machine cost - they back off. But now French kitchen appliance manufacturer Tefal is stepping into the ring with a very similarly designed machine that's half the price. Let's see if it does the job...
First we need to distinguish between juicing machines and blenders like the heavily advertised NutriBullet. Blenders use fast spinning sharp blades to mash up your fruit and veg with water. The mixture of water, fibre and juice this produces will be nourishing, but because of the dilation the resulting drink is less nutritious per gram than eating the original material. The idea behind a juicer is to the nutrition by extracting the juice from the fibre.
Back to feet now, but here a rather different device from the recent Shiatsu device, this works with electrical impulses and even has external Tens pads to attach to other parts of the body that need help to improve their circulation.
It is 35x31x4cm maximum size. The foot pads are 25x10cm so some overlapping of all but the smallest feet will occur. Between the outward facing foot pads is an 8.5x2.7cm orange display with controls for foot soles, body intensity and treatment duration below this. Further toward the heels are two connections to attach the leads and pads for attaching to other body parts. The leads supplied are of a good length so should work from legs up to shoulders.
Having recently looked at the Alcatel PopS3 this even smaller offering came onto my desk. Surprisingly my bigger fear was not realised. So what has this 3.5inch screen unit have to offer in the hugely over crowded SmartPhone market.
The PopS3 was a 4G unit while the C1 uses 3G. However the biggest fear was smaller phone equals even smaller keyboard, certainly my stubby fingers seemed to cope with this better than they did with the keyboard of the S3. The dimensions are 11x6x1cm with the viewable screen being 7.3x4.9cm in imperial diagonal terms that is 3.5inches. Its overall weight is 100grams. The top has the on/off button with 3.5mm headphone socket to its right.
In the past I have looked at various Acer laptops and now I have the opportunity to check out one of the companys tablets.
The Acer Iconia One 7 is a tablet aimed at the budget market sector. As its title indicates, this tablet is of the 7-inch variety. The unit is available in a range of colours that include red, white, blue, green and yellow. My review sample is of the more traditional black hue making it stand out less in mixed company.
This is an updated version of the excellent ground breaking mobile offering launched last year by Motorola. A few of the missing items that people wanted included have been so what exactly does this updated phone have to offer?
The Motorola Moto-G measures 13x6.5x.6cm and weights 144grams. Like a lot of recent phones that have passed my desk the first puzzle is how the back comes off. After a while a finger nail manages to make progress and eventually the back is off. This enables you to insert a micro SIM and a micro SD card up to 32GB before the somewhat easier task of reassembly. So on the face of it 4G, Android 4.4.
While perhaps not as well known as various titles from Adobe and Corel, Xara Designer Pro has a long standing and well deserved reputation for its performance speed when completing different tasks. In fact several years ago Corel licensed an earlier version of Xara software because its speed of performance made its own software look a little like a tortoise.
Now up to version X10, and part of the MAGIX family of products, Xara Designer Pro is available in 32 and 64-bit versions. As usual with MAGIX products, you are given the option of a Custom or Standard installation with choices that include the destination and whether to have a desktop icon to start the program. Recently MAGIX have been including a bonus item entitled Simpliclean with their various software items and Xara Designer Pro X10 is no exception.